Thursday, March 31, 2016

R Shmuel Kaminetsky- welcomed with open arms by Rav Steinman and Rav Kaniefsky after publicly disowning the Kaminetsky-Greenblatt heter

It looks like Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky and his son have gotten away with the equivalent of halachic murder as well as the betrayal of Tamar Epstein and Adam Fleisher whom they encouraged to marry with a phony heter. The betrayal also extends to Rav Nota Greenblatt whom they persuaded to give the heter with a false psychiatric report and who now remains standing with the bag of smelly garbage and the contempt of rabbis around the world. Rav Shmuel is being viewed as a tzadik for his retraction - despite the fact that he has not apologized for the horrible slander against the first husband as well as the corruption of the halachic process. 

In short - the gedolim are sighing a sigh of relief after finding a modest fig leaf to welcome him back.

My rough translation:

Rav Kaminetsky has rejected the Heter and visited gedolim in Israel

The rosh yeshiva of Philadelphia recently announced that he was rejecting the Heter to annul a marriage and the woman is in fact still married to the first husband. Following this he visited today Rav Steinman and Rav Kaniefsky.

After a long time of turmoil and halachic discussion in Israel and the rest of the world concerning the bitul kiddushin in America - Rav Kaminetsky announced last week that he was retracting his support for the heter that he had given to annul the marriage. He said did this because he was accepting the psak of Rav Dovid Feinstein that the heter was worthless ...

Thus he joined the view of poskim and gedolim around the world that there was absolutely no validity to the heter. The most important ones being Rav Chaim Kaniefsky and Rav Moshe Sternbuch and Rav Malkiel Kotler who had written sharp words against the Heter.

As a consequence of his retraction in this matter he was able to have a private audience today in the homes of gedolim in Bnei Brak including Rav Kaniefsky, Rav Steinman and Rav Eidelstein

It should be noted that by relying on this heter it has created a terrible problem for the woman who remarried based on it because she is still married to the first husband. However all indications are that the woman is still remaining with her second husband - relying on the heter that had been given to her by Rav Nota Greenblatt  that the first marriage never existed - and he is still holding that the heter is valid.

הגר"ש קמינצקי חזר בו מההיתר וביקר אצל גדולי ישראל

ראש ישיבת פלדלפיה הגאון רבי שמואל קמינצק, הודיע לאחרונה כי הוא חוזר בו מההיתר להפקעת הקידושין וכי האישה אשת איש, בעקבות זאת ביקר היום אצל מרנן הגראי"ל והגר"ח (חדשות חרדים)

סערת ביטול הקידושין בארה"ב ממשיכה להסעיר את הציבור החרדי בארץ ובתפוצות. לאחר תקופה ארוכה של דין ודברים ומשא ומתן הלכתי ארוך, הודיע בשבוע שעבר הגאון הגדול הגר"ש קמינצקי ראש ישיבת פלדילפיה וממנהיגי היהדות החרדית באמריקה, כי הוא חוזר בו מההיתר שנתן לאשה לבטל את הקידושין וכי הוא סומך את ידו על פסק ההלכה של הגאון רבי דוד פיינשטיין הסובר כמו כלל גדולי ישראל שהקידושין תקפים והביטול לא חל.
במכתבו כותב הגר"ש קמינצקי "זה עתה קיבלתי פסק הבית דין בראשות הג"ר דוד פיינשטיין ובאתי בזה להודיע שוודאי כאשר הורו כן יקום וכמו שכתב אאמו"ר שליט"א וכבר מסרתי פסק הבי"ד לבעל הדבר שאין תוקף לביטול הקידושין כלל וכלל ולשומעים ינעם ותבוא אליהם ברכת טוב וה' יגדור פרצות עם ישראל.

בכך חוזר בו הגר"ש קמינצקי מהוראתו להתיר את ביטול קידושי בני הזוג ומצטרף לדעתם של כלל גדולי ישראל מהארץ ומהעולם, שטענו כי אין להפקיע קידושין ובראשם מרנן שר התורה הגר"ח קנייבסקי, הראב"ד הגר"מ שטרנבוך והגר"מ קוטלר שכתבו בלשונות חריפים כנגד ההיתר.
לאור ההסדר והחזרה בו מדבריו הגיע היום הגר"ש קמינצקי לביקור מיוחד בבתיהם של גדולי הדור בבני ברק וביניהם מרנן ראש הישיבה הגראי"ל שטיינמן,שר התורה הגר"ח קנייבסקי, והגרי"ג אדלשטיין.
יצויין, שעל סמך אותו היתר של ביטול הקידושין בשל בעיות נפשיות אצל הבעל התחתנה האשה  לאחרונה וכעת היא נשואה לבעל אחר.
האשה מסתמכת עדיין ככל הנראה על ההיתר שהעניק לה הפוסק רבי נתן גרינבלט, שהפקיע וביטל את הקידושין הראשונים ועדיין נשאר איתן בדעתו שכך היה עליו לעשות.

Shemini-Parah(chukat) 76 - The way we speak, P.M.I & CPS - collaborative problem solving by Allan Katz

  guest post by Allan Katz
The Parasha- Portion of Shemimi – Parah (Chukat) deals  with the Inauguration of the Tabernacle – Mishkan, the Dietary laws – kosher animals etc.  and the purification process using the Red heifer – Parah A'dumah . The features and characteristics that distinguish animals from plants is that they have mobility and eat  food. And what makes them kosher is that their  limbs are not designed for aggression – a cloven hoof and bringing up/ chewing  the cud as opposed to feet with claws or a full hoof  (kicking ) and a digestive system and teeth that serve predators and carnivorous animals well. What distinguishes man from the animal is sophisticated communication and speech. So a kosher man is not a man who puts into his mouth only kosher food, but a man who is also particular of what comes out of his mouth. The Midrash commentary on Parashat Chukat quotes Psalms 12 - the sayings of God are pure and gives examples from the Torah so man can learn to emulate God. Instead of describing animals that went into the ark as Tameih and impure, the Torah which usually concise and uses few words says that the not pure animals went into the ark, a more positive and finer expression than the negative description of ' impure ' animals. When the Torah in our parasha lists the non-kosher animals for e.g. the camel, it first describes the positive-kosher feature that it brings up its cud, and then afterwards says, but its hoof is not split encouraging us to talk firstly about the positive in people. The Midrash then says that the generation of King David suffered losses in battle because there were slanderers and people spoke ' lashon ha'rah. The generation of Ahab, despite being idolatrous, was victorious because they did not speak badly about one another. Speech and communication should make a positive contribution to people.

The way we speak impacts on our relationships with people and how we solve problems. The problem in our parasha was the dispute between Moses and Aaron concerning the sin offering goat for the Rosh Chodesh service. Two other goat sin offerings that were specific to the inauguration ceremony – the special offering of the tribal leader of Judah, Nachshon and one for the inauguration ritual for the Tabernacle were never to be brought again and were called kodshei sha'ah. The Rosh Chodesh goat offering would be brought at the beginning of each month was not specific to the inauguration ritual and was called kodshei olam   le'dorot. Moses instructed the priests – kohanim to eat the mincha offerings which were kodshei sha'ah and also the meat of the sin offerings. The question was - did this instruction include the sin offering of Rosh Chodesh, even though it was not specific to the ceremony and kodshei le'dorot.? The problem or Moses' unmet expectation was that the sin offering was not eaten but burned. Moses was extremely angry and criticized Aaron's sons (not Aaron himself, out of respect for Aaron) for not eating the sin offering. Aaron answers and gives an explanation which Moses accepts. The Sages say that Moses erred because he became angry and had it not been for his anger he would have been able to get a clear understanding of the concerns of the Kohanim and come to the conclusion that they had acted properly.

Edward de Bono's P.M.I tool helps us deal with situations when our  expectations are not met. In order to get a better understanding of what others are saying and be more creative and exploratory we should first look at the positives – the P, about their idea, statement or action. Then we can use our critical thinking skills and look for the Minuses, and then ask questions what will happen If... and make Interesting points or observations about the Idea. This is the same lesson which the Torah teaches, when it teaches us about the positive or kosher feature of the camel before mentioning the negative and non-kosher feature. It is very difficult to see the other's point of view and perspective if we are first use our critical thinking skills. Intelligent people are often non-creative and bad thinkers because they are only focused on criticizing the other position and defending theirs. When Moses heard Aaron's reasoning, he accepted it and did not try to defend his position.   Ross Greene's CPS – collaborative problem solving model suggests that a person with an  unmet expectation, whether a parent, teacher, peer etc. should in a non-emotive neutral way, just describe what he has seen and ask – what's up? So Moses could have just said – I have noticed that the goat offering of Rosh Chodesh has been burnt and not eaten, what's up? Aaron would then express his concern and perspective. The CPS model first focuses on the concerns and perspectives of the other person, student or child and then the  the care giver or teacher, parent etc. would put his concerns and perspective  on the table. Then the parties are invited to brain storm durable and realistic solutions that address both concerns and are mutually satisfactory.  Here we adopt a similar approach of Beit Hillel who first tried to understand the other party's perspective and learning before sharing their perspective and learning.

Moses was understandably angry, anxious and concerned about integrity and spiritual  perfection  of the tabernacle-mishkan.  The tragic death of Nadav and Avihu caused by them initiating the bringing of their own incense, an eish zarah, a foreign fire into the Holy of Holies was in sense a replay of the sin of the golden calf after the  receiving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. On the day of their death, Aaron and his other sons became 'onenim', mourners who may not perform mitzvoth including the temple service. Moses told Aron that as an exception to this  rule,  they were obligated to do the inauguration service. The test whether the erection of the Mishkan was successful and an  atonement for the sin of the Golden calf would be the Kohanim eating from the meat of the Rosh Chodesh sin offering (which was not part of the inauguration ritual) after the completion of the inaugural ritual. When Kohanim eat from God's table, it is an expression that God's presence resides in the Holy place and there is atonement for the people. Aaron answered that because they were special mourners, one'nim, they lacked the sanctity and holiness to affect atonement through their eating of the offerings and cause God's presence to reside in the mishkan –tabernacle. The deficiency was not in the mishkan, but in their person. As one'nim- mourners they lacked simcha – joy and sanctity which impacted negatively on their inner souls and beings and the ability to connect to God. They  therefore they could not eat from the sin offering of Rosh Chodesh as it was kodshei olam le'dorot and not specific to the inaugural ritual.

It is interesting to note that Aaron did not respond with a direct answer to Moses, but in a tentative way asked if it was proper for him as an Onen to eat from the Rosh Chodesh offering, and would God have approved of it?  The Telze Rov says that Aaron acted in the same way as a child should act. The child should bring a parent's attention to the Halacha-law written in the Torah by asking a question and not directly criticize a parent. The parent would come to his own conclusion and correct himself while his dignity remains intact.

We can learn from Aaron that the way we speak to parents is a respectable way to speak to all people including children. Communication and problem solving should be respectful and positive and focus on identifying the concerns of all and then brainstorming solutions that are mutually satisfactory.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Interruption of moderation warning: Will be in New York for next two weeks

I will be going to New York tomorrow for two weeks. Since Internet availability will be irregular my moderation might take longer than usual - particularly tomorrow.while I am travelling.

Kaminetsky-Greenblatt Heter: Rav Hillel David confirms that the Feinstein Beis Din was convened solely at the request and for the benefit of Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky - and not for any other reason

My brother just spoke Sunday night with Rav Hillel David regarding the Feinstein Beis Din and its ruling. My brother said I could write about what he told me was said - and added that it was important to note that Rav Hillel David was very open with him and very polite and respectful. 

Rav Hillel David was asked why after over a month of deliberations - no psak has been released to the public. He answered unambiguously that Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky had requested the ruling of the beis din regarding the Heter and that he was the sole person of concern. That what had been decided was not the business of the public. Therefore the psak was conveyed only to Rav Shmuel and his son.

My brother noted that the issue of the validity of the heter was in fact of public concern as are the associated issues as to whether Tamar is committing adultery and her future children will be mamzerim as many great poskim have already said.

Rav Hillel David repeated that the beis din was concerned only with the question that Rav Kaminetsky had raised as to whether they considered the heter valid. The beis din did in fact answer Rav Kaminetsky's question - and did not address the other issues. Because the mandate of the beis din was limited to Rav Kaminetsky's question - they did not deal with whether Tamar was an adulteress or whether she needed to separate from her husband. It was simply not their job. 

In short Rav Hillel David provided crushing confirmation of the worst conjectures concerning the Feinstein Beis Din. It showed an absolute lack of interest of the most pressing issues that this heter has raised regarding rabbinic corruption and the validity of annulling marriages. Thus instead of bringing closure to this scandal - it merely served as a ladder for Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky and his son to distance themselves from the heter. We thus have 3 major talmidei chachomim who failed to address the real needs of the Jewish people at this time. By ignoring the full ramifications of this scandal they have ended up participating in the cover up to just show that Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky is a tzadik who listens to Rav Dovid Feinstein. 

It seems that the Aguda has heaved a sigh of relief and feels that the issues have been properly resolved behind closed doors - and that it is time to forget and get on with life. 

But that is sheker and the matter has not been resolved nor will it be forgotten. This is a shameful episode that gets worse by the day. By Rav Dovid Feinstein's participating in this cover up, the Feinstein name has been besmirched

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Problem with Disqus: Comments are not showing on the Blog after moderation

 update: Just received the following information from Disqus which seems to have solved the problem

This is occurring because Blogger recently began using unique, country-specific URLs depending on the geolocation of the user visiting the page.
As Disqus is designed for a different thread to be created on each unique URL, this is causing new, 0 comment threads to be created when the page is accessed from any country where the site will not end in “.com”
To prevent this Blogger change from affecting your site, please follow the instructions here to prevent Blogger from creating new country-specific URLs for the pages of your site:
Have a great day!


I was just informed that no recent comments are being displayed on the Blog. I have approved over 300 comments this week - but they do not appear on the Blog. I just contacted disqus. If the problem doesn't clear up I will drop Disqus and go back to the old system

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Rav Avigdor Miller on the Divorce Epidemic

class #646, Mind of Control, 1:23:45

When the great dread day [death] comes, when finally Hashem says you are free, you are absolved, does the neshama feel relief, does the neshama celebrate that it's all over? Oh no. It's the yom hamara, the great and bitter day. Because our happiness in life is the duty of being in control. Ta'avah ni'hiya, when a desire is broken, is repressed, te'erav le-nefesh, [Mishlei 13:10] how sweet it is for the soul.

Disappointments when you accept that in good will, that's a great success for you. Success doesn't mean anything. Anybody can rejoice with success. When a person who keeps his mind calm even in disappointment, that's the person who is gaining shelmaius. And that's why HaKodesh Baruch Hu created us.

Life is full of disappointments. It's full of joys. If there are joys and successes we have to celebrate by thanking Hashem. Certainly we should [also] be grateful and express our gratitude for all the difficulties of life.

Here's a woman who had seven children with her husband. Then she put her eyes on a strange man. And she fell in love with a strange man. This mishugenah woman decides that she's unhappy with her husband. Now later she gets over this infatuation with this strange man. He goes away and moves out of the neighborhood. Now she's disillusioned with her husband. A woman with seven children. She lived like a Jewish woman until now.

But she has deep down in her heart gentile attitudes, attitudes maybe there's such a thing as romance yet in life. That's a gentile attitude. And she feels unhappy. And the husband is a hum drum husband, an ordinary decent Jewish husband. Maybe a handsome man too. But still you're accustomed to him already. He's too accustomed to be romantic anymore. And so she starts becoming dissatisfied. You know what she's doing? She's ruining her neshama.

Of course she's not going to commit adultery. She's going to force him to give her a get. She's going to break away from him and she'll look for somebody else to marry. She'll be disappointed. No question. The second time will be worse than the first time. No question.

But the breaking away, that's a corruption of the soul. Your perfection is to take what Hashem gave you (.... ) Cling to Hashem all the days of your life. V'dovak b'ishto. Control yourself. Squelch the imaginary romances that you think are waiting for you in life. It's all false. Make up your mind that what you have is what's good for you and people who live that way into their old age. No romance. Just live dutifully, live loyally, loyal to Hashem Who gave this to you. And don't be a nirgon, don't complain.

How long is life after all? The great day will come when you will finally be relieved then you'll say, ah now I look back and see how fortunate I was, I was loyal to my husband all these years. I didn't complain. I bore my burden dutifully as a bas Yisroel what HaKodesh Baruch Hu wanted me to do.

[1:27:36] Unfortunately today there's a rash of divorces and in most cases it's Jewish women.  Even the frum Jewish women are demanding divorces from their husbands, all over, everywhere. It's an epidemic and a tragedy of tragedies. They are ruining their lives, but most of all they are ruining their neshamas.

People are not willing to make peace with their circumstances. Say I'm going to live the best I can with the circumstances that Hashem gave me. These are the people who are going to succeed and they are achieving what's called shlaimus of parishas haratzon. They are conquering their passions. They are ruling with their minds over their emotions. And that is the greatest perfection.

See if you can do it with yiras shemayim, with fear of Hashem, very good. Even if not, any which way you succeed in living dutifully and accepting what Hashem gave you, you are successful and you live your life with a grand purpose.

Purim; Ester- The Daughter Of A Military General?! by Rabbi Shlomo Pollak

 guest post by Rabbi Shlomo Pollak

Historians have long struggled to identify Ester Hamalkah- Queen Ester...

Assuming Achashveirosh is in fact Xerxes, the forth known major Persian king, historians relate his queen to be Amestris- the daughter of a MILITARY COMMANDER, and not the daughter of Mordechai- a member of Sanhedrin....

The options that have been proposed thus far, are:
1. Amestris refers to Vashti
2. Ester was only a lesser wife
3. Historians got it all wrong

We suggest that Ester WAS the daughter of a military commander....

For questions or comments, please email us at

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Unprecedented: Father jailed for son refusing to divorce wife

Update: Supreme Court delays jailing father

בג"ץ עיכב את כניסתו לכלא של אבי סרבן הגט
לאחר שבית הדין הרבני קבע בצעד תקדימי, כי יש לאסור אב של סרבן גט בשל סיוע לסרבנות - החליטה שופטת העליון על עיכוב ביצוע ההחלטה, עד להכרעה בבג"ץ

update from srugim

Arutz 7

Tel Aviv rabbinical court finds father encouraged son to leave disabled wife without religious divorce, sentences him to 30 days in jail.

For the first time in history, an Israeli rabbinical court has sentenced a man to prison because his son will not grant his wife a divorce.

The court ordered that a Jewish-American tycoon be sent to jail for 30 days in jail after his son refused to give his wife a get. According to Jewish religious law, a husband must give his wife a document known as a get in order for the couple to be divorced. A woman whose husband refuses to do so is called an aguna [plural agunot, literally "chained woman"].

The ruling came after it was found that the father has discouraged his son from granting his wife a get for the past ten years. The head of the Tel Aviv rabbinical courts, Rabbi Shlomo Shatsman, stated that "The complainant's extended and brutal divorce case is one of the hardest agunot cases the rabbinical court system has had to deal with."

The court heard the story of a haredi couple who married 19 years ago and lived in the US, where their two children were born. About 10 years ago, the family visited Israel. During their trip, the wife suffered a severe stroke. She was left disabled and remains confined to a wheelchair.

After the stroke, the husband abandoned his wife and children in Israel and returned to the US. Since then, he has refused to grant her a divorce. He has ignored the Tel Aviv rabbinical court's ruling that he must grant her a get, and did not even bother to file an appeal.

The court tried to uncover the husband's perplexing motives. The court's aguna branch carried out a secret investigation in Israel and the US, and found that his father, a rich businessman known for his philanthropy in the haredi sector, is behind the refusal. When the husband's parents visited Israel, the court summoned them to testify and even issued a restraining order preventing them from leaving the country until they do so. This alone was an unprecedented decision. The parents, however, had rabbis and public figures apply strong pressure to the court in an attempt to obstruct justice. [...]

מאסר לאביו של סרבן הגט, איך זה בכלל חוקי?

במבט ראשון אכן נראית דרישה זאת כלא צודקת וכלא הוגנת, אולם במבט בוחן ומעמיק יותר, ניתן להיווכח כי דווקא זוהי דרך הישר וזו התוצאה המוסרית והצודקת. עו"ד מוריה דיין המייצגת את העגונה מסבירה

פסק דין תקדימי פורסם השבוע בפרשת עיגון חמורה, אשר בה יוצגה האישה על ידי ארגון "יד לאישה", לפיו אבי הבעל ייעצר בגין סרבנותו של בנו לתת גט. נשאלת השאלה – האם יש בכך צדק? הלא אנו אמונים על העיקרון לפיו "לא יומתו אבות על בנים ובנים לא יומתו על אבות, איש בחטאו יומת" (דברים כ"ג ט"ז). כיצד, אם כך, מצאנו לנכון לבקש מבית הדין להעניש אב על חטאי בנו?

במבט ראשון אכן נראית דרישה זאת כלא צודקת וכלא הוגנת, אולם במבט בוחן ומעמיק יותר, ניתן להיווכח כי דווקא זוהי דרך הישר וזו התוצאה המוסרית והצודקת.

כאמור, פרשה עגומה זו החלה לפני למעלה מעשור ובמרכזה ניצבת אישה אומללה אשר במהלך ביקור משפחתי בישראל עברה אירוע מוחי חמור אשר עקבותיו נותרו בה עד היום. אישה זו, אשר נותרה נכה במחצית גופה לצמיתות, ננטשה ע"י בעלה שחזר לארה"ב מיד לאחר שהאירוע התרחש וזאת בעצת אביו, לאחר שהובהרה לו חומרת מצבה של האישה. מאז ועד היום מעגן הבעל את האישה, בחסות אביו ובאופן אכזרי, וזאת ללא כל סיבה נראית לעין.

במהלך העדויות שהושמעו בבית הדין עלה כי לא רק שהאב הוא בגדר "מסייע" בעיגון האישה, אלא אט אט התברר כי הוא הוא בעל הדבר עצמו. אבי הבעל הוא המושך בחוטים, הוא המתנה את התנאים, הוא הקובע את הכללים, והוא אשר ברצותו תעוגן האישה וברצותו תשוחרר.

בית הדין עשה שימוש בסמכויות המוקנות לו בחוק, שעניינן אכיפה וציות לפסקי דין שניתנו כדין ע"י ערכאות שיפוטיות במדינת ישראל. מאחר וכנגד הבעל ניתן פסק דין המחייב אותו לתת גט והתברר כי אביו הוא הגורם המכריע באי קיומו של פסק הדין, לפיכך ניתן להטיל עליו סנקציות מכוח פקודת ביזיון בית משפט.

אולם, מהי המסגרת ההלכתית והמוסרית אשר בתוכה פעלנו אנו כמייצגי האישה ובגדרה ניתן פסק הדין? הנה מצינו בפירוש הרמב"ם על המשנה (תרומות ו, ג) לגבי המסייע לדבר עבירה כי הוא בכלל "לפני עיוור לא תיתן מכשול", וז"ל שם: "והמתעהו והמביא אותו לידי מכשול, או שציווהו על העבירה, או שסייעו עליה באיזה סיוע שהוא.. עובר הוא על מה שאמר ה' 'ולפני עור לא תתן מכשול' אם גרם לעבירה, או שעובר על דבר ה' 'אל תשת ידך עם רשע' אם סייע לחוטא". במקרה זה אבי הבעל, הגורם לעיגון האישה, הוא בבחינת "לפני עיור לא תיתן מכשול" ועובר על איסור חמור.


Israeli Man Accused of Raping Stepdaughter for 15 Years, Siring Boy

Ashkelon Magistrate’s Court extended the remand of an ultra-Orthodox couple from Ashdod on Monday after they were arrested the day before on suspicion that the father raped his stepdaughter for 15 years, leading to the birth of a son.

A gag order has been imposed on the case, so names and details cannot be disclosed. However, the father confirmed that the son was the couple’s biological offspring, but said relations with his stepdaughter had been consensual and had taken place when she was an adult. 

The plaintiff, now 31, filed a complaint with Ashdod police last Thursday, saying she had been raped by her stepfather for 15 years, starting when she was 11. She claimed that her biological mother, who is married to her stepfather, knew of the sexual abuse and rape but did nothing to prevent it.

The plaintiff is now raising an 8-year-old boy and the police are preparing to conduct paternity tests in order to verify her claims. A police source told Haaretz that preliminary investigations show there is a factual basis to the complaint. He added that the parents had become Orthodox in recent years. [...]

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Fulfilling the mitzva of Megila with a wandering mind by by Rabbi Benzion Halberstam of Lakewood

I received this letter today

There are lots of Rabbanim today who tell their people that you can't be yotze Megilla with just hearing it in Shul because your mind naturally gets preoccupied with stray thoughts so they require various complicated ways in order to be yotze and they say that otherwise you aren't yotze. In response to this, a Rav in Lakewood wrote a teshuva saying that this isn't true and that even if the person's mind thinks about other things during Krias Hamegilla he is yotze. This teshuva was put out on tables in some shuls this Shabbos and it seems very convincing.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Reinstating the Old Fashioned Torah Part 3 by Joe Orlow

Part 3

Jack Benny z"l was a comedian. Part of his routine was being notoriously stingy. When confronted on his radio show by an actor playing a thief, he finds himself in a quandary:
Thief: Your money or your life!


Thief: Well....?!

Jack Benny [finally] : I'm thinking, I'm thinking.
Besides nicely illustrating the Torah concept that some value their belongings more than their life, this brings us to the topic of how to teach thinking.

The short answer is you can't, at least not directly. But indirectly we can. External stimuli can lead to introspection. "Ashrai Ha'Ish Asher T'yas'renu Kah". From torment and affliction comes intense delving into the Torah to find answers.

We cry and bemoan the public and vicious breakup of Jewish families in the Torah World. We are in shock and pain as we become aware of Torah World Rabbis permitting Mamzerim to be born rather than risk losing financial support and the loss of personal honor.

We will dip our pens in tears mixed with ashes and begin to write a new future for the Torah.


A Torah life is built on obedience to authority. Children obey parents. Students obey teachers. Community members obey the Torah leaders in their town. Local Torah leaders obey national leaders.

A local Torah leader can be the Rabbi of a Shul; a Rosh Yeshiva; a Dayan on a Bais Din; or a Torah scholar without a community position who people turn to for advice.

Parents and teachers are only to be obeyed if they follow the Torah. A child is not obligated to follow an order from a parent demanding that the child transgress the Torah.

Furthermore, the Torah directs each person to select a Rav to follow. The terminology is "Aseh L'cha Rav", "make for yourself a Rav". That is, a Rav cannot come and demand obedience from someone unless that person chose to submit to him. There are exceptions, however.

When the S'micha from Moshe Rabeinu was still given, a Rav could subpoena someone to appear in his court.

And historically, when Jews lived in all-Jewish communities, a person could come under the jurisdiction of a Rav without choosing him. A Rav selected by the community at large had to be obeyed even by those who may oppose him. The seven Tuvai Ha'Ir, even if they were not Rabbis, had to be obeyed. But even there, people had a choice. Someone could leave the city or region and move elsewhere.

If a Rabbi in America is a true scholar and his peers recognize his scholarship and defer to his decisions, he can become a Gadol, or even Gadol Hador, "The Great One of the Generation"; or perhaps a title limiting his authority to a region is conferred on him, such as, "The Greatest Gadol in America". Under those circumstances, the Gadol can require obedience.

Yet, curiously, some Rabbis claim that all Jews in America must submit to them without these Rabbis having properly earned the title. They assume the title of "Gadol", a "Great One", by dint of a family name, or having a prominent position in an established Yeshiva, by having studied under a true Gadol, or because many people bring them their questions or come to their Shiurim; or simply because they sit on the Eastern wall of the dais at a convention. Still, the scholarship of these men may be lacking and thus they are without the respect of true scholars and are pseudo-Gadolim.

Aa long as pseudo-Gadolim work within the confines of those places where their supporters treat them as a Gadol, their impact on others outside their followers is limited.

But when a pseudo-Gadol overreaches and makes decisions that affect people who disdain him for his sloppy scholarship, the stage is set for a showdown between individuals and the pseudo-Gadol. A free-for-all can ensue.

Those who consider the pseudo-Gadol as a fraud, a Rasha, and maybe even an Apikoros, begin publicly airing the flaws of the pseudo-Gadol. Meanwhile, the pseudo-Gadol's followers hit back and begin demanding respect for the man.

Each side demands to be left alone.

But in truth, the pseudo-Gadol has only himself to blame. He bought into all the hype. He exposed his own vulnerability by going into battle without arming himself with sources and proofs from the Mesorah.

Pronouncements from on high don't fly in the old fashioned Torah world. And a sure sign someone is a phony Gadol is when he clams up or begins double-talking, saying one thing to one person and another thing to another, or contradicting himself.

So don't berate me for jumping in and piling it on when a pseudo-Gadol raises his hand against one of my friends. Don't tell me to let the Gadolim handle it and that I should stay out and just watch from the sidelines.

Rather, let those who criticize me ask themselves why their vocal "Gadol" all of a sudden is scrambling to rise above the fray, when it was he who threw the first punch? Why is he refusing to discuss the issue at hand openly and honestly? I'll take a stab at answering that question: Because the pseudo-Gadol is used to being obeyed unquestioningly, and when someone catches him playing fast and loose with the rules, he freezes like a deer caught in the headlights.

As for me, to do nothing when I discern the Torah being abused eats away at my soul. For self preservation I am compelled not to stand idly by.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Vayikrah; Squirt The Blood Or Squeeze It? by Rabbi Shlomo Pollak

Guest Post by Rabbi Shlomo Pollak

The Torah tells the Kohein to do מיצוי הדם - Squeeze the blood- on both עלות העוף and חטאת העוף.
How should the blood be squeezed out? By squeezing the bird, and the blood squirting out? Or by squeezing the bird against the Mizbeach, and blood trickling down?

Rashi in Zevochim 64b, explains that it's done by squeezing the bird against the Mizbeach, and in Minachos 2b Rashi says it's done by squirting!?!.....

For questions or comments please email

Wohlmark of the Mendel Epstein Torture Gang will go to Otisville

Wolmark will be joining others of the torture gang at Otisville

Kaminetsky-Greenblatt Heter: Despite the clear evidence - it is unlikely that Rav Dovid Feinstein will publicly criticize anyone

After over a month of hearings by the beis din of Rav Dovid Feinstein - apparently nothing has been decided. In addition, given his behavior in the past -  it is highly unlikely that Rav Dovid Feinstein will actually publicly criticize anyone.

Next week - if nothing significant has been heard from the Feinstein Beis din - I wll return to explaining why the heter is a corruption of halacha and a gross misuse of Psychology. I will be placing most of the blame on Rav Nota Greenblatt - who despite admitting his ignorance of modern psychology - mistakenly insists that it is equivalent to medicine in terms of describing objective reality. Of course the Kaminetskys are not innocent and I will review their involvement.

However even if the Feinstein Beis Din publicly announces its conclusion - it is highly unlikely that they will end the mnatter - and I will explain why.

I would like to be proven wrong about the above - but it is highly unlikely.

Vayikrah 76 - Social Thinking and Da'at = Social Intelligence by Allan Katz

Guest post Allan Katz

The Book of Leviticus- Vayikrah deals with the sacrifices, holiness and purity. It opens with … 'And Hashem- God called Moses and spoke to him saying '…The commentaries explain that Moses did not want to enter the Tabernacle- Mishkan until God had given him an invitation and permission to enter. The Midrash commentary says 'that any sage or wise scholar who has no da'at – social intelligence, is worse than a rotting carcass. Moses, who was extremely close to God, his representative and emissary in the world to teach God's Torah, perform miracles etc and he even built the Mishkan, did not enter the mishkan until God called him and invited him to enter. And just as Moses acted with דרך ארץ – derech e'retz and sensitivity, God called Moses and addressed him by his name. From this למדה התורה דרך ארץ, the Torah taught derech e'retz, the way of the world, as how people should interact with each other. If a person wants to have a conversation with someone, he should first address him by his name and then start the conversation. 

God's call to Moses was out of affection and relationship. On the other hand, God just appeared to Bilaam, the prophet of the surrounding nations, as if by chance. Out of humility, Moses wrote the words 'and God called '- וַיִּקְרָא with a small ' aleph ', so God's revelation to him would be written as similar to that of Bilaam –ויקר by chance. It seems that a precondition for prophecy, the frame of mind for engaging in the offering of sacrifices and a relationship with God and people is humility. R' Akivah says a person who is arrogant because of his Torah learning, is like a rotting carcass. "אִם נָבַלְתָּ בְהִתְנַשֵּׂא '… you became like a rotting carcass' by being arrogant.-Proverbs 30:32. This wise scholar or sage may be academically intelligent but lacks social- emotional skills, sensitivity to others, derech e'retz, common sense and common courtesies. Because of his arrogance he fails to take into account the concerns and perspectives of others, how they perceive his teaching and behavior and the possible impact and consequences of his actions on others. The sage desecrates God's name with his behavior, people say that the Torah is to blame for his behavior, and at worst, it is possible that some people would learn bad ways from him. A rotting carcass does not do much damage and people know to keep away because of the bad smell. A leading Rabbinical Judge R' Shlomo D'chovsky in his farewell speech on retiring, encouraged fellow judges – your decisions don't always have to be ' glatt', taking into account all the stringencies of the law. Sometimes a b'di'eved or lenient decision may more accurately reflect the situation and meet the needs of the parties concerned. A stringent decision may cause more problems and certainly not be true, just and contribute to peaceful relationships. R' Isaac Sher asks that( 1) all people , not only wise scholars and judges have to act with derech e'retz, be sensitive to others and act with common courtesy so why does the midrash refer only to a sage and (2) why does the midrash use the word ' da'at ' instead of the word ' derech e'retz . The wise scholar and sage, because of their learning of God's Torah are expected to reflect on the highest levels of understanding as to how people are supposed to interact with each other and be highly sensitive to how they impact on others and how they perceive their needs. The scholar should be learning practical lessons on human refinement and sensitivity from his learning and finding ways to apply his learning to an imperfect world taking into account how people experience what he says and does. This is not just derech e'retz but da'at , a highly sophisticated social intelligence and understanding of 'da'at elyon', the highest form of intelligence. When such a person is honest in his business dealings , and he speaks pleasantly to people , people begin to speak positively about him and say that his teachers and parents who have taught him Torah are sure to be happy and proud of him. The reason his ways are fine and his deeds are righteous is because this man has studied the Torah.

When it comes to children and teenagers, their lack of derech e'retz, da'at or social intelligence has less to do with character or personality flaws like arrogance, but more to do about lagging social skills. Adult problems may also be due to ' untreated lagging skills ' when they were kids .We are born to a 'social mind ' which has a predisposition to ' empathy' and available to learning. New born babies identify with the cries of other babies, showing the trait of empathy. Crucial for the development of the social mind is child- directed play with others, and also an exposure to a lot of non-verbal and verbal language. Unfortunately, children are being introduced to academic learning at a younger age and this comes at the expense of social and emotional learning – less time for play and adults focusing on compliance. And some kids are developmentally delayed and have difficulty in naturally learning these social skills and therefore are challenged in area of social interactions.

Teaching kids by rote ' social scripts or behaviors' in the hope that they can generalize to other situations and help them function more socially does not help very much. Instead of static skills, they need to learn dynamic skills that enhance their dynamic intelligence so they learn to be flexible and adapt their behavior depending on situations and people involved. This is done by promoting ' social thinking' so the skills developed are not isolated, but a product of a problem solving process. It is not only being able to perform the skill that is important, but understanding the context and the purpose of the skill. Social thinking is how we navigate the space we share with others. We have to interpret and understand peoples' motives, intentions, concerns, to assess how others are feeling and predict what will happen next – how people will react and the consequences of our words and actions etc. it is not enough for a kid to understand his intentions but how others are reading his intentions. A kid maybe able to identify his concerns and the concerns of others, but he must also be able have some understanding as to how they interpret his intentions. In the social arena, a problem is not only about the kid having a problem pursuing his concerns, but often the problem includes addressing the concerns and expectations of others. The child also needs to learn to initiate conversations, articulate his concerns, and participate in brainstorming solutions that are realistic, durable and mutually satisfying.

In Schools and even in homes, social and emotional learning is about adult expectations and the consequences imposed on kids for infractions and rewards or praise for compliance. Besides promoting the most primitive form of morality , helping kids to ask what's in it for me , they never learn to ask themselves what are the consequences of my actions on other people and the environment. Adults never model perspective taking and seeing the kids ' world through their eyes'. They fail to learn the lesson – that it is not what we teach that matters, but what kids learn, and how kids experience what we do to them and say. What matters is just ' behavior ', ignoring the whole child, his feeling and motives, in the blind belief in the power of the Lo lishma, m'toch she'lo lishmah ba lishmah. Hillel taught – if I am not for myself, who is for me and if I am only for myself, who am I. If we totally ignore kids concerns and expectations, we don't teach them the social skills and social thinking as how to pursue their own needs in appropriate ways and yet take into accounts the perspectives and concerns of others. If we want kids to have derch e'retz, da'at and social skills we need to take steps - more play and more social, emotional learning focusing on social thinking.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Reinstating the Old Fashioned Torah Part 2 The Old Fashioned Torah by Joe Orlow

Guest post by Joe Orlow

What is the Old Fashioned Torah?

The key element of the Old Fashioned Torah is that it requires a Jew to think. Books such as "Obligations of the Heart" and "Path of the Upright" make this point. A Mitzvah requires the alignment of a Jew's inner and outer states. Thought and action have to coincide. For example, for someone to "pray" without understanding that they are addressing G-d, even if they say the words in a language they understand, they have accomplished nothing.

Thinking leads to the realization that the Torah requires a man to work, not for a man to mooch. The sources in the Torah that teach that everyone must work have been taught by Rabbi Dovid Eidensohn, and will only be treated briefly here. The Rambam says that a man must marry at age eighteen, and have a job and a paid up house. The Zohar says that not to have a job and paid up house and to marry puts the man into the category of a Shoteh, a strong term meaning someone who is untrustworthy due to his careless behavior. Rava, in the Talmud, encouraged his students to have business investments that would give them the income and the time to study Torah.

To be sure, it is proper at this point in history for some men to devote themselves full time to learning. But the decision that a given individual should learn full time should be made by the community in consultation with a Rav who has nothing to gain by deciding that the man should not work. The decision not to work should not be left up to the man himself, even if his wife is willing to be the sole source of income for the family; nor should the decision be made by his Rosh Yeshiva who stands to benefit from the increase in size and prestige of the Yeshiva.

The Torah World was a natural outgrowth from the great Yeshivas that taught the Old Fashioned Torah. What happened?

The Torah World got to the point of falling apart because it began demanding unthinking unquestioning obedience to Gadolim, some of whom turned out to be unworthy of their followers (please refer to the article Pseudo Gadolim appended below). The way to counter the break up of the Torah World is to teach people to think.

It is helpful to examine how unthinking became entrenched in the Torah World. Reb Chaim of Volozhin started his Yeshiva in reaction to "Enlightened" Jews disputing with Torah-true Jews as to the legitimacy of Torah observance. The Volozhiner Yeshiva emphasized pure Torah study isolated from the give-and-take of conversations with "Maskilim". Later, Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch articulated arguments to counter the Reform and others. Rav Yisrael Salanter introduced the Musar Movement to Yeshivas. Still, there remained a standoffish attitude within Yeshivas, which is now becoming their downfall.

Specifically because all outside criticism is eschewed, Yeshivas lack a correction mechanism when their leaders veer away away from the Torah. They are closed to rebuke, immune to pressure. What was once a strength has become their undoing.

How can we teach people to think, the pre-requisite of an Old Fashioned Torah Yeshiva? That is the subject of Part 3.

Blueberry Cafe: A benefit for ORA Looking to help more Tamar Epsteins

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

In measles outbreaks, those who passed on vaccinations are most often the patients

A comprehensive new study of measles and pertussis outbreaks in the United States suggests that adults' reluctance or refusal to vaccinate themselves and their children have played a key role in the resurgence of diseases that had been completely or largely eradicated in this country.

In an analysis published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Assn., epidemiologists scoured published and public-health reports of measles and pertussis outbreaks to glean what role vaccination refusal and hesitance played, and how significant the contribution of waning immunity was among the vaccinated.

In measles outbreaks, the researchers found the role of the unvaccinated to be powerful. In 1,416 measles cases occurring in the United States since the disease ceased to circulate in the United States in 2000, 57% were in people who had no history being vaccinated. Of the 574 cases of measles seen in unvaccinated individuals, 405 (almost 71%) were unvaccinated due to nonmedical exemptions.

Using the reports to draw a "cumulative epidemic curve" -- the trajectory of the infection's spread -- the researchers found that unvaccinated individuals tended to be among the first, or within the first few groups of people to contract and pass along measles. That suggests that unvaccinated people ignited many of the outbreaks, and were a key accelerant in their spread as well.

In children under 5 and adults over 20 who contract measles, complications are more common and can be serious. Inner ear infections, which can cause hearing loss, are not unusual. As many as 5% of children who get measles will develop pneumonia and one in 1,000 will develop swelling in the brain, which can cause seizures and lead to deafness or intellectual disability. Death is a rare complication, but occurs in one to two children per 1,000 infected.

The new research found a slightly different picture looking at pertussis outbreaks. Of the more than 10,000 cases that occur annually, outbreak frequently occurred among the vaccinated -- evidence that vaccination with the DTaP (the combination vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis) is not conferring lasting immunity in all who get it.

Researchers reviewed 32 reports of pertussis outbreaks in which the vaccination status of the 10,069 patients was known. Unvaccinated and undervaccinated individuals accounted for between 24% and 45% of the infected in five of the largest statewide epidemics included in the analysis. [...]

Reinstating the Old Fashioned Torah:Part 1 A Primer on the Torah World and Its Challenges

Guest post by Joe Orlow

What is the Torah World?

The "Torah World" is a worldwide network of Jewish communities. The communities are centered on the study and observance of the Torah. The men in these communities study the Torah in schools called Yeshivas. Another term used synonymously with "Torah World" is "Yeshiva World".

The children in the Torah World are sent to schools where all students are Jewish. The children study the Torah. To satisfy civil law requirements, and to prepare for working at a job, the schools also have classes in math, science, language, etc. Many communities have separate schools for boys and girls. Most of the students continue with the schooling until graduation, typically when the students are about eighteen years old. Students then often attend yeshivas (for the men) and seminaries (for the women). Marriage follows. Marriages are often arranged, with the bride and groom both raised in the Torah World. Families of ten or more children are common.

There is no strict definition of which families are in the Torah World, and which are not. Torah World families generally are part of a greater Jewish community in the cities where they reside. A general rule is that the men of the Torah World wear black suits and black hats, and will attend services, or Daven, at a Yeshiva and/or at Shuls affiliated with a Yeshiva, as well as study there.

In broad strokes, this is the Torah World.

It should be noted that there is no central governing authority in the Torah World. There are councils of Rabbis in various regions of the world. These councils, in turn, stay in communication with each other. In the U.S., Agudath Israel of America has a "Moetzes Gedolai HaTorah", "Council of Torah Sages", which self-selects Rabbis to discuss matters of import to the Torah World communities in the U.S. Each community may also have an independent council, or Vaad, and an independent Jewish Court, or Bais Din, that deals with, and decides matters of, Jewish Law, or Halacha.

Through marriage ties and through having ties to the same Torah leaders, communities in the Torah World are close-knit. In some Torah World communities, the homes of Torah families are in close proximity, to the extent that Torah World families form the majority of the population for many blocks within a city. In other communities, Torah World Jews live in near each other, but also among non-Jews and non-Torah World Jews.

The interaction of Torah World Jews with outsiders can be friendly and open in the public realm, but is also strictly proscribed, and limited, in the private realm.

How are families supported in the Torah World?

In some Torah World communities, the husbands do not generally work, outside of teaching or running camps or being paid to study Torah. Some of the money to support these Torah World families comes from tuition and camp fees paid by other Torah World families. Much of the income originates outside the Torah World from non-Torah World Jewish families who send their children to Torah World schools and camps, or non-Torah World Jews who donate money to these schools and camps.

Many husbands in Torah World families do work, and in some Torah World communities it may be most men. Other income streams for families with or without husbands with jobs or investments may be from wives working, support from relatives, support from government programs, etc. It's important to note that sitting and learning Torah full-time is still held to be the desired way of living even by those men who work. Working is seen as a fallback plan when the option of learning full time is not possible for reasons such as an unwillingness to live in near poverty.

However, even for those men who work, life can be on the financial edge, as staggering tuitions, camp fees, and cost of living in a nice neighborhood can drain the resources of even families with two incomes from husband and wife who have substantial income from professional employment. This is because poorer parents are given breaks in tuition costs. The upshot is that the wealthier families pay full tuition that essentially subsidizes the poorer families. This setup can be a disincentive for some men in destitute Torah World families to seek employment, since a large part of extra income may just go to pay tuition increases.

What is the standard of living in the Torah World?

The large families, relatively high percentage of non-working men, and cost of schooling, cost of Kosher food, etc., along with the unspoken obligation to support married children and grandchildren, leads to widespread poverty, near poverty, or just financial desperation.

How does the poverty impact the quality of life?

Many families struggle to survive in Torah communities. They willingly accept deprivation because of their high level of dedication to keeping the Torah. In some families, the women have to work to support the family, and are also responsible for the upkeep of the home, food shopping and preparation, and raising the children. It is not unusual to find women who have lost their idealism along the way, or who never fully embraced the Torah World mode of life, and who thus divorce their husbands. Constant lack of finances typically puts pressure on families, and that unrelieved pressure can be a contributing factor in divorce.

Large families can mean that the population of a Torah community expands 10% every year. Housing can become scarce in these communities, driving up the cost of living even higher. This can lead to borrowing and high levels of debt as families try to pay basic needs like utilities.

How does the Torah World leadership interface with families that are struggling?

A highly sought after qualification for a Torah World leader is a willingness to permit people to support themselves in ways that are legally and Halachically shadowy. This lends itself to disastrous results when violations of civil laws and Halacha that the corrupt Rabbis tried to keep hidden are exposed, as happens from time to time.

In other words, the corrupt Rabbis who condone wrongdoing are apparently being practical. These Rabbis are themselves under tremendous pressure to make a New Torah that sanctions sometimes ignoring civil law and Torah Halacha. Without this New Torah, the Torah World would disappear as many now permitted resources to survive would become forbidden fruit.

Thus, the very existence of the Torah World requires occasionally not following the Torah. Now, there is a concept of "Hora'a Sha'a", the need for expedient rulings on rare occasions. But even these rulings that allow breaking the Torah are part and parcel of the Torah. What many Torah World leaders permit or wink at goes well beyond the necessity to violate the Torah in order to preserve it.

A non-financial example of grinding the Torah under the heel is how the Torah World places paramount value on families appearing to be perfect by Torah World family standards. In a bizarre twisting of Halacha, some communities unofficially label children as unmarriageable if these children come from families that don't meet these community-set standards. This can lead to something as relatively benign as hiding the behavior of the sibling of a child seeking to marry, to activity designed to avoid divorce, which may include wife swapping and other adulterous under-the-radar transgressions. All this subterfuge is intended to give an outsider the impression that a home is perfect.

It is historically unusual that so many Jewish men in a community sit and learn and do not work. What will be the outcome in the long run?

It should be noted that the Torah requires men to work and support their families. There are indications that there may be a limit to how much longer the women in the Torah World will put up with being raised at home and taught in schools the lie that men not working is the highest expression of a Torah life.

After several decades of this lifestyle, we may be nearing the breaking point. The Torah World in the U.S. was born of the social upheaval of the '60's (non-Jewish calendar). The first generation of the Torah World was supported in large part by parents who worked, and by generous government programs subsidizing families and schools. The second generation was supported by these same parents, now supporting grandchildren. The family support is now drying up, since Torah World parents don't have money for themselves, much less for their married children.

It is interesting to note that the current presidential campaign in the U.S. is fueled almost entirely by a debate over whether those who work and have a comfortable life are obligated, through taxes, to subsidize those with less. The outcome of this election will have a far reaching impact on the Torah World.

We will explore further the role of women in the Torah World. In particular, what would happen if the women refused to continue to support the men?

The overwhelming burden of keeping the Torah World going falls on the Torah World women. These women are trained from birth to be the economic engine for the Torah World, in opposition to the Torah. The collective burden is growing to the point of becoming impossible to sustain.

It is becoming increasingly likely that women who have "chapped" the deception may begin to refuse to marry non-working men.

Men and women may opt out of marrying altogether due to the high divorce rate -- in other words, singles will not marry out of a fear of getting divorced and being wiped out financially and even socially.

Thus, Torah World communities will be impacted as many women choose to live a Torah-true life where their husbands work, or when singles choose, against the Torah, not to marry at all and write themselves out of the Torah World. Commensurate with this, the number of births into the Torah World will begin to dwindle. This will put even more financial burden on those left in the community, since the non-working adults will be an even higher percentage of the community at that point.

Some fault lines of Torah World communities are already apparent as significant numbers of school age children choose on their own to stop going to school. Some end up alienated from their families. Going to a school is part of the price for a ticket to a Torah World marriage. These young people, by leaving school, are essentially checking out of the Torah World.

While this breakdown of community integrity is occurring slowly now, the danger of a meltdown is looming. It would take just one generation of nineteen year old girls to rebel, and the edifice of the Torah World could crumble, as younger sisters might join the rebels, and an avalanche of refusal to serve in the ranks of the Torah World would ensue. The artifice of men learning without earning would collapse under its own weight.

Sara Schenirer revolutionized education of Jewish women. Tradition teaches that the Chashmonean only took up arms when a relative refused to be taken to the Hegmon on her wedding night. What Yeshiva girl is now studying up on the myriad of Jewish women in whose merit the Jewish People have been saved, from Sara Imeunu to Yehudis to the woman who single-handedly circumcised her baby in a concentration camp? Is this Yeshiva girl energizing herself to battle and lead us back to the Torah-true life? It would only take a few "texts" to her friends for her to pull the plug on the Torah World.

What does the future hold for the Torah World?

The Torah World has to morph, as a whole, into a Torah-true World. Men will have to find employment to find a wife and to increase the likelihood the marriage will last. This will have to be part of an organized movement, not ad hoc as is now the case.

The next segment will outline some possible ways of re-building the Torah World based on the Old Fashioned Torah.

Orthodox Jews Set Sights on N.J. Town (Toms River)and Angry Residents Resist

Every home is big on glass in a Toms River, New Jersey, neighborhood called North Dover. Windows let in the sun, or show off chandeliers in multistory entrance halls.

These days, though, most homeowners draw the blinds, retreating from brushes with a fast-growing Orthodox Jewish community that’s trying to turn a swath of suburban luxury 10 miles (16 kilometers) from Atlantic beaches into an insular enclave. The rub, a township inquiry found, is “highly annoying, suspicious and creepy” tactics used by some real-estate agents.

They show up on doorsteps to tell owners that if they don’t sell, they’ll be the only non-Orthodox around. Strangers, sometimes several to a car, shoot photos and videos. When they started pulling over to ask children which house was theirs, parents put an end to street-hockey games.

“It’s like an invasion,” said Thomas Kelaher, Toms River’s three-term mayor, who’s fielded complaints from the North Dover section since mid-2015. “It’s the old throwback to the 1960s, when blockbusting happened in Philadelphia and Chicago with the African-American community -- ‘I want to buy your house. You’ll be sorry if you don’t.’ It scares the hell out of people.”

The upset has its roots in adjacent Lakewood, home to yeshivas including Beth Medrash Govoha, among the world’s biggest centers for Talmudic study. Scholars typically marry young and start large families that maintain strict gender roles and limit interaction with secular society.

Rabbi Avi Schnall, state director of Agudath Israel of America, which represents Orthodox Jews on political, social and religious issues, said a few sales agents “are overly aggressive and making a bad name for the others.” He declined to say whether anti-Semitism is at work, but said the “extent of the anger” in Lakewood’s neighboring towns is deep, fueling opposition to a learning center, a boarding school, dormitories and other proposals. [...]

Monday, March 14, 2016

Rabbi Hirsch on Korbanos part 2

By Hirschy;

"Which natural enjoyment does it [the Torah] seek to eradicate? Is there one natural enjoyment that it does not ennoble, one inborn drive that it does not hallow...? As means to a higher end, subordinate to the Law and dedicated to its purpose, these drives are holy and truly human, a way of fulfilling the human destiny." - Rabbi S.R. Hirsch , letter 15 of the Nineteen Letters (pages 196-7 in the Elias edition)

As mentioned in the previous post, shechitah is only a necessary first step. Afterwards, the real avodah begins. The blood is absorbed in a kli sha'reis. This signifies that a persons 'lifeblood' must be sanctified by being placed in a holy vessel. [5] This is followed by zerikas ha'dam.[6] The blood is placed (or thrown, depending on the type of korbon) on the corners of the mizbayach. This signifies the person taking to heart to elevate himself to the ideals which the mizbayach represents. Those ideals will be explained in a future post. For now, let up just note one important point. The mizbayach must be square. If not, it is passul. Now, a square is not a 'natural' shape. Left to the elements, objects in the wild tend to end up circular or some similar form. The mizbayach's very shape indicates that human activity is key and a positive thing. [7]

To be continued...

[5] See commentary on shemos 29:37

[6] Actually this is preceded by ha'kravah- the blood is carried to the mizbayach. However, that avodah merely symbolizes the drawing near to ha'shem that was already indicated by the person's decision to bring the korban in the first place. Therefore, this stage is dispensable and may be skipped in a scenario where the shechitah was done next to the mizbayach.

[7] According to Rabbi Hirsch, the korban symbolizes the the determination on the part of the makriv (the one bringing it) to dedicate all of his energy, abilities, and talents to the service of Hashem. Again, the point is not to eliminate anything, but to redirect it.

It cannot be over emphasized that Rabbi Hirsch utterly rejected the notion that people are fundamentally bad and need to be crushed into some sort of pathetic broken soul with no normal tendencies. See Rabbi Yechiel Yakov Weinberg's article about Rabbi Hirsch (Seridei Aish volume 4 page 364-7), where he notes that this is fundamentally what differentiates the optimistic Jewish view of this world from the morbid Christian one. "At this time, Rabbi Hirsch stood up and proclaimed the ancient truth of Judaism: life and religion are one and the same....the mitzvos were not given as an alternative to the joys of life or as some form of compensation for them.... In his writings, Rabbi Hirsch makes one fundamental argument: enliven the religious sense so that it nurses from the depths of a persons soul- not from fear of death and the punishments that follow." As Rabbi Weinberg notes, there is nothing new about this demand- it's called yir'as ha'rommemus. It's only that Rabbi Hirsch made a point of stressing it- in opposition to reformers like Holdheim who claimed that 'rabbinic' Judaism and real life are incompatible. 

See also the section "Judaism And The Moral Law Innate In Man" in Dayan Grunfeld's introduction to Rabbi Hirsch's Horeb.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

No evidence Ritalin makes a difference long term for ADHD kids

Drugs such as Ritalin make no difference to the long-term outcomes of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, who continue to struggle academically and mentally as they get older, early research findings suggest.

The Murdoch Childrens Research Institute has been following 178 children with ADHD and 212 children without ADHD for three years to identify what factors make a difference to the development of children with the disorder.

By the age of seven there are severe academic, social and mental health differences between children with ADHD and their peers, the Children's Attention Project, which is funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council, found. Three years on, these disparities persist, preliminary findings suggest.

Four times as many 10-year-olds with ADHD suffer from mental health problems such as anxiety and oppositional disorder. They are also well behind their peers in their maths and reading abilities. There was no difference in outcomes between boys and girls.

"All of them continue to be substantially at risk of academic and mental health problems as they had been at seven," one of the chief investigators of the project, paediatrician Daryl Efron said.

The 13 per cent of children in the study who were taking medication such as Ritalin to treat their ADHD were doing no better or worse than their unmedicated peers at age 10. "Medication doesn't alter the long-term outcomes of kids [with ADHD]," Dr Efron said. He cautioned that the project wasn't designed to test the long-term effectiveness of drugs.

Dr Efron said drugs like Ritalin were very effective in reducing the day-to-day symptoms of ADHD "but we haven't progressed very much beyond that".

"Medication is fantastic for treating the symptoms of ADHD . . . helping kids be calmer and focus better. It doesn't surprise me that so far we haven't shown medication makes a difference to kids doing better into the future."

Dr Efron said doctors need to find out what combination of support and intervention does make a difference long-term. He suggested it could involve medication, parent support and remedial strategies.[...]

Paula Burgess has found that occupational therapy and the family's new dog have made the most difference to her seven-year-old son, Jesse, who has ADHD. Jesse will ask his mum to rock him on the yoga ball when he feels his symptoms escalating.[...]

It's been a far more positive experience than the disastrous six weeks Jesse spent on Ritalin. While his teachers noticed an improvement, Jesse's anxiety spiralled, and he would lash out at his mother when he got home from school, kicking and punching her.[...]

Friday, March 11, 2016

No, Science Is Not Faith-Based

Even the most well-learned scientist, working within the frameworks of the most robustly tested and verified theories, can never be certain that the next experiment or measurement will continue to provide the results that we expect. Last month, when the LIGO collaboration announced the direct detection of gravitational waves for the first time, it confirmed a new aspect of Einstein’s general relativity: one that had been predicted and whose consequences had been seen indirectly — through the decay of neutron star orbits — but one that we couldn’t be sure about until we validated it directly. But writing in the Wall Street Journal, Matt Emerson makes the erroneous claim that science is faith-based, too. Here’s the crux of his argument, followed by why it falls apart.

He quotes physicist Carlo Rovelli, who wrote that the discovery of gravitational waves was the realization of a “dream based on faith in reason: that the logical deductions of Einstein and his mathematics would be reliable.” He quotes Paul Davies, who wrote, “Just because the sun has risen every day of your life, there is no guarantee that it will therefore rise tomorrow. The belief that it will—that there are indeed dependable regularities of nature—is an act of faith, but one which is indispensable to the progress of science.” And then, based on the use of the word “faith” in these two sentences, he makes the following leap:

Recognizing the existence of this kind of faith is an important step in bridging the artificial divide between science and religion, a divide that is taken for granted in schools, the media and in the culture. People often assume that science is the realm of certainty and verifiability, while religion is the place of reasonless belief. [...] The fundamental choice is not whether humans will have faith, but rather what the objects of their faith will be, and how far and into what dimensions this faith will extend.

To be willing to make this statement is to deliberately misunderstand what the enterprise of science is, and how it fundamentally differs from any theological conclusion one could ever reach.

Faith, by definition, is the belief in something despite insufficient knowledge to be certain of its veracity. Some beliefs require small leaps of faith (the example that the Sun will rise tomorrow), as the body of evidence supporting that prediction is overwhelming, while others – the existence of dark matter, the inflationary origin of our Universe, or the possibility of room-temperature superconductivity — may still be likely, but may also reasonably turn out to be wrongheaded. Yet in every case, there are two key components that make the prediction scientific:

The prediction, or the belief that the outcome can be accurately predicted, is predicated on the existence of quality evidence.

As the evidence changes — as we obtain more, newer and better evidence — and as the full suite of evidence expands, our predictions, postdictions and entire conceptions of the Universe change along with it.

There is no such thing as a good scientist who isn’t willing to both base their scientific belief on the full suite of evidence available, nor is there such a thing as a good scientist who won’t revise their beliefs in the face of new evidence.

We may have had faith that Einstein’s predictions, and the existence of gravitational waves, would turn out to be correct, and that LIGO would make the greatest scientific discovery of the 21st century so far. But if it hadn’t been true — if advanced LIGO had reached design sensitivity and seen nothing for years, or if it had seen something that conflicted with Einstein’s theory — that faith would be instantaneously discarded, and replaced by something even better: a quest to discover how to extend and supersede Einstein’s greatest accomplishment to account for the new evidence. [...]