Sunday, July 30, 2023

Messianic times

 Will all halachic questions be resolved in Messianic times and if so how? Sources?

Mishna Torah (Melachim 12) Our Sages taught: "There will be no difference between the current age and the Messianic era except the emancipation from our subjugation to the gentile kingdoms."...He will not come to declare the pure, impure, or to declare the impure, pure. He will not dispute the lineage of those presumed to be of proper pedigree, nor will he validate the pedigree of those whose lineage is presumed blemished. Rather, he will establish peace within the world as ibid. 3:24 continues: 'He will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children."

In that era, there will be neither famine or war, envy or competition for good will flow in abundance and all the delights will be freely available as dust. The occupation of the entire world will be solely to know G-d.

Therefore, the Jews will be great sages and know the hidden matters, grasping the knowledge of their Creator according to the full extent of human potential, as Isaiah 11:9 states: 'The world will be filled with the knowledge of God as the waters cover the ocean bed."

"G-d does miracles even for the irreligious" - Criticism of the views of the Satmar Rebbe

One of the major theological controversies in recent years has been the validity of the Satmar Rebbe's claim that the Six Day War victory was ma'aseh Satan and whether miracles only happen to frum people. [There is of course Rav Moshe's teshuva (Y.D. 4:8.2) regarding the miracle of Entebbe which clearly disagrees with the Satmar. ] But there is a little known or  remembered event that happened shortly after the Six Day War which clearly defined the basis of dispute. This is the version I heard from Rabbi Gavriel Beer - a life long Aguda askan - who was there.

As is well known by now, the mood leading up to the Six Days War was very gloomy. Many in Israeli and in the Diaspora were anticipating a war which would be very costly in life - both for the soldiers and civilian population. The more optimistic view was that Israel would take a harsh beating but would survive. There is no need to mention the pessimistic view.

But when the guns were silent after the incredibly short war in June 1967, Israelis discovered that not only had they survived but they had soundly thrashed the massive armies of the surrounding Arab countries and in addition had acquired the West Bank - which included the Old City of Jerusalem and the location of the Temple. Everyone seemed to say it was an open miracle. There was one major dissenting voice - the Satmar Rebbe - who insisted that it was not only not a miracle but the victory was in fact the work of Satan. He emphatically stated that miracles don't happen for the Zionist  - especially to support the theological crime known as the State of Israel.

Several months later at the annual Aguda Convention, this astounding event was the central topic of discussion  Speaker after speaker spoke on the topic and the gedolim were clearly divided on whether to agree or disagree with the Satmar position. One of those who publicly agreed with the Satmar view was Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky.

At the Melava Malka that weekend, the keynote speaker was Rav Itchie Meyer Levin - the Gerrer Rebbe's son-in-law. He of course spoke about the topic. After some introductory comments he made the following observation. "Not so long ago the Jewish people suffered the horrible loss of 6  million Jews in the Holocaust. When we went to the gedolim for an explanation we were told that we must be silent and accept this because it was G-d's will. Now we were just faced with another possible holocaust in the Land of Israel but the Jews were saved this time. We hear gedolim who say that these millions who were saved were saved by Satan. How is that when it comes to the death of Jews it is G-d's work but when it comes to rescuing them from death it is Satan? It can't be."

In response, Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky quickly wrote a note which he sent to be read from the podium. It said, "I want to publicly retract my previous statement supporting the view of the Satmar Rebbe and say that now I agree fully with what Rabbi Levin just stated." 

Rabbi Beer noted that this was Rav Yaakov's greatness. His only concern was truth and he wasn't afraid to publically admit that he had erred.

Igros Moshe(Y.D. 4:8.2):Concerning the matter of the Jews who were hijacked in Uganda and then were saved by [Israeli] soldiers who went to Uganda. It is reasonable that this should be considered an open miracle. That is because in the normal course of events it would not be possible that such a thing be successful. Whatever is done in the world is only by the hand of G‑d – whether it is for the good or whether it is – G‑d forbid - ! the opposite. He causes the blow and the cure. He caused that these Jews be captured. But He also caused that they were rescued by means of giving these soldiers special courage and motivation so that they were able to save the captives. He also arranged circumstances so the soldiers in fact were successful. Nevertheless the reasons that G‑d did a miracle through sinners are hidden from us. Furthermore it is prohibited for any man to be “wise” and raise question against G‑d’s actions. Rather it is necessary for us to be innocent and accepting whatever G‑d does as it explicity says in the Torah (Devarim 18:13)

Saturday, July 29, 2023

DeSantis faces backlash from Black conservatives

DeSantis and his team have generally taken a pugilistic attitude with the media and GOP rivals. Asked about Scott’s remarks, he said the senator was “siding” with liberals.

“At the end of the day, you got to choose: Are you going to side with Kamala Harris and liberal media outlets or are you going to side with the state of Florida?” DeSantis told reporters. “I think it’s very clear that these guys did a good job on those standards. It wasn’t anything that was politically motivated.”

Avoda Zara has power to help?

 אמת ליעקב פרשת ואתחנן (04:19

ונראה שיש כאן מחלוקת עיקרית ביסוד ענין עבודה זרה, דשיטת הרמב"ם בכמה מקומות היא דהעבודה זרה אין בה ממש כל עיקר ואין לה כח כלל, וכל המתפלל אליה ועובדה לא רק שהוא עובר על האיסור אלא הוא גם מבזבז זמנו לריק ולשוא, אבל דעת הרמב"ן היא שהקב"ה הטביע בטבע העולם שכל אומה יש לה משפיע משלה בעולמות העליונים והוא יש לו כח מסויים שיכול להשפיע על אומתו כל זמן שאין הדבר נוגע לישראל [דהרי אין מזל לישראל], אלא איסור עבודה זרה שנצטוו בה האומות הוא שאסור להם להתפלל למשמש הזה כי הרי כל כוחו נובע ממה שהטביע בו הקדוש ברוך הוא, ולכן התפילה והעבודה צריכה להיות לאלקי האלקים, כלומר להאלו־ה שהוא ממעל כל האלהים, ולכן צריכים להתפלל להקב"ה עצמו ולא לעבד שלו, אבל ודאי אם עובדים את העבודה שלהם ומתפללים אליה זה משפיע עליו לעזור להם ויש ביכלתו לעשות כן, וזהו ביאור הפסוק אשר חלק ה' אלקיך לכל העמים תחת כל השמים, והיינו שה' חילק לכל אומה אומה את השר והמשפיע שלה. 

Listen to gedolim and tzadikkim - even against the Torah - but not to a prophet

 Devarim (04:02)You shall not add anything to what I command you or take anything away from it, but keep the commandments of your G-d that I enjoin upon you. 

Rashi (Devorim 04:02)YE SHALL NOT ADD — For instance, to place five chapters in the Tephillin, to employ five species of fruit and plants in the fulfilment of the command of Lulab And to place five fringes on one’s garment. Thus, too, must we explain the following words ולא תגרעו, Ye shall not diminish [from it]" (Sifrei Devarim 82:4).

Ramban (Devorim 04:02) However, the prohibition against adding [to the Torah] by word of a prophet we derive only from the verse stating, These are the commandments, which establishes, “From now on, no prophet is permitted to originate anything [in the Torah].” Whatever [laws] the Sages have established in the nature of “a fence [around the Torah],” such as the secondary degrees of forbidden marriages — that activity of [establishing fences] is itself a requirement of the Torah, provided only that one realizes that these [laws] are a result of a particular fence and that they are not [expressly] from the mouth of the Holy One, blessed be He, in the Torah.

Vayikra (27:34)These are the commandments that G-d gave Moses for the Israelite people on Mount Sinai. 

Chizkuni (27:34)“these are the commandments;” no future prophet has the authority to either add to them or to cancel any of them. (Sifra)

Modern belief is that if a godol or tzadik tells you that something is halacha - it must be accepted even against a clear mesorah. This perhaps started with the belief that one can not disagree with the Chazon Ish.

Rav Moshe Feinstein: Can one disagree with the Chazon Ish & other gedolim

This view is still clearly alive. My son went to a major posek in Bnei Brak for a haskoma to his sefer. which he got but it included the caution "I can not agree with his halachic conclusions that result from his analysis because in many issues they conflict with the rulings of the Chazon Ish"

Similarly I have been criticized for disagreeing with the halachic views attributed to Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky and Rav Nota Greenblatt

In other words the view of gedolim must always be accepted while that of a prophet is disregarded if it goes against the halacha. 

Author Who Debunked RFK Jr. A Decade Ago Thinks His Candidacy Is ‘Pretty Depressing’

Describing his views as ‘controversial,’ I think, is dishonest. They’re not controversial. They’re false. He’s not spreading controversial views, he’s spreading lies. And so the framing matters enormously, and that’s something that I foresee being a huge, huge issue in the 2024 campaign.

Trump Handed Another Loss as Judge Dismisses His ‘Big Lie’ CNN Lawsuit

Donald Trump’s already-shaky defamation lawsuit against CNN officially flopped Friday, with the federal judge he appointed dismissing the case despite his pleas the network had associated him with Adolf Hitler.

Friday, July 28, 2023

Do Florida school standards say ‘enslaved people benefited from slavery,’ as Kamala Harris said?

The Florida Board of Education set new social studies standards for middle schoolers July 19.

In a section about the duties and trades performed by enslaved people, the state adopted a clarification that said "instruction includes how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit."

Experts on Black history said that such language is factually misleading and offensive.

'Sound of Freedom': Why is this surprise box-office hit causing controversy?

The film portrays children being snatched and kidnapped by strangers. While this can certainly happen, it’s a myth that most traffickers “target victims they don’t know,” according to Polaris, an organization that operates the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline. 

In fact, “many survivors have been trafficked by romantic partners, including spouses, and by family members, including parents,” Polaris notes.

In a recent Rolling Stone interview, Erin Albright, an attorney with extensive experience in the anti-trafficking field, called the movie’s portrayal of trafficking “sensational” and said it perpetuates unhelpful and even harmful myths.

Albright argued that when popular movies promote the narrative that trafficking involves forceful kidnapping and imprisonment, it makes it harder for people to grasp more complex trafficking cases, such as cases of coercive control or psychological manipulation.

Kooky, crazy, dangerous': the truth about 'Sound of Freedom' and star Jim Caviezel

Supreme Court striking down reasonableness bill 'uncharted territory,' PM says

"We had to put Israeli democracy back on an equal footing with other democracies. The essence of democracy is the balance between the will of the majority and the rights of the minority. This balance has been violated over the last 20 years, because we have the most activist court on the planet," Netanyahu said.

Five revelations from new Trump charges

Federal prosecutors’ superseding indictment against former President Trump in his classified documents case on Thursday has brought to light several new charges and revelations.

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Tish‘ah be-Av and the Agunah Problem by Rabbi Shalom C. Spira

    The Gemara, Ta‘anit 30a, prohibits most areas of Torah study on Tish‘ah be-Av. One of the few permitted exceptions, as identified by Mishnah Berurah, Orach Chaim 554, se’if katan 3, is the passage in Gittin 55b-58a regarding the Temple destruction. The conclusion of that passage – an exposition of Micah 2:2 – is interpreted by Maharsha (Chiddushei Aggadot) as declaring that if even one husband is wrongfully pressured to divorce his wife [in violation of Exodus 20:14] or if even one marriage is poisoned by adultery – then the entire Jewish People is held accountable to collectively protest. Thus, it emerges that Tish‘ah be-Av is a time to reaffirm our commitment to the sanctity of marriage – and to eschew half-baked solutions to the agunah problem – as I previously wrote at <>.

      R. Simchah Rabinowitz, Piskei Teshuvot al Mishnah Berurah Chelek Shishi, points to another exception presented by Mishnah Berurah, this time in se‘if katan 5. Where a halakhic verdict is urgently needed on Tish‘ah be-Av for a sick patient or for litigants in a monetary dispute (who cannot wait until tomorrow), a decisor may study the case as is necessary to provide immediate guidance. Rabbi Rabinowitz explains that this is what justified R. Shalom Mordechai Schwadron, Teshuvot Maharsham, I, no. 84, to formulate a responsum on Tish‘ah be-Av to permit an agunah to remarry. Indeed, Rabbi Schwadron concludes that responsum by citing Bach to the effect that rescuing an agunah is a spiritual achievement equivalent to rebuilding one of the ruins of Jerusalem. 

            Upon careful reflection, it emerges that there is no contradiction between the aforementioned Maharsha and Maharsham regarding the agunah-problem message of Tish‘ah be-Av [and, poetically enough, their works carry almost identical names]. Where the Oral Torah declares that an agunah can remarry, such as the case of Maharsham in which he discovered sufficient circumstantial evidence to presume the first husband to be dead, then it is indeed a great mitzvah to enable this remarriage. But where the first husband is demonstrably both alive and innocent of any wrongdoing, then Maharsha directs us to respect that first (and only) marriage. 

For this reason, R. J. David Bleich, responding to the 1992 New York Get Law [a well-meaning but unfortunately less-than-successful attempt to solve the agunah problem], comments as follows [available at <> ]:

                "Regrettably, instead of serving as a panacea resolving the plight of the agunah, the Get Law has itself                      created countless agunot. It is precisely because of concern for agunot that the Get Law cannot                       be allowed to stand."

In other words, we must always take into consideration the Maharsha vs. Maharsham dichotomy, thereby distinguishing true from imagined solutions to the agunah problem. That is why my own prenup proposal [available at <>] contains a clause shielding the husband and wife from any secular court that might wreak havoc with a get

Continuing on this theme, I would like to highlight my recent exchange with R. Heshey Zelcer in Hakirah Vol. 28 (Spring 2020) [available at <>] regarding the [once again well-meaning] Yashar Prenup. I hypothesize that the poskim who are advertised as supporting this prenup (R. Moshe Sternbuch, et al, be-mechilat Kevod Toratam) innocently glossed over paragraph 16 of the agreement, which states as follows: 


           “At the initial session, Beth Din shall outline the issues between the Parties and make a            determination of the interim payments necessary to ensure that the lifestyle of the un-                                emancipated children of the household (if any) can be maintained, and that they can continue            to attend yeshiva.” 


 Rabbi Sternbuch et al do not raise an objection to this paragraph, presumably because it does not explicitly require the husband to pay the wife until he grants her a get. However, as one can discern from the aforementioned Hakirah exchange, Rabbi Zelcer effectively interprets this clause to in fact mean that the Beth Din will direct the husband to pay the wife until he grants a get. And so, the Yashar Prenup seems to present a problem that is essentially identical to that of the RCA prenup, the latter representing a prenup that Rabbi Sternbuch and others have identified would produce an invalid get. [See <>.] 

A careful examination of Rabbi Sternbuch’s letter of approbation for the Yashar Prenup [available at <>] reveals that he is appreciative to the framers of the prenup for keeping the Jewish litigants out of secular court. However, Rabbi Sternbuch does not say that he permits charging the husband money until the latter grants a get, and – indeed – he could not permit such an innovation without contradicting what he wrote regarding the RCA prenup. [For a different perspective (than mine) on the Yashar Prenup, see Yechezkel Hirshman at <>. Hirshman does not believe that the Yashar Prenup actually costs the husband any money, yet he concurs in practice (with me) to keep the proposal on ice. See there for his illuminating approach.] 


Rabbi Spira works as the Editor of Manuscripts and Grants at the Lady Davis Institute of Medical Research, a pavilion of the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, Canada. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

The Izbicer Rebbe and Freewill

What the Izbicer demonstrates is that it is possible for agents to be free, relative to the fiction that they live in, whilst wholly determined from a God’s eye view. On the other hand, the Izbicer admits that we can’t actually break out of our perspective to see the sense in which we are determined. Nevertheless, he holds that we sometimes get some sort of mystical glimpse; akin to the Wittgensteinian idea of having something shown to you that can’t be said. The sense in which we are free is very real and open to human comprehension. The sense in which we are determined is somewhat closed to us, just as it is closed, so to speak, to Hamlet. But, in order to illustrate this notion of a mystical glimpse, let me share an example that the Izbicer uses himself.[4]

Free will and marriage - Rambam

 Rambam (Shemona Perakim Perek 8) Men are, however, very often prone to err in supposing that many of their actions, in reality the result of their own free will, are forced upon them, as, for instance, marrying a certain woman, or acquiring a certain amount of money. Such a supposition is untrue. If a man marriesy a permitted woman legally, then she becomes his lawful wife, and if he does this for procreation  then he has done a mitzva. God, however, does not decree the fulfillment of a mitzva. If, on the other hand, a man has married a forbidden woman he has committed a sin. But God does not decree that a man shall sin.

Rambam (Teshuva #436): … For example the apparent contradiction to free will represented by the gemora which indicates that one’s spouse is predestined is to be understood as being dependent upon merit. In other words if this man or woman does a mitzva which gives them the merit of having such a spouse—then G‑d arranges that it happen that they marry each other. On the other hand if they so something which merits the punishment of having a marriage without peace and harmony—that will also occur…

Bashert - is your spouse chosen by G-d?

[Wikipedia] Bashert, (Yiddish: באַשערט), is a Yiddish word that means "destiny". It is often used in the context of one's divinely foreordained spouse or soulmate, who is called "basherte" (female) or "basherter" (male). It can also be used to express the seeming fate or destiny of an auspicious or important event, friendship, or happening.

From the following sources it is apparent that the concept is not clear. In fact someone went to Rav Aharaon Schecter about going ahead with a shidduch based on the fact that she was sure that the boy was her bashert. Rav Aharon responded, "there is no such thing". Obviously he was not disgarding the classic texts - but was simply saying the concept has no significance on a practical level. According to the following sources, even though they present the idea that your spouse is designated in Heaven - there is no guarantee that you will marry that spouse. Even if you do there is no guarantee that you will have a happy and fulfilling marriage. Shalom bayis is not related to marrying your bashert. Consequently it is a concept which should not have any significance either in determining whom to marry or whether to stay marry. If you fall in love with someone - that doesn't mean it is your bashert. If marry and find yourself strongly attracted to someone other than your spouse - it is not because this other person is your "true" bashert. The only significance I can think of is as a compliment or to calm anxiety about getting married.  

Just found this  from Rabbi Rabbi Pruzansky on the OU website
Many years ago, I heard Rav Ahron Soloveichik zt”l explain that bashert (in the Talmud’s language, bat ploni l’ploni) guarantees only one thing: Hashem arranges that you encounter that person. Bashert does not guarantee that you will marry that person, or that the marriage will be a happy and fulfilling one; those depend on our free choice and good middot (character traits). And even what we do after that initial encounter – pursue that person or ignore him/her; look for the good or obsess over flaws – also depends on our bechirah (free choice). As such, it is probably best to remove the bashert issue from our calculations, as it obfuscates instead of clarifies. It should remain in the realm of divine secrets to which we have no access, and which plays no role in our deliberations.

Sotah (2a): When Reish Lakish began talking about the Sotah (suspected adulteress) he asserted that a person only marries a woman according to the nature of his deeds… R’ Yochanon said that it is as difficult to make a couple as splitting the Sea… But this can’t be true since Rav said that 40 days before the creation of an embryo a Heavenly voice (bas kol) proclaims that a particular woman is to marry a particular man, that a particular house and field is to belong to a particular person? The resolution of this contradiction is that the announcement of the bas kol applies to the first marriage while the matching according to deeds refers to the second marriage.

Mo'ed Koton (18b):  Shmuel said that it is permitted to get engaged during Chol HaMoed because if it were required to wait until after the Yom Tov a rival might get engaged to her first… But did Shmuel say that we are worried that another might engage her -  because Shmuel has said that every day a Heavenly voice announces which man will marry which woman?...While it is true that one’s spouse is predetermined but it is possible that a rival will get engaged to her by means of prayer. For example Rava once heard a man praying for a particular woman. Rava told him not to pray in this manner since if she is his predestined wife there is no need to pray for her. However if she is not his predestined than he is going against Providence. Later he overhead him praying that either she should die  or that he should die before she marry another man [he didn’t want to see her marrying another man – Rav Menashe Klein]....Didn’t I tell you not to pray to marry a particular woman? There are proofs to my assertion from Torah, Neviim and Kesuvim that G‑d determines which woman a man should marry. From the Torah: Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said, The thing is from G‑d (Bereishis 24:50). From Neviim: But his [Samson's] father and mother knew not that it was from G‑d (Shoftim 14:4). And from Kesuvim: House and riches are the inheritance of fathers, but a prudent wife is from G‑d (Mishlei 19:14).

Sefer Chasidim (#521): Reuven arranged that Shimon should marry his daughter. However Shimon violated his promise and did not marry her. Even though Reuven’s daughter was embarrassed by this affair Reuven should view that it is for the good. The fact that Shimon married another woman indicates that the second woman was divinely decreed for Shimon. If Shimon had actually married Reuven’s daughter [when she was not intended for him] she would have had to die so that Shimon could marry the other woman. Therefore Reuven should not be upset and fight with Shimon because he broke the engagement. Reuven should not even look depressed since all marriages are determined by G‑d.

Rambam(Teshuva #436): … For example the apparent contradiction to free will represented by the gemora which indicates that one’s spouse is predestined is to be understood as being dependent upon merit. In other words if this man or woman does a mitzva which gives them the merit of having such a spouse—then G‑d arranges that it happen that they marry each other. On the other hand if they so something which merits the punishment of having a marriage without peace and harmony—that will also occur…

Akeidas Yitzchok (#8): [Sotah (2a)] Rabbah bar bar Channa said that matching husband and wife is as difficult as the Splitting of the Sea. In other words just as the Splitting of the Sea is a miracle against the normal pattern of nature in order to reward or punish the actions that man does with free will—so G‑d alters other processes of nature or mazal. Thus a person’s spouse is a reward or punishment that is deserved according to his deeds. No intelligent man has the slightest doubts about this principle. However it seems to be a complete contradiction to the statement of our sages that forty days before the embryo is formed that a Heavenly voice announces who he will marry. How is it conceivable that one’s spouse is determined at time of birth and that no subsequent can improve or worsen the situation? … . However the explanation is that the terms first and second marriage are not meant literally but are referring to two different types of marriage. The first marriage is that which is determined entirely by natural factors and is called first marriage simply because nature precedes deed. However the main marriage is the one that is deserved as a consequence of deeds. It is called here the second marriage because it is the second type of marriage that results from the person’s own behavior and development. Thus we see that marriage is not something which must happen according to predetermination—but man always has free will to do as he chooses…

Ran (Moed Koton 18b):Even though it has been decreed by Heaven which woman a person should marry, it is possible someone else will marry her because his prayers will be accepted. But eventual the wrong person will die or she will be divorced from him and she will marry the proper one

Zohar(1:91b): [Soncino translation] Note that all the figures of souls that are to be born stand before God in pairs, and afterwards when they come to this world God mates them. R. Isaac says: God announces, The daughter of so-and-so for so-and-so. R. Jose said: How can that be, seeing that, as the Scripture tells us, there is nothing new under the sun? R. Judah said: It is true that God creates nothing new under the sun; but this is done above. R. Jose further asked: Why is there a proclamation, seeing that, as we have been told by R. Hizkiah in the name of R. Hiya, a man's wife is assigned to him at the very moment when he is born? Said R. Abba: Happy are the righteous whose souls are beatified before the Holy King before they come into this world. For we have learnt that when God sends souls into the world they are formed into pairs of male and female, and thus united are placed in the hands of an emissary who has charge of conception, and whose name is Night. After that they are separated, and subsequently taken down among mankind (not always both at the same time). When their time of marriage arrives, God, who knows each spirit and soul, joins them as at first, and proclaims their union. Thus when they are joined they become one body and one soul, right and left in unison, and in this way there is nothing new under the sun. You may object that there is also a dictum that a man only obtains the wife he deserves. This is so, the meaning being that if he leads a virtuous life he is privileged to marry his own true mate, whose soul emerged at the same time as his. R. Hiya asked: Where should a man of good character look for his soul-mate? He replied: There is a dictum that a man should sell all his property in order to obtain in marriage a daughter of a scholar, for the special treasure of God is deposited with the learned in the Torah. We have also learnt in the esoteric Mishnah that one whose soul is a second time on earth can through prayer anticipate another in marrying a woman who is really destined for him; this is the meaning of the warning of the colleagues, it is permissible to affiance a woman on the festival, lest another through prayer anticipate him; and they were right. The word another is used significantly; and it is for this reason that marriages constitute a difficult task for the Almighty, for in all cases the ways of the Lord are right (Hos. XIV, 10). R. Judah sent a question to R. Eleazar. I know, he said, about marriages in heaven, but I would like to ask, from where do those whose souls are a second time on earth obtain their mates? The reply R. Eleazar sent him was this: It is written: How shall we do for wives for them that remain? (Jud. XXI, 7), and again, and you shall catch every man his wife, etc. (Ibid. 21). This story of the Benjaminites shows us how it can be done, and hence the dictum lest another anticipate him through his prayers”Said R. Judah: ‘No wonder we say that marriages constitute a difficult problem for the Almighty! Happy the lot of Israel who learn from the Torah the ways of God and all hidden things, and even the most secret of His mysteries! “The Law of the Lord is perfect”, says the Scripture. Happy the lot of him who occupies himself with the Torah without cessation, for if a man abandons the Torah for one moment, it is as if he abandoned eternal life, as it says, “For it is thy life and the length of thy days” (Deut. XXX, 20), and again, “For length of days and years of life and peace shall they add to thee” (Prov. III, 2).’.

Pro and anti-reform protestors savor a moment of unity - editorial

Suddenly, as the two sides headed in different directions, something beautiful happened: People began reaching out across the divider and shaking the hands of those passing on the opposite escalator. It was recognition that no matter what political path they follow, there is still a need for respect and recognition of what we all share.

Mazel is changed by G-d

 Ohr HaChaim (Vayikra 26:12) And I will turn to you, etc." This is related to our Sages saying That Jews are not determined by Mazel. G-d uproots this mazel from one place and placed it in another place. So even though children life and livelihood are said to be controlled by mazel and not merit. G-d changes the Mazel This is why G-d had to say: "I will turn to you" before mentioning that He would make the Jewish people fruitful. The word “I will turn” is indicative of G-d personally involving Himself in the fertility of the Jewish people instead of leaving the matter in the hands of the agent He has appointed as part of the laws of nature to deal with such tasks. It is also possible that when the verse continues with "I will multiply you," that this refers to a second key G-'d holds in His hands, i.e. the key to livelihood. Adequate food assists physical growth. The word  I will establish then refers to the third key G-d holds in His hands, the key to life and death. The word I will turn may thus be understood as G'd granting us access to all the three keys in His possession.

Denying that our ancestors sinned - Theology versus Chazal

There has been a major discussion going on in the comments sections  click here regarding whether one can say that Dovid sinned or that in general our Biblical ancestors - including the Avos - literally sinned the way they are described in Tanach and Chazal. For example while it says in Shabbos (55b) that whoever says that Dovid sinned is mistaken, but Chazal also say in Avoda Zara (4b), that G-d forced the Jews to worship the Golden Calf and forced Dovid to have a sinful relationship with Batsheva in order to encourage repentance. It basically comes down to whether there is a metarule that they were free from real sin - that overrides all evidence presented by both the literal meaning of Tanach as well as explicit statements in Chazal, Rishonim and Achronim. It is also clear that there are disagreements in Chazal and Rishonim regarding what sins were done - however I don't see that they had a rule to reinterpret events to eliminate sins or to say that the sin was only relative to their exalted stature. [see Rav Yonason Eibschuetz below who notes a gemora which indicated that Yehuda sinned with Tamar - while Ramban and others considered it a mitzva.]

The Chazon Ish discusses this issue regarding the view of the Baalei Mussar that the Jews who came out of Egypt were contrary to strong evidence in Chazal and Chumash - tzadikim on a very high level. He says you can't ignore the words of the Torah and Chazal to accept such a view. A good example of the Mussar approach is Rav Dessler (Michtav M'Eliyah 1:161). I haven't found this discussed in non-Mussar works, haven't found it in Chazal, or Rishonim such as Rashi or Ramban. Can't find an example in Maharal (In fact aside from the Mussar approach it seems assumed that when a sin is mentioned it means a sin in the absolute sense).

update: The earliest example of the Mussar approach is from the Ramchal in his discussion of Agadta.

רמח"ל (מאמר על אגדות חז"ל - הקדמה לעין יעקב) "...וזה מפני כלל שבידם שבמעשה הצדיקים כל מה שיש לדרוש לשבח צריך לדרוש לשבח. וברשעים להיפך שכך היא הקבלה שכוונתו של הבי"ת במלות שהכתיב היתה לרמוז על כל פרטי הרשע של הרשעים ולבאר כל חלקי גנותם. ולהפך בצדיקים. ולהעלים כל מש שאפשר שיהיה בהם מהגנאי ולבאר כל מה שבשבחם...."
Chazon Ish (Letters I:208) responded to the assertion that the Jews in Egypt were on the highest level in Torah, Mitzvos, faith and piety. The assertion was based upon the medrashism which said that the righteous women went to the fields and gave birth and left their children and there were many miracles done for them…The deduction being that surely because of these righteous women and these miracles – the entire Jewish people must of have been totally devoted to G-d and his mitvos. A further foundation of this assertion was the medrash which states that the Jews were only enslaved for 86 years and that this is insufficient time to become significantly dissolute and debased. The Chazon Ish said that these deduction have no basis since they are all against what Chazal themselves say on the subject.   He concludes that the assertion that it was impossible for the Jews to become ruined since they saw miracles is not valid. In fact the Jews saw miracles when they were redeemed from Egypt and at the Sea, as well as the Maan and at the giving of the Torah – and yet they made the Golden Calf. Furthermore there were 10 miracles at the Beis HaMikdash and many miracles and wonders done by the Prophets – nevertheless this did not prevent them from having free will to serve idols. one should not interpret the early generations in such a way that it is impossible for us to comprehend and learn from them. In fact they had free will and this is main thing in avodas HaShem.
Chazon Ish (Letters I:209) states a rule that for major widely stated facts one should should not interpret them significantly from the clear simple meaning. Only isolated things can be occasionally explained differently then their simple meaning. In the Torah we see much effort to save the Jews from deserting the entire Torah and running instead after idol worship something which according to our present condition where the Yetzer harah has been killed is totally incomprehensible.The reality of the desire for idol worship is really beyond our comprehension is the same way a blind person can’t comprehend colors

A similar assertion is made by the Leshem regarding why Chazal tell us  that Yosef really was on the verge of an adulterous relationship  - despite that fact not being explicit in the Torah. He rejects the idea that Chazal used a metaprinciple that we always explain  things so that Tzadikim are understood to do good things and the wicked do wicked things. He says that Chazal say what they said because they know it to be true through ruach hakodesh - including the nature of their sins.
Leshem(Shaarei Leshem 2:4:19): The critical point is that every Jew is obligated to believe with perfect faith that all which is found in the words of our Talmudic Sages - both in halacha, Talmudic agada and medrashim - are in their entirety the words of the living G‑d. That is because everything that they say is with ruach hakodesh (Sanhedrin 48:). This includes even that which isn’t relevant to halacha and deed…Also all their decrees and statutes are not the product of human intellect at all but rather are the result of ruach hakodesh in which G‑d has expressed Himself through them. This is the great sound that doesn’t end (Devarim 5:19) of the giving of the Torah at Sinai and it expresses itself in the Oral Torah…. Thus, the Sages are just like messengers in what they say…. This is why the Baal Halachos Gedolos includes the Rabbinic mitzvos with the Torah mitzvos since all of them were given by G‑d (Chagiga 3b)…We can conclude from all this that anyone who tries to analyze the words of the Sages in order to establish the nature of their truth places himself in great danger. That is because man’s intellect cannot properly comprehend this matter and thus a person can come to heresy from the endeavor. This is what Koheles (7:16) states: Don’t make yourself too wise - why destroy yourself? A person who gets involved in this matter will find it very difficult to resist following his human understanding. He will end up going back and forth between the view of the Torah and that of his own understanding…. The righteous person lives by his faith because that is the foundation of the entire Torah….
 update: Regarding Dovid HaMelech see Shabbos (56a), Avoda Zara 4b) and other places

Yoma (22b):R. Huna said: How little does he whom the Lord supports need to grieve or trouble himself! Saul sinned once and it brought [calamity] upon him, David sinned twice and it did not bring evil upon him — What was the one sin of Saul? The affair with Agag.19 But there was also the matter with Nob,20 the city of the priests? — [Still] it was because of what happened with Agag that Scripture says: It repenteth Me that I have set up Saul to be king.21 What were the two sins of David? — The sin against Uriah22 and that [of counting the people to which] he was enticed.23 But there was also the matter of Bathsheba?[Rashi says because he had sexual relations with her] 24 — For that he was punished, as it is written, And he shall restore the lamb fourfold:25 the child, Amnon, Tamar and Absalom.26 But for the other sin he was also punished as it is written: So the Lord sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed?27 — There his own body was not punished — But in the former case, too, his own body was not punished either?28 Not indeed? He was punished on his own body, for Rab Judah said in the name of Rab: For six months David was smitten with leprosy, the Sanhedrin removed from him, and the Shechinah departed from him, as it is written: Let those that fear Thee return unto me, and they that know Thy testimonies,29 and it is also written: Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation.30 But Rab said that David also listened to evil talk?31 — We hold like Samuel [who says] that David did not do so. And even according to Rab, who says that David listened to calumny, was he not punished for it? For Rab Judah said in the name of Rab. At the time when David said to Mephibosheth: I say: Thou and Ziba divide the land,32 a heavenly voice came forth to say to him: Rehoboam and Jeroboam will divide the Kingdom. [...] Rab Judah said in the name of Samuel: Why did the kingdom of Saul not endure? Because no reproach rested on him,38 for R. Johanan had said in the name of R. Simeon b. Jehozadak: One should not appoint any one administrator of a community, unless he carries a basket of reptiles on his back, so that if he became arrogant, one could tell him: Turn around!39

[Rashi understands the above as meaning that Shaul did not have a degrading family tree while Dovid did.]

Yaaros Devash (1:15): Why does Yoma (22b) consider Dovid’s descent from Tamar to be degrading? Isn’t it a fact that at that time — before the Giving of the Torah — it was considered normal for the father of the deceased to marry the widow? It was only after the Giving of the Torah that the widow was restricted to a marriage with a brother‑in‑law? See Ramban (Bereishis 38:8) and Abarbanel who agree that Yehuda fulfilled the mitzva of yibum by marrying Tamar. Therefore why was it considered a degradation — the opposite seems true because Yehuda was fulfilling the mitzva of levirate marriage?

update: Rav S. R. Hirsch(Bereishis 12: 10 – 13):.  The Torah does not seek to portray our great men  as perfectly ideal figures; it deifies no man. It says of no one: “Here you  have the ideal; in this man the Divine assumes human form!” It does  not set before us the life of any one person as the model from which  we might learn what is good and right, what we must do and what we  must refrain from doing. When the Torah wishes to put before us a  model to emulate, it does not present a man, who is born of dust.  Rather, God presents Himself as the model, saying: “Look upon Me!  Emulate Me! Walk in My ways!” We are never to say: “This must be  good and right, because so-and-so did it.” The Torah is not an “anthology  of good deeds.” It relates events not because they are necessarily  worthy of emulation, but because they took place.    The Torah does not hide from us the faults, errors, and weaknesses  of our great men, and this is precisely what gives its stories credibility.  The knowledge given us of their faults and weaknesses does not detract  from the stature of our great men; on the contrary, it adds to their  stature and makes their life stories even more instructive. Had they  been portrayed to us as shining models of perfection, flawless and  unblemished, we would have assumed that they had been endowed  with a higher nature, not given to us to attain. Had they been portrayed  free of passions and inner conflicts, their virtues would have seemed  to us as merely the consequence of their loftier nature, not acquired  by personal merit, and certainly no model we could ever hope to  emulate.

We also find criticism of the Avos in Chazal such as this medrash which said they erred in chinuch.

SHEMOTH RABBAH (1:1):  NOW THESE ARE THE NAMES OF THE SONS OF ISRAEL, WHO CAME INTO EGYPT WITH JACOB; EVERY MAN CAME WITH HIS HOUSEHOLD (EX. I, 1): Thus we read: He that spareth his rod hateth his son; but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes (Prov. XIII, 24). Ordinarily, if a man's friend says to him: ' So-and-so, smite your son,’ he is ready even to deprive him of his livelihood.l Then why ’He that spareth his rod hateth his son’?2 To teach you that anyone who refrains from chastising his son causes him to fall into evil ways and thus comes to hate him. This is what we find in the case of Ishmael who behaved wickedly before Abraham his father, but he did not chastise him, with the result that he fell into evil ways, so that he despised him and cast him forth empty-handed from his house. What did Ishmael do? When he was fifteen years old, he commenced to bring idols from the street, toyed with them and worshipped them as he had seen others3 do. So when Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne unto Abraham, making sport (Gen. XXI, 9)- (the word mezahek being always used of idolatry as in And they rose up to make merry (Ex. XXXII, 6)4)-she immediately said unto Abraham: Cast out this bondwoman and her son (Gen. XXI, 10) lest my son learn of his ways. [see rest of medrash]

Haredi newspaper: 'We joined to promote the Draft Law, not the reform'

The haredi Hamodia newspaper on Wednesday morning rejected the attacks on the Agudat Yisrael faction, with which the paper is affiliated.

Agudat Yisrael, a hasidic faction, is one-half of the United Torah Judaism (UTJ) party. The other faction in the party is Lithuanian-haredi Degel Hatorah.

The attacks follow the submission of a proposal to pass Basic Law: Torah Study, which the paper says was submitted over ten days ago. Hamodia noted that Agudat Yisrael did not join the coalition in order to pass the judicial reform, but in order to advance a Draft Law.