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October 26, 2016 / 24 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘rabbis’

WANTED: Rabbis with Knives between Their Teeth

Monday, August 29th, 2016

When I contemplate the future of the State of Israel and its inhabitants, I realize more and more that religious Judaism must become its primary driving force so as not merely to survive but to actually flourish.

Without Judaism, Israel will not make it. It will slowly disintegrate and eventually cease to exist. No army or government, however powerful and brilliant, will be able to guarantee Israel’s future unless Judaism is its central component.

Israel cannot continue to live on a borrowed identity. In the long run, it will not thrive and keep its citizens happy and motivated by means of a lukewarm relationship with religious Judaism, or by constantly emphasizing that it is the nation state of the Jewish people. It simply won’t work, because Israel must first show that there is a superb reason for the Jewish people to exist. It must reveal why it was able to survive against all odds; how it gave birth to a magnificent concept called ethical monotheism; and why it was able to make an indispensable contribution to humankind and turn the world on its head.

It was Judaism, and only Judaism, that brought this about. The land and State of Israel was never and can never be the goal of the Jewish people. It is a means to carry out a great mission, and unless werediscover and accept this calling, Israel will eventually collapse.

But in order to achieve this rediscovery, a powerful outcry on the part of its citizens is required. We need a huge showdown for the soul of Judaism; an uprising by hundreds of thousands of secular Israelis demanding an honest and genuine Judaism. No political parties, no embarrassing financial deals, and no religious coercion. A Judaism that will inspire them, lift their spirits, and make them burst with pride to be Jewish.

I imagine a spiritual revolution by secular Israelis who are fed up with the religious establishment and, instead, demand rabbinical leadership that will hear their longing for a Judaism that speaks to them. A leadership that will
admit it has played its cards wrong for years and has continually misread the minds and hearts of these Israelis.

I envision rabbis who dare to take a stand; who stop looking over their shoulders and start thinking out of the box; who show courage and do not act out of fear; who stop worrying about the influences of other denominations
of Judaism and instead are prepared to have an honest dialogue with them. I picture a rabbinate that introduces prophetic Halacha, which uses not only the rulings of the Shulchan Aruch but also the vital teachings of our prophets and great thinkers – Jewish and non-Jewish – so as to find new spiritual solutions that will convince all of us how much more Judaism has to offer than we ever imagined.

I wait for the moment when young secular Israelis will realize there is no future for the State of Israel without Judaism, but that this Judaism must become a spiritual protest movement that entrusts a mission to its own people and to humankind at large.

A Judaism that steers its people to once again become “a light to the nations”; one that fully appreciates the prophets’ right to nonconformity; and one that does not admire complacency but rather shatters it.

I look forward to the time when religious leaders will consist of people who encourage a genuine dialogue with the secular population; when they will respond to the people’s demands to produce major Jewish thinkers and highly inspiring personalities.

A time when yeshivot will cease to be institutions of mass production in which vital issues of faith are shunned; a time when looking to trivial substitutes for refuge will once and for all be taboo. The supreme need of the hour is not rabbinical intervention, or religious political parties, but a grassroots movement demanding a Judaism that has risen above all denominations and will fight for a renewed personal attachment to Jewish thinking and living; a Judaism that realizes and appreciates “secular” Israelis’ complete awareness that life cannot be lived with an empty heart.

There is no denying that many Israelis search for the imponderable quality of their souls as well as for communication between the world of the spirit and between the inner world of the individual and its outer manifestations.

Israelis look for a Judaism that is not just a mood, feeling or sentimental attachment to some old-fashioned customs and ceremonies, but one that will dare them to take a serious look at its teachings vis-à- vis their own lives, and for which they will have to sweat instead of receiving it on a silver platter.

They seek a Judaism that is a source of cognitive insight, a way of thinking, and a genuine course of action, not just a form of religious behaviorism; a Judaism that will demand intellectual confrontation rather than evasion.

Israelis should demand religious leaders that earn great respect in the eyes of Jewish and non-Jewish intellectuals; rabbis who demonstrate how Judaism has an important role to play in world affairs and in the intellectual community; rabbis who are invited to lecture at Harvard and Columbia; and religious thinkers who can appreciate but also challenge general philosophy, who admit that there are serious intellectual clashes with the Jewish faith
and practice, and who are not afraid to suggest new responses.

Israelis should insist on rabbinical leaders and thinkers who will kick up a storm that will overturn the whole of Israeli society. A storm that will prove these religious leaders have freed themselves from the quicksand in which
they are stuck.

In a completely unprecedented shift, these rabbis should lead the ship of Torah at full sail right into the heart of Israeli society, causing such a shock that it will take days, weeks, even months before it can get back on its feet.

With knives between their teeth, and like the prophets of biblical days, these religious leaders should be known for their impeccable and uncompromising conduct, and should create an ethical-religious uproar that will scare the moral wits out of the secular and religious societies and weigh heavily on their souls. Members of the Israeli government and its many institutions should be trembling when reproached by these towering personalities.

Real religious leaders should not be “honored,” “valued,” or “well respected.” It is not their task to give nice, sweet drashot, or participate in high-society gatherings and official government functions. As people of truth, they should be feared.

Israelis should be shaking in their boots at the thought of meeting with them but should simultaneously be incapable of staying away from their fascinating personalities.

The time has come for secular Israelis to hold mass demonstrations for the sake of their souls. If they don’t, no one will do it for them.

Rabbi Dr. Nathan Lopes Cardozo

300 Orthodox Rabbis Unite To Combat Child Sexual Abuse Epidemic

Monday, August 29th, 2016

In an unprecedented step, 300 Orthodox rabbis signed a proclamation regarding child safety in the Orthodox Jewish community. In it, the rabbis call upon synagogues and schools are called upon to adopt certain preventative measures outlined in the document in order to deter child abuse and child sexual abuse. The signatories invited to sign this proclamation consisted of member rabbis of the Orthodox Union (OU), Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) and Yeshiva University (YU).

Some of the proclamation’s prominent signers include: Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz, Av Beth Din, Beth Din of America; Rabbi Mark Dratch, Executive Vice President, RCA; Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO, OU Kosher; Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, Executive Vice President Emeritus, OU; Rabbi Zevulun Charlop, Dean Emeritus, RIETS, YU; Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, Rabbi, Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun and Principal at Ramaz School; and Rabbi Emanuel Feldman, Rabbi Emeritus, Congregation Beth Jacob of Atlanta. Rabbi Mark Dratch, who assisted in spearheading this initiative, applauded the “overwhelming support” of the signers and appeals to all communities “to implement the policies advocated in this statement.”

The proclamation commences by honoring the memories of the individuals in the Orthodox Jewish community who tragically have committed suicide as a result of enduring child sexual abuse. The gravity of this issue is linked in the proclamation to a passage in the Torah, “Do not stand by while your fellow’s blood is being spilled” (Leviticus). Prominent signer Rabbi Hershel Billet, Rabbi, Young Israel of Woodmere, succinctly expressed the gravity of the effects of child sexual abuse: “Every sexual abuser is a potential murderer. They destroy the souls of their victims and at times cause the death of their victims.”

The proclamation stresses, “We condemn attempts to ignore allegations of child sexual abuse. These efforts are harmful, contrary to Jewish law, and immoral. The reporting of reasonable suspicions of all forms of child abuse and neglect directly and promptly to the civil authorities is a requirement of Jewish law.” Exclusive to this proclamation is the clear assertion that, “there is no need for people acting responsibly to seek rabbinic approval prior to reporting.”

“Since abuse of children is a life threatening crime, we must report immediately,” Rabbi Billet said. “We must trust responsible civil authorities in a just country to be able to separate fact from fiction.” Claims that “snitching” to secular authorities about a Jewish sex offender is prohibited clearly has no basis in Jewish law. Michael Salamon, PhD, clinical psychologist and noted expert in this field, said, “The longer it takes to report the more time the abuser has to keep abusing and creating alibis. Only trained investigators with proper professional team support (e.g. police, medical, etc.) can investigate. Asking anyone else about reporting just delays or confounds or completely derails a proper investigation. That is why so many abusers have been able to move to different communities and continue to abuse.” Signer Rabbi Yosef Blau, Senior Mashgiach Ruchani, RIETS/YU, said, “Requiring a victim of sexual abuse to first gain approval from a rabbi or therapist before reporting the abuse to the authorities is damaging to the victim, whose credibility has been questioned, and hampers the investigation by possibly affecting the description of what occurred.

“Rabbis who have been consulted have often used concerns for the image of the community to discourage the victim and his or her family from speaking to the police.” Dr. Salamon said that “Therapists can lose their license if they attempt to investigate. Be aware that the overwhelming majority of reports – in the vicinity of 95%, or more – are accurate. It takes a lot for someone to finally come forward and tell someone that they have been abused.” The fear that without rabbis sifting through allegations there would be a high percentage of false allegations is similarly incorrect.

Jewish Press Staff

Analysis: Leftwing Orthodox Rabbis Attack Trump, Cite the Yerushalmi

Saturday, August 20th, 2016

Forty five US rabbis identified with the leftwing of the Orthodox movement — two of them women who received ordination — on Friday issued a statement titled, “Orthodox Rabbinic Statement Against Hateful Rhetoric and Principles,” in which they condemn Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for his attacks on Mexicans and on Muslims.

“In the current presidential election, we have been deeply troubled to hear proposals that condemn whole groups and which are justified by pointing to evil behaviors by members of that group or religion,” the rabbis wrote. “Wholesale condemnations—such as the proposal to ban all Muslim immigration into the United States—violate the principle of individual responsibility and violate the fundamental religious principle of ‘love thy neighbor as thyself,’ which is one of the greatest commandments of Judaism (see Jerusalem Talmud, Nedarim 9:4). These proposals violate the biblical prohibitions to spread hatred or slander about groups and individuals and violate the oft-repeated biblical command to love the stranger.”

The quote from the Yerushalmi is the famous note by Rabbi Akiva that “Love your friend as you would yourself” is a great Torah principle. It is, but it refers exclusively to Jews, as can be easily discerned from the complete verse: “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against the people of your nation (B’nei Amecha), and love your friend (Re’acha) as you would yourself, I am God.” Of course, there are universal interpretations of this verse, but as it happens, the Yerushalmi chapter the group cited actually emphasizes one line earlier the idea of the verse referring to the people of your own nation, meaning Jews.

Frankly, even if one does not support Trump’s xenophobic attacks on “Rapist Mexicans” and “the Muslims,” a group of 45 learned rabbis could have come up with a more convincing, perhaps intellectually challenging argument, especially since they present the Trump proposals on banning—temporarily—Muslim immigration without context, as if the candidate just picked a fight with a billion and a half peaceful people who are minding their own business just worrying about grazing their camels and perfecting their hummus.

The 45 rabbis also say they were “shocked by the disrespect shown to parents who suffered the greatest pain—losing a son who died in the service of our country. The Torah commands us always to comfort mourners. The fact that the parents criticized a candidate does not justify harsh and hurtful retaliation.”

This time they didn’t go to the Yerushalmi to support their “always comfort mourners” point. It’s probably not true, as can be seen in the commandments regarding the beautiful war captive, where comforting her as she is mourning her killed parents is distinctly not part of the Jewish soldier’s obligations.

They also attack Trump for his “authoritarian tendencies” and “personal vendettas that come across as a dismissal of constitutional rights and legal processes.” They’re about a year late in comforting Prime Minister Netanyahu, who suffered from the personal vendettas of the current US president. Maybe there’s something in the Yerushalmi about that.

Finally, the Jerusalem Post ran its report of the announcement with the headline “40 New York Orthodox rabbis condemn Trump’s ‘hateful rhetoric’” illustrated with a picture of Satmar Hassidim, which is probably discussed at length in the Yerushalmi, concerning the prohibition on Gneivat Da’at (intellectual deceit).



David Israel

Analysis: Ignorance, Malice Join Forces to Derail IDF Chief Rabbi’s Nomination

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

In yet another vivid proof that Israel may be the state of the Jews but is most definitely not a Jewish state, certainly not your grandfather’s Jewish state, Israeli media have drawn and quartered Col. Eyal Krim, the current candidate for the post of IDF Chief Rabbi, not over any black spot on his stellar resume, but over his views, which also happen to be the mainstream Orthodox Jewish views. It turns out that over the years the popular military rabbi has been asked many controversial questions, online and in person, to which he provided to the best of his ability what he believed was the Torah’s views on all these issues. Those views have been archived online, and so, when reporters were given their marching orders to dig up the dirt on the man who would be the next IDF chief rabbi, they came back with a treasure trove.

Many, if not all these “controversial” responses by Rabbi Krim can be easily explained within the context in which they were provided, but Israeli media, possibly among the top five most vicious on the planet, were not interested in context, they wanted hot quotes, and so, armed with ignorance of Torah learning and the flame of hate for religious Jews burning in the heart of every self-respecting leftwing reporter, hot quotes they dug up: homosexuality is a sickness; women don’t make credible witnesses; all terrorists must be killed on the spot; it’s OK to segregate against non-Jewish workers; in special war circumstances it is permissible to rape a captive woman.

If you spent even one year in a Jewish school where they took out the Talmud a few times a week and taught you Jewish tradition, you’re probably aware that every one of the above issues should be learned in the context of life in an agricultural society some 3,000 years ago; vast differences in definition between Torah and modern terminology; the common rabbinic belief that a Jewish court should be invested in acquitting rather than convicting in capital cases; and an across the board rabbinic recognition of the supremacy of state law over Torah law in most issues. But if you work for, say, Ha’aretz, you’d much rather ignore all of those important subtleties and go straight for the kill.

Such as in the case of the “Yeffat Toa’ar” – the beautiful enemy captive, whom the Torah sets rules for dealing with (Deut. 21:10-14): When you go out to war against your enemies, and the Lord your God gives them into your hand and you take them captive, and you see among the captives a beautiful woman, and you desire to take her to be your wife, and you bring her home to your house, she shall shave her head and pare her nails. And she shall take off the clothes in which she was captured and shall remain in your house and lament her father and her mother a full month. After that you may go in to her and be her husband, and she shall be your wife. But if you no longer delight in her, you shall let her go where she wants. But you shall not sell her for money, nor shall you treat her as a slave, since you have humiliated her.

Rabbi Krim explained that rather than to attempt to set impossible limits on a soldier in a time of war, the Torah compels him to follow a set of rules to be able to marry her. This was described in a headline in the Days of Palestine website as: “Israeli rabbi: Israeli soldiers can rape Palestinian women.” And leftwing pundit Yossi Gurvitz elaborated: “[Krim] came up with a new military doctrine, which replaces Napoleon’s: an army marches on its phallus. According to this logic, perhaps the IDF should appoint to each unit not just a supply officer, but also a Comely Woman Officer (CWO), to make certain no soldier is left unsatisfied.”

The facts that everything Rabbi Krim wrote and said had been offered with the understanding that Jewish halakha bows before the law of the land, and that a discussion of Torah laws does not a fatwa make, were lost on the left, and so the usual leftwing suspects took umbrage: Zehava Galon (Meretz) said that his “horrific, racist and violent expressions which permit the blood of women would not have passed in any case where a person is appointed to a senior position…” especially not the IDF.

And Tzipi Livni (Zionist Camp), that intellectual oracle, told Channel 2 News: “The fact that the appointed chief rabbi even dealt, even if theoretically, with the possibility of raping women and advocating against women’s military service (he wrote on that, too) disqualifies him from service in the IDF.”

You got that? Even a purely theoretical engagement in a debate of a PC-locked isue such as rape should not be allowed in the IDF, “the most moral army in the world.”

It isn’t clear as of Wednesday afternoon Israel time whether or not the chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot will bow to the incredibly intense, relentless pressure on him from the left to dump Col. Rabbi Karim. Krim has been endorsed by just about every rabbi in Israel, including by one Reform rabbi. But the gap between Krim’s willingness to fearlessly entertain theoretical Torah issues and the leftwing media’s heated investment in seeing him dead may prove too much for the leader of that otherwise still very moral army.


Thousands Attend Rabbi Mark’s Funeral; President, Mossad Chief and Chief Rabbis Deliver Eulogies [video]

Sunday, July 3rd, 2016

By Michael Zeff/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) — Rabbi Michael (Miki) Mark, who was killed on Friday in a terrorist shooting attack, was laid to rest on Sunday afternoon in Jerusalem. Thousands attended his funeral, which began in his home town of Otniel and ended with his burial in the Har Hamenuhot cemetery in Givat Shaul.

Rabbi Mark was the director of the Otniel Yeshiva and a teacher at Yeshivat Torat Shraga, Yeshiva University’s post-high-school yeshiva for American students in Jerusalem. He is survived by his wife, Chava Rachel Mark, who sustained serious injuries in the attack and remains hospitalized, and ten children, two of whom were also wounded in the attack.

“When he started as principal this past year, he took a real interest in the overseas students,” Phil Katz, the head of the overseas program at the Otniel Yeshiva, told Tazpit Press Service (TPS). “He would constantly speak to us, and he put a major effort into improving our learning experience in Israel. It’s a terrible loss.”

The funeral service began at the Otniel Yeshiva, where many current and former students came to pay their last respects. President Reuven Rivlin, a distant cousin of Mark’s, delivered a eulogy.

“I stand here today before your bier, Michael, Miki, in sadness and pain. With me stands an entire grieving nation,” President Rivlin said. “You were a pillar of the Otniel community and the whole Hebron hills region. The Hebron hills region, the historic cradle of Jewish civilization, keeps losing the best of its children to terrorism. But our roots here are strong, and terrorism will not defeat us.”

Once the eulogies at the Otniel Yeshiva were completed, the Mark family, accompanied by hundreds of mourners, supporters, and an army escort, traveled in a funeral procession to Jerusalem, where Mark was laid to rest.

On the way to Jerusalem, the family stopped at the site on Route 60 where the terror attack took place.

By the time the procession reached Jerusalem’s Givat Shaul cemetery, thousands of mourners had arrived. A police spokesman told TPS that in his estimation, at least 4,000 people attended Rabbi Mark’s burial.

According to Hadassah Medical Center spokesperson Hadar Elboim, Chava Rachel Mark remains in serious but stable condition, though she is breathing on her own.

The Marks’ 14-year-old daughter, Tehila, who also sustained serious injuries in the attack and is confined to a wheelchair, was released from the hospital to attend her father’s funeral.

Both of Israel’s chief rabbis eulogized Rabbi Mark at the burial, as did Mossad chief Yossi Cohen, Mark’s first cousin.

“I swear in the name of the Israeli defense establishment to keep the State of Israel, which you loved so much, united within and protected from without,” Cohen said. “Farewell, my dearest Miki. You were a man of peace, and I loved you with all my soul.”

Michael Bachner and Tzvi Yedidyah Lev contributed to this article.

Video of the Day

Berlin Rabbi Urges European Rabbis to ‘Help Save EU’ to Keep Jews Safe

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

Rabbi Yehudah Teichtal, Rabbi of the Jewish community of Berlin, called on fellow European rabbis this week to “help save the European Union” in the wake of the British vote to leave the European body.

Rabbi Teichtel met Tuesday with Thomas Oppermann, parliamentary head of the German Social Democratic Party (SDP), the second largest party in Germany, at his offices at the Bundestag. The two discussed the future of Europe and its Jewish communities, in light of the British referendum.

The Berlin rabbi told Oppermann that he has been encouraging fellow European rabbis and Jewish leaders to ‘take action’ and prevent any further breaking in the EU.

“I call upon the leaders of all Jewish communities around Europe to do whatever they can and execute all of their influence, in order to prevent any other countries from leaving the EU,” Teichtel said.

During the meeting, Oppermann expressed his worries about the continent’s political future.

“The EU means that people can move from one country to another and can settle down. If anyone believes that they should go back to their own nation and try to live for themselves, it is not the right way,” he said.

Oppermann added, “We have to cooperate, we have to work together and we have to keep this European Union. We don’t want more ‘Brexits’ or “exits” so that the people of Europe will get the feeling that we have to defend our values, our democracy, our freedom and our welfare.”

Oppermann also spoke of the importance of the relations between the Jewish communities and the EU. “It is equally important to keep the EU in good constitution because it enables us to have Jewish life in every European country, one that can develop from one country to another. Jewish life is a great enrichment to have in Europe, in Israel and all around the world,” he said. Teichtel maintains that the establishment of the EU and the multi-cultural approach it symbolizes contributes to the welfare of Europe’s Jewish communities.

He told Opperman “the possibility of dismantling the EU and reverting back to nation states should worry all Jewish people around Europe… A strong European union is a paramount interest to the Jewish people of Europe in general and to Jewish people of Germany in particular.”

The two also discussed the rising worries among Berlin’s Jewish community in the wake of the ‘Brexit.’

“It is a worrisome sign to the strengthening of nationalism and of extreme right-wing parties and movements,” Teichtel warned. “The Jewish community in Berlin joins a great number of Jewish community leaders from all over Europe who expressed their sorrow over the UK’s decision.”

The rabbi thanked MP Oppermann for his support for the Jewish life, speaking of the politician’s “support of Jewish life… I recognize your achievements, your dedication, and your care and I want to thank you in the name of the community here. I wish that God will give you great success in all your important work.”

Earlier that day, speaking at the Bundestag, Oppermann urged Chancellor Angella Merkel to carry the negotiations “as quickly as possible, in order to provide clarity.

“Years of stalemate’ will not serve Europe’s interests”, he said. “We want fair negotiations and to continue deep and friendly relations with the United Kingdom. But there must be no rewards for nationalism and European hostility. If the message is at the end, that one can get rid of the liabilities, without losing the benefits, then there will soon be referendums everywhere.”

Hana Levi Julian

Chabad Creates Jewish Welcome Centers for Brazil Summer Olympics in Rio

Friday, June 24th, 2016

Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries have spent months working on preparations for the upcoming Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The Chassidic Jewish group is just about ready to greet the tens of thousands of Jews who are expected to be among the hundreds of thousands of people flocking to Brazil for the competition.

There will be three separate Jewish welcome centers to greet some of the 40,000 Jews expected to arrive for the games. At least 10,000 of those spectators and competitors are believed to be Israeli.

The centers will be staffed by four rabbinical students from New York, according to Chabad.org, among a total of 12 rabbinical students in Rio for the games.

The students speak numerous languages — English, Hebrew, Spanish, French and Russian — to make it easier to communicate with all the Jewish visitors expected to stream into Rio.

Anyone looking for kosher food, a minyan or help with the language can head to one of these three welcome centers to ask for assistance. The storefront on Av. Nossa Sra. de Copacabana.581.Ioja 3 will be manned by Chabad-Lubavitch of Rio, according to Rabbi Ilan Stiefelmann, right in the center of Copacabana. There will also be one at Chabad Rio’s main center in the Leblon neighborhood and a third at the Chabad center led by Rabbi Yosef Simonowits in Barra da Tijuca, in the Rio neighborhood to the newly constructed Olympic stadium, where most of the sporting events will take place.

All three centers will be stocked with kosher food, tefillin, and prayer materials. On Shabbat there will be special food, including wine and challah, as well.

Rabbi Yehoshua Goldman, co-director of Chabad of Rio told Chabad.org that representatives of Israel’s Paralympics team already called his office this past February. As a result, his synagogue — Beit Lubavitch Rio De Janeiro — will host an official Shabbat program for the team, including accommodations for the observant athletes and staff.

Goldman and colleague Rabbi Eliyahu Haber were also appointed by the Brazilian Olympic Committee as two of the three Jewish chaplains to the 2016 Summer Games. They have already ensured the Jewish room at the Olympic Village will be staffed by rabbinical students and stocked as well as the three Chabad welcome centers.

Although the Brazilian Olympics Committee has reportedly supported the rabbis in their application for a kosher food concession stand at the Olympic Stadium, however, permission has not yet been granted by the International Olympic Committee.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/chabad-creates-jewish-welcome-centers-for-brazil-summer-olympics-in-rio/2016/06/24/

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