web analytics
April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Rabbi Levin’

The Man Behind All The Noise: An Interview with Rabbi Yehuda Levin

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

        All last week, Rabbi Yehuda Levin’s name appeared in the news as the man behind gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino’s widely-reported remarks opposing gay marriage and homosexuality. After a maelstrom of criticism, Paladino apologized to the gay and lesbian community, prompting Rabbi Levin to sever his ties with the Republican candidate.

 

      But who is Rabbi Levin? And did his brief backing of Paladino help or – as many people are saying – hurt the Jewish community?

 

      A longtime activist, Rabbi Levin heads the Mevakshei Hashem synagogue in Flatbush and often represents the Igud Harabbonim and Agudas Harabbonim on social issues.

 

      Backed by his rebbe, the late Rav Avigdor Miller, Rabbi Levin ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1984 on the Republican ticket; for New York City mayor in 1985 on the Right to Life ticket; and for New York City Council in 1991 and 1993 on the Conservative ticket.

 

      The Jewish Press: Some people say your constant, vocal opposition to homosexual marriage over the years verges on obsession. What’s your response?

 

      Rabbi Levin: I speak out on many social issues. I speak against pornography and against merry-go-round divorces. I also speak every year at the March For Life, opposing abortion on demand.

 

      The reason, however, that my major concentration is on homosexuality is because it says in the Torah that Amalek is God’s superlative enemy. What’s the worst thing that Amalek did to us? “Asher karcha baderech.” Rashi says “lashon keri homosexuality.” As Chazal and midrashim tell us, Amalek homosexually raped Bnei Yisrael. So the biggest problem for God is not chillul Shabbos or eating non-kosher. It’s the Amalekites and the way they initially attacked the Jewish people.

 

      Additionally, the Tanchuma says that the deluge in the times of Noach didn’t come until people started writing marriage contracts between men and men and men and animals.

 

      So I’m trying to prevent homosexual marriage from becoming the law of the land because it would, chas v’shalom, bring tremendous tragedies.

 

      In that vein, you recently associated yourself with Carl Paladino and helped him craft anti-homosexual statements. But not everyone is pleased with your efforts, especially considering the ridicule that Paladino was subsequently subjected to in the media. A recent op-ed on VosIzNeias.com argues, “Rabbi Levin’s strategies have given entirely new shades of depth and meaning to the term ‘backfire.’” How do you respond to that?

 

      Tell me the last person in the Jewish community, who’s not a government official, who was in the media for a whole week, non-stop, 24 hours a day. Can you tell me of a more successful effort in informing literally all of America that once and for all there’s something called Orthodox Jews who – unlike the 80 percent of Jews they know about who are liberal – live by, and stand up for, Torah values? You know the kiddush Hashem this accomplished in informing gentiles and liberal Jews alike what the real Torah position is?

 

      But some Orthodox Jews think you’ve made a chillul Hashem, not a kiddush Hashem. They argue that you are a loose cannon who issues exaggerated and wild statements that make Judaism look silly and extreme. You may have gotten a lot of press, but these Jews argue it’s bad press, not good press.

 

  The people who said these remarks are not sensitive to the political climate. There’s a rabbinic phrase, “b’zman shehashanim kitikunan – when things are regular.” But [things today are not regular]. Paladino defeated Rick Lazio by 26 points in the Republican primary, which clearly proves that people want somebody who says it like it is. I say it like it is on Torah values. I’m not being disrespectful or incendiary. I’m being very articulate, and the media is interested and the message has gone out.

 

      But whom do you represent? Some people argue that you represent no one other than yourself?

 

      The intellectual level of the jealous people who say this is very low, so they have to be persuaded with numbers. In 1984 I ran for Congress against Stephen Solarz. I received 35 percent of the vote, doubling the vote figure that anyone had ever gotten against him. What’s more important is that I got 90 percent of the vote in the chassidic election districts and over 65 percent in Boro Park despite all the politicos being lined up against me. They were making the exact same claims then. They were wearing pins that said, “Vote for Solarz and not the meshugana.” To me, it’s water off the duck’s back.

 

      Additionally, for many years I have been the spokesman for the Rabbinical Alliance of America [Igud Harabbonim], which has a membership of over 850 rabbis. I have been representing them on and off, as well as the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada [Agudas Harabbonim], for more than a quarter of a century.

 

      You argue that the Orthodox community should support pro-morality candidates. Many, however, say it’s smarter to support candidates who will bring more money into the Jewish community, whatever their positions on issues like gay marriage may be.

 

      Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky was once asked: What if a candidate is good on government programs and good for Israel but bad on moral issues, while his opponent is totally insensitive to Israel and won’t give one penny in extra programs to the Jewish community but is good on moral issues? He answered: You’re not giving a severe enough case. Even if the candidate is downright anti-Semitic – we’re not talking about if he’s going to kill Jews – you have to vote for the person who is pro-morality. He said this to Rabbi Dovid Eidensohn of Monsey.

 

      Is that why you helped Patrick Buchanan’s campaign in 1996?

 

      Yes, exactly. He was championing moral values and eventually inserted these values into the Republican platform. I went to Rabbi Avigdor Miller and told him that people say Buchanan is an anti-Semite and will make problems for Jews if he gets in. He said, “Nonsense, full steam ahead.”

 

      Some media reported that you want to start an Orthodox Tea Party. Is this something you realistically plan on doing?

 

      What I meant was that just as the Tea Party has been tremendously successful by displaying a steadfastness on mostly economic issues, we Orthodox Jews [can similarly be successful if] we prioritize the morality issue. Imagine if we all stood united and said we’re going to demand prioritizing morality. Imagine the kiddush Hashem that would resonate throughout the world.

 

      In light of what you’re saying, and in light of the fact that Jews are supposed to be a light unto the nations, why haven’t Orthodox Jews been more vocal in America’s culture wars?

 

      At some point early on – maybe in the 1950s or ’60s – there was some sort of meeting at which rabbis were informed that they could be eligible for government funding for their yeshivas and institutions. But what started off as a pleasurable experience soon turned into an addiction. The politicians became the drug dealers and we became addicted to their finances. The price we paid is that we turned away from our Torah morality values, and today we continue to smile at the very politicians who are poisoning the cultural wellsprings our kids drink from.

‘Family-Values Rabbi’ Visits Jerusalem, Vatican

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

“Now we have the possibility of permanently stopping the yearly gay pride march in Jerusalem,” Rabbi Yehuda Levin of the Rabbinical Alliance of America told The Jewish Press at the end of a two-week trip to Israel, which ended earlier this week.

 For the past several years, Rabbi Levin, a Brooklyn resident and founder of Jews For Morality, has traveled to Israel, lobbying to ban the annual summer gay pride parade in Israel’s capital. With Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu likely to form Israel’s next government, Rabbi Levin sees success in sight.

 Several years ago, a Knesset bill which would effectively prohibit gay parades in Jerusalem was buried in committee. If religious and right-wing parties – who currently have considerable leverage – make joining a Netanyahu coalition conditional on a commitment to passing that bill, Rabbi Levin is “cautiously optimistic” that Jerusalem’s streets may finally be clear of what he calls “the abomination parades.” While in Israel, he and his colleague, Efraim Holtzberg, approached several politicians, including Shas leader Eli Yishai and National Union head Yaakov Katz (Ketzaleh) who were receptive to the initiative, he said.

 In the meantime, however, Rabbi Levin is keeping other channels open as well. Prior to arriving in Israel, Rabbi Levin traveled to Rome and met several prominent Vatican officials concerning the parade, among other issues. In the wake of his visit, Archbishop Antonio Franco, the papal nuncio in Jerusalem, conveyed the Church’s opposition to the parade to Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.

 At the Vatican, Rabbi Levin met with Archbishop Raymond Burke, prefect of the Apostolic Signatura; Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life; Msgr. Charles Brown of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; Father Peter Gumpel, who is heading the efforts to beatify Pope Pius XII; and Bishop Brian Farrell, vice president of the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations With the Jews.

 ”One of the purposes of my trip,” Rabbi Levin said, “was to stress that in light of the constant worldwide attacks on family values, it is imperative that ecumenical activities between Catholics and the Jewish community focus not on religious liturgy and past wrongs but on a united alliance to preserve family values.

 ”In other words,” he said, “90 percent of Catholic-Jewish dialogues are between liberal Jews and the Catholic hierarchy in which there is total disagreement on the homosexual agenda, abortion, etc.” 

 Rabbi Levin urged Vatican officials to reach out to people like him, radio host Rabbi Daniel Lapin, and members of the Rabbinical Alliance of America, Orthodox Union and Agudath Israel – all more traditionally minded. “This can create a new and very positive alliance,” he said.

Rabbi Levin realizes some Jews are apprehensive after the Church in recent years revived a Latin prayer calling for Jewish conversion, moved toward beatifying Pope Pius XII, and lifted the excommunication of a Holocaust-denying bishop.

 But Rabbi Levin notes that it took the Church 500 years to recant its position on Galileo; in contrast, the Church’s position regarding Jews has altered dramatically in just 50 years. To constantly harp, Rabbi Levin said, on liturgical changes and other internal Church affairs, which antagonizes hundreds of millions of Catholics, “is outrageous and violates the rules of Jewish Diaspora, which we’ve absorbed for 2,000 years on how to deal with gentiles.”

 Besides, he said, “there is a fire in the house” – the global erosion of family values. Next to it, all other issues pale in importance. And “when the Catholic Church, which is arguably the strongest religious institution in the world, speaks out for family values the trickle-down effect helps everyone.”

Letters to the Editor

Friday, March 19th, 2004

History’s Lessons

It is beyond argument that an Arab ‘Palestine’ will be another terrorist state. The area is currently ruled by terrorists, dominated by terrorist organizations, and populated by a society so ingrained with hate for Israel that it will take generations – if it happens at all – to change that mindset. It is imperative to understand that we are involved in a religious war where thousands are waiting in the wings to become martyrs. The years of terror in Israel are harbingers of what we can expect from Arab ‘Palestine.’

In 1988, the unrepentant ‘Stockholm Five’ – Rosensaft, Hauser, Kass, Udovitch and Sheinbaum - shamefully dealt with Arafat. They will go down in history for resuscitating the washed up, discredited, despised and humiliated Arafat and his fellow terrorists. Yossi Beilin, Shimon Peres and friends brought further death and destruction with their Oslo debacle. At
Camp David, Arafat’s rejection of Barak’s offer of nearly everything offered further evidence that his goal is the destruction of Israel over and above the creation of ‘Palestine.’ And once again we have Beilin, Peres and friends attempting to raise hopes for “peace” by promoting the potentially catastrophic Geneva Accord.

Why study history if we do not learn from it?

Charlie Bernhaut
(Via E-Mail)


Israel’s Weak PR

If Jews are so smart, why are Israeli public relations efforts so inept? The Arabs have managed to convince the world that the crux of the problem in the Mideast is not suicide bombers but the settlements and the fence. Soon it will be Israel’s nuclear deterrent. They’ve also managed to convince universities around the world that the Israelis are cruel oppressors who rape and massacre Arab women and children. To all these charges Israel responds with weak and pathetic denials - which never catch up with the original charges because people will believe there must be some truth to the accusations.

Prior to the onset of World War II, Hitler told the world that there would be no peace in Europe until Czechoslovakia stopped torturing its German citizens. The world believed him and said ‘Good Riddance’ when England and France handed democratic Czechoslovakia over to Germany with the expectation that ‘peace in our time’ would follow.

The Arabs likewise have discovered that if they scream any absurdity long enough and loud enough, people will believe it.

Israeli leaders and government spokesmen would be more effective if, instead of offering weak apologies or denials to ridiculous charges, they showed some outrage and took the offensive in denouncing the Palestinian Authority for oppressing not only Jews but also its own people.

Abraham Frank
Brooklyn, NY


Worst To Come?

Re Rabbi David Willig’s air-clearing letter to the editor (‘How Will We React?’ Feb. 13):

I find it mind-boggling that Americans, and perhaps more specifically American Jews, feel the worst is behind us. Do we really think that if we catch the Saddams and Osamas of the world,
everything will be all right? Obviously, terrorist leaders must be apprehended, but I fear the worst is yet to come. Synagogues, day schools, shopping malls, sporting events, hotels, concert halls – there are so many open and vulnerable targets, and American Jews should
be ready.

I pray that Hashem protects His people wherever they are, but reality is staring us in the face. Does this mean we should lock ourselves in our houses and live in fear? Of course not; we must continue living our lives with purpose while remaining alert to the fact that we live in dangerous times. And we should also keep in mind that, ultimately, whatever happens will be “the fault of the Jews.” Knowing this, every Jew should remember where his true home is found: Israel.

Avi Ciment
Miami Beach, FL


Beautiful Tribute

Re Naomi Klass Mauer’s tribute to her father on his fourth yahrzeit (‘Remembering Rabbi Sholom Klass,’ Jewish Press, Jan. 23):

I agree that anyone who met Rabbi Klass never could forget him. I was particularly glad for the mention of the uncountable acts of charity performed by Rabbi Klass and his wife, Irene, since those are the most wonderful things remembered by those of us who knew him.

Thank you for a beautifully written tribute about a very special person whom we loved and miss.

Barbara Gilor
Hashmonaim, Israel



Our Hero

Upon receiving the Jan. 23 issue of The Jewish Press, I immediately noticed the front-page blurb ‘Remembering Rabbi Sholom Klass.’ This line appealed to me more than anything else in the news at the time, and I turned to page 11 to read Naomi Klass Mauer’s article on her father.

‘Anyone Who Met Your Father Will Never Forget Him,’ proclaimed the headline, and you can’t imagine how true that is. As his first cousin, I’d like to tell you about the Sholom Klass I knew during my youth when we, as youngsters, visited Brooklyn and got to know Sholom’s family.

It was during our summer visits to Coney Island and, later, Brighton Beach, that we learned of our great beach athlete Sholom, who became handball champ at the nearby Manhattan Beach Club. We were able to sneak in from time to time and watch him play, bare-handed, and beat
all challengers.

Sholom in his late teens was a very handsome, lean, blue-eyed young man, and to us kids he was a real hero. On Saturdays he would take us to the local Young Israel, where we learned to daven with passion. When we were around him we felt elevated, as here was a champion who stood humble in the presence of G-d.

Later on, of course, we knew of how he struggled for so many years, together with his wife, Irene, and his father-in-law, Raphael Schreiber, to make The Jewish Press the world-famous publication it eventually became.

I too believe that anyone who met him will never forget him.

Joseph J. Savitz
Wilkes-Barre, PA



We Stand Corrected

Please permit me to correct several inaccuracies in the history of Yeshiva Torah Vodaath that appeared in the Machberes column of Jan. 30.

1) Reb Shraga Feivel Mendelovich, zt”l, was not the founding menahel of YTV. He only joined the yeshiva about five years after it started (and first as a rebbe only). There were at least two menahelim before him. One was a pioneering Torah educator by the name of Rav Chaim Yechezkel Moseson (he was also involved in the early years of Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin, Yeshiva of Brooklyn, Yeshiva Tifereth Yerusholayim and Yeshivas Rav Yisroel Salanter). Another was Rav Mordechai Eliyohu Finkelstein.

2) In the list of roshei yeshiva of YTV, an early rosh yeshiva of the mesivta, Rav Moshe Don Sheinkopf, was omitted, along with Rav Moshe Rosen.

3) The lifespan of Rav Dovid Leibowitz, zt”l, was 1889-1941 (niftar 15 Kislev 5702/December 1941).

4) The rabbonim of Williamsburg played important roles in the founding of the yeshiva (in 1918) and mesivta (in 1926) of Torah Vodaath. Rav Zev (Wolf) Gold, zt”l, famous Mizrachi leader, was an early vital supporter who gave the yeshiva its name after the name of the yeshiva of Rav Reines, zt”l, in Lida, Europe. Rav Yehoshua Baumol, zt”l, author of Teshuvos Emek Halacha, was a vital mover in the founding of the mesivta.

Also noteworthy is that in its early days the yeshiva was ‘ivrit beivrit,’ though that did not last too long.

It is impossible to give credit to everyone involved in such a large mosad, as no one knows every detail of the history. Nevertheless, we should try to be as accurate as possible so as to be makir tov to those who put so much energy into it.

(Sources: Reb Shraga Feivel by Yonoson Rosenblum (ArtScroll); Jews of Brooklyn (University Press of New England); newspaper clippings.)

Boruch M. Selevan
Brooklyn, NY




Answering Leib Stone


‘One Issue’ Is An Important One

In reader Leib Stone’s response to the defenders of Rabbi Levin – a category in which I am proudly included - he again refers to Rabbi Levin as a ‘one issue’ man in a negative sense
(‘Leib Stone Won’t Be Silenced By Critics,’ Letters, Feb. 13). May I point out that during the Holocaust period, one might have characterized the Jewish hero Rabbi Michoel Ber Weismandel, zt”l, as a ‘one issue’ man.

We are living in a time when a televised football game turns into a pornographic sideshow
performed by pop idols in front of hundreds of millions of impressionable young viewers. As it
now stands, beginning in May of this year, marriage licenses will be issued to gay couples in
the state of Massachusetts.

Does anyone reading this not believe that America is headed toward devastation if the current level of moral decay continues? Does anybody truly believe that we in the haredi community will be exempt from the effects of this destruction because of our ‘successes in Jewish
education,’ as Mr. Stone puts it?

My question to Mr. Stone and all of Klal Yisrael is this: Why must we always wait for an
actual churban (G-d forbid) to commence before we have viable ?one issue? leaders to step up and lead the way?

Shlomo D. Winter
Brooklyn, NY


Disagreeably Smug

Leib Stone, it appears you still don’t get it. What readers found objectionable was not your
stance that gedolei Yisrael should be above reproach - it was the fact that you belittled Rabbi
Yehuda Levin by labeling him a “one issue” man. (As an aside, failing to mention the particular issue by name was quite disingenuous; homosexuality is a very grave offense, and its growing acceptance carries potentially calamitous ramifications. But that’s a subject for a different discussion.)

What is called for at this time is not a recanting of your position but an apology to Rabbi
Levin as an indication that a Torah Jew can disagree without being disagreeable. Mr. Stone,
you came off in your two letters as smug and pretentious. A simple mea culpa would go a long
way toward changing that perception.

Dr. Yaakov Stern
Brooklyn, NY





Stone Is Correct - But Levin Is Right

I agree with Leib Stone that many Torah organizations have no interest in the gay issue, period. When I, together with a tiny handful of activists, fought various pieces of gay rights
legislation, one of the biggest problems was finding someone in a major Torah organization who would even come to the phone. Two senior members of the Torah community hung up on me. They have no time for these things, and less interest.

I once attended a meeting of senior chassidic rabbis who backed an Orthodox politician who
voted the gay position on a certain bill. The reason? “He can’t look foolish by being the only one to vote against the gays.” This is Daas Torah today.

So Mr. Stone is correct about the attitude of Torah leaders toward ‘gay rights’ issues. But we
will soon see that Rabbi Levin was right and the Daas Torah people were wrong.

There are already laws on the books in New York State that make it very difficult to fire a
homosexual employed by a yeshiva or synagogue. I have discussed the matter with government attorneys and others interested in the issue. In the Torah community, however, nobody wants to listen to these things.

In the towns and villages of Europe there was a rav and there was a rosh yeshiva. The rosh
yeshiva took care of learning and the rav took care of the community. Today, we must turn to roshei yeshiva for worldly matters. And they are not terribly excited about the prospect. Yes, they have their priorities. But we as a community deserve protection for our children. We deserve the vigilance of those like Rabbi Levin who fight problems rather than ignore them.

Rabbi Dovid E. Eidensohn
Monsey, NY



We Questioned Gedolim

At the risk of being accused of writing another diatribe, I would like to clarify some of the issues raised by Mr. Leib Stone in his letter of February 11.

1. Mr. Stone implies that since Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l, and other gedolei Torah were in
contact with Agudath Israel on all public issues, we must assume that the public silence of the Agudah on morality issues was dictated by the gedolim.

Does Mr. Stone have direct knowledge that this question was ever honestly brought before Rav Moshe and the other gedolim?

Is it possible that people within Agudah intentionally avoided asking the gedolim their opinion on how to deal with morality issues for fear that the gedolim would prevent Agudah from
honoring various senators and congressmen who were leading the fight against decency and
morality?

Having personally spoken to Rav Moshe, zt”l, at the time he gave me his letter/psak, I very much doubt that he would have approved of publicly honoring leading pro-abortion and pro-gay rights politicians at Agudah dinners. I firmly believe that he would have regarded these actions as a chillul Hashem.

2. Rav Avigdor Miller, zt”l, often explained to us why many otherwise fine Orthodox Jews
rationalize their silence on the moral issues and even go so far as to publicly honor politicians who advocate the worst kinds of degeneracy. The Torah states that “bribery blinds even the wisest of men.” This means that when money is involved, albeit for worthy public purposes, even talmidei chachomim may be misled.

The Talmud cites many cases where great sages recused themselves from acting as judges in
lawsuits if they had received some small benefit from one of the litigants.

3. Referring again to my own personal experience with Rav Moshe: we carried with us letters from the Debrecener Rav, zt”l, and, yibodel l’chaim, the Kashauer Rov, shlita, urging Rav
Moshe to forbid this public honoring of degenerate politicians at the dinners of Torah institutions.

Since Rav Moshe was very old and frail at the time, he was surrounded by people who took care of his physical needs and screened all visitors to his home on the Lower East Side. This Palace Guard censored us and did not allow us to approach Rav Moshe until we agreed to avoid any mention of honoring degenerate politicians. Obviously, they were afraid of what Rav Moshe would say to us if he were asked this question.

We received a pretty strong letter from Rav Moshe concerning the obligation of every Jew to
show his strong opposition to “gay rights” legislation, but it did not mention the issue of
publicly honoring degenerate politicians.

What a contrast to the time, many years before this incident, when Rav Moshe was still in
good health. I visited him in his apartment and asked whether Jews could support capital
punishment (Rav Moshe said yes). It was so different. There was no Palace Guard to screen me and prevent me from asking anything I pleased.

In conclusion, while Mr. Stone speculates on what the gedolim might have been doing behind
closed doors, we have no need to speculate - we actually went to the gedolim and put the question to them.

Rabbi William Handler
Jews for Morality


Terrorist Atrocity Underscores New York-Israel Kinship

Last August, while making a voyage of solidarity through Israel, I had the good fortune to
meet Yehezkel “Chezi” Goldberg and his son at Ben Yehudah Mall, and I was grief stricken to learn of Chezi’s murder in the most recent suicide bombing attack in Jerusalem.

A family has lost a son, a husband and a father. A community has lost a vital citizen, and
because Chezi was the victim of the terrorism and violence that threatens all life in Israel today, our meeting will always stay with me.

As New York City’s mayor, I know firsthand how acts of terrorism and threats of mass violence can send a wave of anxiety, fear and uncertainty across an otherwise strong and vital community. As the families of Israel begin to heal from this tragic loss of life, my City and all its people stand in support in calling for an immediate end to the violence, and the people of New York optimistically and hopefully embrace the cause of all Israelis.

With the murder of Chezi Goldberg the world once again sees the ruthless face of terrorism.
Anywhere that terror strikes – in the Middle East or in the streets of Lower Manhattan – it’s an
assault on all free people.

That is why I traveled to Israel in August, where we met with the injured at Hadassah University Medical Center. One terror victim was, tragically, just 1 month old. We visited the
Western Wall and then boarded the No. 2 Egged bus to ride the route that was the target of
terrorism. We lit candles at the site of the bombing on Shmuel Hanavi Street to honor the memories of the 21 people who were killed in the attack, and spoke with the rescue workers who acted so courageously. And afterwards, we walked the streets of Jerusalem and demonstrated that the people of the City of New York stand united with the people of Israel.

Many of the recent attacks took place halfway around the world but they brought loss and grief to many of our neighbors right here in New York City. As a city that has been struck by terrorists, we share their anguish and their outrage and our hearts go out to those who lost loved ones in the attacks. After the attack on the World Trade Center, offers of help and expressions of support poured into New York City from people around the world. That meant more to us than we can ever say, and we’ll never forget those who stood by us.
Now, in the face of these barbaric crimes, it’s our duty to show solidarity, demonstrate our
humanity, and proclaim our resolve to stop terrorism everywhere.

New Yorkers will not forget the people across the globe who have suffered from terrorism. Our hearts, once filled with sympathy for the struggle of our ally Israel, today well with empathy, as we face a common enemy. The special kinship New Yorkers feel with Israel is stronger now than ever. Like Israelis, we are members of a free society who cherish our liberties. No matter what they do to shake our will, we will never let the terrorists win.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg
New York, NY




Response To The Case Of The Crying Child

Rabbi Romm’s analysis of my position permitting a parent to carry a crying child home on
Shabbat was somewhat ambiguous (Letters, Feb. 13). He states that the theory I presented was not proper halacha, for it is only operational ”in defense of a common practice that [one] is powerless to change.” Namely, it is not normative halacha.

The suggestion is that one should only rule on the basis of what is deemed normative halacha.
Yet the Minchat Shabbat, a sefer accepted as authoritative by the overwhelming majority of
decisors of halacha throughout the world, rules that one should not criticize those who follow the lenient position. In other words, contrary to Rabbi Romm, it is normative halacha not to criticize those who carry children.

Rabbi Romm cites a Talmudic passage that condemns ruling according to normative halacha in
an area that follows a practice stricter than the norm. This implies that the Lower East Side
observes practices above and beyond normative halacha.

Which is it? What is to be halachic policy for a community? Normative, or stricter than normative, halacha?

Let’s review the case. A child is crying and sitting on the street on Shabbat. He refuses to
walk or budge. Is it normative halacha to stand and simply let him cry hysterically? Is this not a
classic case of bedi’avad, a situation after the fact in which halacha permits one to be more lenient than lechat’chila, at the outset?

The Magen Avraham and the Aruch HaShulchan rule that in a case where there is a halachic debate between two views - one permits an action lechat’chila and the other totally prohibits it - should a bedi’avad situation develop, normative halacha would rule that bedi’avad, after the fact, it is permissible for rabbanim to rule like the lenient position (Magen Avraham, Orach Chayyim 254:11; see also Aruch HaShulchan 254).

Accordingly, even though, lechat’chila, the local rabbinic policy on the Lower East Side may be not to carry on Shabbat, it is important to ascertain whether bedi’avad, to console and care
for a hysterical child sitting on the sidewalk, local rabbinic policy is still not to carry the child home.

My position is that in such a case normative halacha will rule like the authorities I presented,
permitting carrying the child home. This is not a case that we are powerless to change. This is a shevut di’shevut bimekom mitzva - carrying a child on Shabbat in the street is only a rabbinic
ban. Also, most rabbis hold that our streets are forbidden to carry in only from a rabbinic view. Thus in such a case of a double rabbinic ban, should it relate to a mitzva (or even to the anguish or pain of a child), the Pri Megadim and the Minchat Shabbat contend that one should not protest against those who carry, based on these reasons (Mishbetzot Zahav 325:1; Minchat Shabbat 82:28).

Coupled with this is the fact that the incident took place in an area ruled by a number of rabbis
as permissible to carry, for it is included in the Manhattan eruv sanctioned by the major
synagogues and rabbis of the Upper East Side. Of interest is how HaGaon Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l, would rule concerning the crying child in the street on Shabbat.

At issue is the local policy. Have all the local rabbis in fact actually ruled that it is proper to
leave a child on the street crying on Shabbat? If so, then Rabbi Romm’s premise may be correct. Namely, the local community has a policy stricter than normative halacha. That’s a situation anyone and any community may observe. But it is quite harsh to maintain that those who follow another halachic perspective should be castigated, especially in an area included in the revised Manhattan eruv (revised years after HaGaon Rav Feinstein was niftar).

Rabbi J. Simcha Cohen
Vice Chancellor
Ariel Israel Institutes

Letters To The Editor

Wednesday, February 25th, 2004

Supports Bush, But Criticism OK

I agree with Assemblyman Dov Hikind that George W. Bush seems the best choice for the Jewish community (“No Choice But Bush, op-ed, Jan. 23). I do think, however, that Hikind presents a rather simplistic critique of the Democratic candidates’ campaign statements. After all, while it’s true that we are at war, it’s equally true that we are in the midst of an election campaign, and I don’t think it’s appropriate for a public official to act as if all criticism of an incumbent is off limits.

Monroe Jacobowitz
New York, NY



Hakaras Hatov And The President

President Bush and leading members of the Republican party have publicly demonstrated their support for our beleaguered brethren in Eretz Yisrael in numerous ways. When leaders from
around the world were criticizing the Israelis for attempting to defend themselves against the terrorist bombings, President Bush stated unequivocally that the Israelis have the right to do so. While the leaders of Europe were embracing Yasir Arafat and his evil minions, President Bush was shunning them and having Ariel Sharon as an honored guest in the White House on several occasions.

President Bush led the war in Iraq which has removed not only a major funding source for the suicide attacks in Israel but has also eliminated one of the major strategic threats to the existence of Jews in Eretz Yisrael. All of this in the face of unrelenting, hateful rhetoric from world leaders, the Left, and many in the Democratic party.

We Jews owe it to President Bush to demonstrate our hakaras hatov and appreciation for his having the guts to fight for what is right, despite the continuous condemnation and criticism from the likes of George Soros. Might I suggest that each of us individually contribute some money to the Bush/Cheney reelection campaign and to the Republican National Committee? Perhaps if enough of us do, it will show that despite recent polls to the contrary, many Jews support our president and appreciate what he has done.

Mayer Mayerfeld
Brooklyn, NY


Hypocrisy, Thy Name Is Democrat

The Democrats continue their attempts to paint President Bush as a liar because he told the nation Iraq was amassing weapons of mass destruction. The leading Democratic candidates
were saying the same thing, though, as a perceptive reader pointed out in last week’s Letters section. Here are some quotes I’ve dug up:

John Kerry, Oct. 2002: “Why is Saddam Hussein attempting to develop nuclear weapons when most nations don’t even try?… According to intelligence, Iraq has chemical and biological weapons… Iraq is developing unmanned aerial vehicles capable of delivering chemical and biological warfare agents…”

Wesley Clark, April, 2002: “He [Hussein] does have weapons of mass destruction… I think they will be found. There’s so much intelligence on this.”

Howard Dean, March 2003: “[We] have never been in doubt about the evil of Saddam Hussein or the necessity of removing his weapons of mass destruction.”

Joseph Lieberman, Aug., 2002: “Every day Saddam remains in power with chemical weapons, biological weapons, and the development of nuclear weapons is a day of danger for the United States.”

John Edwards, Oct., 2002: “We know that he [Hussein] has chemical and biological weapons.”

Asher Gordon
Brooklyn, NY



Thumbs Down On Sharon

Ariel Sharon has turned Israel into a tragi-comedy. He has surrendered Israel’s national sovereignty and does not make a move without getting the approval of the State Department and the White House. More Jews have been murdered under Sharon’s rule than under any previous prime minister. His ”security” fence is reducing Israel to a nine-mile wide coastal ghetto and will protect Israel as well as the Maginot Line protected France in 1940.

Instead of ordering his armed forces to defeat the far weaker PLO and the other terror gangs, Sharon releases terrorists and asks the PLO to resume ”negotiations” [i.e. Israel gives away its
land in exchange for more worthless promises]. Ten years after Oslo, with a record of 100 percent non-compliance by the PLO and thousands of murdered and permanently disabled Jews, Sharon, unbelievably, tells the Palestinians that if they do not resume negotiations he will unilaterally move back Israel’s borders and create a PLO state in the Jewish historic heartland of Judea and Samaria. He threatens also to forcibly evacuate the Jews living there or abandon them to be driven out or killed by terrorists.

Like all of the post-Oslo prime ministers, Sharon demonstrates callous disdain for the lives of his people and the land of his nation that is not his to give away. The damage that Sharon’s
appeasement policies have caused to the economy and to Israel’s civilian and military morale cannot be sustained and could prove fatal to the nation if continued much longer.

George E. Rubin
Bronx, NY



Territorial Give-And-Take

There is a long, long trail of concessions that stretches from Madrid to Oslo and from Oslo to Geneva. In 1991, as you may recall, the PLO came to the Madrid Peace Conference as an
adjunct to the Jordanian delegation. Today, 13 or so years later, they stand on the threshold of statehood. During those 13 years, the Palestinians have managed to turn every Israeli concession into an abject confessional. Of this we can be certain: as long as the concessions keep coming, as long as the Arab reading of history is left unexamined, all of our expectations about peace and reconciliation are destined to become the source of our sorrows and the vessel of our discontent.

For the Palestinians, some issues have become more equal than others. Checkpoints and refugees have, for example, become derivative issues. Their more sanctimonious sophistries have been reserved for the ”occupation.” It is the occupation that justifies the murderous excesses of the intifada. And it is their constant weeping and wailing about the occupation that has muzzled every hint of an Israeli past. This denial of our past, of our identity, prefigures a far graver denial: our very right to exist.

With a little understanding, the Arab world could easily turn this all around. They could begin with a rather modest gesture. For example, accepting the authenticity of our history could be
such a beginning. In deference to that history they might even want to consider an extraterritorial arrangement for some of the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. That would not be such an extraordinary development. There are precedents. After the Six Day War, the Palestinians were given de facto control of the Temple Mount. And in Hebron, they continue to have equal access to the Machpela.

But there is an even more compelling reason to expect a little give-and-take from our Arab adversaries. Judea and Samaria were supposed to be our inheritance until the last wrinkle of time. The Arab world can therefore take some comfort in the fact that the retention of what is ours hardly constitutes the acquisition of what is theirs.

There is a rather conspicuous statistic that goes to the heart of this question. Israelis actually reside on a relatively small fraction of Judea and Samaria – less than two percent. The
Palestinians will in all likelihood reject any arrangement that would leave the Israelis with even a snippet of their biblical heartland. If it turns out that two percent is too much for them, then 98 percent should be too much for us

Mitchell Finkel
Silver Spring, MD


The Insurers’ Perspective

Re: Redlining Travel To Israel (news story, Jan. 23):

While I recognize that travel to Israel by Americans may be restrained by insurance companies using such travel as a reason to deny insurance, why should insurers be forced to insure travel
to dangerous areas? Doesn’t that increase premiums for all insured?

Ken Goldman
(Via E-Mail)


The Public’s Perspective

I too was turned down for insurance because I traveled to Israel. What was most infuriating was that I could not get anyone to talk to me about it. They were not even interested in whether I planned to go to Israel again. Even if the entire Middle East is considered a high risk area, I wonder if past travel to other countries is an automatic disqualifier.

Lauren Horner
New York, NY



Only In Israel

I just returned from a memorable month’s visit to Israel. The following incident should encourage those who have not already done so to go see for themselves why Israel is so special.

My grandson, who is studying this year at a yeshiva in Israel, joined us for a wonderful Shabbos at a hotel in Jerusalem. After Shabbos was over, he took the bus back to his school in Gush Etzion. Shortly after leaving the bus, he realized that he had left his cell phone on his seat. He dialed his phone, and, finally, the bus driver answered. The driver asked my grandson where he was, and then told him that since he, the driver, was still in the Gush Etzion area and had completed his route, if my grandson would just wait where he was, he would bring him his phone – which he did.

Perhaps a bus driver in another country would do the same, but somehow I doubt it.

Shirley Landman
Brooklyn, NY




Lucky Shidduchim

I enjoyed reading Chanaya Weissman’s Jan. 16 op-ed on the dos and don’ts of setting singles up (“So You Want To Be A Shadchan?”) I think his assessment of the current shidduch
situation is right on target. Unfortunately, many of those who are not acquainted with the shidduch system assume that because there is so much discussion on the “singles crises” and so many shidduch clubs and shadchanim trying to help, anyone who is still single must be so by his or her own doing.

What they do not realize is that a few haphazard attempts at lumping people together based on the a scant profile written on an index card is only a tiny step – and one that might actually
cause more harm than good. No matter how intuitive the so-called shadchan is, the best she can do under these circumstances is to take wild guesses.

The bottom line is that any shidduch that is actually made under these circumstances is probably nothing less than a miracle from above. Luckily, G-d makes miracles, and many actually do find their mate in this system.

Deena Burger
(Via E-Mail)



Readers Leap To Rabbi Levin’s Defense


Perception And Reality

Mr. Leib Stone argues in his letter to the editor (Jewish Press, Jan. 23) that the morality
issues that Rabbi Yehuda Levin focused on in his ”Orthodox Hellenism 5764” op-ed piece of Dec. 26 were not of ”top” priority for our gedolim of yesteryear.

Has it ever occurred to Mr. Stone, and those of like mind, that the phenomenal success of the
militant gay rights movement just might have been significantly enabled by the perceived ”low
priority” that leaders in our frum community have attached to issues of morality?

Shlomo D. Winter
Brooklyn, NY


Dismayed By Attack On Rabbi Levin

Very few letters to The Jewish Press have been more dismaying than the one last week by
Leib Stone entitled ”Torah Diplomacy” wherein he castigated Rabbi Yehuda Levin for being
”intellectually dishonest” and a ”one issue man.”

Mr. Stone may be analogized to some of the roshei yeshiva in pre-war Europe who, despite
warnings by some Jewish leaders such as Ze’ev Jabotinsky, chose to ignore the storm clouds
gathering on the horizon. If anything is intellectually dishonest, it is the characterization by Mr. Stone of Rabbi Levin as a man with only one issue on his agenda. Even if this were so, Rabbi
Levin’s one issue, which is morality in accordance with the Torah, may well be the most important issue the world is currently facing.

Are Jews, according to Mr. Stone, supposed to remain complacent when they hear of a planned upcoming world meeting of homosexuals in Jerusalem just because the mayor of Jerusalem happens to be in touch with the posek hador? For all we know, they could be discussing plans to build a new central mikva somewhere in the Old City or some other important topic.

Mr. Stone conveniently ignores the most salient aspect of Rabbi Levin’s piece – that Rabbi
Levin, himself an Orthodox rabbi and a long time emissary of gedolim such as Rabbi Avigdor Miller and the Skulener Rebbe, was expressing righteous outrage for the holiest of purposes - the preservation of the sanctity of G-d’s holy city. Rabbi Miller, as I recall, did not hesitate to criticize Orthodox rabbis for their complacency regarding much less important issues, and I cannot imagine any gadol disagreeing with Rabbi Levin regarding the wake-up call he issued.

Finally, even if Mr. Stone’s generalization that ”all movements which veered away from the
true Torah path started by attacking our rabbanim” may indeed contain some truth, the fact
is that at a time when all of the kaytzim have already passed, our rabbis have still failed to lead
us back into the land of our forefathers as one united people. For this reason, it may even be dangerous for us to regard them as being above criticism.

Lawrence Kulak
Brooklyn, NY



Gedolim And Rabbi Levin

In Mr. Leib Stone’s response to Rabbi Yehuda Levin’s article, Stone disparagingly refers to Rabbi Levin as a “one issue man.”

I’m sure Rabbi Levin would cheerfully plead guilty to the charge. He has, in fact, spent a
quarter century on this single issue: The Torah response to the terrible decline in moral standards all around us. In this endeavor, he has been informed and guided by many of this generation’s acknowledged gedolei Yisrael. He has developed extensive contacts with like-minded religious gentiles, politicians and media all over America. Rabbi Levin has earned a doctorate in this “one issue”.

The whole tone of Mr. Stone’s letter (“the author has … attacked our rabbonim…) is
intellectually dishonest and demands a factual response.

Please allow me to relate some interesting facts about one of Rabbi Levin’s main mentors, the
much-revered Rav Avigdor Miller, zt”l: In the 1930′s, when Rav Miller was studying in Lita, he
helped arrange visas to America for the Svei family, whose son, Rav Elya, later became one of
the roshei yeshiva Mr. Stone refers to in his letter.

In 1983 Rav Miller wrote a glowing testimonial and approbation regarding Rabbi Levin to Rav Svei, in which he declared that: “everything that he (Levin) speaks is (based) on what I have
discussed with him over a long period of time and there is much good contained in his advice.”

The late Debriciner Rav, zt”l, undoubtedly one of the foremost poskim of the last generation, wrote a two-page halachic responsum regarding Rabbi Levin’s fight for Torah morality, where he stated: “Halevai my portion (in the world to come) should be with him (Levin) and those who aid and support him”. Rav Stern, zt”l, explicitly mandated publicly opposing pro-homosexual agenda office holders.

The esteemed Rav of Kashau, shlita, a rosh yeshiva, rav, posek and author of works that are
studied in yeshivas worldwide, is one of today’s most revered gedolim. In a joint letter with the
Skulener Rebbe, shlita, written five years ago, he refers to Rabbi Levin’s 20 years of work as follows: “He is fighting Hashem’s fight against this evil movement.” He further declares that Rabbi Levin is a “Shlucha D’rabonon B’chol Asar V’asar” (an emissary of the sages where ever he appears”).

Rabbi Levin also has a responsum written for him by the late Rav S. Z. Braun, well-known posek and author of Shearim Metzuyanim B’halacha, mandating active and public opposition to politicians who support the deviancy agenda (even if they provide funds to our community).

During the hearings on the original “Gay Rights” law in New York City at the beginning of
the Koch Administration, Moreinu Horav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l, issued a clear and unequivocal
written psak directing “all those who heed our words to fill the chambers of New York City Hall all the days of the hearing regarding homosexual legislation … to publicly demonstrate that
Hashem’s People loath abomination.” Rav Moshe’s declaration was a response to a letter sent to him jointly by Rav Miller and Rav Stern, zt”l.

Rav Moshe, zt”l, personally gave us a bracha, as he handed this letter-psak to us, and urged us to be strong in this struggle. Thus, we consider this a mandate from the posek hador. This is a remarkably strong and direct statement which neither Mr. Stone nor the bureaucracies he defends has yet been able to explain away. Rav Moshe indicated that he wasn’t satisfied with belated press releases or articles in Coalition Magazine. He wasn’t even happy with merely having a representative of Agudah or the Young Israel testify at the City Hall hearings. He wanted a multitude to fill the chambers.

Why didn’t Agudah send a few busloads of people to City Hall to heed the mandate of Rav
Moshe? Was it because Rav Moshe’s statement was not clear enough? Or was it because Rav Moshe wrote this particular psak on Agudas Harabanim stationery, and this was, somehow, construed to mean that he only meant this for members of that organization and not for followers of Agudah?

These quotations from acknowledged gedolim v’poskim of yesteryear are clearly the basis for
Rabbi Levin’s “agenda and tactics.” They indicate clearly that authentic Da’as Torah mandates that, when dealing with immorality, the opposition needs to be very public – we must make a Kiddush Hashem.

In view of these facts, how is it possible, Mr. Stone, that you should still be able to write that
“they (the gedolim) did not make this issue a priority?” For shame, Mr. Stone, and whoever you represent.

Since 1979 Rabbi Levin has been a spokesman on the moral issues for the Agudas
Harabanim and the Igud Harabanim, with a combined membership of over 1,200 rabbonim and including roshei yeshiva.

Among the ziknei Yisrael and distinguished rabbonim who either supported, blessed, or
encouraged Rabbi Levin’s activities were: Rav Yaakov Kamenecki, zt”l, the late Voideslover Rav, zt”l, Rav Moishe Bick, zt”l (who procured an absentee ballot to vote for Levin in the 1984 New York City mayoral election), Rav Shmelke Taubenfeld, zt”l, rav of Chareidim in Monsey, Rav Motel Weinberg, zt”l, rosh yeshiva of Montreal, and the late Rav Teitz, zt”l, of Elizabeth, New Jersey.

To disparage Rabbi Levin as a “one issue man” demonstrates that either the writer is woefully ignorant of the basic facts about Rabbi Levin or that he is willfully ignoring them.

Mr. Stone’s personal invective disparages major rabbinic groups and the thousands of
followers of Rav Moshe, Rav Miller, the Debreciner, and the many other gedolim who have publicly supported Rabbi Levin.

Many Bnai Torah are puzzled by the relative silence and total non-prioritization of this issue by
Agudah, O.U. and Young Israel.

Rabbi William Handler
Jews for Morality



What Did The Posek Hador Say?

I am amazed at Leib Stone’s naivete. He says “the mayor of Yerushalayim has the backing of and accessibility to the posek hador,” so “to attack the mayor [on the homosexual rights issue] without knowing the directive he has been given may be an attack on the posek hador and not something the author is qualified to do.”

Has anyone actually heard from the posek hador on the issue of anti-homosexual rights
activism? Do we know what the posek hador has directed? Obviously, even Stone is not sure when he fails to tell us what it is and speculates that an attack on the mayor may be an attack on the posek hador.

Rational criticism for not following our gedolim can only be based upon a clear and direct
statement from them about what they want. I for one will not accept the word of those who have n’gius, whether they are individuals or organizations.

Menachem Fried
(Via E-Mail)


Dissenting View

As a Torah Jew, I can understand why homosexual conduct should be deplored and
discouraged. However, I cannot understand why homosexuals are not entitled to the full protections of civil law. After all, homosexuality is not a criminal offense and homosexuals are not exempt from paying taxes. How then can they logically be denied such things as access to housing and jobs?

Would anyone think that the police or fire departments should be able to refuse to respond to
calls for help from known homosexuals? Or that hospitals should not permit their admission? Or that insurance companies should be allowed to deny them insurance?

Dovid Summerstein
(Via E-Mail)

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/letters-to-the-editor/letters-to-the-editor-50/2004/02/25/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: