Sunday, March 30, 2008

Misleading statements in the name of Kiruv

Aish Hatorah published an article Women at Work which claims that Orthodox women can work at any job that they want.

Let's get something perfectly clear: Jewish women work. One of my neighbors is a nuclear physicist. I'm a zoo veterinarian.
And nowadays, like women all over the Western world, they work in every field. Some run their own businesses or are part of a larger corporation. Here in Israel one of my neighbors is a nuclear physicist. Another is a school principal. Several good friends are lawyers. One's a pediatrician. Two are successful artists. I'm a zoo veterinarian.
My point is, little is forbidden to us. We work in the fields we want. We have open choices. We can choose to work part-time or full-time.

If Aish Hatorah was a Modern or Centrist Orthodox institution then these statements would be perfectly true and not misleading. However, Aish Hatorah is a Charedi institution and it's goal for it's students is that they join Israeli Charedi society. The fact is that if Elizabeth had been born to a Charedi family she would not have had a choice to be a veterinarian, a nuclear physicist or anything other then a school teacher. University study is strictly prohibited. In Yerushalayim and Bnei Brak even getting a high school diploma is prohibited (see this post No Bagrut for Beis Yaakov girls?). All the women that she brings as examples fall into one of 2 categories:

1. Baalei teshuva
2. They grew up in modern homes

None of the women cited grew up in a Charedi home in Israel, because if they had they would not be where they are today.

In addition to the issue with secular education and university, there is an issue of tznius. In many parts of the Israeli Charedi world women are not allowed to drive a car because it is not tzanua. There are many seforim published in the last few years on tznius which prohibit women from working in any non-religious workplace. Therefore to state little is forbidden to us is misleading if not an outright lie according to Aish Hatorah's hashkafa.

I find it very offensive when Charedi kiruv institutions use examples of Baalei Teshiva or people who were brought up in a more Modern home. Using these people as examples of how well religious Jews can fit into society is very misleading when the institutions themselves don't believe in that hashkafa. According to Charedi hashkafa, Modern Orthodoxy is pasul and University study is prohibited, yet those are the examples they site when trying to be mekarev people. None of the faculty at Aish Hatorah in Yerushalayim send their daughters to university and their daughters do not have the ability to do what they want. They will be kollel wives who support their husbands by teaching or being a secretary, cashier etc. They have absolutely no choice to be Veterinarians, Nuclear Physicists, Lawyers, etc. To say otherwise is simply a lie.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Torah world in Israel by the numbers

Here are the number from this week's Mishpacha.

30,150 yeshiva students in 400 Yeshivos
61,243 married men learning in Kollel in 1239 different Kollelim (an average of 50 people per Kollel).

These are unprecedented numbers, over 90,000 people sitting and learning full time, (and this excludes all the kids in Yeshiva Ketana who learn full time).

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Torah world in Israel is on the verge of financial collapse

This was on the front page of this weeks Mishpacha magazine.

"We don't have from where to pay the kollel stipends"

Financial terror attack on the Torah world

There is panic in the administrative ranks of the torah institutions because of the economic crisis in the US, the fall of the dollar, the deep problems in the real estate sector in the US, and the rise in prices of basic products (e.g. flour, bread, etc.). For the first time, the administers of the Torah institutions who control huge budgets are talking in terms of a financial crisis that we haven't seen in many years in the Torah world. A number of the large Kollel chains did not pay stipends this past month and don't know how they are going to pay the Pesach stipends. Donors in the US who are affected by the crisis have shut off the flow of money to the Torah world. The heads of Tzedaka funds: The poor will have to make do with less this year.

This is not a surprise to me, the Torah world in Israel has for many years been on a non-sustainable economic path. The sub-prime crisis in the US has just speeded up the timetable a bit. Given what is going on in the US, this is not going to end soon and the damage will be great.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Avos U'Banim time changes get the approval of the Gedolei Hador

Avos U'Banim is a big deal on Purim with special prizes etc. This year with Purim being on Friday it is difficult to find time for the hour of Avos U'Banim. Therefore a number of shuls decided to have Avos U'Banim on Taanis Esther between Mincha and Maariv.

One of the shuls put up a sign which stated that Avos Ubanim is Thursday between Mincha and Maariv and then at the bottom it stated the following:

This sign was shown to R' Chaim Kanievsky and he said Bracha V'Hatzlacha

In other words something as trivial as changing Avos U'Banim to Taanis Esther now needs the haskama of the Gedolei Hador. The shul in question has a Rabbi who is a big Talimd Chacham yet they felt the need to say that they had the approval of R' Chaim Kanievsky. What have we come to? Can no one other then the "Gedolei Hador" have an opinion anymore? Do we really need to bother someone like R' Chaim Kanievsky about what time we should make Avos Ubanim on Purim?

Rafi G has another example of this phenomenon. The Kupa shel tzdeka in RBS felt the need to go to put out the following flyer:

Again, this is a basic halacha of עניי עירך קודמים. Why do we need to hear this in the name of the "Gedolim"? Why wouldn't people ask their local Rav what to do?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Matanos L'evyonim a מחלוקת הקופות? II

Rafi G (Local RBS Tzedaka: corrupting the words of Rav Kanievsky) has another flyer which purports to tell people in the name of R' Chaim Kanievsky to whom to give Matanos L'Evyonim. Of course it contradicts all the flyers that I posted yesterday.

Here is the flyer courtesy of Rafi G:

חייב איניש לבסומי בפוריא עד דלא ידע

The idea of Purim is that we are supposed to see the hand of God in everything. Purim was a נס נסתר, it could easily have been explained away as coincidence etc., yet the Jews realized that it was all from Hashem. A person who has true בטחון is a happy person. he doesn't let things bother him because he knows that everything is from Hashem even what seem to be problems/difficulties. It is like the old story about the guy who is rushing to catch a plane and just misses it, he gets really upset. An hour later he hears that the plane crashed. At that point he realizes that it was for the best that he missed the plane. We are supposed to view everything in life that way. Someone who is drunk isn't bothered by anything and therefore we get drunk on Purim to reach this state (even artificially) of not being bothered by lifes problems.

There are a number of caveats to the mitzva of getting drunk:

1. The mitzva is only during the day, there is NO mitzva whatsoever to get drunk on Purim night and therefore it is no different then getting drunk on any other night, e.g. assur.
2. According to many Rishonim the mitzva is only with wine (see the Rambam, Rashi in Megilla and others). Therefore anyone who drinks hard liquor is not mekayem the mitzva
3. The mitzva may only be in the seuda. The Rambam clearly holds this way as he puts this din with the halachos of the seuda. The Shulchan Aruch follows in the Rambam's footsteps and put this din in סי' תרצ"ה דיני סעודת פורים
4. The Mishna Berura writes that if you are going to be מזלזל in even the smallest mitva by getting drunk you shouldn't.

When to eat the Purim Seuda on Friday

See this post from the last time it happened, 3 years ago, When to eat the Purim Seuda this year?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Matanos L'evyonim a מחלוקת הקופות?

The קופת העיר ב"ב had the following ad in today's Yated Neeman.

The Gedolei Hador decided that you should give Matonos L'Evyonim to the Kupas Hair Bnei Brak the cleanest and best of tzedakos

It would seem that the Gedolim paskened that everyone should give their מתנות לאביונים to the קופת העיר ב"ב.

But wait. The ועד הרבנים לעניני צדקה בארה"ק seems to disagree. Their ad says:

The Hidur: the poskim of the generation said that the fulfillment of the mitzva of Matonos L'Evyonim in it's greatest form (hidur) is through the Vaad Harabanim

Here is a third ad from a Kupa in Kiryas Sefer:

The Kupa of the Gedolei Hador

If this is the Kupa of the Gedolei Hador then what about the Vaad Harabanim and the Kupas Hair Bnei Brak? Is the biggest hidur giving to the Vaad Harabanim or Kupas Hair Bnei Brak? I could go on but the questions are glaring.

What is my point here? The point is very simple. The use of the words "Gedolim" and "פסקו" or "הכריעו" is misleading and turns the gedolim and psak into a joke. Can there really be a psak that a certain tzedaka organization is "cleaner" then others?

Unfortunately, this is a trend where psak is being used on non-halachic issues (see this post פסקי הלכה on non-halachik issues for more) and it is a very dangerous and disturbing trend.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

R' Chaim Kanievsky: It is prohibited to employ Arabs

YNET has a fascinating article, הרב קנייבסקי: לפטר עובדים ערבים בישיבות, which quotes R' Chaim Kanievsky on this issue.

After the attack on Mercaz Harav, several Yeshiva administrators asked R' Kanievsky if they should fire their Arab workers. He replied:

אסור בשום אופן להעסיק ערבים, חס ושלום. זו סכנת נפשות
It is absolutely prohibited to employ Arabs, it is life threatening

He also said that in any case we should hire Jews to give them a livelihood:

וכי אין יהודים שיעבדו ויתפרנסו?
are there no Jews who will work and make a living?

What is very encouraging is that almost all the talkbacks (including many non-religious Jews) are very supportive of what R' Kanievsky said.

I can't wait to hear what the left wing Knesset members say. It wouldn't surprise me if they had him investigated for incitement.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Olmert to Ashkelon: Get used to rockets

ולמרט באשקלון: אין דרך למנוע ירי גראד

Unbelievable. He is failing in his most basic responsibility, to provide security to the citizens of Israel. How can the government just accept the fact that missiles are falling on a major city? If he and his government refuse to provide security then they should go home and let someone else try. The disengagement which he was an ardent supporter of is a good part of why this is happening.

There are over 500 talkbacks on this article and the overwhelming majority are very critical. I can't see how Olmert can stay in power much longer.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Shechting animals upside down

For a while now there has been a chumra that animals should only be slaughtered when they are upside down so that the weight of the animal does not push down on the knife.

This has led to methods like hoist and shackle which have come under fire from animal rights groups.

In the latest issue of Mesorah, R' Yisroel Belsky writes the following about this practice:

שלא הוזכר אף פעם בש"ס וראשונים ואחרונים ופוסקים
it is not mentioned in Shas, Rishonim, or Poskim.

This is all based on a diyuk in a Shach which he says is completely unfounded. He (as well as R' Genack in the name of RYBS) points out that the Rambam (הל' שחיטה ב:ז) makes absolutely no distinction between if the animal is standing or not.

כיצד שוחטין: מותח הצוואר, ומוליך הסכין ומביאה עד ששוחט; בין שהייתה הבהמה רבוצה בין שהייתה עומדת, ואחז בעורפה והסכין בידו מלמטה ושחט--הרי זו כשרה

I am absolutely stunned by this. This practice of only shechting when the animal is on it's back has become very widespread and has led to many problems. To find out that it is not even a legitimate chumra is very disturbing.

R' Belsky concludes with the following

ואני רוצה להדגיש כי צער גדול הוא ובלבול המוחים להמציא דעות
חדשות שלא הוזכרו בש"ס וראשונים על פי איזה דקדוק הלשון
לכן ישתתק הדבר ולא יזכר עוד

I want to emphasize that it is very painful and misleading to make up new opinions that are not mentioned in Shash and Rishonim based on some diyuk
therefore we should be silent about this and not mention it anymore

Thursday, March 06, 2008

8 people are massacred and this is the government's response

Israel: Peace talks will go on

Israel said Thursday it would continue with U.S.-backed peace talks with the Palestinians despite a terrorist attack at a Jerusalem yeshiva that killed eight people.

Just unbelievable. People are being massacred and they want to talk peace.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Lebanon Redux II

Unbelievable. The Palestinians are still shooting missiles at Ashkelon and the government pulls out the troops from Gaza.

Grad missile hits Ashkelon home after IDF troops exit Gaza

This is exactly the mistake that the government made in Lebanon. Instead of applying massive concentrated force, the government is making do with small raids that cannot accomplish the main goal, stopping the firing of missiles on Israeli cities. Unfortunately, the government has learned nothing from the Lebanon war and is continuing to waste lives and times while it dithers around.


Even Haaretz agrees with me

On the path to bitter disappointment

...It seems that the government is also affected by the same spirit that guided its steps during the first days of the Second Lebanon War. While it appears to have adopted the insights of the Winograd Committee and has at its disposal more successful leaders than Amir Peretz and Dan Halutz, the impression created during the past 48 hours is that even now its declarations are hollow and that is has lost its way in its search for a solution to the current situation.

We need a fundamental change, and the way to do this is by either one of two tracks - the military or the political. If the violent option is selected, preparations need to be made regarding its scale, the determination for carrying it through and the means that are necessary to achieve the goal. In other words, to act militarily from the air and the ground with the necessary force that would destroy Hamas' ability to launch rockets against Israel.

If this goal cannot be achieved - either because of the cost in lives such an operation will claim or for other reasons - the diplomatic option needs to be adopted and a dialogue needs to commence with the Hamas leadership. If this angle is not realistic - because of considerations involving Israel's relations with the Palestinian Authority, the United States, or other reasons - the broad military operation needs to be chosen.

A limited military operation, like the one that has been taking place over the past two days, is is not effective: it does not even seek to bring an end to the rocket attacks, it does not aspire to alter the situation fundamentally, and it does not even pose clear goals. The way things are currently being conducted, the government is in danger of once more bitterly disappointing its citizens in an area they are particularly sensitive about: their security.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Lebanon Redux?

The Olmert government is committing the same mistakes that were committed in the Lebanon war.
  1. Over reliance on air power

  2. Reluctance to commit ground troops

  3. The same pattern of small scale incursions instead of a massive concentration of force

  4. Unclear goals

  5. Complete disregard for the safety of the civilian population

  6. ...

It is patently clear that the government learned nothing from the Lebanon war and the ensuing Winograd report. How much longer can this go on?

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Can anyone honestly say the disengagement was a success?

Remember 3 years ago all those leftists talking about how disengagement was a great thing and it would bring peace etc. There were quite a number of supporters in the J-Blog world.

2.5 years after the disengagement I challenge any disengagement supporter to honestly say that the disengagement was a good thing given the events since then. As predicted it is has completely blow up in our face. Now it is not only Sderot but Ashkelon is being hit by missiles. Does anyone have the courage to say I was wrong and lives are being lost because of the disengagement?

What about Mr. Disengagement, Olmert? Will he have the courage to say that it was a big mistake? What about the rest of his buddies in the government? Only in Israel, can something like the disengagement blow up in our faces and one of the architects continue as Prime Minister unmoved.

This post The current situation in Israel from a year and a half ago is still very relevant.