Volume 65 Number 56 
      Produced: Wed, 13 Jul 22 17:28:08 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Abortion (3)
    [R E Sternglantz  Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz  Alan Tira]
Aveil as sheliach tzibur 
    [Orrin Tilevitz]
High price of housing (2)
    [David Olivestone  Haim Snyder]
Optimism and the Zionist Paradise 
    [Yisrael Medad]
Show Proper Kovod to All (2)
    [Yisrael Medad   Carl Singer]


From: R E Sternglantz <resternglantz@...>
Date: Tue, Jul 12,2022 at 03:17 PM
Subject: Abortion

I just want to add something that I think is important, which might not be
obvious to observant Jews who for many reasons don't generally spend a lot of
time following the issue of abortion:

In the United States, the abortion access debate exists on two separate levels.
One level I will call the activist level. This is the level where debates about
"my body, my choice" and abortion on demand occur. This is also the level on
which terrorist attacks on women's health clinics (literal bombings intended to
hurt people and destroy property) and the assassination of doctors who perform
abortions occur. This is not an arena in which observant Jews usually engage, on
either side.

But the other level is a practical legal one. And with respect to the question
of which legal regime is better for Jews, it is the regime that allows Jews to
make these decisions within the context of Halacha, with the case-specific
advice of a Rav. Jews support USDA guidelines not because we're in favor of
cruelty to animals (quite the opposite) but because more restrictive guidelines
would infringe on our right to do shechita.

What happened on the list is some people are saying -- Dobbs is no problem for
halacha because none of the states are going to restrict abortion in such a way
as to prevent halachic conduct, and it's great because it stops the murder of
unborn babies, so hurrah! This is an error of fact. Some of us have tried to
explain that "abortion" includes procedures beyond those which laypeople call
abortions, and which medical procedures are already being restricted by the new
laws. We have tried to explain that the "no abortion after 6 weeks" rules --
which sound like they cover the 40 day threshhold of halacha -- are in fact more
like 21 to 28 day thresholds because of how that 6 weeks is measured in the US.
I could go on here, but you get the point. Will these bad laws get fine-tuned?
Maybe, over time, after women die and are injured and lawsuits are brought to
show consequences of the laws. (Please note that this is by no means a sure thing.)

I made my original post because this is a pikuach nefesh situation and I wanted
to alert the members of this list that doctors and lawyers who work in this
field are very concerned about the women's healthcare crisis we are now in. I
wanted to alert people who may be involved in assisted reproduction in the 20
states that have or will soon have restrictive laws that they need to contact
their fertility clinics (I honestly know nothing about the halachos of assisted
reproduction, but the process often involves the creation and selection of
embryos, thus enmeshing the process in some of these new laws).

From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Tue, Jul 12,2022 at 10:17 PM
Subject: Abortion

Orrin Tilevitz wrote (MJ 65#53):

> Martin Stern wrote (MJ 65#52):
>> Though, for a Jew, performing an abortion may not be murder, it is certainly
>> prohibited unless there is a very good reason for it.
> Change "may not be murder" to "is not murder" and I agree with it. But nobody on
> this list has made any persuasive case as why we should want the government to
> enforce our religious obligations.

After reading all the articles on the subject, I realized that everyone seems to
miss the point about the ruling. The Supreme Court stated that there is no
article or amendment in the constitution that deals with abortion. That is the
reason that they sent the cases back to the individual states. If someone wishes
any particular law to apply to abortion, they should either lobby their own
state to pass a law or try to get congress to pass a federal statute. The
judicial branch cannot decree any particular law, that is up to the legislative
branch of government.

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz

From: Alan Tira <altira1987@...>
Date: Wed, Jul 13,2022 at 04:17 PM
Subject: Abortion

Over the years, I have been surprised by the vehemence with which both sides
approach the abortion debate, and I must confess to a certain apprehension in
dipping my feet into the tempest.  Still, mail-jewish should be open to all
reasonable discussions, regardless of how controversial, so here are some of my
accumulated thoughts.

I used to think that the pro-choice crowd represented a principled position
based on the ethical values of protecting bodily autonomy.  However, the COVID
vaccine mandates, and the deafening silence from the vast majority of the my
body my choice crowd, ably put the lie to that notion.  It appears that the
majority of the world has no problems violating their neighbors bodily autonomy,
with the flimsiest basis, when there is sufficient fear.

The next compelling argument, voiced by some on this list, is that we, as Jews,
want secular laws to be as limited as possible in order that we may have the
freedom to act within halacha.  Again, this fails the test of analogy, when we
compare, for example, to battery or murder.  Does anyone advocate that we loosen
all murder laws in order to permit Jews to exercise halachically mandated
self-defense?  Perhaps less extremely, is there any voice for loosening the hold
of secular law so that Jews could be required to adjudicate
their conflicts (say, divorce) through a Beit Din?

Back to the topic, I know of no state in the union where a woman cannot be
properly treated for an ectopic pregnancy or any other life-saving medical
condition while pregnant, even after the Dobbs decision.  Moreover, states also
permit early abortion in the case of non-consensual relations (e.g., rape or
incest), and if they change this provision, I have every confidence that the
court system will sanely and efficiently correct the mistake.

Instead, I think that one could reasonably conclude that many of the arguments
against abortion restrictions are really Korach-style rationalizations, meant to
sound grandiose and principled, but really intent on mitigating accountability
from consensual sexual relations, with a victim (the fetus) that is powerless to
protect its own interests.


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Tue, Jul 12,2022 at 02:17 PM
Subject: Aveil as sheliach tzibur

Joel Rich writes (MJ 65#55) in response to my query (MJ 65#54) as to whether a
person who "who (before his aveilut) frequently acted as sheliach tzibur" could
take advantage of the Shach's position -- I hesitate to call it a leniency --
that an aveil may daven on holidays "where there is no one better than he" by
deliberately placing himself in a position that this is case:

> I think the answer to the question - as phrased by Orrin - is yes. The more
> important question IMHO is whether it is appropriate, or as they say "un vos
> zogt Gott [what does HKBH say about it".

What might not be "appropriate" about an aveil who, absent aveilut, would
ordinarily daven on, say, Yamim Noraim, from doing so as an aveil? Neither Rama
nor any other source I've seen has explained just why it is customary for a
generic aveil not to daven on shabbat or holidays. In fact, it is possible to
read the Rama on YD 376:5 as addressing only the situation of a person who does
not ordinarily daven for the amud, and is doing so now (and would be doing so on
shabbat or yom tov) only because he is an aveil. Such a person probably can't
sing very well, and might not even know the words very well, and having him
daven other than on chol would likely be a tircha detzibura, but not one a
gabbai my feel empowered to stop without insulting him. See SHUT Meir Metivin
1:80, which holds that anyone who prevents an experienced shatz from davening on
shabbat or holidays merely because he is an aveil "mone'a oto min hamitzvah".


From: David Olivestone <david@...>
Date: Tue, Jul 12,2022 at 02:17 PM
Subject: High price of housing

Prof. Levine wrote (MJ 65#55):

> He realizes, I am sure, that because the occupants of these ghost apartments
> are there only at certain times, such as for Yomim Tovim, that if they were
> there full time,  the congestion in the areas where they stay would be
> increased multi-fold. Also, those who own these apartments often spend large
> sums of money while in Israel, and this bolsters the economy. Isn't tourism a
> major portion of the Israeli economy? Rather than consider those who own Ghost
> apartments negatives, I think he should look upon them as positives.

I hope I am misreading what he says, but Prof. Levine seems to be doing his best
to discourage aliyah. Israel is not a sort of holy Disneyland, a place that's
fine for a vacation, but not a place in which to live. His argument that people
should not make Israel their permanent home because the congestion . . . would
be increased multi-fold is simply bizarre. As a resident of Jerusalem, where
many of these ghost apartments are located, I can say that my neighbours and I
would welcome more such olim with open arms. We celebrate the aliyah of each and
every Jew as a simchah, and have no fear that we would be pushed off the
sidewalks because of their arrival. Furthermore, if these  apartment owners
lived in Israel full-time they would obviously contribute to the economy on a
far greater scale. My wife and I consider ourselves very fortunate indeed that
we were able to come on aliyah some ten years ago, and I completely understand
that "for very genuine reasons with which I fully sympathize" not everyone can.
But even if Prof. Levine does not intend to make the move himself, I wonder how
he can justify discouraging others from doing so.

David Olivestone

From: Haim Snyder <haimsny@...>
Date: Tue, Jul 12,2022 at 05:17 PM
Subject: High price of housing

As usual, Professor Yitzchok Levine (MJ 65#55) cherry-picks his responses.

The main point that I was making (which he totally ignores) is that Jews from
the diaspora purchasing apartments in Israel, they pay too much for them. They
don't know the market and the people who are recommending the apartments, since
their fee is a percentage of the cost, have an incentive to encourage this

I also think that limited resources should go first to the people who live here.
For them, a dwelling in Israel is a necessity. For Jews who don't want to become
residents, they are a luxury.

Professor Levine states that these people, when they are in residence, spend a
lot of money. That would be true also if they lived in accommodations designed
for tourists without the negative effect on the cost of housing and with a
positive effect on those who provide accommodations for them.

Insofar as congestion in the area of their apartments, people adjust their
schedules and routes when it becomes oppressive.

Haim Shalom Snyder

Petah Tikva


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Tue, Jul 12,2022 at 02:17 PM
Subject: Optimism and the Zionist Paradise

Making a small contribution to the discussion on whether a greater level of
personal sanctity should be required of Jews residing in Eretz-Yisrael, this was
the viewpoint of, among others, the great summit of the Minhat Elazar and the
Saba Kadisha who met in Jerusalem in 1930 (see: Journey to Jerusalem: The
Historic Visit of the Minchas Eluzar of Munkacs Zt'l to the Saba Kadisha Zt'l,
Artscroll History) to fight the Zionist movement as did the Old Yishuv and its
Zealots. That didn't work out too well for too many Jews who stayed in Europe
out of respect for these Rabbis and found themselves going up chimney stacks and
filling up pits in Poland, Lithuania and the Ukraine.

Yisrael Medad


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Tue, Jul 12,2022 at 02:17 PM
Subject: Show Proper Kovod to All

Regarding Professor Yitzchok Levine's story (MJ 65#55) of his female student who
was upset at Chassidim who at the drugstore where she worked never said "please"
or "thank you" or "hello" or "hi", as if they had no manners, I would have
thought a better reply to her would have been to explain that most probably, out
of their strict approach to inter-relationships of any kind with the opposite
sex, they do not talk at all or, at least, restrict it to the bare minimum.

Yisrael Medad

From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Tue, Jul 12,2022 at 07:17 PM
Subject: Show Proper Kovod to All

Professor Levine (MJ 65#55) brings up an interesting point, and an unfortunate
one at that.

Beyond the basic fact that all are the aybishter's children

I won't generalize, because I've been treated with utmost respect and courtesy
by most, but there are people whose behavior towards "outsiders"  might be
classified as rude. When those people are part of a visually recognizable
minority, their behavior paints a most negative portrait.

I can only speak re: my anecdotal experiences -- but the more senior the person,
the more courtesy and kindness.

Some 27 years when we were new to our community we were invited to a tea for a
yeshiva.  As newcomers we received our share of stares. That was until the Rosh
Yeshiva saw my wife, stood up and greeted her by name.  (His wife and mine were
longtime friends.)

We would all do well to consider how others perceive us as, like it or not, we
are representatives.

Carl Singer


End of Volume 65 Issue 56