Volume 65 Number 45 
      Produced: Mon, 27 Jun 22 03:41:29 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Abortion (5)
    [R E Sternglantz  Joseph Kaplan  Leah Gordon  Zev Sero  Chaim Casper]
How do I cope with my Anti-vax spouse? (2)
    [Martin Stern  Yisrael Medad]
Minhagim (was How do I cope with my Anti-vax spouse?) (2)
    [Martin Stern  Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
Why Do Men Call Their Wives Honey? 
    [Prof. L. Levine]


From: R E Sternglantz <resternglantz@...>
Date: Sun, Jun 26,2022 at 09:17 AM
Subject: Abortion

Martin Stern (MJ 65#44) has misunderstood literally everything about the Dobbs
decision and the underlying issues. His post is full of factual inaccuracies.

Perhaps the fact that the Agudah issued a statement about the leaked opinion,
expressing concern about its practical ramifications, should it become law,
should be a clue that this is a disaster for frum Jews.

I don't have the time to educate this list on the issues and I wasn't going to
comment at all but this is a healthcare emergency. Let me just say that if you,
or people you care about, are engaged in assisted reproduction and live in a
state that already has or is likely to soon outlaw abortion, you should contact
your provider immediately for guidance. Similarly women of childbearing age in
these states should recognize that their ability to get healthcare for
miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy is now at risk. 

From: Joseph Kaplan <penkap@...>
Date: Sun, Jun 26,2022 at 09:17 AM
Subject: Abortion

Martin Stern (MJ 65#44), beginning a discussion on abortion, quoted a statement
by the Agudah concerning the overturning of Roe by the Dobbs case. 

Agudah's position was actually stated more clearly in an amicus curiae brief it
submitted in the Casey case (also overturned by Dobbs) where it also asked for
Roe to be overturned. 

But it did more. It said that if, in overturning Roe, abortions that halacha
requires are also banned, then religious people who have been advised by their
clergy to have an abortion should be allowed to do so based on the first
amendment right to freedom of religion. 

My interpretation of this position is that, as long as our community is
protected, we really don't care much about non-religious Americans. Not a
position that should make Orthodox Jews proud.

From: Leah Gordon <leahgordonmobile@...>
Date: Sun, Jun 26,2022 at 11:17 AM
Subject: Abortion

Martin Stern writes (MJ 65#44):

> The recent decision of the US Supreme Court that the US constitution does
> not give a woman the automatic right to an abortion, and therefore decisions
> on the legality of abortion revert to the state legislatures, will give rise 
> to considerable discussion. What we on Mail Jewish might wish to discuss is
> what, based on halachah, should be our attitude.
> ...
> However, the discussion might be better directed to whether we, as Jews,
> welcome any legislation on abortion, or should take a neutral stance and never
> comment on it.

The halakhic position is that Jewish authorities should decide on when Jewish
women are eligible for abortion.  This is consistent with the fully "pro-choice"
US legal viewpoint, as we do not live in a Jewish theocracy. Therefore, the
decision, Jewishly, must not be in the hands of politicians.

> As a starting point, we might take the statement from Agudath Israel of
> America, published on June 24, as reported in VIN news:

> https://vinnews.com/2022/06/24/read-agudas-yisrael-welcomes-supreme-court-ov
> erruling-roe-v-wade/

>> Today, the Supreme Court of the United States overruled Roe v. Wade, the 1973
>> decision establishing a womans constitutional right to abortion. Agudath
>> Israel of America welcomes this historic development.
>> Agudath Israel has long been on record as opposing Roe v. Wades legalization
>> of abortion on demand. Informed by the teaching of Jewish law that fetal life
>> is entitled to significant protection, with termination of pregnancy
>> authorized only under certain extraordinary circumstances, we are deeply
>> troubled by the staggering number of pregnancies in the United States that 
>> end in abortion.
>> ...

Agudath Israel is finding a very strange bedfellow here, indeed.  The
evangelical right wing in the United States is in no way supportive of Jewish
values or Jewish practice.  Their stated goal is to bring Christian beliefs and
practice, and Jesus, into all aspects of personal life.

Jews in the United States have always supported our separation of Church and
State, because as a minority religion, we need that separation in order to
practice our own religion.

A Reform shul in Florida is currently suing on religious grounds that the
Florida ban on abortion precludes following halakha.  A peculiar published
objection to this lawsuit relies on the premise that Reform Jews do not have
"deeply-held" religious convictions, and I hope that no one on MJ is going to
repeat that canard.  In fact, all of us Orthodox Jews should share the Reform
rabbi's deep conviction in this case that halakhically-mandated abortions will
be at risk under Florida's restrictions.

Agudath Israel is also disingenuous if they believe that overturning Roe vs.
Wade will reduce the "staggering" number of abortions.  It is now clear
from extensive data around the world that making abortion illegal increases
women's morbidity and mortality, but that the following (all opposed by the
right wing in the US) actually reduce abortions:

1. comprehensive sex education

2. widespread availability of contraception

3. funding for healthcare including maternal and pediatric

4. funding for nutrition especially for young children

5. funding for childcare and preschool

6. maternity/paternity leave including pay, healthcare, and job-return

Furthermore, making legal abortion harder to obtain will lead to more, not
less, "later term" abortions, i.e. those that halakha finds problematic.

In the UK, where Martin lives, #1-6 are much more accepted than in the US, where
we have none of the above guaranteed.  Furthermore, the people that Agudath
Israel is lionizing, who fought Roe vs. Wade, oppose all of #1-6 above and
generally support expanding the death penalty for cases which are not Torah
sanctioned.  I am left to conclude that Agudath Israel is taking a stand for
political, not moral or religious, reasons.

Leah S. R. Gordon

From: Zev Sero <zev@...>
Date: Sun, Jun 26,2022 at 12:17 PM
Subject: Abortion

In response to Martin Stern (MJ 65#44):

1. Before 40 days it is not a foetus but an embryo.  One may quibble about the
exact boundary, and when one starts counting the days, but as a general
statement, halacha says a foetus is a full human being and killing it is murder,
while an embryo is not.

2. As far as I know no state has banned abortion before 40 days, and no state is
planning to do so.   If a state were one day to propose such a law, that law
would almost certainly *not* treat such an early abortion with anything like the
severity it reserves for murder.  Indeed most abortion laws made or proposed,
even in later stages, where the halacha would be calling for capital punishment,
treat it as very much a lesser offense.  Thus halacha would have no objection to
a law banning the abortion of an embryo, and might even support it as a
fulfillment of "Lo tohu b'ra'ah".

3. There is no proposal in any state to ban abortion where the mother's life is
at risk.  Nobody is even agitating for such a law.  It's way off the horizon.
Such a law would be very unpopular, so the people's representatives would be
unlikely to pass it. In the hypothetical extreme case that such a law were to be
passed, it would certainly be challenged immediately and probably struck down.

4. In the extremely hypothetical event that a state were to ban abortion even to
save the mother's life, and that ban were to be upheld in the courts, I think
halacha would still prefer such a law over the alternative of allowing abortion
in all cases, as we had until last week in all states.  In the rare case that
someone actually needed such an abortion the halacha would simply advise her to
have it illegally, and if necessary bear the consequences.  The laws that Bnei
Noach are required to make, to enforce the 6 negative mitzvos they have, are not
required to match the halacha exactly, and are allowed to be more stringent. 
This would be regarded as such a law.  And morally the calculus is very simple:
Such a law would unjustly kill a very few people, but would save thousands. 
That is far better than the reverse.

Zev Sero 

From: Chaim Casper <info@...>
Date: Sun, Jun 26,2022 at 01:17 PM
Subject: Abortion

Martin Stern (MJ 65#44) started a discussion regarding abortion in the US after
the Samuel Alito and the Supreme Court overruled the Roe v. Wade Ruling of 1973

Thank you, Martin! Allow me to continue the discussion without going into the
sources, rather, going into various positions.

Martin started by quoting the Agudas Yisroel statement on the issue: "Today, the
Supreme Court of the United States overruled Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision
establishing a woman's constitutional right to abortion. Agudath Israel of
America welcomes this historic development ..."

In all fairness, we should also quote the OU statement on this issue:
"In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court issuing its ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson,
we reiterate the approach we articulated when a draft ruling in this case was
leaked to the media last month.
"The Orthodox Union is unable to either mourn or celebrate the U.S. Supreme
Courts overturning of Roe v Wade. We cannot support absolute bans on abortion
"at any time point in a pregnancy" that would not allow access to abortion in
lifesaving situations. Similarly, we cannot support legislation that does not
limit abortion to situations in which medical (including mental health)
professionals affirm that carrying the pregnancy to term poses real risk to the
life of the mother.

"As people of faith, we see life as a precious gift granted to us and maintained
within us by God. Jewish law places paramount value on choosing life and
mandates"not as a right but as a responsibility"safeguarding our own lives and
the lives of others by behaving in a healthy and secure manner, doing everything
in our power to save lives, and refraining from endangering others. This concern
for even potential life extends to the unborn fetus and to the terminally ill.
"The right to choose (as well as the right to die)" are thus completely at odds
with our religious and halachic values. Legislation and court rulings that
enshrine such rights concern us deeply on a societal level.

"Yet, that same mandate to preserve life requires us to be concerned for the
life of the mother. Jewish law prioritizes the life of the pregnant mother over
the life of the fetus such that where the pregnancy critically endangers the
physical health or mental health of the mother, an abortion may be authorized,
if not mandated, by Halacha and should be available to all women irrespective of
their economic status. Legislation and court rulings, federally or in any state,
that absolutely ban abortion without regard for the health of the mother would
literally limit our ability to live our lives in accordance with our
responsibility to preserve life.
"The extreme polarization around and politicization of the abortion issue does
not bode well for a much-needed nuanced result. Human life "the value of
everyone created in the Divine Image" is far too important".
As of today, June 26, 2022, the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) has not yet
offered a statement on this issue nor could I find one on their website.

Rabbi Dr. J. David Bleich, author of Contemporary Halachic Problems, has come
out against almost all abortions.

A critique of Rabbi Bleich's position by Rabbi Dr Natan Slifkin.


Rabbi Slifkin does not accept abortion on demand but he does conclude that Rabbi
Bleich's position "may lead to women who desperately need abortions being unable
to obtain them".

It is important to note that the teacher to many of us, Rabbi Joseph D
Soloveitchik, zt"l, aka the Rav, said that abortion is murder


Nonetheless, the Rav agreed to abortion in three cases I am aware of.
The Rav's son-in-law, Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein, zt"l, wrote in Tradition (25:4,
Summer, 1991) a summary of halakhic positions that was presented to a Knesset
hearing on the subject without giving a final, definitive answer


As he wrote (pg.11) that "I have refrained from setting down definitive
conclusions, but have been satisfied to indicate general principles, tendencies
and possibilities in the Halakha" as he posits that a pesak (halakhik ruling)
should be given on a case by case basis. There is no one size fits all in the
issue of abortion.

The reality is that women in general and Orthodox Jewish women in particular
will search for and obtain an abortion if they feel they need it regardless of
what the halakhah or what American civil law says is permissible.


My personal feeling is that the overruling of Roe v Wade is a net loss for the
Jewish community as Evangelical and Catholic theologies have replaced halakha in
what should be a private decision between a woman, her doctor, her spiritual
advisor and the father of the fetus.
B'virkat Torah,

Chaim Casper
North Miami Beach, FL
Neve Mikhael, Israel


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Jun 26,2022 at 08:17 AM
Subject: How do I cope with my Anti-vax spouse?

Leah Gordon wrote (MJ 65#44):

> Yitzchok Levine wrote (MJ 65#42) :
>> Rav Gershon Ribner recently spoke about how to deal with disagreements in
>> marriage. In a recent vaad, a newlywed submitted a question about his new
>> wife, "an extreme anti vaxxer who believes virtually every conspiracy
>> theory".
> I'm left wondering how someone married another person (for life?) without
> having conversations about important issues.

I suspect that many issues that one later finds important may not seem so at the
courtship stage when one is assessing one's potential life-partner. To a
relatively young and inexperienced person, belief in conspiracy theories may
seem unimportant, but one cannot always tell what might turn from a minor
irritation into a major irritant once one has to live with such a person.

If Leah were correct, divorce would be extremely rare.

Martin Stern

From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Sun, Jun 26,2022 at 03:17 PM
Subject: How do I cope with my Anti-vax spouse?

Leah Gordon (MJ 65#44) responds to Yitzchok Levine (MJ 65#43) by writing:

> I'm left wondering how someone married another person (for life?) without
> having conversations about important issues.

There is a humorous comment on married life that 90% of the mutual conversations
consist of two people in two different rooms shouting "what?"

Yisrael Medad


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Jun 26,2022 at 09:17 AM
Subject: Minhagim (was How do I cope with my Anti-vax spouse?)

Prof. Yitzchok Levine wrote (MJ 65#44):

> I know that Rav Kamenetsky was a genius when it came to dealing with people
> and their problems, but I simply do not understand his approach regarding this
> matter.
> Shouldn't the primary concern regarding how and with whom the Choson and
> Kallah walk down with be what they want, regardless of their parents'
> minhagim? After all, it is their wedding and not their parents' wedding.
> Some people getting married want to walk down with the people who raised and
> nurtured them all their life. Others are content to have the fathers walk with
> the Chasson and the mothers walk with the kallah.
> But in any case, I think that what the two people marrying want should be the
> main concern at their wedding.

Probably, the young couple would not have strong feelings on this, to them,
trivial matter and would defer to their parents' wishes. If they do have a
strong preference then, obviously, this should be taken into account. However,
minhagim are an important part of the Jewish tradition and should not be
sacrificed without good reason to satisfy personal tastes.

Incidentally, having the fathers escort the chatan, and the mothers the kallah,
might be preferable where one, or both, sets of parents are divorced and,
possibly, not on the best of terms.

Martin Stern

From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Sun, Jun 26,2022 at 05:17 PM
Subject: Minhagim (was How do I cope with my Anti-vax spouse?)

In response to Prof. L. Levine (MJ 65#44)

The point is that Rav Kemenetsky was answering the two people in a way that
would lead to their being in shalom with each other. Telling them to leave it up
to the children would still possibly lead to a dispute among the couple. It
would not be a good idea to lead to an argument.

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz


From: Prof. L. Levine <llevine@...>
Date: Sun, Jun 26,2022 at 10:17 AM
Subject: Why Do Men Call Their Wives Honey?

Yesterday in shul someone told me the reason why men call their wives 'honey'.
He said that the gematria of Ishah [1+300+5] and D'vsh [4+2+300] are the same!



End of Volume 65 Issue 45