Volume 65 Number 25 
      Produced: Mon, 03 Jan 22 13:30:57 -0500

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Beitar Illit rabbi: 'Nail polish is for secular women'  
    [Prof. L. Levine]
Chief Rabbi freezes all conversions (2)
    [Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer  Joseph Kaplan]
Has Novi God, a secular Russian holiday, a place in Israel? 
    [Prof. L. Levine]
Men Teaching in Seminaries 
    [Prof. L. Levine]
Trendy Tel Aviv Bar Closes On Shabbos, Sees 30% Rise In Revenue 
    [Joseph Kaplan]
Walder (2)
    [Prof. L. Levine  Martin Stern]
Where should our priorities lie? (2)
    [Orrin Tilevitz  Joseph Kaplan]


From: Prof. L. Levine <llevine@...>
Date: Sat, Jan 1,2022 at 07:17 PM
Subject: Beitar Illit rabbi: 'Nail polish is for secular women' 

Israel National News reports:

> Rabbi Haim Weiss, the rabbi of Beitar Illit, a haredi city in Judea, has
> called on the city's women to increase in modesty. Among other things, Rabbi
> Weiss [stated] 'Nail polish is for secular women'


I think it is unfortunate that this rabbi is apparently unfamiliar with Rav
Samson Rafael Hirsch's differentiation between 'un-Jewish' and 'non-Jewish'

In The Jewish Press, July 25, 2007, page 1, I wrote:

> We've all heard some people go as far as to categorically condemn anything
> that they consider to be "goyishe." Are observant Jews really required to
> completely turn their backs on the culture around them? Must they shut
> themselves off from the entire gentile world?
> ...
> "Of course, problems are bound to arise if your children receive the main part
> of their education at non-Jewish or (what is even more detrimental) at
> un-Jewish* institutions where the Jewish element in the curriculum is at best
> ignored or, as is mostly the case, presented from a distorted non-Jewish or
> un-Jewish vantage point." (Collected Writings of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch,
> Volume VII, page 21)

The curious term "un-Jewish" has an asterisk next to it that refers to the
following footnote: "R. Hirsch uses the term 'un-Jewish' (unjudisch) to mean not
in the spirit of Torah Judaism, as distinct from 'non-Jewish'".

Rav Hirsch does not lump all things of gentile origin into the same class. Some
things that come from non-Jewish sources are indeed completely incompatible with
Judaism. These he classifies as "un-Jewish" - to be avoided at all costs.

There are, however, many things that stem from outside the Jewish world that are
to be considered as "non-Jewish" - that is, their source is not from Judaism,
but they are compatible with Yahadut.

See for more:


Yitzchok Levine


From: Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer <rygb@...>
Date: Sun, Jan 2,2022 at 12:17 PM
Subject: Chief Rabbi freezes all conversions

Prof. L. Levine wrote (MJ 65#24):

> 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.
>> ...
> 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.

I don't understand how mimicking the anti-Torah conduct of the Syrian community
is ever a good thing.

I also do not understand what is wrong with the reform. Can Prof. Levine explain

Thank you.


From: Joseph Kaplan <penkap@...>
Date: Sun, Jan 2,2022 at 02:17 PM
Subject: Chief Rabbi freezes all conversions

In response to Prof. L Levine (MJ 65#24):

As an Ashkenazi Jew, I would never tell Mizrachi communities what public
policies they should follow. But I deeply pray that we continue to follow the
Torah's numerous edicts of 'veahavta et hager' and not follow the policy of the
Syrian-Sephardic Jewish community of Argentina of banning the acceptance of 
converts. I also hope that the Chief Rabbi quickly revokes his terribly
misguided threat to stop signing conversion certificates. 



From: Prof. L. Levine <llevine@...>
Date: Sat, Jan 1,2022 at 08:17 PM
Subject: Has Novi God, a secular Russian holiday, a place in Israel?

Haaretz reported:

> Novy God, the New Year holiday celebrated by immigrants from the former
> Soviet Union, is casting off its stigma in Israel as second-generation
> Russian speakers embrace its festive trappings
> ...
> The festive holiday was celebrated privately by families from the former
> Soviet Union who made their way to the Jewish state in the early 1990s. Under
> the regime, it was the only non-Communist holiday they could celebrate, and
> from their first years in Israel, they marked it as they did back home.
> ...
> Festive as it was, many felt that they had to keep their celebrations behind
> closed doors. They knew they were observing a secular tradition that had been
> tolerated by the religion-averse Communist regime, but were worried that
> their Jewish neighbors saw trees, gifts and decorations in the last week of
> December as a celebration of Christmas. Their concerns were justified - in
> some immigrant enclaves, Orthodox public officials raised objections to
> displays in stores and public squares, and pointed to the celebrations as
> evidence that the newcomers from the USSR were not fully Jewish.
> But in recent years, Novy God celebrations have entered the Israeli public
> square full force and the stigma has faded away. Supermarkets and toy stores
> advertise specialty items geared to the celebrations.

See for more:


Now I ask you "Do these celebrations do anything to strengthen the Jewish
character of the State of Israel?"  I think the answer is clearly, "No." Such
celebrations IMHO are non-Jewish.

Keep in mind that it is precisely for these Russians that the government wants
to change the conversion process so they will be "Jewish." IMHO this is just one
more reason why conversion standards should not be relaxed.

Yitzchok Levine


From: Prof. L. Levine <llevine@...>
Date: Mon, Jan 3,2022 at 01:17 PM
Subject: Men Teaching in Seminaries

In his discussion of the Walder matter at


Rav Berkovits was adamant that males should never counsel females. He told the
professionals that "the number one takeaway is that there is no heter for a male
to counsel a female, whether as a therapist, counselor, or coach ... [similarly
in] seminaries where young charismatic good-looking men teach women, we have had
too many problems, there is something sick with that."

The Rav said there "are plenty of competent professional women and there is no
reason or justification for a woman to ever visit a man."

A young woman on my email list who lives in EY commented

"I agree with this 100%! There is no need for male teachers in the Bais Yaakov
schools. No yeshiva would ever dream of hiring a woman. So why should it be
different when it's a girls' school? I have heard way too many stories ... It's
just not worth it."

Why do we allow men to teach women in seminaries?  Today we are blessed with a
cadre of Bais Yaakov graduates who are knowledgeable in essentially all aspects
of Yahadus. If a complicated halacha question were to come up, they could refer
a student to a Rav.

Indeed, why do we allow men to teach in Bais Yaakov schools and seminaries?

Professor Yitzchok Levine


From: Joseph Kaplan <penkap@...>
Date: Sun, Jan 2,2022 at 02:17 PM
Subject: Trendy Tel Aviv Bar Closes On Shabbos, Sees 30% Rise In Revenue

I don't quite understand the statement by Prof Levine (MJ 65#23) that "some
non-observant Israelis are so intolerant of Jewish observance". The last study I
saw was that the vast number of Israelis continue some Jewish observance,
whether, for example, its fasting on Yom Kippur, having a seder, lighting
Shabbat candles, or having a Friday night family meal. As best as I can tell,
the intolerant are a very small part of the Israeli population equal, perhaps,
to the small number of observant Jews who are intolerant of any observance
different from their own.



From: Prof. L. Levine <llevine@...>
Date: Sun, Jan 2,2022 at 11:17 AM
Subject: Walder

Last week a friend of mine who is a therapist told me "The entire Walder
business is over".  I really hope he is wrong.  As much as some elements in the
Chareidi world like to sweep this sordid chapter in the history of the Jewish
world away, I believe it must be dealt with.

Just read Abuse Survivor: An Open Letter To My Community at 


One feels the pain and anger that comes through.  I think this is worth a read.

BTW,  IMHO VIN has done a good job dealing with a very sensitive topic.

Yitzchok Levine

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Jan 2,2022 at 04:17 PM
Subject: Walder

Prof. L. Levine wrote (MJ 65#24):

> The Ha'aretz newspaper continues its antireligious tirade by making this
> claim. [that The Rabbis Are Trying to Rehabilitate Chaim Walder's Image]

For a well balanced discussion of the Walder affair and the halachic questions
arising from it, see:

"Struggling with the tragedy of Chaim Walder: 7 thoughts"

by Rabbi Yair Hoffman


Martin Stern


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Sun, Jan 2,2022 at 10:17 AM
Subject: Where should our priorities lie?

David Tzohar proposes (MJ 65#24) that we should treat people like Chaim Walder
as innocent until they are proved guilty in a court of law (if not longer):

> 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. (Caps in original) 

Actually, secular law holds nothing of the sort. It holds only that one is not
guilty, that is of a crime, until one is proved guilty "beyond a reasonable
doubt", the standard both in common law jurisdictions and, AFIK, in Israel. Lack
of [criminal] guilt does not imply (complete) innocence. OJ Simpson was famously
acquitted of a murder, and then found civilly liable "for damages" for that same
murder because the standard of proof in a civil trial is instead "preponderance
of the evidence". Even that is not necessarily the minimum standard. A couple of
years ago Harvard proposed that for internal disciplinary purposes, in sexual
harassment cases the accused would bear the burden of proof. (Harvard later
withdrew the proposal.)

But if criminal liability is indeed the standard, let us see just what David is
proposing. The standard of beyond a reasonable doubt means, in Israel, 98%
certainty. (It might be even higher in the States)


Let's say that Reuven is tried for murdering Bilhah in public. 48 independent
witnesses so testify. One witness testifies that it never happened, e.g., at the
time of the alleged murder he was with Reuven a kilometer away. All 49 witnesses
appear equally credible and there is no forensic or other circumstantial
evidence. The judge (in the U.S., probably a jury) must acquit. David is saying
that we must therefore treat Reuven as innocent and if he's a Rosh Yeshiva, he
stays as one. (BTW. Chazal in such a situation were not powerless. They had the
power to imprison the acquitted Reuven and, in effect, starve him to death.)

From: Joseph Kaplan <penkap@...>
Date: Sun, Jan 2,2022 at 02:17 PM
Subject: Where should our priorities lie?

I don't agree with David Tzohar's priority (MJ 65#24) that we must not
automatically and publicly shame [suspects] and submit them to humiliation
because "Even the secular law holds with the principle that one is innocent
until PROVEN guilty". 

That principle is a legal statement that applies in the legal system. It does
not, and should not, apply to how people act outside that system. When there are
allegations by numerous people about someone acting improperly then it's not
only appropriate but necessary that they be publicized along with the alleged
perpetrator's name so others are warned and can protect their children. We have
had many examples of cover-ups in our Orthodox community both in Israel and the
US where many young people were victimized because of these cover-ups and the
argument that we must protect people who had reputations as talmidei chachamim.
The tragic case of Chaim Walder was not that he committed suicide or that he was
publicly shamed. It was that he was allowed to get away with his nefarious
behavior for so long to the severe detriment of our children, women, and
community. To have waited longer would just have added more victims to the list.
(And, sadly, another victim was added to his list even after his suicide,
probably because of the behavior of parts of our community and its leadership
relating to his death.) 

We need to learn from our previous errors, not perpetuate them. 



End of Volume 65 Issue 25