Volume 8 Number 53

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Abortion (2)
         [Sam Zisblatt, Philip Glaser]
Tisha B'Av Newsletter
         [Rabbi Benzion Milecki]
Tisha B'Av Question
         [Janice Gelb]


From: <zisblatt@...> (Sam Zisblatt)
Date: Fri, 23 Jul 93 17:24:53 -0400
Subject: Abortion

Eric Mack in his remarks about the right to life protests in cleveland
asks if as orthodox jews should we be involved with joining this
organization in protesting abortions.  The major problem as I see it is
not the oposition to abortion from a frum point of view but one of
should we allow the government to dictate what the law should be even
if it is directly opposed to the views in Halacha.  For example, in
cases where all Poskim would agree that an abortion is necessary, we
would not want our hands tied by abortion being made illegal.  An
analogy that comes to mind is the government of Sweden deciding that
Shechita was cruel to the animals and outlawed it leaving the jewish
residents without a source of kosher meat.

From: <GLASER@...> (Philip Glaser)
Date: Sat, 24 Jul 1993 23:22:23 +22305714 (EDT)
Subject: Abortion

Erick Mack asks whether we as observant Jews should be involved in
anti-choice protesting because abortion is "assur for non-Jews as well
as for Jews." This question beggs another much more fundamental question
-- whether or not abortion is assur for JEWS. I have seen this issue
discussed by a number of rabbis -- Danny Sinclair, formerly of Machon
Pardes in Jerusalem, Rabbi Avi Weiss, and others -- and never has it
been suggested that abortion is completely assur. The questions have to
do with the circumstances under which an halakhic authority may give a
woman permission to have an abortion, some authorities being more or
less lenient than others. If it becomes known that, were the fetus
brought to term, it would be severely handicapped, for example, some
authorities say that if the MOTHER feels this would be an unbearable
situtation, she may have an abortion. While we hold life, foetal and
otherwise, to be sacred, we do not go as far as the anti-choice movement
by taking away from a woman the right to choose in ALL cases. In other
words, there is no need to ask whether or not we should participate in
anti-choice rallies because the ideology of the movements that sponsor
them run counter to halakha in a fundamental way.

Philip Beltz Glaser


From: <benzion@...> (Rabbi Benzion Milecki)
Date: Sun, 25 Jul 93 12:24:02 -0400
Subject: Tisha B'Av Newsletter

Here is the text of a brief newsletter I published for Tisha B'Av. It
doesn't include the footnotes which appeared in the original article.

Q.	Why do we still commemorate Tisha B'Av almost 2,000 years after
the destruction of the Temple? Isn't the more recent tragedy of the
Holocaust, experienced by many of those alive today, of even greater
significance?  Doesn't the existence of the State of Israel negate the
idea of Tisha B'Av?

A.	This very commonly asked question reveals a fundamental
misunderstanding of the concepts of Galut and Geulah (Exile and
Redemption).  While "Exile" carries the connotation of expulsion from
the Land of Israel, seemingly less relevant today than in previous
generations , Galut, while including this, means much more.
 Principally, Galut means the Exile of the Divine Presence "Galut
HaShechina" the real cause of the destruction of the Temple and the many
subsequent tragedies we have suffered during the millennia of our Exile.
Galut HaShechina means that we are not as manifestly protected by the
aura of G-d's presence as we were, and will be, at the time of Geulah.
It is for this reason that when reciting the Lamentations on the morning
of Tisha B'Av, we read not only of the destruction of the Temple, but of
all tragedies which have befallen our people from that time until the
present, including the Holocaust. All of these are a result of the Galut
HaShechina which first occurred on Tisha B'Av.
 Nevertheless, we must keep in mind that even when G-d's presence is not
openly manifest, He is still with us, if only "behind the scenes". Were
it not for this, "How could one sheep survive amongst seventy wolves?"
as the Midrash so poignantly asks.
 The clearest indication of G-d's providence in the midst of Exile is
the miracle of the Return to Zion after close to 2,000 years.
Furthermore Israel's continuous survival against huge odds is nothing
short of Divine intervention. At the same time however, the constant and
unfair vilification of Israel, and the double standards applied to her,
are a manifestation of our continuing Galut.

The Effect of Galut on the Spirit

 On yet another level, the Galut HaShechina has a detrimental spiritual
effect on us. Whereas when the Temple was in existence it was possible
for every Jew to openly see manifestations of G-dliness, during the time
of Exile one must often struggle against the concealment of G-d and the
distractions of the world. Only then can one feel "in tune" with the
G-dliness lying just beneath the surface.
 Nevertheless, it is this very struggle which is so precious to G-d. The
Talmud says that when Moshiach comes, G-d will have no desire of our
mitzvot. It is only when mitzvot are performed in the face of difficulty
and challenge that they are of real value.
 The Maharil , one of the famous Ashkenazi Jewish codifiers, explained
that a person should constantly bear in mind that Moshiach might come at
any moment, at which time his performance of the mitzvot will have
greatly diminished value. Realizing this, he or she should do as many
mitzvot as possible now, before it's too late. A similar idea is stated
by Rabbi Eliezer in Pirkei Avot , where he advises that a person, upon
considering that he may die tomorrow, should repent today. But as the
Lubavitcher Rebbe shlita says: What would a person rather think about,
the imminence of death, or the imminence of Moshiach's coming? (This
emphasis on the positive has always been one of the hallmarks of the
Chassidic movement).

In Spite of the Rewards

And yet, while appreciating the opportunity presented by every extra day
in Exile, we still ask G-d to give us a world in which His presence will
be openly manifest, a world in which the suffering of the Jewish People,
and indeed of all Mankind, will finally be a thing of the past.
 The sages of the Talmud were very much aware of the value of suffering,
and yet they said, "neither them, nor their reward ". Similarly, the
previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Joseph Isaac Schneerson, who was
imprisoned and tortured by the Soviets for the dissemination of Judaism,
said, "If I was given everything in the world, I would not part with
even one of those days of suffering; but nor would I, for anything in
the world, accept an additional day of suffering".
 And we too, in spite of our knowledge of the preciousness with which
G-d values our service of Him at this time of Exile, say to Him three
times every single day, "Return in mercy to Jerusalem your city speedily
establish therein the throne of David" and "Speedily cause the son of
David your servant to flourish because we hope for your salvation all
day long".

The Chafetz Chaim and the Olympic Games

Actually concerning praying for redemption, we find that the Chafetz
Chaim makes a very poignant observation:
 "It is well-known that the Torah warns us to beware of untruth and
hypocrisy. As the Torah says, 'Keep away from anything false! (Exodus
23:7)' How much more so is a person obliged to guard against untruth
when conversing with G-d Himself concerning whom it says, "a liar will
not endure in My presence" (Psalms 101:7)." The Chafetz Chaim then goes
on to question the sincerity of our prayers. If we were really sincere
about our prayer for redemption, he asks, wouldn't we be busy ourselves
preparing for it? If we were expecting a king to arrive in our city,
even if there was some doubt as to whether he would actually come,
wouldn't we adorn all the streets in his honour?
 The truth of these words hit me recently when I noticed that wherever
one turns in Sydney one sees preparations in place for the 2,000
Olympics, even though it is not at all certain that Sydney will be the
successful venue for the Games. Whether it be on radio, TV, or in the
newspapers we are being told to "share the spirit" in mere anticipation
of the success of our bid to hold the Games here.
 Now if this is the case when it comes to the Games, isn't the Chafetz Chaim
correct in exhorting us to be serious about preparing for Redemption, when
as he writes, all the signs of its imminence are already with us?

Sudden Redemption

The Chafetz Chaim suggests we prepare for Redemption by studying the
laws which will be applicable in that glorious era. How embarrassed will
we be, he continues, if that era comes upon us, and we are ill-prepared
for it. He goes on to say that although we have been long waiting for
Redemption, when its time finally comes it won't be a protracted process
but will arrive suddenly. Typically, he explains this by way of analogy:
 "A certain king became angry with his son, and decreed that the prince
be banished from his presence to a faraway province for five years. In
those days, travelling such distances took years. After he exiled the
prince, the king's anger abated. But since a king's decree cannot be
withdrawn, he pondered what would happen in five years. Wouldn't it take
the prince several additional years to come home? Therefore the king
commanded that all the mountains between himself and his son be
flattened and that all means for hastening the prince's return be put at
his disposal. This way the journey home would take very little time."
 We don't know when the Exile will conclude, but we do know that it may
happen at any moment. Shouldn't we tear a page out of the Olympic book?
Shouldn't we, too, begin "sharing the spirit"?

Rabbi Benzion Milecki
South Head & District Synagogue
15 Oceanveiw Ave., Dover Heights. 2030. NSW. Australia
Tel: +612 371 7656    Fax: +612 371 7416


From: <Janice.Gelb@...> (Janice Gelb)
Date: Mon, 26 Jul 93 03:24:25 -0400
Subject: Tisha B'Av Question

Someone mentioned to me in a conversation tonight that there is a heter
based on a Gemara somewhere claiming that one doesn't need to fast all
24 hours for Tisha B'Av, but only until about 2 in the afternoon because
we are not entirely in galut as long as we have Jerusalem again.

Anyone ever heard of this? If it's widely accepted, I'd sure like to
know about it before 2 p.m. Pacific Standard Time on Tuesday!!!

In any case, tzom kal to everyone.

-- Janice Gelb

[ I highly doubt that any such heter exists/is truly valid. I have never
heard of it. There are various things that are permitted in the
afternoon of Tisha B'Av that are forbidden in the evening and morning
(e.g. sitting on a chair), but eating is not one of them. I would
strongly suggest checking with a competent halakhic authority before
making use of the above suggestion. Mod.]


End of Volume 8 Issue 53