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October 9, 2015 / 26 Tishri, 5776
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Posts Tagged ‘Rabbi Lau’

Revolutionary Marriage Reform Law Spells End to Haredi Domination

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

The Knesset voted Monday night in favor of a bill sponsored by the Jewish Home party that in effect breaks the grip of Haredi rabbis on marriage permits in the country. It easily passed on second and third readings in the Knesset with the only opposition coming from Haredi Knesset Members.

The “Tzohar Law,” named after the organization of modern orthodox rabbis who have been vying for more influence in the country’s religious establishment, will allow couples to register for marriages anywhere they want.

The change is not minor. Certain cities are known to be a nightmare for couples who are often faced with local rabbis’ extreme demands concerning their being Jewish, their lifestyles, and also touching on customs that vary in different communities, such Sephardi and Ashkenazi, and which are not required to be observed by everyone.

One rabbi who has performed dozens if not hundreds of marriages told The Jewish Press that one city, which is not being named here in order not to blemish its name, is a known problem because of local Haredi rabbis’ conditions that often are “unreasonable.”

Now that a prospective bride and groom can register wherever they want, Haredi rabbis will lose any influence, good or bad, they once had over secular and non-Haredi religious couples. If the Haredi establishment had been a bit more flexible in the past decade, it could have won the respect of tens of thousands of Jews who might have been swayed to become more observant.

Instead, their insensitivity to Israeli’s desire for tradition without coercion has cost them their dominance and has allowed modern orthodox rabbis to take over as much more widely accepted role models.

The winners of the new law are the Tzohar rabbis and the Jewish Home Party, which is rapidly shaking off its predecessor’s National Religious Party stigma of representing only observant Jews and those that believe that Jewish development in Judea and Samaria is the only important issue for the country.

The party has attracted non-observant supporters with an election platform that supported civil marriages, and the Tzohar law is bound to attract more non-religious supporters who want to marry according to Jewish law without having to be subservient to Haredi rabbis’ ultimatums.

“We have opened the religious services market, “ said Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett.

The Tzohar rabbis recently lost an important battle with the Haredi establishment, which elected Rabbi David Lau as Chief Ashkenazi rabbi instead of Tzohar Rabbi David Stav.

The new law will also create a computerized database for the registrations, making the records accessible to all of the registrars.

Photos: More than 150,000 Mark End of Shiva for Rav Ovadia

Sunday, October 13th, 2013

More than 150,000 people crowded Jerusalem Sunday to mark the last day of the seven-day shiva mourning period for Rav Ovadia Yosef, who died last week at the age of 93.

The spontaneous outpour of mourners stood in stark contrast to the annual rally on the Saturday night before the anniversary of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin in Tel Aviv, as reported here. Leftists rounded up 30,000 people to blame Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for the failure to make peace not only with the Palestinian Authority but also with Iran.

The scene in Jerusalem was a smaller but just as impressive copy of last week, when 800,000 crammed Jerusalem for the funeral. Police learned their lesson form not being prepared last  week to handle the flood of people, and thousands of police officers patrolling the event and closing main arteries. The cemetery was closed to the public in mid-afternoon.

Medics treated approximately three dozen people.

Rav Ovadia’s greatness as a Torah sage was marked by the words of Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau, who said that the late rabbi will be “remembered for generations” and “belonged to all of the People of Israel.”

Religious officials and family members barred Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu from speaking inside the funeral home because he does not observe the Sabbath, and his had to settle for eulogizing Rav Ovadia the building.

Photos by Flash 90:

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Rav Ovadia's chair remains empty next to his sons in the mourning tent in Jerusalem.

Rav Ovadia’s chair remains empty next to his sons in the mourning tent in Jerusalem.

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rav ovadia woman crying flash i90.jpg

R. Lau to Submit Conversion Rulings to Haredi Review in Backroom Deal

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Three weeks after the stunning knockout a coalition of Haredi and Hardali (National religious Haredim) politicians delivered to Jewish Home and its hapless leader, Minister of Religious Services Naftalli Bennett, Ma’ariv reveals the price that had to be paid before the approval of Rabbi David Lau by the extremist Haredi camp: control over non-Haredi conversions.

Over the past three weeks, we’ve heard nothing but praise for the new Ashkenazi chief rabbi, who, as rabbi of Modi’in, a typical mixed religious and secular Israeli town, has shown the kind of moderation and acceptance one expects of a rabbinical shepherd. Some, like National Religious pundit Menachem Rahat, have gone so far as to suggest that under normal circumstances—meaning before the overwhelming sweep of Jewish Home and the ousting of the Haredim from government—someone as sweet and accepting as Rabbi David Lau would not have stood a chance to be selected, and that he was picked only as a desperate response to the popular Rabbi David Stav, a National Religious scholar and leader who was going to revamp the chief rabbinate.

And it worked. Like Menachem Rahat, the prevailing tone of the National Religious commentators following Lau’s election (and Stav’s defeat) has been that at least Rabbi Lau is a nice guy, a moderate, a uniter, not a divider.

All those well wishers may have to reexamine their praises now. According to Ma’ariv, in closed conversations Rabbi David Lau conducted with some Haredi decision makers before the vote, he gave them his commitment that all of his ruling regarding conversions would be submitted to a review by Rabbi Avraham Sherman, the man who gained his reputation as the killer of Rabbi Chaim Druckman’s thousands of kosher giurim-conversions.

Back in May of 2008, the Supreme Rabbinical Court judges Rabbis Hagai Izirer, Avraham Sherman and Avrohom Sheinfeld annulled thousands of conversions done by two National Religious rabbis, determining that:

“First, all conversions performed since 1999 by Rabbi Chaim Avior and Rabbi Chaim Drukman must be disqualified; second, conversions can be retroactively annulled for those who are not observant.”

Attorney Susan Weiss, founding director of the Center for Women’s Justice (JOFA), told Ynet in 2008 that the verdict had far-reaching implications on thousands of people who underwent conversion in the last few years—and on their children.

Much has been written and said about the case, which had territorial war written all over it. It was the first case of such massive, retroactive annulments of giurim-conversions, and the fact that the injured rabbis were renowned National Religious figures, while the court that destroyed their decades of work—as part of the chief rabbinate!—was comprised only of Haredim, was a sign that the Haredim were determined to annul not just the conversions, but also the foothold of the religious Zionists in the Chief Rabbinate.

In the spring of 2012, Israel’s Supreme Court re-affirmed the validity of the thousands of conversions disqualified retroactively by the Rabbinical Court in 2008, but stopped short of saying the rabbinical courts did not have the authority to annul conversions.

Still, the justices did not spare the rabbinical court their criticism. Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch wrote in the verdict:

“The Rabbinical Court of Appeals rode roughshod over basic procedural rules and the principles of natural justice. It demonstrated contempt for the special conversion courts, and above all, it hurt and did a shocking injustice to the petitioners and their children.”

Maariv spoke to Rabbi Sherman who confirmed the story about the condition for Rabbi Lau’s election. According to rabbi Sherman, Rabbi Lau met with Rabbi Yosef Efrati, a confidant of the late Rabbi Elyashiv, leader of the Lithuanian Haredim.

“Rabbi Lau told Rabbi Efrati that on all matters regarding conversions he would come to talk to me and consult in me before reaching a decision, because I have been involved in these issues as a confidant of Rabbi Elyashiv, and I am familiar with his rulings on these matters.”

And so the circle is complete: the most fundamental driving force behind the candidacy of Rabbi David Stav, the celebrated chairman of the Tzohar organization, dedicated to making life under halacha more palatable for secular Israelis, was the brutal treatment of thousands of converts by Rabbi Sherman and his co-justices. Now it is clear that not only did the Haredi politicians manage to subvert the attempts to ease their hold on religious life in the country, but that Religious Zionism has lost the most crucial battle of that campaign. The forces that gave us the disqualification of thousands of Jewish lives are back at the helm, stronger and smarter.

Rav Ovadia Calls Tzohar Rav Stav ‘Evil’; Tzohar Replies: Repent

Sunday, June 16th, 2013

Revered Sephardi Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, a spiritual head of the Shas party and a former Chief Rabbi, castigated Chief Rabbinate candidate Rabbi David Stav in unprecedented terms Saturday night, calling him “evil” and a “danger to Judaism.”

The Tzohar rabbinical group responded by calling on Rav Ovadia, who by all accounts is one of the most brilliant Torah sages today, to “repent” and “ask for forgiveness.”

The epithets  by Rav Ovadia may boomerang and give Rabbi Stav sympathy support that could make him Israel’s next Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi.

They also give anti-religious Jews, both inside Israel and in the Diaspora, plenty of ammunition to fire back in their campaign against leaving authority for Israel’s religious affairs in the hands of orthodox Jews, Haredi or not. One can hear the refrain already, “And you call these people spiritual leaders?”

Rabbi Benny Lau, a national religious rabbi and the nephew of former Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, told Voice of Israel public radio that despite Rabbi Ovadia’s constant antagonistic comments in  his weekly Saturday night sermons, he once realized the greatness of the man when he spoke  with him in person.

But Saturday night’ wild attack on Rabbi Stav left Rabbi Lau without any explanation for his behavior.

Rav Ovadia’s weekly speeches are often geared for his Sephardi audience, many of whom see themselves as having been discriminated against for decades under the domineering thumb of Ashkenazi rabbis for years.

Even taking that into account, Rabbi Lau’s inability to explain Rabbi Ovadia’s venom points in one direction: Aryeh Deri, the Rav’s favorite political leader and who rules the Shas political party.

Deri has been trying to torpedo a bill that would allow Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar to seek a second term. The reasoning is that since he is Haredi, his selection would create more pressure to accept a non-Haredi Ashkenazi rabbi.

Deri, a crackerjack if not ruthless politician, simply had to turn to his trusted rabbi, Rav Ovadia, to help make sure Rabbi Amar will not be selected and thereby prevent the election of Rabbi Stav.

It is open to question how much Deri and other aides close to Rav Ovadia have sheltered him from reality and have fed him the news they want him to read.

Regardless of who is to blame, when a  rabbi, especially one as distinguished as Rav Ovadia, states that appointing another rabbi to the Chief Rabbinate is like bringing idolatry in the Holy Temple, it only takes a look at the calendar to realize how deep and slimy the pit into which the campaign for Chief Rabbi has fallen.

Next week, Jews being the tradition “three weeks of mourning” that concludes with Tisha B’Av, marking the destruction of the First and Second Temples.

The Second Temple is said to have fallen because of “loshon haRa,” literally the “evil tongue” by which Jews slander other Jews.

The Tzohar rabbinical organization accused Rav Ovadia of doing just that and accused Rav Ovadia of incitement.

When respected rabbis feel the need to call on a rabbi as revered as Rav Ovadia to “repent,” it is clear something is not kosher.

Rabbi Stav has conducted an unprecedented self-promotional campaign to become Chief Rabbi, but it can easily be argued there is no other way to change the outward face inward soul of the Chief Rabbinate in Israel that has managed to distance secular Jews instead of drawing them closer to Judaism.

In a pitiful understatement, aides to Rabbi Amar have charged that political elements are sowing the seeds of hatred between Torah sages.

The group of Tzohar Rabbis protested what they called the incitement of Rabbi Yosef against “another great rabbi in Israel whose entire life has been dedicated to love of the Torah by the People of Israel.. [His comments] prove the need for an urgent change in the Rabbinate of Israel.”

Shas officials insisted on the last word, which gets worse every time they speak. They  said it is “not respectful to respond to words of a heretic by people who call themselves rabbis but are worse than non-Jews.”

One Shas source, compared Rabbi Stav with Korach, who challenged  Moses’ authority and whose followers died when the ground opened up and buried them alive. ” When Rav Ovadia says he [Rabbi Stav]is evil, there is no need to explain,” said the source. Now , it is clear that all of them [Tzohar rabbis] are evil.”

Rabbi Lau to Obama: God Sent You to White House; Send Pollard Home

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

Former Israeli Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau wrote President Barack Obama  that God, via the American people, “appointed you…President of the United States,”  and that as a defender of freedom, he should release Jonathan Pollard from prison more than 28 years.

Rabbi Lau quoted from chapter 14 in the First Book of Samuel, which refers to King Saul’s son Jonathan with an impassioned outcry, “Shall Jonathan die?” The rabbi says he feels the same please from his heart for Jonathan Pollard.

Rabbi Lau reminded the President that Pollard’s life term in prison for passing on classified documents for Israel was unduly harsh and “unprecedented.”

Bibi’s Wishful Thinking – A Doppelganger Coalition

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

Trendy Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted on his Facebook page an image of himself as Mariano Idelman, a satirist on the popular Eretz Nehederet (Wonderful Land) program and undoubtedly more popular than any Israeli politician.

Doppelganger week is Facebook’s three-year old annual gimmick that lets people find a celebrity whom they think is a look-alike.

The timing of Doppelganger week with the opening of the 19th Knesset Tuesday opens up tremendous virtual opportunities for a dream government.

Yair Lapid, chairman of the new secular-oriented Future (Yesh Atid) party, could try pairing up with Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, former Chief Rabbi and the post popular person to have filled that role in decades.

Lapid and Naftali Bennett, chairman of the Jewish Home (Habayit Hayehudi) party, hold the keys to the coalition government that Netanyahu is trying to form. If Bennett, a champion of a Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria, would Doppelganger with President Barack Obama, Netanyahu would have it made.

Obama would get along with Israel, assuming he gets along with himself.

Lapid would learn a bit of Torah.

And Netanyahu would be Israel’s most popular comedian, which some critics say he already is.

Rabbi Lau: I Didn’t See Such German Sensitivity to Jewish Blood During the Holocaust

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

Rabbi Meir Lau, Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv and Holocaust Survivor, attacked the Germans today with harsh words. Rabbi Lau said, “We don’t need their permission to live as Jews,” and added that, “I didn’t see such German sensitivity to Jewish blood during the Shoah.”

“It’s amazing, German spokesmen are sensitive to the cries of a baby and a drop of spilled blood like I did not see in my childhood. Then, Jewish children’s blood was worthless and trampled on by the boots of the Gestapo, while tens of millions of Germans collaberated or stood by and watched.”

Rabbi Lau continued to say that Jews don’t have anything to look for in Germany, but that we must fight this anti-Semitic law.

Rabbi Lau also attacked the idea, proposed by Rabbi Metzger, that German doctors would teach or certify Jewish Mohels on how to perform Brit Mila, he added that Rabbi David Goldberg, who was just arrested, has performed over 3000 successful circumcisions.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/rabbi-lau-i-didnt-see-such-german-sensitivity-to-jewish-blood-during-the-holocaust/2012/08/23/

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