The Jerusalem Post reports:
…Ninety of the Knessets 120 members were persuaded over several months by Knesset Labor, Social Affairs and Health Committee chairman MK Shaul Yahalom to sign a potential organ donor card distributed by the ADI organization. The other 30, most of them secular, refused for "personal or family" reasons, while haredi and other religious MKs declined mostly for "religious reasons." …
Health Minister Dan Naveh said that only 4 percent of the population, or 270,000 Israelis, bear an ADI organ donor card. Every year, an average of 100 patients die for lack of a donor organ, and 100 more suffer a deterioration in their health while waiting in the queue.
Tel Aviv University biomedical ethics expert Prof. Amos Shapira said he opposed compensation for live organ donors because it would be "unjustified and unethical as long as organ donations from cadavers did not reach their potential. It would give legitimacy to people to harm themselves. It is clear that these donations would come from the poor." Shapira added that such compensation would not wipe out the black market in organs. "I am in favor of incentives for organ donation from cadavers. Families who donated their loved one's organs should have priority in receiving organs, and money can be given in the form of participation in funeral expenses or a discount in health taxes," he said.
But Shmuel Yelenick, a Hebrew University legal expert, said that he favored compensation to live donors as well as families of deceased donors because of the many people who die waiting for an organ donation.
Rabbi Dr. Mordechai Halperin, the Health Ministry's chief medical ethics adviser and a physician, said that while saving lives was a major commandment, one may not kill someone to save a life. He added that the Chief Rabbinate was unwilling to encourage the signing of ADI cards as long as proper supervision and setting down conditions for removing organs was not agreed upon. Halperin said that the Chief Rabbinate took this position when Prof. Avinoam Reches, a senior Hadassah University Medical Center neurologist, withdrew his consent for a representative of the rabbinate to be involved in this supervision.
Of course, what Rabbi Dr. Halperin fails to mention is the original dispute goes back to the halakhic definition of death. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein considered brain stem death to be halakhic death. Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Aurebach, influenced by 'medical advisors' (Rabbi Halperin among them?) who misrepresented brain stem death and the procedures necessary to confirm it, originally ruled against accepting brain stem death as halakhic death. When confronted with evidence of his 'medical advisors' malfeasance, Rabbi Auerbach retracted. That retraction was not published by Rabbi Auerbach before his death and was not published by his handlers after it. However, a copy of Rabbi Auerbach's retraction was published by Rabbi Feinstein's family.
As might be expected, Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv opposes equating brain stem death with halakhic death. Like his rulings on the Rabbi Slifkin Ban, Indian-hair wigs, etc., Rabbi Elyashiv's reasoning is based on bad information – information that Rabbi Elyashiv surely knows to be flawed. But the evil one of Mea Shearim consistently refuses to correct his mistakes and has proven himself to be far less than honest.
So more people will die waiting for organs. What a holy man.
The New York Times has a piece on the resurgence of mikvah use in America:
The effort to revive mikvahs has been largely motivated by a mandate from Rebbe Menachem M. Schneerson, of the Lubavitch movement, who died in 1994. He assigned rabbinical emissaries to set up Jewish communities worldwide and directed them to build mikvahs and promote their use. Now there are mikvahs in places like Anchorage, Bangkok and Bogota, Colombia, Rabbi Shmotkin said.
Funny, isn't it, that, according to the NY Times, non-Chabad Orthodox Jews play no role in mikvah resurgence. I guess the kollel movement and Modern Orthodoxy need to hire a PR firm.
The 167-member OIE has adopted standards on animal welfare:
Standards on animal welfare, included in 4 chapters, were adopted (i.e. slaughter for human consumption, including religious slaughter; land and sea transport of animals; humane killing of animals for disease control purposes). For the 1st time, an organisation with a global mandate provides the international community with standards in this field.
The standards went into effect at the conclusion of the 73rd General Session on Friday, May 27, 2005.
Details to follow shortly.
From Kosher Today:
SYSCO Pulls License from Veal Producer Over Kosher Slaughter
(Brooklyn) Atlantic Veal, a 50-year old Brooklyn-based producer of veal with a slaughterhouse in Ohio, has lost its license to do business with SYSCO, the world s largest foodservice company, after an auditor failed the company because of its kosher production at the plant. Kosher Today has learned that Atlantic had acceded to SYSCO'S request for an audit based on animal welfare standards of the American Meat Institute, which includes the recommendation that head restraints [i.e., the ASPCA pen designed by Temple Grandin] be used in the kosher slaughter of veal. The USDA supervised plant, which occasionally produces kosher and halal meat, uses the hanging method of schechita without the restraints, which a company spokesman says follows the religious dictum for slaughter by the religious authorities supervising the plant. Atlantic received a 100% rating from the auditor until he discovered the kosher slaughter. To the company, the! loss of the estimated $7 million in business is devastating, especially since SYSCO was not buying the kosher production and the kosher processed foods were in full compliance with USDA regulations and religious law. Food sources say that Atlantic is determined to win back the business that it had lost from the large foodservice company. SYSCO - an acronym for Systems and Services Company – reported $29.3 billion in sales in fiscal year 2004.
The Lubavitch News Service has published Chabad's official spin on NYC's closure of a Chabad daycare center for health and fire code violations:
…[N]ormal naptime at the preschool had been disturbed by an intrusive contingent of firefighters and city officials who came prodding and poking their way into classrooms in search of building and code violations. Turns out all that was missing was a Certificate of Occupancy, which is now being processed.…
[A]s five year olds sang “G-d Bless America,” practicing for their upcoming preschool graduation, four fully uniformed firefighters entered the classrooms. Without asking permission of the teachers, city building inspectors strode into the five-year-olds’ room to snap pictures of the classroom layout.
ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, New York Channel One, among other news media, swarmed the school, blocking traffic with their satellite news vans, to get the scoop on what turned out to be a slow news day. The fire chief’s trucks and several police cars parked around the school added to the drama. Reporters hounded parents as they picked up their children at the 3:00 p.m. dismissal.…
While local news broadcasts carried melodramatic reports about the shut down, smartly attired Staten Islanders dined on a smorgasbord of puff pastries, Israeli food, and carving board meats to inaugurate Chabad’s new building.
Here is the truth Chabad does not report:
In other words:
Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky controls the day-to-day operation of Chabad worldwide and is the man who controls the Lubavitch News Service. Let NYC try him, his chief aids and Rabbi Moshe Katzman, the daycare center's director, with reckless endangerment of minors and intentional violation of fire and safety codes.
The haredi and Chabad worlds need to be taught a lesson, and the city's children need to be protected.
Mayor Bloomberg, will you act? Or will you cover for an important voting block – a voting block you are very close to?
… When Shlomo Amar, the Sephardic chief rabbi, announced recently in Jerusalem that he accepted the Bnei Menashe as one of the 10 "lost tribes" of Israel, Mr. Singson began to believe that God had finally smiled on him.…
When news of the March 29 announcement of Israel's recognition of their tribe reached Bnei Menashe villages spread across the two hill states of northeast India, people erupted in celebration.
"It is the greatest gift from God in my life. I never believed that He could be so kind to me so soon," said Rakhel, 21, who dreams of emigrating to Israel with her four brothers, two sisters and parents and working as a nanny there.
At special thanksgiving prayers as Bnei Menashes flocked to 32 synagogues across northeast India, community leaders said the tribe had become closer to Israel after rabbinical recognition.
"This recognition clearly means we have got into the process to return to our homeland [Israel], ending our 2,726-year exodus," said Mr. Singson, who is chairman of the Beth Shalom synagogue in Churachandpur.
On April 23, as Jews around the world celebrated Passover — their departure led by Moses from slavery in Egypt in the 13th century B.C. — Bnei Menashes in India celebrated the holy day with unprecedented enthusiasm, believing that it was their last in "a foreign land."
Read it all here.
From the New York Post:
FDNY SHUTS TOT CENTER
By ERIN CALABESEand JENNIFER FERMINO
May 27, 2005 -- A Staten Island day-care center was shut down yesterday when firefighters — after reading about its grand-opening celebrations in a local paper — paid a surprise inspection and found it was unlicensed.
The Torah Tots Academy, which was run by the Jewish sect Chabad Lubavitch, had about 80 kids from 2 to 5 years old enrolled, authorities said.
The site of the day-care center — which was run out of two neighboring houses, at 289 Harold St. and 389 Bradley Ave., and a trailer — was also home to Yeshiva Mesivta Menachem and a synagogue.
FDNY brass had initially inspected the site weeks ago.
The program's coordinators had said then that they didn't have the license on them because it was Passover, fire officials said.…
Once the authorities revisited the place, they quickly learned there was no Health Department license to run a day-care center at Harold Street.
Inspectors also found that at the Harold Street building there was no sprinkler system and insufficient fire exits.…
I think NYC should charge Chabad and the center's 'head shaliach' Rabbi Moshe Katzman with reckless endangerment. It would set an example that would prevent many future tragedies, and would also teach an important lesson in Jewish law – dinei malkhuta dina, the laws of your country (especially health and safety laws) have the force of halakha and must be followed.
Halakha is always stricter with possible danger to life than it is with any other mitzvot (except for the three cardinal mitzvot one can not violate in order to save a life).
What Chabad and Rabbi Katzman have done is worse than feeding those children non-kosher food or giving them shatnes mats to take naps on and should be treated as such.
From today's Jerusalem Post:
"Lithuanian" haredim, who tend to be more rational in their devotion and shun emphasis on Kabbala, are less likely to trek to Meron.
Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, the preeminent Lithuanian spiritual leader on halachic opinion, once expressed this approach in a pithy statement, "Sure, Rabbi Shimon is alive, right here in my Talmud".
More on Lag BaOmer here.
1955: The first Ethiopian Jews to arrive in Israel find homes at AMIT Kfar Batya. Most eventually return to Ethiopia as educators and community leaders. [Photo: AMIT.]
The Allentown, Pennsylvania textile mill owned by Rabbi Moshe Rubashkin is so unsafe that the city may spend $400,000 to tear it down:
City officials say the fenced-in site is unsafe and has suffered a series of break-ins and even a small fire since an April 19 blaze gutted the clothing factory and was later declared arson.
The owners of the property, which is scheduled for sheriff's sale on Friday, have not responded to a raze or repair order issued by the city, which will have to find the $400,000 in a tight budget.
''When the building owners don't meet their responsibilities, the city has to step in and do something,'' said Lauren Giguere, acting director of community and economic development.
''There is fencing up around the property, but it is right at the edge of a residential neighborhood. There are children who play around the area, and people who are breaking into the property.'' …
''It is tight, but it is a no-win situation,'' Giguere said. ''We have to find it somewhere. We can't just let it sit there when a building is constituted as dangerous for the public. It is structurally unsound, the beams and columns were twisted by the heat. There are some hazardous and flammable materials still on the property.''…
In several letters to both Skyline and Supreme, city code inspectors cited the property as a public nuisance, and required the owners to remove junk, secure openings with plywood, reinforce and seal the roof and exterior walls, and make interior floors and walls structurally sound.
The 41/2-story, 112,444- square-foot structure had been closed since at least 1999. As of 2004, the building owed $140,000 in property taxes.
Rabbi Moshe Rubashkin, brother of AgriProcessors Rabbi Sholom M. Rubashkin, served 15 months in Federal prision for bank fraud. Released last year, Rabbi Rubashkin was promptly elected president of the Chabad-Lubavitch controlled Crown Heights [Brooklyn, NY] Community Council.
The Scientist has a piece on the recent controversy surrounding Rabbi Nosson Slifkin:
… "Intelligent design usually involves arguing that there are structures in living creatures which cannot be explained by naturalistic processes," [Rabbi Slifkin] writes via E-mail. "I think that this is a potentially problematic approach, certainly from a Jewish perspective. Judaism has always focused on seeing God in the design of the laws of nature, not in creating phenomena that can't be explained by natural laws – yet."
… "Jews are generally less insistent than Christians on literal readings of scripture (due to a long tradition of rabbinic deeper interpretations of the Bible). In addition, miracles and supernatural acts are much less significant in Judaism than in Christianity."
Slifkin's views – see more at [http://www.zootorah.com] – have not been without their opponents in the Jewish community.
… "I knew that these ideas were regarded with deep loathing in certain insular circles, amongst people who have had no exposure to modern science," he says. "But I did not think that my books would penetrate these circles ... and indeed they didn't, which is why for years there was no uproar [until] certain troublemakers brought them to the attention of people who would not have noticed them otherwise."
"What was interesting is that those who strongly opposed my books totally underestimated how widely these ideas are accepted in the Orthodox Jewish world," Slifkin says. "The overwhelming majority of the community, including many rabbis and community leaders, were sympathetic to my views."…
Yes, but they are too cowardly to publicly stand up and say so.
In 1991, Israel with the help of the United States began a mass evacuation of 14,500 Ethiopian Jews from Ethiopia to Israel. Operation Solomon took only 36 hours to complete.
I hope to have an interview today or tomorrow with author Stephen Spector, whose widely-praised book on Operation Solomon was recently published by Yale University Press.
Aish.com has an article by Rabbi Pinchas Stopler on the mystery of Lag Ba'Omer.
As Rabbi Stopler notes, Lag Ba'Omer is really Yom Yerushalyim, the anniversary of the day Bar Kokhba's army captured Jerusalem. I have also heard – but cannot source – that Lag BaOmer is the day the revolt began. Rabbi Stopler is careful to label Bar Kokhba a "failed messiah" rather than a false one.
But Rabbi Stopler raises a question that he leaves unsatisfactorily answered: Why do we mourn 49 days for the deaths of Rabbi Akiva's disciples (remember, Lag Ba'Omer is the day that the mysterious "plague" that killed 24,000 of Rabbi Akiva's followers stopped), but only one day for the destruction of the Temple and the end of the Second Commonwealth?
Rabbi Akiva was Bar Kokhba's chief backer. He sold Bar Kokhba's mission to the rabbis and to the masses. He did so by declaring Bar Kokhba the long-awaited messiah.
At first the revolt succeeded. Bar Kokhba's forces decimated the Romans and took Jerusalem. He began to build (and some say, completed building) the Third Temple. But years into the revolt the Romans began to regain the upper hand. It would appear that it is at this crucial point that Rabbi Akiva's disciples erred. But what was that error?
Rabbi Elazar, accused of betraying Betar to the Romans, was executed by Bar Kokhba against the will of Rabbi Akiva. As Rabbi Stopler notes, the common explanation among today's Orthodox scholars is that it was the Jewish-Christians, not Rabbi Elazar, who betrayed Betar and caused the death of more than 500,000 Jews.
But is that really so? While rabbinic elites of the time certainly persecuted the early Christians, there is no evidence that Bar Kochba or the Jewish masses did so, even during the years Bar Kochba reigned. There also are no known contemporaneous sources that implicate the Christians, and Judaism has no historical memory of a Christian betrayal of Betar. It would also appear that Christians served in Bar Kochba's army, and that their community had much to lose from a Roman victory.
So who really betrayed Betar?
While we cannot answer that question with absolute certainty, it would seem that Rabbi Elazar – or another of Rabbi Akiva's student-colleagues – actually did.
When Rabbi Elazar was executed by Bar Kochba – who was, after all both king and the declared redeemer, and was well within his rights to execute anyone – Rabbi Akiva withdrew support for the revolt.
Rabbi Akiva seems to have envisioned a theocracy where the king would be a military leader and figurehead subservient to the rabbis. If so, Rabbi Akiva either had a radically different understanding of the messiah than our extant Jewish tradition or his messianic crowning of Bar Kochba was a ploy to rally the masses behind the revolt.
As Rabbi Stopler points out, we must understand that the Talmud presents the story of Rabbi Akiva's students in veiled language, in part due to the political climate of that day. Open endorsement of the revolt was too dangerous, even more than 100 years later.
So, what really happened? Perhaps this:
After its initial successes, Bar Kokhba's revolt began to fail. As it did, dissent became rife in the rabbinic elite. As dissent widened, Rabbi Akiva's position as the power behind Bar Kokhba's throne diminished. Further, Bar Kokhba ruled as a king – not as Rabbi Akiva's puppet. In imitation of the deal Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakai struck with the Romans almost 70 years earlier, some of the rabbis sought to save themselves from the impending destruction and deal with the "Bar Kokhba problem" at the same time. They attempted to strike a deal with the Romans – allow us to escape to freedom and Bar Kokhba is yours.
But Bar Kokhba uncovered the plot – not in time to save Betar but in time to punish at least one of the plot's ringleaders.
Lag Ba'Omer is therefore a celebration of military victory, the holiday Jews refused to forget even after the revolt failed.
The mourning practices of Sefirat HaOmer that surround Lag Ba'Omer commemorate the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Jews who died fighting under the banner of a false messianic idea propagated by Rabbi Akiva and his colleagues for political purposes. The mourning period is suspended only for Lag BaOmer – which is both the anniversary of day the revolt began and the anniversary of the day Jerusalem was liberated by Bar Kokhba – the day those Jews fought so hard to achieve, and continues until it is lifted by the Biblical holiday of Shavuot.
Shiva, the period of mourning observed on the death (God forbid) of a near relative is 7 days long. It may then follow that the mourning period for an entire nation is 49 days long, based on the Sabbatical cycle which is 7 years long and exists for seven cycles (49 years) with the 50th year being the Jubilee, a national holiday year.
(This may also be the meaning of the Talmudic story regarding Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, who tells his student in a dream not to fast or mourn on the anniversary of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai's death even though the custom was to fast and mourn on a yartzeit. Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai died on Lag Ba'Omer - Yom Yerushalyim.)
Why did the 'plague' that killed 24,000 of Rabbi Akiva's students 'stop' on Lag BaOmer? To show that support for the revolt was not the cause of their deaths: Askara – the plague – was.
Askara, croup in English, is a viral, primarily early childhood disease and is rarely fatal. Could those 24,000 disciples have died from croup? And, if so, why did no others die with them?
I propose that askara (spelled with a samekh) should be read as "azkara" spelled with a zayin. (The samekh and zayin are interchangable letters).
If this is done the plague becomes clear. Azkara means a formal, ritualized act of remembering an event. It is most often used to denote memorial ceremonies held in rememberence of tragedies.
Rabbi Akiva's disciples perished because they did not remember (azkara) the lessons of the destruction of the Second Temple and in order that their deaths serve as an azkara for all time.
Those rabbinic leaders fostered division between themselves and between themselves and the common Jews.
When Bar Kokhba's early victories reversed and the revolt began to falter, Rabbi Akiva and his followers gave up on the revolt they had so stongly promoted and tried to save their own skins at the expense of the common Jews and Bar Kokhba's army. They followed the example of Yokhanan Ben Zakai, who asked the Romans to save Yavne and its sages, but did not ask the Romans to spare the common Jews, tens of thousands of whom were consequently slaughtered by the Romans.
The disciples tried to strike a similar deal with the Romans – allow us to escape to freedom and Bar Kokhba and the common Jews are yours.
Bar Kokhba's discovery of the plot was too late to save Betar or the more than 500,000 Jews who perished there.
Without interference, Bar Kokhba may have survived to fight another day. He was not a false messiah, nor was he a failed one.
Bar Kokhba was a betrayed messiah. That is the true lesson of Lag Ba'omer.
Hundreds of Chabad hasidim disrupted Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's speech today in New York:
Lubavitch crash Sharon visit
Chabad Hasidim opposed to disengagement from Gaza interrupt Sharon’s speech to New York Jewish leaders, get ejected from hall; Outside hundreds of demonstrators chant: “Shame on you Sharon”
By Yitzhak Benhorin and Efrat Weiss
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was met Sunday evening with curses from anti-disengagement protesters, many of them of Lubavitch Hasidim, while speaking to New York Jewish leaders in Baruch College.
During the speech, which lasted twenty minutes, part of the audience stood up, cursed the prime minister and chanted anti-disengagement slogans.
According to one of those present, the episode “was extremely embarrassing and completely alien to the American mentality.”
After a couple of disturbances, including one in which a heckler called Sharon an “a--hole,” the prime minister responded with a sarcastic “thank you.” The protesters were ejected from the hall and Sharon finished his speech, which was met with thunderous applause.
Hundreds demonstrated outside Baruch College, screaming at Sharon “Shame on you.”
New York City Police arrested a number of protesters for disturbing the peace.…
Arutz Sheva (also known as Israel National News) reports:
Chabad to Protest Against Sharon
15:44 May 22, '05 / 13 Iyar 5765
(IsraelNN.com) Lubavitch (Chabad) followers are preparing a massive protest while Prime Minister Ariel Sharon speaks at Yeshiva University in New York this week.
Chabad organizers said Sharon is "a false messiah" and that speeches will call for Jews to resist surrendering land in Israel.…
Shame on Sharon? Shame on Chabad and shame on its dead rebbe.
Israel's police report that they have gather enough credible evidence to put Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger on trial for fraud and breach of public trust:
The police national fraud squad announced on Sunday it has gathered enough evidence to put Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger on trial for fraud and breach of trust.
Metzger was interrogated by police at the National Fraud Squad offices in Bat Yam in April on suspicion that he received tens of thousands of shekels worth of benefits from David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem, where he has stayed with his family on the holidays in recent years.
Rabbi Metzger, who has a history of ethics violations, was put in office by haredi powerbroker Rabbi Yosef Sholom Elyashiv, who was aware of Rabbi Metzger's checkered past but backed him anyway.
Rabbi Elyashiv is venerated by tens of thousands of Ashkenazi haredim and is considered to be the leader of the Lithuanian haredim worldwide.
Paul McCartney of Beatles and Wings fame, has come out against shechita:
Campaigners, who had hoped the legislation would tackle the issue of ritual slaughter, have been angered by what they see as the executive ducking politically sensitive issues.
“I’m unhappy that the Scottish executive has not banned slaughter without pre-stunning as the government has admitted that it is cruel and causes severe distress,” said McCartney, whose late wife Linda founded her own vegetarian food range.
“I hope that the politicians will reconsider — after all this is supposed to be a bill to protect animals’ welfare and I’m sure we are all aiming for a less cruel world as we move further into a new century.”
McCartney's co-campaigner Carla Lane said she was “appalled” by the executive’s position:
“Scottish politicians must not tolerate ritual killing in the name of political correctness. Ritual slaughter adds more terror and pain to an act which is in itself inhumane. What God would want that?” she said.
And you thought PETA was extreme.
Ben Krull writes in the New York Jewish Week:
… We ate in Sderot with a group of people helping terror victims. I sat next to Mulualem, a social worker who emigrated from Ethiopia in 1982. He spoke excellent English, was slightly built, had charcoal-black skin, and an easy smile. Unlike the many Ethiopians I saw who wore a kipa, Mulualem’s short-cropped hair was uncovered.
He told me that most Falashas were spiritually content, having fulfilled their dream of seeing Jerusalem. But there is little economic opportunity for them, and culturally the transition to Israeli society has been difficult.
“In Ethiopia we didn’t have pressures like mortgages,” Mulualem explained. “If you needed a house, you built a house.”
A white man sitting with us brought up the plight of the Falash Mura, whose ancestors were Ethiopian Jews forced to convert to Christianity. “The Falashas don’t consider them Jewish. Most won’t let their children marry them,” the man said. “Would you allow one of your children to marry a Falash Mura?” he asked Mulualem.
Mulualem glanced at the floor before answering. “The most important thing is that they’re happy,” he said.
Mulualem asked me about intermarriage in New York.
“It’s a big concern,” I said.
“What can be done?” asked Mulualem.
“I think it would help if more Jews visited Israel as teenagers,” I said.
“Yes!” Mulualem said, flashing a big smile. “That is the future.”
Discussing intermarriage with Mulualem reminded me of similar conversations I’ve had in New York with my friends. Suddenly I saw the Falashas as Jewish rather than as black.
This insight made me feel ashamed for letting skin color blind me to the Falashas’ Jewishness. They are people, after all, who gave up their way of life for the dream of living in the Promised Land.…
Read it all here.
Ynet is reporting that Meir Amar, the estranged son of Sefardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar who is reported to be underworld-connected and has no permanent address, visited his mother two days after the kidnapping and torture of his sister's boyfriend. Both Meir Amar and his mother have been indicted.
But, as Ynet reports, Meir Amar did not come alone:
Despite her claim to investigators to have only had passing contact with Meir, her son visited her a second time just two days later together with Labor Party leader Shimon Peres.
While a police report had been filed and police were investigating the crimes, no newspaper or television reports of the crimes had yet surfaced. In other words, the leader of the Labor party appears to have known about the police investigation before it was public knowledge.
What was Shimon Peres doing at the Amar household in the company of Meir "no-permanent-address" Amar?
Ladies and gentlemen, the fix seems to be in. No wonder Rabbi Amar escaped indictment.
Major kashrut "authorities" are convening in Jerusalem to tackle new kashrut 'issues':
L-cysteine, derived from, among other things, human hair, is used as a dough conditioner. It is also used to produce a variety of chicken and beef flavors that may be kosher and parve.
The pharmaceuticals industry uses it to make the mucus-thinning substance acetylcysteine which can be found in Siran, Mical or Myculite, drugs that are sold in Israel.
[Rabbi] Sharshevsky refrained from a definitive prohibition of the substance, saying the matter was still being checked. He said that if hair from the Tirupati temple was used to make L-cysteine, no benefit could be derived from anything containing the L-cysteine.
Of course, Rabbi Sharshevsky did not mention that Rabbi Moshe Feinstein saw nothing wrong with using Indian hair for wigs and L-cysteine. He also fails to mention that Rabbi Elyashiv's ruling on Indian hair has been widely disregarded and that Rabbi Elyashiv has been inundated with complaints from scholars and from ba'alei teshuva who had been practicing Hindus. They claim – based on overwhelming evidence – that Rabbi Elyashiv and his 'investigator' Rabbi Dunner misrepresented Hindu theology and practice. They believe the hair should be permitted just as Rabbi Moshe Feinstein ruled.
Rabbis Elyashiv and Dunner's methodology and motivation are highly suspect.
Of course, if Hindu hair derivatives might be present in food and medicine, and if Indian hair is in fact forbidden, this would create quite a financial windfall for the very rabbis and kashrut agencies involved.
Then we have this unsubstantiated piece of wisdom:
Rabbi Dov Landau, head of the Hatam Sofer kashrut supervision in Bnei Brak, revealed that it is possible for camel and buffalo milk to be made into a powdered form.
This finding is surprising since it contradicts the working assumptions held for decades by halachic authorities. Rabbis assumed that only cow milk could be dried, thus eliminating the concern that milk from a non-kosher animal had been mixed in.
Many observant Jews relied on this assumption to differentiate between regular unsupervised milk (Halav Nochri) and powdered milk.
Buffalo milk is kosher. Camel milk is not. As long as your powdered milk originates from a country that requires truth in labeling and has no camels, there is nothing to worry about. Further, powdered camel's milk would spoil most products that have milk as an ingredient.
However, we remain convinced that, as in the past, Rabbi Elyashiv and company will not be deterred by the facts.
Chabad and SUNY Downstate Medical Center have sponsored a conference on Jewish bioethics. Participanting were many luminaries in the field including Rabbi Dr. Moshe Dovid Tendler.
Chabad of Rochester, Minnesota has sponsored several smaller events like this.
Perhaps mini-versions of the Chabad-SUNY conference could be held throughout America and Canada. The issues are pressing and the need is great.
The wife and son of Israel's Sefardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar have been indicted for kidnapping and beating the boyfriend of Rabbi Amar's 18-year-old daughter.
Rabbi Amar had this to say about the indictments:
"My wife and I raised our children according to the belief that violence is wrong in all shapes and forms," the chief rabbi said. "I am saddened that my son Meir got into this situation I love him and pray to God that he will return to our family. I am also deeply saddened by the decision to press charges against my wife and am certain with my heart and soul that she was totally unaware of Meir intentions. I am also certain that in the end she will be found innocent."
However, this is what actually appears to have taken place:
[Meir] Amar, his friends from Kalansua and another friend of theirs, Ayala and the boy then drove to the chief rabbi's house in Jerusalem. Amar spoke to his father [the Chief Rabbi] and mother while the boy, his "guards" and their friend sat in the living room.
Mazal Amar-Sabag then went to the kitchen to make coffee for her son and his friends. From there she could see the boy in the living room with his captors. At 7:30 a.m., Meir Amar ordered the boy to leave the home, told him not to return to Jerusalem until 2007, not to carry a cellular phone, and not to have anything to do with girls for two years. He also told the boy that if he went to the police, they would kill him.
And then, this:
Shas Chairman Eli Yishai said he knew all along that the chief rabbi would not be charged in the affair. "The day is not far away when the rabanit will be cleared of the charges against her," Yishai said.
Does anyone really believe that if Rabbi Amar was a bricklayer or makolet owner instead of a Chief Rabbi with major political connections he would not be indicted?
Historian of Chabad and hasidut Schneur Zalman Alpert writes:
… By and large most of the great grand children of the Tzemach Tzedek were modern people and their children were no longer religious. The same process occurred with the Chasidim themselves. Except for Lubavitch, the other branches of Chabad died out as the children of the Rebbes refused to take on leadership of a mystical nature and remained either Rabbis or in most cases lay people.
In all of Lubavitch today there is only one Schneerson family (a father and 2 married sons) who are frum and Chabad. Most [Orthodox] descendants of the Alter Rebbe in Chabad today are from a line that immigrated to Palestine in the early 19th century not the Schneersohn family that remained in Russia.…
One can also add that the 1st Chabad rebbe's son Moshe converted to Christianity and that today Chabad is hemorrhaging – by many estimates it is losing as many Chabad Jews to non-observance as it is attracting new adherents.
Read Schneur Zalman Alpert's entire comment here.
… Moshe Tendler, an Orthodox rabbi and biologist who teaches at Yeshiva University, was one of the leading spokesmen against the Oslo Accords. In a long phone conversation, Tendler said that for several weeks he has been trying to enlist Orthodox rabbis and organizations for the struggle against the evacuation. He says that not only is he encountering refusal and evasion - but many are accusing him of interfering in Israeli politics.
Tendler, who has 53 grandchildren and great-grandchildren living in Israel, some in settlements, participated in a visit to Gush Katif organized by Moskowitz. He says he speaks out everywhere, but nobody is listening, and he tells his rabbinical colleagues that even the Shin Bet security services and Israel Defense Forces commanders say that after the disengagement the terrorism will resume.
Q: Are Ethiopian Jews really Jews?
A: This is a complicated question. Halakhic authorities dating back almost 500 years have ruled that Ethiopian Jews are indeed Jewish. Perhaps the most famous of them is Rabbi David ibn Zimra, the Radbaz. He was Chief Rabbi of Egypt and a teacher of the noted kabbalist Rabbi Isaac Luria, the Ari. The Radbaz had personal contact with members of the Ethiopian Jewish community.
Today, former Sefardic Chief Rabbi of Israel Rabbi Ovadia Yosef has ruled that Ethiopian Jews are indeed Jewish.
Q: If so, why do some people today question their Jewishness?
A: From the time of the Radbaz until late in the 1800's, the Ethiopian Jewish community was isolated from all other Jewish communities. There is a fear among some authorities that improper conversions, marriages and divorces may have taken place. If so, a percentage of the Ethiopian Jewish community may be non-Jewish or mamzerim. A mamzer, a child from certain biblically prohibited relationships, is forbidden to marry a non-mamzer. These authorities consider Ethiopian Jews to be possible mamzerim and possible non-Jews, safek mamzerim, safek akum.
Q: Does this doubt about the Jewishness or purity of lineage effect the rescue of Ethiopian Jews or saving their lives if they are endangered?
A: No. Even authorities like Rabbis Moshe Feinstein an Eliezer Waldenberg (the Tzitz Eliezer) who are concerned with possible mamzerut and Jewish status agree that Ethiopian Jews must be rescued from danger just as one is obligated to rescue any member of the Jewish community under the laws of pikuakh nefesh, saving lives.
Q: Would Baruch Tegegne's medical situation count as pekuakh nefesh?
A: Yes it would, without any doubt. Paying for his kidney transplant and related expenses absolutely comes under the halakha of pekuakh nefesh.
Q: Where can I donate?
A: You can click here to donate online via a secure website.
Q: Can I send a check instead?
A: Yes. Make the check out to The Sha'arei Dayah Foundation. Note "kidney" in the memo line.
Mail the check to:
The Sha'arei Dayah Foundation
2136 Ford Parkway #181
Saint Paul, MN 55116
Attention: Rosenberg/Kidney Fund
Q: Are donation tax deductible in the United States?
A: Yes. The Sha'arei Dayah Foundation is a registered IRS 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. All donations are tax deductible.
Gil Student has a post on Halav Yisrael (so-called Jewish milk).
But, as is the norm for Rabbi Student, comments that raise questions that he cannot answer or that pointedly challenge his mentors are deleted. Rather than answer the challenge – or admit that he cannot – Rabbi Student resorts to censorship to retain his hegemony.
What follows after the jump are three comments from that thread and my (now-deleted) response, Rabbi Student's 'reason' for the censorship and my response to that.
Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir has a column on taking donations from unscrupilous individuals:
…There are many problems involved in accepting donations from unscrupulous individuals.
In the worst case, the donation money itself is stolen or otherwise tainted. In this case, the organization directly benefits from the crime and attains a kind of complicity. (1)
Another common problem with these donations is chanufa, often translated as flattery. By honoring a person who is identified with sinful behavior, your organization would almost certainly be seen as condoning his actions. The Talmud severely criticizes some prominent rabbis who tried to reassure King Aggripas that his rule was kosher, despite the fact that he attained the kingship in an illegitimate way. (2)
…[I]t does seem like an attractive option to accept the money without making the donation public. However, this attractiveness is illusory. There are two reasons you should avoid this route:
1. By accepting the money in a surreptitious way, you seem to get the best of both worlds - obtaining the money in a legitimate way yet avoiding controversy. Actually, you get the worst of both worlds. Since you accept the money in a quiet way, people will assume the donor is unworthy. So you have been complicit in tainting his name. Yet you have still accepted the money. So people will assume that your organization is condoning wrongdoing.
2. Giving recognition to donors is a basic ethical obligation. The prominent medieval authority Rabbi Shlomo Adret writes that honoring donors is not just a gesture to their vanity; it is a mitzvah in and of itself to give honor to those who perform good deeds - including giving charity. By giving in to public pressure you will be falling short of this obligation and simultaneously denying a deserved honor from the donor. (3) …
SOURCES: (1) Shulchan Arukh Choshen Mishpat 356:1. (2) Sota 41b. (3) Responsa Rashba 582, cited in Rema's glosses on Shulchan Arukh Yoreh Deah 249:13.
Of course, the haredi world largely ignores these halakhot. Yeshivot and other haredi organizations regularly take money from from convicted felons, stock swindlers and other assorted theives. Chabad-Lubavitch even elevated one such donor-felon to president of the Crown Heights Community Council.
Agudath Israel's spokesman Rabbi Avi Shafran has again lied about PETA. In his new column, Rabbi Shafran writes:
Although the headline of Ms. Newkirk's 1151-word press release describes it as an "apology," the actual expression of regret consists of only parts of two sentences, each regretting the "pain" caused by the campaign. The remaining thousand-plus words consist of a justification of Ms. Newkirk's decision to launch the campaign, and a recounting of how startled she was by the reaction. She had "truly believed," she writes "that a large segment of the Jewish community would support" the exhibit, and was "bowled over by the negative reception" it received. Disturbingly, she lays responsibility for the ill-advised campaign on "PETA staff [who] were Jewish." Shoulda guessed: It was the Jews.
Rabbi Shafran, who has himself misused the Holocaust by equating PETA with the Nazis, distorts Ms. Newkirk's position. She actually wrote:
Bryan Mark Rigg, author of Hitler's Jewish Soldiers and Rescued From The Reich: How One Of Hitler's Soldiers Rescued The Lubavitcher Rebbe has been profiled in the Jerusalem Post:
The Jerusalem Post is exclusively reporting that the North American Conference On Ethiopian Jewry has been expelled from Ethiopia.
Amir Shaviv, the Israeli hack now serving as the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee's assistant executive vice president, had this to say about the NACOEJ expulsion:
"Famine, rain, no rain – it's irrelevant to our audience in Gondar and Addis," said Amir Shaviv, JDC's assistant executive vice president. A possible famine has "absolutely no effect on our population," he said. "They are not farmers. It's irrelevant." JDC also said it has not seen any rise in malnutrition or other health problems among the Falash Mura population in Addis during the last few months, while NACOEJ's compound there has been closed. Many Falash Mura get help making ends meet from relatives in Israel.
This is the same idiot who believes Ethiopian Jews should not have been rescued in Operation Solomon.
Why? They were doing just fine in Ethiopia, Shaviv claims, no reason to bring them to Israel.
Message for JDC donors and the UJC: Stop all funding until the JDC removes Shaviv.
Message to the Forward: Stop giving bylines to hacks like Shaviv.
The Chabad-dominated and controlled Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS and the Zalman Foundation have opened a center for WW2 veterans in Moscow:
[T]he Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia and the Zalman International Foundation have opened a Socio-Cultural Center for Veterans. The main goal of this new organization, which came into existence on May 5th, is to create reasonable living conditions for veterans regardless of their nationality or religion. At this Center, veterans benefit from five hot meals a week, free medical services, meetings with prominent personalities [i.e., PR/fundraising opportunities for Chabad], and a chance to associate with their friends and peers.
Even so, it is a good thing – in context.
Many of you may be aware that Chabad (outside of Israel) pours a drop from almost every liquid before drinking.
This appears to be a custom of recent vintage, probably dating from the Geonic era or later, and is only commonly found among hasidim. The reason for the custom seems to be the contention that evil spirits dwell in the liquid, and pouring off a drop removes them. I've also heard it presented as follows: The poured-off drop appeases the evil spirits.
Judaism frowns on retaining customs that mimic idol worship. For example, that is why we no longer prostrate during prayer (except on Yom Kippur, and then only on covered floors, not directly on stone or cement).
What does this have to do with Chabad and yayin nesekh, wine of idolotry?
The Forward has a good overview of the charges and allegations surrounding both of Israel's Chief Rabbis.
Best and most accurate quote comes from Ha'aretz's Shahar Ilan:
Metzger's victory was reported at the time to have been fueled by strong support from the leading figure in the ultra-Orthodox rabbinate, Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, who is considered by many Orthodox Jews around the world to be the final authority in rabbinic law.
Elyashiv's followers said they were backing Metzger despite his weaknesses because of his promised loyalty to Elyashiv on rabbinic law matters. Critics, however, grumbled that the ultra-Orthodox sage pushed the weaker candidate in order to discredit the institution of the state rabbinate. "Elyashiv supported the travesty that is Metzger because he wanted to thwart Ariel, but also because he wanted to embarrass the chief rabbinical post into oblivion," said Shahar Ilan, religious-affairs reporter of the daily Ha'aretz.
Judaism's Black Pope strikes again.
Pat Buchanan writes that he does not believe WW2 was a war worth fighting or that Hitler was worth stopping:
If the objective of the West was the destruction of Nazi Germany, it was a "smashing" success. But why destroy Hitler? If to liberate Germans, it was not worth it. After all, the Germans voted Hitler in.
Former Mayor Ed Koch offered this blunt rebuttal: "I believe that no decent human being should ever sit down at the same table with Pat Buchanan and I am shocked that otherwise responsible, respectable citizens share platforms with him on Sunday shows."
Buchanan does not mention the Holocaust, the mass murder of Gypsies, gays, the handicapped and mentally retarded or Hitler's plan to enslave or exterminate all non-Aryan peoples.
Presumably, Buchanan believes none of these groups and nations needed to be liberated from Hitler.
Buchanan is published by the Creators Syndicate. They can be reached here:
Richard S. Newcombe
5777 W. CENTURY BLVD.
LOS ANGELES, CA 90045
1. Rubashkin's lawyer who just a few months ago equated PETA with the Nazis:
Noted Orthodox lawyer Nathan Lewin said that the statement is "not really an apology."
"It's an acknowledgment of a miscalculation," said Lewin, the lawyer for the glatt kosher AgriProcessors slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa, which late last year was charged by Peta with engaging in inhumane slaughtering practices. "In an apology one withdraws what one has previously said."
To Lewin, the letter can be seen as an attempt to return public focus to the Iowa slaughterhouse, which, after garnering much attention for a time, has of late slipped from public view. "It seems to me it is clearly an effort to get back in the media, which is what Peta does all the time," Lewin said.
2. Agudath Israel's Rabbi Avi Shafran, who also compared PETA to the Nazis:
Rabbi Avi Shafran, a spokesman of the ultra-Orthodox Agudath Israel of America, told the Forward that the issue of hurt feelings was only "one of the sins of this incredibly offensive campaign." Newkirk's "essential sin," Shafran said, "is that she equates humans with animals." Instead of apologizing for this, he said, "she reiterates it."
I asked Mr. Lewin if he had any proof of PETA's alleged Nazi ideology or any proof of antisemitism. Mr. Lewin had none. Rabbi Shafran also has no evidence or proof. Predictably, neither Mr. Lewin or Rabbi Shafran have yet to apologize for their offensive, oft-repeated remarks.
The Forward seems to have great difficulty covering the PETA/Rubashkin story, and has done little serious reporting on it, just as it has done little serious reporting on other issues that negatively impact Chabad.
But this was not always the case. Before Seth Lipsky was forced out as editor, the Forward was a hard-hitting, serious newspaper. In the years since Lipsky's removal, the Forward's circulation is alleged to be down dramatically. (I have been told – but have not confirmed – that the Forward has lost 2/3 of its subscriber base in those few years, a drop unparalleled in the industry.)
What made the Forward a must-read was its hard-hitting, well researched journalism. But now-editor JJ Goldberg has tried to turn the Forward into an upscale NY Jewish Week, a community newspaper with good writing but little punch.
That experiment has clearly failed.
PETA's apology is linked here.
From the Lubavitch News Service:
Sixty years after WWII came to an end, communities Europe-wide conducted ceremonies of solemn remembrance this week.
In many of the cities, Chabad rabbis marched with survivors and community members, remembering those who lost their lives and honoring those who survive with scars that never heal.
In Dnepropetrovsk, Chabad Rabbi Shmulik Kaminetski and his board members decided to do something more substantive. At the initiative of Mrs. Yelena Grivina Boglovona, the mother of Dneperpetrovsk's Jewish community president, the war heroes-- many who are living below the poverty line--would be suprised with gift to make their lives a bit more comfortable.
"It is sad to say that these people were never adequately rewarded for their service," says Rabbi Kaminetski.
So on May 9, more than 1,000 people crowded into the main synagogue to pay a long overdue, token tribute to 500 war heroes. Each would receive a gift certificate towards the purchase of any necessary electrical appliances they needed.
The war heroes were surprised and their faces lit up at this kind gesture. Thus far Mrs. Kaminetski counts 500 refrigerators, 800 ovens, stereo sets, and vaccum cleaners--"something to make a small difference in the hard lives of people who suffered so much, and had been neglected for so long."
What Chabad does not say is that Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, the Lubavitcher Rebbe during the Holocaust, believed that only the coming of the messiah would end WW2 and the Holocaust and that all other efforts to save Jews (or further the Allies' war effort) were futile. He therefore opposed the efforts of the Va'ad and other rescue organizations and opposed the Rabbis March on Washington – which is credited with saving hundreds of thousands of lives – as well. He was also a leading anti-zionist who actively worked against the formation of the State of Israel.
Rewarding the men who fought and won that war is certainly the right thing to do, even though it implicitly acknowledges that the 6th Lubavitcher Rebbe was wrong.
But because Chabad has spent many years covering up the Frierdiker Rebbe's poor judgement during the war years and his anti-zionism, it is unlikely anyone – including the rabbis involved – realize the implication.
Chabad theology – just like Chabad rebbes – are fallible.
Some, like the Frierdiker Rebbe, more so than others.
The JTA has a detailed report on Chabad's successes in Europe.
As the report makes clear, Chabad often succeeds by filling vacuums – vacuums created by the failure of Rabbis Hershal Schachter and Mordechai Willig – the 'leaders of Modern Orthodoxy – to do their jobs. When all is said and done, the history of the rise of Judaism's latest Sabbatean movement will mark Rabbis Schachter and Willig for what they truly are – abject failures.
Richard Joel, are you listening?
Rabbi David Orlofsky has written a public letter on the Rabbi Slifkin Ban. While blaming those who released his earlier letters, he fails to mention that the first of those letters contained lies about Rabbi Slifkin, and that Rabbi Orlofsky clearly knew those parts of his letter were not true. Yet he circulated the letter to many friends, students and other rabbis. One of them released the letter, appalled by the lies and the viscious tone. Subsequently the second letter was released to show that Rabbi Orlofsky had – under pressure – removed the lies and moderated the tone somewhat.
Why anyone trusts this man is beyond me. He's the worst type of unapologetic party hack and a poster boy for what is wrong with today's Orthodoxy. He should be retired from public life – and teaching life – immediately.
Letter is posted after the jump.
The 17 year old haredi man kidnapped by Sefardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar's son Meir claims the Chief Rabbi knew of the kidnapping and beating while it took place. The police have requested indictments against Rabbi Amar's son Meir and daughter Ayala, along with Rabbi Amar's wife Mazal, for the crime.
Tzemach Atlas has been banned from receiving aliyot (and presumably from other communal functions) by his synagogue. Why? He publicly criticized Chabad.
Sefardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar's wife, son and daughter are charged with kidnapping in a bizarre case reminiscent of Clockwork Orange. The victim was an 18 year old haredi man who met Amar's 17 year old daughter in an internet chatroom. The Chief Rabbi – currently visiting Thailand – denies involvement.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's nephew is a Chabad messianist rabbi teaching in the bastion of Chabad messianism, their yeshiva in Tzefat. While the Prime Minister's nephew declined to comment, other prominent messianists, including the Tzfat Rosh Yeshiva were more than willing to:
Search this site with Google:
The New York Times: "The legal conflict has revealed a deep tension within the Orthodox community that has been reported in the Jewish weekly press, and has been the almost exclusive topic of discussion on some Orthodox Jewish Web sites like failedmessiah.com and unorthodoxjew.blogspot.com in the months since Mr. Hikind brought up sexual abuse."
The New York Times: "In Postville, residents were dismayed by a report posted on a Jewish Web site, FailedMessiah.com, saying that Sholom Rubashkin held a celebration in Postville last week after he was released from detention on $1 million bail."
THE COLUMBIA JOURNALISM REVIEW: "[Jeff] Abbas passed the video to Shmarya Rosenberg, a blogger in St. Paul, Minnesota, who has provided some of the best coverage of the raid and its aftermath; a few days later, the video was referenced in The New York Times."
The Forward: Postville’s City Council initially voted to support the idea of a community benefits agreement, but later voted to withdraw support for such an agreement — a development first reported on the blog Failed Messiah.
Samuel Freedman in the Jerusalem Post: "[T]the scandal of Agriprocessors has been chronicled from Stephen Bloom's book Postville to Nathaniel Popper's investigative reports in the Forward to Julia Preston's coverage in The New York Times to the muckraking blogger FailedMessiah.com."
Religion In The News: "So authoritative has Rosenberg become that he is now regularly quoted by the Register; and his site has been referenced by the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and both the Forward and the JTA."
Tablet Magazine: “If you’re Jewish and you were married five years ago, you have not confronted the problem that exists today,” Rosenberg says. “The problem is much worse for anyone who isn’t Orthodox. As the Haredi strength grows and their control grows, that’ll become clearer.”
Religion Dispatches: "The best collection of articles I’ve found can be perused at failedmessiah.com, the blog of Shmarya Rosenberg, who, with the perspective of insider turned disillusioned outsider, has been probing the nuances and hypocrisies of the ultra-Orthodox establishment since 2004."