Volume 53 Number 97
                    Produced: Fri Feb  2  6:13:03 EST 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Drug use and other problems in the frum community (2)
         [Carl Singer, Yeshaya Halevi]
         [Chana Luntz]
A question of applying / comparing ethics with halacha
         [Carl Singer]
School admission standards
         [Tzvi Stein]
Traif Cheese Pierogen
         [Orrin Tilevitz]


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Thu, 01 Feb 2007 22:23:45 -0500
Subject: Drug use and other problems in the frum community

SBA <sba@...> wrote:
 > Kol yomai godalti ben hacharedim, I have never lived in a non-charedi
 > community and I can assure you that we have NEVER had any drug problems,
 > EVER, BH. (Kein yaazor Hashem leholoh..)  Furthermore, I spent 4 years
 > in a Yeshiva with 200 students in the US and in that time NEVER heard of
 > a drug problem. It is decades since I left, but keep in touch - and have
 > yet to hear of such a problem.
 > I have 3 sons who spent years in overseas yeshivos in Europe and Israel
 > and never once has any of them heard of a drug related issue amongst the
 > students.
 > I may be naive, but I can only go by what I know or hear.  Yes, there
 > are kids who have gone of derech and gotten involved with drugs (not
 > that I know any personally), but that doesn't make it a leading issue
 > for the mainstream chareidi world. It belongs to the experts and
 > specialists who know how to handle these off-the-derech kids.

Vus Christilzach, Yideltzach --- essentially what happens in the
Christian community happens in the Jewish community.

No amount of ghetto isolation, sheltering, etc., will fully shield the
community(ies) from outside influence.  And one is terribly, terribly
naive to think that problems that they read about in the "outside"
community cannot or do not occur inside.  And leadership which wears the
mask of denial for want of embarrassing the kehilla is doing the kehilla
a terrible disservice.

Many, many years ago my wife, an educator, and one who by law is
required to report child abuse --saw a child who was in danger due to an
unstable home, etc. -- the "leadership" of her school was reluctant to
act.  My wife insisted they get a p'sak - -and the Gadol who was asked
told them unequivocally that they MUST report this.  He clearly
recognized that the welfare of the child was paramount.


From: Yeshaya Halevi <c.halevi@...>
Date: Thu, 1 Feb 2007 22:00:31 -0600
Subject: Drug use and other problems in the frum community

Shalom, All :

SBA claims there is never a drug problem among them.

Rav Gedalia Dov Schwartz, the Av Bet Din of the Chicago Rabbinical
Council ("cRc"), is an internationally praised sage. A few years ago I
publicized his role in a forum held by the cRc, regarding youthful
substance abusers in the Orthodox community. (And how apt to talk about
it now - it's getting closer to Purim which, the forum noted, is a flash
point for substance abuse.)

The forum dealt with the Orthodox community, and I distinctly remember
there were many" black hat" Orthodox who attended; some because of a
personal issue.

No distinction was made among Modern O, haredim or any other flavor of
Judaism. Rav Schwartz's drasha (scholarly remarks) likewise was
predicated upon this being a problem facing all aspects of
Orthodoxy. The forum dealt with alcohol abuse, Ecstasy, pills, reefer

Rav Schwartz is exceedingly careful in his public remarks. If he had
exempted haredim from having substance abusers, I assure you I would
know. The fact that he didn't exempt them speaks volumes.

SBA should heed the words of Mark Twain: "Denial ain't just a river in

Kol tuv,
Yeshaya (Charles Chi) Halevi


From: Chana Luntz <chana@...>
Date: Tue, 30 Jan 2007 22:57:24 -0000
Subject: Re: Ketuba

 Batya Medad <ybmedad@...> writes:

> my old dumb questions
> What's the point of the Ktuba if it can't be enforced?  It's 
> not a mutual I give/you give contract.  It's a pledge from 
> the husband that if the woman marries him, and the marriage 
> breaks up, she will be compensated.  It's "unilateral," which 
> has become a dirty word.
> Have I misunderstood anything?

No, I don't think you have in the essential halachic aspect of it.

> Too many times husbands initiate divorce as a bargaining ploy, without
> really wanting to free their wives.  Many women are terrified of being
> divorced and will do almost anything to keep the marriage together,
> setting themselves up for serious abuse at times.

I agree that indeed there may be cases where women are terrified of
being divorced and will do almost anything to keep the marriage
together.  However, I think that, statistically, today, those cases are
very much in the minority (that is not usually the reason abused women
stay with their abusers).  One of the things that is striking about the
statistics I have seen from the secular non Jewish world, and I strongly
suspect this is increasingly true in the frum and Jewish world, is that
women are increasingly willing to initiate divorce.  That is, women
today are far less willing to tolerate an unsatisfactory marriage (or
maybe there are more unsatisfactory marriages from a woman's point of
view, I don't know).  There are clearly some possible reasons for this.
One of which has to be that, in today's economic climate, while it may
not always be that easy for a woman to work, a woman is at least able to
work and provide for herself.  In days gone by there were societies,
very many societies, where that was absolutely no way of a woman legally
earning a living independent of her husband or father, and a woman's
primary and often sole means of support was from her husband or father.
If the husband up and went, so often did the woman's financial support,
which is precisely the situation that the ketuba was designed to

> The rabbis can improve things by demanding from husbands initiating
> divorce that they write up the gett and have it held by the Beit Din
> until the various pre-divorce steps have been taken.  Without
> preparing and signing a gett, a man can't initiate divorce.

There are a lot of things the rabbis can do if it is the man who really
truly wants the divorce.  My impression is however that many of the
problematic cases occur when the man does not really want the divorce
(in your typical case of abuse, that is the last thing the man wants as
his power over her has gone - and of course the sort of person who is
abusive within marriage is a prime candidate for get withholding).  And
even in cases where the man really does not like his wife anymore, and
doesn't really want her around, you have to factor in that divorce
carries the stigma of having failed at marriage, and many men find that
sense of failure difficult to take.  They desperately want to show that
it was the woman's "fault" that the marriage failed and they want
somebody, the courts, the beis din, whoever, to "punish" the woman for
dragging him into a failing situation - and often one that, from his
perspective, means he has to shell out money on the woman (remember
divorce is almost always more expensive than being married, you need two
residences for a start, so the economies of scale aren't there).  Of
course, the anger vis a vis failure and expense occurs in reverse as
well, but men do generally still earn more (women being more likely to
have weakened their earning power by stopping work to have children) and
hence under most secular laws, a divorce settlement in the general case
involves the transfer of financial assets from the man to the woman (of
course the reason for this is, under secular law, that the woman has
made contributions to the marriage by bringing up the children etc, but
such men tend not to value those contributions, and all they can often
see is the transfer of hard cash).  And so here you have men who are
often very angry and upset about the whole thing (this is very very
common, not just in the Jewish community, it is a common phenomenon in
the non Jewish community as well - there are organisations in Britain,
for example, one of them is called Fathers 4 Justice, whose whole
premise is that the English secular courts are biased against fathers.
And even those who are not fathers, there are countless cases in the
secular world demonstrating very very bitter and angry divorces where
the former spouses will do anything they can to "get back" at the
humiliation caused by the other.  And as it is more likely that the
woman initiated the divorce, it becomes more likely that the spouse that
feels least in control and more humiliated is the husband).  It is into
this kind of malstrom that anybody (be it the family court, beis din or
lawyer) walks when they go anywhere near divorce - you are, especially
if the people involved are not mature, talking about bitter, angry,
humiliated people - prime candidates, therefore, to act in appalling
ways.  And remember, for a divorce to go well, *both* parties must act
well.  For a divorce to go badly, you only need one party to be acting

I am not saying that rabbis and betei din are doing all that they could
(I really don't know, one way or the other, I have very limited exposure
to betei din in this area).  But I know enough about divorce and divorce
law to know that it was not an area I ever wanted to practice in,
precisely because you are dealing with such miserable, unhappy, often
desperately unreasonable people.  That is before you go anywhere near
the issues raised by halacha and get.  Divorce law in general ain't
pretty, what can I say.



From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Thu, 01 Feb 2007 07:19:44 -0500
Subject: A question of applying / comparing ethics with halacha

I've been wrestling with this and would like hear some halachic

The honor code at West Point (The U.S. Military Academy) and some other
institutions states:

        A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do

There is much written in the (ethics) literature re: the last of these 4
-- the non-tolerance clause.  In theory and in practice a cadet can be
expelled for not reporting (another cadet's) violation of the honor

What is the halachic view re: the non-tolerance clause?

In other words if you are certain that someone has violated lie, cheat
or steal -- what, if anything, are you halachically required to do / or
not do?

Here are some contrived examples:

1 - a fellow student cheating on exam
2 - a neighbor cheating on their taxes
3 - a merchant cheating re: kashrut  A: selling treif -- (thus a rasha?) 
 or B: selling kosher but with an unauthorized hasgacha
4 - a neighbor violating a zoning law with an illegal basement apartment 
  (neglect that this may also be a secuneh.)
5 - a merchant having cheated YOU.
6 - a repairman cheating on sales taxes (requesting cash payment from
you by offering you a discount) -- note this last one has a twist
because you are being asked to participate in this transaction.



From: Tzvi Stein <Tzvi.Stein@...>
Date: Thu, 01 Feb 2007 09:08:34 -0500
Subject: Re: School admission standards

I think the most outrageous one I heard was that the family was not
allowed to own a radio, even in their car (!!!).  The only car I can
remember riding that didn't have a radio was a new car I bought, where
the factory had run out of them (needless to say, the price for it was
deducted, and I got one installed on my own ASAP).


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Thu, 1 Feb 2007 09:16:40 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Traif Cheese Pierogen

The following is very much a CLOR question, but I'm curious how people
would approach it, what other considerations they would take into
account, and what sources they would consult:

Say you come home to a shared apartment to find (1) an empty box of
cheese pierogen bearing a hechsher not accepted by mainstream kashrut
organizations and (2) a frying pan and a ceramic plate, the latter with
sentimental value, both bearing apparent pierogen residue.  The hechsher
has nominally Orthodox standards but a poor reputation for policing
them.  You've previously asked your roommate not to bring in food
bearing that hechsher, so this problem will likely recur.

Aside from the question of what to do about the roommate - a question
I'm not asking here - what, if anything, must you do about the pan and
the plate?  Possibilities that occur to me range from (1) nothing - the
only real chshash (doubt) is the cheese, but cheese isn't "traif" to the
extent that it would make dishes forbidden even if, for various reasons,
our practice is not to eat it; to (2) even if you should kasher the pan,
you needn't throw out the plate because at worst there is a sfek sfeka
(doubt within a doubt): maybe the cheese is kosher, and if not maybe the
food wasn't hot enough when it hit the plate to make the plate traif; to
(3) kasher the pan and throw out the plate.


End of Volume 53 Issue 97