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December 8, 2016 / 8 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘political’

Why I Am A Political Conservative

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

{Originally posted to the author’s blogsite, The Lid}

The other day I sat through a discussion between Christian friends about conservatism and religion. One commented that some of the conservative theorists’ ideas about man’s imperfections come from the Christian idea of “original sin.”  That’s where they lost me.  Obviously I come at it from a different angle. To Jews “original sin” is the pain we put our mothers through when they are pregnant and give birth to us.  “You should never have that pain!!”  BTW we also believe that life begins when the kids get married and we move to Boca Raton.

Another thing we Jews believe is that we are supposed to enjoy our time on this Earth and the greatest joy one can have in life is connecting with God.  And that’s why I fall on the conservative side the aisle, because Liberalism, and most liberal programs try to put a layer between God and Man. Which is probably why despite the reputation of Jews being liberal, the more “orthodox” ones beliefs and/or practices the more likely they are to reject the stereotype and reject liberalism, and support politicians who are more conservative.

Conservative principals such as limited government, individual responsibility, and traditional morals are all deeply rooted in Jewish tradition. Even the fact that America’s founders intended for the county to be led by people who based their political decisions on religious values (something that scares the heck out of most liberals) complements Jewish tradition.

It starts with the creation narrative in Genesis, which explains that man is created in God’s image.  But we are also taught that our maker has no bodily form, so how can that be?  The Bible is not teaching us that we are all dead ringers for the “big guy upstairs.” If that was the case the pictures on everyone’s driver’s licenses would look the same (and no one would be able to get a check cashed), and all of those TV shows about solving crimes would be very boring because everyone would have the same DNA.

“Created in God’s image” is supposed to teach us that just as God acts as a free being, without prior restraint to do right and wrong, so does man. God does good deeds as a matter of his own free choice, and because we are created in his image so can man. Only through free choice, can man truly be, in the image of God.  It is further understood that for Man to have true free choice, he must not only have inner free will, but he must exist in an environment in which a choice between obedience and disobedience exists. God thus created the world such that both good and evil can operate freely; this is what the Rabbis mean when they said, “All is in the hands of Heaven except the fear of Heaven” (Talmud, Berachot 33b). God controls all the options we have, but it is up to man to pick between the correct or incorrect option.

When it comes right down to it, free will is the divine version of limited government. God picks which is the correct direction and even gives us a guide book in the Bible, but he does not pick winners and losers. It is up to each and every one of us to pick the direction we want to proceed.

“All men are created equal,” means we all have the same ability to be infinitely good or wicked, or to forge a relationship with God regardless of intellectual capability, social background, physical strength, etc. It does not mean, as the liberals ascribe to, that when it comes to talents, predilections, or natural abilities we are all equal. Nor does it mean we all should have the same big screen TV, wireless internet, or savings account balance. We all have the same right to be as successful as we can be with the cards we have been dealt.

Jewish tradition takes a positive view of both the institution of ownership and the accumulation of wealth. It respects economic success, so long, that is, as it is obtained honestly and proper respect is shown for the social responsibility that comes with it.  That social responsibility is an individual duty and a job for the community led by its religious leaders, but not for the government.  That doesn’t mean it’s wrong for the federal government to provide a safety net, but the primary responsibility is the individual and the local community.

The Hebrew word for charity, “tzedaka,” has in its root the word “tzedek,” which means righteous, because we are taught that personally giving charity is one of the keys to being righteous.

The book of Leviticus (25:23) says:

“If your brother becomes impoverished and his means falter in your proximity, you shall strengthen him proselyte or resident so that he can live with you”

Notice it says live with you, it does not say live in a government facility. That’s because the obligation is on the individual. In rare times the community was called on to pick up the slack but it was never the community government, it was the local Rabbi who would lead the effort.

In biblical times farmers were directed to leave some of their fields unharvested for the poor to feed on.

Some of the ancient sages have suggested when God created the world; sparks of his holiness were spread across the earth. Every time that a person makes the choice of performing a righteous act (such as giving charity) one of those sparks is purified and sent back to heaven. Through that process we become closer to God.

Liberal/Progressive governments takes away that free choice given to us by God.  Their philosophy is that left to their own devices, mankind will do the wrong thing (or at least what progressives say is the wrong thing). So these leftist governments do their best to take over the role of God, and take away the free will we were given. Liberalism takes away our personal choice and gives it to the government –thus retarding our spiritual development and most importantly, the opportunity to “pick up those sparks” and get closer to our maker.

Judaism also teaches us that we cannot rely on God to bail us out all of the time, the responsibility to take action falls upon each and every one of us. There is the famous story of Moses splitting the Reed Sea teaches this lesson (Red Sea was a typo made when the Torah was translated into Greek). In Exodus Chapter 14-15 Moses sees the Pharaoh’s troops bearing down on the Israelite nation, who are trapped against the sea.  Moses starts praying to God, but God says stop praying and do something!

And the LORD said unto Moses: ‘Wherefore criest thou unto me? Speak unto the children of Israel that they go forward.

That’s holy talk for “get off your arse and do something!”

The ancient rabbis tell the story that when Moses lifted his staff over the sea, the water did not part.  The Egyptians were closing in, and the sea wasn’t moving. The Israelites stood on the banks of the sea, frozen in fear until a man named Nachshon took the responsibility upon himself to act; Nachshon just walked into the water.  He waded up to his ankles…his knees…his waist… his shoulders, and just as the water was about to reach is nostrils the water parted.

This story teaches us that it’s one thing to have faith and believe God will eventually help us, but we cannot get that help until we take personal responsibility and act on our own. This too is antithetical to liberal philosophy which teaches that government is the first place to look for help rather than looking within one’s self, family, and community.

On the other hand, a Liberal/Progressive government teaches citizens that the government will always bear the responsibility of protecting you; there is no individual responsibility, just the collective bailout. Instead of each one of us assuming a personal responsibility and using our good deeds to gain closeness to God, we become part of an overall group with no responsibility.

Liberal Jews get very worried when they hear a political leader talk about God.  If the political leader is a Christian (as most of them are in America) they see the person as some sort of zealot who will eventually force everyone to become Christian. If the person is a Jew, they get angry the Jew is wearing their religion on his sleeve (like me for example).

In the book of Exodus, it is God who sets up the first Israelite government, he chose to have a political/government leader Moses, and a religious leader Aaron. Even though Moses was the governmental leader, the Torah teaches us that Moses used God’s law and morality to make his “political” decisions. In that first Hebrew government set up by God there was no wall separating church and state. Political leaders were expected to consult with God’s law in making their decisions. In fact each of the Hebrew kings were commanded two write two Torahs during their reign (they weren’t called Jews till much later). If we are taught that a government set up by God was supposed to use the religious laws in their decision set, why is it not okay for a government set up by man.

Americas founding father guaranteed us freedom of religion. But those First Amendment freedoms where not set up to protect the government from religion, they were created to protect religion from government. For Jews that should that the Government cannot prevent us from observing our rituals such as keeping Kosher, circumcision, or covering our heads. But it was never meant to prevent your local mayor from putting out a Christmas tree on city owned property. Nor was it meant for The Little Sisters of the Poor, or Hobby Lobby to pay for birth control or abortion.

In his farewell address, Washington said:

Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens. The mere Politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connexions with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

The Jewish picture of God is of a creator who instilled in us a personal responsibility to do the right thing, but he also provided us with the choice to accept that responsibility or not. There is no room in Jewish law for a government that forces their interpretation of the right thing down our throats. There is also little room for a government that does not include religion and morality in their consideration set when decisions. And that goes for Christians as well as Jews.

Political conservatism matches Jewish tradition, because when it comes right down to it conservative principals such as limited government, individual responsibility, and traditional morals are all Jewish principals.

On the other hand, progressive/liberal governments take from their citizens is the greatest joy of all— finding for themselves the path that will draw them closer to God and feeling that closeness get stronger with every Mitzvah. It is the desire to achieve that joy that makes me a political conservative.

 

Jeff Dunetz

Kerry’s Last Ditch Effort to Get Netanyahu to Commit Political Suicide

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

According to a report in Haaretz Sunday, we have no idea what was said in the Friday meeting in New York between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Secretary of State John Kerry. This is important to note, because both versions of the report, Hebrew and English, have zero information regarding the “hastily organized” meeting, and yet the headline and the story are presented as if Kerry had said really mean things to Netanyahu’s face. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t, no one knows.

Kerry is in the midst of his final attempt to shape the Israel-PA conflict resolution in his image, and he has been going at it with everything he has including the kitchen sink. Haaretz, which cites Kerry’s leaked comments in a Monday, Sept. 19 meeting of the PA donor states, is implying that the Secretary of State, who was “extremely agitated” at last Monday’s meeting, on Friday told Netanyahu that Israel is bound to end up as a binational state, unless it capitulates to the PA’s demands. Could be.

The Kerry-Netanyahu meeting took place following a meeting of the foreign ministers of the “Middle East Quartet” — the US, Russia, the UN, the EU, as well as the foreign ministers of France and Egypt. They all hated the idea of Jews living in Judea and Samaria, and said so in a statement that attacked those pesky Jewish communities who “are steadily eroding the viability of the two-state solution. The Quartet stressed the growing urgency of taking affirmative steps to reverse these trends in order to prevent entrenching a one-state reality of perpetual occupation and conflict.”

As usual, no one considered the possibility of those Jewish communities remaining as part of a new Palestinian State. Just as Netanyahu had noted in his much vilified video a week or so ago, that new Palestinian State must be cleansed of its Jews.

The Ha’aretz report relied heavily on leaked portions from Kerry’s agitated speech before the PA’s donor countries, where he cited the ailing former president Shimon Peres who had warned that continued Jewish life in Judea and Samaria and eastern Jerusalem, in Kerry’s words, “will bring one war, not one state. Make no mistake about it, I believe that is the risk if we continue on the current course.”

It’s almost bizarre to hear Secretary of State Kerry, whose country is mired in an endless war across the entire Middle East, threatening the one country in the region who wins its wars. Save for the Iranian nuclear threat, securing which Kerry was responsible for more than anyone else, Israel has no real enemies in the region, and those who are crazy enough to do war with the Jewish State would not lay down their arms and rockets because it signed a deal with Mahmoud Abbas.

Kerry asked the assembled foreign ministers last Monday: “How does increasing the number of settlers indicate an attempt to create a Palestinian state? The status quo is not sustainable. So either we mean it and we act on it, or we should shut up.”

In his famous recent video, Netanyahu asked (in mock innocence) how can the fact that a few thousand Jews build homes and work the land impede a Palestinian State. It can only do so if the envisioned state must be free from Jews (try Google translating it into German). Israel has a sizeable Muslim minority, close to 20%, why can’t the PA have a sizeable Jewish minority? The argument didn’t catch on, especially not by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who called the Netanyahu idea “absurd.”

Kerry was livid at Israel for not keeping its promises to him 100 percent, and said bitterly, “I was told the Allenby Bridge [between the West Bank and Jordan] would open 24/7. It never did. I was told that the 3G [PA cellular service] agreement signed nearly a year ago would take place within months. It still is not fully implemented.” He also stated that in order to hurry the process towards the two-state solution, “we need to fundamentally change the dynamic by resuming the transition to greater Palestinian civil authority in Area C, which was called for in prior agreements.”

Here’s what happened in Area C: under the 1998 Wye River Memorandum, Israel was going to withdraw from 13% From Area C (full Israeli control), turning it into Area B (PA administration, IDF security). Israel withdrew from 2%, and then, a suicide bombing at the Park Hotel in Netanya during the 2002 Passover seder killed 30 civilians and injured 140. So Israel took back those 2% and launched a campaign to destroy the terror infrastructure across Judea and Samaria.

In the end, the Secretary of State along with the rest of the civilized world want Israel to go back to a situation where those mass bombings are once again possible. Which is what the two-state solution was all about in the first place, from the PLO’s point of view.

JNi.Media

Political Hitman – G-d’s Top 10 List – Do we listen?! [audio]

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

G-d gave us 613 Commandments to follow, but highlighted 10 of them as his Top Ten List. How well do we follow them?

Howie looks at and analyzes the 10 Commandments and discusses how we can better ourselves by following them closer.

Political Hitman 14Sept2016 – PODCAST

Israel News Talk Radio

Political Hitman – Stand Up, Don’t Sit With Your Heads Down [audio]

Thursday, September 8th, 2016

When you see injustice and lies on your college campuses, what do you do? Stand up and fight, or sit quietly and hope that the haters fade away? Listen to this powerful interview with Israelis in Canada who are telling you what Israel is REALLY like.
#StandWithUs
Political Hitman 07Sept2016 – PODCAST

Israel News Talk Radio

AG Recommends Evacuating Amona, Residents Hoping for Political Rescue

Monday, August 8th, 2016

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said on Sunday that there is no legal obstacle barring a review of the status of lands adjacent to the community of Amona in Benjamin regional council, to start a discussion of potentially moving there the residents of the community which has been slated for demolition by the end of the year by the supreme court. Mandelblit spoke at a discussion with government officials of regulating the status of Amona.

The Israeli Supreme Court ruled in 2006 that the Amona community is illegal under Israeli law, based on petitions of presumed original Arab owners of the land who had been rounded up by anti-Zionist groups like Peace Now and Yesh Din. Since then, the court has ruled again on the Amona case, ordering that the Jewish residents must be evacuated, the housing and infrastructure destroyed and the area be handed to the Arabs.

According to the Amona residents, when the community was founded in 1995 it was by a state initiative, promoted by then housing minister Natan Sharansky, who invested millions of dollars in creating an infrastructure, paving roads and promoting construction, all of it under the auspices of the state. If there were irregularities with the land purchase, it was the state’s problem, not theirs. Had they known the land was privately owned they would have stayed away, but they were told by the state to move in — let the state deal with the alleged original owners.

It should be noted that when Mandelblit was being considered for the AG appointment, he was favored by the right for his idea that in just these kinds of cases, with anti-Jewish settlement activists signing up claimants against existing Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, and the claimants prove ownership (which is not so hard to do considering the land registration archives are kept in Ramallah, seat of the Palestinian Authority) — said claimants be compelled to accept fair market value for the property, or comparable property. Mind you, this is after some Arab real estate agent had received full pay for the same land.

Now, despite his wise recommendation on grandfathering existing Jewish communities, the AG is obviously feeling that he can’t go to battle against a clear Supreme Court ruling to demolish Amona, and so he recommends finding an alternative land not for the alleged Arab owners, but for the very real Jewish residents instead.

Amona was the site of one of the most brutal attacks of Israeli government forces on Jewish residents in the state’s history. On February 1, 2006, Amona Jewish residents and protesters were evacuated by 10,000 Israeli Police, Border Police, and Army troops. The estimated 4,000 Jews on the Amona grounds mostly consisted of youths from nearby communities. More than 300 were injured, including some 80 security personnel. Among the injured were three Knesset members. After several hours, the Amona homes had been demolished. A few girls that were evacuated accused police officers of sexual assault.

In March 2006, the Knesset parliamentary inquiry into the events at Amona determined that security forces had employed brutal force, striking protesters with clubs and charging them with horses. Internal Security Minister Gideon Ezra was criticized for preventing police commanders from testifying at committee hearings. The committee also found contradictions between the testimonies of the Army Chief of Staff and the Internal Security Minister.

Today, none of the coalition parties wants to position itself behind a similar evacuation effort, a move which could kill their political aspirations among their rightwing voters. Likud, Habayit Hayehudi and Yisrael Beiteinu officials have stated recently that this government will not permit the destruction of Amona. When the brutal evacuation took place in 2006, it was carried out by the same government that had evacuated Gush Katif in the Gaza Strip in 2005, yet another traumatic event in recent Israeli history. That government was ruled by the Kadima party, a political albatross invented by soon-to-go-comatose Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, which has since disappeared from the political map, and serves as a warning to all Israeli rightwing parties wishing to err leftward.

With that in mind, it can be expected that Prime Minister Netanyahu, Defense Minister Liberman and Justice Minister Shaked come up with a solution that keeps the Jewish settlers in place, risking the ire of the high court, as well as of Israel’s many friends in the free world. It should provide for great political theater, as these three politicians will show their ability to both capitulate and gravel while proudly standing erect. It’s time to call in the chiropractors.

JNi.Media

Israeli Media Reporting on Hebron Shooter Trial Strictly Political

Sunday, July 10th, 2016

“Sitting next to his parents, with a blank face, [Sergeant Elor] Azaria is realizing the defense arguments are collapsing,” Shabtay Bendet wrote in Walla last Thursday, on the trial of the medic who last Purim in Hebron shot to death an Arab Terrorist who had already been neutralized and was lying on the pavement. An Arab B’Tselem cameraman captured the incident, and as a result what would have ended in a disciplinary hearing for the shooter, at most, quickly turned into a murder charge which was then reduced to a manslaughter indictment by the IDF prosecutor.

“These last few days of hearings did not bode well for the soldier, accused of killing a terrorist,” wrote Bendet, as if the term “terrorist” was a kind of civilian occupation, and could be easily substituted with “housewife” or “driving instructor,” or “electrician.” Bendet continued: “One after the other the witnesses undercut the defense claim that the terrorist posed a real threat of carrying an explosive charge on his person. Meanwhile, Azaria and his family have been maintaining their silence, except for one outburst borne by the realization that things are not great [for them].”

Bendet’s report about how the prosecution has been winning the Azaria trial mirrors countless reports with a similar message which have saturated Israel’s media over the weekend. And, naturally, the further to the left the writer, the broader the implications of the Azaria manslaughter case regarding the entire Netanyahu government and its policies in Judea and Samaria.

Ravit Hecht criticized in Haaretz on Friday Azaria’s father’s emotional call on Prime Minister Netanyahu to intervene in hi son’s case. “The father is calling on the prime minister to, in effect, take action against the army,” she wrote. “The father is turning to the prime minister to sabotage the machinery of the very system with which he is trusted.”

Hecht then goes on to accuse Netanyahu of always sabotaging the systems he is trusted with, but it’s clear from her approach that a conviction in the Azaria case is the proper outcome, while, should the 19-year-old sergeant be acquitted, democracy would be in peril.

Bendet, for his part, misunderstands the central issue in this case, which has made it such a tough case for the prosecution, they had to go and recruit outside talent from Israel’s top litigation firm. The case depends not on the objective conditions near the Hebron check point on the morning of the incident and whether or not there was a realistic expectation of the terrorist carrying explosives on his body, but on the state of mind of the shooter at the time: did Sergeant Azaria believe the terrorist posed a credible threat while on the ground?

But even regarding the rules of engagement as they were understood at the time of the incident, the prosecution’s testimonies are problematic, if not outright tainted, according to Moshe Ifergan, writing for Mida Saturday.

“Don’t believe what the media are telling you,” Ifergen insisted. “Judicially speaking, the testimonies of the division commander, the soldier and the company sergeant who were at the scene prove that the prosecution has collapsed. Severe internal contradictions in witnesses’ testimonies and obstructions of the investigation on the part of the command level should lead to a mistrial.”

Ifergen accuses the IDF of intervening in the investigation in a manner that hopelessly polluted the evidence and the testimony. Kalman Liebskind, writing for Ma’ariv also accused then defense minister Moshe Ya’alon and IDF chief of staff Gabi Eizenkot of jumping to damning conclusions before the investigation had begun, and essentially shutting out any testimony that contradicted their strong and unmistaken condemnation of the accused. The defense was able to elicit from several witnesses, rank and file soldiers in Azaria’s unit, testimony about the massive campaign on the part of the division commander and the new battalion commander to condemn the accused.

A central question in the case, which everyone involved, including the judge, keep going back to, is the prosecution’s argument that the behavior of the soldiers in the B’Tselem video does not show that they were concerned about an explosive charge on the terrorist’s body, which the defense says was the reason Azaria shot him on the ground. Since these soldiers had undergone special training to handle explosives in such a situation, goes the argument, their lack of concern is evidence that no such threat existed at the time, ergo Azaria shot the terrorist because he hates Arabs.

But the protocols suggest otherwise. Here’s one exchange:

Defense: You underwent instruction with visualized situations of isolating a terror attack scene?

Soldier M: No.

D: You underwent instruction and situations where there was concern for an explosive charge on a terrorist?

M: No.

D: And on the terrorist’s body?

M: No.

D: The division commander who testified here said in an announcement [date omitted] that he instructed the commanders at the check point in Kiryat Arba (near Hebron) with the complete set of scenarios and that he wants to believe that this was passed on to all the soldiers. To you it wasn’t passed?

M: No, it wasn’t passed.

. . .

D: [A previous witness, an enlisted man] says like you’re saying, that you didn’t undergo training in situations of isolating an attack scene, and he says you didn’t undergo instruction and visualizing of situations where there was concern for an explosive load on the body of a terrorist?

M: No, just like I said a minute ago.

D: The company commander also confirms this regarding a lack of instruction for explosive charges here. Does this match your version?

M: Yes.

The defense questioned three witnesses on this point, proving without the shadow of a doubt that while the division chief had instructed his commanders on the rules of engagement and protocol regarding a terrorist suspected of carrying a charge, the commanders did not consequently train their own underlings, which would suggest that the reason they appear care free and unafraid of an impending explosion was ignorance.

Meanwhile, earlier in the proceedings, the defense received confirmation to its point regarding the danger of an explosive from a prosecution witness, Sergeant A.

Prosecutor: When you arrived on the scene, what was your assignment?

A: To secure the terrorist who was situated at the bottom part of the slope, [dressed] in black, and to isolate the scene.

P: Who gave you this assignment?

A: Meir Avni (company commander).

P: What did he tell you regarding the terrorist?

A: He said the terrorist was still alive and there’s a concern about a charge on his person, I shouldn’t let people coming from down below to get close.

This was then used poignantly by the defense.

Defense: [Company Commander] Avni knows about the concern regarding the charge, this contrary to the testimony of the Division Commander.

A: Correct.

D: And he instructs you not to go near the terrorist, to wait for the sapper and stay away from him.

A: Yes, [but] on point there’s one correction, I was instructed especially to stand behind the sapper and make sure people who are not part of the security forces not go near.

The odds on an acquittal or a mistrial for Sergeant Azaria among legal professionals who are interviewed by the media are about fifty-fifty. With one military judge already having been forced to recuse herself following an accusation of conflict of interests, and with the security establishment appearing so heavily invested in getting a conviction, it won’t be an easy task for the military judicial panel to rule against the system. But the case for both an acquittal and a mistrial appears strong, so that there’s little doubt that a conviction would result in an appeal to the civilian Supreme Court.

JNi.Media

8 Women Receive Orthodox Ordination in Largely Political Endeavor

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

On Tuesday night, according to a report by Ynet, eight women received certificates of Orthodox Jewish ordination in Jerusalem and selected for themselves various equivalents to the commonly used “Rav” or “Rabbi” by males: some picked “Rav,” instantly making the title unisex; others went with “Rabba,” which would be the female conjugation of the male title, although the term is not in everyday use; some went with “Rabbi,” which in the genderless English grammar has been a common title for Reform and Conservative women clergy for decades.

One preferred to go with “Doctor,” possibly recalling the shamanist attributes for which some Jewish scholars were once renowned. Or more simply, because she has a PhD, but no ordination.

No one went with the prevalent “Rebbetzin,” presumably because to become a Rebbetzin one doesn’t need to study, just marry well.

The ordination was given personally by Rabbi Daniel Landis, a YU graduate who is the head of the Pardes Institute, an open, co-ed and non-denominational Jewish learning community, based in Jerusalem and operating programs worldwide. Landis is also a senior member of Rabbi Shlomo Riskin’s Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation (CJCUC).

In his message to the freshly ordained Orthodox female rabbis, Landis explored the fact that his graduates are different from ordinary ordained Orthodox rabbis not merely because of their sex, but in their emphasis on Jewish studies, and on any studying at all for that matter:

“I very quickly abandoned the ambition to achieve only rabbinic expertise, and moved on to the more important initiative of promoting you as creative scholars, with integrity, sensitivity and courage, who have access to the members of their generation,” Landis said.

“Yes, but can they pasken on a chicken?” you might ask. It appears that ruling on the mundane needs of rank and file Orthodox Jews was not the top priority of this ordination, which is not a comment on the quality of scholarship of the graduates. They simply appear to put a different emphasis on their future roles in the Jewish community:

Rav Avital Campbell-Hochstein, one of the graduates, said at the ordination ceremony: “Receiving the ordination is not merely a score for knowledge. Ordination, or permission, like halakha itself, is focusing on human beings, on the image of God. Human beings must be seen and heard. The halakha and the Torah are sensitive to the slimmest signs of humanness.” And so, she continued, “in order for halakha, which is an emanation of the will of God, to be relevant and applicable, we must first and foremost be attentive. Human dignity is our driving force. Halakha can be a divider and it can be a meeting ground. It can be a wall and it can be a bridge. Choosing between those component depends on the human beings who use it, and who represent it.”

So, basically, no paskening on chickens for now. Instead, there was a lot of talk about advancing the status of women in halakha and in Orthodox society. You may have to rely on someone else for your kashrut decisions, but in areas of marriage, conversion, and burial, these ordained female rabbis will make sure, as Rav Naama Levitz-Applbaum put it, “that women will be counted, in the full meaning of the word, and to feel as full partners along the path.”

Perhaps as the number of ordained Orthodox female rabbis grows and as each ordination ceases to be viewed as a revolution and starts to be more commonplace (as has been the case in every profession women have entered over the past two centuries) we’ll start hearing about women Orthodox rabbis who are not so heavily invested in the feminist politics of their role but in caring for their congregations. At which point we should be able to assess this fledgling but growing movement not based on our political views but instead on the concrete scholarship and the halakhic contribution of these female rabbis. Because, let’s face it, Orthodox Jews need rabbis to interpret halakha for them. They have plenty of social workers doing everything else.

JNi.Media

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/8-women-receive-orthodox-ordination-in-largely-political-endeavor/2016/06/09/

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