Saturday, December 10, 2016

Kaminetsky-Greenblatt Heter: Who should be honored with sandek for the mamzer?

There have been rumors circulating Philadelphia about the birth of a mamzer.

Since both R Kaminetsky and R Greenblatt have accepted Tamar's illegitimate marriage that occurred without getting divorced from her first husband, what does the halacha say about the priority of honoring these rabbis when she gives birth to a mamzer. Should it be R Kaminetsky because he was responsible for conceiving and engineering the "heter" or should it be R Greenblatt for giving the "heter" and marrying her to her second husband. Or perhaps it should be R Sholom Kaminetsky for doing all the work of running around the world shopping for a posek who would rubber stamp the "heter" that he and his father cooked up based on the phony psychiatrist report? After there are not that many poskim who would be so irresponsible as to refuse to investigate any of the "facts" by claiming to do so would be an insult to Daas Torah! Truly an Ish Tam

I am sure they are as proud of their success in producing a mamzer as are their many students and supporters. Perhaps the Aguda should declare a joint day of rejoicing for the corruption of halacha with the Philly Yeshiva - maybe even get Lakewood involved. After all their own heroic silence in the face of such a blatant violation of halacha surely should not go unrewarded? I am sure they will also give proper recognition to Rav Dovid Feinstein - who have after carefully establishing that the "heter" was garbage - restrained his halachic instincts and said nothing to the couple about separating - merely noting he gave a private psak for R Shmuel! After all, "It's not in my back yard." Something I am sure he learned from the Noviminsker Rebbe's pronouncement on sexual abuse in Yeshiva Torah Temima.

Of course we can't leave out ORA from the honorees for this event nor their halachic advisor R Herschel Schacter - who has been uncharacteristically silent about his alleged disapproval for the heter. We should also include not only the Washington Beis Din for improper interference in the matter but the Silver Springs community - that has continued to show that they are people of principle - though not of halacha - by boycotting Aharon Friedman for not given a get. This despite the fact that the authorized Baltimore Beis Din said that he had no obligation to give one.

Yes I am sure that there will be many people who will join in celebrating the birth of this mamzer - after all the hard work they have put in to help produce it.  I am sure everyone will want to contribute - not only a donation to the Philly Yeshiva but also send a present to the mamzer himself.  Don't forget to include a personal note of appreciation and gratitude for such gedolim. And of course don't forget to include a line that you are sure that Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky zt"l is getting much nachas from his son's and grandson's activities.

Yes with such an inspiring support of Daas Torah - this mamzer has a bright future ahead of him. I am sure he can look forward to one day marrying one of the granddaughters of these gedolim.


Police arrest R' David Harrison on charges of rape at a Jerusalem seminary


Jerusalem police arrested a 60-year-old local rabbi on Wednesday on suspicion of raping a 14-year-old student several years ago at the ulpana (religious girls’ high school) in which he taught. His remand was extended until next Wednesday.

The woman, now aged 20, filed a complaint with the police a few days ago. She claimed that the suspect, Rabbi David Harrison, committed various sexual crimes against her, including rape, when she was 14. Harrison was arrested following a police investigation, during which they questioned the woman’s family and people from the school.

The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court extended his remand until next Wednesday, with the judge rejecting a request by Harrison's attorney that he not be identified publicly.

A police representative testified at the hearing that, “a woman of about 21 filed a lengthy and detailed complaint against the respondent in early December. She said that when she was in ninth grade in the ulpana, the respondent was a rabbi there and started committing sexual acts on her until one time he had intercourse with her. She said this happened to her numerous times, inside the school, under intimidation.”

At one point in the hearing, Harrison's attorney Yehuda Shoshan suggested that the woman had filed the complaint as a way of explaining to her husband why she was not a virgin. He argued that the plaintiff’s claims were not credible, given the structure of the school and its schedule.

“It doesn’t make sense, which is why I asked if she had intercourse with anyone else, because it’s a known thing that when religious women marry young and they’ve already lost their virginity, they find a way to explain this away,” Shoshan said. “If they were to admit that they’d had sex outside of marriage, they would be considered untouchable in their society, so it’s not farfetched to point out that this complaint arose close to the time of the plaintiff’s marriage.”[...]

The judge accepted the position of the police that there was reasonable suspicion that crimes were committed. “On the basis of the investigative material presented to me, it appears that the respondent, when he was a staff member at the ulpana, did commit the alleged offenses, which are serious sex crimes, against a 14-year-old girl," he said.

"The minor’s emotional state was shaken and her functioning was adversely affected at the time... The complainant has provided very detailed testimony, which has been verified by external factors.”

Russian Hackers Acted to Aid Trump in Election, U.S. Says

American intelligence agencies have concluded with “high confidence” that Russia acted covertly in the latter stages of the presidential campaign to harm Hillary Clinton’s chances and promote Donald J. Trump, according to senior administration officials.

They based that conclusion, in part, on another finding — which they say was also reached with high confidence — that the Russians hacked the Republican National Committee’s computer systems in addition to their attacks on Democratic organizations, but did not release whatever information they gleaned from the Republican networks.

In the months before the election, it was largely documents from Democratic Party systems that were leaked to the public. Intelligence agencies have concluded that the Russians gave the Democrats’ documents to WikiLeaks.

Republicans have a different explanation for why no documents from their networks were ever released. Over the past several months, officials from the Republican committee have consistently said that their networks were not compromised, asserting that only the accounts of individual Republicans were attacked. On Friday, a senior committee official said he had no comment.[...]

“We now have high confidence that they hacked the D.N.C. and the R.N.C., and conspicuously released no documents” from the Republican organization, one senior administration official said, referring to the Russians.[...]

The finding about the Republican committee is expected to be included in a detailed report of “lessons learned” that Mr. Obama has ordered intelligence agencies to assemble before he leaves office on Jan. 20. That report is intended, in part, to create a comprehensive history of the Russian effort to influence the election, and to solidify the intelligence findings before Mr. Trump is sworn in.

Mr. Trump has repeatedly cast doubt about any intelligence suggesting a Russian effort to influence the election. “I don’t believe they interfered,” he told Time magazine in an interview published this week. He suggested that hackers could come from China, or that “it could be some guy in his home in New Jersey.”[...]

Friday, December 9, 2016

Thank you, Trump voters, for this wonderful joke

Washington Post  By Garrison Keillor 

It’s a wonderful satire right out of Twain or Thurber. A minority of the electorate goes for the loosest and least knowledgeable candidate, certain that he will lose and their votes will be only harmless protest, a middle finger to Washington, and then — whoa. The joke comes true. You put a whoopee cushion on your father’s chair and he sits down and it barks and he has a massive coronary. You wanted to get a rise out of him and instead he falls down dead. Very funny.

Thank you, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania for this wonderful joke. Voters in high dudgeon against Wall Street manipulators and the Washington aristocracy vote for the billionaire populist who puts tycoons in power and the Republican hierarchy who owned the logjam that the voters voted against. If Billy the Kid had been smart, he’d’ve run for sheriff.

And now we sit and watch in disbelief as the victor drops one piece of china after another, spits in the soup, sticks his fist through a painting and gobbles up the chocolates. Not satisfied with the usual election night victory speech, he stages a post-election victory tour and gloatfest, a series of rallies in arenas where he can waggle his thumbs and smirk and holler and point out the journalists in their pen for the mob to boo and shake their fists at. He puts the Secret Service through their paces, highways are closed, planes diverted, cities disrupted, just so the man can say how much fun it was to defeat Hillary Clinton and confound the experts.

I stood in an airport last Thursday and watched live cable news coverage of his first stop in Indiana where he toured a factory whose owner had been promised a $7 million tax break in return for not laying off 800 workers. In November, 178,000 jobs were created and unemployment fell, and here was a platoon of journalists in Indiana trailing a big galoot with a red tie who offered a corporation $7 million not to lose 800 workers. No gain, simply a non-loss. It was a classic TV moment, extensive live coverage of essentially nothing whatsoever and we all stood in a stupor and watched, like people mesmerized by drops of rain sliding down a windowpane.

Eighty thousand Trump voters in three states gave us this man, which goes to show you how much damage a few people can do. It takes 12 million to provide health care, 3 million to run the public schools, but 19 men with box cutters can turn the country upside down and empower the paranoid right and create the pretense for wars that will cost billions and kill a million people and give us a permanent army of blue uniforms yelling at us to take off our shoes and put our laptops into plastic trays.

He is a showman, and oddity has paid off for him, as it did for Lady Gaga and Gorgeous George and Liberace. But the public demands new tricks. Today, railing at the journalists who slavishly cover him is, like bear-baiting or lion-taming, entertainment enough, but by next fall he will need to pull canaries out of his ears, and by 2018 he’ll be diving on horseback from a high tower into a pool of water while playing “Malagueña” on a trumpet. Meanwhile, the Democrats wander in the woods, walking into trees. A wealthy San Francisco liberal is reelected as minority leader in the House, having flung millions into the wind and gotten skunked in 2014 and drubbed this fall, and a lackluster black Muslim congressman from Minneapolis is a leading candidate for chair of the Democratic National Committee, the person who will need to connect with disaffected workers in Youngstown and Pittsburgh. Why not a ballet dancer or a Buddhist monk?

Meanwhile, the emperor-elect parades in the nude while his congressional courtiers admire him and the nation drifts toward the rapids. The one bright spot is the old draft-dodger’s newfound fondness for generals, including the one who talked him out of the idea of torturing prisoners of war. Military experience does encourage a certain respect for reality. There is hope that if the showman should decide late one night to incinerate Iran or North Korea and get it over with, someone might say, “Hold on. Let’s think this through.”

Woman's purpose is to be subordinate and supportive of the Man: Rav Dessler

It has become obvious that the true attitude of Judaism towards women has become deliberately obscured or ignored in the modern age. The consensus that women are subordinate to men is a message is that not welcome by many and clearly goes against the values of our present society. There are those who try to explain that this subordination means that  women are more important, or more spiritual or at least equal to a man. However that is not an accurate understanding of the consensus of accepted Torah sources and it is at best a distortion of what words mean. The question and challenge for us is whether we accept this message or we develop an alternative view of true equality and individuality or do we simply continue in a state of confusion and denial?

Update: The Maharal states that women do not accept being subordinate and consequently are more devastated when not treated properly

Maharal (Bava Metzia 59a): Rav said that a person should always be carefully not to oppress his wife because since she is sensitive and readily cries it is easy to make her feel oppressed. Thus we see that it is only his wife that he needs to be exceedingly careful not to hurt her feelings since she is ruled by him and therefore is much more likely to cry than other people who are not so easily oppressed. In other words because his wife is under his control she is more likely to be hurt by his words and cry when he wrongs her. In contrast a non Jewish slave is by nature not so affected by oppression and even a female Jewish slave does not readily cry because she has accepted the servitude to her master. Furthermore a female slave was not created for the purpose of being under his domain. It is only the wife who was created to be under the rule of her husband and as it says (Bereishis 3:16), And he shall rule over you. Therefore when she is oppressed it has a very strong impact on her. Furthermore in truth a wife does not accept being ruled by her husband because she views herself as his equal. In contrast a slave fully accepts that his master rules over him and therefore is not impacted as much as a wife who views herself as important and therefore is devastated when she is not treated with care.

Maharal (Nesiv Ahavas Re’ah 2): Bava Metzia (59a): All the heavenly gates are locked except the gate for those who have been verbally abused (ona’ah)…R’ Eliezar said that every transgression is punished by means of an intermediary except for that of ona’ah which is punished directly by G d. R’ Abahu said that there are three things for which access to heaven is not blocked – ona’ah, theft and idolatry… These are the words of the gemora. It is important to understand these words because the Sages are alluding to a very deep understanding of the nature of ona’ah. First of all it is important to know that there is a major difference between verbal ona’ah and hurting somebody through a physical beating. That is because verbal ona’ah specifically affects the soul of man when he is insulted. On the other hand there is no such thing as ona’ah in reference to the physical body. There is nothing that ona’ah can do to the body. We see this idea in Shemos (22:9): Don’t wrong the ger or oppress him but you know the soul of the ger. The Torah connects ona’ah with the soul which receives the ona’ah. Also all embarrassment is to the soul, as we will explain. Furthermore since ona’ah is to the soul and the soul is in G d’s hand as is stated in Vayikra Rabba (4:1)…the soul and justice are in G d’s left hand… Because of this the soul which suffers wrong is in fact in G d’s hand…Furthermore someone who insults and abuses another person shows that he does not consider that his victim has any importance or existence at all. He treats the victim as a non-entity… There are other matters for which the ona’ah is ever more severe. Bava Metzia (59a): A person should always be careful not to distress his wife because since she readily cries she is more readily distressed. The explanation of this that a person should be particularly careful with his wife because the woman is controlled by her husband and therefore her tears are much more common. Distressing another person is not so devastating. But concerning his wife since she is under his domain and if he should distress her verbally – she readily cries. In contrast the Jewish slave is not so affected by nature. Even a Jewish woman slave does not readily cry because she has accepted the state of servitude to her master on her own. However even though the wife is under the control of her husband, nevertheless she views her self as being a important. Therefore if there were any distress or insult against her from her husband she is strongly devastated – consequently she readily cries.

Additional sources of wife's is required to be subordinate to husband:

Rashi (Bereishis 1:28): And conquer the world – this word is spelled without a “vav” which allows it to be read as “he should conquer her”. This teaches that the male should conquer the female so that she doesn’t go out freely and regularly. (Bereishis Rabba 8:12). It also teaches that it is the man whose nature is to conquer is given the command to have children and not the woman (Yevamos 65b).

Tanna D'Vei Eliyahu Rabba (9): Why was Yael different than all the other women in that a great salvation of Israel came about through her hands and she killed the enemy general Sisra? Our Sages say that it was because she was a proper (kosher) woman and did the will of her husband. From this our Sages say that there is no proper woman except one who does the will of her husband.

Sefas Emes (Bereishis 3:16): And even though this is a good characteristic for a woman [not to ask directly for sexual intercourse]. The gemora that states that it is a good characteristic for a woman might be understood to mean that it is good because she hasn’t deviated from that which G d commanded and therefore she doesn’t ask directly for sexual relations as the result of being cursed by G d (Maharsal). And the reason that Rashi goes into what seems unnecessary length since he has already explained that she is not to emphaze that everything in their relationship is up to the husband. Thus even though she doesn’t want intercourse but he does he can pressure her to comply. Or if he isn’t interetested in sexual relations, then even though she is interested she can not force him. That is the significance of Rash stating, “It is from him and not from her.”

Toras Chaim (Eiruvin 18a): Originally G d thought to create two human beings but in the end He only created one. Because if He created two, then both would be on the same level and the wife would not be subordinate to her husband and there would be fights between them. Therefore He only created one and the woman was created from the tail so that the husband should be the more important one and she should be subordinate to him. But what is the need to have a verse describing G d’s thoughts since it didn’t actually happen – and it seems to be just a history lesson. A possible answer is that the thoughts of G d are definitely brought into fruition. That means that a person who doesn’t merit, his wife will rule over him and she will not be subordinate to him – just as the initial thoughts of G d. This is expressed by the statement that if he merits she will help him and be subordinate to him. If he does not merit she will be his opponent because they are now equal in level and she will not obey him.

Bereishis Rabbah (8:12): And subdue her – A man is required to rule over his wife so that she doesn’t go out to the market. That is because every woman who goes out to the market place will eventually come to grief. This is learned from Dina as it says in Bereishis (34:1) And Dinah went out…and she got into trouble as it says and Shechem saw her. R’ Chanina says the law is in accord with this view.

Eiruvin (100b): She is wrapped like a mourner, banished from all man and imprisoned in a jail [because the honor of the king’s daughter is within – Rashi].

Menoras Hame’or (2:176): Even though the woman is the mate of the man – she should not view her husband as an equal but rather as her master as it says in Tehilim (45:12), Because he is your master and you should bow down to him. And the woman should love her husband and he rules over her as it says (Bereishis 3:16), And your desire shall be to your husband and he shall rule over you. And if you view him as your master he will love you and you will be in his eyes as a sister as we see that Sarah refered to Avraham as master (Bereishis 18:12) and if you minimize talking to what is necessary then you will be even more beloved to your husband. And if you speak before him with grace and humility and if your eyes are attentive to him in the manner that a servant is attentive to her mistress – then you will be greatly valued and honored in his eyes. It relates in a Medrash that a certain Sage told his daughter when she was being taken her husband’s house, “My daughter, stand before him as you would before the king and serve him. And if you should act as a mother to him, he will be to you as a servant and will honor you as a privileged lady. However if you dominate him, he will be forced to act as your master and then you will be degraded in his eyes like a common servant. Embellish and praise him amongst his friends. And if guests come to him, whether relatives or friends – welcome them graciously and offer them generously in order to honor you husband in their eyes. Take good care of his house and all that he has and in this way you will find favor in his eyes and you will be the crown of your husband. Thus it says in Misheli(12:4), A virtuous wife is a crown to her husband.

Menoras HaMe’or (Marriage Chapter 10 page 34): There was a certain woman who made a wedding for her daughter. When she took her to her chasan’s house she said to her, “My daughter you should stand before your husband and serve him with awe and then he will lower himself with you and will become like your servant and honor you as royalty. However if you insist on dominating him then he in turn will dominate you and will not consider you have any significance and he will act as your master and you will be in his eyes debased like as slave.”

Ohr HaChaim (Bereishis 3:16): And to the woman He said...Corresponding to the issue of lust... G d said, And to your husband will be your desire that you will lust after him constantly. There is in this two aspects of the curse. 1) She will lust but will not have the freedom to satisfy it rather it will all depend on her husband and this aspect is also included in the statement “He will rule over you.” 2) In reality her desire is never fully satiated. This is a major difference between men and women. A man is capable of being fully satiated while a woman can not. It is truly a great curse that she is never able to satisfy her desires. ... In addition she thought she would remove G d’s great control because she wanted to be like G d...and as punishment G d added another layer of control and subjugation - her husband.

Rambam (Hilchos Ishus 15:20): And thus our Sages have commanded that the woman honor her husband to an extreme degree and the fear of him should be on her and she should do all her deeds according to what he says and he should be in her eyes as a ruler or king. She should orient her activities according to that which he desires and stay away from that which he hates. This is the manner of the daughters of Israel and the children of Israel who are holy and pure in their marriages. In this way the community will be pleasant and praiseworthy.

Melamed HaTalmidim (Miketz): And thus it is proper that every husband should rule over his wife. It is an embarrassment for him when his wife rules over him. And surely when his wife is constantly with him it is necessary to rule over her. If he does so then it is proper that he be included in the group of the perfectly righteous.

Rav S. R. Hirsch (Bereishis 4:7): And to your husband will be your desire and he will rule over you. This versus describes the relationship between the woman and her husband. The intent or this verse is clearly not describing a situation of constant warfare. As if the woman is always plotting against the man and tries to conquer him but the man is stronger and because of that he always is the dominant partner. Rather the verse is describing the longing the wife has for her beloved husband and she finds fulfillment to her essential being by devoting herself totally to the desires of the man and accepting the activities of her husband.

Rabbeinu Bachye (Bereishis 3:16): And he will rule over you – this punishment – that the husband should be the ruler and tells her what to do – is because she ordered him to eat from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge and thus it was measure for meaure.

Rabbeinu Bachye (Bereishis 3:16): And towards your husband will be your desire – Even though the wife is enslaved under the control of her husband and the normal situation is that a slave escapes from its master in order not to be enslaved – but there was a Divine decree that her desire should be to her husband. She therefore wants to be enslaved by him. Thus her behavior is the opposite of the normal way.

Ibn Ezra (Bereishis 3:16): And your desire – meaning your obediance. The reason why you will obey all that he commands you is because you are in his control to do as he wants.

Esther (1:22): Every man should be the master of his house and his household should speak his language.

Rashi (Esther 1:22): And speak his language - He can force his wife to learn his language if she is only fluent in another language.

Ibn Ezra (Esther 1:22): He should be the master of the house - That means he rules over his wife and she should not deviate from the customs of those who speak his language – not even to speak a different language...

Rashi (Devarim 22:16): And the father of the girl spoke – This teaches that a woman is not allowed to speak in the presence of a man [if the matter concerns him also].

Redak (Bereishis 3:16): And to your desire will to your husband - And even though giving birth will be painful, nevertheless you will still have a strong lust to have sexual intercourse with your husband. And he will rule over you – to order you to do what he wants like a master rules his slave.

Rashi (Bereishis 3:16): And your desire will be to your husband – to have sexual relations even though you are not so arrogant as to directly ask for it. And he will rule over you because everything is from him and not from you.

Rav Tzadok (Dover Tzedek page 41): Berachos (17a) asks, What is the merit that women have – to achieve the World to Come? [Concerning the pshat see Sotah 21a] The reason that this is a question is that women don’t have a mechanism for self-perfection as men do with Torah study. The gemora replies that their merit comes from assisting their husband and children in learning Torah... In other words their perfection is not acquired directly but only through their husbands and children. The husband is oblgated to provide her food, clothing and sexual relations while the son is obligated to honor her and fear her as is said in Kesubos (64a), A woman asks for a staff in her hand (son to support her) while alive and a spade for her burial. In other words her faults and imperfections are completed by the actions of others. Thus she draws perfection from them and her defining nature is being controlled or taken care of by others. That is why the Torah says your husband “will control you.” In contrast the woman is described in Kiddushin (30b), That she is in the domain of others and she has no control or any power and that is why whatever she acquires is automatically acquired by her husband. In fact the only genuine power she has is that her husband is obligated to her in order that he provide what she lacks and this is also true for the son as we mentioned before.

Torah Temima (Bereishis 3:16): And he will rule over you - we learn from this that a woman asks for intercourse through her actions while the man asks for it directly and this is a good trait for women (Eiruvin 100b). Even though the trait of modesty is a good trait, nevertheless it is a curse that she can’t openly express her desires to her husband. It should be noted that this doesn’t explain the language “And he will rule over you” in terms of its literal meaning of having a master… Pirkei DeRabbi Eliezar (Chapter 14) notes that this is one of the curses of a woman and she should have her ear bored as a permanent slave and as a maidservant. The Radal says that this teaches that it has been decreed that a woman always has to pay attention to the words of her husband. It is logical that the reason for the practice of piercing a woman’s ears for jewelry is an allusion to the fact that she is enslaved to her husband as is noted in Pirkei DeRabbi Eliezar. If so then why isn’t the expression in this verse “He shall rule over you” explained according to this understanding [and instead the gemora says it means that she can’t asked openly for intercourse]? … Nevertheless it definitely would appear that the verse doesn’t lose its literal meaning and that is also meant. Therefore in terms of the relationship of a husband and wife, the wife is obligated to accepted the authority of her husband as we find in the Rambam (Hilchos Ishus 15:20): “Our Sages have commanded that the wife view her husband as a king and lord.” Aside from the language of this verse this idea of ruler ship can also be seen in the Sifre…that a woman does not have permission to speak before her husband. This is also possibly the source that Pesachim (108a) that a woman does not have to recline at the Pesach Seder in the presence of her husband. The reason being that he rules over her. She is exempt in the same way that a student is in the presence of his teacher. He cannot recline in the manner of freedom because of his fear and respect of his teacher. It is logical that this is the reason that a woman who does not fulfill the wishes of her husband is called a moredes (rebel). Since it is an obligation to accept him as king and lord [as stated in Rambam] therefore when she does the opposite - it as if she had rebelled against the kingdom. …

Chasam Sofer (Chullin 142a): There is no question that the main issue at Mt. Sinai was that men listen. In other words that they listen and accept the yoke of Torah and mitzvos in their hearts. However in contrast to the women, there was no such concern for their acceptance in their hearts. Women needed to learn enough so that they would not say, “I don’t know” or “I didn’t hear” about this mitzva ever. However there was no concern for their acceptance of the yoke of Torah. That is because it is the obligation of the husband to force all the members of his household to serve G d. G d wants it that way so that the Torah is not dependent on women who are not serious. She needs to follow after the direction of her husband. Therefore the hearing and accepting of the Torah was connected to the men while only superficial learning was associated with the women. Then the children would come and see this amazing thing of how their fathers subjugated themselves to G d and His Torah and they would grow up also being G d fearing

Daas Zekeinim of Baalei Tosfos (Bereishis 3:16): There is a difficulty: why was the woman created from a rib, and not some other organ? So that she should be bent at the ribs and subservient to her husband.

Zohar (1:22a): A woman can not doing anything without the consent of her husband.

Michtav M’Eliyahu (volume 4 page 116): Eiruvin(18a) states that initially Adam and Eve were created with a single body that had two faces (partzuf) and that afterwards they were separated into two distinct individuals. The “body” (guf) is defined as the lowest aspect of the soul (as we explain elsewhere). And that is where man has his free-will. And this that Adam and Eve shared a common body means that initially the woman was not created except to enable man to have offspring – and therefore she didn’t have independence and free-will. But rather their free-will i.e., their body was one. It is important to understand that Adam was extremely wise i.e., his comprehension of truth was great. We can see this from that fact that he gave names to all the living creatures. That means that he was able to recognize the true nature and purpose of all creation. Thus the Torah says that all the names that Adam gave – that in fact was the creature’s name i.e., that Adam’s understanding was in agreement with that of G-d’s. (Chizkuni). In addition Adam himself had not sinned in any manner and in fact had not even thought of sinning. This can be seen from the fact that later he did not eat from the Tree of Life except to do what his wife wanted. That is because his comprehension was so great that when he was the sole agent of free-will it was impossible to seduce or corrput him. At that point before they were separated, there was no equality between the force of the Good Inclination and the force of the Bad Inclination. Therefore G-d separated the woman from him and gave the woman her own free-will. By this separation G-d strengthened the power of the Evil Inclination until between the both of them there was now an equality between the strength of the Good Inclination and the Bad Inclination. (This of course is understood to be according to their level in the Garden of Eden.) The question is why were they created in this manner with a single body and then separated – in a manner that the Evil Inclination was not a meaningful force against the Good Inclination? The answer was that it was done in order to establish the predominance of the Good Inclination and to strengthen man’s recognition of truth. In this way he would be aided later on against the seduction of the Evil Inclination. So in the initial creation, woman was only a utensil for the man and she had no independent free-will as we explained before.

In truth, even now the woman’s nature and free-will is to be a utensil for the man as it states in (Sanhedrin 22a), A woman is unformed (golem) and doesn't not establish a covenant except with the man who makes her into a utensil. Thus the nature of woman is to experience respect and importance through the respect and importance given to her husband. [This can be explained by saying that the purpose of the woman is from the aspect of “ner mitzvah” (the candle of a mitzva) while that of the man is from the aspect of “Torah ohr” (the light of the Torah). [See Zohar Teruma 166a). Thus the work of the woman is in preparing and fixing the material aspects of the mitzva and good deeds i.e. the preparation of the candle (the physical needs i.e., the home). In contrast the work of the man is to become elevated in Torah and to light the candle with the light of the Torah so that the spiritual light of the Torah fills the home. And just like a candle with the fire is nothing so is the fire without a candle – because it can not provide illumination (Zohar Teruma 166a). Thus the work of the man and the work of the woman complement and complete each other].

Rav Ovadia Yosef's daughter discusses the problem of child abuse

Kikar HaShabbat

לפני מספר שבועות, קיבלתי טלפון בנושא שכמעט ולא מדברים עליו במחוזותינו. אולם עם ריבוי המקרים המתפרסמים לפני מספר שבועות, קיבלתי טלפון בנושא שכמעט ולא מדברים עליו במחוזותינו. אולם עם ריבוי המקרים המתפרסמים לאחרונה, נדמה שהגיע הזמן לשבור את השתיקה הרועמת, ולזעוק – ולו במעט, את זעקתם האילמת של הילדים סביבנו. מי יודע? אולי יהיה בזה כדי למנוע את המקרה הבא.
אין ספק כי מדובר בחלום הבלהות של כל הורה. בליבה של כל אמא, ששולחת את ילדיה הקטנים לבדם לבית הספר או למכולת השכונתית, מכרסם בשקט החשש מפני הסכנה האורבת להם דוקא בתוככי השכונה. כל בר דעת מבין, שמדובר בפצצה מתקתקת, הגובה קורבנות ומפילה חללים בקצב מדאיג.לאחרונה, נדמה שהגיע הזמן לשבור את השתיקה הרועמת, ולזעוק – ולו במעט, את זעקתם האילמת של הילדים סביבנו. מי יודע? אולי יהיה בזה כדי למנוע את המקרה הבא.
אין ספק כי מדובר בחלום הבלהות של כל הורה. בליבה של כל אמא, ששולחת את ילדיה הקטנים לבדם לבית הספר או למכולת השכונתית, מכרסם בשקט החשש מפני הסכנה האורבת להם דוקא בתוככי השכונה. כל בר דעת מבין, שמדובר בפצצה מתקתקת, הגובה קורבנות ומפילה חללים בקצב מדאיג.
רק בימים האחרונים, פורסמו בזה אחר זה מספר מקרים המחרידים כל לב. איננו מתיימרים לפסוק דין חלילה, אולם לפעמים נדמה שסיפורים מעין אלה הפכו לסוג של שיגרה. פעם זה השכן מהרחוב הסמוך, פעם האיש החייכן מבית הכנסת, פעם איש חינוך ופעם רב נשוא פנים. כולם נראים נורמטיביים לחלוטין, חביבים ובלתי מזיקים, אך בראשם מסתתרת מפלצת. ברגע אחד של טירוף חולני, הם שוחטים נשמות טהורות ללא רחמים.
אצלנו, כל 'מקרה' שכזה, מסתכם באנחה קולנית. אך עבור הנפגעים ובני משפחותיהם, מדובר בתהומות של סבל, צלקות ופצעים מדממים שיתנו את אותותיהם עד יומם האחרון.
כאשר התקשרה אליי אותה אמא אלמונית, שסירבה להיחשף בשמה, ושאלה בעדינות: "כיצד הורה מרן לנהוג במקרה של תקיפה במוסד חינוכי", לא ציפיתי לצונאמי הדמעות שיזלגו מעיניה בדקות שלאחר מכן. היא מיעטה לשתף בפרטים, אך לימדה אותי שוב את התוצאות האיומות של ההשתקה וההסתרה.
כמובן שמדובר בנושא מורכב וסבוך, שההכרעות הנוגעות אליו מסורות בידי הרבנים. כאשר היו מובאים לשולחנו של מרן מקרים שכאלו, הוא היה מבקש תחילה להפנות אותם לרב מקומי, תוך מתן דגש על רב מוסמך ואחראי, שיברר ביסודיות, בנחישות וברגישות את נכונותם של הפרטים, וייתן את דעתו כיצד יש לפעול.
אמנם לא ניתן להכליל, וכל מקרה לגופו תלוי בפרטים רבים. במקרים מסוימים מאוד, הכריע מרן כי טיפול קפדני, מקצועי ואחראי במסגרת הקהילה, עשוי להיות יעיל יותר, במידה ויש בידינו את הכלים ואת הערובות הנדרשות למנוע את המקרה הבא. אך בסיפורים רבים שהוצגו בפניו, זעק מרן מנהמת לבו: "מה השאלה? אסור להתעלם!", והורה לפנות לרשויות החוק. "אין בזה שום איסור, זו מצוה גדולה", הוא אמר, והשתמש בביטוי התלמודי: "שור מועד אין לו שמירה אלא סכין!".
לפעמים נדמה שאותם תוקפים, פשוט מנצלים את ערכי היהדות על מנת להמשיך במעשיהם השפלים. ככאלה שגדלו בתוככי הצבור שלנו, הם מכירים היטב את אות הקין המתנוססת על מצחו של "מויסר", ובטוחים שמידת הרחמים הפועמת בקרבנו לא תניח לנו לעשות צעדים מרחיקי לכת.
בדיוק בגלל זה, הסכין הארוכה בדמותם של הרבנים או רשויות החוק, עשויה לשמש ככלי הרתעה יעיל שיגרום ל'רוצח' הפוטנציאלי הבא, למצוא את הדרך לטפל בעצמו, לפני שימצא את עצמו מוקע על עמוד הקלון. אז למה יש מאתנו שעדיין בוחרים לשתוק?
ככל שהדבר נשמע כקלישאה, כל אחד מאתנו יחשוב על ילדיו הרכים והטהורים. ילדים שכל דאגתם בחיים סביב אוסף המדבקות או הבובות שלהם, עלולים חלילה ברגע אחד, לשאת על גבם דאגות אימתניות ומזרות אימה. ילד או ילדה שהותקפו, לעולם לא יוכלו לשוב לחיים רגילים ונורמטיביים.
אז בפעם הבאה שאתם מזהים בסביבתכם מישהו מ'אנשי שלומינו' השופך דם נקיים, תחשבו על הילדים שלכם. תחשבו על הורים שנידונים לחיים מלאי סבל והתמודדות. על משפחה שמזדעזעת ונשברת לרסיסים.
אמירות צדקניות בנוסח "הוא ישתנה", או "מסכנים בני המשפחה שלו", מובילים ילד או ילדה נוספים לעבר תהום בלי תחתית. האם אנחנו יכולים לקחת אחריות על כתפינו הצרות? האם נהיה מסוגלים לגונן עליו ולהניח לו להסתובב באין מפריע, כל הדרך אל הקורבן הבא?
ברוך ה' בשנים האחרונות המודעות בנושא התעוררה פלאים, וממדי ההשתקה פחתו. אולם עדיין ניתן למצוא את אותם המסייעים ב'קבורת' הסיפורים הנוראיים, רק כדי לשמור על שמה הטוב של הקהילה, או גרוע מכך – של התוקפים. לא פחות פושעים מהם, אלו אותם "מטפלים" בעיני עצמם, המשתמשים במגוון שיטות של טיוח, ללא פיקוח נדרש של רבנים ועסקנים ברי סמכא.
כל אלו, ייתבעו על כל טיפת דם שבליבם השותת של הנפגעים והוריהם.
פעם הגיע למרן זצ"ל מנהל תלמוד תורה מוכר, וטען כי יש להגביר את המודעות בקרב המחנכים, שיוכלו לזהות ולהתמודד עם הבעיה בכלים מקצועיים. כדרכו, ביקש מרן לאלתר משלוחיו לפעול בנושא, ובמקביל פתח בפני המנהל את ספרו "הליכות עולם", שיצא לאור באותם ימים: "על המלמד לתת לבו על תלמידיו, שלא ייפגעו מאנשים שאינם הגונים, ויהיה מחננו קדוש וטהור", כתב שם מרן הלכה למעשה.
אך לצד החובה המוטלת על המחנכים, אל לנו, כהורים, לפטור את עצמנו מהאחריות הנדרשת. אל מול הפושעים המסתובבים חופשי, חינוך ילדינו למוגנות והתמודדות נכונה, הוא ענין של פיקוח נפש.
כמובן שנדרשת התייעצות עם אנשי מקצוע, כיצד לדבר עם ילד בכל גיל לפי רמת ההבנה שלו, תוך זהירות מרבית שלא להכניס בו פחדים מיותרים. אך עלינו לדעת שעשינו כל אשר שביכולתנו!
אחד מההדרכות המרכזיות של מרן בענין חינוך ילדים, היתה החובה לספק להם את התחושה שהם יכולים לספר ולשתף כל דבר. ילדינו צריכים להיות בטוחים לחלוטין, שבכל סיטואציה קשה או עצובה, יש להם למי לרוץ לספר, מבלי שיהפכו ל'אשמים' או מועמדים לעונש.
מהסיבה הזו, היה מרן מתריע רבות על הנזקים הנגרמים מהכבדת העול על הילדים, יתר על המידה. במקום לקרב אותם אלינו, אנחנו יוצרים חומות של רתיעה וריחוק. כל ילד מצפה לראות בהוריו עוגן של הצלה ושפיות. אך ברגע האמת, בכל שלב בהתמודדויות החיים, לא נוכל להיות שם בשבילו.
לדעת אנשי המקצוע, זהו הצעד הראשון והבסיסי, מתוך שורה של צעדים, שעלינו לעשות כהורים אחראיים. ילד שחי בתחושה והרגשה ברורה, שאם מישהו מאיים, מרביץ או חלילה תוקף, יש לו היכן לקבל מענה מחבק, מכיל ואוהב, יוכל במקרים רבים להציל את עצמו ואת סביבתו.
ומעל הכל, תפילה כנה ואמיתית, של אמא דואגת ודומעת, לעולם אינה שבה ריקם.

Trump as Cyberbully in Chief? Twitter Attack on Union Boss Draws Fire

Thirty years as a union boss in Indiana have given Chuck Jones a thick skin. But even threats to shoot him or burn his house down did not quite prepare him for becoming the target of a verbal takedown by the next president of the United States.

In what one Republican strategist described as “cyberbullying,” President-elect Donald J. Trump derided Mr. Jones on Twitter, accusing him of doing “a terrible job representing workers” and blaming him for the decisions by companies that ship American jobs overseas.[...]

The Twitter message from the president-elect at 7:41 Wednesday night, and a second one urging Mr. Jones to “spend more time working — less time talking,” continued Mr. Trump’s pattern of digital assaults, most of them aimed at his political rivals, reporters, Hollywood celebrities or female accusers. On Tuesday morning, Mr. Trump used Twitter to assail Boeing for escalating costs on the development of a new Air Force One.

But rarely has Mr. Trump used Twitter to express his ire at people like Mr. Jones, the president of United Steelworkers Local 1999, who described himself on Thursday as “just a regular working guy.” With the full power of the presidency just weeks away, Mr. Trump’s decision to single out Mr. Jones for ridicule has drawn condemnation from historians and White House veterans.

“When you attack a man for living an ordinary life in an ordinary job, it is bullying,” said Nicolle Wallace, who was communications director for President George W. Bush and a top strategist to other Republicans. “It is cyberbullying. This is a strategy to bully somebody who dissents. That’s what is dark and disturbing.”

Robert Dallek, a presidential historian, called the verbal attack unprecedented and added: “It’s beneath the dignity of the office. He doesn’t seem to understand that.”

Frank Sesno, a former CNN Washington bureau chief and now the director of the School of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University, said Mr. Trump’s willingness to weaponize his Twitter feed, especially against people who are not political rivals, could produce a chilling effect on people willing to publicly criticize the president.

“Anybody who goes on air or goes public and calls out the president has to then live in fear that he is going to seek retribution in the public sphere,” Mr. Sesno said. “That could discourage people from speaking out.”

Wednesday night’s Twitter message from Mr. Trump came after Mr. Jones, on the CNN program “Erin Burnett OutFront,” challenged the president-elect’s claims. Mr. Jones challenged Mr. Trump’s claim to have saved 1,100 jobs in Indiana at Carrier Corporation from being shipped overseas and said that 350 of those jobs were already staying in the United States.[...]

Mr. Trump’s message to his 17 million Twitter followers set off threats and other harassing calls to Mr. Jones. One caller left five one-minute messages, and two secretaries answering phones at the local’s headquarters have been similarly swamped.

“It’s riled the people up,” Mr. Jones said. “A lot of the people who have called and been not very nice to me, they have been quite clear that they are Trump supporters and I’m an ungrateful so-and-so.”

Mr. Jones refused on Thursday to back down from his criticism of Mr. Trump. And he shrugged off Mr. Trump’s claim that he had not done enough to help the workers his union represents.

“Hell, I know what I did for the last 30 years,” Mr. Jones said, noting his work on behalf of pensions and salaries that average $23 per hour.[...]

Veterans of the White House say they do not know what to expect from Mr. Trump, whose actions since the election have broken with many presidential norms.

David Axelrod, who was a senior adviser to President Obama, said he always advised the current occupant of the Oval Office to be mindful of the extra power that his words carried once they were amplified by the most powerful megaphone in the world.

“What you may think is a light tap is a howitzer,” Mr. Axelrod said. “When you have the man in the most powerful office, for whom there is no target too small, that is a chilling prospect. He has the ability to destroy people in 140 characters.”[...]

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Will women's subordinate status be changed in Messianic Era?

Jewish Action Magazine review of The Moon’s Lost Light by Devorah Heshelis  -  Rabbi Mayer Twersky

Questions regarding the role and place of women within Judaism have spawned an ever-burgeoning literature. The questions themselves are no longer new. Are women equal to men in the eyes of the Torah? Why are there constraints regarding teaching Torah to women? Et cetera. Answers and perspectives, learned and insightful, have been offered from traditional points of view. In fact, the contributions, both books and articles, to this literature have been so plentiful and prolific that one would doubt if it were possible to offer a totally new, yet traditional perspective.

Mrs. Devorah Heshelis (which is a pen name) has done just that. Her monograph, The Moon’s Lost Light, is a remarkably creative and extremely erudite contribution to the Torah-and-women literature. Her monograph is important and delightful–important because it provides a comprehensive, conceptual framework for understanding the Torah’s treatment of women and delightful because of the intellectual excitement which her conceptual breakthrough generates.

Hitherto traditionalists have, in essence, argued as follows. Women are endowed with kedushat Yisrael (sanctity) equal to that of men.1 Moreover, the halachah of matrilineal descent and women’s primary role in childrearing mean that women guarantee Jewish continuity, et cetera. These representative facts simply belie the allegations of disparagement of women. Indubitably, these points are true and need to be emphatically asserted. Nevertheless, without doubting these truths, some people feel that while erroneous conclusions have been rebutted, some of the especially sensitive, crucial questions raised have not been adequately addressed.

The Moon’s Lost Light focuses upon such questions. The following are two of the questions Mrs. Heshelis undertakes to answer: “Why do women sometimes appear to have a secondary position in Judaism? Why are there some rabbinical descriptions of women that don’t seem to correspond to the reality we know?”2

[...] Man and woman were originally created equal, but because Chava (whose soul contained the souls of all future women3) led Adam to sin, woman’s “light” (i.e., abstract intelligence, capacity for studying Torah) was subsequently diminished. There were social and emotional changes as well. Because Chava abused her influence over Adam and led him to sin, she was punished measure for measure with “he shall rule over you.”4 This accounts for women’s secondary position in Judaism.

These punitive measures, however, were not ordained for all eternity. One aspect of the ultimate redemption, as prophesied by Yirmiyahu HaNavi,5 is that “nekeivah tesoveiv gever,” a female will turn into a man. That is, women will become equal with men (reversing the curse of “he shall rule over you”) and also “women will once again have [abstract] perception equal to that of men.”6 In particular, according to Targum Yonatan ben Uziel, nekeivah tesoveiv gever means that women will utilize their newly regained “light” to study Torah. Moreover, according to the teaching of the Gaon of Vilna, as recorded in Kol HaTor, starting with the year 5500 from Creation (1740 C.E.), the powers of redemption would begin to enter the world. “Everything that will be in the full redemption enters the world … little by little in this period.”7 Accordingly, in the modern era women have incrementally begun to enjoy equality and, in ever increasing numbers, demonstrate a high degree of abstract intelligence. Thus in our day, we have witnessed the initial, partial fulfillment of nekeivah tesoveiv gever, as interpreted by Yonatan ben Uziel. Women are studying Torah.

Mrs. Heshelis’ historical approach suggests that women are somewhat different today than they were throughout pre-modern history. This accounts for the discrepancy between the rabbinic depictions of women and the contemporary reality of women. The descriptions found in the Talmud were accurate at that time. We observe increasing numbers of women whose intellectual profile differs because “when the power of nekeivah tesoveiv gever started affecting the world, woman’s abstract abilities began to change.”8

The Legitimacy of Questions

Before we reflect upon the answers put forward by Mrs. Heshelis, we must first consider the questions that prompted her to write the monograph. Are the questions themselves both accurate and legitimate?

The first question posed is “Why do women sometimes appear to have a secondary position in Judaism?”9 I am uncomfortable with the description of women’s “secondary position.”10 Our gedolim have affirmed the axiological, ontological equality (i.e., equality of value) of men and women within Yahadut.11 “Secondary,” however, is easily misconstrued as to deny such equality. The question, if it is to be asked, should be re-worded to focus upon women’s supporting role.

But is either form of the question–secondary or supporting–legitimate? After all, not every question is legitimate. Some questions surpass the limitations of the human intellect. In this context it is worth quoting the timeless words of Rabbi Yehudah Halevi.12 The question he addresses is why was Torah not given to all of mankind? Would not that have been more appropriate for the Divine wisdom? In other words, why did HaKadosh Baruch Hu single out the Jewish people from the rest of humanity? Rabbi Yehudah Halevi’s response: “And would it not have been more appropriate that all animals be created as humans?” In other words, why did HaKadosh Baruch Hu single out human beings by endowing them with intelligence and free will? Clearly such questions can never be answered, and, accordingly, they are neither meaningful nor legitimate. There are fundamental facts and axioms within HaKadosh Baruch Hu’s creation. Man is able to accomplish so much with two hands. Imagine how much he would be able to do if he had been created with three hands! The response is kach gazra chachmato, this is what Hashem in His inscrutable wisdom decreed. We cannot question the basic facts of Hashem’s world. This, in essence, is Rabbi Yehudah Halevi’s response.[...]

Thus the legitimacy and appropriateness of the author’s first question is itself open to question. Moreover, ultimately Mrs. Heshelis must also invoke this teaching of Rabbi Yehudah Halevi. In her words, “The principle of nekeivah tesoveiv gever does not mean that women will become altogether identical with men … men and women will each have primary virtues, while also having abilities on the other side.”13 So writes Mrs. Heshelis, and, undoubtedly, she is absolutely correct. But why will they not be identical? The response, of course, is kach gazra chachmato. The initial “why” question–“Why do women sometimes appear to have a secondary position [supporting role] in Judaism?”–warrants a similar response.14[...]

The author’s second question, which focuses on the disparity between rabbinic descriptions and contemporary impressions of women, raises a different methodological issue. The question axiomatically assumes that not only rabbinic statements but also our impressions are sources of truth. Clearly if our impressions have no epistemological validity, the second question simply disappears. Thus the methodological issue is, are our impressions (especially when apparently in conflict with the words of our Sages) to be regarded as a source of truth or knowledge?

The answer from a Torah perspective, I believe, is “yes, but….” Rabbi Sa’adiah Gaon substantiates the “yes” component of the response. He writes in the introduction (par. 5) to his Emunot VeDeot that both sensory perceptions as well as logical inferences from these perceptions are sources of truth. We observe increasing numbers of women succeeding and even excelling in pursuits that require a high degree of abstract intelligence. Ergo, we infer that these women possess keen abstract intelligence. According to Rabbi Sa’adiah Gaon, both links in the chain–our perception as well as our inference–are epistemologically valid. Thus we know that women possess a high degree of abstract intelligence, yet our Sages seem to indicate otherwise. Accordingly, Mrs. Heshelis’ second question is entirely legitimate.[...]

The Moon’s Lost Light

Following are a few observations concerning the central thesis of The Moon’s Lost Light. The Talmud17 enumerates ten curses imposed on Chava; the loss of abstract intelligence is not included. Mrs. Heshelis, of course, does provide sources from Kabbalah to document this loss in the aftermath of the sin. Nevertheless the question is worth pondering: Why is this curse omitted from the Talmudic list? Does its omission preclude from a Talmudic perspective Mrs. Heshelis’ approach or is this simply an instance of tanna vesheyer,18 our rabbis not always intending to provide an exhaustive list?

Though the aforementioned Talmudic passage is inconclusive, three of the greatest medieval Talmudists–Ra’avad, Rashba and Rabbeinu Ya’akov Ba’al Haturim–do not subscribe to elements of Mrs. Heshelis’ approach. Mrs. Heshelis describes the partnership between Adam and Chava before their sin as follows. “There was wisdom that Adam, representing intellectual knowledge, perceived first and then passed on to Chava, who then absorbed this wisdom into her heart, adding her emotional understanding to it.”19 Woman’s supporting role, according to Mrs. Heshelis, emerges only in the aftermath of the sin.20 This appears to be at odds with the depiction of Creation provided by the aforementioned sages.21 In his introduction to his classic Ba’alei Hanefesh, Ra’avad states that Hashem’s original, ideal thought (bemetziut hamachashavah hakadmonit . . . ra’ah betovat ha’adam), which he implemented, was to create woman from man’s side (unlike all other species where male and female were created individually) so that she would have a natural affinity for her supporting role. (In the animal kingdom the female does not adopt such a role.) Similarly, in a responsum22 Rasba explains that the ideal plan for Creation was to create woman from man to signify her supporting role. He also approvingly cites Ra’avad’s explanation.23 Rabbeinu Ya’akov Ba’al Haturim, in his introduction to Even Haezer, also adopts Ra’avad’s explanation.24

Both Ra’avad and Rashba are interpreting Hashem’s “original thought” as to the ideal mode of creating man and woman. Thus both Ra’avad and Rashba indicate that woman’s supporting role was part of Hashem’s original plan, and was not imposed as punishment for Chava’s sin.25

On the other hand, in addition to the sources that Mrs. Heshelis cites, there are also other sources that buttress elements of her approach. One crucial element of Mrs. Heshelis’ approach is that “man and woman were originally created equal, but that woman’s ‘light’ was subsequently lessened.” 26 The Vilna Gaon explicitly says this.27 “Initially [Adam] called her ishah ‘because she was taken from ish’ to assist him in intellectual pursuits [muskalot], and the two of them were equal . . . . But after the sin she does not desire intellectual pursuits . . . .”

Another crucial element is the interpretation of nekeivah tesoveiv gever, that “a female will turn into a man,” meaning that women will then have “male capabilities and privileges.”28 Rabbi Yechiel Michel Zilber, building upon the Chatam Sofer, develops this very idea; he, however, interprets it as a purely futuristic prophecy, with no bearing on this world’s realities or developments.29

The time frame for nekeivah tesoveiv gever, women regaining intellectual, social and economic parity with men, is absolutely vital to Mrs. Heshelis’ thesis. The author herself, displaying the erudition and intellectual honesty which characterize her monograph, cites the Ma’or VeShemesh and Kli Yakar, whose time frame differs from hers. Ma’or VeShemesh says that nekeivah tesoveiv gever will happen only after the complete rectification of the world, while Kli Yakar says that this transformation will happen only after the revival of the dead. As noted above, Rabbi Zilber also interprets nekeivah tesoveiv gever as a purely futuristic prophecy. Mrs. Heshelis, however, suggests that, according to Rabbi Yonatan ben Uziel, the prophecy of nekeivah tesoveiv gever is linked to the ingathering of the exiles to the land of Israel. Since the ingathering is already happening incrementally, the prophecy of nekeivah tesoveiv gever is also gradually materializing. Once again the argument is enticing and plausible, but questionable. As noted by Mrs. Heshelis, Rabbi Yonatan ben Uziel himself does not give any time frame. Mrs. Heshelis, based upon the context of chapter 31 in Yirmiyahu where nekeivah tesoveiv gever appears, is arguing ex silentio that Rabbi Yonatan ben Uziel accepts an earlier time frame, which is linked to the ingathering of exiles. She may be correct. But arguments ex silentio are often questionable. Specifically, in this instance, the context of chapter 31 did not preclude the views of Ma’or VeShemesh and Kli Yakar. Thus the context certainly does not indicate that Rabbi Yonatan ben Uziel disagrees with them. Moreover, even if Rabbi Yonatan ben Uziel’s time frame for nekeivah tesoveiv gever is linked to the ingathering of the exiles, perhaps this means the ingathering of all the exiles. As this has certainly not yet transpired, we would not be witnessing the beginning of the fulfillment of that prophecy.30

Mrs. Heshelis’ approach rests upon an assumption. Women have changed. In the second half of the sixth millennium there are more women who possess a high degree of abstract intelligence than at any other time in history. This is, prima facie, a reasonable assumption. It provides a very cogent explanation for the dissatisfaction that some contemporary women feel with a purely domestic role. Nonetheless, given the dearth of historical data, it does not seem possible to document or otherwise verify that there has been a change. Mrs. Heshelis’ assumption is entirely reasonable, but it is important to realize that it is, after all, only an assumption.31

Mrs. Heshelis maintains that the descriptions of women found in the Talmud were accurate at that time, but were never intended for our era, when the powers of redemption have started entering the world.32 This is definitely a plausible interpretation. Nevertheless, it should be noted that the sources themselves, 33 which contain these descriptions, do not hint at any such caveat.


Mrs. Heshelis’ approach is very effective in harmonizing our impressions with our Sages’ pronouncements. But, at first glance, it also seems potentially troubling. There are immutable34 halachot predicated upon the curses imposed upon Chava. “Rav Yehoshua son of Levi says, ‘A man is obligated to consort with his wife before embarking on a journey [as it is written] “and your craving shall be for your husband”–this teaches that a woman craves for her husband when he embarks on a journey.’”35 In several places36 the Gemara articulates a chazakah, presumption, about women’s attitude to marriage. “It is better to live as two together than to live alone.” Based upon this chazakah, we assume that a woman is very eager to marry and remain married (more so than a man). This chazakah has far-reaching, halachic repercussions. For example, because of this chazakah, “a divorce, even in a situation of conflict, is deemed disadvantageous to her, and if granted through an unauthorized third party the divorce does not take effect.”37 Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik’s emphatic words in identifying the source of the chazakah are especially relevant to our discussion:
Not only the halachot but also the chazakot which chachmei Chazal have introduced are indestructible. We must not tamper, not only with the halachot, but even with the chazakot, for the chazakot of which Chazal spoke rest not upon transient psychological behavioral patterns, but upon permanent ontological principles rooted in the very depth of the human personality, which are as changeless as the heavens above. Let us take for example the chazakah that I was told about: the chazakah “It is better to live as two together than to live alone” has absolutely nothing to do with the social and political status of women in antiquity. This chazakah is based not upon sociological factors, but upon a verse in Bereishit–“I will greatly multiply your pain and your travail; in pain you shall bring forth children, and your desire shall be to your husband, and he shall rule over you.” It is a metaphysical curse rooted in the feminine personality; she suffers incomparably more than the male who is in solitude. Solitude to the male is not as terrible an experience, as horrifying an experience, as is solitude to the woman. And this will not change kemei hashamayim al ha’aretz [forever]. This is not a psychological fact; it is an existential fact, which is due not to the inferior status of the woman, but rather to the difference, the basic distinction between the female personality and the male personality. . . She was burdened by the Almighty, after she violated the first [law].” 38

Thus, according to the Rav, halachot, by definition immutable, are rooted in the curse imposed upon Chava.

Rabbi Meir Simcha of Dvinsk, in his magisterial Meshech Chachmah,39 also invokes this chazakah in explaining women’s timeless exemption from the commandment of procreation.

A crucial question now emerges. Can it possibly be true that Chava’s curses have begun to ameliorate and, accordingly, women are different? Can this be reconciled with the fact that immutable halachot are predicated upon these curses? The author is appropriately very sensitive to these questions;40 in essence, she unequivocally responds that the partial changes in women’s reality in the pre-messianic period do not countenance changes in halachah. In other words, it is Hashem’s judgment that the incremental changes that occur in the pre-messianic period are not significant enough to warrant any change in halachah. Everything remains unaltered until the final redemption is complete. Moreover, our Sages also anticipated these changes. “They were simply describing the situation as it existed throughout most of world history, before the powers of redemption started entering the world.”41 [...]

The Moon’s Lost Light is an excitingly original and remarkably erudite monograph. The handful of critical points and differing perspectives contained within this review do not, individually or collectively, refute the author’s essential thesis and historical framework. They do, however, indicate that the author’s approach, though suggestive and enticing, is neither definitive nor exclusionary.60 Her approach clearly cannot lay claim to a consensus omnium. On some points, there are clearly contrary views. On the other hand, her monograph, even after scrutiny, remains unquestionably exciting, valid and important. I find myself in agreement with Rabbi Zev Leff’s comment in his approbation, “This [The Moon’s Lost Light] is definitely one valid Torah perspective on this [women’s] complex issue.”61[...]

Chinuch: A man should divorce his wife when she is no longer useful to him

Chinuch (#579): Divorce requires a document: ....The basis of this mitzva is that since a woman was created to help her husband and she is to him like an desirable utensil. A similar idea is expressed in Sanhedrin (22b), A woman does not make a covenant except with one who makes her into a utensil. Since a woman is there to serve a purpose, it is the will of G d that when he is disgusted with this utensil he should remove it from his house. Because of this reason there are some of our Sages who say in Gittin (90a) that even if she burns his food he is able to divorce her i.e., for a trivial matter since she is nothing but a valued utensil in his house. However others Sages say that since she is in G-d’s form and image and G-d prepared her for her husband’s needs and honor – with eyes to see and ears to hear and intelligence – it is not right to reject her and send out of his house except for a major reason. This is as the verse says, “Because he found in her ervas davar (something disgusting).” Nevertheless according to all the Sages, if he finds some major problem with her it is correct to divorce her. That is because of the reason I mentioned, that she was only created for his sake. And since she is causing him upset and he is disgusted with her there is no necessity for him to remain with her. The Jewish approach is not that of some of the non-Jews who make a strong binding commitment to marriage that is only ended by death. A man should not be afraid to divorce his wife if she does something repellent and destroys all that is in the house and burns down all of his possessions. However the Torah commands that when she is sent away that it shouldn't be done by words alone because this can lead to much trouble and immorality in our society. Because a wife who is committing adultery could simply claim that she was already divorced. In addition if divorce is too easy to do then it becomes very common. Consequently the Torah requires that a divorce be based on a written document and that there be witnesses who testify and that all those who claim to be divorced can show it. An additional advantage of a complicated written procedure over an oral agreement is that the delay and effort can cause the man’s anger to dissipate sometimes and he will decide not to divorce his wife and great is peace...

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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Shlomo Aryeh Rothman, of Beit Shemesh, charged with sexual assaults on a 13-year old haredi child,

A man accused of performing indecent acts on a small boy was indicted Monday morning in a Jerusalem district court.

Shlomo Aryeh Rothman, a 21-year old resident of Beit Shemesh, has been charged with a series of sexual assaults on a 13-year old haredi child, whom he lured into his car from outside of the synagogue in which the boy prayed.

Rothman, who had visited the area of the synagogue several times, selected his victim and offered to give him a ride in his car. [...]

The boy’s parents were made aware of the attacks after the victim began exhibiting erratic behavior, locking himself in his room and avoiding contact with others. The family contacted police with their concerns, eventually leading to Rothman’s arrest.