Volume 65 Number 50 
      Produced: Mon, 04 Jul 22 03:40:13 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

    [Joseph Kaplan]
Propriety - a question of practical halacha 
Roe versus Wade - Some Moral Questions  (was Abortion) 
    [Martin Stern]
Sex Education and Abortion (was: Definition of "Observant Jews") 
    [Leah Gordon]
Supreme Court Decisions' Impact on Halacha (was Abortion) 
    [Frank Silbermann]


From: Joseph Kaplan <penkap@...>
Date: Fri, Jul 1,2022 at 09:17 AM
Subject: Abortion

Martin Stern put his finger on the issue from an halachic perspective when he
wrote (MJ 65#49): 

> It seems almost impossible to frame laws so that 'legitimate' abortions
> (however one may define them) may be available and 'non-legitimate'ones banned.

I would just change the word 'seems' to 'is' and delete 'almost'. It is
impossible - which is why Roe was the only way to ensure that abortions that
halacha deems legitimate and even, in some cases, mandatory can be obtained by
women who need them. (I believe Roe was proper and necessary for other reasons
as well, but this one should be sufficient for those who opposed Roe but
actually care about halacha and preserving the lives of women.)



From: Anonymous
Date: Fri, Jul 1,2022 at 12:17 PM
Subject: Propriety - a question of practical halacha

Our congregation has over 100 member families. Our weekday Shacharis numbers
between 20-30 men, over half of whom are members. This minyan takes place in the
main sanctuary. This minyan is timed to end at a specific time so folks can
catch public transportation to work.  It starts five minutes earlier on Monday &
Thursday,  15 minutes earlier on Rosh Chodesh.

Our gabbai, and others, learn in our Bais Medrash until about five minutes
before davening begins and then enters the main sanctuary to don tallis & tefillin.

Under normal circumstances our gabbai davens until Yishtabach and whoever he
designates from among the "regulars" continues. When there is an aveil (a
chiyuv), he may be asked to continue at Yishtabach, or if he feels so inclined
he may begin after the repetition of the Shemoneh Esray, or he may defer entirely.

Last week, someone who just got up from Shiva (not among the minyan regulars)
walked into the main sanctuary about 10 minutes before davening and parked
himself at the lectern -- to show that he intended to daven the entire service.
Clearly, he never before davened with this minyan and didn't know the protocols.

We told him to go to the bais medrosh and check with the gabbai, who "mipnei
darkhei shalom [to further peaceful running of the shul]" let him daven the
entire davening.   Fortunately, he was capable of both content and pace.

Two questions arise:

1 - Should the protocol of "Ask the gabbai" be enforced -- or should someone be
allowed to appoint themselves as shaliach tzibur?

2 - Can an aveil, member or not, be denied if they are incapable of quality
and/or pace?

3 - What do other minyanim do?

Along a similar vein -- we daven nusach Ashkenaz -- what to do when someone
comes in and says kaddish using nusach S'fard? In an ideal world this wouldn't
happen -- but it has and does.

[The person submitting this posting is known to the moderator but asked that it
be published anonymously so as not to identify / offend anyone. In these
exceptional circumstances, we have agreed - MOD]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Jul 3,2022 at 09:17 AM
Subject: Roe versus Wade - Some Moral Questions  (was Abortion)

In VINnews, Rabbi Yair Hoffman of 5tjt.com wrote:
> A week has passed by, and the national outrage has not abated. ... The
> president, members of congress, and the media  assailed the ruling as an
> attack on women, and something that was morally repulsive.  Others are
> dumbfounded by their reactions.
> ...
> In the United States, people generally identify as one of three categories:
> pro-choice, pro-life, and IDRCSM (I Dont Really Care So Much). In order to
> get some moral clarity on the matter, it might behoove us to first get
> definitions of five specific terms and then ask ourselves some moral
> questions.
> Pedicide. In ancient societies it was common practice for parents to be
> allowed to kill their children ... In the United States, many states have laws
> that include child murder as an aggravating factor ...
> Child Euthanasia. With parental permission, a child is put to death because of
> a hopeless prognosis or significant pain. This is a legal right in both the
> Netherlands (passed in 2005) and Belgium (passed in 2014). It is currently
> illegal in the United States. It is against Torah law as well.
> Infanticide. The intentional killing of infants. This was a rather widespread
> practice throughout history and was used either to dispose of unwanted
> children or to prevent resources being spent on weak or disabled children.
> Infanticide is now widely illegal, but in some places the practice is
> tolerated, or the prohibition is not strictly enforced ... This redefinition
> is also against Torah law.
> Neonaticide. The deliberate act of a parent murdering his or her child during
> the first 24 hours of life. According to the New York Times, Every year,
> hundreds of women commit neonaticide: they kill their newborns or let them
> die. Most neonaticides remain undiscovered.
> Termination of Pregnancy. A euphemism for the deliberate act of killing a
> fetus inside the womb of the mother. Other names for this are feticide and
> abortion. In 1973, the act was made into a constitutional right by activists
> and the Supreme Court ruled as such in Roe v. Wade. The ruling made it illegal
> for a state to democratically pass a law that forbade feticide. Jewish law
> forbids feticide unless the mother's life is in danger.
> Now that we have the definitions in place, lets proceed to seven moral
> questions:
> 1. Is there such a thing as a lex naturalis, a system of law based on
> universal values intrinsic to human nature that can be deduced and applied
> independently of the enacted laws of a state or society?
> 2. Is there such a thing as an inherent right not to be killed conferred not
> by act of legislation but by G-d, nature, or reason? At the Eichmann trial
> in Israel, this idea was the basis against the argument that everything the
> Nazis had done was technically legal.
> ...
> 3. Who defines the parameters of a human being? Is it the supreme legal entity
> of society or is it relegated to G-d, nature, or reason?
> 4. Can a society or the supreme legal entity of a country define life as
> beginning at adulthood, thereby allowing pedicide and patria potestas, the
> right of a father to kill his own children?
> 5. Can a society or the supreme legal entity of a country define full life as
> beginning at over twelve months of age, and hence only partial punishment for
> killing a child less than twelve months old?
> 6. Can a society or the supreme legal entity of a country define life as
> beginning only when the baby has exited the birth canal and thus allow for a
> fatal injection into the beating heart of that non-life up until the moment
> of exit?
> 7. May a supreme legal entity rule that a state must ignore democracy in
> order to ensure the right of a parent to terminate a fetus? This is what
> happened in Roe v. Wade.
> ...
> It is this author's view that an honest examination of these questions will
> allow people to achieve greater moral clarity.
> ...
> No one wants to limit a womans right to make essential healthcare decisions.
> But that is not what is happening here. What is happening is a ruling about
> states being allowed to pass decisions, by democratic vote, as to what defines
> non-life or life.
> ...
> Of late, there has been discussion and debate as to how Torah Jews should
> operate in the context of the wider community.
> ...
> Should we voice our opinions of the moral clarity that Torah offers to society
> at large, when it is done respectfully and with treating others properly? Or
> should we give up on society around us and enter a metaphoric Noahs Ark where
> we ignore the morality of the society around us?
> If someone reading this fundamentally disagrees, the author asks that reader
> to at least think about the points raised. We are put in this world to help
> other people. This is called chesed. We should not, however, do a chesed for
> one party at the expense of the life of another party. Nor should we redefine
> the parameters of what constitutes life in order to perform that chesed.

I feel this article raises many valid points which we might like to consider.

Martin Stern


From: Leah Gordon <leahgordonmobile@...>
Date: Fri, Jul 1,2022 at 12:17 PM
Subject: Sex Education and Abortion (was: Definition of "Observant Jews")

Perets Mett writes (MJ 65#49):

> Leah S. R. Gordon wrote (MJ 65#48):
>> However, it has been shown repeatedly that municipalities with comprehensive 
>> sex education have lower incidence of unwanted pregnancy, sexually-
>> transmitted disease, and abortion.
> Since no figures have been provided we cannot really say whether this 
> statement is or is not true.

What an outrageous statement!  Anyone with an internet connection can verify
this claim within a few seconds.  "We" can certainly say that it is true.  Here
are some articles relating sex ed. to abortions.  There is also a trove of data
about sex ed. vs. pregnancy and vs. disease.




Also, I note that the internet is rife with "articles" that say all kinds of
things.  These above are all peer-reviewed.  But even the non-peer-reviewed
articles claim only that they do not see a link between "comprehensive sex
education" and "less sex" or that sex education sometimes lags behind sexual
behavior and should be offered earlier - all find reduced pregnancies and abortions.

> But, if someone would like to publish the figures for three neighbouring
> municipalities in Gush Dan: Tel Aviv, Ramat Gan and Bnei Brak, then we
> could form a judgment on the issue

You are welcome to do so.  Are there public statistics for those areas?

However, I caution you that "the figures" would not be sufficient.  The study
would also have to match for other aspects of the young people's lives.  That's
how statistics work.  You can't just say that you found a yeshiva in place A and
a public school in place B and there are more abortions in place B.  You have to
have a comparison of the same kind of environment/students and one variable,
i.e. sex education.

Also, do adults on MJ really think that if you do not offer sex education, that
kids won't be curious and "experiment" on their own?  I don't mean some
idealized kid that you once knew, or that you were, or that you wish you were,
but rather from a public health population perspective.  Ten thousand years of
culture cannot beat a billion years of evolution.

It's unclear to me why anyone would object to as much education on as many
topics as possible as early as possible, and this applies to sex education, if
you want to make sure that your values are inculcated into the next generation.

On the other hand, right here on MJ we had an offensive anecdote about someone's
Rabbi who joked that the poster's ex-wife should never have learned Torah,
because it led to her having an opinion about her own clothing choices.  (Ha, ha.)

--Leah S. R. Gordon


From: Frank Silbermann <frank_silbermann@...>
Date: Fri, Jul 1,2022 at 02:17 PM
Subject: Supreme Court Decisions' Impact on Halacha (was Abortion)

Fortunately, the Supreme Court decision to reverse Roe vs. Wade did not outlaw
abortion but merely corrected the false claim that the amended Constitutional
contract included a right to abortion.  States remain allowed to permit
abortion, and most will continue to do so.  The concern is for the women who
reside in the states no longer permitting abortion.

Until and unless a national bill is passed (assuming the Supreme Court continues
to allow violations of the 10th Amendment), there is a simple and traditionally
Jewish solution -- and that is for our many, many tzdakkah agencies to help poor
Jewish women living in those states who need a halachic abortion to get one in a
state that permits it.

Many Jews contribute heavily to secular charities, and secular charities could
provide similar help to women without regard to halacha or Jewishness.

On the whole Halacha was well served by the recent Supreme Court activity, in
that it took a stand against laws aimed at denying Jews (and others) when out in
public effective means of fulfilling the mitzvah:

"When a pursuer comes to murder you, rise up quickly and kill him first."

The urgency of such a situation prevents a remedy like the one I described for

Frank Silbermann
Memphis, Tennessee


End of Volume 65 Issue 50