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December 11, 2016 / 11 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘halacha’

Appointment of IDF Chief Rabbi Delayed by Court

Monday, November 21st, 2016

The appointment of Colonel Eyal Karim as the next IDF Chief Rabbi has been held up by the High Court of Justice.

The court issued a temporary injunction Monday against the appointment, and asked the rabbi to file a deposition clarifying his positions on the issues of homosexuality, women, and refusal of orders by IDF soldiers.

The move comes in the wake of past comments by the rabbi, and in response to a petition filed by the Meretz party against his appointment.

Chief Justice Miriam Naor said during a hearing on the matter that the Court wants to hear what e rabbi has to say about it, “What his position was then, what it is now, and whether he has changed his mind,” Ynet reported Monday.

In the past, the rabbi has expressed opposition to homosexuality (as does the Torah), military female enlistment in the current situation, and discussed the Torah laws regarding rape during wartime. His remarks, posted on the Kipa religious website, were taken out of context as has happened with many other rabbis who have taught classes on similar issues in the past.

“Col. Karim asks to clarify that his statement was issued as the answer to a theoretical question and not in any way whatsoever a question of practical Jewish law,” said the IDF Spokesperson’s Office in a response to the furor raised by Meretz and women’s groups over the rabbi’s remarks. “Rabbi Karim has never written, said or even thought that and IDF soldier is permitted to sexually assault a woman in war—anyone who interprets his words otherwise is completely mistaken. Rabbi Karim’s moral approach is attested by his years of military service in command, combat, and rabbinical positions in which he displayed complete loyalty to the values and spirit of the IDF, in particular the dignity of the person.”

Rabbi Karim, 59, is an alumnus of Bnei Akiva Nachalim and Yeshivat Ateret Cohanim. He has served as a combat paratrooper and as a commander of the elite reconnaissance unit prior to serving as head of the Rabbinate Department in the Military Rabbinate.

Hana Levi Julian

Rabbi Rachamim Barchiyahu Appointed Israel Police Chaplain

Monday, October 10th, 2016

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan has appointed Rabbi Rachamim Barchiyahu as Israel Police Chaplain.

The appointment, recommended by Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh, was announced Monday. Barchiyahu will be awarded the rank of Commander. Deputy Police Commissioner, Major Zohar Dvir headed the search committee that was established this past May.

Barchiyahu currently serves as Chief Rabbi in the Jewish community of Talmon, and Rosh Yeshiva (dean) of Yeshiva Ma’aminim B’Mishtara.

For the past several years, the yeshiva has served as a place in which to discuss the application of Torah law in police work. Discussions and learning in the yeshiva also focus on developing policies that can enable observant Jews to serve in the force.

Hana Levi Julian

Vigilantism And The Halacha

Thursday, June 16th, 2016

One is liable for the damage done by one’s animal to the animals or property of others. Damage can be caused in a variety of ways. The owner of an animal that enters the field of another and eats or tramples crops, causing damage known as shen and regel, is liable to pay the owner full value. It is totally predictable that an animal will behave in this manner and the owner who failed to prevent it is held fully accountable.

To what extent is the owner of an animal accountable for damage of a less predictable nature? A tame animal, referred in the Talmud as a tam, does not usually attack unless provoked. Should the owner of a tam be held liable for a sudden, unprecedented, and unprovoked attack? The Torah tells us the owner is indeed liable. However, the Torah caps the damages the owner of the attacking tam pays to the damaged party at chetzi nezek, an amount equal to half the value of the attacking tam. Clearly, this payment bears little relationship to the amount of damage caused.

What is the nature of chetzi nezek? Is it compensation or is it a fine? Rav Pappa rules that chetzi nezek is compensation. In truth, explains Rav Pappa, a tam should not be left unguarded because you never know how an animal will behave. Nevertheless, the Torah did not want to make life too hard on the owner of a tam. Accordingly the Torah rules that the first three times a tam attacks, the owner pays chetzi nezek. If the tam attacks a fourth time, it becomes a predator, a mu’ad, and the owner must pay the full value of the damage caused.

Rav Huna however, maintains that chetzi nezek is in the nature of a kenas, a fine. In truth, explains Rav Hunah, a tam may be left unguarded because it is simply not in its nature to attack. If the unexpected occurred and the Tam did attack, this is an act of God and the owner should not be held accountable at all. Nevertheless, in order to urge one to exercise an abundance of caution, the Torah imposes a fine on the owner of the attacking tam in the form of chetzi nezek.

What is the difference between Rav Pappa’s classification of chetzi nezek as compensation and Rav Hunah’s classification of chetzi nezek as a fine?

There are a number of important, practical differences. First, a fine, unlike compensation, bears little relationship to the damage caused. It can be less or more than, but never equal to, the actual damage caused. If you park your car in front of a hydrant, you pay a $150 dollar fine whether or not blocking the hydrant caused a house to burn down. If you steal $100, the Torah obliges you to pay a fine (kefel) of $200, which is more than the damage caused and bears little relation to it.

Second, a person can only be held liable to pay a fine if witnesses testified against him in a court of law. In the absence of witnesses, a court of law may not impose a fine, even if the person admits to having perpetrated the violation.

Third, Jewish courts of law have no authority today to impose fines. That authority was given only to the courts of Israel through semichah, a unique form of ordination given by God to Moses and passed down by Moses from teacher to disciple. When the Roman persecution of the fourth century CE made it impossible to maintain the Israel academies of higher learning, this form of semichah disappeared.

The semichah of today, which is a mere diploma attesting that its holder has mastered certain areas of halacha, does not bestow upon its holder the authority to impose kenas. The result is that today the owner of property damaged by a tam cannot sue for chetzi nezek and will be left uncompensated for the damage.

Although the courts have no authority to award chetzi nezek, in a case where the damaged party seized assets from the owner of the tam, the courts will allow him to retain the seized assets as compensation for the damage.

According to the Rosh, the right of the damaged party to take the law into its own hands and seize assets of the damaging party is a Torah-given right. Accordingly, the Rosh maintains that where the Torah entitles the damaged party to a fine that exceeds the value of the damage, such as kefel in the case of stolen goods, the victim may seize assets equal to twice the value of the stolen goods.

The Haram Halevi disagrees. The right of the victim to seize assets of the damaging party is not a Torah-given right. Rather, it is a takanah, a legislative right instituted by the rabbis. The purpose of the rabbinical legislation was to compensate the victim for the damage but not allow him to profit from it.

The concept of self-help is known in other spheres of halacha. Thus, notwithstanding the rule of kam lei bederabah minei, which exempts a murderer who is liable to capital punishment from payment of damages, the survivors of the victim may seize assets of the murderer to compensate them for the murder of the family breadwinner.

Raphael Grunfeld

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.”


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.”


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.”


Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/new-rabbinic-ruling-forbids-correcting-torah-readers-mistakes-in-synagogue/2015/07/20/

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