Volume 53 Number 65
                    Produced: Mon Jan  8  6:27:22 EST 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

NK at the source
         [Yisrael Medad]
One of those crazy BTs
         [Sarah Beck]
Response to Bus Attack (2)
         [Eliyahu Gerstl, Bruce Abrams]
Separation of Church and State
         [Orrin Tilevitz]
Upcoming Panel discussion about Uncovering scandal Halachically
         [Sammy Finkelman]
What is a "Right"
         [Leah S. Gordon]


From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Sun, 07 Jan 2007 01:16:37 +0200
Subject: NK at the source

If anyone is interested, here's NK philosophy on YouTube:



From: Sarah Beck <beckse@...>
Date: Fri, 5 Jan 2007 13:37:12 -0500
Subject: One of those crazy BTs

> Again, if this story really happened, we have no idea about the
> background of this violent passenger. The chances are that he could
> very well be one of those crazy BTs who take matters too far (a la
> Baruch Goldstein).  Whilst BH, the VAST majority of BT succeed in
> living normal, decent and halachik lives, there are also a few (and
> most of us know of them) who were a bit crazy before and just as crazy
> after 'seeing the light'.

Interestingly, you can plug in "FFB," "ger," "kohen," "levi," "Karaite,"
"Samaritan," or countless other groups in for "BT," and make the same
point. Or you could just have said, "he could very well be a crazy
person who takes matters too far."

Honestly, you owe the BTs on this list, and elsewhere, an apology.

Shabbat shalom,
Sarah Meira bat Avraham Avinu

P.S.: Despite having not been born frum, I have succeeded in living a
decent and halachik life. Still working on normal.


From: Eliyahu Gerstl <acgerstl@...>
Date: Fri, 05 Jan 2007 14:53:25 -0500
Subject: Re: Response to Bus Attack

SBA <sba@...>
> To blacken the reputation of a entire community of hundreds of thousands
> by using examples of the bahviour of some nutcases is unfair and wrong.
> [snip]
> OTOH, I will withdraw everything I have written here, if you can show
> us that the rabbinic leadership and Roshei Yeshivos encourage this
> kind of behaviour. But until then I request that you refrain from
> accusing good Jews of doing bad things.

AND Avi Feldblum <feldblum@...>

> ...[There ] is no question in my mind that these types of events are
> not the norm. The problem as I see it is that there is this group of
> chareidi "hooligens" that are doing actions that reflect very poorly on
> the Chereidi community as a whole. "

We at least have agreement that the hooligans involved were misfits
within their own chareidi communities.  This is rather obvious as the
ideal role model in those communities is that of a "ben Torah" who
becomes a "talmid chacham".  We can rest assured that a "ben Torah" does
not behave in the manner ascribed to the bus-goons and that Chareidi
kids aren't taught to aspire to be goons.  The issue is rather what
causes such people who have manner ascribed to the bus-goons and that
Chareidi kids aren't taught to aspire to be goons.  The issue is rather
what causes such people who have failed at becoming benai Torah to
attempt to gain prestige through becoming self-proclaimed enforcers of
community standards and why can't their communities control them.


From: Bruce Abrams <bruce_abrams@...>
Date: Sun, 7 Jan 2007 09:52:41 -0500
Subject: Re: Response to Bus Attack

There are several things that deeply disturb me about SBA's reply.
First things first, when he suggests that even if the story happened as
reported (the implication clearly being that he doubts the veracity of
the report), "such a story pops up only once in a blue moon, clearly
indicating that it is a rarity."  I'm curious as to what the definition
of a "rarity" is.  Are we talking about once a week, once a month or
perhaps "only" a couple of times a year?  Does the acceptability of such
an act changes if it occurs "only" rarely.  It seems to me that in a
Torah observant society, only a zero tolerance policy regarding assault
can possibly be permitted to exist.  There is simply no way to justify
the assault that occurred on the bus.  If a misinterpretation of Halakha
leads to such a situation even "only rarely", shouldn't we demand a
takana to ensure that such a situation can never occur?

Secondly, what is it, exactly, that we are condemning?  Are we
condemning merely the actual physical assault that was perpetuated
against this one woman, or are we also prepared to condemn the verbal
assaults against women that surely occur more frequently than "rarely".
(Has anyone deluded themselves into thinking that this is the first
woman with the audacity to sit in the front of a Mehadrin bus and that
other such women were politely asked to move?)  How does this relate to
those in the Hareidi world who shout down women wearing short sleeves
(Pritzus!!!), or who throw bleach on women wearing clothing that they
consider unacceptable?

It's his last point, though, that I find the most troubling.  The
actions by large segments of the Hareidi community, both those discussed
above as well as the more passive transgression through the failure to
condemn those actions, leads to the inescapable conclusion that such
actions are in fact the result of "corrupted Halakhik thinking."  These
actions cannot be considered to be those of "some nutcases."  Until the
Hareidi community as a whole rolls back the wave of intolerance that has
swept over it during the past 50 years, these types situations are
destined to become more prevalent, and not less.

Bruce Abrams


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Fri, 5 Jan 2007 08:27:11 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Separation of Church and State

David Charlap, in response to a request for a citation to one of the
"many decisions" banning public display of Christian items but
permitting public display of other items:

> I don't keep a file of them on-hand, but I'll remember to point out
> the next few I hear about on the news, if you like.

You don't need a file; that's what the Web is for.  IMHO, you owe it to
the list to find and cite them for us.  It shouldn't be hard at all, if
they exist.  They'd all be published in full text on the Web, would be
discussed ad nauseam on all sorts of blogs, and all of them would cite
the Supreme Court's Allegheny decision.  All you'd need to do is plug
the full case citation to Allegheny, which I provided in an earlier
post, into a search engine such as Google.

> When a judge tells the press that he wants them as a symbol of
> Christianity and as a statement that he wants his court to conform to
> the bible, then it is a complete violation of the First Amendment.

Judges in the U.S. don't usually talk to the press about their decisions
I've never heard of one who did, except perhaps decades later.  Could
you provide a citation to a news article reporting such a remarkable

> Just this past week, one Congressman is protesting the fact that
> another (a Muslim) wants to put his hand on a Koran for a private
> swearing-in ceremony.  He wants to prohibit swearing on anything other
> than a Christian bible.  This is just another symptom of the backlash
> we're all experiencing as a result of courts passing anti-Christian
> legislation from the bench.

Please.  This is clearly anti-Islamic hate-mongering and has nothing
to do with separation of church and state or a backlash by the crowd who
find "Happy Holiday" offensive.

> Even though, when asked by the press, the Congressman's supporters
> were saying they'd say the same thing about a Jew wanting to swear
> over a Torah?]

Are you saying that supporters of the congressman who opposed the
Muslim's use of the Koran were saying that they would also oppose a
Jew's use of the Torah?  If so, I could find no such report.  In an
interview, the Muslim said that Jews should be able to swear on the
-out/, but that is the opposite.  Can you provide a citation?


From: Sammy Finkelman <finkelmanm@...>
Date: Fri, 05 Jan 2007 14:06:08 -0500
Subject: Upcoming Panel discussion about Uncovering scandal Halachically

This will take place at a congregation in Queens after Shabbos. It
probably will already have taken place by the time anyone hears of it,
The interesting question is will this be /was this taoed?

Covering and Uncovering Scandal in the Jewish Community

January 6, 2007 8:00 PM
Rav Yosef Blau of YU, JJ Goldberg, and Gil Student join a panel
discussing Covering and Uncovering Scandal in the Jewish Community.
(LInk via Hirhurim blog)


Join us at Congregation Etz Chaim on Motzaei Shabbat, January 6, 2007 with 
Rav Yosef Blau, Mashgiach Ruchani of Yeshiva University, JJ Goldberg, Editor 
of the Forward, and Gil Student, Founder and publisher of Yashar Books and 
author of the Jewish Blog Hirhurim, as they struggle to define ground rules 
that meet the demands of Halakha and the crisis of the day.

How do you protect the most vulnerable members of society from predators in 
positions of trust, without ruining the lives and reputations of honest 
leaders by granting credence to every accusation? *

Moderated by Rabbi Moshe Rosenberg.
$5.00 Admission.

For more information contact: Rabbi Rosenberg


* I would aay the worst part of this is, if you start to show the system 
works, you start to attract (more) false accusations.


From: Leah S. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Fri, 05 Jan 2007 10:25:21 -0800
Subject: What is a "Right"

In the following comments, several M.J men may be missing my basic point:

Russell Hendel sets up a parallel between two states' jurisdictions over
a faulty appliance, compared to a man's right to dress a random woman
instead of her right to dress herself.

Akiva Miller suggests that talking pleasantly when spoken to (for short,
important, public conversations) may be a context-specific value, limited
to people like me, and further implies that to be rude in such a context
is of equal social value for people like "them".  (Although I did say,
in introducing my earlier post, "where I come from..." - I meant it as
an idiom and not literally as in "in East Central Illinois, people don't
ignore someone offering them a baby wipe.")

Akiva Miller further suggests that a man who does not wish to see women,
should have the right to have such women sit outside of his range of
vision (in the back of the bus).  (This goes further than the "right"
that some have suggested of such a man to have a place to sit where
women won't be inadvertently brushing up against his body.)

Perets Mett suggests that because of socioeconomic dependence on busing,
Chareidi men have a "right" to have the bus system conform to their
standards, regardless of who else might be inconvenienced.
(I would have said that this excessive socioeconomic dependence on
busing would imply a greater need for such men to cooperate and not
make such a fuss over what other people are doing.  Such a sense of
entitlement that they would try to take over the whole system!!)

All of these posts have one thing in common - the bizarre (to my mind)
assumption that some Chareidi man has a "right" to do anything at all
about my personal body, clothing, transportation, or generally
acceptable public/legal behavior.  (Much less does he have a right to
restrict *my* sovereign humanity by infringing on my own personal

It is not an equal footing where Mr. X has a right for Leah to wear a
sheitel and Leah has a right not to wear a sheitel and we have to find a
compromise.  Not at all!  Mr. X has no rights whatsoever in this
context.  And I would posit that the same thing is true in Israel on a
public Egged bus.

I also think that the "Mehadrin" bus idea with the back/front is really
offensive, but at least that's not some individual Mr. X telling me what
to do; it's a market-based bigotry that some Egged executive decided
would be a reasonable compromise among his/her various constituencies.

The very idea that on a "non-Mehadrin" bus, some Mr. X would get it into
his head to use peer pressure and bullying to tell women where to sit,
and then act like he has any "rights" whatsoever, is just untenable.  I
don't see any halakhic authorities giving him those rights; I don't see
any legal authorities giving him those rights.  The only people who give
him those rights are women who go along with it, and I guess those women
can do what they wish.  But certainly not all women have to comply just
because a few capitulate to peer pressure!

One could say that Mr. X has the "right" not to make eye contact with
me, or not to reply to "what street are we on" and I agree completely.
I just think that if he does exercise these rights, based on my gender,
that he is incredibly rude by any standard - halakhic or otherwise.
And, it is part of the evidence that Mr. X views women as sub-standard

Can you just imagine defending a person who said, "I won't give a Black
person directions because I have the right not to talk to anyone of a
color that I choose not to associate with"...?  Clearly, such a person
is within his/her rights, and clearly such a person treats Black people
as second-class citizens.  And most importantly, this person does not
have a "right" to tell Black people to stay out of his field of vision
or to cover their faces with scarves (!!).

--Leah Sarah Reingold Gordon


End of Volume 53 Issue 65