Sunday, October 24, 2010

Economic slowdown = Shidduchim slowdown

This weeks Hebrew Mishpacha magazine had a very depressing article that because of the economic downturn and the rising apartment prices the shidduch market has slowed down dramatically in Israel. The reason is very simple fewer and fewer parents of girls can afford to buy an apartment for the couple. Many/most of the boys are still holding out for an apartment and there are very few parents of girls who can afford it.

The article says that the dormitories in the Yeshivas are full because the older boys who should be getting married aren't. One Rosh Yeshiva said that usually around 30 boys a year get married, this year only 10 got married. The head of a post high school seminary said that in the past half the girls were engaged or married by the end of the year, last year it was only 10%. The reason is very simple, the boys are holding out for an apartment and the girl's parents simply can't afford it.

The bottom line is that the average Charedi family size has gone up to over 6 kids per family and the income sources have gone down. In previous generations people had war/holocaust reparations from Germany, people actually worked, the cost of living in Israel was much lower, people had money from grandparents, and people lived much simpler life styles. All of these things have gone away. We now have the second or third generation of kollel only parents marrying off their daughters and the money is simply not there. There is simply no way that people can afford to pay $150,000+ to marry off their daughter.

The big question is what is going to happen? IMHO this is a much bigger issue then concerts, internet, etc. This goes to the heart of things marriage and family. It is disappointing that more hasn't been done by the Charedi leadership on this issue.

Monday, October 11, 2010

It's hard to be a בן נח II

My wife sent me a fascinating link Noahide Halacha 101 or Meet the Adams Family which details a conversation with someone who tries to keep the ז' מצות בני נח. You can see from the conversation how complicated it is. Here is 1 excerpt:

“This problem went even further,” John continued. “Could we eat in a restaurant where forbidden meats may have contaminated their equipment?”

I admit that I had never thought of this question before. Must a gentile be concerned that a restaurant’s equipment absorbed eiver min hachai? Does a Noahide needs to “kasher” a treif restaurant before he can eat there? Oy, the difficulty of being a goy!

“How did you resolve this dilemma?” I timidly asked.

“Well, for a short time our family stopped eating out,” he replied. “You could say that we ate only treif at home. My wife found the situation intolerable – no MacDonald’s or Wendy’s? Although I know that observant Jews do not understand why this is such a serious predicament, but please bear in mind that we made a conscious decision not to become Jewish. One of our reasons was that we enjoy eating out wherever we can.

“So I decided to ask some rabbis I know, but even then the end of the road was not clearly in sight.”

“Why was that?”

“I had difficulty finding a rabbi who could answer the question. From what I understand, a rabbi’s ordination teaches him the basics necessary to answer questions that apply to kosher kitchens. But I don’t have a kosher house – we observe Adamite laws. As one rabbi told me, ‘I don’t know if Noahides need to be concerned about what was previously cooked in their pots.’”

What a fascinating question, does the din of טעם כעיקר apply to a גוי? This is just 1 example. These kinds of questions come up on every facet of life.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Why were 11 sifrei torah burned in the Vihznitzer Beis Medrash in Bnei Brak?

It seems like it is a machlokes. R' Wosner said it was because they did not treat the Beis Knesses with respect.

It is the obligation of every individual to maintain the sanctity of the Beis Knesses. Do not eat, do not use phones and do not talk about trivial matters while in a place of such holiness. There are Shuls that will turn half the Beis Medrash into an Ezras Nashim for a simcha. This is completely forbidden.

source Vos Iz Neias

On the other hand R' Chaim Kanievsky is reported as having said that the reason the Sifrei Torah were burned is because they disrepected the Chazon Ish. 50 years ago the Chazon Ish asked the Vihznitzer Rebbe not to use electricity from the electric company on Shabbos but rather to use a generator. Recently, they have started to use the regular electricity on shabbos and that was disrepecting the Chazon Ish who was like a sefer torah so the sifrei torah were burned.

source Kikar Hashabbat

What are we supposed to make of this? How does this fit in with Daas Torah?

As an aside R' Wosner made a startling comment about the holocaust as well:

Our gedolim have already explained why Sefardim were not affected by the Holocaust,” Because they are extra stringent when it comes to showing proper respect for a Beis Knesses.

It always bothers me when someone says that they know why the Holocaust happened or why certain people died and certain people didn't. It is clear that the Holocaust was a time of הסתר פנים and like the age old question of צדיק ורע לו we will never know why.

It's hard to be a בן נח

I started thinking about how hard it is for a בן נח to properly observe theז' מצות בני נח. Where is their shulchan aruch? Who paskins for them?

Believe it or not there are many disputes about the ז' מצות בני נח. Here are a few examples:
1. Is pikuach nefesh דוחה one of the ז' מצות בני נח? It is a machlokes the Chazon Ish and the Minchas Chinuch.
2. Is there divorce? The Pnei Yehoshua claims that divorce is a chiddush and therefore doesn't apply to בני נח, others argue that they don't need divorce, if either party wants they can just leave and that ends the marriage.
3. When does a בן נח become a גדול? The Minchas Chinuch claims that shiurim are a הלכה למשה מסיני and therefore don't apply to בני נח, he postulates that whenever they have דעת they are a גדול.

What we see from here is that there are fundamental disputes about major issues with no resolution. What is a בן נח to do? They have no poskim and can never have poskim as they are not allowed to learn torah and in fact are חייב מיתה if they learn torah. It is a little strange that they are obligated to keep these mitzvos but there is no framework for them to do so.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Some post Simchas Torah thoughts

Many shuls drag out the davening/hakafos on Simchas Torah and finish very late. IMHO this is not working and people are starting to vote with their feet. If you look around the shuls you will see a core group of people who are dancing and everyone else is basically hanging out waiting for hakafos to finish. I have been davening Vasikin for the past few years on Simchas Torah and every year the minyan keeps getting bigger as more and more people do not want to be stuck in shul until 1,2, or even 3PM. This year the minyan was enormous with people coming from many different shuls. In addition, shuls adopt a number of questionable halachic practices to do this:
1. Making Kiddush before Mussaf and eating more then a כביצה
2. Not davening Musaf before mincha gedola and therefore getting involved in a question of which should come first mincha or musaf
3. Not davening musaf before 7 hours (around 12:30 this year in Israel).

These are not the biggest issues but why get involved.

In many yeshivas (including my son's) they have a much better system. They start davening earlier and have short hakafos (max 5-10 minutes each) and finish davening by 11. People can then go home and eat and enjoy the Yom Tov. They then daven mincha a little early (4PM) and have hakafos from after mincha until Yom Tov is over, approximately 2 hours.