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  • in reply to: New Torah approved club at YU #2132760

    They did it because they know the courts will force them to acknowledge an LGBT club. Since their problem was that such a club is not compatible with the schools “torah values” this way they can claim that YU upholds its Torah values,” A yeshiva that maintains actual torah values will expel students that carry a flag identifying themselves as violating chayvie krisohs just as they would students who identify as pork eaters or sabbath violators.

    in reply to: Driving a Tesla on Shabbos #2093909

    Driving on shabbos is also considered ho’tza’ah on the car according to reb Moshe. He wrote this in regard to his shita that we consider the number of cars that drive on a given road to give that road a din of reshus harabim, such as Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn. There were those, such as Rav Menashe Klein who disagreed based on the argument that a car, based on its size, is a reshus hachid and so the drivers are in their personal reshus hayachid and are not considered to be on the road they are driving on. Reb Moshe wrote that a person driving a car is considerd to be using the road he’s driving on and is moving his car through the street and he writes that if he drives 4 amohs in a reshus harabim he’s chayev for being ma’avir daled amos b’reshus harabim. So this is a clear psak from reb Moshe that driving a car is considered ho’tza’ah on the car.
    And as to the sheila of whether getting a machine to do something through “speaking to it”, if what the machine does is considered his actions in regard to shabbos the same sheila existed with cars for a long time because the fuel injection is done by a computer and all pressing on the gas does is to send a message to the computer. There should be no difference whether he commands a machine by “speaking” to it or pressing a button.

    in reply to: BACK PEYOS OR FRONT PEYOS? #2073140

    Your question about litvishe hiding their peyos behind the ears seems to assume that litvishe always had peyos and at some time decided to put them behind their ears. However this was not the case. In lita nobody, including bnai torah, had peyos. Even chabad chasidim, who come from the same areas, didn’t have and continue not to have peyos. And in America up to the early 80’s peyos in litvishe yeshivohs were almost none existent, including among roshei yeshiva. Reb Yeruchom Ulshin and Reb Yisroel Neuman did not have peyos even for years after they were already roshie yeshiva. In fact the earliest peyos in litvishe yeshivohs were mainly bochurim who came from semi chasidic backgrounds and daavened nusach sfard, for a while not having peyos was a sign of litvishe yichus. It is only over the last 20 years that litvishe bochurim started wearing peyos and they wore them behind the ears. So your assumption that they changed wearing their peyos from straight down to behind their ears is simply wrong. Instead after many years, beginning before World War I of not wearing peyos at all the style became to wear peyos behind their ears. Note that in Chabad till today they don’t have peyos at all.

    in reply to: BACK PEYOS OR FRONT PEYOS? #2072342

    What “we” should do in the litvish world is to look at pictures of litvishe gedolim since World War II. And those pictures will show that almost all the gedolim had their peyos behind their ears. This includes the Chazon Ish, Reb Aharon Kotler, Reb Moshe, Reb Yaakov etc. etc. So the reason litvishe wear their peyos behind the ears is because this is what today’s dor saw the previous dor do. And what was good for those gedolim is good for us. The whole basis for the question of “what should we do” is that perhaps we should be “better” than the gedolim of the previous dor.

    in reply to: The Kiddush Hashem of Lakewood #1313221

    “The Mishna in Avos say that learning without working leads to sin”. The mishna clearly does not mean that anyone who learns must also work, as in a job that pays a salary. The lashon of the mishna is that all torah that does not have melacha alongside it. The term melchocho does not mean work, rather it means producing something in reality, similar to its definition by shabbos.
    So what the mishna is saying is that torah must be accompanied by melocho, meaning that in addition to learning he must also create and produce something from his learning. And this has always been with all gedolie torah in one of 2 ways. Either by producing the torah he learned by writing it or by saying shuirim.
    This is what every gadol batorah had always done, However there practically has never been a gadol batorah who had job on the side, so the mishna certainly does not mean to say that all are required to work.

    in reply to: The Kiddush Hashem of Lakewood #1312829

    If the point is that there is such immense talmud torah in Lakewood then what is impressive is the magnitude of the mitzvah of talmud torah, and as talmud torah is one of the greatest mitzvohs that should be the point being stressed. Why then the emphasis on “kidush hashem’. That is not even a mention of the term “mitzvha” (of kidush hashem) but simply straight up “kidush hashem”. When you are referring to with the general term kidush hashem it does not seem that you mean that many people are fullfilling the mitzvah of kidush hashem, and rightly so, since thousands of people learning torah is not a kiyum of the mitzvah of kidush hashem, See the Rambam in Yesodie Hatorah as to what the mitzvah of kidush hashem is.
    Rather “kidush hashem” has become a term that has come to mean that Klal Yisroel is impressive, meaning that it reflects well on yidden as a whole. This is similar to when people say that if a yid did something publically that refelcts well on the yidden he made a “kidush hashem” and if it reflects poorly on the yidden, such as he committed a crime (not a chilul hashem) and he was arrested then its a chilul hashem, basically because outsiders will look down at yidden.
    As such the terms kidush hashem and chilul hashem as they are used have absolutely nothing to do with either the mitzvah, nor with hashem. A kidush hashem is beneficial to yidden since goyim will look at individual yidden with respect, and so is of obvious benefit to them because people like to be viewed in a positive light, and the opposite is true of what is called a chilul hashem. That is the last thing they are thinking of is hashem and what they care about is the public image of yidden for the personal benefit of yidden.
    This is a made up concept of what the mitzvah of kidush hashem is about, and its not at all the mitzva they care about. So its time that we cut out the make believe and call these things what they are. When people say a guy who got arrested made a chilul hashem that is the last thing on their minds. So its high time that people be honest about it and say what they mean, that they are mad at him because his getting caught caused that goyim should look down at them personally.
    The Brisker Rov said that “I grew up among chochomim my whole life and 2 terms I never heard mentioned were kidush hashem and chilul hashem”. And this is because those terms as used have nothing to do with Torah and everything to do with how people want themselves to be viewed by others because they are wearing a yarmulka. It is something completely selfish that they want others to be impressed by them and not look down at them.

    in reply to: Credit Card “Shtick/Fraud” – is it stealing? 💳👮 #1274484

    It is clearly not gneiva nor is it fraud. The legal definition of fraud is to make a false statement of fact and based on that false presentation of fact to claim money that otherwise that person would not have had a right to. So 1. By stating that a purchase was made there is no implied claim that the item purchased was not returned and 2 it is not at all clear that the credit card company even cares whether the item was returned since the reward is for using the card, which the person did.
    And the fact that a kol koreh was issue means only one thing, that somebody printed up a paper and asked some rabbonim to sign it. However just because they signed it does not at all mean that they actually looked into the terms of the reward program and cared as all to know what they were signing on.

    in reply to: Capital Punishment #951562


    The definition of certainly in regard to this bill is what people believe about something. Its about how they would rate their conclusion. And people reach a conclusion on which they say “I am certain of this”. People talk like this, “i am certain of this and don’t have a shadow of a doubt”

    As to the case of the fire the only reason that it was felony murder was because of a technicality, that since he was trespassing it is legally arson, which is a felony. A person in his own home, or in the public domain that is just as negligent in the fire breaking out is not considered a murderer because he did not commit a felony. In addition if the resulting fire was a misdemeanor there would be no murder charge. This is not based on logic, its more of a penalty.

    You citation of starting a fire with his own hands is for civil liability. But for purposes of murder the gemora in sanhedrin 78b says that he must have intention to kill. There is no intent to kill in felony murder.

    As for the Rambam he starts with saying anyone who murders people etc. if he means without clear proof then how to we know that he murders people. He goes on to say that or if he did without warning and “even” with a single witness. If he means in the beginning that we are not even sure that he did it that would be a much bigger chidush than a single witness (as I noted earlier the Ohr Sameach has a problem with how can we take a life based only on 1 witness. He would certainly be troubled more by how to we take a life of a possibly innocent man)

    I think that he means ???? as in clear seeing. That means that they are certain that it was him, for example they saw through ?????? which means that they can confirm that it was him based on certain identifying features that they saw, but they did not have a clear look at his face which would not be a valid sighting in hichlcohs eidus. And this is what ??? ????? ????? means (reb akiva eiger says that eidus requires an identification based on seeing the person’s face.) This is the same rambam that says using 80% evidence amounts to inevitably killing an innocent man, and there is no reason that this shouldn’t apply to any sort of execution. Ask a big talimd chochom what he things the rambam means and see what he holds, because its beyond contemplation that the rambam is allowing the killing of a man who man be innocent.

    The argument for beyond a reasonable doubt is that innocent men will in fact be punished but this is the price of law and order, because if we demand certainty then almost all criminals will get away. The argument is not that if its beyond a reasonable doubt then it is certain that he is guilty.

    This is a very valid point if there is to be law and order, but it is not necessary to execute people who may not be guilty so as to have law and order.

    In a nutshell your opinion is that its okay to execute people who may in fact be innocent for the sake of law and order, even though life without parole is punishment enough as far as people not getting away with their crimes.

    However the Torah in does not permit the killing of innocent men, and the Rambam calls this killing a ??? ?????. (you keep saying that the halachs is in regard to a bais din. However there is abslotely no logic in limiting this reasoning to a bais din, and that in other types of justice killing a ??? ?????, by killing a person who may be innocent is okay.

    I think that I explained my position as clearly as I can, so I will leave it at this. However I want to leave you with one final thought to contemplate. If you got into a situation where it was beyond a reasonable doubt that you murdered somebody and you know that you didn’t do it. When they strap you down to execute you would you feel that an injustice is being done, or would you tell yourself that you accept your fate because since they decided that occasionally killing an innocent man is necessary, then justice is in fact being done in executing you for something that you didn’t do. I don’t think that you would. So why are you advocating that others be subjected to this fate.

    in reply to: Capital Punishment #951557

    Avi, Lets just talk about the Rambam in sefer hamitzvohs that says that using circumstantial evidence that is not 100% but 80% (i believe that reasonable doubt is legally about 70%) will lead to the killing of innocent men, and its to prevent the use of such evidence that the torah says ???? ????? ?? ?????, do not kill an innocent man.

    So whoever the court is, using such evidence will kill innocent men and the reasoning of the torah, ???? ????? ?? ????? applies to any just person. And again I want to point out that there is never an example anywhere in torah of using anything other than proof. Beyond a reasonable doubt is not proof, but a probability, and there is no such suggestion anywhere in the torah.

    I did not read what Rabbi Bliech writes, I know only that the only example of proof that the gemora says is used by a ben noach is a witness who is saying that he 100% sure, and since he is believed this is proof.

    In Massachusetts they drafted a capital punishment bill a while back that required that the standard of proof for this penalty be “certainty”. That is something that should be adapted by all states. All states have criteria for who gets the death penalty and it makes no sense that they don’t add this to those criteria.

    Another issue with capital punishment in America is felony murder which is 1st degree murder and is often the kind of murder for which the death penalty is imposed. A classic case of felony murder is if 2 people rob a store and one of them kills the clerk even of the other person didn’t even know that he had a gun he is guilty. A case that i recall was a homeless man who was sleeping in an abandoned building and he lit a fire to keep warm. The fire got out of control and a firefighter died fighting the fire. Even though the death of the fire fighter was not his fault, since he was in the building illegally even if the fire starts by mistake, under the law its considered arson. So he was convicted of felony murder because the statute does not require that he cause the death, it requires only that the death shall be a result of the felony.

    Felony murder is not murder at all and so execution for this is flat out state sanctioned murder.

    in reply to: Drug addicts in yeshiva #951315

    It is well established that it takes years of smoking to cause cancer and heart disease. Those who get these diseases have all smoked for many years. Almost all yeshiva guys who smoke as bochurim quit within a few years after getting married. This is a fact, and there are almost no guys over 30 in yeshiva that smoke.

    So when we talk about yeshiva bochurim smoking we are talking about smoking for a few years, which is not much of a health risk. And if anyone disagrees with this show a single study what was done on those that smoked only a few years and shows how dangerous that is.

    in reply to: Capital Punishment #951555

    Avi, I am not talking about 2 witnesses, I am talking about circumstantial evidence. And the Rambam says that we are not allowed to use that because, as he explicitly says, we will accept lower and lower percentages and we will eventually kill an innocent man. So this isthe whole point of the Rambam, how he understands the Mitzvah of ???? ????? ?? ?????. The Rambam makes the argument of a slippery slope as to why we can’t use circumstantial evidence that is 100% because we will then come to use 80% and 80% cannot be used because that will inevitably kill an innocent man. So he says that the problem with 100% is that it will lead to 80%. And the problem is that since 80% is certainly not acceptable, we may not even use 100% because it may lead to 80%. And 80% means killing an innocent man one day.

    So 1. according to the Rambam even 100% circumstantial evidence may not be used even in the case of a king (and surely not 80%) but we need proof (Dovid in that case with the ger amaleiki was relying on proof from his statement), and 2. The bigger point as it relates to capital punishment in America, there is absolutely no suggestion anywhere in the Torah, or in morals, that a person can be put to death if we have any doubt as to his guilt. And the Rambam does not say this at all. See the Ohr Sameach on the Rambam in Melachim who does not understand how the king can rely on 1 witness in a matter of life and death, even though this is not a bais din. He says that this is learned from the fact that a ben noach can be put to death based on 1 witness. So even though this is not a bais din it is clear that we can only put a person to death if we are certain of his guilt.

    in reply to: Capital Punishment #951553

    Avi K,

    See the Ramban on that Ramban who asks that since the torah requires 2 witnesses for death penalty cases why would the torah need a 2nd law that we can’t use circumstantial evidence. The accepted pshat in the Rambam is that he is not referring to a death penalty issued by a bais din, but to any judgement that is made in regard to killing somebody. See the Rambam in H’ Rotzeach 4:8 that if the requirement of 2 witnesses is not properly met, then bais din causes his death. This too is only done based on testimony for 2 witnesses and not on circumstantial evidence.

    And the same goes for executing somebody who is not chayev misah, that these actions cannot be based on circumstantial evidence. And the same is true for what a king uses to establish the facts. And this is why the Torah must warn against the use of circumstantial evidence, even if its 100%.

    My main point from the rambam was that the Torah prohibited using evidence that is 100% because that will lead to a slippery slope where they start to use evidence that only proves it at 90% and then 80% and as a result of using such evidence an innocent man will be killed. So we see from the Rambam that using beyond a reasonable doubt will result in the killing of an innocent man, and on this he says that its preferable that 1000 guilty go free than to kill 1 innocent man, so this is not to be done.

    In any case according to the Torah there is no such thing as killing a person if there is even a shadow of a doubt. Beyond reasonable doubt means that we cannot say for sure, and the torah does not recognize that a person can be guilty because there is a 75% chance that he did it.

    In the Graham case an appellate court ordered the lower court to rehear the case because there was allot of evidence that was not heard. The lower court refused. None of the courts used that affidavit to decide the matter because it is hearsay and the right to confront ones accuser, and he was not executed based on that. And 2 witnesses against the bailiff is still at a minimum a matter for the jury to decide as to whether this creates reasonable doubt, in particular when the bailiff didn’t even say this under oath. And Bush too did not mention that claim in why he wouldn’t grant relief.

    The fact that the case was reviewed 35 times by different courts proves that appeals do not deal with the issues of actual guilt or innocence and are not a guard against killing the innocent. The biggest issue, that 2 witnesses said that it was not him was never dealt with in any of those 35 reviews, and this is because grounds for appeals are very limited. Its all a show of fooling around with silly technicalities so that they can say (or believe) that they couldn’t find a single ground to overturn the verdict.

    in reply to: Capital Punishment #951551

    Avi K,

    The Rambam is explicitly not talking about a bais din. The torah already says that a person shall be put to death only on the testimony of 2 witnesses, see the Ramban on the sefer hamitzvohs. The Rambam is talking about a case where its not bais din, such as Dovid. And Dovid killed not on circumstantial evidence but on an admission which is 100%. The gemora says that a Ben Noach is put to death on the testimony of one witness, and this is because he is testifying that he is 100% sure.

    How can you possibly allow putting a person to death if you are not certain that he is guilty.

    As to Bush, the man’s name was Gary Graham, and he did this while he was running for president which shows that he understood that people in America would not at all be troubled with his refusal to simply allow the new evidence to be heard. The reason that it was up to Bush was that the courts did not hear this evidence and so there was no basis for an appeal. The only way to save him was if these witnesses were allowed to be heard and this required a new trial. So it was up to Bush to use his power as governor to order a new trial.

    Under the law you cannot appeal a jury verdict. That is the jury decides questions of fact and you cannot appeal their finding of the facts, even of the whole world thinks they were wrong.

    The only basis for an appeal is if there was a legal mistake in the trial, such as certain evidence should not have been admitted, or that new evidence was discovered that was not known of by either side after the trial. And even if new evidence is discovered there is a time limit, which varies based on jurisdiction, as to how long after the trial it may be the basis for an appeal. That is if there is clear evidence that he was not guilty that came up 8 years later he cannot appeal based on that.

    A court case is also a game. For example if the defense knew of a witness, or 5 witnesses but failed to ask them to testify, its too late and the man on death row cannot appeal that these are 5 witnesses that say that he didn’t do it.

    As to the supreme court they have held that “actual innocence”, that is that there was no problem with anything the court did but that he claims that he was in fact innocent, is not a grounds for appeal.They allowed a man in Georgia to die recently despite the fact that every single witness recanted and said that the police threatened them that they will arrest them for crimes they committed.

    The supreme court also held in a case in Alaska that a prisoner does not have the right to demand to get access to the DNA evidence that is in the possession of the state.

    As for rooting out prosecutorial misconduct the supreme court recently sent a very strong message to prosecutors who are contemplating withholding evidence. An innocent man that sat in prison for 22 years till he was exonerated due to prosecutorial misconduct sued that prosecutor for the 22 years of his life that he lost. The court ruled that as a government official he has immunity and cannot be sued. So the court sent a message to every prosecutor that you will get away with it.

    So if you want to address a philosophical question about capital punishment you should describe exactly how this punishment will be decided on. In America when people speak of capital punishment they are referring to the capital punishment that the courts order.

    PS I went to Law School

    in reply to: Capital Punishment #951548

    The Rambam writes in Sefer Hamitzvohs that the posuk that says v’naki v’tzadik al ta’harog is an issur to use circumstantial evidence in death penalty cases, even when its 100% clear from the evidence that he did. He says that the reason for this is that if we use circumstantial evidence then this will lead down a slippery slope where the evidence that we use will be less than 100% and then less than even that and that one day and innocent man will end up getting executed. He writes that its better for a thousand guilty to go free than to kill one innocent man.

    Now the Rambam is talking about a system that demands that the court be positive that the person is guilty, and even so he says that we may come to use evidence that does not prove guilt 100% and take this evidence to show that it is 100% sure that he did it and that there is no doubt as to his guilt.

    In America however the court does not have to find at all that they are positive that he did it. They don’t even have to find that they are “fairly certain” that he did it. The standard in american courts is that its “beyond a reasonable doubt” that he did it. Legal scholars say that this means about 75% sure.

    So the issue with capital punishment in America is not whether a murdered should put to death, which is a mitzvah for bnai Noach.

    The problem is that they put people to death even though they admit that they are not certain that he did it.

    And the fact is that over the past 2 decades with DNA evidence it has been found that hundreds of people who were on death row did not do it. And had it not been for this evidence they would have been executed.

    But the problem was more than just these cases where it has been proven that the person was innocent. There are cases upon cases where the prosecution withholds evidence, that is they had a witness that said that he saw the accused at another place at the time of the murder for example, and doesn’t tell the defense about it and so again an innocent man is sent to his death.

    There are many cases in which the jury that convicted finds out that they had been misled by not hearing the full evidence and they write letters that had they known the facts they never would have convicted. But its extremely hard to overturn a jury verdict, and in almost all such cases the person is put to death.

    There is one story that illustrates this kind of thing perfectly. A man was charged with killing a cop in a supermarket parking lot at night. The prosecution found this man had a .22 caliber gun and the cop was shot with a .22. They also provided a single witness, a woman who was standing 60 feet away and said that she could identify him because she saw him for no longer than 2 seconds. Based on this evidence he was sentenced to death.

    Once he was on death row better lawyers started to look into his case. They found that the .22 that he had was proven by ballistics not to have been the murder weapon, a fact the prosecution didn’t tell the jury. They also identified other witnesses. 2 of them said that it was too dark to see the shooter’s face but that he was very tall, no less than 6’1. The person that was convicted was 5’6. The other 2 witnesses were both standing about 30 feet away, allot closer than the woman that identified him from 60 feet away and they said that from 30 feet it was impossible to tell.

    The jury convicted based on the .22 gun that they were not told was not the murder weapon, and a single witness that was contradicted by 2 others that said he was too short and another 2 that said that it was too dark to see from even 30 feet.

    When the jury heard of the full evidence they signed a letter saying that had they heard all of the evidence they would not have convicted and asked that the state not execute this man because of their verdict.

    This case was in Texas and the man on death row appealed to then governor George W Bush to let the new evidence be heard. Bush refused and sent him to his death.

    So the main issue with the death penalty is that they don’t require that there be proof that it is certain that he did it and also that the way the system is set up many innocent people are put to death. Allowing innocent people to be put to death, the way that Bush did, with a person that had 2 witnesses that said that he could not have done it, is murder itself.

    in reply to: Can a Golem Speak? #945066

    Sam2. He said that what the gemora says as a factual story was in his opinion a dream. So he does not accept that the gemora says this. In fact he declared that that very gemora said that there has never been a golem when the gemora says the exact opposite. To simply say that “in my opinion it was a dream” is not an accepted way of dismissing a story in the gemora.

    I would imagine that the rambam holds about this gemora like he says in Chelek about many agdah gemorohs, that they are not k’pshtutom but that they are alluding to something else with those words, and not to a factual story.

    Also the Ramchal brings a story that when the rambam was an older man he was in Yerushalyim and a person started telling him about kabalah. The Ramchal writes that after the Rambam heard what this person told him “he regretted with great regret many things that he wrote”. So the Rambam’s opinions about many if these types of things are because he was basing himself on logic because he was not aware of kabalah, not that he knew of the concepts of kabalah and disagreed with them.

    in reply to: Can a Golem Speak? #945064

    Old Man. How do you simply state that “I myself maintain that it was a dream”. Why this story in the gemora. Why don’t you say the same thing about any story that the gemora says that you hold cannot be true. The gemora doesn’t say anything about a dream, but is says that this happened.

    And there are two characters in this story, so whose dream was it. You are confusing this with places that an amorah says the term “chozoh” as in he saw, which can be interpreted as seeing in a dream, as this is the term used by nevuah, like chazon yeshayahu.

    You are getting very close to being a mal’ig al divrie chochomim, in saying that what they said did in fact happen could not have possibly happened.

    As to calming down. The reason that you should be ashamed of yourself is for stating that the gemora says something when the gemora says the exact opposite. It is your responsibility to make sure that you are not misleading a bunch of people (and you did because apparently everyone believed you)into believing the gemora says something that is completely false. You could have said that you heard that there was a gemora, but you knew that this wouldn’t mean anything. So instead you declared that there is a “well known gemora”. Shame on you.

    in reply to: How would you respond to Savage on Metzitzah #1028020

    I don’t at all understand why a mohel that has active sores must be doing brisin. This is a very easy to check and if only those without active sores would do brisin there wouldn’t be any problem. Frankly I would not want a mohel with this active sores performing MBP on my son, and there is absolutely no reason that we must insist that a mohel in this condition be allowed to do brisin.

    And this is what the whole issue is about, the argument that its “impossible” for this virus to be transmitted through MBP, so therefore we don’t care what kind of condition the mohel is in. Why must we insist that its impossible for the virus to be transmitted and what do we gain from this.

    And the fact is that it is possible for the virus to be transmitted through MBP.

    It is common knowledge that people should not kiss a baby when they have active sores, so this certainly should apply to MBP.

    in reply to: Can a Golem Speak? #945050

    Old man. You should be ashamed of yourself, quoting a “well known” gemora at Sanhedrin 65b that “says” that a golem has never been and never will be. Not only is there no such gemora, the gemora over there says the exact opposite. The gemora says “Rovoh created a man and sent to R Zierah, R’ Zierah tried to speak to him and he wouldn’t answer. R’ Ziera said that you from my friend return to your earth”. So the gemora says that Rovoh created a man that was made from the earth. As to the question of whether a golem can speak, Rashi says that the reason the golem didn’t answer R’ Zierah was because he did not have the capacity for speech.

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