Wednesday, February 13, 2008

My Response to slander against Rav Bar hayim

This is a response to this blog post and the two slanderous comments that followed.

"This is why even Sephardim are required to check rice three times for kernels of wheat."

Sefardim are not REQUIRED to do so, they have custom to do so. There is a difference.

"The Arizal taught us that when in comes to Pesach one should be as strict as possible."

And yet the Arizal himself ate Kitniot on Pesach.

"Although rice is examined many times, it still can be found to contain wheat. A religious Jew should therefore not eat rice on Passover. (p. 227)."

And yet the Rosh, the Tur, the Shulchan Aruch and Rav Yaakov Emden all say the opposite. That should hold a little more weight than Rav Culi, with all due respect.

"It must be pointed out for the sake of intellectual honestly that Rav Culi wrote this as an added praiseworthy stringency and not as a law for Sephardim. Nevertheless it says what it says. "

And the Chayei Adam outlaws potatoes. He says what he says.

"Rav Culi based this opinion on the Pri Chadash 467. The Pri Chadash was a commentary on the Shuchan Aruch written by Chachum Chizkeya da Silva, another leader of Sephardic Jewry who moved to Jerusalem at age 20 (in 1679). Here was a great Sephardi leader living in Jerusalem advocating that Sephardi Jews refrain from eating rice on Pesach."

And yet most did not, including the Rambam, Ramban and the Shulchan Aruch.

Doesn't that count for anything?

"I’ll close with a story that Rav Avrohom Blumenkrantz ZT"L quotes in his Pesach digest regarding the chumra of not eating at other people’s houses."

Rav Blumenkrantz was a well meaning, G-d fearing Jew. But his book led hundreds of thousands of Jews into complete neurosis for Pesach time.

"Rav Chaim visited the Chofetz Chaim on Pesach, and the Chofetz Chaim, who was known for his warm hospitality, did not even offer his guest a cup of tea, due to this practice. Apparently, this stringency was very common in many European circles."

It sure was, and yet we are not in Europe and therefore we no longer have to follow European customs.

Now let me respond to the comments which, unlike your article, were slanderous and evil.

"Don't waste time arguing with these pseudo-scholars."

To say Rav Bar Hayim is a pseudo-scholar shows that you have never spoken to him. He is a genius of unparreled brilliance.

Call him up sometime. His phone number is on his site.

"A quick look at David Bar-Hayim's (aka David Mandel) other site, will suffice to display the man's incredible ignorance of basic halachic methodology."

Actually his halakhic methodolgy is flawless, you and all of his detractors have NEVER been able to answer his contentions, only slander him.

"Some of this is being explained on , where certain followers of Mandel have been making fools of themselves by defending some very silly positions taken by Mandel."

Refusing to eat peanuts on Pesah is silly, not Rav Bar hayim. And calling him Mandel is insulting a Gadol B'Torah.

"That he flip-flops between kulot / chumrot, ashkenazi / sephardi halachic authorities,"

Kind of like Rav yosef Karo did in the Shulchan Arukh, Right?

"and then by the way he argues with the accepted halachic authorities of our generation (eg. Rav Moshe, etc.) is simply more proof of his lack of perspective."

He is not the only one who disagree with certain piskei din of Rav Moshe. Rav Auerbach did too. So Did Rav elyashiv. So do many Chassidic Poskim. That is the way of the Torah SheBaal Peh, my friend.

"I wouldn't worry too much, though In about 5 years the common refrain when mentioning his name is likely to be; "oh, that whacko...Mandel ?!"."

Wrong, his teachings are so powerful and true, they can't fail to take hold. And calling him a
whacko is insulting, slanderous and evil.

"It's a real rachmanus though. All of his chassidim grew up without a mesorah and without a proper yeshiva background to teach them acceptable Torah methods of learning Halacha. Blind leading the blind..."

I grew up with a Yeshiva background and I know Halakhic methodology very well. His methodology is flawless and certainly acceptable according to the Torah.

How dare you call a Torah Giant like Rav Bar Hayim "Blind"?

He is not blind. You are.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Burkas for Jews: Haredi Feminism shows its face

Check it out.

Haredi women wearing burkas?!?!?!?!?!

The irony is that it is Haredi women who are behind this despite their husbands objection and it was Haredi women who caused such a furious campaign against sheitels.

I was there in 2003 for the big blowup and my wife had to deal with the fury of these women.With the sheitels, they essentially pushed the Rabbis into taking their position on sheitels, namely that one should not wear them.

It is a very interesting display of feminism but don't kid yourself, this is feminism.

Although to be perfectly honest, when in all haredi publications and videos the women are either not shown or their faces are blurred out, It was only a matter of time before some women decided to conceal their faces on the street.

If the Rabbanim are pushed by radical women into mandating this, Judaism will be permanently changed.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

My response to pinchas on the Kumah blog.

Here is the article on the kumah blog in which I took issue with a certain poster named pinchas.

Yehudhi said...

Pinchas, I must respond to your astounding statements.

"My Nusach was handed down to me from my father and to him from his father and so forth. It's a tradition that should not be taken lightly nor discarded easily."

And yet, your forefather and mine once prayed nusach Eretz Yisrael and they discarded it when they moved to France and Germany. Customs are supposed to change when you move from one locality to another. There is no reason to be more loyal to a Galuth Nusach than our forefathers were to nusach eretz yisrael.

"I don't know that 1000 year old nusach is better suited for today's generation than the common ones used today."

Perhaps if the Bavli Nusach made more sense when the Torah center of the world was in Hutz LaAretz, then conversely the Nusach Eretz Yisrael makes more sense when the Torah center is in our homeland.

"A unifying Nusach is a nice thought but it should be one that incorporates all Torah following traditions and is developed by recognized leaders of those respective traditions. "

Impossible, and if the recognized leaders are too afraid to establish a Sanhedrin, why should they be allowed to hold up the Geulah?

We should move on without them.

"It should not be formed unilaterally by one individual especially when it essentially discards thousands of years of traditions and changes that were adapted for a reason."

The Majority of Minhagim and changes were NOT purposely developed by Halakhic Poseqim. They were a result of the Tragic Galuth.

"And if you really want to go back in time each Jewish tribe actually had thier very own nusach - which is how I imagine it will be in Temple number three."

Not true, by the time the Shemona Esre was established, the Ten tribes were lost and nuschaoth were NEVER BASED UPON WHICH TRIBE YOU WERE FROM.

"Answer me this simple question. Why did the Rama write his commentary on the Shulchan Aruch? Didn't he realize he was violating the Rambam and the Mishnah which specifically commanded against making multiple kehilot?"

The Rama was giving pisqei din for Jews living in Europe. Seperate communities living in a certain geographical area seperated from their brothers in the middle east. He gave these pisqei din which gave some unity atleast for Jews living in a vast area of Europe.

Today's situation is very different. Jews live together in massive numbers in Israel and America and NO ONE gives Pisqei din for Israelis or Americans which would atleast unify American Jews and Israeli Jews. Instead we pretend that Jews living together in Jerusalem are each living in seperate countries. This one is Morrocan this one Yemenite this one is Lithuanian and this one is Polish.

This cause disunity in every single city and neighborhood in Israel and America. That is very different from the Rama whose pisqei din caused unity amoung millions of Jews.

"Torah Jews do NOT oppose change. We embrace it."

That is a ridiculous statement.

The Rallying cry for Torah Jewry for the last 200 years had been "Hadash assur min hatorah" meaning that which is new is forbidden by the Torah. Your statement is ludicrous seeing that hundreds of thousands of Jews are dressing like 16th century Prussian nobility while hundreds of thousands more dressing like they belong in 1930's Chicago minus the submachine gun.

"What Torah Jews oppose is radical change that discards hundreds of years of Torah Greats' teachings and of our father’s customs."

And yet, this has happened many times anyway. Where ancient customs like, ironically, the Nusach Eretz Yisrael and one day Rosh Hashana is Eretz yisrael was completely discarded in a very radical fashion.

"Both the Ashkanazi customs and the Sephardi customs are correct. And if one accepts they are both words of the living G-d we can live in harmony and still maintain our holy customs."

What planet are you living on? There is deep disunity in the Jewish based primarily on our continued identification with countries in the Galuth.

We can end this and you have no desire to do so.

"An Ashkanazi can easily invite his Moroccan neighbor over for a pesach meal and the neighbor can return the favor on Sukkot."

How about vice versa?

"Or even better! Imagine if your friend was a vegetarian. Wouldn’t you prepare food he could eat? The same could be done today with kitniyot. Your Moroccan neighbor can prepare a meal you can eat."

Or maybe he can stop identifying himself with Morrocco and me with Poland and we can return to being a unified nation of Jews living in our homeland.

Monday, January 14, 2008

How's this for a first post!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'll try a great article from one the greatest living Yehudim and certainly one of the bravest.

Crisis in Blue

Written by Rav Bar-Hayim

When, as a teenager, my father used to tell me that he did not like me wearing jeans, I usually asked: "Why not? After all, what difference does it make what material the pants are made of?" My father's reply - referring to the hippie, rock and roll and anti-establishment subculture of the day - typically went something like this: "It is not the jeans, my son - it is what they represent."

Now let's switch frames... to the Torah commandment to wear tzitzith on a four-cornered garment: "Speak to the Children of Israel, and tell them to make for themselves, in all generations, fringes on the corners of their garments; and they shall attach to the fringe of each corner a thread of blue" (Numbers 15:38).

The misswah (commandment) is comprised of two parts: to place white strings on the corners, and to tie an additional string of techeleth (a bluish dye) around the other strings. The first part is easy. The second is tricky. Or used to be.

A Look at the Sources

According to tradition, the blue in question must be of a specific type: it is a very beautiful and permanent dye produced from a particular mollusc found in the Mediterranean. In the wake of the Islamic conquest of the entire Mediterranean region (7th-8th centuries CE), the specialised knowledge required for this dyeing process was lost.

Thus we find Maimonides (12th century) stating that the techeleth element of the misswah is "not possible today, and we therefore do the white only" (Mishnah commentary, Menahoth 4:1).

And so things remained until less than 20 years ago. The facts are fascinating, but suffice it to say that due to the efforts of one rabbi, the source of the dye and the chemical process involved in actually dyeing wool techeleth are well-known today. To have a packet of tzitzith with techeleth sent to your home, all you need do is pick up the phone or go online.
Great news, right? Apparently not; the overwhelming majority of Orthodox Jews do not wear it. The question is why not, particularly since "the main part of the misswah is the techeleth, for which reason the entire tzitzith is referred to as techeleth" (R. Asher, Laws of Tzitzith, no. 17).
The Blue Peril

Some Halachic authorities have claimed - historical, archaeological and Talmudic evidence notwithstanding - that the identification of the mollusc is not certain. Others, in a last-ditch effort to stave off the blue peril, have suggested that using a bluish string which is not in fact techeleth might render the entire tzitzith unacceptable. No convincing proof has been adduced for this unlikely supposition.

Remember: we are speaking of great rabbis, masters of Halacha, who will normally go much farther than the proverbial extra mile in order to fulfil a misswah. Regarding this commandment, however, the usual zeal seems entirely absent.

The issue, in my humble opinion, is not one of identification. Nor are Halachic concerns the name of the game. The problem is not the techeleth but rather what it represents. And that can be summed up in one word: change.

The Status Quo as a Misswah

One of our greatest strengths as a people has been our adherence to tradition. Throughout the Galuth (Exile) our forefathers gave their all to ensure that we, their descendants, would continue to live in accordance with the Torah. To this end a strategy was developed, a central feature of which was an extremely rigid conformance to minhag (customary practice) and a sanctification of the present state of Jewish affairs. It is fair to say that in the fullness of time this came to be the essential yardstick and paramount concern of Judaism; the status quo became a misswah.

As with everything else, however, one can have too much of a good thing: when this ingrained arch-conservatism serves to endorse a philosophy which places minhag above explicit Torah precepts - a classic case of the means overtaking the end - one cannot avoid the conclusion that the system has broken down.

To better understand the nature of the difficulty, imagine a number of bricks - let's say ten - laid out in a tight circle, resembling a clock-face. If you were handed an eleventh brick and asked to incorporate it into the circle, you would have two options: remove one of the existing bricks and replace it with the new one, or break up the circle and create a new and wider circle which could accommodate the eleventh brick.

Now imagine the Torah and the misswoth. These too are such a system, forming an immense and perfect circle. But here's the catch: the Galuth-version of the Torah is not the real McCoy; it is a scaled-down model, a product of the cataclysm of the Hurban (the destruction of the Temple) and the collapse of the Second Jewish Commonwealth. Over time we have come to view it as the genuine article, with the result that our undersized circle is regarded as sacrosanct. Removing a brick or expanding the circle - even if only to reconstitute it as the Torah demands - is considered beyond the pale. The abnormal has thus become the norm.

Torah: Reality or Folklore?

It is not only techeleth that has proved altogether too much for the existing Halachic paradigm; it is reality itself. A rabbi who does not know what to do when presented with an innocuous thread of blue is unlikely to have the answers regarding more weighty matters such as rebuilding the Beth HaMiqdash (Temple) or re-establishing the Sanhedrin. Nor is he likely to have given much thought to how a modern Jewish state is to be governed: does the Halachic framework for this exist? If not, who is going to formulate it?
And what of socio-economic questions? The Torah and the Prophets speak of these matters at length, educating, instructing and commanding us to be more caring, less selfish, to establish a model society - is the voice of Torah heard on these issues today? Who will do this if not rabbis who possess an acute and insightful understanding of the Oral Tradition?
Present-day Orthodoxy, born in the crucible of Galuth, has no room for ‘new' Mitzvoth - even if they are very old. The essential article of faith of the ‘frum' world - ‘That which is new is forbidden' (first introduced 200 years ago as Orthodoxy's battle cry in its war with the German Reform movement) - does not allow for innovation and originality, even when the Torah demands it.

When faced with the task of implementing the Torah, in all its aspects and manifestations - from techeleth to trade and industry - the rabbinical Establishment is, sadly, completely out of its depth.

And when rabbis are unable to deal with Torah and make it work in the real world - we, the Jewish people, are in a state of profound crisis.

It's enough to make you blue.