Weekly Digest – News and Essays In and Out of Orthodoxy – Parshas Bechukosai 5776
BMG ‘Disappointed’ Court Cancelled $10M State Grant
Trump Advisor Meets Jewish Groups in Flatbush
Rabbi stabbed in Ukrainian synagogue by angry job-seeker
Orthodox Rabbi Teaching Halakha Beyond the Shulkhan Arukh, Judaism Beyond the Commandments – I’m not sure whether this should be categorized as Conservative or Reform, but it is definitely not Orthodox.
Parshas Behar – Holy Nostalgia
Why scientists are fighting about the origins of Yiddish – and the Jews – Anyone who has even a basic familiarity with Yiddish knows that Yiddish cannot be a product of Iran or Turkey. Prof. Katz’ point in this article is well taken, as usual. Please see here for some of Dr. Katz’ scholarship on the origins of Yiddish, including the crucial Semitic component, and here for his website.)
From a Celebrity Open Orthodox Leader: Were Adam and Eve Black transgender refugees? – I do not even know where to begin with this one…
Op-ed: The ADL Turns Anti-Israel
75th anniversary of Baghdad pogrom to be commemorated in 4 cities (Here is a firsthand account of the pogrom by my wife’s great-uncle, Dr. Heskel Haddad.)
CRIF’s new president: French Jews’ situation worst since 1945
White House Paid J-Street to Promote Flawed Iran Deal
The Grateful and the Dead – It’s easier than ever to visit the gravesites of beloved rabbis and sages
Tragedy at Chabad in North Carolina
Last week’s installment of Weekly Digest – News and Essays In and Out of Orthodoxy can be viewed here.
Thank you for posting the article about the Farhud massacre of Jews in Iraq in 1941. If you read it carefully, there is an important lesson there. It was stated that the Jews lived in peace, side-by-side with the Arabs of Baghdad for a very long period of time. The Jews were not afraid of the Arabs. The story of the TARPAT 1929 massacre of Jews in Hevron is much the same. The Jews were offered weapons for self-defense before the massacre, yet they turned them down saying they didn’t need them because they had such good relations with the Arabs (it should be noted that the communities in both Baghdad and Hevron were NOT supporters of Zionism).
The point is that the situation of Jews living in non-Jewish countries is NEVER “normal” and it can never be assumed that the relationship between Jews and non-Jews for a long period in the past will continue indefinitely into the future. We see that the situation can change drastically in a second.
A similar point can be made regarding the voiding of the New Jersey state grant of $10 million to the Lakewood Yeshiva. Of course it can be claimed that this decision is discriminatory and the Jews are not being treated “equally”. But, as I said the situation of Jews living in a non-Jewish country is never normal and it may not be realistic to expect that what Jews receive is “by rights” what non-Jews receive, as the non-Jews perceive it.
Have to agree with lacosta on this one. As I pointed out before on the WSJ op-ed, BMG shot themselves in the foot with this grant by not filing form 990 every year, due to being a religious institution.
In fact, I see the decision as a validation. Even the judge sees that the purpose of BMG is to produce Talmedei Chachomim (Rabbis or not). Has the judge ruled BMG was just another “school” with a secular purpose (as needed by law to get the money), it would have been a huge bizayon haTorah.
IMHO, Rav Aharon would have agreed with the judge’s decision.
Who says BMG doesn’t file annual 990s?
As pointed out above, that is not BMG the Yeshiva. BMG the Yeshiva has a letter from the IRS in 2008 that they requested for an exemption, and the IRS confirmed they do not need to file a 990.
Page 285 of appendix D of the ALCU brief:
if if the grants were for facility improvement, it may very well fall under the preview of the organization that filed a 990.
It it is not unusual for an institution to keep certain of its assets and operations in seperate corporations.
For any number of appropriate reasons.
There is this redefinition of the separation doctrine that anti religious use to say that a religious organization can gain no benefit from the government.
The government cannot support a religion, however that does not mean that a religious organization cannot get funds that are available to anyone in the same circumstances.
It it is typical of the hypocrisy of these so called civil rights organizations that they go out and impinge on the rights of those who don’t concur with their liberal ideals.
This is one of the reasons why Antonin Scalia is missed. Because he understood the constitution. Not like so many of the “activist justices”
It is also important that the ACLU has an POV on “establishment clause” cases and “no establishment of church and state” that borders on the extremely literal and looks for any and all kinds of cases to stretch that clause, while seemingly ignoring, if not at all recognizing that there is a “free exercise of religion clause’. Take a look at the ACLU website and simply compare how many “establishment clause’ cases were litigated or are in litigation as opposed to “free exercise clauses” such as the cases involving shuls, yeshivos, mikvaos, eruvin, etc and the ACLU’s stance on creches and Menorahs in public.
Chochom b’mah nishtaneh: if if the grants were for facility improvement, it may very well fall under the preview of the organization that filed a 990.
Except a company whose only business is leasing real estate oughtn’t qualify for educational funding.
who are we kidding ? we all know that a yeshiva like BMG has no non-religious component to its library . Maybe someone there on the ground can tell us if their is even one secular book in that collection. we are always trying to skirt the law , and in the case of the Kiryas Yoel school district , after four go-arounds thru the courts and rewrites of the law , it sometimes happens . but this library is as secular as a Gemara is….
Dr. Cardoza says, “where the Torah says that we have to do away with these people, whether it is Amalek or the nations of Canaan, my feeling is that these were challenges given to Moses and the people to see how they would react,”
It is one thing to say the killing must be done with the proper kavanah, that halachic nuances must be carefully considered, that in addition to halachic compliance G-d wants to test our sensitivities. But to say we should reject a mitzva is kefira. I am not sure if this scholar intended that, but it sounds like it.
More than that. At lot of what Dr. Cardoza opines are directly contradicted by the pasukim in Torah and Nach.
“And my reading, which I understand is controversial, is that God is challenging these people: Let Me see how they’ll respond. Did you, people, understand My larger picture of righteousness? Are you understanding what I’m trying to say over here? And as I did in the case of Abraham, when I challenged him by telling him I’m going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, and Abraham correctly said, No…”
“I am of the opinion that Abraham, by being prepared to do so, to execute his son, failed the test. I think that the reading of the binding of Isaac should be different from the conventional approach as some Hasidic texts indeed seem to suggest.”
So basically, he is advocating for reading pasukim in a way that they are informed by one’s moral sense, even to the extent of relying on Hasidic texts to contradict their basic and plain meaning to avoid moral conflicts. I guess that is more palatable than saying that the pasukim be read as is and he reject their moral implications. This is definitely the safer route.
Also, what about this statement:
“In my opinion there are very few real cohanim in the world today. The Ashkenazi community has also had to go through the most terrible conditions and few there are real cohanim. The only ones who are probably cohanim are the Syrians and Tunisians, who have kept reliable records of their Cohanim.”
Excuse me? A nothing 2 bit Rabbi Gordimer is criticizing a godol , R.Cardoza saying his views Reform or Conservative, but not Orthodox. Fools!
Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo, for all his many gifts, has clearly been struggling with the legitimacy of our Mesorah as normally understood. Regardless of his motivations, he appears to speak and write like a type of sectarian, and this is not new. Criticizing his recent output is not out of bounds to any thinking Jew. Even the most brilliant minds can need a reality check.
MB, you are being unreasonable and denigrating an Adam Kasher (and Talmid Chacham) for absolutely no reason. I was a student at Ohr Somayach when Rav Cordozo was still there, so it is not easy for me to point this out at all, but surely you realize that the following statement is entirely consonant with what Reform leaders said about how Judaism “ossified” and needed Reforming:
Rabbi Gordimer is simply acknowledging a sad reality.
i believe that one deserves the benefit of the doubt. looking at who teaches at his institute and the guest lecturers, only amplifies that view.
i am bothered by a number of his positions and wish he would talk in more measured and specific terms. however, the issues he raises need to be addressed; clearly, the issues that a modern, secular jewish state raises were rarely addressed lemayseh halakhically.
hopefully, this is the beginning of attacks on Israeli thought leaders who hold positions to the left of main-line orthodoxy. that is a large group and would make the weekly post much more substantive intellectually.
Rav Menken, I am in full agreement that Rav Gordimer should not be denigrated. I would like to suggest, however, that Rav Cardozo is giving an intentionally provocative understanding of the prohibition to write the Torah Sheba’al Peh. Perhaps he should be given the benefit of the doubt.
That’s a very interesting concept, but found nowhere in what he said. A “limud zechus” is not accomplished by replacing his words with others that have an entirely different meaning. Here is what he actually said: “I’m sure that if Maimonides, or Rabbi Yosef Karo (author of the Shulkhan Arukh) lived today, they would say: We never wrote our codifications for a time when the State of Israel would be established.”
That’s not “a provocative understanding of the prohibition to write the Torah Sheba’al Peh,” it’s saying that the entirety of Torah Sheba’al Peh no longer applies in a different generation — or, at the very least, should be considered null and void until we have reasoned otherwise. And that’s not how the system works.
When I first learned to drive, there were no rules about texting while driving. I’m quite certain about that, you could text from your phone all you wanted. In fact, there were no rules about hands-free devices at all. Since then, new rules have come in, and others have been relaxed due to new understandings of road safety (and improvements to passenger protection), such as the 55 MPH speed limit on interstate highways. But no one has proposed redefining the arbitrary definition of an inverted red triangle, though it has been in use only since 1971. We all know that doing so would lead to disastrous results.
There you go, twisting words and not reading charitably. He did not say what you summarize as “it’s saying that the entirety of Torah Sheba’al Peh no longer applies in a different generation — or, at the very least, should be considered null and void until we have reasoned otherwise. And that’s not how the system works.”
The rules remain the rules; their application requires careful thinking. I have heard innovative heterim for various issurai derabbonon on shemirat shabbos by policemen in non-emergency situations. Rules are not null and void but have to be evaluated in light of a reality not previously considered.
Rabbi Cordoza is making the same observation I remember reading from Prof. Ish Shalom, that few poskim are dealing with the reality of a Jewish state. let me give you another example. Outside the Meiri and a number of achronim who agree with him, most current halakhic authorities rule that we saved nochrim on shabbos mipnai eivah. A rather famous Gadol I will not identify because i cannot remember his argument precisely, said that the obligations of the State of Israel may be different and the obligation to save a nochri may be fundamental.
Prof. Shalom listed a number of other examples. It is easy to say, the changed circumstance is not an important or critical factor; it is easy for a posek to adopt that position.
Remember the opposition RMF ztl received for his views on government inspection of milk. I don’t believe he made any previous halakha null and void.
you may argue with his pesakim, but I think you went way overboard.
Dr. Bill, it would be easier to respond to you if I could make heads or tails of what you said. But since the sentence immediately prior to the section I quoted previously reads: “So the Shulkhan Arukh is in many ways outdated,” that is not at all consonant with your interpretation that according to him, “the rules remain the rules.” Rabbi Cardozo is the author of 13 books. He is a careful wordsmith. You are arguing with the dictionary, which defines the word outdated for the rest of us: “obsolete, no longer current, no longer useful or acceptable.”
He was talking about rewriting the laws of getting up in the morning, because the government is, if not Jewish, at least run largely by Jews. “Oh.”
Not only have you contradicted the dictionary — you have also contradicted yourself. As you said, RMF did not “make any previous halakha null and void.” He said halacha is the halacha. He said we apply the halachah differently as circumstances change. RNLC suggests that Rambam and the Mechaber would declare their work irrelevant.
One advantage of using a moniker is that you don’t have to make sense. I understand that. But it makes it very difficult to respond.
if my examples don’t help you, i am sorry. the three are examples – policemen, saving nochrim, government inspected milk apply an unchanging set of halakhic principles/rules to a (new) circumstance. codes often state rules and case law. (deciphering that is not always easy.) rabbis often abstract a rule and then decide if it does or does not apply in a particular (new) case.
if this is too conceptual, leave criticizing Rabbi Cardozo to others. i assure you he does not mean what you are claiming.
On the contrary, the only way to take your “assurance” seriously is to, as I said previously, rewrite the dictionary. You are in essence arguing that the author of 13 books is an incompetent writer who consistently misleads people as to the real meaning of his words — because this is not his only such statement. Rabbi Cardozo has said this elsewhere: “we have to de-codify Jewish law and dispense with the official codes of law by which Judaism was able to survive in past centuries.”
I would add emphasis to those quoted words which contradict your assurance, but every word of that would then be italicized.
What he wrote, quoted above, is entirely consistent with my understanding of “the Shulkhan Arukh is in many ways outdated,” and quite antipodal to “apply[ing] an unchanging set of halakhic principles/rules to a (new) circumstance,” even were we to “abstract” a rule. That is not what “de-codify” means. A code that is “dispensed with” is not used “in the abstract” or decided on a “case by case” basis.
The English language is a versatile tool and what RNLC wrote is consistent and clear.
There is no doubt that RNLC has evolved a long way from his former role as a faculty member at Ohr Sameach. The quoted passages are susceptible to an analysis that the same border on OO’s generalized approach to Halacha, as opposed to the views of the SE re the halacha of Pikuach Nefesh and Aivah
Steve Brizel, Listen to a shiur by RAS ztl from 1966 called “aspiring to kedusha.” my recording of the shiur is on YU torah. the part about saving a nochri on shabbos is fascinating. it covers many topics and is RAS in top form. RAL ztl must of had an idea and suggested to a number of us not in RAS’s shiur to sit in. I can still quote parts of shiur 50 years later. (BTW, my comment above was not meant for you.)
Both Rav ztl and RAL had different reactions to Rav Unterman ztl, IIRC. But given RAS’s intensity, i am nervous about my memory of others’ response.
I think that I have a written copy of that shiur in the house-IIRC, copies of that shiur were given out at a dinner I attended a few years ago.
steve brizel, this mussar shmooze is not the sort of talk that i would imagine distributing. besides, i was surprised that what i remember as two dozen tape recorders on RAS ztl’s desk, only mine survived and ended up on yu torah about 5 years ago.
i don’t believe those who have lectured at his institute, many of whom are accomplished, distinguished and orthodox English speakers, share your interpretation. (one is actually a professor of English. Just google – Cardozo institute and read the list.)
It often amazes me that institutions can refuse to file a 990 on the grounds that theyareachurch and the apply for money as a non sectarian institution. BTW the only reason to not file a 990 is if one does not want transparency as to ones financial activities. As a matter of policy it is IMO a good idea to give to institutions that are transparent.
I agree with you. Which organization, though, do you mean? BMG files annually.
That guidestar link is not for the main arm of BMG. It may be a shell to hold property.
I think this is the right one. right one. No filings since 2007 shown.
is that the BMG that filed for the grant? i thought it was run by its CEO, Aaron Kotler, and 4 RY. i wonder what this really means? i don’t understand such matters.
I am not speaking about any particular institution. I was staring a general rule-thus in general my wife and I do check via guide star solicitations for funds for gwmaxha wrc-we twns to limit to those that file 990s We tend to require at least the. Basic transparency that should be for all. One can easily find which institutions comply and which ones don’t. I prefer to discuss issues rathwr than specific cases. This is not an MO versus char wifi issue-I have seen both types of institutionaxomply and those who don’t
Halevai that we should be so mdakdek with all mitzvos both Bein Adam LaMakom and Bein Adam LChavero-I am sure that there are numerous Mosdos Tdedaka and Mosdos HaTorah that are function without any question of impropriety even in the absence of the filing of a 990.
A church does not need to file a 990. A non church does. Any non chuch that does not file a 990 and is tax exempt is not following Dina dmalchuta dina. No one is bochen kliyot valev. NONE of us know if a particular mosdos Hatorah is or is not acting with impropriety.
It depends. A non-church with gross receipts (donations) less than $50K per year can file an e-postcard with only basic information about the charity. If gross assets are less than $500K and gross receipts less than $200k they can file a 990-EZ short form. Only if those thresholds are exceeded would they have to file a long Form 990. See http://www.IRS.gov/pub/irs-pdf/i990.pdf Instructions for Form 990
Again, you are assuming that a 990 is mandatory in such instances. Other posters have clearly written to the contrary. Obviously you view a 990 as some form of chezkas kashrus, when there very well be nothing in a 990 upon what you can rely on whatsoever.
Steve Go on line and see who is wxempt from filibg990a-it is not a voluntary decision. Mostly church related. I would give cite usually but I am. Or using my usual device this week due toxonnextion problems-if it gets fixed I’ll cut and paste. But use search engine and you’ll find the list easily. I do agree without hat if it were voluntary there is no
You have argued that the filing of a Form 990 is per se a sign of institutional chezkas kashrus and yashrus despite the fact many posters with far more knowledge as to the current Form 990 and its implementing regulations have argued quite convincingly to the contrary. I am profoundly uncomfortable with IRS minians who have shown no reluctance when ordered to investigate PACs with opposing views will have any such reluctance not to investigate Mosdos Tzedaka that teach POVs that are contrary to the prevailing liberal left ethos of this century. The assumption that a 990 is a sign of Yashrus or that corporate “transparency” is a desired goal that takes precedence over any and all opposing considerations is yet another example of a misplaced faith in the regulatory state that has shown no sign of ignoring both the legislative intent of Congress and Court decisions.
“You have argued that the filing of a Form 990 is per se a sign of institutional chezkas kashrus and yashrus despite the fact many posters with far more knowledge as to the current Form 990 and its implementing regulations have argued quite convincingly to the contrary.”
Filing is a sign but not dispositive of chezkas kashrut. I have not seen anyone argue regulations against me-just a poster who claims to have been taught by those on “redesign team” If they know the regulations better-give me an argument based on regulations. I am not aware of anyone making an argument based on government documents-even those with less authority than regulations that a non church controlled day school is not required to file a 990.
“yet another example of a misplaced faith in the regulatory state that has shown no sign of ignoring both the legislative intent of Congress and Court decisions.”
Cite to me the court decisions that are opposed to these regulations-
show me how the Regs are against Congressional intent. Note of course, that these regs have essentially been in existence for decades and minor changes have happened during both parties administrations.
“The government cannot support a religion, however that does not mean that a religious organization cannot get funds that are available to anyone in the same circumstances.”
Actually, it does. From Article 1 section 3 of the NJ constitution:
3. No person shall be deprived of the inestimable privilege of worshipping Almighty God in a manner agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience; nor under any pretense whatever be compelled to attend any place of worship contrary to his faith and judgment; nor shall any person be obliged to pay tithes, taxes, or other rates for building or repairing any church or churches, place or places of worship, or for the maintenance of any minister or ministry, contrary to what he believes to be right or has deliberately and voluntarily engaged to perform.
Simply put, in New Jersey, state taxpayer money can not be used to build a church (which BMG agrees that it is one, by not filing a 990) or any of its buildings. You are mixing up the federal and state constitutions, as well as federal (supreme) and state courts.
“…most of the 6,800 students at the yeshivah go into non-clergy professions.“
Really? I would highly doubt that the Yeshiva either collects data or tracks the career paths of their graduates to come to this conclusion. (They might follow those graduates do well financially, but that would be for another objective altogether.) And, while the non-clergy professions might include joining a father-in-law’s real estate company, no real job-related skills were nurtured by the institution to facilitate his hiring.
Bottom line is that BMG “played shtick” and leveraged its political connections to even have the hav amina to go for that $$. They are a religious institution and enjoy the freedom of making hiring decisions as they see fit. Can’t have it both ways. So, they just got burned.
Many institutions probably reacted to the initial grant announcement “wow, how do we apply for free money with that many zeros?!” only to conclude that few have the clout of BMG to even ask for that much.
So, while they are “disappointed” with the “no-go”, it’s really just the chickens coming home to roost. Unfortunately, they now have to deal with the resulting Kiddush Hashem challenges from both outside and within our community.
What if BMG was in fact legally entitled to the money regardless of its being a religious institution?
🙂 You might be correct. perhaps they were aiming to teach mathematics using some books on the Bible codes, science from Rabbi Meiselman’s book on science and chazal, biology by the collected writings of doctors defending metzitzah be’peh, etc. I am sure if we worked for a few weeks we could come up with ( a top 10 list and) a list of a few hundred secular sounding books that with 1000 copies of each bought, might cost millions. i agree we should not jump to conclusions; either or both our hypotheticals could be true, perhaps. 🙂
IMHO, this is much more an indictment of our state and federal governments than BMG. Fortunately, most jews who use (perhaps abuse) various government programs live in states that vote democratic anyway.
Did you read the Joint Appendix? I think that there is more intellectual freedom ( except for your agenda) in the Daled Amos of any yeshiva than in the average secular institution of higher learning today where tenured radicals predominate as faculty.
NO I didn’t. summarize if you like.
in general, another non sequitur.
i also think that comparing the close-mindedness of a religious institution, where certain topics are off-limits for religious (or other potentially legitimate) reasons, to a university where intellectual debate is essential is being unfair to a yeshivah. universities have been corrupted by out of control theories of political correctness; yeshivot, OTOH, can reject broadly teaching students academic (or other) methodologies for (what it views as) legitimate reasons.
You can read the joint appendix at your leisure-It is a fascinating description of BMG and the services that BMG renders within and beyond the Daled Amos of its Batei Medrashim.
I think that with PC dominant in the mainstream media and academia, and the rise of “narratives” rooted in post modernist thought, there is no tolerance for conservative, dissenting and traditional religious views especially in academia. In a yeshiva and especially a Beis Medrash, there are halachic and hashkafic boundaries-but the room for legitimate intellectual freedom to develop a new chiddush, subject to the peer review of a rebbe and chaverim, is unparalleled.
RYBS pointed out once that many halachos in the Yad are prefaced by the word “Seder” to denote that this is the correct order in fulfilling the mitzvah defined thereafter. RAK in Mishnas R A Aharon makes a similar observation as to Talmud Torah.(Just as the universities isolate and dehor teaching anything that runs contrary to PC dogma, so too) yeshivos and Batei Midrashim have a specific means of how one becomes a Ben Torah and possibly a talmid chacham-(look at Kinyan Torah and the Braisa of 48 Midos)by which Torah is “acquired.” Talmud Torah per se that is merely an intellectual exercise without having an effect on a person’s personality is an exercise that may not have any redeeming value on the student. FWIW, I know of no yeshiva that either recommends or mandates the reading of any of the texts that you suggested-however, they are all open for anyone who wants to be grasp the profundity and depth of TSBP, and its relevance in the 21st century before one begins to venture an opinion on any halachic and hashkafic issue of pressing importance.
what if the US jurisprudence didn’t recognize separation of church from state ? then it might pass muster…
but we might as well live in teh real world….
It should be noted that codification has had its legitimate critics-take a look at the Yam Shel Shlomoh-the question is whether RNLC’s expressed views are within the views of the YSS who fiercely opposed codification, or constitute a far more radical OO like approach that modernity dictates halacha, etc,
Steve For a relatively recent Supreme Court case showing deference accorded the Treasury Department Tax Regulations see the Mayo Clinic case FYI I am copying the relevant portions of the Reporters syllabus-I am aware that is not cite-able but maybe it will satisfy you as to the deference given to the Treasury Department.
“Under Chevron’s two-part framework, the Court first askswhether Congress has “directly addressed the precise question at is-sue.” 467 U. S., at 842-843. Congress has not done so here; the stat-ute does not define “student” or otherwise attend to the questionwhether medical residents are subject to FICA. Pp. 6–7.
The parties debate whether the Court should next apply Chev-ron step two or the multi-factor analysis used to review a tax regula-tion in National Muffler. Absent a justification to do so, this Court isnot inclined to apply a less deferential framework to evaluate Treas-ury Department regulations than it uses to review rules adopted byany other agency. The Court has “[r]ecogniz[ed] the importance ofmaintaining a uniform approach to judicial review of administrative action.” Dickinson v. Zurko, 527 U. S. 150, 154. And the principles underlying Chevron apply with full force in the tax context. Chevron recognized that an agency’s power “‘to administer a congressionally created . . . program necessarily requires the formulation of policyand the making of rules to fill any gap left . . . by Congress.’ ” 467
S., at 843. Filling gaps in the Internal Revenue Code plainly re-quires the Treasury Department to make interpretive choices forstatutory implementation at least as complex as the ones made byother agencies in administering their statutes.
It is true that the full-time employee rule, like the rule at issue in National Muffler, was promulgated under the Department’s general authority to “prescribe all needful rules and regulations for the en-forcement” of the Internal Revenue Code. 26 U. S. C. §7805(a). It is also true that this Court, in opinions predating Chevron, stated that it owed less deference to a rule adopted under that general grant of authority than it would afford rules issued pursuant to more specific grants. See Rowan Cos. v. United States, 452 U. S. 247, 253; United
Cite as: 562 U. S. ____ (2011) 3
States v. Vogel Fertilizer Co., 455 U. S. 16, 24. Since then, however, the Court has found Chevron deference appropriate “when it appearsthat Congress delegated authority to the agency generally to makerules carrying the force of law, and that the agency interpretationclaiming deference was promulgated in the exercise of that author-ity.” United States v. Mead Corp., 533 U. S. 218, 226–227. Chevron and Mead provide the appropriate framework for evaluating the full-time employee rule. The Department issued the rule pursuant to anexplicit authorization to prescribe needful rules and regulations, and only after notice-and-comment procedures. The Court has recognizedthese to be good indicators of a rule meriting Chevron deference, Mead, 533 U. S., at 229–231. Pp. 7–12.”
I wonder what you look for when reading a 990. What specific items are in there that would be informative to your decision making.
Because there are people who are self professed experts in reading 990s, such as the fool from the Forward, whose reporting on those matters show that they really have no clue at how to read a 990.
I was instructed by several of the people who were part of the 990 redesign team from 2008 on what the form incorporates, so I have some basic knowledge and see that many are utterly clueless.
which is not surprising
I find 990s informative. Most important in many respects is whether the institution is at least complying with basic US law. I have no connection with the Forward but certainly relevant salaries paid to the major executives similar to 10k requirenta. Is it as useful as a 10k-no but you can pick up self dealing. The mere filing of the form is a deterrent against bad behavior. Not filing the form is a big red flag.
Filing a 990 is not at all informative about compliance. Anything can be reported there.
And precisely what does the compensation information mean? What does it tell you? Most times that information is incorrectly reported.
And if an organization is not required by law to file a return, not filing that return is not a lack of compliance. That’s just a silly comment. And I could just imagine the idiotic comments from the Forward and other similar minded people about the compensation reported on that 990 if were prepared. Nothing would be correct and people would call the IRS and make fake claims and cause them headaches. It’s happened many times.
An intentional false form filed with the government could lead to criminal charges-thus info filed on such form is likely to be at least ballpark correct-You apparently have been trained in tax exempt taxation-where am I wrong? Tax exempt orga other than churches and association of churches must file 990. By definition a church must be a religious institution. Thus the only tax wwmprs excused from filing 990a can’t be non sectarian
We now see that filing a 990 is not mandatory when it is not required by the IRS, that there is no midas chasidus in filing a 990 when it is not required, and that the information contained therein is hardly informative or probative of anything unless the filer has been found guilty by a jury of his or her peers, as opposed to thinking upon first glance, that there may be issues that would invite a lawyer’s or prosecutor’s imagination to litigate or prosecute. Thus, the decision not to file a 990 when it is not required might not be the only basis upon where one gives tzedaka. I might add that it is a given that tax avoidance is perfectly permissible while tax evasion is a criminal offense, and that given recent disclosures as to the POV of the IRS as to conservative PACs and the like, reliance upon what is submitted to the IRS as opposed to your own knowledge as to the bona fides of any Mosdos, its activities and its results does not strike me as a particularly relevant or informed way of determining one’s tzedaka priorities.
A 990 is Iano more elective than a 1040 is if one meets the filing requirements one must file
Steve:The sad reality is that very few of us know what is happening inside mosdos .Sadly transparency is honored very rarely-every so often sadly a scandal is made public. How much more frequently illegality,self dealing goes on is an open question.Certainly disclosure in public financials and forms990 would minimiimize the frequency.
Mycroft wrote in part:
“Steve:The sad reality is that very few of us know what is happening inside mosdos .Sadly transparency is honored very rarely-every so often sadly a scandal is made public. How much more frequently illegality,self dealing goes on is an open question.Certainly disclosure in public financials and forms990 would minimiimize the frequency”
I think that anyone who is remotely interested in where their tzedaka goes has a fairly good idea of what the tzedaka is used for and the percentages spent on the cause as opposed to salaries, etc.You are setting forth a patronizing view of the frum world that in your view is grossly ignorant of the facts on the ground. I would suggest that unless you are an officer and/or director, in the absence of any mandatory statute or regulation that creates paper work and opportunities for lawyers, but impedes the work of any mossad and business, there may very well be no public right to know anything about a religious not for profit
Proving that an “intentionally false” 990 was filed would seem to be more within the province of a prosecutor, judge and jury. I think that a 990 is as useful as an annual corporate report-lots of gloss, bells and whistles, but hardly loaded with useful information
“We now see that filing a 990 is not mandatory when it is not required by the IRS, that there is no midas chasidus in filing a 990 when it is not required”
Agreed-but when required to file one must file ”
Your organization may request a determination that it is not required to file an annual exempt organization return when it applies for exemption by providing the information requested by the application form (Form 1023 or 1024).
If you believe your organization should be exempted from filing Form 990 or Form 990-EZ because it is affiliated with one or more churches, please review Treasury Regulations section 1.6033-2(g) and (h) and Revenue Procedure 96-10.
If you believe your organization should be exempted from filing Form 990 or Form 990-EZ because it is affiliated with a governmental unit, please review Revenue Procedure 95-48
“The Yeshivas are clearly not affiliated with a government unit-the question is are they affiliated with a church
Regs about educational institutions exempt from filing 990s
/* Style Definitions */
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
font-family:”Times New Roman”;}
A church, an interchurch organization of local units of a church, a
convention or association of churches, or an integrated auxiliary of a church (as
defined in paragraph (h) of this section);
* * * * *
(vii) An educational organization (below college level) that is described
in section 170(b)(1)(A)(ii), that has a program of a general academic nature, and
that is affiliated (within the meaning of paragraph (h)(2) of this section) with
a church or operated by a religious order.”
So it appears to me the potential exemption would be the last paragraph but note it states it must meet (h)(2)
/* Style Definitions */
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
font-family:”Times New Roman”;}
“(2) Affiliation. An organization is affiliated with a church or a
convention or association of churches, for purposes of paragraph (h)(1)(ii) of
this section, if–
(i) The organization is covered by a group exemption letter issued under
applicable administrative procedures, (such as Rev. Proc. 80-27 (1980-1 C.B.
677); See 601.601(a)(2)(ii)(b)), to a church or a convention or association of
(ii) The organization is operated, supervised, or controlled by or in
connection with (as defined in 1.509(a)-4) a church or a convention or
association of churches; or
(iii) Relevant facts and circumstances show that it is so affiliated.
(3) Facts and circumstances. For purposes of paragraph (h)(2)(iii) of
this section, relevant facts and circumstances that indicate an organization is
affiliated with a church or a convention or association of churches include the
following factors. However, the absence of one or more of the following factors
does not necessarily preclude classification of an organization as being
affiliated with a church or a convention or association of churches–
(i) The organization’s enabling instrument (corporate charter, trust
instrument, articles of association, constitution or similar document) or by-laws
affirm that the organization shares common religious doctrines, principles,
disciplines, or practices with a church or a convention or association of
(ii) A church or a convention or association of churches has the authority
to appoint or remove, or to control the appointment or removal of, at least one
of the organization’s officers or directors;
(iii) The corporate name of the organization indicates an institutional
relationship with a church or a convention or association of churches;
(iv) The organization reports at least annually on its financial and
general operations to a church or a convention or association of churches;
(v) An institutional relationship between the organization and a church
or a convention or association of churches is affirmed by the church, or
convention or association of churches, or a designee thereof; and
(vi) In the event of dissolution, the organization’s assets are required
to be distributed to a church or a convention or association of churches, or to
an affiliate thereof within the meaning of this paragraph (h).
(4) Internal support. An organization is internally supported, for
purposes of paragraph (h)(1)(iii) of this section, unless it both–
(i) Offers admissions, goods, services or facilities for sale, other than
on an incidental basis, to the general public (except goods, services, or
facilities sold at a nominal charge or for an insubstantial portion of the cost);
(ii) Normally receives more than 50 percent of its support from a
combination of governmental sources, public solicitation of contributions, and
receipts from the sale of admissions, goods, performance of services, or
furnishing of facilities in activities that are not unrelated trades or
I submit the vast majority of mosdos can’t meet this test. Thus, it appears to me that dina dmalchusa dina would require submission of 990s absent de minimis rules for EZ filing which should not apply in vast majority of cases
“e of anything unless the filer has been found guilty by a jury of his or her peers, as opposed to thinking upon first glance, that there may be issues that would invite a lawyer’s or prosecutor’s imagination to litigate or prosecute. Thus, the decision not to file a 990 when it is not required might not be the only basis upon where one gives tzedaka. I might add that it is a given that tax avoidance is perfectly permissible while tax evasion is a criminal offense, ”
There is rarely any tax due by non profits-the Unrelated Business Tax might in practice require a law school owning a spaghetti company-an actual occurrence before UBT came into play- see http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1977/12/26/the-law-school-and-the-noodle-factory the real reason for 990s is disclosure you claim to be in the public interest disclose-not complete opposite of rest of IRC where there are very strict privacy rules.
I submit that it is essential from a Jewish standpoint also for those handling the community’s money to be open and have full disclosure. What one does with ones own money -one can do within reason what one wants but if it is zedakkah it must not be secret of insiders. Here IMO the halacha and US policy are similar.
“I think that anyone who is remotely interested in where their tzedaka goes has a fairly good idea of what the tzedaka is used for and the percentages spent on the cause as opposed to salaries, etc.”
Lets take 3 major organizations , YU/RIETS/YUHS, Agudah, OU/OUKosher. One can tell a lot about how Agudah and YU pay insiders. For what its worth the Forward actually complimented Agudah for having non extravagant salaries and maybe the best ratio of insider salaries for size of operation of major Jewish organizations. OU/OU Kosher do not disclose their financials and probably using the association of churches exemption -of course that means that one has no idea what they are doing with their revenue , if their salaries are extravagant or not. One does know that even combining I believe the 3 Agudah filings IMO they come off very well. If one has nothing to hide -as a steward of community money one should publicize.
You are setting forth a patronizing view of the frum world that in your view is grossly ignorant of the facts on the ground. I would suggest that unless you are an officer and/or director, in the absence of any mandatory statute or regulation that creates paper work and opportunities for lawyers, but impedes the work of any mossad and business, there may very well be no public right to know anything about a religious not for profit
“You are setting forth a patronizing view of the frum world that in your view is grossly ignorant of the facts on the ground. I would suggest that unless you are an officer and/or director, in the absence of any mandatory statute or regulation that creates paper work and opportunities for lawyers”
One should be naki beeinei elokim vaadam. Even assuming arguendo that all frum institutions are totally holy, no insider deals, no self dealing, they should report like the Agudah and show it. We are not talking about mom and pop operations-note some of those charity funds do report
IOW, what you think is self dealing despite the absence of any legally binding precedent supporting your conclusion-an educated guess at best.
“I was instructed by several of the people who were part of the 990 redesign team from 2008 on what the form incorporates, so I have some basic knowledge and see that many are utterly clueless.
which is not surprising”
I don’t know what people on ” redesign team” know or taught you but the following might give you some basic understanding of concepts behind our regulatory system on charities:
Donors can see how charitable organizations spend their contributions by visiting Internet sites that post extensive financial information about these entities.1 On these websites, donors can examine how much each charity pays its executives, what percentage of its money goes to overhead, how much it gives to each cause it supports, how much it pays fundraisers, and a host of other data useful for evaluating the charity. Charity watchdogs and the press also use this information to monitor tax-exempt organizations, asking follow-up questions and exposing corruption when they find it. These websites have access to this information because nonprofits are required to file publicly available returns with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
The idea that publicity will encourage honest dealing is the chief rationale behind the law that requires each exempt organization to release its Form 990, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax.2 As the future Justice Louis Brandeis famously wrote, “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.”
3 The IRS counts on this electric police force to monitor the hundreds of thousands of existing charities that it cannot hope to oversee on its own.
Today, more than 950,000 public charities are registered with the IRS, in addition to almost 100,000 private foundations and nearly 500,000 other types of nonprofit organizations.4 These public charities control $2.71 trillion in assets and have annual revenues of $1.51 trillion.5 Donors gave $298 billion to nonprofits in 2011.6 The largest percentage of this giving, thirty-two percent, went to religious organizations.7 In theory, the IRS can use the Form 990 as the basis for an audit of these organizations, ensuring that nonprofit insiders are not using their favored tax status to enrich themselves at the expense of taxpayers and donors. Donors and the press also use this information to monitor the efficiency and commitment of nonprofits. The Form 990 facilitates the process of maintaining an ethical and effective tax-exempt sector.”
From Cardozo Law Review Volume 35 at pages 205, 206 can find online
I see nothing in the regulations that you quoted whose applicability is determined by a judge and jury that renders the filing of a 990 either mandatory or desirable when sound legal advice would dictate that the same is not even a midas chasidus, as opposed to your vision of a patronizing state dictated sense of moral probity, let alone a basis for when , how and where one spends his or her tzedaka dollars. Please show me a source in Shas, Rishonim and Poskim where a state driven tax power dictates how when, where and how one gives tzedaka other than Shemittah Yovel, and Maaser, the latter of which is clearly individual in nature as to how much one gives. Such a form if ever made mandatory would be yet another example of the deprivation of individual choice and a society determined blindly to be on a long march to serfdom.,I think that you use the Form 990 or the lack thereof solely as a chumra of your own in determining when and where to spend your tzedaka dollars. Claiming that the presence of such a test is evidence of moral probity is by no means proof of the same.
The above sentence is the key:
“The IRS counts on this electric police force to monitor the hundreds of thousands of existing charities that it cannot hope to oversee on its own.
Today, more than 950,000 public charities are registered with the IRS, in addition to almost 100,000 private foundations and nearly 500,000 other types of nonprofit organizations.4 These public charities control $2.71 trillion in assets and have annual revenues of $1.51 trillion.5 Donors gave $298 billion to nonprofits in 2011.6 The largest percentage of this giving, thirty-two percent, went to religious organization”
Many who are of liberal left POVs view charity to religious causes as a constitutional right that should be curtailed, limited or abolished because such self help flies in their belief that higher taxes and more money spent by government solves all social problems and are also very secular and anti religious in their POV-a highly dubious and contentious POV, and that people who give to such causes are ignorant of the above and are simply addicted to religion as the opiate of the masses, despite the the fact that free exercise of religion is a bedrock part of the First Amendment. I think that viewing a Form 990 as mandatory in the absence of any affirmative and authoritative Court ruling from the SCOTUS is simply another example of the abusive nature of a regulatory state seeking to investigate, and confiscate private money from a taxpayer’s pocket and dictate how it is spent under a patronizing rationale of “disclosure” without the authorization of Congress and the Courts.
” I think that viewing a Form 990 as mandatory in the absence of any affirmative and authoritative Court ruling from the SCOTUS is simply another example of the abusive nature of a regulatory state seeking to investigate, and confiscate private money from a taxpayer’s pocket and dictate how it is spent under a patronizing rationale of “disclosure” without the authorization of Congress and the Courts”
Are you stating that regulations 26 CFR 1.6033–2 or usually cited Treas. Reg 1.6033-2 regarding filing of forms need not be followed absent affirmative SCOTUS ruling?
If the 990 isn’t 100% mandatory, which you have not demonstrated, then nothing short of an affirmative act of Congress or a SCOTUS ruling saying so will make it mandatory .
If the 990 isn’t 100% mandatory, which you have not demonstrated, then nothing short of an affirmative act of Congress or a SCOTUS ruling saying so will make it mandatory”
IRC 6011 states in relevant part
“When required by regulations prescribed by the Secretary any person made liable for any tax imposed by this title, or with respect to the collection thereof, shall make a return or statement according to the forms and regulations prescribed by the Secretary. Every person required to make a return or statement shall include therein the information required by such forms or regulations.”
Thus the IRC gives the Treasury the authority to issue regulations mandating filing of forms. They have done that by the regulations that I have cited.
If the Treasury or the IRS ever imposed the 990 or audited only non profits that did not file a 990 based on legal advice, in the same manner that the IRS overstepped its bounds with conservative and pro Israel PACs, I would not be surprised if there would be a congressional investigation and litigation challenging the authority of the IRS as invasive and a violation of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment in the appropriate federal court. The fact that a Federal agency can promulgate a regulation does not render that agency immune from a court challenge has to its reach in any particular case or from Congress rewriting the law to prevent the agency from proceeding down a path of enforcement that was never intended by the authors of the original act . Take a look at the treatment of EPA’s overreaching which has been excoriated by several courts as well as the administrative creep towards abolition of immigration laws and the unethical conduct of Justice Department lawyers in ignoring court orders and in misrepresenting the US government in court filings. More than a few recent white collar convictions have been reversed on appeal precisely because the federal prosecutor had won a conviction without a factual and/or legal basis for the same.
R. Gordimer is certainly right that R. Cardozo’s views are orthodox. That cannot seriously be doubted. The question is, who says the orthodox are right?
My opinion – I think he’s way off base in claiming we have been misreading the Akeida all these years, and Abraham actually failed the test. That strikes me as absurd, as well as inconsistent with the plain meaning of the Chumash. I also think the alleged problems with shechita and the meat industry are overstated if not actually non-existent, and his apparently vegetarian preferences are discoloring his views. However, the problems with the codification of halacha he identifies are clearly correct, and really, how can anyone argue with him? Even the Talmudic sages were aware of codification problems, which is why the oral law was never meant to be written in the first place. It does freeze halacha, and no thinking Jew can deny it.
We can respect tradition and conservatism, and we can agree the problems with slippery slopes are real. That doesn’t change reality. Much of halacha is frozen, and is simply not equipped to deal with modern life. Sure, it can survive as is – with maybe 15% of Jews actually keeping it, and more and more of those not actually engaging with the real world and just living off charity. If that’s the halachic *model* of Judaism, then sure, it works great. It can stay that way forever, easy. But if halacha is supposed to be the model for all Jews, really and truly, then it cannot continue as is. It just cant.
Going to my left, as is almost always the case, is never acceptable regardless of where you sit on the continuum of traditional belief. You have and your position is much too extreme IMHO. Yes texts and codes specifically have the effect of “freezing” halakha, but that has always been balanced by a mimetic traditions and poskim who have been willing to offer brave differentiations from the past. The latter two factors have both suffered, and that as opposed to the effect of texts is the primary issue. This is related though not identical to what Rabbi Cardoza emphasizes. Modifying halakha in acceptable ways will not bring back the vast majority of American Jews.
I don’t necessarily disagree. R. Cardoza spoke in broad strokes, as did R. Gordimer in calling the former’s views “non orthodox”, so I commented in kind. In actual fact, everything is on a case by case basis.
Some years ago, in Kashrus Magazine, Dr. Temple Grandin was quoting as saying that a kosher slaughterhouse she helped design brought her “great peace”, or something like that; I specifically remember that she was at peace with it.
I don’t know how industrial kashrus has changed in the intervening years but I consider that a decent endorsement of shechita practices.
sorry, meant to say his views are NOT orthodox in first line of previous comment.
It is worth noting that several of the amici who filed briefs with the ACLU can hardly be viewed as friends of free exercise of religion.
I think that R Gordimer would agree that the following screed by the NYT editorial board is entirely consistent with the NYT’s promotion of decadent lifestyles and denigration of the Torah observant communities, especiallyCharedim. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/01/opinion/everybody-into-the-pool.html?_r=0
As opposed to this http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/29/world/americas/in-toronto-a-neighborhood-in-despair-transforms-into-a-model-of-inclusion.html?_r=0
(as noted elsewhere yesterday by R’ Student)
What I do see is that Myceoft thinks he is an expert at copying and pasting things he clearly knows little about. And clearly does not understand.
I now have a deeper appreciation in how to understand any of his postings and how much salt has to be taken with his posts
“What I do see is that Myceoft thinks he is an expert at copying and pasting things he clearly knows little about. ”
I copied what I believe are the relevant Treas. Regs. Please show how either my understanding of the regs is incorrect or other authority that disagrees that a normal privately controlled day school/yeshiva katana should be required to file a 990.
If you don’t like the regs which are higher authority than form instructions but the “redesign team” should be familiar with instructions from https://www.irs.gov/instructions/i990/ch01.html#d0e475
“B. Organizations Not Required To File Form 990 or 990-EZ
An organization does not have to file Form 990 or 990-EZ even if it has at least $200,000 of gross receipts for the tax year or $500,000 of total assets at the end of the tax year if it is described below (except for section 509(a)(3) supporting organizations, which are described earlier). See Section A. Who Must File to determine if the organization can file Form 990-EZ instead of Form 990. An organization described in paragraph 10, 11, or 13 of this Section B is required to submit Form 990-N unless it voluntarily files Form 990, 990-EZ, or 990-BL, as applicable.
Certain religious organizations.
A church, an interchurch organization of local units of a church, a convention or association of churches, or an integrated auxiliary of a church as described in Regulations section 1.6033-2(h) (such as a men’s or women’s organization, religious school, mission society, or youth group).
A church-affiliated organization that is exclusively engaged in managing funds or maintaining retirement programs and is described in Rev. Proc. 96-10, 1996-1 C.B. 577. But see the filing requirements for section 509(a)(3) supporting organizations in A. Who Must File.
A school below college level affiliated with a church or operated by a religious order described in Regulations section 1.6033-2(g)(1)(vii).
A mission society sponsored by, or affiliated with, one or more churches or church denominations, if more than half of the society’s activities are conducted in, or directed at, persons in foreign countries.
An exclusively religious activity of any religious order described in Rev. Proc. 91-20, 1991-1 C.B. 52″-Please explain how a day school/yeshiva katana fits into one of the exemptions from filing the form.
“And clearly does not understand.”
Please explain how I don’t understand by citing authority that disagrees with the ones I cited.
“I now have a deeper appreciation in how to understand any of his postings and how much salt has to be taken with his posts”
I have cited authority for my positions-I try in general cite only published sources.
But it very well may if it is a real estate holding company for an educational institution.
A real estate holding company is common for exempt organizations and is different from a real estate leasing company.
” What one does with ones own money -one can do within reason what one wants but if it is zedakkah it must not be secret of insiders. Here IMO the halacha and US policy are similar”
Proof please from Shas, Rishonim and Poskim as well as from any Federal constitutional and statutory references that would tend to even show similarities between Halachos such as Shemitah, Yovel and Maaser and the present means of taxation in the US?
That US policy has that Zedakkah money should be obvious by cites-are you stating that self dealing by gabaei zedakkah are permitted-it is MO that both US and halacha are opposed to self dealing , both treat as important the fiduciary responsibility of those entrusted with communal money not to line their own p9ockets-if I am wrong in either give me a cite.
Citations from Shas, Rishonim and Poskim-not generalized conclusions.