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  • in reply to: Private Mikva for Men #1790505

    yytz
    Participant

    Joseph: Actually, the halacha is that one should urinate around other men rather than hold it in and harm one’s health. So it is not forbidden. But still, apparently Rav Moshe thought it was an issue and we should avoid it if possible by using the stall. The same logic should apply to mikvah. Some people are naturally more reticent to expose themselves to others; why not accommodate them so they can also use a mikvah? Bashfulness is after all a fundamental Jewish trait.

    in reply to: Private Mikva for Men #1790433

    yytz
    Participant

    Rav Moshe suggests not using urinals ( Yoreh Deah 3 siman 47,5) but I’m not sure if he was discussing when they didn’t have little walls between them. I think I’ve heard this from elsewhere too…not sure where.

    in reply to: Private Mikva for Men #1790321

    yytz
    Participant

    There’s nothing wrong with wanting a more modest alternative.

    In fact, I’ve heard some rebbeim say it’s not proper to use a urinal (where other people can see you); instead, one should use the stall.

    Of course, tznius applies to men too.

    in reply to: What are any issues with serving a role in Conservative Shule? #1762479

    yytz
    Participant

    Rational: It’s not about the threat. A big consideration in their psakim was the fact that when an Orthodox Jew attends a C place, it makes the “Conservative Jews” feel like they are being validated, as somehow proof that they are doing nothing wrong by being C. That issue is still as valid as ever.

    in reply to: What are any issues with serving a role in Conservative Shule? #1762377

    yytz
    Participant

    HappilyRetired: You said that some poskim allow attending a bar mitzvah in a Conservative house of worship. Who, specifically? I have never heard of this–as far as I was aware, attending any religious event in the sanctuary of a Conservative place would be asur according to all Orthodox opinions.

    I don’t think it matters if it’s one of those few Conservative places left that still has a mechitza. The C movement doesn’t believe that the Torah (particularly Oral Torah) is from Sinai.

    in reply to: Small step for man; giant leap for mankind #1762378

    yytz
    Participant

    In the audio it sounds like he’s saying “man,” but he says what he really said was “a man,” which would make the sentence more logical.

    in reply to: Kippah for Comfort #1739814

    yytz
    Participant

    No, mostly people wear kippas because that’s the same kind of kippa everyone in the group they identify with wears. A partial exception is MO–some wear srugi, some leather, some velvet, etc.

    in reply to: Kippah for Comfort #1739727

    yytz
    Participant

    Good point, Lightbright. I think people do choose kippas for those reasons, to some extent. For example, the stereotype is that charedi Jews always wear velvet (sometimes polyester instead), but a survey in Israel found that a sizable percentage (I don’t remember how much, perhaps 20%) of self-identified charedim wore knitted kippas (I assume black, but you never know…)

    in reply to: Always Wearing a Hat When Outdoors #1712221

    yytz
    Participant

    Lakewhat: There are tons of Litvaks. Anyway, this term is nowadays used as a synonym for Yeshivish. Here’s how many children were enrolled in different kinds of Orthodox day schools in 2013, according to an Avichai survey:

    Centrist Orthodox: 18,925
    Chabad: 12,649
    Chassidic: 81,940
    Modern Orthodox: 27,217
    Yeshiva: 75,681

    This shows that the Yeshiva world is very large, only a little smaller than the Chassidish world.

    in reply to: Joining Chabad #1694422

    yytz
    Participant

    1: Many people certainly become Lubavitchers. A Chabad shliach told me that he estimates that about one third of all shluchim are BTs. I actually know one guy who raised his kids totally Yeshivish and yet the son became Chabad and is now a shliach in a big city, and his kids are shluchim too.

    But contrary to Rebbetzin’s comment, most Chabadniks are not shluchim–most live in Crown Heights, some other big city, or Israel.

    Keep in mind that it’s not all or nothing. Many people may learn Chabad chassidus, learn the Rebbe’s sichos, and even attend Chabad shuls and farbrengens, and yet retain a non-Chabad appearance, and retain regular Ashenazi nusach and minhagim. It’s the same with Breslov.

    People shouldn’t feel stuck in the derech they were born in. Every combination and direction of change happens today–chassidim who become Litvaks, Satmar who become dati leumi, people who combine Chabad-Breslov-Kook-Carlebach, Ashkenazim who follow a lot of Sephardic kabbalistic customs, you name it. Whatever your soul is attracted to, go for it, provided it’s kosher–and see what works in bring you closer to HKBH.

    in reply to: Mega Millions – Bitachon Question For You #1608151

    yytz
    Participant

    Rav Shalom Arush says that it’s permitted to play the lottery but that one should buy just one ticket. That’s because if Hashem wants you to win, he can surely do so with just one ticket. Buying lots of tickets would seem to be an attempt to manipulate the odds in your favor, as if whether you win is really under your control.


    yytz
    Participant

    23andme tells you what percentage you are Ashkenazi. It doesn’t say anything about Sephardi. However, if your results say 95% Ashkenazi and 5% Middle-Eastern/North African, or something like that, then it might be a safe assumption that you’re part Sephardi.

    in reply to: Going to Uman for the Hock #1579700

    yytz
    Participant

    Mentsch1: My comment above was directed to the original poster (“1”), not you.

    “Did Rav Nachman actually say that it would be beneficial to leave EY to come to his kever?”

    Not specifically, but he taught in Likutei Moharan that a tzaddik’s kever “literally” has the kedushah of Eretz Yisrael. (I can find the reference for you if you want to see it inside.) For that reason, Breslov manhigim have approved traveling from EY to Uman, since it’s is in effect going from EY to EY. That doesn’t mean every Israeli should come–but certainly Breslovers should have no qualms in doing so, assuming their rabbonim and family are supportive.

    “Did he even say just come to my kever for RH?”

    Yes, absolutely. See Tzaddik #406. We don’t have a direct quote from Rebbe Nachman, but Reb Noson writes that Rebbe Nachman made clear he wanted his followers to come to Uman for RH no matter what (which they began doing the first RH after his petirah).

    in reply to: Going to Uman for the Hock #1579515

    yytz
    Participant

    1: I wouldn’t go for fun or because it’s interesting to see different kinds of Jews. However, you said you enjoy different kinds of religious experience. Does that mean you enjoy them in the sense that you find them fun or mentally stimulating or something? Or do you mean that it actually helps you with your avodas Hashem? If you think going to Uman will enhance your avodas Hashem, consider going–if not, not.

    On the other hand, perhaps your desire to go to Uman is a way of your neshama telling to to draw close to Breslov in some way. Try learning Breslov chassidus—perhaps some Sichos HaRan or Likutei Eitzos or, if you want something more challenging, Likutei Moharan. If you feel a connection to Rebbe Nachman’s teachings and that is what is driving you to go, that’s a better reason.

    Keep in mind that Breslov teachings are not just for Breslovers–many Litvish (such as R’ Dessler and R’ Lopian), sephardic (Baba Sali and his son R’ Meir) and non-Breslov chassidic rabbonim (Satmar, etc.) have all praised Rebbe Nachman’s teachings. There is even a group of Lubavitchers who attend R”H in Uman, even though Lubavitchers are known for exclusively studying the chassidus of their own Rebbes.

    Don’t make the decision based on anonymous posters. Ask your Rav, ask a Breslov Rav, ask your family, etc…

    in reply to: Uman #1575849

    yytz
    Participant

    Avi, you may have a point about what sometimes happens when there is no living rebbe, but in practice, there have always been several Breslov manhigim in each generation who functioned as leaders, giving people advice and so on. For example, today there are many chashuv Breslov leaders today–Rav Shalom Arush, Rav Elazar Kenig, etc.

    Rebbe Nachman was opposed to hereditary rebbes, which most other chassidic groups have had, perhaps because it tends to create a social system in which people rely vicariously on the rebbe’s spiritual attainments instead of focusing on developing themselves by implementing the rebbe’s teachings. For example, as recounted in Reb Noson’s biography, a chassidic rebbe confided in Reb Noson that he was jealous of Breslov chassidim because his chassidim mainly came to him for blessings about material problems, while Breslovers were focused on enhancing their avodas Hashem.

    in reply to: Uman #1574761

    yytz
    Participant

    Takes2toTango: It’s completely false that “most” Israelis on their way to becoming BTs who go to Uman are “druggies or worse.” Just because you have a false stereotype in your head about Breslov BTs does not mean you should spread this falsehood on the Internet.

    For example, NaNachs are very visible and many people’s idea of what a Breslover is, but in fact NaNachs are only a tiny proportion of all Breslovers and all BTs. And contrary to what you might think, most NaNachs don’t have anything to do with drugs. (That said, I personally don’t agree with their hashkafa).

    Breslov has always had some interesting characters, since there’s no membership list and anyone can just call themselves a Breslover and thereby become one in other people’s eyes, but that doesn’t mean that most are into bad things. As with any Orthodox group, the vast majority are fine, upstanding people.

    in reply to: Uman #1574571

    yytz
    Participant

    Google “I am the soul of Rebbi Nachman” and you’ll see what I’m talking about. I’ve seen the reference elsewhere too, but I don’t remember where. It’s unclear what he meant by it.

    In a recent English biography of Rav Kook, it describes letters between Rav Kook and Rav Tzvi Yehudah in which the latter talked of his desire to become a full-fledged Breslover, but his father discouraged him, advising him to be more like himself–influenced by chassidus and various other sources instead of being a follower of a single individual.

    Many dati leumi people today are strongly influenced by Breslov (as in the Chavakuk movement (Chabad-Breslov-Kook)), so even today there are many followers of Rav Kook who go to Uman.

    in reply to: Uman #1574308

    yytz
    Participant

    Why not live there already? They do–that’s what I just said. Breslov chassidim generally live in Israel, but travel to Uman for Rosh HaShana when possible.

    You may have point about the Ukranians, but you can’t move a kever when the chassidim are against it. The Jews who live in Uman say that anti-Semitic incidents are pretty rare.

    Rav Kook was always very close to Breslov chassidus and chassidim. He closely associated with them as soon as he moved to Israel. (Rav Kook even suggested he was the gilgul of Rebbe Nachman!) His son almost become a Breslover chassid. Denouncing people for following basic Breslov chassidus is not something Rav Kook would approve of.

    It’s to be expected that some non-Breslover rabbis would speak against going to Uman. But Breslovers have to follow their Rebbe, and their rabbis, nearly all of whom say to visit Uman if possible. About leaving their families, chassidim have always visited their rebbe on certain holidays. There’s even a halacha that you’re supposed to. (And there’s no halacha that you have to be in town with your family on R”H).

    However, if their families don’t want them to go, or can’t manage without them, they don’t go. It’s not that different from leaving your family for a few days to go to America or Meron or whatever.

    in reply to: Uman #1573035

    yytz
    Participant

    Avi K: The vast majority of Breslov chassidim were opposed to moving the kever to Israel. It’s far from clear Rebbe Nachman would have approved of such a move. He chose to move to Uman before his death for a specific reason — because it was near the graves of the Chmielnicki pogram victims, and he wanted to be buried near them.

    Rebbe Nachman explicitly taught that the gravesites of tzaddikim literally have the kedushah of E”Y. So it’s clear he would be in favor of people visiting Uman from Israel–at least his chassidim.

    However, unlike most other Chassidic rebbes Rebbe Nachman placed a great emphasis on the importance of visiting, and living in, Israel. (Rebbe Nachman taught that we should all yearn for visiting Israel even if we can’t, and Reb Nosson wrote many prayers on this theme–in Likutei Tefilos, which Rav Kook was known to often have with him.) For that reason, the vast majority of Breslovers live in Israel. Well-known Breslover rabbis, like Rabbi Lazer Brody and Rav Shalom Arush, are always trying to convince people to make aliyah.

    in reply to: Uman #1572121

    yytz
    Participant

    About 40,000 go each year. Rebbe Nachman taught his followers it was very important to visit his grave on Rosh HaShana. Some Breslov chassidim go every year, while others might go once in a lifetime.

    The most distinctive teachings of Breslov chassidus are the importance to praying to Hashem in one’s own words (hitbodedut) and going to Uman. (There’s a lot more, too, including a special emphasis on studying the Shulchan Aruch each day, “it is a great mitzvah to be happy always,” etc.)

    Many BTs are attracted to Breslov teachings, and so many people (especially Israelis) who are on the path to becoming frum go to Uman, and it can be an important spiritual experience for them, which encourages them. There are also many frum non-Breslovers who go–Chabad, dati leumi, Yeshivish, etc.–because they have some interest in Breslov chassidus.

    in reply to: Becoming More Wealthy, Becoming Less Frum #1484754

    yytz
    Participant

    The Bilvavi (R’ Itamar Schwartz) has a long essay about the topic of over-materialism in the US, addressed to all frum Jews here. Here are a few paragraphs (google a sentence and you can find the rest on his website):

    Our Lavish Lifestyle

    People here [in America] are not just living in opulent homes, but in palaces! The houses of people here are becoming like graves.

    This way of life was not how our ancestors lived. They lived and sought something completely different.

    I can practically guarantee that your Gan Eden (Paradise) will not be nice as your houses. The Chovos HaLevavos writes that this world and the next are opponents. If so, they cannot coexist. Where should there be opulence? Either in the Bais HaMikdash (Temple), or in Gan Eden, but there should not be such a thing in this world.

    This way of life has become so deep-rooted here that you do not understand that this is not the true way of life. This way of life has been going on for a few generations already.

    How much do you work to pay for your house? People are devoting the entire day, their whole lives, to pay for more and more materialism.

    If someone from Europe of old would visit this society, he would assume that this is must be Purim, and that gentiles are masquerading as Jews!

    What we see is the opposite of how Jews should live.

    Why don’t you immediately get up and move to the Land of Israel? Isn’t it more holy there? Isn’t it a little more spiritual there? It is more than a little. So why stay here? Obviously, because there you will have less money, and your home will be a quarter of the size: only five rooms…you want comfort…

    Do we all want Moshiach to come and gather us to the Land of Israel?? Do you want to get up and go there when he comes?? If so, why not do it tonight? If we want true life, with spirituality, not with this materialism among the gentiles, are we able to take the first plane to Israel? But people make all sorts of excuses why they don’t move.

    Life here is all about seeking materialism. You all live like the wealthiest. This entire way of life is wrong!


    yytz
    Participant

    A book came out recently by R’ Rephoel Szmerla saying most of these things are OK, but it’s controversial — I think others say they’re avodah zara.

    As Lightbright said, certainly acupuncture is OK and not avodah zara.

    in reply to: Can an Ehrlicher Yid be a Foodie? #1460985

    yytz
    Participant

    There is a halacha about not sipping your wine, since it is seen as haughty. Perhaps this implies one should not be a connoisseur, at least not ostentatiously.

    According to the definition above, anyone who appreciates the differences in taste (or “smoothness” or whatever) between different kinds of scotch is by definition a foodie. Same with wine, micro-brews, etc. I’m not saying it’s wrong–though it may be less healthy than being a connoisseur regarding actual food–just pointing out that “foodism” is more common than people might think (even if people don’t use that label.)

    Watching and caring about sports is another thing that’s analogous — a “hobby” or source of pleasure that’s common and hard to justify, though it may not be inherently wrong.

    in reply to: May a lawyer publicly state that his client is crazy? #1451606

    yytz
    Participant

    This is very normal under American law. If you are legally insane, you cannot be executed. If the lawyer believes what he is saying, it is fine. A lawyer has a duty to advocate for his client. Sometimes this can even mean doing things against the client’s wishes, though this is tricky issue and rarely occurs. A client can always fire his attorney.

    Under American law, to decide whether someone should be sentenced to death, the jury considers both aggravating (factors that make the death penalty appropriate) and mitigating circumstances (factors that would make it not appropriate). One mitigating factor is mental health. So even if someone is not legally insane, if they have serious mental health problems (“defendant’s capacity to appreciate the wrongfulness of the defendant’s conduct or to conform conduct to the requirements of law was significantly impaired”), that could be something the jury could consider in deciding whether to impose the death penalty. The jury should hear all the relevant information on both sides and then make its decision. It’s fine if the attorney argues, look, given all the information I’ve shown you, you should conclude that based on his mental health problems, he doesn’t deserve the death penalty.

    If he’s actually innocent, may he be speedily released.

    in reply to: Is recreational cannabis muttar? #1448275

    yytz
    Participant

    It’s true that more people die from alcohol and tobacco. But that doesn’t mean that marijuana is less dangerous.

    Marijuana causes major mental health problems, from anxiety to psychosis (ever heard of druggies who are “burn outs”–who have basically lost their minds? It happens). There is also growing evidence of its addictiveness.

    It negatively affects short-term memory, dulls your mind, reduces motivation, and makes you focus on physical pleasures, while sometimes giving you the false impression you’ve come to some great insight, which turns out not to make any sense when you try to tell people who aren’t stoned—all bad things for one’s avodas Hashem.

    Drunkeness is very bad, and totally assur (as is all tobacco use), but small amounts of alcohol have safe and predictable effects.

    TLIK: You’re right there’s no real justification for getting drunk on Simchas Torah, and even on Purim getting drunk is prohibited according to many authorities.

    in reply to: Is recreational cannabis muttar? #1447373

    yytz
    Participant

    It’s assur. Rav Moshe has a good teshuvah about it–can someone post it in English, please?

    Some people may appear to use it without negative consequences, but in fact, for many people it tends to have many negative effects — anxiety, paranoia, panic attacks, laziness, lack of motivation, psychological dependence, lack of normal physical and emotional maturation, focusing on maximizing physical pleasures and desires, etc. A large proportion of users have serious anxiety problems from it. Several studies show that young people who use it have twice the rate of schitzophrenia and psychosis–which by the way, are incurable.

    As Rebbe Nachman said about tobacco–what, do we not have enough cravings in this world that you need to add another one?

    Just think of how many tzaddikim have lived b’simcha throughout the ages without ever trying marijuana (or wanting to)! Davening, fasting, a little l’chaim — we Yidden already have plenty of time-tested ways to alter our consciousness. It’s not necessary and it poses dangers — so why try it?

    At the same time, yes, it should be legalized, since the Torah frowns on prison as a punishment anyway, and there are better ways of reducing drug use and dealing with addiction than locking up addicts in prison. But that doesn’t mean we should use it.

    in reply to: Goral Hagra #1447372

    yytz
    Participant

    Good one, Avi! 🙂

    in reply to: Can you bless someone? 🤧 #1446038

    yytz
    Participant

    From Ramak’s Tomer Devorah:
    “And he should constantly pray for mercy and blessing for the world just as
    the Supernal Father has mercy on all His creatures. And he should
    constantly pray for the alleviation of suffering as if those who suffer were
    actually his children and as if he had created them. For this is the will of the
    Holy One, Blessed is He”
    “Furthermore, his mercy should extend to all creatures, neither destroying nor
    despising any of them. For the Supernal Wisdom is extended to all created
    things- minerals, plants, animals and humans. This is the reason why we
    were warned against despising food. In this way man’s pity should be
    extended to all the works of the Blessed One just as the Supernal Wisdom
    despises no created thing for they are all created from that source, as it is
    written”

    in reply to: Can you bless someone? 🤧 #1446033

    yytz
    Participant

    CS: Video #185 at Dollars includes the Rebbe strongly suggesting one should daven for blessings for non-Jews (through the merits of the Jews.)

    in reply to: Can you bless someone? 🤧 #1446005

    yytz
    Participant

    Neither that Gemara nor Rashi say that one is not allowed to daven for goyim. There is no such halacha. (If so, where is it in the S’A? However, some such as Sefer Chassidim hold that one should not daven for a non-Jew who is doing evil to the Jewish people, which makes sense.) The Gemara and Rashi only discuss the very specific situation of using the word “Shalom,” which is one of Hashem’s names, to greet goyim.

    in reply to: Can you bless someone? 🤧 #1444456

    yytz
    Participant

    Nonsense. You can pray for whoever you want. Elisha HaNavi healed non-Jews, Moshe saved non-Jews (in last week’s parshah), etc.

    I suspect Solara and JewishPapers and Joseph are the same person. Joseph has a history of such sockpuppeting.

    in reply to: Single State Solution for Israel #1443974

    yytz
    Participant

    Caroline Glick wrote a book arguing for something similar to Joseph’s idea, except that Gaza would become part of Egypt. She says Yehudah/Shomron Arabs would have the choice to become citizens, and many would choose to, but not all, and with increased aliyah there will still be a substantial Jewish majority in the entire state. That’s her idea.

    There are other options than the ones that have been mentioned.

    For example, there is an option that you could call the Puerto Rico or Greenland solution. All of Israel would become one state under Israeli law. However, those living in Palestinian villages would be able to vote in local but not national elections. It is basically the same for Puerto Ricans and Indians living on Indian reservations in the US, and no one ever complains about that. Some would call this “apartheid,” but really, many countries have territories in which people can vote in local but not national elections.

    Even better would be the Jordanian solution, in which Jordan (which is already 80% Palestinian) declares all Palestinians to be Jordanian citizens, who can vote there even if they don’t move there, and who can move there if they want. In practice, many Palestinians will stay in Israel to work, but they would be citizens of another country, so they couldn’t vote in national elections. This would deal nicely with the demographic problem while also ensuring they have the rights of full citizenship (for one country).

    The main thing Palestinians complain about (aside from the existence of Israel at all) is restrictions on moving around, checkpoints, etc. But those things would all go away if terrorism stopped–their only purpose is to prevent terrorism. Once incitement to terrorism is actually illegal and enforced, and Palestinians give up their anti-Semitic and pro-terrorist ideologies, then Palestinians who remain can be just like Israeli Arabs, who can go anywhere they want. Privately, many Palestinians will admit they prefer being ruled by Israel directly rather than by the PA, since PA is corrupt and incompetent while Israel has a decently-run government.

    in reply to: Pay Gap is Now Illegal in Iceland… WhooHoo #1443634

    yytz
    Participant

    People should do research on Iceland’s policy before assuming you understand what it means.

    “The new rules don’t mean that companies must pay everyone doing the same job the exact same salary.

    Employers still have the option of rewarding their workers based on experience, performance and other aspects. However, the companies must show that the differences in wages are not due to gender.”

    The gender pay gap is a real issue, though research suggests much of it is due to women choosing less renumerative careers.

    In Holland, men and women both have the right to part-time work if requested, so a huge number of women (and some men) work part-time and love it. They get paid less of course, but life is better. Men should do the same–that way, more time for Torah (see Pirkei Avos 2:2).

    in reply to: Why Would a Girl Even Want to Learn Talmud? #1441161

    yytz
    Participant

    Chabadshlucha: I was under the impression that Chabad girls learn Gemara but mainly through Ein Yaakov, as the Rebbe specifically suggested. Is this correct, or do girls today actually learn Gemara as boys do, focusing on its halachic discussions as well?

    in reply to: Can you bless someone? 🤧 #1440122

    yytz
    Participant

    Not only can you bless someone (ie, pray for them), but we should pray for all people we know or hear about who are in need, and even the entire world.

    “Every person is obligated to say, ‘The entire world was created for me’” (Sanhedrin 37a). “Consequently…I must constantly look into and consider ways to make the world better; to provide what is missing and to pray on [the world’s] behalf” (Likutey Moharan I, 5:1).

    in reply to: Can you bless someone? 🤧 #1440116

    yytz
    Participant

    LB: Yes, but you’re right that we’re really asking Hashem to bless them. In the few instances in which we “bless” people rather than just davening for them, such as the father’s blessing of children at the Shabbos table and the Birkas Kohanim, the phrasing of the blessing makes clear it is a prayer that Hashem bless them. When I sign a letter “Kol tuv,” my intent is “May Hashem bless you with everything good/all good things (kol tuv).”

    in reply to: Why did Hashem create onions?  Who needs it? 🌰🌰🥔🥔 #1439824

    yytz
    Participant

    Thanks, Joseph–I enjoy your transcriptions (?) from Rav Miller’s tapes.

    Raw onions with eggs is a commonly served food, but Rebbe Nachman of Breslov had a tradition from his great-grandfather the Besht not to ever eat raw onions, which he emphasized the importance of in his writings. Sichos HaRan 265.

    in reply to: If Donald Trump were to מְגַיֵּר and become Jewish… #1435761

    yytz
    Participant

    I’ve got it–he would be a Kahanist! 🙂

    in reply to: Are dryer sheets for real? #1429503

    yytz
    Participant

    Dryer sheets are completely unnecessary, and are full of toxic chemicals. Many people feel sick just being around them. Some of their components are known neurotoxins.

    in reply to: Leah Weiss, energy healer? #1427947

    yytz
    Participant

    Mishpacha wrote a feature article positively covering the book, and then issued a retraction of sorts, after receiving many critical comments from rabbis about the field.

    Apparently, some rabbis, like R’ Szmerla, argue that nearly all alternative medicine and associated practices like energy healing are permitted, while some, like R’ Belsky, forbid many of them, particularly things like energy healing.

    I would stay far away from reiki and energy healing and such, but traditional forms of medicine like Chinese medicine (which involves not just acupuncture, but also herbs, exercises like tai chi or qigong, and other practices like massage) would seem to be unproblematic, and in practice, are openly used by well-known rabbis.

    in reply to: Leah Weiss, energy healer? #1427879

    yytz
    Participant

    A recently published sefer, Alternative Medicine in Halacha, by Rephoel Szmerla, concludes that such things as energy healing (and various other alternative therapies as well) are kosher.

    in reply to: ashkenaz #1420591

    yytz
    Participant

    There are many Palestinians, other Arabs, Iranians, Afghans, etc. with blue eyes. Some of them have pretty light skin too.

    Ashkenazi Jews are probably descended from Middle Eastern and/or Babylonian Jews, but they were in Europe for over a thousand years, more like 1500 years. That is enough time for the average skin color to change (and eyes and hair too, since skin, eye hair genes are related), for health reasons. Even so, most Ashkenazim have dark hair and many have olive or dark skin (though many are very pale). Blue eyes are common but not the vast majority.

    When a single couple has several children, because of natural genetic variation some will be lighter and some will be darker. In far Northern climates, darker skinned people will not get as much Vitamin D, and will sometimes have health problems or be generally sickly as a result, while the light-skinned will be healthier, and thus more likely on average to have children and successfully raise them and keep them alive. A few dozen generations is potentially enough time for the shift toward lighter skin to take place.

    Genetic studies also suggest that Ashkenazim were descended in part from converts from Southern Europe, especially Italy, and to a much smaller degree from Western and Eastern Europe. This is not surprising, since Jews have attracted converts wherever they have lived. It may have happened at a somewhat larger scale in Ancient Rome.

    in reply to: Where can Israeli Jews escape to in case of emergency? #1417334

    yytz
    Participant

    Good points, Avi K. The traffic fatality rate is also much lower in Israel (in terms of people per 100,000 population who die each year in car accidents), because people drive so much more in the US. Opiate overdose deaths are also very common in the US. Suicide rate in the US is higher. 9/11 killed a number of Jews. Over 50 Jewish US troops have died in Iraq or Afghanistan. If you all all these extra deaths together, they probably make it statistically safer to live in Israel since 1948 ( and definitely since the 2nd Intifada ended — very few, comparatively speaking, have died in terror attacks since then.)

    in reply to: Using Baby name Sivan help #1379703

    yytz
    Participant

    I heard of a somewhat traditional Sephardic girl with that name. It’s possible the name is mainly used among non-religious Israelis. Not sure how popular of a name it is. It is said to mean “season” and is the Jewish month in which the holiday of Shavuos, which commemorates the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, is celebrated.

    in reply to: Where can an Israeli working boy in Brooklyn find chizuk? #1379229

    yytz
    Participant

    Chabad is always an option — I mean shluchim, not Crown Heights. There’s also a Breslov Center in Brooklyn.

    Just a thought, but why not look for work in Israel? Think of your future kids — they will be able to study Torah at such a higher level if they speak Hebrew fluently, and so much less likely to intermarry if they go OTD, c”v’s. If you’re turned off by the kind of Yiddishkeit or schools you grew up with there’s a million other Orthodox options to choose from in Israel. Why move to one of the most expensive places in the world (Brooklyn) when there are so many advantages where you were, and hardly any tuition compared to the US? If parnassa is your concern, the tech industry in Israel is booming like crazy and there is no end in sight.

    in reply to: The likelihood of raising a half black child as yeshivish #1379088

    yytz
    Participant

    Welcome to the CR, and hatzlacha in deciding which schools to send your kids to and which communities to identify with!

    In reality, there are Jews of Color who have successfully integrated within every stream of Yiddishkeit.

    I know a half black-half white young man raised as Yeshivish who married a white Jewish woman and is doing fine. I know a black ger who married a white woman; he considers himself Centrist Orthodox but sends their kids to the yeshivish school for practical reasons, which is working out fine.

    I would choose what schools and communities just overall fit in with what you want for yourself and your family, in terms of hashkafah, halacha, community, etc.

    I guess divorce and marriage rates, if there really are differences that can be documented, could be one consideration, as well as the rate of people going OTD — these are potential reasons for choosing one derech over the other, since the proof is in the pudding, but I wouldn’t try to fit into a mold you disagree with fundamentally just for the sake of the kids.

    Many people (especially but not limited to gerim and BTs) don’t neatly fit in a single category and are somewhere in between, or even are a mix of MO, Yeshivish, Chassidic, etc. Incidentally, today (18 Tishrei) is Rebbe Nachman’s yahrzeit, and many gerim and BTs have gravitated toward his teachings, whether or not they identify as full-fledged Breslover chassidim.

    If I were you I would investigate different schools and shuls and see how friendly the teachers, students, shul members, etc. are, or otherwise see which ones you like, and just choose the ones that seem right. Some communities are just more friendly, and some are probably more accepting to Jews of Color or gerim or their children. Out-of-town places are often a mix between MO and non-MO Jews, with a good number of BTs and gerim, but I’m sure that’s true of many places in NY and Israel as well.

    in reply to: Frying pan: Iron? Ceramic? Teflon? #1373821

    yytz
    Participant

    Ceramic pans are widely available, affordable and work fine.

    Cast iron pans are very nice but if you buy them pre-seasoned there could be kashrus concerns, and if you season them yourself it’s a bit of a hassle.

    Teflon contains manmade molecules that enter, and never leave, the human body, and nobody knows if they’re harming you.

    in reply to: Being Mekarev an Intermarried Jew #1362572

    yytz
    Participant

    Avi K: I don’t know–it’s a hard question, and each BT has to decide what to do in such a situation. Rav Arush’s extensive discussion of such married-to-a-secular-Jew-new-BT-scenarios very strongly argues against divorce, but doesn’t say it’s OK to sin either, so I’m not sure what exact advice he (or other kiruv rabbis) would give in that exact situation. Ultimately the BT will make his own decision.

    I agree that’s it’s usually possible to arrange not to have to work on Shabbos and Yom Tov. If not, he should quit and find another job, since most employers out there are more accommodating nowadays.

    in reply to: Being Mekarev an Intermarried Jew #1362290

    yytz
    Participant

    “he can’t demand that she [secular Jewish wife] become a BT overnight or else? What about kashrut and taharat hamispacha?”

    He can demand, but in the real world he may not get very far. BTs often become observant gradually. This is normal. Halachically it would be ideal if he and his wife would become observant overnight, but that’s generally impossible. Kiruv rabbis are generally sensitive to this reality and will not put too much pressure on him to become frum overnight or demand she do so, and let him become observant in his own pace. What the BT does and how he does it is his business. It is often better to be a bit slow and messy and eventually become a full-fledged BT with his wife and married and kids intact and happy, than to demand immediate changes and end up miserable, divorced, full of regrets and with messed-up kids and an even more anti-religious ex-wife. Of course, it would be ideal if the wife immediately agrees to do the minimum to ensure he will not be committing aveiros, and he should try his best — sometimes that works. But if that is not possible, then it’s not possible. We don’t counsel people to do aveiros, but at the same time kiruv workers have realized that too much speed or pressure can be counterproductive. Rav Arush’s discussion of this issues notes that there is typically a way for the man to avoid sinning even if his wife is not yet committed to full observance.

    In practice, people usually don’t decide overnight they want to be BTs. They slowly become more observant and knowledgeable, still unsure of what they believe and what their future will be, until they finally realize they believe in this 100% and are going to go all the way. The wife can be a partner in that process.

    “ubiq, yytz is suggesting it is okay for him to remain with her.”

    Not that it’s “OK,” but often a new wannabe BT might decide to give her some time to decide if she wants to convert, and a kiruv rabbi generally won’t try to talk him out of it (or try to convince him to leave if he hasn’t decided.) Sometimes after meeting some frum Jews, reading some kiruv-oriented books and so on they commit to Yiddishkeit and convert l’shem shamayim. It’s also worth taking some time to do genealogical research to make sure she’s not Jewish — sometimes she actually is and never knew it.

    “Absolutely incorrect. When asked we most certainly do tell him to leave. If a new BT asked if he should quit his Shabbos job will you suggest not advising him to stop working on Shabbos since “that’s up to the individual”? Completely absurd. Especially if he asks!”

    We don’t demand they leave–who are we, Pharaoh? We’ll tell them the truth, yes, it’s a sin. If it’s a rotten relationship, he wants to leave her anyway, and they have no kids, then why not leave? But if he loves her and she is open to learning about Yiddishkeit and exploring conversion as he becomes more observant, then he can decide, why not give her some time? If it works, it works. If not, not. This is how the real world works, and there have been successful, valid conversions along these lines. Sometimes it is the non-Jew starting the process of becoming observant together, and sometimes it is the Jew, and sometimes it is both of them equally.

    “Chareidi butei dinim absolutely do not convert intermarried spouses.”

    Yes they do, at least here in North America.

    Please try to keep your posts shorter. Thank you.

    in reply to: Being Mekarev an Intermarried Jew #1362469

    yytz
    Participant

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