Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Checking for genetic disease

Igros Moshe (E.H. 04:010) Checking for genetic disease. Concerning children who are born with short life span’s of only two or three years because of a genetic disease Tay Sachs. It requires that both parent’s have the defective gene, though  this has no effect on the parent’s health. The question is whether to check for this gene before marriage because if only one parent has the defective gene the condition does not appear in the children. The test involves a blood test of the man and woman. If it is found in the test of either then they are careful to marry only someone who doesn’t have the defective gene. I am being asked whether it is proper for a young man or woman to be tested for this? Furthermore if it is good to know, this, should it be done when they are children or only when they are ready to get married and should it be done openly or secretly? After studying the matter and finding that this condition happens to a small number of children and therefore normally one should say Tamim Tihiye - be innocent or trusting with G-d and don’t investigate the future [Rashi]. Nevertheless since the test requires very little effort, we need to ask if the test is not done when it is relevant then it is like closing one’s eyes to avoid seeing what is there and since that if G-d forbid it happens that there is a baby born with this condition which causes very great distress to the parents that therefore it is appropriate for someone looking to get married to be tested? I think that it is obvious that it is necessary to publicize through newspapers and media so that the test is known however the testing should be secret so that no one knows the identity of the person, The doctor doing the test should not reveal the results to anyone because even though scientifically the condition only occurs if both parents have the defective gene, many people will not believe this and the man or woman with the defective gene will not be able to get married. Therefore the whole matter needs to be done secretly and it is also a good idea to test a large group at one time like the entire yeshiva or school. Also since it is well known that people suffer from nerves and they imagine things that are insignificant to be overwhelmingly great especially in America, G-d forbid that this test be done to boys prior to their interest in marriage which for the majority is the age of 20 and it should not be mentioned to them at all. Girls generally should not be tested before the age of 18.

Joe Biden: 'Enormous damage' to US security agencies by Trump


Mr Biden said his team was not getting the information it needed, including from the Department of Defense, as it makes its transition to power.

He spoke after a briefing by national security and foreign policy aides.

Mr Biden takes office on 20 January but President Donald Trump has refused to accept defeat in November's election.

For weeks after the 3 November election, Mr Biden was blocked from receiving key intelligence briefings, an essential and normally routine part of a presidential transition.

Monday, December 28, 2020

New York State Probes 'Fraudulently Obtained' COVID-19 Vaccines, Criminal Investigation Opened


 A hyperlocal Orthodox Jewish news site, BoroPark 24, published a story on Dec. 21, saying ParCare had received a shipment of Moderna Inc.’s vaccines, and showed boxes of the vaccines in what appeared to be a refrigerator. It also had what appeared to be a copy of a ParCare advertisement touting availability of “The Newest Healthcare Revolution!” on a “first come first serve” basis.

Gary Schlesinger, chief exeuctive officer of ParCare, was cited saying people who are a “health care worker, are over 60, or have underlying conditions” can register online to get a vaccine. That differs from state guidelines, which allow only frontline health care workers, or staff and residents of nursing homes, to get the first batch of vaccines.

“We take this very seriously and DOH will be assisting State Police in a criminal investigation into this matter,” said Zucker in the statement. “Anyone found to have knowingly participated in this scheme will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”

Trump got nothing


WHAT A BIZARRE, embarrassing episode for the president. He opposed a bill his administration negotiated. He had no discernible strategy and no hand to play — and it showed. He folded, and got nothing besides a few days of attention and chaos. People waiting for aid got a few days of frightening uncertainty.


Trump chooses chaos with delayed signature of Covid relief bill


President Donald Trump is driving the country through chaos from behind the wheel of his golf cart.

Over the Christmas weekend, he was the only man with the power to forestall a government shutdown on Tuesday, restore jobless benefits to millions of laid-off Americans and prevent further economic calamity in the days ahead.
Trump appeared interested in doing none of that until Sunday, when days after receiving it, he reluctantly signed a Covid relief and government funding bill his own administration helped negotiate and that his own aides claimed he'd approved days ago.
But his Sunday night signature was too late to prevent unemployment aid from lapsing.


Sunday, December 27, 2020



 The Ramban explains that there are two types of Nevuah - (a) classic prophecy of the Nevi’im which is seen throughvisions; and (b) Nevuah of the Chachamim, which is ‘through wisdom’ whereby the truth speaks to them through an inner‘ruach hakodesh’.

The Halacha Corner: Appointing Students as Mentors


 The Dilemma

In yeshivot no less so than in other schools, teachers of elementary grade classes occasionally leave the classroom for brief periods. When that occurs it is common for the teacher to leave an assignment and to appoint a student monitor to supervise performance of the assigned work and to assure that discipline is maintained. It is the monitor's duty to record misbehavior and to report occurrences of inappropriate conduct to the teacher when he/she returns to the classroom. The question that presents itself is whether the appointment of such a monitor and charging a monitor with such duties is prohibited by halacha. In reporting negative information regarding his/her classmates is the monitor guilty of transgressing the prohibition concerning lashon ha-ra or improper speech?

The issues raised by this question serve to illuminate aspects of the technical prohibition of lashon ha-ra but also highlights the concerns that accompany an educator's responsibility to mold character as well as to impart knowledge.

Trump's wrecking ball of a transition


 But we have learned once again just how much leeway there is within our political system for Presidents to misuse their power and create immense instability. Even if Congress doesn't shorten the transition period, there are safeguards it can put into place. This transition has given us more than enough reason to revisit our election laws, provide more clarity about the Electoral College certification process, and rein in the executive power that a lame duck President can wield.

Trump continues to block pandemic relief package as shutdown looms


 “And maybe he sees this as the crowning achievement as he leaves office, where he is defeating Congress and his own party,” he added. “He’s probably more resentful toward members of his own party than he is the Democrats … He’s a hurt creature and he’s going to make all the other creatures hurt.”

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Prophesy ended?

 Our Rabbis taught: Since the death of the last prophets, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachai, the Holy Sanhedrin (11a) Spirit [of prophetic inspiration] departed from Israel; yet they were still able to avail themselves of the Bath-kol.13 Once when the Rabbis were met in the upper chamber of Gurya's14 house at Jericho, a Bath-kol was heard from Heaven, saying: ‘There is one amongst you who is worthy that the Shechinah15 should rest on him as it did on Moses, but his generation does not merit it.’ The Sages present set their eyes on Hillel the Elder. And when he died, they lamented and said: ‘Alas, the pious man, the humble man, the disciple of Ezra [is no more].’

       Once again they were met in the upper chamber at Jabneh, and a Bath-kol was heard to say: ‘There is one amongst you who is worthy that the Shechinah should rest on him, but his generation does not merit it.’ The Sages present directed their gaze on Samuel the Little. And when he died, they lamented and said: ‘Alas! the pious man, alas! the humble man, the disciple of Hillel [is no more].’ Samuel the Little also said shortly before he passed away: ‘Simeon16 and Ishmael17 will meet their death by the sword, and his friends18 will be executed; the rest of the people will be plundered, and many troubles will come upon the world.’ The Rabbis wished to use the same words of lamentation for R. Judah b. Baba;19 the troublous conditions of the time, however, did not permit it, for no funeral orations were delivered over those who were martyred by the [Roman] Government.20

       Our Rabbis taught: A year cannot be intercalated unless the Nasi sanctions it. It once happened that Rabban Gamaliel was away obtaining permission from the Governor in Syria21 , and, as his return was delayed, the year was intercalated subject to Rabban Gamaliel's later approval. When Rabban Gamaliel returned he gave his approval with the result that the intercalation held good.

Words of our Sages are from G-d

Baal HaTanya (Likutei Torah Acharei 27b): Concerning this matter we find the statement of our Sages, “These and those are the words of the living G-d.” [Eiruvin 13b] That means that the words of Beis Shammai and Beis Hillel as well as the words of Abaye and Rava are not literally their words. Rather they are G d’s words that are in their mouths. This is just as the Magid said to Rabbi Yosef Karo, “I am the Mishna which speaks through your mouth.”

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 Bal 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…

Psak is different for post-Talmudic authorites who lack ruach hakodesh

from Daas Torah - translation copyrighted

Kuntres HaSefekos (5:3): It seems to be me that Tosfos and the Nemukei Yosef are talking about a dispute between Tannaim and Amoraim as can be seen from their language. In such a case the judge does not need to struggle and find proofs to the validity of the different opinions. That is because it is impossible for us to refute the view of a particular Tanna or Amora with decisive proofs – because ruach hakodesh is manifest in them. Our Sages have already said about Talmudic sages, “These and those are the words of the living G﷓d. Therefore the judge must decide based on what makes sense to him – but he can’t prove or disprove whether a particular view is correct. In contrast the Rosh was describing the post﷓Talmudic situation and wrote that when two gedolim are in disagreement about a matter then the judge needs to look for proper proofs to decide between them. That is because from the day that the Talmud was closed – the fountains of wisdom have been sealed and therefore each person has the right to disagree with his predecessors with what he considers proof. Thus in the post-Talmudic world it is within the realm of the possible to decide between views by bringing proofs to the reasoning of one side over the other. We see this in the books of the Achronim where they refute the words of their predecessors with clear proofs.

Chasam Sofer: Ruach Hakodesh of poslkim - is not binding authority

fraom Daas Torah - translation copyrighted

Chasam Sofer (Orech Chaim 1:208): And this that you have written a number of times concerning the issue of wisdom and prophecy and Azniel ben Kenaz who restored the lost Halacha by pilpul… You correctly explain that which the Raavad said that there was ruach hakodesh in his beis hamedrash and similar such expressions does not mean ruach hakodesh in the sense that Dovid HaMelech had. Rather it means the spirit of G﷓d for those who engage in Torah for pure motivations who merit to ascertain the truth even if according to the nature of their wisdom and intelligence they should be incapable of comprehending it properly. Nevertheless, G﷓d in His mercy gives extra inspiration of wisdom for a limited time. In this manner Azniel ben Kenaz merited to ascertain the truth through pilpul, kal v’chomer and gezera shaveh [Temurah 16a] that which his natural intelligence was incapable of doing. This is similar to what it says in Bava Basra 12a that even though prophecy was taken from the prophets but not from the sages. However, your understanding of this gemora to be that wisdom was not taken from the sages is incorrect. Rather it is that prophecy was not taken from the sages. In other words, that type of prophecy which is attainable through the wisdom of one who studies Torah for pure motivation merits many things [Avos 6:1] with his intellect and his wisdom even though he doesn’t have the natural ability for it. The gemora wants to prove this from the common fact that a talmid chachom comprehends something on his own which in fact is according to the understanding of Rabbi Akiva. We know that this person’s level is not up to Rabbi Akiva’s heels. This proves that it happened by the prophetic ability we mentioned. In addition, we also find that he says things which in fact are Halacha L’Moshe m’Sinai. The gemora rejects this proof by saying that perhaps this occurs by chance like a blind person groping through a window. However, the gemora concludes that it is not by chance since he gives justifications for his views and thus it is like a prophetic form of wisdom. This idea can explain the gemora in Megila (16a): “Whoever says wisdom even if he not Jewish is called a wise man.” The obvious question is why shouldn’t he be called a wise man? Don’t we in fact even say a beracha on the wise men of the non﷓Jews “who gives of His wisdom to human beings” (Berachos 58a)? The answer is that without this gemora we would have mistakenly thought that Divinely inspired wisdom only comes to Jews while if a non﷓Jew said something brilliant that seems to transcend his intellectual capabilities we would have thought it was just blind chance….

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.