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September 22, 2014 / 27 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘idea’

Can Women say Kaddish?

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

When a parent dies one of the things done during the year long mourning period is to say Kaddish. This is usually done by a son. The idea behind that is to build up Zechuyos (merit) for the Niftar (the deceased).

The reason we do that is based on the idea that most people do not live a sin free life and before one merits his final place in Olam HaBa, the soul has to go through a ‘cleansing period’ whereby it pays for sins it committed during its brief stay in the body. By doing things in the merit of the Niftar it is hoped that the punishment it gets during this ‘cleansing period’ will be reduced.

This is a universal practice in Judaism. No matter how great – or not so great – the deceased parent was, assuming he was not a Rasha the practice is to say Kaddish for the same amount of time (11 months. Saying Kaddish for more than 11 months implies that the deceased was a Rasha). Why Kaddish was established as opposed to other ways of bringing merit to the deceased is beyond the scope of this post.

The question arises as to whether a woman can say Kaddish for a parent. There are differences of opinion about that. I am not here to Paskin. That is beyond my pay grade. But I believe there are Poskim that permit it.You would think that a woman saying Kaddish for a parent in Shul was tantamount to using profanity the way some people react to it. That is not OK. From a letter submitted to JOFA:

No, you can’t say kaddish because you’re a woman… Shh! Why can’t you keep your voice quiet!? We can hear you over the mechitza!… [The silence when no one says amen to my kaddish recitation]… You know, it doesn’t actually count when a daughter says kaddish… Couldn’t you get your husband or father to say kaddish instead?… It would be much more respectful if you didn’t say kaddish… Is there a man who is REALLY saying kaddish for your mom?

No one has a right to criticize any woman for saying Kaddish for a deceased parent. No matter what their opinion is about the permissibly or effectiveness of it. To say the things said to one such woman contained in this letter (reproduced above), is not only insensitive, but in my view a disgusting psychological abuse of another human being. An abuse of the type Chazal had some very harsh words for: Kol HaMelaben Pnei Chavero B’Rabim K’ilu Shofech Damo! Embarrassing some one publicly is tantamount to murder.

Kayla Jacobs submitted this letter as a reason for needing JOFA – the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance.

I submit that she does not need JOFA for that. I am not a member of JOFA and I am as outraged by such comments as she and any Orthodox Feminist is. Justifiably so. But do we really need a Feminist organization to protest this kind of insensitivity on the part of some ignorant people? Or do we need common sense?

Where is the empathy? Where is the Jewish Soul? Where is the brain?!

What kind of human being would insult a woman who is expressing the best way she knows how her mourning for a parent?

I do not see this as a feminist issue at all. This is a human issue. And if there are more than a few people in the religious world who are like this, the fault lies in the Chinuch they get. Either in the home or in the school. Or both.

Not that they aren’t entitled to their views with respect to who gets to say Kaddish and who doesn’t. Honorable people can disagree about that. But in how to treat a fellow human being. Especially one who is suffering the loss of a parent. The disgusting comments contained in that letter is not how that is done. Those kinds of statements can only lead down a different road. One that will require offspring to say Kaddish for more than 11 months.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

Famous Last Words

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney are pictured in the Oval Office, Nov. 29, 2012.

What does one say on such an occasion?

“Would you care for some dog?”

“Yes, it was actually Kenya. Now I’ll have to kill you.”

“Wanna’ see some amazing Area 51 photos?”

“Why don’t you buy yourself an island and become their president?”

“We were looking for a good nuclear waste dump and, guess what, Utah’s name came up.”

“I could really use your clout in negotiating with the Republicans…”

That last one would probably sting the worst. Unlike senator McCain, who kept his day job back in 2008, Romney is just going to have to retire with nothing to his name other than $300 million, give or take.

And he doesn’t even drink or smoke. I can’t believe only 30% of the Jews voted for him. What’s wrong with you, people?

Meanwhile, President Obama will be preparing to go after Netanyahu for the expansion of Jerusalem all the way to Maale Adumim, virtually scrapping the idea of a contiguous Palestinian state.

“Care for some dog?”

The Mashgiach Wore a Dress: The Fight over Opening Kosher Supervision to Women

Monday, November 26th, 2012

This January, Midreshet Emunah, a college devoted to Jewish women and family studies, will begin to train women to work as a kashrut supervisors. Training will be given in a comprehensive course that will include 150-180 hours of study, at the end of which each participant will receive a certificate that qualifies her to supervise commercial kitchens in Israel, Mynet reported.

Israel’s Chief Rabbinate is yet to give its formal approval to the initiative, but sources in the Rabbanut say they would consent to the training of female supervisors only after an organized set of rules is established to facilitate their integration into the field. But beneath the surface there are already ripples of resistance to the entire project. A source in the Rabbanut suggested that “there are fears that women’s organizations are behind the idea, in order to undermine the halakhic establishment.”

With or without chief rabbinate support, the college leadership is determined to offer the course anyway. “Until two years ago, that body that supervised the kashrut supervisors in hotels, restaurants, hospitals and other institutions were the local rabbinates in their city,” says Emuna movement spokesman Itzik Rhett. According to him, only two years ago a new law went into effect, empowering the chief rabbinate of Israel to decide who is qualified to be a kashrut supervisor.

“At the time we approached the chief rabbinate and asked their permission to open a course for women,” says Rhett. “Through informal means, we discovered that the rabbinate would not approve our course. We didn’t give up and constructed a complete course system, just like the one available to men. Laws of meat and dairy, meat preparation, kashering utensils, laws connected to the Land of Israel, Shabbat in the domestic and institutional kitchens, and keeping kashrut in hotels, hospitals and restaurants. We included every item included in the courses for men, and they still ignored our requests.”

Emunah Chairwoman Liora Minka has been very critical of the chief rabbinate. According to her, if the college is not granted rabbinical approval for the course, they will not hesitate to reach all the way up to the Supreme Court. “If they cannot embrace this rationally, let the High Court determine it,” she says.

“The notion that ‘the Torah prohibits anything new’ has become the expression of Haredi opposition to any renewal, any technological development, even if no religious prohibition is involved. The examination of insects in vegetables, adhering to the laws of milk and meat – are any of these beyond the comprehension of women? Of course not. Is there is an halachic prohibition on a woman working in a dining room or a kitchen? Is it so outlandish an idea that a woman would walk into the kitchen of a restaurant, a hospital, a banquet hall or a nursing home, open refrigerator doors and track the processing of raw materials and mixtures? These are rhetorical questions the answers to which are clear,” says Minka.

“Unfortunately, there are uneducated rabbis who cannot keep up with modern life. They are marching backwards in time. Just recently we heard statements by rabbis who still can’t accept the fact that women can cast a ballot on their own, to influence and sometimes to be elected and be excellent public representative, better than many men.”

Ten women have signed up for the course since it was announced on Sunday. Aliza Hochshtad from Efrat, one of the first women serving as kosher supervisors in Israel, says she is delighted with the news. “For years I tried to convince colleges that offered courses for kosher supervisors for men only that they should offer these courses to women, too. Unfortunately they didn’t pay attention to me.”

Hochshtad works for the rabbinic council of Efrat as a kashrut supervisor. She says she also travels a lot to conventions of kosher supervisors in the U.S.

Finally, the spokesmen for Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger and for the Rabbinic Posek (halachic “decider”), said they did not object to the idea of women kashrut supervisors in principle, but were worried about issues of… modesty and chastity.

When all else fails…

Happy Thanksgiving – 2012

Sunday, November 25th, 2012

Well… once again it was turkey day. It had been a while since I regularly had a big Thanksgiving dinner. But back in the good old days when our children were young – one of our extended family members would host such a meal every year which we would all attend. I guess now that all of our kids have grown, that custom sort fell by the wayside.

But that doesn’t mean that I no longer support the idea of a Thanksgiving Day meal. I do. My Rebbe R’ Aharon used to have Thanksgiving Day turkey dinners with his family. One of my favorite stories is told about the Rav. He had scheduled his Shiur in YU early one Thanksgiving day in order to be on time at his family’s Thanksgiving dinner.

As I say every time there is a national holiday in this country, we ought to participate and show our appreciation for the privilege of living in America.

Some historians propose that the holiday of Thanksgiving was originally based on Sukkos. According to these historians the pilgrims lived together with Sephardic Jews in Holland for 10 years prior to coming here. Holland was considered a safe haven from religious persecution. Understanding that Sukkos represented deliverance from religious persecution in Egypt, they used that as a paradigm for their own celebration of deliverance from religious persecution.

Being “Old” Testament oriented, it seems natural for them to embrace this time of year for that celebration. There was also a desire to thank God after the Autumn harvest. This too is based on Sukkos which is called the Chag HaAsif – the ‘holiday of gathering’ when the fall crops would be harvested. (Israel was then much more of an agrarian society.)

It was George Washington who by proclamation in October of 1789 finally established Thanksgiving as a national holiday to be celebrated in November. The fourth Thursday in November was established by federal legislation in 1941 – for people of all religions to give thanks for what we have.

I see nothing wrong with our participating with all American citizens in observing Thanksgiving. And apparently neither did my Rebbe nor his illustrious brother, the Rav.

But there are some Poskim who do not like the idea at all and are opposed to it in spirit if not in strict Halacha. Rav Moshe Feinstein said that it is permissible to celebrate Thanksgiving by having a big dinner since it was not established as a religious holiday. But he felt it was not a proper custom.

I can’t say for sure, but my guess is he didn’t like the custom because by participating with non Jews in a national meal of thanksgiving – it was too close to being involved with them in a religious way. But that is just speculation on my part.

In any case I agree with his Psak that it is permissible but disagree with his view that it is best not to do so.

Unfortunate are the lengths his approach has been taken to by the right. Celebrating Thanksgiving is frowned upon and virtually ignored as anything more than a day off from work.

But I agree with my Rebbe. Thanksgiving is yet another way to express our Hakoras HaTov to this great nation of ours. And yes – to thank God for it. So, Happy Thanksgiving. For those of you who are going to have a big festive meal with family and friends – enjoy. And eat your Turkey guilt free. (Religiously speaking only.)

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

Calendar Of Events

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

WHAT: 16th annual Miami Beach Community Chanukah Festival

WHERE: Miami Beach Galbut Family Jewish Community Center, 4221 Pine Tree Drive, Miami Beach

WHEN: Sunday, Dec 9

CONTACT: Laura Goodman at 305-534-3206 or laura@mbjcc.org

* * * * *

WHAT: 33rd Annual South Florida Chassidic Chanukah Festival (see story above)

WHERE: Gulfstream Park, US 1 and Hallalndale Beach Blvd.

WHEN: Thursday, Dec. 13

COST: Free event – sponsorships available

CONTACT: 954-458-1877 or levi@chanukahfestival.com

* * * * *

WHAT: The 5K Run for Family Fitness, created to promote the idea of lifelong healthy living for the entire family, begins and ends at the Michael-Ann Russell JCC campus in North Miami Beach. Participants include runners of all levels and ages as well as teams representing community businesses and organizations. Non-runners are welcome to participate in the One-Mile Fun Walk for Wellness. Funds collected will benefit the Health and Wellness programs and the MAR-JCC.

WHERE: Michael-Ann Russell Jewish Community Center, 18900 NE 25th Ave, North Miami Beach

WHEN: Sunday, Dec 16, 7:30 a.m. – 9 a.m.

COST: $25 Run; $15 Walk

CONTACT: Nancy Carroll 305-932-4200, ext 136

Birth Under Fire with Israel’s Doulas

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

Throughout the country, thousands of reservists have been called to the border with Gaza. These men left behind wives, mothers, children and friends. Some have had to say good-bye to their pregnant wives; whether in the first stages of their pregnancy or approaching their due-dates.

For some, the constant threat of rocket fire doesn’t matter. For the doulas of the Israel, there is work to be done. A professional doula is certified to assist at natural births. The doula, unlike a midwife, begins working with the expecting mother long before the birth, and accompanies her during and after the birth, offering both physical and emotional support.

Israeli doulas have formed a group of volunteers who are offering their services free of charge to the residents of the south, women whose husbands have been called to the reserves and any pregnant woman feeling distress due to the security situation. The doulas are divided into smaller groups, based on their residence, and offer immediate support to expecting mothers all over the south. These services include meetings in which the doula visits her client’s home and performs services such as reflexology, massages, and shiatsu. In addition, women who wish to consult a doula can do so via their Facebook group called “Women Supporting Women- Operation Pillar of Defense.”

Doulas at doulas-only tea party.

Doulas at doulas-only tea party.

This group of dedicated volunteers was established by Ravit Stern-Ginat, 33, who has nine years of experience working as a doula. Ravit lives in Alfei Menashe, a community in Samaria. The idea to establish the group came to her when she saw a picture of a pregnant woman hugging her husband as he departed for the reserves. Her immediate thought was that she finally found a way to help. ”Whether before, during or after the pregnancy, being a new mother is no easy task”, Ravit told Tazpit News Agency. “Especially for those who no longer have the support of their significant other. I wanted to help them.”

Ravit turned to her friends and fellow doulas, and their response was, “of course.” Thus began the Facebook group “Women Supporting Women—Operation Pillar of Defense,” currently numbering 1,347. Members of the group include professional doulas, women seeking advice in pregnancy related matters, and some who just seek moral support. Ravit was amazed by the success of the “operation” and at the positive results, just two days after she first thought of the idea. Besides the ever-growing Facebook group, companies have contacted her to offer free gifts for the mothers under her care.

Ravit’s goal is to reach as many women as possible to ensure that they receive the help and support they need. She was interviewed by Israel TV Channel 1. They were impressed by the initiative and the readiness of the volunteers. “We’re making a lot of noise so that we can help as many as possible. We want to help; this is the purpose of our job”, Ravit said.

Yifat and Orly are two of the hundreds of volunteers. Yifat Hovev, 26, mother of three, is living in Jerusalem. She heard of Ravit’s group and loved the idea. To her, this is proof that “we, the Israelis, are all brothers. This is the least we can do.” Yifat’s husband has not been called into the reserves yet, but has been told to be on standby. If he is called, Yifat will continue providing the support.

Orly Kalush, mother of ten and grandmother of four, has dreamt of being a doula since giving birth to her first child. She lives in Maon, a small community south of Hebron. When she saw Ravit’s Facebook page calling for volunteers, she joined immediately. “We are ready to give support everywhere, all areas are covered.” Orly has not yet had the chance to care for an expecting mother affected by the situation in the south. She explains: ”There are just too many doulas who signed on to help!”

What Were They Thinking?

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

Sometimes you just have to wonder, “What were they thinking?” My wife and I speak on marriage-related topics to variant crowds. We know what we’re going to say, but we have no idea what the audience may offer. So, when we speak publicly, before we open the floor to comments or questions (which we welcome), we always preface with a cautionary word not to make any personal or disparaging remarks about one’s spouse.

Nobody wants his or her dirty laundry aired out in public. And no one wants the neighbors to be privy to his or her intimate goings-on.

A woman who attended one of my wife’s lecture series on enhancing marital harmony serves as a perfect example of the damage a few misplaced comments, delivered at the speed of sound, can cause. This (until then) respected woman aired it out in staccato fashion, spilling enough beans to render a public flogging of her soul mate. My wife cut her off as soon as possible but it was too late; her unexpected comments left the audience, who happened to be neighbors and friends from the community, aghast.

Why do that? Why let the genie out of the bottle? Once he’s out, you can’t put him back in. And even if you could, it won’t help much.

A story is told of the chassidic master, Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev. Someone once came to him after having spoken lashon hara (slander). The person asked forgiveness. Reb Levi Yitzchak instructed the penitent to take a down pillow to the town square, open it and shake out all the feathers. The person did so and returned to the rav, who promptly said “Now, go back to the town square and gather up all the feathers.” The person asked incredulously, “How can I ever do that?” Reb Levi Yitzchak retorted, “That’s what happens when you speak libelously about another. Like you can never gather up all the feathers, you can never repair all the damage.”

On a speaking tour in New York, a rabbi related a very sad story of a couple who had previously attended marital counseling. During one of their visits, the psychologist encouraged the husband to open up and share his true feelings with his wife. The husband, fortified by the psychologist’s advice, or under his protective wing, told his wife that she was ugly, he never found her attractive and that her lack of beauty has always been a sore spot for him. He finished by telling her that he never really understood how he could have married her. (It was not a case of adding a touch of make-up…)

Needless to say, the wife was devastated. Imagine her hurt. No matter what he says or does in the future, he will never rectify the terrible damage he caused. Does anyone think flowers or chocolates will repair the destruction left in the wake of “just telling it like it is”? With such pain in her heart, will it ever be possible for them to attain true marital harmony? Simply because the therapist encourages a person to “let go” doesn’t mean that therapist is correct or that one must listen.

It reminds me of the 45-year-old man who went to a psychologist because he suffered incontinence problems; wetting even during the day, which caused him terrible embarrassment. After six months of counseling, the psychologist proudly announced, “Well, we’ve successfully cured one problem; you’re no longer embarrassed by soiling yourself. Now we only have to work on your incontinence.”

When we sit down with a couple, one of the first instructions we give them is the following: “We’re here to help but remember, when you walk out that door, it’s just the two of you. You’re going home with your spouse. You two have to live with the consequences of what you say here. Think before you make any statement and do not deceive yourselves into thinking this is the forum to even scores. Neither cruelty nor unbridled ignorance has any place here. No one comes here to destroy his or her marriage. Your goal and our goal is one; to improve your marriage.”

Thinking before speaking is key.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/marriage-relationships/what-were-they-thinking-2/2012/11/15/

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