Forum Replies Created
WIY, I can edit my posts after I post them? How do I do that? Where is this edit button?
mdd, I assume you refer to my first comment quoting from Justice Holmes, not to my second comment about setting VERY high standards for kollel members that seek public support.
In truth, I regretted the post as soon as I had clicked “send.” it was not meant to be derogatory nor was it directed at the three generations of kollel learners we are discussing. It was a poor attempt at humor (I have a strange academic sense of humor, I cant help it), and it was the first thing that popped into my head when I originally saw the title of the topic (the original title was ‘Three generations,” the “kollel yungerleit . . .” was added later) before I had read what it was about.
Again, I do apologize for the unintended insult.
As a side note. mdd, if my comment had been intended as derogatory, please distinguish derision of people who happen to learn torah and of the Torah itself. I think you would have to admit that there is a difference between saying (and I don’t mean this, its just an example), “kollelnicks are lazy no good leaches” and saying “the laws of the Torah are complete lunacy and to follow them is the ultimate mindless enslavement of one’s self.” Both statements are wrong and reprehensible. One is mivazeh the torah, while the other is mibazeh individuals that happen to learn torah. there is a valuable and meaningful difference.
Not sure what you mean by “factors affecting parnassa”? Do you mean that depending on which side of the “vs.” you fall on for each of these things affects the parnassa God grants you? You you mean that the act of earning a parnassa will affect which side of the “vs.” you fall out on?
Wow WIY, you and I are in agreement (a rarity, to be sure, but a welcome one indeed!).
I would add one point. I think that those sitting and learning need to be focusing more on halachah and less on gemarah for its own sake. If a qualified individual sits in kollel for 10 years, and is to be supported by the community (and very generously at that; we ought to respect our scholars – at least the select few that are truly scholars – and we ought to insure that they live a lifestyle that engenders respect and admiration, not derision), I think that he ought to be able to function as a dayan, posek, rov, mechanech, or the like when he is done.
Also, in addition to the bechinas, which I think are important, but don’t really measure quality as much as quantity, I think kollel members should be required to produce scholarly articles on halachik and torah-related topics in journals (english or hebrew) that can be purchased by the public. People ought to be able to see what they are getting for their money! Also, I don’t think it would be a bad idea to require long term learners to produce a sefer or two, much like a doctoral candidate is expected to produce a dissertation. THis way, kollel members will contribute to the larger Torah discourse, and not just keep their hard work, knowledge and scholarship to themselves.
Needless to say, with such requirements, the number of kollel members will drop, and those that there are will be of a very impressive caliber.
Ender; In that case, go for it! If you do fairly well (top half of your class) in a decent school (GW or UMD would be fine, based on your locale) you should have little problem with achieving your goals. Though you may want to figure on something closer to 65-70k starting.
I quote Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes: “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” Buck v. Bell, 274 U.S. 200, 270.
May the prediction be realized speedily in our days, and the proper Torah-approach to life in this world be widely reinstated.
Please distinguish between teshuva and kapara. Kapara is what is required to restore the Torah-governed balance of things that was upset by a wrong act (kapara, from kaf, kipa – to cover over something). To get a kapara for killing someone may be extremely difficult and depending on the circumstances, the kapara may not occur until the killer himself dies.
Teshuva is a different story. The killer can better himself and remedy his own personal misconduct by regretting his wrong act, resolving to abstain from it in the future, and actually mending his ways when a similar situation presents itself in the future.
Homeowner: What kind of pro bono project? I’m a 2L at Fordham and always interested in working on something juicy.
WIY: The big picture is for God; we are small people perfectly situated to deal with the small picture – with the individual we have before us. We have neither the breadth or depth of understanding to make big-picture judgments.
Stop trying to do God’s work for Him. Just follow the Law in the situation before you as you perceive it.
WIY: You speak with anger and frustration. Perhaps you are reflecting you own personal struggles on others? You struggle with the negative impact television, films, and music have had on you, and I suspect your hashkafic and halachik background has not given you the tools to deal with these issues. As a result you are frustrated; frustrated by your own inability to rectify your outer appearance with your inner uncertainty, and frustrated by what you perceive as the looming danger that is sure to strike countless unsuspecting young Jewish boys and girls certain to fall into the same trap as you.
As one deeply involved in many areas on non-Jewish (though I will venture to say, not anti-Torah) study, and intimately familiar with all the world has to offer, I must say i do not share your fear and consternation. Thank God, I have been taught, and have myself studied how one can deal effectively with all that life in this world entails b’menuchas hanefesh. I have not played ostrich and stuck my head in the sand pretending its not there; I have not banished the world from my sight out of fear of being negatively influenced by it, only to leave it to bring down those such as yourself who are less well prepared for the challenge. I have engaged the world and all that is in it. I have evaluated all the intellectual ideas and social norms with which I have been privileged to come in contact, and consider their value or lack thereof in light of the rules and principles of the Torah.
I feel for your apparent inner turmoil. But please, please don’t do as so many others and reflect your frustrations on others to their own detriment. Not all are like you, and not all will benefit from applying your experiences to their own lives. Indeed, it is precisely that idea – that one person’s perspective or experience can serve as a cookie-cutter template for everyone else – that leads to the development of those “bad” children you are so very afraid of.
I dont think there is such a thing as anyone being over-educated. No one can have too much knowledge.
As a law student, from seeing the frum women in my school, I can say very simply that there just is no time. No time for dating, no time for a wedding, sheva brachos, pregnancy, childbirth, ect. ect. ect.
To be successful, many law students work 12-18 hours a day, get internships and jobs during vacation, and are just plain exhausted whenever they aren’t studying. Good starting associate jobs are hours heavy and require a lot of commitment. There is only so much any one person can do or worry about.
bombmaniac, with respect, this is not about the soldiers; it’s about the mishebayrach. And the mishebayrach includes language that is easily construed as supporting the Army and the State, not just the individual soldiers, who are most assuredly our brothers and sisters, may God protect them from harm. The issues are therefore heavily related, and you cant really deal with one in a meaningful way without considering the other.
Squeak, my apologies if my last comment was a bit sharp, it was unintended. I have gone back and forth on the austritt-Zionism question for several years. There appears to be many bases upon which to distinguish a reform communal entity from a Zionist State run by Jews. However, I cant see how you get around the facts that (1) Austritt dictates severing all ties with institutions that are un-Jewish; (2) An institution is un-Jewish if it is subject to Torah law but does not recognize such law as validly binding on it; (3) The State of Israel, as it is run by and established by Jews is subject to Torah law. Based on these premises, the State is un-Jewish,and association with it as an institution is problematic (I say problematic, not prohibited; I am aware of the seriousness of the question and the danger of absolutes).
True, the founders and perpetrators of the institutional State are likely tinokos shnibu, and if there actions are contrary to halacha, will likely not be held responsible for their wrongdoing. That has little to do with the obligations of those of us who do recognize the Torah and its requirements.
For me it boils down to the fact that if I condone the existence of the “Jewish State” I am implicitly declaring to the world that in fact this is a Jewish State. Certainly, however, it is not. It is an un-Jewish State, and as such, it is my duty as a Jew to contend with other Jews that the State does not represent the proper fulfillment of God’s will. And it is my duty as a Jew to represent to the rest of mankind that the way the “Jewish State” conducts its affairs is not the way God wished humanity to run its governmental institutions. And it is my duty, as a member of mankind, to work in my own small way to develop governments and institutions that reflect the Divine, and not perpetuate those that reject God’s will as the guiding principle of human conduct.
Squeak, please go back and read your Hirsch (not just the Nineteen Letters please; thats kid’s stuff and just lays the basic outline for the rest of his works). Nationalism is not consistent with the Torah. In Hirsch’s view, Jews are supposed to be the ultimate internationalists – we have no inherent need for our own polity. A state merely serves as a means to an end – to show other countries how to run a government and manage political affairs in accordance with God’s will. If the “Jewish” state is not doing that (and I think even the most hard-core Zionist would be hard-pressed to say it is) it serves no purpose, and in fact retards our national calling to live every aspect of our individual and social lives as an example to others of how God want human existence to look.
Ben Torah: Thank you for saving me the trouble. I think perhaps we have found something to agree on. Now you just have to follow the rest of R. Hirsch’s teachings 😉 (I say that in jest, R. Hirsch himself would be very opposed to the idea that everyone must accept one hashkafic approach. I believe that even in halacha he would be the first to say eilu v’eilu to all reasonable applications of God’s law, though they may differ widely from each other).
I don’t think we need to go to Mod’s argument. Lomed, your argument rests on a false premise. Austritt was not based on religious institutions espousing non-Torah values; indeed, the fact they are espousing non-Torah values makes then irreligious. It was based on Jewish institutions – institutions that have an obligation to adhere to the Torah. Yes, the State is an anti-Torah institution. It doesn’t need to interfere in the religious lives of its citizens. The Torah gives us guidelines of how to run a State, how to engage in war, deal with other nations, dissenting locals, and other political functions. A Jewish run political system that does not adhere to these guidelines is un-Jewish and subject to austritt.
Utilitarian balancing of the costs and benefits of the State may be appealing, but I don’t think it is correct. First, who is to say objectively what are the “good” and “bad” consequences of the State. I think God may be able to make that kind of judgement; we don’t know enough to do so. All we can do is look to the law as God gave it to us.
It a shame that so many of the Zionist posters here are appealing to emotional arguments (PY – what would the soldiers say; LMA – divining that the good outweighs the bad; AOM – appealing to some national homeland idea). There are valid legal arguments that can be mounted for the Zionist cause (though I don’t agree with them, and those should be the focus of out halachik analysis.
For all those who say they are against the Zionist ideal in principle but conclude that once the State is here we might as well deal with it, please refer to R. S.R. Hirsch’s concept of “austritt.” I readily concede that this idea is open to reasonable disagreement, but according to R. Hirsch a Jew cannot support or condone the existence of un-Jewish institutions (i.e., institutions that do not purport to regulate their conduct by the law of the Torah). This is a very severe injunction because institutions have a way of legitimizing and perpetuating anti-Torah conduct in a way that individuals cannot.
Even after the establishment of the State, supporting, legitimizing, or condoning the institution (whether the government – as distinct from the politicians themselves; or the army – as distinct from the soldiers themselves) is problematic; it legitimizes the whole institution and what it stands for, as well as perpetuating the anti-Torah values of that system.
For me, the problem with the mishebayrach is in its precise language. Certainly Jews who are placed in dangerous situations – whether rightly or wrongly, deserve our special attention. However, we can differentiate between the soldiers themselves and the success of their mission – to perpetuate and protect the institution of the State. I would be content to pray fro their welfare, but not connect this prayer in anyway to the success of the institutional goals of the Israeli military.
Been watching and reading for a few months now, but just decided to get into the fray.
I just started yadin yadin myself and my course did not cover this in depth, but perhaps you have some insight? What are the sources for kim li? Is there a rationale for it (I have my own ideas, but I would like to see any systematic treatment of the issue).
The Torah was given to the Jewish People for their own welfare, but the Jewish People where given to the rest of the world for its welfare. Your approach is typical of the entitlement-oriented focus of many in the Jewish world today. We are not here to take from others (yes, even non-Jews). We are here to emulate God; to give to everyone and better human civilization and human existence through our adherence to the Torah. Does theft from non-Jews comport with that mission? D’racheha darchei noam, v’chol n’sivoseha shalom!
I think this is a great topic. Often, frum Jews superficially say, “of course I approve of capital punishment; after all, the Torah allows it.” However, the issues are far more complicated than that. Do we apply the Torah standard? The Sheva Mitzvos standard? The expediency power of Beis Din standard (see Choshen Mishpat, siman 2)? Its not clear what standard American law should follow, or what standard we, as individual Torah observant Jews should personally approve of, or what standard we should advocate American governments to follow? (There are also more complicated questions about how we should view the U.S. federal system from a Torah perspective; should it be one size fits all, or should different local governments have leeway to control their own capital punishment? Also, how should we view the Constitutional Law on this issue from a Torah perspective; should Constitutional Law be given greater weight, or is it some kind of immutable inflexible Torah based standard all the way – even for non-Jewish governments?).
Leaving the Torah issues aside for a moment, its worthwhile to separate the question into several parts: (1) Are there any crimes for which perpetrators ought to be killed? If so, what are they, and what principle can we use to distinguish between them? (2) Assuming there are times when the death penalty is appropriate in principle, can we ever be sure that the convicted defendant in fact committed the crime? (3) If not, can we rightfully execute him anyway since he had the benefit of a fair trial?
A very complicated issue. Just some ideas of how to think about it, without coming out one way or another.
Why is it that a kollel man’s learning all day and putting his obligations to be mipharnes his family on others (whether they do so willingly or not, he still has a personal moral-ethical duty min hatorah to do so) is “the greatest most productive life”? How is that more productive than my choosing to sit in school for years and years to become truly an expert in profession, support my family, and earn smicha yadin yadin at the same time? How is that more productive than my publishing articles in respected forums about the moral worthiness of Jewish law for all the world to read and learn from? It is easy to say that the guy sitting in the bais medrash that no one will ever hear from or learn from is holding up the world in a spiritual manner, but why doesn’t he hold it up in a tangible way; a way that his fellow men can appreciate and value and benefit from?
Whatrutalkingabt: I can respect you for that. I can respect your life choice, just as I can respect anyone else’s choices. Can you respect my choice to study long and hard to become a professional, contribute to society through my professional activities, and be an or lagoyim through my daily interactions and scrupulous regulation of my conduct by the Torah? Can you agree that we are equal but different so long as we both adhere to God’s law in all that we do – whatever that may be? Can you respect that I respect your choice, but may choose not to support it, and give my maaser to the family down the street whose father was fired from his job?
Ben Torah: Your analogies between kollel members and other professions is misleading, I think. Baseball players, academics, lawyers, doctors, and entertainers are all paid because they DO SOMETHING – they produce something tangible – either they draw fans to the game or entertainment venue, or they heal the sick, represent the client, or produce scholarly works. These professionals do not expect to be paid money to sit in law school, medical school, graduate school, training camp, ect. on the basis of their future production value.
Many kollel men will go on to be productive members of the community – poskim, rabbeim, mashgichim, roshei yeshiva, dayanim, writers of seforim. Most will not (thats the sad truth; most people learning in kollel do not have the intellectual ability or personal qualities to go on to produce something for others with their Torah learning – they will likely sit and learn forever).
In either case, learning in kollel is at best comparable to studying for a future profession. I am unaware of any students that get paid for their schooling efforts alone. Perhaps the community may wish to sponsor the studies of particularly gifted students that can be expected to become productive practitioners of the Torah they study. But to make that the standard and expect the kehilla to sponsor mediocre students with little potential for further accomplishments, i just don’t know . .
BT: To amend what you said slightly – It was banned because certain kanayim concluded that it was disrespectful towards gedolei yisrael, and convinced certain poskim that their conclusions where correct.
Please don’t pass off so subjective a judgement as to what is and is not disrespectful as objective truth.
All things true are fit to print. Absolute truth maintains God’s creation, for without it civilization cannot stand. (Mishna, Avos 1:18; see Tur, Choshen Mishpat 1). We cannot conduct ourselves based on lessons learned from lives, half-truths, or omissions – if we do our conduct itself is inevitably flawed.
Just my view. You can believe as you wish. I just hope debate can be pursued based on logic, reason, and above all strict halacha, rather than obstinacy, blind single-mindedness, and extra-halachik chumros.
Thanks. Which point do you refer to? I tend to make many points in a single post – my tendency to ramble. (Oops, there I go again!)
Well now Ben Torah, ten whole names! The names of ten chareidi poskim living in Eretz Yisrael, many of whom cant read English! Yup, that definitely covers the full gamut of “gedolim” in my book; case closed.
They are certainly “gedolim” (I really despise that term, it says absolutely nothing about the people to which it refers and admits no objective definition that may be used to evaluate the appropriateness of its being used), but I am just not sure why, to be a Torah-observant Jew, they must be MY “gedolim” (again, does the term imply my posek; my advice-giving mashgiach; my business and financial advisor; a scholar; a tzaddik; a communal leader?).
Since when am I, living in the United States bound by halachah to follow the words of poskim living in another country? Did the Jews of Eastern Europe follow the rulings of the Chief Rabbi of England; did misnagdim no assur the shechita of chassidim in the 1700s, though the Rebbes obviously held it was desirable; did the chassidim follow the Vilna Gaon; did Spanish Jewry follow the Rosh? Did French Jewry follow the Rif?
Your claim to universal “gedolim” that can bind everyone is fallacious at best.
So I ask again, what makes your “gedolim” THE “gedolim” that everyone must follow for everything? Do you presume to pass judgement on the qualification of R’ Elyashiv as compared to R’ Belsky or R’ Shachter? Certainly you, who views us little laypeople as so small, insignificant and incapable of independent thought should not be making such determinations.
At least I have the sense to allow you to follow your poskim while I follow mine – I dont claim to determine who’s are correct. In fact, eilu v’eilu divrei elokim chaim, and each may follow his own approach so long as it does not violate a clear Torah proscription. (See Taz, Choshen Mishpat, siman 2). You on the other hand have the remarkable ability to determine that certain views are divrei elokim, while others are not. Bravo! I am certain God Himself will be much grateful to you for effectively determining which approach is really the one He wants us following. Well Done!
It seems to me that a true ben Torah is one that truly is a son of the Torah. His (or her) life should be a product of the Torah – regardless of what he or she does from day to day. The Torah does not mandate a particular lifestyle; rather, it demands that regardless of what lifestyle (profession, location, nationality, fashion taste, ect.) a person adopts as fitting their particular nature and needs, that person regulates their conduct in accordance with the Torah’s laws.
Simply put, a true ben Torah is anyone whose daily conduct in every sphere of human endeavor testifies to the content of the Torah itself. Just as a child is a reflection of its parent – not precisely identical, but reflective nonetheless – a ben Torah is reflective of the Torah itself. Even when a parent’s many children look and act differently and take different paths in their lives, they are truly children if they WAY they go about on the paths they have chosen reflects the upbringing their parents provided for them.
What happened to this newfangled (or perhaps even not so newfangled) business where people follow their families minhag?
What happened to establishing and following the minhag hamakom, or the minhag of the kehilla to which you belong?
You throw around the term “the gedolim” like politicians talk of “the people” and activist federal judges speak of “the public interest.” You take an amorphous unidentifiable collective body and personify it by using terms like “shlita” which refers to an identifiable individual, and then use that fiction to prop up your personal views. Your not the first to do it, and I am certain you wont be the last.
BTW, whose “gedolim” are you voting for? obviously not mine; i guess they must be yours. Who are they exactly? what is the basis for their superior authority to my own gedolim, or my own knowledge of the relevant issues? Do they have to demonstrate their superior scholarship, or do you just assume it? what is the basis for this assumption; the color of their coat; the length of their beard; their language; their place of residence; how many things they can assur; how many things they can mattir?
Just wondering . . .
If Making of a Gadol is “completely unreliable,” why ban it? That would be kind of like telling your child not to read a book that says the sky is made of cotton candy – it would be so absurd that there would be no reason to ban it, and banning it would just give the absurdity some legitimacy.
Perhaps the “gedolim” banned the book because it is reliable but presents a perspective on talmidei chachamim that they would prefer we not see. Ah, back to the begining – the parent of all klal yisrael doing us a great tova by protecting our fragile minds and hearts from improper influences by restricting our access to certain books. No wonder some would seek to ban our children from libraries.
The E’Y analogy does not work at all. There is an important distinction between things that are non-Jewish (i.e., things said, done, and thought by non-jews who have no obligation to follow our Torah) and things that are un-Jewish (i.e., things said, done, and thought by fellow Jews that are obligated to adhere to the Torah, but choose not to do so).
There is little inherent problem with associating or supporting things non-Jewish, but associating or associating with things that are un-Jewish, even if you do strictly adhere to the Torah, runs the risk of implicitly legitimizing a Jew’s break with halachah.
Satmer and many others have problems with the Israeli government because it is an un-Jewish institution. The State of NY, or the United States, or any other country for that matter is a non-Jewish establishment. Even when they go wrong, supporting and associating with them does not risk legitimizing the uprooting of Torah ideals. Any reasonable person should be able to recognize that the State of NY is not bound to follow the Torah, so if they adopt though legislation non-Torah morals this says nothing about what the Torah or Jews say.
Are you against learning and acquiring new knowledge, or where the librarians mean to you fro returning a book late when you where young?
Really, can you actually articulate some halachik basis for restricting access to libraries? Is there a reason not to allow our children to drink in the knowledge and thinking of others, and when they come across something that is incorrect or misguided based on out Torah knowledge allowing them to come to us so that we can explain why it is wrong?
I suppose keeping them in the dark is much more comfortable. It allows us to avoid complicated and serious discussions that may force us to think about what we take for granted. It allows us to avoid challenging our own understanding sufficiently to be able to relate concepts in a reasonable and convincing manner to our children.
Might make us more comfortable, but I doubt it makes out children any better as human beings, or Jews.
Thank you for bringing that Gemarah to my attention.
I disagree with the first paragraph of your comment, since ultimately it is the homosexual act that the Torah forbids, not some amorphous concept of domestic relationship or what kind of outrageous behavior some may exhibit at a parade. Those are all actions, but it seems to me that the ones that matter for our purposes are the ones the Torah expressly prohibits. After all, if the Torah assurs the act of eating a sheretz, you would not say that the act of going to the zoo to look at the scorpions and rodents is a violation of this prohibition – going to the zoo is certainly an act related to sheratzim, but ultimately it is not the act the Torah spoke of.
As far as the gemarah, goes, again thank you! I have not yet learned chullin (I am more of a nezikin and choshen mishpat guy, hence my being a bit of a stickler for the letter of the law, ect.), and had not seen the gemarah. I will have to consider it, and likely revise my position.
As I think about this point, however, perhaps you could give me your thoughts on a few points:
1) This is clearly aggada, not halacha, so what role do you see it playing? Can it be a sufficient basis for legislation in a non-Jewish country to ban gay marriage? It seems to be a statement rather than a prohibition. Couldn’t New York, for example, choose to allow gay marriage, and then see what happens – i.e., see if indeed it will collapse due to abandoning this standard of conduct.
2) Keep in mind that a kesubbah is essentially a private contract. It doesnt confer state benefits or immunities. A gay couple may currently make a private contract stipulating the obligations of civil marriage – i.e., mutual financial obligations, penalties for separation, ect. So why equate State recognition of gay marriage to kessuba as used in the genarah; it seems that gay couples can already (and they probably do) write private “kessubos” for each other.
A very good point, but I think your conflating the issue. In fact, any two opposite gender roommates with separate bedrooms that do not engage in any kind of *conduct* can apply for a marriage license and receive all the benefits the State accords to such contractually committed couples. Separated opposite gender couples that live in separate homes but have not yet filed for divorce, and perhaps do not ever plan to (precisely because they may lose the legal benefits of marriage) can continue to claim the benefits of civil marriage under the law. Elderly couples that perhaps may not *act* can continue to claim the benefits of marriage.
It is clear that marriage under the law of the State is not contingent on marital *acts*; legally recognized marriage, and the benefits it provides arise from a simple contractual commitment between two people that gives rise to obligations to each other. In recognition of this commitment, the State considers the married couple to be more than just two individuals for a variety of purposes.
If civil marriage is not contingent on marital *conduct*, why – even according to we Torah-observant Jews that vilify the homosexual act – should the State be allowed to deny the benefits of marriage to any two individuals that are willing to take on the legal obligations that marital status imposes?
I think where we get really hung up is on the term used by the State to describe the legal status that gives rise to certain obligations and benefits – marriage. Perhaps if this civil institution were called something else – “interpersonal dependence,” for example – it would not bother us as much. We Jews consider marriage to be a special God-given concept heavily regulated by halachah, which makes it all the more precious. But let us not confuse nissuin with the “marriage” recognized by the State; the latter is simply a legal relationship, much like you business relationship to your partner in your LP or LLC.
Ben Torah: I will assume from your username that you understand the distinction between actions and taivah. I dont think I need to spell out what mishkav zachos is on this forum, but needless to say, two men or women living in the same home, cooking dinner together, sharing their income, filing their taxes under “married,” and receiving each other’s insurance benefits, is not “mishkav zachor.
I do not disagree with you about the act, or the penalty under sheva mitzvos (though its not clear whether such peanlty is min hashamayim, or if the mitzva of creating a legal system requires the prohibition and proper punishment of sheva mitzvos). I also think the Supreme Court’s holding that it is unconstitutional to prohibit homosexual conduct under the due process clause of the 14th Amend. is wrongly on the law and wrong on democratic grounds. In terms of equal protection, however, in a democracy, we CANNOT treat people differently in terms of their ability to enjoy certain legal protections and benefits simply based on their mindset. And that is all homosexual marriage (as distinct from actions) is, isn’t it? Its a domestic relationship between two people of the same gender who happen to prefer each other’s company to that of members of the opposite gender. The michkav zachor is neither a necessary nor sufficient aspect of claiming the social benefits of civil marriage, and so I still don’t see what the issue is?
Cant help but join in.
I am in almost complete agreement with SJS, I think. On the other hand, I am in near agreement with Halevi and others. I think your arguing about two different things.
I dont think any frum Jew would disagree that it is a violation of God’s law to engage in the act of mishkav zachor. We tend to forget, however, that we Jews, not the citizens of the United States, are bound by the laws of the Torah. What the people of the United States are obligated to do – as are every other people on earth – is to set up a civil society complete with comprehensive laws. These laws need not mimic the Torah, and I’m not sure it would be desirable for them to do so.
Aside from the socio-political system envisioned by the Torah (which is itself heavily democratic in many respects, but that is a discussion for another time), pure democracy is likely the political and legal system most consistent with the idea that each person is tzelem elokim. In a democracy, each person must be treated equally subject only to punishment for their SPECIFIC ACTIONS that violate the majority’s law.
America would go terribly wrong if it were to regulate the conduct of one segment of society simply because that segment has natural tendencies unlike those of the majority. If we ought not prevent blacks from marrying simply because they are black, and we ought not prevent arabs from flying planes simply because they are arabs (there may of course be other reasons), then we ought not prevent homosexually oriented people from contracting to live together for certain economic and social benefits simply because they prefer to build a home with members of their own gender.
As Jews, I think we must stand firm on the wrongness of engaging in homosexual conduct (though not in the cillul hashem creating manner that some did in the last week or so). At the same time, we must respect those who have tendencies towards such acts as having been created b’tzelem elokim by not denying them the social norms we all enjoy. As the gemarah relate sin berachos – the pasuk is read yitamu chataaim min haaretz, not yitamu chotim: We do not desire to eradicate the people who do wrong; we must strive to preserve the people and only eradicate the erroneous conduct.
All agree that Anochi and Lo Yieyeh are mitzvos, thats pretty clear, isn’t it? However, not all agree that these are, as you say, *beliefs*. For many, the mitzva of Anochi Hashem is not to * believe* in God, but rather to actually make God YOUR GOD. Lo yeiyeh is taken as the negative side of the same coin – an injunction not to make anything else YOUR GOD. i.e., the mitzva is to make God the reference point of your existence and the scale against which you measure your earthly conduct, and to not make any other *god* (ideology, belief, conviction, desire) the focal point of your life against which you judge your actions. Belief is beside the point.
As for the six constant mitzvos: First, I am not sure why you chose these six as constant. Lo sasuru is constant, but so is lo yimosh divrei hatorah m’picha, and kibud av v’eim, and lo sigzol for that matter. We are constantly bound by all the laws of the Torah. Second, I’m not sure what any of these mitzvos has to do with belief; they are requirements to act or not act in particular ways, as are all the mitzvos.
Sacrilege: Please don’t mis-characterize. The RAMBAM (among others), not the entire Jewish religion, holds that the thirteen ikkarim are core essential beliefs. (Though even according to him, these may not be * beliefs* per se, as much as actual knowledge and conviction).
The Maharal, based on some of the Geonim, and R. S.R. Hirsch both rejected the idea that any beliefs are required to be a Torah-true Jew. For them, correct actions were paramount. Indeed, there are numerous gemaros that indicate the correctness of that view. (e.g. Berachos, Third perek, I think, where the chachamim abolished saying the aseres hadibros, and see Rashi ad. loc.).
I don’t *believe* in either of these propositions. Rather I conduct myself with the *knowledge* that they are true. The distinction is subtle, I think, but important.
I don’t think these are necessary beliefs. What is necessary is proper actions, not proper thoughts. (Though thoughts are good too, I wouldn’t impose a belief requirement on others, merely a conduct requirement).
I would strongly suggest R’ Samson Raphael Hirsh’s “The Nineteen Letters.” Is is a brilliant explanation, of the purpose of creation, the role of humanity on the world, the role of Jews in humanity, and the role of Torah and halacha in Jewish life.
Horeb, by the same author is also absolutely brilliant. In it, R’ hirsch explains the practical reasons for the mitzvos – why Hashem commands us to do X or not do Y, when He could have chosen to command and prohibit something else entirely. It is wonderful for understanding what our following halacha is supposed to do for us in terms of bettering our daily existence.
Horeb is a bit difficult at times, so I would say start with the Nineteen Letters, whioch really sets a basic hashkafic framework which he then places all the mitzvos into in Horeb.
I thought the whole point was to take away the formalities and framework of the “system.” Why the need to designate separate nights for different (artificial?) classifications? Why not let whomever is interested come all together on the same night (or day) and let them all work it out for themselves.
I know, I know, we cant trust those little kids to actually handle things on their own in a mature manner. Perhaps not. But maybe, just maybe, they will choose to use the responsibility given to them in a responsible and sensible manner. After all, God put us here and pretty much lets us do what we want – we can choose to be good people or bad, its all in our hands. God doesn’t stand over us with lightning bolts ready to pounce if we take a wrong step. Only by giving us the responsibility and choice to be good people does our choice to do so mean anything.
\Why not give our kids the same opportunity?October 14, 2010 3:16 pm at 3:16 pm in reply to: Rav Nachman Of Breslov – The Heavy Weight Of Apikursos #700374
As an “intellectual” I must disagree. For me skepticism and questioning everything, trusting nothing unless I can prove it satisfactorily to my own mind leaves me with the greatest peace of mind. When I do reach a conclusion about something I can be comfortable in knowing that I truly taxed my mind to determine whether it is correct or not. When I am unable to reach a conclusion, I have one more goal to work towards (learning and thinking enough to reach a conclusion about the unresolved issue)and am acutely aware that I am not and never will be perfect, but constantly striving for perfection; I am aware of my limitations, and try desperately to overcome them with hard work and scholarly growth.
I take great umbrage at your equating intellectuals and skeptics with apikorsim. On the contrary, an apikores is likely just as bad as the pure emuna person: Both likely reach conclusions without regard for complete intellectual honesty and a healthy regard for their own limitations.
Personally I can not even imagine having any kind of peace of mind if I just took other people’s word for something.October 12, 2010 5:36 pm at 5:36 pm in reply to: Why do some wives (newlyweds) act like Mashgichim to their husbands? #701886
Wow, I’m at a bit of a loss for how to respond to a question like that. I will dig deep to try and come up with some minimal response, however.
First, the question assumes that it is not the proper role of a woman (or a man for that matter) to look to the conduct of her (his) spouse. I’m not really sure where such an absurd notion comes from. What else is a spouse’s role if not to look after the betterment of their better half? What should a spouse be doing other than giving of them-self in order to help the other improve and really maximize on his/her potential? Would the OP suggest that a wife’s proper role is to stay at home, cook dinner, and work all day so that her husband can idle his time away in kollel? I am not suggesting that time spent in kollel is idle, but if a wife cann’t properly influence her husband’s conduct, what’s to stop his “learning” time from being nothing but pure batalah?
I will take a leap and assume the OP was not suggesting that “ezer k’negdo” and the numerous other examples in tanach and shas of wives serving as the moral-ethical compass of their husbands and families, not to mention pure reason, mean nothing. I will assume that the OP thinks a wife does have *some* role in supporting her husband’s development. If so, it would seem that the OP is suggesting that in the modern yeshiva-centered world, the wife must take a backseat in favor of the mashgiach being a man’s sole moral compass.
There are numerous consequential reasons why this should not be so: A mashgiach cannot possibly know a man’s true nature as well as his wife; the support, direction, and admonition of a removed mashgiach cannot possibly be as effective as that of ones most intimate partner and friend. More important than these reasons however is that the claim is just plain wrong on a normative level. What gives a mashgiach a monopoly on direction? Wouldn’t we all have to admit that good direction and advice of a stranger is properly warranted (“hocheiach tochiach”)? Indeed, I would not be surprised if the OP himself is one of the CR posters often advocating the admonition of women dressed in an untznius manner. What gives anyone the right to give advice or direction to anyone? Shouldn’t that person’s own rav/mashgiach have a monopoly on giving such advice? Clearly not, as is the halachah. If so, should a man’s wife be in any worse a position in this respect than a stranger off the street?
What matters is the content of the direction or advice, not its source. A mashgiach giving poor or erroneous advice (yes, it can happen)should be ignored, and a wife giving good advice ought to be revered above all else.
Perhaps the man in question should spend more time learning so as to establish a basis for determining what advice is good and what is bad (and by default, he will likely have less need for such advice) and less time choosing what advice to listen to based on its source instead of its content.
Yehsiva Guy: I don’t that they look down on Touro degrees per se. However, the reality is that grades are inflated in Touro and there is no strict grading curve. Consequently, if you graduate, lets say, with a 3.95 GPA from Touro (I say this from experience), the transcripts sent to law schools you apply to wont place you in the tope 1-5% of your class. Your more likely to be somewhere around 25% (idh the exact breakdown). So while a Touro degree may not be a disadvantage, you will likely face the disadvantage of a hight GPA not being a good supporting supplement for your LSAT score. Often an unusually high GPA will get you into a school where your LSAT is below average, but with a Touro GPA you may well lose out on that chance.
Homeowner, well said!
I am a second year law student with an undergrad degree from Touro. I took my undergraduate work seriously, and made sure to become very capable of writing, researching and discussiong issues in an academic manner. A BTL cannot, and I stress again, CANNOT prepare you properly for law school and a legal career. If you are going to law school just to get a decent paycheck after you graduate (and these days even that is a remote possibility), I would strongly urge you to look for another profession. Three years of little sleep, much stress, and huge debt,is simply a foolish path to take unless you are genuinely committed to the legal profession as a valuable pursuit – not just a meal ticket.
If you want to excel, it is extremely important that you have a broad liberal arts background. Understand the theory behind the law, politics, society, economics, ect. Learn to write well reasoned, well researched pieces of scholarship. I see the BTL guys in my school (BTW, the school stopped seriously considering any BTL applicants this past year), they struggle, and ultimately are generally not the most successful or productive bunch in terms of their legal skills. They may know how to think, but they dont have the vocabulary, or general knowledge needed to translate their well developed logical minds into good legal thought and practice in a practical non-yeshivah context.
Please note, I dont say this as someone without a yeshivah background. I attended a very elite yeshiva in Meah Shearim, as well as another respected yeshiva in America. I am also studying for yadin yadin smichah. In my experience, it is my broad knowledge obtained as a college student that serves me best in my academic pursuits. And my ability to study law effectively only enhances my ability to dissent complex issues in choshen mishpat, and even see them in new ways due to my exposure to many other ways of thinking about and dealing with novel legal questions.
SmartTeen: First off, let me say that based on your post, I am sure that your username is an apt description of your true nature and personality. Your perspective on davening is not uncommon, and is, in my humble opinion, quite reasonable.
As to your first question. Thank you for bringing it up! I think that many people have similar problems with the idea of davening, and quite simply the typical response that “Hashem hears our prayers no matter what and they always do something” (I Love Coffeee) just doesn’t cut it.
It may help you to look at davening from another perspective. Instead of thinking that when you daven you are “praising Hashem” and begging for your wants and needs, think of davening as an opportunity for self introspection. R. Samson Raphael Hirsch translates “hispallel” as self judgement. We daven three times a day to measure our daily conduct against the backdrop set by teffillah. In the morning we daven and try to set the tone for our actions throughout the day. Say Shema and think, “what do I need to do throughout the day and how do I need to act in every situation in which I find myself so as to live up to the ideal of “v’ahavta es Hashem . . . ” When davening shemona esrei consider what it means to live with the zechus of the avos, and what kind of conduct such a zechus demands of us. Consider how you must use your mind, care for your health, relate to tzaddikim and reshaim (choenen hadaad, rifaeinu, v’lamalshinim, uv’chein tzadikim”) during your daily life.
We do the same in the middle of the day at mincha to evaluate how well we are living this ideal throughout the day, and to inspire ourselves to do better for the remainder of the day. At maariv we take stock of the whole day and gird ourselves to begin again tomorrow.
Ultimately, davening becomes about you. It a an opportunity to think about yourself – meditate if you will – about how well your daily conduct is living up to the Torah ideal.
If you would like more info about this approach to teffila, see the Collected Writings of R. Samson Rapahael Hirsch, Vol. 2, pp. 53-63; Vol. 3, pp. 235-260.