Volume 57 Number 66 
      Produced: Fri, 25 Dec 2009 11:42:07 EST

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Chareidi Internet (2)
    [Rabbi Meir Wise  Frank Silbermann]
Chareidi Internet -- (minus) Chareidi (minus) Internet 
    [Carl Singer]
Spousal Abuse (2)
    [Elazar M. Teitz  Meir Shinnar]
Where "Chareidi Judaism" goes wrong 
    [Martin Stern]


From: Rabbi Meir Wise <Meirhwise@...>
Date: Fri, Dec 25,2009 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Chareidi Internet

Firstly on  a technical halachik point there is no such thing as a  
cherem on a cheftza [ban on an object - MOD]. Hence there has not nor could
there be a ban on  the Internet, mobile phones etc etc

Many rabbis have advised that those who need Internet for their living  
should restrict it to the office.
Others rely on "kosher" Internet and "kosher" mobile phones.
This is the responsibilty of every decent person to limit or even  
restrict access to disgusting sights looking upon which is banned by  
the Torah itself not the rabbis.

I receive emails from my son in the Mirrer yeshiva in Jerusalem!

Google yeshiva Torah etc and see how many appear on the Internet.
Again these attacks on the chareidim are mostly baseless and anyway do  
they not have the right not to use the Internet and do their rabbis  
not have the right to advise against it's use.
Freedom of choice is for everybody.

In conclusion let me share with you something my oldest brother-in-law  
(the only one who wears a kippa seruga although not a sign of  
affiliation) some years ago.
He asked how can a person know that he is too religious? Too frum?
When he he can stand looking into a mirror, hand on heart, and say  
that he learnt too much Torah this year or kept too many mitzvot this  
Dear fellow mailers, until you can do that honestly, stop bashing the  
chareidim or anyone else and get on with what Hashem put us in the  
world to do.

Good shabbes and a meaningful fast of tevet

Rabbi Meir Wise

From: Frank Silbermann <frank_silbermann@...>
Date: Fri, Dec 25,2009 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Chareidi Internet

Batya Medad <ybmedad@...> V57 N64:
> The mishne, Pirkei Avot tells us each to "choose a rabbi," right? That
> means that we're not obligated to pay attention to every rabbi's
> bombastic (yes, bombastic) demands. No rabbi, regardless of his
> headcoverings and costumes has the right to make general demands on the
> Jewish public.
> A psak to a specific rabbi's followers isn't applicable to all Jews.
> We are supposed to follow our own rabbi, in the singular, not all and
> every rabbi's opinions. Most disagree with each other; that's why we're
> supposed to choose just one, at least one in each subject.

I think we have to distinguish between a psak and a command.
A psak is a specific answer to a question initiated by a follower,
and it is binding upon all Jews who ask that rabbi that question
(assuming he gives the same answer to all of them).

A general command, as far as I know, is binding upon _all_ Jews,
provided that the great majority of observant Jews obey it.
If the command is not generally accepted, then the command
becomes retroactively invalid.  (At best, it _might_ become
a minhag (custom) among those who did accept it.)

>From my limited understanding, a rabbi who does not withdraw
a command that is not generally accepted violates halacha
in not withdrawing it.  (When a rabbi willfully violates halacha,
it brings us into the discussion over who is a rabbli.)

Of course, a rabbi can issue _advice_ to anyone he pleases,
and those who cling to him closely will follow that advice.

Frank Silbermann   Memphis, Tennesseee


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Fri, Dec 25,2009 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Chareidi Internet -- (minus) Chareidi (minus) Internet

This thread is most interesting and civil discourse re: same is most

At the risk of watering down the discussion, I'd like to try stepping back a
bit, first by generalization:

We're  talking about people publicly  telling other people what to do or
what not to do. -- Asserting halacha (or some derivative) as the basis for
their directive.

So (1) forget Chareidi - doesn' t matter how we label those who are doing
the telling, nor who does the telling - nor for that matter who we label the
and (2) forget Internet - but one of many examples.

Let's do a bit of parsing to help our taxonomy:

We're  talking about [1] people [2] publicly  [3] telling [4] other people
[5] what to do or what not to do. -- [6] Asserting halacha (or some
derivative) as the basis for their directive..

[1] Rabbinic Leadership
[2] As a public pronouncement meant to have broad applicability
[3] A directive, not a suggestion or a cautionary note.   DO this!!! or
DON'T DO this!!!
[4] To all of klal Yisroel - or at least the subset which wishes to remain
in  good graces within the "community"
[5] Something actionable or "in-actionable" (a prohibition)
[6] G-d says so  (n.b., present tense.)

[1] Rabbinic Leadership

Given that we're not questioning smicha or credentials, key here is
"leadership" -- leadership in this case may not be a function of lomdus but
of community position.   So for the most part a community leader may be
defined as someone to whom a given community has assigned that adjective (or
"title" if you wish.)

Does the implication of "leadership" within a given community (however
well-defined or ill-defined) spill over to imply leadership outside that
well / ill-defined community?

Consider first a mundane example:   You're being paid to flip burgers at
kosher fast food restaurant.  What is the status of a directive from a
colleague?  From  a shift manager?  From the owner?  From a customer?

Consider a second more complex example:  You're in the Army.  What is the
status of an order from someone directly above you in the chain of command?
>From someone even higher up that chain?  Someone of higher rank but  NOT in
your chain of command?

[2] As a public pronouncement meant to have broad applicability

Is the "public" synonymous with this leader's "community" or is it meant to
go beyond.   Unlike the examples above we're not talking 1-on-1.  The
recipient may well feel as if this was a 1-on-1, and treat it as such (or
must they treat it as such?)  So it's meant to apply broadly to everyone or
a defined subset (Married women, unmarried bocherim, etc.) within the
community - regardless of any extraneous(?) personal circumstances.

And by dint of communication reach, the "audience" or those aware of the
public pronouncement frequently extends well beyond the "community."  Do we
care about how the non-community audience adheres to  the directive -- or
reacts to the directive?

[3] A directive, not a suggestion or a cautionary note.

Not a suggestion, not something open for discourse.  A "direct order" in
military parlance.

[4] To all of klal Yisroel - or at least the subset which wishes to remain
in  good graces within the "community"

Here's where community / social pressure / conformity issues, be they
positive or negative comes to play.   Do  you do whatever it is because you
"want to be like Mike" or because you truly feel it's the proper thing to

[5] Something actionable or "in-actionable" (a prohibition)

Just trying to distinguish action from belief.  You may believe that
whatever sneeyusdik garment you choose to wear for mowing the lawn is fine
-- but you wear an old black suit because you don't want your neighbors to
know that you own a pair of dungarees.

[6] G-d says so  (n.b., present tense.)

He who's making the pronouncement asserts this either explicitly or tacitly.


At the risk of six threads - six sticky threads.

I'll consider one hybrid  thread within this discussion:    Threads 2,3 & 5
can wait.  6, the halachic basis is too complicated for a 7:00 AM rushing to
davening posting.

(1+4) The relationship of leadership to community and to "audience"

Let's simplify by taking "leadership" out -- asserting that "community
membership" is defined by, among other things, accepting the leadership
structure and the leadership's words.
"Audience" is  simply those within earshot/  Those in the audience who do
not consider themselves members of the community need some label -- let's
call them "outsiders."

It seems that the friction is with "outsiders."    By definition "community
members" have not problems and just interpret (if any room for same?) and
obey.   OK I've over over-simplified.

Does  leadership care what "outsiders" think / do of them or their
Ditto for "community members?"

Are some pronouncements meant to further define - either restrictively or
inclusively - the community boundaries with full awareness that "outsiders"
are listening?

Lot's of questions -- no answers.

Carl A. Singer, Ph.D.
Colonel, U.S. Army Retired


From: Elazar M. Teitz <remt@...>
Date: Fri, Dec 25,2009 at 09:01 AM
Subject: Spousal Abuse

In an attempt to show that it is not only women who suffer from the withholding
of a get, Rabbi Meir Wise mentioned the case of Reb Malkiel Kotler, grandson of
the founder of the Lakewood Yeshiva.  He wrote: 

> He was married to the daughter of the Brisker Rov (Reb Velvel Soloveitchik)
> zatzal of Jerusalem. The Brisker Rov left a will stating than none of his
> children should leave Israel (a closet Zionist - I think not!) When Reb
> Shneur Kotler of Lakewood passed away, they called his son Reb Malkiel to 
> lead the orphaned yeshiva.

     I don't know what was gained in mentioning the names of the in-laws.  Their
identity is irrelevant to the point being made.  It would have sufficed to write
that Reb Malkiel was married to the daughter of one of the generation's Torah
giants, without mentioning their names and thus holding them up for denigration.
     But even worse, the story as it was related is far from factual in almost
every point.  The Brisker Rov's wife never stepped foot in Eretz Yisrael; she
was a victim of the Holocaust.  Reb Malkiel did _not_ marry the Brisker Rov's
daughter.  The reason Reb Moshe Feinstein  was not consulted had nothing to do
with his being related to the Soloveitchiks by marriage; It was because he was
the great-uncle of Reb Malkiel's wife.  She was the Brisker Rov's granddaughter,
the daughter of his daughter Lifsha a"h and Reb Michel Feinstein z"l. Nor did
the Brisker Rov leave any will about his children leaving Israel; his own
daughter, Reb Malkiel's mother-in-law, herself spent several years in New York
after her marriage, when her husband was a rosh yeshiva together with his uncle,
Reb Moshe, in Mesivta Tifereth Yerushalayim.
     Nor was Reb Malkiel "called . . . to lead the orphaned yeshiva."  He became
one of four roshei yeshiva, and not the senior one.  He was offered the
opportunity to _share_ in the leadership, and he naturally desired to be one of
the heads of one of the world's most prestigious yeshivos, which had been
founded and led by his grandfather, and then headed by his father. It was
obviously a position for which, he felt, it was worth giving up his wife.  
     I have written only what is fact, not interpretation. The latter can be,
and is, disputed.  Suffice it to say that in the Feinstein family's opinion, the
roles of victimizer and victim are reversed. (In the interest of full
disclosure, I am not impartial, since I had the privilege of being a student of
Reb Michel's for the three years I learned in Israel in the '50s.)
     What is highly likely, though, is that the story of the distribution of
posters was made up (not by Rabbi Wise, to be sure, but by his source) out of
the whole cloth.  Rebbetzin Feinstein was a learned woman, and would have known
that she would be the laughingstock of the Torah world if she claimed that a
husband's children  with a woman other than his wife renders them mamzeirim. 
Nor was the process of obtaining the hetter meiah rabbanim time-consuming nor
expensive in this particular case, since there were no fees paid to any beis
din, and there were enough ordained Lakewood students and alumni who would
gladly have signed such a document.
     And for precision's sake, a get left with a beis din in the circumstances
mentioned is not a get zikkui.  When there is a get zikkui, no hetter meiah
rabbanim is necessary.

From: Meir Shinnar <chidekel@...>
Date: Fri, Dec 25,2009 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Spousal Abuse

> Meir Shinar in v57#63 states "Divorces can't be forced" Of course he
> quickly qualifies this "(Current) courts do not have the authority to
> impose divorces"

Actually what I said is somewhat different
1) It is true that Jewish law does not recognize a right to divorce -
albeit, IIRC there is a machloket rishonim about a takkanat geonim
that would seem to recognize such a right by takkana (even though
current ashkenazi psak is against it)

Russell Hendel brings down the rambam - who paskens like the takkanat hageonim -
and therefore for the power of bet din to force a get.  My recollection is that
ashkenaz poskim, following rabbenu tam, do not follow this takkana.  (Others
better versed in even haezer can chime in).  

However,my  point was that even if we do not start paskening like the rambam
(and instituting changes in psak are not simple), the fact that the divorce can
not be compelled does not mean that the individual who refuses to divorce is
morally innocent - and the community needs to enforce its power of moral (and
fiscal) sanction against those individuals - and the rabbanim and bate dinim who
who enable them.

Meir Shinnar


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Fri, Dec 25,2009 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Where "Chareidi Judaism" goes wrong

Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...> wrote:
> And to ask a Rabbi about everything.
> They are indeed asking Jews to do what they never did, nor can they be
> expected to.
> What did people in previous times ask a Rabbi about or relied on a Rabbi
> for?:
> 3) Questions where they don't feel qualified to answer themselves  -
> which could be - is a chicken kosher or milk got mixed in cooking - or
> interpreting spots for a woman regarding Niddah.

These are the sort of questions where one can easily go wrong because of
one's subconscious wish to consider them permitted and therefore require an
objective outsider to decide.

It is not without reason that Chazal suggested that it would be a blessing
not to come back from a long journey to find one's wife a safeik niddah
(questionable forbidden status) rather than a niddah vadai (unquestionable
forbidden status) because a person would have no problem in restraining
himself in the latter case but could easily persuade himself that it was
really alright in the former.

A similar, and perhaps more common, case is whether some form of birth
control may be permitted.

Martin Stern


End of Volume 57 Issue 66