- Heichal HaNegina has "A Sinner No More" (part two)
"We should therefore employ the [secular] law against him, including imprisonment and the like."A month later, the mother of the man died, and by not allowing him to say kaddish in shul, he finally relented. Very nice story, but indeed there is plenty of precedent in the halachic literature for taking courageous and difficult halachic leaps specifically to be mattir agunot, sometimes privately. And there are unfortunately enough agunot nowadays, where the mother-in-law did not die a month later. I am not saying this to endorse certain questionable halachic positions that certain batei dinim take nowadays. But I do not think that this is a positive approach to take within halacha, an attitude of choosing the most "lechatchila" (which might be confused with the most machmir). And to say "who are we" to choose one side in a dispute when there are real human repercussions is a cop out. It is one thing to say "I think the one which happens to be more machmir is correct," but not tostake out a position because of timidity is a different issue. The great poskim in previous generations did exactly that, over and over. Of course, it is the great poskim, not a typical shul rabbi, whose job it is to do this.
A stormy debate began amongst the dayanim, and no one budged from the Beis Din until all the dayanim agreed with the Av Beis Din, that in order to release this poor woman from her plight, they would have to make an exception and rely on the first opinion as the Halacha in this case. "And what does R. Yisrael Dan say?" asked the Av Beis Din, as all eyes turned towards the corner where the safra d’dayna was sitting.
His pen came to an abrupt halt, as he focused a sharp look at the dayanim. "In my humble opinion," he began, "we should not deviate one whit from the psak Halacha [legal decision] of the Shulchan Aruch. According to this psak, one should not force the man to give a get, even in a case like this one. This is based on the idea that force is not to be used as a first measure [l’chatchila]; and who are we to put our heads between these two mountains [the two great opinions]? True, ours is indeed a difficult case, but we must cling to the Halacha as it is. By strictly following the Halacha, one does not lose, and Hashem stands amongst His judges - He will do what is best is His Eyes!"
- At Overlawyered, Ted Frank shows up as as objector to the Grand Theft Auto class action lawsuit settlement. He has a fun account of the whole thing.
- Ishim veShitos presents a doctored photo of the Chafetz Chaim, sent out by a yeshiva, in which two women were photoshopped out. Perhaps either because it would not be fitting to show that the Chafetz Chaim would sit next to a woman, or because people would not want to hang up pictures of women on their walls.
- This is a bit late, but Rabbi Marc Angel on Parshat Korach.
I do not know the particular details, so I don't know whether the application was relevant.
Unfortunately, it has become fashionable in some circles to brand anyone with new ideas and "anti-establishment" views as a Korah. An egregious example of this tendency occurred not long ago when a respected Orthodox rabbi compared a rabbinic colleague to Korah, because that rabbi dared to criticize the authoritarianism that has taken over within the Orthodox community. By comparing the rabbi to Korah, the intent was to discredit that rabbi as a mean-spirited, egotistical and power hungry demagogue.
By calling an honest and fine rabbi "Korah", the respected rabbi not only sinned against that rabbi, but actively participates in the authoritarianism that seeks to quash all opposition, that wants to crush any new ideas, that wants to protect the establishment at all costs. How can an authoritarian, bureaucratic and corrupt system be changed unless people are willing to step forward and offer valid criticisms? Why should the "whistle blowers" be considered like Korah, when they are risking their own security and peace of mind by opposing the vested interests? The critics are not seeking to usurp power for themselves, and are not interested in egotistical gains. Rather, they are trying to alter a system that has grown self-righteous, imperious and perverse.
Let us criticize Korah and those like Korah. But let us not misuse Korah's name by applying it to good, honest and righteous people who are trying to improve our people and our service to God.
- A bunch of anti-Obama blogs reported as spam and (temporarily) taken down.
- The New York Times reports how hookworks can protect against allergies.