Volume 65 Number 46 
      Produced: Tue, 28 Jun 22 03:27:29 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Abortion (7)
    [Susan Kane  Orrin Tilevitz  Martin Stern  Martin Stern  Irwin Weiss  Chaim Casper  Mark Goldin]
Gender confusion! 
    [Martin Stern]
Minhagim (was How do I cope with my Anti-vax spouse?) (2)
    [Deborah Wenger  David Tzohar]
Observant Jewish (was Where Does A Woman Find Happiness in Life?) 
    [Prof. L. Levine]
Sex education (was Abortion) 
    [Prof. L. Levine]


From: Susan Kane <adarconsulting@...>
Date: Sun, Jun 26,2022 at 02:17 PM
Subject: Abortion

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

I"ve always been extremely distressed by Agudat Yisrael's position on abortion
and the cover they have provided to the Christian pro-life movement in America
which openly seeks to impose its theology on religious minorities and secular

>From a legal point of view, the only way to ensure that Jewish women in
America can act in accordance with halacha is for abortion to be safe and
legal vis--vis the secular legal system. Period. End of story.

There are MANY considerations that could result in a heter for an abortion -
including the physical AND mental well-being of the mother, the needs of
her other children and the circumstances of the pregnancy.

Under traditional Christian theology, which is now law in many American states,
there is only ONE - a definite and immediate threat to the mother's life. This
means that women - including Jewish women - will be forced to risk their HEALTH
including sepsis, their fertility, and indeed their lives due to a failure to
provide prompt care for common conditions such as incomplete miscarriage,
ectopic pregnancy, fetal death (G-d forbid), loss of amniotic fluid, and other
dangerous conditions.

Options under Jewish law have now been lost in multiple American states.
Already, women in Texas are being told that they must first develop an infection
that risks their lives before a doctor can act.  That is NOT acceptable under
halacha. Women are NOT commanded in p'ru ur'vu specifically because halacha does
not require them to risk their lives in pregnancy.

Rather than recognizing their obligations, Agudat Yisrael has chosen to put
their strategic political alliance with conservative Christians and the
Republican Party ahead of Jewish women's lives.  Given that they once appealed
to Hitler by explaining that real Jews like them also hated communists (1933), I
should not be surprised.  But I can still be bitterly disappointed and angry
with them.

Of course, Jewish tradition supports and values life - starting with the life of
the mother. Her life has clear precedence over fetal life until the child's head
emerges into the world. THAT is halacha and the fact that Agudat Yisrael has
chosen to obscure and (sadly) to lie about that simple fact in multiple American
statehouses and before Congress is a shame not only to their organization but to
the entire Jewish people.

Secular democracy IS what protects and has always protected Jewish life in
America.  As in Europe long ago, Agudat Yisrael has made a grave error on this
issue and I for one will not forgive nor forget it.

Susan Kane
Silver Spring, MD

From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Sun, Jun 26,2022 at 05:17 PM
Subject: Abortion

Martin Stern writes (MJ 65#44) that, halachically, abortion is not murder. It is
not clear to me whether he is referring only to the first 40 days or throughout
pregnancy. AFIK, halachically abortion is NEVER murder for a Jew. The problem,
as Rabbi Feivel Wagner Z"L, my rabbi in Queens NY, once explained to me, is that
it IS murder for a ben noach, at least at some point during the pregnancy. The
reason, he explained, National Council of Young Israel used to file briefs
opposing legalized abortion was that as Jews, we are permitted to live with
goyim only if they follow the Noahide commandments.

That is the theory - I have at least three problems with it.

First, there are seven Noahide commandments, and (in theory) goyim must follow
all of them for Jews to live with them. There are problems with most of them,
but let's pick just one, the prohibition of idol worship. I have not seen NCYI
or Agudath Israel make any moves to ban Hindu worship or, for that matter, the
Catholic church. If indeed Noahide commandments are an issue, why pick on abortion?

Second, many of these laws ban abortion except to save the mother's life. For us
Jews, an abortion to save the mother's life is not merely permissible: it is
required. (The Catholic church would ban abortion even such cases; that is why
Agudath Israel does not sign Catholic Church briefs in abortion cases.) And
that, AFIK, extends to a situation where there is a safek [doubt] about whether
the fetus will kill the mother. These laws currently severely penalize doctors
who perform abortions. Faced with the possibility of a long jail sentence if,
post facto, some non-medical person determines that the fetus wouldn't have
killed the mother, doctors in these jurisdictions simply aren't performing
abortions at all or, at least, until the mother is beyond saving. So these laws
actually impede us from practicing our religion. (I wont even speak about what
damage they do to women.) And many poskim have long permitted abortions in a far
broader array of situations - I"d imagine even requiring it in some. Thinking
that we can somehow tailor anti-abortion legislation so that they don't affect
our religious practice is pure fantasy.

Third, this whole anti-abortion movement (please don't characterize it as
pro-life, particularly not when the people on the same side of that debate
believe guns are more important than children) is based on the religious
principle to which we Jews do not subscribe, incidentally that a fetus is a
person at conception. The problem with supporting or encouraging laws based on
religious or moral principles, even if at times they jibe with ours, is that
they can be turned on us, for example, to ban shechita on ethical or moral
grounds as countries have done in Europe.

Martin also writes:

> 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.

These are not the only two options. A third is our actively opposing legislation
on abortion.

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 27,2022 at 05:17 AM
Subject: Abortion

R E Sternglantz wrote (MJ 65#45):

> 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 s/he could be more specific.

Martin Stern

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 27,2022 at 06:17 AM
Subject: Abortion

Joseph Kaplan wrote (MJ 65#45):

> 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.

I would hope that this is a misinterpretation and that, should such a caveat
be drafted, it will be framed more clearly to remove the possibility that it
is framed ONLY to protect Orthodox Jews.

Martin Stern

From: Irwin Weiss <irwin@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 27,2022 at 07:17 AM
Subject: Abortion

Here is discussion which touches on the clash between the 1st amendment and
statutory prohibitions of abortions now authorized by the Supreme Court's 
ruling overturning the prior case of Roe v. Wade.


I cite this non-Halachic authored article, not as an endorsement of it or its
author, but just for thought.  It is certainly the case that Halacha, at times,
requires an abortion to be performed

Irwin Weiss
Baltimore, MD

From: Chaim Casper <info@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 27,2022 at 09:17 AM
Subject: Abortion

Apologies, in my rush to submit my response (MJ 65#45) to Martin's post (MJ 65#44)
regarding the US Supreme Court repeal of Roe v Wade, I did not include a link to
Rabbi J David Bleich's article against abortion. It may be found at


Once one reads this article, then Rabbi Natan Slifkin's response to it at


makes much more sense.

B'virkat Torah,
Chaim Casper
North Miami Beach, FL

Neve Mikhael, Israel

From: Mark Goldin <mgoldin1@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 27,2022 at 01:17 PM
Subject: Abortion

I would refer esteemed members of this group to Rabbi Jeremy Wieder's excellent
article on how Halacha views abortion and Roe v Wade.


I"d like to praise Chaim Casper's summation in the last newsletter (MJ 65#45):

> 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.

As well as Professor Levine's isha = dvash gematria!

Mark Goldin
Los Angeles


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Jun 26,2022 at 09:17 AM
Subject: Gender confusion!

Arutz Sheva (INN) reported:

> A biologically female soldier from the Gaza Division who identifies as a trans
> man ... had been allowed to live in the male barracks.
> ...
> Religious soldiers experiencing extreme discomfort due to the female soldier
> in their midst appealed to the rabbi of the Gaza Division, but to no avail -
> the rabbi explained that IDF orders obligate the army to accept and respect
> the trans soldier's wishes.
> ...
> In the meantime, the soldiers refused to sleep in the same compound as the
> trans soldier.
> Following INN's reporting of the case, the soldier was removed from the male
> barracks. Instead of returning to the female barracks, she was allowed to stay
> in a guest house on the base, where she has a toilet and shower, as well as a
> double bed, refrigerator, microwave and living room.
> An IDF spokesperson stated: "The IDF is working to provide tailored conditions
> of service for all its servants wherever they are, as was done in this case as
> well. After a conversation between the battalion commander and his soldiers,
> as well as with the soldier in question, examining the case individually with
> the required sensitivity and in accordance with the army's orders, it was
> decided to transfer the soldier to the accommodation at the base. We will not
> go beyond that for obvious reasons of individual privacy."

Is this a reasonable compromise or merely bowing to political correctness (and
giving this ambisextrous soldier apparently privileged accommodation)? If not,
what would be a more satisfactory one?

Martin Stern


From: Deborah Wenger <debwenger@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 27,2022 at 12:17 PM
Subject: Minhagim (was How do I cope with my Anti-vax spouse?)

As an incidental comment, Martin Stern said (MJ 65#45):

> 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.

As someone who was in that very situation, I must respectfully disagree. In a
case of divorced parents, this could be a slap in the face to the opposite-sex
parent. When my son got married, my ex "decided" that the fathers should walk
the chatan down and the mothers should walk the kallah down. He obviously was
doing this just to hurt me, as this was not a minhag on either side. But NOTHING
was going to keep me from walking my only child down the aisle, so I put my foot
down and did get the zechut of accompanying my son down the aisle.

A walk down the aisle takes just a few seconds; divorced parents should be able
to put their differences aside for that short time to give honor to their
children who are being married - it's THEIR day. 

Deborah Wenger

From: David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 27,2022 at 12:17 PM
Subject: Minhagim (was How do I cope with my Anti-vax spouse?)

First of all we must distinguish between minhagim, halachot deoreita and
halachot derabbanan. My opinion is that there is room for compromise concerning
minhagim (for instance "gebrochts"). On the other hand disagreement on halachot
especially deoreita the only choice is compliance or divorce.

When I proposed to my wife it was al tnai (on condition) that she cover her hair
with a tiechel. She did so for 20 years. Then after studying the sugiya in the
gemarra and halacha she decided that hair covering was "only a din Yehudit" and
she would take off the tiechel. I asked my rosh kollel what to do. He said first
of all this was a perfect example that teaching women Torah is teaching them
tiflut (heresy) and that I should tell her that if she takes off the tiechel she
should also take off her wedding ring. She sued for divorce but was unable, as a
moredet (rebellious wife), to obtain a get. Eventually she returned with the
tiechel showing less than a tefach of her hair. Thirty years later we divorced
for reasons not related to halachic observance (empty nest syndrome).

I have always wondered how certain gedolim Including R'JB Soloveitchic, allowed
their spouses to uncover their hair. This along with his refusal to make aliya
remains IMHO a great conundrum. Tiyuvta leR'Soloveitchic tiyuvta.

R' David Yizchak Tzohar

David  Tzohar


From: Prof. L. Levine <llevine@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 27,2022 at 10:17 AM
Subject: Observant Jewish (was Where Does A Woman Find Happiness in Life?)

Leah Gordon wrote (MJ 65#44):

> Furthermore, the sneaky repetition of "Observant Jewish" in YL's posts is not
> lost on me.  No, I do not think that halakha requires women to have different
> sources of happiness than men do.  That indeed would require a powerful cited
> source to be the case.

The repetition of "Observant Jewish" is not meant to be sneaky. It meant up
front, because sincerely Observant Jews have a value system that is very
different from that of the general non-observant Jewish world and the gentile

Let me give just a bit of insight related to women who are successful products
of an intensive Bais Yaakov and seminary education.

Such a young woman will date only for a tachlis [purpose], the intention of
getting married. She will in general want a "learning boy", i.e. a young man
who has spent years studying Torah intensively in yeshiva. She will be shomaiah
negiah [avoid physical contact with males], so that she and her husband-to-be
will have no physical contact until they are married. She will dress tzniusdicly
[modestly]. After she marries, she will cover her hair and she and her husband
will observe the Laws of Taharas HaMishpacha.  She will do her utmost to build a
Torahdic home with her husband.  She will look forward to having children and
raising them to be Shomer Torah and mitzvas.

I could go on, but you get the idea. Such an idealistic young woman has values
and an outlook on the world that is drastically different from what one finds in
non-Orthodox Jewish circles and the gentile world in general.

Thus, when referring to this segment of the Jewish population, one has to keep
in mind that they do not fit into the general category of the rest of the
population. They are both different and unique.

Yitzchok Levine


From: Prof. L. Levine <llevine@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 27,2022 at 10:17 AM
Subject: Sex education (was Abortion)

Leah Gordon wrote (MJ 65#45):

> ... the following (all opposed by the right wing in the US) actually reduce
> abortions:
> 1. comprehensive sex education
> ...
> In the UK, where Martin lives, #1-6 are much more accepted than in the US, where
> we have none of the above guaranteed.
> ...

Is she asserting that comprehensive sex education is part and parcel of Bais
Yaakov and yeshiva education in the UK?  If so, I am surprised to learn this.

I believe that sex education for Bais Yaakov and yeshiva students is taught when
a couple is engaged and not before.



End of Volume 65 Issue 46