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July 25, 2016 / 19 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘halacha’

Justice Minister Wants More Jewish Law on Israel’s Books

Friday, December 18th, 2015

(JNi.media) Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked accused the Israeli courts of ignoring Jewish law and promised to set up a steering committee to promote implementing the principles of Jewish law in the Israeli legal system, Kippa reported. “As is well known, in practice the courts are ignoring the legislature and the spirit of the law, and rarely draw inspiration from Jewish law, both in statutory interpretation and in filling lacunae in the law,” said Shaked, referring to the Foundations of Law legislation, enacted in the 1980s, directing the courts to rule on issues without a precedence according to “the principles of liberty, justice, integrity and peace of Jewish tradition.”

“They prefer to turn to foreign legal systems and not to Jewish law — which is the products of the best minds in our nation. It is regrettable and we must act to repair the damage,” said Shaked, who spoke at a special session of the Hotam Forum of Torah-based research foundations at the Ramada hotel in Jerusalem Wednesday.

Shaked added that “Jewish law, the masterpiece of Jewish creativity for 2,000 years, is yet to acquire its permanent station in our legal system, probably mainly due to a lack of knowledge about it,” and said that she believes “Jewish law can and must be a link between the values ​​of the past and the present values ​​and needs, not only on the declarative level. To me this link seems essential to the State of Israel as a Jewish state. ”

Shaked cited laws passed by the Knesset such as the Law of the Guards, the Facilitation of Rehabilitation ‏‏‏‏Act, the Do not stand over your fellow’s blood (good Samaritan) law, and the law of the dying, noting that they “were deeply influenced by Jewish law and prove that the link is possible and yields fine fruit.”

Shaked qualified her statements by saying that she does not intend for Jewish halakha to become Israel’s law, saying “obviously we can’t copy verbatim the norms that have been formulated in exile without sovereignty and independence, onto the reality of the Israeli legal system. Our society is not a community but a state, and the socioeconomic reality has changed completely regarding the status of women, the rights of employees, etc. My call is not for a mechanical imposition of Jewish law, but for true and brave dialogue between the Israeli law and our cultural and national sources.”

JNi.Media

Bennett Tells Chief Rabbi: I Don’t Consult with Rabbis on Matters of Policy

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

(JNi.media) Speaking to religious radio station Radio Kol Chai, Bayit Yehudi Chairman and Minister of Education and Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett on Wednesday morning that, “unlike Haredi MKs, I Don’t consult with rabbis on my political and actions and on policy.”

Bennett was referring to his recent row with Chief Rabbi David Lau, following Bennett’s visit to a Solomon Schechter Conservative school in the US last month. In the radio interview, Bennett said it was Rabbi Lau who chose to attack him, not the other way around: “I did not initiate the conflict, but the chief rabbi chose to attack me, and I told him ‘I’m sorry, but I’m the Minister of Diaspora.’”

Israel’s Chief Rabbi David Lau last week criticized Minister Bennett’s visit to Conservative congregations in the US and said it was clear that the minister did not consult with a rabbi about those visits. According to Lau, “the visit constitutes an acknowledgement of a movement that endangers the future of the nation of Israel.” Lau added that “if the Minister Bennett were to ask my opinion before the visit, I would have said explicitly. ‘You cannot go to a place where education is pushing Jews away from Jewish tradition, and from the past and future of the Jewish people.”

Following Lau’s remarks, Bennett stated: “Things were said today that should not be said by a senior leader of the Israeli public.” As to the rabbi’s rebuke, Bennett replied: “I, unlike Haredi MKs, don’t consult with rabbis on my political and actions and on policy. That’s the difference. In the movement which I lead, having been elected by the public, I consult in rabbis on halakhic issues, but not on policy issues. We see this a little differently. I’m not going to conduct myself as Minister of Education, nor as Minister for Diaspora Affairs by approaching the Council of Torah Sages on every issue.”

Rabbi David Lau’s cousin, the Jerusalem Ramban Synagogue’s spiritual leader Rabbi Benny Lau criticized the Chief Rabbi’s attack on Bennett. “If the chief rabbi supports Israel, he has to understand that they (non-Orthodox Jews) are our best ambassadors to the world,” Rabbi Benny Lau told Kikar Hashabbat. “If the chief rabbi has a dispute with their manner of worship — but what’s the connection to the State of Israel? Why mix things, why endanger the state?”

Rabbi Benny Lau stressed that the diplomatic relations between Israel and the United States do not allow boycotting the non-Orthodox. “You want to eliminate all our support in the world, have we gone mad? This is madness. They are our biggest supporters.”

Regarding Bennett’s decision to visit a Conservative school, Rabbi Benny Lau said: “I think Bennett did the right thing. I am the son of the Foreign Office employee who was consul in the US, and what I learned is that as a diplomat you have a responsibility to all the parts of the Jewish people without controversies, you do not engaged in the wars between different sectors and as a representative of everyone you accept responsibility for each and every one of them; so visiting the school as Bennett did was his duty. I say Naftali, more power to you.”

JNi.Media

Pollard Praying for Miracle of Chanukah in Appeal on Parole Conditions

Friday, December 4th, 2015

Jonathan Pollard is appealing to the U.S. District Court in New York on Wednesday for easing conditions of his parole that make it impossible for him to work and require him to violate Jewish law on Shabbat.

HaModia reported that the presiding judge at the hearing, on the third day of Chanukah, will be Katherine B. Forrest, who was appointed to her current position four years ago by President Barack Obama.

A New York financial institution had offered Pollard a job after his recent release from prison following 30 years in jail.

However, the parole’s conditions require Pollard to remain under house arrest 12 hours a day, from 7 in the evening until 7 in the morning, preventing him from attending synagogue on the eve of Shabbat and Jewish holidays.

Attorney Jacques Semmelman, acting on behalf of Pollard, previously has filed a brief stating that he cannot find work because he is required to wear a GPS bracelet, which needs re-charring at least once and sometimes twice within 24 hours.

Moreover, he has to remain seated for two hours while the battery for the monitoring system is being re-charged.

His parole conditions also require him to violate the Shabbat by answering the phone if his probation officer calls on the Day of Rest.

Turning on the electricity on Shabbat for the re-charging system is a violation of Jewish law, and even if he uses a “Shabbos clock,” he cannot move from his seat for two hours.

Rabbi Pesach Lerner, executive of the National Council of Young Israel, told the court in an affidavit that when there is a two-day Jewish holiday, which occurs four times day and sometimes if it immediately followed by Shabbat, it would cause more violations of Jewish law.

Rabbi Lerner, according to HaModia, also pointed out that the parole conditions disturb the meaning of Shabbat. He explained:

Lest anyone think the Sabbath is merely a collection of prohibitions, that is not the case at all. The Sabbath is a special day which, if properly observed, provides spiritual respite and growth.

 

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

New Rabbinic Ruling Forbids Correcting Torah Reader’s Mistakes in Synagogue

Monday, July 20th, 2015

(JNi.media) According to a reasoned ruling by Rabbi Jonathan Raziel from Ma’ale Adumim, Israel, it is forbidden to correct mistakes made by the reader of the Torah during the reading, even if he mispronounces a word or a phrase, because “reading the Torah on Shabbat and during the week is a rabbinic law,” while the ban on shaming the reader is a Torah prohibition.

The mitzvot (commandments) are divided into those that are delineated directly from the Torah text, and those imposed by the rabbis over the generations. Both are considered part of the Oral Torah, and both are taught through the interpretation of the rabbis, however the mitzvot that are spelled out by the Torah have a higher value, and in cases of a conflict between a Torah-level mitzvah and a rabbinic one, the Torah-level mitzvah supersedes.

The process of reading from the Torah scroll in most synagogues is monitored strictly by the worshipers, because the mitzvah is, literally, to hear the Torah—reading the text silently doesn’t do the trick, and neither does reading it aloud from a printed book. When the reader makes a mistake in pronunciation, skips a word or adds one, it is customary to correct him immediately, and loudly, at which point the reader may go back to the beginning of the verse and read it aloud once more, in the correct way.

Rabbi Raziel, writing in the latest volume of the prestigious halachic journal Techumin, published by the modern-Orthodox Tzomet Institute, presented a view that offered to give up the tradition of correcting the reader.

“This article was born as a result of an unfortunate event that took place a few years ago,” Rabbi Raziel wrote in the introduction to his piece, “when a secular, fatherless boy who had come closer to the Torah and the mitzvot, went up to the Torah at age 15 and read from it. The corrections emanated from the crowd, some tried to silence them, and as a result of the turmoil and confusion, the boy’s feelings were hurt and he left halfway through the reading, with tears in his eyes. He wouldn’t come back to read and eventually left religious practice altogether.”

Rabbi Raziel noted that “in our generation there are often cases of children who do not observe the Torah and mitzvot, who come to the synagogue on their Bar Mitzvah to read from the Torah, even though they don’t always know how to read properly. Such a seminal and emotional event in the life of the child can be harmed by loud corrections from the audience, and therefore we should discuss the question of whether or not there is a need to correct the reader.”

Rabbi Raziel argues that “most authorities believe that the reading of the Torah, even on a Saturday morning, is a rabbinic commandment, and even those who believe it is a Torah-level commandment, concede that it refers to the minimal reading obligation and not the entire weekly portion. Also, all the authorities that the mitzvah or Torah reading on weekday mornings and Shabbat afternoon is rabbinic.”

In any event, even in a synagogue where the public insists on correcting Torah reading errors, Rabbi Raziel believes that “It is absolutely forbidden for individuals from the audience to howl at the reader, so as not to shame him, but they should instead appoint one official to do it.”

He also stressed that “extra care must be taken when the reader is a young person, who is more vulnerable than an adult, because of the possible consequences of a perceived insult.”

Rabbi Nahum Eliezer Rabinowitz, dean of Birkat Moshe Yeshiva in Ma’aleh Adumim, supported Rabbi Raziel’s opinion, saying, “the prohibition against shaming a person, which is Torah-level, supersedes the obligation to read the Torah aloud, which is rabbinic.”

Rabbi Rabinowitz conceded that, according to Maimonides, “the worshipers might not fulfill the commandment of hearing the Torah” if there is a mistake in the reading, but believes it is “better that the worshipers not fulfill their obligation of hearing the reading, than transgress the Prohibition against shaming an individual.”

JNi.Media

Taanit Esther – The Happy Fast

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

Please note: The video is not from this year in terms of the specific days the rabbi mentions, but the rest of the content is obviously relevant.

Video of the Day

The Beis Yaakov Feminist Experience

Sunday, August 24th, 2014

Talia Weisberg is a self described feminist. And yet this young woman from a Modern Orthodox background – having attended a Modern Orthodox coed elementary school – made an odd choice in deciding to attend an ostensibly non feminist Beis Yaakov high school. How, one may ask, does this make any sense at all? No one could ever attend a Beis Yaakov and expect to hear anything about the equality of the sexes.

If feminism is mentioned at all, it is usually to condemn it as an anti Torah ideal. But after 4 years of Beis Yaakov, Talia still calls herself a feminist. Not only does she not condemn Beis Yaakov for being against her ideals, she actually thanks her Beis Yaakov experience in in the Torch – a blog sponsored by JOFA ( Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance) that explores gender and religion in the Jewish community. (It is republished in My Jewish Learning.)

How is this possible? Well I think the answer is quite simple really. Feminism is not monolithic. It means different things to different people. As I’ve mentioned many times before, I believe that feminism can be generally broken down into two different categories. One is highly compatible with Orthodox Judaism and the other is quite frankly anathema to it.

If one sees feminism as each sex treating each other with equal dignity, it falls in to the former category of compatibility. If one sees feminism as treating men and women equally in the workplace – as in equal pay for equal work… and an equal chance for career advancement, that too is compatible with Orthodoxy. If one is gender blind to academic achievement, it is compatible. If one sees it as a married couple sharing household duties, sharing child rearing responsibilties equitably, and making important family decisions togther, it is compatible.

However when feminism moves into the realm of Halacha, Hashkafa, and Mesorah, it becomse dicey.And can and often does make it incompatible with Orthodoxy. For example the Egalitarian Minyan (the ten man quorum required for public prayer) requires men and women to be treated equally in the synagogue. That is a feminist ideal that is completely incompatible with Halacha.

Men and women are equally valued by God. But God requires different things of us. Even the most strident Orthodox Jewish feminists would agree that an Egalitarian Minyan (so commonly found in the Conservative Movement) is not Halachicly permissible. You cannot join such a Minyan and call yourself Orthodox. In order for a man to pray at the higher spiritual level of a Minayn in a Shul, women may not be present. An ardent feminist whose values of equality trump everything else including religion would reject this Halacha and insist on mixing the sexes in Shul. But an Orthodox feminist would never dream of it.

The problem lies in the grey area of things which are mandated to men and not to women. Although not mandated to women they are permissible – and in many cases even laudable for women to observe. For example taking the Daled Minim on Sukkos (commonly referred to as Lulav and Esrog). It is a universally practiced Mitzvah by women even though only men are mandated to do so.

At the same time there are such areas that are traditionally and almost universally not practiced by women, but have been increasingly adopted by the left wing of Modern Orthodoxy. Like Partnership Minyanim where a woman may lead certain portions of the service that are not technically considered prayer – like Kabbolas Shabbos. Or ordaining women to serve as rabbis (without giving them the title of rabbi) in Shuls in Halachicly permissible ways- staying behind the Mechiza during prayer.

Harry Maryles

Why Do We Pray With A Set Text?

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

An opinion recorded in the Talmud states that prayers correspond to the daily sacrifices offered in the Temple that are mentioned in this week’s portion (Berachot 26b, Numbers 28:4). It’s been argued that this opinion may be the conceptual base for our standardized prayer. Since sacrifices had detailed structure, our prayers also have a set text.

Why should this be? If prayer is an expression of the heart, why is there a uniform text we follow?

Rambam writes that after the destruction of the First Temple and the consequent exile of Jews to Babylonia and Persia, Jews found it difficult to pray spontaneously. Living among people who did not speak Hebrew, a new generation of Jews arose who no longer had the ability to use Hebrew as a means of articulating their inner feelings to the Almighty. Responding to this, Ezra and the Great Assembly introduced precisely formulated prayer (Rambam, Code, Laws of Prayer 1:1).

Here Rambam is arguing that standardization of prayer allows all Jews regardless of background and ability to express themselves and to be equal in the fraternity of prayer since the well-spoken and the least educated recite the same prayers.

Rambam may also be putting forth the idea that with the appearance of standardized prayer, Jews dispersed all over the world were united through a structured formula of praying.

Finally, Rambam echoes the Gemara, which states that Ezra designed the prayer service to correspond to the standard sacrificial service offered in the Temple. In following this view, Rambam may be suggesting that after the destruction of the First Temple the rabbis sought to promote religious procedures that would link Jews living after the First Temple era with those who’d lived during the time of the Temple. Elements of the Temple service were therefore repeated in some form in order to bind Jews to their glorious past.

The halacha indicates that structure should inspire spontaneity in prayer, but Rambam’s analysis reveals the importance of standardization. Through the set text all Jews are democratized. No matter our station in life, we all say the same words. And through standardization of text Jews scattered throughout the world are reminded to feel a sense of deep unity with their brothers and sisters everywhere and with their people throughout history.

Prayer helps bring about a horizontal and vertical unification of our people, a unification so desperately needed today.

Rabbi Avi Weiss

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/why-do-we-pray-with-a-set-text/2014/07/10/

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