Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Interesting Posts and Articles #384

1. At Hirhurim, two new Slifkin supporters, Rabbi Jonathan Sachs and Rabbi Yaakov Ariel:
Years after R. Slifkin was condemned, prominent rabbis continue to publicly adopt his positions, justifying both his and my stand against the unfair and counterproductive ban.
An interesting comment section there. In a post, Rabbi Natan Slikfin wonders whether he needs supporters:
I certainly appreciate R. Student's publicizing such sources. However, I would like to add a slightly different nuance to their significance.

Although Rabbi Sack's writing style is not exactly my cup of tea (milk and two sugars, thanks), it's certainly a wonderful book that R. Student did well to recommend. But in the social battle over the theological legitimacy of evolution, I can't see how it makes a difference. Rambam and Ralbag already legitimized non-literal approaches to Genesis; Rav Hirsch and Rav Soloveitchik already observed that evolution poses no theological problems. It seems to me that the people who do not respect the approach of such authorities are not the kind of people who will care that Rabbi Sacks follows suit. Conversely, I would presume that the people who respect Rabbi Sacks are not the kind of people who have a problem with evolution in the first place.

But there is a significant point to be made in publicizing the stance of Rabbi Sacks' book. Many people are of the impression, and not without reason, that the charedi Gedolim are effectively the leaders of all Klal Yisrael. Rabbi Sacks' book demonstrates that reconciling evolution with Judaism continues to be a normative approach in non-charedi circles, even after the ban on my books. The Gedolim dictated the acceptable norms for their own community, which is not the entire Orthodox community.
In the comment section, someone writes:
Sadly, this is untrue. To the best of my knowledge, a large portion of Dati'im Leumi'im in Israel believe evolution to be a lie, a theory soon to be proven wrong, etc. Many of them even consider evolution to be a form of Kfira.
In my yeshiva, and from what I gather, in many others, one who believes in "such things" is usually either told he is weak of faith, or politely ignored whenever the topic is breached, although there are some exceptions (wonderful people). The discussion itself is mostly ignored, as a rule.
Honestly though, I do not know how you can say that this phenomenon is limited to Charedim. I have friends who studied biology as their Megama and are "still having trouble with the concept of evolution".
In modern Judaism, your views do need support. While this reflects mostly upon the ignorance of some contemporary rabbis, and not the legitimacy of the aforementioned views, or the lack of it, it is still the reality in which many Dati'im live today (at least in Israel).
In a follow-up post, Monsters vs. Israelis, with this point:
many people observed that even non-charedim in Israel are often entirely unaware of rationalist approaches to Torah-science issues. I was aware of this with regard to evolution, but I hadn't realized the extent of the problem with regard to Chazal's statements about science. Although, considering the abundance of glossy anti-rationalist books on this topic by Rabbi Zamir Cohen, it shouldn't surprise me.
as well as noting the possibility of a Hebrew version of Sacred Monsters.

2. A Mother In Israel tells us of the latest craziness in the shalim tznius-cult, a "possible kidnapping". I'm not sure it is so much technically kidnapping as running away, but it does seem to have a cultic aspect to it.
It started about 8 months ago, when a 19-year-old haredi woman disappeared from her parents’ home. Two days later the parents located her by phone. The daughter explained that she was “strengthening herself” religiously, at a friend’s home. When the daughter again failed to make contact, the parents reported her absence to the police. But because of the daughter’s age the police refused to get involved.
From the comment section there, an Ariela writes:
This is so disturbing – as much as the edah haredi, HARDALNIKIM and dati leumi condone this trend it is affecting them. I think this is a classic example of foreign cultures changing Judaism – we live in the mid-east in the middle of the Arab Spring and radical Islam and it is changing Judaism.
I was at a brit today for hardal family members. 15 years ago, at their first brit, the mother of the baby spoke. Today, the baby’s father spoke and then he read something that his wife wrote. I asked the mother why she isn’t reading it she said “it is more tzanuah for my husband to read it for me”.
Of course, see Sifrei on Ki Teitzei. When defending an accused naara hameorasa, the mother and father of the girl bring the evidence. And then:
טז  וְאָמַר אֲבִי הַנַּעֲרָ, אֶל-הַזְּקֵנִים:  אֶת-בִּתִּי, נָתַתִּי לָאִישׁ הַזֶּה לְאִשָּׁה--וַיִּשְׂנָאֶהָ.16 And the damsel's father shall say unto the elders: 'I gave my daughter unto this man to wife, and he hateth her;

What happened to the girl herself? What happened to her mother? The Sifrei comments:

מכאן שאין רשות לאשה לדבר במקום האיש

If so, this is a fairly old conception of tznius. Of course, there is a time and place for such stringencies or adoption of concerns of tznius. I think that there should be a golden mean, of being normal, and just as their are excesses in the lack of tznius direction, there are excesses in the too-much-tznius direction. And if so, perhaps one should not take even these measures, as it moves society as a whole in the wrong direction.

Life in Israel takes note of this shal mishegas as well. He writes:
Yad L'Achim and different "cult-buster" organizations should probably not just be looking for Jewish children of intermarriages with Arabs to save, or the classic cults in India or wherever, but should also be looking to save youngsters from getting caught up in this cult.
Indeed, though the politics involved might make it difficult for them to even fulfill their primary role. He also another such story:
In a different story, reported in Bechadrei, another woman from the kat ha'shalim, this one in Bnei Braq, went into labor on a Friday night recently and  rfused to go to the hospital out of concerns of desecrating the Shabbos in the process. Clearly neither she nor her husband is learned, as if they were, even slightly, they would know that halacha allows them, even obligates them, to do what is necessary in dangerous situations. Regardless, she refused and they had the medic from Hatzalah deliver the baby in the home. After the birth she still refused to go to the hospital,  and a local midwife (the paramedic's mother) came over to examine the woman and the baby. Both were fine, BH. The local rabbis, appraised of the incident, were upset saying her behavior was against halacha.
3) The New York Times on a "terrifying way to discipline children":
Joseph Ryan, an expert on the use of restraints who teaches at Clemson University, told me that the practice of isolating and restraining problematic children originated in schools for children with special needs. It migrated to public schools in the 1970s as federal laws mainstreamed special education students, but without the necessary oversight or staff training. “It’s a quick way to respond but it’s not effective in changing behaviors,” he said.
4) At the Muqata, cutting down their own olive trees: Palestinians and Leftists caught in the act. And this associated video:

5) Check out posts for Noach at parshablog.

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