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September 16, 2014 / 21 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘woman’

Can Women say Kaddish?

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

When a parent dies one of the things done during the year long mourning period is to say Kaddish. This is usually done by a son. The idea behind that is to build up Zechuyos (merit) for the Niftar (the deceased).

The reason we do that is based on the idea that most people do not live a sin free life and before one merits his final place in Olam HaBa, the soul has to go through a ‘cleansing period’ whereby it pays for sins it committed during its brief stay in the body. By doing things in the merit of the Niftar it is hoped that the punishment it gets during this ‘cleansing period’ will be reduced.

This is a universal practice in Judaism. No matter how great – or not so great – the deceased parent was, assuming he was not a Rasha the practice is to say Kaddish for the same amount of time (11 months. Saying Kaddish for more than 11 months implies that the deceased was a Rasha). Why Kaddish was established as opposed to other ways of bringing merit to the deceased is beyond the scope of this post.

The question arises as to whether a woman can say Kaddish for a parent. There are differences of opinion about that. I am not here to Paskin. That is beyond my pay grade. But I believe there are Poskim that permit it.You would think that a woman saying Kaddish for a parent in Shul was tantamount to using profanity the way some people react to it. That is not OK. From a letter submitted to JOFA:

No, you can’t say kaddish because you’re a woman… Shh! Why can’t you keep your voice quiet!? We can hear you over the mechitza!… [The silence when no one says amen to my kaddish recitation]… You know, it doesn’t actually count when a daughter says kaddish… Couldn’t you get your husband or father to say kaddish instead?… It would be much more respectful if you didn’t say kaddish… Is there a man who is REALLY saying kaddish for your mom?

No one has a right to criticize any woman for saying Kaddish for a deceased parent. No matter what their opinion is about the permissibly or effectiveness of it. To say the things said to one such woman contained in this letter (reproduced above), is not only insensitive, but in my view a disgusting psychological abuse of another human being. An abuse of the type Chazal had some very harsh words for: Kol HaMelaben Pnei Chavero B’Rabim K’ilu Shofech Damo! Embarrassing some one publicly is tantamount to murder.

Kayla Jacobs submitted this letter as a reason for needing JOFA – the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance.

I submit that she does not need JOFA for that. I am not a member of JOFA and I am as outraged by such comments as she and any Orthodox Feminist is. Justifiably so. But do we really need a Feminist organization to protest this kind of insensitivity on the part of some ignorant people? Or do we need common sense?

Where is the empathy? Where is the Jewish Soul? Where is the brain?!

What kind of human being would insult a woman who is expressing the best way she knows how her mourning for a parent?

I do not see this as a feminist issue at all. This is a human issue. And if there are more than a few people in the religious world who are like this, the fault lies in the Chinuch they get. Either in the home or in the school. Or both.

Not that they aren’t entitled to their views with respect to who gets to say Kaddish and who doesn’t. Honorable people can disagree about that. But in how to treat a fellow human being. Especially one who is suffering the loss of a parent. The disgusting comments contained in that letter is not how that is done. Those kinds of statements can only lead down a different road. One that will require offspring to say Kaddish for more than 11 months.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

Nita Lowey Gets Appropriations Top Dem Spot

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives elevated Rep. Nita Lowey of New York’s 18th congressional district (Westchester and Rockland counties), to their ranking member on the powerful Appropriations Committee.

Lowey, a leading pro-Israel lawmaker who is Jewish, had been the top Democrat on the committee’s foreign operations subcommittee. She announced her bid for the party’s top slot on the Approriations Committee last April after Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) announced he was retiring.

“It is especially gratifying to be the first woman to lead either party on this powerful committee,” Lowey said in a statement Tuesday after her election by the House Democrats’ steering committee.

Lowey defeated Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) for the top spot. Kaptur had seniority but was seen as problematic because of her sometimes frosty relations with the House Demcoratic leadership and her relatively conservative views on abortion.

Lowey won by a vote of 36-10, sources told The Hill newspaper.

“Throughout her service on the Appropriations Committee, Congresswoman Lowey has acted as a fierce advocate for the best interests of the American people, at home and around the world,” said Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the minority leader. “As the first woman to hold her new post, she will continue to fight for investments that strengthen the middle class and spur our prosperity.”

Pelosi emphasized that Lowey and a top Democrat on another committee, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), of the Financial Services, were women — an implied jab at House Republicans, who elected only white men to committee chairmanships.

Couple Suspected of Aiding Toulouse Killer Merah Taken Into Custody

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

A man and a woman in the Toulouse area were arrested on suspicion that they helped Mohammed Merah “commit crimes” that may have included the murder of four Jews.

According to L’Express, a French daily, French authorities arrested the two on Tuesday morning. Reports in the French media said there was no use of force.

The French news service AFP named one of the suspects as Charles Mencarelli and reported that he had been arrested in Albi, about 45 miles northeast of Toulouse. AFP described Mencarelli as not having a permanent address. His life partner was arrested at her home in Toulouse, according to the report.

The pair will be brought for arraignment within 96 hours of their arrest, according to  L’Express, during which time they will be interrogated about their links with Merah. They are not suspected of belonging to a jihadist network, an unnamed police source told L’Express.

Merah, a 23-year-old radical Muslim, killed a rabbi and three children in a pre-planned attack on the Otzar Hatorah Jewish school in Toulouse on March 19. The slayings came a few days after Merah gunned down three French soldiers in two drive-by shootings from a scooter near Toulouse. He was shot dead on March 22 by police as they stormed his home.

Tuesday’s arrests were headed by France’s domestic intelligence service, DCRI, and the country’s top SWAT team, the anti-terrorist SDAT unit.

David Petraeus and the Biblical Lessons of Why Men Want Two Women

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

The David Petraeus scandal, where a national hero betrays a solid, devoted, soul mate of a wife to be with a young hot thing who gets his blood pumping seems as old as time itself. In earlier times a general or king would usually have two women to being with to  fulfill two very different needs. The pedigreed wife for children and to rule as a consort – and recall that Petraeus married the daughter of the Superintendent of West Point – and a mistress for passion and excitement. But Petraeus had to resign because our society does not tolerate unfaithfulness. It expects men who are accomplished in their public life to be equally accomplished in marriage by finding find both dimensions in one woman, namely their wives.

The Biblical story of Jacob and his two wives, Rachel and Leah (which we read in last week’s portion) provides insight into what men search for and the tragedy of not  orchestrating disparate needs into one indivisible woman.

When Jacob first meets Rachel, he seeks to impress her by moving a giant stone, then kisses her, and breaks into tears. He then offers Laban, her father, seven years of work in return for Rachel’s hand in marriage. The years pass by so quickly that ‘they appeared in his eyes as if they were just days.’

Jacob’s love for Rachel is one of deep passion and yearning. It is love as covetousness, lust, and desire. It is the fieriest kind of romantic love. It is also the most tragic. Romantic, passionate, lustful love that is balanced by partnership and intimacy nearly always ends badly. Either because the fires die down, or because the fire burns so brightly that it consumes both participants. Fiery, lustful love rarely ends up with a happily ever after. Jacob feels in his bones that his passion for Rachel must end disastrously. Thus, he is drawn to kiss her, but he immediately weeps. He recognizes that in this imperfect world, perfect love is impossible to attain. He wants Rachel to be his soul mate, but he intuits that he will never fully possess her is destined to lose her.

By contrast, he experiences none of the same passion for Leah. When he is fooled into marrying her, he accepts Leah as a partner and eventually the mother of his children. But his yearning is for Rachel. Leah feels hated and names the first of her three children after her experiences of rejection from Jacob. Reuben is for the God ‘who saw my affliction and granted me a son.’ Simeon is for the God ‘who saw that I am hated.’ Levi is the son whose birth ‘will bring my husband closer to me.’ Only with the fourth son, Judah, which means ‘praise to God,’ do we begin to see a name that gives the child an intrinsic identity rather than one that relates instead to the relationship of his father to his mother.

Leah longs for Jacob the way that Jacob longs for Rachel. But for Jacob, Leah represents a maternal, practical partner with whom he shares a life but has no passionate connection. It reflects, arguably, the way Petraeus viewed his own loyal wife. They have intimacy but no intensity. They have a family but no fervor or fire. He loves her but does not long for her. He does not want bad things to happen to her. He wishes to protect her but she is not the delight of his soul.

Yet Jacobs knows in his heart that Leah, rather than Rachel, is destined to be his soul mate. (No doubt Petraeus knew in his heart as well he was always destined to return to his wife, if she would accept him back). She is destined to bear most of his children, share his life, and share eternity with him by being buried at his side. Leah represents stability and order. She will be Jacob’s anchor. She is his permanence. The woman who tethers him to family. Yet he will never make peace with love that is only functional and not romantic, stable but not passionate.

Rachel is playful, girlish, and evinces, at times, immaturity that is often characteristic of   women whom men desire mightily. She can also be callous about Jacob’s love for her, so confident is she in the  of his desire. When Reuben brings flowers for his mother Leah, Rachel strikes a deal with Leah to exchange the flowers for a conjugal night with Jacob. What Leah longs for, Rachel treats as mere currency. Unlike Jacob who understands intuitively the tragic nature of passionate, romantic love, Rachel thinks they have endless time to be together. One night will make no difference. But Jacob knows the clock is ticking.

Women like Leah ultimately both triumph and suffer. They triumph because in their stability they end up gaining the commitment of men who build families and lives with them. But they suffer because they never feel the passionate desire of their husbands. They never really feel wanted. They never truly feel special. And a woman wants to be lusted after even more than she wants to be loved.

But it is the amalgamation of both types of love that is meant to characterize the successful marriage. Not a man in a relationship with two women, but a man and woman whose marriage incorporates both dimensions. Husbands and wives are meant to have passion and practicality, fire and firmness, lust and love, desire and durability. Rachel and Leah are meant to be one.

The Jewish laws that will follow with the giving of the Torah at Sinai will prescribe half of the month devoted to passion and sexual fire, and half of the month devoted to soulfulness and intimacy. The orchestration of the two is what makes a marriage whole. We are meant to be lovers and best friends, paramours and soul mates, people who ache for each other but settle down with one another to create a life of stability and permanence. Our wives should be our mistresses and our companions, our excitement and our anchor. We never wish to lose our lust, but we also need to accompany lust with love.

It was Jacob’s inability to value both dimensions that lead to many problems in the life of his own family. Jacob seems scarred from his childhood. His father favored Esau, so from his earliest age he tasted rejection. Later, he will repeat many of these mistakes in favoring Joseph, creating even more dysfunction and sibling rivalry among his own children than he experienced with Esau. Likewise, he favors one wife and one type of love. He struggles to appreciate the stability of Leah and gravitates exclusively toward the drama of Rachel. With Rachel he fights and argues. She accuses Jacob of being responsible for her not falling pregnant. He fires back that he is not God and is not responsible for her infertility. But dramatic relationships are addictive and Rachel is the drug of choice. But in favoring Rachel so exclusively Jacob risks becomes emotionally monolithic, never quite mastering the art of relationships. He is, interestingly, far better at adversarial relationships than intimate ones. He outmaneuvers the wily Esau to take his blessing as well as his immoral and cunning father-in-law Laban. He wrestles with an angel and defeats him. He has learned from an early age to survive on his wits.

Like many a man who has experienced insufficient love in his childhood, Jacob finds intimacy challenging. Love for him is more of a high than a deep sharing of self. He seeks the deep thrill of love that comes from a woman of passionate nature like Rachel rather than a woman of deep emotion like Leah. Jacob gravitates to the romantic love of the poets rather than the practical love of real life.

But, whatever man’s plans, God often intends something different. Jacob lusts for Rachel but his future is with Leah.

We men of the modern era can draw the appropriate lesson.

Yaakov Avinu’s Delayed Marriage

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

Note to readers: This column is dedicated to the refuah sheleimah of Shlomo Eliezer ben Chaya Sarah Elka.

The Rambam writes in the 10th perek of Hilchos Ishus (halacha 13-14) that if a man marries a woman, he is obligated to have sheva berachos for seven days. If one marries several women at once, he must have separate sheva berachos for each one for seven days – consecutively. The reason for this is because we cannot mix one simcha with another simcha. For this reason one may not get married on Chol HaMoed, for we are obligated to have simcha on Chol HaMoed and we cannot mix that simcha with the simcha that one is obligated to have for seven days after one marries. The Rambam says that we derive this halacha from the pasuk in this week’s parshah:Ma’le shevua zos… (Fill this week…).” Lavan told Yaakov Avinu that he should wait a week after marrying Leah before marrying Rachel.

The source for this Rambam is from the Yerushalmi. The Talmud Bavli, in Moed Kattan 8b, derives this halacha from a pasuk in Nevi’im.

There is a question on the Rambam that several Acharonim discuss (see Makneh Even Ha’ezer Kuntris Acharon 62:2). Why did Yaakov wait a week before marrying Rachel? The Rambam only said that one must observe the sheva berachos one week after another, but did not say that one may not marry another woman during his sheva berachos with the first woman. This question cannot be asked on the Yerushalmi, for we could answer that the Yerushalmi indeed prohibits marrying another woman during the sheva berachos of the first woman. The reason why the Yerushalmi derived the halacha from Yaakov Avinu and not from Nevi’im, like the Bavli, was in order to rule that one may not even marry another woman during the week of his sheva berachos with the first wife. But the Rambam rules that one can marry many women at once and we require each woman to have a separate week of sheva berachos. Why then could Yaakov not have married Rachel the very next day, and simply delay her sheva berachos?

The Keren Orah (Moed Kattan 8b) answers that the Rambam only permits one to marry other women if he marries them at the same time. If one marries one woman separately and only the following day wishes to marry another woman, he is not permitted to do so since the period of sheva berachos for the first woman has already begun. The Rambam was referring to a scenario whereby a man married several women at the same time; therefore the period of sheva berachos had not yet taken affect, which would have prohibited marrying other women. In Yaakov’s case, however, he did not realize that he had married Leah until the following morning. At that time, the period of sheva berachos for Leah had already begun and he was therefore unable to marry Rachel until after the sheva berachos of Leah were complete.

Other Acharonim suggest that even though one may marry another woman during the sheva berachos period of his first wife, the second sheva berachos will have different halachos attached to it if he waits to marry the second woman until after the sheva berachos period of the first wife is over. For example, during the regular sheva berachos period celebrated after one marries a virgin, the chassan is forbidden to go to work. Even if his wife allows him to go, he may not go to work because the prohibition is on him and she has no jurisdiction over it. Some Acharonim rule that when one marries more than one woman at a time, it is only the chassan’s prohibition against going to work for the first seven days. After the first seven days the prohibition of going to work stems from the wife, and therefore she could permit him to go to work. Even though Yaakov could have married Rachel the day after he married Leah, he feared that Lavan would force Rachel to permit Yaakov to go to work during her sheva berachos. Therefore Yaakov wished to marry Rachel after Leah’s sheva berachos period was complete in order to ensure that he would be able to be together with Rachel during the sheva berachos that was being celebrated for her.

The Secretive Casualties of War

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

During the recent Opration Pillar of Defense An Israeli 35-year-old man told his wife that he had been recalled to the reserves, said good bye to her and to their children and headed south – not to the Gaza border, but, instead, to the hotel Le Meridien in Eilat, to celebrate his unexpected freedom with his mistress, the daily Yediot Aharonoth reported Thursday.

The mistress called the wife from the road, pretending to be an IDF official, and informed her that her husband had been drafted and sent to the border.

As luck would have it, the husband, who took his wife’s car to save on gas fuel, made one mistake: he parked his car in front of the hotel garbage cans. A sanitation truck driver who came the next morning to pick up the garbage called the number listed on the car bumper, obtained the woman’s cell number and called her. After a short conversation, the woman realized that her husband was engaged in an entirely non-militaristic activity.

The woman hired a team detectives documented the husband’s southern adventure, and she is planning to sue foe divorce this morning. Last night, unaware that his life as he knew it was over, the husband called to tell his wife about the rough time he was having away from her, in the army.

True story – because I saw it in Yedioth.

Arab Stabs Policeman in Eastern Jerusalen

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

A Border Policeman was stabbed by a female Arab assailant in eastern Jerusalem near the Shalem police station. He is lightly injured.

Other police nearby subdued the woman and arrested her.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/arab-stabs-policeman-in-eastern-jerusalen/2012/11/22/

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