Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Shaked pushes back on Liberman's plan to cut yeshiva subsidies


Two coalition lawmakers vowed to block plans by Finance Minister Avidgor Liberman to cut funding to yeshiva students.

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked and Mk Nir Orbach, both members of the Yamina party, toured Zichron Ya’akov Tuesday, visiting local state religious schools.

During their visit, Shaked and Orbach said they would not permit Liberman to cut payments to married yeshiva students in the 2023 budget.

“This coalition government is built on agreements, and we will do our job to care for Torah scholars and ensure that they won’t be harmed,” Shaked declared.

“We, in Yamina, recognize the value of Torah study,” Orbach said, “and we know that Torah scholars dedicate their lives to the people of Israel and do so with great self-sacrifice. Together, we will God-willing protect the Torah world.”

On Monday, Liberman mocked haredi yeshiva students, accusing them of “idleness,” and urged the government to cut stipends to yeshiva students.

Shul supporting Tamar is Rav Schacter also supporting her?


Hallel Rosh Chodesh

 Taanis (28b) Rav happened to come to Babylonia, where he saw that they were reciting hallel on a New Moon. Unfamiliar with this practice, he thought to stop them, as he assumed that they were reciting hallel unnecessarily. Once he saw that they were omitting portions, he said: I can learn from this that they are maintaining the custom of their forefathers, i.e., they know that it is a custom, not an obligation. 

Tuma and kedusha often similar Talmid of Gra


Yeshivas send thousands of letters pushing back against draft state oversight rules


“We have done a magnificent job in educating our children,” Aaron Twerski, a Brooklyn Law School professor and Yeshiva parent, wrote to state officials. “They are deeply religious, highly disciplined, hard-working and industrious.”

He continued: “What you propose is an assault on the Orthodox and Chassidic. Your oversight is not needed and is not welcome.”

Monday, May 30, 2022

Time to fully embrace the Strictly Orthodox


In response to this, I would venture the following two arguments. First, we spend far too long sequestering ourselves into ever smaller boxes and labels. Instead of a Jew is a Jew, we look to split, divide and further sub-divide a people which altogether constitutes a mere 0.19 per cent of the world’s population. On a number of occasions I recall the late Rabbi Sacks, of blessed memory, refer to his personal distaste at attaching any appellation to “Orthodox” – whether of the “ultra” or “modern” variety. He felt that “Orthodox” should suffice as a broad enough definition of Jewish identity, without the need to categorise it further. Adopting this attitude means that the success of any part of a people is a success of the whole — and one we should celebrate.

Miracles are built into nature

 Rambam (Shemoneh Perachim 8) This occasioned the sages to say that all miracles which deviate from the natural course of events, whether they have already occurred, or, according to promise, are to take place in the future, were fore-ordained by the Divine Will during the six days of creation, nature being then so constituted that those miracles which were to happen really did afterwards take place. Then, when such an occurrence happened at its proper time, it may have been regarded as an absolute innovation, whereas in reality it was not. The Rabbis expatiate very much upon this subject in the Midrash Koheleth and in other writings, one of their statements in reference to this matter being, (Avodah Zarah 54b) "Everything follows its natural course". In everything that they said, you will always find that the Rabbis (peace be unto them!) avoided referring to the Divine Will as determining a particular event at a particular time. When, therefore, they said that man rises and sits down in accordance with the will of God, their meaning was that, when man was first created, his nature was so determined that rising up and sitting down were to be optional to him; but they as little meant that God wills at any special moment that man should or should not get up, as He determines at any given time that a certain stone should or should not fall to the ground. The sum and substance of the matter is, then, that thou shouldst believe that just as God willed that man should be upright in stature, broad-chested, and have fingers, likewise did He will that man should move or rest of his own accord, and that his actions should be such as his own free will dictates to him, without any outside influence or restraint, which fact God clearly states in the truthful Law, which elucidates this problem, when it says, (Genesis 3:22) "Behold, the man is become as one of us to know good and evil". The Targum, in paraphrasing this passage, explains the meaning of the words "mimmenu lada'at tov vara". Man has become the only being in the world who possesses a characteristic which no other being has in common with him. What is this characteristic? It is that by and of himself man can distinguish between good and evil, and do that which he pleases, with absolutely no restraint. Since, then, this is so, it would have even been possible for him to have stretched out his hand, and, taking of the tree of life, to have eaten of its fruit, and thus live forever. Since it is an essential characteristic of man's makeup that he should of his own free will act morally or immorally, doing just as he chooses, it becomes necessary to teach him the ways of righteousness, to command and exhort him, to punish and reward him according to his deserts. It behooves man also to accustom himself to the practice of good deeds, until he acquires the virtues corresponding to those good deeds; and, furthermore, to abstain from evil deeds so that he may eradicate the vices that may have taken root in him. Let him not suppose that his characteristics have reached such a state that they are no longer subject to change, for any one of them may be altered from the good to the bad, and vice versa; and, moreover, all in accordance with his own free will. To confirm this theory, we have mentioned all these facts concerning the observances and the transgressions of the Law.

Chasam Sofer : Criticizing Gedolim when they deviate from what is viewed as the accepted halacha

 update - finished the English translation

Concerning the ongoing discussion whether it is proper to question and criticize gedolim when they deviate from what is viewed as the accepted halacha. I just received the following from a well known posek and dayan.
Rabbi Eidensohn,

I believe the attached story with the חת"ס, (who's Yahrtzeit is today), gives people like us the authority to question, attack, and condemn the (mis)deeds of those supposed Gedolim.

If you feel it could be a תועלת in the ongoing מערכה to protect the last vestige of קדושת ישראל please publicize it as you see fit.

יישר כוכחם
 Summary of the Chasam Sofer:
The Chasam Sofer is saying that the Mesora is from father to son ( as does the Ramban). That there is an inherent rejection - even of gedolim - who deviate from that Mesora.

He is saying the saying thing as the Shach. If a Rabbi, gadol or rosh yeshiva wants to deviate from the accepted Mesorah learned from father to son - he has the obligation to explain himself.

Thus the Chasam Sofer is saying that the preservation of the Jewish people is the brazenness to reject anyone - including gedolim - who go against what is understood to be the Mesorah. This mechanism was chosen by G-d to preserve the Jewish people. That is why he chose the most brazen of nations to receive the Torah.

Obviously the Chasam Sofer knew the criticism of him was wrong - but he was happy to see that the mechanism of criticizing deviation from the mesorah was in place - even if it went against a gadol such as the Chasam Sofer.
The following is from  חוט המשולש
 page 64-65 http://www.hebrewbooks.org/29069

Once when my grandfather [the Chasam Sofer] was visiting the community of Yergin a distinguished person pressured him to be a guest in his home. He agreed. It was a very nice dwelling. However not many days later he learned that his host was spreading lashon harah and  slander against him concerning his piety. The Chasam Sofer asked his shamash about this but the shamash did not want to describe with his mouth the disgusting things he had heard said about him. The Chasam Sofer was forced to order the shamash to tell what he knew. The shamash had no choice but to reveal what their host had said about him. After hearing the nature of the slander the Chasam Sofer requested that the Rav of the community make the host to take an oath and to confess that he had said bad things about the Chasam Sofer. Surprisingly the host readily admitted that he had said bad things about the Chasam Sofer and was not the slightest bit embarrassed about admitting this. The Chasam Sofer then asked him what was the basis of his saying derogatory comments about him? The host replied that he had been behind the Chasam Sofer's door on Shabbos day when the Chasam Sofer had sat down to have his meal and he noticed that the Chasam Sofer had not made kiddush (My grandfather had the custom of making kiddush on bread in the morning and then at the seuda of the day he just made a beracha on wine - which is the actual din of kiddush during the day). The host demanded to know - what type of Jew eats a meal on Shabbos without making kiddush?

The Chasam Sofer was astonished and thought to himself - what sin have I done to warrant this punishment of lashon harah and slander in my old age. It then occurred to him that by being a guest in the rich man's house he had violated the statement of Chazal that a talmid chachom is not to dwell with even a pious ignoramous. But that explanation still did not satisfy him because he didn't understand how he forgot about this warning of Chazal at this time?

But as he thought about the matter he suddenly became very happy that this degrading event had happened to him. He had always been bothered by the possibility that false and corrupt leaders would arise over the Jewish people and they would lead the people astray from Yiddishkeit and that eventually that would lead to the destruction of the Jewish people. He realized that by this incident G-d was showing him that he was mistaken.

G-d in fact had given the Torah to the most  brazen of the nation. He thought to himself, "Here I am an elderly rabbi the head of a large community - nevertheless this Jew had no problem speaking very disgraceful things about me when he thought I had done something wrong. This Jew had seen from his ancestors that they made kiddush during the day meal - and he thought that I didn't. Therefore I see that those faithful to G-d do not pay attention to their leaders to do something they view as wrong. That is because the true  foundation of their faith is what the children receive from their parents. This is in fact what the Ramban said. The Jewish people - even if they themselves are not prophets - they are the offspring  of prophets.

**) כשהי׳ זקיני זצ׳׳ל בעיירות קטנוה הללו הי׳ דרכו לדור בבית נכרי ופעם :א' כשבא לישב איזה זמן ביערגן הפציר בו איש נכבד שישכין שכינתו בביתו ואחר ההפצרה נענע לו ראשו והי׳ לו שמה דירה נאה׳ לא עברו ימים הרבה והקול נשמע שבעל הבית הוצא לישנא בישא ומלשין מאוד על זקיני זצ״ל ר״ל והדבר מגיע לאזני זקיני ז״ל שהבעה"ב מלשין עליו ושאל למשמשו אודות זה, אבל הוא לא רצה להוציא דבר מגונה כזו מפיו על רבו וגזר עליו זקיני ז"ל להגיד אשר נודע לו, ובהכרח סיפר מה שבעל האכסניא אזמר עליו וזקיני ציוה לקרוא רב העיר והשביע את האיש בפניו לאמור אם אמת הדבר שאמר עליו דברים מגונים האלה והוא הודה ולא בוש ושאלו מה זה ראיה ממני עד שאני נהשד בעיניך על זה ואמר יען ראה מאחורי הדלת בש״ק לסעודת צהריים ישב אל השולחן ולא קידש היום (דרך זקיני הי׳ לעשות קידוש בפת שחרית ובסעודת צהריים בירך על כוס יין שהוא עיקר קדושא רבא) ואיזה יהודי אוכל בלא קידוש?  כן השיבוהרהר זקיני זצ״ל מה חטא עד שעלתה לו לימי זקנותו שיוציאו עליו לשנא בישא ושיאמרו עליו כן ונפל בדעתו אולי משום שעבר על דחז״ל ע״ה חסיד אסור לת״ח לדור בשכונתו׳ ועדיין לא נח דעתו איך נעלמה ממנו הלכח זו לשעתא ולמה לא הזכרהו ה׳ עלי׳ ואח״כ נתן שמחה בלבו על שאירע לו כן כי תמיד הי׳ מצטער בחשבו הלא יעמדו לישראל מנהיגי אליל רועים אינם נאמנים ואם כן יהיו המנהיגי׳ אזי ח״ו לא יזכר שם ישראל עוד כי חעם יוסיפו אשמה להיות רעים והטאים אבל עתה הראני ה׳ שטעיתי והקב"ה נתן התורת לעזין שבאומות וראה אני רב זקן ויושב בישיבה בקהלה גדולה ואפ״ה אמר האי איש עלי דבר מגונה מאוד מפני שהוא ראה מאבותיו שעושין קידוש בצהריים ואני לא עשיתי כן א״כ הנאמנים לה׳ לא ישגיחו על מנהיגיהם להרע כי העיקר ושורש אמונת אומן מה שקבלו הבנים מאבותיהם כמ״ש הרמב״ן והנח להם לישראל כי בני נביאים המה:

A tzadik is born because of a clothes line - and other false stories

[See updates below] [ See Couple has baby after 25 years]
Where does Jewish hashkofa come from? It is interesting to note that the Chovas HaLevavos says that the Sanhedrin did not deal with hashkofa questions because they can be known through seichel. In fact many hashkofa principles are learned from the proper study of medrashism and agada. However perhaps the most influential source of hashkofa are not seforim written by gedolim but rather stories about gedolim. Unfortunately as the Satmar Rebbe and others have pointed out - there is a problem of stories about gedolim actually being made up to teach hashkofa. The consequences of this is that not only did the events not happen as reported - but often the hashkofa being taught is distorted or is incorrect. But who can argue with frum "reality?"

I recently observed a heated debate between a couple regarding the necessity of being m'vatar ( of not pressing ones legitimate complaints but instead responding passively). The wife (ironically) insisted that it was obvious that one should not be aggressive in demanding one's rights from the following often told story - whose truth has been attested by many. She said triumphantly said, "It is clear from this story that the highest level of response is to be m'vatar. One should not strongly protest and defend one's rights - but simply grin and bear it - and G-d will reward you. If it hadn't been for this attitude of being m'vatar then not only would this woman not have a child - but the Jewish people would have been deprived of the tremendous zechus of having the gadol hador - Rav Eliashiv!"

This story is discussed in great detail in the biography of Rav Eliashiv and the author proves the story is inaccurate in describing the facts of Rav Eliashiv's life - who was not born in Jerusalem. [deletion]. Nonetheless it still is being taught in Beis Yaakovs and repeated by preachers of all types to prove a point. [see Yated editorial for a more detailed version]
Torah.org There's a well-known story of a Yerushalmi woman who'd spent hours washing sheets, stringing up lines, and hanging out her family's wash. A short time later, her upstairs neighbor came home and was annoyed at the lines that had been temporarily strung. Angrily, she cut them down, and the clean laundry fell onto the muddy ground. When the first woman later went to take in her wash, she was dismayed to discover a disaster -- all the clothes were dirty and would have to be rewashed. It was obvious to her exactly what had happened.
However, she said nothing; she took the muddy sheets back into her house and began the whole laborious washing process once again.
When her husband returned home, she made no mention of the afternoon's aggravation. But late that night, there was a frantic knocking at their door. There stood the upstairs neighbor, in tears. Her child had a sudden high fever, and she was asking forgiveness for the laundry incident. The husband, who had answered the door, was surprised to hear about the event. His wife immediately and wholeheartedly forgave the woman and wished her child a full and speedy recovery.
About a year later, this righteous woman gave birth to a special son -- Rabby Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, who today is the leading rabbi in Jerusalem.

Update September 9, 2013: First of I agree with some of the comments that the problem with the story is not its historical inaccuracy. 1) It must have happened in Lithuania and not Jerusalem. 2) The claim that his mother was childless for 17 years is problematic because that means that his father got married when he was 13 years. 3) Some versions say that as a result of this incident her great kabbalist father – the Leshem – gave her a beracha. But it only worked because of she restrained her upset. Other versions don't mention any beracha.

Of greater concern is that fact that Rav Eliashiv didn't seem interested in talking about the obvious greatness of his mother expressed in the story – but he just noted that the story wrongly claimed that he was born in Jerusalem! [Contrary what I had originally posted – he didn't claim the story was false.]

However there is something else that bothers me greatly about this story - something which has touched upon in some other comments. My concern is the great weight to miraculous events - or even positive events -  that are brought as proofs that a certain hashkofa or halacha is correct because of some observed differential consequences. 

It is clear that the story is told to prove the desirability of not responding when someone provokes. The "proof" for this assertion is that a woman whose wash was ruined but she didn't react or even comment – was rewarded with a child after 17 years. Not just any child but the gadol hador!

But does it in fact prove such a view? Obviously not. There are many factors that have been responsible for providing the merit of having a child. We simply aren't prophets.  

But doesn't it at least clarify what the ideal response is? The answer again is no!
The Yated's version: With much emotion, she related the story. She explained that the cruel actions of her neighbor had been too much for her to handle in her already fragile state and she couldn’t calm down. But rather than react with angry words to her neighbor, she went inside her home to express her pain in private. She told him how she then went and redid the laundry, without making a machlokes or telling anyone. “The fact that you didn’t respond to her and prevented this from becoming a fight,” said the father, “will be the merit you need to be helped. Your great deed will grant you a child who will be great.”
In fact if a person is hurt or suffers material loss because of the intentional acts of another – it is important to give tochacha. A Torah command. Such incorrect behavior needs to corrected – in a responsible manner. Repressing anger and hurt causes a transgression of "hatred in your heart" which we are told is worse than if we had hit the aggressor. Being m'vatair obviously has its place – especially when there is no constructive response possible e.g., if it causes greater aggression and anger. But acting as if nothing has happened is often not the appropriate response. If we accept  the "lesson" of the story then parent's whose child has been abused should just accept it and go on with life. This story incorrectly teaches that turning the other cheek is the ideal. [see Yoma 23a and Rambam in the comments section]

Another example of this "evidence" based Judaism would be a person who claims that her son's cancer went into remission because she stopped wearing a sheitel. Or a husband's bipolar disorder improved because his wife became a Taliban lady. 

Bottom line is we don't posken based on "simonim" as implied in Shulchan Aruch (Y.D. 179). This is explicitly stated in Bava Metzia (59b) which rejects the validity of proofs from the miracles that R' Eliezer brought to prove that the halacha was according to his view.

Update Sept 10, 2013 There is a flip side to this approach "evidence" based approach concerning negative experiences. I remember one morning going to a auto parts store in Far Rockaway and hearing the owner lament the fact that he had just become frum that week. "I was never robbed before I became religious."

A more direct statement of my concern for "evidence" based Judaism is a story I heard regarding Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky from his son-in-law - Rabbi Diskind.
1948 was believed to be a special time for Mosiach coming according to Kabbalistic sources. In Toronto there was a campaign of certain chassidim to get as many Jews to be Shomer Shabbos before Moshiach came. Rav Yaakov was consulted regarding a storekeeper who found the promises very tantalizing and was about to become Shomer Shabbos because of the chance that they might be true. Rav Yaakov's response was that they should stop pressuring the storekeeper to become observant. "Right now he is not observant but at least he is not an apikorus. When the year passes and Moshiach doesn't come he will not only stop being observant but will deliberately reject belief in Moshiach."

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Arming teachers is hard, even in gun-loving Texas


Texas’ top law enforcement official proposed new efforts to arm educators after a rifle-toting gunman killed 19 children and two teachers inside a local classroom this week. State statistics suggest most teachers aren’t interested.

For more than a decade, state laws have allowed teachers to go to work empowered as armed school security — or the last line of defense against an active shooter.

But Texas, a state with a fabled gun culture, has allowed teachers to sign up as campus “marshals” since 2013 through a program signed into law after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. The initiative has seen fewer than 300 educators sign up across 62 school districts, according to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, even after some restrictions around the program were loosened following a deadly 2018 mass shooting at a Houston-area high school.

Neo-Nazi who worked for US Navy convicted of storming Capitol in Jan. 6 riot


A former US Army reservist described by prosecutors as a Nazi sympathizer was convicted Friday of storming the US Capitol to obstruct Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s 2020 electoral victory.

Timothy Hale-Cusanelli, who worked as a security contractor at a Navy base when he joined the pro-Trump mob on January 6, was also convicted of disorderly conduct and other misdemeanors.

Hale-Cussanelli took the stand in his defense and claimed he didn’t know that Congress met at the Capitol building.

“I know this sounds idiotic, but I’m from New Jersey,” Hale-Cusanelli said, according to WUSA-TV. “In all my studies, I didn’t know there was an actual building that was called the ‘Capitol.’ It’s embarrassing and idiotic.”

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Republican House primary candidate goes on antisemitic rant


Greg Raths, former mayor of Mission Viejo and Republican primary candidate for California's 40th Congressional District, went on an antisemitic rant on Thursday.

"These politicians go where the money is, unfortunately. The Jewish community is very well organized in the US and they control a lot of politicians," Raths stated. "That's why the foreign aid is so large and is going to Israel. The Jewish community has never given me one dime so I'm not beholden to them at all."

R Nota Greenblatt - A story


The Tenth Man

Rav Nota’s concern for the chinuch of Jewish children extended well beyond his hometown. Impressed by the success Rav Nota achieved in Memphis, in 1958 Dr. Joseph Kamenetzky of Torah Umesorah asked that Rav Nota work his magic for the community in Kansas City. Although it was home to a large number of Jewish immigrants, it had no Hebrew day school.

Rav Nota arrived in Kansas City at the beginning of the week, ready to give it his all. His first stop was the rabbi. Rav Nota approached him and asked his permission to recruit families for a potential Hebrew Day School. The rabbi looked at him and laughed. “The parents want nothing to do with the old country,” he said. “They want their sons to be American boys, with a proper education.” Rav Nota stood his ground, though, insisting that it was worth a try.

Finally, they came to an agreement. “Get ten families to sign up for the school by Friday, and the school is yours,” the rabbi said. “Anything less than that is not a school.” Rav Nota had one week to recruit ten families in a foreign city to commit to sending their children to a Hebrew day school that did not yet exist. He went from door to door, begging, pleading for the families to send their children. Many laughed at him. Undeterred, he continued, barely eating anything.

By midday Friday, he arrived at the rabbi’s home, famished and exhausted, but triumphant. Waving a sheet of paper at the rabbi’s face he proudly declared, “I have your ten applications!” The rabbi, who didn’t want the school to become reality, turned white. He began going through the list, name by name. Suddenly, he stopped.

“This family, Blumenthal, doesn’t count,” he said fiercely. “They live on the other side of the tracks, in the poor neighborhood; they don’t even have a floor in their home. He doesn’t belong with the other children.”

Rav Nota left broken. He asked his wife if he could be buried with these ten applications when he passed away, to show the Ribbono shel Olam something he did just for Him, with no possible personal gain.

Years later, when Bill Clinton was elected president of the United States, Rav Nota read that one of his cabinet members was a fellow by the name of Blumenthal. After doing some research he determined that this was, in fact, the Blumenthal child that would have attended the Kansas City school had it been allowed to open.

When relating the story, Rav Nota would begin to cry. “You know what potential this child had? From a home with no floor to Clinton’s cabinet? Who knows what a gaon he could have become? But he didn’t have the opportunity. Why?! Because of the rabbi. That rabbi! Even in Gehinnom there’s no place for him.”