Thursday, December 29, 2016

Obama's shameful farewell message to Israel

Secretary of State John Kerry’s rebuke of the Israeli government on Wednesday set off a wave of criticism from lawmakers in both parties. Republicans denounced what they said was the Obama administration’s harsh treatment of a steadfast ally and Democrats signaled that they were uneasy with Mr. Kerry’s pressure on Israel, even as they praised the effort to promote Middle East peace.

In Europe, however, Mr. Kerry’s speech was greeted warmly, with officials calling it a courageous and thoughtful effort to salvage the idea of a two-state solution for the Israelis and Palestinians. Still, across the Arab world, his harsh words for Israel were met with a collective shrug, coming at the end of eight years of Obama administration policies that left many in the Middle East frustrated.

On Capitol Hill, hours after Mr. Kerry used what may be his last major address to bluntly inform the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, that “friends need to tell each other the hard truths,” he received a reminder of the deep support Israel enjoys in an otherwise sharply divided Congress.

“While he may not have intended it, I fear Secretary Kerry, in his speech and action at the U.N., has emboldened extremists on both sides,” said Senator Chuck Schumer, the incoming Senate Democratic leader.

A bipartisan chorus of lawmakers, upset with President Obama’s decision last week to allow the passage of a United Nations resolution condemning Israel’s construction of settlements in disputed territory, made clear that they were looking past the departing administration.

Senator Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said he shared Mr. Kerry’s concerns “with the lack of forward progress on a two-state solution.” But Mr. Cardin also said he was unhappy that Mr. Obama had not vetoed the United Nations resolution, instead abstaining from the vote. He pledged to “explore congressional action that can mitigate the negative implications” of it.

The most ardent supporters of Israel in Congress seemed just as liberated as Mr. Kerry was to let loose.

“Secretary Kerry’s speech today was at best a pointless tirade in the waning days of an outgoing administration,” said Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona. “At worst, it was another dangerous outburst that will further Israel’s diplomatic isolation and embolden its enemies.”

Representative Eliot L. Engel of New York, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called Mr. Kerry’s speech “gratuitous” and “wrong.” “There doesn’t seem any purpose to this other than to embarrass Israel,” Mr. Engel said. “It just pained me to watch it.”

Democratic members of Congress who are closer to Mr. Kerry, a former senator, and the Obama administration were more measured. Many had been angered by Mr. Netanyahu’s decision last year to accept an invitation from the Republican-led House to deliver a speech in the Capitol, where he confronted the president over the Iran nuclear accord.

Yet even these Democrats — eyeing the arrival of a Republican administration-in-waiting that has vowed strong support for Israel — left little doubt that they were parting ways with Mr. Obama on the substance of the United Nations resolution. [...]

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Rav Menashe Klein: Does sending girls to collect charity violate "the honor of the princess is to stay nside"

Rav Menashe Klein (4:125):Woe is to the girls school that sent them to collect money for charity Question: You want to know my view as to whether it is correct to send school girls from the higher grade with collection boxes (pushkes) into the stores and streets to collect money for Torah study or other worthy causes. Your view is that this practice violates the principle that the “The honor of the princess is inside” and also there is inappropriate contact with the people who pass by and this causes at times disgusting things. And I want to raise the additional question, “Why should this only be a concern for the higher grades? The question is definitely relevent also for the lower grades. Why should it be different because in both cases the girls are getting used to being amongst men? And the father of Shmuel did not let two sisters to sleep together to prevent them getting used to being physically close to another person. Everything depends on habit as is well known in this matter.

Nonetheless it is difficult to state a clear cut rule because it strongly depends upon the place and the time and the person. There is no question in a case where the girls who normally are in fact in the house the whole day that we say “The honor of the princess is inside”. But that is an unusual case. In such a case there would be no mitzva to send them out to collect charity and in fact it would be a mitzva accomplished through sin. However due to our many sins it seems that these present day girls do not in fact fulfill the verse of “The honor of the princess is inside” and they leave the home regularly for all sorts of things. For example they go to school everyday on the bus with various and strange drivers and joke with them or discuss issues with them or even with an ordinary non-Jew that gets on the bus and they greet them – and this is a problem even with a Jewish driver. They learn English in school with male teachers who might be non-Jews or Jews. And this is true not only for English but also they have male teachers for Torah - and many of the teachers are unmarried.

It was a long time ago that I spoke with one of the principals of a girls high school here concerning why they have unmarried male teachers? We know from Toras Moshe Rabbeinu that an unmarried male should not teach – even boys because of the mothers who come for them. So surely they shouldn’t be teaching older girls who are at the age to cause problems even for married teachers. Surely males teaching girls is not considered a clean and simple profession. In fact our Sages have said that a person should have a job that doesn’t involve interacting with females and surely not to be teaching them every day for the entire day! Can it be that a person will light a fire in his bosom and not be burnt? Who in today’s generation can say that he doesn’t have sexual enticements in these situations?

G-d forbid that I should be blaming holy Jewish girls and I am not not saying they are doing anything wrong because all of them are holy. And also it is certain that the teachers are pure and holy and I with my many sins and am the lowest of the lowest I have not merited to holiness like this. However for someone of lowly value such as myself it is certain that I need to protest. And perhaps in truth you will not find amongst the teachers someone as lowly as me – it should only be so.

The holy and learned Rav Hillel Kalamair occasionally gave talks to women concerning mussar and the halachos that they needed to know. When he entered into they synagogue to speak before them, he would first wrap his head with a talis so he would not look at them and come to sin. Are we greater than he? And I have said that if perhaps I had two other rabbis supporting me I would make a great protest against this practise. [see E. H. 1:3 and Beis Shmeul 1:4. My brother pointed out to me that the Lechem Chamudos said something similar. I am happy to see that I am agreement with such an elevated person.]

So to return to the original question. We see that these girls go into the markets and streets for walks, for jobs, for purchases and for all their needs. If so why should we be concerned specifically for the issue of going to collect charity? Is this worse than what they do for other needs? In fact the opposite is so because there are times when it is good for them to go and collect charity and not go to worse places than that e.g., to watch television or listen to the radio or sometimes they even go to see a movie or other entertainment which I don’t want to mention. So I am not speaking about the girls who in truth do not generally go out and they fulfill, “The honor of the princess is inside” and they are adorned with golden garments. A girl who spends her staying at home and not going out – they should be truly rich and their portion be successful and their forfathers rejoice – because this is true greatness for girls like these not to go out. For such girls the question of collecting charity does not arise.

Rav Menashe Klein (9:250): Question: Concerning the halacha principle that a Jewish woman is considered a princess and therefore it is more respectful for that status that she should remain in the home (kavod bas melech penima) – is it preferable that a wife leave the home for the sake of her husband to a place of immorality [in order to earn a living or other purposes]. Answer: It is difficult to give a clear written response to this question. That is because in modern time this principle that it is best that a Jewish woman should stay in the home is almost nonexistent – because of our many sins. If a woman does remain in her home and doesn’t go out for any reason– even if it causes her husband to lose Torah study - then this is definitely an example of the principle. Traditionally a woman did not go out of her house. However after the Holocaust (because of our many sins) – when we find ourselves a small minority amongst the nations of the world and earning a livelihood is difficult – it has become normative practice for women to leave their homes. However in places outside the home there is the possibility of immorality and no protection against sexual sins – therefore it depends on the nature of the society and the characteristics of the woman. In particular whether she would in fact remain in the house all day if she had the opportunity. (See what I wrote in Mishne Torah 4:125) concerning sending Beis Yaakov girls out to collect money for charity.)

 First we need to clarify whether we actually rule that this principle is the halacha. It seems that in fact that it is a dispute amongst the poskim - as we see from Gittin 12 that apparently we don’t follow such a principle. Similarly Mahari Bruno (#242) was asked regarding a maid servant who did not want to leave the home to do the shopping because of this principle. He responded that we don’t rule in accord with this principle. In contrast we see in Yevamos (77a) that this principle is cited as halacha [from the fact that Amonite and Moabite women were not punished for failing to provide the Jews with bread and water - since all respectable woman remain in the home] .

he Nimukei Yosef say there that the principle is halacha because all Jews are considered royalty. Shulchan Aruch (E.H 4) also rules like Yevamos (77a). See the Levush. Consequently we seem to have contradictory evidence as to whether it is halacha. Furthermore in Shabbos (111a), Rav Shimon says that all Jews are royalty and that is the halacha. On the other hand the Ran says that the Rif says that the halacha that all Jews are not considered royalty. However the BeHag and Rabbeinu Chananel rule like Rav Shimon...Rashi (Shabbos 59) writes that all Jews are royalty. Similarly in Mishna Berachos (1:2) says that they are royalty. However Rabbeinu Yona says normally they are not considered royalty but here we do.

In my chidushim I write that there are three different circumstances. In truth there is no question that the honor of a princess is to stay in the home. However in spite of that, we find with Ruth that she did go out to gather grain amongst the other harvesters – and she is praised for doing so. But look at Rashi and the interpretations of Chazal that say when she went out she sought out the company of proper people. If so we can state that when a person does need to go out of the home this principle requires finding a place where there are proper people. In such circumstances there is no prohibition.

For Fact-Checking Website Snopes, a Bigger Role in dealing with Fake News

The last line of defense against the torrent of half-truths, untruths and outright fakery that make up so much of the modern internet is in a downscale strip mall near the beach.

Snopes, the fact-checking website, does not have an office designed to impress, or even be noticed. A big sign outside still bears the name of the previous tenant, a maker of underwater headphones. Inside there’s nothing much — a bunch of improvised desks, a table tennis table, cartons of Popchips and cases of Dr Pepper. It looks like a dot-com on the way to nowhere.

Appearances deceive. This is where the muddled masses come by the virtual millions to establish just what the heck is really going on in a world turned upside down.

Did Donald J. Trump say on Twitter that he planned to arrest the “Saturday Night Live” star Alec Baldwin for sedition? Has Hillary Clinton quietly filed for divorce? Was Mr. Trump giving Kanye West a cabinet position? And was Alan Thicke, the star of “Growing Pains,” really dead?

“Rationality seems to have fallen out of vogue,” said Brooke Binkowski, Snopes’s managing editor. “People don’t know what to believe anymore. Everything is really strange right now.”

That is certainly true at Snopes itself. For 20 years, the site was dedicated to urban legends, like the purported existence of alligators in New York City sewers, and other benign misinformation. But its range and readership increased significantly during a prolonged presidential election campaign in which the facts became a partisan issue and reality itself seemed up for grabs.

One way to chart Snopes’s increasing prominence is by measuring the rise in fake news about the site itself. If you believe the internet, the founder of Snopes, David Mikkelson, has a longer rap sheet than Al Capone. He was supposedly arrested for committing fraud and corruption and running a pit bull ring. In the wake of a deal that Snopes and others made this month to start fact-checking for Facebook, new slurs and allegations poured forth.

The underlying message of these spurious attacks is that the movement to fact-check the internet is a left-wing conspiracy whose real goal is to censor the right, and therefore must be resisted at all costs.

“Smearing people just because you don’t like what they’re saying often works to shut them up,” Ms. Binkowski, 39, said. “But at Snopes you learn to grow a thick skin. I will always push back. At least until someone shows up at my workplace and kills me.”[...]

Just about everyone at Snopes thought things would calm down after the votes were in. “The fake news wasn’t from Trump so much. It was from people who hated Hillary Clinton,” Ms. Binkowski said. “Once the election was over we figured it would go away.”[...]

But the role of fake news and misinformation in Mr. Trump’s surprise win quickly reached a fever pitch, prompting questions about the extent to which Facebook, where many of these bogus stories were shared, had influenced the election. Reluctantly, the social media giant was forced to act.

The plan is for Facebook to send questionable links to a coalition of fact-checking sites, including Snopes. If the links are found to be dubious, Facebook will alert users by marking stories with a “disputed” designation.[...]

“It used to be that if you got too far from the mainstream, you were shunned for being a little nutty,” she said. “Now there is so much nutty going around that it’s socially acceptable to embrace wild accusations. No one is embarrassed by anything anymore.”

The remedy, she and Ms. Binkowski feel, is more traditional journalism.

“People aren’t necessarily getting the media literacy they need, so they’re just kind of panicking,” Ms. LaCapria said.[...]

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Fainy Sukenik - A formerly abused ultra-Orthodox woman has started a support network to women seeking divorce

“Every culture has its own fairy tales,” she says. “Haredim have their own, too.”[...]

“Our fairy tales promised me a life that would be simple, beautiful,” she continues, flicking the bangs of her well-coiffed wig away from her face. “One marries young, the wife works while the husband learns Torah, children are born right away, and together they build a ‘Torah home’ with not a single want or flaw.” She pauses.

“So I trusted them. I married at 22, had three children right away, but things were not working out for us ... I heard there were other women whose husbands beat them, but who stayed anyway. But I decided I’m not going to be that woman ... I picked up the phone and called the police. That was the beginning of the end.”

Sukenik was then working at a religious seminary for women in Haifa, a fresh-eyed teacher and mentor for young women, many of whom were engaged to marry. With the news of her separation from her husband spreading, voices began to murmur: How could a woman who calls the police on her husband teach the young girls, serve as an example for the next generation of wives and mothers? How can we let her stay here?

“They wanted to fire me,” Sukenik tells me. “They forgot that Sarah Schenirer, the founder of Bais Yaakov [a network of schools for young religious women, founded a century ago], was divorced, too. Later, when I had more courage, I said to one of the teachers that Sarah Schenirer would be rolling in her grave if she heard them. You’re telling me that a divorced woman cannot teach in Bais Yaakov? How does that make sense?”

Letters were sent to the principal by parents concerned about her questionable influence on their daughters, but Sukenik was able to keep her job. “I told them, ‘I am exactly the kind of woman you need as an example for the girls.’ And I stayed. I would cry all night, but wake up in the morning, force myself to smile, to dress well.”

The change began in the quiet of solitary evenings at home, during the two years of separation and another year of the divorce process. With three small children asleep, Sukenik would spend hours reading divorce advice and online forums, looking for people going through similar experiences. She soon became active on the Facebook page “Haredim Naim L’hakir” (Ultra-Orthodox, Pleased to Meet You) and started blogging for the women’s online magazine Saloona under the name “Separated Haredia.”

“One should never have to deal with this alone, and in our community, no one speaks of divorce,” Sukenik explains. “No one knows how to deal with it. Tragedy, yes, death, yes, but not this. No one speaks with you about important things, no one asks if you need help, people don’t want to even get close to you, as if it’s a contagious disease. You become a pariah, people stop acknowledging you, they stop saying hello in the street. No one asked me, ‘Where are you on Shabbat?’ Now, I understand them, I forgive them. People are afraid.”[...]

Several times she repeats the same familiar mantra: “I was naive, naive, I was so naive.” Sukenik smiles sadly. “I was a young girl, and I truly believed in a perfect Torah world: Torah, justice, straightforwardness, judges! I didn’t realize what I was dealing with ... until all this evil came upon me. I began to understand the real corrupt workings of the beit din [religious court], and all I could think was: Where is the religion? It was a crisis for me: I believe in God, I believe in Torah, but when one sees people acting in an opposite manner, one loses faith.”

The waitress brings out coffee and tiramisu, and places it timidly on our table; Sukenik continues, impassioned: “And I couldn’t speak to anyone, to friends, to my parents – what would I tell them about? About the judges, the courthouse, the rabbis, the humiliations I’m enduring? Why make them suffer more? ” Her voice grows suddenly soft: “What would I tell them: ‘Abba, Ima, this world is corrupt’?”[...]

Based on polls and meetings with other divorcees, Sukenik began to build a network that would offer everything a religious woman needs when going through a divorce: assistance from lawyers, psychologists, family counselors, rabbinic advisors and lobbyists, social workers, as well as a growing, supportive community of other Orthodox divorcees and recently separated women. [...]

With the assistance of the Orthodox-oriented B'Asher Telchi organization, supported by some leading figures in that community and run by religious women, Sukenik hopes a woman will worry less about the stigma that comes with seeking help. She has been working tirelessly to secure rabbinic support for her project. [...]

הכנס שיעצים את הגרושות החרדיות, והגרושות שבדרך

פייני סוקניק ובאשר תלכי יקיימו כנס לגרושות חרדיות ובו יעניקו להם כלים מעצימים ויקיימו סדרת סדנאות והרצאות - כל הפרטים וגם הסבר קצר של סוקניק בעצמה

"הכנס יתחיל בברכות - דיין שיבוא לברך את הנשים - מבחינתי מדובר על אקט חשוב מאד.. סוג של 'אמירה' של בית הדין. יש דבר כזה. והוא מעוגן לחלוטין מכל הבחינות. הרצאה של דבורי וקשטוק - איך הופכים חושך לאור? ואחר כך הנשים תשתתפנה בסדנאות - כל אישה יכולה לבחור שתי סדנאות: אימון אישי לקראת פרק ב', אימון אישי לגלות כוחות נפש, גישור- כללי, תקשורת עם ילדים ומתבגרים, סדנת הגנה עצמית, סדנה של ניהול כלכלי נכון בזמן הגירושין ואחריו, ניהול עסקי - בניית עסק קטן וסדנה לבישול בריא ואורח חיים נכון.

:לאחר מכן - ארוחת צהריים מפנקת, ואז מופע סטאנד אפ של עידית לכטנפלד. לבסוף, הן יוצאות עם מתנה כשהן יודעות להביע את תחושותיהן, להבין את עצמן ולהוציא החוצה, להבין שהיא מתמודדת עם אתגר, ותעביר את המסר לסביבתה - ילדיה ומשפחתה".

פייני - "בכנס ישתתפו עורכות דין וטוענות רבניות, פסיכולוגיות יועצות, עוסיות ומטפלות, שגם הן צריכות לדעת אי להתייחס נכון , וגם הן שותפות מבחינתי לשינוי של מבט קהילתי וחברתי אחר".

"זהו יום עיון מקצועי. לא רחמנות, אומללות והסתתרות. אלא התמודדות וחוזק עם תקווה גדולה. לפרק ב'", אומרת סוקניק, "המגמה היא להוציא שכל אישה תצא מהכנס הזה מחוזקת ומועצמת, תרחש כבוד לעצמה, וכך באופן טבעי גם תקרין לסביבתה. כל אישה שהייתה בכנס תהיה נציגה ושגרירה של המהפך – מצקצוק בלשון, רחמים ופחד, להתמודדות ואתגר, עם לימוד איך מאחדים את המשפחה ה"שבורה", ואיך יש, יש תקנה ובעיקר תקווה".

האירוע יתקיים בנר חמישי של חנוכה, יום חמישי כ"ט בכסליו (29.12.) ב"יד לאישה" – רחוב לייב יפה 51, שכונת ארנונה תלפיות ירושלים.

טלפונים לרישום:

המחיר הוא מאה שקלים. נשים שמתקשות לשלם מתבקשות לציין את זה בטלפון(הבטחה של פייני - אף אחת לא תישאר בחוץ בגלל חוסר יכולת כספית!)

Rav Avraham Pam on the importance of the UN

Monday, December 26, 2016

Rav Wosner: Women should not drive because of modesty and temperament which results in many accidents

Update: Just added the translation of the teshuva of Rav Binyamin Silber who permits driving

Because of the many misunderstandings of these teshuvos, I am providing the translations instead of the Hebrew

Rav Shmuel HaLevi Wosner (Shevet HaLevi 4:1.2): Question: Concerning the topic of tznius (modesty) regarding the fact that women learn and regularly drive cars. Answer: From experience I learned that this is something that is proper to clearly forbid. That is because learning to drive has already caused and continues to cause pritzus (immodesty) and this is diametrically opposite to the Jewish value that the honor of the Jewish woman (princess) is to remain inside (Tehillim 45:14). Similarly the driving itself is absolutely the opposite of the Jewish value that the honor of the Jewish woman (princess) is to remain inside (Tehilim 45:14).The woman who exposes herself through driving in the market and streets before the eyes of everyone is actively and passively causing others to sin. “And it is not the normal way of a woman to be riding” (Pesachim 3a-b). And even though the reality of a riding on an animal is not totally equivalent to our topic of driving a car – nevertheless it is not the normal way of a woman and the two are similar in many ways that it difficult to explain in writing.

My heart tells me that it is one of the reasons for major accidents which occur on the roads of Israel which claims many victims and has already kill many good and righteous people. This is combined with the sins that are done on the roads which create harmful angels which create a danger on the roads as I have explained elsewhere according to the discussion in Pesachim (112b) concerning the incident of Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa and Abaye.
Pesachim (112b): ‘And do not go out alone at night’, for it was taught: One should not go out alone at night, i.e., on the nights of neither Wednesday nor Sabbaths, because Igrath the daughter of Mahalath,25 she and one hundred eighty thousand destroying angels go forth, and each has permission to wreak destruction independently. Originally they were about a day. On one occasion she met R. Hanina b. Dosa [and] said to him, ‘Had they not made an announcement concerning you in Heaven, "Take heed of Hanina and his learning," I would have put you in danger.’ ‘If I am of account in Heaven,’ replied he, ‘I order you never to pass through settled regions.’ ‘I beg you,’ she pleaded, ‘leave me a little room.’ So he left her the nights of Sabbaths and the nights of Wednesdays. On another occasion she met Abaye. Said she to him, ‘Had they not made an announcement about you in Heaven, "Take heed of Nahmani26 and his learning," I would have put you in danger.’ ‘If I am of account in Heaven,’ replied he, ‘I order you never to pass through settled regions.’ But we see that she does pass through? — I will tell you: Those are the narrow paths [which they frequent], whence their horses bolt and come [into civilized places] bringing them along.

Rav Shmuel HaLevi Wosner (Shevet HaLevi 7:11): I received your letter December 4, 1946 which raised the problem of traffic accidents which are increasing due to our sins at present and Heaven forfend that the issue should be passed over in silence but it is necessary to express concern. Furthermore the Rambam(Hilchos Ta’anis 1:3) says that if a person doesn’t cry out and but simply says that the misfortune happened by chance – this is the way of cruelty. Let me comment regard the issue of repentance and women drivers. I am also concerned with this issue – “The blood of your brother calls out to me from the ground.” In my humble opinion there are many causes for traffic accidents.
1. Sins that are committed on the roads as is known and by means of the cars themselves. They create mazikim (demons) which stand on the roads and make demands and occasional take innocent souls. And if it were given for the eye to see them no one could endure the demons (Berachos 6a ) 
2. Female drivers – either because they create spiritual stumbling blocks for themselves or for others or because as is well known that the nature of women is that they can’t control themselves in dangerous and stressful situations and they are involved many times in these accidents. 
3. Alternatively the nature of this nation is to be impulsive and they speed and travel without considering the physical dangers to themselves or the danger to others – as we have witnessed hundreds of times and which is different from the drivers in other countries as is known. 
4. And the last and most important point is that which you wrote in your letter. That drivers here don’t show kindness on the roads and they don’t take hitch hikers into their cars who are hoping for such kindness. And many times it is a clear that they wouldn't lose anything to show such kindness. And this is expressed in verses in Job 6:14-15): 14. To him who is afflicted love is due from his friend; or else he forsakes the fear of the Almighty.15. My brothers have dealt deceitfully like a brook, and like the water courses which disappear;
And I enjoyed what you wrote regarding the verses about Tamar. And it is a great mitzva to raise awareness of these things and I have already done so recently in my public speeches. Your good friend who wishes you well and hopes for G-d’s kindness.

Rabbi Benyamin Zilber (Az Nidberu 13:80): Question: Concerning a matter which was recently publicized – the claim that it is prohibited for women to drive car. I don’t understand their claims because it is possible for women to learn how to drive with female instructors in a manner that there is no aspect of immodesty. In particular I know that their are many well known major rosh yeshivos outside of Israel that their wives drive their cars. In fact rather than being something negative this is a major help to their husbands who are gedolei Torah that they don’t have to disturb themselves and take away from their precious time which is dedicated to spreading Torah. It also relieves them of the burden of household tasks in that the talmid chachom does not need to waste his time learning how to drive and then drive from place to place. Furthermore it is accepted outside of Israel by many bnei Torah who are G-d fearing chareidi Jews who learn in Kollel – that their wives do all the household tasks as well as earn a living in order that they might be able to learn Torah without distraction and wasted time. Their wives learn to drive in order to take away the many burdens to time wasters that if their husbands would be required to drive they would have to waste time from their studies many times for the sake of household chores and earning a living. And in particular I heard that one of the gedolei hador was asked by an avreich talmid chachom and G-d fearer whether it was better that he should learn to drive in order that his wife would not drive herself for the needs of making a living? The gadol responded that it would be better that his wife learned how to drive [in a manner that would preserve modesty with a woman teacher etc.] and that he should not learn because it would lead to being distracted with doing household chores and making a living and thus he would not be able to study Torah in a proper manner. Because I am hearing conflicting views on this matter and I would appreciate hearing your deep understanding of this matter. 

Answer:... I have received your letter about your reasonable concerns about announcements around Bnei Brak that it is prohibited for women to drive cars. I am also astonished about these notices. For example, even though Pesachim (3b) states that to mention women riding on donkeys is not refined speech because of the separation of their legs – nevertheless women did ride on donkeys and camels and it is likely that they themselves rode them themselves. The gemora was not bothered by the fact of women driving but rather just mentioned that riding the animals isn’t refined speech. So why should it be forbidden for them to drive in their cars when there isn’t an issue of separation of their legs? Driving a car has nothing to do with the issue of modesty. In fact the opposite is true since they are enclosed in a container which is called an automobile and they prevent men having the problem of walking behind a woman or walking between two women and also staring at them. (The problem is only if a woman driver is a rare thing and that fact causes men to stare at them).

Our Sages say that closing one’s eyes is a protective shield against seeing inappropriate sexually arousing things. In other words when your eyes are closed not only is there no problem of “the eye sees and the heart desires” but it also influences the level of lustful arousal. But what happens if someone would bring in the chareidi community something for which closing the eyes doesn’t help. That is because it is impossible to walk the streets with your eyes closed. Consequently there is a problem in a situation where women enhance their beauty with transparent nylon stockings and as in known - a women’s leg is ervah (sexually arousing) even below the knee. This is exacerbated now that women go with stylish shoes that make noise that can be heard at a distance. And even pious women who wear black stockings are not careful about this. Regarding this issue, the Ramchal (Chapter 11) has written, “In this manner it is prohibited because of sexually provocation all that which is licentious or close to it – and this applies to all the senses whether we are talking about movement or seeing or speech or hearing – even thoughts.”

I personally have been in the middle of the evening Shemone Esrai prayer on the second floor –while women are walking below. I can hear the clicking of their shoes and this interferes with my concentration on my prayers. So all of this is prevented when a woman encloses herself inside a car! And regarding the claim that by driving a car women will go out more often into the street – I don’t know what they are talking about. We see that the streets are packed and full of women – at least 90% are women. But if they are traveling in a car they don’t increase their presence on the streets. In fact the opposite is true. Because that which they need a half hour to do when they are walking they can do by car in a number of minutes.

And this that you mention a well known talmid chachom who prohibits women driving – you certainly are referring to my good friend the great gaon and posek of the community – Rav Shmuel Wosner. However that which has been publicized lately in his name, is that this prohibition is only meant as a chumra (pious extra strictness) and not as an actual halachic prohibition. And according to what I have written, it is not understandable what the chumra is in this matter? I already had the opportunity a number of years ago to talk with him about this matter and mention that this issue of women drivers has absolutely no relevance to the issue of modesty. And if people adopt a stringency because of modesty in a situation where it is inappropriate to be strict – it results in causing a leniency.

I don’t know the identity of the authors of these proclamations who have signed with various names. However it seems that that their main competence is to search and find some problem and then they build great structures and then go to rabbis and they paint a very black picture and obviously these rabbis nod their heads in sympathy and afterwards these people go and publicize prohibitions in the name of these rabbis. However these matters affect human dignity and well as human relations because when matters like this are publicized, they become immediately perceived as authoritative. Anyone who goes against the proclamation is criticized as being lenient and refusing to listen to the gedolim of the generation. Labeling someone like this can damage shidduchim.

To summarize, I personally do not see the slightest basis to be more concerned for women drivers than for men drivers. In fact the opposite is true because it is better to minimize the women from walking on the streets which requires men to close their eyes if they meet them. While it is likely that there are negative aspects of women drivers but those are things they share in common with the men drivers. The scholars ignore these issues in a man because they think it is necessary for men to drive because of earing a living or for health reasons. But the truth is that relevant on occasion for women also. It is obvious that a particular group of people that accepts a common authority can make takanos (decrees) according to their belief system and feelings. But this is only on the condition that these community decrees are not publicized outside of the group and in newspapers - so that those who do not obey these decrees will not be perceived as sinning. They will thus fulfill the prayer “Place in our hearts that everyone sees the good of our friends and not their faults.” Ultimately this is the halacha of Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 608), that it is necessary to know when to protest.

Ruchie Freier - First Hasidic woman judge sworn in

On Thursday, Rachel “Ruchie” Freier took the oath of office as she became a Civil Court judge in Kings County’s 5th judicial district. Freier was elected last September and her purview encompasses Borough Park and other sections of Brooklyn including Bensonhurst and Coney Island. Her official term begins in January and extends through 2027.

While some may be have been surprised to see a Hasidic woman ascend the bench, those familiar with the 51-year-old Freier’s record of trailblazing achievements were not. The mother of six (and grandmother) earned a law degree from Brooklyn Law School while raising her family. She practiced law in Brooklyn and Monroe, New York and also served on the community board in Borough Park, Brooklyn.

Freier also founded two organizations that have made an impact on her local Hasidic community. The first is B’Derech, a secular academic program that helps ultra-Orthodox men educated previously only in yeshivas gain a high school equivalency diplomacy so they can go on to higher learning or seek gainful employment.

The second in Ezras Nashim, an emergency medical technician program exclusively for women that meets the needs of religious women in the community. Freier herself reportedly still remains on call for Ezras Nashim.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Trump is doing that which he condemned HIllary Clinton for doing

Donald Trump spent the past two years attacking rival Hillary Clinton as crooked, corrupt, and weak.
But some of those attacks seem to have already slipped into the history books.
From installing Wall Street executives in his Cabinet to avoiding news conferences, the president-elect is adopting some of the same behavior for which he criticized Clinton during their fiery presidential campaign.
Here’s a look at what Trump said then — and what he’s doing now:
Then: “I know the guys at Goldman Sachs,” Trump said at a South Carolina rally in February, when he was locked in a fierce primary battle with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. “They have total, total control over him. Just like they have total control over Hillary Clinton.”
Now: A number of former employees of the Wall Street bank will pay a key role in crafting Trump’s economic policy. He’s tapped Goldman Sachs president Gary Cohn to lead the White House National Economic Council. Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary nominee, spent 17 years working at Goldman Sachs and Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist and senior counselor, started his career as an investment banker at the firm.
Trump is following in a long political tradition, though one he derided on the campaign trail: If Cohn accepts the nomination, he’ll be the third Goldman executive to run the NEC.
Then: “Crooked Hillary. Look, can you imagine another four years of the Clintons? Seriously. It’s time to move on. And she’s totally controlled by Wall Street and all these people that gave her millions,” Trump said at a May rally in Lynden, Washington.
Now: Trump has stocked his Cabinet with six top donors — far more than any recent White House. “I want people that made a fortune. Because now they’re negotiating with you, OK?” Trump said, in a December 9 speech in Des Moines.
The biggest giver? Incoming small business administrator Linda McMahon gave $7.5 million to a super PAC backing Trump, more than a third of the money collected by the political action committee.
Then: “She doesn’t do news conferences, because she can’t,” Trump said at an August rally in Ashburn, Virginia. “She’s so dishonest she doesn’t want people peppering her with questions.”
Now: Trump opened his last news conference on July 27, saying: “You know, I put myself through your news conferences often, not that it’s fun.”
He hasn’t held once since.[...]
Then: “It is impossible to figure out where the Clinton Foundation ends and the State Department begins. It is now abundantly clear that the Clintons set up a business to profit from public office. They sold access and specific actions by and really for I guess the making of large amounts of money,” Trump said at an August rally in Austin.
Now: While Trump has promised to separate himself from his businesses, there is plenty of overlap between his enterprises and his immediate family. His companies will be run by his sons, Donald Jr and Eric. And his daughter, Ivanka, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, have joined Trump at a number of meetings with world leaders of countries where the family has financial interests.
In a financial disclosure he was required to file during the campaign, Trump listed stakes in about 500 companies in at least 25 countries.
Ivanka, in particular, has been caught making early efforts to leverage her father’s new position into profits. After an interview with the family appeared on “60 Minutes,” her jewelry company, Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry, blasted out an email promoting the $10,800 gold bangle bracelet that she had worn during the appearance. The company later said they were “proactively discussing new policies and procedures.”
Ivanka is also auctioning off a private coffee meeting with her to benefit her brother’s foundation. The meeting is valued at $50,000, with the current top bid coming in at $25,000.[...]
Then: “If I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation, because there has never been so many lies, so much deception. There has never been anything like it, and we’re going to have a special prosecutor,” Trump said in the October presidential debate.
Now: Since winning office, Trump has said he has no intention of pushing for an investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of State or the workings of her family foundation. “It’s just not something that I feel very strongly about,” he told the New York Times.
“She went through a lot. And suffered greatly in many different ways,” he said. “I’m not looking to hurt them.”

The honor of a Jewish women is staying in the house - moral value or halacha?

Alschich(Bereishis 34:1): And Dina went out.  It is incredible that the holy offspring such as Dina would be a gadabout – something which is not acceptable for women and especially not young virgins. Our Sages (Bereishis Rabba 80:1) say that the reason that the verse says that she was the daughter of Leah was to explain that just as her mother was a gadabout as it says that Leah went out to meet her husband... However the fact is that the behavior of Leah was not comparable to that of Dina because Leah went out to meet her husband. Furthermore our Sages say that it was because she was withheld from Esav that she was captured. But all of this doesn't explain  the fact that Dina was a gadabout. I think that when the Torah says that she was Leah’s daughter it to explain why she was a gadabout.... It says in Berachos (60a) ...that after Leah became pregnant with a boy she prayed that it be a female so as to not further disgrace her sister Rachel to have less male children then the maidservants and have only one boy to complete the expected number of 12 male children. We see from this gemora that Dina when she was conceived was a boy but she was changed into a girl before being born. Therefore someone who is in essence a male – it is not surprising that she should be a gadabout because that is a male characteristic and everything follows from the essence....

Bereishis Rabbah(8:12): And subdue her – A man is required to rule over his wife so that she doesn’t go out to the market. That is because every woman who goes out to the market place will eventually come to grief. This is learned from Dina as it says in Bereishis (34:1) And Dinah went out…and she got into trouble as it says and Shechem saw her. R’ Chanina says the law is in accord with this view.

Chasam Sofer(Shabbos 21b): And those who are mehadrin (zealous) each person lights their own candle. I saw that someone asked why our women do not act according to the mehadrin view (and don’t light their own candle)?  Especially when we see that if there is no male member of the household lighting that they light an extra candle each day in accord with the view of mehadrin min hamehadrin (extremely zealous). If they follow the view of mehadrin min hamedhadrin why don’t they also follow the mehadrin view? Answer: In my humble opinion, initially they decreed that the candles should be lit at the entrance door outside the house. Thus the mehadrin view is that each family member would go outside to light his own candle in addition to that done by the family head. Thus we will not find any woman who follows the mehadrin practice because it is not respectable for her to go out into the street at night and to light amongst the men. However if there is no male member of the household who lights, then the obligation is on her and she is forced to go outside to light. However if there is a male household member light then it is not a pious act for her to be strict with herself which will arouse suspicions against her. So even now that everyone lights inside, nevertheless the original practice of lighting outside has not been rejected and thus we keep the original practice as much as possible and the women don’t light.

Eiruvin(100b): She is wrapped like a mourner, banished from all man and imprisoned in a jail [because the honor of the king’s daughter is within – Rashi].

Gra(Letter to his wife): Purchase all your needs through a messenger, even if this would cost two or three times as much.….Concerning solitude, the main thing is to remain at home. Even your visit to the synagogue should be very short. In fact, it is better to pray at home, for it is impossible to be spared from jealousy or from hearing idle talk or lashon hara in the synagogue. And one receives punishment for this, as we find (Shabbos 33a), "Also one who hears and is silent...." This is even the more so on Shabbos and Yom Tov when they gather to talk - It is then better that you don't pray at all. Refrain also from going to the cemetery (especially women), as it leads to all kinds of sorrow and sin. It is also advisable that your daughter not go to the synagogue, because she'll see beautiful clothes there, become jealous and talk about it at home. This will lead to lashon hara, etc.

Kesef Mishneh: A wife must give straw to her husband’s animals, but she need not give water. This is because normally one leaves the house to go to the river or spring for this, and “Kol Kevudah…”

Magid Mishna(Hilchos Ishus 13:11): If it is the custom in that community for a woman not to go out As we said before, everything depends on the local custom and therefore the Rambam did not have to go into detail except to note that even though she could stay in the house without a cloak but since she can not go to the market without it her husband is obligated to give her a cloak in order that she can go visit a house of mourners or other places.... But it is a degradation of a woman…  In Bereishis Rabba (8:12) it mentions that an insult to say that a woman is always going out as it says that Dina went out. The Sifri (Tetzei 242 (23), regarding a Na'arah Me'orasah who was enticed to zenus, says that a breach (going out in the city) calls to the thief. The husband should prevent her from going out too much... as it says in Bereishis Rabah (8:12) which reads "Kivshuha" like 'Kavshah' to teach that a husband should prevent his wife from going out too much.

Menoras HaMeor(Chapter 20: Derech Eretz): A woman should not go out of the doorway of her house – except out of great necessity. That is because a woman who “goes out” sins and causes others to sin. How will she sin? It is known that women are light headed (daatan kalah) and it is possible that she will see men in the market and lust after them in her heart. It says in Bereishis Rabbah, “And man will fill the earth and conquer it”, that is understood to mean that a man should control his wife that she should not go out to the market since all those who go to the market will end up stumbling as is proven by the incident of Dina. It says in Tanchuma, “And Dina went out,” but it says in Tehilim that all the glory of the king’s daughter is being inside. Rav Yossi said that when a woman secludes herself within the house she deserves to marry a high priest and to have sons who are high priests as it says, “All the glory of the king’s daughter is being inside.” And if you remain honorably within the house then you will end up wearing golden garments meaning that you will marry someone one who deserves to wear the precious garments of the high priest. Rav Pinchas bar Chama said, When a woman secludes herself within the house – then just as the altar atones for sins - she will atone for her house.

Rambam(Hilchos Ishus 13:11): …A woman should be given proper clothing to go the house of her father or to the house of mourning or to a banquet. That is because every woman should visit her father’s house or visit the house of mourning or a banquet as well as show kindness to her friends and relatives in order that they should reciprocate with her. She is not a prisoner in her house that she is not free to come and go. However it is a degrading thing if she is always going outside - sometimes just outside and at other times into the streets. It is necessary that the husband restrains his wife from this and not let his wife go out except once a month or perhaps twice a month according to need. That is because the beauty of a woman is to sit in the corner of her house as it says in Tehilim (45:14): All the honor of the king’s daughter is inside.

Rav Menashe Klein(9:250): Question: Concerning the halacha principle that a Jewish woman is considered a princess and therefore it is more respectful for that status that she should remain in the home (kavod bas melech penima) – is it preferable that a wife leave the home for the sake of her husband to a place of immorality [in order to earn a living or other purposes]. Answer: It is difficult to give a clear written response to this question. That is because in modern time this principle that it is best that a Jewish woman should stay in the home is almost nonexistent – because of our many sins. If a woman does remain in her home and doesn’t go out for any reason– even if it causes her husband to lose Torah study - then this is definitely an example of the principle. Traditionally a woman did not go out of her house. However after the Holocaust (because of our many sins) – when we find ourselves a small minority amongst the nations of the world and earning a livelihood is difficult – it has become normative practice for women to leave their homes. However in places outside the home there is the possibility of immorality and no protection against sexual sins – therefore it depends on the nature of the society and the characteristics of the woman. In particular whether she would in fact remain in the house all day if she had the opportunity. (See what I wrote in Mishne Torah 4:125) concerning sending Beis Yaakov girls out to collect money for charity.) First we need to clarify whether we actually rule that this principle is the halacha. It seems that in fact that it is a dispute amongst the poskim - as we see from Gittin 12 that apparently we don’t follow such a principle. Similarly Mahari Bruno (#242) was asked regarding a maid servant who did not want to leave the home to do the shopping because of this principle. He responded that we don’t rule in accord with this principle. In contrast we see in Yevamos (77a) that this principle is cited as halacha [from the fact that Amonite and Moabite women were not punished for failing to provide the Jews with bread and water - since all respectable woman remain in the home] . The Nimukei Yosef say there that the principle is halacha because all Jews are considered royalty. Shulchan Aruch (E.H 4) also rules like Yevamos (77a). See the Levush. Consequently we seem to have contradictory evidence as to whether it is halacha. Furthermore in Shabbos (111a), Rav Shimon says that all Jews are royalty and that is the halacha. On the other hand the Ran says that the Rif says that the halacha that all Jews are not considered royalty. However the BeHag and Rabbeinu Chananel rule like Rav Shimon...Rashi (Shabbos 59) writes that all Jews are royalty. Similarly in Mishna Berachos (1:2) says that they are royalty. However Rabbeinu Yona says normally they are not considered royalty but here we do. In my chidushim I write that there are three different circumstances. In truth there is no question that the honor of a princess is to stay in the home. However in spite of that, we find with Ruth that she did go out to gather grain amongst the other harvesters – and she is praised for doing so.  But look at Rashi and the interpretations of Chazal that say when she went out she sought out the company of proper people. If so we can state that when a person does need to go out of the home this principle requires finding a place where there are proper people. In such circumstances there is no prohibition.

Shulchan Aruch (EH 73:1): Regarding clothing, a man is obligated to give his wife according to what women normally wear outside... And thus if a woman normally would not go out without a cloak that covers her whole body he is required to give her one. However a woman should not not accustom herself  to go out a lot becasue the beauty of a woman is to dwell inside her home...

Tehilim(45:14): All the honor of the king’s daughter is within; her clothing is of embrodiered gold.

Tur(E.H. 73): It is appropriate that a wife go the the house of mourning or to simcha. That is because every woman should go visit her parents as well the house of mourning or a simcha in order to bestow kindness on her friends and relatives - in order that they reciprocate for her. After all she is not a prisoner in jail who can not come and go. However it is degrading for a woman to go out of her home constantly either to go somewhere or to be on the street. Consequently a man should prevent his wife from doing so. He should not allow her out except for once or twice a month according to the need. That is because there is no beauty for a women except to sit inside her home  as it says “All the honor of the princess is to be inside.”

Netanyahu Accuses Obama of Orchestrating U.N. Resolution

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel further escalated his criticism of the departing Obama administration on Sunday, publicly accusing it of having orchestrated the United Nations Security Council resolution that condemned Israel’s settlement construction.

It was the second consecutive day of rising invective from Mr. Netanyahu over the Friday vote on the resolution, which passed, 14-0, in a strong diplomatic slap at Israel against the background of the long-stalled negotiations for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The resolution asserted that Israel’s settlement construction on territory that the Palestinians claim for their future state was a major obstacle to the peace process and a “flagrant violation under international law.”

The United States refrained from using its veto power, as it has done many times before to shield Israel from such condemnation at the United Nations.

Israeli officials had been saying that the United States helped in the planning of the vote, an accusation that Obama administration officials have denied. But on Sunday, Mr. Netanyahu, whose relations with President Obama have never been warm, made that accusation publicly, and in detail.

“From the information that we have, we have no doubt that the Obama administration initiated it, stood behind it, coordinated on the wording and demanded that it be passed,” Mr. Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting.

Referring to the American secretary of state, Mr. Netanyahu added, “As I told John Kerry on Thursday, friends don’t take friends to the Security Council,” and he said he was looking forward to working with the new administration of Donald J. Trump when it takes office next month.

Mr. Trump, who has said he would be far more supportive of Israel, had urged the Obama administration to veto the Security Council resolution and he joined in the Israeli anger over the American abstention.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry summoned ambassadors of countries that voted in favor of the resolution for personal meetings with ministry officials in Jerusalem, despite the Christmas Day holiday that those countries celebrate.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Two Muslim Americans Were Removed From Delta Flight for Speaking Arabic

Two Muslim American YouTube stars who were returning home to New York after a world tour said they were removed from a Delta Air Lines flight in London on Wednesday after other passengers expressed discomfort with their presence on the plane.

Adam Saleh, 23, a filmmaker from Manhattan, and his friend Slim Albaher, 22, from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, said they had been asked by the captain to leave their flight at Heathrow Airport after Mr. Saleh spoke in Arabic to his mother by phone, and he and Mr. Albaher followed up by speaking to each other in Arabic, causing alarm among British passengers on the flight.

The news was met on social media with anger at the airline industry, but also skepticism, though passengers who were on the plane when it landed in New York corroborated the men’s story. Mr. Saleh, who has more than two million subscribers on YouTube, has a history of perpetuating video hoaxes and pranks, some of them aimed at exposing stereotypes about Muslims. In his latest YouTube video, posted this month, he pretended to smuggle himself onto a plane in a suitcase. [...]

Delta said in a statement on Wednesday evening that, based on information collected so far, the two customers removed from the flight “sought to disrupt the cabin with provocative behavior, including shouting.”

“What is paramount to Delta is the safety and comfort of our passengers and employees,” the airline said. “It is clear these individuals sought to violate that priority.”

Earlier in the day, Delta said that it was taking allegations of discrimination “very seriously.”

Camilla Goodman, a spokeswoman for London’s Metropolitan Police, confirmed that two passengers had been removed from the flight and that they “didn’t do anything lawfully wrong.” They were not arrested, she said. Mr. Saleh and Mr. Albaher later boarded a Virgin flight to New York.[...]

Mr. Saleh said he had just spoken to his mother on the phone, in Arabic, to tell her when his flight would land. After the call, he and Mr. Albaher continued to speak briefly in Arabic until they were interrupted by a woman in front of them, who asked them to speak English because they were making her uncomfortable.

They did not respond aggressively, Mr. Saleh said, but told her that they were speaking Arabic and asked whether she had ever heard another language. Then, Mr. Saleh said, a man with a British accent who appeared to be traveling with the woman swore at them and said they should be “chucked” off the plane.

“At this point, me and Slim looked at each other,” Mr. Saleh said in the interview. “We didn’t know what to do. We felt like we were terrorists.”

The situation escalated, Mr. Saleh said, and other passengers joined in asking that Mr. Saleh and Mr. Albaher be kicked off the plane. Some of them mentioned Monday’s terrorist attack in Berlin, he said.

After the disturbance continued for what Mr. Saleh said was about seven minutes, the captain was summoned, and he asked that the two men leave the plane with their baggage.

At that point, Mr. Saleh started filming with his phone. He later shared the video, and others from the airport, on Twitter, where he has more than 250,000 followers.

Chris Ashford, 47, who was aboard the plane after a layover in London, said he believed that the woman had “overreacted.”

“She heard somebody speaking in Arabic and assumed the worst,” he said.

He added that while he thought Delta had acted in the interest of some of its passengers, “I do think it was heavy-handed, kicking the guy off the plane and then removing his bags.”[...]

In April, a college student was removed from a Southwest Airlines flight in California when he was heard speaking Arabic, a week after a Muslim woman was asked to leave another Southwest flight when she sought to switch seats. In May, an Italian professor was removed from an American Airlines flight because another passenger was alarmed by his handwritten notes, which were in fact math equations.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Religious court stumbles upon polygamous cult after bride requests annulment.

A religious court in Tel Aviv uncovered a secret cult practicing polygamy recently, when a young bride taken in by the cult reached out to the court for help.

The stranger-than-fiction story began when a young woman, now 20-years old, raised in a non-observant home, began to move towards traditional Jewish observance.

The young woman studied in a seminary and like many of her newly religious peers, was given an “adoptive” family to help her through the transition into religious life and to have a “home base” for regular Shabbat visits. She was warmly received by the couple and their 10 children in what was initially a very constructive arrangement for the young woman.

After roughly six months, however, the husband began making subtle romantic advances towards the girl. As time passed, his appeals became more direct and increasingly assertive.
To the young woman’s surprise, the wife was not only aware of her husband’s attempts to court the girl, she fully supported his efforts. [...]

At the heart of the group’s beliefs is the idea that polygamy, banned halakhically for Ashkenazi Jews a millennium ago and ended among Sephardic Jews (where it bore no resemblance to a cult) after the foundation of the State of Israel, is an essential part in the road to “the Redemption of Israel”.

A self-styled “Kabbalist” serving as a spiritual leader within the cult urged the young woman to become the husband’s second wife, telling her that “the root of her soul” is connected “with the root of his soul” and that for her own benefit she must marry him.
Eventually the girl relented to the pressure and in September was wed in a secret ceremony.

Shortly thereafter, however, the bride regretted her decision and shared her story with relatives, who urged her to secure a formal divorce from the man she had been pressured into marrying.

Last week the young woman approached a rabbinic court in Tel Aviv with her story, begging the court to grant her an annulment.
Although marriages are licensed in Israel and this was not a legal marriage, the relationship is considered a marriage halakhically and the young woman must obtain a divorce or annulment from the religious courts to be able to remarry.
The court, which included Rabbis Shlomo Stasman, Eyal Yosef, and Ido Shahar, called in the couple who had pressured the young woman into marriage and the two witnesses to the wedding. After a hearing, the judges issued a restraining order on the husband, barring him from harassing the young woman. Additional orders were placed on him and his wife, preventing them from fleeing the country until a full investigation into the matter is completed

Among their findings in the case, the court confirmed that the couple in question are indeed affiliated with a sect advocating polygamy. The group’s website,, advocates in favor of the restoration of polygamy, presenting what it claims are quotes in favor of the practice by prominent rabbis, both past and present. [....]

After initially attempting to justify his actions and refusing to issue a divorce to the young woman, the husband gave in to the court’s demands and agreed to immediately grant her the divorce.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Yibam (levirate marriage): A wife is considered as one of her husband's limbs like Eve was of Adam

Chinuch (598): The basis of the mitzva of Yibam (levirate marriage) is that a woman through marriage age becomes like one of her husband's limbs. That is because nature necessitates this as the result of the story of the first father (Adam) from whom was taken one of his limbs and from it G-d created a woman. Therefore this man who died without children who would have been a portion from him for his memory and who would have taken his place in the world to serve his Creator. He has left no remnant of himself in the physical world except for his wife who is the bone of his bones and the flesh of his flesh. Consequently it is a manifestation of G-d’s kindness to him to establish offspring for him from his wife through his brother (who is also like half his flesh) in order that there shall be offspring for him to replace him in the world and to serve his Creator in his stead. Therefore he will receive merit through this offspring in the world of souls where he is now. As is known a son brings merit to his father (Sanhedrin 104a), “A son brings merit to his father but a father does not bring merit to his son.” Similarly in truth, the living brother who fathered the children from the wife of the deceased also receives a portion of their merit. However not all the merit goes to him, because his deceased brother takes his portion because of the great portion that he has in the children i.e., the wife that was part of the deceased brother’s original portion as I have explained. And according to this, we can understand the meaning of Bereishis (38:9), “And Onan knew that the offspring from his deceased brother’s wife would not be his.” This means that he knew that not all the merit of the offspring of his deceased brother’s wife would belong to him because his deceased brother would take some. Onan simply was not interested in receiving less than the full merit. And also because perhaps the main merit would go to his deceased brother who was like the owner of the field while he was only be like the sharecropper. (It is well known that sometimes the sharecropper must also supply the seed.) This idea was expressed in Yevamos (22a), that as long as the deceased brother has any remnant in the world – whether it is a son or daughter from another woman or even if it a son or daughter who is a mamzer – the wife of the deceased is exempt from Yibum. Thus it seems that the basis for Yibum is only to memorialize the deceased brother’s name and to give him a portion and merit in this physical world. [See Moreh Nevuchim 3:49]

Monday, December 19, 2016

Jerusalem - Top Israeli Rabbinical Court Allows Man To Marry Second Wife

A decision by the Supreme Rabbinical Court to allow a man to marry a second wife because his first wife refused to accept a divorce has evoked consternation from women’s rights groups due to what they describe as the unequal status of men and women facing divorce refusal.

A case published this week by the Rabbinical Courts Administration involved a married couple whose relationship broke down for a number of reasons, including possible infidelity on behalf of the wife.

In 2005, the husband moved out of their marital home, and in 2008 the regional rabbinical court in Haifa issued a ruling of “obligatory divorce,” essentially instructing a partner, in this case the woman, to agree to the divorce.

The court also permitted the husband to give the money owed to the woman under the terms of their marriage contract to a third party, which would then release him of financial obligations to the woman such as child sustenance and living payments.

The woman appealed to the Supreme Rabbinical Court against the ruling regarding the husband’s monetary obligations, but the court rejected the appeal. She then filed a suit for reconciliation with her husband to the regional court, which she also lost, as well as a subsequent appeal of that decision to the Supreme Rabbinical Court.

Due to the lengthy and ongoing legal proceedings over the termination of the marriage, the husband filed a suit with the Haifa Rabbinical Court for what is known as the Dispensation of 100 Rabbis.

Under Jewish law, men may have more than one wife, although the practice was banned for Ashkenazi Jews by a decree of Rabbi Gershom Ben Judah in the 11th century. However, a man may be given dispensation from this decree in certain circumstances if he cannot obtain consent from his wife for a divorce, a measure which is known as the Dispensation of 100 Rabbis.

In 2014, the Haifa Rabbinical Court granted the husband’s request, after which his wife appealed to the Supreme Rabbinical Court.

In June of this year, the court rejected her appeal and permitted the husband to marry another woman if he so wished. The ruling was published earlier this week.[...]

Sunday, December 18, 2016

David Harrison - Jerusalem rabbi indicted on dozens of rape counts

David Harrison - a Jerusalem rabbi was indicted by the Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office Sunday on dozens of counts of rape, sodomy, molestation, assault and intimidation, all allegedly committed while he served as a rabbi in an all girls seminary.

The rabbi was arrested after the victim, now 20, said that he had raped her while she was a 9th grade student at the school where the rabbi worked.

According to the indictment, two-to-four times a week, the defendant would call the girl into a faculty lounge or the seminary bomb shelter. Sometimes, the rabbi told the girl a certain time to meet him in the lounge or shelter, and she would comply out of fear of retribution. Once alone and with the room locked, the rabbi is accused of “indecent acts, sodomy and rape.”

The rabbi reportedly told the girl that what was happening was a “secret between them,” and that it was okay because he was a rabbi, the indictment said.

After the first alleged rape, the rabbi told the girl if she told anyone what happened, he would hurt her and tell everyone she was a prostitute.

In reality - how to deal with the consensus view of women as subordinate?

I have presented a number of posts regarding the Torah attitude towards women - in particular in marriage -  where they are clearly described as being subordinate to their husbands. As a consequence I have attacked by some for being a nut or intellectual dishonesty - though no one has presented the "true" Torah view that contradicts what I have presented and no one has explained why an objective scholarly approach is a sign of being a nut. Clearly some people want their Judaism sanitized and subordinate to their own views i.e, they want to create G-d in their own image.

I have been criticized by those who claim that it is inappropriate or even a chilul haShem for daring to mention what the consensus of our traditional mainstream sources about women. Meaning that while they agree that my posts are accurately presenting the Torah view - it is best  if people are ignorant of how our rabbis tell us how the Torah views women and marriage. That is a rather bizarre claim. On the one hand we are to dedicate our lives to learning about and living  according to what rabbis tell us is G-d's will - but at the same time we are not supposed to learn what the Torah says about certain topics because that is a chilul HaShem?! How can G-d's will be a chilul HaShem?

On the other hand it is also accurately claimed that women and society are different today and that therefore they need to be treated differently the classic sources say. This is explained either that the Torah is outdate - chas v'shalom or that there are kabbalistic ideas which indicate as we come into Messianic times i.e., after 1740 - that women's role will come to be equal and perhaps superior to that of men. The only problem is that these kabbalistic views are minority opinions which are not very clear and have no basis in traditional sources and seemed to be used as a fig leave to cover the embarrassing consensus views.

I would like to start a serious discussion about how to reconcile the traditional views - which clearly are not acceptable to many if not most frum women and men - but which at the same time clearly represent the traditional consensus views of our greatest rabbis throughout history. Does this mean that the only solution is for people to submit themselves to the traditional view? Or as Rav Solveitchik put it, "we sacrificed out intellects on Mt. Sinai?" I think that there are alternatives.

I would appreciate if some people can contain their hysteric comments. I am concerned with reality - the reality of Torah and the reality of modern men and women. Any reconciliation has to be within the framework of traditional halachic reasoning and principles. This is a discussion for mature adults who are committed to the Torah and halacha. I am not interested in a solution which in essence says to abandon Yiddishkeit. And it really doesn't help in arriving at an answer by shooting at me - I am simply the messenger[to be continued]