Volume 53 Number 62
                    Produced: Sun Jan  7 14:39:18 EST 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Carl Singer]
"Impostors" in hasidic garb
         [Meir Shinnar]
Maryland divorce legislation
         [Bernard Katz]
Respect for Rabbanim (2)
         [Leah S. Gordon, Shayna Kravetz]
"Us" vs. "Them"
         [Shmuel Himelstein]
Yefas To'ar
         [Ben Katz]


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Fri, 05 Jan 2007 08:05:36 -0500
Subject: Battery

> I thank Tzvi, for responding to my initial legal opinion that placing
> scarfs over exposed women's parts was not a tort. According to Tzvi a
> battery is "any harmful or degrading contact on the person of
> another."
> Tzvi's comments allow me to focus on the lack of understanding of the
> charedi position. They are not trying to harm or degrade anyone. Based
> on my analysis below I would respectfully submit that no battery has
> been committed.

It would be interesting to have both a US and an Israeli attorney
comment on the above analysis.

I believe Battery is in the eye of the beholder (recipient / victim) NOT
in the judgment of the actor.

Thus (and this is an extreme example) if I believe that you are warm and
I, out of the generosity of my kindness-filled, good heart, pour a
bucket water onto your head -- and you aren't happy with the drenching
and gave no consent for same -- this is battery.

If, however, your hair is on fire (perhaps unbeknownst to you) and I
pour a bucket of water onto your head, then we have a different
situation -- let's ask a lawyer.

If the charedi "actor" acts upon his view -- is a bare arm equivalent to
hair on fire -- it is still battery.

battery \ba-t(e-)re\ noun pl batteries [MF batterie, fr. OF, fr. battre
to beat, fr. L battuere] (1531)
1a : the act of battering or beating
2b : an offensive touching or use of force on a person without the
person's consent compare assault 2a

assault \e-solt\ noun [ME assaut, fr. OF, fr. (assumed) VL assaltus,
fr. assalire] (14c)
2a : a threat or attempt to inflict offensive physical contact or bodily
harm on a person (as by lifting a fist in a threatening manner) that
puts the person in immediate danger of or in apprehension of such harm
or contact compare battery 1b

(C) 1996 Zane Publishing, Inc. and Merriam-Webster, Incorporated

Carl Singer


From: Meir Shinnar <chidekel@...>
Date: Thu, 4 Jan 2007 17:42:36 -0500
Subject: "Impostors" in hasidic garb

RP Mett
>Satmar does not hold rallies calling for the destruction of Israel.
>They **do** have an anti-Zionist philosophy as spelt out in Vayoel
>Moshe. Just because the Zionists cannot tolerate that philosophy does
>make it any less valid.

The issue is not philosophy - I may disagree with philosophy, but I
don't have visions behind the curtain to know the ultimate theological
truth.  The issue is actions. Satmar perhaps does not hold rallies
calling for the destruction of Israel - (not sure about the accuracy of
that - I remember quite a few ) but they do hold public rallies and
statements that the state of Israel should not exist - not merely for
internal consumption.  Eg, the CRC, main rabbinc organization for satmar
related rabbis in America, put out an advertisement in the NY Times that
Israel should not exist.  The real, rather than stylistic, difference
between this and participating in a PLO rally is one that I, for one,
find difficult to fathom.  I would note that already in the 1960s, RYE
Henkin, not a zionist, wrote articles saying that the leadership of the
satmar had to be responsible for articles in its press that Israel
should be destroyed - because this was tantamount ot mesira.  This is a
different issue than one's view on the theological role of Israel.

WRT the left - one does expect more from people who claim be to
observant.  The left gets attacked on its own merits.  The shita of
satmar has a place in a democracy, as do attacks on that shita - but
calls which will lead to the murder of Jews, while they may be allowed
in a democracy, have no role in the torah community.

Meir Shinnar


From: Bernard Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Thu, 4 Jan 2007 18:37:37 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Maryland divorce legislation

Irwin Weiss writes that a couple of delegates are proposing to introduce
legislation in Maryland to attempt to deal with the husband who refuses
to give a get. He says that

> the proposed legislation, which has the support of the local Orthodox
> Rabbinate, would allow a woman (or man) in a civil divorce to request
> that the other party state, under penalty of perjury, that he (or she)
> has taken all steps solely within that person's control to remove all
> religious barriers to remarriage by the other party. If such a request
> is made, the civil court hearing the divorce would be prohibited from
> granting the divorce/annulment without the statement.

I am neither a lawyer nor an expert on First Amendment law, but I have a
hard time seeing why this would not interfere with the free exercise of
religion. In any case, I would be strongly opposed to such
legislation. I don't think that the courts in the US (or in Canada,
where I live) have any business trying to secure compliance with the
strictures of any religion.

A more plausible approach, to my mind, would be for the Rabbinate to
require that a couple getting married enter into a civil agreement
before the marriage (a pre-nup, in effect) that would bind the parties
to appropriate actions in case the marriage breaks down. Obviously, the
courts can, and should, enforce civil agreements even when they concern
religious matters. Even if the courts were reluctant to order specific
performance (because of its religious nature), they could regard
non-compliance with the civil undertaking as an impediment to civil
divorce and/or (as lawyers say) impose substantial penalties.

Bernard Katz


From: Leah S. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Fri, 05 Jan 2007 05:46:40 -0800
Subject: Respect for Rabbanim

Jeanette Friedman questioned the practices of two rabbis who made
seemingly anti-women decisions publicly (cancelling an aguna conference
and refusing to speak to a question of shalom bayit).

"S" Wise replied:
>speaks much about the person. I actually find it quite disturbing to
>hear the manner of such criticism from a person who may or may not have
>legitimate complaint.

Well, I find it quite disturbing to see someone evaluate another
person's complaint legitimacy in such an off-hand manner.  S. Wise may
never have been an agunah, or faced some of these domestic abuse issues,
but when someone has, then I say she is totally justified in respecting
people who acknowledge those issues more than those who do not.

I have been fortunate not to have faced these issues that Ms. Friedman
mentions first-hand, but I can completely appreciate her point of view
on the matter, and her opinion of these rabbis matters to me.  Just
because someone is a rabbi doesn't exempt them from derech eretz - the
opposite is true.  Unfortunately, there is usually too little (not too
much!!) questioning of what someone says based on the merit of the
statement instead of the perceived merit of the person.  The sooner this
changes, the better.

--Leah S. R. Gordon

From: Shayna Kravetz <skravetz@...>
Date: Fri, 5 Jan 2007 07:46:52 -0500
Subject: Re: Respect for Rabbanim

After Jeanette Friedman <FriedmanJ@...> wrote in part:
> If the rabbanim want respect, let them earn it
and then went on to name various rabbis who had failed to earn her
respect on certain issues,

S. Wise  <smwise3@...> replied:
>Jeannette Friedman seems to have gotten carried away with her criticism
>of the rabbonim. It appears because they don't meet her expectations,
>they haven't earned respect in her eyes. <SNIP> The way one talks about
>our Rabbonim speaks much about the person. I actually find it quite
>disturbing to hear the manner of such criticism from a person who may
>or may not have legitimate complaint.

It seems to me there is a distinction to be made between rebuking
rabbanim in public and addressing them in private about their failings
(perceived or actual).  Notwithstanding the prominence of the rabbanim
whom Ms Friedman names, I don't think the 'public figure' defence seen
in US defamation law has any standing in halachah.  Were she to write to
these rabbis themselves -- even in precisely the same terms and with the
same anger -- I would think that she was closer to the halachic
understanding of tochachah.  (Whether one should be mochiach another in
anger is a separate question.)  As far as I know, all the rabbis
referred to are perfectly available to correspondence c/o their various
institutions and, indeed, to telephone calls in some cases.

If, as I suspect, Ms Friedman has indeed tried to contact these rabbis
in private, I don't think their failure to reform and conform to her
expectations justifies her choosing to rebuke them here.  Not only is
there an issue of kavod for talmidei chachamim (respect the office, if
not the man); there is also, as S. Wise has pointed out, the effect of
such speech on the speaker.

It seems to me that it is always the better approach to assume that the
other side is benign but perhaps misguided rather than malign or
spiteful.  With this approach, the question becomes not "Why haven't
they stood up and said something?" but "How does their understanding of
the issue differ from mine?"  and "Is there some common ground that will
respect both the reality of my experience and the power of their
halachic approach?"

I think that the anger that Ms Friedman expresses is proportionate to
the power she believes these rabbanim capable of exercising in
addressing the issues so important to her and, indeed, to Klal Yisrael.
With this in mind, I would promote the idea of speaking to them
respectfully in the discourse which is common to us all -- the discourse
of halachah.  Even if this lies uneasy in Ms Friedman's mouth (which I
would not presume to know), I don't think that this would be
hypocritical.  And, frankly, if it is, I would prefer a hypocrisy that
is productive and respectful to candor that is antagonistic and
unsuccessful.  We become what we pretend to be; speaking respectfully --
even if not heartfelt -- still ultimately promotes respect.

Kol tuv and shabbat shalom
from Shayna in Toronto


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Fri, 05 Jan 2007 14:35:26 +0200
Subject: "Us" vs. "Them"

In regard to the bus attack scandal (or should I be PC and say "the
alleged bus attack"?), Freda Birnbaum writes that "It's fine to ask us
to understand them.  Let them try to understand us for a change." In
this case, "us" refers to Religious Zionists, to which I am proud to
belong, while "them" refers to (a few? Some? Most? All?) Haredim.

I think that Freda has hit the nail on the head, and that's why it's
hard to come to some modus vivendi between the groups. Basically, the
Haredi attitude (and I spent over 7 years in a Haredi Yeshiva Gedola in
the United States) is that their (the total Haredi) view is the only
legitimate Halachic view. Anyone disagreeing is in the realm of a
sinner, either through deliberate error or misguided thought. Thus there
is absolutely no reason to try to understand us benighted souls.

Only (probably in Mashiach's time) when all Halachic Jews unite with
mutual respect can/will this divide be bridged.

Shmuel Himelstein

P.S. In this realm, I'd like to convey an idea which occurred to me
years ago. I was puzzled how the different groups of Jews will accept a
single person as Mashiach. If he's a Lubavicher, Satmar will have no
truck with him, and vice-versa, and so on for all the other distinctive
groups. The answer to this problem lies, I believe, in the manna, where
Chazal say that whatever a person wanted it to taste like was what it
tasted like for him or her. Thus, the solution of the Mashiach problem
is simple: to Lubavichers he will be a Lubavicher, to Satmars, a Satmar,
etc.  Q.E.D.


From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Thu, 04 Jan 2007 19:02:54 -0600
Subject: Re: Yefas To'ar

>From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
> > From: David Riceman <driceman@...>
> >> From: "Frank Silbermann" <fs@...>
> >> it seems to me that if Yefas Toar were not already rabbinically
> >> forbidden someone would have suggested its use as a solution to the
> >> "who is a Jew(ish convert)?" controversey.  That is, Reform Jews could
> >> simply arrange for their gentile spouses to be "captured in battle"
> >> (or purchased as a "slave").
> >
> > How would this help? (i) yefas toar still requires a valid conversion
> > (H.  Melachim 8:5), and (ii) only applies in the context of a war
> > (ibid. 8:3).
>Doesn't a valid conversion require the consent and will of the
>convertee?  If so, could a captured woman simply refuse to convert as a
>means of avoiding marriage (this would seem to contradict the simple
>meaning of the Torah).

         The Torah's institution of Yefat Toar is to correct the
bediavad circumstance of a soldier raping a woman in the heat of a
battle.  This is not proper behavior, but it happens all the time
unfortunately.  The Torah thereby instituted a way for the woman to
become the wife of the soldier.  In antiquity (and probably in most of
the non-Western world today) no woman in such a situation would refuse

Ben Z. Katz, M.D.
Children's Memorial Hospital, Division of Infectious Diseases
2300 Children's Plaza, Box # 20, Chicago, IL 60614
e-mail: <bkatz@...>


End of Volume 53 Issue 62