Friday, December 31, 2021


A new court ruling has now denied her all contact with her 12-year-old twin sons Benjamin and Samuel.

The case has made headlines throughout the world over more than a decade.

The court claims it “would not be in the children’s best interests” to see or speak to their mother.

The latest judgment follows new proceedings brought by Beth under The International Child Abduction and Contact Unit (ICACU), which was established to enforce the Articles of the 1996 and 1980 Hague Convention.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Halacha and the Fallen Rabbi: Q&A with Rabbi Hershel Schachter

A: What does one do with the sefarim written by such a rabbi?

RS: They should not be used. Since his sefarim include his ideas and rulings, they fit into the prohibition against studying Torah from someone who is unfit due to his improper behavior. Any time someone writes a sefer, he fleshes out and resolves apparently contradictory passages. This is called being machria—providing one’s own resolutions in Torah study. The type of person we are discussing is not qualified to be machria and, therefore, his sefarim cannot be used. If it can be verified that the sefarim and the halachic rulings were issued before this person’s sinful behavior began, only then can they be relied upon and quoted.

JA: Can we/should we continue to cite divrei Torah in his name?

RS: We are not allowed to do so. The gemara (Avodah Zarah 35b) says that if a rabbi violates halachah, one cannot say divrei Torah in his name. The statements found in the Talmud in the name of Elisha Ben Abuya were made when he was still committed to Torah observance and belief (see Tosafot, Sotah 12b). If it would appear that the books and articles of the fallen rabbi were written before he began his sinful behavior, they may be used.

Amazon's Alexa tells 10-year-old to touch a penny to a live socket

A 10-year-old was told to touch a penny to a plug socket by Amazon's Alexa voice-controlled intelligent personal assistant software, the child's mother said on Sunday in a now-viral tweet.

Flu vaccine may be less effective due to new strain

One of the strains of influenza included in this year's vaccine may have undergone a chance affecting how effective the flu vaccine is against it, Israel Hayom reported.

This week, there was a 65% rise in the number of people diagnosed with influenza who are hospitalized. In the past two weeks, the number of people who arrived at local clinics suffering symptoms of flu has doubled.

This week, 730 people were admitted to hospitals with influenza, and there is concern that due to a drop in the vaccine's efficacy, these numbers will rise even more. According to the Israel Center for Disease Control (ICDC), a total of 1,849 influenza patients have been hospitalized this season, among them 605 children and 124 new and expectant mothers.

Most of the patients were infected with H3N2, or this year's "type A" strain, which is included in this year's flu vaccine. However, the strain has undergone a change, and recently-published research showed that under laboratory conditions, this year's vaccine is now less effective against it.

Dr. Ira Zaretsky, an expert in immunology at the Weizmann Institute of Science, told Israel Hayom, "The increase in infections which we are seeing is not necessarily connected to the vaccine. Nearly every year at this time there is a rise in the number of hospitalizations. Despite the fact that there has been a drop in the vaccine's efficacy, we need to do everything in order to get vaccinated and protect ourselves."

Liberman issues warning to chief rabbi as Knesset vote on conversion reform delayed

Coalition lawmakers on Wednesday postponed a vote on legislation that would reform the Jewish conversion process in Israel, after determining they lacked sufficient support to advance the bill.

The bill’s author, Yisrael Beytenu MK Yulia Malinovsky, met with Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana, Intelligence Minister Elazar Stern and Knesset Committee chairman Nir Orbach. The group decided to move forward with a plenum debate on the legislation but to table the vote for another two weeks.

Orbach, fellow Yamina MK Yomtob Kalfon and lawmakers from the Ra’am faction have reportedly decided against supporting the legislation, which would allow for conversions outside the auspices of the Chief Rabbinate by authorizing municipal rabbis to supervise the process.

63 COVID Outbreaks Hit Mississippi Nursing Homes, With Fifth Wave Expected

 A total of 8,344 cases were reported in the state last week, an 80 percent jump from the week prior, largely due to the spreading of the Omicron variant, according to state epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers.

"We really are in the fifth wave now of COVID for Mississippi," Byers said during the news conference.

Jury finds Ghislaine Maxwell guilty of sex trafficking a minor for Jeffrey Epstein and four other charges

 A jury in a New York federal court has found Ghislaine Maxwell guilty on five of six counts related to her role in Jeffrey Epstein's sexual abuse of minor girls between 1994 and 2004.

Maxwell, 60, was found guilty of five federal charges: sex trafficking of a minor, transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and three related counts of conspiracy.
She was acquitted on the charge of enticing a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts.
Maxwell, who now faces up to 65 years in prison, showed no reaction when the verdicts were read. Judge Alison Nathan did not set a sentencing date.

Beis Din behaved properly?

 שמואל אליהו  quoted a שואל ומשיב but I saw someone wrote that he says בפירוש  the heter is only to stop damage not punish and not embarrass, which is the opposite of what they were doing

from what I understand, the fact Walder stepped down from all his jobs and his books were banned was enough to stop further cases until a פסק was given. and שמואל אליהו was basically blackmailing him to come to his בית דין and until then he would release recordings and information to embarrass him, and that caused the suicide not the accusations or the ban itself.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Chief rabbi freezes all conversions to Judaism in protest of planned reforms

Chief Rabbi David Lau told the prime minister Tuesday that he will not approve any future conversions to Judaism as long as the government continues to advance a plan to ease the process and dilute the Chief Rabbinate’s control over it.

Lau’s move, which drew condemnation and demands that he be fired, came as Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana pushes reforms on some key religion and state issues, including conversion and kosher certification.

Kahana’s proposed legislation would allow for conversions outside the auspices of the Chief Rabbinate, authorizing municipal rabbis to supervise the process.

Chief rabbi responds to haredi author's suicide

The office of Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi David Lau responded Wednesday to the accusations against author Chaim Walder, and to his subsequent suicide.

The statement followed Rabbi Lau's condolence visit to Walder's relatives, who are currently in their week of mourning following his death.

"The Chief Rabbi's definitive stance was and remains that we must not ignore every harassment or injury," his office said. "These acts must be uprooted and eradicated completely. In any case when there is a hint of an indecent act or harassment, there is an obligation to complain to the authorities in charge of these issues, and not hide it."

"In addition, in his position as President of the Rabbinical High Court, the Rabbi is aware of these problems and is working to eradicate them. These things have been said at many conferences which deal with the issue, and the Rabbi will continue to repeat it at every opportunity. The Rabbi's heart is with all those who were hurt, and he will do everything in order to help them."

Leading rabbinic judges urge against reading Chaim Walder's books

Washington state lawmakers introduce bill that would reduce penalties for drive-by shootings

Washington state lawmakers introduced a bill this month that would reduce penalties for drive-by shootings with the aim of "promoting racial equity."

The bill, introduced by Democratic Representatives Tarra Simmons and David Hackney ahead of the state's 2022 legislative session, would eliminate drive-by shootings as the basis for elevating a first-degree murder charge to aggravated murder in the first degree, which carries a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment.

Drive-by shootings were added to the list of aggravating factors for murder charges in 1995. Other aggravating factors include the murder of law enforcement officers, murders committed by inmates while they are behind bars, and murder-for-hire schemes.

Beis Din needs to hear both sides

Shemos (23:1) You must not carry false rumors; you shall not join hands with the guilty to act as a malicious witness: 

Mishneh Torah, (Negative Mitzvot 281) Not to hear one of the parties to a suit in the absence of the other party, as it is said, “Thou shalt not receive a vain report” (Ex. 23:1).

Sefer HaChinukh (74:1) To not hear the claim of a litigant when it is not in front of his fellow litigant: That the judge not hear the claim of one, not in front of his adversary, as it is stated (Exodus 23:1), "You shall not raise a false report." And the reason is because people will speak idle words when not in front of their adversary. And the judge is commanded about this so that he not bring the untruths of one of them into his soul. And so does Mekhilta d'Rabbi Yishmael 23:1 come [to tell us] that this warning of "You shall not raise, etc." is said about this. And they also said there that it is also a warning to the litigant, for him too, not to make his claims to the judge not in front of his adversary, and even if the judge wants to hear it. And about this, it is also said (Exodus 23:7), "From a false matter, distance yourself." And they, may their memory be blessed, also said (Makkot 23a) that this negative commandment includes telling evil speech, and accepting it, and giving false testimony.

Tur, (Choshen Mishpat 17) אסור לדיין לשמוע בעל דין האחד קודם שיבא חבירו או שלא בפני חבירו:

It is forbidden[2] for a judge to hear the claims of one side of the case [plaintiff or defendant] not in the presence of the other side.[3] This prohibition applies equally for the plaintiff/defendant, that they may not make a claim in front of the judge unless the other person is present.[4] [The Zohar states that one who hears one side without the other is considered as if he has accepted upon himself a foreign G-d.[5]]

Bedieved: In the event that a judge transgressed, and heard one side of the argument not in the presence of the other, some Poskim[6] rule he may still judge the case. Other Poskim[7], however, question this allowance.

Shulchan Aruch (C.M. 17:5) It is forbidden to the Judge to hear the words [pleas] of one litigant in the absence of his fellow-litigant.21Yad, Sanhedrin XXI, 7. Derived from Sheb. 31a: ‘Whence do we know that a Judge must not hear the claims of one litigant before his fellow-litigant arrives? — For it is said: ‘From a false matter keep far (Ex. XXIII, 7).’ San. 7b: ‘Hear (the causes) between your brethren and judge righteously (Deut. I, 16). Said. R. Ḥanina, This is a warning to the Court of Law not to hear the claims of one litigant before his fellow-litigant arrives (Because in the absence of the other party he will not refrain from stating false pleas).’ However, if the Judge had already heard the claims of one litigant in the absence of the other litigant, it is permissible for him to try the case. But, if after listening to one litigant, he gave the latter a written ruling in accordance with the majority of the Codifiers and Responsa, then he is forbidden to try the case because he is considered an interested party, since he will not contradict his own ruling — ShaK, Tummim. , Zohar wa-Yesheb 179b: ‘Who is regarded as a cunning knave (רשע ערום)? — One who pleaded his cause before the Judge before his fellow-litigant arrived (cf. Sot. 21b), as it written, He that pleadeth his cause first seemeth just (the litigant who pleads first states every point in his favour and when he is through it looks as if he is right); but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him out (Prov. XVIII, 17, i.e., the statements of the second party appear false and the Judge searches him out. Hence, both parties should be heard together). This is forbidden even if one litigant states both his cause and that of his adversary — P.Tesh. Zikron Ya‘akob writes that if one litigant presented his case before one whom he knows will act as Judge in his case, i.e., the litigant stated: ‘So-and-so has done me violence,’ — the law is that if the Judge does not investigate into the circumstances surrounding the case under which the violence was committed, he is permitted subsequently to act as Judge. MaHaRIL, however, implies that even pleading in such a form is forbidden (v. D.M.) — P.Tesh. Gloss: And this applies only when the Judge knows that he will act as Judge in the case; but if he had [already] heard the pleas of one party and subsequently the second party was satisfied to be tried before him, he is permitted to act as Judge in the case.22MaHaRIL Resp. 195 — G. This means that the Judge is also aware that the other litigant will have to appear before him, in which case the law is that in the first instance he should not hear the cause of the single litigant for perhaps the second litigant will not be satisfied to be tried before him since the Judge had already heard the pleas of his adversary. Furthermore, when the Judge knows that he will act as Judge, the pleas of the litigant who appeared alone will make an impression upon him, which is not the case, however, where the Judge does not know that he will act as Judge, — then he is permitted to listen to one litigant alone in which case he may try the case only if he tells the second litigant that he had already heard the pleas of the other party, and the second litigant agrees to appear before him, although he heard the pleas of the first litigant — M.E. For this may be equated to a case where one agrees to be tried by a relative of the other party or one who is otherwise unfit to judge — A.H. Moreover, since he was unaware that he would act as Judge in the case, the pleas of the first litigant do not impress themselves upon him — A.H. No Sage should write a decision for one of the litigants in [the following] manner, [viz.,] 'If such [are the circumstances of the case which this litigant set forth before me, then the law would be as follows],'23 Aboth I, 8: ‘Do not make yourself to be like legal advisers (i.e., be careful as Judge not to suggest an advice to one of the litigants).’ or [even] write for him [the litigant] his opinion without [giving] a [definitive] decision as long as he did not hear the words [claims] of both [litigants] lest from his [the Judge's] words they will learn to utter lies,24Aboth I, 9: ‘Simeon b. Shetaḥ would say: Be thorough in the examination of the witnesses and be cautious in your words lest from them (your words) they will learn to utter lies.’ Although this text deals with the interrogation of witnesses, v., however, Bertinora a.l. who refers this both to the witnesses and the litigants. Cf. also ibid. I, 8, Rashi (on the authority of R. Jehudai Gaon) and R. Jonah. [and] furthermore because later the second [litigant] will plead in a different manner and he [the Judge] will [then] be obliged to write the reverse and disrepute will be brought thereby on the Sage.25RaShBA and RIBaSh s. 179 — G. Although the ruling is that ‘we disregard any disrepute that may be brought on the Court’ (v. B.B. 31a; Ket. 26b), and consequently, in the present ruling we should not be concerned with the fact that the Judge on hearing the second litigant will have to alter his judgment and thereby bring contempt on himself, nevertheless, this applies only ex post facto where the Judge is compelled to give a verdict, but not in the present case where he is not obliged to hear the litigants separately. Hence, in the latter case we are afraid of bringing contempt on the Judge. , W.G. and Be’er Eliyahu. 
However, if the Judge notices that by not giving a decision a wrong might result, e.g., where the inquirer desires to dissolve an engagement or the like, or where dissension might ensue, or where he might save one from being defrauded — then he is obliged to give his decision — A.H. 
Likewise, is the litigant cautioned against [acting] thus.26San. 7b: ‘R. Kahana stated: This (v. first part of text supra n. 21) can be derived from, Thou shalt not take up (tissa) a false report (Ex. XXIII, 1, תשא) which may (also refer to the litigant) by reading tashshi (תשיא, the Hiph‘il from rt. נשא ‘to deceive’ or ‘to mislead,’ i.e., if one litigant pleads in the absence of his opponent the Judge might be mislead and won over).’ San. ibid.: ‘Hear (the causes) between your brethren and judge righteously (Deut. I, 16). Said R. Ḥanina, this is a warning … to the litigant not to explain his case to the Judge before his adversary appears. Shamo‘a (hear) can also be read shamme‘a (in the Pi‘el which has a causative meaning, i.e., ‘to make hear,’ ‘to explain’).’ In Sheb. 31a this is derived from From a false matter keep far (Ex. XXIII, 7). , also Sot. 21b. Cf. supra n. 21. If it happens that one of the litigants arrives first, he should not sit in the presence of the Judge so as not to be under suspicion — A.H. A scholar who has a case before his teacher should not arrive [at Court] first, [i.e.,] prior to his opponent so that it should not appear that he is [arriving first] in order to clarify his pleas in the absence of his fellow [-litigant]. However, if he has an appointed time to come and study before him and that time had arrived, he is permitted.27Sheb. 30b: ‘Rabbah b. Huna stated: If a scholar and an illiterate person are in dispute with one another, the scholar (and much more so a stranger who is not his student — M.E.) should not arrive first and sit down (before the Judge prior to the arrival of his opponent), because it will appear (i.e., he will be suspected even if he keeps his silence — Rashi) as if he is presenting his case. And we say this only where he has not an appointed time with him (to study); but if he has an appointed time with him, we do not care (i.e., if the Judge is his teacher and they have an appointed time to conduct their studies, then the scholar may come prior to the arrival of his opponent), because he (the opponent) will say, He is occupied with his appointment (for study).’

Aruch Hashulchan (CM 17:7) כתיב שמוע בין אחיכם ושפטתם וגו' מכאן שהדיין צריך לשמוע הטענות כששני הבע"ד עומדים לפניו ואסור לשמוע טענות מאחד כשאין השני אצלו ובזוהר וישב כתוב דכל דיינא דקביל מבר נש מלה עד לא ייתי חבריה כאלו מקבל עליו טעוא אחרא וכו' ועל זה נאמר לא תשא שמע שוא כי טענות של הראשון נקבע בלבו ויוכל להיות שמזה לא יצא הדין לאמתו ואם אירע שאחד סיפר טענותיו לפני חכם שלא ידע שיהיה דיין בדבר ואח"כ בקשוהו לדון בזה צריך החכם להגיד להשני שכבר שמע טענות הראשון ואם עכ"ז נתרצה השני רשאי להיות דיין בדבר דכיון שזה קיבל עליו לא גרע מקבלת קרוב או פסול ועוד דמאחר שלא ידע שיהיה דיין בדבר לא נקבעו הדברים בלבו שיטה אחריהם ומי שהוא דיין קבוע מהנכון ליזהר שלא לקבל דברים מאדם דרך סיפור כשמבין הדיין שיש לו ד"ת בזה ויכול לומר להמספר לו דע לך שבשמעי המעשה ממך א"א לי להיות דיין בדבר וכשם שאסור לדיין לשמוע מבע"ד אחד שלא בפני חבירו כמו כן חל האיסור על הבע"ד ולכן מהראוי ששני הבע"ד יבואו יחד לפני הדיינים ולא יבא האחד קודם כדי שלא יהא נראה כמקדים לסדר טענותיו ואם אירע שבא קודם לא ישב אצל הדיינים ואפילו תלמיד שיש לו דין לפני רבו לא יקדים לבא אא"כ היתה לו עת קבוע ללמוד עם רבו שרי דבזה ליכא חשדא:

Gray Matter (II, Beit Din, Summons to Beit Din 56)  Due to the reported existence of unscrupulous batei din, we have chosen to add a few criteria by which to assess a beit din’s credibility. An honorable Beit Din must avoid conflicts of interest (Shulchan Aruch, C.M. 7:12 and 37:1), anything that even slightly resembles bribery (C.M. 9:1), and excessively high fees (C.M. 9:5).11Also see Teshuvot Minchat Yitzchak (7:131), who assumes that honorable dayanim will charge only enough to compensate them for the fact that they could not do other work during the court proceedings (s’char batalah), and they will not charge more than the litigants can afford. In addition, they may not accept the testimony of one litigant when his adversary is not present (C.M. 17:5),

 and they must thoroughly investigate all facts (see Rashi’s commentary to Bereishit 11:5). Indeed, the Chazon Ish is often quoted as saying that most erroneous halachic rulings stem from a deficient understanding of the facts.12For example, Rav Mordechai Willig (addressing an RCA convention) once recounted how Rav Yonah Reiss traveled to a Midwestern city in order to investigate whether a particular woman had been institutionalized (which might have enabled her husband to receive a document known as a heter me’ah rabbanim). Rav Reiss could have relied on the testimony of local rabbis in that city regarding the woman’s mental state, but he nevertheless traveled there himself, as dayanim must always investigate the facts as thoroughly as possible. Finally, the beit din must not allow rabbis of ordinary stature to rule on matters of great complexity or import (see Teshuvot Meishiv Davar 4:50). For example, the Noda Biy’hudah (vol. 2 Y.D. 88) criticizes an ordinary rabbi for ruling on a case of ro’eh machmat tashmish, a complex area of the laws of family purity that can potentially result in forcing a couple to divorce (see Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 187). Rav Moshe Feinstein (Teshuvot Igrot Moshe, Even Ha’ezer 1:64) similarly writes that ordinary rabbis should not rule on matters of contraception.13

R Shmuel Eliyahu KA paragon of virtue

 In 2009, Eliyahu was involved in publishing the conspiracy theory pamphlet On Either Side of the Border, in cooperation with the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (OU). The OU later asserted that its connection with the pamphlet was unauthorized by senior management.[1] The pamphlet, citing the personal account of a recent convert to Judaism who had previously been a member of the Lebanese organisation Hezbollah, asserts that the Pope and the Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church allegedly help organize tours of Auschwitz for Hezbollah members, in order to teach them how to wipe out Jews. The pamphlet was distributed to IDF troops.[2] Danny Orbach [he], a Harvard-based Israeli historian, said that the pamphlet, supposedly written by a Lebanese, actually contains gross factual errors that no Arab could have made. In addition, there are also numerous other blatant geographical and cultural mistakes in the pamphlet, proving that the author is in reality a Haredi Jew from Israel who knows very little about the Arab world. Orbach's conclusion is that Eliyahu took part in a forgery, clearly in order to propagate hatred against Arabs and Muslims.[3] Eliyahu failed to answer the accusations, but his spokesman vouched for the authenticity of the pamphlet in a conversation with Haaretz.[2][4] Furthermore, Eliyahu had widely quoted from the pamphlet in a subsequent article.[5]

Ex-New York Gov. Cuomo will not be criminally charged by Westchester County district attorney over alleged inappropriate conduct

    "Our investigation found credible evidence to conclude that the alleged conduct in both instances described above did occur," Rocah said in the statement. "However, in both instances, my office has determined that, although the allegations and witnesses were credible, and the conduct concerning, we cannot pursue criminal charges due to the statutory requirements of the criminal laws of New York."

    No, there’s no evidence omicron is specifically ‘targeting’ vaccinated people.

    Killed by a pill bought on social media: the counterfeit drugs poisoning US teens

    Their tragedies are part of an explosion of drug-related deaths among US high school and college-aged youth, fueled by what experts say is a flood of fentanyl-filled counterfeit pills being sold on social media and sometimes delivered straight to kids’ homes.

    National statistics show a huge surge in drug-related deaths during the pandemic, with fatalities leaping to more than 93,000 in 2020, a 32% rise from 2019. But no group has seen a faster rise than youth under 24, according to a Guardian analysis of 2020 federal data. Among this age group, accidental drug deaths increased by 50% in a single year – taking 7,337 young lives in 2020. Experts say a large portion of this increase is due to the vast quantities of fentanyl streaming into the US.

    “They've now killed close to twice as many kids from the vaccine as have died from COVID.”

    Nine deaths of adults have been linked to a causal relationship between the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine and TTS, a rare event that causes blood clots with low platelets. But there are no confirmed deaths involving children linked to the vaccines.
    The latest tally of children who have died with COVID-19 is 771.

    Jump in child COVID hospitalizations in N.Y. sparks concerns in California amid Omicron

    “Unfortunately NY is seeing an increase in pediatric hospitalizations (primarily amongst the unvaccinated), and they have similar [5- to 11-year-old] vaccination rates,” Dr. Erica Pan, the California state epidemiologist, wrote on Twitter. “Please give your children the gift of vaccine protection as soon as possible as our case [numbers] are increasing rapidly.”

    Child Covid hospitalizations are up, especially in 5 states

    In the last four weeks, the average number of children hospitalized with Covid-19 jumped 52 percent, from a low of 1,270 on Nov. 29 to 1,933 on Sunday, according to an NBC News analysis of Department of Health and Human Services data.

    In the same time period, adult Covid hospitalizations increased 29 percent, suggesting that pediatric hospitalizations rose at nearly twice the rate.

    The number of kids hospitalized with Covid has more than doubled in 10 states, as well as in Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, according to the analysis. The data does not specify whether the children were vaccinated or vaccine-eligible.

    But the states that have contributed the most to the rise in pediatric hospitalizations are Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York and Ohio.

    Results of the Long-COVID Survey Among Children in Israel

    In conclusion, in accordance with the data collected from around the world, it is evident that coronavirus has long term effects not only on the adult population but among children as well. The rate of reported long-term infection means that there are thousands of children in Israel who experience long term symptoms.

    New Omicron variant fills up children's hospitals

    A five-fold increase in pediatric admissions in New York City this month. Close to double the numbers admitted in Washington, DC. And nationwide, on average, pediatric hospitalizations are up 48% in just the past week.
    The highly transmissible Omicron variant is teaming up with the busy holiday season to infect more children across the United States than ever before, and children's hospitals are bracing for it to get even worse.

    Rand Paul's ridiculous answer on whether the election was 'stolen'

    Even now -- after the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th president, after the January 6 riot at the US Capitol, after the myriad lawsuit dismissals -- Rand Paul can't bring himself to say that the 2020 election was not, in fact, stolen.
    In an appearance on ABC's "This Week" Sunday, the Kentucky Republican was asked just that question by George Stephanopoulos. And here's what he said:
    "Well, what I would suggest is -- what I would suggest is that if we want greater confidence in our elections, and 75% of Republicans agree with me, is that we do need to look at election integrity and we need to see if we can restore confidence in the elections."
    Well, senator, no.
    Here's why: It is a FACT -- based on a total lack of objective evidence and the rejection of lawsuit after lawsuit filed by former President Donald Trump and his legal team -- that there was no widespread election fraud in the 2020 race. (Which, by the way, makes it a lot like all the other presidential elections that experts have studied in search of fraud.)
    That FACT is not overridden by the opinion of Republican voters who say they don't have faith in the process. The reason they don't have faith in the process is that Trump -- as well as his enablers like Paul -- spent the last three months (and, really, the last four years) telling their supporters that the whole election system was rigged against them. So is it any wonder that so many Republicans -- contra objective evidence -- believe that the election wasn't entirely above board? Of course not!

    Tuesday, December 28, 2021

    Resurrection of the Dead- Rav Moshe Shapiro

     Rav Moshe Shapiro - Exile and Exodus

    Rashi explains that the refutation of Geviha ben Pesisa demonstrates how the guidance of the world is the greatest revelation of the ultimate Resurrection, for we see how those who never existed before are born and live, certainly those who once existed will return and live-if life develops from nothing, surely life should develop from the fullness of life.

    Clearly, the debate was not whether the dead will come back to life. The debate was how to read the constant guidance of the world. The apostate claimed that the Creator reveals in His guidance one direction, and Geviha ben Pesisa tells him to contemplate and reflect, and he will see how the Creator pointedly reveals the fact of the ultimate Resurrection.

    Further in the same section, the Talmud states (Sanhedrin 92a): "Rabbi Tevi said in the name of Rabbi Yoshiyah, "What is the meaning of that which is written (Mishlei 30:16), "Sheol and the womb ... ?"'' Sheol is the place to which man proceeds, as the Mishnah states (Avos ,1:22), "Let not your inclination promise you that sheol is your escape." To sheol, man is brought in fulfillment of the decree, "For you are dust, and to dust you shall return (Bereshis 3:19)." Yet the verse juxtaposes this with the womb from which man emerges, implying a shared quality to both.
    Of this, the Talmud asks, "What connection is there between sheol and the womb? Rather, to tell you, just as the in, womb takes in and brings out, so too sheol takes in and brings out." In other words, the commonality of sheol and the womb is that both take in something and bring out life- what the womb takes in is a seed that forms life, and what sheol takes in is a seed that forms life. In the words of Rashi, "The womb takes in the seed and brings out the newborn; also sheol takes in and brings out for the Resurrection of the Dead." The Talmud continues: "Surely, the matter is a fortiori, the womb, which takes in silently, brings forth amidst great noise, certainly sheol, which takes in amidst great noise brings forth amidst great noise." The underlying implication of this inference is that the womb takes in something utterly meaningless, yet brings forth something most meaningful. Indeed, the Hebrew word for "meaning" is mashma'us, the root of which is shemiah, indicating audibility; in contrast, the Talmud refers to that which the womb takes in as a thing of silence-it does not have substance and it does not speak anything, undeserving of the designation davar, a thing that speaks (cf. Shabbos 58b). Yet what this nothingness brings forth is a complete human being who declares his existence with a greal voice, as is well known: when a newborn emerges into the world, it does so amidst a great cry, announcing, "Here I am."

    Conversely, sheol takes in what it takes in amidst great noise. It takes in something respectable and significant, an entity of mashma'us, of meaning, truly deserving of the designation davar, a thing that speaks. Indeed, there is no greater davar than man (cf. Bereshis 2:7 and Targum), especially a great man, such as Rabbi Akiva, the foundation of the Oral Torah (cf. Menachos 29b), who was also brought to burial. Yet, in relation lo the ultimate human being that will eventually arise at the Resurrection of the Dead, this great noise this entire man brought to burial is like the seed in relation to the complete human being that emerges from the womb.

    In conclusion, the Talmud states, "From here is a refutation to those who say that the Resurrection of the Dead does not derive from the Torah." When the Torah writes sheol and the womb in juxtaposition, it writes the Resurrection; their shared attribute teaches that sheol is also a womb, just as in Talmudic terms the womb bears the designation kever, grave (Oholos 7:4). 

     Course of the World 

    The verse that juxtaposes sheol and the womb is from the wisdom of King Solomon, and Geviha hen Pesisa expresses the same concept when he says, "The nonexistent come to life, even more so those who once lived." If we observe in the world the materialization of' a complete creation from a drop of nothing, how could we not perceive the eventual emergence of a much greater creation from this complete creation? Moreover, the contrast between what is placed in the womb and the human being that emerges is the contrast between what is placed in the ground and the ultimate human being that will eventually arise by the Resurrection of the Dead. And as mentioned earlier, the discussion is not only of ordinary people. The greatest people were brought to burial-the Fathers, the Mothers, and all the great ones. All of them will arise when the dead come to life, and everything that had been brought to burial will be revealed as merely the seminal drop from which their ultimate form emerged.

    From this, we learn that the Resurrection of the Dead needs to be evident from within the natural course of the world. Anyone who believes the Resurrection to be a new existence in the opposite direction of the world's guidance, some type of phenomenon that falls out of the sky and not an event from within the order of creation, is a complete denier, as Rashi states. Surely, the Creator is omnipotent-He can create something from nothing and He can revert all that exists into nothing. But anyone who believes this to be the only foundation of the Resurrection-it exists in creation only be cause of the Creator's ability to do anything and not because· the course of the world compels it, of such a believer Rashi states, "What do we have to do with his belief?" 1n other words, he believes, but his belief does not relate to us because we cannot see it in the world we both live in. As for his tradition, we did not receive it, and we do not know of it. Faith in the Resurrection requires us to see it as emanating from within our world.

    This explains why the Mishnah, according to Rashi and others who read this in the Mishnah, ascribes apostasy to one who says that the Resurrection of the Dead does not derive from the Torah. As we have seen, to have faith in the Resurrection is to have faith in a world order that declares the Resurrection; the very structure of our lives needs to point to it and show that the direction of the world is from death to life. This is having faith that the Resurrection derives from the Torah, for the 'Torah is the architecture of creation (Zohar 2:16la), and all that is explicit in the Torah is explicit in creation; anyone who contemplates sees it.
    Succinctly, faith is not in something that will be, but in something that is. The fundamental faith of the Resurection is not whether an event will transpire; this was never a question nor was this the subject of the debate. Certainly, whatever the Creator wants will occur. "Everything that God desires, He makes in the heavens and upon the earth, in the seas and in all the depths (Tehillim 135:6)." This is how it is in the depths of sheol and this is how it is on the face of the earth. But this is the general principle of faith. Faith in the Resurrection is the perception that the existing course of the world compels it. This faith demands that we live now within an existence that declares, "Woe to you wicked ones, for you say that the dead will not live-if the nonexistent come to life, even more so those who once lived."

    Rabbi Gershon Edelstein: ‘No Leniency In Lashon Hara Permits People To Spill Blood And Murder A Jew’

    In a discussion with Chareidi educators including Yad Aharon Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Yehoshua Eichenstein published by the Kan and Mako news outlets, Rabbi Edelstein quoted the gemara in Sanhedrin which says that “one who has relations with a married woman has a portion in the World to Come but one who publicly shames his friend has no portion in the World to Come.” He added that “even if according to halacha we need to beware of someone, there is no leniency or even hint of leniency allowing people to spill blood and murder a Jew. It is obvious that this is deemed murdering him and it is obvious that the murderer has no portion in the World to Come. It is clear that the great pressure he was under led him to lose his sanity and kill himself. This is called murder.”


    Rabbi Shlomo Aviner: At Present, Walder’s Books Are Permitted To Be Read

    Whatever is written further about Chaim Walder is based on the current level of knowledge we have. If there will be new revelations, we will have to reopen the issue.
    Every person is presumed innocent until otherwise proven. This is known in secular law as the presumption of innocence. He is not a rasha who needs to prove that he has not sinned. Nothing is yet proven.
    Proof must take place not in the media or social media but in Beis Din which investigates and probes, meaning that the investigation is adversarial and takes place in the presence of both sides as the Torah says “Hear disputes between your brothers” (Devarim 1:16)
    Up to this point the complaints from women were not investigated in this adversarial manner.

    In Suicide Note, Chaim Walder Insists He Is Innocent, Summons Rabbis To ‘A Din Torah In Heaven’

    Walder wrote that “I have gone to summon Yehuda Silman and Shmuel Eliyahu to a Din Torah in heaven. I have come to the conclusion that in the world of lies I have no chance of proving my innocence. I am dealing with horrific lies covered in anonymity, without any possibility of proving that they have no factual basis.

    “I have reached the extreme limit of human suffering which is possible. They insulted me about the things which I was best at and which I dedicated my life to- supporting and protecting children.

    Ben and Jerry’s VP wins antisemite of the year

    Antisemitism watchdog has announced the winner of their 2021 “Antisemite of the year” award – granting the (dis)honor to Anuradha Mittal, the head of Ben & Jerry’s Board of Directors and Vice President of Ben & Jerry’s Foundation Inc.

    Mittal spearheaded Ben & Jerry’s BDS efforts to stop the sale and distribution of its ice cream to those living in the West Bank. In response, multiple US states, such as Florida and Illinois, divested their pension fund holdings from parent company Unilever.

    Mittal bested singer Dua Lipa, who criticized Israel during last May’s clashes with Hamas, and US Representative Marjorie Taylor-Greene, who – among many controversial statements – claimed that California wildfires are the result of “Jewish space lasers” targeting the Earth.

    Vaccination Requirement: Workplaces

    As of December 27, workers in New York City who perform in-person work or interact with the public in the course of business must show proof they have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Workers will then have 45 days to show proof of their second dose (for Pfizer or Moderna vaccines).

    Hard-hit By Covid, Israel's Ultra-Orthodox Slow to Get Shots

    Levy is among the hundreds of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews who have yet to receive their COVID-19 shots. The group has some of the lowest vaccination rates in the country despite being hit hard by the pandemic.

    Facing the new coronavirus variant omicron, officials are now scrambling to ramp up vaccination rates in a population that has so far been slow to roll up their sleeves.

    Florida COVID Cases Continue to Rocket, Hit 39,000 During Christmas Weekend Surge

    Florida reported a total of 39,000 COVID cases Monday representing the Christmas weekend, continuing the spike in cases over the past week as the Omicron variant spreads across the country.

    21,040 cases were reported in Florida on Saturday in addition to 17,955 reported Sunday, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Over the past week that ended Sunday, Florida reported over 124,000 cases of COVID, a 332 percent increase from the 28,841 reported the week prior, according to Florida Today as part of a USA Today network analysis of Johns Hopkins University COVID data from across the country.

    Hospitalizations are increasing as well, but at a much slower rate, with just under 5,000 likely COVID patients admitted to hospitals last week, compared to just over 3,000 the week before, Florida Today reported.

    Biden Signs $768B Defense Bill That Keeps Women From Draft, Alters Military Justice System

    Republicans were able to prevent attempts to include women in the draft and added a measure that prohibits dishonorable discharge for service members who refuse to take the COVID vaccine.

    Rabbi Gordimer: Rabbi Riskin is not a Chareidim vs Modern Orthodox issue

    Times of Israel by Rabbi A Gordimer

    Rabbi Gordimer is a kashruth professional, a member of the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America, and a member of the New York Bar. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author

    Since my recent essay on the issue was attacked in The Jerusalem Post by Isi Leibler, who cast the discussion in terms of Charedi versus Modern Orthodox, corruption versus integrity, and fairness versus prejudice, in an op-ed loaded with negative and charged hyperbole, I would like to respond with some more objective facts, rather than the innuendo and disparagement that has come from those who evade the issues and instead sling mud when they do not like the data that is presented. As will be seen, Mr. Leibler’s assertions and insights here are quite off-target, and the Israeli Chief Rabbinate is conducting itself understandably and reasonably given the circumstances.

    Mr. Leibler mounts his journalistic assault on the Chief Rabbinate and those who respect the Chief Rabbinate’s right to deliberate about whether or not to extend Rabbi Riskin’s tenure as Chief Rabbi of Efrat by alleging comprehensive corruption of the Chief Rabbinate and painting it as the embodiment of ultra-Orthodoxy, while depicting Rabbi Riskin as representative of the Modern Orthodox, moderate and sensible position. Aside from the fact that Mr. Leibler fails to demonstrate his allegations of corruption of the Chief Rabbinate as an institution (he notes one previous Chief Rabbi who was dismissed and convicted, and nothing further of substance), the truth is that the discomfort which the Chief Rabbinate likely harbors regarding Rabbi Riskin’s extended tenure is shared by the mainstream Modern Orthodox rabbinate as well. Let’s look at a few examples, in addition to those already presented in my previous essay. (The examples there, such as the rabbinic ordination of women, praising Jesus as “a great Orthodox rabbi”, extolling Christian teachings about salvation, and women leading public prayer for men, are frowned upon by most Orthodox rabbis and laypeople across the spectrum, be they “ultra-Orthodox” or Modern Orthodox).

    Rabbi Riskin has sought to apply a more lenient set of conversion standards – standards that do not require a prospective convert to fully accept to observe all of the Commandments. This approach is not consistent with halachic consensus. Mainstream conversion standards, as required by preeminent sages such as Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, and the vast majority of contemporary halachic authorities across the spectrum (including Modern Orthodox and Religious Zionist rabbinic scholars), indeed require a prospective convert to fully accept to observe all of the Commandments. This is the standard of the Chief Rabbinate, of the Rabbinical Council of America, of virtually all rabbinic courts in the world, and it is the standard that I was taught at Yeshiva University by Rabbi Soloveitchik’s closest disciples and in his name.

    Rabbi Riskin has established a broad Jewish-Christian interfaith program, the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation (CJCUC), at his Ohr Torah Stone institution, engaging in the type of interfaith religious study and discourse that rabbinic sages from across the spectrum have censured. (Please see here for halachic rulings on such interfaith activity.) On the CJCUC home page, Rabbi Riskin writes:

    But sometime in the second century CE – perhaps because in our pride we forgot that it was the Torah’s superiority, and not our own, which had brought us such success – we became unable, or unworthy, of sustaining the momentum.

    We stopped “hearing” God’s voice, were forced to leave history, and virtually forgot the mission of the third covenant.

    Remarkably, the Christians in many ways continued where we left off. Maimonides, in the unexpurgated versions of the Mishneh Torah, records: “God’s ways are too wondrous to comprehend. All those matters relating to Jesus of Nazareth and the Ishmaelite who came after him are only serving to clear the way for King Messiah, to prepare the whole world ‘…to worship God with one accord’ (Zephaniah 3:9). Thus the messianic hope, the Torah and the commandments have become familiar topics… among the inhabitants of the far-flung islands at the ends of the globe…”

    …Now that we as a people and a nation have returned to history, and the Christian world is beginning to recognize the continuing legitimacy of its elder brother’s covenant, grafting itself onto us as a branch is grafted to the roots, we must each complete our return to God, join hands and bring a religion of love, morality, pluralism and peace to a desperate, thirsting world.

    Aside from taking the words of Maimonides totally out of context so as to change their intent (readers are advised to see the original and judge for themselves), Rabbi Riskin shockingly affirms a form of Replacement Theology, and he further maintains that Christianity has grafted itself onto Judaism to form a new universal joint religion. This notion has been rejected by Orthodox (and non-Orthodox) rabbis across the spectrum and has nothing to do with Charedi versus Modern Orthodox views, or with an allegedly corrupt Chief Rabbinate. (CJCUC has received funding in part by two Christian ministries, Zion’s Gate International and John Hagee Ministries. This is a very important point.)

    The issue of the Chief Rabbinate and Rabbi Riskin has nothing to do with Charedi versus Modern Orthodox approaches. It has to do with the propriety of a rabbi’s maverick positions, while the rabbi is a paid representative of a rabbinate whose positions he does not represent in numerous ways. Orthodox rabbis across the spectrum are quite uncomfortable with many of Rabbi Riskin’s approaches, and in fact, his own rabbinic colleagues from Yeshiva University and Religious Zionist circles are among his most outspoken critics.

    Let’s please stick with the facts and discuss this issue on its merits.

    Bambi: cute, lovable, vulnerable ... or a dark parable of antisemitic terror?

    It’s a saccharine sweet story about a young deer who finds love and friendship in a forest. But the original tale of Bambi, adapted by Disney in 1942, has much darker beginnings as an existential novel about persecution and antisemitism in 1920s Austria.

    Now, a new translation seeks to reassert the rightful place of Felix Salten’s 1923 masterpiece in adult literature and shine a light on how Salten was trying to warn the world that Jews would be terrorised, dehumanised and murdered in the years to come. Far from being a children’s story, Bambi was actually a parable about the inhumane treatment and dangerous precariousness of Jews and other minorities in what was then an increasingly fascist world, the new translation will show.

    In 1935, the book was banned by the Nazis, who saw it as a political allegory on the treatment of Jews in Europe and burned it as Jewish propaganda. “The darker side of Bambi has always been there,” said Jack Zipes, professor emeritus of German and comparative literature at the University of Minnesota and translator of the forthcoming book.

    “But what happens to Bambi at the end of the novel has been concealed, to a certain extent, by the Disney corporation taking over the book and making it into a pathetic, almost stupid film about a prince and a bourgeois family.”

    US Orthodox Jews financially fragmented but mostly secure, survey finds

    A survey on the finances of US Orthodox Jews has found that the community is largely financially secure, but frets about savings and spends heavily on education and other cost-of-living expenses tied to religion.

    Jewish respondents who identified as modern Orthodox reported an average median household income of $188,000 per year, and $31,000 in annual school expenses.

    Just under half of modern Orthodox were confident they will have enough savings to retire, and 12% had concerns about covering daily expenses.

    The survey by the independent Nishma Research firm collated responses from 1,334 modern Orthodox respondents and 973 ultra-Orthodox, or Haredi, participants.

    The firm reached the respondents through synagogues and religious organizations. The participants had to opt in to the survey, meaning it was a self-selecting group, and not exactly representative of the community as a whole, the researchers said.

    Monday, December 27, 2021

    R Riskin's proposal to solve Aguna problem

    It is my opinion that in difficult times like today, when many women are forced to live as agunot chained to their husbands, and recalcitrant husbands are taking advantage of their pious wives as well as of their halakhic advantage to at best hold up their wives for ransom and at worst prevent them from marrying, there are certainly grounds to make use of the option of hafka’at kiddushin even without a get, but with an explicit enactment; this would release those women from their chains and from an almost certain life of sin. This is especially so when the problem of agunot causes such great human suffering and degradation of Halakhah. But this can only be done by a large gathering of the Rabbis of Israel who must decide on the matter, so that many authorities share the burden of the decision, and Hafka’at Kiddushin: Towards Solving the Agunah Problem in Our Time Shlomo Riskin 24 Proceedings of the JOFA – NYU Tikvah Agunah Summit the Torah not become like two Torahs. Much thought is needed in order to carefully define the circumstances in which hafka’ah would be implemented, as well as to formulate the stipulation that would have to be added at the time of betrothal. My suggestion would be that the Chief Rabbinate in Jerusalem adopt an enactment stipulating that if a religious court orders a husband to divorce his wife, and he refuses to do so even after sanctions have been imposed upon him, then a special court should be established with the authority to cancel his marriage and free his wife to remarry.

    The Long, Strange History of Bill Gates Population Control Conspiracy Theories

    In April, dozens of Texans crowded around Infowars host Alex Jones at an anti-shutdown demonstration in Austin, Texas, chanting “arrest Bill Gates.” A New York-based tech nonprofit falsely rumored to be working with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to implant vaccine microchips in people received so many death threats that it contacted the FBI. And a White House petition demanding the billionaire’s foundation be investigated for “medical malpractice and crimes against humanity” amassed half-a-million signatures in three weeks.

    Gates, who has announced that his $40 billion-foundation will shift its “total attention” to fighting COVID-19, has been accused of a range of misdeeds, from scheming to profit off a vaccine to creating the virus itself. On April 8, Fox News host Laura Ingraham and Attorney General Bill Barr speculated about whether Gates would use digital certificates to monitor anyone who got vaccinated.

    בגיל 53 בלבד; הסופר חיים ולדר ז"ל הלך לעולמו

    בשעות הצהריים התקבלה הבשורה הקשה על פטירתו של הסופר החרדי חיים ולדר ז"ל, והוא בן 53 בלבד בפטירתו; חיבר ספרים רבים לילדים ומבוגרים ושימש כיועץ חינוכי (דיין האמת)