Volume 60 Number 73 
      Produced: Tue, 03 Apr 2012 12:19:23 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Board of Deputies of British Jews report on Community Statistics 
    [Martin Stern]
Is Rape in War Permitted? 
    [Yisrael Medad]
Possible Shabbat Violation 
    [Yisrael Medad]
    [Ben Katz]
What Are They Reading? (4)
    [Samuel Gamoran  Stuart Pilichowski  Martin Stern  Michael Rogovin]
Will they ever learn from experience? 
    [Martin Stern]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, Apr 3,2012 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Board of Deputies of British Jews report on Community Statistics

The Board of Deputies has published its latest report on Community
Statistics, which presents the latest data on births, marriages, religious
divorces, and burials and cremations in the UK Jewish community. The
previous report in this series was published in 2008.


The report confirms that the number of Jewish births each year now
consistently exceeds the number of recorded Jewish burials and cremations,
indicating that the community is experiencing a period of natural increase.

It also makes clear that the growth of the strictly Orthodox community is
the main factor in this growth, contributing a quarter of all Jewish
marriages and at least 40% of births.

It would be interesting if this were typical of Jewish communities
worldwide. Perhaps we should consider its implications.

Martin Stern


From: Yisrael Medad <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Sat, Mar 31,2012 at 05:01 PM
Subject: Is Rape in War Permitted?

Although the content of this blog post is long, I think that the list
members would appreciate it as it highlights an issue rarely discussed, a
proper Torah/Halachic response, and illustrates how a political agenda can
completely corrupt the matter:

972mag attacks Judaism

Yossi Gurvitz of 972mag has written two screeds this week where he claims
that an IDF rabbi allows troops to rape enemy women.
In the first article he publishes a query to Rabbi Eyal Qarim, a colonel in
the IDF who was not answering in any official IDF capacity, and the rabbi's
answer, which makes it look like Qarim is saying that rape is permissible
nowadays during wartime. In his second, he ridicules the rabbi's denial,
all the while clucking about how he knows how terrible Jewish law is and
most of his critics don't know enough Hebrew to be horrified.

What he doesn't tell you is that he completely and purposefully
misrepresents the question that is being asked, and the actual question
changes how the answer can be understood.

According to Gurwitz, the question was:

Is it allowed in our days [sic] for an IDF soldier, for example, to rape
girls during a fight, or is such a thing forbidden?

And the answer was:

The wars of Israel are mitzvah wars, in which they differ from the rest
of the wars the nations wage among themselves. Since, essentially, a war is
not an individual matter, but rather nations wage war as a whole, there are
cases in which the personality of the individual is erased for the
benefit of the whole. And vice versa: sometimes you risk a large unit for
the saving of an individual, when it is essential for purposes of morale.
One of the important and critical values during war is maintaining the
army's fighting ability.

As in war, when the prohibition against risking your life is broken for the
benefit of others, so are the prohibitions against immorality and of
kashrut. Wine touched by gentiles, consumption of which is prohibited in
peacetime, is allowed at war, to maintain the good spirit of the warriors.
Consumption of prohibited foods is permitted at war (and some say, even
when kosher food is available), to maintain the fitness of the warriors,
even though they are prohibited during peacetime. Just so, war removes some
of the prohibitions on sexual relations (gilui arayot in the original - YZG),
and even though fraternizing with a gentile woman is a very serious
matter, it was permitted during wartime (under the specific terms) out of
understanding for the hardship endured by the warriors. And since the
success of the whole at war is our goal, the Torah permitted the individual
to satisfy the evil urge (yetzer hara in the original - YZG), under the
conditions mentioned, for the purpose of the success of the whole.
His translation of the answer is accurate - but he knowingly deleted the
part of the question that was being answered.

Here is the full question:

I read on this website about the "beautiful woman captive," as well as the
laws in the Torah [about her], and my question still remains - in various
wars between nations, as the First World War, for example, different
nations fought each other, and neither was particularly good for Jews or
bad for Jews in particular ... but if the [combatants would] conquer a
village with Jews and Jewish girls were raped, it is considered, rightly, a
disaster and tragedy for the girl and family. If so, rape in war is considered a
horrific thing. How then, as I was told by a rabbi, could a beautiful woman
captive be permitted, according to some authorities, even before the process
described in the Torah? Do you mean that you surrender to your desire and sleep
with her, and only then take her to his house, etc.? This seems contradictory.
After all, if rape of civilians in war is considered shocking, why, apparently,
are Jews allowed? And is it permissible in our times for an IDF soldier, for
example, to rape women in warfare, or is that forbidden?

The question was not a soldier asking for permission to rape, as Gurwitz
implies. Exactly the opposite.

Now look at Rabbi Qarim's answer. He was answering the question of how the
Torah can permit such an act, and Qarim answered that it falls under the
category of things that are normally forbidden that are allowed in wartime
because victory is a necessity in wartime which subsumes both individual
rights and individual responsibilities. He makes clear, twice, that there
are very specific conditions and laws that guide a soldier's conduct even
when he is overcome with desire in the heat of war.

The point is that Rabbi Qarim was answering the question of how one can
justify that the Torah can allow this to happen to begin with. He never
answered the question of whether it was allowed today, because the answer
is obviously no. And this is exactly what Rabbi Qarim wrote this week in his
clarification that Gurwitz disparages.

It is obvious that the Torah never permitted raping a woman. The Comely
Woman ruling is intended to make the soldier retract his intention of
marrying the prisoner, by a series of actions which diminish her beauty and
put the emphasis on her personality and grief. If, by the end of the
process, he still wishes to marry her, he is obligated to do so by the
usual legal manner.

In addition, the whole essence of the ruling was to soften the situation in
the barbaric war world of the time, when a soldier might have done what he
wished with a captive, and the goal of the ruling is to prevent the soldier
from taking the captive as wife during the storm of battle. It is clear
that in our times, when the world has progressed to a level of morality
when captives are not taken as wives, this ruling is certainly not to be
acted on, particularly as it is completely contrary to the ethics and the
orders of the military.

Gurwitz is purposefully twisting the question to make Judaism look
monstrous (or, as he says, "Those texts were written mostly in a barbaric
period by ignorant people, fuelled by the hatred of mankind which is
endemic to Judaism." Is this considered unbiased by 972mag and its
funders?) [The article has since been silently changed to tone down that
language a little. Original screenshots are available.]

He hypocritically says that "the rabbis did not want their texts to be
available for everyone. Control over jargon also grants you some measure of
power." And yet he purposefully refused to translate the entire query so
his Hebrew-challenged readers could not check his own twisting of the truth
to make it look like a rabbi today was supporting raping women captives!
It is possible to question ancient legal rulings in context of today's
sensibilities. In fact, such questions should be welcomed. This is exactly
what the questioner was doing.  There are even widely divergent views
within traditional Judaism of exactly how to interpret this passage of the
Torah. But Gurwitz is not interested in finding out how Judaism evolves -
even Orthodox Judaism, even today - to deal with issues like this. He does
not want to know what Jewish law says about contemporary matters. No, he
"knows" that it is a sick belief system. He wants to demonize Judaism to as
wide an audience as possible, and he is not above resorting to gross
deception to accomplish his goal. And he relies on his audience's unfamiliarity
with Hebrew to accomplish his sickening, and truly anti-semitic, agenda.

Yisrael Medad
Mobile Post Efraim 44830


From: Yisrael Medad <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Sat, Mar 31,2012 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Possible Shabbat Violation

Martin wrote (MJ 60#71):

> In any case, why would a Torah-observant Jew want to hear such a sermon
> [by a Reform rabbi - MOD]?

It was a brilliant and cutting attack on Peter Beinart from a political
liberal perspective.

Yisrael Medad


From: Ben Katz <BKatz@...>
Date: Fri, Mar 30,2012 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Tefillin

In M-J V60#72, Robert Schoenfeld wrote:
> According to Professor Lawrence Schiffman of NYU (expert on the Dead Sea Scrolls
> and Jewish history of the period around the destruction of the Second Temple
> era), the Qumran site was a Sadducee retreat and as such those Tefillin that
> Yigdal Yadin found would be according to Sadducee ideas. How Rabbenu Tam came
> about his set up of Tefillin is unknown. Was he in touch with the Karaites who
> seem to be the theological descendents of the Sadducees?

Much as I respect Dr. Schiffman as a scholar, if he actually said this, it is an 
example of a no-win situation.  Had the tefillin matched, one could say, "Look - 
our traditions have been unchanged for 2 millennia!  Since they didn't match, they 
were obviously sectarian." (I am not even sure Saducees wore tefillin, but that is 
separate issue.)  I think Mr. Frankel is correct in his comment that "things were 
done a mite more flexibly then and both proto-Rashi and proto-Rabbeinu Tam, or at 
least systems similar to those, were in simultaneous use back at the turn of the 
calendar" since he agrees with me :-).


From: Samuel Gamoran <samuel.gamoran@...>
Date: Sat, Mar 31,2012 at 04:01 PM
Subject: What Are They Reading?

Yisrael Medad wrote (MJ 60#72):
> Or more properly, what are they printing?
> On a recent visit to a book store here in Jerusalem, I spotted the
> following titles of recent books that have just been published:
> a) Laws of Sneezing
> b) Laws of the Breastfeeding Woman
> c) Laws on Commercial/Employment Matters Between The Jew and the Non-Jew
> d) Laws on Taking Care While Travelling/Crossing The Street

This sounds like a yeshivish version of the academic "least publishable unit." 
This is a phenomenon wherein young professors who are just starting their
academic careers and are vying for tenure break their research into as many small
papers as they can get away with in order to increase the publication count on
their CVs.

From: Stuart Pilichowski <stupillow@...>
Date: Sat, Mar 31,2012 at 05:01 PM
Subject: What Are They Reading?

In reply to Yisrael Medad (MJ 60#72):

I think it's high time a sefer was published on the halachot of driving and
safety on the road (if in fact that's what "Laws on Taking Care While
Travelling/Crossing The Street" is all about). For some reason, unless it's 
published and talked about from pulpits, it won't mean a thing. The very frum 
people I see practicing unsafe driving and the very opposite of courtesy on the 
highways is mind-boggling. What should be common-sense practice is thrown out the 
window! Reading tehillim or the parsha while driving!?!?! Really now!

Stuart Pilichowski
Mevaseret Zion

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Apr 1,2012 at 07:01 AM
Subject: What Are They Reading?

In reply to Yisrael Medad (MJ 60#72), I took the trouble to look at his website
where he showed pictures of the books he mentions. 

> Title pics here: http://wp.me/p22Zl4-6C

I think his submission is rather too dismissive, though, without reading the
books, I cannot really comment on their value. The following are my reactions
based on the title pages/covers.

> a) Laws of Sneezing

This seems a rather strange subject; I would not have thought there was
enough material to merit a full work. Perhaps it is a kabbalistic treatise.

> b) Laws of the Breastfeeding Woman

This might be useful to a lady who is about to, or has recently, given birth
since presumably it collects together in a handy format all the relevant
halachot [laws].

> c) Laws on Commercial/Employment Matters Between The Jew and the Non-Jew

Yisrael has misconstrued the title of this work. It is in fact on the Even
Haezer section of the Shulchan Arukh and is the fourth volume of a series on
relations between Jews and non-Jews. It would deal with matters related to
marriage, divorce etc. and might well be very interesting, especially given
the large numbers of immigrants from the FSU whose Jewish status is not
clear. It is not about commercial relations, as Yisrael writes, which were
included in the previous volume on Choshen Mishpat. I have the previous three
volumes and have found them extremely helpful in locating the appropriate laws.
I am therefore grateful to Yisrael for drawing my attention to the new volume,
which I intend to obtain in due course.

> d) Laws on Taking Care While Travelling/Crossing The Street

The title might more accurately be translated "Laws regarding Road Safety".
In view of the fact that more people are killed and injured in Israel in
road accidents than in terrorist atrocities and wars together, this is a matter
of great importance. If it reduces reckless driving and other dangerous
behaviour it will have greatly improved the situation.

I fear that Yisrael's submission might provoke yet more dismissive comments
from those who would like to make fun of the current trend to publish such
halachic monographs even though they may well fill a need in certain sections of 
the community.

Martin Stern

From: Michael Rogovin <mrogovin118@...>
Date: Tue, Apr 3,2012 at 12:01 AM
Subject: What Are They Reading?

In MJ 60#72, Yisrael Medad asks about "the state of Halachic research today"
based on titles that seem more like Purim Torah than the "serious" scholarship
they apparently represent. 

Perhaps when you have entire communities, rather than only serious scholars,
avoiding army service and paying jobs by living their lives in the Beit Midrash,
this is the result. I mean, they need something new to write about and clearly
everything else has been written about ad nauseum and there is nothing new
to add.  But these are really not as bad as you think. The Talmud has some
nice passages about proper ways to relieve oneself so it is only natural to
expect later authorities to revisit and expand on these critical issues. It
is all about proper tzniut (modesty) and it is the lack of tzniut that is
the reason society is in the dregs today.

Sorry for ranting. I do wish the MJ community a happy and kosher Pesach.

Michael Rogovin


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Apr 1,2012 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Will they ever learn from experience?

This appeared on Arutz7 on 1 April 2012:

> Jordan Arabs Attack Anti-Zionist Jews
> by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

> Jordanian Arabs scuffled with anti-Zionist and pro-Palestinian Authority
> Neturei Karta members in the Global March on Jerusalem rally Friday. No one
> was injured.
See also the pictures on

[Mod. note: no "scuffling" is evident from the ViN-site pictures.]

Perhaps these misguided people will find some way to justify their
manhandling by their Arab friends or claim that the culprits were
undercover Mossad agents. I doubt if they will learn anything from their

Martin Stern


End of Volume 60 Issue 73