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December 7, 2016 / 7 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘shabbat’

Masses to Attend World’s Biggest Shabbat Meal in Hebron

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

As they have done for almost a quarter century, thousands plan to visit Hebron for the annual Shabbat Hebron to celebrate the reading of the Torah portion of Chayei Sarah, describing the purchase of the Cave of Machpela in Hebron by our biblical patriarch Abraham as a burial plot for his beloved wife Sarah. The Torah notes in great detail that Abraham, father of monotheism, insisted on paying full price for his first purchase of land in Israel, even though the local Hittites said they were perfectly happy to give it to him for free.

The connection between the coming Torah portion and Hebron has made this holy city a prime destination this Shabbat, and an estimated 20 thousand guests are expected to stay in Hebron and in Kiryat Arba next door.

Shabbat Hebron became an organized happening almost 25 years ago and has grown exponentially over the years. Every year, the local Jewish Community prepares logistically for this mass migration of visitors with food, security, and home hospitality. Also, the Hall of Rebecca & Isaac, the largest in the Tomb of Machpela (Cave of the Patriarchs), will open for Jewish services, one of the ten days out of the year that the space is accessible.

This year, Shabbat Hebron will fall on November 25-26, the first time since 2005 that coincides with the Thanksgiving holiday, (it will take place next only in 2027). The Hebron Fund has organized a special Chayei Sarah mission for English speakers from abroad, including tours and other activities.

Last year, due to the wave of deadly terrorist attacks, there was a sharp decrease in attendance. The usually joyful, picnic-like atmosphere was marred by a terrorist sniper who wounded two civilians, including a visiting American college student named Eli Borochov. Despite being shot in the leg, Borochov expressed a desire to return this year. His father, Ronen Borochov, told Israeli news media that he promises to come back this Shabbat, with his children. “Terror won’t defeat us,” he stated. “The answer to the terrorists is that I will come to Hebron, not with just one child but with my whole family.”

This year’s festivities will also feature special mass free Shabbat meals. Thanks to a generous anonymous donor, Chabad of Hebron is sponsoring three free first-class meals. These will take place under a giant tent which will feature 300 yards of special graphic printing telling the Jewish story of Hebron through the ages. The tent will accommodate 3,000 guests, making the event the largest Shabbat gathering in the world. These Shabbat meals will be lavish, and feature waiters.

Incidentally, Chabad of Hebron and the Jewish Community of Hebron have been cooperating since the 1800’s. Rabbi Danny and Batsheva Cohen, the Shluchim of Chabad of Hebron, continue in that tradition, and provide a Jewish connection to soldiers and visitors, like all the other Chabad Houses worldwide.

Also expected to join the celebrations: Minister for Social Equality Gila Gamiel, Minister of Religious Affairs David Azulai, Deputy Defense Minister Eli Dahan, Minister of Environmental Affairs Ze’ev Elkin, MK Moti Yogev, MK Betzalel Smotrich, former MK Orit Struk, Rabbi Hillel Horowitz, and noted attorney and Hebron donor Yoram Sheftel.

JNi.Media

Left, Right, Agree: Intermarriage Marks Demise of US Jewish Community

Sunday, October 30th, 2016

There’s a strange air of delight in the manner in which Steven M. Cohen describes the failure of the attempts over the past several decades to embrace the intermarried families (Welcomed, but uninterested: America’s intermarried Jews reject Jewish outreach, Ha’aretz, Oct. 26, 2016). The entire article feels like a death announcement delivered via a singing telegram. Cohen’s facts are sound, his conclusions are absolutely on the money, but does he have to sound so happy?

It comes down to this, Cohen states: 72% of non-Orthodox American Jews marry non-Jews, and over 20 years, the community’s attempts to embrace those intermarried families have failed completely.

The bulk of non-Orthodox Jewish institutions have “radically revised their policies, practices, and ethos to invite the intermarried,” writes Cohen, including in the same effort all kinds of non-traditional families, such as the LGBTQ Jews and “others who challenge the legacy notions of engaged Jewish families and individuals.” According to him you can’t throw a stone at a Jewish institution website on your computer screen without crashing the words “diverse,” “welcoming,” and “inclusive” somewhere in there. But they’re not interested, apparently.

Using the great, eye-opening Pew study of 2013 (A Portrait of Jewish Americans), Cohen points out that the signs of Jewish life in intermarried Jewish families are fast diminishing. 80% of non-Orthodox Jew+Jew couple with children belong to synagogues — only 16% of Jew+goy do. On High Holiday services, 92% of J+Js with kids show up for the services, only 32% of J+gs do.

Only 26% of J+g parents say being Jewish is very important to them — compared with 75% of J+Js. 13% of J+gs feel very emotionally attached to Israel, as opposed to 45% of J+Js. 33% of J+gs say they fast on Yom Kippur, 90% of J+Js do. 4% of J+gs light Shabbat candles, 60% of J+Js do. And 85% of J+gs have a Christmas tree at home, only 6% of J+Js. Only 31% of J+Gs give their children a Jewish education, compared with 90% of J+Js.

In short, once a Jewish person marries a non-Jewish person, there’s no stopping the process by which he or she and their offspring will move outside the Jewish community and into the community at large. It’s interesting to note in this context that the departure from the Jewish timeline does not have to do with faith, nor with observance. Those are more likely to serve as social markers than as dependable tools in preventing the religious drift. The only thing that virtually guarantees that one’s children remain connected to the Jewish community is one’s spouse.

Here is where Cohen’s astute and fearless observation is finally trapped by his political beliefs: “Those who seek to increase the participation of the intermarried in Jewish life need to stop importuning the institutions, and turn their sights elsewhere,” he concludes. “We need to recognize that few of the intermarried either attach to Jewish institutions or care very much about them.” Instead, he insists, Jewish families are where new Jewish families are grown: “Rabbis, committee chairs and educators can help,” he points out, “but parents and grandparents are critical to fully integrating their intermarried family members in Jewish life.”

It’s a sweet sentiment, and Cohen probably knows a handful of cases where the loving and non-judgmental family of the Jewish spouse made a difference in keeping the children in the Jewish realm. But the reality of the figures he cites suggests that in most cases, the most loving and accepting parents have also failed to make a difference — unless you would suggest that those 96% of families of mixed couples that don’t light Shabbat candles have all sat Shiva over them, an unlikely notion.

What works for the Orthodox in avoiding the sad drift of intermarried couples is the fact that the community and the families do not tolerate this possibility at all. The very idea of intermarriage is repulsive to Orthodox Jews, and the entire community is organically set up around the idea of the J+J exclusive union. If Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist communities kept all their religious differences except for the tolerance of intermarriage, they, too, would still be with us in fifty years.

JNi.Media

Q & A: Folding A Tallit On Shabbat

Friday, October 21st, 2016

Question: I notice that in some synagogues I visit on Shabbat, some people do not fold their tallitot but rather leave them in their place unfolded. Others do fold them. I asked one person why he doesn’t fold his tallit, and he responded that doing so is not permitted. Is that true?

I. Hager
Brooklyn, NY

Answer: One is, in fact, allowed to fold one’s tallit at the conclusion of the Shabbat morning service.

The Mishnah (Shabbos 113a) states, “We may fold articles [of clothing, on Shabbat], even four or five times. We may arrange the beds from Friday night for Shabbat day but not on Shabbat for Motza’ei Shabbat…”

Rashi (s.v. “mekaplin et hakeilim”) explains that generally clothes that are removed are also folded because the cleaning/washing process softens the material and causes the garments to wrinkle easily. In other words, folding garments improves their appearance and possibly prolongs their usage after Shabbat. Yet, we may fold garments on Shabbat, even four and five times, if the intent is to wear them again that day.

If there is no further need for the garments that day, one may not fold them. Tosafot (s.v. “mekaplim keilim”) states as follows: “From here we derive that it is forbidden to fold the tallitot of the synagogue [on Shabbat] because that is [equivalent to providing for] a need for the next day.”

The Gemara, in explaining the mishnah, cites something expounded in the school of R. Yannai – that folding is permitted for one person but not for two. Two other rules: folding new garments is only permitted if they are white and folding is only permitted if one has no other garments to wear.

Based on this Gemara, the Mechaber (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 302:3) rules, “We may fold, on Shabbat, garments that are needed that day provided the following conditions are met: only one person is doing the folding; they are new garments that have not yet been laundered; they are white; and one has no other garment to change into. If any of these stipulations are not met, one is prohibited from folding.”

The Mechaber then concludes, “There is an opinion stating that folding [a tallit] not on its original creases is permitted in all cases, and [this opinion] seems to be correct.” The Mechaber is referring to both the Mordechai (Shabbat 113) and the Kol Bo (Hilchot Shabbat 31). The Kol Bo attributes this ruling to the Ra’avad..

There appears to be an inconsistency in the Magen Avraham regarding folding a tallit and arranging a bed. The Magen Avraham (ad loc.) states, “And it seems to me that a bed that stands in a room in which a person lives may embarrass him and be unpleasant if it remains unmade. Therefore, it may be made for it has become a need of Shabbat itself.” The Mishnah (Shabbat 113a) stipulates that one may not make a bed on Shabbat day in preparation for Saturday night. Nonetheless, the Magen Avraham states that a person may make his bed if he is using the room and its untidy appearance will bother him. In such a case, the unmade bed will impinge on the holiness of Shabbat.

The Mechaber (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 14:4) states as follows, “A person is permitted to take his friend’s tallit [without his knowledge] and recite a blessing upon it as long as he folds it when he’s done if he found it folded.” This is based on the rule in Bava Metzia (29b), “Nicha lei le’inish de’tiavid mitzva bemamoneih – A person is pleased when a mitzvah is fulfilled with his possessions.” The Magen Avraham writes, however, that on Shabbat a borrower should not fold a tallit. Borrowing it is still permitted, though, because the owner will be glad that his possession enabled a fellow Jew to fulfill a mitzvah. While the Magen Avraham permits a person to make his bed on Shabbat, he does not permit folding a tallit.

The Mechaber seems to rule that as long as one does not fold the tallit in the original manner (on the creases), folding it is permitted on Shabbat. The Mishnah Berurah (Orach Chayyim 302:3-18) explains: “Because this type of folding has no lasting effect – and therefore there is no liability at all for transgressing the labor of metaken [lit., fixing – it is permitted even if one of the four above-mentioned conditions [i.e., only one person, only white garments, etc.] is not met, and even if there is no intention to wear the garment again that day [Shabbat].”

The Mishnah Berurah writes that the Mechaber’s “words seem to be correct” and notes that “so have the Acharonim, the later halachic authorities, concluded in their rulings.” The Mishnah Berurah, though, adds: “He who wishes to be more stringent and not fold at all [is acting in a praiseworthy fashion].” He then concludes with the statement of the Magen Avraham regarding the making of beds on Shabbat. Since leaving the bed unmade will mar one’s Shabbat, one may make it since making it now is a Shabbat need (as opposed to a preparation for after Shabbat).

As far as metaken is considered, the Aruch Hashulchan (Orach Chayim 302:11-12) writes that there is no violation of it when one folds a tallit the way we do, which is not derech uman (lit., the manner of a craftsman). Regarding the concern of tircha (lit., extra exertion), he cites the dispute of the Rambam (Hilchot Shabbat 22:22) and the Raavad. The Rambam believes there is no violation of tircha, while the Raavad believes there is.

The Aruch Hashulchan notes that to throw a tallit about without folding it is not proper human behavior. Indeed, we can only imagine what our synagogues would look like if everyone were to leave their tallitot unfolded and strewn about. We must consider, as well, that although we go home following the Shabbat morning service, we return to the synagogue later in the day for Minchah. As such, the situation resembles that of the unmade bed discussed by the Magen Avraham. Both are ones of embarrassment and infringements on the sanctity of Shabbat.

I remember many years ago as a young man I davened in a shul where there was an individual, a fine gentleman, who would, very ceremoniously, fold his tallit every Motza’ei Shabbat. When asked why he did this, he explained, rather humorously, that perhaps it would assure him shalom bayit for that week. He was actually re-folding his tallit, which he had already folded after the morning tefillah against the creases (i.e., inside out).

Indeed, people’s scrupulousness to fold their tallitot undoubtedly relates to shalom bayit. Since it has become traditional for a kallah to buy her chattan a tallit as a wedding present (see Ohr Hameir, Sukkot, cited by Ta’amei Ha’minhagim, Inyanei Ishut), it is only proper to show gratitude to her by treating her present with great care.

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

Survey: Vast Majority of Israeli Businesses Prefer to Stay Shut on Shabbat

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

As many as 92% of business owners in Israel are not interested in keeping their shops open on Shabbat, and 98% stated that they are not asked by their customers to stay open on the Jewish day of rest, according to a new survey released by Israeli business information group CofaceBdi.

The survey covered 135 Israeli businesses spread countrywide, and clearly showed a reluctance on the part of business owners to work on Shabbat, despite calls from secular Israelis to designate Shabbat as a vibrant shopping day.

While only 8% of business owners said they would like to stay open on Shabbat, almost all the respondents, 98%, said they are not receiving requests from their customers to make their shops available on Shabbat. A mere 2%, about 3 shops, reported hearing from customers that they’d like to shop there on Shabbat.

Interestingly, only 21% of respondents said they would see a rise in their daily income should they stay open on Shabbat. 32% expected their Shabbat income to match their regular days’ yield, and 47% expected to take in less on Shabbat.

The vast majority of respondents said staying closed or open on Shabbat should be left to them to decide, while 19% preferred that the decision be enforced by the authorities.

All of that having been established, 51% of business owners, who mostly don’t want to work on Shabbat, said there should be countrywide public transportation on Shabbat — 49% said there shouldn’t be.

CofaceBdi Co-CEO Tehila Yanai told Ynet that the majority of business owners said they just needed a day off. Others said the kind of traffic that they’d get isn’t worth staying open. A few said they were religious.

JNi.Media

Newcomer Rabbinic Organization Launches Lower East Side Eruv Against Establishment View

Friday, September 30th, 2016

The Downtown Va’ad, an Orthodox rabbinic network established in 2013 as a “unifying platform for Orthodox rabbis to advance the welfare and flourishing of our now surging downtown Jewish community,” on Thursday announced the establishment of an eruv, a legal fiction allowing Jews to carry objects on Shabbat.

“As of today, all of Lower Manhattan has been joined to the larger Manhattan Eruv,” declared the group’s announcement, defying a generation of Orthodox scholars, most notably the late Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, who was the halakhic authority for North America’s Orthodox community until his death in 1986. In the 1950s, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Kasher proposed the establishment of an eruv in Manhattan, but the Lithuanian yeshiva deans, including Rabbis Aharon Kotler and Moshe Feinstein, objected to the idea. The major controversy that ensued was resolved by a statement from Agudas Horabonim (Rabbis’ Association) which quashed the Manhattan eruv for the next fifty years.

The Downtown Va’ad’s press release recalls the process that brought the new Manhattan eruv to life: “In 1999, a new eruv was constructed on the Upper West Side under the advisement and supervision of the Machon L’Hora’ah of Monsey. In 2003, this Eruv was extended to include the Upper East Side community, and then in 2007 — with the assistance of Yeshiva University (Stern College), local congregations, and several individuals and families — the eruv was expanded to include a portion of the downtown community. … Recently, the Manhattan eruv was further extended to include the entire southern portion of Manhattan, specifically the region below 14th Street. This project was initiated by the Downtown Va’ad in conjunction with the Manhattan Eruv leadership. … The extension was facilitated and supervised by the Machon L’Hora’ah and continues to be checked and maintained by them. All halakhic (legal) matters are deferred to the Machon.”

According to the press release, “this eruv development is simply the expansion of the pre-existing eruv; one that most Manhattan rabbis have publicly supported. We understand that the halakhic institution of eruv is complex and we honor and respect all rabbinic and communal perspectives on the matter. We encourage our constituencies to pursue guidance from its own rabbinic authorities and to continue the spirit of mutual respect and dignity that Jewish practice demands and engenders.”

The new initiative is likely to raise an objection from the traditional Orthodox leadership of the Lower East Side community, led by Rabbi Moshe Feinstein’s sons, Rabbis Dovid and Reuven Feinstein. These legal scholars follow their father’s view that in densely populated Manhattan it is impossible to ever erect a legitimate eruv. Hopefully, the Lower East Side community, which is one of the most benign Jewish communities in America, will weather this storm, especially in light of the fact that we’re entering the Days of Awe.

The simplest possible explanation regarding the halakhic dispute over the eruv goes as follows:

Jewish law recognizes three domains: private domain, where one may carry on Shabbat; public domain, where one may never carry on Shabbat; and an in-between domain nicknamed K’Armelit, meaning “like a widow,” who is not married and not a virgin. A Karmelit domain can be converted into private domain using a symbolic wall and doorway, usually represented by a fishing line attached to poles all around the converted area.

No one disputes that part. What is being contested is the definition of a public domain which cannot be considered a karmelit and therefore cannot ever be converted into a private domain, no matter how much fishing line you’ll tie around it.

The late Rabbi Feinstein followed the view cited in the Shlchan Arukh (OH 345:7), based on a Babylonian scholar cited by Rashi, that since the laws of Shabbat domains are delineated from the configuration of the Israelite’s camp in the wilderness, which was considered an irredeemable public domain, and since there were 600,000 males over the age of 20 in that camp, we should view any area populated by 600,000 people or more as public domain.

Many disagree with this view, because it isn’t mentioned explicitly in the Babylonian or Jerusalem Talmud, nor by Maimonides and other key medieval scholars. Also, does the rule mean there should be 600,000 people moving through the place or living there for it to qualify as public domain, and should they all be males older than 20?

The opposing view, which the new rabbinic group seems to uphold, is based on an explicit Talmudic citation (Shabbat 6a), defining public domain as a main road, 20 feet wide, going through a city from one end to the other, connecting to other cities in either direction. Imagine the cities of antiquity as an aspirin pill, with the line going through the middle. That’s the road, and the fact that it is connected to the wilderness on either end makes it a Mavo Mefulash, a passageway that’s open on both ends. Since Manhattan does not have such a road leading to the wilderness, goes this view, it can be turned into one big private domain via the eruv. Alternatively, if one were to consider the bridges and tunnels leading into Manhattan a problem in that context, then each local community, such as the Lower East Side, can erect its own eruv — meaning one cannot carry into neighboring communities on Shabbat, but one is permitted to carry in one’s own neighborhood – see the accompanying image above.

One is reminded of the story of two study partners who have been poring over the Talmud together for years, and one of them invites the other to his son’s wedding and wants to honor him with one of the blessings to the couple under the canopy. His partner says he is, indeed, honored, but, alas, he isn’t Jewish.

– What do you mean you’re not Jewish? We’ve been learning together all these years…

– I’m interested in it intellectually, but it doesn’t make me a Jew.

– Wait a minute, I see you on the street on Shabbat in your suit and tie — you know a goy gets the death penalty for observing Shabbat! (It’s actually the law, look it up)

– I take care of that by always carrying something in my pocket.

– Yes, but we have an eruv!

– Huh! You call this an eruv?

JNi.Media

Haredi MK Blocks Train Funding over Shabbat Works

Monday, September 19th, 2016

Knesset Finance Committee Chairman MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) has not approved the transfer of $171 million to the new projects of Israel Railways, according to a Tweet by journalist Amalia Duek. Duek cites sources in the Transport Ministry who accuse Gafni of revenge tactics, saying the delay in payment would result in delays in carrying out the work in preparation for the new fast rail from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The Ministry is also concerned about potential lawsuits from contractors who haven’t been paid. MK Gafni, meanwhile, has told Duek he would examine the transfer request “when I see fit.”

Meanwhile, the renovation and preparation works continue full blast. At midnight Sunday Israel Railways shut down its three (out of four) stations in Tel Aviv for eight days, to be reopened a week from Tuesday. The massive project will match the stations and the rails passing through them with the new, electric, fast rail to Jerusalem.

Over the next eight days, the railway service will be running buses between Herzliya and Tel Aviv, in both directions, as well as buses from Herzliya to Ben Gurion International. Police on Monday morning reported worse than usual traffic delays in all the arteries leading into Tel Aviv.

The war between the Haredi coalition partners UTJ and Shas and Prime Minister Netanyahu over railway works that had been scheduled to be performed on Shabbat two weeks ago turned out to be a mere skirmish, as neither side was interested in fighting. However, the real battle ensued between Netanyahu and his Transport Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud), followed by a more reserved showdown with Welfare and Labor Minister Haim Katz (Likud). That internal fight in the Likud party was resolved with a win by points for Netanyahu (no knockouts, both ministers are still alive and kicking). Against this background, MK Gafni’s decision appears both vindictive and unhelpful.

Transport Ministry officials told Kikar Hashabbat that “if it turns out Gafni is operating out of political considerations we will view it seriously and act accordingly.”

Gafni, one of the most powerful committee chairmen in the Knesset, responded, “I’m not obligated to debate every agenda item that comes up. I will weigh it, and if the proposal has merit, the money would be transferred.” Which means the Railway will get the money eventually, because this is a government project, but the folks at Transport will have to sweat blood over it because of their Shabbat works fiasco.

According to Kikar Hashabbat, the Haredi parties are angrier at Police Commissioner Ronnie Alshich, an Orthodox Jew, more than anyone else, because Alshich was the one who came up with the idea that those works constituted “pikuach nefesh,” meaning saving a life, which is permitted on Shabbat. Which stands to show you, never go to a cop for halakhic rulings.

JNi.Media

Biblical Game of Thrones [audio]

Friday, September 9th, 2016

(((CLICK BELOW TO HEAR AUDIO)))

On this week’s show: Kings, Prophets, Priests, and Necromancers all compete for power – but who is top dog?? And is there a separation of Shul and State? Rabbi Yishai is joined by Rabbi Mike Feuer to discuss the Torah’s system of Israeli governance and how to balance Biblical politics with the commandment to walk simply with God. Plus, how to keep the fruit trees from being harmed in a time of war. Prepare for Shabbat with Spiritual Cafe!

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
Yishai on Facebook

Yishai Fleisher

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/multimedia/biblical-game-of-thrones/2016/09/09/

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