Sunday, May 8, 2011

Toppling Mubarak brings sharp increase in Muslim-Christian violence

Al Jazeera

Egypt's military rulers have detained 190 people in connection with the clashes between Muslims and Christians in Cairo in which at least 12 people have been killed and more than 230 others wounded.

The situation remained tense on Sunday, a day after violence first erupted in the Egyptian capital's northwestern neighbourhood of Imbaba.

Witnesses said the clashes broke out after a mob of conservative Muslims marched on a Coptic Christian church in Imbaba.

The march began over an apparent relationship between a Coptic woman and a Muslim man, amid reports that the woman was being held inside against her will and prevented from converting to Islam.

The verbal clash soon developed into a full-fledged confrontation where the two sides exchanged gunfire, firebombs and stones, and another church nearby was set on fire.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Yated publishes ban against Mishpacha

Kikkar HaShabbat

קוראיו הוותיקים של העיתון "יתד נאמן", בטאון ´דגל התורה´, שפשפו הבוקר (שני) את עיניהם בתדהמה. בעמוד השער, התנוסס מכתבו של לא אחר מאשר גאב"ד בית דין צדק בני ברק, הגאון רבי ניסים קרליץ.

במכתבו, יוצא הגר"נ קרליץ חוצץ נגד השבועונים החרדיים לסוגיהם. "כל השבועונים והחינמונים, כולל עיתון "משפחה", מסלפים ומטשטשים את השקפת תורתנו הקדושה שקיבלו מרבותינו, וחלילה להכניס עיתונים מסוג זה לבית, או לסייע בידם בכל אופן שהוא", כותב רבי ניסים קרליץ.

לצד מכתבו של הגר"נ קרליץ, הופיע מכתבם של מספר ראשי ישיבות, גם הוא נגד השבועונים, אשר גורמים "נזק רב לערכים נעלים ומקודשים אותם אנו עמלים להנחיל. על כן יש להתרחק מהם ומכל השבועונים למיניהם", לשון מכתב ראשי הישיבות.

New mechanism for converts to marry


After over a year of an impassioned court debate, the state and ITIM – The Jewish Life Information Center have agreed on a mechanism set to ensure converts are registered for marriage by city rabbis in a way that is nearly identical to the procedure other Israeli Jews go through.

Last September, the state suggested that four regional rabbis would bear the the capacity to function as marriage registrars for converts from anywhere in the country.

The solution came in the wake of the phenomenon of some city rabbis refusing to register state-approved converts for marriage. This situation was what had prompted Alina Sardiyokov, a convert to Judaism, and her husband, Maxim, ITIM and three other public petitioners last March to file a High Court of Justice petition against the rabbinate and four city rabbis. [...]

Rav Eliashiv refuses to ban women speaking on cellphones in public


הרב קופשיץ, גיסו של הגר"נ קרליץ, החתים את גיסו על מכתב נגד שבועון 'משפחה'. המכתב הוכחש, ופורסם בשנית, ופרטים אודות הסאגה המדוברת תוכלו לקרוא בהרחבה במדור עיתונות ותקשורת באתר 'בחדרי חרדים'.

אחד מבאי ביתו של הגרי"ש אלישיב, סיפר היום (ה') ל'בחדרי חרדים' סיפור מעניין שהתרחש לא מכבר.

בצהרי יום אביבי, הגיע הרב קופשיץ לבית הגרי"ש אלישיב. לאחר שנכנס לחדרו של הרב, סיפר לו כי דורנו לוקה במגפה נוראה ההולכת ומתפשטת.

"מהי המגיפה?" התענין הגרי"ש

"בנות סמינר הולכות ברחוב", סיפר הרב, "והן מדברות בפלאפון בקול רם. זהו מחזה לא כשר ההולך ומתפשט. הבאתי מכתב נגד התופעה ואני מעוניין שהרב יחתום עליו".

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Rabbi found guilty in plane grope incident


A touchy-feely Orthodox rabbi was found guilty today by a federal judge for groping a female Israel Defense Forces officer during a flight aboard a commercial jetliner bound for New York.

Gavriel Bidany, 48, a father of 11 children, was traveling on a Delta flight from Tel Aviv and seated next to the young woman, who had fallen asleep. [...]

Rav Ovadiah Yosef: ruach rah - does it exist today?

Yabiah Omer (O.C. 3:2.4): … we should combine this with the view of Achronim that in modern times, ruach rah doesn’t exist. This is the view of the Lechem Mishneh and the Eliyahu Rabba concerning netilas yadayim in the morning (washing the hands) because they say that there is no ruach rah anymore. This is also the view of the Yam Shel Shlomo. Also look at Maharam ben Chaviv … who says that in modern times we do not see or hear that anyone who touches his eyes before netilas yadayim in the morning is blinded or that one who touches his ears becomes deaf…Therefore the ruach rah of the morning does not exist today. This is like the ruach rah of food that will choke a child if the hands are not washed but Tosfos (Chullin 107b) says it does not exist today. I also saw in the sefer Soles Belulah (4:3) who also comments on the issue of ruach rah and says that our experience is the opposite of what is says in the Talmud. However he says the gemora means that not washing your hands in the morning and touching your eyes or ears causes you to not understand the Torah that you see or hear. But how will he explain (Shabbos 109) which says touching with unwashed hands causes bad breath? In fact if you examine the gemora objectively you will conclude that the words are meant literally [contrary to the understanding of the Soles Belulah]. The Minchas Aaron (1:13) also rejects his understanding. Thus it is seems that the more correct understanding is in accord with the Maharam ben Chaviv we mentioned before. In sum, it seems that ruach rah has become very weak until it almost entirely gone from the world… So this is surely so regarding the ruach rah of the bathroom which is not as strong as that of the morning. So even though there are those who are concerned about ruach rah even today, nevertheless it is appropriate to combine these understanding which we mention in order to lenient in times of need to allow washing the hands under the faucet with is found in contemporary bathrooms. That is because the bathroom is always kept clean by the flushing of water. However if it is not necessary, then we should not be lenient in this matter - and surely we should not say words of holiness there. If the toilet is not constantly clean in the bathroom then one should not be lenient at all even concerning netilas yadim.

How to View Bin Ladin's Death from a Jewish Perspective


By Rabbi Yair Hoffman

It is a verse in the 24th chapter of Mishlei.  In the falling (death) of your enemy – do not rejoice.  And the concept discussed in the verse is being examined throughout the world – from the Huffington Post to internal presidential cabinet discussions.

AP News reports, for example, that a certain Hyojin Jenny Hwang wrote on Facebook that she was saddened by the sight of young Americans like herself jubilantly cheering Osama bin Laden’s death, the angry response was swift, even from friends.

“One friend told me she felt judged for feeling happy,” said the 30-year-old mother from New Jersey. “And another one simply unfriended me on Facebook.”

From a Torah perspective the question arises:  Osama Bin Ladin, the murderer of 3000 Americans, is dead.  How exuberant should we be?

We must also keep in mind another seemingly contradictory earlier verse then the one mentioned in Chapter 24 of Mishlei.  It was also written by Shlomo HaMelech – “In the death of evil-doers – exhuberance! (Mishlei 11:10).  How are these two verses to be understood together? [...]

Monday, May 2, 2011

Today books are our true teachers - not people

Steipler (Piskei Teshuvos vol 4 age 435:): ...
In Orchos Rabbeinu (2:112) the Steipler is quoted as saying that the mitzva of greeting one’s teacher on Yom Tov is only relevant at a time when the Torah was learned orally and the student had acquired most of his Torah learning from his teacher. However in modern times since people learn Torah from gemora and other seforim – the concept of a master teacher is not relevant and therefore there is no obligation to great one’s teacher on Yom Tov. This that a person acquires a method of learning does not give his teacher a special status because it is possible for him to acquire this on his own. Furthermore who knows if the method he was taught was true. There is no obligation to greet a teacher who is not a master teacher on Yom Tov. This that we learn the halacha from the Shunamite woman because she greeted Elisha on Yom Tov - even though it is not relevant that say that he was her master teacher – is because Elisha was the teacher of all Jews and therefore everyone was required to greet him.

Incestual abuse - revealing it to in-laws

A rabbi who received this question sent it to me for my opinion on the
matter and gave me permission to publish it on this blog.
Dear Rebbi,

I hope all is well.

Q. MY wife and I are wondering if we can tell my Mother about my wife
having been molested by her Dad.
The reasons are
- that the therapist first of all thinks we should, because if word gets
out (about my father in law) and my parents find out, they may
be"humiliated and upset we didn't tell them earlier.
- They would finally understand why we really are staying in Israel for
now and counting on their financial support.
- My wife would feel better if someone like my mom knew this, because it
would explain a lot of things my wife has a hard time with.

Shavua tov

I made the following comments.

A number of issues arise. 1) Did the father-in-law confess or is there
any evidence other than the wife's statement that the molesting took
place? 2) can the benefits be obtained without mentioning that it was
her father who was the molester? 3) if it wasn't likely that word would
get out does the therapist think there is any need to tell? 4) why is
financial support dependent upon the knowledge of molesting by the
father-in-law? 5) why isn't it enough for the wife that the therapist
know 6) did the father have therapy and is he considered a danger to
others? 7) Does the mother-in-law know that her daughter was molested by
her husband?

It seems that the reasons presented for revealing this information don't
seem natural and that it appears that the expected benefits can be
obtained without revealing the identity of the molester.

To answer your question - there is no question that if needed the
information can be revealed but as presented it seems to be that the
context has not been laid down properly. Therefore it shouldn't be done
since it would cause more harm than benefit unless more preparation is
done. I am also not sure the therapist is competent to deal with this

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Conservative & Reform rabbis' employment in danger in many communities

Jewish Week

One of the little-discussed effects of the economic recession on the Jewish community is that more rabbis in the later stages of their careers are finding themselves out of work.

And that’s causing a good deal of bitterness and concern in the rabbinic community about the dwindling, and changing nature, of the profession.

“We’re seeing the end of the rabbinate as we know it,” a 56-year-old Reform rabbi insisted, noting that congregations today are looking for “comfort,” not challenges. “The intellectual tradition of the pulpit has died,” said the rabbi, who asked not to be named out of concern for the prospects for his next job search.

The data is sketchy and the reasons differ as to just why the rabbinic market is falling. But a number of people close to the situation say that with Conservative and Reform synagogues losing an estimated 20 to 30 percent of their membership, rabbis increasingly are the sacrificial lambs on the altar of congregational cost-saving.

Abraham’s Children in the Genome Era:


Jews originated as a national and religious group in the Middle East during the second millennium BCE1 and have maintained continuous genetic, cultural, and religious traditions since that time, despite a series of Diasporas.2 Middle Eastern (Iranian and Iraqi) Jews date from communities that were formed in the Babylon and Persian Empires in the fourth to sixth centuries BCE.3,4 Jewish communities in the Balkans, Italy, North Africa, and Syria were formed during classical antiquity and then admixed with Sephardic Jews who migrated after their expulsion from the Iberian Peninsula in the late 15th century.5 Ashkenazi Jews are thought to have settled in the Rhine Valley during the first millennium of the Common Era, then to have migrated into Eastern Europe between the 11th and 15th centuries, although alternative theories involving descent from Sorbs (Slavic speakers in Germany) and Khazars have also been proposed.6,7 Admixture with surrounding populations had an early role in shaping world Jewry, but, during the past 2000 years, may have been limited by religious law as Judaism evolved from a proselytizing to an inward-looking religion.8

Earlier genetic studies on blood groups and serum markers suggested that Jewish Diaspora populations had Middle Eastern origin, with greater genetic similarity between paired Jewish populations than with non-Jewish populations.9–11 These studies differed in their interpretation of the degree of admixture with local populations. Recent studies of Y chromosomal and mitochondrial DNA haplotypes have pointed to founder effects of both Middle Eastern and local origin, yet the issue of how to characterize Jewish people as mere coreligionists or as genetic isolates that may be closely or loosely related remains unresolved.12–16 To improve the understanding about the relatedness of contemporary Jewish groups, genome-wide analysis and comparison with neighboring populations was performed for representatives of three major groups of the Jewish Diaspora: Eastern European Ashkenazim; Italian, Greek, and Turkish Sephardim; and Iranian, Iraqi, and Syrian Mizrahim (Middle Easterners).

Mental health needs of senior citizens are greatly neglected


Now, a growing number of experts are calling for integrating mental health professionals into all levels of communities for the rising population of aging Americans, from nursing homes to assisted-living centers.

Gary Kennedy, the director of geriatric psychiatry at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, says psychological care is “equally if not more important than” medical care for this group. “Health policy continues to lag behind the reality that these are now mental health facilities,” Dr. Kennedy said of communities for the elderly.

While Alzheimer’s receives the lion’s share of public attention, garden-variety depression, anxiety and sleep disorders also accompany old age. Particularly for late-life depression, Dr. Agronin points to data assembled by the psychiatry department at the University of California, San Francisco, supporting behavioral and group therapy, treatment rarely tried with patients from generations typically considered averse to discussing such issues.

But treatment that focuses on talking, rather than on medical procedures, has a lower Medicare reimbursement rate. The economic difficulties may explain why more doctors have not entered the time-intensive field.

Trivialization of the Holocaust by making it the Lesson on All Evils


Before you are submerged within the museum’s theatrically darkened central galleries, before you learn how the cafes and intellectual life of the Weimar Republic gradually gave way to the annihilationist racial fantasies Hitler outlined in “Mein Kampf” — before, that is, you experience a variation of the Holocaust narrative with its wrenching genocidal climax — there are other trials a visitor to the Museum of Tolerance here must pass through.

You must first choose a door. One is invitingly labeled “Unprejudiced”; the other, illuminated in red, screams “Prejudiced.” No contest. But one door doesn’t open; the other does. Here, evidently, we must admit we are all prejudiced, not just the guards at Auschwitz.

As proof, below a streaming news ticker (“Gay Basher Gets 12 Years”) are panels about “Confronting Hate in America”: Two Latinos are beaten on Long Island; a white supremacist shoots Jews in Los Angeles; a Sikh is murdered in a post-9/11 “hate crime”; a homosexual student is brutally murdered in Wyoming. On one panel is a description of the Oklahoma City bombing; on another, the attacks of 9/11. [....]