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  • in reply to: Confederate Statues #1342862
    yytz
    Participant

    Most of the statutes were put up by opponents of the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s, as a symbol of resistance to desegregation, blacks’ voting rights, etc. This is a good argument for taking them down. Some of them were put up for a reconciliation-oriented purpose, including I think the one in Charlottesville. This would suggest being selective in which ones we take down.

    In any case, having them prominently displayed gives them honor and respect which they do not deserve. Taking them down and putting them in museums instead, as historical items instead of public monuments, is a popular proposal on the right and left. There are decent arguments on both sides.

    in reply to: Best Minyan for a modern orthodox jew in Lakewood Jackson Brick area?? #1342903
    yytz
    Participant

    Just as many of the details of tznius are considered dat yehudis instead of dat Moshe (women should dress according to the tznius standards of the community in which they live), it makes sense to adopt the levush of your community, if the vast majority dress a certain way, unless you have a specific levush you are already particular about. “Do not separate yourself from the community.” Avos.

    I live in a diverse area, but if I lived in an area where everyone dressed in a certain style I would probably do so as well. It’s not that hard to wear a hat (and velvet kippa, or whatever), as long as it doesn’t bother you and your family. Just a thought!

    Hatzlacha with your move and finding the right shul for you!

    in reply to: Nazism is a leftist ideology #1342723
    yytz
    Participant

    The only respect in which Nazis were left-wing was that they favored government intervention in the economy. But they weren’t in favor of other economic-left ideas, like labor unions, greater economic equality, worker’s participation in governing the economy, etc. In fact, they were violently opposed to such things, and the Nazis came into power in part by claiming that they needed to be in power to keep the communists from overthrowing capitalism. So it doesn’t make much sense to call them leftists even solely on economic grounds.

    Extreme nationalism (like the Nazis, blaming foreigners and Jews for all their problems and wanting to kill or enslave all non-Aryans) is universally considered right wing, because the political right in general is considered more nationalistic (more in favor of war, puffing up national pride, blaming problems on others, etc.) than the left.

    in reply to: The RCA Are Outta Control, And Do NOT Speak For Me #1341688
    yytz
    Participant

    Health, certainly, anarchism and vigilantism are against the Torah. We need government, and we should criticize lawbreaking and ideologies that encourage it.

    But far-right radicals such as neo-Nazis are very violent too, and they actually want us all dead, which is kind of important, because ideas have consequences, and at least sometimes people act on them. They believe in government, but they want to get in power and use it to kill and oppress everyone else. There’s no reason in the world why a frum Jew should defend these people or minimize the threat they pose.

    I don’t think Trump is actually a white supremacist, or means to help them, but he is, by (against all available evidence) claiming that the protest was fine moderate people, when in fact it was organized solely by white supremacist groups. He is helping white supremacist groups look more mainstream. For this reason, they are optimistic and overjoyed, and not unreasonably, see a bright future for their murderous ideas.

    The mainstream media is also helping them, and has been since the campaign, by giving white supremacists more attention than they deserve.

    We should stand with reasonable conservatives like Cruz, Rubio, Shapiro and others (such as the staff of National Revicew) who have the moral clarity to criticize Trump when appropriate and condemn racist groups without equivocation.

    It doesn’t say anywhere in the Torah not to criticize the government. In fact, we are told not to get too close to the government, because they only have their own selfish interests in mind and won’t stand by us in our time of need.

    in reply to: The RCA Are Outta Control, And Do NOT Speak For Me #1341687
    yytz
    Participant

    Joseph, the alt-right is a rebranding of white supremacism. The term was invented by Richard Spencer, who identifies as a white nationalist (and wants a Jew-free homeland for whites only in America.) At first, the term was used in different ways (when Bannon referred to Breitbart as a platform for the alt-right he may not have meant white supremacists). There are some non-white supremacists among the alt-right, such as the neo-fascist group the Proud Boys. But in general, the term is now used to refer to right-wing extremist groups, either explicitly racist or anti-democratic pro-fascist.

    Regardless, look at non-wikipedia sources and you’ll see the same thing — the individuals and groups who organized the Unite the Right rally were all racists — whether they are new-style rebranded “white nationalists” or old-style neo-Nazis or KKK. The point of the rally was to unite the different extremist groups.

    in reply to: The RCA Are Outta Control, And Do NOT Speak For Me #1341538
    yytz
    Participant

    Joseph, you are completely wrong. First, the alt-right is made of various groups, many of which are explicitly white supremacist. Second, the rally was organized by white supremacists (both KKK and alt-right “white nationalist” groups.) Look at the wikipedia page. Tons of neo-Nazi groups were involved in organizing the event. The main organizer, Jason Kessler, identifies as a white nationalist. The official poster for the event is full of Nazi imagery.

    in reply to: The RCA Are Outta Control, And Do NOT Speak For Me #1341434
    yytz
    Participant

    “And that the idiots from the KKK/NN, who the President condemned (not that he has to condemn every idiot in america who protests) latched unto the pro-Confederate statue rally.”

    Joseph, this is wrong. You and the President can’t just make up your own facts. The whole rally was organized solely by white supremacists from the very beginning. There is no evidence of “fine people” being there who were not racist but were simply opposed to taking down historical monuments.

    Look it up and you will see.

    in reply to: The RCA Are Outta Control, And Do NOT Speak For Me #1341426
    yytz
    Participant

    Joseph, it is not true that the far left has killed more than the far right. A few police officers (such as in Dallas and Baton Rouge) have been killed by people influenced by the more extreme elements of Black Lives Matter. But other than that, there have been no deaths from left wing radicals since the Unabomber in the 1990s. The last time an anarchist killed somebody was decades ago.

    By contrast, far-right radicals (sovereign citizens, neo-Nazis, militant pro-lifers) have killed dozens of people since 9/11. (Don’t forget the OKC bombing as well.) You can find lists of these killings on many websites, including the ADL. Examples include Frazier Miller (a white supremacist who shot people at a JCC), Dylan Roof (a white supremacist who killed 9 black people to try to start a race war and bring fellow white supremacists to power), and Wade Michael Page (a white supremacist who killed 6 Sikhs.) Sovereign citizens (anti-government extremists fueled by bizarre conspiracy theories about the history of American law) have killed a number of police officers in recent years, motivated by their radical anti-government ideology.

    It’s kind of unfair to call them far-right, because they have almost nothing in common ideological with mainstream conservatives, or even the far right of the Republican party (deporting illegal immigrants is a lot different than killing them all.) But they’re called that for the sake of convenience, because they have some similar ideas (being against some immigration), but simply more extreme. Mainstream conservatives shouldn’t rush to defend far-right extremists, as if they’re somehow on the same side.

    in reply to: Thank You President Trump! #1341422
    yytz
    Participant

    Heath, I praise all the mainstream Republicans, and you accuse me of being a liberal for that? Very strange.

    Sure, the left opposes Torah morality, but the far-right opposes our very existence. Both should be opposed in appropriate ways.

    Our mission is to promote Torah values, not to blindly side with whoever the “conservative” leader is.

    As the Lubavitcher Rebbe said, neither left nor right is 100% right — only the Torah is.

    Akuperma, it doesn’t make any sense to blame street crime on criminals’ leftist or anti-Semitic ideology. Very little of it has anything to do with that.

    in reply to: Thank You President Trump! #1340657
    yytz
    Participant

    Thank you, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, for being 100 times more reasonable than our President. See their recent twitter feeds. Orthodox Jewish conservative media personality Ben Schapiro — thank you as well for being a conservative voice of reason, even though you’ve been the target of so much anti-Semitism.

    I would thank Trump for his nice statement denouncing the Klan, neo-Nazis and white nationalists, but the problem is that his statements before and after that statement have made him look like an alt-right white-supremacist-sympathizer.

    The fact is, the Unite the Right rally was organized 100% by radical anti-Semitic, racist far-right extremist groups. It wasn’t organized by any “fine people” who are simply concerned about tearing down monuments because of a concern that it could lead to taking down monuments to slave-holding founding fathers like Jefferson.

    By strongly implying that most people there were fine people, Trump is giving legitimacy to racists and anti-Semites, and everybody knows it.

    The radical left is a real threat, but only far-rightists are likely to commit hate crimes or terrorism against us. We need to be very careful that people in power (like the President!) are not legitimizing them, and helping them recruit more people into their hateful ideologies. Rachmana litzlan.

    in reply to: In Defense of Smoking #1335744
    yytz
    Participant

    Tobacco is surely a moral evil. It is slow suicide, and it kills the people you love (cancer in spouses from second-hand smoke is very common), and if it doesn’t kill them it harms their health in other ways (making them sick more often, asthma, etc.)

    Smokers are always chatting with other smokers, since they’re in the same areas right outside smoke-free buildings. You don’t think this doesn’t lead to inappropriate interaction with the opposite sex? Of course it does.

    We don’t give potheads a free pass. Marijuana is assur too. People don’t think they deserve jail anymore, but that doesn’t mean we approve.

    in reply to: The slowly disappearing community school of old. #1335704
    yytz
    Participant

    I think CTLAWYER is right — a lot of OOT schools, especially in small communities, will accept pretty much everyone, regardless of how much you can pay, your level of observance, your academic aptitude, etc. (unless there is a severe disability they can’t accommodate or something).

    Chabad community schools are known for taking everyone. Perhaps this is a task for the next generation of shluchim looking for something new to do — start high schools that will accept those who get rejected elsewhere, but which are run in a way that is acceptable to Yeshivish and other non-Chabad families?

    Rabbi Shais Taub’s column in Ami last week was about this issue, and if I remember correctly he basically suggested that schools should accept everyone, even if it seems they might not have the room or the resources needed to help that students, since after all schools are meant to help individuals, not to help the institution itself.

    in reply to: “There is no solution” to the Israel conflict: Jared Kushner #1331472
    yytz
    Participant

    Avi K, resettlement is a nice idea, though I think it would have to be done by private parties rather than the government to work in the near future. I like the Jordanian solution, by which all Palestinians in the territories would get Jordanian citizenship and could vote or move there, but could still stay in Israel to work, while all of the Judea/Shomron is annexed. There are many possible ideas, and we just have to wait until one is possible. The two-state solution will never happen (more than it already has — the PA and the Gaza Hamas government are basically state-like, but fortunately are ineffective and have no real legitimacy.)

    It is ultimately OK if the status quo lasts for a few more decades, since by then the demography will be so much in our favor (due to charedi birthrates) we could just annex everything all make all Palestinians citizens and we would still have a 70-80% Jewish majority.

    Joseph, gun violence certainly results in deaths of Jews as well; I can certainly think of examples even recently. Traffic fatalities are much higher here, and that’s definitely not limited to inner-city people — instead, it’s people with long commutes (like many Jews who live in the suburbs). With all the long commuting and rates of drunk driving America is a very dangerous place. One is probably several times more likely to be killed in America due to traffic fatalities (or die early due to the sedentary American lifestyle and unhealthy diet) than to die by terrorism in Israel. Also, many Jews were killed on 9/11, which would not have happened if they had been in Israel.

    yytz
    Participant

    This is fake news. Turns out the DOJ is suing about claims universities discriminate against Asians, not against Whites.

    in reply to: “There is no solution” to the Israel conflict: Jared Kushner #1331167
    yytz
    Participant

    There is no solution, and that is a good thing! The only “solution” policymakers are willing to discuss at the moment is the two-state solution, which is completely unacceptable, since it would involve the permanent ethnic cleansing of Jews from a large swath of our historic homeland.

    Eventually, a solution will come. (For example, Jordan could be overthrown by Palestinians, who are 80% of the population, and then go to war with Israel and lose, with PA Arabs fleeing to Jordan or Egypt to escape the violence of the conflict.) Only Hashem knows when.

    Other than the Second Intifada, the amount of lives lost from terrorism has been minimal. Even including terrorism, the Israeli murder rate is less than that of the US. Their life expectancy is higher, traffic fatality rate is lower, intermarriage rate is many times lower, suicide rate is lower, etc. Overall, it is a better place for Jews to live. Wars with large numbers of casualties have not occurred for decades.

    in reply to: Protection from Crime in Dangerous Communities #1330718
    yytz
    Participant

    1. How many carjackings and home invasions have there been? If there have only been one or two or a small handful, then it may not reflect overall crime trends. People have a tendency to make faulty judgments about overall facts based on one case.

    As for the home invasions, did they occur when the homeowner opened the door to a stranger (as happened in at least one case)? If so, don’t do that and the chance of it occurring to you are very low. Home invasions are relatively rare. If there were home invasions on my block every week, I would certainly get a gun, but if the risk is far less than that, the risks may outweigh the benefits.

    Overall, statistics show that people with guns in the home are far more likely to die from suicide or being shot by others in the house than to shoot an intruder. Think about it — even if you had a gun, how likely would it be that you had time to grab it during a home invasion, unless you wore it on a holster at all times (not recommended!) or had several guns planted in various locations throughout the house (not recommended!)?

    2. Think about moving elsewhere — there are many frum communities with far less crime than Baltimore. Anyway, you can check the block by block crime stats — perhaps you’re already in a safe area of Baltimore.

    3. Take normal precautions applicable everywhere, like always leaving your house and car doors locked, avoiding dangerous areas, not going out late at night, not getting in disputes with people in public such as while driving, staying away from places with people who are drunk or on drugs, etc.

    yytz
    Participant

    Mar Zutra the son of Rav Nachman said: The Torah teaches a rule of good conduct, in that a parent should not accustom his son to eating meat and drinking wine (Chullin 84a).

    Do not be among those who guzzle wine, among those who gorge
    themselves on flesh (Proverbs 23:20).
    Commentary: We are enjoined to “know God in all your ways.” [Even our physical nature must be used in divine service.] However, one who consumes wine and meat to excess does not know the way of God (Rabbeinu Bachaya, Deuteronomy 21:18).

    Desist from eating more than a minimum of meat, even on the Sabbath, for this weakens the soul, and harms her. Similarly, you do not know how much spiritual damage drinking wine indulgently brings about. Therefore, withhold your feet from these paths and deny your soul these pleasures. Exercise the greatest vigilance in such matters.
    The masses take this world at face value. They neither look, nor see, but
    eat and drink to the satisfaction of their Evil Inclination. Woe unto them, that the world fools them for a hand writes Above, and afterward their deeds will be investigated and punished. Thus, it is written: “What shall you do on the day of reckoning?” (Isaiah 10:3). Fortunate are you, in that you have been warned. Cause your loved ones to listen, as well, that they may awaken from their spiritual sleep (Maggid Meisharim, Azharos V’Tikkunim U’Siyagim, 6, 18)

    yytz
    Participant

    RebYidd and Moshe, it is certainly possible to get drunk on beer, as countless people can attest. Depending on your weight, how fast you drink, what you’ve eaten, your alcohol tolerance, your personal sensitivity to alcohol, etc., it is possible to get drunk on much less than 6 beers. We should be less worried about alcohol poisoning per se (which is rare anyway unless people are chugging vodka or something), but rather getting drunk and committing aveiros or doing something dangerous and getting hurt.

    yytz
    Participant

    It is not a good idea. Young men do not have good judgment about such things. We live in societies in which most teenagers think the coolest thing in the world is to get as drunk as you possibly can, and that aspect of the outside culture is going to affect us at some level. If they have the opportunity, at least some of our bochurim will do the same, which at least sometimes will have tragic consequences. Did you see the Ami magazine article from a few weeks ago about the bochur who had a few beers with his friends and then accidentally ran him over and led to permanent disability?

    in reply to: Q&A With Rav Avigdor Miller #1318916
    yytz
    Participant

    Thanks for this series, Joseph. I like his answer on vegetarianism. Here’s another one on vegetarianism (by the Sdei Chemed):

    From R. Chaim Chizkiyahu Medini, Sdei Chemed, Inyan Achilat Basar (translated by R. Dovid Sears – The Vision of Eden, Orot 2003):

    On the subject of eating meat nowadays, our master [R. Chaim Benveniste] in his Knesses HaGedolah (Yoreh De’ah 28) citing the Rashal, states that we may rely upon the Ri and the Ran, and eat meat for the sake of bodily nourishment, and not afflict ourselves at all. However, the Chida [R. Chaim Yosef David Azulai] in his Chaim Sha’al, 43:6, states: “It all depends upon the nature of the individual. If one can afflict oneself in order to atone for one’s sins-for ‘there is no person free from sin’-that is well and good.” As for ourselves, what can we say to this, in such an orphaned generation when the number of our sins is beyond calculation and our plight is almost unbearable, may God forgive us.

    This view is shared by [R. Raphael Pinchas Yehoshua DeSegura] in Os Hi L’Olam, 63c. Here we find support and justification from a well known sage, may the Merciful One protect and sustain him, who for many years abstained completely from eating meat. Heaven forefend that anyone disparage him; happy will be his lot. He abstained even from wine, except when performing a religious precept (e.g., Kiddush, Havdalah, or the Four Cups of the Passover Seder meal). It has been said that all of a person’s labor is for the sake of food; therefore, gluttony often leads to transgression. We have already cited the words of the Ari [R. Yitzchak Luria], “Happy is the person who is able to abstain from meat and wine all week long.” Also note [R. Yehudah Tiktin] in Ba’er Heitiv on Orach Chaim 134:1, sec. 3: “There is an accepted practice not to eat meat or drink wine on Monday and Thursday, since the Heavenly Court is then sitting in judgment… Happy is the person who is able to refrain from meat and wine the entire week.” Also see Yakhel Shlomo on Orach Chaim 529:2.

    It is true that [the Talmud states] that on the Sabbath one dines on meat and wine. However, that is a person’s right, not his obligation. Our sages taught, “One should eat on the Sabbath just as on a weekday [in order to avoid taking charity]” (Shabbos 118a). [Therefore, the consumption of meat cannot be construed as obligatory.] This is also the ruling of [Rabbi Moshe Isserles] in Darkei Moshe on Yoreh De’ah 341. In Reishis Chochmah [the classic introduction to the Kabbalah by R. Eliyahu de Vidas] (129b) there is a lengthy discussion that concludes that one should not consume the flesh of any living creature. And [R. Eliyahu HaKohen of Izmir] in Shevet Mussar, 192a, states that meat is only permitted to a perfectly righteous person. However, all this only pertains to the devout, and a common person is not actually forbidden to eat meat. Nevertheless, we have learned that it is correct to refrain from doing so if one is able to endure privation. Such an individual is considered mighty and holy. Also note Kerem Shlomo on Yoreh De’ah (chap. 1), which explains at length that there is no actual religious duty to consume meat and wine even on the Sabbath or Festivals.

    I have recently seen the Kabbalistic work Shiur Komah by Rabbi Moshe Cordovero, and one of my students, who shall always remain dear to me, has shown me page 84c regarding the transmigration of the soul into the vital spirit of an animal. [There it states,] “Thus a conscientious person should avoid eating meat, as it is possible that the soul of a wicked person may cleave to him – sometimes hastening his death.” The editor adds: “In the light of this, one should never eat meat unless the divine mysteries have been revealed to him, and he knows that it does not contain the reincarnated soul of a transgressor. Similarly the Ari in Sha’ar HaMitzvos, in the Torah portion Eikev, cautions us not to eat much meat for this reason. He adds that certainly one must never consume the heart of any animal, beast, or bird, as therein dwells the life force”.

    in reply to: Innocent until proven guilty #1318380
    yytz
    Participant

    Joseph, great post at 2:12. Every word of it is true.

    Prosecutors generally see themselves as the cops’ lawyers, with the mission of prosecuting everybody who’s arrested and getting them the longest sentence possible. They’re idealistic but in an unnecessarily partisan and punitive way. (This along with overly punitive laws and unfair policing practices resulted in our country having the world’s highest incarceration rate, which basically everyone, even Republicans like Gingrich and Norquist, thinks needs to be reduced dramatically.) Judges are often former prosecutors and have the same mentality. Other judges have quit after having to hand down so many unreasonable mandatory minimum sentences the defendants don’t come close to deserving.

    Prosecutors have the constitutional duty to turn over exculpatory and witness impeachment evidence to the defense but violations of this duty are extremely widespread (they are known as Brady violations, and they (and other forms of prosecutorial misconduct) are so common that they are a significant driver of false convictions.) However, they usually never get caught and when they do they are virtually never punished even in the slightest way. This is all very well documented, in research carried out in reaction to the Supreme Court’s Connick v. Thompson decision, which made it much harder to sue prosecutors even when they engage in misconduct that leads to innocent people being sent to prison for years.

    The Bill of Rights looks good on paper (and indeed, it resembles Torah criminal procedure in some respects, such as the Fifth Amendment) and sometimes these rights are enforced. But the system as a whole produces massively unjust and unreasonable results.

    in reply to: Innocent until proven guilty #1317970
    yytz
    Participant

    It is definitely not prosecutors’ “job” to overzealously seek convictions — that is just the messed-up macho culture that results from our system. Their actual job, as defined by the relevant laws and codes of ethics, is to seek justice (that is, decline to prosecute if you don’t think he’s guilty, or seek only the punishments the person really deserves and that would be most fair or best for society.) A Rav told me that the reason he’s against the death penalty in America is because prosecutors see themselves as having a stake in the outcome and getting a conviction and the sentence they want. This is great contrast to the Torah system, in which there is no prosecutor and the court (which is neutral and has no stake in the outcome), is in charge of determining the facts.

    in reply to: Frum Doctors #1317474
    yytz
    Participant

    There are many frum doctors. I suggest asking around and finding some to talk to so you can find out first hand. Being a doctor is a very demanding profession. There would probably be some times during medical school and residency when there’s no way you would have time to learn for 2 hours a day. Many frum doctors end up having to work on Shabbos and Yom Tov as part of their training (yes, rabbonim give hetarim for this.) So the lifestyle is difficult, as doctors work longer hours with more stress than probably any other major profession. The training takes many years, you work very long hours, and get little sleep, but of course are paid a lot. However, you can try to choose a specialty which is more compatible with a frum life (some specialties make it easier to get days off or work fewer hours.)

    in reply to: Every Menahels Difficult Dillema, the underperforming career rebbi. #1317087
    yytz
    Participant

    Haimy, from what you’re saying it sounds like it’s very important both for the underperforming rebbeim themselves and children that they are fired. A multi-million dollar fund may be unrealistic. So perhaps the solution is 1) make sure that menahalim know it is important to fire them, 2) encourage the community to help find them new employment, such as through an informal network of frum employers who can set them up at least with temporary jobs while they look for a new profession. The fact is, there are plenty of jobs that pay at least as well as rebbi positions that don’t require any college degree or more than a few months of training. Many frum people without college educations are very happy working in kashrus, business (including starting their own), real estate, computers, office jobs, various government jobs, even the trades. It completely normal nowadays to switch careers mid-life; few non-Jews nowadays work in the same field their entire career.

    yytz
    Participant

    Smerel: It is not illegal to fire older workers. It is only illegal to do so *because* the person is old. If the menahel believes, correctly or not, that the rebbi is not doing a good enough job, he has every legal right to fire him. It is also perfectly legal to fire people for no reason whatsoever. The general rule in American law is “employment at will” — people can quit at any time or can be fired at any time, as long as it is not based on race, sex, religious, age discrimination (and even if it is they get away with it unless they are successfully sued.) The exception is if there is a contractual provision that the person can only be fired for certain causes (which is pretty rare), or if there are company rules that there must be a procedure followed in terms of a certain number of warnings, etc. (more common in larger unionized companies.)

    yytz
    Participant

    A multi-million dollar fund is not needed at all. There is a simple solution: to have the guts to do what’s right and fire the underperforming rebbis.

    What do you mean they have no place else to go? Surely Hashem will provide for their livelihood somehow. There are hundreds of schools to apply for other teaching positions, and there are hundreds of other potential jobs that do not require a college degree.

    Maybe Hashem’s plan is that a rebbi is fired and then goes into business and is known mainly for his tzedakah rather than his contributions to chinuch? Maybe he will then become independently wealthy and become a full-time learner? Everything Hashem does is for the best, even going into a line of work that one is not suited for and having to switch careers at midlife.

    in reply to: Q&A With Rav Avigdor Miller #1313856
    yytz
    Participant

    Wolfish: Yes, it appears the Chofetz Chaim is saying the children born from unions in which taharas hamishpacha were not observed will be wicked, but 1) we don’t know if we understand his words — perhaps he did not mean always, 2) he may well have been exaggerating for emphasis, to underscore the importance of this mitzvah?

    If this were literally true that the Ba’al Teshuvah movement would be a contradiction in terms — since they’re all inherently wicked because of the circumstances of their conception what’s the point of them trying? We have to rely on the authority of the greatest tzaddikim and Torah leaders of our time, and they are all 100% in favor of people becoming BTs.

    You can’t use your own personal interpretation in one line of the Chofetz Chaim’s voluminous works to cast away the unanimous authority of all rabbis of the last generation or two that all Jews should become Orthodox and engage in Torah and mitzvos to the best of their ability.

    in reply to: Q&A With Rav Avigdor Miller #1313682
    yytz
    Participant

    “I sometimes find it very difficult to justify asking for anything when my very existence is the result of not following the mitzvos and that, because of this, I am a completely wicked person with no opportunity to actually go back and correct matters.”

    I don’t understand. Your father was a non-Jew, or your parents didn’t observe Taharas haMishpacha? Why would you think such things make you a wicked person? Every person has the potential to overcome their yetzer hara and become close to Hashem. After all, each person is judged according to their deeds (Tehillim), and according to the effort is the reward (Pirkei Avos).

    “God takes pride even in the most insignificant Jew, even in the sinners of Israel, so long as they go by the name Jew. There is a special pride which God takes in each individual Jew. One should therefore never despair of God’s help regardless of any wrong one may have done. God’s love for him will never cease, and he can still return to God. T he main thing is to be attached to the Tzaddik and his followers, because they possess the ability to uncover the goodness and glory which is present even in the worst people and return everything to God” (Likutei Eitzos).

    “When you consider the utter greatness of God and His unfathomable exaltedness, the merest movement, the merest glance of ours which is slightly out of place in relation to the glory of God, should make us liable to whatever we should be liable to, God forbid. But He is filled with love and the whole world is filled with His kindness. God desires this world very greatly. So my beloved friend and brother, my very soul and heart, take courage and trust in God. He will not abandon you. Whatever you experience is all for your good. Rely upon God’s abundant love, which is absolutely without end. There is no limit to the greatness of God. Somehow everything will be transformed to good. Even the intentional sins will be transformed into merits. Only remain firm” (Ibid)

    “Prayer helps for everything. Even if a person is unable to study Torah he will be able to do so if he prays for it. Everything good can be attained through prayer: Torah, devotion, holiness… everything good in all the worlds. Amen” (Ibid.)

    in reply to: Q&A With Rav Avigdor Miller #1313390
    yytz
    Participant

    Interesting. I’m glad to see this (I saw something else by R’ Miller that said men only pray in Hebrew.)

    The Chofetz Chaim greatly emphasized the importance of speaking to Hashem in one’s own words every day at length (he even said in Biur Halacha that a Torah scholar should spend an entire day doing so once a week). See the quote about daily prayer in one’s own words here:

    “In summation, all the many calamities that come on us and that we are not saved from them is because we are not screaming and outpouring in prayer over them. If we would pray and would pour out before HaKadosh Baruch Hu, certainly our prayers and supplications would not return empty. And it’s not enough for a person to pray the shemonei esrei three times a day, rather a few times per day, a person needs to pour out prayers and supplications in solitude, in his house, from the depths of his heart. Because the three prayers (shemonei esrei) are already fixed in his mouth and he doesn’t take them to heart so much. But if a person would contemplate in solitude and make a cheshbon hanefesh on his personal situation, his great poverty and his many toils, and for all this to live on crusty bread and water, then he will pour out his heart like water in front of Hashem, yisborach, and the prayer will go out with deep kavana and with a broken heart and a lowly spirit. A prayer like this will certainly not return empty. And then when his soul is bitter on him, on his situation and his weak standing, and he drops supplications before HaKadosh Baruch Hu, he should also remember the great pain of Hashem yisborach, because he also, so to speak, does not have rest. In all our suffering He suffers…” (Chafetz Chaim – Likutei Amarim ch.11)

    in reply to: Overturn Lawrence v. Texas #1308229
    yytz
    Participant

    Ubiquitin: Your comments illustrate my point — that it would be very difficult to overturn, given disagreements within conservative (even charedi!) circles on this point.

    There is no official definition for conservative. So the idea that no true conservative would support these laws is false. In fact, nearly every state had such laws before a few decades ago. According to your definition there would have been no true conservatives until recent times.

    Lawrence should be overturned because each state should have the right to make its own decisions about how to treat controversial issues. If Lawrence and Obergefell were overturned, then some states would have toeiva marriage, some would have civil partnerships, and some would have no civil partnerships and actually outlaw toeiva practices. I would guess that about 20 states would have toeiva marriage, 20 states would have civil partnerships but no marriage, and maybe 5 or 10 states (Alabama, Mississippi, etc.) would make toeiva illegal again (while of course it would be rarely if ever enforced).

    It is not true that laws are only to be enforced. According to some Tannaim in the Gemara there are laws in the Torah that were never enforced, such as the rebellious son. The Gemara also makes clear that even the death penalty was rarely if ever applied, strongly suggesting that the purpose for the various death penalties is to show us the importance of the mitzvah rather than to actually require us to carry out executions.

    RebYidd, the halacha is that non-Jewish governments are required to outlaw toeiva. It is one of the Seven Noahide Mitzvos. In any case, nearly all laws involve morality and ethics.

    It’s extremely unlikely Lawrence will be overturned, and it isn’t all that important (though the symbolism would make easier for Torah values to flourish in this country.) What’s important is overturning Obergefell. Immediately after overturning it (which could easily be done with one or two more conservative justices), half the country would be in toeiva marriage states and half would be in traditional marriage states. This would be good because the general media and politicians would be at least somewhat less likely to treat this as an issue in which you have to agree with the “progressives” or you are a bigot and deserve to be destroyed. Obergefell makes it much harder to live as a Torah Jew and raise children to have a proper hashkafa, because it is hard to hermetically seal ourselves off from all influence from popular culture. I have no doubt many MO and charedi teens are finding pro-toeiva views online in mainstream news sources and social media and it is turning them against Torah values.

    Joseph, unfortunately I believe it’s also considered unconstitutional to enforce laws against adultery. Not that we should actually enforce them most of the time. But think about the case of the horrible website that is meant to facilitate extramarital affairs (millions of people have signed up). A few decades ago the US government would have shut such a website down (if the web had existed back then) in no time. Now they do nothing, and lives are destroyed.

    in reply to: Overturn Lawrence v. Texas #1308150
    yytz
    Participant

    The highest priority should be getting Obergefell overturned, since it signifies the ultimate victory of the anti-Torah forces of the culture wars. This could happen with just one more Gorsuch-type justice replacing a liberal on the court.

    The same majority could easily overturn Roe.

    And yes, it’s possible, and desireable, that Lawrence be overturned as well. Since this is a bit more controversial among conservatives, it would be better to wait until there is a larger conservative majority on the court before trying to have it overturned. Few people nowadays want to actually arrest a lot of people (or even anybody) for toeiva they engage in in the privacy of their own home. However, the importance of having such laws on the book is symbolic — that society (in those states where it would remain illegal) disapproves of toeiva and wants to discourage it. If I’m not mistaken, I think a similar point was made by R’ Lichtenstein in advocating for such laws. Even so, given how widespread acceptance of toeiva is in today’s society, conservatives may be too pessimistic about the possibility of overturning it to try a case in the Supreme Court, or they may not actually want to overturn it.

    Overturning Obergefell and Roe would be relatively easy with one or two more conservative justices. This would happen through “natural” means — hashgacha, of course, but no open miracles.

    Overturning Lawrence would be more akin to an open miracle, not technically, but as a practical matter. Even so, it could happen.

    in reply to: Dating Advice? #1303662
    yytz
    Participant

    Sorry to hear about the difficulties you’ve experienced, and I hope we hear good news soon! It’s a good idea to find shadchanim would work with special cases, but I would not limited yourself to that — definitely make use of frum dating sites (while of course being guided by your Rav). There are a lot of BTs, gerim and FFBs out there who are single and don’t fit the typical mold — even major family and health problems are fairly common. May Hashem help you find your zivug soon and without difficulty, and give you the emunah and bitachon to get through the whole parshah without getting stressed out!

    in reply to: Government Jobs #1303475
    yytz
    Participant

    It’s not *that* hard to fire a government employee, though there is a bit of red tape; bosses just don’t have the guts to do it when they should, just as commonly happens in the private sector.

    Government employees have good job security unless it is a temp job, of which there are many.

    Salary depends on job and level of government and for states and localities, the wealth and living expenses of the area.

    Government employment may be more compatible with being frum and having good family/life/Torah balance, since most government employees work a straight 8 hour day with no overtime or being texted at all hours.

    in reply to: Rumor about Ivanka Trump Spurs conversation about Geirus #1302123
    yytz
    Participant

    Sarah, which MO rabbis have put in writing that married women are not required to cover? I was only aware of R’ Broyde’s essay tentatively proposing the potential basis for a heter but not actually paskening that it’s not required.

    A rav privately telling a married women not to cover her hair for shalom bayis reasons does not mean it’s not required. When you’re dealing with shalom bayis and especially the issue of married couples when one but not the other is becoming a ba’al teshuvah, leniencies on all kinds of issues (Torah or rabbinic) abound. This is because as a practical matter, if a new BT who had already been married to a chiloni demands to follow all the mitzvos 100% right away, the marriage is over, while if they take things slowly and play their cards right, they can become completely observant by waiting patiently for their spouse to get on board when they’re ready.

    Right before a ger finishes their gerus, they are asked if they accept as binding on themselves all the mitzvos, or the entire Torah without reservation, or some such language. If they say yes and mean it, as a normal sincere ger will (and they’re not really thinking at that precise moment, “No, I don’t accept them all, I just accept the mitzvos that people in my community normally follow” or “I don’t really believe in this stuff, I’m just doing this to fit in with the community or get married” or “I only accept those mitzvos I personally believe in” or “I accept all the mitzvos but that one I don’t like”), then the gerus is valid even if they are not 100% observant right after they emerge from the mikvah.

    It is possible to accept all the mitzvos as binding without doing them right after the gerus. How do I know this? Because that’s the way gerus was always done in the past! They were taught a little, about a small handful of mitzvos, and then they converted and became observant afterward.

    If a ger converted while being confused about what is required and what isn’t (like with headcoverings or whatever), again no problem, as long as they had the sincere general intent to accept all the mitzvos as binding upon themselves.

    Of course, normally a ger today should be completely observant after gerus, and if they aren’t it reasonably raises doubts about their intent at the time of gerus. But if for some reason he’s not 100% observant right after gerus for whatever reason, like lack of willpower, lack of knowledge, confusion about what’s required, conforming to the community or spouse or whatever, then that’s unfortunate and wrong (he should have the guts and responsibility to find out what’s required and do it!), but as long as he sincerely accepted all the mitzvos as binding upon himself right before gerus, then his gerus is still valid. Accepting the yoke of the mitzvos doesn’t mean that you commit never to do a single aveira in your entire life — it just means you accept all the mitzvos as binding on you just as they are binding on any born Jew.

    You might ask, then why aren’t Conservative gerim valid? As Avi K implied, the main reason is that the rabbis are actually apikorsim and thus are not kosher witnesses.

    in reply to: When did hats get so big? #1301740
    yytz
    Participant

    I like bigger hats, since they protect against the sun better. Small hats with barely any brim don’t really serve much of a purpose.

    Perhaps bigger hats have also become more popular because they are a bigger statement against assimilation. A small hat suggests you’re trying to be lower profile. A big hat suggests you don’t care about sticking out with your huge headwear, since you’re proud to be a frum Jew and totally out of step with American popular culture. The more loud and distinctive to Jews the hat is, the better it is in terms of assimilation and group pride. (I guess we can’t take that principle too far — otherwise we’d be wearing gigantic top hats with huge neon yellow stars of David all over them.)

    Also, the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s use of a big wide hat for decades may have influenced even non-chassidim to adopt similarly full-sized hats. Reportedly, asked by a chassid whether the chassid should wear a traditional chassidic-style hat according to his specific local minhagim, the Lubavitcher Rebbe replied that no one nowadays is going to be impressed with such a hat — just wear a Borsalino (a basic dressy hat that at the time (a few decades ago) was the mark of a respectable middle-class person in America).

    in reply to: Rumor about Ivanka Trump Spurs conversation about Geirus #1301110
    yytz
    Participant

    Neville, it’s not true that the Rabbanut requires all conversions to go through RCA batei din. If you look on the Rabbanut’s list you’ll see there are some independent (non-RCA) charedi-oriented batei din like Toronto and Milwaukee.

    in reply to: Memory foam mattress toppers #1298945
    yytz
    Participant

    I would check out all the reviews of the particular product before trying it. We have a memory foam mattress and have no trouble with it, but we bought it from a place where it was airing out in a warehouse for a long time, so it had no smell. I think I’ve heard of some people buying them and being disturbed by the strong chemical odor.

    in reply to: Is YWN Yeshivish? #1297303
    yytz
    Participant

    LB: “Yeshivah world” is often used to mean “the Yeshivish community.” So, yes, overall it is meant as a Yeshivish website, though they do sometimes have news (like photo essays) about Chassidic rebbes and the general Jewish community, and it seems that many Coffeeroom posters are MO, dati leumi, chassidic, etc. rather than Yeshivish. That is because there is nothing like the Coffeeroom for other non-Yeshivish groups, at least in English.

    in reply to: Rumor about Ivanka Trump Spurs conversation about Geirus #1296998
    yytz
    Participant

    “cannot join the Jewish people under those conditions where certain mitzvos are ignored or violated since that effectively means she isn’t fully being kabbalos ohel mitzvos, thus rendering the conversion invalid from the get-go.”

    I don’t think this is precisely the halacha. Before recent times converts were just taught about a few mitzvos before completing their gerus. This is spelled out quite clearly in the S’A. So lack of knowledge of how to observe mitzvos can’t invalidate a conversion. Instead, what probably matters is the ger’s intention at the moment of intention — did they intend to accept the yoke of all the mitzvos? If so, they’re a valid ger, and if not, not, regardless of their state of knowledge at the time, and regardless of the details of the later behavior (though that behavior of course provides hints about what their intent may have been). In any case, if they join a more frum community later and have doubts about their intent at the time of gerus to accept the yoke of the mitzvos, then they can do a gerus l’chumrah if their rav thinks it’s necessary.

    in reply to: How come all frum Jews today aren’t Chassidic? #1292077
    yytz
    Participant

    Today is the yarzheit of R’ Chaim of Volozhin, in effect the founder of the modern Litvish Yeshivah and the ancestor of the Soloveitchik family. Reb Chaim was the author of Nefesh HaChaim, a very mystical and kabbalistic sefer that quotes extensively from the Zohar and other kabbalistic sources that informed chassidus. Although his philosophy focuses more on Torah study, it also includes considerable material about kavanah in davening, meditating on Hashem’s oneness and the fact that “ein od milvado” (there is nothing but Hashem.) So he is an illustration of what I and others were saying — many of the same themes found in chassidus have long been found in non-Chassidic Orthodox Judaism (including Sephardic, I might add) for centuries.

    in reply to: How come all frum Jews today aren’t Chassidic? #1291734
    yytz
    Participant

    Lightbright, to answer your original question, you’re right that same kinds of themes that are emphasized in chassidus (such as joy, faith, love of Hashem, etc.) are also found in the non-Chassidic Orthodox world today as well. Some versions of Litvish mussar are quite similar to chassidus in their overall emphases. Often MO or Litvish rabbis study chassidus or quote chassidic teachings in their drashas. And many chassidic bachurim go to Litvish yeshivas. So there’s a lot of mixture nowadays. Most people stay in the group their parents are in and are perfectly fine with that (though perhaps some of them feel uninspired and would benefit by venturing out a bit to other paths within Orthodoxy.)

    Even 100-200 years ago the stereotype of the Warm Chassid and Cold Litvak weren’t exactly true (there are very spiritual seforim by Litvaks, like R’ Alexander Zuskind hundreds of years ago for example), but now it’s probably less true.

    I personally gravitate toward chassidus as you do (especially Breslov), but I also appreciate the teachings of many non-chassidic rabbanim like Rav Hirsch and the Litvish rabbis I know. Everyone is different, and it is often said that people’s neshamas naturally gravitate toward certain approaches that appeal to them and provide them what they need at that time to grow closer to Hashem. Hope that makes sense!

    in reply to: Abortion politics #1286028
    yytz
    Participant

    Avram, there are definitely a lot of social conservatives who agree with you and would be more than willing to increase social spending in some ways if that would decrease abortions. A lot of Catholic groups have argued for that, for example, as has a group called Feminists for Life. The Republicans in power may be socially conservative (some are, some aren’t), but other things (like cutting taxes and increasing military spending) are important to them as well, so when they contradict each other, and they don’t want to alienate the “fiscal conservative” part of the party, you’re not going to see extra spending to help with social conservative issues. For example, if the government made sure all poor young men had access to decent jobs, the marriage rate would go way up. But no Republicans want to pay for that…

    in reply to: Voting thoughts #1286008
    yytz
    Participant

    M, he campaigned on a promise to help everyday people by bringing back jobs, not by increasing benefits. (He did promise not to cut Medicare, but I don’t think he said anything about Medicaid.) People shouldn’t be too surprised, because for the last few decades, whenever Republicans get elected, their #1 priority always seems to be to cut benefits to the poor (and increase military spending.)

    Interestingly, in Israel you don’t have to choose between a socially-conservative and economically-stingy party and a socially-liberal and economically-generous party, as we do here. Instead, all the religious parties (UTJ, Shas, Bayit haYehudi) are socially-conservative and economically-generous. (They’re not necessarily for a socialist welfare state, but they’re generally in favor of increasing benefits rather than cutting them.)

    in reply to: Ger Naming Baby after NonJewish Grandparent #1286006
    yytz
    Participant

    To me, yes, kind of British sounding. I’m sure there were a lot of White Anglo Saxon Protestants with that name…

    in reply to: Ger Naming Baby after NonJewish Grandparent #1285966
    yytz
    Participant

    Joseph, that may be another reason why Jews a couple generations ago used names like “Norman” and “Sidney” and such — they are unmistakably WASPy but at the same time have no specific Xian connotation, like Patrick or Peter or Paul.

    in reply to: Ger Naming Baby after NonJewish Grandparent #1285888
    yytz
    Participant

    Sorry, I meant “I wouldn’t think it’s forbidden or a horrible thing to do.”

    in reply to: Ger Naming Baby after NonJewish Grandparent #1285726
    yytz
    Participant

    Avi K, the reason Jews used such names (Norman, Morris, Arnold, etc.) is that they sounded sophisticated and upper-class to people at that time. It probably helped with upward mobility (and assimilation as well).

    To answer Lightbright, I don’t know any gerim or born Jews who have done that, and I wouldn’t think it’s a good idea (for the identity-related reasons you mention), though I would think it’s forbidden or a horrible thing to do.

    Nowadays, when there is no little anti-Semitism compared to the past, and so much assimilation, Jews should give their children Jewish names, instead of having two names, as people did in the past.

    yytz
    Participant

    Chabad has the minhag to specifically eat mezanos before davening. Other chassidim may be lenient as well; I don’t know. But traditionally Breslov has been strict — Rebbe Nachman and Reb Noson were careful not to drink even water or coffee before davening.

    Some people probably daven Shacharis at home and make kiddush and then have a snack before coming to shul on Shabbos, but then of course you don’t get to daven with a minyan for Shacharis.

    I think I’ve heard people say you’re allowed to eat before Shabbos davening if you would get weak without food, but I don’t know if there’s a non-chassidic posek who rules that way (for a regular healthy person.)

    in reply to: Communities to live in outside of Yerushalayim #1280809
    yytz
    Participant

    Another independent Breslover here! I know you said you’re not affiliated with Chut Shel Chesed, but I recommend calling up R’ Lazer Brody anyway and asking his advice about where to move. He knows all of Israel very well and may give you a good idea of where you would fit in.

    Since you work full-time and are independent-minded, I wonder whether you might enjoy being in a mixed dati-leumi/chardali/charedi area (as opposed to a mainly charedi area), perhaps with some baalei teshuvah and Chavakuk (Chabad-Breslov-Kook) types. Not sure where that would be. Just a thought. Hatzlacha!

    in reply to: Communities to live in outside of Yerushalayim #1280805
    yytz
    Participant

    You can see the website for yourself, but from what I remember it was about RBS, not BS, and it basically said nobody’s making aliyah to Bet, so it’s unclear if they included Bet (or Gimel). I don’t know where they get the stats — it could be off the top of their head.

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