Volume 65 Number 24 
      Produced: Sun, 02 Jan 22 03:42:07 -0500

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

A return to sanity? 
    [Leah Gordon]
Chief Rabbi freezes all conversions 
    [Prof. L. Levine]
Jewish anti-Semitism 
    [Martin Stern]
    [Sammy Finkelman]
Rabbanut Mita'am (was Chief Rabbi freezes all conversions) 
    [Prof. L. Levine]
Reality check (antisemitism) 
    [Immanuel Burton]
The Rabbis Are Trying to Rehabilitate Chaim Walder's Image. 
    [Prof. L. Levine]
Trendy Tel Aviv Bar Closes On Shabbos, Sees 30% Rise In Revenue 
    [Martin Stern]
Where should our priorities lie? 
    [David Tzohar]


From: Leah Gordon <leahgordonmobile@...>
Date: Wed, Dec 29,2021 at 10:17 PM
Subject: A return to sanity?

Martin Stern writes (MJ 65#23):

> VINnews reported (27 Dec. '21):
>> The heads of the religious Zionist yeshivas have decided to prevent MDA from
>> initiating blood drives in their yeshivot because the organization uses the
>> term Parent 1 and Parent 2 on its forms rather than father and mother.
> For further details see:
> https://vinnews.com/2021/12/27/yeshivas-communities-refuse-to-donate-to-mda-un
> til-its-forms-state-father-mother-and-not-parent-1-parent-2/#.Ycqx74B8LyA.mail
> to
> Is this a blow for common sense or a quixotic tilting at windmills?

I am beyond heartbroken to read this news.  Magen David Adom saved my life in
the summer of 2018, when I accidentally had a bite of cashew nut and collapsed
in anaphylactic shock on the street in Jerusalem.

An MDA team saved me with the utmost respect and care, including collecting my
kisui rosh [head-covering] from the sidewalk and bringing it to me in the ambulance.

Not every family has a mother and a father, and the change to gender-neutral
language hurts NO ONE.  How could a yeshiva take this move, which may cause
death to innocent Jewish people?

And why would anyone refer to this sinat chinam [baseless hatred] as a "return
to sanity" or "a blow for common sense"?

I am proud to say that my father, and my son, are both extensive blood donors.

Leah S. R. Gordon


From: Prof. L. Levine <llevine@...>
Date: Wed, Dec 29,2021 at 05:17 PM
Subject: Chief Rabbi freezes all conversions

Further to Martin Stern's posting (MJ 65#23):

The following is from the article A SEPHARDIC BAN ON CONVERTS published in
Tradition Winter 1988.

> In 1935, following the example of the Syrian-Sephardic Jewish community of
> Argentina, the Brooklyn beit din promulgated a ban on accepting any converts:
> this was reaffirmed by the rabbinical authorities in 1946 and 1972.
> These various proclamations were initiated by the community's rabbinical
> leaders. However, in 1984, sensing the increasing social pressures, the lay
> leaders initiated a public affirmation of the ban; they recognized it to be a
> necessary and effective tool for maintaining the social cohesiveness of the
> community.

It is because of this ban that this community has maintained its Jewishness
despite rampart intermarriage in some other circles.

Rabbi Laus's move may be just what Israel needs to preserve it Jewishness.  The
planned reforms will indeed lead to two nations as Rabbi Lau says.

Yitzchok Levine


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sat, Jan 1,2022 at 02:17 PM
Subject: Jewish anti-Semitism

Yisrael Medad wrote (MJ 65#23):

> Martin Stern writes (MJ 65#22) of the Satmar Chassidim "having a totally
> benevolent attitude to Jews". Having seen them up close when they attack
> Zionist Jews, I see no difference in any anti-Semitic gradation, their
> opposition to Zionism being "genuine" or not.

Of course Satmar Chassidim are strongly opposed to Zionism but that does not
mean they oppose Jews per se (as a Jewish group this would be difficult to
imagine how they could). This is part of their ideological rejection of setting
up a Jewish state before the coming of Mashiach.

In reality, groups affiliated to Satmar carry out widespread charitable works
among Jews irrespective of their political or religious affiliations such as,
for example, supporting Jews in hospital (bikkur cholim). It is only in the
context of Zionist activity that they can be antagonistic - they attack Jews
when acting as Zionists rather than Jews who may incidentally be Zionists but
where this is not of the essence of the situation.

Martin Stern


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Thu, Dec 30,2021 at 11:17 AM
Subject: Priorities?

In the link in Martin Stern's post (MJ 65#23), Rabbi Gershon Edelstein is quoted
as saying "they should be told that evil people slandered him".

Isn't that itself a slander against all the people who accused Chaim Walder of
not being a fine man if it is fact true? Now maybe Rabbi Gershon Edelstein
simply doesn't believe the accusations? Saying it can't be proven in court or
beis din doesn't mean it is not true, and it is not slander to repeat it, even
though Shimon ben Shetach said he once saw a man murdering another and said he
couldn't disclose who he was even though he was there because he was the only

I don't believe this is the halacha (where is it in the shulchan aruch etc. and
where is it taught?)  and besides that would be using a different from usual
definition of slander.

And besides there is the matter of increasing wisdom and understanding and
avoiding some of the danger of something similar that comes from publicizing it.


From: Prof. L. Levine <llevine@...>
Date: Fri, Dec 31,2021 at 09:17 AM
Subject: Rabbanut Mita'am (was Chief Rabbi freezes all conversions)

Martin  Stern wrote (MJ 65#23):

> IMHO, this disgraceful treatment of the Chief Rabbi clearly shows 
> the danger of a state-sponsored rabbinate [Rabbanut Mita'am] which is viewed as 
> merely a civil service department with no right to oppose the government's
> policies when it feels they are contraray to halachah. Perhaps Chaim Sonnenfeld
> was right when he set up the Eidah Charedit in 1919 rather than accept such a
> demeaning position under the aegis of the secular Zionist leadership.

IMHO this has nothing to do with a state sponsored rabbinate. It has to do with
the attitude that some non observant people have towards Orthodox rabbis.

The idea that Orthodox halacha is crucial to Judaism is simply anathema to them.
This is because they think that Judaism is a religion.  Rav Shimshon Refael
Hirsch points out clearly that Judaism is not a religion.  Religion is man's
view of the Creator, whereas Judaism is the Creator's view of man. Religion can
be twisted, updated, modified, etc. by man. But something that the Creator has
given us cannot.  There is a world of difference!

Professor Yitzchok Levine


From: Immanuel Burton <iburton@...>
Date: Wed, Dec 29,2021 at 04:17 PM
Subject: Reality check (antisemitism)

Leah Gordon wrote (MJ 65#21):

> What do you all think of this - is it antisemitic and should I report it to
> airbnb.com if so?
> My niece is having a bat mitzvah in a few weeks.  I looked on airbnb.com (a
> peer-to-peer lodging site) for COVID reasons - I would prefer to stay only with
> my husband and sons, but also where the windows can open (i.e. not a hotel).
> Anyway, I found a promising property, and put in a query, "Hello, would you
> please let me know if your property is walking distance from [name of
> synagogue]?"  I got a reply, "not available" though, on the site, the property
> is still available on those dates.

Perhaps you could get some friends to ask whether the property is close to a
church, or mosque, temple. Kingdom Hall, Meeting House or any other type of
house of worship in order to figure out whether this response was antisemitism
or just a general anti-religious attitude. Either way it's probably worth
reporting to AirBNB as a form of discrimination one way or the other.

Immanuel Burton.


From: Prof. L. Levine <llevine@...>
Date: Thu, Dec 30,2021 at 05:17 PM
Subject: The Rabbis Are Trying to Rehabilitate Chaim Walder's Image.

The Ha'aretz newspaper continues its antireligious tirade by making this claim.


The question is: What should our attitude be towards people who act improperly?
Should we cover these faults up?

The following is from the new translation of the commentary of Rav Samson
Raphael Hirsch on Bereishis 12: 10 - 13. He is discussing the question of how
Avraham could leave EY and put Sarah in danger.

"In light of this, I have to wonder why some think that all "negatives" about
people should be suppressed.

"RSRH quotes the Ramban "Our father Avraham inadvertently committed a grave sin
by placing his virtuous wife before a stumbling block of iniquity because of his
fear of being killed ... His leaving the Land, about which he had been
commanded, because of the famine was another sin he committed" - nevertheless,
none of this would perplex us.

"The Torah does not seek to portray our great men as perfectly ideal figures; it
deifies no man. It says of no one: "Here you have the ideal; in this man the
Divine assumes human form!" It does not set before us the life of any one person
as the model from which we might learn what is good and right, what we must do
and what we must refrain from doing. When the Torah wishes to put before us a
model to emulate, it does not present a man, who is born of dust.
Rather, God presents Himself as the model, saying: "Look upon Me! Emulate Me!
Walk in My ways!" We are never to say: "This must be good and right, because
so-and-so did it." The Torah is not an "anthology of good deeds." It relates
events not because they are necessarily worthy of emulation, but because they
took place.

"The Torah does not hide from us the faults, errors, and weaknesses of our great
men, and this is precisely what gives its stories credibility. The knowledge
given us of their faults and weaknesses does not detract from the stature of our
great men; on the contrary, it adds to their stature and makes their life
stories even more instructive. Had they been portrayed to us as shining models
of perfection, flawless and unblemished, we would have assumed that they had
been endowed with a higher nature, not given to us to attain. Had they been
portrayed free of passions and inner conflicts, their virtues would have seemed
to us as merely the consequence of their loftier nature, not acquired by
personal merit, and certainly no model we could ever hope to

Professor Yitzchok Levine


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sat, Jan 1,2022 at 03:17 PM
Subject: Trendy Tel Aviv Bar Closes On Shabbos, Sees 30% Rise In Revenue

Prof. L. Levine wrote (MJ 65#23):

> In VINnews, it was reported that Gabi Geuli, the owner of Night Shift, a
> trendy Tel Aviv bar, which was open for many years on Shabbat ... Decided
> recently to make the bar kosher and close on Shabbat. He told Arutz Sheva
> about the remarkable growth he had experienced despite closing on the day
> which brought the most revenue and despite scathing criticism from patrons.
> ...
>> Geuli received a number of negative responses to his move. "Sometimes a
>> person comes and the hostess tells him that we are kosher and he says
>> jokingly 'I don't eat kosher' ... Others have called to boycott the bar,
>> which really hurt Geuli: "Why boycott? I didn't tell people to wash their
>> hands...
> This is one small step in fostering the Jewishness of the State of Israel.
> However, I find it sad that some non-observant Israelis are so intolerant of
> Jewish observance.

I would suggest that some non-observant Israelis see any overt Jewish observance
as a threat to their self definition as "Jewsraelis" as Alan Rubin put it (MJ

Martin Stern


From: David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...>
Date: Thu, Dec 30,2021 at 06:17 AM
Subject: Where should our priorities lie?

When there are rumors or suspicions that a Rabbinic personality has behaved
improperly toward his students or congregants, abusive sexually or otherwise,
our first priority is not to be indifferent. The suspicions must be taken to the
proper authorities who are responsible for investigating and deciding "Im YeSH
DVaRiM BeGo"(whether there is any truth to the allegations)

But there is another priority relating to the "suspect". We cannot automatically
and publicly shame him and submit him to humiliation. Even the secular law holds
with the principle that one is innocent until PROVEN guilty. The Chafetz Chaim
paskens that when the honor of a talmid chacham is involved we must be
especially careful since his honor is also the honor of the Torah.

This was IMHO the mistake of the self appointed "Forum Takkana" in the case of
Rav Mordechai Eilon who, instead of allowing the proper authorities to do their
job and in the meantime protecting the anonymity of the Rav, made the case
public and denounced him publicly forcing him into "galut" from Jerusalem and
banning him from giving Torah Shiurim. Rav Eilon still insists that he is
innocent of any criminal wrongdoing. I myself tend to believe him.

The tragic case of Chaim Walder who took his own life when he was subjected to
public shaming leads me to believe that when there are conflicting priorities
our community leaders have a great responsibility to act with caution - it could
be a case of PiKuaCH NeFeSH.

David Tzohar


End of Volume 65 Issue 24