After Governor Ted Strickland made the motion to change the Democratic National Committee platform to include both God and Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles, the head of the DNC, called for a voice vote, which required a two-thirds majority to pass.
As you can see from the video, a surprised, confused and irritated Villaraigosa did not get the clear majority he expected and wanted the first time around, and so called for another voice vote. Again not getting his clear majority, he is advised by someone to his side that tells him, “You’ve got to rule, and then you’ve got let them do what they’re gonna do.”
Villaraigosa then called for a third vote, in which it again does not sound like he had a majority. Despite that, he concludes by saying that in “opinion of the chair two-thirds have voted in the affirmative,” to which he was loudly booed.
As ridiculous as it may seem, one of the things that I wish would happen is a merger between Beth Medrash Gavoha (Lakewood) and Yeshiva University (YU). Although I can hear the howls of laughter and screams of protestation on both sides of the Hashkafic aisle, I really think this would solve a lot of the problems we have today in Orthodoxy.
The truth is that this is not as far fetched as one might imagine. At least from a purely Hashkafic perspective. If one looks back to the early days of American Chinuch post Holocaust, one would see exactly this kind of institution existing at the grass roots level.
Outside of New York – elementary schools catered to all kinds of students from all kinds of homes. My classmates came from Yeshivishe homes, Chasidic homes, Modern Orthodox homes, Lubavitch homes, and even non observant homes. Our teachers respected those differences and taught us accordingly. Learning Torah came first, but secular studies were considered very important and treated seriously. Even among those on the right. The idea of attending college was a given then in almost all circles. Parnassa, was the number one concern in those days.
How important was college to the right wing in those days? If one looks at Yeshivos like Chaim Berlin and Torah VoDaath, the vast majority of their students attended college while in the Yeshiva – usually at night. They got degrees in fields like accounting or went on to professional schools to become doctors, lawyers, dentists, engineers… what have you! All while maintaining Yiras Shomayim and a strong commitment to Torah and Mitzvos.
The idea of learning full time for long periods of time well into marriage was an ideal reserved for very few people. Only the most elite and most motivated people would even consider doing that.
But somewhere along the line the paradigm started changing. As the religious communities grew new schools were created to cater to specific Hashkafos.
On the surface that might seem like a good idea. But that was the beginning of the divide that ‘keeps on giving’. We are moving further and further apart. As the community grows, there are new schools with even more fine tuned Hashkafos being formed – adding to the division. I believe that all this fine tuning is one of the most divisive forces in Orthodoxy.
There are now schools on the right that consider secular studies a waste of time at best. Secular studies are belittled! There are schools on the left that are pushing the envelope of ordaining women and allowing them to act as Chazanot in certain parts of Tefilah. Some may see these divisions as a plus. But I don’t.
I prefer an Orthodoxy that has a broad Hashkafic spectrum under one roof. While we may (and I emphasize the word “may”) lose some on the fringes of the right and left, the vast majority of Orthodox Jewry would experience a far greater sense of Achdus. We had a hint of that at the last DafYomi Siyum. Although it was sponsored by Agudah it was attended by almost the entire spectrum of Orthodox Jewry. And it was a positive experience for the vast majority of them – over 90% were inspired by it according to one poll (mine).
So in theory I think it is possible to create this hybrid. The practical benefits of such a merger would transcend even the sense of Achdus that it would generate.
Each Hashkafa has a weakness that is hurting it. On the right, the disdain for a decent secular education pushes their masses into a life of poverty. On the left the weakness is in the inability to produce enough great rabbinic leaders. While there are exceptions in both communities, I think that this is basically the rule.
On the right – the aggrandizement of full time Torah study for everyone and the default second class status of the working man has resulted in 1000s of families who are unable to make a decent living. Unless they have some family connection or have the courage and determination to do the unthinkable and go to college late in their lives, most of these people are qualified to do little else than go into Chinuch. And most of those are not properly trained to do so.
One may not perform several actions during the week in which Tisha B’Av falls. This is referred to as shavua she’chal bo. For example, one may not take a haircut or wash his clothing (Ashkenazi Jews are forbidden in these actions prior to the week of Tisha B’Av in accordance with the ruling of the Ramah). The Mechaber (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 551: 4) writes that in a year when Tisha B’Av falls on Shabbos and is pushed off to Sunday (as it does this year) there is a machlokes as to whether there are any prohibitions during the week before Tisha B’Av. The Mechaber seemingly sides with the view that there are no halachos of shavua she’chal bo in such circumstances.
Many Achronim explain that the dispute is based on the understanding behind the establishment of the fast of Tisha B’Av. The Gemara in Ta’anis 29a says that the Beis HaMikdash was lit close to the end of the ninth day of Av and continued burning throughout the tenth day of Av. Reb Yochanan said, “Had I been in the generation when Tisha B’Av was established, I would have established it on the tenth day of the month since the majority of the Beis HaMikdash burnt on that day.” The Gemara says that the Rabbanan who established the fast on the ninth day of the month did so because they felt that it was better to establish the fast day on the day of the troubles’ onset.
Based on this, they explain that the first opinion holds that there is no shavua she’chal bo in a year when Tisha B’Av falls on Shabbos and is pushed off to Sunday because the Rabbanan only argued that, when possible, the fast should be established at the onset of the troubles. However, when it is not possible to fast on the ninth day of Av (i.e., when it falls out on Shabbos), they would agree with Reb Yochanan’s view that the fast should take place when the majority of the Beis HaMikdash burnt – namely on the tenth day of Av. Based on this, the week that precedes Tisha B’Av is not the week when the fast falls out, since in a year like this year we fast on the tenth day of the month (Sunday) – which is the beginning of the following week.
The other opinion holds that the halachos of shavua she’chal bo do apply to the week prior to Tisha B’Av, even when it falls on Shabbos, because they opine that the Rabbanan hold that the fast should always be on the ninth day – even when one cannot fast on that day. The reason why we fast on Sunday is merely to make up for not being able to fast on Shabbos. However, the fast day is primarily on the ninth day. Hence all the halachos of shavua she’chal bo apply, since Tisha B’Av falls out during that week – namely on Shabbos.
This permits us to explain another machlokes, the one between the Mechaber and the Ramah (554:19) regarding whether one must keep aveilus betzina (hidden aveilus, i.e. marital relations) on Tisha B’Av that falls on Shabbos. The Mechaber says that one may have marital relations on the ninth day of Av when it falls out on Shabbos. The reason: The fast was primarily established to be on the tenth day, and the ninth day is not a fast day at all. Therefore, the Mechaber holds that one need not keep any aveilus betzina on the ninth day. But the Ramah argues that this is forbidden and that one must keep aveilus betzina since the Rabbanan established Tisha B’Av to always be on the ninth day of Av – even when one cannot fast.
There is one problem, however, with this suggestion. Why does the Mechaber say that, when Tisha B’Av falls on Shabbos and is pushed off to Sunday, there is a leniency regarding one making a bris milah? In siman 559:9, the Mechaber writes that one who makes a bris milah on a Sunday Tisha B’Av (that really fell on Shabbos) does not have to fast and may wash his body. In contrast, one must fast and may not wash his body if making a bris milah on the regularly scheduled day of Tisha B’Av. If we explain that the Mechaber is of the opinion that when Tisha B’Av falls out on Shabbos and is pushed off to Sunday (making Sunday the actual day of the fast, and thus Tisha B’Av didn’t fall in the prior week), permitting one to have marital relations on Shabbos, why is there any leniency or discrepancy regarding the fast on Sunday?
On Monday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman’s party Yisrael Beytenu released a video stressing the importance of passing a law mandating equal service for all Israelis. The video shows, through dramatic graphics, how in 1948 the vast majority of Israelis served their country whereas by 2020 the majority of Israelis will not be serving.
Titled “One Citizenship. One Obligation. One Opportunity. One Vote,” the clip was released ahead of the planned vote on Yisrael Beytenu’s IDF, National, or Civilian Service Law Proposal this Wednesday in the Knesset.
The bill seeks to establish several principles, which other, similar proposed bills do not necessarily share:
The promise of equal sharing of the burden of service among the State’s citizens.
The establishment of a system in which every citizen, men and women alike, will serve in the army, or perform national or civilian service (in effect, the civilian service in this bill will include today’s national service).
The recognition of Torah study in yeshivas as an important value in the State of Israel and the establishment of a program that combines learning and service – but certainly not with the huge number of yeshiva students who today avoid the draft.
The recognition of equal burden-sharing as an important value in the State of Israel.
The establishment of a state service option, taking into account the nature of the various sectors in Israel and assuring the ability to maintain the provisions of various religions and their customs while serving.
“We promised we would bring our bill no matter what,” declared Liberman on Monday, adding, “We have no choice. We waited until the last minute to see if they come to any reasonable compromise or a satisfying solution to both the Haredi and Minorities draft. Because there is no such solution, we put up our bill to a vote.”
Regarding sanctions against those who would not serve, the Israel Beiteinu chairman said he prefers economic moves. “By putting someone in prison, we’d be playing into their hands,” he explained. “If we take someone and put him in jail, we will make them a martyr, which is what they’re looking for. But once yeshiva boy knows that he’s not getting his support and his scholarship, and the yeshiva, too, will know that it does not get their benefits, that’ll be the most effective thing. Minorities, too, if they realize they won’t be eligible for unemployment and other benefits – they’ll come around.”
As things stand on Tuesday, the chances that the bill will pass on its first reading in the Knesset are low.
Click on the CC button at the base of the screen for English subtitles.
The beginning of this week’s parshah discusses the halachos of a parah adumah (red heifer). The red cow is shechted and burnt, and its ashes are sprinkled on one who is tamei meis. The individual thereby becomes pure.
The Gemara in Chullin 11a asks: Where in the Torah is the source for the halacha that one may follow a majority found in nature or tendencies (ruba d’lessa kaman). One answer that the Gemara suggests is that it is derived from the parah adumah. The Gemara explains that the pasuk says, “veshachat vesaraf – and you shall slaughter and burn it,” from which we learn that just as a cow must be whole and intact when it is slaughtered, so too the cow must be whole and intact when it is burnt. The Gemara says that since the Torah refers to the parah adumah as a chatas, it must not be a traifa. The Gemara asks: How can we be certain that the cow is not a traifa, since if it must be intact we cannot check its insides to determine whether it is a traifa. This is proof that the Torah intended for us to rely on the fact that the majority of cows are not traifes.
Tosafos (Chullin 11a, d”h minah) quotes from the ba’alei Tosafos Rabbeinu Chaim that we learn from parah adumah another halacha concerning following a majority (rov). He says that we draw from this that in a situation where there is a rov and a chazakah that states the opposite, we follow the rov. This is known as ruba v’chazakah, ruba adif. We see this because there is a chazakah here that stands against the rov, yet the Gemara says we follow the rov. The chazakah is that the individual was certainly tamei prior to the sprinkling of the ashes, but now a doubt arises as to whether the cow was a traifa and fit to be a parah adumah. The chazakah of the person indicates that he should remain in his current status, namely to remain tamei. However, since there is a rov that says that the animal is not a traifa, we follow the rov – and the person is tahor.
Tosafos uses the opinion of Rabbeinu Chaim to answer the following question (after a quick review) that he has on the Gemara: The Gemara asked for the Torah source on the issue of following a rov. Tosafos asks why the Gemara did not derive this from the pasuk that teaches us that we may follow a chazakah? Since ruba v’chazakah, ruba adif indicates that a rov is better than a chazakah we certainly may follow a rov. Tosafos at first answers that according to one opinion in the Gemara, we do not obtain the halacha that we may follow a chazakah from a pasuk. So in his view the Gemara is asking what the source is for the halacha that we may follow a rov.
Tosafos then says that according to Rabbeinu Chaim the question does not apply. This is because according to Rabbeinu Chaim we do not logically know that a rov is better than a chazakah; rather, we only know it after we learn from the pasuk that we can follow a rov. Therefore the Gemara is justified when asking what the source for following a rov is, even if we know the source for the halacha that we may follow a chazakah. This is so because we do not know that a rov is better than a chazakah until we know that we can follow a rov.
It seems clear to me that the two answers in Tosafos disagree as to whether the rule that we follow a rov over a chazakah is based on logic or if it is a divine decree that exists out of logic. The explanation in logic as to why we would follow a rov over a chazakah is because the two halachos work entirely differently. A rov is a tool that can be used to clarify the unknown. For example, in the case of whether the animal is a traifa, the rov can clarify that it is not a traifa. Chazakah, on the other hand, is not a clarifying tool but rather states that things must remain in place until we know for certain that they have changed. The Torah only said that we should rely on a chazakah when we do not know how to determine the unknown. But where a clarifying tool is available, i.e. a rov, we know the unknown and have no need to remain in the status quo. This is what Tosafos held in his question and first answer, when he said that the Gemara is only asking based on the view of the one who said that there is no pasuk from which we derive the halacha that we may follow a chazakah. Tosafos held that this logic dictates that a rov is better; thus if there was a pasuk to teach us that we may follow a chazakah, we would then be able to conclude that we can certainly follow a rov.
From “Jews in Minnesota,” by Hyman Berman and Linda Mack Schlof:
“The wedding of Clarice Sherman and Mel Zuckman at Tifereth B’nai Jacob in North Minneapolis, 1951.
“At a Jewish wedding, the bride and groom stand under a chupah or wedding canopy symbolizing their future home.
“As long as Jews remained in the compact geographical areas where they were a dominant majority, they continued to attend Orthodox synagogues while moving away from the strict requirements as individuals. American secular life increasingly challenged the rigid traditionalism of Orthodox Judaism.”
Israeli children playing in the Ulpana Hill neighborhood of Beit El in Judea and Samaria. The Israeli government is looking for ways to sidestep a ruling by the Supreme Court to demolish Ulpana before July 1, following a land ownership dispute between Arab sellers more than a decade ago. The proclivity of Israel’s leftist legal system to inflict harm on the Jewish settlement movement may have reached a point here where the vast majority of Jews on either side of the green line would reject it.