Thursday, December 31, 2020

Remarrying after only secular divorce

 Igros Moshe (Y.D. 02:044):A Jewish couple received a civil divorce 2 years ago but never got a religious divorce. Now they have reconciled, and must remarry according to secular law to be considered married but they find it degrading to go to the local city judge and they simply want to make a religious ceremony even though according to halacha they are still married and thus there are no berachos. It is correct in my humble opinion not to have any wedding at all so that it won’t be said that they had been divorced also by Jewish law by the secular divorce.  However it is possible to fill out a marriage license and have it witnessed and signed because this will not cause people to view secular divorce as having religious consequences. It is also proper and helpful to say that they are getting remarried.

Trump's Push for $2,000 Checks Flops as the GOP-led Senate Won't Vote

 Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell all but shut the door Wednesday on President Donald Trump’s push for $2,000 COVID-19 relief checks, declaring Congress has provided enough pandemic aid as he blocked another attempt by Democrats to force a vote.

The GOP leader made clear he is unwilling to budge, despite political pressure from Trump and even some fellow Republican senators demanding action. Trump wants the recent $600 in aid increased threefold. But McConnell dismissed the idea of bigger “survival checks” approved by the House, saying the money would go to plenty of American households that just don’t need it.

Mechitza for how many women?

Igros Moshe (O.C. 05:12):When is mechitza needed? 1) Is a mechitza needed when praying in a place not normally used for prayer e.g.the house of mourning? Do the women need to go into a separate room or is it enough to be physically separated?. It would seem that the halacha is that women in a house of mourning need to go into a separate room. The reason is that a house of mourning is open to the public which according to halacha always requires separation between women and men and surely at the time of prayer as I have already explained in Igros Moshe (O.C.. 1:39) However if the women don’t agree to leave, this does not prevent praying since it is is not common. However in the house of a chasan there is no requirement for a mechitza since it is not open to the public but only to family members. Therefore it is sufficient for the men to pray in one corner 2)Is a mechitza needed if there is only a small number of women- one or two? In Igros Moshe (O.C.1:39) at the end I brought a proof from Kiddushin (52b) that there isn’t a need to have a mechitza for just a couple of women. So how many women don’t require a mechitza.e.g. in a house of mourning or in a yeshiva where they pray only Mncha during the week and Shabbos and it doesn’t have a mechitza? Is it permitted to allow a number of women to enter and sit at the end of the room? It has been true that in every generation that the normative practice to allow occasionally for a poor woman to enter the yeshiva to collect tzedaka or for a woman in mourning to say kadish, However the actual halacha needs to be researched and it depends on how many poor people there are. Nevertheless it appears that in yeshiva, that if they come every Shabbos and Mincha that there is no basis for leniency for prayer without a mechitza but it is permitted if this isn’t a fixed occurrence.  But this is true only when there is not more than two women. As you mentioned that according to halacha one woman can enter the yeshiva as can be seen in Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 282:3) that a woman can be counted as one of the seven.  3) Can a woman give a lesson in Shul or yeshiva when it is not time to pray such as Friday night when normally a lay person gives a lesson regarding the Torah reading and men and woman come? It appears that it is a great problem if men and women sit together but I don’t want to deal with that. The giving of a lesson by a woman is permitted but only if it happens occasionally. It is also required that everyone be seated during the lesson so it is more modest. It is also better to do it only in a private house and not yeshiva or shul.

IAF Commander opposes US sale of F-35 to UAE

Amikam Norkin, Commander of the Israel Air Force, on Wednesday commented on the deal to sell F35 aircraft from the United States to the United Arab Emirates.

Speaking during a discussion at the Weizmann Institute, Norkin said, "We want to maintain our qualitative advantage. We have no quantitative advantage."

"I feel a deep American commitment, that was also agreed upon with the Minister of Defense two months ago, to the qualitative advantage. It is not so good for us to have advanced aircraft in the region," he added.

Poll: 78% of Haredim back health rules, 60% broke them to send kids to school

A majority of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox believe in the importance of lockdown restrictions to curb the coronavirus, but a majority of the community also sent their children to school in violation of the rules, according to a survey published Wednesday.

The survey said that 78 percent of ultra-Orthodox, or Haredi, Israelis believe there is “great” or “moderate” importance to adhering to the Health Ministry’s rules during the pandemic.

Trump's ridiculous exit strategy

Behold the crackpot presidency nearing its end.
After years of conspiracy theories, lies, and rage, the President seems to be turning the Oval Office into a stage set for the final scenes of a Biblical quality drama -- and more specifically, the tale of the super-strong Israelite warrior Samson, who declared "Let me die with the Philistines!" and in toppling the temple, died along with his enemies. 
Trump isn't Samson. America isn't a Philistine temple. Thank God there are still people around the President who resist the ridiculous drama.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020


Igros Moshe (O.C. 01:039):Concerning the need for a mechitza (divider) in the synagogue between the men and women and its height. The basic rule is that even if the men are all on one side and the women are on the other side, it is still prohibited to be without a mechitza and in my view this is a Torah requirement. The proof is from Succah (51) where a question is raised concerning the balconies that were made in the Ezras Nashim at the end of the Yom Tov so that the women were above and the men were below. Also see the Yerushalmi (Sukkah 5:2) and Tosfos (Zevachim 33)….We see from Sukkah (51) that even with a mechitza but that it is possible to have levity there is still a Torah prohibition. Because even initially when the men and woman were separated but the woman were able to stand to watch the simcha and it was possible to interact with the men and have levity despite the barrier - the Torah still prohibited this. Thus we see the need not only to have a divider – mechitza but it needs to be high enough to prevent levity or else an elevated balcony is required for the women. I think it is reasonable that a mechitza which is shoulder high is sufficient – 18 tefachim. We saw that the reason for the mechitza is not to prevent seeing the women but levity. It is best however – especially in America -  where many women are dressed improperly and don’t cover their heads that it should be high enough so the women are not seen. If it is only 18 tefachim and there are some woman with uncovered heads, it is possible to rely on the Aruch HaShulcan and pray there.If the mechitza is less than 18 tefachim prayer is prohibited to pray and it is required to protest forcefully. This applies to all gathering of men and women. 

 Sukka(51) AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE FIRST FESTIVAL DAY etc. What was the GREAT ENACTMENT? — R. Eleazar replied, As that of which we have learnt. Originally [the walls of the Court of the Women] were smooth,37 but [later the Court] was surrounded with a gallery, and it was enacted that the women should sit above and the men below.38

Our Rabbis have taught, Originally the women used to sit within [the Court of the Women] while the men were without, but as this caused levity, it was instituted that the women should sit without and the men within. As this, however, still led to levity, it was instituted that the women should sit above39 and the men below.

But how could they do so?40[Alter the original structure of the Temple.]
Is it not written, All this [do I give thee] in writing as the Lord hath made me wise by His hand upon me?41 — Rab answered, They found a Scriptural verse and expounded it:

GOP senator to delay affirming Biden victory by forcing votes on Electoral College results

Rep. Mo Brooks, the Alabama Republican spearheading the effort to object in the House, said earlier this month Republicans were considering objecting to six states that Biden won, meaning as much as 12 hours of debate that would turn the process into a political circus and could spill into a second day of debate.
The last time the chambers voted on an objection was in 2005, when then-Sen. Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat, joined with then-Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, an Ohio Democrat, to object to Bush's Ohio win. Hawley cited the objection in his statement Wednesday.
But Boxer told CNN earlier this month the circumstances of the objection were starkly different to the GOP efforts to overturn Biden's election win.
"Our intent was not to overturn the election in any way. Our intent was to focus on voter suppression in Ohio," said Boxer, who has retired from the Senate. "They're talking about the vote that the presidency was stolen from Donald Trump. It's not even a close comparison."

Vaccines Are Safe, No Matter What Bobby Kennedy Says

As a doctor, and as a member of the Kennedy family, I feel I must use whatever small platform I have to state a few things unequivocally. I love my uncle Bobby. I admire him for many reasons, chief among them his decades-long fight for a cleaner environment. But when it comes to vaccines, he is wrong.

Though his Facebook post linked to a dubious source — a website aligned with the Children’s Health Defense organization that publishes conspiratorially tinged stories on “Big Pharma” and “Big Food” — the basic premise was correct: two U.S. health care workers did suffer allergic reactions, one anaphylactic, the other more mild, to the Covid vaccine.

Shaking hands with women

Igros Moshe (E.H. 04:032.9):Shaking hands with women as greeting. It is obviously prohibited as I have written previously (O.C. 113) because of concerns for sexual arousal and pleasure. However I wrote (E.H. 56) that if you see religious Jews who are lenient to judge them favorably and assume that they are relying on the absence of sexual arousal and pleasure but I also wrote there that it is difficult to rely on this. I don’t see any inconsistency between prohibiting shaking hands but permitting riding on buses (E.H. 2:14) since there is no affection involved there for almost everyone

What We Know About AstraZeneca’s Head-Scratching Vaccine Results

Surprisingly, the vaccine combination in which the first dose was only at half strength was 90 percent effective at preventing Covid-19 in the trial. In contrast, the combination of two, full-dose shots led to just 62 percent efficacy.

Fewer than 2,800 volunteers got the half-strength initial dose, out of the more than 23,000 participants whose results were reported on Monday. That’s a pretty small number of participants on which to base the spectacular efficacy results — far fewer than in Pfizer’s and Moderna’s trials.

How the Oxford-AstraZeneca Vaccine Works

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is based on the virus’s genetic instructions for building the spike protein. But unlike the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, which store the instructions in single-stranded RNA, the Oxford vaccine uses double-stranded DNA.

The researchers added the gene for the coronavirus spike protein to another virus called an adenovirus. Adenoviruses are common viruses that typically cause colds or flu-like symptoms. The Oxford-AstraZeneca team used a modified version of a chimpanzee adenovirus, known as ChAdOx1. It can enter cells, but it can’t replicate inside them.

PA Lt. Guv Trolls Republicans on Voter Fraud: Trump Got ‘100% of the Dead Mother Vote’

Democratic Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman on Monday night trolled Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and other Republicans over Patrick’s offer of reward money for proof of voter fraud, pointing that the only documented fraud cases in the Keystone state involve President Donald Trump.
Last month, in an effort to support Trump’s attempt to overthrow President-elect Joe Biden’s decisive victory, Patrick offered up $1 million for evidence of fraud during the Nov. 3 election. Patrick’s reward offer, however, essentially revealed that Republicans had no proof of systemic fraud and that he was hoping the money would entice someone to produce evidence.
Fetterman has spent weeks now throwing Patrick’s proposal back in his face, relentlessly hounding his Texas counterpart to pay up after highlighting a handful of individual instances of voter fraud. Fetterman really began ramping it up over the past few days after a Pennsylvania man was charged with registering dead relatives to vote for Trump.

Trump’s latest — and final? — voter fraud Hail Mary

Until Tuesday morning, the claim was promoted mostly by credulous websites that did nothing to fact-check it and the conspiracy-theory site Gateway Pundit. But Newsmax is now citing the release, and Fox News’s “Fox & Friends” made a brief mention of it Tuesday morning, and Trump and his campaign quickly seized upon it.

The apparent explanation for this is actually rather simple, and it’s the same as many of Trump allies’ claims about supposed voter fraud and allegedly inflated coronavirus death tolls: It’s based on incomplete and lagging data.

Divorcee covering head

Igros Moshe (E.H. 04:032.4):Is it permitted for a divorcee to go with an uncovered head so that it isn’t obvious that she had been married? You are uncertain about a young divorcee who doesn’t want it known that she had been married by covering her She doesn’t want to deceive anyone and it is obvious that her status can be readily known from the records of City Hall. Rather her intent is that after a new prospective husband gets to know her and likes her to marry her then she will reveal the fact that she is a divorcee and thus won’t be viewed less favorably. However if this is known initially obviously no one will be interested in marrying her. So you want to know  whether this is permissible like I gave permission in the case recorded in  Igros Moshe (E.H. 57) regarding a widow who could not get needed employment  if she covered her head.I agree with you that it is correct to permit her since this constitutes  a genuine great loss if it prevents her from remarrying. It is not a Torah obligation for a divorcee to cover her head but only Jewish custom (Das Yehudis). However it is important to know that in a situation where there is no such concern she needs to cover her head because she does not have an absolute heter.


UK is 1st to approve use of AstraZeneca’s cheap, easily stored COVID-19 vaccine

 Britain on Wednesday authorized use of a second COVID-19 vaccine, becoming the first country to greenlight an easy-to-handle shot that its developers hope will become the “vaccine for the world.” The Department of Health said it had accepted a recommendation from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency to authorize the vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and Cambridge-based British-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Trump lashes out at Republicans after they override his veto

President Donald Trump's ability to scramble American political lines continues even from the golf course, with House votes Monday showing that his feverish hold over the GOP -- and US government -- is hurtling toward a humbling end.

But be warned: Following along could induce some whiplash.
The House of Representatives took a pair of votes Monday night with mixed results for the President: Conservatives joined Democrats in voting to increase coronavirus stimulus checks, but they also joined forces to override his veto of the massive defense spending bill, a solid rebuke and sign of his waning power.
In a series of Tuesday morning tweets, Trump simultaneously called on the Senate to uphold his veto of the National Defense Authorization Act while claiming that "Weak and tired Republican 'leadership' " will allow the legislation to pass as-is.
If it were to pass, Trump said it would be a "disgraceful act of cowardice and total submission by weak people to Big Tech," a stinging criticism of his Republican allies.
In another tweet, Trump called on the Senate to expand stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000, a measure also passed by the House Monday.
Trump attacked Republican leadership without naming names, saying, "Republican leadership only wants the path of least resistance. Our leaders (not me, of course!) are pathetic."

The Post says: Give it up, Mr. President — for your sake and the nation’s

Mr. President, it’s time to end this dark charade.

We’re one week away from an enormously important moment for the next four years of our country.

On Jan. 5, two runoff races in Georgia will determine which party will control the Senate — whether Joe Biden will have a rubber stamp or a much-needed check on his agenda.

Unfortunately, you’re obsessed with the next day, Jan. 6, when Congress will, in a pro forma action, certify the Electoral College vote. You have tweeted that, as long as Republicans have “courage,” they can overturn the results and give you four more years in office.

In other words, you’re cheering for an undemocratic coup.

You had every right to investigate the election. But let’s be clear: Those efforts have found nothing. To take just two examples: Your campaign paid $3 million for a recount in two Wisconsin counties, and you lost by 87 more votes. Georgia did two recounts of the state, each time affirming Biden’s win. These ballots were counted by hand, which alone debunks the claims of a Venezuelan vote-manipulating Kraken conspiracy.