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December 2, 2016 / 2 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘issue’

US Warned Europeans against Supporting Palestinian Statehood

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

The United States reportedly warned European governments in a memorandum not to support a Palestinian bid for increased status at the United Nations.

The memorandum, which was exposed by the Guardian, called giving the Palestinians enhanced non-member state status “extremely counterproductive” and threatened “significant negative consequences” for the Palestinian Authority, including financial sanctions.

The memorandum, sent by U.S. officials to representatives of European governments at the United Nations General Assembly last week in New York, said that Palestinian statehood “can only be achieved via direct negotiations with the Israelis.” It called on the European governments to block Palestinian attempts to be recognized as a non-member state.

It also asked each government where it stands on the issue and said the U.S. was interested in knowing whether the European governments had been approached by Palestinian representatives.

The Palestinians reportedly will wait until after November’s presidential elections in America to make their bid for the new status in the General Assembly, where the United States does not have veto power. They will, however, press for a vote by the end of the year and expect the issue to pass by a “comfortable majority,” according to the Guardian.

JTA

Outreach, Regrets and the Wrong Man for the Job

Friday, September 28th, 2012

In a recent issue of Mishpacha Magazine the important issue of Baal Teshuva (BT) regret was tackled. The Baal Teshuva phenomenon is a subject that is dear to my heart. Organizations like Aish HaTorah (pictured) have been successfully reaching out to young unaffiliated Jews for decades now.

Although I haven’t discussed it in quite some time, those who know my views – know that that my feelings toward the Baal Teshuva (and equally to the sincere convert) is one of immeasurable respect.

To put my views in a nutshell, the idea of coming to observant Judaism on one’s own initiative is something those of us who were born into it (FFBs), cannot possibly achieve. We did not search for the truth to then find it in Judaism. Judaism was handed to us on a platter. Most of us have known nothing else.

Even though we can all achieve great depths of understanding – it is an order of magnitude greater when one does this from scratch. So I stand in awe of such people and echo what the Talmud says in Brachos (34b):

B’Makom She’Baalei Teshuvah Omdim, Ein tzaddik Gamur Yachol Laamod – In the place where the Baal Teshuva stands, even the most righteous among us cannot stand.

I realize that not every Baal Teshuva starts out from the vantage point of simply seeking truth. Some simply find comfort in observant communities. Or appreciate the structure an observant lifestyle gives them. Or the like the values Judaism represents. Sometimes it is about rebelling against a secular past or a dysfunctional family.

In these cases there may be no real dwelling on the great truths of the Torah. But ultimately belief in these truths does play a significant part.

The problem discussed in the Mishpacha article sometimes Baalei Teshuva get “buyer’s remorse.” There could be several reasons for this. For example if the motivation to become observant is too shallow then becoming observant may be only temporary. Sometimes it is because of disillusionment with the negative behavior they see among some of our FFB Orthodox brethren. There are probably a lot of reasons.

However, there does seem to a consensus among those involved in outreach people that the blame in many of these cases may lie in the fact that Baalei Teshuva are often not accepted into the larger Orthodox communities. Rejection can be a big turn off!

I don’t believe this is a Charedi versus Modern Orthodox dichotomy. I think the problem exists in both worlds. No matter how hard they try, some communities just don’t do a good job of welcoming the BT into their lives. That leaves them out in the cold and on their own.

Why is that the case? I’m not entirely sure but I have heard it said for example that a Baal Teshuva or a convert brings a lot of secular baggage with them. Baggage that an FFB community does not want to deal with. For me that is a nonsense and a non issue. Most BTs are sincere and are willing to give up the Issurim they were involved with. Like going to McDonald’s for a cheeseburger. What they may not be willing to give up is everything from their past lives. Nor should they.

For example for those who reject secular culture in their lives in any form – it might be a problem for them if the Baal Teshuva likes listening to popular music. But for me, that is a plus. It shows a normal and healthy approach to life.

A Baal Teshuva need not reject everything from their past. As long as there are no Halachic objections popular culture should not be any more of a problem for the Baal Teshuva than it is for me. I recall a Limudei Kodesh principal of a Chasidic day school – with a long beard and who wore a Kapote daily mentioning that when he took long trips by car he listened to Beatles tapes!

Many of the families whose children were in his school would have been shocked by that had they known. The point is that this Mechanech knew there was no problem with secular culture per se. Only that part of which is not permissible by Halacha. But he never communicated that to his students.

Harry Maryles

For Victims of Abuse – A Warm Embrace

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

Note from Harry Maryles: I usually take this time on the eve of the New Year to reflect on what kind if a year this was for me. The sudden death of my grandson Reuven who suffered from cancer was unexpected. Although his prognosis was never great, he had defied the odds by living as long as he did. People all over the world davened for him and for that I am still grateful.  But it was not meant to be.

On one unusually warm morning in early March of this year Reuven was taken from us as he suddenly collapsed – never to resuscitated. That was one of the hardest days of my life.  But I am grateful to God for all the blessings he as otherwise given me.  And with God’s help I look forward to a much better year ahead.
 
Aside from that personal note, I am going to relinquish the space I give here to any additional reflection or the Dvar Torah I usually give on Erev Yom Tov- to Rabbi Yakov Horowitz. He asked me if I would cross post an essay from his website on my blog. After reading it, I decided that there is no Dvar Torah that I could deliver that would be more important than his words.
With all the troubles facing Klal Yisroel now, I don’t think there is a single issue more important than the issue of sex abuse in our community. We all know the horror stories the survivors of abuse tell us. And we all too often hear of the devastating consequences they face – some for many years after.
 
In part the altered lives they live are a result of the abuse itself. But it is in part also because of the unfortunate negative reaction to the victims by their own community.  It is to this sad reality that Rabbi Horowitz speaks. The new year is not only a time for reflection. It is a time for change. If there is one thing we need to change as a community it is how we treat victims of abuse.
 
Ksiva V’Chasima Tova to all. The following are Rabbi Horowitz’s words.
As we prepare to stand before Hashem in the days to come, and daven (pray) for ourselves, our families and all of Klal Yisroel, those of us who work with survivors of abuse and molestation ask you to publicly show your support for them in these yemei rachamim (days of mercy).
Part and parcel of the strategy employed by many of the predators in our community is to discredit their victims who have the courage to step forward and press charges against them. Typically, the molester will point to the victim’s 1) diminished level of religious observance and/or 2) self-destructive behaviors, like substance abuse, to “prove” his own innocence.However, for those of us who work with at-risk teens, the fact that one of our tayere kinderlach engaged in hard-core drug use, self-mutilation, suicide attempts, or left Yiddishkeit, makes it MORE likely that the accusation is true, not less. Why? Because we have known for many years now that the vast majority of our kids who have descended into the gehenom of these destructive activities have done so because they were molested.Of all the horror committed by predators against our innocent, precious boys and girls, the premeditated and deliberate defamation of their character is perhaps the most unforgivable; since it abuses them all over again and adds to their disconnect from our kehila – when what they need most is our acceptance and love.
With that in mind, I respectfully ask our readers to please stand with the brave survivors and their families who have the courage to take the lonely path of coming forward and pressing charges, with the other silent and silenced victims who are watching the high-profile cases unfold very carefully to determine whether they too should risk going to the authorities, and with all survivors of abuse and molestation.Precisely because the predators attempt to discredit and disgrace the victims and their families, is all the more reason why we need to reach out to them and let them know how much we respect and care for them.Kindly take a few minutes from your busy schedules and post a Rosh Hashana bracha in the thread* following these lines, and have them in mind in your Tefillos. Previous efforts to garner public support for victims were extraordinarily comforting to them, as they help restore their faith in humanity and let them know that the vast majority of our community members are behind them.
Please include your real names and the names of the cities where you live to personalize your message and to send a clear message that we proudly stand with the survivors and their families.
Abuse survivors are our heilege neshamosour holy souls. They have endured unspeakable trauma in their lives and had their childhood cruelly stolen from them, because they learned at a very young age, at the mercy of cunning and evil predators, to never trust again. Nonetheless, the vast, overwhelming majority of survivors seek no revenge or retribution. They only hope and pray that today’s children be spared from the horror they endured.
Regardless of their observance level, we ought to welcome these survivors as full and respected members of our kehilos. We ought to commit to them that we will do everything possible to remove from our community those who prey on our innocent children and speak truth to power if necessary in the coming year to keep all our children safe and secure.If the great tzadik, Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev zt’l were alive, I imagine that he would embrace abuse survivors in his shul on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur and proclaim to Hashem, “Master of the Universe, look at these heilige neshamos who have endured so much with such dignity, and in their ze’chus inscribe us all in the Book of Life.”
Best wishes for a k’siva v’chasima tova and may Hashem answer our tefilos b’rachamim u’vrazon.
*Harry Maryles: As always, I welcome all comments to this post. Rabbi Horowitz is also taking comments in the form of Brachos to survivors on his website. If you can, it would be wonderful to get as many readers of this blog as possible to do so. Once again, Ksiva V’Chasima Tova to all!
Rabbi Yakov Horowitz

Romney Tells the Key Truth Needed to Comprehend the Israel-Palestinian Conflict

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

Visit Barry Rubin’s blog, Rubin Reports.

So much has the debate been shifted “that what thirty years ago was a common-sense given is now considered a landmark breakthrough” (Victor Davis Hanson).

You see, here’s what you have to do. You’ve got to take the most basic logical statements—the ones absolutely necessary to understand reality—and rule them out of bounds. For example, there’s nothing wrong with the economy. To say so is, well, racist. And there’s nothing wrong with a government policy that refuses to control the country’s borders. To say so is, well, racist. In fact, you can’t criticize this U.S. government at all because to do so is, well, racist.

And you can’t point out that America’s problem in the Middle East is not due to an obscure video on You-Tube but to a massive revolutionary Islamist movement determined to destroy American influence in the region, take over every country there, smash the Christians, subordinate the women, impose a dictatorship, and commit genocide against Israel. Yep, you got it! Racist again!

This brings us to the latest attack on presidential candidate Mitt Romney. It is impossible to understand the Arab-Israel, Israel-Palestinian conflict or Israel’s situation without comprehending that the Palestinian leadership doesn’t want real peace and a real two state solution ending the conflict. If things were different, they could have had a Palestinian state in 1948 or on numerous occasions thereafter, notably including at the Camp David meeting and with President Bill Clinton’s proposal (based on an Israeli proposal) in 2000.

So Romney stated this basic, easily provable and highly demonstrable truth, without which the whole issue makes no sense whatsoever. Woe unto him, as he is portrayed as being ignorant, bigoted, and troublesome for stating the basic pro-Israel position that most Democratic politicians accepted a few years ago. It was precisely what Clinton learned when Yasir Arafat turned down his very serious offer in 2000.

The whole attack on Romney is rather humorous since the left-wing magazine that had a series of “revelations” about a speech he made during his trip to Israel—“revelations” I’d all heard a week ago—is quoting things that make perfect sense.

Romney said that one of the two ways he considered looking at the issue—a major qualification—is:

“That the Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace, and that the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish.”

He then continued doing the most basic, responsible thing a statesman can do. Romney posited that a Palestinian state existed and then discussed how this might create terrible security dangers for Israel, including direct attack and the opening of Palestine’s territory to radical regimes’ armies. For the mean time, the only choice might be the status quo.

This is the kind of thing Israeli analysts, and many Americans, have been saying for decades and detailing. It is the basis framework of how any country must plan its survival, strategy, and national security.

What makes this even more ludicrous is that it is not so far from Obama’s own statements, though of course he did not say such things in so many years. The president admitted that he tried very hard to make progress and failed; noted that peacemaking was hard; grudgingly hinted that it wasn’t all Israel’s fault; and in practice put the issue on the back burner.

That behavior represents the conclusion that the Palestinian Authority (PA) is not ready to make peace. It seems quite reasonable to posit that Obama has reached the same conclusion as the one Romney articulated.

To begin with, remember there are two Palestinian leaderships today. Hamas is openly against peace, though a surprising number of people seem to forget that periodically. The PA is genuinely relatively more moderate—a factor that has some benefits–and certainly far more subtle. But on this issue the bottom line is precisely the same.

Why doesn’t the PA want a real, lasting peace? For a lot of reasons. Much, not all but probably 90 percent, of the leadership still believes that they should and will take power in all of the land from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean. Even though they know Israel is not likely to go away easily or even at all, they hope that something will turn up. At any rate, as Palestinian leaders have often said, it is better not to make any concessions and to leave the issue open for possible total victory to the next generation.

Barry Rubin

Jerusalem Demographics 1800-1922

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Jerusalem, we’re informed, is an “Arab city”.  It must be the “capital of Palestine”.

On the issue of demographics, the numbers make things quite clear that even before modern Zionism began, the city was Jewish and only Muslim repressive policies artificially kept the numbers of Jews down before the mid-19th century.

Here are the charts from Yehoshua Ben-Arieh’s book:-

More here.  And also here.

And how, for example, did the Jerusalem look in 1912?  Here’s looking out over the area then below the Jewish Quarter (later tore down at 1967) towards the Temple Mount:-

Visit Yisrael Medad’s blog, My Right Word.

Yisrael Medad

Assembly Candidate Tischler Calls on AG to Move on DOH Circumcision, Criticizes Hikind

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

State Assembly candidate Moshe Tischler is calling on New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to explore all legal options against Mayor Bloomberg’s attempt to regulate the millennia – old religious practice of bris milah.

Over the last couple of weeks, hundreds of rabbis have signed a Kol Koreh (religious proclamation) that condemned the Department of Health’s effort to set conditions on Jewish religious practices by spreading misinformation.

The New York City Department of Health is expected to issue an order this week with regards to the religious ritual of metzitza b’peh which may require written parental consent.

“For the government to infringe on our religious practices is absolutely unacceptable,” said Tischler, “this is an attack on our religious liberties. The Bloomberg administration’s impending order needs to be stopped immediately. The Attorney General should take a close look at the legal options the state has to stop such regulations.”

Mr. Tischler also added, “It was unfortunate that Dov Hikind supported Brad Lander for City Council in 2009, who openly criticized bris milah and called it “ritual violence.” The NYC Council has direct jurisdiction over the Department of Health and Bloomberg now has another rubber stamp for his policy on bris milah.

“Unfortunately, having a proponent of this policy on the City Council is to the Orthodox community’s detriment. It’s incredibly ironic that my opponent is railing against this policy considering his past support for a candidate who’s view on this issue was criticized by Jewish leaders and The Jewish Press and Mr. Hikind chose to disregard their concern nevertheless and to continue to support Mr. Lander.

“Our community needs leaders who understand that we can never afford to send a signal that such views are acceptable in the name of a political accommodation. We need leaders who won’t compromise our values for a backroom deal. We need leaders who are pro-active; not reactive.”

Jewish Press Staff

Struggling With Homosexuality

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

The interplay between Torah values and psychological/societal ethics has always been an interest of mine.  I find beauty in the challenge of trying to straddle the fence between the two worlds.    At one point in history, the field of psychology was dominated by Sigmund Freud’s (often considered to be the “father of psychology”) ideas of sexuality and determinism (technically, that we do not have free-will).  The world of Torah rejected most of Freud’s views and thus rejected most of the world of psychology.   Besides, the Torah world viewed most mental health issues as being Hashkafic or religious issues and so they were reticent towards sending people to therapists and not Rabbonim to deal with issues.

But the divide between psychology and Torah was not only because the Torah world rejected psychology.  Oh no, psychology had very few pleasant things to say about religion in the early days.  Although Jewish, Freud rejected religion as being a form of neurosis (or a mental disorder) for most of his life.  Many psychologists in the early and mid-twentieth century (and some until today) often tried convincing their patients that religion was either a symptom of a mental disorder or a major contributor to their mental health problems.

Boruch Hashem we live in a world where the field of mental health is much more congruous with Torah.  The last fifteen years has seen an explosion of frum mental health professionals.  There are therapists who work across the spectrum of frumkeit and there are Rabbonim in all communities who refer their constituents to therapists when needed.

However, there continue to be issues in the mental health world that challenge frumkeit.  The current most publicized controversial topic is how we as a community handle situations of child molestation.  Licensed mental health professionals have a legal obligation to report situations of abuse to the authorities.   Mental health professionals usually advocate this point of view.  Many Rabonnim and frum institutions do not agree that this it is right to report these allegations to the secular authorities and, at the very least, limit reporting in some way due to socio-religious values.

Another very sensitive topic where modern psychological thinking conflicts with Torah views is the issue of homosexuality.  The Gemarah in Kiddushin (82a) indicates that homosexuality is not something that Jews have to deal with because “Jews are not suspect to be homosexual”.  In fact the Rambam (Issurei Biah 22:2) uses this Gemarah as a basis for a Halachik ruling.

On the other hand, Freud has suggested that all people, by nature, are created with some inherent homosexual desire. The world today is filled with gay rights activists (many of them mental health professionals), frum ones as well.  So, how do we understand this Gemara and Rambam in the light of the many people who present to therapy struggling with this issue?  How to understand the divide between the Torah’s values and what the secular world suggests, quite vehemently, as being the only way to look at things?  It is an issue that unfortunately causes so much pain and suffering in our community and is often completely misunderstood by many people.  More significantly, it is an issue that is being raised more frequently in mine and my colleague’s offices.   In writing this article, I hope to raise awareness that therapy can help people who struggle with homosexuality.

While I do not work solely with people who struggle with homosexuality, the following are some vignettes of the types of situations that present themselves in my office.  I have fabricated these cases to protect the anonymity of the people I actually work with but they accurately reflect the content of my work.  Shloimy is a 16-year-old boy who was found to be acting on his desires with a peer in Yeshivah.  He has been admonished by the Mashgiach in the past but this has not stopped Shloimy’s behavior.  The Mashgiach has involved Shloimy’s parents and suggested that Shloimy discuss things with a therapist to help him better understand his sexuality.  Shloimy agrees.

Dovid is a 25-year-old Yeshiva bochur learning in a prominent Yeshivish Yeshiva.  He has been going out on Shidduch dates with different women for the last two years.  He has recently told his Rosh Hayeshiva that his anxiety connected to dating has to do with his years of confusion about his sexual attraction to other men.  Although Dovid has rarely acted on these desires, the sheer fact that he has them causes him significant uncomfortability, you see- Dovid has no feelings of attraction to women.

Yitzi Horowitz

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/struggling-with-homosexuality/2012/09/06/

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