Monday, June 9, 2014

Focus on the intellectual knowlege about G-d results from the loss of the intimate experience of G-d

One of the important issues for a religious Jew is the disappearance of a direct sense of G-d and its replacement with an intellectual knowledge about G-d or focus on a strong text based understanding of halacha. This is described in the selection cited below from Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik's essay "Rupture and Reconstruction".  However this is not just a recent phenomena but in fact is something that has kept reappearing throughout Jewish history.

רב קוק (שמונה קבצים א:תסג): האנשים הטבעיים שאינם מלומדים, יש להם יתרון בהרבה דברים על המלומדים, בזה שלא נתטשטש אצלם השכל הטבעי והמוסר העצמי ע"י השגיאות העולות מהלימודים וע"י חלישות הכחות וההתקצפות הבאה ע"י העול הלימודי, ומ"מ הם צריכים לקבל הדרכה בפרטי החחים מהמלומדים. והמלומדים צריכים תמיד לסגל לעצמם, כפי האפשרי להם, את הכשרון הטבעי של עמי הארץ, בין בהשקפת החיים בין בהכרת המוסר מצד טבעיותו, ואז יתעלו הם בפיתוח שכלם יותר ויותר, וכן הדבר נוהג אפילו בצדיקים ורשעים שישנם רשעים כאלה, שהחלק הטוב שנשאר אצלם הוא מבונה בכח טבעי עצמי וטהור כ"כ, עד שצדיקים במעלתם העליונה, וכן הדבר נוהג גם בכלל האומות ביחש כל אחת מהם לחבירתה, וביחוד בין אוה"ע לישראל.

רב קוק (שמונה קבצים (א:עה): אסור ליראת שמים שתדחק את המוסר הטבעי של האדם, כי אז אינה עוד יראת שמים טהורה. סימן ליראת שמים טהורה הוא כשהמוסר הטבעי הנטוע בטבע הישר של האדם, הולך ועולה על פיה במעלות יותר בגוהות ממה שהוא עומד מבלעדה. אבל אם חצוייר יראת שמים בתכונה כזאת שבלא השפעתה על החיים היו החיים יותר נוטים לפעול טוב, ולהוציא על הפועל דברים מועילים לפרט ולכלל וע"פ השפעתה מתמעט כח הפועל ההוא יראת שמים כזאת היא יראה פסולה.

The story of Choni HaMaagel [Taanis 23a - Maharsha] is a good illustration in which someone who lived during the period of the First Temple - characterised by a direct experience of G-d - fell asleep and woke in the Second Temple period. That period was characterised by an intellectualized abstract religion and focus on texts. He was unable to deal with this change as he prayed, "Either companionship or death" and he died.

When I lived in Far Rockaway, there was a wise tzadekes - Mrs. Pauline Gingold - about 100 years old that I used to visit on a regular basis. We studied Tzenah U'Renah and Menoras HaMeor together. Rabbi Friefeld and his family also visited her and he knew her well. He told me, "Pay attention to the way she speaks about G-d. She talks to G-d as a real being - as one would speak to his father. That is the way they spoke in Europe - but it is very rare today."

Rabbi Friefeld confided that he was jealous of the bachur who davened next to him in the yeshiva. "When he davens he cries." That ability for tears is typically lost as one becomes more learned and develops a sophisticated theology.

Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik(Rupture and Reconstruction- Tradition Summer 1994): I have discussed the disappearance of a way of life and the mimetic tradition. I believe, however, the transformations in the religious enclave, including the haredi sector, go much deeper and affect fundamental beliefs. Assessments of other peoples' inner convictions an always conjectural and, perhaps, should be attempted only in a language in which the subjunctive mood is still in vigorous use. I can best convey my impression — and I emphasize that it is no more than an impression — by sharing a personal experience.

In 1959, I came to Israel before the High Holidays. Having grown up in Boston and never having had an opportunity to pray in a haredi yeshivah, I spent the entire High Holiday period—from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur—at a famous yeshiva in Bnei Brak. The prayer there was long, intense, and uplifting, certainly far more powerful than anything I had previously experienced. And yet, there was something missing, something that I had experienced before, something, perhaps, I had taken for granted. Upon reflection, I realized that there was introspection, self-ascent, even moments of self-transcendence, but there was no fear in the thronged student body, most of whom were Israeli born. Nor was that experience a solitary one. Over the subsequent thirty-five years, I have passed the High holidays generally in the United States or Israel, and occasionally in England, attending services in haredi and non-haredi communities alike. I have yet to find that fear present, to any significant degree, among the native born in either circle. The ten-day period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are now Holy Days, but they are not Yamim Noraim—Days of Awe or, more accurately Days of Dread –as they have been traditionally called.

I grew up in a Jewishly non-observant community, and prayed in a synagogue where most of the older congregants neither observed the Sabbath nor even ate kosher. They all hailed from Eastern Europe, largely from shtetlach, like Shepetovka and Shnipishok. Most of their religious observance, however, had been washed away in the sea-change, and the little left had further eroded in the "new country." Indeed, the only time the synagogue was ever full was during the High Holidays. Even then the service was hardly edifying. Most didn't know what they were saying, and bored, wandered in and out. Yet, at the closing service of Yom Kippur, the Ne'ilah, the synagogue filled and a hush set in upon the crowd. The tension was palpable and tears were shed.

What had been instilled in these people in their earliest childhood, and which they never quite shook off, was that every person was judged on Yom Kippur, and, as the sun was setting, the final decision was being rendered (in the words of the famous prayer) “who for life, who for death, / who for tranquility, who for unrest.” These people did not cry from religiosity but from self- interest, from an instinctive fear for their lives. Their tears were courtroom tears, with whatever degree of sincerity such tears have. What was absent among the thronged students in Bnei Brak and in their contemporary services and, lest I be thought to be exempting myself from this assessment, absent in my own religious life too - was that primal fear of Divine judgment, simple and direct.

To what extent God was palpably present on Yom Kippur among the different generations of congregants in Boston and Bnei Brak is a matter of personal impression, and, moreover, it is one bout which opinions might readily and vigorously differ. The pivotal question, however, is not God's sensed presence on Yom Kippur or on the Yamim Noraim, the ten holiest days of the year, but on the 355 other—commonplace—days of the year: To what extent is there an ongoing experience of His natural involvement in the mundane and of everyday affairs? Put differently, the issue is not the accuracy of my youthful assessment, but whether the cosmology of Bnei Brak and Borough Park differs from that of the shtetl, and if so, whether such a shift has engendered a change in the sensed intimacy with God and the felt immediacy of His presence? Allow me to explain.

We regularly see events that have no visible cause: we breathe, we sneeze, stones fall downward and fire rises upward. Around the age of two or three, the child realizes that these events do not happen of themselves, but that they are made to happen, they are, to use adult terms, 'caused.' He also realizes that often the forces that make things happen cannot be seen, but that older people, with more experience of the world, know what they are. So begins the incessant questioning: "Why does . . .?” The child may be told that the invisible forces behind breathing, sickness and falling are "reflex actions," "germs" and "gravitation." Or he may be told that they are the workings of the "soul," of God's wrath" and of "the attractions of like to like" (which is why earthly things, as stones, fall downward, while heavenly things, as fire, rise upward). These causal notions imbibed from the home, are then re-enforced by the street and refined by school. That these forces are real, the child, by now an adult, has no doubt, for he incessantly experiences their potent effects. That these unseen forces are indeed the true cause of events, seems equally certain, for all authorities, indeed, all people are in agreement on the matter. When a medieval man said that his sickness is the result of the wish of God, he was no more affirming a religious posture than is a modern man adopting a scientific one when he says that he has a virus. Each is simply repeating, if you wish, subscribing to the explanatory system instilled in him in earliest childhood, and which alone makes sense of the world as he knows it. Though we have never actually seen a germ or a gravitational field, it is true only in a limited sense to say that we "believe" in them. Their existence to us is simply a given, and we would think it

Similarly, one doesn't "believe" in God, in the other explanatory system, one simply takes His direct involvement in human affairs for granted. One may, of course, superimpose a belief in God, even a passionate and all-consuming one, upon another causal framework, such as gravity or DNA. However, a God "believed" over and above an explanatory system, functioning through it as indirect cause, in brief, a God in a natural cosmology, is a God "believed" in a different sense than way we now "believe" in gravitation or the way people once "believed" in God in a religious cosmology, a God whose wrath and favor were the explanatory system itself.
God's palpable presence and direct, natural involvement in daily life—and I emphasize both "direct" and "daily"—, His immediate responsibility for everyday events, was a fact of life in the East European shtetl, so late as several generations ago. Let us remember Tevye's conversations with God portrayed by Sholom Aleichem. There is, of course, humor in the colloquial intimacy and in the precise way the most minute annoyances of daily life are laid, package-like, at God's doorstep. The humor, however, is that of parody, the exaggeration of the commonly known. The author's assumption is that his readers themselves share, after some fashion, Tevye's sense of God's responsibility for man's quotidian fate. If they didn't, Tevye would not be humorous, he would be crazy. Tevye's outlook was not unique to the shtetl, or to Jews in Eastern Europe; it was simply one variation of an age-old cosmology that dominated Europe for millennia, which saw the universe as directly governed by a Divine Sovereign. If regularity exists in the world, it is simply because the Sovereign's will is constant, as one expects the will of a great sovereign to be. He could, of course, at any moment change His mind, and things contrary to our expectations would then occur, what we call "miracles." However, the recurrent and the "miraculous" alike are, to the same degree, the direct and unmediated consequence of His wish. The difference between them is not of kind but rather of frequency. Frequency, of course, is a very great practical difference, and it well merits, indeed demands of daily language, a difference in terms. However, this verbal distinction never obscures for a moment their underlying identity.

As all that occurs is an immediate consequence of His will, events have a purpose and occur because of that purpose. Rationality, or, as they would have had it, wisdom, does not consist in detecting unvarying sequences in ever more accurately observed events and seeing in the first occurrence the "cause" of the second. Wisdom, rather, consists in discovering His intent in these happenings, for that intent is their cause, and only by grasping their cause could events be anticipated and controlled. The universe is a moral order reflecting God's purposes and physically responsive to any breaches in His norms. In the workings of such a world, God is not an ultimate cause; He is a direct, natural force, and safety lies in contact with that force. Prayer has then a physical efficacy, and sin is "a fearful imprudence." Not that one thinks much about sin in the bustle of daily life, but when a day of reckoning does come around, only the foolhardy are without fear.

Such a Divine force can be distant and inscrutable, as in some strains of Protestantism, or it can be intimate and familial, as in certain forms of Catholicism. In Eastern Europe it tended toward intimacy, whether in the strong Marian strain of Polish Catholicism in the much-supplicated household icon, the center of family piety the Greek Orthodox devotion. And much of the traditional literature of the Jews, especially as it filtered into common consciousness through the Commentaries of Rashi and the Tzenah Re'enah, contained a humanization of the deity that invited intimacy. God visits Abraham on his sickbed; He consoles Isaac upon the death of his father. He is swayed by the arguments of Elijah or the matriarchs, indeed by any heartfelt prayer, and decisions on the destiny of nations and the fate of individuals, the length of the day and the size of the moon, are made and unmade by apt supplications at the opportune moment. The humor of Sholom Aleichem lay not in the dialogues with God, but in having a "dairyman" rather than the Baal Shem Tov conduct them. The parody lay not in the remonstrances but in their subject matter.

The world to which the uprooted came, and in which their children were raised, was that of modern science, which had reduced nature to "an irreversible series of equations," to an immutable nexus of cause and effect, which suffices on its own to explain the workings of the world. Not that most, or even any, had so much as a glimmer of these equations, but the formulas of the "new country" had created a technology which they saw, with their own eyes, transforming their lives beyond all dreams. And it is hard to deny the reality of the hand that brings new gifts with startling regularity.  There are, understandably, few Tevyes today, even in haredi circles. To be sure, there are seasons of the year, moments of crest in the religious cycle, when God's guiding hand may be tangibly felt by some and invoked by many, and there are certainly occasions in the lives of most when the reversals are so sudden, or the stakes so high and the contingencies so many, that the unbeliever prays for luck, and the believer, more readily and more often, calls for His help. Such moments are only too real, but they are not the stuff of daily life. And while there are always those whose spirituality is one apart from that of their time, nevertheless I think it safe to say that the perception of God as a daily, natural force is no longer present to a significant degree in any sector of modern Jewry, even the most religious.

Indeed, I would go so far as to suggest that individual Divine Providence, though passionately believed as a theological principle—and I do not for a moment question the depth of that conviction—is no longer experienced as a simple reality. With the shrinkage of God's palpable hand in human affairs has come a marked loss of His immediate presence, with its primal fear and nurturing comfort. With this distancing, the religious world has been irrevocably separated from the spirituality of its fathers, indeed, from the religious mood of intimate anthropomorphism that had cut across all the religious
divides of the Old World.

It is this rupture in the traditional religious sensibilities that underlies much of the transformation of contemporary Orthodoxy. Zealous to continue traditional Judaism unimpaired, religious Jews seek to ground their new emerging spirituality less on a now unattainable intimacy with Him, than on an intimacy with His Will, avidly eliciting Its intricate demands and saturating their daily lives with Its exactions. Having lost the touch of His presence, they seek now solace in the pressure of His yoke.

דיינים: אין שום איסור להתלונן למשרד החינוך


שערוריית "מכתב ההפחדה" של הרב וולף שנתלה בסמינר אור החיים ממשיכה להכות גליםהגר"י גליקסברג רבה של גבעתיים, והגר"א אלחרר רב העיר מודיעין בפסיקה חד משמעית: "אין בתלונה למשרד החינוך או הכלכלה משום פניה לערכאות" • מחלוקת בין הגרי"ש אלישיב והגר"נ קרליץ האם מותר לעתור לבי"ד לעבודה • הרב וולף: "לא מגיב לאתרים" • כל הפרטים

נושא מורות סמינר 'אור החיים' בבני ברק, שאוימו על ידי מנהל איגוד הסמינרים של בית יעקב, הרב זאב וולף, כי במידה ויתלוננו "לערכאות ולרשויות שונות כגון בית הדין לעבודה, משרד החינוך משרד הכלכלה וכדומה, הן יפוטרו בגין עיכוב משכורותיהן במשך חמשה חודשים, ממשיך להסעיר את הציבור.

משיחת בירור שערך 'בחדרי חרדים' עם מספר רבנים אודות הפן ההלכתי של העניין, עולה תמונה שונה בהקשר לאיסור הגורף שהטיל הרב וולף וכריכת 'בית הדין לעבודה' בנשימה אחת עם 'משרדי החינוך והכלכלה'.[...]

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Fasting triggers stem cell regeneration of damaged, old immune system

University of Southern California   In the first evidence of a natural intervention triggering stem cell-based regeneration of an organ or system, a study in the June 5 issue of the Cell Stem Cell shows that cycles of prolonged fasting not only protect against immune system damage — a major side effect of chemotherapy — but also induce immune system regeneration, shifting stem cells from a dormant state to a state of self-renewal.

In both mice and a Phase 1 human clinical trial, long periods of not eating significantly lowered white blood cell counts. In mice, fasting cycles then “flipped a regenerative switch,” changing the signaling pathways for hematopoietic stem cells, which are responsible for the generation of blood and immune systems, the research showed.
The study has major implications for healthier aging, in which immune system decline contributes to increased susceptibility to disease as people age. By outlining how prolonged fasting cycles — periods of no food for two to four days at a time over the course of six months — kill older and damaged immune cells and generate new ones, the research also has implications for chemotherapy tolerance and for those with a wide range of immune system deficiencies, including autoimmunity disorders.[...]

“When you starve, the system tries to save energy, and one of the things it can do to save energy is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged,” Longo said. “What we started noticing in both our human work and animal work is that the white blood cell count goes down with prolonged fasting. Then when you re-feed, the blood cells come back. So we started thinking, well, where does it come from?”

Friday, June 6, 2014

Living on purpose: Very robust predictor of health and wellness

NY Times      My late father had a longtime friend, a retired kosher butcher, who lived down the hall in their South Jersey apartment building. Past 90, Manny was older and frailer than my father; he leaned on a cane and could barely see well enough to recognize faces. But every morning, and again in late afternoon, he walked through my dad’s unlocked front door to be sure he was all right and to kibitz a bit.

Manny made the rounds, also looking in on several other aged residents in their so-called N.O.R.C. (naturally occurring retirement community). Unless he was ill himself, he never missed a day.

Manny’s regular reconnaissance missions come to mind when I read about purpose, which is one of those things we recognize without quite knowing how to define. To psychologists, “purpose reflects a commitment to broader life goals that helps organize your day to day activities,” Patrick Hill, a psychologist at Carleton University in Ottawa, told me in an interview.[...]

It turns out that purpose is, on many counts, a good thing to have, long associated with satisfaction and happiness, better physical functioning, even better sleep. “It’s a very robust predictor of health and wellness in old age,” said Patricia Boyle, a neuropsychologist at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago. [...]

D-Day June 6, 1944

Huffington Post  The hero who saved D-Day [Brigadier General Norman] Cota had previously decided that the men would need leadership early on, and went in early that morning, the highest ranking officer on the beach. He found chaos, and began to organize and inspire. Amidst heavy fire, he rallied his men; it was Cota who called out to one special unit, "Rangers, lead the way," a line that is now the official motto of that elite force.

But he did a lot more than that. In one of those "Eureka" moments that seems simple--after the fact-- he realized that the only way the Americans could win was by attacking the bluffs. These were the elevations, rolling hills, that linked the draws, only about 100-150 feet high, and relatively undefended. Once they took these positions, the soldiers could work their way along the ridgelines, then take the German fortifications in the flank. Cota grabbed a bunch of troops and then he, not the Rangers, lead the way. Up and over they went; at one point the general got far ahead of his men, and when they caught up, he was standing, twirling his .45 pistol on his forefinger, admonishing the lower ranks that they couldn't always depend on him to show them how to do things. We took the bluffs, then the draws, then Omaha Beach.

Put as bluntly as possible, D-Day succeeded because of Norman Cota

The sick reality of gittin today

I recently received a letter concerning a divorce in America. The letter writer noted that  the beis din sent him a letter which said (this is my paraphrasing) :
A plan was being developed - if you had resisted giving the get - that would have prevented you from seeing your children for many years and you would have been severely beaten and tortured.

As the recent indictments of Mendel Epstein and associates have shown - the above was not a rare event and it was apparently common knowledge amongst American rabbis and those dealing with gittin. Why was it tolerated? 1) Was it simply an acknowledgment that justice for women requires ignoring halacha and secular law? 2) Was it too lucrative for rabbis and therefore they don't want to disturb another rabbi's parnossa? 3) Perhaps the rabbis were afraid of being called a moser or suffer other sanctions. The answer obviously is all of the above.

Furthermore while such activity is clearly illegal according to the law of the land (dina d'malchuso) it is also illegal according to halacha and produced an invalid get. Even if you want to argue that beis din has the ability to administer this type of punishment - I think that is only a community beis din which is appointed and supported by the community - such as existed in Europe. However in most cases the beis din in America that deal with these cases is an ad hoc entity which is not connected to the community and is certainly not authorized by it.

Serious corruption allegations against former D.A. Hynes & Judge Kamins

NY Times   A New York City Department of Investigation inquiry has implicated Charles J. Hynes, the former Brooklyn district attorney, in the improper use of money seized from drug dealers and other criminal defendants to pay a political consultant more than $200,000 for his work on Mr. Hynes’s unsuccessful re-election campaign last year.

The report, which has been referred to the state attorney general and several other agencies, concluded that Mr. Hynes could face larceny charges for the misuse of public funds.

The investigation also found that a widely respected jurist, Barry Kamins, the administrative judge for New York City’s criminal courts, violated the judicial code of ethics by advising Mr. Hynes on his campaign, offering legal advice and discussing matters that the district attorney’s office was actively prosecuting.

Justice Kamins has been relieved of all administrative duties on Monday, a state courts spokesman said.

The 27-page report, which was obtained by The New York Times, found that Mr. Hynes potentially violated the City Charter and conflict of interest board rules; violations of the City Charter can be charged as misdemeanors. Mr. Hynes’s conduct may have also violated the state penal code section on official misconduct. And payments from the office to the consultant, Mortimer Matz, may have violated the larceny provisions in the penal code. Under the code, any larceny of more than $1,000 is a felony.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Education Ministry introduces theory of evolution into schools, but human-ape connection omitted out of concern for Orthodox

Times of Israel    Finches, doves, snails and tortoises will be on the agenda when evolution enters Israeli schools for the first time next year, but humans’ common ancestry with primates will be left off the curriculum, the Education Ministry announced Sunday. 

Until now evolution wasn’t part of the Israeli middle school core curriculum, and only the biblical account of the origins of humanity were taught in schools. 

Only those students who opted to take advanced biology classes encountered Darwin’s theory during their education.

The Education Ministry’s new plan announced Sunday revamps the 8th and 9th grade curricula in all public schools to include the scientific theory of evolution by natural selection — bar mention of mankind’s common origins with primates.

According to Channel 2 news, the ministry’s decision to omit mention of human evolution was made out of concern about potential criticism from the Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox populations in Israel. Strict Orthodox Judaism interprets the Bible’s account of creation as literal, thus precluding the possibility of human evolution from a common ancestor with modern apes such as chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans.
update There are a number of issues 1) historically did evolution occur? 2) If evolution didn't happen- is it useful to organize data and make predictions about biology? 3) Is there any Torah source which explicity rejects the possibility of evolution - even under Divine guidance? 4) Is it a required article of faith that evolution did not happen and that one must believe that the  creation process as described in the Torah - must be taken as literally true?

update Seforim Blog - Dr. Marc Shapiro discusses Rav Kook's view

Rav S. R. Hirsch (Educational Value of Judaism Collected Writings #7 page 265): Judaism is not frightened even by the hundreds of thousands and millions of years which the geological theory of the earth's deve­lopment bandies about so freely. Judaism would have nothing to fear from that theory even if it were based on something more than mere hypothesis, on the still unproven presumption that the forces we see at work in our world today are the same as those that were in existence, with the same degree of potency, when the world was first created. Our Rabbis, the Sages of Judaism, discuss (Midrash Rabbah 9; Chagiga 16a) the possibility that earlier worlds were brought into existence and subsequently destroyed by the Creator before He made our own earth in its present form and order. However, the Rabbis have never made the acceptance or rejection of this and similar pos­sibilities an article of faith binding on all Jews. They were willing to live with any theory that did not reject the basic truth that "every beginning is from God." In fact, they were generally averse to specula­tions about what was in the past and what will be in the future, because, in their view, such questions transgressed the limits of that which is knowable to man, or, at best, they did not enhance man's understanding of his moral function. In the view of our Rabbis, the Book of Books was intended to be mankind's guide for life on earth as it is at present, to teach man to recognize God, in the here and now, as the everlasting Creator and Master of the universe, and to worship Him by faithfully obeying the laws by which He governs mankind.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Fellow soldiers call Bowe Bergdahl a deserter, not a hero

CNN    The sense of pride expressed by officials of the Obama administration at the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is not shared by many of those who served with him -- veterans and soldiers who call him a deserter whose "selfish act" ended up costing the lives of better men.

"I was pissed off then and I am even more so now with everything going on," said former Sgt. Matt Vierkant, a member of Bergdahl's platoon when he went missing on June 30, 2009. "Bowe Bergdahl deserted during a time of war and his fellow Americans lost their lives searching for him."

Vierkant said Bergdahl needs to not only acknowledge his actions publicly but face a military trial for desertion under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

A reporter asked Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel Sunday whether Bergdahl had left his post without permission or deserted -- and, if so, whether he would be punished. Hagel didn't answer directly. "Our first priority is assuring his well-being and his health and getting him reunited with his family," he said. "Other circumstances that may develop and questions, those will be dealt with later."

Chanifa: Can a chareidi Jew be involved in a sting operation to arrest Jewish drug dealers?

In the course of researching the issue of chanifa – as a central psychological dynamic – I came across the following discussion by Rav Yitzchok Zilberstein (Aleinu LeShabeach Bereishis page 424). This is an example of chanifa – for the purpose of destroying criminals by convincing them that you are also a criminal. I found it fascinating that he viewed working with the police to deceive and arrest Jewish criminals to be a desirable activity. This is another illustration of the point that there is clearly no prohibition of moser when helping the police remove harmful elements from society.

A chareidi Jew came to Rav Zilbserstein with the following question. The police had a major drug problem in a city near Tel Aviv. That meant drugs were readily available and many young people’s lives were being ruined by becoming drug addicts and becoming criminals in order to pay for their addiction. The normal procedure is to have an undercover agent gather information and buy drugs and then call in the police force to arrest the drug dealers. In this case there were at a large number of drug dealers – but the police were unsuccessful in introducing an agent that didn’t arouse suspicions. 

It occurred to the police chief that a chareidi Jew would be the least likely candidate to arouse suspicion since chareidim are typically not involved in working with the police in these type of operations. He would simply be assumed to be someone who went off the derech. The police chielf proposed that this undercover agent be given a large roll of bills to attract the sellers and bring them into one room and then the agent would give a prearragned signal and all the dealers would all be arrested at one time. The police chief persuaded this chareidi Jew to participate and the operation was successful and 60 drug dealers were arrested.

Question: Firstly this chareidi Jew asked Rav Zilberstein whether it was permitted for him to have created a chilul hashem during the time when it was perceived he was buying drugs – as a chareidi Jew? Secondly he wanted to know whether it was permitted to deceive all the dealers to come into one place in order to have them arrested – even though he knew that they were wicked people who caused others to sin?

Rav Zilberstein replied in the affirmative to both questtion and gave the justification from a similar incident in Tanach (Melachim II Chapter 10). Yehu in the beginning of his reign as king was a tzadik and fulfilled the Will of G-d. His goal was to execute all the priests of avoda zara. In order kill them he invited them all to a major feast and said (Melachim II Chapter 10:18), “Achav served Baal a small amount but Yehu will serve him a great amount.” When all the priests of Baal were gathered together in one room – he sent men in to massacre every one of them. For this G-d praised him.

Rav Zilberstein concluded, “You did not sin against these drug dealers but rather you aided the police to put them in prison to prevent them from continuing their horrible activities. Therefore it is clear that you did the right thing.”

Rav Zilberstein added the following comment
'I want to discuss an additional lesson we learn from Yehu. Sanhedrin (102a) asks why didn't Yehu continue walking with the ways of G-d until the end of his days as Tanach clearly states? Abaye tells us an incredible explanation. He says it was because of the words he used to trap the priests of Avoda Zara. By saying that Achav only worshiped idols a bit and he was going to do it a lot - he was forced at the end to fulfill his self imposed obligation to worship idols - even though he had said these words for the sake of heaven in order to convince the false prophets to come to the feast and enable him to kill all of them at once. Nevertheless.he needed to have been more careful in choosing his words and not to mention explicitly that he was going to worship idols. This lesson needs to be engraved very well on our hearts. Because sometimes at a moment of anger a person says things which are the opposite of beracha against another person. It is necessary to be aware that all words that come out of a person's mouth have great power - both for good and bad.
These are the relevant verses: 
Melachim II Chapter 10): 18. And Jehu gathered all the people together, and said to them, Ahab served Baal a little; but Jehu shall serve him much.19. And therefore call to me all the prophets of Baal, all his servants, and all his priests; let none be missing; for I have a great sacrifice to make to Baal; whoever shall be missing, he shall not live. But Jehu did it with cunning in order to destroy the worshippers of Baal. 20. And Jehu said, Proclaim a solemn assembly for Baal. And they proclaimed it.21. And Jehu sent through all Israel; and all the worshippers of Baal came, so that there was not a man left who did not come. And they came to the house of Baal; and the house of Baal was full from one end to the other.22. And he said to him who was in charge of the wardrobe, Bring out garments for all the worshippers of Baal. And he brought them out garments.23. And Jehu went, and Jehonadab the son of Rechab, to the house of Baal, and said to the worshippers of Baal, Search, and look that none of the servants of the Lord should be here with you, but the worshippers of Baal only.24. And when they went in to offer sacrifices and burnt offerings, Jehu stationed eighty men outside, and said, If any of the men whom I have brought into your hands escape, he who lets him go, his life shall be for the life of him.25. And it came to pass, as soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering, that Jehu said to the guard and to the captains, Go in, and kill them; let none come out. And they struck them with the edge of the sword; and the guard and the captains threw them out, and went to the city of the house of Baal.26. And they brought out the images from the house of Baal, and burned them.27. (K) And they broke down the pillar of Baal, and broke down the house of Baal, and made it a latrine to this day.28. Thus Jehu destroyed Baal from Israel.29. But from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel sin, Jehu departed not from after them, namely, the golden calves who were in Beth-El, and who were in Dan. 30. And the Lord said to Jehu, Because you have done well in doing that which is right in my eyes, and have done to the house of Ahab according to all that was in my heart, your sons of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

הרב מידן לר"ע גבעת שמואל: "תפתח בשבת"


הרב יעקב מידן, הנחשב לרב ציוני-דתי מוביל, ומכהן בראשות ישיבת הגוש - "הר עציון" סיפר על ההצעה • "יעצתי לראש עיריית גבעת שמואל לפתוח מקום לפעילות תרבות לחילונים" • הסיבה: "כדי שהעיר לא תהיה בני ברק 2" • מידן, שחתום על אמנת גביזון-מידן, מודה כי ייתכן והחילונים לא יגמלו לו "תשלום" להסכמהשבת היא מלזעוק

האם ישנם רבנים ד"לים המייעצים לראשי ערים לחלל שבת ונותנים לכך את ידם? אם לשפוט על פי הדיווח שהתפרסם בבטאון 'מצב הרוח', התשובה היא חיובית. במהלך שבת המנהלים של רשת אמי"ת שעסקה בנושא הנחלת השבת במרחב הציבורי,התפתח דיון על היכולת לשנות את מציאות השבת במדינת ישראלהרב יעקב מדן, ראש ישיבת הר עציון, גילה במסגרת משאו, את העצה שהשיא לראש עיריית גבעת שמואל"בעבר יעצתי לראש עיריית גבעת שמואל לפתוח בשבת לחילוניים מקום לפעילות תרבות, כדי שלא ליצור מצב שחילוניים יברחו מהעיר והיא תהיה בני ברק מס' 2, עיר שתתאים רק לשומרי מצוות",כך הרב מדן, החושש מבני ברק השניה, שאף הוסיף לגבי הבידול דתיים-חילוניים
זהו מחיר כבד מדי. חשוב לנו שבעיר יוכלו לחיות יחד ובכבוד הדדי. הליכה לקראת בקשה חילונית לתרבות היא סבירה מאוד. אני גם מבין את החשש מהיווצרות מצב שרק צד אחד נותן את חלקו בהסכמה, וכי הדתיים יאפשרו פעילות תרבותית בשבת, בלי לקבל במקביל מהחילונים את 'התשלום' שלהם באמנת גביזון-מדן, למנוע פתיחת עסקים בשבת במדינה. לדעתי סגירת המסחר צריכה להיות שאיפה של אנשים חילוניים, גם מנקודת מבטם", אמר ראש ישיבת הר עציון.[...]