Volume 65 Number 48 
      Produced: Thu, 30 Jun 22 03:54:14 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Abortion (4)
    [Joseph Kaplan  R E Sternglantz  Chaim Casper  Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
Captain Staying With The Ship  
    [Prof. L. Levine]
Definition of "Observant Jews" 
    [Haim Snyder]
Minhagim (2)
    [Joseph Kaplan  Deborah Wenger]
Observant Jewish (Women), Beis Yaakov, and Sex Education 
    [Leah Gordon]
The Halachic Challenges of Expanded Understanding 
    [Carl Singer]


From: Joseph Kaplan <penkap@...>
Date: Tue, Jun 28,2022 at 07:17 PM
Subject: Abortion

> Martin Stern wrote (MJ 65#46):
> 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.
>> ...
>> 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.

The problem is that the Agudah tries to solve the problem caused by the
overturning of Roe which they strongly supported by relying on the free exercise
of religion clause of the First Amendment. Thanks, even if a halachically
mandated abortion will be illegal under state law (as appears to actually be the
case in some states), Jews should not be prohibited from getting an abortion
because they have a constitutional right to the exercise of their religion. But
even if this were true (and Im not sure it is a correct constitutional
position), I can't see that helping atheists. Hence my interpretation. 


From: R E Sternglantz <resternglantz@...>
Date: Wed, Jun 29,2022 at 10:17 AM
Subject: Abortion

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz wrote (MJ 65#47):
> R. E. Sternglantz wrote (MJ 65#45):
>> 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.
> I should point out that states that limit abortions usually give an exception
> for the health of the mother. An ectopic pregnancy would normally not be
> considered a viable pregnancy. It is usually discovered well before the limit
> for a legal abortion. Similarly, a miscarriage is the death of the child while
> in the womb by natural causes. This would not involve an abortion which is
> causing the death of the child while in the womb by the physician.

Most well-meaning people who are not civil rights lawyers or doctors or
otherwise closely following this issue understandably believe that if an
abortion ban has an exception for the health of the mother, it will not have any
affect on anyone except those who seek to voluntarily terminate a viable
pregnancy. This is not the case. 

Doctors in jurisdictions with abortion bans with exceptions for the life of the
mother have in practice been known to withhold care until the woman is at the
point of dying if she doesn't get care, eg, after the Fallopian tube has
ruptured, after the uterus is septic. 

This article gives a good overview of the situation based on the reality in
Texas since SB 8 went into effect. The first few paragraphs discuss a different
issue but then move into how narrowly the "life of the mother" exception is


Some of you may also have seen the recent news about a woman on vacation in
Malta who began to miscarry and who was unable to obtain medical care and had to
be airlifted to Spain to save her life. Miscarriage is not always neat. 

There are also cases where a pregnant woman is diagnosed with a health problem
that makes continuing the pregnancy a risk to her life. 

I am not pronouncing here that in all these situations Halacha requires or
permits the termination of the pregnancy. A Torah observant Jew will consult
their rabbi for guidance. But in states with abortion bans, the "life of the
mother" exception does not in practice mean what well meaning people think it
means and it will prevent women from getting the healthcare they need. 

I would add that banning abortions after six weeks also does not mean what many
people think it means. Those six weeks are not counted from conception (at least
in the US). They're counted from the first day of the woman's last menstrual
period. So it's more like 3-4 weeks from conception. Ectopic pregnancy is often
not confirmed until slightly later in the first trimester.

From: Chaim Casper <info@...>
Date: Wed, Jun 29,2022 at 12:17 PM
Subject: Abortion

In my previous post (MJ #65#45), I mentioned that the RCA (Rabbinical Council of
America) had yet to post a statement regarding the overruling of Roe v Wade.
That statement was released today, Wednesday, June 29, 2022:

> The recent decision by the United States Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs
> Wade has elicited intense emotions ranging from elation to despair. Given the
> gravity of the matter, the nuance of the perspective on this subject in
> Jewish law, and the fierce division of the American public regarding this
> issue, the Rabbinical Council of America believes that our response as
> Orthodox Jews must be carefully measured.
> On the one hand, Jewish law does not countenance abortion on demand and hence
> limiting this phenomenon can be seen as a positive development. On the other
> hand, Jewish law gives greater latitude to permitting abortions than
> presently advocated by those who oppose them.
> In recognition of the wisdom expressed by those dual positions, it is our
> belief that state legislation must protect the right to receive abortions for
> those permitted by Jewish law. At the same time we note that American society
> was built upon the great moral and legal principles of the Bible, with the
> value of life being one of those great principles. It deserves to take its
> place in this national discussion and it encompasses not only the actual
> birth of children, but also society ensuring that mothers have the
> wherewithal to care for themselves and their offspring.
> As the debate over abortion rights enters this new phase, we encourage states
> to craft policies that will simultaneously express the great value we place
> on life as well as protecting the rights to abortion when warranted by Jewish law.

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

Neve Mikhael, Israel

From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Wed, Jun 29,2022 at 03:17 PM
Subject: Abortion

Leah Gordon wrote (MJ 65#47):

> It was said as a throwaway line in a recent MJ digest that a Jewish woman who
> requires an abortion should go ahead and get an illegal abortion and "suffer 
> the consequences if necessary".

I read Zev Sero as saying that if halachah requires an abortion, a woman should
get a doctor to do a safe procedure. She and the doctor should be willing to
suffer the LEGAL consequences and fight the matter in court.

In any case, my impression of the ruling is that the Supreme Court stated that an
abortion is neither constitutionally prohibited nor allowed, and is a matter
for each state to determine unless congress passes a law on the matter. In any
case, until that is done each state would be allowed to determine its own law.
We, as citizens should work in our own states to get laws that we can agree with
or lobby congress to pass a valid law.

Of course, looking at the current congress I do not expect them to pass a
reasonable law. I find that too many are like the governor of Virginia who said
that an infant should be made comfortable (after birth) until a decision is made. 

Then there is the other extreme who would let the mother and baby die while
doing nothing.

We will have to see what happens now.

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz


From: Prof. L. Levine <llevine@...>
Date: Wed, Jun 29,2022 at 10:17 AM
Subject: Captain Staying With The Ship 

R. Joel Rich wrote (MJ 65#47):

> R' David Tzohar wrote (MJ 65#46):
>> 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.
> I know it's not a perfect analogy but if the explanation for Rabbis staying in
> galut is the captain of the ship being the last one off (I"ve heard this in 
> the name of RYBS), then shouldn't the captain exert maximum effort to get 
> everyone into the lifeboats?

Here is an important issue that one should consider before moving to Israel.

Many years ago, I asked Rav Dovid Kronglass, who was then the Mashgiach of
Yeshivas Ner Israel in Baltimore, MD, about moving to Israel.  He replied:

"The land of Israel has Kedusha. Therefore, any mitzvah you do there is worth
much more than if you do it in Chutz L'Aretz.  however, any aveirah you do there
is much worse than if you do the same aveirah in Chutz L'Aretz.  You do not just
go to Israel. You have to be on the proper spiritual level to go there."

Perhaps, in their humility,  Rabbonim who do not move to Israel feel that they
are not on the proper spiritual level to live there.

How much more so should this be a consideration for ordinary folks.

Yitzchok Levine


From: Haim Snyder <haimsny@...>
Date: Tue, Jun 28,2022 at 06:17 AM
Subject: Definition of "Observant Jews"

Yitzchok Levine (MJ 65#46) twice implicitly defines "Observant Jews" as having
studied at either a yeshiva or Beis Yaakov. Personally, I take affront at that

Neither I nor my late wife met those criteria, but I have no problem at all in
defining ourselves as observant Jews. We also didn't send our daughters to Beis
Yaakov, preferring the Mamlachti Dati (National Religious) schools here in
Israel. Since we conduct our lives in accordance with halacha and the minhagim
of the GR"a, I challenge Professor Levine to explain to me why we aren't observant.

Haim Shalom Snyder
Petah Tikva,


From: Joseph Kaplan <penkap@...>
Date: Wed, Jun 29,2022 at 09:17 AM
Subject: Minhagim

R' David Tzohar wrote (MJ 65#46):

> I have always wondered how certain gedolim Including R'JB Soloveitchic, 
> allowed their spouses to uncover their hair. 

There is really no need to wonder. In many marriages, one spouse doesn't allow
or not allow the other spouse to do something. Rather, they are two adults who
love each other, have decided to live their lives together, and understand that
sometimes their mate might do something that they disagree with and vice versa. 


From: Deborah Wenger <debwenger@...>
Date: Wed, Jun 29,2022 at 12:17 PM
Subject: Minhagim

Yisrael Medad wrote (MJ 65#47):

> In response to Deborah Wenger (MJ 65#46):
> I fully agree with her as to the resolution of her particular situation and
> yet, with all empathy, I simply want to deal with the logic of her reasoning
> in that she writes that it is the day of the children yet indicates walking
> down with her child is a "zechut" for her, giving honor to him and that she
> put her foot down.
> Were the children asked for their opinion and agreement? If so, all fine. If
> not, IMHO, all involved should have deliberated the situation and arrived at
> a joint decision.

Sorry, I did not clarify. The chatan and kallah AND the kallah's parents all
agreed that our minhag was for the parents to walk their own children down the
aisle. My ex was doing this solely to hurt me by not allowing me to walk my own
son down. If this had been our daughter, I'm sure he wouldn't have wanted to
change the minhag.

Deborah Wenger


From: Leah Gordon <leahgordonmobile@...>
Date: Tue, Jun 28,2022 at 05:17 PM
Subject: Observant Jewish (Women), Beis Yaakov, and Sex Education

Yitzchok Levine (MJ 65#46) writes:

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

OK so here's my point:  "observant" does not equal "Beis Yaakov" - that's the
sneaky part.  I'm an observant Jewish woman and I already posted about what
makes me happy.

It would be illogical to analyze what Beis Yaakov women want, in absentia. And,
no Beis Yaakov women are on Mail Jewish (or if they are, they've been remarkably
silent for the 30+ years that I've read every issue).  And, even if there were a
Beis Yaakov woman on MJ, and she posted in reply to this, her answer would still
only be about what she thinks as an individual.

This is what is known as "moving the goal posts".  First, Yitzchok claimed that
women as a category derive happiness from X.  Then, when questioned, he said it
was a general psychological insight but some women might feel differently, but
observant women derive happiness from X.  Then, when questioned, he said that he
meant Beis Yaakov women and gave everyone a quick review of what it means to be
a Beis Yaakov woman.

I will concede one point:  women who have been brought up in a Beis Yaakov
context all know that they are EXPECTED to derive their greatest joy from
marriage and children.  Raising one child will make it clear that children have
their own ideas.  Multiplied by a community, I expect this is even more the case.

He also wrote (MJ 65#46):

> 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.

Since when do we assume that when Leah Gordon posts, she is always referring to
Beis Yaakov?  That would be wildly inaccurate.

At any rate, the ultra-Orthodox and Orthodox communities in the UK are likely
not responsible for any appreciable fraction of the abortions there, and I have
no idea what they learn in terms of sex education.

However, it has been shown repeatedly that municipalities with comprehensive sex
education have lower incidence of unwanted pregnancy, sexually-transmitted
disease, and abortion.

He continued:

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

I hope for their sake that Yitzchok is incorrect.  Every child deserves to learn
about his/her body, how it works, issues of consent, sexual pleasure, and
reproductive biology, continually in an age-appropriate way from birth through

Furthermore, the lack of a comprehensive curriculum virtually guarantees that
children and teens will learn from inappropriate, incomplete, furtive sources as
curiosity arises.  It is impossible to keep prurient/inappropriate content out
of any community in 2022.  The best way to address this is with a
values-centered comprehensive education as early as possible.  The "values" will
obviously differ by family and school.

--Leah S. R. Gordon


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Wed, Jun 29,2022 at 12:17 PM
Subject: The Halachic Challenges of Expanded Understanding

Most, if not all, aspects of halacha that deal with the human body were, of
course, based on the contemporary understanding of physiology and medicine.
Thus, since the heartbeat (pulse) was understandable and observable, the absence
of a heartbeat indicated death. Today's science would consider brainwave
activity, based on expanded knowledge and better equipment, better able to
determine it.

Many Gedoleh have tackled keeping halacha in sync with modern science.
Discussions such as those related to abortion need to keep this in mind.

Carl A. Singer, Ph.D.Colonel, U.S. Army Retired
70 Howard Avenue


End of Volume 65 Issue 48