Thursday 30 January 2014

Baruch Dayan HaEmes: Rabbi Louis Ginsburg z"l, RIETS Class of 1948

From RIETS Rabbinic Alumni
We regret to inform you of the passsing of our chaver,

Rabbi Louis Ginsburg z"l
RIETS Class of 1948
Husband of Chanah Rivkah (Helen) Ginsburg.*
Father of Yehudit (Arlene) Gross, Moshe Ginsburg, Shmuel Ginsburg, and Esther.
(*Mrs. Ginsburg is being told of the petira after the shloshim.)

Rabbi Louis Ginsburg was a pulpit rabbi serving in synagogues including Edmonton's Beth Israel (the "Family Shul") and Congregation House of Jacob in Utica, NY.  In Utica, he was also the chaplain to the city and state police department as well as the city fire department. Additonally, he served as president of the American chapter of the Religious Zionists of America and was an officer of the local region of the Rabbinical Council of America.` Rabbi Louis Ginsburg was one of the Founding Fathers of NCSY and the Founding Director of the Upstate New York "Har Sinai" and New Jersey Regions. Rabbi “G” was a major influence on thousands of NCSYers and served as the first Advisor to the NCSY Ben Zakkai Honor Society from its founding in 1965 until his aliya in 1973.
`Read more here.

He passed away on Sunday morning and was buried on Har Zeytim. 
May Hashem comfort the family with all those who mourn for Zion and Jerusalem.
* * * * *

I remember him well. 
He was very beloved by the exuberant teens 
and he was very active behind the scenes.
He was a pioneer in Keiruv in North America, and he will be missed
Y'hee Zichro Baruch.
Kol tuv,

Anti-Rabbanut Op-Ed

From The New York Times:
Rein in Israel's Rabbinate

The Chief Rabbinate should give religious choice to Israel's diverse communities. Rein in Israel's Rabbinate

Kol Tuv,

Wednesday 29 January 2014

Are 9/11 Truthers Anti-Semites?

«We have here all the requisite elements: A greedy Jew, proximity to the crime, motive. It is precisely the high visibility of Larry Silverstein as an ideal villain that makes me hesitate to implicate him in the crime. His alleged complicity is simply too obvious. It is difficult to believe that a person implicated in planning arson would take out a lease of the building six weeks before the crime and announce his agreement publicly. It is even more difficult to believe that a smart businessman, such as Silverstein, would risk the electrical chair in a criminal enterprise whose outcome he could not foresee. It is far more probable that Silverstein was framed into leasing the World Trade Center by the real plotters, precisely because he is greedy, because he is Jewish and because his ties to Israel. More to the point: Silverstein was not in a position to manage the hijacking exercises conducted by the military on the morning of 9/11, not in a position to steer airplanes against buildings and not in a position to wire WTC 7 within hours to demolish the building. Whatever his alleged role in 9/11, if any, the coordinators of Operation 9/11 did not sit in his office, but presumably in the Pentagon, led by Donald Rumsfeld. Larry Silverstein, however, represents an ideal bogeyman.

The fact that Mr. Silverstein did not demonstrate any interest in investigating the demise of the Twin Towers he had leased, is no evidence of malfeasance: In that he acted like most Americans, who till this day do not wish to ask questions and know the truth.

Dov Zakheim is another such ideal bogeyman. He is an ordained rabbi who made it to a high position in both government and private business. He worked in the Pentagon between 1985 and 1987.»
Are 9/11 Truthers Anti-Semites? An Interview With Elias Davidsson By Dr. Ludwig Watzal

Shalom and Best Regards,

MISTAKES are always forgivable
If you have the courage to admit them.

Tuesday 28 January 2014

JVO: Leap Year

Jewish Values Online ( 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: Why is there a Jewish leap year this year? (2014?)

To answer this question, it is first important for one to understand that the general concept of a month originated with the lunar cycle -- the amount of time it takes for the moon to circle the earth -- and the general concept of a year originated with the solar cycle -- the amount of time it takes for the earth to circle the sun. In that it takes the moon approximately 29.5 days to complete its cycle and it takes the earth approximately 364.25 days to complete its cycle, a standard of 12 months in a year developed – but this is not exact. This is the issue with the Jewish calendar that leads to the need for a leap year.
Some calendars were established with the solar cycle as the base, with months determined by simply dividing the year by 12. This is the case with our conventional Western calendar of 12 months with, generally, more days in a month than are in the lunar month. The result is that our months are not connected in any way with the movement of the moon. A new moon may fall on any day of a month.
Other calendars use the lunar cycle as the base with the years simply consisting of 12 lunar months. This is the case with the Moslem calendar with a year consisting, as such, of fewer days than the solar year. The result is that this yearly cycle is not connected with the movement of the sun, resulting in no month specifically being tied to a certain season. While January of a conventional calendar will always be in the winter, a Moslem month may, at times, be in the summer and, at other times, be in the winter.
The challenge with the Jewish calendar is that while it defines its months clearly by the lunar cycle, the Torah’s further insistence that the holidays be in certain seasons – such as Passover in the spring – demand of us to also consider the solar year. Simply, the Hebrew month of Nissan must always be in the spring. The result is that 7 times in 19 years, an additional month – the leap month of Adar 1 – has to be added to the Jewish calendar to bring the holidays in line with the seasons. These leap years consist of 13 months and we are presently in one of these leap years.
The further question you asked, though, was: why was this year specifically a leap year? The fact is that originally, the determination of a leap year was made by the Sanhedrin (or a committee thereof) judicially as per the need. See Mishnah Sanhedrin 1:1; Rambam, Sefer HaMitzvot, Aseh 153 (with Ramban); and Sefer HaChinuch, Mitzvah 4. As those who made such decisions had a strong knowledge of astronomy, the idea that leap years had to occur 7 times in 19 years must have been known and would be considered a factor in making such decisions. It is generally understood, though, that in times when the Sanhedrin functioned the decision on a leap year was made judicially in response to need and in the year in which the extra month would be added.
We have a tradition, though, that towards the end of the 4th century, Rabbi Hillel HaSheni, the Nasi [President] of the Sanhedrin at that time, in response to a concern for persecution of the Jews, computed a calendar that would establish the future dates for observance of the holidays. This calculation included the formula of leap years 7 times in 19 years. Our present Jewish calendar is the product of this calculation and so it was effectively mandated, in this manner, that this year would have an extra month, i.e. be a leap year.
To be honest, however, this does not really fully answer the question. The further question may be: why did God create the lunar and solar cycle in this way thus necessitating such calculations? Often, when we ask questions, we assume the facts about reality to be a given and then ask for an explanation of the response. That is the simple way of addressing a question such as this one: Given the astronomical reality and the needs within the Jewish calendar to both incorporate the lunar month and the solar seasons, what was done to accommodate these requirements? The challenge is that we also believe that God is the One Who created these lunar and solar cycles – so we may then wonder: why did He not create them to be more aligned? Why did God create the world in such a manner that the calendar would demand such mathematical and judicial dexterities? This is a question that I now leave you with.

Clarification of the Rabbanut's Compromise

Guest Blogger:
R Reuven Tradburks
RCA Representative in Israel

What Elli Fischer correctly pointed out in his article
is that the Rabbanut debacle with R Avi Weiss [RAW] was over a very small issue.
The Rabbanut wants to make sure that people who marry are Jewish and hence permitted to marry.  That's it.  It is no different than when someone comes to a rabbi to get married.  That person too determines if they are Jewish.  How does he determine that?  Does one ask for a letter from another Orthodox rabbi?  Usually, we know the people, they are members of the shul, and we generally, in practice, do not do anywhere near the drisha v'chakira of the rabbanut.  Because we know most of the people.
The Rabbanut created its own straw man.  It tried to figure out what documentation it would require to establish Jewish status - because it does not know the people.  the halacha does not require edut from a musmach.  All it requires is that the person claiming to be jewish act as a Jew and say they are Jewish.  Rav Schachter pointed this out in his call on this subject for the RCA.  The Rabbanut added on a takana, that you need a letter from an Orthodox rabbi, serving in an Orthodox shul, who behaves in an Orthodox manner.  That is all what we would call good practices, but it is not the halacha.
If RAW were to submit a document saying the person is Jewish and that they were born Jewish, the RCA Beit Din would accept that.  Rav Schwartz and Rav Willig are both on record having said that.  It has nothing to do with our opinions about his behaviour in other areas. Just that they feel he has nemanut in this area.
So, the Rabbanut got itself in hot water by making up an arbitrary requirement for these letters.  Elli Fischer is correct - the rabbanut made a very narrow statement - that letters from RAW about the personal status of members of his shul would be accepted.
Now, some people are correct that there is an enormous amount of hyperbole that has resulted from this statement.  Because if you are requiring an Orthodox rabbi, then you just made a statement that open Orthodox rabbis are considered Orthodox rabbis.  Rather, what the rabbanut should have done is to make a much more specific statement; namely that they are only addressing the very narrow issue of writing letters of personal status stating that someone is Jewish.  That is all they are concerned with.  They have no interest in becoming involved in assessing the credentials of open Orthodoxy.
There are 2 issues that are getting tangled up, that I feel ought not to be.
• The first is the broad issue of how the RCA ought to approach the innovations and behaviours of Open Orthodoxy.
• The second is the much more narrow issue of helping jews who want to marry in israel.
The RCA agreement only deals with the second.  Our mandate is to help people who want to marry in israel.  the agreement allows us to do this.

Reuven Tradburks

Kol Tuv,

Monday 27 January 2014

SAR principal explains decision to allow girls to wear tefillin at school minyanim

«While our community has adopted as normative the view that women refrain from this act, I see the range of rishonim who allow women to don tefillin as support to give space to that practice within our community. One can disagree with this decision on halakhic and public policy grounds. But the position is a coherent one and deserves careful consideration.»

SAR principal explains decision to allow girls to wear tefillin at school minyanim - The Jewish Star,4665

Kol Tuv,

Who Decides Mee Hoo Y'hoodi?

Rabbi Yehuda L. Oppenheimer:
«The first Chief Rabbi of Eretz Yisrael in modern times, the sainted Rav Avraham Yitzchok Hakohen Kook zt"l, was an incredible scholar, saint and lover of Israel, one of the greatest Gedolim of recent times.  He was strongly opposed by the Chareidi world, who saw him as lending legitimacy to the Zionist movement, but nevertheless greatly respected by their leadership, particularly Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld zt"l, Rav of the Eidah Chareidis.  He passed in 1935, which predated the War of Independence and establishment of Israel by 13 years. 

One of the most important roles of the Chief Rabbinate (Rabbanut) , had nothing at all to do with the Zionist movement, and is perhaps one of the main reasons that Rav Kook allowed himself to get involved in such a thankless office.   Under Turkish law, which was the law of the land before World War I and continued to a great extent through the Mandate period and until today, matters of personal status such as marriage and divorce are handled by each person's religious authority, rather than by the government.  Thus it is necessary for a Muslim to go the Waqf to register a marriage, for a Christian to go the Ecclesiastical Authority, and for a Jew to go to the Rabbanut.   There is no such thing as a secular marriage or divorce, it must be handled through the Religious Authority.  The religious authorities are quasi-governmental bodies that are overseen by the Ministry of Religions (plural) for each ethnic/religious group.»
Libi BaMizrach: Avi Weiss and The End Of The Chief Rabbinate

Shalom and Best Regards,

MISTAKES are always forgivable
If you have the courage to admit them.

Sunday 26 January 2014

Prominent Modern Orthodox High School Announces - Girls who want to wear Tefillin during davening would be permitted to do so. 

«To be honest, my personal discomfort with the policy decision announced this week has less to do with strict halachic objection for which there are counterarguments, and more to do with an often neglected halachic value called mechzei k'yuhara.

Forget women and tefillin for a moment.  If a man wanted to wear tefillin the whole day as they did in the past, would we encourage him or frown upon the practice?  The Shulchan Aruch Ha'Rav written by the R' Schneur Zalman of Liadi, the first Lubavitcher Rebbe, says that since today the custom is not to wear tefillin other than during davening, to do so publicly is mechzei k'yuhara, smacks of arrogance and hubris.

There was once a student at YU who would walk through Washington Heights wearing his tallis and tefillin while going to daven.  A concerned individual asked Rav Schachter to intercede and encourage the young man to stop this practice that was drawing negative attention.  Rav Schachter related to us that he didn't want to embarrass the young man so he told him a story with the hope he would understand.  A man once asked a prominent posek if a particular practice was mechzei k'yuhara, appeared arrogant.  "No," said the posek, "it is yuhara mamesh, it is actually arrogant." 

Unfortunately, the young man did not get the message.»
Avoiding The Appearance of Religious Hubris - Rabbi Efrem Goldberg | Rabbi Efrem Goldberg

Kol Tuv,

Does The U.S. Now Have A Chief Rabbinate?

An article in support of the RCA by Elli Fischer

«The RCA, a professional institution, must nurture its relationship with Israel's Rabbinate.
There is a certain amount of irony in this arrangement. Although Rabbi Weiss has been a member of the RCA for decades, he has long criticized it for kowtowing to the demands of the Rabbanut. His insistence on the autonomy of every community rabbi led him to found the International Rabbinic Fellowship in 2006 and the now-defunct Fellowship of Traditional Orthodox Rabbis in the early 1990s. Yet the recent tussle over his status served to further cement the relationship between the RCA and the Rabbanut.»

Kol Tuv,

Friday 24 January 2014

Is Henry Ford, a paranoid Anti-Semite, the right icon for anti-banking protest?

«...more importantly, Henry Ford is a strange choice as guru for a movement that prides itself on tolerance and inclusion.

Today's protesters seem to be unaware of the context in which the great automotive innovator discussed finance. Much of Ford's propaganda about banking was unabashedly anti-Semitic and so scurrilous that he was ultimately forced to retract it. In Ford's writings, his attacks on banking were indistinguishable from his attacks on Jews.

As Occupy Wall Street settles back in, the protesters might wish to reconsider whether they should be invoking the authority of a notorious bigot. Inclusion is an admirable motive, but including everyone has its limits.»
Henry Ford, Occupy Wall Street
Henry Ford: The Wrong Guru for Occupy Wall Street - Total Return - WSJ

Shalom and Best Regards,

MISTAKES are always forgivable
If you have the courage to admit them.

Thursday 23 January 2014

Attitude of Gratitude

«TY for my rebbes, especially, Rav Gorelick Z"L

TY for my all my instructors, especially Dr. Robert Goldberg and Dr. Hyman Grinstein»

Kol Tuv,

Beards in Jewish Law and Lore - 1

«Questions & Answers
Why don't chassidic men shave their beards?
By Menachem Posner

«The Torah1 forbids the "destruction" of specific parts of the beard. The Talmud2 interprets "destruction" as shaving with a razor.3 This prohibition also includes shaving with any implement which completely removes all the facial hair, but does not include trimming, or shaving with a scissors or other tool which does not provide the smooth shave provided by a razor.4

There are halachic authorities (including the Tzemach Tzedek, third Chabad rebbe) who opine that cutting any part of the beard, even without a razor-like implement, falls under the prohibition of cross-dressing.5 This opinion is especially followed by Chabad chassidim.
In addition, Kabbalah attaches great importance to the beard, teaching that the "thirteen locks" of the beard are representative of G‑d's thirteen supernal Attributes of Mercy. Growing a beard makes one a beneficiary of the bounty which originates from G‑d's compassion.»
Why don't chassidic men shave their beards? - Questions & Answers

Kol Tuv,

Tuesday 21 January 2014

Haftarah -Scheduling of Shuvah and Dirshu

« In addition to the three haftarot of doom and the seven haftarot of consolation familiar to us, the Tosafot speak also of "two haftarot of repentance" belonging to this set of haftarot, namely Dirshu Hashem be-Himatzo that is read on Tzom Gedalya and Shuva Yisrael that is read this Shabbat.  This means that this entire set of haftarot constitutes a response to Tisha be-Av. 
The destruction of the Temple necessitates a two-fold response: 1) mourning over the loss of the Temple and the members of Israel who fell in battle; and 2) a process of repentance "in order to stir up the hearts and open the paths of repentance.  This should serve as a reminder of our own evil deeds and those of our forefathers that were as our present deeds to the point that they caused them and us these troubles, so that by remembering these things we should repent and do good."[1]
The first and immediate response to the destruction is consolation; it is urgently needed in order to revive Israel's dejected spirit and strengthen their broken hearts.  Following the great effort that was invested in this cause over the course of the summer, the time has come for the repentance that is required in the wake of the destruction as a repair of Israel's evil deeds that led to it.  We see then that reading the haftara of Shuva stems from a double obligation of repentance: a) the special obligation of repentance generated by the Ten Days of Penitence[2]; and b) an obligation of repentance in the wake of the destruction of the Temple, which is rooted in the laws of fasting, as is emphasized by the Rambam in the aforementioned passage.  Formulated in a slightly different manner, it might be argued that now that we have finished reading the haftarot of consolation, the time has come to act toward their realization and bring about the redemption.  This requires repentance and therefore we must deal with the issue of repentance in the haftarot that follow the haftarot of consolation.»
Torah on the Web - Virtual Beit Midrash

Kol Tuv,

Our Children Need Our Love And Understanding, Not Our Retribution - R Eliyahu Safran

«Your son, whom you so proudly carried to his bris, is always your son.
Your daughter, light of your life from the moment you first held her, is always your daughter.

A parent's love for his or her child must be unqualified, as God's is for His people.  And yet… too often we are so brutally quick to judge our own children; and too often through the eyes of others, not even our own!»
New York - OpEd: Our OTD Children Need Our Love And Understanding, Not Our Retribution --

Kol Tuv,

Monday 20 January 2014

Brief Bio of Rabbi Richard Wolpoe

Here is my brief bio:

Born in Hartford, CT in 1951

Attended Yeshiva of Hartford,* Graduating 9th grade in 1966.

Attended Mechina High School of Ner Israel Baltimore 1966-1968

Attended Ner Israel Yeshiva Colleg in Toronto, 1968-1971

Attended Yeshiva College 1971-1973 graduating with a BA in History

Attended RIETS and Bernard Revel Grad School 1973-1976, and 1981.

Served as Ba'al Korei and Ba'al Tefilah at Cong. Ados Israel Hartford, CT 1976-1981
Rabbi Cong. Beth Jacob of Astoria, 1984-1987

Served as Cantor of Cong. Ohav Sholaum of Inwood [Manhattan] from 1987 until its close in 2006.
In 1990, following the death of Rabbi Ralph Neuhaus, OBM, he also assumed the title of Rabbi.

Rabbi Wolpoe also taught parsha classes at Cong. Mt. Sinai 1996-2006 and earned Its Community Leadership Award.

He has been an instructor in Talmud,  Halachah, etc. in Teaneck since 2001
Since 2007 he has served as an assistant to the Chaplain at Care-One Teaneck. 

He resides in Teaneck, NJ with his wife Ramona.


* Now known as the Bess and Paul Sigel Hebrew Academy of Greater Harford in Bloomfield, CT

Der Ewige Jude

«If the international finance-Jewry inside and outside Europe should succeed in plunging the nations into a world war yet again, then the outcome will not be the victory of Jewry, but rather the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe!»
The Yeemach Sh'mo-nick in 1939

Kol Tuv,

Sunday 19 January 2014

Tachanun - When an Avel during Shiva is Davening at Shul

Guest Blogger
R J Simcha Cohen

«In the event that an Avail during Shiva serves as a Shliach Tzibbur at a synagogue the Mishna Berura (MB) rules that the Shliach Tzibbur does not recite Tachanun but the congregation does. (MB 131:17)

The Shaar HaTziyyun notes that even though there are poskim  who disagree, "shomim l'hakail.
See-"Mourning  In Halacha "(Chapter 16:20)[Artscroll] who cites the ruling of the MB. Yet, in footnote (39)Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach [ZL} is cited as ruling that in the event the mourner is the Shliach Tzibbur Tachnun should not be recited at all.

Rabbi J. Simcha Cohen»

During the Shiva for my Mom A"H, I served as Shatz one day, I followed the M"B above, namely I personally omitted Tachnanun while the Tzibbur recited it.

Kol Tuv,


«"Joe Kennedy is one of the biggest crooks who ever lived."

             - Sam Giancana

 "I helped Joe Kennedy get rich."

             - Frank Costello

"Joe always found great favor in Hitler. He would have loved to see him succeed."

             - Morton Downey, Jr.»

Kol Tuv,

Saturday 18 January 2014

Mussar: Humiliation

Hilchot De'ot, chapter 6, paragraph 8:

It is forbidden for a Jew [literally a man] to humiliate his fellow Jew
[even in private], how much more so in public.
Rambam was born in 1134 CE in Córdoba, Spain and died in 1204 CE in Egypt. Many biographies have been written about him.
Kol Tuv,

Friday 17 January 2014

RCA Rejects Chief Rabbinate Statement

«The RCA claimed that, even prior to this incident, it had been developing an alternate methodology that would "enable Jewish status letters to be written by its member rabbis and be endorsed in the United States, where the RCA is better informed and positioned to resolve matters in ways that will avoid the problems and embarrassments of these past weeks."»

Kol Tuv,

Thursday 16 January 2014

Great Expectorations - Questions

Re: Spitting in Shul

Background Sources:
1. S"A O"Ch 151:7
2. B'er Haggolah 30 citing both Bavli and Y'rushalmi
3. Ba'er Heiteiv 9
4. M"B 24
5. Sha'ar Hatziyyun 15

Summary of Sources:
1. M'chabeir one may spit in shul provided that -
A. Either One rubs it out with one's feet
B. Or that One spits into "guemmee" so it it is invisible.

2. Bavli Y'rushalmi permits

A. Davka not during T'filah
B. The Arizal never allowed it even NOT during T'fillah

A. Not during T'filah
B. One should be careful not lest chaveiro will be disgusted [citing Hagigah 5]
C. The Arizal was nizhar

5. The Arizal was apparently advocating Middat Hassidut because the G'mara permits it.
Then we wonder re: "Asheereem" who never spit in their homes, if so the same should apply to the shul or Beis Midrash

1'. Due to sources 4B and 5 re: the well-to-do, would the heter of the Talmud no longer apply in our society, because we do not spit in our homes?

Or since the Talmud + S"A permit, it's still OK?

2'. Based upon 1B would using "spitoons" nowadays make it OK ?

Kol Tuv,

Speaking of Trees.. R Eliyahu Safran (and Dr. Seuss, too!)

«While his students presumed his behavior was a demonstration of chibat ha-aretz, his love for Eretz Yisrael, it was actually an act of hakarat hatov, gratitude.  Years before, prior to the war, his rebbe, Rav Chaim Ozer, had shown him which vegetation and grasses were edible – a lesson that had saved his life when the Nazis invaded Vilna and he escaped into the forest!»
To Speak for the Trees…(For Tu Bishvat) - Judaism - Israel National News

Kol Tuv,

Wednesday 15 January 2014

Right/Left Controversy in Israel‏

With what is happening in Israel today with the various controversies that include the Rabbinate, it may be worthwhile to again re-visit an issue from the summer regarding Jonathan Rosenblum and MK Dov Lipman. While we are specifically directing you to the piece by Yitzchok Adlerstein, it should be noted that that was preceded by the following:

Original Piece
Dov Lipman - Bad Choice to Keynote RCA Convention » - The Online Voice of Torah Jewry
Reaction 1A
Jonathan Rosenblum’s Hit Piece on Dov Lipman and the RCA | The Jewish Press
Reaction 1B
Will Jonathan Rosenblum Apologize to MK Rabbi Dov Lipman? | The Jewish Press
JR's apology
An Apology and a Rebuttal to MK Rabbi Dov Lipman | Cross-Currents
 * * * * *
 «Jonathan Rosenblum's piece was one of the shortest, but the single most valuable one to me, because it offered a compact summary of the problem, one that I will share with others outside our community. (Full disclosure: He's a good friend, and I usually value his opinions over my own.) It was non-hysterical, balanced, and full of recognition that, in his words, "we must address the human needs that are not being met." (Aside: I completely disagree with his criticism in a different piece of the RCA for inviting MK Dov Lipman. I may or may not put some of that disagreement in print. Some of the impetus has disappeared, now that the RCA has invited Jonathan to present the other side of the issue at their upcoming convention.)»
Answers to Questions and Questionable Answers | Cross-Currents

Kol Tuv,

Tuesday 14 January 2014

Keeping Non-Profits up to date On Line

«Three out of four donors born from 1979 to 1994—a generation often referred to as "millennials"—said they were turned off when a nonprofit's Web site had not been updated recently. Six in 10 said they wanted nonprofits to share stories about successful projects and programs and appreciated information about an organization's cause and the people it serves.»
Young Donors Want Web Sites To Show Results - News - The Chronicle of Philanthropy- Connecting the nonprofit world with news, jobs, and ideas


I was a bit disappointed when I went to a federation website in July, 2013 and they had a review of successes during 2010! I missed be younger than I think!

Best Regards,

Rabbis and Others: Beware of Abuse!

Here is a tidbit of information on this vast subject, shared with me by a friend. Whatever we can do here at Nishma to clean this up, is a plus for our society and for our children
Re: Sexual Abuse -

«Rabbis in the United States should know the degree to which his state's laws categorize him as a mandated reporter -

EG see p. 4 of the Child Welfare Information Gateway which summarizes the various state requirements, with detailed statues on subsequent pages.

NB: While New York State clergy are not mandated reporters, nevertheless, the RCA's position IS to require reporting suspected cases of child abuse to the proper authorities -»

May we all have a Genuine G'ulah - bimheirah b'yameinu
Best Regards,

Monday 13 January 2014

London Beth Din Kashrut Kosher food in London

LBD's Kashrut division page:

Kol Tuv,

Worldwide Celebration: Dirshu Daf Hayomi B’halacha Completes Chelek Hey Of Mishnah Berurah

«In the six years since its inception, Daf HaYomi B'Halacha has evolved into a worldwide program where thousands of individuals throughout six continents are bringing halacha learning into their daily lives and taking tests on it to ensure accountability.»

Worldwide Celebration: Dirshu Daf Hayomi B'halacha Completes Chelek Hey Of Mishnah Berurah | The 5 Towns Jewish Times


Dirshu Completes Chelek Hei of Mishna Berurah

Kol Tuv,

Sunday 12 January 2014

For locating
Kosher Restaurants

Kol Tuv,

Editions of the Mishna Berura - Oz v'Hodor vs. Dirshu

«Mishna Berura Oz Wehadar is very Makpid to bring every exact source in literally every citation. Mishna Berura Dirshu doesn't have that previous idea but it brings interesting interpretations and additions from the later and contemporary authorities on Halacha. –  Hacham Gabriel Oct 4 '13 at 21:36»
What is the difference between these two versions of the Mishna Berura?

Kol Tuv,

Saturday 11 January 2014

Mussar: Why Only One Person?

Why did God begin the story of mankind by creating only one person? The Talmud answers so that no man should be able ever to say to his fellow man, "my father is greater than your father" (Sanhedrin 37a). We are all related. One father for all people on earth makes everyone brothers and sisters in the truest sense of the word.

Adam was not just one man – he was every man. Christian and Jew, black and white, American and Asian – we are all created by God "in his image." 
~ R Ben Blech 

Kol Tuv,

Friday 10 January 2014

The New Month - A Lesson in Renewal - R Eliyahu Safran

«What self-respecting Jew would pass under the Arch of Titus?  It stood as physical confirmation of our defeat and degradation.  Little could Titus have known that in his arrogant declaration of conquest he preserved the seeds of Jewish rebirth.

Nearly two thousand years later, when the State of Israel was established, its government chose the seven-branched menorah as its national symbol. The menorah represented light, and Israel was determined to be a light and blessing to its people and to mankind.  There was only one problem.  No one knew what the Temple menorah actually looked like.  But then someone remembered – a true representation of it had been preserved on the Arch of Titus!»

The New Month - A Lesson in Renewal - Judaism - Israel National News

Kol Tuv,

Thursday 9 January 2014

Did Bet Shamai ever Reverse Themselves and Pasken Like Bet Hillel? An Answer

Courtesy of R DJ Mescheloff

Here's one case that appears with variations in different sources.  

Here it is as it is in the Yerushalmi (beitza 2:4):

"מעשה בהלל הזקן שהביא עולתו לָעֲזָרָה, וסמך עליה. חברוּ עליו תלמידי בית שמאי (ורצו למנוע אותו מלהקריב). התחיל מכשכש בזנבה, אמר להן: 'ראו נקיבה היא ושְׁלָמִים הבאתיה', הפליגן בדברים והלכו להן. לאחר ימים גברה ידן של בית שמאי וביקשו לקבוע הלכה כדבריהם, והיה שם בבא בן בוטא מתלמידי בית שמאי ויודע שהלכה כבית הלל. פעם אחת נכנס לָעֲזָרָה ומצאה שוממת, אמר יָשֹׁמּוּ (יהיו לשממון) בתיהן של אילו (בית שמאי) שהישמו את בית א-להינו. מה עשה שלח והביא שלשת אלפים טלאים מצֹאן קדר וביקרן ממומין והעמידן בהר הבית ואמר להן: 'שמעוני אחיי בית ישראל כל מי שהוא רוצה יביא עולות - יביא ויסמוך, יביא שלמים - יביא ויסמוך'. באותה השעה נקבעה הלכה כבית הלל ולא אמר אדם דבר".

David Mescheloff

Kol Tuv,

Did Bet Shamai ever Reverse Themselves and Pasken Like Bet Hillel?

Given - that in several instances Bet Hillel reversed themselves and eventually followed Bet Shamai -

Question - as far as we know, did Bet Shammai ever Reverse Themselves and Pasken Like Bet Hillel?

If so, where may that be found in the Mishnah, Tosefta, or Talmud?

Mishnah Yevamot -

מסכת יבמות פרק טו

טו,ב  בית הלל אומרין, לא שמענו אלא בבאה מן הקציר בלבד.  אמרו להם בית שמאי, אחת הבאה מן הקציר, ואחת הבאה מן הזיתים, ואחת הבאה ממדינת הים; לא דיברו בקציר אלא בהווה.  חזרו בית הלל להורות כדברי בית שמאי. 

[ג] בית שמאי אומרין, תינשא ותיטול כתובה; בית הלל אומרין, תינשא ולא תיטול כתובה.  אמרו להם בית שמאי, התרתם את הערווה החמורה, ולא תתירו את הממון הקל.  אמרו להם בית הלל, מצינו שאין האחים נכנסין לנחלה על פיה.  אמרו להם בית שמאי, והלוא מספר כתובתה נלמוד, שהוא כותב לה, שאם תינשאי לאחר, תיטלי מה שכתוב ליך.  חזרו בית הלל להורות כדברי בית שמאי.

Kol Tuv,

Wednesday 8 January 2014

Bet Hillel vs. Bet Shammai

Who makes for a better defense attorney or advocate - a lawyer that used to be a prosecutor, or one that is not familiar with how the DA works?

Who makes for a better tax preparer - a former IRS agent or one who only knows the basics of tax preparation?

Who makes for the more successful Martial Artist, one who knows only his own weapons? Or one who fully understands his adversary?
«p91 In order to achieve victory you must place yourself in your opponent's skin. If you don't understand yourself, you will lose one hundred percent of the time. If you understand your self, you will win fifty percent of the time. If you understand yourself and your opponent, you will win one hundred percent of the time.

--Tsutomu Oshima»
Zen in the Martial Arts - Jozef's blog


And so Dear Reader, who makes for a Better Poseik? A Poseik who knows ONLY his own point of view? Or a Poseik who can empathize with both sides?

Halachah is like Bet Hillel. Perhaps meaning, we DECIDE Halachah based upon a "fair and balanced" process of evaluating both or multiple positions.
Because Bet Hillel articulated Bet Shammai's positions first, he could empathize with both positions.

Kol Tuv,

Tuesday 7 January 2014

RCA - NY Post Headline Crossed a Line

RCA Deplores NY Post Headline in Stark Murder

«Jan 6, 2014 -- The Rabbinical Council of America, the largest Orthodox rabbinic association in America, strongly condemns the headline in the Sunday January 5, 2014 edition of the New York Post. In reporting on the kidnapping and gruesome murder of Menachem Stark, a Chassidic businessman who leaves behind a grieving wife and eight young children, the tabloid printed a headline that was as unacceptable and objectionable as it was inflammatory and provocative.

The headline, "Who Did Not Want Him Dead?", crossed the line of all human decency and implied justification of the victim's murder, violating the most basic tenets of ethical journalism.

We extend our condolences to the Stark family, and pray that this outrageous example of sensationalist journalism does not add to the pain of their loss.

We call upon the Post to issue a full apology.»

Rabbinical Council of America (RCA)

Kol Tuv,

Nishma Policy: Agunot -- The Real Issue is Beit Din

NISHMA: Policy is devoted to analyzing policy issues within the world of Torah.

I have just posted the latest post, entitled Agunot -- The Real Issue is Beit Din, which contends that there is a major difficulty in how the agunah problem is being approached. We are not correctly presenting it within its context of an issue in beit din

I invite you to take a look...and comment.

Rabbi Ben Hecht


Monday 6 January 2014

Reform Rabbinical Status in Israel

«The Religious Services Ministry released a statement saying, "As opposed to what has been published in the press, the Religious Services Ministry has not budgeted for Reform rabbis in 2013. The budget for Reform rabbis comes solely through the Culture Ministry."
Reform rabbis start receiving state-paid salaries»

See -


Religion and State in Israel: Religion and State in Israel - January 2, 2014

Kol Tuv,

Good Riddance Day - R Benjamin Blech

«... What all of them shared was a cry of good riddance to those aspects of their lives they visibly wanted to discard, a commitment to keeping bad memories from interfering with the future.

Something like this has been part of Jewish tradition for thousands of years.

Jews are doubly blessed when it comes to New Years. We observe one in the fall, on Rosh Hashanah, commemorating the birth of mankind. We have another in the spring, when the calendar marks the month of Nissan, which the Torah refers to as the first month, because of its association with the Exodus from Egypt and the birth of the Jewish people. Passover is the holiday that commemorates this beginning, and it is preceded on the morning of the night of the Seder with a symbolic burning that resonates powerfully with the theme of Good Riddance Day.»
Good Riddance Day

Kol Tuv,

Sunday 5 January 2014

Check out some New Links for Beit Hillel

Kol Tuv,

RCA expresses its Gratitude to Canadian PM Harper

«Jan 2, 2014 -- The Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) expresses its gratitude to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his government for their principled and unyielding support of the State of Israel.

Prime Minister Harper and his Minister of Foreign Affairs, John Baird, have been resolute in defending Israel, pushing back against the stream of attack coming from those who wish to delegitimize the only democracy in the Middle East. In recent days, Canada called on the United Nations Human Rights Council to immediately dismiss its special investigator Richard Falk after he accused Israel of genocidal intentions against the Palestinians. Falk has a long history of unvarnished bias against the Jewish State.

Mr. Harper and Mr. Baird have shown moral vision and courage in taking the lead position against the outrageous, by turning Canada's back to the anti-Semitic hate-fest at Durban and to former Iranian President Ahmadinejad, a Holocaust denier wanting to be a Holocaust perpetrator. In standing in support of Israel, they have reflected the Canadian commitment to justice and balance that makes Canada a country in which diversity is a practical blessing, rather than a source of friction.

As we stand on the threshold of the year 2014, the more than 1000 rabbis of the RCA – located throughout Canada, the United States, Israel, and beyond – pray that Mr. Harper's principled stance will continue to be a light unto the nations, who will finally realize what Canada already knows: that Israel embraces the values of freedom, dignity, and democracy that are much-needed tools to heal a troubled world.»

Rabbinical Council of America (RCA)

Kol Tuv,

Saturday 4 January 2014

Mussar: Selfies for the Selfish - Rabbi Eliyahu Safran

«Selfies represent, by definition, the antithesis of the humble, unpretentious soul, the characteristics that make us a TzelemElokim. Modesty? Hah! In a universe where nothing exists but ME! what need does one have for modesty? One religious leader in the Philippines observed, "We are selfish. It's all about I, me, myself. Like those who keep on taking selfie photos." He noted an, "…unnatural self-centeredness… in the smallest to the most powerful." »
For My Sake… | Rabbi Eliyahu Safran | Orthodox Union

Kol Tuv,

Thursday 2 January 2014

Boston funeral home drops Orthodox burial society

«After Brezniak-Rodman announced that it would provide space for the new group, which has more than 100 volunteers, Rabbi Naftali Horowitz, who is known as the Bostoner Rebbe, sent a letter stating that the Chevra Kadisha of Greater Boston would continue operating there only "if we are the only one using the facilities." Allowing a nondenominational group to use the funeral home's facilities would "add great confusion regarding the standards which will be administered," the letter said.

Last week, Brezniak-Rodman confirmed that the Chevra Kadisha of Greater Boston had stopped working with the funeral home.»
Boston funeral home drops Orthodox burial society for Jewish alternative | Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Kol Tuv,

Open Orthodoxy: Pushing the Envelope or Crossing the Line?

«Goldin responded to Lopatin in much the same way as he did when he spoke to JLBC at press time. He noted that the approach is not what sets Open Orthodoxy (OO) apart from Modern Orthodoxy (MO). Goldin, who, at times in the past has been considered left of the mainstream, feels that some of decisions on issues that the OO approach has made are pushing the boundaries, like recent decisions on partnership minyanim and gay individuals. "We do have to be sensitive to these issues," he said, "but some of the things we are hearing from proponents are already halakhically problematical."

Lopatin responded by saying that some of the stagnation in past approaches have been caused by fear, and that YCT is training their students to create open communities. Where do they draw the line? The emphasis needs to be inclusive. For example the daughter of a lesbian couple was celebrating her bat mitzvah, and one focuses on celebrating the child who was raised by two mothers as a family—just as they would celebrate a child at any other bat mitzvah.»

Kol Tuv,

Wednesday 1 January 2014

Universalism vs. Particularism

«Our calendar does not start counting years from the birth of Abraham, no matter how significant his life might be as our first patriarch. Nor do we claim that the past only becomes worthy of recognition from the time we became a people or even from the moment we received the Torah at Sinai. The year is now 5774. It is the number of years that frame the shared years of the human family.

But that is not the message of the calendar year 2014, whose meaning is steeped in a theological concept. 2014 chooses the birth of Jesus as the moment which offers all subsequent history meaning. By beginning the count of years with this event, there is a clear statement made: What happened before is insignificant.»

Michelangelo & the Meaning of the New Year

Shalom and Best Regards,

Don't Make Assumptions, rather
find the courage to ask questions and communicate with others as clearly as you can, in order to avoid misunderstandings. This can completely transform your life.
~ d M Ruiz