Tuesday, 31 January 2012

If Prayer[Davening] is People Speaking to God, Then Meditation [Reflection] is People Listening to God.

NishmaBlog: If Torah is God speaking to people, then Talmud is people speaking to God.

Corollary -

If Prayer [Davening] is People Speaking to God, Then Meditation [Reflection] is People Listening to God.

When Reading the Torah there is no doubt that one can hear God's "voice" talking to us directly
There is a secondary and more subtle voice, and that can be heard after Davening or Learning Torah, when one sits still and listens for an "Inner" or "still small voice". Maybe it's not technically God's voice but rather that of one's Higher N'shamah, at any rate one can get in touch with Divine Spirit by simply listening after a bit of preparation.

Thus after a certain effort [Na'ase] one may experience a Nishma.


Monday, 30 January 2012

Mei'afeilh l'Or Gadol

By Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu Safran

«Titus' statement of conquest and humiliation was transformed into a symbol of Jewish pride. Jews live and exist even in darkness, they continue to shine even when persecuted and humiliated.


Was it irony or fate that this symbol of a strong, dynamic,and re newed State of Israel was taken directly from the Arch of Titus? That Titus' statement of conquest and humiliation was transformed into a symbol of Jewish pride. »

A Lesson in Renewal - Judaism - Israel National News



Sunday, 29 January 2012

If Torah is God speaking to people, then Talmud is people speaking to God.

«... Even for Israel, this was strange photo op - a group of Koreans, fully rigged out with a TV cameras, winding their way through a crowded beit midrash filled with animated yeshiva bochrim shouting, gesturing and doing what they generally do in a beit midrash: learning. Why were they so interested? Well, it seems that Asians are impressed by the high achievements made by Jews thoguhout the world. How, they wonder, could such a relative minority of the world population have captured a majority of the world's accolades? »

"Torah is God speaking to people. Talmud is people speaking to God."
- Adin Steinsaltz

From Ponevezh To Oslo | Got Talmud?



Saturday, 28 January 2012

Mussar: Rebuke - Embrace, Resist, or Ignore

Sefer Mitzvot Katan, mitzvah 9:

The Bible verse:
(Devarim / Deuteronomy, chapter 10, verse 16)
loving [receiving] rebuke and loving people who rebuke you.

Like King Solomon, may peace be upon him, said in his book:
(Mishlei / Proverbs, chapter 9, verse 8).

DerechEmet : Message: Quick Jewish Quote for 2012 January 21


Friday, 27 January 2012

Alleged Northern NJ Synagogue Firebomber Captured

«...Graziano is accused of a firebombing at a Rutherford synagogue and arson at a Paramus synagogue in recent weeks. He is being held on $5 million bail after being charged with a host of crimes including nine counts of attempted murder and the arson and bias intimidation charges.

Authorities say Graziano was responsible for fires at synagogues in Paramus and Rutherford this month. They traced the materials in some of the bombs to a Wal-Mart store and captured surveillance images of a man buying the materials who later was identified as Graziano..».

Note: Graziano — could face a Rocky Road ahead of him ...

Accused synagogue firebomber denies guilt, wants case moved out of Bergen County - NorthJersey.com



Thursday, 26 January 2012

On Working with Christian Evangelicals

Premillennial Dispensationalism vs. Replacement Theology - The Evangelicals

Guest Blogger : Rabbi Philip Lefkowitz

Shalom and Regards, RRW


Roots Of Evangelical Support For Israel

by Rabbi Philip Lefkowitz

Note: This article appeared in the August 31, 2007 edition of The Jewish Press.
The full article is available at http://www.jewishpressads.com/pageroute.do/23613 
...For many centuries Christianity fostered an essential religious principle - replacement theology - the Jewish refusal to accept the Nazarene as Messiah resulted in the Church taking upon itself the mantle of the new Israel. In consequence the Prophetic promises of G‑d's benevolence to Israel were reserved for the new Israel, the Christian Church. It is to replacement theology, the nullification of the Jews as G‑d's chosen People and its natural extension of ascribing to the Jew every form of evil including deicide, that Christian anti-Semitism owes its beginnings and nurturing down through the centuries. Even in recent decades when most mainline Churches claim to have disavowed this significant source of anti-Semitism and replaced it with what is commonly referred to as covenant theology (Jews and the State of Israel enjoy no special theological status) they have tremendous difficulty dealing with the reality of the Jewish People.
As expressed by the Presbyterians, "The continued existence of the Jewish People and of the Christian communities elected by God is as the Apostle Paul expressed it, a mystery. We do not claim to fathom this mystery, but we cannot ignore it." The fertile soil of anti-Semitism or, at the very least an ambivalence toward the Jews and the Jewish State, is still present in covenant theology. 

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Does one recite Shenatan Mechachmato Lebasar V'dam on an "Einstein"?

Shenatan Mechachmato Lebasar V'dam - HaRav Hutner

Guest Blogger -
Rabbi J. Simcha Cohen

The concern as to whether this Beracha should be recited to a Jewish scientist or scholar in secular subjects was many years ago the subject of a Ma'amar by HaGoan HaRav Yitzchok Hutner (ZL) the Rosh HaYeshiva of Yeshivat Rabbainu Chaim Berlin. He suggested that a careful reading of the terminology of the Shulchan Aruch indicates that it is not proper to recite this Beracha over  a Jew. The Shuchan Aruch (SA) states,""Should one see wise Gentiles who are scholars in secular knowledge, one says, blessed be He… who has given from His wisdom to human beings.(SA, Orech Chayyim (OC) 224:7) Note the specific terminology of the SA. It specifically limits this beracha to Gentiles who are knowledgeable in secular wisdom. Apparently , Jews who are masters of secular wisdom are not to receive this beracha. Also, Gentiles  who excel in Torah studies also would not be granted a beracha. Why?

In dealing with Berachot (blessings) there is a guiding principle of primary and secondary purpose. (Ikar V'tafel). For example, a blessing for spice  is only recited when the spice was originally solely set up for the purpose of  providing fragrance. Should the spice , however, have other purposes, then even if it provides a pleasant fragrance, one does not recite  a beracha upon enjoying its fragrance. The fragrance that commands a beracha must emanate from its essential purpose. (See SA , OC 217:2) So too contends HaGoan HaRav Hutner this principle relates to blessings  over  people. The prime purpose of the Jew is to learn Torah. This is the goal of his existence.  Everything else, including secular scholarship or scientific knowledge is of a secondary value to the Jewish soul. It may be important. It may even be vital  to life, but it is still secondary to Torah. As such, a Jew is not granted a beracha unless he excels in his primary role, Torah. So too with the Gentile. A beracha is not operational should the Gentile excel in Torah for that is not his primary  role in life.(See Pachad Yitzchok-V'Zot Chanukah, Ma'amar  9:2 and 9:6)

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

CNN: Increasing diversity redefining America's Jewry

At times, I believe, the Orthodox world loses sight of what is happening in the general Jewish community. We have a certain vision of the non-Orthodox and relate to them through this perception. While this perception may have been more correct in the past, it may be totally inappropriate today. The question, of course, is what to do. Clearly our first step is to correct our perceptions so that we truly understand the greater world of those who identify as Jews. It is then that we can determine how to relate.

In this spirit, I direct you to the following article on CNN.com.
http ://inamerica.blogs.cnn.com/2011/12/28/increasing-diversity-redefining-americas-jewry/?hpt=hp_c2
I would then direct you to the link it presents to Be'chol Lashon -- and read between the lines.

In the end, you have to conclude that, in this world, what makes someone Jewish is simply that they call themselves a Jew. (Maybe, one also has to not believe in Jesus but that may also be changing. Although this article does not mention it, there are some, albeit still weak, voices out there advocating, under the platform of pluralism and diversity, that Jews for Jesus should also be accepted into the fold.) When we look at the gerut issue, we believe that we are advocating for one set of standards over another set of standards being advocated by the non-Orthodox. What we don't recognize is that the real argument that we are confronting is not a different set of standards but the absence of standards. To the world, if you call yourself a Jew and you sort of identify thereby with the Jewish community (however loose that definition may be), that's enough. Not only that you get diversity.

Also take note how a negative view of intermarriage that there will be people who challenge a view against intermarriage because of racism for thereby you are distinguishing one person from another based upon some grouping. That challenge, however, can be met with a reference to religion and an argument that one is simply promoting the faith and encouraging members to marry other members who share their beliefs and convictions. But in this article, because the intermarriage cited is one between a European and an Asian, the discrimination is presented as a discrimination against Asians thus changing the whole tenor of the issue. By being against intermarriage, you are portrayed as being against inter-racial marriages and then you are open to easy attack. Diversity becomes a further banner for no standards in any definition of a Jew.

The real question for us is what will be in 25 years (absence the coming of the Mashiach)..

Rabbi Ben Hecht

Monday, 23 January 2012

Joe Paterno, and the Myth of the Crucified Guru.

As I write this Joe Paterno has just passed away.

I'm here neither to praise nor to condemn the late, great Joe-Pa, Joe Paterno, the man who gave advanced "S'michah" to linebackers

Rather I wish to share a viewpoint I heard with regard to the New Testament as a literary piece - in other words treated as Tragic Myth.This psychological insight is amazing and has been oft-repeated throughout history.

First people deify the "Guru" - only to subsequently crucify him. Thus the story of the Gospels, the deified guru is eventually crucified, and the popular Bar Abbas, for example, is pardoned instead of J of Nazareth

Similarly, the 61-year-long guru of Penn State football dies "crucified" by the media.

The "fad" starts first by first glorifying, then deifying , only to lead to the discovery of the idol's clay feet, ultimately ending tragically in some form of crucifixion.

How many times have we seen this theme repeated?

Perhaps Lincoln and JFK qualify? Or how about Marilyn Monroe? Howard Cosell? The Kardashians? Moses - as in Robert Moses? :-)

Despite its "Christilogical" origins, this Parable happens to Jews, too. And it would be wise to take note of its recurring implications


Sunday, 22 January 2012

What Goes Up, Must Come Down

This is bound to give us a "rise".
«Haredi elements posted signs in one of the city's business centers last week, calling on men and women to use separate elevators.»

New in Modiin Illit: Segregated elevators - Israel Jewish Scene, Ynetnews



Friday, 20 January 2012

R Haym Brisker, 100 Years Later

«100 Years Ago in the Forward

Haym Soloveitchik, otherwise known as the Brisker Rov, is one of the best-known scholars among contemporary rabbis. Considered one of Jewish law's top authorities, people turn to him from all over the world with their legal queries. For the young generation, Soloveitchik is regarded as a fanatic who is unwilling to recognize that we have entered a new, modern era. But if you talk to young people in his hometown of Brisk, Belarus, even the apikorsim, or secular Jews, don't see it that way. To the locals, who know the rabbi, he is, quite simply, a moral giant. In Brisk, young atheists and old religious Jews share the same view of Soloveitchik. He is talked about as if he is a living legend. Soloveitchik's breadth as a thinker and moralist is known to all in his hometown, no matter what religious affiliation they may or may not have.»

Looking Back: December 16, 2011 – The Jewish Daily Forward

Mobile Devices Link



Pursuant to this, I once heard the following from a Rav...

R Haym Soloveichik Z"L was such a Ga'on/Genius that people would forget what a tremendous ba'al chessed he was

Conversely and Ironically -
The Choffetz Chaim Z"L was such an outstanding Tzaddik, people tended to overlook his great level of learning


Thursday, 19 January 2012

Dennis Prager: Why I am not Orthodox

«Finally, given that I believe that the Torah is from God and that the Jews are the Chosen People, and because I have values similar to Orthodox Jews, I am often asked why I am not Orthodox. My standing-on-one-leg response consists of three Hebrew words: Yom Tov Sheni. That's not my only reason, but it's shorthand for rabbinic law not changing.»

Can Halachah ever be wrong? | Dennis Prager | Jewish Journal



Sometimes the Creative Minds [Oker Harim] forget that by chipping away at the system, that the system may lose its structural integrity.


A Modern Orthodox person sincerely may QUESTION Y"T Sheini


A Non-Orthodox person simply discards it

See Beis Halevi on "Mah Ha'Avodah Hazot Lechem"


Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Attitudinal distinctions between moral/ethical and ritual Mitzvot 

Guest Blogger:
Rabbi J. Simcha Cohen
Attitudinal distinctions between moral/ethical and ritual Mitzvot
by Rabbi J. Simcha Cohen

Recent debate over the proper attitude necessary for the observance of Mitzvot galvanizes the question as to whether
a pious Jew should have a disciplined control over his/her  desires or appetites that he/she does not even lust after (or desire) that which is forbidden?
Though such a character trait would appear to be lauded, concern must be noted that , at first glance, it seems to be contradicted by the following Talmudic dictum. Namely the rule that "no one should say, my soul cannot tolerate the meat of a pig, rather , one should say: personally I would eat it, but what can I do, it has been forbidden to me".(See Rashi, Vayikra 20:26)
In other words desiring forbidden foods is not a negative Jewish trait.
HaRav Shlomo Kluger contends(I simply cannot recall the source) that there is an attitudinal distinction between different types of sins.
In general Jewish law may be divided into two distinct categories. There are Mitzvot which are logical and  supported by a moral/ethical point of view. In addition there are Mitzvot beyond human comprehension, precepts that are considered statutes (Chukim)  In the former group, the rational component of the sin should be powerful enough to eliminate even a scintilla of desire to sin. Accordingly the true believer and observer of the Torah should be of such a mind that lying , stealing and cheating should be viewed as repugnant to morality.
Regarding, however, the statutes (Chukim), we simply do not understand their  raison d'etre. As such, there is nothing wrong with manifesting a personal inclination to enjoy the forbidden item. In these matters the concern is not the desire per se, but, rather, withholding oneself from violating the Biblical injunction.
Thus, one may not contend that he/she sees nothing wrong with stealing but refrains from doing so due to the biblical mandate.

Thus, when performing logical Mitzvot we are implored to observe them in the same manner  and enthusiasim  as one performs action of great joy and moral value.When, however it comes to commandments whose reason we simply do not understand, we follow the ruling of Rabban Gamliel who said in Avot, "Nullify your will before His will, so that He will nullify the will of others (Avot 2:4) In other words, even though we may desire forbidden foods, we hold back from eating them and hope HaShem will reward us by nullifying the evil will of others. (See Magen Avot- Commentary of Rav Shlomo Kluger, Avot m2:4)

About our Guest Blogger
Rabbi Cohen is the recipient of the prestigious "Jerusalem Prize" for rabbinic scholarship and leadership presented in the presence of the President of Israel and the chief Rabbis. Rabbi Cohen has published several Sefarim on Halacha. His latest, "Shabbat The right Way-Resolving Halachic dilemmas (Urim Publications) is available at Judaica stores and at Amazon.com


Tuesday, 17 January 2012

JVO: Mesira and Dina d'Malchusa Dina

Jewish Values Online (jewishvaluesonline.org) is a website that asks the Jewish view on a variety of issues, some specifically Jewish and some from the world around us -- and then presents answers from each of the dominations of Judaism. Nishmablog's Blogmaster Rabbi Wolpoe and Nishma's Founding Director, Rabbi Hecht, both serve as Orthodox members of their Panel of Scholars.

This post continues the weekly series on the Nishmablog that features responses on JVO by one of our two Nishma Scholars who are on this panel. This week's presentation is to one of the questions to which Rabbi Hecht responded.

* * * * *
Question: JTA is reporting that a New York area rabbi has invoked Mesira as a legal defense. How is this concept reconciled with dina d'malkhuta dina? which conept is paramount?

Of course, to properly answer this question, it is important for us to clearly define these two Halachic (Jewish Legal) terms that are being introduced, namely mesira and dina d’malkhuta dina. However, prior to this, it may first be important to understand the context in which these terms are applied.

The ideal manifestation of the Jewish People is to live as an independent nation in the Land of Israel under the legal system of the Torah. It is important to recognize that Jewish Law is not just a system of religious law but that it is a full legal system upon which a Jewish society is to be based. Halacha, as such, touches upon all aspects of civil law, contractual law, taxation – the whole gamut of what is legally necessary for a well-functioning society. And we, the Jewish People, in our observance of Torah are ideally to be a well-functioning model society on our land.

Exile, as such, is not just a personal misfortunate that has tragically impacted negatively on Jews as individuals. Exile also had a communal impact in that our Jewish society was thereby placed in the midst of other societies – often other societies that not only did not share our value constructs but also were hostile towards us. The fact that our society was uprooted from our land and our independence, however, did not mean that we were to totally forsake any attempts to maintain our uniquely Jewish societal constructs to the greatest extent possible. With Exile, we were given the challenge of trying to exist as individual Jews under the pressures to conform from a greater population of non-Jews with different mores. We were also, however, given the challenge of maintaining, to the greatest extent possible, the constructs of a Jewish society with Torah as our legal backbone as we also exist within the confines of the host and dominant society.

So, one of the challenges facing the Jewish People in Exile is how they are going to survive as a corporate entity within the bosom of the corporate entity of the greater society. This may involve two distinct issues. One would be what to do to protect the community in the face of a hostile host society – for example, when the host society imposes unfair taxation demands upon its Jewish inhabitants. The other may be how to maintain the distinctive nature of the Jewish community and ensure, to the greatest extent possible, its unique value and legal perspective. Consideration must also, though, be made for the necessary well-functioning of the host society for reasons of law and order, in general and in regard to the Jewish community. Mishna Avot 3:2 instructs us to pray for the welfare of the government for without its proper functioning there will be mayhem. See, also, Yirmiyahu 29:7 in reference to Exile. We are to support the workings of the foreign society in which we find ourselves yet this should not be at the expense of our fair treatment and a proper expression of our uniqueness.

It is with an understanding of the tension of these directives that we can best understand the terms mesira and dina d’malkhuta dina. The former, mesira, instructs us not to give a Jew over to non-Jewish authorities. We can especially understand such a restriction if the host society is a hostile one and there is also concern that the consequences could be unfair both to the individual Jew and/or the Jewish community. This prohibition, though, may also extend to situations where the host society is not hostile; our concern, in such a matter, would be our desire to deal with the matter within our own Jewish perspective. Mesira, though, is not a blanket prohibition. At the same time, there would be cases where it would even be our obligation to assist the authorities in capturing and convicting even a fellow Jew – such as in the interests of law and order if this person was a violent criminal. This, of course, is only a very brief introduction to the concept and issue of mesira. There are many other factors that may be involved in responding to a query as to when a prohibition of mesira is applicable and when it is definitely not. Bottom line, it is a balancing of considerations between maintaining support of the functioning of our host society while also maintaining a certain level of our unique independence.  

It is a similar balancing of values that is represented in the concept of dina d’malkhuta dina, which translated simply means that the law of the land is the law, namely that Halacha recognizes the law of the host country as binding. This construct, though, clearly has its limitations. If, for example, the law of a host country outlawed circumcision, Halacha, clearly, would not accept it; Jewish law would not respect as binding a law of the host country of this nature. Basically, this maxim concerns monetary matters and in its most restrictive interpretation applies to taxation, that the tax laws of a host society, if just, are binding on the Jewish community. The maxim in its most limited understanding basically instructs the Jewish community that we are to consider the laws of a host society, that are enacted to promote the proper functioning of the society, to be considered binding as well by Jewish Law. As a first extension from taxation, this would also apply to enactments for law and order. There are further understandings of this maxim that also declare it applicable in other, essentially monetary, matters. A contravening value consideration to this may be our desire to maintain the uniqueness of our Jewish perspective. With this in mind, there may be some argument to limit the application of the laws of the host society.  Bottom line, again, it is a balancing of considerations between maintaining support of the functioning of our host society while also maintaining a certain level of our unique independence.   

To further investigate the details of these two principles, I would direct you to the following:

Rabbi Hershel Schachter, “’Dina De’Malchusa Dina’: Secular Law as a Religious Obligation”, The Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society 1:103;

Rabbi Simcha Krauss, “Litigation in Secular Courts”, The Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society 3:35;

Rabbi Michael J. Broyde, “The Practice of Law According to Halacha”, The Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society 20:5;

Rabbi Michael J. Broyde, “Informing  on Others for Violating American Law: A Jewish Law View”, The Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society 43:5

Of course the first article deals directly with dina d’malkhuta dina while the last article deals directly with mesira.

Returning to the original question, we see that at issue is really this balancing of considerations. Mesira may be the term that is used to reflect the value in maintaining the independence of the Jewish community which may include a concern that Jews may not be treated fairly by members of the host society. Dina d’malkhuta dina may be the term that is used to reflect the value of respecting the laws of the land and the call to be good citizens especially in a land that not only has not been hostile to the Jewish community but has even been welcoming and supportive. Without knowing the specific case to which this rabbi made this statement, it is difficult to actually comment on the rabbi’s position. Similarly, it is difficult to state unequivocally that dina d’malkhuta dina clearly applies. I can only say that in regard to most of the recent cases where I have heard of such arguments, an argument of mesira would clearly not be normative. Considerations for the defaming of God’s Name (chilul Hashem) also are to become a factor in limiting charges of mesira. We are called upon to be good citizens – good members of the nation in which we live. We are also called upon to be good Jews – good members of the Jewish nation. The answer is not to pick one over the other but to attempt to accomplish both. In an environment where this would be possible, this clearly must be our goal.

Monday, 16 January 2012

"Do the ends justify the means?"

Guest Post from Douglas Aronin, Esq.



The dangers of extremism: a reflection on recent events in Israel

I trust that all of us, despite differences in our religious and political perspectives, have been dismayed by recent events in Beit Shemesh, an Israeli city between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv whose population spans the religious spectrum, from secular to chareidi.  In recent years, as the chareidi enclaves in Jerusalem and Bnai Brak have become increasingly overcrowded, a growing number of chareidim have moved into Beit Shemesh, generally residing in all-chareidi  enclaves within the city.
In case you missed the recent news reports,  the current controversy began when a group of chareidim who call themselves the Sicarii (a name taken from a group of first century zealots whose unabashed fanaticism helped bring about the destruction of the Second Temple) began harassing students and parents as they walked to a religious (but not chareidi) girls' elementary school that  borders a chareidi neighborhood. Although the students were  dressed modestly by Western standards (long skirts and long sleeves), they apparently fell short of the increasingly stringent modesty standards demanded by some of the more extreme chareidi subgroups in the area.  (Foreign media tend to treat chareidim as if they were all identical, but in fact there are wide differences among them.)  A news story by an independent Israeli television station featured an eight-year-old girl who had been cursed and spit at by chareidi men and was so traumatized that she was afraid to walk to school, even accompanied by her mother.
Not surprisingly, that story provoked widespread outrage in Israel, resulting in government pledges to take strong action against chareidi harassment and culminating in a Beit Shemesh rally against religious coercion, which attracted secular and religious Israelis  from all over the country, even including some chareidim..  When the police tried to protect students and parents entering the school from harassment and removed signs that some chareidim had put up demanding modest dress for women on the public streets around the school, some of the chareidim responded by throwing stones at the police and calling them Nazis, an epithet that not surprisingly provoked further outrage.  (The "Nazi" label in this context is self-disproving.  If the chareidim really thought that the police were behaving like Nazis, they would never have dared to confront  them as they did.)
The unrest in Beit Shemesh comes on the heels of an unrelated series of incidents perpetrated by a group of militant, predominantly  religious  Israeli settlers in the West Bank who  have engaged in a series of reprisals that go under the name "price tag".  Those operations have the dual purpose of retaliating for indiscriminate violence against Jewish civilians living in the West Bank by perpetrating indiscriminate violence directed against Arab civilians living nearby and distracting the Israel Defense Forces from dismantling illegal settlement outposts.   Needless to say, the IDF, which is responsible for maintaining order in the West Bank, has sought to stop these "price tag" militants, resulting in clashes between the militants and IDF soldiers.  The simmering conflict reached a climax of sorts a few weeks ago when a group of the militants  invaded and vandalized an IDF base, throwing rocks at the brigade commander, who fortunately was unhurt, though another officer was reportedly injured.  That incident was unequivocally condemned by the mainstream settler leadership and provoked widespread outrage across the country, resulting in renewed government promises to crack down on future "price tag" activities.  (According to a report in this morning's New York Times, which I saw after this post was almost complete, Israeli prosecutors have arrested and filed charges against five of the "price tag" militants.)
Both factually  and ideologically, the activities of the Beit Shemesh chareidim and those of the "price tag" militants are unrelated.  The chareidim of Beit Shemesh, who want to seal themselves off into enclaves where they are free to insist on their increasingly fanatical version of female modesty, have no affinity with the militant settlers of the West Bank, whose overarching goal is to hold Israeli foreign policy hostage to their militant outlook by making the prospect of evacuating settlers from any part of the West Bank as part of a future peace agreement all but unthinkable.  Though the Western media sometimes obscure this distinction by using the term "right wing" to refer to both groups, in reality the chareidim of Beit Shemesh, who are at best ambivalent toward Zionism, and the militant religious Zionist settlers of the West Bank are wholly different religious and political  phenomena.
Yet  for all the profound differences between these two groups, there is an underlying thematic similarity that is hard to deny.  Each group insists that its own religiously based value system trumps not merely the laws of the State but also the most basic concepts of democratic governance and civic morality.  In their minds, the importance of the goals they seek -- promoting enhanced female modesty on one hand and preventing the cession of territory to Arab rule on the other -- is increasingly seen as justifying virtually any means of achieving those goals.  And it appears that some of  the more extreme members of each group have taken the fight to implement their goals farther than their leaders anticipated or desired.
As far as I know, no respected chareidi leader has condoned spitting at an eight-year-old girl or throwing stones at the police.  The leadership of the settler community, for its part, was genuinely horrified by the attack on an IDF base and condemned it in unqualified terms.  Yet while I would not suggest that the leadership of either group  intended or condoned their followers' most extreme actions, that doesn't let them off the hook,  When you continually emphasize to your followers that their value system comes directly from God and thus takes precedence over the man-made laws of the State and encourage them to resist the State's encroachment on their values by unlawful and undemocratic means,  can you really be shocked when some young hotheads take that resistance further than you intended?
Both of these phenomena risk serious harm to Israel, but the risks in the two cases are different.  In the short run, the actions of the militant settlers are more dangerous since they could increase tensions with the Palestinian Arabs, further damage Israel's international standing and potentially prevent Israel's democratically elected government from pursuing the policies that it believes, rightly or wrongly, to be in the country's best interests.   In the long run, however, the settlers' militancy is inherently self-limiting.  Militant Zionism is about maintaining Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel and is thus unavoidably intertwined ideologically with the institutions of the State, especially the IDF.  That's why the settler leadership was so quick to condemn the attack on the IDF base, and it's why, for the most part, even the more militant factions among the settlers are unlikely to equivocate about attacks on IDF facilities.  Whether that consensus would hold in the face of an actual evacuation order may be less certain, but it's worth recalling that, in the 2005 evacuation of the settlements in Gaza, the understandable fears of unrestrained violence against Israeli soldiers were not fulfilled; the bonds of civic cohesion strained but  ultimately held.  In any event, given the moribund state of negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, that scenario is not an immediate concern.
On the surface, the chareidi conflict in Beit Shemesh appears less dangerous, at least in the short run.  Sure, the press attention was embarrassing, but given the public's limited attention span, it will soon be forgotten.  The chareidi harassment is obviously unpleasant for those who live in Beit Shemesh -- or in immediate proximity to  chareidi neighborhoods elsewhere -- but will have little or no direct effect on the country's citizens as a whole.  The outrage that led to such widespread support for the rally from those living outside  Beit Shemesh did not indicate a generalized fear that such demands for hyper-chareidi modesty standards will spread to the country as a whole, since the chareidi extremists as a rule favor isolation over coercion.  Rather, the reaction from secular and religious Israelis alike bespeaks a frustration that has built up over the course of years as a result of a combination of issues, among them the yeshiva draft exemptions, gender-segregated public buses serving chareidi neighborhoods, and the perception that chareidim make excessive claims on the Israeli social welfare system and do not contribute economically to the country as a whole.
These perceptions may be oversimplifications, but they are rooted in reality.  They are close enough to the truth to feed the ongoing secularist resentment and contempt for the chareidim.  So when events like those in Beit Shemesh provide an opportunity to express the growing resentment of secular Israelis toward the chareidim, it is hardly surprising that many will jump at the opportunity.
 To be sure, many Israelis of what is often referred to as the "peace camp" are also resentful of what they perceive as the political power of the settlers  and are rightly fearful of the potential consequences of the "price tag" militants.  There is a fundamental difference, however, between that fear and the resentment felt toward the chareidim -- which is why the chareidi conflict in the long run may be more dangerous to Israel than the conflict with the "price tag" militants.  There may be widespread anger at those militant settlers who go over the line in relation to the IDF, but even those in the peace camp cannot completely ignore the fact that the militant settlers serve in the army, contribute to the economy and on the whole share the costs and risks of Israeli life.  The conflict among Israelis as to the appropriate contours of their relations with the Arabs has existed since the beginning of the Zionist movement and may well be inevitable in a country facing the kind of existential threats that are an unfortunate but unavoidable part of the Israeli reality.  Indeed, over the last few years, mainstream Israeli opinion has moved closer to that of the militants -- not because of anything the militants have done, but rather because events have heightened Israelis' ingrained skepticism of the Arabs' desire for peace.
When it comes to the chareidim, however, the feelings of resentment among secular and even many religious Israelis is different.  They are seen as freeloaders who don't  participate constructively in the economy, don't serve in the army, make excessive claims on the welfare system and insist on educating their children in a government-funded but independently run school system that perpetuates their economic marginalism and does not teach loyalty to the State or respect for its institutions.  And underlying those resentments is the fear that since their birthrate makes the chareidim the fastest growing segment of the Israeli population, their political power and thus their ability to obtain the government largess that underwrites their way of life is likely to grow over time.  
The fact that these perceptions are oversimplifications of a more complex reality is almost beside the point.  The chareidi demand for increased stringency and isolation and the unrestrained contempt expressed by some secularists toward the chareidim are mutually reinforcing.  The greater the expressed anger of many secularists toward the chareidim becomes, the stronger  is the chareidi desire to isolate themselves from the non-chareidi world, which is facilitated by creating ever greater and less rational stringencies.  And the more isolated the chareidim become, the greater is the anger that secular Israelis express toward them.
Despite the vast ideological differences between the price tag militants and the Beit Shemesh chareidim, the two groups inadvertently reinforce each other. They have vastly different visions of Israel's future, but they share an ambivalence toward the  normative democratic principles that are the foundation of the State.  Common sense suggests, and modern history confirms, that when the hold of democratic norms is weakened, the ultimate beneficiaries may be groups ideologically distant from those who initially did the weakening.
There is another, distinctly Israeli sense in which militant settlers and chareidi militants have reinforced each other. Over the course of the last four decades,  those two groups between them have essentially destroyed religious Zionism as a meaningful political force.  Prior to Israel's independence, and for three decades thereafter, religious Zionism, and its primary political manifestation, the National Religious Party, pursued an unapologetic vision of Jewish statehood informed by Jewish religious values, and its religious citizens as full participants in the life of the State.  Beginning with the Six Day War in 1967, and accelerating after Likud's victory in the 1977 elections, the retention and settlement of the captured territories came to dominate the political agenda of the religious Zionists to the extent of crowding out all other issues.  The purely religious issues that had once been central to the National Religious Party's vision were left to the chareidi parties, whose vision focused on isolation from rather than participation in Israeli society.  Even the chief rabbinate, once seen as a religious Zionist institution, came to be dominated by the chareidim, while the National Religious Party shrank until it eventually merged into a far-right party focused almost exclusively on protecting the interests of the settlers.
Within this context, it is hardly shocking that secular Israelis have become more inclined to tar religious Jews as a whole with the brush of religious extremism.  It is in a sense fortunate that the eight-year-old girl whose tribulations sparked the furor in Beit Shemesh came from a religious family, making it somewhat harder for secularists to impute chareidi attitudes to the religious population as a whole .  Nevertheless, the chilul Hashem (desecration of God's name) resulting from the inexcusable actions of the chareidim of Beit Shemesh have created  a burden that all observant Jews must bear.  At the same time, they have also created an opportunity to demonstrate to the Israeli public that intolerance and isolationism are not synonymous with a life of Torah.  Whether Israel's remaining religious Zionists -- and their counterparts in the Diaspora -- will take advantage of that opportunity remains to be seen.
Douglas Aronin

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Reciting Baruch Asher Yotzar Eschem Baddin Aloud at Burials, Unveilings

While recently attending a graveside l'vayah and burial, the Rabbi who officiated started the service completely omitting the b'rachah -
"Baruch ... Asher Yotzar eschem Baddin"

Usually, when I conduct a burial I make it a point to either recite it myself out loud - to be Motzi anyone who has not been to a cemetery within 30 days; or at least to have another person recite it out loud.
Even if the Rav has been at a cemetery it seems that he could still recite the b'rachah for the many who need to be yotzei who can't or won't say it on their own. Alternatively, he might designate an alternate who has not been there during the past 30 days.


Saturday, 14 January 2012

Bassar b'Chalav Introductory Texts and Overviews

1. Rambam MT Ma'achalot Assurot 9, 14:10-11
2. P'ri M'gadim - P'tichah to Bassar b'Chalav
3. Minchat Hinuch - Mitzvot 92 and 113
4. R Forst's Books on Kashrut both in Hebrew and English


Friday, 13 January 2012

P. Sh'mo: Ra'amseis vs. Ra'm'seis‏

I posted this to the Leining Group

Given: The 2 words have the same consonants

It is sometimes pointed with a Patach under the Ayin implying that the Mem has a Sh'va Noch

Other times it is pointed with a Sh'va. Noch under the ayin implying that the Mem has Sh'va Na

Any Comments re: the Two versions?



Reply -

Parasha Shemot from 5763

One or two places?

ra'amseis (Exod. 1:11) a place name, as are all the others; ra'meseis (Gen. 47:11); meira'meseis (Exod. 12:37; Num. 33: 3; 33:5). In our parasha this place-name is pointed with two Patachs one under the Resh and one under the Ayin and a Sheva under the Mem. Minchat Shai writes that the Masorah here states leit rafi. Leit means that there is no other word exactly like it anywhere in Scripture. Minchat Shai explains that rafi means that the Mem has a Sheva Nach because the Ayin has a Patach and refers to R' A. ibn Ezra. In all the other occurrences (whether with or without the prefix Mem) there is a Sheva under the Ayin. As a result the status of the Sheva under Mem is affected by the rule that the second of two Shevas in the middle of a word is a Sheva Na (sounding). ra'amseis is mentioned as a city of storage. Rashi (in a comment which does not appear in the first print), states that these cities were originally not suitable for storage and the building operation made !
them suitable. The implication of this comment is that we have here different pronunciations of the same place-name.

R' A. ibn Ezra maintains that these are two different place-names. In our parasha he writes this is not a place of habitation of Israel. Elsewhere (Gen. 47:1) he writes that the land of Goshen is a general name including smaller lands, one of which is the land of ra'meseis and the Ayin has a Sheva Nach. When the Ayin has a Patach, he argues, it is not a place where Israel lived, but one of Pharaoh's storage cities.

Jeremy R. Simon, MD, PhD, FACEP

Who attributes it to Morsels of Hebrew Grammar by Dr. Meshullam Klarberg


Thursday, 12 January 2012

How Europe Veils its Anti-Semitism by Appealing to "Animal Rights"

«I have news for the Spaniards: [Europeans in General! - RRW]
- Bull Fighting is a far more painful death than is Shechitah. Why is Bull Fighting not concerning the European Legislation Against Animal Cruelty?»

| The Message Of European Legislation Against Shechita: Jews Are Cruel



Wednesday, 11 January 2012

The merit we need to be helped

«The housewife was upset and burst into tears. She hurried into the privacy of her home and gave vent to her distress there, weeping in solitude. Then she went and engaged in the long process all over again, this time hanging her laundry to dry in a neighboring courtyard.

That evening, the offending neighbor came to the house crying, begging forgiveness. "I don't know what came over me. I am so sorry. Please be mochel me. Plus, I already got my punishment. My son is sick, burning up with fever."

The woman forgave her and wished her son a refuah sheleimah. The story is told in many different versions, but the way I heard it, upon hearing the commotion, the woman's father looked up from his learning and asked what had transpired.

With much emotion, she related the story. She explained that the cruel actions of her neighbor had been too much for her to handle in her already fragile state and she couldn't calm down. But rather than react with angry words to her neighbor, she went inside her home to express her pain in private. She told him how she then went and redid the laundry, without making a machlokes or telling anyone.

"The fact that you didn't respond to her and prevented this from becoming a fight," said the father, "will be the merit you need to be helped. Your great deed will grant you a child who will be great."»

Yated Newspaper



Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Modern Orthodoxy at a Crossroads: OU Audio Interview of Rabbi Adlerstein

Rabbi Yitzchak Adlerstein of Cross Currents has furthered a discussion of Modern Orthodoxy -- what is it? What should it be? In this audio interview, though, I wonder what Rabbi Adlerstein is really asking.

Rabbi Adlerstein refers to a discussion that is on-going in the RCA Rabbinic Forum as to what should be the criteria for membership in this Rabbinic body. What I found interesting in Rabbi Adlerstein's reference, though, is what I would describe as his underlying perception of what the essence of this debate is. Is the RCA a body for all Orthodoxy rabbis and thus the debate is on the definition of Orthodoxy i.e. what makes one an Orthodox rabbi? Or is the RCA a body for a specific segment of Orthodoxy -- let us call it Modern Orthodoxy -- and thus the need is to define the criteria for membership in this group? It would seem, from certain statements that Rabbi Alderstein made during this interview, that he perceives the question to be the latter one.

The difference between these two questions is major. The first question is a theological one; the demand is to define the theological boundaries of the group. Disagreement within this context is secondary, as long as the disagreement is within the theological parameters. Given the nature of Torah and that the essence of the connection within such theological boundaries being more a matter of process than conclusion, difference in action and policy is to be expected. Strong heterogeneity would be expected.

The second question is, for want of a better word, political; the demand is to define some characteristic of the group that would allow this group to function more powerfully in promoting certain agendas. Greater homogeneity in action and policy would be expected. This connects with Rabbi Alderstein's assertion that the group should have a shared language ...yielding, from my perspective, a greater shared policy perspective.

In a certain way, I don't think there is a right or wrong answer as to how the RCA should define itself. It is really up to the RCA membership to define the type of group that it is. While I may favour a larger tent perspective, which would reflect the theological definition, that is really just my opinion. The one issue I do have with Rabbi Alderstein's presentation, though, is that while he seems to lean towards a definition that sees the RCA more as a 'political' entity, his subsequent definition seems to be more theological. He seems to say on one hand that he is not defining Orthodoxy but then what he does is define Orthodoxy. A specific focus of his is the idea of the mesorah -- that is a theological definition. It is a cross-over for him to use this term to define the parameters of the RCA and then side-step the issue of a full presentation of this subject by then maintaining that he is really defining a 'political' entity which is more defined by action than a theoretical presentation of the concept of mesorah. Its mixing apples and oranges.

Rabbi Ben Hecht

Monday, 9 January 2012

Law of Unintended Consequences - A Positive Result

In discussing the humra of "non-gebrokts" to a layman who is unfamiliar with this concept I added a postscript -
One of the Happy Un-intended Consequences of non-gebrokts is that we've created a new resource for Gluten Free diets - both during Passover itself and Year 'round. Year 'round due to the existence of cake mixes etc.

Who knows? Is this perhaps the Hashgacha of HKB"H to provide a necessity as a mother to this invention?


Sunday, 8 January 2012

Vaychi - Ephraim and M'nasheh 2 - Rav Kook on Sibling Jealousy

What happened to make Ephraim and M'nashe so special that the b'rachah uses their names? Certainly over the course of Sefer B'reisheet we can see the names of several great Tzadikim?

I heard this in the name of Rav Kook at a Shalom Zachor on Shabbat Vaychi.

Throughout Sefer B'reisheet a recurring theme appears amongst siblings - jealousy and envy

• Kayin and Hevel
• Yitzchok and Yishma'el
• Yaakov and Esav
• Yosef and his brothers

Finally, Yaakov favors the younger Ephraim and guess what? No jealousy, no envy, no vindictiveness!

Success at last. We have evolved to transcend sibling resentments. This is the reason "B'cha Y'voreich" due to this achievement at the close of Sefer B'reisheet.

Source text below:


כ ויברכם ביום ההוא, לאמור, בך יברך ישראל לאמר, ישמך אלהים כאפרים וכמנשה; וישם את-אפרים, לפני מנשה.


Vaychi - Ephraim and M'nasheh 1 - A Cute D'rash

A Cute D'rash about the B'rachah of Y'simcha .. K'Ephraim uMnasheh

Q Why do we Bless Girls with Sarah Rivkah Rachel and Leah
What's the common denominator with Ephraim and M'nasheh? - IOW what's the "tzu-shtell"?

A. Just like Ephraim and M'nasheh grew up in a "galut environment" in Mitzrayim, so too did the imahos grow up in the homes of Nachor, B'tuel, Lavan, etc. - and yet they all did not fall prey to their environments. Rather they remained Tzaddikim and Tzadkaniyot.


Saturday, 7 January 2012

Mussar: How to Make Shalom Amongst Our People

Sefer Mitzvot HaKatan, mitzvah 8, paragraph 1:
Making peace between Jews and judging others favorably
are included within the commandment [mitzvah] of:
(Vayikra / Leviticus, chapter 19, verse 18).»




Here is my simplified "Ahavat Yisroel" program hierarchy

First make Shalom with all Torah Jews

Then make Shalom with all Jews.

Then make Shalom with all B'nai Noach, etc.


Agreed that this is not so simple, but think global and act local anyway.


Friday, 6 January 2012

Women Obligating Themselves to Observe Mitzvot

See Mishnah Sh'qlaim 1:5 below
This Mishnah AISI is a paradigm for 3 categories
1. Those obligated - Yisroel and Levi
2. Those who are NOT obligated but MAY contribute
- women, children, and perhaps Kohanim
3. Those whose contributions are rejected - EG Kuthim

Seems pashut to me
"Asher Kid'shanu" applies as an obligation on class #1
And as an OPTION for class #2.
AIUI when category #2 performs, they take on the minutiae of the mitzvah
EG a woman need not take arba minim, but if she DOES take them - then, she may not do so at night nor using a lemon instead of an Etrog Etc.
Hence the b'rachah makes sense in that she performs the mitzvah K'dat and K'din

Tefilas n'davah is another one. One need not daven it, but once one does, he has to conform to the rules of the amidah. He cannot just say EG r'fo'einu as the only middle 'brachah.

This is how I understand the Ran [a Sephardi] as quoted by Bet Yosef [EG Hilchot Tzitzit, Sukkah, etc.]

While the Rambam paskens that women may absolutely NOT say a b'rachah, the BY differs in that he concludes that it's a s'feiq b'racha l'haqeil, and is omitted out of DOUBT, not out of certainty. Yes he seems to pasken the same omission, but the dynamic underlying it is different
The Rema following Ran says we definitely say the b'rachah; the permission to do this is ratified by both Kaf haChaim and Ben Ish Chai who state that a firm Minhag trumps s'feiq b'rachah

Kein Nireh Li

Source Text

מסכת שקלים פרק א
א,ה אף על פי שאמרו, אין ממשכנין נשים ועבדים וקטנים; אבל אם שקלו, מקבלין מידם. הנוכרי והכותי ששקלו, אין מקבלין מידם; אין מקבלין מידם קיני זבים, קיני זבות, קיני יולדות. חטאות ואשמות, מקבלין מידם. זה הכלל--כל שהוא נידר ונידב, מקבלין מידם; וכל שאינו לא נידר ולא נידב, אין מקבלין מידם. וכן הוא מפורש על ידי עזרא, "לא לכם ולנו, לבנות בית לאלוהינו" (עזרא ד,ג).

Shalom and Regards, RRW

Thursday, 5 January 2012

The Talmud: Next Comes the Hyperlinks

«But now that breach has been filled, or so claims the publisher of HaMafteach, or the Key, a guide to the Talmud, available in English and Hebrew. It was compiled not by a white-bearded sage, but by a courtly, clean-shaven, tennis-playing immigration lawyer from the Bronx.»

NYT: An Index for the Talmud, After



Tuesday, 3 January 2012

JVO: Confusion About God

Jewish Values Online (jewishvaluesonline.org) is a website that asks the Jewish view on a variety of issues, some specifically Jewish and some from the world around us -- and then presents answers from each of the dominations of Judaism. Nishmablog's Blogmaster Rabbi Wolpoe and Nishma's Founding Director, Rabbi Hecht, both serve as Orthodox members of their Panel of Scholars.

This post continues the weekly series on the Nishmablog that features responses on JVO by one of our two Nishma Scholars who are on this panel. This week's presentation is to one of the questions to which Rabbi Hecht responded.

* * * * *
Question: Is it normal or acceptable to be confused about the truth of God this day and age? Can one have doubts or be uncertain and still be a 'good Jew'?

Responding with another question, I could ask: how could it be possible for a normal person in this day and age not to be confused? The issue actually goes beyond our day and age: how could anyone in any time not be confused about the truth of God?
­­­­­­The simple answer is that, during those times in history when there were open miracles and clear prophecy, it would seem that the truth of God was pretty straightforward. In fact, the Torah text itself (Shemot 7:5, for example) states that one of the very purposes of the plagues in Egypt was to establish, without any doubt, the truth of God. Indeed, Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah, Chapter 8 points to the fact that one of the most important elements of the Revelation at Sinai is that there was no doubt, amongst those who witnessed this event, that God presented Himself at Sinai. The relevant issue for us, though, is how we are to look at this issue of the truth of God when such open miracles are not existent. Clearly, it would seem to be normal to be confused about the truth of God without such obvious evidence.
Perhaps, the clearest indication that Jewish Law recognizes the reality of this confusion is the various statements within the Halacha which accept a possible reality of lack of knowledge and confusion leading to a subsequent non-culpability for violation. Ignorance of the law, for example, is an excuse within Jewish Law; before a conviction, there must be a clear cut indication that a violator accepted the authority of the law. (See Encyclopediat Talmudit 11:292, Hatra’ah) One who was unsure of the truth of God and, as such, the authority of the law could not be found guilty. (It should be noted that there was a limitation on this principle in cases which affected societal law and order, however, a further discussion of this legal issue is beyond the parameters of the specific topic of this response.)
As another example, Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Mamrim 3:2 also states, although there are strict laws of censure against a heretic, one who was brought up under the influence of such heresy is basically exempt from such consequences for that person is not responsible for having such beliefs. The truth of God is not so obvious that we can expect someone to clearly have this knowledge. In addition, although I have not personally seen a statement of this nature, it is often presented in the name of the Chazon Ish (Rabbi Abraham Isaiah Karelitz, 1878-1953) that in the absence of clear, open miracles in our present world, it is impossible to declare anyone today a heretic subject to the censures of the law. (I should, perhaps, mention that I have seen something of a similar nature by the Chazon Ish, although not as far reaching, in his comments on the laws of kashrut.)
The greater question may now be why this is so. Why does God not make knowledge of His Existence obvious? In that God did make this Knowledge more obvious at certain times in history and less so at other times, such as our own, we may further wonder: why this is so? It must be that every generation has its own challenge that it must confront and, at times, this challenge is built upon clearer knowledge while at other times it is built upon less clear knowledge. Times of less clear knowledge demand of us, for example, to consider how we know anything and how to think and render decisions in such circumstances; this may in fact be our generation’s challenge. In a certain way the goals of Torah are measured not by the conclusions we reach but the effort that we apply in trying to meet God's goals for us. As such, the real issue for us is not the confusion about the truth of God that presently exists but rather how we respond to this challenge.
(Someone truly interested in this topic may be interested in researching the various different viewpoints that are found in Torah sources in regard to how one knows of the truth of God. Rambam, for example, clearly understood it to be a result of intellectual, logical inquiry. Rabbi Yehuda Halevi, Kuzari, on the other hand, felt it emerged from an intuitive perception of our souls. The very fact that there is disagreement, debate and discussion about this most basic of issues truly reveals, in my opinion, the essence of what Torah truly is about. It is a guide to our struggle with reality. To meet the challenge of this struggle is what God demands of us.)

A Must See for Students of the Holocaust

Nazi Collaborators

Nazi Collaborators Episodes
- Nazi Collaborators Season 1 2011 Episode Guides
- Watch Nazi Collaborators Episodes from Military Channel

| TVGuide.com


Monday, 2 January 2012

Remember: These Are Jewish Children!

"Are these not Jewish children?"

This incident is recorded in the auto-biography of Rabbi Moshe Blau; "Al Chomosaich Yerushalayim"; Netzach Publishing, Bnei Brak, 1967. Pages 114-115.

The narrator is Rabbi Moshe Blau himself and this entire chapter deals with Rabbi Blau's relationship with his Rebbe, Rabbi Zonnenfeld:

"One day I left Shaarei Zedek Hospital in his (Rabbi Zonnenfeld's) company. It was Tu B'Shevat [In the Zionist movement, Tu B'Shevat was (and is) a big event as it celebrates the people's connection to the land- this comment is my own].

I noticed that from far away that students from the secular non-religious schools were approaching us; boys and girls [emphasis added by me], male and female teenagers [emphasis added by me], with the Zionist flag at the front of each group; the 'workers songs' [the Zionist were closely associated with the 'Workers Movements: me again] coming from their mouths.

They were walking four abreast and the people on the street were pushed to the sides of the road.

I knew that that the sight of a few thousand boys and girls from non-religious schools walking in a parade immodestly dressed and without gender separation would cause Rabbi Zonnenfeld pain. Therefore I said to him, "The parade of children from the (non-religious) schools is coming; perhaps the Rebbe wants to go back into the hospital building?"

"No", was his answer. {He then asked :}

"Are these not Jewish children?"


Are These Not Jewish Children? » Matzav.com - The Online Voice of Torah Jewry



Sunday, 1 January 2012

Results of Poll on: Hanukah

In our last poll, we inquired

New Poll: Hanukkah

What aspect of Hanukkah is most important to you?

1. The renunciation of Greek Culture in favour of Torah Culture

2. The Victory of the Jewish People over its enemies

3. The miracle of the Oil and its Spiritual Symbolism

4. The Lighting of our own Nerot Hanukkah in our own homes in our own time.

Your Responses (total 8)

Choice 1 - 37.5%  (3)
Choice 2 - 37.5%  (3)
Choice 3 - 00.0%  (0)
Choice 4 - 25.0%  (2)


Rabbi Hecht
What would seem to be most interesting about the responses is the absence of any one who favoured choice 3, the significance of the miracle itself.To be honest, I am not sure what that would really mean. It does seem to indicate that, at least amongst those who visit the Nishmablog, there is a greater concern for the effect in this world and within the specific parameters of our lives than on matters from another dimension.

Rabbi Wolpoe
Wow! The Bavli's account got the LEAST votes
I mostly liked #4, what WE do in the Here and Now.
Though as a historian #2 is important. Too
Actually I felt all 4 had at least some validity, so every choice is "right" on some level.