Posted by Rabbi Barry Gelman
Occasionally I write another blog called Piskei Darom. It is dedicated to to sharing Piskei Halacha (religious rulings) and to the exchange of ideas about Pikei Halacha.
Please follow this link to my latest post on a fascinating Teshuva (the entire Teshiva is available there) of Rabbi Shlomo Goren comparing conversion in Israel to conversion in the Diaspora. Rabbi Goren argues that the establishment of the State of Israel changes the way conversion should be approached in Israel.
The connection to Morethodoxy is that Rav Goren’s offers a Psak that considers a changed historic reality to be a major factor in the decision—a key feature of Modern Orthodoxy.
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June 5, 2012 | 1:13 am
Posted by Rav Yosef Kanefsky
The final score was 5-3. Our eleven year old son and his teammates had just lost their little league championship game. Over the pizza of consolation, Coach Jeff congratulated his players on a great season. And then he offered them a gem - a word that I hope that my son and all his buddies will learn to live by.
“Sometimes you learn more by losing than by winning”, he said. Under other circumstances these words might have just gotten lost in the post-game pizza and power-aide. But Coach Jeff wasn’t just casting about for some words of comfort. Everyone who knows him knows that there isn’t an insincere bone in his body. Coach Jeff was candidly and lovingly conveying to the kids a piece of wisdom that he knew to be straight and true. And it got my attention too.
What, you may be asking, are the some of the things you only learn from losing? Well, for starters, you learn that there’s a small but reliable pod of people in this world who love you unconditionally, and who will keep cheering you on no matter what, just as long as you keep giving it your all. Also, you learn what losing feels like, and you understand how appreciated it’ll be tomorrow when you put your arm around the shoulder of someone else who’s lost. And you learn that disappointment and defeat are very different things, and that the latter is determined not by what an opposing pitcher did today, but by what you do when you get out of bed tomorrow. You learn that there’s no gift as appreciated as the gift of another chance, and you learn how to give this gift to everyone around you. Coach Jeff knows what he’s talking about.
It led me to reflect on the idea that we, the Jewish people have learned a lot from losing too, and God knows we’ve lost plenty of times over the millennia. We’ve learned that God can be anyplace, and that we build a Temple to His Great Name through every act of justice and compassion that we perform. We’ve learned that we can count on one another in our times of deepest distress, and even flirt seriously with the idea that no amount of internal disagreement can ever alter the bedrock reality that we are one people. And we have learned that there is no one more righteous on the earth than the one who offers shelter and protection to the stranger in his midst, to the one whom the rest of the world has cast out. We have learned what the purest and highest form of righteousness is.
Thank God, we have been doing much more winning than losing over the last 64 years. May God continue to bless Israel with strength. And May it be that we never forget all the things that we have learned.
June 2, 2012 | 10:05 pm
Posted by Rabbi Hyim Shafner
A Brooklyn based newspaper, Yated Ne’eman, has recently tried to cast more inclusive sections of Orthodoxy in a negative light. Instead of understanding Rabbi Zev Farber’s recent Morethodoxy post about the cultural place of women in shul as a tension between two competing values, that of traditional prayer architecture and process on the one hand and that of the desire by the halacha to honor and include all Jews (even women) on the other, Yated saw only one side.
In the Gemara (Shabbat 31a) Hillel and Shamai argue regarding conversions. Convert after convert comes to both Shami and Hillel and each convert presents themselves as insincere, desiring to convert to only some of the laws of the Torah or to convert for selfish reasons. Obviously the decision to accept or reject such converts lies again in a tension between two competing halacic values, on one side the need to not dilute the Jewish people and their commitment to Torah, and on the second the Jewish value of embracing others and not mistreating the stranger. Shami emphasizes the first value over the second in an extreme way, so much so that he chases the would be convert out with a stick, and Hillel emphasizes the second value, so much so that he immediately embraces the seemingly insincere (yes I know what Tosfos says) convert and converts them all right away. Which is right? Both are legitimate Jewish opinions, both the word of God, but only one is the halacha, the path we as Jews are to follow, that of Hillel. Indeed the Talmud explains that the law is like Hillel due to his embracing, tolerant personality (Talmud Aruvin 13b).
Today Yated is suggesting YCT Rabbonim continue to be excluded from the RCA. In times past their camp suggested the RCA be excluded from Orthodoxy. Today they suggest YCT’s future talmide chachomim are illegitimate, in years past they (or papers like them) suggested the RCA’s Godol was illegitimate.
When I was growing up in the Charedi world I heard only slander about the RCA and Yeshiva University. That YU was a, “Rabbi factory” and that their musmachim knew nothing. I think I was 15 before I realized that “JB” was not a famous criminal but a Gadol Ba’torah, Rabbi Yosef Dov Solovetchik.
Any orthodox person who is over 30 and grew up to the right of modern orthodoxy remembers these things. But the RCA did not become a new movement as people feared; the RCA saw itself as legitimately orthodox and in the eyes of much of the orthodox world remains so.
Less tolerance for fellow Jews and human beings, a less embracing attitude toward the would-be proselyte, dismissing ways within halacha to include women in traditional tefilah, these things, though perhaps sounding pretty frum, do not make one more of a Torah Jew. Just ask Hillel.