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October 21, 2016 / 19 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘marriage’

Religious Zionist Rabbi Offers Homosexuals Alternative Approaches

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

By Tzvi Lev/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – While controversy has been brewing over several prominent rabbis’ comments on homosexuality and the Jerusalem gay pride parade, a well known religious-Zionist rabbi has been quietly setting up Orthodox gay men with lesbian women to be married, an idea that is considered revolutionary in the religious-Zionist world.

The Anachnu (“we” in Hebrew) organization is an NGO founded in 2011 by Rabbi Areleh Harel and is associated with Kamoha, a support organization for religious homosexuals who wish to have a conventional marriage.

As a resident of Shiloh and a teacher at the Elon Moreh Yeshiva, which is commonly associated with the ultra-Orthodox stream of religious-Zionism, Rabbi Harel does not seem a likely candidate to run a matchmaking service for homosexuals yet he began taking interest in the matter 12 years ago.

“Women were coming to me and telling me that after 10 or 15 years of marriage, they realized that their husband was gay and was seeing other men,” he said. “I understood the tremendous pain felt by many religious homosexuals and I felt that I had to do something.”

“A religious homosexual is stuck,” he continued. “I don’t have any way to solve this problem. Perhaps one tried to change and failed, but the question is what do we do now? If a gay man and a lesbian woman can marry each other without expecting love and sexuality, they can still build a traditional family.”

After six years of independently setting up religious gays and lesbians, Rabbi Harel was approached by Kamoha with an offer to formally expand his activities.

“Our NGO received many requests from gay men asking to be set up with lesbian women,” said Amit, the spokesman for Kamoha, who preferred not to disclose his full name. “Since so many people have turned to us, we decided to set up an initiative to match gays with lesbians. All of the rabbis we spoke to sent us to Rabbi Harel who had already been doing it privately and we decided to turn it into something official as part of our NGO, which became Anachnu.”

Anachnu recommends using their services only after having already seen a therapist and having accepted that a change to one’s sexual orientation would be impossible. “Those suitable for this project are those who are not in the process of trying out a new sexual orientation, but rather for those who have accepted themselves as being gay or lesbian,” states their website.

Amit claims that Anachnu is not being used exclusively by religious Jews. “The majority are religious,” he admits. “However, there have also been traditional people and even secular people who have reached out to us. All of them are closeted.”

Kamoha’s efforts are not without controversy within the religious community. Chavruta is an organization that supports religious homosexuals and is often considered a more liberal alternative to Kamoha. Daniel Jonas, a Chavruta spokesperson, offered lukewarm praise for the initiative. “We think that everyone has a right to choose their own path,” he said. “It makes no difference whether that means to live in the closet while married to a woman and pretending everything is normal or to live as you are.”

He warned against using groups like Anachnu to further hurt the LGBT community. “We reject any initiative that tells us ‘this is how you need to be’. If a person chooses to marry a woman and build a house with her, that is fine and there is a place for them. However, we in no way, shape, or form accept someone saying that this is the only solution and that this is what everyone needs to do.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

An Unyielding Marriage of 3500+ Years: Yom Ha’atzmauth

Thursday, May 12th, 2016

This year’s Yom Ha’atzmauth commemorates the 68th anniversary of a marriage that has lasted more than 3,500 years. This may sound like a paradox, but it is the inescapable truth about the Land of Israel and the Jews. No marriage has lasted so long, been so deep in its commitment and so overwhelming in its love as the one between the Jews and their homeland. Yet no marriage has been so painful or so tragic, for the partners were forced apart by the Roman Empire nearly 2000 years ago. The bride and groom pledged unconditional love but were not reunited for another 1878 years. But for all those years, nothing – absolutely nothing – could emotionally separate the partners even when they were thousands of miles away from each other. This marriage did not depend on where the partners were located, but rather where their souls dwelt.

For the marriage to succeed, the Jews, metaphorically and unprecedentedly, lifted the Land of Israel from its native soil and transformed it into a portable homeland, taking it with them to all  four corners of the earth. Only in 1948 were the people and its land physically reunited.

The founding of the State of Israel, then, is not the beginning of the marriage between the land and the Jewish people, but rather a reaffirmation of the marriage commitment that took place thousands of years ago between God and Abraham. The State of Israel was not established in 1948, but more than 3,000 years ago when Abraham purchased the cave of Machpelah in order to bury his wife Sara. It was reaffirmed a few hundred years later when the Israelites inherited the land under the leadership of Joshua, immediately after Moshe’s death.

But no marriage should be taken for granted. Not even after 3,500 years. When a bridegroom offers his new wife a ring as a sign of commitment, he knows that this is only the first installment of an ongoing pledge. No marriage can endure if both partners do not constantly reinvest in their relationship. The moment a marriage is counted in years rather than marked by shared striving for new opportunities, it has come to an end. Only a mission – a common dream – can sustain a marriage, and only something greater than it will allow it to succeed. To paraphrase Aristotle, marriage is a single soul dwelling in two bodies. But a soul that has lost its purpose has lost itself.

Ironically, a significant part of the people of Israel today are struggling to stay spiritually wed to their land. Rampant materialism, secularism and religious fanaticism have eroded Israel’s sense of Jewish identity and the historical consciousness that gives meaning to its national existence. Growing numbers of its people lack Jewish self-understanding and question why they should live in this country at all. It is true that the wonderful Israeli soldiers are ready to sacrifice their lives for our country. But how long can this continue when Israel is nothing more than just a country? People are willing to die only for that by which they have lived. And human beings can live meaningful lives only when they know that there is something eternal worth dying for.

It is thus crucial to identify the element that has bound the two partners together for these thousands of years. And that element is, unequivocally, the mission to be “a light unto the nations,” as pronounced by God to the prophet Isaiah. The marriage was created to give birth to a wellspring of religious and moral teachings that will suffuse mankind with the knowledge that life is holy and that God awaits man’s response to His call in order to redeem His world.

This then is the task of the Land and People of Israel: to elevate the human race so that it becomes a link between the divine and the earthly. For life is a mandate, a privilege – not a game or mere triviality. The Jewish people married the land in order to create a model society to be emulated by all mankind.

It is the rabbis who consecrate a marriage. But that is only part of their task. As pastors, their responsibility is to ensure the marriage’s success and tend to it if it flounders or stagnates. This is the task of Israel’s religious leaders today. They must transform the Jewish people by creating a spiritual longing for its unique mission, thereby restoring their marriage to its full potential after the long and difficult separation.

True religious leaders should not be “honored” or “well respected.” Rather, as men of truth they should stir unprecedented awe among Israelis and all Jews. Simultaneously their towering personalities should draw people closer with their overflowing love.

The times demand unwavering religious and moral guidance. The religious leadership must extricate itself from the morass in which has become mired. In an unprecedented initiative, it must steer the ship of an inspiring, rejuvenated Judaism in full sail right into the heart of Israeli society, causing shockwaves that will impact every aspect of life. It can no longer be concerned just with the kashruth of our food, or with our Jewishness. Above all, it needs to inspire the kashruth of our souls. Like the prophets of old, our religious leaders must generate a spiritual revolution, triggering an ethical-religious uproar that shakes the very foundations of the state. Their complete failure to do so is nothing less than a tragic dereliction of duty. Israelis are waiting for such a move, and there is little doubt that their response will be overwhelming.

Only then will the Jewish people re-engage with its land. Only then can the Jewish people stay eternally married to its land. Only then will no third party, whether it is European Anti-Semitism, BDS efforts, Moslem Extremism, Jewish self-hate or the deceitfulness of UNESCO dare to interfere in its matrimonial bond. This is Israel’s hope and future.

May God bless this eternal marriage!

Rabbi Dr. Nathan Lopes Cardozo

Five CLEAR Tips To Keep Marriage Fresh And Sacred

Sunday, May 8th, 2016

Familial relationships are prime factors in determining how individuals view themselves and how they view and interact with the world. The foundational relationship in any family is that of the mother and father; their interactions as husband and wife inform their children as to how meaningful relationships can be cultivated and maintained.

In addition to this crucial modeling function, the couples themselves stand to benefit in numerous ways from investments in their relationships, including improved psychological and physical health.

Creating a healthy and happy relationship requires effort and determination. A good relationship could develop over time, but a great relationship is the result of hard work and dedication. What follows are five crucial guidelines – Communication, Love, Exclusivity, Attention, and Respect (CLEAR) – to help Jewish couples keep their marriages fresh and centered on core values.

Communication is the backbone of human interaction. While one might assume the key to a solid relationship is the mastery of verbal communication, the truth is that non-verbal communication, which comprises 93 percent of the information we intake regularly, is just as important.

It is crucial for couples to know and understand that the words they use to speak with their spouses are only half the equation – the manner in which it is stated will ultimately determine how the information will be received. My Touro University Worldwide coursework and experience in the field lead me to believe that the inability to communicate tactfully and effectively may be the number one barrier to conflict resolution among married couples.

The nature of a relationship is that differences of opinions are bound to arise; two people will rarely share the same opinion or approach. The true measurement of a relationship built to last is not the number of disagreements avoided but rather the number of issues dealt with as a team through effective, positive, and even empowering communication.

Love is a basic need within a marriage. The Talmud (Yevamos 62b) teaches us that one should love his wife as he loves himself. The Rambam (Hilchos Ishus, Chapter 15) understands this as a rabbinic commandment, implying that love is a mainstay of the Jewish marriage relationship. Just as the human body cannot survive without air, a healthy marriage is dependent on the reciprocation of love.

Judaism understands love as an emotional entity that must be nurtured. John Gottman, a leading couples’ therapist, suggests building “love maps,” a model that forces couples to set aside time to focus on their partners’ pasts, concerns, preferences, and current experiences. The idea, of course, is that the better a couple understands one another the more they will be able love each other.

Exclusivity provides a feeling of safety and security in the marriage relationship. For a marriage to work, the couple must know there are certain things they share with one another and no one else. The Torah commands a newly married man to devote his entire first year of marriage to his wife. The Chinuch (Mitzvah 582) clarifies the importance of this commandment, explaining that its purpose is to help the couple create a distinct bond, a relationship that is exclusive and special. When a couple develops this exclusivity early on, it fosters a strong and lasting relationship. That said, the strongest relationships are those in which couples treat every year like their first year of marriage.

Attention is our greatest and most precious commodity. By lavishing a spouse with attention, one shows he cares and is mindful of his spouse’s needs.  Obviously, this task is much easier said than done. Aside from the basic cognitive and emotional differences that exist between men and woman, one must also take into account the historical, familial, and experiential differences each individual brings to the table. These differences play a part in how each individual understands and expresses what he or she thinks, feels, and practices.

By paying close attention to each other’s needs, always taking the time to appreciate the sources of these wishes and desires, a couple will develop a strong and loving bond.

Respect from external sources is a key ingredient to a healthy self-image. The Alter of Slobodka, Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, ztl, explains that self-respect is the very force of life. If one were to lose all respect for oneself, one’s life would be meaningless. This basic need for respect is magnified within the framework of marriage.

The only way to maintain a successful relationship is to begin with a baseline of mutual respect. This means developing a relationship in which the couple operates as a team and consideration, honesty, and compassion rule. Most important, both halves of the couple must be prepared to own their mistakes and apologize sincerely for their misconduct. When mutual respect guides the couple, they are virtually unstoppable.

Though there are many factors that can derail a marriage, couples who truly believe in the sanctity of marriage and are dedicated to their spouses have a fighting chance to secure and enhance their relationships. Hopefully, through educating couples and helping them achieve these CLEAR goals, we will minimize negative couple interactions, create healthier, more fulfilling relationships, and ensure the continuity of our very special Jewish heritage.

Rabbi Natanel Lauer

Rabbinic Court Permits Wedding 2nd Wife over 1st Wife’s Dementia

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

(JNi.media) An Israeli Jewish man, 80, filed an appeal with the Netanya Rabbinical Court, to be allowed to marry a second wife, citing the condition of his first wife as the reason, Psak Din reported. During the hearing, the husband described his first wife’s difficult situation, being under 24 hour care, tied to a wheelchair and requiring help with every personal need. Other than her husband–the plaintiff, the wife does not recognize anyone, not even their grandchildren. When people come to visit she starts screaming or responds inappropriately and is not able to control her bodily functions.

The husband submitted a medical opinion attesting to his wife’s physical, mental and intellectual condition. The document determines that the woman is suffering from various diseases, including multiple sclerosis and severe dementia. Her illness is visible in both her physical and mental conditions, she experiences severe memory lapses, “is not interested at all in her surroundings, barely speaks, does not watch TV, and is occasionally restless.”

The plaintiff also reported that “due to her physical and intellectual disabilities she is unable to manage her own affairs and care, and therefore needs a guardian for her person and property.” In response, the court appointed a guardian for the wife, to make sure her rights are observed.

“Death do us part,” said the husband and explained that it is vital to him not to hurt his first wife, to whom he has been married for 50 years. He takes care of all her needs and is committed to continue this in the future. “I pledge to protect her … I buy medication and bring food home and everything.”

However, despite the difficulties he is already facing, the husband said that at his old age he wants to live with a woman, “who can make him a cup of tea,” hence the request from the court.

The Dayan (rabbinic judge) Rabbi Shneur Pardes reviewed various halachic opinions on the issue and concluded that the husband should be permitted to take another wife. The main discussion was over the rabbinic concept of “a woman who lost her faculties irreparably” who may not be divorced according to Shulchan Aruch (Ev. A:10).

“This situation of women diagnosed with dementia who is unable to take care of her basic needs, has lost sphincter control and cannot be intimate with her husband, fits the definition of a wife who lost her faculties and her husband is given permission to marry an additional wife,” the Dayan ruled.

In this context, the Dayan noted that it is acceptable to rely on doctors’ opinion.

The Dayan noted that he chose to avoid issuing a get according to the Ashkenazi custom, which requires the approval of 100 rabbis, forcing the husband to pay triple alimony for the rest of the wife’s life. However, to guarantee the first wife’s rights—dwelling, sustenance, medial care—the Dayan decided that the first wife will continue to live in the couple’s apartment until she dies. To that end he placed a permanent lien on the couple’s apartment. He also required the husband to deposit a sum three times the amount in the Ketuba (the marriage agreement) with the court.

The presiding judge, Rabbi Michael Amos, and Dayan Rabbi Haim Victor Vidal joined the ruling, permitting the husband to marry again, subject to approval by one hundred rabbis and confirmation by the president of the Supreme Rabbinical Court, Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef.


Military Engagements Can Be Good…

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

Israeli ‘Stand With Us’ Fellowship alumni Ilana and Itai are both currently serving as IDF reservists, and no one denies it’s been a tough tour.

But on Tuesday – the day on which the Creator said twice that ‘it was good,’ – an ersatz red carpet was rolled out upon the sands of a beach.

Ilana was led down that carpet and Itai presented his love with a diamond ring. (She accepted.)

Sometimes a military engagement can be a positive experience. Mazel tov!

Jewish Press News Briefs

Praying for the Kidnapped Boys Under the Chupah

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

I don’t know who this Chatan and Kallah (bride and groom) are, but under their marriage Chupah they prayed for the 3 kidnapped boys, Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Fraenkel and Gilad Shaar, to be returned home safely, as well as for the soldiers looking for them.

It’s OK to cry while watching it.

Jewish Press Staff

Chief Rabbinate Backs Down, Accepts Rabbi Avi Weiss

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

The Chief Rabbinate of Israel has reversed its stand and said it will accept letters from Rabbi Avi Weiss confirming the Judaism of those who wish to wed in the country.

In a letter sent Wednesday to Weiss’ attorney in Israel, Assaf Ben-Melech, the Chief Rabbinate affirmed its position on the liberal Orthodox rabbi from New York.

In October, the Chief Rabbinate rejected a letter from Rabbi Weiss vouching for immigrants who wanted to marry in Israel pending an investigation into his adherence to traditional Jewish law. The move sparked widespread outrage that Rabbi Weiss, a longtime synagogue leader in New York who had vouched for the Jewishness of many Israeli immigrants in the past, was suddenly having his reliability called into question.

Naftali Bennett, Israel’s religious services minister and Diaspora Affairs minister, has been meeting since November with officials from the Orthodox Rabbinical Council of America and the Chief Rabbinate to resolve the issue.

He reportedly sees the issue as one of prime importance based on the potential negative impact it could have on Israel-Diaspora relations.

Weiss founded the liberal Orthodox rabbinical seminary Yeshivat Chovevei Torah and has pioneered a number of controversial innovations in the Orthodox world, most recently his decision to ordain women as clergy through a new seminary called Yeshivat Maharat.

“I appreciate that this injustice has been corrected and am deeply grateful for the overwhelming support I received from all over the world,” Weiss said in a statement. “I also urge the Chief Rabbinate to reflect on how it can help us reach out, respect and acknowledge all Jews in the Diaspora.”


Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/chief-rabbinate-backs-down-accepts-says-rabbi-avi-weiss/2014/01/15/

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