Volume 53 Number 31
                    Produced: Fri Dec 22  5:20:12 EST 2006

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

List Priorities (6)
         [Anonymous, Mark Steiner, Ari Trachtenberg, Joshua Goldmeier, N
Miller, David I. Cohen]


From: Anonymous
Date: Thu, 21 Dec 2006 04:02:17
Subject: List Priorities

I have been reading mail Jewish for many years and have seen many topics
discussed across the spectrum of halacha.  Some are monotonous as the
grammar topics and some are more involved in everyday halachic
challenges as well as those social halachic issues which can be
downright disturbing.

I believe there is much to gained on each of the different areas. I have
to admit there are certain topics which disinterest me but thankfully,
the moderator lists the topics at the top of each issue so I can choose
what I read.  I think its important to present a well rounded aspect of
different areas of Judaism even if the topic at hand may be boring to
one it can be fascinating to another. I think its unfair to say that one
topic is more important than another or one topic is narishkeit compared
to another.

However, I do agree with Jeanette Friedman that we need to examine our
behaviors to one another as Jews. There needs to be some social changes
within our community.

Whether its in the forum of divorce, in terms of men not giving divorces
or women not being cooperative in civil divorces or Jewish women getting
beaten up on a bus going to the Kotel to daven, our dealings with our
high risk teenagers, how we treat our emotionally challenged individuals
within our communities, sexual abuse, learning disabilities, etc.  I
believe by not speaking out against such tragedies that we will witness
these poor behaviors and mishandling of situations happening over and
over again.  Unfortunately, we don't live in Europe where we can
effectively put someone in charem and make the behavior change.  There
has to be some sort of social change/shift in our attitudes and how we
deal with people who are not behaving like religious people should
behave as well as effectively deal with our children in terms of
learning disabilities and sexual abuse found in our yeshivas and camps.
We need to educate our Rabbis as well as our communities about many of
these topics.  Many are clueless about certain situations and
truthfully, smicha programs don't teach our future rabbeim how to deal
with these daily alarming occurrences in our communities. It seems
today, we need to have more social work/therapy training included in
becoming a Rav. Somehow, we need to get our heads out of the sand and
the dark ages before we lose more observant people due to some of the
horrific situations they find themselves in with no help from our
community to end bad behavior as well as judgmentalism eroding our
communities.  And most tragically all due to being uneducated as well as
unwilling to become educated. In order to effectively make
changes/reforms; we must learn all we can about these maladies effecting
our communities and not make light of them or sweep them under the
carpet. A proper solution cannot be reached without truly understanding
every aspect of the problem.  The modern day Rabbis are afraid of these
people who do not behave and in many cases, they have good reason to
be. The Rabbeim do not have the support they need from the communities
as well and are dependent on their shul salaries. Thus, they are afraid
to offend anyone since they know they could be ousted from their posts
if they rattle/offend anyone on their shul boards.

Many rabbeim walk a tight walk and truthfully, are afraid to speak up
since they need to provide for their large families and have no other
career training.  One interaction with an irrational shul member could
ruin their careers so are we justified in just blaming the Rabbis?  I
think not because we don't support them as well or provide a system to
protect our Rabbeim.  Its a two way street here.  I believe discussions
of how to empower our Rabbeim to end some of these outrageous situations
has been overlooked as well as how to protect them and their families
for being brave to speak out on these topics.

 There needs to be a better way to deal with our current crisis as well
as an avenue to openly speak about them and not shut down emotionally
with flimsy excuses for doing so.  Remember no action is a reaction and
is often detrimental in many social halachic situations.  Those doing
the offending believe they can continue to do so because there are no
ramifications and no social pressures to stop.  For example, if the
woman was beaten on a bus going down Fifth Avenue in NYC, I am sure the
bus driver would have pulled over, called the police as well as other
passengers on the bus would have with their cell phones and others would
have punched the lights out of the male offender.  There is no question
here. What gives with the Jerusalem driver and the charedi offenders?
Why has it taken so long for the story to unfold and reach our
community?  Why is there not more outrage? And truthfully, I am
dumbfounded about the many comparisons of this incident to Rosa Park who
btw was not touched by any of the racist males when she refused to move.
The whole episode is disturbing, embarrassing and sad.

Lastly, for the women on the list who want social change and want to
truly get heard by the males on the list.  Many males cannot deal with
emotionalism either in person or in writing.

Many shut down especially when the post rambles on and on with many
different topics at hand.  Chose one topic and discuss the one topic but
don't go ranting and raving about every single social injustice eating
away within you.  Its a sure way to be ignored.

I am not saying not to be emotional but also, show an intellectual side
to it as well as maybe a solution.  One becomes exasperated when there
is no possible solution offered just a continual ranting of every social
injustice plaquing the Jewish community.  For example on the thread of
men who refuse to give a get; one could write a thesis on the topic
however we have heard all about these situations via reading about them
or personally know stories. We now need to come up with solutions or
ideas for social reform that can be effective. Yes, I know bringing
things to the surface is important but now, we need to go to the next
step of what to do.  For example, I read a suggestion of posting and
displaying photos of those refusing to give a get might help. Further
discussion of how to do it and how it would be beneficial would be a
good discussion.  What other avenues are available?  Just hanging on to
the thread of the blame game just becomes irritating after a while.

I, as a woman who reads this list daily, believes that Mail Jewish has
an important role in this endeavor to speak out about these injustices
and mishandling of many social situations which effect many individuals
within our community as well as a catalist to bring proper changes with
our attitudes, reactions and empowering ourselves to come up with
solutions within an acceptable halachic framework. We need to come
together as a community and perhaps our Mail Jewish family could be the
one group to lead the way.

>From an independent thinking woman who wishes to remain anonymous.....

From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Thu, 21 Dec 2006 15:42:09 +0200
Subject: RE: List Priorities

Quite often, the ostensible subject of discussion on mail-jewish
conceals the real issue, and the real issue may have large halakhic
significance.  Hence I urge tolerance on the readers.

I will give two examples of recent issues that have come up, where some
readers have had no patience with the topic, either because it looked
trivial or nit-picking; or because it seemed to have only political

For example, the discussions of dikduk [grammar, what happened to the
dictum that we should translate Hebrew terms?], often involve, albeit in
a veiled way, questions about the belief in the integrity of our
tradition.  (E.g.  what do we do when our reading tradition is
contradicted by earier manuscripts?)  This kind of question goes far
beyond grammar.

On the other hand, the discussion about Neturei Karta in Iran is really
a discussion about the concept of hillul hashem and kiddush hashem
[desecration and sanctification of the Divine Name], certainly a
halakhic category.  The participants in the "conference," deranged (or
evil) as they may be, are conviced that they are sanctifying the name of
Hashem by their willingness to suffer ostracism and worse for their
opposition to Zionism, which they view as a rebellion against the
Kingdom of Heaven.  Most of us would regard their participation, on the
contrary, as a hillul hashem, at least because they bring Judaism and
Orthodox Jews into bad repute, and, of course strengthen the forces of
anti-semitism in the world.  This is why, presumably, the Satmars have
condemned the Neturei Karta, though they agree with them on Zionism.

Another example from what would seem to be (but may not be) the other
extreme: the late Meir Kahane argued that the expulsion of the Arab
population from the State of Israel would be a kiddush hashem (basing
himself on verses in the Prophet Ezekiel), since Jewish power represents
the power of Hashem.  Many wouild regard even the raising of this
question as a religious imperative as a hillul hashem.

The question here arises, and I regard this as an interesting and
perplexing halakhic question, to which I have no ready answer: is there
an objective definition of hillul hashem which can be agreed upon by
Jews of differing orientations, so that a halakhic dialogue might be

From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Thu, 21 Dec 2006 09:11:17 -0500
Subject: Re: List Priorities

> My condemnations on Mail-Jewish of either Neturai
> Karta or the #2 bus beating will not change anything.

You underestimate the power of the spoken word (and the effect of
mail-jewish), out of which the world was created!

Ari Trachtenberg

From: Joshua Goldmeier <Josh@...>
Date: Thu, 21 Dec 2006 09:39:19 -0600
Subject: Re: List Priorities


As many others have said, this list takes more than a little effort for
participation, unlike blogs.  there are many blogs out there that have
discussed all your issues with varying comments on them from others.  I
can link you a few privately if you wish.  In fact, on some you will see
my own real-time comments and discussions and you will see, not all of
us are chauvinists and do defend halacha based womens "rights".  This is
a natural evolution (gasp!) of a list like this.  As Avi said - more
than likely we all agree hashkafa wise on the issues you raised so why
preach to the choir?  Who on this list would disagree that the NK are
rotzchim?  My own rov, an agudahnik first class, has publicly stated
they are rotzchim di'orayso and a kanoi (like pinchas) has the right to
beat them up when they are prepared to do damage like they did the other
day.  Who on this list disagrees?  so why beat it to death here, when
the blogosphere has exploded with these discussions in near real-time

Also, a)we do not all live in NY.  b) do you really believe you can
change halacha or hashkafa of rabbonim by a public rally?  The logistics
alone area nightmare - seperate sections for men and women?  kol isha?
women speaking publicly?  loshon horah?  chillul hashem?  maybe some of
these are not applicable, maybe they are, but a rally is not going to
work with poskei halacha.  We are witnessing a change within judaisms
various orthodox sects and need to find rabbis willing to pasken halacha
as halacha, not just follow the latest chumra or follow others like

your issues are legitimate and cause for concern.. Many of us agree with
you, both that there's a problem, and a ned for resolution soon.  But,
this list is not the easiest place, nor is a rally a good solution.  I
love this list, and try to participate, but with the blogosphere
exploding, this list has to evolve.

Shaya Goldmeier

From: N Miller <nm1921@...>
Date: Thu, 21 Dec 2006 14:44:37 -0500
Subject: Re: List Priorities

While I disagree with Jeanette Friedman that posts dealing with minutiae
constitute 'narishkayt', I agree with her in decrying the thunderous
silence of most list members in the face of the wrongs being perpetrated
in the O. world, particularly those against women.  The plea by some
(men) that there's nothing they can do about it means simply that
they're too comfortable to be bothered.  Even a small amount of
introspection, a tiny bit of reflection about recent world history,
should be enough to lay to rest that cowardly excuse.

And just as discussions of traditions (emphasis on the plural) don't
constitute narishkayt, neither is the unspeakable behavior of the haredi
hoodlums that Shani Thon describes.  This is no tomfoolery.  It is
unacceptable that women in a modern democratic society should be treated
as though they lived in Riyadh.  And it is galling that these wahabists
with peyes mostly owe their very existence to a government that is
willing to pay out huge sums in exchange for votes.  And as if that were
not enough, many more dollars come pouring in from O. families
throughout the world.

Janice Gelb writes that this is a discussion list.  Very well, let us
among other things discuss how best to fix things.

Noyekh Miller

From: <bdcohen@...> (David I. Cohen)
Date: Thu, 21 Dec 2006 17:07:40 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: List Priorities

Two comments on the anonymous post in 53#30:

1) The issues he raises with respect to his being a stay at home father
while his wife is employed outside the home would be properly raised in
the first instance with his own Rav. If he then (with permission) wished
to share that opinion with the list for discussion, that would be
appropriate. To try to get a halachic opinion on that difficult issue
from the members of this list who have varying levels of expertise is
useless and dangerous. The lack of response from list members was, IMO,
a wise choice.

2) Halchic discussions of issues such as using the ink in anothers pen:
If one thinks that this is the "minutae" of halacha, using that as a
derogatory term, then you are missing the proverbial forest. But if you
teach your children (even in the galus in which you live) that caring
about even such a minimal amount of someone else's property is a Jewish
value, then you have accomplished something. The "devil" of Jewish
values is in the (halachic) details.

David I. Cohen


End of Volume 53 Issue 31