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July 28, 2014 / 1 Av, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Tzohar’

2 Liberal Orthodox Rabbis Warring over Flipping Fuse on Stormy Shabbat

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

Two National Religious rabbis, each a member of different National Religious organizations, have been pushing two radically different views of Shabbat laws following the weekend’s “storm of the century.”

Coordinator of the Beit Midrash (study hall) of the Beit Hillel organization Rabbi Yoni Rosenzweig, who lives in Efrat, in the Judean hills, reported in a personal column in Maariv that at 3 AM, Shabbat, he had woken up to discover that the electricity in his apartment was out.

“I sat down in the middle of the dark living room and was thinking: today is Shabbat. Pushing up the fuse and turning on heat sources in the house is a Torah level prohibition, but, on the other hand, it’s frightfully cold outside, and tomorrow is bound to be cold as well, how will we survive Shabbat without heat?” Rabbi Rosenzweig wrote.

Acknowledging that tens of thousands of Jews in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria had opted to avoid touching their electric systems on that Shabbat, Rabbi Rosenzweig insisted that to him, that choice seemed unreasonable.

“I said to myself: there must be a halachic solution,” the rabbi continued. In the end, he combined two halachic concepts: one – hakol cholim etzel tzina—everyone is considered sick when it’s very cold (Mishna Brura, laws of Shabbat, No. 253 – although the discussion there is regarding asking a gentile to heat the food on Shabbat, Y.Y.); and two – doing the prohibited labor with a change (meaning not the way it is normally done) combined with the concept of Grama (an event caused by another, indirect event) based on the fact that the electricity was not being produced directly as a result of flipping the fuse switch.

In the end, Rabbi Rosenzweig reported, “I lifted the switch with a change, and the heat returned to the apartment. I contemplated for a while if the act was really permitted, but I had no problem falling asleep. I felt that the duty of a posek—halachic ruler is to try and be permissive when it’s needed. We have plenty of ‘chumrot’—severe interpretations of the law, but in an emergency we must know how to go easy.”

Rabbi Rosenzweig’s neighbor in the Gush Etzion region, Rabbi Israel Rosen, of the Tzomet Institute, which, among other things, finds creative halachic solutions to Shabbat issues, and is not known for its strict rulings, published a response in the website Srugim, calling his decision “A Delusional Ruling to Anyone who Understands the Laws of Shabbat.”

Rabbi Rosen laid out a well founded objection to the heter—permission Rabbi Rosenzweig had given himself, starting with the argument that it appeared the children in the house—who are the vulnerable entity in such rulings—appear to have been sleeping comfortably under their covers, which should have at least justified pushing off the decision until morning.

He also suggested that the “indirect” argument is delusional, because there was only one, predictable outcome to flipping the switch on, makes no difference where the actual production takes place.

What I liked most about rabbi Rosen’s well reasoned attack was the fact that, after all had been said, he did not suggest Rabbi Rosenzweig was not within his rights as a halachic Jew to act as he did. What upset him was the fact that he chose to brag about it.

“I was mostly shocked by the atmosphere and the style,” Rabbi Rosen wrote. “It’s evident that the reporting rabbi wishes to aggrandize himself in front of the readers with his great arm that bends halacha with virtuosity.”

“It’s cheapening halacha, using it like playdough,” argued Rabbi Rosen, but, again, his greatest complaint was not the rabbi’s choice, but his turning of a choice that should have remained private into braggadocio.

“If he had ruled this way for his neighbors, I would have kept quiet,” Rabbi Rosen concluded. “But the entire entry emphasizes his own and his family’s interests.”

Rabbi’s Chelsea Clinton Jewish Status Quip Stressing Tear with Reform

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Rabbi David Stav is, possibly, the most popular Orthodox rabbi among unobservant Israelis. He has founded and is leading Tzohar, an organization whose main goal is to make Orthodox weddings and other lifecycle events pleasant and uncomplicated for Israelis who would otherwise opt for a secular option. And so, the fact that even this most moderate and open minded scholar could not bring himself to recognize any Jewish validity in the Reform movement (nebech) says a lot.

In a public debate at the Knesset Israel-U.S. lobby on Tuesday, chaired by Labor MK Nachman Shai, Rabbi Stav had this to say about the Reform movement’s demand that their conversions be recognized by the Jewish State:

“The problem of assimilation among American Jews is not only an American problem, it’s our problem, too. There’s an ocean of ceremonies and an ocean of people eager to conduct ceremonies. Chelsea Clinton married a Jewish guy. I’m not arguing the legitimacy of it, you’re free to think what you want. But do you want me to recognize Chelsea Clinton’s child as a Jew? You want me to recognize the rabbi who officiated at her wedding as a rabbi? Are you trying to push intermarriage through my back door?”

Rabbi Stav spoke after the visiting head of the Reform movement, Reform Rabbi (nebech) Rick Jacobs told the Knesset forum that Reform and Conservative Jews outnumber and outweigh the Orthodox (my translation was done from the Hebrew transcript in Srugim – YY).

“The members, the contributors and the leaders of AIPAC and the federations are Reform and Conservative,” Jacobs stated, adding that his people share an unconditional commitment to support the state of Israel and its citizens (on the proper side of the green line, of course – YY).

He pointed out that after Senator Joe Lieberman’s retirement, all the Jewish members of the Senate and the House will be either Reform or Conservative.

“The Reform and Conservative are the leaders in every segment of American society,” Jacobs stressed. “Therefore the fact that Israel remains the last democracy in the world that discriminates against Jewish denominations representing the majority of Jews in the world and in the United States – is pushing away Jews, puzzles many Americans and erodes Israel’s image as a democratic home that permits freedom of religion. We are not equals in the Jewish State. We believe there’s more than one, authentic way to be Jewish.”

In his response, Rabbi David Stav argued that the law in the state of Israel says we must insure the continuity of Israeli society. “I must guard the existing framework,” he vowed.

Tzohar Rabbis Group Says New Law to Help Stop Assimilation

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

The new law that the Knesset passed Monday night to allow couples to register for marriages wherever they want will help prevent civil marriages abroad and stop a wave of assimilation, according to the Tzohar Rabbinical Organization

“Local rabbinates functioned as mini-monopolies, causing widespread resentment among both religious and secular couples,” the Tzohar group said. “In addition to severe bureaucratic obstacles, many ultra-orthodox local rabbis prohibit Zionist rabbis from performing weddings and do not recognize the rabbinic authority of most North American community rabbis.”

It added that the result of the system has been that secular couples traveled to Cyprus and Prague for civil marriages, creating a situation in which “their children will find it almost impossible to prove their Jewish roots in the future.”

Rabbi David Stav, founder and president of the Tzohar Rabbinical Organization, said, “Many people are unaware that Israel is suffering from a wave of mass assimilation and intermarriage. This is mostly due to bureaucratic factors rather than halachic challenges.”

Revolution: Knesset Approves Marriage for Straight Couples

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

The Israeli Parliament has embarked on a revolution last night, approving a bill that will permit Jewish couples to get married anywhere they wish to in Israel. Our readers abroad may find this hard to believe, but for its first 65 years, the state of Israel, where Religious weddings are also state weddings, required the happy couples to get married only in their town of residence. (See: Revolutionary Marriage Reform Law Spells End to Haredi Domination)

If that reminds you of olden times, when the vassals were not permitted to wonder away from their huts outside their feudal master’s castle, you are absolutely correct. Just like that feudal, who was also ordained by the grace of the Almighty, your local religious council owns you, cradle to grave. And since, over the past three decades, Israel’s Rabbinate has been dominated by Haredim, the result was that secular and non-Haredi Israeli Jews—the vast majority—had to submit to the rule of Haredi rabbis on every aspect of their personal lives.

It’s like Alice in Wonderland, but the Red Queen is wearing a shtreimel.

So, one of the things Minister of Religious Services Naftali Bennett (did you know he did that, too?) has been introducing changes to the religious-feudal system, and the new law, which is already being tested in 5 pilot projects, will enable Israeli couples seeking to tie the knot (we actually don’t do that in Jewish law) to pick whichever rabbi in any municipality to perform their ceremony.

The rabbinic organization Tzohar, which has been laboring for years to undo the damage so many rabbis and laymen, Haredi and otherwise, have inflicted on the psyche of secular Israelis, is ecstatic. They seem to think that the new law will encourage competition, and that rabbis now will have to adopt a pleasant bedside manner in order to make a living. Can you imagine that? They’ll have to answer the phone, schedule speedy hearings, treat people sweetly, offer creative solutions in problematic cases – in other words, care for their clients, because their no longer captive. That’s enough to drive a Haredi rabbi crazy!

Indeed, United Torah Judaism MK Uri Maklev said the knitted yarmulke MKs were promoting the new law because they are unaware of “the scope of its damage.”

But that was polite. UTJ MK Moshe Gafni, attacking the new law from the Knesset podium, said Jewish Home, pushing the new revolution, were “a shame to the Jewish nation.”

“You’re not religious,” he said, having recently had a meeting with God, who gave him the list. “You’re going to break up the entire marriage registration process.”

He also decried the damage the new law will inflict on so many rabbis, all of it in order “to be liked” by the secular Israelis and hold on to their Knesset seats.

MK Gafni has long embraced the tactic of when in doubt – throw a tantrum. But sources in the knitted yarmulke camp are also unhappy about the new law, which, essentially, deposits the authority on the validity of one’s Jewish identity in local hands – away from the centralized Rabbinate control. Each religious council in Israel has its own marriage registration department, where they deal with issues like the validity of conversions, or the current marital status of applicants. Until the new law was in effect, if there was a problematic marriage registration office in some municipality—too permissive or too strict—it could be dealt with by the Rabbinate on a town by town basis.

But now every religious council is in competition with all the other religious councils in the country. If a particular local rabbi gets a reputation for going easy on converts—he could print his own money, because folks will flock to him and happily pay the registration fee.

Yes, the new law absolutely creates financial incentives to go easy on “problem” marriages.

The thing is, MK Gafni should have stood on the podium and clap al-chet (pound his chest) to confess and regret how decades of malicious abuse by the Haredi establishment have brought on this revolution (remember the mass-revoking of conversions only a few years ago—that kind of abuse). Now the integrity of Jewish identity in Eretz Israel is in the hands—and the pockets—of thousands of local community rabbis.

I choose to trust that He who watches over all our very silly actions on this planet will watch over our local marriage registrations as well. I certainly trust Him more than I do MK Moshe Gafni.

Revolutionary Marriage Reform Law Spells End to Haredi Domination

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Want a Tzohar Rabbi for the Wedding? Avoid Petach Tikvah

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

The Religious Council of Petach Tikvah, located next to Tel Aviv, is generally known to give problems for couple wanting to get married by modern orthodox rabbis registered with the Tzohar organization, a rabbi told The Jewish Press Thursday.

Responding to the reported plight of a young man whose request for a certificate that he is single was rejected by the Petach Tikvah Religious Council, the rabbi, who has performed dozens of weddings, explained that the council is known for giving modern orthodox men a hard time.  He added that the rejection had nothing to do with the election loss  two weeks ago of Tzohar Rabbi David Stav to Haredi Rabbi David Lau

The Petach Council reportedly rejected the prospective groom’s request for a certificate because he opened a file with Tzohar. The Council tried to explain that the young man did not bring with him the required documents and that his wanting to be married by a Tzohar rabbi was irrelevant.

The rabbi who spoke with The Jewish Press suggested that the prospective groom travel to the nearby city of Shoham, where there is no problem with the Rabbinate.

Many Haredi rabbis on religious councils resent the growing popularity of Tzohar

 

 

Ex-Mossad Chief Backs Move to ID Soviet Jews

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

Ephraim HaLevy, former chief of the Mossad, has committed himself to a program which will help certify the Jewish identities of thousands of immigrants, primarily from the former Soviet Union, who need certifications that they are Jewish in order to marry under official Israeli law. The announcement came at the annual meeting of the Shorashim (Roots) program, an initiative of the Tzohar Rabbinical Organization. HaLevy was officially announced as the program’s Incoming chairman. Shorashim is backed by the Harry Triguboff Foundation based in Sydney, Australia, together with the Friedberg Charitable Foundation of Toronto, Canada and with funding from the government of Israel. The program operates out of offices in Moscow and Kiev, and the first center in Israel to assist couples with the identification process was opened last week in the presence of Triguboff.

Prof. Ze’ev Khanin, Chief Scientist of Israel’s Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, told the meeting that since the fall of the Soviet Union, more than one million people have immigrated to Israel. Accounting for natural demographic patterns compounded with a certain percentage of people who chose to leave Israel of their own initiative, approximately 975,000 people living in Israel today describe themselves as of Russian origin.

“For years we were imploring these Jews to come home to Israel and now we’re going to reject them because they can’t easily prove their Jewish ancestry?” HaLevy asked. “There is an answer and that is what this program offers, but if we don’t commit ourselves to it then we’ll go down as the biggest traitors in Jewish history.”

The process often involves sending emissaries into archives and cemeteries in tiny Russian and Ukrainian villages to obtain the levels of proof necessary to determine that an immigrant to Israel is of certain Jewish ancestry. Once procured, the documentation is then presented to Israeli rabbinical courts before an individual’s proof of Judaism can be confirmed.

Rabbi David Stav, the founder and president of Tzohar and also the national religious candidate for the position of Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel, told the meeting, “We can’t even begin to comprehend the value of what is being done here and this is truly a historic effort.”

Couples not afforded the assistance offered by Shorashim often will enter marriage without halachic approval, a situation which effectively would define their children as non-Jews under Israeli law. Those who are determined not to be of Jewish descent are provided with support to convert under rabbinic guidance.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/ex-mossad-chief-backs-move-to-id-soviet-jews/2013/06/23/

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