Weekly Digest – News and Essays In and Out of Orthodoxy – Week of Parshas Ki Sisa 5776

RAV BELSKY, ZT”L – AN APPRECIATION – by Rav Hershel Schachter

Erlau Rebbe passes away

Thousands Attend Levayah of the Erlau Rebbe, zt”l

Rabbi Emanuel Holzer z”l – Rabbi Holzer was such a fine man. Incredible integrity toward Torah and commitment to his rebbe, Rav Soloveitchik. Rabbi Holzer is the person who recruited me for the RCA.

Last survivor of Treblinka laid to rest


New book prompts soul-searching in Lithuania about Holocaust-era complicity

When Two Lone Stars Meet

Rabbi Nebenzahl: Egalitarian Prayer Area At Kosel is the Lesser of Evils

Shut down the Kotel! – This article is so wrong on so many levels; I don’t know where to begin.

The Gay Child in My Daughter’s First Grade Class – This really takes the cake. This Open Orthodox leader argues that yeshiva students should not be taught that “boys marry girls”.

Women of the Tent: The Power of Women’s Prayer Spaces – More Open Orthodox rejection of Chazal and Rishonim. “Rashi comments on the fact that Sarah is nowhere to be found when guests arrive in Genesis 18:2, and explains that Sarah was in her tent because she is modest. Here we see a gendered look at the function of her tent, closed and private, as opposed to Abraham’s which couldn’t be more inviting. Respectively, I think that Rashi’s perspective does not jibe well with the text. When the guests enter Abraham’s tent, they are expecting Sarah. They are confused as to why she isn’t there. They ask for her by name. The lesson to be learned shouldn’t be that Sarah was modest… Another famous story of a woman with a tent is Yael. She famously welcomes Sisera into her tent and puts him into a fairly deep sleep with warm milk. Soon after, she thrusts one of the tent pegs into Sisera’s forehead, killing the leader of the opposition in the battle led by Deborah. While this could serve as an example of a woman who was resourceful and served as a brave and bold soldier, instead, commentaries praise Yael for using a tent peg instead of a sword. They explain that Yael was careful as to not violate the prohibition, “A man’s item shall not be on a woman…” (Deuteronomy 22:5). Here are two biblical examples of women leaders whose strong personalities are subdued by rabbis’ interpretation.

Last week’s installment of Weekly Digest – News and Essays In and Out of Orthodoxy can be viewed here.

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14 Responses

  1. YbhM says:

    This really takes the cake. This Open Orthodox leader argues that yeshiva students should not be taught that “boys marry girls”.

    Excuse my snark but I really couldn’t see any “argument” in that stream-of-consciousness discourse.

  2. micha berger says:

    Erlau is the heritage of the Chasam Sofer, and “chadash assur min haTorah — innovation is prohibited by the Torah” including Chassidus. They have many of the trappings the rest of us associate with Chassidus — language, dress, having a primary rav, because of common origin. Calling the Erlau Rav a “Rebbe” would raise forceful objection. Personally, I would fix the text.

    (I would like to correct the wording, but it is part of the title of both articles, and that is why it appears here as such. They also daven Nusach Ashkenaz, by the way – not Sefard – as per your explanation. -AG)

    • Nathan Young says:

      “The Rebbe’s second son, Harav Yaakov Sofer, Rav of Erlau in Beitar Illit, spoke next. He noted that the Rebbe was niftar in the week of the parashah of Ki Sisa. The parashah begins with the words, “Ki sisa es rosh Bnei Yisrael,” and the words “rosh Bnei Yisrael” are the roshei teivos of the word Rebbe, alluding to the lifting of the Rebbe to higher plains.”
      From HaModia

    • YbhM says:

      >Calling the Erlau Rav a “Rebbe” would raise forceful objection. Personally, I would fix the text.

      The Erloyers refer to the Rav as “Admor”, and I don’t think they object to being called hasidim.

      Also they have a nusach of their own (at least I haven’t seen it elsewhere).  IIRC they do not say Aleinu after minha on erev shabat.

  3. tzippi says:

    Re The Gay Child in My Daughter’s First Grade Class: The author writes, “I told her that it made me sad that her Morah said that it doesn’t happen. It made me sad for the people who are gay. This is how Hashem made them, and this Morah is pretending they do not exist. What I didn’t tell her, is that I was most sad for the gay child in her class.”

    Not necessarily. The teacher might just be teaching halachically, and not introducing inappropriate sexuality at this age. A first grader is not likely to know that s/he’s gay, and by the time s/he’s old enough to determine this, is not likely to have been irreparably scarred by this teacher. And if so, that’s probably the least of the beefs s/he’ll have with her school. It sounds more like the author has limited school choices for her children. Kudos that she wants them in a day school setting.

    And re Rabbi Cardozo’s article: perhaps it should have a thread of its own. I know so many people who encountered him and his shiurim in their early years and were profoundly impacted. But at some point he seems to have undergone some evolution, or perhaps is simply  more unplugged.

    And, mazel tov to Shoshana and Sharon Weiss-Greenberg and family. Mrs. Weiss-Greenberg writes, ” On this Shabbat, because of Shoshana, the women of the community not only attended, they were engaged.” I attend a yeshiva shul on Shabbos with dozens if not hundreds of people. Only a fraction are called up to the Torah, lead the prayer, or carry out other functions. I guess we’re all non-engaged together.

  4. R.B. says:

    Re Rabbi Lopez-Cardozo and his article about the Kosel,

    If you read this article in context, you will see that this is consistent with his (continual?) slide to the left. His Times of Israel opinion pieces almost always take a controversial position, whether its bicycling on Shabbos, Zera Yisrael and conversion, Spinoza, etc. His positions mirror OO positions on some topics.

    In this latest piece de resistance, he channels none other than Yeshayau Leibowitz, who also wanted to ban the long standing practice of treating the Kosel as a place of tefilloh.

    As for woman of the tent piece, it shows that OO commentary is heading down the garden-variety Jewish feminist claims of patriarchal obscuring of original sources/pesukim, and recurring symbols such as Vashti and Lillis. When are we going to see OO commentators invoke those as well? Will they have oranges on their Seder Plates as well?

  5. Nachum says:

    The article about the first grade was really sad. This supposedly religious woman does not have the backbone to simply tell her kid “Well, in today’s strange world, such things do happen, but that doesn’t mean they *should*.” One wonders what her reaction would be if the teacher had told her kid that “Jews shouldn’t eat bacon.” Lots of Jews do, after all.

    It’s also kind of bizarre that she has all the facts before her- her homosexual friend is actively trying to propagandize her kid by giving her very specific books- and yet she can’t put those two and two together. She also has certain instincts- she kept her kid from reading them for a while- and yet can’t really put her finger on it.

    She also seems not to realize that the infamous Central Park zoo penguins broke up; one took up with a female and one preferred to remain single and hang out with the boys. Propaganda can be tricky. 🙂

    • Richard says:

      Central Park aside, are you denying that homosexuality exists in other species?

      • R.B. says:

        This is a myth. There is no evidence that any animals exhibit any exclusive homosexual behaviour and if you put a male animal together with a female in heat/ready for mating, there is no support that the male will reject such overtures for male only companionship.

        So yes, we can deny this because the construction of this view is just that: a construction to support human behaviour.

      • Richard says:

        Well, first, there are animals that exhibit exclusive homosexual behavior: domesticated sheep. See the wikipedia article on homosexuality in animals.

        Second, I don’t think it’s great for your moral worldview if lots of animals think it’s fine to have homosexual sex even if they would also mate with animals of the opposite sex. Indeed, to the extent that we’re taking moral cues from animals (and I don’t think we should), the fact that one of the penguins went back to females would point towards permitting homosexual intercourse even for non-homosexuals!

      • R.B. says:

        You missed my entire argument. You first wrote, in response to Nachum, that questioned whether he denies homosexuality in animals. I responded that the entire is a construct. You responded with evidence that sheep do engage in exclusive homosexual behaviour and then you jumped to say that I was somehow taking cues for morality from animals.

        However, I neither wrote nor put forth such an argument.  In fact, it is part of the agenda to normalize homosexuality by using the animal kingdom of an example of this. I am saying to learn anything from animals.

        What I meant but may not have been clear is this: because animals who exhibit what is seen to be homosexual behaviour will have no issue mating with the opposite sex, maybe what we treat or consider homosexual behaviour in animals is nothing of the sort. We taking human behaviour and imposing it on how we interpret this observable behaviour. Interpreting such behaviour as being normal in the animal world is, as wrote above, something that can be used to support an agenda.

      • Richard says:

        The only conclusion that we can draw from animals is that when people say that homosexual sex is “unnatural,” they are wrong. It’s not about saying that homosexuality is good or moral; just that it is not unnatural. You make a good case that talking about animals as “gay” is incoherent at best and dishonest at worst: humans are largely unique (excluding the aforementioned sheep) in the animal kingdom when it comes to individuals exhibiting exclusively same-sex attraction.

        In any event, I think we can agree that it’s probably a better idea to learn about homosexuality from same-sex attracted people than from same-sex attracted animals.

      • R.B. says:

        @Richard. On that we can agree. 🙂

      • Richard says:

        Always glad to end with agreement!

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