Volume 64 Number 39 
      Produced: Thu, 15 Aug 19 11:21:47 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Ben Torah for Life 
    [Joel Rich]
Chap a Mitzvah? 
    [Joel Rich]
Chilul Hashem on the plane 
    [Martin Stern]
Flirting (was Rape) 
    [Martin Stern]
    [Martin Stern]


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 7,2019 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Ben Torah for Life

In his book "Ben Torah for Life", Rabbi Aaron Lopiansky addresses the Yaakov's
who have spent their lifetime in full time torah studies and now, going out into
"the real world" to make a living, feel, as he puts it, they have sold out their
learning for a "bowl of lentils". (R'Lopiansky's allusion to Esav selling his
birthright), which I find a problematic statement.

R'Lopiansky's response is multifaceted. On the philosophical side he states that
Yaakov must realize that while extended full time learning was the right thing
to do and forms his core, "the vocation that hashgacha has allotted you" now is
not less valuable if viewed correctly. He is an agent of HKB"H and must maintain
an appropriate (for self and family) standard of living which reflects his
ultimate goals. He must realize that the outside world is not black (all
foolishness) or white (they're great). Our ethical/moral standards are key as
Yaakov maintains his separation and sanctifies HKB "H's name. He needs to look
for/ form a strong Shul, Community, Rabbi, Chevra and family while he sets aside
time for more practical, focused, inspirational and engaged learning. He must
set aside time to set/correct course and experience the sweetness of every
mitzvah. Yaakov must make tfila, Shabbat and Yom Tov different and meaningful.
He must avoid spiritual pitfalls and use down time appropriately.

My thoughts on his approach:

1) While Yaakov's problem statement (and problem) is very different from Jack's
(my creation - his modern orthodox cousin whose problems stem from being reared
to believe professional success is key), the advice is still generally on target
for both of them

2) R'A Feldman's (Rosh Yeshiva-Ner Yisrael) approbation includes the following
statements worth discussing: "It is a fact of our Yeshiva educational system
that a good proportion of our students do not end up in Torah-related careers
and therefore find themselves thrust, often unprepared, into an environment
whose values and behaviors are radically different from their accustomed ones.
Surprisingly, this problem has never been addressed by our Roshey Yeshiva."

3) Also worth discussing - does the response to Yaakov fully address his problem
statement's root cause? If not, why not? What other short and long term
responses might be more effective for Yaakov or his children? How would they
effect the rest of the community?

4) David Epstein in "Range" argues that "specializing" too early can be
counterproductive and that generalists who find their path later in life tend to
excel and be more creative, agile and able to make connections that specialists
miss, which part especially resonates with me. 

What are the implications for our educational systems (Limudei Kodesh and Chol
across the orthodox spectrum)?

She-nir'eh et nehamat Yerushalayim u-binyanah bi-mherah ve-yamenu [may we see
the consolation of Jerusalem and its rebuilding speedily in our days].

Joel Rich


From: Joel Rich <JRich@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 14,2019 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Chap a Mitzvah?

Thought experiments: There's a mitzvah that's equally incumbent on a group that
you are part of:

1) Do you "chap" (grab) the mitzvah (perhaps show how important/dear it is to
you) or let someone else do it (perhaps to show humility)?

2) If you are looked at as the senior member of the group - does that change
your calculus?

Joel Rich


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 13,2019 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Chilul Hashem on the plane

Since some members of the mail-jewish community have objected in the past to
my quoting Rabbi Doniel Neustadt's Weekly Halacha Discussion because they
consider him too machmir [stringent], I thought these pieces from his column
entitled 'Airline Travel' sent out for Vaetchanan 5779 might be of interest
and form a basis for discussion on the various points he raises:

> Question: What should one do if he wants to eat bread, but he is travelling
> and has no access to water with which to wash his hands?
> Answer:
> ...
> Generally, it is advisable for an orthodox Jew who is taking a long flight to
> book an aisle seat so that he will not need to disturb his seat mates each
> time he needs to get up to wash for a meal or daven. One who disturbs his seat
> mates unduly, even if he does so in order to fulfill certain halachic
> obligations, runs the chance of annoying or angering them and possibly causing
> a chillul Hashem.
> ...
> Question: While flying on an airplane, is one obligated to join a minyan which
> is being organised on the plane?
> Discussion: Shulchan Aruch rules that all men should make every effort to
> daven all tefillos with a minyan, for tefillah b'tzibbur is much more than a
> preferred course of action  it is a rabbinic obligation.
> Still, everything has its time and place. Many people just cannot concentrate
> properly while standing in a busy aisle way or passageway, valiantly trying to
> keep their balance. Sometimes there is turbulence in the air and the captain
> orders those standing to immediately return to their seats, which certainly
> interferes with ones concentration. Being able to concentrate properly often
> overrides the importance of davening with a minyan.
> In addition, davening while standing in an aisle surrounded by other
> passengers, could entail the prohibition of davening in the presence of a
> woman who is not properly dressed or whose hair is not covered. Those who
> remain in their seats do not encounter these problems, since they need only
> look straight ahead, close their eyes or focus entirely on the siddur in front
> of them.
> But there is yet another point to ponder: Some airlines welcome public prayer
> and permit the passengers to daven in a minyan while flying. Others, however,
> object to this practice and resent the fact that the orthodox Jews are taking
> over the plane. Passengers may become upset from the noise and the tumult
> created by the makeshift minyanim. Since there is a strong chance that a
> chillul Hashem will result, many poskim recommend davening byechchidus while
> remaining in ones seat, being careful to keep a low profile and to create the
> least disturbance possible.
> ...
> Question: What should one do if he stood up for Shemoneh Esrei and, while
> davening, the captain turned on the seat belt sign ordering the passengers to
> return to their seats?
> Discussion: He should finish the brachah reciting, take three steps back, and
> then walk back to his seat and resume davening. He must be careful not to
> speak at all on his way back to his seat, since it is strictly forbidden to
> talk during Shemoneh Esrei.
> In addition to the safety issue involved, an Orthodox Jew who fails to return
> to his seat when ordered to do so by the airline staff could very well be
> causing a massive chillul Hashem, which must be avoided at all costs.

IMHO these chumrot [stringencies] are entirely appropriate and Chilul Hashem
should be avoided at all costs. Do others disagree?

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 14,2019 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Flirting (was Rape)

Yisrael Medad wrote (MJ 64#38):

> Martin Stern wrote (MJ 64#37):
>> traditional Jewish practice has been to frown on gender interaction outside
>> the immediate family on any but the most superficial, and clearly
>> non-relational, level - and flirting would clearly be a prime example of this
>> sort of behaviour.
> Can one, male or female, flirt on a shidduch date? Or traditionally, is that
> not allowed?

I would have thought that the purpose of a 'shidduch date' was to assess
whether the other person would be a suitable spouse. Until both parties have
decided that this is the case, any flirting would be inappropriate since it
would tend to cloud their judgement of the other's true character and compatability.

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 7,2019 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Rape

Michael Rogovin wrote (MJ 64#38):

> Martin Stern wrote (MJ 64#37)
>> I was certainly not suggesting that "one can associate flirting with rape"
>> but, as he says it is "certainly a way of indicating interest or attraction"
>> and this is liable to be misinterpreted by some men. It is for this reason
>> that traditional Jewish practice has been to frown on gender interaction
>> outside the immediate family on any but the most superficial, and clearly
>> non-relational, level - and flirting would clearly be a prime example of this
>> sort of behaviour.
>> Whether flirting involves a Torah or Rabbinic prohibition, or is 'merely' a
>> breach of traditional practice, is irrelevant - it is certainly unwise
>> outside marriage precisely because of the possibility of misinterpretation.
>> Unfortunately, in some more 'modern' groups, gender-distancing has been
>> abandoned as being too 'extreme'...
> I am unclear what is meant by "misinterpretation." Is Martin suggesting that
> it is possible that a man would think that by flirting (ie, expressing
> interest) that the woman wanted to be raped? Meaning, how is it possible to
> understand flirting, smiling, joking, etc. as saying "I want you to grab
> me, hold me down, and force yourself on me?" I mean, I can understand that
> it MIGHT be an expression of sexual interest. But rape?
> ... 

Of course I was never making any such suggestion. However, by flirting, the
woman might give the, possibly incorrect, impression of a sexual interest
which might be misinterpreted by the man as indicating some willingness to
engage in consensual sexual relations.

> The only way that one could even conceive of such a "misinterpretation" is a
> society that sees women not as people b'tzelem elokim, but as mere vessels for
> the satisfaction of men's lust. They are there to be taken and discarded, like
> the young woman that several self-proclaimed religious Israeli teens had sex
> with and then tossed out of the room when they were done. Even if that wasn't
> rape, it was certainly an attitude toward women as disposable. I would hope
> that the Torah sees women differently, but the evidence does not appear
> conclusive on this.

That the young men, once vindicated of gang rape, put on kippot and claimed
to be religious, receiving a heros welcome with singing and dancing on
arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport is truly a gross Chilul Hashem [desecration of
all that is holy and decent].

If they had had any religious sensibilities, they would have felt deeply
ashamed by their disgraceful behaviour, even if it were not culpably
criminal, and avoided any publicity. On the contrary their flaunting of it
reminds me of what Haim Nahman Bialik is reported to have said a century ago
"We shall not be a normal people, until we have Jewish whores and Jewish
thieves in the Land of Israel.

Martin Stern


End of Volume 64 Issue 39