August 31, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

A good sign?

I tend not to read much of Little Green Footballs anymore: It's one thing to think that the Muslim world is in a war against Jews and Americans; it's another thing to think that Bush and company are doing anyone except for Bin Laden a favor with their loud bravado and quiet, consistent incompetence.

Still, a recent Google search brought me this little optimistic tidbit from the lgf: LGF comments section by one David All, who has posted on YudelLine as well:

A good sign that a senior person is going to be leaving their Pentagon position is when we here at the Pentagon Library get all the books that person will not be taking with him. This is not a sure sign, they may just need to get rid of some books, but still is pretty reliable. Last week we got a whole bunch of books donated to the library by Sec. Rumsfield!
(Reb Yudel)

More on Bush's unwinnable war flip-flop flap

According to Talking Points Memo by Joshua Micah Marshall
We're told that later today the president will be commenting on whether the war between Oceania and East Asia is winnable.

August 30, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

New York to Republicans: Drop Dead!

From American Prospect Online

The National Federation of Republican Women is in the Clifford Odets Room at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square, but -- fortunately, I suppose -- they have no idea who Clifford Odets actually was....

I ask a number of the Republican Women about who this Odets guy was and nobody seems to know. When it comes to their surroundings, they are clueless -- and not just about the Odets Room.

The most striking thing about the Republican national convention so far is that it exists in an entirely separate world from the city it inhabits. Just getting into the Marriott, which is housing the California, Ohio, and Tennessee delegations, requires passing a phalanx of security guards and police from various forces. After some time going in and out of the Republican delegation hotels, you get the sense that the convention might as well be set in Baghdad....
The anger in the street is palpable. A president who has opted to govern from the right and turn the world upside down -- with no mandate whatever to do so -- has brought his party to town, and the town is not amused.

(Reb Yudel)

Bush urged to cut social security to pay for tax cuts

Greenspan-Aged Population to Hit Finances is the headline, but come on now. Didn't Greenspan have the same actuarial charts when he was urging the Bush tax cuts?

But Greenspan, like his fellow paleocons, have all along thought Roosevelt a knave -- if not a Jew or a communist -- for implementing social security and the New Deal. So first cut taxes for the rich and now:

"If we have promised more than our economy has the ability to deliver to retirees without unduly diminishing real income gains of workers, as I fear we may have, we must recalibrate our public programs so that pending retirees have time to adjust through other channels."
(Reb Yudel)

Yori Yanover and JTA: Together again like Ledeen and Iranian spy scandals

JTA covers the anti-Bush rally and bravely interviews a veteran JTA critic: "The fact that I have to march with people who stupidly carry signs about ending the occupation and who misunderstand the settler movement saddens me," said Yanover, 50, who fought for Israel in the Yom Kippur War. "But I'm driven to cooperate with whoever is out there to help me get rid of Bush, this stain on America." So Yori Yanover can criticize President Bush, his fellow protesters, and even the world's premiere Jewish telegraphic agency -- and still get quoted in the papers.

And you wonder why he loves America!

(Reb Yudel)

Teaneck rabbi: Jewish Week should acknowledge Rabbi Schachter as 'true representative' of 'Torah values'

Rabbi Michael Taubes -- whose father was my demanding and effective Freshman English Composition teacher -- is upset that the Jewish Week isn't a pro-Schachter Yated Ne'eman or (vintage) Pravda:
Given the fact that the Talmud likens one who mocks a Torah scholar to a heretic, The Jewish Week would do well to instead help its readership understand how accepted and true representatives of Torah values should be treated, even where there may be areas of disagreement.
Any suggestions on how the Jewish Week should distinguish between "true representatives of Torah values" and other rabbis and scholars?
(Reb Yudel)

Missionary Times

Killing the Buddha asks if you can save folks from salvation:
That night, back at the dorm, in place of our usual Bible porn lesson, I asked my kids what they thought of the altar call.

No one had been paying enough attention to even know what was being said.

Disgusted, I went to explain the whole program: just how and why CHIC had been trying to save them, and how I had been trying to save them from that.

What I had been trying to teach them that week was that salvation isn't enough.....

(Reb Yudel)

Now that the Republican slime machine is in "Jew York"

Joshua Micah Marshall wants to know
Which reporter up here will press House Speaker Denny Hastert on whether he'll be slandering any other US citizens this week, as he did when he suggested, on the basis of no evidence, that financier George Soros is a front for drug cartels?
Of course, the latest Soros smear follows earlier Republican charges that he is an international financier, a Jew and an atheist....

August 29, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Return to Kahane: Cohler in the Daily News

Larry Cohler-Esses has a Daily News Exclusive: Radical Jewish groups raise funds

Violence-spewing Jewish radicals are raising big bucks in New York even though they're tied to groups identified by the U.S. as terror organizations.

(Reb Yudel)

Realtors for Dylan

dylan_ticket.jpg Grow-A-Brain, the "Original Real Estate Blog" of "The Great Team" realtors in Anaheim Hills, California, has now started finding Dylan links. Not necessarily new, but since they include the pictured ticket stub, they make the YudelLine cut.
(Reb Yudel)

Is it worse than we think?

Norwegianity suggests:
Karl Rove isn't playing to win, he's playing to make sure the Republicans have a shot at 2008 when Kerry comes up for re-election after making countless hard and necessary decisions trying to get this country dug out of the huge hole George Bush has put us in.

Or, to use the language of talk radio, its scorched earth time. Kerry may win, but so long as one-third of the American people despise him, the Republicans walk away happy.

At their worst, the Black Panthers and Weather Underground never did a fraction of this much damage to the republic.

(Reb Yudel)

Google Ad Words: Marketing to our micro communities

Part of the fun of using Google's gmail is seeing the ads Google thinks are related to my mail. It's particularly fun for the indespensible, highly parochial TeaneckShuls mailing list.

Here's an ad of immense interest to some very few people:

EconoLodge of Lakewood NJ
Stay by Beth Govoha Medrash Kosher restaurant walking distance

August 28, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

The President's Phony Medals

George W. Bush fought bravely to keep Houston's swimming pools safe from communist bombers, but apparently that wasn't satisfaction enough. This post from Norwegianity points out that our current president has posed wearing medals he didn't earn -- in violation of military protocol and the air force honor code:
A pro-Kerry organisation labelled the President an “impostor� over the photograph, taken in 1970 and discovered in his father's Presidential Library in Houston, Texas.

The ribbon is an Air Force Outstanding Unit Award – which was not awarded to the 111th Fighter Intercept Squadron in which Mr Bush served until 1975, five years after the photograph was taken, according to the group US War Report.

"Why is this fraud important? Because it betrays the Honour Code that every officer learns and carries throughout his or her career," said Walt Starr who investigated the medals for the group.

August 27, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Cultural notes from our Israeli friends

From on the face, Sabbaths and Holidays and the New Israeli Man
For five years, Shabbatot veHagim followed the lives of a group of ordinary Israelis in their thirties (plus one teenage girl, played by the sublime Romi Abulafia), living in Tel Aviv and traveling the psychological/emotional journey with which we're all familiar - of gaining self knowledge, finding and losing and finding love, searching for happiness and personal fulfillment, making many mistakes along the way and not always learning from those mistakes. The only American TV series I can think of that comes close to Shabbatot veHagim is Thirtysomething, but it's not nearly as good - not as deeply felt, not as well-acted and not so completely and utterly real.

August 26, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Why hunt terrorists when you can indict downloaders?

They may not have found Bin Laden. They may not have any recourse except sheer fear to deal with three-year-old rumors of terror attacks. But don't say that Ashcroft's Raiders aren't busy!

Indeed, FBI Sting Targets P2P Operation according to

The U.S. Department of Justice has targeted a group known as the Underground Network for its first criminal investigation into intellectual property piracy over peer-to-peer (P2P) networks.

Instead, the probe is focusing on a specific network of Direct Connect users that requires its more than 7,000 members to make anywhere from 1 to 100 gigabytes of media available for other members.

During a media briefing Wednesday, Attorney General John Ashcroft said "virtually every kind of software, game, movie and music was available for illegal downloading and distribution on these networks, from computer games and music that would cost as much as $18 to $35 dollars if purchased legitimately, to specialized software that has a retail cost in excess of $1,000."

You know, if the war on terror is over, maybe the FBI can help track down stolen cars?
(Reb Yudel)

This is your economy on Bush

From the AP:Ranks of Poverty and Uninsured Rose in 2003, Census Reports
The number of Americans living in poverty increased by 1.3 million last year, while the ranks of the uninsured swelled by 1.4 million, the Census Bureau reported Thursday.

It was the third straight annual increase for both categories.

But please, if you personally are better off than you were in August 2000, by all means vote Bush.

August 25, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Take that,, Dr. Pangloss!

Boing Boing brings the grumpy news that Bad moods boost memory. Not only that, but
In another experiment, subjects were asked to write an argument supporting a specific proposition. Apparently, grumpy individuals expressed better critical thinking and communication skills.
(Reb Yudel)

Where's the Yolk?

The Jewish Week reports on the rise of "OU-not-kosher-enough-for-us consumers... but neglects to ask anyone involved just why the OU isn't considered trustworthy enough:
In a sign of the growing influence of haredi consumers in the United States, Empire Kosher Poultry, regarded as the nation’s largest producer of kosher poultry, has added a second kashrut supervising agency, one more accepted by fervently Orthodox consumers.

Empire, trying to increase its dwindling market share, this week announced that it will be offering poultry products with the KAJ label of the K'hal Adath Jeshurun supervising agency in addition to the Orthodox Union's OU label, which Empire has carried for some 40 years.

Is there a difference in halachic views between the two agencies? Different inspection standards? Or is it just another product of the money-and-lashon-hora culture of today's kashrut industry?

August 24, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Bush's no-fly zones

New Media Musings
asks the question: CNN reports that Sen. Edward Kennedy has company on the airline no-fly watch list: Rep. John Lewis, the Democratic congressman from Georgia who marched with Martin Luther King Jr.

Is it concidence that the no-fly list targets two liberal members of Congress who've been critical of the Patriot Act -- but not the likes of Tom DeLay, Dennis Hastert, and co.?

(Reb Yudel)

It's a lie! No, it's a political music video!

It's a lie isn't a dessert topping.

August 23, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Online book for Jewish kids: The Great March

Scanned by Sacred Text Online, The Great March in an out-of-print book published by the UAHC in 1931:
This is a collection of Post-Biblical Jewish stories, written for 3rd to 4th graders. However, this book is also thoroughly enjoyable for adults, not the least because of the finely-drawn illustrations. The anecdotes include sublime Talmudic humor, tales of resistance to injustice and persecution, and profound spiritual lessons. It also includes many incidents of cooperation between Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Written in a time of looming peril for Jewish people, this book is still meaningful to people of all faiths today.
(Reb Yudel)

When the preacher dressed with twenty pounds of headlines stapled to his chest

Jonathan Mark encounters that alien probe of Jewish journalism know as Luke Ford and, characteristically, produces holy poetry:
We saw Jewish journalism as something sacred, beyond profession. If in light of the last century it is our calling to see every Jew as of infinite value; if Israel, and making the world safe for Jews -- uniting Jews, and nourishing Jewish possibility -- is the defining challenge of this generation, if the media is the theater for how this story is told, then reporting that story in a uniquely Jewish newspaper, and making Jewish papers financially viable, is equally sacred, too....

One challenge is telling the Jewish story in a way that is compelling as a story, as journalism, not just as a p.r. handout. For young Jewish writers coming out of yeshiva, the Torah itself was the model for how to write, even how to write subversively. Of course, much about God is a mystery. We don't know what He looks like. We don't know what He sounds like. But we know the way God writes. Imagine in the dark ages of Jewish journalism, assigning a profile on Father Abraham. How pompous and pious it would have been. But look how God, Himself, chooses to write the Abraham story. The very first quote attributed to Abraham in the Torah is him saying to Sarah, "Now look, I know you're beautiful. When the Egyptians see you, and know you're my wife, they'll kill me but keep you alive."

That was the first New Jewish Journalism. Some are offended by that kind of approach to writing -- but 70 nations rejected the Torah, too, before the Jewish people said yes.

In the Biblical spirit, newspapers have become the prophet speaking truth to the king or high priest, because without a prophet - or an editorial - not only is God voiceless but the people are, too.

The world these days can seem like the opening verses of Genesis, "unformed and void with darkness over the face of the deep." That fear always was right below the surface, even in better times. The first issue of New Jewish Times featured nothing but a nuclear mushroom cloud and the headline, "Next Year in Jerusalem." It's seems less crazy now than it was 20 years ago, but for Israeli children the Purim mask gave way to a gas mask.

What would you write about if the world was coming to an end? My inspiration was Emanuel Ringelblum and his band of brothers in the Warsaw Ghetto. They couldn't put out a Jewish paper, but they did the next best thing. Meeting once a week, and calling themselves "Oneg Shabbos" - with equal parts sarcasm and sentimentality - they took to amassing a weekly archive of the Jewish people. Oneg Shabbos collected everything, the ephemeral, the ethereal, Hebrew candy wrappers and chronicles of hunger; children's poems and dead men's paintings; ghetto theater programs and maps of Treblinka. It was essentially a Jewish newspaper delivered not to your mailbox but to the tin boxes and metal milk cans that they buried in the rubble. Who would find it? Who'd be their audience? Would there still be Jews in the world? For Oneg Shabbos, the act of gathering and telling the Jewish story was heroic enough.

At Ground Zero, in 2001, we had an "Oneg Shabbos" experience all our own. In the ruins, people found, and The Jewish Week wrote about, the fluttering papers that carried to earth a yeshiva's tuition bill; a letter from a summer camp; stories of people worth knowing -- more worth knowing than we might have supposed the day before. In the rubble, someone found a yarmulke inscribed from a wedding, Sept. 9. The ordinary is now extraordinary. In fact, it was extraordinary all along.

Our lives are fragile and fleeting. We are the generation that history will have to walk through to keep the Jewish story alive. These are the days in which Jews are looking to "my paper," a Jewish paper, to tell us who we are, where we're going, and what we have seen and loved.

(Reb Yudel)

Sprucing up the synagogue

The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle explains why my mom wasn't home when I called yesterday:
B.J. Yudelson cleans pews in the B'nai Israel temple at 692 Joseph Ave. in Rochester Sunday. Yudelson is among more than 100 volunteers who helped get the building in shape for the upcoming "high holidays."

August 22, 2004

(Reb Yudel)


Velveteen Rabbi: August blessings
Blessed are You, Yahh our God, creator of growing things, for making cherry tomatoes that twist off the vine into the waiting palm, each one a benediction for the palate and throat....
(Reb Yudel)

Bush to world: Shoot me down!

David Weiner of Scripting News says:
Bush: "We say to those tyrants who believe they can blackmail America and the free world: 'You fire, we're going to shoot it down.'" Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Okay, let's play it out. Suppose Kim Jong Il, the Dear Leader of North Korea, was listening. So he fires a missle at Tokyo and then goes on TV as the missile is launched and says "We fired. Shoot it down." That would be funny except a lot of Japanese would die because we don't have any way to shoot the damned thing down.

August 20, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Dept. of Torah and Marketing

Found on Clearinghouse for Jewish Communal Jobs:
Job Title: 	Executive Learning Rabbi
Job Description: 	- Learn with and manage relationships with 18 top business executives.
-Teach one to two classes per week for Aish NY or Discovery.
Job Requirements: 	-Orthodox (Yeshiva background)
  -Exceptional interpersonal skills
  -Connection to both religious and secular communities and sensibilities
  -Self-motivated and entrepreneurial
  -Teaching experience
  -(Business background a plus) 
Employment Type: 	Full-Time
Other benefits: 	Health and additional financial incentives 

It's easy to make fun of this, but.... do you know of any ground-floor opportunities for non-Orthodox rabbis? Anybody making business class for JTS and HUC grads to spend 40 hours / week with 18 executives? Do the math -- 18 folks who can donate 10k/year is a nice sum to split with the head office.

August 19, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Malcolm-not-in-the-middle Strikes Again

From an editorial in today's Washington Jewish Week Online Edition:
An invitation from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the Republican Jewish Coalition was recently forwarded to us. The invitation is for a host city reception with Bush administration officials, as well as House and Senate leaders, to be held at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City during the Republican National Convention.

Accompanying the forwarded e-mail was the comment: "Funny, but I don't remember the Conference of Presidents sponsoring anything at the Democratic Convention!"

In actuality, the Presidents Conference was listed as a co-sponsor for a reception that The Israel Project held during the Democratic National Convention in Boston.

But, it didn't hold a joint event with RJC's counterpart, the National Jewish Democratic Council.

(Reb Yudel)

Himmelman Speaks

Rocky Mountain News interviews Peter Himmelman. Topics discussed include children's songs, politics, and his recent vacation in Israel:
"I played with this young rock band near Natanya. They learned 10 of my songs. We rehearsed for a couple of hours and did three or four shows. I know a little Hebrew; the audiences appreciated that," he said
(Reb Yudel)

Like old times: Feith, Ghorbanifar plot Iranian regime change !?!?

This Is Rumor Control - INTEL ALERT: Iraq Official Confirms Iran Arms Story follows up a piece I linked to last week about possible Iranian involvement in Iraq. Yep, they're finding Iranian weapons.

Now, as a Rabinista I'm partial to concerns about Iran; undercutting Iranian regional dominance and weapons development was a major rationale for Rabin's peace initiatives back in '92.

However, I'd like to see Iran be successfully pushed off the anti-Israel, anti-American path -- even if using outre' tactics as engagement and negotiation -- rather than witness the sort of principled, pompous, loud, clumsy, clubfooted, ultimately ineffective posturing and bloodshed that we've seen of late in the Middle East.

Which is why the following excerpt from the Rumor Control article linked to above is the most chilling:

On August 9, Newsday's Knut Royce reported that Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, Douglas Feith, met with Iranian arms dealer Manucher Ghorbanifar for the ostensible purpose of antagonizing Iran "so that they get frustrated and then by their reactions harden U.S. policy against them." Feith refused to comment on the meetings. Royce reported that the meetings were not authorized by the White House. Even so, a Pentagon official said that the purpose of the meetings was to bring about "a change of government in Iran." The report received "a lot of attention in Tehran," an intelligence official who served in that country claims.
Look: I'd like to think that Feith knows what he's doing. I'd like to think that Republican operatives know how to deal with Ghorbanifar. It's just that I don't like to ignore all the evidence of past failures and foreign policy fubars.

August 18, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Ha'im Ata Im HaGolan?

New York Daily News: Sez Gov lover's his ex
The New Jersey gay sex scandal took an explosive new turn as a man claiming to be Golan Cipel's lover came forward and reported the affair to aides of Gov. Jim McGreevey, sources said yesterday.

The mystery man, a college professor from northern Jersey, called the governor's office to assert he and Cipel had been romantically involved, sources said.

(Reb Yudel)

Beyond Hadassah

HA-FONTIA SHEL BEN - Free Hebrew fonts, via JewSchool.

(Reb Yudel)

Rumors of Negotiations?

From the still-too-new-to-have-a-track record Rumor Control site, the question of Does Israel Have A New Strategy?:
Ya'alon comments seem to confirm rumors circulating in Jerusalem that Israel may well be prepared to negotiate a peace with Syria.

Doing so, at least from the military perspective, would enhance Israeli security: it would give the IDF one less enemy to defend against, and it could well break Hizbollah away from any alliance with Hamas.

Then too, negotiating a peace with Syria, no matter how modest, would quiet regional and world criticism that Israel is unwilling to negotiate with anyone under and circumstances.

(Reb Yudel)

You Take Jesus, I'll Take Bob (and Bono)

The Washington Times, writing on Pop psalmists, includes this wonderful quote by Scott M. Marshall, author of "Restless Pilgrim":

Obviously, Dylan's words aren't part of the canon, but Dylan is a Jewish poet and that puts him in the same family as those who penned the actual biblical Psalms.
(Reb Yudel)

Spammer or Scammer?

Found in my spam mailbox:

I'm a freelance european hitman for hire.
If you need to take down someone, I will do the job and be gone long before anybody notice.

I am an ex-special forces soldier and i'm offering you 8 years of experience and professional skills.

Use me for your private justice.

This is NOT a game nor a joke !!!

BTW : you will be amazed if you knew how many jobs I got only from the internet...

(Reb Yudel)

Bubbies Against Bush, Buchanan

Matthew Yglesias posts an Advisory that may be relevant for people you know:
It was recently brought to my attention that my grandparents, strongly pro-Kerry Jews like so many others, who split their time between the great, but decidedly non-swing, state of New York, and the less great, but decidedly more swingy, state of Florida are still registered to vote in New York.

I am encouraging them to rectify this situation, and I would encourage other readers who may have similarly situated family members to do the same. Those votes aren't needed on Great Neck.

August 16, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Yu-Gi-Oh Talking Points

From the review of Yu-Gi-Oh! in Christianity Today:
1. Why do Yugi's cards have such power? Do you believe that power is real, or just pretend?

2. Does Yugi believe in the Christian God, or does he believe in many gods? Are any of those gods good? Which one(s)? How do they show their goodness? Which one(s) are bad? How do they show their badness?

3. What if Yugi's world was real? What would it be like to live in a world ruled by gods and magic? How does that compare to our real world -- and the supernatural forces that are real? (See Ephesians 6:10-18)

4. How could a small, not-too-popular kid get respect without having Yugi's powers?

August 15, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Let's share the risks

More about economic insecurity. The bottom line:
Conservatives say free markets create more winners than losers.

They say helping the losers is a better way of addressing insecurity than restricting the freedom that begets it.

It's time voters demand that they put their money where their mouths are.

(Reb Yudel)

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

Popular Science does the time-travel number on us. In Tech '54, Where Are You? the author tries living with only the technology available 50 years ago, highlighting the science fiction world we live in today.

But what about tomorrow?

Is Science Fiction About to Go Blind? discusses the fear of science fiction writers that the world is changing so fast, at an ever accelerating rate, as to make life 50 years from now totally unpredictable.

(Reb Yudel)

Good News!

Sam Jaffe, an editor at Science magazine, brings glad tidings from the energy front to the pages of the Washington Monthly:
During the past year, a pair of new technologies has emerged that, if properly nurtured, could provide the key to a broader effort to wean Americans off foreign oil, drastically reduce pollution, and help slow global warming.

The first is an industrial process that may make ethanol far cheaper to produce than ever before, with the potential of making this much-maligned--and over-subsidized--biofuel economically competitive with gasoline.

The second is a small, inexpensive piece of hardware that could make ethanol the basis for radically transforming our transportation infrastructure. Making these technologies yield a new product at the pump won't be easy. But they're far more promising than much of the research on which we're currently spending federal dollars and intellectual energy.

Some possible comfort as oil keeps hitting record highs, Global Guerillas take advantage of the Bush War to sabatoge Iraqi oil production, and economic growth in China and India keeps raising demand for energy.

Don't expect a Bush-Cheney administration to support a scheme that would take value from existing oil reserves, however.

August 13, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

New Jersey Scandal: Larry Cohler Interviews David Twersky!

New York Daily News:The other man
In March 2000, Golan Cipel was a 31-year-old former sailor working as a spokesman for the Israeli city of Rishon L'Zion.

But his life changed when an ambitious American mayor named Jim McGreevey came to visit with a delegation of New Jersey Jews.

"It was described to me that there was some kind of instant recognition between them," said David Twersky, then editor of Metro West Jewish News, who spoke with several participants on the mission.

"McGreevey took Golan off to a corner of the room. They spoke for a few minutes, and by the time McGreevey came back to the table, he had offered Golan a job as his liaison to the Jewish community."

Another source, who actually participated in the mission, did not recall Cipel's being hired quite so quickly. Nevertheless, he said, speaking on condition of anonymity, "Clearly, people were surprised about the appointment."

(Reb Yudel)

How to save thousands of dollars a year

The Forward runs a feature on Jewish home schooling this week.

What was it that Arlo Guthrie said?

If one person does it he's crazy. If two do it it's a phenomenon. Three make a trend.

And ten make it a mesorah.

(Reb Yudel)

Bruce Springsteen, Naomi Shemer, and the tunnel of politics

Andrew Silow-Carroll discusses singing bards and their politics:

I don't know if Naomi Shemer ever heard of Bruce Springsteen, although I'm willing to bet that Springsteen never heard of Naomi Shemer. But if Shemer had not died earlier this year and Springsteen spoke a little Hebrew, they could have had an interesting conversation about the intersection of popular music and national politics.

Shemer, who was 74 when she died in June, was widely regarded as Israel’s unofficial national songwriter. Her best-known songs, most famously “Jerusalem of Gold,” were hymns to the country that wistfully — always wistfully — longed for a time when Jews could live at peace in their land.

Israelis debate whether she had a political, especially rightist, agenda, and it’s true that some of her songs were taken up as virtual anthems by the settlement movement, for instance. Earlier this month, an Israeli Arab member of Knesset, Azmi Bishara, managed to stir up a hornets’ nest when he wrote a column accusing her of racism. For Bishara, a lyric like “The markets of old Jerusalem are deserted,” from “Jerusalem of Gold,” negates the Arabs who were living there all along.

(Reb Yudel)

Jay Jarvis on my governor

BuzzMachine... by Jeff Jarvis
What remarkable television it was.

On the one hand, this was reality TV with more raw, real human drama than any reality TV ever aired and more bluntness than any political speech ever given. Knowing what was going to happen for a few hours before he came on camera, I expected a duck and feint job from a politician. Instead, we saw an emotional, forceful, courageous announcement of a man's secret.

But on the other hand, this was utterly unreal. Roiling just below the surface were a dozen other stories that were not told:

(Reb Yudel)

Racists at Clear Channel

Via David Weiner, Douglas Anders reports on anti-semitism on the airwaves in Toledo, OH:
Like everyone else, I've heard about the hateful things said about George Soros. The anti-semitic slurs were appalling, but I only heard about them second-hand. I was disturbed, but in a detached, intellectual way.

This afternoon, on live radio, local talk show host for WSPD Denny Schaffer, make the most blatantly anti-semitic statement I've ever heard (no transcript or audio available, but this almost exactly what was said. Thoughts were strung together, with nothing separating them):

George Soros is an atheist.

His jewish family escaped Europe in the 1930 by masquerading as Christians.

George Soros is the Anti-Christ.

He said this at 3:30, during the afternoon drive on one of the most popular radio stations in Toledo. And he just made one of the most hate-filled statement imaginable. Even now, four hours later, I am revolted and nauseous beyond words.

I never studied much about the historical phenomenon of anti-semitism, but even I can recognize the familiar and centuries-old pattern: Jews are godless; they can move amongst us without detection; they are the implacable enemy of everything we stand for. Schaffer didn't even try to dress it up, or couch his racism in euphemisms. He just . . . said it.

I'm guessing that it won't surprise anyone that Schaffer works for Clear Channel, and I'm guessing that tomorrow afternoon this racist jackass's job will just as secure as it was before he said these things.

Lies, hate and racism: just points in a business plan for Clear Channel.

Clear Channel, you may recall, is the Friends-of-Bush radio network that kicked Howard Stern off the air.

Personally, I wouldn't be surprised if there were consequences this time; Clear Channel is still playing in an environment of mass media. But as my grandmother told me the last time I saw her in her wonderful Southern accent, "the times they are a'changin'.

August 12, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

McGreevey's Jewish Liason Liason

JTA posts a good wrap up of the McGreevey story, which will probably turn out to be more about corrupt Jews than an adulterous homosexual affair with an Israeli.

That said, JTA got a Jewish communal official on the record for an unfortunately phrased comment:

"For a guy like Jim McGreevey, who already had a lot of good Jewish relationships, Cipel's role wasn't a key one," said David Mallach, former director of the MetroWest, N.J. Jewish Community Relations Council, said his group encountered no problems working with Cipel.
Well, actually, it seems it seems McGreevey's relationship with Cipel was the key one.
(Reb Yudel)

Extremism and Respect: A Response to Avi Shafran's Response to Gary Rosenblatt's Response to Herschel Schachter...

(This piece was solicited as a counterpoint to an opinion piece by Rabbi Avi Shafran which can be seen on the Hirhurim weblog)

When planning our wedding, it seemed odd to my wife and me to invite our fathers and uncles to recite the blessings under the huppa but not our mothers and aunts. But the halachic, Jewish legal arguments on the topic are complex, and besides, we had plenty of Orthodox rabbis on the guest list we didn't want to offend.

So, in a best-of-all worlds solution, we supplemented the seven Hebrew blessings with their English translations. Since the translations are not necessary for a halachic wedding, we figured that the women on our guest list could recite them without question – enabling us to evade the questions of Jewish law, double the number of friends and relatives included in the wedding, and even help our guests understand the ceremony.

It turns out that our compromise wasn't so kosher, according to Rabbi Herschel Schachter, a professor of Talmud at Yeshiva University and the head of the halacha committee of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America. As he explained in a lecture posted online last month, even those parts of the wedding not mandated by Jewish law – the parts, he zoologically explained, that a monkey or parrot could chant without invalidating the ceremony – should not be recited by women because such a public appearance is beneath their modesty.

Rabbi Schachter's arguments are at heart not halachic but cultural, flowing not from women's Talmudic legal obligations (as are the arguments about counting women in a minyan) but from their preferred place. And that place is, in his reading of Judaism, is out of the public eye. Women, he rules, are improperly exposing themselves to public view by participating in the wedding ceremony.

It seem a strange position to take in 2004, when it is the norm for Orthodox women to maintain careers and the search for nannies is a frequent topic on the email list of my largely-Orthodox Jewish community.

But then again, in touting the notion of the feminine as something to be kept private, Rabbi Schachter and other Orthodox apologists are not as uniquely "Jewish" as they might wish. Their attitude is shared by other contemporary religious movements. See the return to the hijab, or veil, to take a mild example from the Islamic world, or those "family values" advocates within America whose reading of the Christian Bible lead them to insist that a woman should subordinate herself to her husband. In leading a rear-guard action against feminism, Rabbi Schachter is very much part of the 21st century zeitgeist.

Rabbi Schachter did not equate Jewish women to parrots and monkeys, but his lack of sensitivity to language, combined with his distrust of equality, is suspicious. (It doesn't help that his groundbreaking essay attacking Orthodox feminists was entitled "Go and Follow in the Path of the Sheep.") While mocked as "political correctness," the need for care in language is a quintessentially Jewish teaching. As Rabbi Avi Shafran has written in other contexts, one cannot call Jews "pigs and monkeys" and then be surprised when Jewish blood is spilled.

A useful illumination of Rabbi Schachter's position is cast by Rabbi Shafran's present essay. Juxtaposing Rabbi Schachter's feminist critics with animal-rights activists from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Rabbi Shafran illustrates an all-too-often forgotten principle: Any seemingly good idea, taken to extremes, leads to extremism.

PETA, Rabbi Shafran reminds us, exploits the fear that any form of discrimination – such as that between people and puppies – is ultimately equivalent to the murderous Nazi discrimination between Jew and Aryan.

But in making the leap between Orthodox Jewish feminists and PETA activists, Rabbi Shafran is lumping all activists for equality together in the same way as PETA conflates all advocates of discrimination. His essay is less concerned with defending his thesis that the Torah prescribes different roles for men and women than in presenting a case that inequality is a Divine ideal to strive for.

Too harsh an indictment? Not given the track record of many Orthodox leaders over the past two centuries or so. Orthodoxy greeted the emancipation of European Jews, beginning in Napoleonic France, with equal parts fear and revulsion. Extending the franchise to women was opposed by rabbis on grounds of its immodesty.

Even today, plenty of Orthodox Jews yearn for some sort of "Torah" government for Israel, one combining rabbinic rule with a hereditary monarchy, and question whether they really have an obligation to obey the dictates of the less-than-Divine parliamentary regime of the Israeli state.

As the American Jewish community increasingly values traditions once left to Orthodoxy – Sabbath observance, kashrut, Torah study – it's worth remembering that the "fervently" Orthodox community has not made a parallel peace with the democracy and egalitarian values of our ongoing American revolution.

As six years of marriage have taught me, the debates of a Talmud classroom which take arguments to their "logical" conclusion is not the way to work things out with one's marriage partner. Marriage calls for a more pragmatic approach of utilitarian arguments tempered by underlying respect and acceptance. However inadvertently, Rabbis Schachter and Shafran illustrate that that is also the best approach for negotiating the marriage of Jewish and American values.

-- Larry Yudelson, August 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Income Insecurity, or, shifting the risk from corporations to you!

Kevin Drum cites Mark Schmitt citing Jacob Hacker, to explain why we feel worse off than four -- or forty -- years ago:
So why does the economy feel so much worse to so many people? Hacker believes that one of the big reasons is that life has become so much more risky. People are a lot closer to the edge, closer to a single catastrophe that can wipe them out, than they were three decades ago.

This has a chilling effect even if nothing ever happens to you. Almost everyone who's not already well off these days knows someone who's been ruined by a personal catastrophe, and this personal knowledge rubs off. You're worried that you could get laid off at any time -- and not be able to find a job for months or years. You're worred that a sudden healthcare crisis could devastate you. You're worried that your pension fund or your 401(k) might not be there when you retire because you made bad investment choices.

FDR dedicated the New Deal to "freedom from fear." He believed that government's role was not to provide handouts to the poor, but to provide a certain minimum level of security against the everyday catastrophes that ruin people's lives.

It is this minimum level of economic security that George Bush and modern movement conservatives want to abolish. In fact, it's the point of Bush's "ownership society": if everyone owns their own Social Security account, owns their own healthcare account, and owns their own college accounts, then the government no longer provides security against disaster. If you make a mistake, or if the market makes a mistake, you're screwed.

Read it all and follow the links. This is an important story.
(Reb Yudel)

The price of Bush-league economics

Yahoo! News - Federal Deficit Hits Record $395.8B

With two months still to go in the government's budget year, the federal deficit has hit a record $395.8 billion.
Read Former Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neil's book for more info.

(Reb Yudel)

Nicholas Kristoff Doesn't Understand Why Bush Isn't Preventing a Times Square Hiroshima

Timesman Nicholas Kristoff doesn't understand how Bush is fighting the threat of An American Hiroshima:
That is what I find baffling: an utter failure of the political process.

The Bush administration responded aggressively on military fronts after 9/11, and in November 2003, Mr. Bush observed, "The greatest threat of our age is nuclear, chemical or biological weapons in the hands of terrorists, and the dictators who aid them."

But the White House has insisted on tackling the most peripheral elements of the W.M.D. threat, like Iraq, while largely ignoring the central threat, nuclear proliferation.

The upshot is that the risk that a nuclear explosion will devastate an American city is greater now than it was during the cold war, and it's growing.

Kristoff, who since his office is at Times Square takes threats of a suitcase nuclear bomb personally, is too busy worrying about his own survival odds (he guesses only a 20% chance of being nuked in the next decade) to keep his eye on the Big Picture.

And the Big Picture of the Bush White House -- as every chronicle by a defector has agreed -- is electoral votes.

So I ask you Mr. Kristoff: If, God forbid, a nuke would go off in New York City, or Los Angeles Harbor, or Philadelphia -- how do you think that would impact on the Blue State / Red State calculation?

With, say, half a million fewer downstate voters, don't you think New York would be in play again?

(Reb Yudel)

Did God Send Last Year's Blackout to Prevent Interfaith Date?

So asks Ester D. Kustanowitz in today's The Jewish Week, with suprisingly little self-awareness or irony.
"Was a non-date with a non-Jew a double negative, and therefore to be considered equivalent to an actual date with an actual Jew? Was God intentionally testing her?"
(Reb Yudel)

No Thursday Sun Shine for Steven I.

Looking for Steven I. Weiss, I put down my quarter for today's Sun. No sign of Steve's byline, alas. However, I did find:
  • A front-page followup to yesterday's Drudge Report rumor concerning Kerry and his wife
  • A front-page report of Chalabi filing a federal suit against the Kingdom of Jordan to defend his reputation. Any victory capable of recovering his self-proclaimed probity would also be useful for Sun Publisher Seth Lipsky, who devoted quite a few column inches as Forward editor to promoting Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress.
  • An editorial opposing Bush's Gross nomination for the new CIA director.
  • A Lipsky column pointing out that the U.S. government very much lied about who was in Cambodia back in 1969 and 1970, based on his experience on the Army's Stars and Stripes newspaper, which broke the story when a reporter took a Huey ride over the Cambodian border. The column proves once again that whenever Lipsky lets his journalistic Dr. Jekyll control his political Mr. Huyde, the readers win.

August 11, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Zefat Synagogue Photo Adds Color to YudelLine

14 Zefat Synagogue
Originally uploaded by a superhero by night.
All the fun of illustration. None of the ftp hassles or rights clearances.


(Reb Yudel)

Ads we never thought we'd see

From the Google Ad on the page hosting that picture below and to the right:

Hasidic Jews Near You

Join Free - Meet & Chat with Single Hasidic
Jews in Your City! aff

I guess someone is trying to earn referral bucks from JDate by buying Google Ads. Maybe they should be advertising during showings of Witness?

(Reb Yudel)

Men, Women and Kohanim

women and men
Originally uploaded by Thom.
Following a link to flickr, I stumbled across this photograph from Boro Park.
(Reb Yudel)

Hebes Used in White House Hardball

What price access?

Jewish organizations who want to meet with Bush don't exactly have to sign endorsements before entering -- as do attendees at some campaign events -- but this JTA story about the quids and quos the Bush Administration indicates why some Jewish leaders might in the future rather be photographed shaking the hands of a less demanding leader....

A White House booklet called "President George W. Bush: A Friend of the American Jewish Community" has some of the Jews quoted and pictured inside feeling less than friendly.

Several of those quoted represent non-partisan organizations and are concerned the booklet implies an endorsement from them or their group.

Others believe the material crosses the line into overt campaigning for Jewish support by the White House less than four months ahead of the election.

The booklet raised a stir among Jewish officials in Washington this week. Several Jewish leaders said they were not contacted before their names appeared, and that it does not accurately reflect their group's sentiment on the administration's track record.

"I hate to be used," said one Jewish leader quoted in the book, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of angering the White House. "The president selectively chose a statement where we praised him. There have been several comments that have had an opposite point of view expressed."

Read it all...
(Reb Yudel)

Steven I. Surfaces

Steven I. Weiss is now blogging at the Canonist. Anyone care to help him with his story about YU's new CFO?
"I'm having trouble finding people who are around to comment about Socol's tenure."
(Reb Yudel)

Lock up the books, dear; the Republicans are coming to town

Via Boing Boing, an account of a run-in with a security goon with an overly high sense of personal empowerment:
This morning, they're doing bag searches again to get on the ferry. And the guy doing the searches pulls me aside and says, "Sir, I feel that I need to confiscate this book."

I pause and say, in that tone of voice that most people would recognize as meaning, "have you lost your grip completely, chuckles?": "You need to confiscate... a book."

"Yes. I feel it's inappropriate for the other people on the ferry to be exposed to it."

Read the rest
(Reb Yudel)

Goodbye Nigeria Spammers; Hello, Holocaust Hoaxers!

So much for Nigerian spammers. I just got my first "Holocaust Spam" -- a variation of the Nigerian "help me get my stolen moneys out of Africa" scam that has mutated into a Claims Conference-inspired ripoff.

The letter, with a return address of, begins as follows:

Attention: Sir Madam My name is Mr. George Graham a member of Independent Committee of Eminent Persons (ICEP), Switzerland. ICEP is charged with the responsibility of finding bank accounts in Switzerland belonging to non-Swiss indigenes, which have remained dormant since World War II.
The scammer claims to have information on a dormant Swiss account, now worth $50 million.

As scams go, this is pretty clever, since whoever falls for this hoax is rather vile -- we are talking about raiding Holocaust accounts, after all.

Still, however much I might admire grifters with a heart of gold, once they turn to spam they become my problem, and yours.

A full copy of the spam follows...

Attention: Sir Madam

My name is Mr. George Graham a member of Independent Committee of Eminent Persons (ICEP), Switzerland. ICEP is charged with the responsibility of finding bank accounts in Switzerland belonging to non-Swiss indigenes, which have remained dormant since World War II. It may interest you to know that in July of 1997, the Swiss Banker's Association published a list of dormant accounts originally opened by non-Swiss citizens. These accounts had been dormant since the end of World War II (May 9, 1945). Most belonged to Holocaust victims. The continuing efforts of the Independent Committee of Eminent Persons (ICEP) have since resulted in the discovery of additional dormant accounts - 54,000 in December, 1999.

The published lists contain all types of dormant accounts, including interest-bearing savings accounts, securities accounts, safe deposit boxes, custody accounts, and non-interest-bearing transaction accounts. Numbered accounts are also included. Interest is paid on accounts that were interest bearing when established.

The Claims Resolution Tribunal (CRT) handles processing of all claims on accounts due non-Swiss citizens. A dormant account of ORDNER ADELE with a credit balance of 50,000,000 US dollar plus accumulated interest was discovered by me. The beneficiary was murdered during the holocaust era, leaving no WILL and no possible records for trace of heirs. The Claims Resolution Tribunal has been mandated to report all unclaimed funds for permanent closure of accounts and transfer of existing credit balance into the treasury of Switzerland government as provided by the law for management of assets of deceased beneficiaries who died interstate (living no wills).

Being a member of ICEP, I have all secret details and necessary contacts for claim of the funds without any hitch. The funds will be banked in any country of your choice outside Switzerland or a tax free country, where we can safely withdrew the funds and we can share the funds and use it for investment of our choice. Due to the sensitive nature of my job, I need a foreigner to HELP claim the funds.

All that is required of you is to provide me with your details for processing of the necessary legal and administrative claim documents for transfer of the funds to you.

You can find additional information about unclaimed funds through the internet at the following websites: , , ,

The Holocaust Claims Processing Office has put funds in Escrow awaiting submission of valid claims for necessary disbursement.

I find myself privileged to have this information and this may be a great opportunity for a life time of success without risks.

Please include your direct telephone when responding to this mail ,for further explanation to you

Thank you for your prompt response.

Mr. George Graham

August 10, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Bush: What a Character!

From Tom Tomorrow, reviewing a page from an old Yale yearbook:

As long as we're re-examining the 1960s, looking for signs of character, trying to decide if a man who volunteered for combat and was decorated five times was more or less courageous than a guy who didn't even show up for his own medical exam...

here's George W. Bush during his college days, hitting a fellow sportsman in the face.

(Reb Yudel)

PETA Going Kosher?

While Aguda's Rabbi Avi Shafran is down on People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (and my forthcoming rebuttal of R' Shafran does not leap to PETA's defense either), following up some information on President Bush's infamous rugby career brought up the following nugget of PETA Torah goodnes.

The context of this excerpt from Lloyd Grove's Daily News column was PETA's critique of a White Castle movie which promoted itself by mailing White Castle burgers to the press:

"They can't say that no animals were harmed to make this movie," PETA President Ingrid Newkirk told me yesterday. "It sounds like it could be disconcerting and rather sad and bloody. This is the new PG-13: 'Pathetic,' 'Gross' and '13 kinds of gut bacteria.'"

Newkirk - who believes that a cow is at least as worthy of consideration as an actor - said the addition of cheese is particularly distasteful:

"Mixing the baby with the milk of the mother is unkosher and unkind." (emphasis added - Yudel)

(Reb Yudel)

Steven I. Shines in Sun

I invested two bits in following the Steven I. Weiss New York Sun Tryout Week, and bring a report:
Muslims Disclose Sense of Apathy Toward Confab
Few Planning to Protest
Special to the Sun

Local Muslims have few plans to participate in protests against the Republican National Comittee Convention in New York City this month, according to a sampling of area mosques.

Imans and administraors at Islamic institutions across New York City said their communities are generally apathetic toward the convention.

"The people from our mosque are ggenerally not the ones who will be demonstrating," said Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf, a leading spokesman for the Muslim community and a spiritual leader of Masjid al Farah mosque on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

Imam Abdul Rauf said Muslims have traditionally found themsleves more in alighment with the Republican Party because of "its personal values and its family values."

(Reb Yudel)

Is Bogota the Next Teaneck?

In what seems like an effort to compete with Bergenfield for Teaneck's surplus population, Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan has twinned with Beit El, according to Arutz Sheva - Israel National News.

In what might be an Arutz Sheva misquote, Lonegan appears to be following the recent trend of coming out against the Bush Administration's foreign policy, saying that for Sharon to actually fulfill his promises to George Bush is "inconceivable.":

In a moving ceremony in Beit El yesterday, the mayors of Bogota, New Jersey and Beit El, Israel forged a sister-city pact. Mayor Steve Lonegan of Bogota said, "In recognition of the plight of Beit El and the challenges here, we felt that declaring a sister-city relationship with Beit El was our best way of showing our support for you."

Referring to the Gaza disengagement/expulsion plan currently on the table, Lonegan said that it was "inconceivable" that Jews should be deported from their own land. Mayor Moshe Rosenbaum thanked Lonegan for his support, and noted that the Book of Ezra states that some 2,400 years ago, "121 Jews returned from Babylonia to this very area. Beit El has been around for quite a long time, and will continue to be!"

Mayor Lonegan, who is 80% blind, said, "This is the first time I have been in this area, and in addition to the excitement of seeing the Biblical sites, I have been most impressed by meeting with the people here. Today we met with Limor Har-Melekh, [the young mother whose husband Shuli was murdered in a terrorist shooting a year ago]; the randomness of the attacks, and the human fall-out, really make us realize that we, who come from a place where we live in peace and safety every single day, take this for granted, and we don't really appreciate how hard people are fighting here."

Joey Bodner and others from Bogota's neighboring town of Teaneck accompanied Lonegan on his trip. "It's very exciting to be a part of this moving twinning ceremony, and we were proud to be a part of it." Bodner noted that he was here on a short trip to show solidarity and contribute to various towns in Judea and Samaria: "Even very short trips such as this one - only four days long, with visits in Gush Katif, Shomron, and elsewhere - make a difference. Today we dedicated an emergency motorcycle, and visited Homesh in the Shomron; the people there told us that no American group had visited them for two years - and we were that group! That was a little sad to hear. So I just want to emphasize how important it is to come and show our support."

(Reb Yudel)

Day School Principal Blogs!

Paul J. Shaviv, Director of Education at CHAT - Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto, is guest-blogging this week on his daughter's site, Bloghead.

August 9, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Bush jettisons another intelligence asset

One night when we were trying to accustom our two-year old to sleeping in his crib, he stood, held up his bottle of milk, and declared: "Let me out or I'll pour milk in my ear!"

This fine baby memory is brought to mind by the latest antics of our boy king, whose administration has yet again let slip the name of an intelligence asset. As Bill Mon. at the Whiskey Bar concludes his summary:

So in order to alarm the public about a four-year-old potential al-Qaeda plot (and, in the process, polish up Dear Leader's anti-terrorism credentials) it appears the administration knowingly endangered an on-going intelligence operation aimed at capturing a senior al-Qaeda operative and his entire cell.

And, as previously noted, all of this just by chance happened on the weekend after the Democratic convention - at a time when the Bush-Cheney campaign was determined to squash any Kerry "bounce" in the polls.

Duly noted is the claim by Bush supporters that the president "had to do it" since his critics weren't taking his latest intelligence claims seriously....
(Reb Yudel)

YKH profiles Tzipi Livni

Just today, a friend was lamenting that Yossi wasn't writing profiles anymore. Well, it looks like we'll have to lament that they're hidden behind the New Republic registration system (or in your public library) because his latest piece, Hadrera Dispatch: Tough Love seems to be a profile. Read the opening paragraph and judge from yourself:
They have all come to hear Immigrant Absorption Minister Tzipi Livni, one of the Likud's rising stars, defend Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Gaza withdrawal plan. It's not an easy crowd to convince. A majority of Likud members in Hadera, one of the Israeli towns hardest hit by terrorism, voted against Sharon in the recent party referendum on withdrawal. Livni is here to tell them why Sharon is proceeding with his plan even though he lost the vote and why they, as loyal Likudniks, should support him. But, if anyone can convince Likudniks that uprooting settlements and withdrawing under terrorist fire isn't a self-betrayal, it's Livni. In a party increasingly dominated by opportunists rather than ideologues, Livni is one of the few Likud leaders who can still recite from memory passages from the writings of Revisionist Zionist leader Ze'ev Jabotinsky, the Likud's ideological mentor. Her family credentials define Likud aristocracy: Her father, Eitan, was operations chief for the underground Irgun; in the right-wing Betar youth movement, they still sing a hymn about an Irgun heroine named Little Sarah--Livni's mother. In fact, Livni possesses the Revisionist bona fides that Sharon, who grew up in the Labor movement, lacks.
Paid subscribers can read more at The New Republic online.
(Reb Yudel)

America's most liberal senators aren't running for president

In fact, according to the National Journal lifetime-liberalism survey reported by the Daily Howler, my own New Jersey has two of the ten most liberal:
National Journal: Most liberal senators, lifetime voting
1. Mark Dayton, D-Minn.
2. Paul Sarbanes, D-Md.
3. Jack Reed, D-R.I.
4. Jon Corzine, D-N.J.
5. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.
6. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.
7. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa
8. Richard Durbin, D-Ill.
9. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.
10. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt
(Reb Yudel)

Walmart vs. Jewish Journalism

The Baltimore Jewish Times' Neil Rubin speaks to Luke Ford. He explains why the paper has shrunk to 100-130 pages from 160 in the old days:
Back then, there were more mom-and-pop operations. There were corner pharmacies and hardware stores. Now with Home Depot, Wallmart, those small businesses are either going out of business or do not have an advertising budget anymore. The national chains do not advertise in Jewish newspapers or any weekly newspaper.

August 6, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Kerry Kids Bush's Goat

George and Karl promise ridicule, but John Kerry delivers: (MSNBC)
"Had I been reading to children and had my top aide whisper in my ear that America is under attack, I would have told those kids very nicely and politely that the president of the United States has something that he needs to attend to," Kerry said.

Kerry also ridiculed President Bush's claim that the nation has 'turned a corner'; in an era marked by terrorism and economic recession.

"Just saying that you've turned a corner doesn't make it so. Just like saying there are weapons of mass destruction (in Iraq) doesn't make it so. Just like saying you can fight a war on the cheap doesn't make it so. Just like saying "mission accomplished" doesn't make it so," Kerry said.

"The last president who used that slogan, who told us that prosperity was just around the corner, was Herbert Hoover during the Great Depression,"; he said.

I don't get what the fuss is about. Why shouldn't Dubya steal Herbert Hoover's campaign slogan? He's already stolen the employment policy (first president since Hoover to lose jobs on his watch) and his racial policy (first president since Hoover not to meet with the NAACP).

And why blame Georgie for dawdling while America was under attack? It's not like Dick Cheney was going to ask his advice anyway.....

(Reb Yudel)

Germans Blame Woody Allen

Everyone covers their behind by blaming "software." But leave it to Germans to throw Woody Allen into the mix.

From the London Guardian, "Software snag costs paper its independence":

Germany's leading liberal newspaper, the Frankfurter Rundschau, suffered acute embarrassment yesterday after the all-important prefix in the word "independent" mysteriously fell off its masthead.

What appeared to be an act of sabotage followed the paper's controversial acquisition in May by the ruling - but deeply unpopular - Social Democrat party, led by the chancellor, Gerhard Schröder. Thousands of copies of Monday's edition were pulped after editorial staff noticed the "un" in "unabhängige Tageszeitung", or independent newspaper, had vanished from the front page, changing its meaning to "dependent newspaper".

Yesterday the paper's executives denied the widely held suspicion that a disgruntled employee was responsible. Instead, staff blamed the error on a photo of Woody Allen. It has inadvertently caused a technical hitch, they said.

"It was a mistake caused by our software. It wasn't sabotage," the paper's spokesman, Jürgen Metkemeyer, insisted. "Nobody is going to be sacked."

August 5, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

The End of the Day School Movement?

Marvin Schick, on the cover of today's Jewish Press, criticizes the Orthodox community for abandoning the day school movement in favor of supporting kollels. A lively discussion of some possible solutions is underway in the Hirhurim comment section.

August 3, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Hirhurim discussions

I've been interrogating some of Rabbi Herschel Schachter's supporters over on other blogs.

These dialogues have been quite frustrating, since these self-styled faithful are more comfortable dealing with ad hominem attacks than answering cutting questions.

Still, it is an interesting record. If you care, you can see for yourself.

First, a discussion in reference to Herschel Schachter's article, as raised in this post. at Hirhurim. Herewith the comments:

I decided that none of the personal criticism in these comments, by me or by others, is appropriate. Particularly during this time of the year.
Simcha | Email | Homepage | 07.21.04 - 5:15 pm | #

This is essentially the same idea you previously referenced on behalf RYB Soloveitchik (as quoted by R.Twersky). It bears repeating and reflection. The desire to "perform" in public, even something sacred, is not always laudable. R.Schachter extends and universalizes the previous expressions of the idea by grounding the concept in Tzniyus as opposed to just an understanding of the point of prayer.

I have thanked you before for bringing this idea to my attention and do so again. I try to internalize this often and reminders help.

On the other hand, R.Schachter's repetitive comparison of women reading a Kesuba to monkeys, parrots and animals is insulting and seems intentional, unnecessary and mean-spirited.
dopey | 07.21.04 - 5:32 pm | #

Why is the spin necessary. The torah doesn't "impose" on women, and it does "impose" on men, I think it's silly. The issue of women and tznius might be valid, but the notion that tzinus is nidcha for obligations that you have to do b'tzibur seems off the wall. What, t'fila b'tzibur is doyche tznius? Find me a source that says that.
The embarrassment for the tzibur when a woman gets an aliya is that the presumption was that men do know how to read, and fewer women do, and that the society they were living in, men did this sort of thing and women didn't. Ditto for anoshim in this week's parsha. It's not clear to what extent chazal took this state of affairs for granted, or were seeing different roles for women as a value in itself.

I'm not disagreeing with the p'sak, but who needs the spin?
anon | 07.21.04 - 6:38 pm | #

"Kesuba to monkeys, parrots and animals is insulting and seems intentional, unnecessary and mean-spirited."

I didn't read it that way. I thought that he was trying to prove a point, and was just tone-deaf. Just silly, not ill-intentioned.
anon | 07.21.04 - 6:40 pm | #

Perhaps you are right, but the analogy occurs in three places in the article. Given where we are on the calendar, I will accept your suggestion nonetheless.
dopey | 07.21.04 - 6:59 pm | #

dopey, I'm not sure my explanation is so much more charitable, lol.
anon | 07.21.04 - 8:00 pm | #

I assumed it was an argument ad absurdum to prove the point.
Simcha | Email | Homepage | 07.21.04 - 9:34 pm | #

yes, simcha, but a monkey or a parrot could have told him that it's a stupid argument to use in a published piece. Are there no editors at this site?

Did you really find the larger argument compelling?
anon | 07.21.04 - 9:49 pm | #

It's an interesting drasha, but no more than that. By the way, if the Time magazine piece is correct, shouldn't Chazal have set the age of majority for girls at 11 and for boys at 12 1/2? Or might it be that the issue is not brain size, it is sexual maturity. I would also like to note that it would seem that the ages mentioned in the Time Magazine piece would seem to be variable over time. So, nu? Simcha, is RHS really the best that YU has?
Shmarya | Homepage | 07.22.04 - 12:51 am | #

It is said that in in other towns it was easier to find a chassid doing an aveira in public, than it was to find a chassid doing a mitzva in public in Kotzk.
J.I. | Email | 07.22.04 - 2:18 am | #

As an aside, why was this blog entry entitled "Women Rabbis"? That subject gets slight mention and almost no analysis in the article.

It is either about Women reading a Kesubah or the mida of tzniyus as it relates to public acts by women, using reading the Kesuba as the main example.

Second request: Do you know how I can find the article in Tradition by Rabbi Twersky that he refers to in "Torah Perspectives on Women's Issues" ( ), Fn.4 [He cites Tradition, Vol. 30 No.4]. Is it the same as "Halakhic Values and Halakhic Decisions: Rav Soloveitchik’s Pesak Regarding Women’s Prayer Groups" ( )? That is listed as Tradition as well, but with a different cite. On the other hand, the title indicates the right subject.
dopey | 07.22.04 - 9:03 am | #

first of all,the gemara about binah yeseirah is indeed saying that a girl can make nedarim from the age of 11. that's the whole point. second, r. schachter was just trying to make the point that science is pretty close to halacha over hear, to squibble about a few months is silly.
third, r. schachter has written about this theme of tzniut and imatateo dei in various contexts over the years and it was not invented by him for apologetic purposes. he really believes this is foundational to jewish thought. if you cull all his articles you will see that his broad understanding of kol ha-torah kulah is the basis of his thoughts on this-- even though there may not be a siman in shulchan aruch to that effect. and i should point out that he really gets this from the rav who speaks abou this at length in halachik man.

scout | 07.22.04 - 9:12 am | #

finally, while i have to admit that i cringed when i read the line about the parrot and monkey and the subsequent lines, i really have to say that i'm sick of it. if you look in any book of thought or philosophy you could be offended any which way you want. the truth is that in making arguments you draw analogies and comparisons to extreme cases in order to prove a point. we live in such a over-sensitive, politically correct society that you can't say anything anymore.
scout | 07.22.04 - 9:19 am | #

i frankly find it refreshing to read someone just express an argument without worrying what a bunch of cry baby liberal feminists are going to say. the gemara has women and slaves together all the time. and there are worse analogies to be found. let's just expurgate the talmud. believe me, there are plenty who want to. the anti-semites use analogies between goyim and animals to attack us all the time, let's just erase those sections. these are philosophical or legal arguments. leave the emotion and personal stuff out.
it's just plain silly to be offended.
i only cringed b/c i knew how people would react.
it's amazing to me that people are not bothered by trying to uproot thousands of years of jewish tradition or are not concerned about being mevazeh a talmid chacham for which you lose your olam haba. but are troubled by an argument that was clearly not meant to insult women. look into your hearts.
scout | 07.22.04 - 9:22 am | #

You are correct that Rabbi Schachter did not invent the arguments about tzniyus and the same thing, in different forms, shows up in Rabbi Twersky's articles in his own name and in discussing the Rav's view. Rabi Schachter is a little bit more specific here, which is a good and valuable addition.

Surely you didn't mean to use anti-semites' comparison of Jews to animals as a justification of Rabbi Schachter's analogies. Deliberate or not, comparing the reading by women to a reading by animals is not helpful in the context of demonstrating that Halakha respects rather then denigrates women. To me, Rabbi Twersky (see above) shows the right way to do it.

Bravado about not being politically correct is nice, but if someone is likely to be offended (as you anticipated), what is the benefit?

When properly motivated women ask these questions they deserve a response that shows respect rather than one that appears to show contempt or disregard.
dopey | 07.22.04 - 9:44 am | #

Dopey asked "why was this blog entry entitled "Women Rabbis"? That subject gets slight mention and almost no analysis in the article.It is either about Women reading a kesubah or the mida of tzniyus as it relates to public acts by women, using reading the Kesuba as the main example."

Rav Schachter's article is entitled: "Can Women Be Rabbis?" the question shouldn't be on Simcha, but the editors of
Jacob Katz | 07.22.04 - 9:51 am | #

Jacob Katz:
The only reason I care is that the blog titles get referred to when Simcha puts the "Selected Topics" digest on the side-bar and the title doesn't really track the article (regardless of who selected the article title). Perhaps this entry, since it doesn't contain Simcha's thoughts, won't make it the side-bar.

BTW, I recall hearing a panel discussion between Rabbi's Irving Breitowitz and Nathaniel Helfgot, who were among the Scholars-in-Residence one Pesach, on Womens issue. Rabbi Helfgot began by saying that the entire subject needs to be looked at from the understanding that it is in the context of trying to be ivdu at Hashem b'simcha. How this may or may not conflict with the concept of tzniyus discussed above is a good blog subject, but his point that I hope all will consider is that we should assume people are trying to deal with this subject l'shem shamayim and treat them accordingly. Being dismissive of "feminists" or "neandrethals" is not helpf
dopey | 07.22.04 - 10:06 am | #

"it's just plain silly to be offended. "

Personally, I wasn't offended, and not only because I thought RS is just a bit tone-deaf in the sense of how the argument will sound. It's just STUPID to use an argument like this in what is, I'm sorry, apologetics.

Scout, I would like to see a PRIMARY source that says that eg t'fila b'tzibur or krias hatorah or even reading a ksuba and etc. is b'dieved, and that these things are somehow doche the imperative of tznius. I will go out on a limb and say you will not find such a source in chazal. (cont)
anon | 07.22.04 - 10:48 am | #

The silliness is partly b/c it's not a useful argument. If you want to argue that tznius is more of an issue w/ women than men, and put an entirely positive spin on tznius (all about honoring women, and etc) fine, and you can root that to some degree in chazal, even if a lot of that rhetoric is a bit over the top for me.
However, by saying that tznius is in principle nidche here for men, you are not contributing anything - there is still a disparity left between men and women's treatment. It doesn't do anything to explain the gender disparity, and it's an intellectually dishonest argument. It's condescending, it insults the intelligence. the halacho is what it is. Why apologize for it (and that is what RS is doing).
anon | 07.22.04 - 10:56 am | #

(cont) This piece will not convince anyone who is offended by the halocho or general attitude to such things as women reading k'subos. But it does manage to offend the traditional.

You can take my reaction fwiw. I'm a women. I don't have the slightest problem with not being allowed to read a ksuba at a wedding. I thought this argument was extrememly off-putting. I'm surprised to be this put off by it, but I am, *really* put off by it. Who is the audience here? This argument will do nothing for anyone, and it's just ...I'm sorry, it's naarishkeit.
anon | 07.22.04 - 11:08 am | #

"I wasn't offended"

i.e. by the animal comparison. I was offended by the larger argument.
anon | 07.22.04 - 11:08 am | #

"r. schachter was just trying to make the point that science is pretty close to halacha over hear"

Yeah, and so what? Since when do we care??? Why rely on this sort of unreliable evidence? If the science showed the opposite, would we be changing our attitudes? There's this willingness to rely on every piece of pseudoscience, every crumb from essentially speculative theories... it's silly. If you are going to present that sort of evidence, at least couch it in tentatives.
anon | 07.22.04 - 11:13 am | #

And btw if the problem was tznius in the sense that RS says it is, with us being doche tznius for public necessity, then women would have a problem leading things when there are only women present. The problem is explicitly women in the presence of MEN, and the reverse issue is not present with men in the presence of women - it's just general tznius, men in front of other men that RS is nidche here. Even if you do think there is tznius issue, it isn't a parallel issue.
anon | 07.22.04 - 11:17 am | #

Simcha, I'm sorry if this ranting is not in the spirit of whatever you hoped for. I'll stop now.
anon | 07.22.04 - 11:18 am | #

1) Reaching Halachic majority relates to sexual maturity in all cases. I do not see the supposed relevence of brain size.
2) If R. Schachter really believes this tznius apologetic, kol ahakavod. However, as is well known, this is not the reason given for why women cannot recieve aliyot etc. So, perhaps his argument will hold sway over the ignorant masses who really might be persuaded that "tznius" is some huge metahalachic principle that is almost never mentioned in regard to any actual halachot, I wish them all well. The rest of us will have to continue our struggle to live within a religioin that does not merely proscribe "different roles" for men and women, but does so in a way that portrays the female as the weaker, lesser, dominated sex.
huh? | 07.22.04 - 1:02 pm | #

1) Reaching Halachic majority relates to sexual maturity in all cases. I do not see the supposed relevence of brain size.
2) If R. Schachter really believes this tznius apologetic, kol ahakavod. However, as is well known, this is not the reason given for why women cannot recieve aliyot etc. So, perhaps his argument will hold sway over the ignorant masses who really might be persuaded that "tznius" is some huge metahalachic principle that is almost never mentioned in regard to any actual halachot, I wish them all well. The rest of us will have to continue our struggle to live within a religioin that does not merely proscribe "different roles" for men and women, but does so in a way that portrays the female as the weaker, lesser, dominated sex.
huh? | 07.22.04 - 1:02 pm | #

i thought the parrot/monkey comment was meant to point out the foolishness of the groups who want to do this. at least they should have picked something that really shows what women can do. isn't that the point?
D | 07.22.04 - 1:04 pm | #

3) How can R. Schachter know:
"Clearly the motivation to have a woman read the kesuba is to make the following statement: the rabbis, or better yet - the G-d of the Jews, has been discriminating against women all these millennia, and has cheated them of their equals rights, and it's high time that this injustice be straightened out"

First, I'm sure no one who does this thinks that it is God doing the discriminating, but rather the rabbis in their interpretation of the halacha. Second, no one said it was malicious or intentional, but that instead, by giving women a prominent kibud, we show that we are michabed them at weddings as we do men, instead of just being mechabed them as women, by having them pose for pictures in pretty dresses.
huh? | 07.22.04 - 1:07 pm | #

I question whether a reading of the kesubah by a parrot or monkey would be satisfactory. After all, the takanah was specifically to have a kesubah reading to serve as a hefsek between kiddushin and nesuin; otherwise there could simply be music played or other interruptions that would also serve as a hefsek. Therefore, a kesubah reading by a parrot or monkey, who is not a bar da'as and isn't subject to the laws of ishus, seemingly wouldn't serve as a proper hefsek. Query as to whether a reading by a gentile would be OK. For halacha lema'aseh regarding parrots and monkeys, consult your local Orthodox rabbi.
skeptic | 07.22.04 - 1:27 pm | #

you're all being a little silly. tzniut in this context is a meta-halachik principle. it's at the bedrock of judaism as r. schachter, the rav and others see it. it's not going to be in a se'if in shulchan aruch b/c it's screaming from every word in shulchan aruch.
r. schachter's point, is that we've all absorbed the pysche of modern western culture to the point that what is fundamental to judaism appears like apologetics in our eyes. we are the messed up ones.
re: "we show that we are michabed them at weddings as we do men" that is exactly the point. thank you for proving it.
scout | 07.22.04 - 1:28 pm | #

4) This slippery slope argument is typical of reactionary rabbis who would do a lot more for the community if they could bring themselves to express the slightest bit of sympathy for MO women who feel that despite being full fledged members of secular society, cannot be equal as jews.
5) why is it always the women whose motivations need to be so carefully scrutinized by rabbis? Why can't we follow the usual course of thought on this: God is the one who evaluates our motivations and only He can pass this kind of judgement.
6)Maybe Rashi's comment was motivated by the fact that in his society, and prior Jewish societies, women essentially had no public role? (Oh no, I attributed a historical reason to A comment by Rashi, who clearly wrote everything with Ruach Hakodesh, I'm gonna burn now.)
huh? | 07.22.04 - 1:31 pm | #

7) Yes, we should all pray for a sense of shame and modesty in our lives. But pray tell why the application of these lofty principles always comes down to keeping women in their place? When was the last time you saw signs advertising lectures about how men must be stricter in their modesty? When was the last time someone said that there are bus bombings becasue men are not tznius enough?
Let's stop kidding ourselves and admit that this whole tznius campaign is really a deeply rooted fear of women and the 'havoc that they might wreak' if allowed to partake fully in Jewish life?
huh? | 07.22.04 - 1:33 pm | #

Scout, I'm glad you have taken to heart my point that women should be equally honored and respected as men, It's good to see I'm getting through to someone.
huh? | 07.22.04 - 1:35 pm | #

scout, you are wrong. There is A) NOTHING in halacha or in chazal to indicate that things done b'tzibur are somehow in principle preferably done b'yichudus. B) the notion of tznius, as I pointed out, is irrelevant, b/c tznius is defined in two different, nonparallel ways for RS' shtickl. The form of tznius that is ostensibly waived for men in deference to the need for tzibur display is ALSO waived for women in the company of other women. There is nothing unique to men about waiving this sort of tznius (if htat is what is being done when one performs publically). There is a specific issue of tznius that only applies to women in front of men, and not men in front of women, and that is the only tznius issue that is relevant to reading of the k'suba. (cont)
anon | 07.22.04 - 1:40 pm | #

C) Huh? proves my point that RS managed to offend the traditional and the nontraditional alike. D) the busha u'chlima footnote is also just plain wrong. Whether it's chayim she'yesh bohem busha u'chlima or she'eyn bohem busha u'chlima, one isn't davening for the moral sentiment to be instilled. One is either davening to be spared busha or to experience it. This isn't about experiencing a mida b'nefesh, a "Sense of shame and a sense of privacy" as RS writes.
anon | 07.22.04 - 1:40 pm | #

ok, i'll bli neder put together a bibliography to show you that you are simply not aware of the sources in this matter anon.
and could you rewrite the busha part, i didn't understand what you said.
scout | 07.22.04 - 1:47 pm | #

the t'fila is not as RS explains it. Even if you daven to experience busha u'chlima, you are not davening to have the sense of privacy instilled. You're davening to experience actual humiliation (to be m'marek avonos, presumably).
anon | 07.22.04 - 2:27 pm | #

More nitpicks: "Rav Moshe Feinstein wrote in one of his teshuvos that if a woman choses to listen to shofar or to shake a lulav, despite the fact that these are mitzvos aseh shehazman gramma, we must determine what motivated her to do so. If she's upset at the rabbis and at the halacha, and her shaking lulav and listening to shofar is done out of protest to the tradition, then these acts constitute an aveira. Only if what motivates the woman to volunteer these mitzvos is her sincere desire to come closer to G-d is she in the category of "aina metzuvah veosaah", and she is deserving of reward."

I don't know what t'shuva from Rav Moshe RS is talking about here, but I dont think this rendition can possibly be correct. Women do get s'char if their motive is to be m'kabel s'char - the problem should only be if their motive is to protest, per se.

and (cont.)
anon | 07.22.04 - 2:28 pm | #

"This particular form of the verb appears in connection with a funeral and a wedding - occasions which are intended for a public outpouring of emotion. The navi Micha is telling us that even on these occasions one should tone down his public display of his inner emotions." this is a reference to rashi, succah 49b, and rashi says that it means not to be noheg kalos rosh, nothing like this explanation of display of emotion.

Huh writes: "1) Reaching Halachic majority relates to sexual maturity in all cases. I do not see the supposed relevence of brain size." The gemara does give bina yeseira as the reason, as per the article. Many things have nothing to do with sexual maturity, s.a. da'as for kinyonim, n'dorim, etc.
anon | 07.22.04 - 2:31 pm | #

anon, when da'as is the issue, it is evaluated seperately from reaching majority. However, the technical status of majority is determined by sexual maturity. As far as I know, all things contingent on technically being a "gadol" are determined by sexual maturity, which is assumed to have already been reached in a boy of 13 and a girl of 12, without a need to actually show shtei s'arot. Where does the gemara state that a girl reaches majority sooner becasue of bina yeseira? The fact that a girl of 11 can make vows is contingent on her supposed intellectual, not physical maturity, and is thus a seperate issue from the age at which mitzvot become obligatory, ie bar/bat mitzvah.
huh? | 07.22.04 - 2:59 pm | #

R. Shachter is, indeed, being "reactionary." However, I believe his reaction is entirely warranted and correct. If given their way, the ultra-Modern Orthodox activists would, perhaps unwittingly, destroy Jewish society as we know it.

R. Schachter's raison d'etre is to simplify Torah for his audience. That is his style of teaching and has been remarkably successful for him. He uses funny analogies all the time, because it amuses and even shocks a little. This TorahWeb essay is another example of him trying to simplify a complicated concept and present it in a way that the average person can understand it.

You might not like his style, but many others do and they got his message loud and clear.
Simcha | Email | Homepage | 07.22.04 - 3:09 pm | #

For those looking for a more profound and complex exposition of this subject, see R. Mayer Twersky's two articles available on TorahWeb (yes, those are his only two articles on this subject).

I have heard from a number of students of the Rav, both academics and traditional Torah teachers, that he included within kevod tzibbur a concept of tzeni'us and I believe that one can see this clearly in R. Meiselman's book (that the Rav reviewed from cover to cover before publication).
Simcha | Email | Homepage | 07.22.04 - 3:13 pm | #

To all those claiming that there is no source of tzniut being an over-arching meta-halachic principle, you are simply wrong. The gemarrah on the final daf in Makkot states that Micha (loose translation) broke the mitzvos down to three basic principles: asot mishpat v'ahavat chessed v'hatzne'a lechet im elokecha. If being one of only three basic principles does not qualify a midda as an over-arching meta-halachic principle, then I don't know what does.
J.I. | Email | 07.22.04 - 3:16 pm | #

Rav Shachter is hardly the first Rabbi to come come up with this, and I'm surprised you all find it so novel. Especially those of you who claim to be such devotees of modern Orthodoxy. Tznius, and a de-emphasazing of ritual, are a major theme throughout Rav Soloveitchik's writings. That modern Orthodox feminists' attempts to achieve what they perceive as equality focus on shul ritual is particularly ironic, as the Rav was very clear on emphasizing that the source of Judaism, its vitality and continuity, is not in the shul, but rather in the beit midrash.
J.I. | Email | 07.22.04 - 3:17 pm | #

You may think it is funny but others find him vulgar and crude.
anon-jk | 07.22.04 - 3:17 pm | #

Simcha, if Rabbi Salomon reaches a lot of people, does that mean that I have to agree with his arguments or his style or find his recent piece in the JO less than foolish? People with a loyal base reach their base every time. The question is whether they can do that without alienating people also. One can and should criticize this sort of apologetics, particularly when it's presented in a way that is bound to alienate supporters of the pov too.
anon | 07.22.04 - 3:19 pm | #

"that he included within kevod tzibbur a concept of tzeni'us"

Simcha, it doesn't matter. We don't waive the obligation to perform in public for women, for eg muzamen. Even if you think there is some infringement on tznius when any act is done b'farhesya, this infringement is not waived for women. The tznius issue that exists for women performing public functions in the presence of men has nothing to do with doing things b'farhesya per se.
anon | 07.22.04 - 3:23 pm | #

If you want to understand why people do things, you have to look at to whom they address them and the response they receive. If you do that, R. Schachter is tremendously successful. As is R. Ovadiah Yosef.

Can you disagree with their style or even their message? Yes.
Simcha | Email | Homepage | 07.22.04 - 3:24 pm | #

Why is this thread titled "Women Rabbis?"

Because I have been meaning to write something on this subject for a while and, as recently as last Shabbos, had planned on doing it this week because of the midrash that R. Schachter quotes. I did not end up having the time to write anything up, but this should be the first in a series of posts.
Simcha | Email | Homepage | 07.22.04 - 3:26 pm | #


Life is complex. I advise you not to dismiss important concepts with simple arguments.
Simcha | Email | Homepage | 07.22.04 - 3:27 pm | #

"over-arching meta-halachic principle"

That is NOT what RS is talking about. He is saying that there is inherent violation of tznius in any action done b'tzibur, and that t'fila b'tzibur is essentially an instance of one obligation being doyche another, as is k'riyas hatoyrah, mikra m'gilla, and etc.

Even if this is true, as I've written several times already, we don't waive this sort of violation of tznius for women. The issue of women performing in front of men has nothing to do with the inherent violation of b'farhesya and everything to do with men being present.
anon | 07.22.04 - 3:29 pm | #

"Life is complex. I advise you not to dismiss important concepts with simple arguments."

Simcha, is it ME who is doing that??? Or is RS doing that?
anon | 07.22.04 - 3:30 pm | #

"Can you disagree with their style or even their message? Yes."

I am not talking about RS as a human being, a rov, in general. I am writing about this particular article. why did you link to it? Did you find the argument compelling? This argument, in this article, it's not a correct argument. It distorts the truth. It's the worst kind of apologetics.

In general, I think RS is indeed a lovely person, in addition to his stature as talmid chochom, and he can occasionally be tonedeaf. It would be a good idea for him to get a bit more feedback on that, it might help.
anon | 07.22.04 - 3:34 pm | #

huh, as far as I can tell RS's point is that da'as is an essential component of gadlos (which we normally define by reference to puberty). Puberty, in addition to whatever significance it has in itself, is also a marker for da'as.
anon | 07.22.04 - 3:56 pm | #


Yes, I think you are dismissing an argument that he did not make.
Simcha | Email | Homepage | 07.22.04 - 4:25 pm | #

What argument is that?
anon | 07.22.04 - 4:53 pm | #

"Sometimes the halacha requires of us to act in a public fashion (b'farhesia), as for example to have tfilah b'tzibur, krias haTorah b'tzibur, etc. On these occasions the halacha distinguishes between men and women. We only require and demand of the men that they compromise on their tznius and observe certain mitzvos in a farhesia (public) fashion. We do not require this of women. They may maintain their middas hahistatrus, just as Hashem (most of the time) is a Kel Mistater (Yeshaya 45:15)."

"The answer is obvious. Although we must sometimes compromise on our midas hatznius and do certain mitzvos befarhesia (in public), this is not required of women. Women are not being discriminated against. They alone, unlike men, are given the opportunity to maintain their midas hahistatrus at all times."

How did I distort this?
anon | 07.22.04 - 4:59 pm | #

This has long since stopped being a productive discussion and has instead become a debate where scoring points rather than teaching or learning is the objective.

Simcha: Was "(yes, those are his only two articles on this subject)" was in response to my question? If so, thanks.
dopey | 07.22.04 - 5:50 pm | #

Not on my end, dopey. If I misunderstood something in RS' argument, I'd like to know.
anon | 07.22.04 - 6:17 pm | #

Front page article in the NYT today -
"Muslim Women Seeking A Place In The Mosque"
I wonder if this identical conversation is going on in the Muslim Hirhurim Blog??
Anonymous | 07.22.04 - 6:32 pm | #

O.K. Let me try. You misunderstand R. Schachter's arguments by approaching them point by point rather than seeing the big picture. The big picture is that it is admirable/incumbent for us all to behave modestly. Men sometimes, must perform mitzvot publicly, but women need not. Women should not view this as a negative, but rather as a positive in that they can continue to behave modestly. Further (shifting to R. Twersky and the Rav a bit), women should not desire the public roles men have in religious functions because those unnecessarily compromise their religious service. By focusing on whether or not getting an aliya trumps modesty or how many kinds of tzniyus there are, you are missing the forest for the trees. You can argue endlessly about the details in the article but the main point stands.
dopey | 07.22.04 - 6:52 pm | #



I think Simcha described the function, style and intended audience of this article correctly. It is not meant to address the concerns of advocates for an increased public role for women seriously, but rather to give chizuk to their opponents. I can't imagine someone who davens at Darchei Noam reading this article and saying "Oh, now I understand." I can, however, see that same person reading R.Twersky's articles and changing his/her view on the subject. If you have not read them, I believe you should.
dopey | 07.22.04 - 6:59 pm | #



I think Simcha described the function, style and intended audience of this article correctly. It is not meant to address the concerns of advocates for an increased public role for women seriously, but rather to give chizuk to their opponents. I can't imagine someone who davens at Darchei Noam reading this article and saying "Oh, now I understand." I can, however, see that same person reading R.Twersky's articles and changing his/her view on the subject. If you have not read them, I believe you should.
dopey | 07.22.04 - 7:00 pm | #

So you're saying that I shouldn't read the article and take the argument that is actually advanced seriously. It DOESN'T give chizzuk to their opponents. I'm a woman, I find these proposals for women reading k'subas and etc unappealing, never mind the halacha, and I'm completely put off by the argument. Insulted by it. Insulted by the idea that I should treat divrei torah as though they don't say what they say, also.
anon | 07.22.04 - 7:19 pm | #

Dopey: Where is Darchei Noam?
Jacob Katz | 07.22.04 - 7:27 pm | #

You're saying, essentially, that whatever you say is OK as long as there is some vague, positive self-esteem building message to those who don't read the argument too carefully. There have to be limits to the apologetics.
anon | 07.22.04 - 7:27 pm | #

I am not sure I understand your paraphrase of what I said but I will address what I understood. Basically, I think that if you are interested in an analytical discussion of this issue, then for many reasons, this article is not the most productive place to spend time. It is argument and advocacy not exposition. This is true regardless of what your pre-reading view is. Read it. Get what you can from it and move on. As for divrei Torah always meaning what they say, see, by analogy,

In any event, I certainly didn't mean to insult you.
dopey | 07.22.04 - 7:34 pm | #

And what about all the other mistakes that are in the article, agav?

Women's roles are a prime example of the confusion of golus. The truth is that it's often hard to know what chazal viewed as inherent to women's role, and to what extent what they mandated depended on prevailing mores. We have no way of knowing what changes they'd find desirable and what not. We are stuck with the halacha as it is. The truth is also that there's much more than need to be m'chazek the audience here. There's also absorption of the new-age idea that everything has to be meaningful, every practice lead to growth, and an utter rejection of the fact that what golus means is that we do in fact live with practices that we can't change, and with concepts that may or may not have application to contemporary times - we don't really know. Not knowing is a function of golus, and the acceptance of any argument that sounds nice and makes things sound more meaningful is a rejection of that.
anon | 07.22.04 - 7:40 pm | #

I didn't mean that you personally insulted me. I meant that it's an insult to torah to not take the argument, as written, seriously, and the argument is an insult to the women who do conform to the halacho.

Ok, unless anyone can tell me I actually misunderstood the argument (little picture), or why what Rs says (little picture) is correct, I'm willing to drop it now.
anon | 07.22.04 - 7:43 pm | #

Re the link - The underlying message in midrashim is correct, the details are allegorical. Here the underlying lesson about men performing mitzvos b'farhesyo is NOT correct, and that is what I'm objecting to.
anon | 07.22.04 - 7:57 pm | #

anon, You lost me long ago with your arguments.
Simcha | Email | Homepage | 07.22.04 - 8:05 pm | #

"Life is complex. I advise you not to dismiss important concepts with simple arguments."

Yes, I think you are dismissing an argument that he did not make.

followed by:
"anon, You lost me long ago with your arguments."

You can go back to the part before when you were lost and tell me how I distorted the argument.
anon | 07.22.04 - 8:12 pm | #

Jacob Katz:

I meant DARKHEI Noam. As for where . . . from their website . . .
"Darkhei Noam meets for Shabbat morning services every other week on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Founded in March 2002, Darkhei Noam provides a davening experience that is traditional, inclusive, and inspiring. We invite you to join us.

At Darkhei Noam, women lead pesukei dezimrah, hotza'at vehakhnasat sefer torah (the Torah service), and fully participate in keriyat ha-torah (Torah reading). This is done in the context of a traditional minyanwith ten men and a mehitzah.

To learn more about the halakhot surrounding women's participation in Torah reading, you can read Rabbi Mendel Shapiro's halakhic analysis of these issues in the Edah Journal."

"Darkhei Noam will meet
@ 10 W. 84th St. on:
July 24, 2004 - 9:30 a.m.
August 7, 2004 - 9:30 a.m.
August 21, 2004 - 9:30am"
Anonymous | 07.22.04 - 9:09 pm | #

Tznius as a meta-halachic concept? Puhleeze!

As Rav Parnes told us back when JTS started ordaining women, "there is no halachic problem with women rabbis because there is no halachic concept of 'rabbi' "

Details don't matter in a d'var Torah? Didn't I once read an article in Beis Yitzhok that made a big deal of the concept of ziyuf hatorah?
Reb Yudel | Email | Homepage | 07.22.04 - 9:34 pm | #

Also, I don't see the lines about parrots and monkeys. Were they edited out? Can we really trust a posek who doesn't know what words to not say in the first place?
Reb Yudel | Email | Homepage | 07.22.04 - 9:35 pm | #

Finally, on tzniut: The piece raises all sorts of questions regarding waiving tznius to go out in public. Shouldn't we be striving then to go back to the Maimonidean ideal of having women stay inside the house? Or is Rav Schechter afraid that his Teaneck audience who get off on putting down "politically correct" feminists wouldn't be so happy to give up on their two-income lifestyle?
Reb Yudel | Email | Homepage | 07.22.04 - 9:37 pm | #

One post-final point, this one in regards to one of the comments: I'd like to see some very strong proof that the hatzne lekhet of Makkot refers to anything we consider tznius. Arguably, it might constitute a warning against those presidents and poskim who are convinced that God speaks through them.
Reb Yudel | Email | Homepage | 07.22.04 - 9:39 pm | #

Chabad has found the solution to Woman Rabbis.
They call them Shluchot. Shluchot say shiurim, have conventions, have leadership roles. The Shluchot woudnt even think of leading pesukei dezimra or getting an Aliya. They are proud of their roles as a Shlucha and they dont need the mens roles
Chabadnik | Email | 07.22.04 - 9:44 pm | #

It's not a question of halacha at all for a woman to read a ketuba. So, if we are not in the business of confining women to their homes, whose business is it if the chassan and kallah want to give a kibbud to a female relative? As far as tzniut is concerned, are we going to have our men do all our shopping, etc., for us now? Cont.
yid | 07.22.04 - 10:43 pm | #

And you've got to hand it to Rav Schachter; why be careful not to be incendiary when you are writing on a sensitive topic if you can toss off gratuitous insults instead? The parrot/monkey metaphor was ill chosen. He could have substituted the word "tape recorder," and the arguement would not have suffered. It actually would have been improved. It would have kept the answer on point and out of the realm of the personal. The zetz is real. Am I offended?? Nah. It's of a piece with its context. cont.
yid | 07.22.04 - 10:44 pm | #

With all due respect to Rav Moshe Feinstein,is there any beis din in this plane of existence that can sit in judgement of what any person, man or woman, has in mind when they perform a mitzvah? Let's look to our own lulavim, shall we?

But... find that monkey and your fortune is surely made.
yid | 07.22.04 - 10:45 pm | #

"Tznius as a meta-halachic concept? Puhleeze!"

I do think tznius is a metahalachic concept, but not as defined in this article (that it's in any way a s'tira to eg t'fila b'tzibur).
anon | 07.23.04 - 2:56 am | #

Reb Yudel: Re the gemarrah in Makkot:

If by "anything we consider tznius" you mean modesty in dress, the gemarrah is not explicitly referring to that. Rather the meaning of hatzne'a lechet according to the gemarrah there is exactly as Rav Schachter was using Tzniut: i.e., to do things privately and modestly, not with a public display, and especially not to make a public display out of performing religious rituals. Feminists' attempts to take over public roles in shul in particular, for the sake of those roles qua their being public is not in the spirit of the type of behavior the gemarrah is emphasizing.
J.I. | Email | 07.23.04 - 6:36 am | #

I am a woman and while I am not offended by Rav Schachter, shlita I am offended by "anon". There is a meta-halachic principle called kavod HaTorah. Please speak about talmidei chachamim properly. You can only defend the Torah's honor by speaking about Torah, Chazal and modern day Roshei Yeshiva in the proper tone and with anavah.

a. You cannot make a statement that there is NOWHERE in shas or poskim that says things done b'yichidus are better than if done b'pharhesia. Quote me a proof and I will take you seriously. Otherwise it is just an emotioanl argument.
Non-rabbi | Email | 07.24.04 - 10:46 pm | #

b. You began your argument stating a rationale why men are embarrased if a woman reads the Torah claiming it is all historical and then later said that Chazal could have done things based on social mores. Chazal never say a reason for their statutes. Chazal are the bearers of our mesorah. It is they who DEFINE every aspect of our Judaism. I would think that they would be a little deeper than the local imam in Saudi Arabia. They may actually have known what they were talking about since their ideas about the roles of men and women are deeply rooted in their metaphysical understanding of the spiritual and physical world. None of us can claim to have that kind of insight.

c. You also state "I don't know what t'shuva from Rav Moshe . . . but I dont think this rendition can possibly be correct. If you are have not seen the Rav Moshe, please don't comment on it.
Nu | Email | 07.24.04 - 10:47 pm | #

Just wondering, do meta-halakhic principles turn into halakhic?
Jacob Katz | 07.25.04 - 12:28 am | #

a)it's not an "emotional" argument, though you are being emotional when you lay that charge. It's either valid or not. The burden is on you to find something that supports this, because it's an unsupported claim. R. Shachter does *not* support it. The references to "Tzina in eg t'fila b'tzibur" that run through this thread don't relate to the point that RS made.

It isn't disrespectful to R. shachter to disagree with this article or even to say, as I did, that the argument is simply incorrect. It is disrespectful to torah to argue incorrectly or to defend invalid arguments no matter what or no matter who said them.

b) You misrepresent what I wrote. I didn't say the reason WAS historical. I said it can be difficult to know when they were reacting to prevailing social conditions and when they thought something was inherent to the role. Sometimes one or the other is relatively clear; sometimes it's murky.
anon | 07.25.04 - 12:36 am | #

You write: "Chazal never say a reason for their statutes." This is untrue. It often says, e.g. ro'u v'toknu.

This issue has nothing to do with how well or how long they thought about what they were being m'saken.

c)No, this is an unreferenced t'shuva. It is either an incorrect rendition of a line in the t'shuva (most likely, IMO, given the imprecision of some of the other quotes in the article) or a question on the t'shuva (if the rendition is correct).

Something is very odd about the statement I quoted. It might be explained in context, but whatever statement in whatever t'shuva this refers to, it's unlikely to have the meaning, in context, that is ascribed to it in the article. If someone knows what t'shuva this is referring to, they can write in to comment (and I hope they will). If you don't, you aren't contributing anything, except the admonition not to question authorities, which you mistakenly equate with kovod hatorah.
anon | 07.25.04 - 12:43 am | #

"This issue has nothing to do with how well or how long they thought about what they were being m'saken."

Just in case this is unclear: Even when it's clear that chazal were m'saken something in response to prevailing mores, it doesn't follow that the decree is not still binding. This is a primary issue in golus; we abide by many things that have no real contemporary meaning apart from highlighting the inability to change takonos chazal. A dramatic example of this is yom tov sheyni shel goliyos. Attempts to flee from this are, essentially, attempts not to experience golus, which is a spiritual punishment.
anon | 07.25.04 - 12:51 am | #

Unless I misread, R. Schacter does permit a woman to read the Torah if there is not a qualified man to do it. Does this mean that he feels the only impediment to women reading the Torah is Kavod Hatzibbur/Tzniut? he did not bring up other usual issues that are raised such as kol isha, etc.
dilbert | Email | 07.25.04 - 7:45 am | #

Kol Isha, as Rabbi Yosef Blau once explained to me, isn't an issue in situations like these, since those rishonim who allow women to lain megillah (Rashi, Rambam) don't raise it as an issue.
Reb Yudel | Email | Homepage | 07.25.04 - 9:38 am | #

From the article:

"In Hilchos Krias HaTorah the Shulchan Aruch quotes from the Talmud that although judging from the perspective of Hilchos Krias HaTorah alone a woman may receive an aliyah, from the perspective of Hilchos Tznius this is not permitted."

Can anyone find that source, either in the Shulchan Aruch or in the Talmud?
Reuven | Email | 07.25.04 - 3:59 pm | #

From the article:

"In Hilchos Krias HaTorah the Shulchan Aruch quotes from the Talmud that although judging from the perspective of Hilchos Krias HaTorah alone a woman may receive an aliyah, from the perspective of Hilchos Tznius this is not permitted."

Can anyone find that source, either in the Shulchan Aruch or in the Talmud?
Reuven | Email | 07.25.04 - 4:00 pm | #

What has changed in yom tov shein shel goliyos? In the time of the gemarrah it was minhag avoteinu byadenu.
mykroft | 07.25.04 - 5:46 pm | #

Nothing has changed, minhag avoseinu b'yodeinu means that there is no deeper significance, apart from inability to change practice even when the meaning is lost.
anon | 07.25.04 - 8:49 pm | #

Reuven, he is referring to megillah 23a, shulchan oruch orach chaim 282:3.
anon | 07.25.04 - 9:32 pm | #

anon, you've got to study more. there's a lot of depth to our torah that you may not be aware of. the Hatam Sofer for instance maintains that after moshiach comes, jews living in golus (for whatever reason) will keep a yom tov sheini shel geulah!
there's more to a lot of things than meets the eye. maybe r. schachter is has just a little more breadth and depth than you in torah?
yoohoo | 07.26.04 - 9:27 am | #

But Jacob Katz points out how the Hatam Sofer was argueing beyond the halakhah and against tradition to say that yom tov sheni will remain. According to Katz, he was using his charismatic authority to fight reform, who wanted to do away with second day of yom tov.
The same ideas should apply here, a rabbi when he feels that his world is being threatened relys on his charismatic power to state things outside the halakhah and tradition. Rav Schechter's statements should be seen as rhetorical and breaking with tradition in order to fight what he sees as a threat.
Jacob Katz fan | 07.26.04 - 9:44 am | #

first of all, i'm not a fan of jacob katz so i couldn't care less what he has to say. but in any case, i don't see how r. schachter is "breaking with tradition" in any way over here. what in the world are you talking about?
yoohoo | 07.26.04 - 10:25 am | #

re: Yom Tov Shani. see Shir Ha'shirim rabbah: Yom TOv Shani is a punishment for galut.
dilbert | Email | 07.26.04 - 12:58 pm | #

fine. i'm not quibbling with diff. approaches to yom tov sheni or to any issue. the point is that there can be diff. approaches and that unless one is extremely steeped in learning they should have the proper humility to recognize that maybe they don't know everything.
yoohoo | 07.26.04 - 1:29 pm | #

I am aware of the chasam sofer; it's an anomalous position, and was directed against the Reform movement, as J. Katz already pointed out. In any case, yom tov sheini is just a single example of something that is clearly part of the system. The point I was making, that seems to escape you, is that we can't always determine what was intended to be permanent and what wasn't. Even when it seems fairly clear, one can't make an absolute determination.

Why is this point so threatening? Why are so many simply unwilling to accept a basic aspect of Judaism (golus is as much a meta-halachic concept as tznius is). Why this need to insist that we have a system that is functioning as though we have a sanhedrin when we don't??? Something to think about on tisha b'av.
anon | 07.26.04 - 4:11 pm | #

"unless one is extremely steeped in learning they should have the proper humility to recognize that maybe they don't know everything."

V'chi masuy ponim yesh b'dovor?

As R. Meir Shapiro allegedly said, the world doesn't need a yeshiva that produces 100 rabbonim; it needs yeshivos that produce one rov and 99 people who know when they need a rov's opinion. This isn't an example of a case where one needs to subjugate one's own judgement; there's an obvious problem with RS thesis, and none of my critics have addresssed it. They defend the "big picture" or they change the topic to something extraneous, and admonish me that "RS must be right because he's a talmid chochom." That is not the way our system works; the torah doesn't belong to some elite class; the best argument wins, even if it's made by a schoolchild. I am not arguing with RS p'sak; I'm arguing with his reasoning.
anon | 07.26.04 - 4:13 pm | #

". . . [T]he torah doesn't belong to some elite class; the best argument wins, even if it's made by a schoolchild."

This is absolutely true -- in theory. In reality, the exact opposite is true. That is perhaps the greatest problem with Judaism today.
Shmarya | Homepage | 07.26.04 - 4:56 pm | #

Shmarya, I don't think you and I mean the same thing And I don't think this is the "biggest problem with Judaism today." Child abuse is!
anon | 07.26.04 - 5:46 pm | #

Please note that I am not the "Jacob Katz fan" listed above. Proof: I wouldn't incorrectly spell Rav Schachter's name...
Jacob Katz | 07.27.04 - 9:06 pm | #

I thank R. Schachter, TorahWeb and all of you for bringing me above 20,000 hits in under two months.

But let's drop this subject already. 100+ comments is enough. Thank you.
Simcha | Email | Homepage | 07.28.04 - 1:45 pm | #

Simcha, it seems that Gary Rosenblatt at The Jewish Week has picked up on this discussion.
JewishWeek | 07.28.04 - 7:13 pm | #

Regrettably, R. Schachter seems to have forgotten the advice of Hazal: "Wise ones, be careful with your words."

This article doesn't seem like public education to me, except perhaps as a lesson in how not to write a devar Torah. He uses crude language and offensive comparisons. This is inexcusable. Isn't Torah learning supposed to refine people and guide them away from using crude, offensive language? And doesn't increased learning create greater responsibility?

Also, has R. Schachter perhaps forgotten that our deadliest enemies at present delight in calling us the offspring of pigs and monkeys?

If Jewish leaders can allow themselves to use this kind of language, and if we allow them to do so, I fear for our future.
Rahel | Email | Homepage | 07.29.04 - 2:49 am | #


Did you read R. Schachter's words? Nowhere does he call women animals!
Simcha | Email | Homepage | 07.29.04 - 4:25 pm | #

From the Protocols discussion:

close window
josh waxman @ 6:03PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

it was mentioned last week at hirhurim.

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josh waxman @ 6:10PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

and it was meant as an halachic statement. there is a concept of maaseh-kof - the act of a monkey, which is acceptable in certain situations - when no daat is needed to validate the action.

for example, is daat needed to wash hands for neigel vaser?

doing a google search for maaseh kof in hebrew returns about 14 results.

i think that the nature of the internet plays a role in it, in that the audience is far wider, and so things travel faster and to people who are not necessarily the intended audience, who would recognize the reference and would not be so offended.

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Miriam @ 6:22PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

How do you explain the reference to the parrot????

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jj @ 6:34PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

over 100 comments on this at Hirhurim

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josh waxman @ 6:41PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

i'm responding to comments over at Bloghead. i deal with the parrot there.

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new picture.... @ 6:50PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

MUCH more recent picture of Rav Hershel Schachter, shlita, via (from YUPR)

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new picture.... @ 6:50PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

click on the words "recent picture"

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new picture.... @ 6:51PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

MUCH more recent picture of Rav Hershel Schachter, shlita, via (from YUPR) (click on recent picture for the picture)

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Kerry @ 6:57PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

Rav Schachter's statement, if offensive at all is equally offensive to men and women, and monkeys. I am an extreme male liberal, and I see no reason why my needs and feelings go unnoticed by the "feminist" movement. For the record, I am also in the midst of writing my senator to pass a bill which will allow me to marry myself. No one knows me better than I do, and I am perfect for myself. I dream of a day when I can publicly declare my love for myself, and start masturbating publicly. Heck, even Monkeys are allowed to do that in public, i guess the natural hierarchy is women on top, perhaps equal to monkeys, and men below that. someone should put these rabbi's in their place, how dare they say the halacha in the words of the gemara....

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george @ 7:00PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

Why do you need a law to masturbate in public? Join the YU faculty and you can masturbate in synagogues and class rooms around the world!

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Isaac @ 7:05PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

Kerry, no need to write your senator. You already have a heter from the Vice President.

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Baal Kerry @ 7:07PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

I see from your ability to reduce a halakhic argument to absurdity that you must be a talmid muvhak of
Rav Schachter.

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Baal Kerry @ 7:20PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

So that everyone can see the original offensive article by R. Schachter:

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LSAT 178 @ 7:35PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

Rav Schachter, while a very knowledgable man, is highly overrated with regard to his insights and analysis.

Any person who has read enough of his work can easily spot his sloppy contradictory logic, and poor analogies, which are usually followed by a string of conclusory statements.

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again?! @ 7:43PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

Kudos to Miriam for once again bringing religious insensitivity to protocols. Luke at least kept it a blog, miriam wants a rant.

Lady, your feminism is SO seventies.

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anonanon @ 7:48PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

again, your use of the word lady is SO seventies.
And we don't need you to tell us - we KNOW what Luke wants. (not that there's anything wrong with that...)

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Isaac @ 8:02PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

Ask an "ultra" why women can't get aliyot or read the ketuba and the answer is "that's our mesorah." Ask a "modern" and you get gymnastics.

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Yehupitz @ 8:11PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

What I read the article a couple of weeks ago, I remember thinking that monkey was a reference to the halacha of kof and parrot was about the ability to speak. I also remember thinking that it was the type of lingo that would offend people. The Rambam does the same thing in Hilchos Eruvin when he explains that a goy has the din of a beheima in that when a Jew shares a chotzeir with a goy he doesn't need schiras reshus. The offended people here would be equally offended there. But that's the talmudic way of speaking: Make your point by pointing out in the clearest and most blatant analogy.

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Isaac @ 8:25PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

Let me distill R. Schachter's premise: There's no "glory" in an aliyah/reading a ketubah/being a rabbi. It's a burden and any idiot can do it. Those who push for egalitarianism are a. needlessly burdening women, b. motivated by less than pure motives, c. perversions of Judaism & Jewish life and d. destined to fade away. capeche?

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Luke @ 8:48PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

Why should Rav Shachter give a hoot what Blu Greenberg says or thinks on a matter of Jewish Law? He is a posek with a formidable body of halachic work. He should pay as much attention to Blue Greenberg's halachic insights as should to Michael Jordan and his halachic insights.

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Joe Schick @ 9:04PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

Luke: Rumors were circulating that Blu was about to issue a psak allowing the use of electricity on shabbos. She reportedly told Gary Rosenblatt:

"To say that Luke is insulting God and the rabbis when he calls for reinterpretation of certain laws that affect his life is to impugn the entire enterprise of halachic reinterpretation." She cited as proof "rabbinic innovations in the past that enabled the use of shabbos elevators and blechs."

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yu rosh friend @ 9:31PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

do any of the feminazis out there realize that reading the ketubah is very often the 'kavod' that is given to rav schechter at weddings and that in 'insulting' half of miriam's population, he is also saying that a 'kavod' he is normally singled out to receive can just as well be done by a monkey?

Take offense at things and people who deserve it.

Would you rather daven or be led in riverdale where the insistance on pandering to the feminist movement forgoes any attempts at reconciling it with religion, theology or mesorah?

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apeshit @ 9:35PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

Why we all gettin so pissed off about some silly thing Rav Schechter let slip out?

Miriam, why don't you contact Rav Schechter and inform him that you were offended. If you REALLY wanted to solve this problem and bring more unity to the Jewish people, you would be direct and speak to the offender. Be the bigger person.

By taking the comment public without confronting the source, all you do is function as a source of lashon hara and time wasting and, ultimately, sinat chinam.

I agree that he probably should have been more sensitive, and I feel that he probably would feel badly if he knew you were so offended.

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not a sheep @ 9:50PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

People came to the Roshei Yeshiva after the gang of 5 article came out.
Then again they spoke to RHS personally after his "be sheep" article was published.
Many out there would love to have a dialogue if it was possible. But all they get back from RHS is
"your motivations are bad because we know your motivations"
RHS and the gang of 5 were uninterested in finding out anyone's true motivations.

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Isaac @ 9:52PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

Perhaps, if Miriam had asked nicely, R. Schachter might have even made some special arrangement just for her.

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joke @ 9:56PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

So, uh, does this mean rav shachter wont be reading the ketuba at miriam's wedding?

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Barefoot Jewess @ 10:13PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

Blu is a wiser woman than I. I would have gone for the rabbi's throat. It does not take a feminist to comment on how silly his assertions are. I can't take him seriously.

Such naivete is rather embarrassing, don't y'all think? It would have been more impressive of him to admit that his choice or words were stupid regardless of his naivete and to apologise. Isn't that what teshuva is about?

I think, Miriam, that you were spot on in your critique.

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espy @ 11:16PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

the comment about parrots is just an example of RS being tone-deaf. I think the real problem with the article is that the thesis simply isn't true. The notion that there is some contradiction between things done b'farhesya (eg t'fila b'tzibur, mikra m'gilla and etc) and tznius, and that there is some loss of tznius involved that we waive for men, is not based in chazal. Moreover, even if there were such a concept, we don't waive the requirement of doing things b'farhesya for men but not for women - women are obligated, for example, in m'zumen. The only tznius problem is when women are in the presence of men.

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wondering @ 11:29PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

The real question now is: How do we get rid of RS as an authority in the community?
Appeal to Richard Joel?
Newspaper editorials?
Let the press know about all his other inappropriate statements?
Have Luke Ford write an expose?
Any thoughts?

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Barefoot Jewess @ 11:31PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

I barely understand some of what you are saying but I think that I get the gist that you cannot find any basis in Chazal for what the man said. C'mon, it's silly and specious, simply in terms of reason and human decency. You don't need Chazal for approbation to tell you that it was an airhead dumbass statement. Granted, I don't think he meant it to come across the way that it did. But then, them's the breaks when you adhere totally to some weird logic.

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Izzy @ 11:57PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

why cant Rav Schachter have the ability to say what he wants to say, just like any professor can say whatever they want to say?

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espy @ 11:59PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

I wasn't talking about the parrots/monkeys issue b/c I think that RS is just tone-deaf.

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Barefoot Jewess @ 12:04AM | 2004-07-29| permalink

Okay, I can accept that he is tone deaf- without reference to Chazal. many thanks

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Miriam @ 2:34AM | 2004-07-29| permalink

Espy: My original point was that the fact he was tone-deaf is not a defense, it's an indictment.

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jj @ 9:36AM | 2004-07-29| permalink

You can't get rid of Rav Schachter. His authority does not come from his position but his popularity, and he is EXTREMELY popular.

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popular @ 9:41AM | 2004-07-29| permalink

JJ- maybe we should get RS a radio talk show?

If we went on popularity alone Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter would be Roshei Yeshiva.
People like vulgarity and reduction to absurdity.
I expected more from our leaders.

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D @ 9:45AM | 2004-07-29| permalink

espy, you sound like anon over on hirhurim. let me say that you are just ignorant of some basic facts. r. schachter has another article that he wrote in a memorial book called Ishei Hashem where he develops this same theme. And one of his main proofs is from mezumen and he shows clearly the concept of tzniut has nothing to do (in this context) with men being present at all, but is a meta-halachik concept. I suggest you read that article before you keep repeating that erroneous argument.

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Catmatic @ 9:56AM | 2004-07-29| permalink

I think Miriam is right on target. "Chachamim Hizharu b'divreichem." (On this, being machmir is out of fashion.)

There was absolutely no need, in context, for R. Schachter to have made those particular comparisons. It added precisely nothing to his argument.

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Yu knower @ 10:00AM | 2004-07-29| permalink

You are all blind. I mean completely blind. In a Jewish institution, be it a yeshiva or an organization or anything else, when you are small or don’t have an agenda or activity, you find someone to beat up.

Richard Joel has been president of YU for a year and other than enabling and ennobling, redoing his office, buying an expensive house, making yu logos and pins, and enjoying the supple feel of luxurious Lincoln leather on his way to work everyday, he's got nothing. He isnt running the academics, he isnt running the fundraising, he isnt running the financial books, nothing.

So, as a good hater of the right, what do you do? You take the person with the most support from the one faction that does not respect you (the yeshiva guys and the 'yeshiva' part of the yu community, have no respect for Joel neither as an administrator – they say zakheim would have been better - nor as a smart person – they say most people would have been better) and you orchestrate an assault on him.

As for those who jumped on the bandwagon, leave Rav Shachter alone. Anyone who has ever met his rebbitzin or has seen him speaking to women knows that he treats them better than he would a monkey. The rebbitzen is a tough and smart woman and would not stand for a man who is chauvinist.

This whole thing is riled up by people who are so in love with hating the right (and there is a lot to hate) that they are going to take something that is nothing and turn it on its head.

By the way, Miriam and all you other's, the R”an in nedarim says "isha k'karka dami" do you really think the R”an thought his wife was a piece of land anoymore than Rav Shachter considers a woman a monkey or a parrot? No, but in the context of the discussion in describing the laws ‘land’ was the best way to articulate it.

Btw maybe he said parrot in addition to kof because a parrot would be the most likely talking animal…

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V'hatz'nay'ah Le'chet... @ 10:07AM | 2004-07-29| permalink

ESPY is just plain wrong when he says "The notion that there is some contradiction between things done b'farhesya (eg t'fila b'tzibur, mikra m'gilla

(Reb Yudel)

Discussing Hirhurim Discussions

As I noted above, R' Schachter's supporters seem to have a hard time defending him. They miss the point of argumentation, they indulge in ad hominem invective, they retreat behind claims of "confusion," and at least some of them tend to close down the discussions once too many critical questions are left hanging, unresolved, in the air.

I had thought that the halmark of a "modern" Orthodoxy is the ability to entertain and respond to questions. Am I wrong? Or is something else at play?

My comments section awaits your insights.