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January 22, 2017 / 24 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Man’

Jewish Man Arrested for Saying Shema on Temple Mount

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

A young Jewish man was arrested on the Temple Mount Thursday afternoon, for suspicion of saying “Shema Israel,” legal aid society Honenu reported. The detainee is being represented by a Honenu attorney.

The latest time to say the Shema on Thursday according to Jewish law was 9:27:29 AM, which suggests the young man was only reading the verse, rather than uttering it as part of his daily prayer, and should argue for a reduced sentence (Berachot 10b).

On the other hand, the young man could have been a Hasid, in which case he may have considered his uttering of the Shema to be part of his morning prayer, and his punishment should thus be more severe.

Regarding Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, the 2010 US State Dept. report on religious freedom round the world apparently finds it disturbing that “a government policy since 1967, upheld repeatedly by the Supreme Court and routinely enforced by the police, denies religious freedom at the Temple Mount to all non-Muslims, although the government ensured limited access to the historic site to everyone regardless of religious beliefs. Only Muslims were allowed to pray at the site, although their access has been occasionally restricted due to security concerns. The police accompanied Jewish visitors to the site and removed them if they appear to be praying. Since 2000 the Jordanian Waqf that managed the site restricted all non-Muslims from entering the Dome of the Rock shrine and Al Aqsa Mosque.”

However, the 2014 DOS report on religious freedom appears to approve of the fact that the Israeli government limits Jewish religious observance at the Temple Mount, “though some Jewish groups sought to either legally overturn this policy or modify it to permit Jewish prayer, actions that were at times followed by a violent response from Muslim worshippers.”

David Israel

Mayer Herskovic Accused of Leading Beating of Brooklyn Black Gay Man [video]

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

Mayer Herskovic, a Hasidic man who is on trial for his role in an assault on gay African-American Taj Patterson that left the latter blind in one eye, was accused on Wednesday by the victim of being the “ringleader,” the NY Daily News reported. Herskovic is looking at 25 years in prison for his role in the attack. His DNA was found on the heel of Patterson’s sneaker, which was found on the roof of a nearby building.

Police presented security camera footage showing a large group of Hasidic men converging on a street corner.

Patterson, 25, testified in Brooklyn Supreme Court that on Dec. 1, 2013, around 4:30 AM, following a birthday party, he was walking home to Fort Greene through Williamsburg, and was chased on Flushing Ave. by three Hasidic men who screamed “something negative” at him. Moments later, Patterson testified, as many as 17 more Hasidic men joined the attack.

“They threw me to the ground, dragged me on my knees, told me to ‘stay on the ground you [expletive].’ I was kicked in the face and saw a flash of white,” Patterson told the court.

He testified that he was pinned down against a chain-linked fence and was kicked and punched by his assailants. “That same individual who stood in the middle of the three men kicked me in the face, the ringleader,” said Patterson. But he was not able to identify Mayer Herskovic as one of the assailants to police or to Judge Danny Chun. He was, however, able to punch the alleged leader and break his glasses, the defense found out during cross-examination.

Patterson has undergone three surgeries to treat facial fractures and severe retinal damage that’s left him blind in one eye.

Charges were dropped against two Hasidic men who had been indicted in 2014, and two other men, Pinchas Braver and Abraham Winkler, pleaded guilty to unlawful imprisonment and were sentenced to 150 hours of community service and a $1,400 fine.


Can A Man Be Motzi A Woman?

Thursday, August 18th, 2016

This week’s parshah, Parshas Vaeschanan, contains the second set of Aseres Hadibros. The fourth dibrah is keeping Shabbos, but there are variations between the text of this dibra in Parshas Vaeschanan and Parshas Yisro. In Parshas Yisro, the dibrah reads, “Zachor es yom hashabbos lekadesho.” In this week’s parshah, it reads, “Shamor es yom hashabbos lekadesho.”

The Gemara (Shevuos 20b) states that Hashem actually said both these pesukim at the same time and that this is a phenomenon which a human cannot do or even hear. It states further – based on this dibrah – that women are obligated in the mitzvah of Kiddush m’d’Oraisa on Shabbos despite the fact that it is a mitzvas assei shehazman grama. The mitzvah of Kiddush is derived from the pasuk of zachor and the pasuk of shamor is the source for the negative prohibitions of Shabbos. The Gemara says that the fact that “shamor” and zachor” were said at the same time teaches us that they are connected, and therefore anyone who is obligated to keep the negative commandments of Shabbos, which includes women, is also obligated to keep the positive comandments of Shabbos, namely to recite Kiddush.

The halacha is that even if a person has already fulfilled a mitzvah he can still be motzi another who has not yet fulfilled it. Therefore, even if a person has already made Kiddush for himself he can still recite it for another person who has not yet heard it. This is known as “af al pi she’yatza, motzi” (Rosh Hashanah 29a).

Rashi on the Gemara explains that a person may be motzi another even if he has already fulfilled his obligation because all of klal Yisrael are areivim for each other regarding their mitzvah obligations. The Ran adds that since we are all areivim for each other, a person has not really fulfilled his obligation (even if he did the mitzvah) as long as another person has not yet fulfilled it. Therefore, he may perform the mitzvah and recite a berachah on behalf of a second person.

But does this apply to a man reciting Kiddush for a woman? Can he make Kiddush for her even if he already made Kiddush himself? The answer to this question depends on whether men share arvus with women.

The Gemara (Berachos 20b) discusses whether a woman is obligated to say Birchas Hamazon m’d’Oraisa or only m’d’rabbanan. If she is only obligated m’d’rabbanan, she cannot recite Birchas Hamazon for a man who is obligated m’d’Oraisa. The Rosh explains that she cannot do so because women are not included in arvus with men. There is a machlokes regarding the correct interpretation of the Rosh’s statement.

The Noda B’Yehudah (in Dagul Mervavah) understands the Rosh literally, and rules that women are not included in arvus with men. Rav Akiva Eiger understands the Rosh differently. He explains that the Rosh made his statement only regarding the opinion that women are not biblically obligated to say Birchas Hamazon. According to this opinion, women do not share an arvus with men because the latter are biblically obligated to say Birchas Hamazon. Generally speaking, though, women do share an arvus with men.

Returning to the question of a man making Kiddush for a woman if he already made Kiddush himself: According to the Nodeh B’Yehuda, a man would not be allowed to do so. According to Rav Akiva Eiger, though, he would. Since both men and women are obligated to make Kiddush, there is arvus between them regarding this mitzvah.

This machlokes is also relevant in regards to making Kiddush for a woman on Friday night if she has not yet davened. According to most opinions, men fulfill their obligation m’d’Oraisa to recite Kiddush when they daven shemoneh essrei. Reciting Kiddush on a cup of wine at home is only a d’rabanan obligation. But if woman has not yet davened, her Kiddush obligation is d’oraisa. How, then, can the man (whose obligation is m’drabanan) motzi the woman (whose obligation is m’d’Oraisa)?

Rabbi Raphael Fuchs

Lakewood Man Loses Bid to Change Guilty Plea in $200 Million Ponzi Scheme

Monday, August 15th, 2016

Eliyahu Weinstein, 41, a Lakewood man sentenced to 22 years in prison in 2014 for a Ponzi scheme that defrauded members of the Jewish Orthodox community of an estimated $200 million, on Friday lost his appeal to withdraw his guilty plea.

The new Weinstein plea argued that the federal judge who presided over his case, in which Weinstein admitted defrauding fellow Jewish investors on a Facebook initial public offering, was biased against the defendant because he was also involved in a case in which Weinstein pleaded guilty to a real estate scheme. Weinstein also accused his own lawyer in the 2014 Facebook IPO case of a conflict of interest because he had advised some of Weinstein’s investors, and feared his own prosecution. Weinstein’s new plea also argued that the Facebook case constituted double jeopardy.

On Friday, a three-judge panel with the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Weinstein’s plea, finding that judge’s participation in the real estate scheme was too limited to suggest a bias and that Weinstein’s plea was based on “unsubstantiated hearsay.” The panel also absolved Weinstein’s original attorney of the accusation of conflict of interest, because when that lawyer was counseling clients on the IPO investment his assumption was that their money would be invested, not end up in Weinstein’s pocket. Which meant that the attorney had nothing to worry about and could represent Weinstein without fear for his own prosecution.

According to court documents, in February 2012 Weinstein and two co-conspirators offered two investors a chance to purchase large blocks of Facebook shares before the initial IPO in May 2012. Between February and March of 2012 the two “Facebook victims” wired millions of dollars to an account set up by Weinstein and a co-conspirator. That’s the last time they saw their money. Around the same time, Weinstein and his two co-conspirators talked the same investors into buying the Belle Glade Gardens apartment complex in Florida. The investors wired $2.83 million, of which Weinstein sent $1.8 million back to his victims as “return” on their Facebook investment. In July 2012, Weinstein scammed a different group of investors over purchasing seven condominiums in Florida at a discounted price of $3 million, and pocketed the money.


Tisha B’Av of Days Past: Temple Mount Police Hit Man, Man Bites Police

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

A year ago, Honenu legal aid society attorney Menasheh Yado filed a complaint with the Police Investigation Unit regarding an incident in which police assaulted a Jewish man, illegally detained him and tried to prevent the recording of the event.

The man, a Jerusalem resident in his 20s, arrived at the entrance to the Temple Mount on Tisha B’Av 5775 (July 26, 2015) wearing tefillin, and requested permission to ascend. The man reported that a policeman approached him and told him that he could not ascend the Temple Mount wearing tefillin, and added that he wanted to speak to the man.

At this point the man asked to remove his tefillin, to comply with the policeman’s instruction and be allowed to ascend, but the policeman forcibly grabbed his arm instead and began to push him to the exit.

“My client stood against the railing and told the policeman to stop pushing him,” Yado wrote in the complaint, continuing: “Three policemen approached my client and without informing him that he was being detained began to shove my client and hit and kick him.”

The complaint also mentions that police prevented bystanders from documenting the incident. Two Jews who were at the scene began to tape the incident on their cell phones, but a policeman named Moti Gabai ordered them to stop taping and swatted one of the cell phones.

“The policemen continued to beat my client after he was handcuffed, and broke his glasses. After the cell phones were turned off and the documentation of the incident stopped, the policemen continued to punch my client,” Yado reported.

“The incident included assault and unreasonable use of force, as well as deliberate use of violence by the policemen while carrying out an illegal detention with excessive aggressiveness. My client made no move, and was forced to instinctively react to the violence used against him which, as stated above, did not stop even after he was handcuffed,” Yado complained to the Police Investigation Unit.

“I direct your attention to the wide-ranging public ramifications of policemen illegally using their authority in interfering with the ability of citizens to document incidents of assault and use of violence by police,” Yado reiterated.

Following the Tisha B’Av incident, police brought the man to court and demanded that he be barred from ascending the Temple Mount for 60 days. After watching the video clip of the incident the court accepted the opinion of Honenu Attorney Avichai Hajbi, who represented the man at the hearing, and released him. After his release the man was served with an indictment accusing him of biting one of the policemen who beat him during the course of the incident.

At the July 2015 deliberation a police representative admitted that there is no written ordinance prohibiting a Jew from ascending the Temple Mount while wearing tefillin. Although the police claimed that the man bit a policeman as he was being detained, the video clip presented to the court shows that the man did not commit any violation of the law before the policemen started to beat him.

“A video clip was presented to me… in which one sees that the defendant did not do anything before the security forces evacuated him, and it should be noted that they evacuated him aggressively,” wrote Jerusalem Magistrate Court Judge Mirit Fohrer. She ruled that even though afterwards apparently the man did bite one of the policemen who had seized him, there is no cause to ban him from the Temple Mount and he was released unconditionally.

David Israel

Man At The Center Of Creation

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

I write with a sense of acute distress. It is my deep feeling that many of those who carry the banner of the Torah of Israel are taking steps in the wrong direction – a direction that ignores the many elements of Man as having been created in God’s image. This manifests itself in two ways.

First, Orthodox Judaism is slowly abandoning the Torah’s unique view of the image of God in Man. In its place, an ever more dominant religious view encourages Man to see himself as “a worm and not a man” – as one who is perpetually dependent on God; one whose actions are in essence meaningless beyond a modicum of hishtadlut (exertion). One who has no rights, only obligations.

Rabbis are glorified in descriptions of the wonders they perform and the miracles they merit. The encounter with God is sought more often in graveyards than in the land of the living – the markets and streets. The responsibility that Man should shoulder gives way to self-negation and self-annihilation. All of the above result in a trend that diminishes Man’s Divine image.

This type of relationship between Man and God has led to a decline in the believing Jew ’s attitude toward the human body, toward pleasure, and toward worldly matters. The religious world is inching closer and closer to something akin to Puritanism, constantly fighting against the aesthetic aspects of reality.

This also affects the relationship between the Jewish nation and the rest of humanity. Orthodox Judaism is consciously devaluing the notion of a universal humanity. This distancing from the rest of humankind is both ideological and existential. Anything that did not stem from “holiness” is deemed unworthy. Thus, there is no place for non-Jewish culture or for contact with it. America is viewed as an ama reika – an empty nation – and the culture of the world is considered a culture of emptiness.

This attitude is not restricted to matters of culture. It is more than likely that the overwhelming majority of the Torah world, and certainly the yeshiva world, has never been exposed to the UN Declaration of Human Rights, the American Constitution, or the different types of church-state relationships that exist in Europe. This is part and parcel of not relating to Man as having been created in the image of God, a person responsible for himself and his culture.

As a result, the Torah’s influence on the world is diminishing. The utopian vision of shaping the world according to the Torah is becoming more and more distant.

My severe distress stems first and foremost from my heartfelt belief that this attitude toward Man is not the word of God. Torah and halacha are based on a different language, one that teaches responsibility and pride, freedom and merit, self-acceptance and natural morality. The Torah appeals to Man as a citizen of the world. It relates to a nation that lives a full and natural life set in reality. It describes its patriarchs as individuals whose existential world was a complete one, filled with material and spiritual wealth.

Not one syllable contained in the Torah calls upon Man to live life by abstaining from all that surrounds him. It is a Torah of life, and relates to life in its fullest.

In addition to the problems mentioned above, a new – and distressing – religious language is forming. It is a language that removes God from the picture. The life it generates is deeply spiritual, yet it lacks commitment to halacha and fidelity to the word of God.

I wrote my latest book, In His Image, in an effort to bring about a change in cur­rent trends and strengthen the notions of the image of Man, his free will, his life in this world, and his standing before God. These, I believe, are the foundations of faith.

Rabbi Yuval Cherlow

Redeeming Relevance: Parshat Matot: Menashe — The Odd Man Out

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

One of the most perplexing items in this week’s parasha, is Moshe’s inclusion of part of Menashe together with Gad and Reuven in the Transjordanian settlement. There are three reasons for our surprise: First, as opposed to Gad and Reuven, we have no indication that Menashe requested to live there; second, Moshe sends only part of the tribe over the Jordan, creating an unprecedented intra-tribal division; and finally, it appears that Menashe would not have fit in with the character of the other two tribes over the Jordan (on the latter, see Netziv and my expansion on this in my volume on Bemidbar).

In this context, it is worth noting that the two requests that did came from the tribe of Menashe, one from the daughters of Tzelofchad and the other from its elders, appear to be artificially split by several chapters within the book of Bemidbar. And even without the issue of the split narrative, we would be remiss if we did not ask ourselves why these “bookends” in Bemidbar feature specifically the tribe of Menashe. After all, given the size of the Israelite camp, it is highly likely that other women were in the same predicament and apparently did not step forward.

We don’t know a great deal about the tribe of Menashe beyond the clues revealed in the narratives we are discussing. We do know that Menashe was Yosef’s firstborn, and that Ya’akov placed his brother, Ephraim, before him. We also know that this tribe later became one of the more important in Jewish history, though not always for positive reasons. Most striking, however, is Menashe’s unique geographical division that the we rad about this week, which the Torah mentions between their two petitions. Menashe’s then, is a division in the midst of a divided story, which leads us to the conclusion that the notion of division is itself central to what this tribe is all about.

Hence, Menashe’s intra-tribal division may actually be one more indication that this tribe was already been more comfortable than others with sub-tribal identity. In other words, whether as a result of familial loyalty or loyalty to their villages or provinces, the members of Menashe would have been less tied to the greater, unified tribe than members of other tribes. That being the case, it makes sense that it was women specifically from Menashe that would have petitioned Moshe for the right to hold on to their own land, even when this brought the possibility of taking away land from their greater birth tribe (should they marry men from other tribes).

But from where does Menashe get this resistance to tribal unity? The truth is that it had deep roots in his family tradition. Going back to their progenitor, Ya’akov, we notice that much of what transpired in his life was based on the principle of productive bifurcation. Thus, for example, he had two names, married two women and fathered two leaders (Yehudah and Yosef), who would ultimately be the ancestors of two different states (Yehudah and Yisrael).

On more than one occasion, the rabbis find solid evidence to suggest that Yosef, Menashe’s father, carries a special likeness toward his own father, Ya’akov (see, for example, Bereshit Rabba 84:6). Consequently, it is quite likely that Yosef mirrors Ya’akov’s central characteristic of duality, which is most crucially embodied in their respective legacies to their children. Thus, alone among Ya’akov’s children, it is Yosef whose portion is divided into two, with both Menashe and Ephraim taking on the status of separate tribes. Likewise, the portion of Yosef’s firstborn, Menashe, is also divided into two — if not by name, then by territory. It seems the legacy of continuous bifurcation must live on in this line.

Now that we have a better sense of Menashe’s character we are in a better position to note that the autonomy displayed by the daughters of Tzelofchad is not a unilateral cause for admiration. It should be remembered that the story comes in the midst of tribal consolidation — a process that represents a central element of the Israelites’ desert experience. So while there were good reasons for the sisters to ask for and receive their inheritance, their ostensible lack of concern for their tribe was a problematic element in an otherwise correct request.

And so, measure for measure, Menashe’s lack of tribal cohesion that the daughters of Tzelofchad embody means that the tribe needed to be divided in practice to match their approach in theory. Yet since Menashe’s deficiency was not on the scale of Gad’s and Reuven’s, their exile is far from total (especially since for them, division rather than exile is the main point). Thus, only part of the tribe was sent to live across the Jordan, while the majority was allowed to remain on the western side, together with the other nine tribes.

Even as this trait was problematic when it was first exposed through the daughters of Tzelofchad, the Jewish nation would require it in the future; as if no new identities were ever created the people would be ill-equipped to meet all of the challenges placed in their way. And this is why Tzelofchad’s daughters’ contribution was so important.

The daughters of Tzelofchad carried the knowledge that even at times when unity and conformity are at a premium, there must be one part of the nation that stands to the side and takes a slightly different stance. Perhaps their timing or their delivery was slightly off, but theirs was still a trait that needed to be expressed. And so, more than their father’s land, it would be this unique character that would be their true inheritance.

Rabbi Francis Nataf

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