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September 30, 2014 / 6 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘period’

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.

Defense Min. Barak: We Didn’t Want to Conquer Gaza

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

In an interview with Israel Radio, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that he considered conquering Gaza throughout Operation Pillar of Defense, but did not take the step because he did not want Israel to remain in the region for a long period of time.

In his first interview since Wednesday night’s ceasefire agreement, in which Barak declared that the Israeli military had accomplished its goals “in full” over the course of the eight day operation, Barak said that while Israel could have removed Hamas from power, it would have meant that Israel would be “forced to stay in for years”, and that it would have been difficult to figure out how to withdraw from Gaza again.

Barak boasted that “while our Chief of Staff will soon be talking to the press, their Chief of Staff is in the ground”, referring to Hamas military chief Ahmded Jabari, who Israel killed on the first day of Pillar of Defense.

Barak said Israel hit Hamas with one thousand times the force with which Hamas hit Israel, and praised the “powerful, effective army”.

Home Front Command Issues New Guidelines for Southern Communities

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

Home Front Command has issued defense guidelines to residents of the South. In communities between 0 and 4 miles from the Gaza Strip border: upon hearing sirens or an explosion, you must get into a protected space within the available period of time. Schools will be closed tomorrow. There is a temporary prohibition on public assembly. Do not try to reach work places for tasks that are not essential. Shopping centers are closed.

In communities that are within 4 and 25 miles from the Gaza Strip: upon hearing a siren or an explosion, you must get into a protected space in time. Schools will be closed in all municipalities. No public assembly of more than 100 in open and closed spaces (shows, events , soccer games, etc.). It is permitted to hold gatherings of fewer than 100 without restriction. No restriction on nonessential jobs, malls are open.

IDF Spokesman: There Is No ‘Hourglass’ Over this Operation, We Have a Green Light

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

IDF spokesman, Brigadier General Yoav (Poly) Mordechai said: “We are facing a lengthy period during which we must prepare resiliently at the home front, listen to instructions, and stay close to protected areas. In the coming hours, the smoke will continue to rise above Gaza. The Chief of staff in the war room and the Air Force proceeds with aggressive and accurate attacks. We are in the midst of a campaign that will keep increasing. There is no ‘Hourglass’ over this operation – we’ve received the green light from the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense. If I were a senior Hamas official – I would be looking for a place to hide. There will be a ground operation should the need arise. Infantry brigades are being diverted to support the war effort.”

Rain, Wine and Why it’s all Our Fault: The History of the Rain Libel

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

We’re now entering the period when we begin to pray for rain.  Lack of rain was often an excuse to persecute the Jews, specifically those living in Jerusalem.  There are quite a few examples from our history of this rain libel, which was very often linked to the ‘sin’ of drinking wine.

Martin Kabátník, a Czech-Bohemian pilgrim who visited Jerusalem in 1491, reported that when there’s a drought, the Arabs go to the Jews and Christians and break their wine vessels.  Then they break all other vessels they find.  And they blame them, saying that because of them G-d is preventing the rain from coming, because they’re infidels and drink wine.  Kabátník said he heard from the Muslims that it’s OK to wrong the Jews, since G-d doesn’t see it as a sin.

A few years later, in 1495, a student of the Bartneura repeated the same story: when there’s no rain and the water is gone from the waterholes, the Ishamaelites will sometimes gather on us, to pour out the wine and break the jugs because they said that rains don’t come because the Jews sin and drink wine.

Around 30-years later, after the Turks conquered the land, Rabbi Moshe Basula came to Jerusalem.  And he discovered things hadn’t changed.  He writes as follows: It’s the custom of the Ishmaelites in Jerusalem, that when G-d doesn’t make it rain, they say it’s the fault of the Jews who drink wine, and they ask the governor to break the wine-jugs of the Jews. And on Wed. 20th of Kislev 5282 [Nov 20, 1521] the governor claimed that libel, until they agreed on (a fine of) 200 dukats of their currency, every dukat is 4 marcellis.  They fined anybody who made wine, and it cost half a dukat, that is 2 marcellis, for every 100 rotiol of wine, which are 600 of our liters.

A Jewish poem tells us of similar problems twenty years later.  The lamentation, written by Moshe Ma’alim, describes the troubles which befell the Jews in Jerusalem starting in 1542.  In that year a plague hit the city, followed the next year by an earthquake which hit on Passover.  Then locust covered the land, which exacerbated an on-going drought.  The Muslims blamed the Jews, and repeatedly searched their houses for wine, the cause of all the troubles.  This left the Jews with no wine for religious ceremonies.  Finally the Muslims evicted the Jews from the city.

(Yehuda Razhabi, Shalem V)

The lamentation was written while the Jews were still in “Galut,” and ends with a prayer that the Jews will return to Jerusalem soon.

A hundred years later, we again hear a very similar story.  Except this time, the problem was the Jews, not the wine.

Henry Jessey was a British priest who believed the Second Coming would only occur if the Jews of Jerusalem would convert.  He tells of several similar stories, the most descriptive is based on a letter written by the Jewish community.

In 1639 there was famine in Jerusalem following a long drought.  A Jewish convert to Islam convinced the Turks that the problem was the Jews: they were sinning against G-d.  The Turkish governor, Muhammad Pasha, ordered the Jews immediately evicted from the city.  The Jews begged (and bribed) the governor to give them three days.  The governor agreed and decreed that in three days, if it won’t rain, the Jews will be evicted and their belongings appropriated.  Any Jew found in the city after that date will be executed.

For the next three days, the Jews fasted, day and night.  As the second day drew to a close, when they saw their prayers weren’t answered, they decided they would rather commit mass suicide then stay at the mercy of the Turks.  But before they did so, they asked the governor to pray at Zecharia’s Tomb.

The governor agreed and so on the morning of the third day the Jews went to Zecharia’s Tomb and prayed and prayed.  The day was a hot day, and the Turks already prepared the stones with which they intended to stone the Jews on their return.  But come evening, after a day of prayer, the rains came.  Within a couple of hours all the water holes filled up.  The rains were so heavy, the Jews were forced to stay in the tomb throughout the night.  And on the next morning, the Turks met the Jews coming back and blessed them and gave them gifts.  The governor gave each of the rabbis a suit.  The Jews were saved, until next time.

Things to Do on Chol Ha’Moed: Tigers

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

Here’s a bunch of tykes staring at a tiger at the Jerusalem’s Biblical Zoo (full name: The Tisch Family Zoological Gardens in Jerusalem – The Biblical Zoo) during Chol Ha’Moed, the intermediary period between the two holiday ends of Sukkot.

The glass partition provides an intimate closeness to the scary beasts that I haven’t experienced in any other zoo I’ve visited. When our daughter was three, she stood for a long time staring up close at this tiger or his older relative, not paying attention to the tension that rose in the body of the gorgeous beast, until he leaped at her in a long and silent arc and smashed into the (thankfully) sturdy glass.

You’d think he’d know better after a few of those disappointing attempts to eat his small visitor. The tiger in this picture seems to have accepted the facts of life and modern animal confinement concepts…

Use Fish not Chicken for Kaparot

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

Thousands of Orthodox Jews are preparing to swing live chickens over their heads before Yom Kippur, symbolically transferring their sins to the chicken. The chicken is then slaughtered and donated to the poor for consumption. This practice is called ‘Kapparot,’ which literally means “atonement.”

Using fish, money or chickens are acceptable methods of performing this expiation ritual. Using a live creature has the impact of allowing one to appreciate his or her own life and the life of the animal. A deep appreciation for animal life is fostered by seeing an animal slaughtered so that man can survive.

This chicken swinging ritual is controversial both in terms of the practice potentially leading to animal cruelty and the view by many leading rabbinical authorities that the practice should be avoided because of its superstitious nature.

Rabbi Yosef Caro, author of the Code of Jewish Law, called the practice “heathen, foolish and superstitious.” Other Rabbis especially Kabbalists like Rabbi Isaac Luria encouraged the practice of using a live creature for Kapparot.

Another common objection to the practice is based on the Jewish principle that one is forbidden to engage in tsa’ar ba’alei chaim (causing unnecessary pain to animals). While the ritual itself does not necessitate animal cruelty, the pragmatic outcome may result in the unnecessary suffering of chickens:

Because modern kapparot chickens are trucked into the city from long distances, often in open trucks exposed to the weather and without adequate food or water, the question of … cruelty to animals …. has become an … issue. The birds may also suffer while they are being handled for sale or during the ceremony, because many urban Jews are unfamiliar with the proper, humane way to hold a chicken. (Which should be with a hand above and one below the bird, supporting the weight of the body, not held with the wings painfully pinned back, as is done at some kapparot centers.) In some places in Israel and the United States, chickens are sold on street corners for this ceremony, and not every merchant takes proper care of his chickens during this period. The birds are frequently cooped up in baskets, and some merchants neglect to give them sufficient food or water. In some cases, the caged chickens have been left out in the rain or under the hot sun with no shade or shelter, or simply abandoned in warehouses and left to starve if not sold in time for the ceremony.

Notions of animal cruelty do not apply to fish under Jewish law, so by using a fish for the Kapparot ritual one would avoid causing unnecessary pain to an animal yet still have the benefit of using a live creature for the ritual. Jewish law does not recognize fish as an animal for the purposes of animal cruelty laws. (See Beis Yehudah ביור”ד סימן י” where all opinions say you can cut a piece of fish when it is alive and no one says it is tsa’ar ba’alei chaim. Therefore it must be that there is no tsa’ar ba’alei chaim for Fish). Also ritual slaughter does not apply to fish, therefore it is understood that fish don’t experience the same kind of pain as an animal.

Another advantage of using a fish is that you avoid the concerns of rabbinical authorities that were critical of using chickens. At the same time you are respecting those authorities that said Kapparot should be done on a live creature.

Chickens are required to be slaughtered in a particular method for them to be deemed kosher. In contrast, fish do not require a particular method of slaughter, so by using fish you offset the concerns of the animal being rendered non-kosher due to an improper slaughter procedure.

At this Yom Kipur’s Kapparot, consider using a live fish instead of a live chicken. You will avoid potential animal cruelty under Jewish law. You will be respecting Halachic authorities that were critical of using chickens while also respecting those that encouraged doing the procedure on a live creature. You will also avoid concerns that your animal was slaughtered improperly. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/use-fish-not-chicken-for-kaparot/2012/09/23/

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