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October 23, 2014 / 29 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘discussion’

Being Gay and Orthodox Gets Really Complicated

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Our recent discussions in the Jewish media of gay marriages and the conflict between being a faithful Jew and being gay reminded me of a really old joke.

A matchmaker comes up to a yeshiva guy, takes him aside and says, “Have I got a shidduch for you!”

“Who?”

“Princes Margaret.”

“What?”

Trust me, she’s just right for you. She’s educated, good looking, smart, good family, money. She’s perfect for you.”

“She’s not Jewish!”

“Nu, nu, so she’s not Jewish. Trust me, for the right man, she’ll convert.”

“This is crazy?”

“Crazy? Did you or did I put together 400 couples, thank God, and not one divorce among them – you tell me it’s crazy? I tell you can’t afford to lose this opportunity!”

And so, for the longest time the yeshiva boy puts up a resistance and the shadchan pushes him back, until, finally, the yeshiva boy gives up and says, “Fine, if Princess Margaret wants to marry me, I’ll marry her.”

And the shadchan sighs deeply, wipes the sweat off his forehead and says, “Now comes the hard part.”

THE NEIGHBOR LOVING THING

Judy Resnick writes in “Hannah Has Two Mommies,” on Beyond Teshuva, a blog “focused on providing ideas, connection and support for Baalei Teshuva in their continuing quest of learning, growing, and giving,” that for years, the Jewish world had its own Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.

“Two older men, or two older women, living together for many years: well, that could simply be a financial arrangement. No one asked; no one told. It was no one’s business.”

She continues: “Nowadays, things are different. Men and women declare openly that they are gay Jews, lesbian Jews. What’s more, they want to be recognized by our mosdos, our shuls and our yeshivos and our communities, as openly gay and lesbian Jews. They want also to be Orthodox Jews, seeing no conflict between the gay lifestyle and the Orthodox Jewish lifestyle.”

Concluding with more questions, she writes: “Is Orthodox Judaism a big tent, big enough to include gay and lesbian Jews? Or must we exclude all those individuals who unapologetically and willfully violate an explicit prohibition of the Torah? What about celibate homosexuals and lesbians, those who consider themselves to be gay but do not engage in acts of intimacy? If a known pork eater is not at this moment eating pig meat, is he or she still a sinner?”

Her post is followed by more than 100 comments, from what I’ve seen, mostly the intelligent kind. I recommend a visit, while we here continue to ponder those same qaestions and maybe even offer something of an answer, who knows.

Naaah…

MAKE FUN OF THE FEIGELE

Thank you, Frum Satire’s Heshy Fried, for introducing an intriguing angle on the entire issue of being gay and staying inside the Orthodox fold (or is it under the Orthodox umbrella? Depends on the weather, I guess).

Heshy presents an ostensibly real email from a gay frum man who asks which is better, to date other gay non-Jews or Jews. “On the one hand I have much more in common with other frum guys, on the other hand, I feel bad causing other Jewish guys to sin with me.”

Fabulous question, right?

Now, I’m not sure if Heshy’s entire entry is a routine (some composed with the aid of consciousness expanding substances), or if the question is real and only the stuff that follows is the routine. Regardless, the question still begs an answer.

I remember, years ago, a frum gay friend of ours was in a relationship with another frum guy, an Upper West Sider. We loved having them over, especially since our friend’s friend was so helpful around the kitchen and the dining room table on Shabbat. Man, was he neat. Which is why I was so sad when they broke up and our side of the couple started dating an Asian fellow, who was very nice, but too shy to be of any use with the dishes.

The problem is that the discussion between gay men and the rest of society is almost exclusively about acceptance. This is, in my opinion, why, once gays have come out of the closet, they can’t shut up about how much they deserve to be viewed like everyone else. I understand it. Life as a perpetual outsider even in one’s own family is soul murder. But as a result, the discussion between gay frum Jews and the halachic authorities they approach is the proverbial dialogue between deaf people.

One side just wants to be loved and accepted by their family; the other side fears the sanctioning of a life style which is inherently against the law of our Torah.

Tibbi’s Roundup: Bibi, Terrorist Lady, Rabbis, Parents, Children, and the Stuff In-Between

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Our roundup today concludes with parental anxieties, which all of us with and without children share. It reminded me of the joke about a father and his son who go into a restaurant and order soup. The soup arrives boiling hot, but the steam was trapped below the grease.

The son drank a spoonful and his mouth was burnt so badly, he started to cry.

His father asked him why he was crying and the boy said, I remembered my dead mother.

The father then also poured a hefty spoonful into his mouth and he, too, started to cry.

His son asked, Why are you crying?

And the father said, I’m crying because she didn’t take you with her…

BIBI REX

Sultan Knish is turning the Netanyahu-Mofaz pact into a thriller. I would read it if I were you. I think it’s good enough for Rolling Stone magazine, if Rolling Stone magazine had any sense.

Bibi the Survivor Before Sharon, two conservative Israeli Prime Ministers were forced out by American pressure over the peace process. One of those men was Netanyahu. Since Begin met Carter, there has never been a relationship as bad as the one between Netanyahu and Obama. If Clinton wanted Netanyahu gone, Obama wants him gone on a rail. And that makes Netanyahu’s position dangerously precarious because in any election or coalition deal, Washington D.C. is the shadow player. Daniel Greenfield, Sultan Knish

Those who remember Shaul Mofaz’s and Kadima’s role in the demolition of thousands of Jewish homes in Gush Katif, were aching for the moment when both would have imploded, come the promised September elections. The fact that the moment was clipped angers Paula R. Stern.

Bibi Challenging Israel’s Democracy By all polls I have seen lately, the Likud was in for a smashing victory in the election that will never be. Kadima was headed for self-implosion. Bibi has become their lifeline – betraying tens of thousands (likely more) of his “supporters.” Years ago, Sharon took my vote and betrayed it. Last year, after 10 years as a Likud member, I took my vote back. It will not be with my vote that Bibi extends his mandate; it was not my support he betrayed last night. Paula R. Stern, A Soldier’s Mother

NATURAL BORN KILLER LADY

Numerous Palestinian sites and institutions, including a few inaugurated by the Palestinian Authority, bear her name: a public square, a computer center, soccer tournament, and summer camp. Imagine someone in Dallas, Texas, setting to meet at Lee Harvey Oswald square, if LHO murdered 37 people.

Terrorist Dalal Mughrabi Again Presented as Role Model for Youth The Palestinian Authority practice of honoring Dalal Mughrabi and presenting her as a role model for youth continues. In 1978, a group of terrorists led by Dalal Mughrabi sailed from Lebanon to Israel to carry out a terror attack. They hijacked a bus and killed 37 Israeli civilians.

Palestinian Media Watch has reported that the PA regularly presents Mughrabi as a Palestinian hero and role model by naming sporting events, summer camps and even schools after her. Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik, Palestinian Media Watch

SINGLES FOR CHANGE

The item below sounded interesting enough for a link. It also sounds like something women should be able to do on May 20th, while that other event is going on with guys only. Let me know if you went and how it came down.

iChange: Inside the Activists’ Studio’s Sarah From Over a decade of work in nonprofits, I saw how lack of sleep, email overload, unmindful leadership, and inadequate personal organization could hinder the work. As I began to experiment with different strategies and tools to manage my own workload, I became more interested in the bigger picture. That is, how does the way we work for social change reflect the values we are fighting for? And what’s the cost if we’re changing our communities and the world but running ourselves into the ground in the process?  The work I do now is to help social change leaders and organizations identify new ways of working that promote sustainability, productivity, and alignment with purpose and values. Pursue

Thanks to JewSchool for the link.

IS THERE A RABBI IN THE HOUSE?

There was a guy in my shul in New York who used to respond, when someone would call him “Rabbi,” by saying, in Yiddish, “Du bist alein a gonnif” (You are a thief all by yourself – loosely translated). This to suggest that the term Rabbi may have lost some clout over the years.

Ha’aretz Independence Day Recipes Kosher in English, Traif Galore in Hebrew

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

If you’re an American Jew looking for an Independence Day recipe, Ha’aretz in English is a safe place for you. You’ll find there a discussion of the perfect hamburger, as befits the national holiday of outdoor barbecuing.

“There are as many versions of a good hamburger as there are stars in the sky, but all of them have one common denominator: beef with proper texture,” writes Limor Laniado Tiroche. “So, there are two things to watch out for – the type of beef and the way it is chopped.”

Really?

If Ms. Laniado Tiroche were to click over to her own paper’s Hebrew language website, she may discover an additional component, besides beef: goat cheese.

As if to be extremely specific about violating the commandment of “thou shalt not cook a kid in its own mother’s milk,” Hilla Kriv is pushing “Cheese filled kebabs for Independence Day.”

Away from the critical eyes of American readers, Ha’aretz sings the praise of little kebab patties: “They are small, juicy, and stuffed with goat cheese, which has melted and turned into a sauce rich in flavors.”

Yummy…

Shemini – Strange Fire

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

The commentators discuss the meaning and implications of the “strange fire” brought as an offering by Nadav and Avihu. In his discussion of this perplexing passage, Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l, discusses their early demise and observes that their death served a greater purpose (through the sadness that ensued) and that despite receiving a divine death penalty, the Torah regards them as great people.

And the sons of Aharon, Nadav and Avihu, took each one his censer and they put into them fire, and they put upon it incense and they offered before Hashem strange fire which he had not commanded them” (10:1).

The Midrash Tanchuma here (Shemini) offers a long preface which quotes numerous examples where sadness occurs in the midst of happiness. The Midrash continues: “Never did we see a man and his wife who saw such happiness as Aharon and his wife Elisheva, the daughter of Aminadav; her husband served as kohen gadol and as a prophet; Moshe her husband’s brother was king and prophet; her sons were officers of kehunah, and her brother Nachshon was the chief of all the n’siim of Israel; but her joy did not persist, and her two sons entered to bring an offering and a fire came forth from Hashem and consumed them. Thus it is said [Tehillim 75:5]: ‘I said to the gay: be not merry.’ ”

From this it is obvious that the plan of Hashem had from the beginning intended to interject sadness into the midst of great joy, for the purpose of teaching that the sole true and unadulterated joy is in the Afterlife. Whatever sin the two sons committed, the severity of their fate was planned also to supply a lesson to exercise caution in performance of Hashem’s service.

But a sadness had been decreed beforehand. Thus the most righteous, Moshe, was denied entry into the blessed Land; and though his 120 years were completed and he could not live longer, this was utilized as an additional opportunity to rebuke: “Because you were disloyal to Me” (Devarim 32:51).

Hashem had commanded, “And the sons of Aharon the kohen shall put fire on the mizbe’ach (1:7) and the two sons of Aharon hastened to offer the ktores which should precede the burning of the olah (Yoma 33a). The fire that came forth from Hashem actually devoured their ktores (together with them) and then consumed the olah and the fats (as in 9:24). Though they were punished for taking action before consulting their master Moshe (Eruvin 63a), yet upon them it is said, “There is a righteous man that perished in his righteousness” (Koheles 7:1 5). “This refers to Nadav and Avihu that entered to offer for the honor of Hashem and they were burned” (Yalkut Shimoni, ibid.).

The matter is far from simple, and we should remember that these two were privileged to ascend with Moshe and Aharon and the Elders of Israel to see the vision of the G-d of Israel (Shemos 24:1). “Said Rabbi Chiya bar Abba: On the first of Nissan the two sons of Aharon died; why is their death mentioned on Yom Kippur? To teach that just as Yom Kippur atones, so also does the death of the righteous atone” (Yalkut Shimoni, Vayikra 10:1).

Actually, in this instance the ktores was not required before the olah (as the order is stated in Yoma 33a), because the order of the daily offerings was not followed now at the especial service of the dedications of the Mishkan, for this was not the olas tamid, but an especial offering for this occasion.

The name Nadav implies generosity of soul, or “volunteering.” It was probably his nature to volunteer to serve Hashem of his own accord, and therefore he offered that “which Hashem had not commanded” as an additional and voluntary service.

Compiled for The Jewish Press by the Rabbi Avigdor Miller Simchas Hachaim Foundation, a project of Yeshiva Gedolah Bais Yisroel, which Rabbi Miller, zt”l, founded and authorized to disseminate his work. Subscribe to the Foundation’s free e-mail newsletters on marriage, personal growth, and more at www.SimchasHachaim.com.

For more information, or to sponsor a Simchas Hachaim Foundation program, call 718-258-7400 or e-mail info@SimchasHachaim.com.

Brandeis Students Disrupt Meeting with Israeli Lawmakers

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Brandeis University students disrupted a panel discussion at a Boston-area synagogue featuring Israeli lawmakers and Jewish community leaders.

The students, members of the Brandeis Students for Justice in Palestine group, removed their shirts Monday night in Temple Emanuel in Newton, Mass., to uncover T-shirts that read “apartheid” in Hebrew. They also chanted “Free, free Palestine” and “Israel is an apartheid state and the Knesset is an apartheid parliament!”

Police and security guards removed the students; one student was arrested.

The five lawmakers — Ofir Akunis of the Likud Party; Lia Shemtov and Faina Kirschenbaum of the Yisrael Beiteinu Party; Ilan Gilon of the Meretz Party; and Ghaleb Majadele of the Labor Party — were in Boston as part of the Ruderman Fellowship, which educates Israeli politicians about Jewry in America.

The protesters singled out Akunis and Kirshenbaum for “sponsoring fascist legislation in the Knesset” that limits international funding to nongovernmental organizations, and Kirshenbaum for living in a West Bank settlement.

Lashon Hara – It’s Not Just Gossip

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

When people hear the term “lashon hara“, they automatically associate it with gossip. Speaking about someone behind their back to others, usually in a manner that is denigrating and unflattering, often describing alleged activities or doings that put the subject of the discussion in a rather negative light. This is the ultimate interpretation of lashon hara.

But there is another component to lashon hara, literally, “bad speech”, that is often overlooked. This version entails speaking one on one, or directly to a person, but using words or a tone, inadvertently at best, or on purpose, at worse, that upsets the listener, causing the hapless individual distress, sorrow, anger or feelings of inadequacy or worthlessness.

I strongly feel that in most cases, this lashon hara is not deliberate, but is the outcome of gross insensitivity, usually because the speaker hasn’t “been there, done that,” has never “walked in the other person’s shoes” and thus is relatively clueless about the listener’s reality.

Case in point, based on a true incident. Suri, a widow, was talking to her late husband’s sister, Rivka, with whom she is relatively close, especially since both lived in the same community and have mutual friends. Rivka’s brother in Israel was making a simcha, and had of course invited his American siblings as well as his late brother’s wife. Rivka was very excited about the simcha and told Suri that she was booking a flight for a 10-day visit – even though her husband would not be able to come along. She was thrilled that she would have a golden opportunity to reunite with two of her sisters who had made aliyah recently. She missed them terribly.

“I haven’t been to Israel in quite a few years,” Suri told Rivka after hearing her plans.” Maybe I will go to the wedding too. We can go together.”

Her sister-in-law’s response to her enthusiastic suggestion, however, stopped her in her tracks. ” Suri, I’m going to be busy with my sisters.”

Suri felt as if icy water had been poured over her. “Oh,” she managed to stammer. “I had the thought that it would be a good opportunity for both of us to travel with someone, rather than alone, it’s such a long trip,” adding that she had her own relatives and friends to be with.

With that she changed the topic, any desire to go to the simcha completely erased.

Days later, when asked by a friend why she wasn’t going to the wedding when earlier she was seriously considering it, Suri confided how hurt she was, how diminished she felt. ” Did Rivka really think I’m a friendless nobody that I have to tag along with her? And suppose I did have nowhere else to be, why exclude me? Why shouldn’t I hang out with HER SISTERS? I was married to their brother!”

A week passed and a confused Suri called up her friend. “Do you think I was over-reacting? Rivka has always been nice to me. I have been a guest at her Shabbat table too many times to count. Maybe she was just simply letting me know that she couldn’t be a proper companion to me while in Israel since she would be running around, and this way I could make a better decision about the trip”.

“It’s very likely that was what her intention was,” her friend stated. “She was giving you a heads up as to her availability in terms of being with you.”

“So I was being over-sensitive?” Suri asked, beginning to feel somewhat foolish.

“No, actually, your sister-in-law was being under- sensitive. Grossly insensitive, actually, but not deliberately, of course. She, like most people, forgot to SEE who she was talking to.”

Because Suri does not have a husband, she is all too familiar with what it is like to travel alone, especially great distances. She has experienced the long silences; the boredom; the shlepping of heavy luggage; the stress of having to deal with any hassles on your own. That is her reality. But it is not Rivka’s, who went straight from living in a home full of brothers and sisters to having a devoted husband as her constant companion, in and out of their home.

Rivka did not gossip or talk behind Suri’s back; she did not malign her or ridicule her – yet she is guilty of lashon hara because the words that came out of her mouth caused tzaar – pain. Had Rivka been more conscientious; if she had invested some thought towards whom she was addressing, she could have modified her message, conveying the same information in a respectful and uplifting way – speaking in what would rightfully be viewed as lashon tov.

“Suri, I would love to have you sitting next to me for those 12 long hours in flight, though if I fall asleep, I can’t promise I won’t snore! Everyone in the family will be so happy to see you, but I want you to know that I am so looking forward to connecting with my sisters and will likely be spending most of my free time with them. You are most welcome to join us, but I don’t want you to feel obligated to. You may have more interesting people to visit or places to see than a bunch of yentas catching up on old news. It’s your call.

Q & A: Bibliographical Oddities Regarding Parshas Parah

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

Editor’s note: As I was in the midst of preparing a response to a reader’s query on the topic of the arba parshiyot, I found a scholarly piece from Rabbi Nosson Dovid Rabinowich, a prominent rav in Flatbush, on the obligation to read Parshas Parah. With his kind permission I have decided to preface my discussion with part of his article.

Bibliographical Oddities Regarding Parshas Parah

The Shulchan Aruch (Hilchos Chanukah, 685:7) writes that some authorities maintain that there is a biblical obligation to read Parshas Zachor and Parshas Parah. The Be’er Hagolah (the Vilna Gaon’s great-grandfather), in his glosses (first published in Amsterdam 1666), cites Tosafos Berachos 13 as the source for this opinion. However, the words “Parshas Parah” do not appear in that Tosafos in our Vilna/standard edition of the Talmud. Nor do they appear in the parallel Tosafos in Megillah 17b. Indeed, the Piskei Tosafos in Megillah only quote Tosafos with regard to Parshas Zachor, not Parshas Parah. So to what Tosafos is the Be’er Hagolah referring?

In the Bomberg Shas, the first complete Talmud ever published, the words “Parshas Parah” do in fact appear. In his Chochmas Shlomo (published in Cracow in 1582 based on the Bomberg edition), the Maharshal remarks that the words “Parshas Parah” are a mistake and should be omitted. We now understand that the Be’er Hagolah probably used one of the three Bomberg Talmuds printed in Venice (1519-1523, 1526-1531, and 1548 ), the very popular Justinian Venice edition (1546-1551), or perhaps even one of the Cracow or Lublin editions (published in the first third of the 17th century). (I have intentionally omitted the Sabionetta [1553], Lublin [1559], Constantinople [1583] and Basel [1578] Talmud editions from this list of possibilities for various reasons.)

The story, however, does not end here. In 1644, Emanuel Benevinisti began publishing the beautiful Amsterdam Talmud. In the title pages to all the volumes of the Talmud, the publisher claims: “We have taken men distinguished in Torah and the work of heaven to correct and learn with the wonderful book entitled ‘Chochmas Shlomo’ to select the lilies from it, which give forth a fragrant aroma. It is necessary to correct the well-known errors on every page, day by day, before it is brought to the printer, in order to remove all the defects, so that it may be cleaned and sifted as fine flour cleansed through thirteen sifters.”

Yet, when we look at the Tosafos on Berachos 13a, the words “Parshas Parah Adumah” appear, despite the gloss of the Maharshal declaring them a mistake. (The Maharsha’s commentary also does not appear in the Amsterdam edition despite the claim on its title pages that the glosses of the Chochmas Shlomo appear “word for word” at the end of each tractate.) It seems that Benevinisti simply copied most of the text of his title pages from the 1602-1605 Cracow editions (including even his particular use of ornamental letters for the names of the tractates).

Although the Maharshal claims that the words in Tosafos are a mistake, Rabbi Yosef Caro, who was his contemporary (1488-1575), decided to include the opinion that reading Parshas Parah is a biblical obligation as “some say” in the Shulchan Aruch, as well as in his Beis Yosef commentary to the Tur. Indeed, in his discussion in 146:2 of the Shulchan Aruch, this opinion of Tosafos even seems to be an “accepted” ruling!

I would be remiss to conclude without mentioning the ingenious approach of Rabbi Meir Simcha HaKohen (Meshech Chochma, Parshas Chukas, 19:20) who in his inimical style, relying on three separate sugyos in Masseches Yoma, proves that the reading of Parshas Parah during the ancient purification ritual was a biblical obligation. Unfortunately, this cannot really help explain our Tosafos who is obviously referring to the public reading of Parshas Parah, not in conjunction with the purification ritual.

This article was written in honor of two kallos na’os ve’chasudos: Chanie Hirsch and Yael Rabinowich. Rabbi Rabinowich can be contacted at JHTours@gmail.com.

(Next Week: The Daled Parshiyot)

Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at yklass@jewishpress.com.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/ask-the-rabbi/q-a-bibliographical-oddities-regarding-parshas-parah/2012/03/14/

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