Monday, November 23, 2015

Yitzchok Alderstein supports women's smicha?

According to R Alderstein, it's better for a woman to bring her taharat hamishpacha questions to a rabbi rather than a yoetzet. Why?

"A yoetzes course of study cannot hold a candle to years (or more!) of immersion in serious learning."

R Alderstein doesn't seem to have any idea how rigorous the course of study for yoatzot is. But leaving that aside, he seems to be saying that a yoetzet simply don't have the level of learning neccesary to give an accurate psak.

I am absolutely sure that he's not suggesting anything so blatantly sexist as the idea that women don't have the necessary intellectual skills to master the halachot. So it must be that he feels that studying for smicha itself, and the actual conferral of smicha, is what makes one truly qualified to rule on taharat hamishpacha.

Therefore, I am left with only one conclusion. Clearly R Alderstein feels that the yoetzet course is insufficient, and that women should be granted smicha so that they can accurately rule on questions of niddah.

I agree with R Alderstein that the time has come for women rabbis, and welcome his endorsement of that position.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Syrian refugees

When you think about the plight of the Syrian refugees, remember that we are Jews, and remember this pasuk:

כאזרח מכם יהיה לכם הגר הגר אתכם ואהבת לו כמוך כי גרים הייתם בארץ מצרים

ויקרא יט:לד

Monday, November 16, 2015

Rejecting refugees because of the actions of ISIS is immoral

On July 22, 1946, the Irgun bombed the King David hotel in the center of Jerusalem. 91 innocent people were killed.
In response, the US declared that they would no longer allow any of the hundreds of thousands of desperate Jewish refugees into the US, because any of them could be terrorists.

Except that's not what happened. President Truman realized the deep human crisis of the countless survivors in the DP camps and the many thousands of others fleeing virulent anti-Semitism. So over the next few years, the US raised the quotas higher and higher, allowing homeless and hopeless Jewish refugees homes and hope, a place to rebuild their lives.

Will Paris really make us forget the lessons of history and cause us to abandon our compassion?

Yes, I know it's not an exact parallel. But the lesson should stand, nonetheless. Punishing desperate refugees who are fleeing murder and hate, because of the actions of a few, is immoral and we, as Jews, should know this better than anyone.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Obama is the most anti-Israel president ever?

It's become an accepted fact among most Orthodox Jews that Obama is "the most anti-Israel president ever" and perhaps even an "anti-Semite"

I'm not here to argue whether his policies on Israel are damaging to Israel or not, nor whether the Iran deal was smart. That could be, and has been, argued ad nauseum.

What I do want to say is this. Given current trends of increasing international isolation of Israel, it's possible that in the future, say 20 years down the road, the US may very well have a president who is actually anti-Israel, one who cuts off aid to Israel, votes against Israel at the UN, imposes sanctions on Israel, and perhaps even threatens military action.

THAT would be what an actual anti-Israel president would look like. Calling Obama anti-Israel is beyond preposterous.