Tuesday 30 April 2013

Maharat to Join Leadership at Montreal Synagogue

Congregation Shaar Hashomayim, a Modern Orthodox shul in Montreal, has announced that it is appointing 32-year-old Rachel Finegold as "director of education and spiritual enrichment" at the shul effective August 1. Among her duties will be speaking "periodically" from the pulpit, leading Torah text classes and visiting the sick and elderly, as well as developing programs for youth .....

"Open Orthodoxy": Student of Chovevei Torah's Yeshivat Maharat to Join Leadership at Montreal Synagogue » Matzav.com - The Online Voice of Torah Jewry


Publishing something wrong without first giving private hochach is a violation of several publications of the "Choffetz Chaim" including his Beiur Halachah.

I don't know if private hochachah was given or not. But the comments section seem to not care about complying with this. It's also a specific stipulation in Rambam Hilchot Dei'ot.

Best Regards,

Jew Refugees Interned with Nazis

«VANCOUVER, Canada — When Austrian and German Jews escaped Nazism by fleeing to Britain during the 1930s, the last thing they expected was to find themselves prisoners in Canada, interned in camps with some of the same Nazis they had tried to escape back home.

But that's what happened to some 7,000 European Jews and "Category A" prisoners — the most dangerous prisoners of war — who arrived on Canadian shores in 1940. »
Jewish refugees and Nazi prisoners — together in Canadian prisons - The Jewish Standard

Best Regards,

Monday 29 April 2013

Huffington Post: Can You Respect a Religion You Disagree With?

In my latest blog on Huffington Post-Canada, my goal is to present a theory by which a person with religious convictions can also adopt a value of freedom of religion. The impetus for my original investigation was, of course, the need, which I believe existed, to reconcile Torah with the benefits the Jewish worlds experienced in living under a system that promoted this value. If this value was one which had practical benefit to Torah, in my opinion, it could not be one that could be easily dismissed. The article, while not explicitly stating so, reflects my understanding of the Torah conclusion on this issue. (Aspects of these thoughts were also presented previously in Nishma Insight 5762-01: In the Name of Religion)

My original title for the post, btw, was 'Freedom of Religion: The Value of Doubt' but it was changed by the editors.

Please see

Please feel free to comment here or there. The article on Huffington has already received much attention so please feel free to join the discussion

Rabbi Ben Hecht

Avot 3:14 - Da'at and Cheebah Y'teirah

ג,יז  [יד] הוא היה אומר, חביב אדם שנברא בצלם; חיבה יתרה נודעת לו שנברא בצלם, שנאמר "כי בצלם אלוהים, עשה את האדם" (בראשית ט,ו).

 חביבין ישראל שנקראו בנים למקום; חיבה יתרה נודעת להם שנקראו בנים למקום, שנאמר "בנים אתם, לה' אלוהיכם" (דברים יד,א). 

חביבין ישראל, שניתן להם כלי שבו נברא העולם; חיבה יתרה נודעת להם שניתן להם כדי שבו נברא העולם, שנאמר "כי לקח טוב, נתתי לכם; תורתי, אל תעזובו" (משלי ד,ב).

What Hashem did was through Cheebah. Beyond that, a further dimension of making that deed Known and giving Adam Da'at constitutes a Cheebah Y'teirah.

Mussar: It's one thing to Love Someone
It's another to Tell them that you Love Them.

Best Regards,

Sunday 28 April 2013

The Jewish Woman Entrepreneur

From http://tinyurl.com/bs6fp8z
In May, a new conference will help observant Jewish women grow their income in new, more sophisticated ways.

In a time in which every dollar counts, a  business organization is putting together a conference that will help observant Jewish women grow their income in new, more sophisticated ways.

Observant female professionals and entrepreneurs – and those who are heading in that direction – are gathering Sunday, May 5 at The Hyatt Regency in New Brunswick, NJ for the First National Business Conference for Observant Women Entrepreneurs and Professionals.

The gathering, organized by a team of women leaders and experts together with The Jewish Woman Entrepreneur, is aimed at helping observant women to balance successful businesses and careers with a dedicated, sincere Torah lifestyle.

"The conference will be an unprecedented learning experience," said Chaya Fishman, founder and executive director of The Jewish Woman Entrepreneur.
See the above URL for more. 


Best Regards,

Is a Given Text Always Taken at Face Value?

Recently, I was learning a bit of Mishnayyot. Concurrently I had been debating about the parameters of revising our INTERPRETATIONS of a given text in light of external difficulties....

Mar'eh M'komot:
Mishnah K'subbos 3:7 [text below]
Bartenura [RO"B] D"H - K'illu hee shifchah
Ikkar Tosafot YomTov [ITY"T] #19
Note: I did no further research, rather I just used the texts on the page - since my point is to neither pasken nor to give a definitive p'shat in the Mishnah, but rather to illustrate how a shakla v'tarya works in a real case.

Mishnah Re: P'gam - The valuation is taken as a Shifchah Nimkeret
RO"B - We evaluate the difference between a Shifchah B'tulah vs. Shifchah B'ulah ...
ITYT - Teima d'mah Shuma hee?! What about an important woman, is she measured as merely a Shifchah? ...
V'yeish Lomar - we evaluate every woman as she is, and the Mishnah only used "Urcha d'milsa". Source - Tosafot
IOW based upon the illogic of the Mishnah as is and as further explained by RO"B, we evaluate as a shifchah. However, logic/s'vara begs us to set it aside in favor of a more reasonable model and chalk up the language as "Lav Davka" and only a common illustration.
Now how can Tosafot do that? And even if Tosafot did it, if this is indeed a "radical" revision, why would ITY"T echo it? Lich'ora he should have rejected it as a Tzorich Iyyun?
Ela Mai? We see that explicit texts themselves have a certain Torah sheb'al Peh component. And we use S'vara to refine our understanding of what the text really MEANS to say. We need not necessarily be slavish to it if it offends certain principles. Sometimes there is more to it.
מסכת כתובות פרק ג
ג,ו  [ז] ואיזו היא בושת, הכול לפי המבייש והמתבייש.
* פגם, רואין אותה כאילו היא שפחה נמכרת--כמה הייתה יפה, וכמה היא יפה.*
  קנס, שווה לכל אדם; וכל שיש לו קצבה מן התורה, שווה לכל אדם.

Best Regards,

Saturday 27 April 2013

Mussar: Bitachon

Chovot HaLevavot, Shaar Avodat HaBitachon, Introduction:

Among them [the benefits of correct trust in G-d] is that
he [a Jew with correct trust in G-d] will happy in whatever
circumstances he is placed in, even if it is contrary to his nature,
because of his trust in G-d that He will not do anything except
what is good for him in all matters, like a mother who has mercy on her child...


Chovot HaLevavot was written around year 1040 of the Common Era
by Rabbi Bachya ben Yosef ibn Pakuda, who lived in Saragossa, Spain.

Chovot HaLevavot was written in Arabic and translated into Hebrew.


Best Regards,

Friday 26 April 2013

On Correcting Laining Errors

R Nachum Amsel - posted with permission:
«There is a very interesting Tur directly on this point, where he quotes the Baal HaManhig that it is forbidden to correct a Baal Kriah because of the Issur of embarrassing the person. We do not Paskin this way, but nonetheless, it is noted.
Please see below.»


טור, שולחן ערוך, אורח חיים קמב
כתב בעל המנהיג אם טעה הקורא או החזן המקרא אותו טוב שלא להגיה עליו על שגגותיו ברבים שלא להלבין פניו דאף על פי שטעה בה יצא ידי קריאה דאיתא במדרש שאם קרא לאהרן הרן יצא

והרמב"ם ז"ל כתב קרא וטעה אפילו בדקדוק אות אחת  מחזירין אותו עד שיקראנה בדקדוק


Some Poskim have extrapolated further to note that since Kh"T is d'rabbanan and embarrassment is a d'oraisso better to NOT correct than to embarrass.

A reasonable compromise is to correct gently.

Best Regards,

Thursday 25 April 2013

Israeli Treasury To Cut Yeshiva Student Funding By 30%

«The 30% funding cut is planned to be achieved by lowering the age that Yeshiva students are entitled to payments from the state from 28 to 22. The funding is linked to deferment of military service, and will in effect be achieved by lowering the age that yeshiva students are granted a full release from service - the reasoning being that, if the yeshiva students are released outright, they will no longer enjoy deferred status, or its funding. The move is set to take effect in August.»
Israeli Treasury To Cut Yeshiva Student Funding By 30%
Matzav.com - The Online Voice of Torah Jewry

Best Regards,

Irena Sendler, The Forgotten Lady

 Remember this lady? I didn't either.
Irena Sendler

Died: May 12, 2008 (aged 98)
Warsaw, Poland

During WWII, Irena, got permission to work in the Warsaw ghetto, as a Plumbing/Sewer specialist. She had an ulterior motive.

Irena smuggled Jewish infants out in the bottom of the tool box she carried. She also carried a burlap sack in the back of her truck, for larger kids.

Irena kept a dog in the back that she trained to bark when the Nazi soldiers let her in and out of the ghetto.

The soldiers, of course, wanted nothing to do with the dog and the barking covered the kids/infants noises.

During her time of doing this, she managed to smuggle out and save 2500 kids/infants.

Ultimately, she was caught, however, and the Nazi's broke both of her legs and arms and beat her severely.

Irena kept a record of the names of all the kids she had smuggled out, In a glass jar that she buried under a tree in her back yard. After the war, she tried to locate any parents that may have survived and tried to reunite the family. Most had been gassed. Those kids she helped got placed into foster family homes or adopted.

In 2007 Irena was up for the Nobel Peace Prize.
She was not selected.
Al Gore won, for a slide show on Global Warming.

Please share this to honor the sacrifice and courage of this fine human being who gave so much and saved so many.
For further information on how the memory of Irena Sendler is being maintained as an inspiration for the future, see

Best Regards,

Wednesday 24 April 2013

State sues florist over refusing service for gay wedding

"I one hundred percent believe this is a freedom-of-expression and free-exercise-of-religion issue," he said. "What the government is saying here is that you don't have the right to free religious exercise."

State sues florist over refusing service for gay wedding | Local News | The Seattle Times

Best Regards,

What Makes Geirut Today so much Stricter?

Rav Dov Fischer [redacted]
«.... The tragedy of many rejected converts points yet again to the primacy of advising prospective Gerim to go through the [RCA] GPS system. 

The GPS system while not fool-proof t offers the best possible protection and assurance that a prospective Ger will be treated like mishpachah, as will her children.  In the same vein, this points once again to why I believe it is tragic, and even virtually borders on rabbinic malpractice, for a Reform rabbi or a Conservative rabbi or even a non-GPS Orthodox rav to lead a non-Jew on a conversion path without explicitly warning in advance, in full disclosure, that any conversion other than GPS cannot assure that the convert — or especially the futuire generations of a woman convert — will be accepted as Jewish in Israel or, for that matter, in America.»

High Standards, while harsh at the outset, tend to clear more hurdles and earn greater acceptance. It stands to reason to use a Standard of Geirut that will most likely be accepted by Israeli Battei Din

Best Regards,

Tuesday 23 April 2013

Parsha: Sh'mini: Mafreset Parsa

A Kosher Animal chews its cud

The Mayanah shel Torah comments that a Kosher Jew needs to digest and re-digest if something takes them on the Proper Path or not. It can be a repetitive process...

I'd like to expound on this a bit. A Torah Jew is not satisfied digesting a D'var Torah just once. It often merits or needs re-visiting, refining, and reconsidering.

Sometimes we might dogmatically accept a general principle, a K'lal, without realizing the nuances and potential exceptions and boundaries. Reconsidering even a valid principle in the light of other Torah may give us a more precise understanding and refine the coarseness from our first digestion.

Best Regards,

Ethical Dilemma: Losing One's Job by Telling the Truth

«Ever get fired for doing your job exactly the way you're supposed to? Unfortunately, many people have. The big problem comes in your next interview when you have to explain an utterly egregious situation without bad-mouthing your former employer.

Well, there is indeed a way to tell the story without bad-mouthing. Here are two emails, six weeks apart, from a reader who came to me with, as she called it, "an interesting and difficult situation." She began:...»
Career Coach: Did your job and got fired? How do you explain that?

Consider the Halachic and Hashkafic Aspects of this scenario. This may become the topic of a future poll...

Best Regards,

Monday 22 April 2013

If Cameos are Effective...

If Cameos [Qamei'ot] are effective then

Why didn't R Yonatan Eyebeschutz protect himself from R Yaakov Emden by means of a Cameo?

Best Regards,

Gedolim Meet the Press

I see a real conundrum

The Press and the Non-frum seem eager to tear down Gedolim

Yet OTOH, the frum - either out of deference or out of intimidation - will not even question the Gedolim, even for their own sake in the long run.

Thus we are spinning towards 2 camps

Gedolim can do no wrong
Gedolim can do no right.

As R Nachman of Breslov stated [paraphrase]

A Gadol bleibs* a Gadol and a Mistake bleibs* a Mistake



The other issue of Deifying Torah Giants is the stifling of Hiddushei Torah. If a new idea doesn't shtim with the currently accepted Pantheon it's shot down not on its merits.

Shalom and Regards,

Sunday 21 April 2013

Give a Hoot for Hutterite Religious Liberty

This appeal was forwarded to me by a Rabbinical Colleague   RRW

Dear Friends,
We are still waiting to hear whether the U.S. Supreme Court will take our case defending the Wisconsin school district that was sued because it held its secular graduation ceremonies in a much more comfortable and handicap-accessible church auditorium.  We remain hopeful that the Justices will agree with us that this case is of national significance.
But, even as we wait, we've filed yet another petition with the U.S. Supreme Court to hear another of our very important cases. 
The Becket Fund represents the Big Sky Colony in its case against the state of Montana, which specifically targeted this peaceful community of faith at the instigation of the state's construction lobby.
I'll tell you their story and why this small religious community's case could advance the cause of religious liberty for all.
It all starts about 500 years ago with the Protestant Reformation when Jakob Hutter founded the Hutterian Brethren Church.  Guided by an interpretation of the Bible's Book of Acts, the Hutterites are committed to a principle known as Gütergemeinschaft, or "community of goods."  They renounce all private property, hold all their possessions in common, and refuse to assert legal claims against one another.
Like many religious minorities, the Hutterites suffered serious religious persecution in Europe.  In fact, Jakob Hutter was burned at the stake.  So, in the 1870s, they sought the promise of religious liberty here in America.
Fast forward to today.  The Hutterites live in colonies of several families and do everything from dining to farming to worship to education communally.  Their vow to devote their time, labor, and energy to their colony without any reward or compensation is an act of religious worship.  
Their medical care is covered through a cooperative medical trust and everyone in the colony gets the same care regardless of their ability to work.  So, even if they are injured or ill and unable to work, they are cared for.
And that gets to the special interests' problem with the peaceful, self-dependent Hutterites.
When Montana adopted its workers' compensation law in 1915, it exempted the Hutterites.  And, for the first 94 years of that arrangement, there is absolutely no record of any Hutterite member ever being injured on the job or failing to receive medical care.  There's no record at all of any Hutterite ever seeking to assert a workers' compensation claim.
But, in 2009, the Montana Legislature – pressured by lobbyists who claimed that the Hutterites had a competitive advantage in construction bids because of this exemption – amended the workers' comp law to specifically target the Hutterites.
This violates several tenets of the Hutterites' faith:
* It gives the members an unwaivable right to compensation. 
* It compels the colony to compensate members for work. 
* It creates a legal claim between the colony and its members.
* It forbids the colony from disciplining members who violate the church's teaching on community of goods and lawsuits against members. 
There continues to be a long list of exemptions in the law – 26 different exceptions.  In fact, a non-faith-based commune would be exempt from the law.  But the Hutterites are forced to enter the workers' compensation system and to violate their faith.
A Montana trial court struck down the law as unconstitutional; but a sharply divided Montana Supreme Court upheld it.  The Becket Fund then stepped in to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.  You can read more about the case, including our petition to the Court, by clicking here
<https://www.becketfundcommunity.org/page.redir?target=http%3a%2f%2fwww.becketfund.org%2fhutterite%2f&amp;srcid=4207&amp;srctid=1&amp;erid=2791224&amp;trid=28fbdc9c-c512-44cc-b643-e5f5c9a56fe3> .
This case offers an excellent opportunity for the U.S. Supreme Court to decide once and for all whether our right to religious liberty only protects us against laws that were motivated by anti-religious animus.  Courts across the country have struggled with this question and come to different conclusions because it's not clear what is required:
Do you have to show that the law was motivated by hostility against a religious group or is it enough to show that the law does discriminate against a religious group? 
This is an incredibly important question for two reasons.  First, proving motivation is very difficult.  Second, in a religiously diverse society with an ever-growing government, many laws that harm religious liberty aren't motivated by animus by religious but simply by ignorance about religion.
Our attorneys think that if the Supreme Court takes this case it could provide a significant victory for religious liberty by settling this question in a way that promotes the constitutional guarantee of religious liberty.
But, as I've said before, only 2 percent of the cases that seek Supreme Court hearings each year actually get their wish.  So, stay tuned for more information on our case defending the Big Sky Colony. 
Taking a case to the U.S. Supreme Court is a big deal.  In fact, just petitioning the Court for a hearing takes an enormous amount of work.  Our attorneys only seek the high court's review if the case could yield real benefits in the fight for religious liberty.  We
couldn't do this kind of work without your support, so thank you for standing with us in this fight for religious liberty
<https://www.becketfundcommunity.org/page.redir?target=http%3a%2f%2fwww.becketfundcommunity.org%2fSupportUs&amp;srcid=4207&amp;srctid=1&amp;erid=2791224&amp;trid=28fbdc9c-c512-44cc-b643-e5f5c9a56fe3> . 

Saturday 20 April 2013

Mussar: Ahavat Yisra'el

R Shmuel Jablon
«Parshah Kedoshim contains a plethora of mitzvot. One of the most famous is also one of the most vital. In the verse that begins, "You shall not take revenge or bare a grudge," we then learn "You shall love your neighbor as yourself, I am Hashem." This mitzvah, known as Ahavat Yisrael, obligates us to love all Jews...»
Most Vital Mitzvah: We Must Love All Jews | Jewish Exponent

Best Regards,

Friday 19 April 2013

If You Had to Learn Just a Few "Sugyot" in Humash - What Would they Be?

Here is a list of my top ten "Sugyot" or Parshiyyot in Humash for in depth study.

1. B'reisheet - Laining for Simchat Torah - from the Big Inning through end of Vaychulu.

2. Bo - From Ch. 12 until the end [The Lainings for P. Hachodesh, 1st Day Passover, 3rd Day Passover]

3. Yitro - The Laining for Shavuot

4. Mishpatim - First 3 Aliyyot

5. Ki Tissa - The Laining for Shabbat Hol Hamoed

6. K'doshim - The First 2 Aliyyot

7. Vo'etchanan - The Last 4 Aliyyot

8. Eikev - The Last 3 Aliyyot

9. Kee Tavo - The First 2 Aliyyot

10. Nitzavim through the end of the Torah.

Best Regards,

Thursday 18 April 2013

RCA Statement Regarding Religious Practices at Western Wall

Apr 18, 2013 --
The Rabbinical Council of America, the leading organization of Orthodox rabbis, commends the efforts of Natan Sharansky, Chairman of the Jewish Agency in Israel, and the coordination of his work with Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, rabbi of the Western Wall, in developing ways to resolve the growing tensions over religious practices at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. This site has been the source of Jewish prayers and unity over the generations and we look forward to the restoration of the peace and sanctity that such a holy place deserves.

We recognize that the proposed compromise agreement calls for a significant change on the part of traditional Jews and their connection to the entire Wall. Nonetheless, we applaud the spirit of compromise on both sides that will allow all Jews to put aside a divisive issue and turn their energies to the protection and upbuilding of the Jewish State.

Best Regards,

רפואה שלמה

אנא ה' שלח נא מהרה רפואה שלמה - רפואת הנפש ורפואת הגוף - ליהודה שמחה בן אסתר ברכה, בתוך שאר חולי ישראל!  אמן!

Best Regards,

Wednesday 17 April 2013

Joe Weider - Jewish Boy from Montreal, Dominates Body Building

«Josef Edwin "Joe" Weider ... (November 29, 1919 – March 23, 2013[1]) was a Canadian bodybuilder and entrepreneur who co-founded the International Federation of BodyBuilders (IFBB) alongside his brother Ben Weider. He was also the creator of the Mr. Olympia, the Ms. Olympia and the Masters Olympia bodybuilding contests. He was [also] the publisher of several bodybuilding and fitness-related magazines... and the manufacturer of a line of fitness equipment and fitness supplements.

Weider was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, to Louis and Anna, Jewish immigrants from Poland. He published the first issue of Your Physique magazine in 1936 when he was 14 years old, ...»
Joe Weider - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Best Regards,

Seeking More Objective P'sak

There is no way to guarantee consistent Results in P'sak. Rabbonim and Poskim are all individuals and see things differently. However, we can formulate a consistent approach to P'sak

A colleague of mine suggested a Beth Din [B"D] of

Mishnah B'rurah [M"B]
Aruch HaShulchan [AhS]
Kaf HaChaim [KhC]

The Kitzur SA used a similar B"D
Hayyei Adam
SA haRav
Derech HaChaim [R Yaakov miLissa]

I would use this 20th Century B"D loosely. Consult them all, before deciding, but one need not follow them slavishly

I would also amend the suggestion to work as follows

First start with Tur and Beth Yosef [B"Y]. Then as time permits, see as many sources as possible on the page, EG Darchei Mosheh, P'rishah, D'shah, Ba"Ch etc.

Then use the above recommended B"D, using all the sources on the daf of the M"B.

If every Rav and Poseik employed this common technique, P'sak might have a common feel.

After covering these bases, it then makes sense to me to consult the "Shu"t" [Responsa] Literature. A Bar Ilan CD might just be the ticket.

Best Regards,

Tuesday 16 April 2013

Jewish Tribune: re: Letter regarding Judaism and Democracy

Recently, I wrote an article in the Jewish Tribune regarding the perceived conflict between democracy and Judaism which I posted on the blog at

Subsequently, there was letter to the paper that critiqued this article. This letter can be seen at

I, in turn, responded to this letter in a subsequent paper which can be seen at
(My response, unfortunately, was not formulated for the web but rather can only be seen in a pdf of that week's paper as a whole. The response is on page 20 of the paper and is entitled: "Same issue: value conflict in Israel.")

What I found most interesting in this interchange was the distinction in language and meaning that permeates the Jewish community but to which we are often not sensitive. For example, there is clearly a difference in how the writer and I understand the term Judaism. This is the reason why I wrote my article "Adjective and Non-Adjective Jew" (available on the Nishma website at http://www.nishma.org/articles/introspection/introspection5761-2-adjective_jew.htm). I guess that since I was already aware of this problem, I must also accept some of the responsibility for the disconnect in this dialogue due to the fact that I did use the generic term Judaism within my original article -- which then allowed the writer to go on from there.

Rabbi Ben Hecht

The Rabbi and the Professor - A true story

The Rabbi and the Professor
A true story for Israel Remembrance Day.
by Rabbi Ari Kahn

«Many years ago when I was a relatively young yeshiva student I had the opportunity to study with one of the great rabbis of the previous generation. His name was Rabbi Yisroel Zeev Gustman and he may have been one of the greatest rabbis of the 20th century. He was certainly the greatest "unknown" rabbi: While he fastidiously avoided the limelight and was therefore unfamiliar to the general public, he was well known to connoisseurs of Torah learning.

His meteoric rise from child prodigy to the exalted position of religious judge in the Rabbinical Court of Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodzinski at around the age of 20 was the stuff of legend -- but nonetheless fact...»
The Rabbi and the Professor

Best Regards,

Monday 15 April 2013

Israel: Andrew Roberts, MP and Historian, Part 3

Radical Islam is never going to accept the concept of an Israeli State, so the struggle is likely to continue for another sixty years, but the Jews know that that is less dangerous than entrusting their security to anyone else.
Very often in Britain , especially when faced with the overwhelmingly anti-Israeli bias that is endemic in our liberal media and the BBC, we
fail to ask ourselves what we would have done placed in their position?
The population of the United Kingdom of 63 million is nine
times that of Israel. In July, 2006, to take one example at random, Hezbollah crossed the border of Lebanon into Israel and killed eight patrolmen and kidnapped two others, and that summer fired four thousand Katyusha rockets into Israel which killed a further forty-three civilians.
Now, if we multiply those numbers by nine to get the British equivalent, just imagine what we would do if a terrorist organization based as close as Calais were to fire thirty-six thousand rockets into Sussex and Kent, killing 87 British civilians, after killing seventy-two British servicemen in an ambush and capturing eighteen.

There is absolutely no lengths to which our Government would not go to protect British subjects under those circumstances, and quite right
too. Why should Israel be expected to behave any differently?
In the course of researching my latest book on the Second World War, I recently visited Auschwitz-Birkenau. Walking along a line of huts and the railway siding where their forebears had been worked and starved and beaten and frozen and gassed to death, were a group of Jewish schoolchildren, one of whom was carrying over his shoulder the Israeli flag, a blue star of David on white background.
It was a profoundly moving sight, for it was the sovereign independence represented by that flag which guarantees that the obscenity of genocide which killed six million people in Auschwitz and camps like it -- will never again befall the Jewish people, to whom the rest of civilization owes so much.

I said at the start that I was speaking to you as an historian, and so I say:
No people in History have needed the right to self-defense and legitimacy more than the Jews of Israel, and that is what we in the Friends of Israel Initiative demand here today.
WysInfo Docuwebs - Documentaries on the Web

Best Regards,

Israel: Andrew Roberts, MP and Historian, Part 2

"We owe to the Jews," wrote Winston Churchill in 1920, "a system of ethics which, even if it were entirely separated from the supernatural, would be incomparably the most precious possession of mankind, worth in fact the fruits of all wisdom and learning put together.
The Jewish contribution to finance, science, the arts, academia, commerce and industry, literature, philanthropy and politics has been astonishing relative to their tiny numbers.
Although they make up less than half of one percent of the world population, between 1901 and 1950 Jews won 14% of all the Nobel Prizes awarded for Literature and Science, and between 1951 and 2000 Jews won 32% of the Nobel Prizes for Medicine, 32% for Physics, 39% for Economics and 29% for Science. This, despite so many of their greatest intellects dying in the gas chambers?

Civilization owes Judaism a debt it can never repay, and support for the right of a Jewish homeland to exist is the bare minimum we can provide.
Yet we tend to treat Israel like a leper on the international scene, merely for defending herself, and threatening her with academic boycotts if she builds a separation wall that has so far reduced suicide bombings by 95% over three years.
It is a disgrace that no senior member of the Royal Family has ever undertaken an official visit to Israel , as though the country is still in quarantine after more than six decades.

Her Majesty the Queen has been on the throne for 57 years and in that time has undertaken 250 official visits to 129 countries, yet has not yet set foot in Israel .
She has visited 14 Arab countries, so it cannot have been that she wasn't in the region. Although Prince Philip's mother, Princess Alice, is buried on the Mount of Olives because of her status as Righteous Among Gentiles, the Foreign Office ordained that his visit to his mother's grave in 1994 had to be in a private capacity only.

Royal visits are one of the ways legitimacy is conferred on nations, and the Coalition Government should end the Foreign Office's de- facto boycott.

After the Holocaust, the Jewish people recognized that they must have their own state, a homeland where they could forever be safe from a repetition of such horrors.
Putting their trust in Western
Civilization was never again going to be enough. Since then, Israel has had to fight no fewer than five major wars for her very existence.
She has been on the front line in the War against Terror and has been fighting the West's battles for it, decades before 9/11 or 7/7 ever happened.

Best Regards,

Israel: Andrew Roberts, MP and Historian, Part 1

Andrew Roberts
Member of Parliament 
I would like to speak to you today as an historian, because it seems to me that the State of Israel has packed more history into her 62 years on the planet than many other nations have in six hundred.

There are many surprising things about this tiny, feisty, brave nation the size of Wales , but the most astonishing is that she has survived at all.
The very day after the UN declared Israel a country in 1948, five Arab countries attacked, and she has been struggling for her right to life ever since. And that is what we are here for today, to reiterate Israel 's right to self-defense, inherent in all legitimate countries.
From Morocco to Afghanistan, from the Caspian Sea to Aden, the 5.2 million square miles of territory belonging to members of the Arab League is home to over 330 million people, whereas Israel covers only eight thousand square miles, and is home to seven million citizens, one-fifth of whom are Arabs.

The Jews of the Holy Land are thus surrounded by hostile states 650 times their size in territory and sixty times their population, yet their last, best hope of ending two millennia of international persecution, the State of Israel has  somehow survived.
When during the Second World War, the island of  Malta came through three terrible years of bombardment and destruction, it was rightly awarded the George Medal for bravery; today Israel should be awarded a similar decoration for defending democracy, tolerance and Western values against a murderous onslaught that has lasted twenty times as long. ; Jerusalem is the site of the Temple of Solomon and Herod. The stones of a palace erected by King David himself are even now being unearthed just outside the walls of Jerusalem .

Everything that makes a nation state legitimate-- bloodshed, soil tilled, two millennia of continuous residence, international agreements, argues for Israel 's right to exist, yet that is still denied by the Arab League.
For many of their governments, which are rich enough to have economically solved the Palestinian refugee problem decades ago, it is useful to have Israel as a scapegoat to divert attention from the tyranny, failure and corruption of their own regimes.
The tragic truth is that it suits Arab states very well to have the Palestinians endure permanent refugee status, and whenever Israel puts forward workable solutions they have been stymied by those whose interests put the destruction of Israel before the genuine well being of the Palestinians. Both King Abdullah I of Jordan and Anwar Sadat of Egypt were assassinated when they attempted to come to some kind of accommodation with a country that most sane people now accept is not going away.

Best Regards,

Sunday 14 April 2013



Israel Behind the News: Israel Resource Review

Best Regards,

Is Sefirah Becoming Like the 9 Days?

See this -

Courtesy of R' Moshe Dovid Lebovitz, Halchically Speaking Volume V Issue 8:




"The Time from Passover to Shavuos is a time of Minimizing Joy"

This phrase is borrowed from Mishenichnas Av Mim'aatin B'Simchah.

Are the 2 cases truly parallel?

Tur O"Ch 492 "Shelo l'harbot b'Simchah"

Kitzur SA 120:6
"Lochein nohagin bayamim Elu K'tzat Aveilut..."

Can we learn from this how "Humra-ization" takes hold? Is the S'firah Period going to soon match the "Nine Days"?

Best Regards,

Saturday 13 April 2013

Mussar: Insult No One

From Derech Emet:


Mishnah, tractate Avot, chapter 4, paragraph 3:

[Ben Azai taught:]
Do not insult any man and do not dismiss anything, for there is no man who does not have
his day and there is nothing that does not have its place.

The Tiferet Yisrael commentary on this Mishnah explains:

Do not insult any man: even a fool, a simple man and
someone mindless, and even if he is a wicked man who is sentenced to death.

Have mercy on their ruined state and do not insult them,
because you are offending their Creator [G_d].

Even if you do not know why they exist, God understands
His ways, as it is written in Mishlei [the Biblical Book of Proverbs], chapter 16, verse 4:

MICROBIOGRAPHY: The Tiferet Yisrael commentary on
the Mishnah was written by Rabbi Yisrael Lifschitz,
who was born in yearý 1782 CE, and died in year 1860 CE.
He served as Rabbi first in Dessau and then in Danzig.

Best Regards,

Friday 12 April 2013

What is Centrist about "Centrist Orthodoxy?"

I had a roommate one summer in NYC -- he had attended Ner Israel, YU, then JTS and is now a C rabbi

He once remarked to me something like this: "At each step of the way, I thought I was correct - meaning at the center between the right and the left."

In my lexicon [after all Noah Webster was my lantsman!] Centrist Orthodoxy does not mean the Center of the entire Spectrum of Judaism. It connotes an attitude of respect for both the Torah Learning and the p'sak of the Yeshiva World and also an engagement with [the best of] Secular Learning etc.

It may be termed Torah im Derech Eretz or Torah uMada [or uMadua!] :-)

Interestingly, some of my favorite "paradigms" of Torah uMada are not from YU, EG R Dr Avraham Twerski and Dr Lawrence Schiffman.

One teacher of mine suggested that the Kabblistic Sefirah of Tiferet actually indicates Harmony between Chessed and Gevurah, which lends an interesting p'shat for the Mishnah and Avot with regard to "Tif'eret".
«מסכת אבות פרק ב

ב,א  רבי אומר, איזו היא דרך ישרה שיבור לו האדם--כל שהיא תפארת לעושיה, ותפארת לו מן האדם.  »

I'll end on a Hashgachah note. Rav S Schwab Z"L once wrote an article on debugging vegetables. He suggested no compromise on removing bugs and ALSO no compromising by avoiding veggies, because they are part of a wholesome diet.

Shalom and Regards,

Thursday 11 April 2013

Does Ockham's Razor get you to the Best P'shat?

See Mishnah D'mai 7:7

No doubt this is a complex Mishnah! And Pinchas Kehatti spills a lot of ink in his peirush on this Mishnah

At the end he appends a comment that he followed Tiferet Yisra'el, because his peirush was the simplest and then he sends you to see others Viz. Rambam, Bartenura, and Mishnah Rishonah which are more difficult.

This begs the question -

Did Kehatti choose the simplest because it is most likely to be the best - a la Ochkam's Razor?
Did he simply choose the simplest in order to simplify his Peirush regardless of which sheetah was best?

Best Regards,

Wednesday 10 April 2013

Carter at Cardozo - Anti-Semitism?

«As decades-old tapes from his Church Sunday school lessons reveal, former President Jimmy Carter's bias against the Jewish state may come more from an old fashioned Christian animus toward Judaism than from concerns over the situation of Palestinians. Carter taught Christian students in Plains Georgia that Judaism teaches Jews to feel superior to non-Jews, that Jewish religious practices are tricks to enhance wealth, and that current Israeli policy toward Palestinians is based on these "Jewish" values and practices.

In a series of sermons Carter recorded between 1999 and 2003 that were published as a CD set by Simon and Schuster called "Sunday Mornings in Plains," Carter attacks modern Israel by retreading ancient anti-Semitic tropes that go back to the early church fathers and the Judaism/Christianity schism that gave birth to a millennia of Christian persecution of Jews.
(For a thorough discussion of the emergence and analysis of these tapes,
see PhyllisChessler
<http://peaceandtolerance.org/index.php?option=com_acymailing&amp;no_html=1&amp;ctrl=url&amp;urlid=121&amp;mailid=48&amp;subid=5410> .) ...\
Carter at Cardozo: It's Not the "new-Anti-semitism" – It's the Older Kind

Best Regards,

Huffington Post: Does Following a Methodology Make You Religious?

In my latest blog on Huffington Post-Canada, I provide an introduction to what I hope will be a series on the modern misunderstanding of the nature of religion and the subsequent effect on dialogue within the society. The focus of this specific post is the fact that most people actually only see religions in terms of methodology while, in fact, they present differing views on the basic nature of existence itself.

My original title for the post, btw, was The Struggle of Religion but it was changed by the editors.

Please see
http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/rabbi-ben-hecht/modern-religion_b_3034462I .html#slide=more277523

Please feel free to comment there or here.

Rabbi Ben Hecht

The Real Jimmy Carter

The Real Jimmy Carter [Dershowitz on Harvard and the Zayed Foundation) - Campus Watch


Best Regards,

Tuesday 9 April 2013

Dershowitz on Cardozo and Carter

Please also see previous blog posting for YU's explanation for this. 
«The Cardozo School of Law, which is associated with Yeshiva University, has decided to honor former U.S. President Jimmy Carter with its annual "International Advocate for Peace" award on Wednesday. This has many alumni and other members of the Jewish community up in arms not least of which is because of Carter's penchant for labeling Israel an "apartheid state"  and his chumminess with Yasser Arafat and the current Hamas leadership.
<http://shameoncardozo.com/> ,

(For more of Carter's activities in the region see here
<http://elderofziyon.blogspot.com/2013/04/yeshiva-u-law-school-to-give-award-to.html> .)

"I can't imagine a worse person to honor for conflict resolution. Here's a man who has engendered conflict wherever he goes. He has encouraged terrorism by Hamas and Hezbollah. He was partly responsible for Yasser Arafat turning down the Clinton-Barak peace offer," Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz told The Algemeiner in an interview. Dershowitz wrote about Carter in his book "The Case Against Israel's Enemeies: Exposing Jimmy Carter and Others Who Stand in the Way of Peace."

Best Regards,

President Carter at Cardozo School of Law

«President Richard M. Joel's Statement in Response to Student Journal of Conflict Resolution Advocate for Peace Award Selection

The student-run Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution has invited former United States President Jimmy Carter to receive its Advocate for Peace Award. President Carter's invitation to Cardozo represents solely the initiative of this student journal, not of Yeshiva University or the Benjamin N. Cardozo Law School. The university recognizes the breadth of impassioned feelings engendered by this appearance, and is mindful of the diversity of expressed opinions on the matter. ...»
Yeshiva University News » President Carter at Cardozo School of Law

Best Regards,

Monday 8 April 2013

Yom HaShoah


Tonight, on Erev Yom HaShoah. Jews come together to remember the 6 million Jews who perished in the Holocaust.
Please SHARE picture on your Wall!!!

Alex Levin, Art Levin Studio. www.ArtLevin.com



Best Regards,

When Can One Dispute His Rebbe?

See SA O"Ch 63:2
And M"B there 6
quoting Yam Shel Sh'lomoh

If one is Machmeer in front of one's Rabbo when one's Rabbo is Meikeel,then he is subject to Nidduy
UNLESS he has "Rayot Listor"

Mashma: loyalty to one's Rebbe's sheetah is the default, but can be overridden by prooftext sources to the contrary.

Best Regards,

Saturday 6 April 2013

What's the Good Word?

«Is there anything more damaging to the Jewish community than the various schisms and rifts that tug it apart?  Anything more hurtful than the way one judges a fellow Jew by the most cruel or superficial of distinctions?  Chesed, by its very nature, seeks to heal such hurts, not to perpetuate them.  Chesed must be chesed for all.

As we see with the chasidah¸ one who thinks of himself as a Chasid but who contributes to the judgments and opinions that harms K'lal Yisrael is, in fact, non-kosher, despite good deeds or determined piety.»

Words Matter: Chasid, Chesed and Chasidah - Judaism - Israel National News

Best Regards,

Friday 5 April 2013

P. Shmini: Politics, Chazanim and Nadav & Avihu

«... Throughout history, governments have struggled between the rule of the masses and of the qualified. On the one hand, placing power in the hands of the few invites abuse. On the other, allowing the untrained to rule leads to poor governance. In the United States, we compromise with a House of Representatives, reflecting popular sentiment, and a Senate of elite professionals. It is not a perfect resolution but none currently exists. In the sacrificial realm, the Torah proposes a different compromise. ...»
Politics, Chazanim and Nadav & Avihu | Hirhurim – Torah Musings

Best Regards,

Thursday 4 April 2013

Shlissel Challah - “The Loaf of Idolatry?”

«In Christianity, baked goods associated with keys are commonly called 'Easter breads,'[13] and in Europe they are also known as 'Paschals,'[14] as the holiday of Easter in the East is known as 'Pascha' or 'Pascua.' This is most likely the reason Christians often call Easter breads baked with keys Paschals.[15] Before the Romans destroyed the Beit HaMikdash (the holy Temple) in Jerusalem, the focus of the Passover holiday for the Jewish people was the Korban Pessah (lit. Pessah sacrifice, also known as the Paschal Lamb[16]).»

Darkei Emori?
Effective Segulah


Best Regards,

Wednesday 3 April 2013

Plagues, 10/50/200/250

Guest Blogger:
Douglas Aronin, Esq.

Nestled between the Ten Plagues and Dayeinu is a three-paragraph passage that's easy to overlook and even easier to underestimate.  At first glance it seems to be essentially a game of numbers, with three tanaim (rabbis who lived at or before the time of the Mishna) vying to see who could justify the largest increase in the number of plagues (more accurately, perhaps plague-equivalents)  that the Egyptians suffered at the Red Sea.  As is so often the case with our liturgical  texts, however, there's more here than first meets the eye.  Let's look at the first paragraph of this passage, which sets forth the opinion of Rabbi Yosi of the Galilee, and which is the foundation on which the entire passage rests.  That paragraph reads as follows:

Rabbi Yosi of the Galilee said:  "We can show that if the Egyptians were struck with ten plagues in Egypt, then they were struck with fifty plagues at the Red Sea. In Egypt we find the statement: 'The magicians said to Pharaoh, "It is God's finger."' (Exodus 8:15). At the Red Sea it is written: "Israel saw the great hand that God had directed against Egypt.  The people feared God and believed in God and in His  servant Moses." (Exodus 14:31) Now, if one finger brought ten plagues [an entire
hand would bring fifty].  From this we see that if there were ten plagues in Egypt, there were fifty at the Red Sea..
(Translation from the 2010 Haggadah edited by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks)
Some modern commentators (including Rabbi Sacks and Rabbi Shlomo Riskin) point out that the verse at the end of the passage is the only time that the Haggadah mentions Moses's name.  The reluctance of the text to mention Moses reflects a concern lest we attribute our redemption to Moses rather than to God.  None of the commentaries that I've read, however, ask what seems to me the obvious follow-up question: if there's a good reason that we otherwise avoid mentioning Moses' name at the Seder, then why do we make an exception here? The Haggadah's purpose in quoting the verse is simply to associate God's "strong hand" (Heb. yad chazaka) with the miracles at the Red Sea.   We could  quote the first half of the verse, in which the phrase yad chazaka appears and omit the second half, which mentions Moses by name.  Some might be wary of quoting only part of a verse which contains God's Name, but even a cursory inspection of the Haggadah text recited earlier in the Seder (before the Ten Plagues) would show other quotations of fragments of verses,  some of which do contain God's Name.  It thus appears that the inclusion of Moses's name, in this passage, although it appears nowhere else in the Haggadah,  must have some purpose.

Another anomaly in the same paragraph involves the phrase that, according to the Torah, was used by Pharaoh's magicians in explaining their inability to imitate the third plague: "It is God's finger." (Heb. etzba Elokim hee).  The context of that phrase as it appears in the Torah would seem inconsistent with its use in the Haggadah.  In the Torah's account, the chartumim (magicians) succeed in imitating the first two plagues, those of blood and frogs.  When it came to the third plague, the plague of lice (Heb. kinim), they were unable to duplicate it and justified their failure by telling Pharaoh that the plague is God's finger, and thus, presumably, beyond the power of human beings to imitate. 

On first reading, the opinion of Rabbi Yosi of the Galilee quoted above -- as well as the  subsequent opinions of Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Akiva, which are built on it, seems inconsistent Torah's account of the response of the chartumim  to the third plague.  The chartumim, it would seem from the Torah's account, were not comparing God's finger to all ten plagues, but rather to just the third one.  But for the arithmetic of Rabbi Yosi of the Galilee's opinion to work, we must understand the term "God's finger" as referring to all ten plagues, not merely one one them.  If a single plague represented God's finger, then the Egyptians at the Red Sea would have suffered only five plagues, not fifty.

In the second volume of his book Between the Lines of the Bible, Rabbi Yitzchak Etshalom suggests an intriguing way  of reading the involvement of the chartumim.  His reading is designed to address other issues,  but it might also help with ours.  He points out that there is a difficulty with the conventional understanding of the chartumim's  action during the first two plagues, the plague of blood (Ex. 7:19-21) and the plague of frogs (8:1-7).  In both cases, the  chartumim  are traditionally depicted as successfully imitating the first two plagues.  Had they succeeded in doing so, Rabbi Etshalom points out, they would only have caused the Egyptian people further suffering.  In both cases, furthermore, Pharaoh appears to ignore the chartumim entirely; his ultimate refusal to let the Israelites go  seems unconnected to their activities.  With respect to the plague of blood in particular, moreover, it is difficult to see how the chartumim could have imitated the plague had they tried to do so.  Where would they have obtained clear water for the demonstration?

To address these problems, Rabbi Etshalom suggests that, contrary to the conventional understanding of the text, the chartumim  did not attempt to imitate the first two plagues. Rather, the verses in question record the fact that the chartumim,   at an earlier time,  had demostrated their ability to bring about more or less the same results, thus making the first two plagues, when they came, significantly less impressive.  Only with the plague of lice did they try to intervene.  Rabbi Etshalom understands   the word lehotzi  in verse 13 as "to bring forth" as indicating an attempt to reverse the the plague.  When that attempt failed, they were compelled to admit, that the plagues as a whole, were "God's finger. 

Although Etshalom's interpretation  is not directed at our passage of the Haggadah, it makes the arithmetic problem presented by the "finger of God" statement easier to resolve.  If the statement followed the failure of the first and only attempt by the chartumim  to reverse the plagues rather than a failure to imitate them after two successes, then it stands to reason that the phrase refers to the plague process as a whole rather than the most recent manifestation of it.  That would allow for the interpretation offered by Rabbi Yosi of the Gallilee.
 It is also worth noting that the phrase "finger of God" appears in only two other places in the Torah, and in both it refers to the writing on the first lukhot habrit (tablets of the Covenant), the ones that Moses broke in response to the sin of the golden calf.  The phrase is not used in reference to the replacement  lukhot,  presumably because they were not of equivalent sanctity. The use of the same phrase here to describe the plagues suggests that, in both cases, the phrase refers to a manifestation of God's will that is beyond the power of human beings to affect.   It also highlights the contrrast between the exalted state of the Israelites. at the Red Sea and their spirital decline with the sin of the Golden Calf -- so much so that, in the well-known Midrash, they panicked when, according to their erroneous count, Moses was a day late coming down from Sinai.

That spiritual descent, it seems to me, also explains the use of the one verse in the Haggadah that, as noted earlier, does contain Moses's name.  The miracle at the Red Sea in a sense marked the spiritual zenith of that generation of the Jewish people, one which made them fit to receive the Torah.  During the plagues in Egypt, they experienced God's miracles differently, depending on where they were at each particular point of the process.  For an overview they depended on Moses and thus understandably came to attribute to him an indsependence of activity that he in fact did not have.  At the Red Sea, by contrast, they experienced the miracle together, which is why the verse relied on by Rabbi Yosi of the Gallilee begins with "Israel saw" in the singular.  With that clarity of vision, they finally trusted fully in God and understood that Moses, great as he was, was, in the last analysis, only doing God's bidding, i.e., they " believed in God and in His servant Moses."

Even that generation, alas, could not sustain that clarity of vision experienced at the Red Sea , so it is hardly surprising that later generations have fallen short.  That explains why the Haggadah, as a precaution, omits Moses's name, lest we confuse his role with God's.  But his name was left in the one verse attesting to the occasion on which the entire people did attain that clarity of vision, to keep alive in us the hope for the final redemption, when that clarity will once again be attained.

Douglas Aronin

Best Regards,

Tuesday 2 April 2013

JVO: Friendship

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 this 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: How do Jewish values apply to this question, which appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Ethicist column. I am a single woman in my mid-20s. I recently learned from my dear friend that she has developed a longtime pattern of cheating on her husband of five years. I understand cheating happens for various reasons - but if I remain friends with her, am I condoning her ongoing behavior? If I am "anti-compulsive-cheating," do I therefore have to be "anti-her"? I value many aspects of our friendship, but don't see her (or my) views on philandering ever changing. What is the Jewish response to this?

Friendship is a very important value – and challenge -- within Torah. See, for example, Avot 1:6,7; 2:13,14. The reality is that we do not live alone but, in fact, are social beings. We are meant to relate to others – and herein lies the value and the challenge. As social beings, we inherently affect and are affected by others – and this is part of the Divine plan in that our goal is not solely our personal development but the triumph of everyone’s development within a proper communal model. We thus must consider our relationships very carefully with a recognition that we have a responsibility for ourselves and others. We, thus, must ensure that our friendships affect us positively and not negatively while we also accept the obligation, to the best of our abilities, to affect others positively and not negatively.
When we reflect upon friendship, we, of course, must still consider our emotional feelings for each other. Friendship, in many ways, is clearly an alogical activity – who can truly say why we love or like another? The Torah perspective on friendship and relationships is not intended to change our human connections into solely a pragmatic activity whereby our only consideration is how we may benefit and receive benefit from another, albeit even of a spiritual nature. The reality is that we have connections with others and our emotions and familial connections inform us of the nature of these connections. This is part of the Divine plan. The further call, though, is to build upon these connections in the furtherance of the Divine plan – and so our emotions must translate into responsibilities.
Thus, in your particular case, you find yourself bonded in friendship to another with an immoral standard. The question is: how are you to respond in such a situation? The fact that you have a connection with this person means that this is a situation to which you must respond. You cannot simply walk away or ignore the responsibilities that go with the reality of this friendship. We have a responsibility to assist another in their moral challenges (Vayikra 19:17.18) and this is doubly so when we have a further, special bond with them. The issue is not simply whether you can be friends with this woman but how you should conduct this friendship. This is broader than the sole issue that you mention. It may be that you may not be able to change her conduct – but do not think solely in the short run. Maybe your friendship with her will eventually affect her positively in this regard over time. Maybe, still, it will never affect her in this particular way but your friendship will be positive for her in other ways and that also is important. You being a positive influence in your friend’s life has value.
There is, however, a limitation on this. You have to also be aware of the possibility of being a negative influence through your acquiescence of her behaviour. It may be that you cannot change her actions and it may be that you are a positive influence upon your friend in other ways but you must also be concerned that maintaining your friendship could give the impression that you are in agreement with her behaviour. There is also the possibility that others may interpret your friendship as a tacit approval of her behaviour. Giving a wrong impression is a negative value in its own right and it also has to be a consideration. It is always important that you are clear about your moral standards.
This leads into the other side of the issue – the effect of this relationship upon you. You also have a responsibility to yourself to maintain friendships with people who have a positive influence on your life. While you may think that you are not being affected by this woman’s negative behaviour, the reality is that one could be negatively affected by another’s actions in the most subtle of ways. Even simply tolerating the negative behaviour of others can have negative effects upon a person. There are many further ways that sharing a friendship with a person of poor moral stature can have negative effects on a person. Maintaining a friendship cannot override your duty to your own personal integrity and ethical standards and development.
So the answer to your question in terms of how Judaism would respond to such an issue is actually a most complex one. Every case is actually different based upon the actual personalities involved and the nature of the friendship and relationship. You are responsible for yourself and for others although the responsibility to self has priority in terms of personal, ethical development. You should not walk away unless you must but it is also important that, even if you maintain, the relationship, you never give the impression that you accept her negative behaviour. That may actually be a strain on the relationship but there is a greater good than the friendship and, although we value friendship, we are further committed to the greater Divine good.