Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Torah and moral issues

  I just received the following email and thought it worth sharing and hope to get some helpful responses

Dear Rav Eidensohn

I hope this email finds you well. 

I wanted to ask you whether you have ever written about an approach to reading the Torah when it conflicts with our modern sensibilities and moral compass. I am trying to come to some kind of resolution of some questions that my kids ask me. In particular, my son is learning the second perek of Kiddushin now and finds it very difficult to understand how the Torah could allow a father to marry off his minor daughter and even allow a person to be boel a ketana (my son told me that it works for a 3 year old) for the purpose of kiddushin (which I assume is permitted midin Torah but I am not sure). How do you understand that halacha from the Torah? Do we limit it to some time in the past and say that at the time the Torah was given, that was acceptable in terms of the morality of the day but that the Torah does require us to progress morally as well and that today - given the development of society in terms of individual rights and freedoms -  the Torah would not condone those types of actions either? And maybe that is why the Gemara that says that it is assur.  If so, are we limiting the Torah by saying this and saying that some of it might not be relevant today (maybe something like korbanos without a Beis Hamikdash)? Or maybe we say the underlying principles are still relevant but the details may play out slightly different in real life? Or do we say that the modern push to individual freedoms and equality are inconsistent with the Torah and that those issues, even if they sit uncomfortably with us today, are "moral" or "Hashem's will" and marrying a 3 year old girl is "moral" or a reflection of Hashem's will somehow and that we need to try to align our thoughts with the assumptions that the Torah appears to be making about these issues?

If you are able to share with me your approach to these issues (including any psychological insights you might have), or point me to some mekoros that might be useful, I would be very grateful.

Thank you so much


  1. With the permissiin of the Rav, may I add in my 2¢?

    I run a project that sometimes leads I think to people saying I'm running a cult. So to be ironic, I tell people I am a cult leader. In actuality I'm the opposite. This project eschews any kind of coercion, whether physical or emotional.

    The running joke here is that every new member must make a decision to pledge allegiance to me -- and that's the last choice they ever get to make.

    It's funny because the first thing I command them to do after after pledging their allegiance is to think for themselves.

    This project is based on the Torah that I have learned from Rabbi Dovid Eidensohn. Rabbi Dovid Eidensohn taught me that a man must marry by 18 which can apparently mean at age 17 when a man begins his eighteenth year) and that if a man fails to marry by age 20 there is a Gemora that says "his bones should explode."

    The actual way to practically implement the Torah is my own and I take sole responsibility for it. That is, the Torah is from Rabbi Eidensohn, but on this project the way things play out are my decision alone.

    So, I would be comfortable with a sixteen year old boy in this project marrying a fourteen year old girl. Of course, this would be a Halachic marriage only because not many -- if any -- places in the U.S. allow civil marriages for fourteen year old girls.

    Some people might get bent out of shape by what I do.

    I answer:

    Historically, Jewish marriages by young teens was common and perhaps even the rule."

    "But, JOE, that was THEN. This is now!

    I go: "Oh, really? The kids I work with are not getting along well academically. Maybe they've given up on the school they've been sent to. Kids in that situation sometimes get involved in all kinds of Aveiros. They are much better off joining my cult and keeping the Torah B'Kdusha and Tahara than getting involved in some of the alternative activities that damage the soul."

    There's a lot more to be said on this subject. But let this suffice for the moment: just because a society virtue signals and wraps itself in the cloak of being modern and more advanced socially than a society based on ancient traditions doesn't make it so.

    If you aren't already knowledgeable of kids taking drugs and getting operated on because they don't like their gender, or with parents bringing up "theybies", do familiarize yourself.

    We live in a perverted degenerate culture in America, and the Gemora is a beacon of light that shines through the filth of this society.

    And in Eretz Yisrael things go down there, too. Jews have been killed and injured by Hamas rockets out of Gaza. But I'll give the Palestinians this: had the annual gay parade in Tel Aviv been planned for this past week, the rockets would have ensured that no one was on the streets celebrating. And that's more than anything I as a Jew could realistically do to put a crimp in that Toevic event.

  2. In order to marry by 18, hopefully you're encouraging they start the shidduch search by age 15 or 16, in order that they reach the goal of marrying by 17/18.

  3. First, I should have made it more clear that while I've talked about this project to many, not many have joined the cult.

    This project can't really work till we have a core group of members that live in close proximity and work in tandem.

    This project has a long way to go and may never reach fruition.

    I would generally discourage members from getting a civil marriage license even if it can be legally obtained. The less we involve the state, the better. The biggest challenge so far has been with things like fending off vulture-like social workers, some of whom it seems are only too happy to circle around and destroy marriages, deny a parents access to his kid, and engage in other dastardly social worker havoc they seem to revel in wreaking.

    While I don't tell people what to do, to be a member of the cult one has to be married or actively seeking to get married. We provide opportunities for employment and housing. So yes, someone joining at age 16 or so would be given say a year to get married or else be told this isn't the place for them.

    But being I'm such a poor cult leader, no one -- both cult members and others who participate in cult activities either in person or remotely -- pay me much attention as far as actually following the path I'm on and direction I've taken.

  4. Why are social workers (CPS?) snooping around your people?

  5. It is not necessarily CPS. It is ostensibly well meaning community members, leaders, and professionals (professional busybodies) in conjuction with the pokice and family court system thast exploit discontent in order to extract their pound of flesh.

    I suppose they have tojustify their existence and salaries somehow and they do it by mucking around in other people's lives.

    As alluded to above, I've always maintained I can only

  6. How big is your cult?

  7. Torah thought daf hayomi
    Yoma 40a
    “Come and hear: It is a command to cast the lots and to make confession. But if he had not cast the lots לא הגריל or made confession, [the service is] valid [hence the casting of the lots is dispensable — a refutation of R. Jannai]. And should you reply that here, too [you would read] to place [the lot on the bullock's head], say then the second part: R. Simeon said: If he has not cast the lots, the service is still valid, but if he has failed to make confession, it is invalidated. Now what does If he has not cast the lots mean? Would you say it means, He has not placed the lots [only the placing of the lots does R. Simeon consider dispensable, but the casting he considers indispensable.], this would imply [would it not] that R. Simeon holds the casting of the lots is indispensable? But surely it was taught: If one of the two [bullocks] died, he brings the other without [new] casting of lots these are the words of R. Simeon?”

    My theory. R. Simeon is so beautiful. Why? To R. Simeon the high priest making confession is of paramount importance while the ceremony of the lots is dispensable.

    “And he shall take of the congregation of the children of Israel two he-goats for a sin-offering, and one ram for a burnt-offering. And Aaron shall present the bullock of the sin-offering, which is for himself, and make atonement for himself, and for his house. And he shall take the two goats, and set them before the Lord at the door of the tent of meeting. And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats: one lot for the Lord, and the other lot for Azazel. And Aaron shall present the goat upon which the lot fell for the Lord, and offer him for a sin-offering. But the goat, on which the lot fell for Azazel, shall be set alive before the Lord, to make atonement over him, to send him away for Azazel into the wilderness. And Aaron shall present the bullock of the sin-offering, which is for himself, and shall make atonement for himself, and for his house, and shall kill the bullock of the sin-offering which is for himself.” (Leviticus 16:5-11).

    To R. Simeon the critical part of making atonement for himself and for his house and for Israel is confession. Hertz Chumash says that always accompanying sacrifices tradition to make confession. Beautiful. Seems according to R. Simeon a high priest that wrongfully skipped the ceremony of the lots but prayed with his heart to God, God will grant atonement.

  8. The formal name, given by an outsider, is The Cult of the Lost People of which I am the Supreme Leader.

    Due to privacy concerns, I can't reveal exact membership numbers. That being said, at its height the cult had two members who had pledged allegiance. We're currently down to a number between 0 and 2.

    There are others who participate in discussions and activities but are, as one can understand, reluctant to pledge allegiance. The pull of the System is mighty. It takes courage to break free its grip.

  9. Yoma 40a has a curious debate, seemingly about rebel priests who wrongfully skip the lots but do a proper confession:
    תלמוד בבלי מסכת יומא דף מ עמוד א
    תא שמע: מצוה להגריל ולהתודות, לא הגריל ולא התודה - כשר. וכי תימא הכי נמי להניח - אימא סיפא רבי שמעון אומר: לא הגריל כשר, לא התודה - פסול. מאי לא הגריל? אילימא לא הניח - מכלל דרבי שמעון סבר הגרלה מעכבא? והתניא: מת אחד מהן - מביא חבירו שלא בהגרלה, דברי רבי שמעון! –
    רש"י מסכת יומא דף מ עמוד א
    ולהתודות - על שעיר המשתלח, כדכתיב והתודה עליו וגו'
    “And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over it והתודה עליו all the iniquities and transgressions of the Israelites, whatever their sins; putting them on the head of the goat; and it shall sent off to the wilderness through a designated man ושלח ביד איש עתי המדברה.” (Leviticus 16:21)
    Yoma 36b
    “Our Rabbis taught [Meg. 20b]: “And Aaron shall present the bullock of the sin-offering, which is for himself, and shall make atonement for himself, and for his house, and shall kill the bullock of the sin-offering which is for himself.” (Leviticus 16:11). Scripture speaks of atonement through words [i.e., confession].”
    My theory. Beautiful. Our Sages ask will God grant atonement or not to such rebel priests? R. Simeon says yes if they speak proper words from the heart. Mora lesson: speak proper words from the heart. I just heard Netanyahu speak so passionately on the war aims, conduct and achievement. Yes I support Netanyahu 100%.

  10. The only thing missing is a Waco-like compound. 😉

  11. Great. Are you armed?

  12. No. You mean in case we're raided? What would be the point? Anything we conceivably had would be ultimately ineffective.

    Never bring a squirt gun to a nuclear conflict. The other side has the law, courts and law enforcement on their side.

    We have the Torah.

    That's the only "weapon" we need.

  13. Armed with Daas Torah. Which living Rov or Posek is your authority that you answer to and/or consult for halachic and/or hashkafic shailos?


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