The Jerusalem “Pride Parade” and the Beruriah Doctrine

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65 Responses

  1. Bob Miller says:

    If we can’t make the strongest possible argument for moral living in line with Torah, out of fear that someone might feel offended, we are in trouble. We and our Torah ideals have had sincere, well-meaning enemies (along with the other kind) throughout history, but still they were enemies.

  2. binyamin says:

    please note that for rabbis lau and sperber, the issue of dealing with homosexuals in the community is not only a theoretical issue. rabbi lau has a brother who is an avowed homosexual and rabbi sperber has a daughter – otherwise observant – who has a female partner

  3. Tzipporah says:

    Hi,

    Can you please clarify a few points please? As I wasn’t sure from your article. Firstly, are you arguing that homosexuality can be cured as it’s a symptom of abuse? And secondly, for a man who is gay, what is your prescription, how should they live? i.e. stay celibate, or attempt heterosexual marriage? And thirdly, what about same-sex desire/relationships between lesbian and bisexual women?

    Thank you,

    Tzipporah

    (Hi, Tzipporah. I am not in any way arguing that homosexuality can be cured or why it occurs.I believe that homosexuals should stay celibate and not attempt heterosexual marriage. Relations between two women are halachically censured. – AG)

  4. David Ohsie says:

    Rabbi Gordimer,

    I don’t think that any Orthodox rabbis thinks that they have a great solution here, and your very willingness to engage the issue on honest terms is commendable. However, the weaknesses in your resolution reveals exactly why the other Rabbis that you cite are not comfortable with your result.

    (Rabbi Ysoscher) Katz (Chair of Department of Talmud, YCT): “[M]ore and more Orthodox rabbis are starting to treat it as a genetic predisposition, and this raises a huge theological dilemma: If it’s not a choice, then how can God discriminate against these people? ”

    (It must also be pointed out, in reference to Rabbi Katz’ remarks, that we do not know and may never know the reason(s) as to why some people are homosexual. For centuries, homosexuality was considered to be a psychiatric disorder; the American Psychiatric Association changed its position on this in 1973. A (formerly?) homosexual man with whom I often speak swears to me that his homosexuality was caused by years of acute emotional abuse by his father. “I know exactly why I had those strong tendencies, and once I came to terms with it and worked things through decades later, I no longer had that attraction, and I guarantee you that 99.9% of gay men became that way due to very early emotional trauma… Anyone who says otherwise is in denial.”

    I think that you’ll be forced to admit that this as an extremely weak response. You don’t need an PhD in medicine or science to know that you can’t draw any conclusion at all about about the characteristics of 1-2% of the population from a single anecdote. And with due respect for you friend, his experience doesn’t him grant him any special understanding of the (conservatively) tens of millions of homosexuals around the world. Furthermore, don’t you think that if you look, you’ll find many anecdotes that run along the line of “I knew that I was different, and once I was able to be myself, the depression started to lift”.

    For centuries, homosexuality was considered to be a psychiatric disorder; the American Psychiatric Association changed its position on this in 1973.

    For centuries, we thought that the planets revolved around the earth in epicycles. The point is that we realize now that there is a subclass of people who have the attraction to the same sex that you and I have for the opposite sex and there is nothing discernibly “wrong” with them psychologically. Also, I think that your description is a little too rosy. For centuries (and in many (most?) places on earth today), homosexuality was considered a moral perversion that was and is repressed and punished from a young age, not treated as some kind of unfortunate condition.

    we cannot dilute, downplay or disassociate in any way from the Torah’s position, nor can we deem the Torah’s position to be something with which we do not identify and which we seek to minimize and work around.

    I think that this is a false choice. For example, all the great Rabbis (including many that would now be in the Charedi camp) who endorsed the use of the Heter Mechira were not seeking to minimize the importance of the Mitzvah of Shemitah. Rather, they were trying to enable to people to lead normal lives while not violating the halacha. One could same the same for Pruzbul, and the various halachic leniencies for Agunot and physicians and the poor woman who can’t afford to have her food be declared treif if there is any way around it, the leniencies around extinguishing a fire on Shabbos, education of women, etc. There have been many instances where what appears to be black letter halacha runs into practical reality and competent authorities try to find a way to solve the practical problem while keeping the halacha. That they do so does not mean at all they they are downplaying the Torah’s position.

    It is this idea – the courage to embrace the Torah when it is not popular, when it clashes with contemporary values, and when it really goes against the grain of society – which signifies the emunah (genuine faith) of the Jew and elevates him.

    The root issue here is not a clash with contemporary values: it is that the prohibition appears on its face to be very harmful to a small percentage of people who otherwise completely embrace the Torah, and the harm is through no choice of their own. The proof is that these Rabbis are not questioning Kashrut, Shaatnez, Lulav or any of the other myriad halachos that might appear foolish judged by contemporary values. They are trying to work out how gay Orthodox people precisely can remain believers in Torah from Heaven and fulfill all the wonderful but “foolish sounding to the modern mind” commandments while leading normal lives.

    You know which mitzvah redeems the personality, cleans the personality, elevates the personality, enhances? A mitzvah which is difficult. Difficult mitzvos, not easy mitzvos. Because the way you perform a difficult mitzvah – what does difficult mean? It doesn’t mean a mitzvah which is very expensive; that is not important. A difficult mitzvah means a mitzvah which is contrary to my practical reason. I don’t see it. A difficult mitzvah means a mitzvah which society does not accept, cannot understand. A difficult mitzvah means a commandment which means a wise-guy says, “ah, it’s archaic, it’s old-fashioned”, and so forth and so on. And a mitzvah which I – I! – from time to time question its worth and validity.

    Again, the issue here seems completely divorced from what the Rav is speaking about here (I don’t know the context). None of the Rabbis are arguing against keeping commandments about which they lack understanding. They are trying to find a way out of a real problem.

  5. Tal Benschar says:

    There is an old story about the Brisker Rav (probably apocryphal) that he once praised a certain columnist in a frum newspaper as consistently representing daas Torah in his columns. Someone then asked the columnist how he came up with his opinions. He replied, easy, I go out to the street, ask people what they think about a particular issue, and then write the exact opposite in my column. Upon hearing this, the Brisker Rav supposedly further praised the writer.

    Let’s face it, Open Orthodoxy, like its Reform and Conservative predecessors (and indeed like the Tsedukkim of old) is basically an assimilationist movement. Whatever the zeitgeist favors, they favor. Maybe they are consulting their “moral intuition” or whatever the phrase du jour is, but it is no surprise that their results perfectly coincide with the editorial page of the NY Times.

    So there is nothing to be amazed at. Where the secular-liberal zeitgeist goes, Open Orthodoxy will be a step behind. If you want to know what tomorrow’s deviation from masorah will be, just read today’s paper. (I’ll go out on a limb here. The secular papers seemed to have moved on from homosexuality to acceptance transgender and other in-between gender designations. Expect that to be the next deviation.)

  6. dave says:

    We live in a society where discrimination against the “other” is now viewed as a serious offense. From the Jewish perspective, this has allowed our community to grow and function within society with great success, unbridled by the blatantly accepted and even encouraged racism we endured in many countries over the centuries. And the law of the land extends this “right” to homosexuals as well.
    However, from the standpoint of our religion, nothing has changed. For those of us who still believe in Torah min Hashamayim (those that don’t are verging on another religion) that means that what is stated in the Torah is what it is and what it has always been. Whether the Sanhedrin exists or not, and enforcement of these laws can be made or not, the laws still exist. Although we cannot impose capital punishment al pi halacha, murder is still a capital crime.
    So is homosexual relations. Therefore, any advocacy for this type of activity is flat out neged Torah.
    Should we feel badly for those few who have these tendencies and are “trapped” in their own world, knowing that how they feel is not sanctioned by their Torah and their religion? Absolutely we should.
    But that is a long way away from saying “well, everyone thinks it’s ok now so you are free to do whatever you want, in public or not, and the rest of us will have to just accept it”.
    All kinds of people have all kinds of urges. One who has a desire for other people’s property is still not allowed to steal, even if it drives him up a wall. Even if he finds it hard to live with himself because “he is not being true to himself”.
    The Torah, our Torah, has other discriminatory laws. I cannot be a Levi because my father was not one. A Levi cannot be a Cohen. A Cohen cannot be Cohen Gadol unless chosen as such.
    Even further, our society has taught us to be sensitive to the needs of the disabled, where a century ago they were tormented as freaks. And yet, certain disabilities will disqualify a Cohen from service in the Bais Hamikdash. Surely he did not choose to be disabled. Surely it was the result of either genetics or bad luck or an accident. And yet, that disabled Cohen, who might be as smart and knowledgeable as the Chofetz Chaim himself, will not be allowed to do the avoda. Is it discrimination?
    No. It is Torah.

  7. joel rich says:

    this raises a huge theological dilemma: If it’s not a choice, then how can God discriminate against these people? ”
    =============================
    Or against those with many other halachic disabilities? The only answer we have is :
    The Rav told the story of a young man and woman who sought his assistance. She was a convert who later fell in love with this young man, whose increased interest in Judaism she sparked. The two became engaged and he visited his grandfather’s grave, where he discovered that he is a kohen. What could the Rav do? A kohen may not marry a convert and therefore, tragically, this couple could not wed. However, we must unhesitatingly surrender to the will of the Almighty. With sadness in his heart, the Rav shared in the suffering of this woman who had to lose the beloved man she helped bring back into the fold. She valiantly walked away from him, surrendering to the Almighty’s will.

    KT

  8. Rafael Araujoberg says:

    David Ohsie – I am sorry, but you cannot compare things like prozbul, heter mechirah (which actually had very few supporting poskim), mechiras chometz, to a movement which has as its raison d’etre the cauterizing of the pain that halachoh inflicts in people. It is taking social activism and using it as a means of springing change on halachoh. It has a clear liberal agenda, which is to help the “disenfranchised” and “marginalized” portions of Jewry, whether its women, geirim, homosexuals, the disabled, and the transgendered. You won’t see them worrying about prozbuls, lulavim, shatnez, because these don’t involve invoking human rights, feminism, and LBQT-rights, they don’t involve activism, they don’t involve engineering massive social change. I do note that YCT musmachim are behind such things as pushing vegetarianism, ethical hechsher, and black/Jewish conflicts (see Ari Hart’s involved on the East Ramapo school board controversy). However, I can bet donuts to dollars that when the “Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Hoshanos” is formed, this will be added to their agenda as well and they will have something to say about beating hoshanos. That is trajectory of their “mission”. Also, I note that after the horrible stabbing by Schlissel in Yerushalayim, we have OO rabbis taking about holiness in regard to these things. What does that have to do with the alleged halachic changes you say the OO rabbinate feels it must make to be inclusive and tolerant? Why such descriptions? This is evidence of the engineering being done , so that if something is kadosh, halachoh must, if not permit it, at least not inhibit it.

  9. dr. bill says:

    As I have said numerous times, these issues are best left to be dealt with by Rabbis individually outside the spotlight of public pronouncements. However, after an attack by one identified with a particular community, I can understand a few public statements, even those made in a less than ideal setting, We still are early in the process of reaching consensus on homosexuality and its (perhaps) multiple manifestation. Rabbis must address real life issues as they arise; broad based positions are best left to the distant future.

  10. Robert Lebovits says:

    David Ohsie: The argument you quote that is so frequently made to justify acceptance of homosexual behavior is fundamentally flawed and untenable. “If Hashem made the person that way, then how can we discriminate against him?”
    We humans are “made” to engage in all manners of activity – sexual, murderous, larcenous, etc. – passions that we are nevertheless told we may NEVER satisfy no matter what the circumstances may be.
    The particular situation of an individual who is denied the opportunity to experience erotic expression with a chosen love object is always tragic, whether he or she be desirous of someone of the same sex or the opposite sex. The theoretical possibility of a heterosexual individual having such a relationship is of no comfort to the tens – probably hundreds – of millions of heterosexuals who have never had such an experience. As one who works in the field of relationships I can affirm their prevalence and sorrow. Are you as despairing of their situation? Many in the Jewish community find themselves in that predicament as a result of their commitment to marry in the faith and not out, and thus directly due to Halachic limits. Their lives are no less pained.
    The solution to pain is to offer comfort as we can, not to seek to change Hashem’s reality which will only cause more suffering and not less.

  11. David Ohsie says:

    David Ohsie – I am sorry, but you cannot compare things like prozbul, heter mechirah (which actually had very few supporting poskim), mechiras chometz, to a movement…

    Rafael Araujoberg: Apologies for cutting off your comment, but you’ve already veered into the ad hominem and thus avoided addressing the argument. What those examples show is that you can have complete fealty to halacha and yet try to find a way to change the practice to accommodate people in difficult situations. Blaming the problem on the “reformers” is to avoid taking on the issue.

    It has a clear liberal agenda, which is to help the “disenfranchised” and “marginalized” portions of Jewry, whether its women, geirim, homosexuals, the disabled, and the transgendered.

    I think that Torah mentions something about helping Geirim and the halachos against educating women were abrogated long ago with the endorsement of Rabbis whom you respect. But it makes no difference because I’m arguing an issue, not a movement.

    heter mechirah (which actually had very few supporting poskim)

    I guess that if you exclude all the Sephardi Gedolim and then all the (somewhat anachronistically termed) “RZ” Gedolim and then Rav Tzvi Pesach, Rav Isser Zalman, Rav Shlomo Zalman (and others), then yes, you have very few left :).

    @joel rich: I don’t think that the case that you mentioned is comparable. Not being allowed to marry a particular person vs. requiring lifetime celibacy from a large group of people is not the same. It is much more like an Agunah case, where we search far and wide for a way to permit beside changing the lowering the standards of proof required to free her. Besides the fact that almost everyone will sympathize with and support the position of the woman, while exhibiting characteristics in childhood that seem to others to indicate signs of homosexuality gets you ostracized (and to the degree that this has gotten better in some places, it is by the modern influence that is being decried here.)

    That said, I have no doubt that you can find other cases with seemingly perverse results. The Rambam already commented in Guide 3:34 that the law benefits in most cases, but sometimes causes harm.

  12. Moshe Hacohen says:

    Rabbi Gordimer is inaccurate and, therefore, unfair in his criticism of Rav Lau. I listened to Rav Lau’s speech. He did NOT use the word ‘HOMOPHOBIA’ which is, indeed, ‘a loaded term that implies a psychological disorder on the part of those who oppose homosexuality and/or its manifestation’. He criticized those who listen to HOMOPHOBIC jokes and remain silent. I hope Rabbi Gordimer would agree that homophobic jokes are unacceptable.

  13. Y. Ben-David says:

    Tal Benschar-
    I don’t know if the anecdote you stated about the journalist is true, but it does correspond with an attitude I have found among all elitists and those with extreme philosophies…..since the “common people” don’t agree with them, they are nothing more than an ignorant rabble who needs to be told what to think, even by force, if necessary. Democracy, in its modern form which began in the 1830’s was based on the idea that the common people have a basic “common sense” and can be trusted to vote for the representatives of their choice and to support “common sense” values. Rav Kook elaborated on these ideas.
    The fact is that when homosexual “marriage’ was put to a vote of the people, it almost always lost. You are correct that it is the editorials of the New York Times or the opinions of those around President Obama that the “open Orthos” are following, not “public opinion”. I was schocked when I read that piece by R. Scheier who went far beyond the condemnation of the murder of that poor girl who was too young to have any fully formed political philosophy in any event.
    You are also correct that this Supreme Court decision is not the end, it is the beginning of the next stages at bringing about “the revolution” the radical Left in the universities and part of the media are pushing. I know that many Orthodox across the entire “O” spectrum are saying “a society that is tolerant to homosexuals or transgenders or whatever will also be tolerant to Orthodox/Haredi Jews”. WRONG. Already, anyone who opposes their agenda will be described as a hate monger, and here in Israel, a potential assassin.
    I am sorry to sound so “primitive” but a society that overturns the values of the Torah, including the 7 mitzvot benei Noah will be inherently unstable and will attack those who still uphold them, even as they are claiming the mantle of “freedom” or “equality” or “non-judgmentalism”. Just look at the equanimity the Left in the US has towards ISIS, Boko Haram and the Charlie Hebdo assassins whom it became politically incorrect to denounce by liberal like Garry Trudeau and some of the PEN membership.

  14. jolly charedi says:

    With all the back and forth i think we need better statistics since in my opinion a lot of this is nurture instead of nature
    and the proof is – how many fully fledged yeshivishe or chasidishe bochurim have this condition to the extent that they can’t get married?

    i’m sure the numbers are negligible.

  15. Rafael Araujoberg says:

    David Ohsie – I saw this link on Gil Student’s Daily Reyd. Does this fit the bill that you are talking about?

    http://morethodoxy.org/2015/08/06/transgender-orthodox-jews/

  16. David Ohsie says:

    David Ohsie: The argument you quote that is so frequently made to justify acceptance of homosexual behavior is fundamentally flawed and untenable. “If Hashem made the person that way, then how can we discriminate against him?”
    We humans are “made” to engage in all manners of activity – sexual, murderous, larcenous, etc. – passions that we are nevertheless told we may NEVER satisfy no matter what the circumstances may be.

    I was not endorsing that exact oversimplified argument, but dealing with Rabbi Gordimers response. Nevertheless, I think that you can see the difference. The example that you mention are cases of Mishpat where others are harmed.

    In the past, homosexuality was viewed as a perversion and rebellion against God. For example see Igros Moshe OC 4:115 where he asserts that it is impossible that anyone could really be attracted to the same sex, and that therefore this must be simply a desire to do something forbidden and rebel against God.

    The particular situation of an individual who is denied the opportunity to experience erotic expression with a chosen love object is always tragic, whether he or she be desirous of someone of the same sex or the opposite sex.

    As an aside, this is overly reductionist. People of all types who seek to marry are looking for more than just “erotic expression”.

    The theoretical possibility of a heterosexual individual having such a relationship is of no comfort to the tens – probably hundreds – of millions of heterosexuals who have never had such an experience. As one who works in the field of relationships I can affirm their prevalence and sorrow. Are you as despairing of their situation?

    Yes, of course we do. A symptom of this is the “shidduch crisis”. I admit to personally leaving the job of setting up single people to my wife since I’m don’t know enough people to make any kind of personal contribution.

    Many in the Jewish community find themselves in that predicament as a result of their commitment to marry in the faith and not out, and thus directly due to Halachic limits. Their lives are no less pained.

    I think that what you mean is that some percentage of the Orthodox people who fail to get married are unable to find a match within their version of Orthodoxy but could perhaps find a match if they ventured out farther say to a different (Jewish) Orthodoxy or outside of Orthodoxy due to a gender imbalance within specific age groups.

    I would respond as above, that people do view this as a serious problem and try various measures to alleviate it . And if a woman found a match who was not at her level of observance (or a different orthodoxy) but was willing to marry anyhow as she is, I don’t know that all Poskim would say that it is better to remain single.

    The solution to pain is to offer comfort as we can, not to seek to change Hashem’s reality which will only cause more suffering and not less.

    The answer is to do what we can to change their situation. But what we can do, as we have always done for those whom we believe sincere, are to seek out possible changes withing the realm of what is halachically possible. Rabbi Gordimer’s argument seemed to be that just looking for leniencies is going up against God’s will.

    Democracy, in its modern form which began in the 1830’s was based on the idea that the common people have a basic “common sense” and can be trusted to vote for the representatives of their choice and to support “common sense” values. Rav Kook elaborated on these ideas.
    The fact is that when homosexual “marriage’ was put to a vote of the people, it almost always lost. You are correct that it is the editorials of the New York Times or the opinions of those around President Obama that the “open Orthos” are following, not “public opinion”.

    This is factually incorrect. It won in my home state of Maryland and in the state of New York among other places. And the polls show that it has majority support in both the US and Israel. Given the polling differences by age, support is very likely to grow.

    BTW, did you really mean 1830? The US constitution was established in 1789 and was an outgrowth of the pre-existing popular self-government in the colonies and partial self-government in England.

  17. Bob Miller says:

    If a majority wants to fall off some moral cliff, we are not obliged to follow. It was the original snake, the personification of our yetzer hara, that said we are meant to follow our instincts or inclinations like animals. Torah says otherwise.

  18. David K says:

    Please tell me – what is problematic with the statements of Rabbi Yaakov Meidan, Dean of the Har Etzion Hesder Yeshiva, as quoted in the article linked above?

    (I was not asserting that there was anything problematic with Rab Meidan’s statements. I was using them as the basis for some of my arguments. Have a good Shabbos! – AG)

  19. Moshe Dick says:

    One particular comment by Rafael Aurojoberg is particularly offensive and is absolutely against the Torah. He wrote that this “movement ” has as its purpose “to help “disenfranchised” and “marginalized’ members of society, like women, geirim, homosexuals, disabled people”. To help geirim is a liberal agenda?? The Torah repeats dozens of times to love the “geir” !!! Disabled people? so, all that chessed and organizations that help disabled are lumped together with “the liberal” movement?? Women? So, it is right that there are hundreds,maybe thousands, of agunos??? if this is ther mindset of those opposing that “liberal agenda”, it is offensive and against all tenets of Yiddishkeit. Rafael owes an apology to all of these groups.

  20. Blasater says:

    There is a larger spiritual component at work here. Esav-Edom is currently trying to reassert dominance over Yaakov. Homosexuality is one of the hallmark of traits of Esav-Edom. As Edom is increasingly in a hedonistic and post-christian era, the erev rav has joined with Edom to try to destroy klal Yisrael through these acts of modernity, that permeate to the heart of Judaism. The fruit of which will be increasing sinat chinam as Orthodox resist this drive.

  21. Rafael Araujoberg says:

    Moshe – I owe no apology, especially when coming from a commentator who has no compunction in attacking the Chareidi world at every turn as you do. I admit that what I did not do is properly and clearly express my thoughts. What I should have written, or what I meant to write, is that what is being proposed to help the disadvantaged by OO is not within the traditional rules of psak, or the traditions that David Ohsie identified in respect of changes like the institution of a prozbul, heter mechirah, etc. It is an agenda that forces halochoh to confirm to certain social of our society that are contrary to traditional Torah values and says that things prohibited by the Torah have “holiness”. You mention agunos – look at proposals coming from the OO camp, including the use of the pilegesh to avoid the Torah’s patriarchal marriage and divorce laws. Is that a solution you are comfortable with? Read the link I posted above from R’ Farber about how to deal with the Transgendered. The Torah cares deeply for the poor, women, the disabled, and those struggling with their sexual and gender identity. However, the answers to deal with these struggles, is not to permit the prohibited, its not to erase or minimize gender differences postulated by halochoh, its not to permit the disabled to do those things that the Halochoh prohibits , and it does not mean that the mitzvoh of Ahavas HaGeir means that a Cohen is now permitted to marry a ger tzedek.

  22. dr. bill says:

    I am amused by your viewpoint. I do not know about the impact that the use of a pilegesh has had in the OO community. I believe some chareidim also proposed the concept in Brooklyn, but these issues are tangential and not worth discussion.

    Chazal dealt with transgender issues in light of their knowledge of medicine; Rabbi Farber outlined an approach based on his understanding of modern science. I can see opposition to his categorization and/or to his suggested halakhic approaches; I see only positive effects of starting a non-theoretical, practical discussion. Sadly, these issues will have to be dealt with by poskim in individual cases.

    While keeping a sharp lookout to the left, you missed the shot from the right, that would unquestionably increase the number of agunot. I guess the gemara about intermarriage between the Houses of Hillel and Shammai, however interpreted, is not frum enough for today’s innovators.

  23. Robert Lebovits says:

    David Ohsie: These are cases of Mishpat? Is extramarital sex Mishpat? How about other forbidden relations? Self-indulgent behaviors that are forbidden may or may not infringe on others but that is hardly the criterion as to whether they are out of bounds.
    Actually the group that I was referring to whose commitment to their religious identity has led to an absence of a life partner are not Orthodox at all. I know of more than a few Jews who choose to remain alone and unmarried rather than intermarry as the pool of Jewish prospects in their circles is lacking a right mate. They put their faith ahead of their personal gratification.
    I don’t believe R. Gordimer was suggesting that we not try to help people whose circumstances can be helped. But it is not compassionate to suggest that a path that is definitively out of bounds according to every code of conduct from Torah Sh’Bchtav to recent Achronim will ever be made permissible if only more political pressure is brought to bear. That is simply egregious manipulation of desperate people for cynical ends.
    I don’t know why you attached the last piece of your post to my comment. I made no mention of those ideas.

  24. YbhM says:

    I was on Emek Refaim shortly after the parade and I saw and number of people wearing shirts saying that they were “dati, straight, and supportive”. So: the zeitgeist-caving aspect is a real problem.

    The tendency to explain Orthodox opposition to homosexuality (or feminism for that matter) as a “hok” is problematic. The Torah clearly has a metaphysical view in which men and women are fundamentally different, and in which homosexuality is abnormal. But the zeitgeist doesn’t facilitate the explication of this idea.

  25. Steve Brizel says:

    I think that R Gordimer’s analyis of the afrermath of the horrific event iis 100% on the mark, and should be read together with the following Dvar Torah of R MWillig.http://www.torahweb.org/torah/2015/parsha/rwil_ekev.html

  26. David Ohsie says:

    @Bob Miller: If a majority wants to fall off some moral cliff, we are not obliged to follow.

    Not sure if this was a response to me, but Y. Ben-David was the one that claimed that the common sense of the majority was to be followed. I showed that according to his own reasoning, that gay marriage should be accepted, since it is accepted by a majority in both Israel and US and that majority is likely to grow.

    Rafael Araujoberg
    AUGUST 7, 2015 AT 9:57 AM
    David Ohsie – I saw this link on Gil Student’s Daily Reyd. Does this fit the bill that you are talking about?

    http://morethodoxy.org/2015/08/06/transgender-orthodox-jews/

    I’ve never seen an adequate solution to these issues and perhaps we’ll have to wait for Eliyahu to find one. However, I do register objections to approaches that are counterfactual, such as the assertion that “99.9% of gay men became that way due to very early emotional trauma”. Guide 3:34 is the only thing completely consistent with Orthodoxy that I’ve seen so far.

    jolly charedi
    AUGUST 7, 2015 AT 8:14 AM
    With all the back and forth i think we need better statistics since in my opinion a lot of this is nurture instead of nature
    and the proof is – how many fully fledged yeshivishe or chasidishe bochurim have this condition to the extent that they can’t get married?

    i’m sure the numbers are negligible.

    In the US, the NHIS estimate is that 1.6% identify as homosexual, but i don’t know how this breaks down between men and women and how good the self-identification is (e.g. could some percentage really be bisexual?).

    In communities where people are free to leave, it is probably that the numbers may be lower, since those that don’t fit in simply walk away, but this is not a desirable result, at least with the modern view of Kiruv.

    I don’t know what how to judge “negligible” nor how you arrived at your estimate. Anecdotal evidence about small percentages is going to be more unreliable than usual.

  27. Moshe Dick says:

    rafael: Before posting comments, can you do some research and-most importantly- heed the words you write? You have already lost the argument when you start by making an ‘ad hominem” attack on me, accusing me of bashing chareidim at every turn. You are either confusing me with another or just throwing out this libel so a to dismiss my cogent criticism on issues. But let us discuss the substance of your words. You are qualifying your original comments but ,even then, I would advise you of doing some research. Pilegesh, by the way is “muttor” “mi-doraisai” and only after Rabbeinu Gershon is it not allowed. Rabbi Yaakov Emden, no halachic slouch, allowed it in the seventeenth century. There were extenuating circumstances then but you cannot dismiss it out of hand. I would surmise that your defence of chareidi Poskim extends to deny the validity of pre-nuptial agreements. Is that chessed to allow an agunoh to remain as such for the rest of her life? I don’t know OO’s stand on this but I know the RCA’s stand on this. Are they also trying to overturn halocho? As far as geirei tseddek go, I have no idea what OO’s stand is on this, but your original remark dismissed them altogether, certainly not the way the Torah writes about them. I do not take up the cudgel for OO”s and I don’t even know most of their views but I also refuse to accept that the extreme chareidi views on a host of things.

  28. Steve Brizel says:

    R Gordimer’s comments are further demonstrated by the following linked interviewhttps://kavvanah.wordpress.com/2015/08/05/interview-with-adam-ferziger-beyond-sectarianism/. One wonders how the questioner and the subject of the interview, viewed such as bedrock sources of Mesorah as the first Mishnah in Avos and the presentation of the Mesorah of TSBP by Rambam and Meiri, as opposed to claiming that the “ideology” of Mesorah was invented in the 20th Century. Once one R”L assumes such a position, then Hakol Mutarim Lach as if one is writing and acting on a proverbial blank slate.

  29. David Ohsie says:

    @Robert Lebovits
    David Ohsie: These are cases of Mishpat? Is extramarital sex Mishpat? How about other forbidden relations? Self-indulgent behaviors that are forbidden may or may not infringe on others but that is hardly the criterion as to whether they are out of bounds.

    You mentioned murder and theft.

    Among forbidden relations, adultery is mishpat. Various kinds of incestuous relationships are easy to justify. Extra-marital sex is not necessarily forbidden across the board (think Pilegesh), but again, the purposes are explicit and have been mentioned: subjugation of sexual desire to avoid it becoming a primary focus and to encourage the formation of stable family units to carry on the tradition. (Of course, there may be other and deeper meanings).

    But getting the back to the question at hand, whenever someone would be prevented from having any kind of marital relationship (Agunah, Mamzer, etc), we try to do what we can to enable this to be done in a way consistent with halacha. This is not considered a lack of dedication to halacha or a watering down.

    Actually the group that I was referring to whose commitment to their religious identity has led to an absence of a life partner are not Orthodox at all. I know of more than a few Jews who choose to remain alone and unmarried rather than intermarry as the pool of Jewish prospects in their circles is lacking a right mate. They put their faith ahead of their personal gratification.

    I think that I addressed this. First the requirement to marry within the faith is easy to understand to preserve it. But I think that there is a difference between saying: please pick within this pool of marriageable people within this 14 million vs. be celibate. More importantly, as I mentioned above, we do try all that we can do to enable these people to find a match. Finally, if you really did have a situation where you had a person who could for some reason could not find a Jewish partner, but could find a Gentile one who could not be convinced to do a proper conversion, I don’t think that we would judge such a person to be hedonistic for marrying.

    I don’t believe R. Gordimer was suggesting that we not try to help people whose circumstances can be helped. But it is not compassionate to suggest that a path that is definitively out of bounds according to every code of conduct from Torah Sh’Bchtav to recent Achronim will ever be made permissible if only more political pressure is brought to bear. That is simply egregious manipulation of desperate people for cynical ends.

    On the definitely out-of-bounds: Maybe and maybe not. My point is that the search for a solution requires searching for a solution and is not automatically a watering down of halacha any more than is Pruzbul, Heter Mechira or the education of women. And it’s possible that no solution may be found and then it may end up being left to the individual to make their decision and see whether God accepts them as anusim in Olam HaEmes. I certainly will not judge and I don’t think that others should either. I would try to have the person remain otherwise observant and engaged in the community as we do with all the other “sinners” of one form or another, which includes all of us.

    I don’t know why you attached the last piece of your post to my comment. I made no mention of those ideas.

    Please accept my apologies. I was responding to a different poster in the same comment and didn’t put in a proper attribution. I can’t edit posts once submitted.

    @YbhM

    The tendency to explain Orthodox opposition to homosexuality (or feminism for that matter) as a “hok” is problematic. The Torah clearly has a metaphysical view in which men and women are fundamentally different, and in which homosexuality is abnormal. But the zeitgeist doesn’t facilitate the explication of this idea.

    What is the practical difference between saying that it is a Chok (as you are using the work Chok) and saying that it there is an “metaphysical” reality behind it? Either way, you are saying “I really can’t give you a good explanation”. But you are 100% correct that the anti-gay marriage movement in the US failed precisely because no one could articulate a reason other than “it is against the Bible”. Which obviously counts a lot for us, but not within the framework of a 1st amendment constrained government.

    And our interpretation of the Torah’s views of women has changed over time. At one time, it was a given the women were less intelligent than men (daatan kalot). In modern times, that no longer appears to be true and prohibitions on the education of women were lifted with the agreement of the greatest Poskim. And I think that we can all agree that the Torah’s fundamental description of Tzelem Elokim applies to both sexes.

  30. Y. Ben-David says:

    David Ohsie-
    You are going far beyond what I stated regarding the common sense of the majority in the case of the recent Supreme Court decision.
    (1) I am sure you are aware that the Founding Fathers also feared “mob rule” and thus put brakes on “majority rule” such as making the Senate elected NOT on the “one man, one vote” basis and requiring super majorities for changing the Constitution or making treaties with other countries. They realized that embittered groups that feel disenfranchised, either the majority or a minority, is a dangerous situation. I would put the Supreme Court decision as a example where a controversial matter is rammed down everyone’s throats.
    (2) I am not sure there is a majority for legalizing homosexual “marriages”. Please correct me if I am wrong, but it seems it has been defeated in most if not all states where a referendum voted on the issue and few states had passed legislation recognizing it. I also note the the vote of the non-Jews in the Supreme Court was 4-2 AGAINST ( I do not intend to explore that matter any further). Your claim that there is a majority is based on certain public opinion polls and you know very well that polls can be designed to get the results you want by using stilted language and leading questions. Add to that the fact that the polls I saw did not show a large majority in favor of it.

  31. Robert Lebovits says:

    David Ohsie: “We try to do what we can to enable this to be done in a manner consistent with halacha.” Until we can’t because there are situations – as noted by others – where there is no dispensation. At that point an individual must decide whether to abide by Halacha or not.
    There is NO situation where Halacha would ever permit intermarriage. The idea that the Gentile prospect ought to be “convinced” to convert is completely contrary to the entire Jewish concept of geirus. In fact, so much of the trouble we have today regarding acceptable conversions has been brought on by the glib idea that we can avoid an intermarriage by getting the non-Jewish paramour to go through an insincere conversion.
    It is rather insensitive to imply that “within the pool of marriageable people of 14 million” not finding a proper mate is a matter of being picky and thus someone’s decision to remain alone and celibate is a lesser degree of hardship. It is neither being picky nor less painful. It is the identical experience of sadness and loss for all.
    “On the definitely out-of-bounds: Maybe, maybe not.” Actually I wrote “definitively” – which is to say that by definition homosexual behavior is out of bounds. In any case, please cite for me ANY halachic source that is of the “maybe not” variety, that affirms the acceptability of that which the Torah specifically bans.
    This entire discussion is not about judging individuals, the classic straw man interjected by those of a certain political philosophy to remove the focus from the real subject which is what should Orthodox policy be in regard to the acceptability of homosexual lifestyles and marriage. Nothing you have posited refutes R. Gordimer’s statements in his essay.

  32. Bob Miller says:

    Public policy needs to be based on something a lot more solid than opinion polls, not to mention that the polls themselves are often done and reported unprofessionally.

  33. David Ohsie says:

    You are going far beyond what I stated regarding the common sense of the majority in the case of the recent Supreme Court decision.

    I understand your concern about the change being made via the Supreme Court vs. via the legislative process, and I have a similar concern. Nevertheless, the majority does appear to support same-sex marriage, so if the common sense of the masses is considered, it cuts against you.

    Also, your legislative history needs a corrective. This chart may be helpful. SSM was passed or confirmed in Maryland, Washington and Maine via a statewide referendum. It was was passed by the legislature in Vermont, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Illinois, Delaware, DC, New Hampshire, New York and Hawaii. This is the very indirect democracy that you rightly laud.

    Internationally, it was passed by the legislature of the Netherlands, Finland, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Uruguay, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina, Denmark, New Zealand, France, England, Scotland, Slovenia and Greenland at least (I don’t have time to do more research).

    The attitude towards SSM has changed over time to become more favorable to SSM, so it is important to look at the actions of the states over time.

    The polls in the US all indicate that a majority approves of SSM and this has changed over time towards SSM approval. You can choose not to believe them, but then you admit that you have no idea what people think about the issue, since, by your standard, there is no way to find out. I suspect that you distrust these polls because they are out-of-line with your worldview on this issue.

    I don’t know what to make of your comment about the religious composition of the USSC. Perhaps you should consider that if you need to rely on arguments which would be made by our enemies, that it is a sign that your position should be rethought.

    Just to repeat, I don’t think that the fact that a majority endorses something, that it must be true. But notion that everyone knows instinctively that this is wrong is false.

  34. dr. bill says:

    Steve Brizel, As far as I know, no one disputes rabbinic Judaism’s embrace of the notion of a mesorah (beyond the written Divine Law.) That said, many have noted that the impact of mesorah / tradition on determining aspects of halakha, has been inventively used by a variety of poskim (particularly in response to the challenges of modernity.) In that sense no less a figure than the late Rebbe of Dr. Chaim Soloveitchik, demonstrated some clear examples of “new” appeals to mesorah, opposed by halakhists. Adam Fertziger claimed something similar about a famous RY. You can argue that or Prof. katz’s examples on its merits; fear not, no one disputes the existence and importance of a mesorah.

  35. Moshe Dick says:

    Robert Lebovitz: I now it has become fashionable to accept current chareidi interpretation of the halocho as the standard but it has not always been so and, in reality,should not be so.
    You should know that there are a number of teshuvos of Poskim that accepted the conversion of a “partner”, even thought it was evident that it was for marriage purposes. Rav Dovid Hoffman zz’l n his teshuvos, “memaled leho’il” has a number of teshuvos where he clearly accepted such realities. True, it was Berlin at a time of rampant intermarriage but today, in Israel, the situation with the descendants of the Russian olim is as pressing. I do not take the view of Poskim who haven’t faced difficult circumstances as the last word on anything.

  36. dr. bill says:

    Moshe Dick, I agree with your sentiments on conversion. However, you need not go as far as RDTH ztl whose views are probably a daas yachid. Figures like Rav Shlomo Kluger and Rav Chaim ozer Grodzinski ZTL as well as a host of sephardi poskim, for whom the emergence of conservative/reform movements was not an issue (more similar to Israel today) , were significantly more lenient than the chareidi groups dominating the conversion process in Israel today. we can pray that recent efforts by tzohar will be able to restore historical halakhic perogatives.

  37. dr. bill says:

    I must say, after all these skirmishes, reality is now front and center. I look forward to hearing from a number of distinguished commentators, bloggers, etc. on what Matzav titled:

    It’s a Churban: National-Religious Rabbis Announce New Conversion Courts to Challenge the Chief Rabbinate.

    For all trying to worship two gods, Elijah’s question is staring you in the face. No more hair-splitting; time to choose sides!!

  38. Moshe Dick says:

    dr.bill: I am not sure how to take your comments. Zohar is absolutely in their right to establish their own Batei Din. Even in the time of the Sanhedrin, local Batei Din had their autonomy, “kal vachomer’ today. The concentration of power in the Israeli Chief Rabbinate is wrong and dangerous. So, I am not sure what your analogy to Eliohu Hanovi is. Neither do I know who Matzav is.

  39. David Ohsie says:

    @Robert Lebovits
    David Ohsie: “We try to do what we can to enable this to be done in a manner consistent with halacha.” Until we can’t

    Thus, the search for a solution is not wrong or a watering down of the Torah.

    because there are situations – as noted by others – where there is no dispensation.

    I don’t know what you precisely meant by dispensation, but let’s an example. Sabbath violation is something not condoned by halacha, yet there were times where early Minyanim on Shabbat were organized for people who needed to go to work afterward. Is that a dispensation?

    At that point an individual must decide whether to abide by Halacha or not.
    There is NO situation where Halacha would ever permit intermarriage. The idea that the Gentile prospect ought to be “convinced” to convert is completely contrary to the entire Jewish concept of geirus.

    I could be wrong, but I believe that if a Jewish woman married a Gentile wants to joining an Orthodox community and become observant, that they will attempt to convert the husband if is willing to do so in a halachic manner. I believe that they will not say that if you want to become observant, that you need to divorce. We’re no longer in a position where ex-communication has any effect.

    In fact, so much of the trouble we have today regarding acceptable conversions has been brought on by the glib idea that we can avoid an intermarriage by getting the non-Jewish paramour to go through an insincere conversion.

    There are great poskim on both sides of this issue. Maybe it is the poskim that are actively looking to invalidate previously accepted Geirus that are the problem?

    It is rather insensitive to imply that “within the pool of marriageable people of 14 million” not finding a proper mate is a matter of being picky and thus someone’s decision to remain alone and celibate is a lesser degree of hardship. It is neither being picky nor less painful. It is the identical experience of sadness and loss for all.

    God forbid that I would say such a thing, and I didn’t say it. What I said is that the halacha prohibiting intermarriage, in general, encourages one to find a Jewish spouse, and so doesn’t pose an automatic problem. Of course, we try to put out full efforts into helping each person find one. And if they didn’t and intermarried was really the only alternative to remaining single, I would not be in the position to judge such a person (leading to the discussion of conversion above).

    “On the definitely out-of-bounds: Maybe, maybe not.” Actually I wrote “definitively” – which is to say that by definition homosexual behavior is out of bounds. In any case, please cite for me ANY halachic source that is of the “maybe not” variety, that affirms the acceptability of that which the Torah specifically bans.

    Before Hillel, one could have said the same thing about sabbatical year cancellation of debts. I could not have figured out a way to square that circle and neither could you, but Hillel did. Perhaps there is a way here, but if there isn’t, it is not wrong to look for solutions.

    In addition, “out-of-bounds” can have many meanings. I find it hard to say that you remove someone from the community for a violation that 99 out of 100 other people in the same situation would violate. (Cf. the observant Sabbath violator of past times who needed to work on Shabbos). But again, I’m not a Posek.

    This entire discussion is not about judging individuals, the classic straw man interjected by those of a certain political philosophy to remove the focus from the real subject which is what should Orthodox policy be in regard to the acceptability of homosexual lifestyles and marriage.

    So if this is not about judging individuals, you would have no problem allowing an open homosexual who is otherwise observant to be a full synagogue member, get an Aliyah, be on the board, etc? Because you will not judge him as an individual, just as you don’t judge whether the other members speak Lashon Harah, don’t have proper intention during Tefilah, etc? And are you open to educating children in school, at some reasonable age, to realize that homosexuality exists and that they should neither make fun of it or be embarrassed to have such feelings?

    Nothing you have posited refutes R. Gordimer’s statements in his essay.

    I wasn’t attempting to “refute” R. Gordimer. I judged that his seeming endorsement the view that 99% of homosexuality derives from abuse is without foundation, that a search for solutions is not watering down the Torah. R. Gordimer knows a lot more Torah than me and can judge whether or not he thinks I have a point or not.

    @Bob Miller
    Public policy needs to be based on something a lot more solid than opinion polls, not to mention that the polls themselves are often done and reported unprofessionally.

    Do you really doubt that a growing majority support SSM based on their view (in opposition to yours) that the previous policy was elementally unfair?

  40. David Ohsie says:

    For those interested in the specifics on Geirus, please have a look at the following Teshuva where Rav Dovid Tzvi Hoffman permits conversion of a Gentile woman legally married to a Kohain on the grounds that it is better that he sin by being in a relationship with a Giyoret than being with a relationship with a Gentile.

    Page 1
    Page 2

    Here he permits conversion of a Gentile woman legally married to a Jew:

    Page 1
    Page 2

    (Keeping in mind that dr. bill’s admonishment that these responsa are at one extreme, they are still fascinating).

  41. Moshe Dick says:

    Dr. Ohsie!

    Thanks for pointing out these teshuvos to which I alluded to in an earlier comment. I was made aware of these teshuvos by Rav D.Z. Hoffman and although dr.bill may be right in writing that this might be a “daas yochid”, nonetheless, the “Melamed leho’il” was no “katla kanyah”. He was the Posek for Germany in the early twentieth century and “jesh al mi lismoch” in difficult circumstances, such as exist today in Israel.

  42. dr. bill says:

    Moshe Dick, sorry for being obtuse. i strongly support the tzohar led batei dinim. BTW as RMF ztl dealt with geirus in America just after the second world war, he was made aware of teshuvot from both RDTH anfd RCOG ztl. IIRC he had previously seen neither teshuvah; his reactions, however, were different. Tzohar (as many poskim throughout the generations) also noted the fact that zerah Yisroel, adds another basis for a more lenient approach.

  43. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    It should be noted that Rav Hoffman had his critics. Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch considered his work to be heretical.

  44. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    Correction: I should have said Rav Hirsch considered some of Rav Hoffman’s work to be heretical.

  45. Bob Miller says:

    “Do you really doubt that a growing majority support SSM based on their view (in opposition to yours) that the previous policy was elementally unfair?”

    It does seem that more and more people are tolerating (or advocating or doing) more and more bad behavior. Society as a whole has a vital interest in defending basic moral principles against all opposition.

  46. Moshe Dick says:

    Mr. Reisman: A quick check on wikipedia does confirm your statement that RSRHirsch considered one of Rav Hoffman’s works to “michutz lamachaneh”. I cannot verify the validity of this fact or thr reason therefore. Nonetheless, Rav Hoffman was the leading Posek in Germany for over thirty years and his views are as valid as any contemporary Posek. Sadly, the chareidi world can only see chumros today and refuses to consider any flexibility in halocho- something that was always part of our Past when dealing with halocho. Even R”Moshe Feinstein was vilified for some of his teshuvos ! Chareidi Poskim refuse to look at pre-nups, flexible ways of geirus and a host of other matters that would have been laughed away in previous generations. ( crustaceansin water? soap on strawberries?)

  47. Rafael Araujoberg says:

    Moshe Dick:

    You wrote: “Pilegesh, by the way is “muttor” “mi-doraisai” and only after Rabbeinu Gershon is it not allowed. Rabbi Yaakov Emden, no halachic slouch, allowed it in the seventeenth century.”

    No, its a matter of dispute. R’ Yaakov Emden wanted to re-institute it to deal with certain social issues of his time (such as a wife not pleasing her husband or being in her time of nidus). That was rejected and R’ Chaim Soloveitchik called that a “Naval B’Reshus HaTorah”. Also, RYE only meant that pilegesh be permitted in addition to marriage, not to replace it.

    You wrote: “I would surmise that your defence of chareidi Poskim extends to deny the validity of pre-nuptial agreements.”

    There is a real issue of forced gittin due to pre-nuptial agreements, nothing to with your kind presumption of my defence of chareidi Poskim. Hence, the great opposition to such agreements.

    Anyway, in your comments above, you cite opinions, though agreed that RDZH was a gadol b’Torah, that are out of the mainstream (unlike dr. Bill, who does have yesh mi lismoch and the fact that R’ Moshe rejected his view in Igros Moshe – EH 2:4) and then use that as a basis to claim that not everyone follows “charedi poskim”. Well sorry, but citing rejected opinions not even relied upon even by more modern Poskim doesn’t bolster your case again “charedi halocho”.

    You wrote: “I do not take up the cudgel for OO”s and I don’t even know most of their views but I also refuse to accept that the extreme chareidi views on a host of things.”

    Yes, so characterize the views I have set forth as extreme which you don’t accept, but OO, which is just as extreme, you don’t know or don’t want to know about their views and positions. Maybe you should investigate OO’s views on things so that you apparent rejection of extreme views is even-handed.

  48. Rafael Araujoberg says:

    For your edification, here is an English translation of R’ Moshe’s teshuvah rejecting the heter of RDZH (source is the Daas Torah blog found herehttp://daattorah.blogspot.ca/2008/09/conversion-woman-to-marry-cohen.html :

    Igros Moshe(E.H. 2:4): This that you bring from Melamed l’Ho’il that it is better to convert the woman who wants to marry a cohen – in order to save the cohen from a more severe Torah sin which involves the punishment of kares and instead he will be transgressing a Torah sin without kares. This makes no sense to me. The opposite is true because if she converts and doesn’t observe the prohibitions of nidah, he will then also be violating the prohibitions of nidah which is itself punishable by kares. On the other hand if she doesn’t convert there is no Torah prohibition of nidah but it is only a rabbinic decree. But there is also the prohibition of “not marrying non-Jews” since this is done in the circumstances of marriage. If they live together as a married couple amongst Jews then this is considered a public violation that is liable to the punishment of death at the hand of zealots which is even more severe than kares. In addition there is also the punishment of kares learned from tradition (Sanhedrin 82). However if they live amongst non‑Jews it is not considered a public violation and therefore there would only be the violation of the Torah law not to intermarry. However perhaps without conversion when there are two Torah prohibitions 1) not to intermarry and 2) zona and the Rambam (Hilchos Issurei Bi’ah 12:7) says that there is a loss that is not found in other sexual transgressions and perhaps it is more severe than involvement with a convert even though there would be the additional prohibitions involving nidah and zona. Besides the question of which is a more severe sin – I have already explained that in this case the conversion is considered invalid. Even though the Melamed l’Ho’il states that the desire to commit the transgression of marrying a cohen does not invalidate the acceptance of mitzvos – in my humble opinion this is not so as I have already explained. The sefer Melamed leHo’il is not available to me now to study. The bottom line is that in my humble opinion his views in this matter are not to be relied upon.

  49. Moshe Dick says:

    rafael: I thank you for your measured reply . A far as R’Yaakov Emden and R”Dovid Hoffman- my point was that , in previous generations, when there were major problems , Poskim looked or inventive ways to find a solution. R”Moshe zz’l himself did this time and again and was vilified for it! Whether the psak of R”Dovid Hoffman should be acccepted by all is a different issue. As I wrote, he lived in a time when there was rampant intermarriage in Germany at the time and he felt that his piskei halocho were a response to the problems of the day. Incidentally, regardless of R’Moshe’s response to this, I have not seen that anyone invalidated any of the geirim made by Rav Hoffman. That is my main point, solving the problems of th day “al pi halocho”. This also spills over in the matter of a pre-nup. The question of agunos has become a real problem in our time- unlike previous generations when this was not a widespread problem. At least the RCA has tried to find a halachic way-the opposition to it does not have any real basis-to solve this. And equally the question of geirus in Israel, where well-intentioned Poskim are trying to find realistic solution. Just to illustrate my point- the chareidi leadership even opposes the geirus of underage children, something expressly sanctioned by the Gemoro. This is why I think that today the chareidi rabbonim have retreated in their shell and have no interest in solving the problems of the day.

  50. dr. bill says:

    Lawrence Reisman, RSRH ztl had a contentious relationship with both gedolim in Germany in his era. Rav Bamberger ztl would not deal with him as he did not consider him as sufficiently well versed in halakhic matters ( see Prof. Leiman’s account of their argument.) RDTH ztl was much younger; RSRH already had issues with his REBBE Rav azriel Hildesheimer ztl, a contemporary of RSRH who towered over Rav Hirsch except in hagiographic literature. In any case, despite his disputes, I doubt he would use a term like apikores wrt either. I suspect that r. hirsch was bothered by RDTH’s rebuttal to biblical criticism. It is worth remembering who succeeded R. Hoffman – arguably the greatest talmid EVER produced by Slabodka – Rav E. Kaplan ztl, who died at the age of 33 and is virtually unknown. After leaving Slabodka, he took off a year to acquaint himself with the (more academic) derech of Rav Hoffman, before becoming his memaleh makom.. I do not know if all the stories about him are all true, but R. Yaacov Kaminetsky ztl was one who told a number of them. I doubt he believed RDTH was an apikores.

    Rafael, As I noted above, RMF ztl treated the teshuvot of RCOG ztl and RDTH ztl quite differently. While he said he would read RCOG’s teshuvah, IIRC he did not say the same about getting a copy of the Melamaid le’Hoil.

    But as has been pointed out, the current situation with soviet emigres, touched on other reasons for leniency as well. I suspect the presence of R. Rabinowitz, Stav and Medan among others, will not in any way deter over-the-top attacks.

  51. Moshe Dick says:

    dr.bill: let us also not forget that R’Dovid Hoffman studied in Pressburg, probably under the Ksav Sofer, and was a talmid of the Maharam Shick, one of the fiercest opponents of modernism in Yiddishkeit. So, R’Dovid clearly had a great halachic education. As far as R”Elijohu Kaplan, he as indeed one of the great talmidim coming out of Slobodka. And- his succesor was Rav Jechiel Weinberg, the “Seridei Aish”. All great and true gedolim.

  52. Rafael Araujoberg says:

    Interesting! R’ Druckman has come out against the new Tzohar conversion Bais Din:

    http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/199289#.Vcpo2vlVhBc

  53. dr. bill says:

    Rafael, Rav Druckman came out against the formation of any BD to accept geirim outside of the CR’s auspices. that is a political view; the critical step he did not take was to halakhically challenge any geirut this new BD performs. When that happens, the Israeli Supreme court will likely step in and force the government and any of its employees to accept the BD’s findings. Tzohar has the upper hand and will hopefully break the hegemony Netanyahu’s chareidi partners hoped to reestablish. we shall see.

  54. Moshe Dick says:

    rafael: I just read the whole teshuvoh in ‘melamed leho’il” that you brought R’Moshe’s psak that it ws not a proper hetter. Do look it up because in that teshuvo, R’Dovid Hoffman clearly writes that they will have to keep dinei taharas hamishpocho. That answers R’Moshe’s main argument.

  55. Doron Beckerman says:

    Yep, the Supreme Court will also force the State to recognize Reform conversions. Salim Jubran will get to make the ultimate decision on who is a Jew. Kol Dodi Dofeik!

  56. shloi says:

    To me it seems unfair to blame the charedi leadership. The immigrants were brought here under the Law of Return and without serious checking by the Jewish Agency and other government authorities.
    The secular leadership created the problem not the charedim.
    I agree that this is an issue but the halakha is not the root of the problem

  57. David Ohsie says:

    Clarifying some of the above:

    1) Rav Hirsch opposed Rav Hoffman’s participation in and endorsement of academic Jewish studies in the Berlin Rabbinical Seminary. Things like attributing authorship of Nach seforim to authors other than those listed by the Talmud.

    2) The p’sak of Rav Hoffman to accept a convert in a relationship with a Kohein is not accepted by other Poskim, because the purpose of the conversion is itself prohibited and thus stands in a contradiction to acceptance of the Mitzvos. In cases where the purpose is good (to have the whole family be Jewish) especially when the convert is a man and the kids will be Jewish anyhow is much more widely accepted, AFAIK. As I mentioned, I don’t think that Kiruv orgs will ask the woman to divorce a Gentile husband, but will instead explore the possibility of conversion. The degree of religiosity and commitment the acceptance of Mitzvos requires differs among the Poskim.

    3) It seems clear that your view of Israel and Zionism will have an impact. If you view Israel as just a place to live and Zionism as an evil, then there is not reason to accept the Russian converts. On the other hand, if think that the state has halachic and religious significance, then ensuring that there is not a split in the citizenship and inevitably greater intermarriage rates inside of Israel itself, then it is important to integrate immigrants into the Jewish nation.

  58. Moshe Dick says:

    Dr. Ohsie: Can you bring me one example of anyone invalidating a conversion allowed by R”Dovid Hoffman? Because, according to you , no other posek accepted it.. Geirim that were made in Berlin in R”Dovid’s time seem to have been accepted by all.

  59. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    Rabbi Dick: Can you bring me an example of anyone invalidating any conversion after the fact prior to 1972? It is one thing to say beforehand that a conversion, if performed, would be invalid, and saying that one already performed is invalid. Thus, one could disagree with Rav Hoffman about whether a conversion is permissible, but would one say a conversion done pursuant to his psak was valid.

  60. David Ohsie says:

    Dr. Ohsie: Can you bring me one example of anyone invalidating a conversion allowed by R”Dovid Hoffman? Because, according to you , no other posek accepted it.. Geirim that were made in Berlin in R”Dovid’s time seem to have been accepted by all.

    1) There is a difference between accepting such a convert ab initio vs. going back and invalidating a Geirus. My point here was simply that, while other poskim don’t think that we should accept a convert who in a relationhip with a Kohein, their reasoning would not apply to all intermarriages. I don’t know if what would have happened to this woman if she moved to another country.

    2) I don’t know that no Poskim accepted it. I assume that, in Berlin, what Rav Hoffman said, went.

  61. David Ohsie says:

    One the issue of retroactive annulment of conversions, this paper gives a variety of sources:

    .Retroactive annulment of a conversion: a survey of representative halakhic sources. Warning: the paper is written by a Reform Rabbi (I believe) and is hosted by the Hebrew Union College website.

  62. dr. bill says:

    Lawrence Reisman, It must be close to the messianic age – we agree, almost. Your distinction between being opposed to performing a geirut ab initio, versus annulling it after the fact is well supported by poskim across the board. The only quibble was your reference to the 1972 case, the Langer twins, I presume; it involved mamzeirut, where a combination of factors, each insufficient on its own, can be combined to avoid mamzeirut. I think that the honor of first overturning centuries of psak takes place almost 30 years later.

  63. Steve Brizel says:

    I once heard RHS mention in a shiur that RDRH ZL, as printed in one of his ShuT, once revoked the smicha of a certain musmach of the Hildeshimer yeshiva who had “committed an avlah gdolah.”

  64. dr. bill says:

    Steve Brizel, Thankfully that has not become a widespread custom. In any case, I hope you are not implying anything from invalidating a modern day semicha to invalidating a geirut!

  65. Steve Brizel says:

    Dr Bill-the revocation of smicha today has far less effect than declaring a Gadol BaTorah and his POV beyond the pale. I was pointing out that RDTH was not adverse to declaring a certain individual as beyond the pale.

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