Derech HaMelech

The Weekly Raid From Galus

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My Right Word: Foxy Foxman - Fooey

From "My Right Word: Foxy Foxman - Fooey" by Yisrael Medad

Abe Foxman, former member of New York Betar, has a large salary as befits his position as titular head of the ADL.

And I found one of his actions here:

The ADL is urging Israel’s chief rabbis, as well as Orthodox rabbis in the US and around the world, to “speak out against this text as a perversion of Judaism, cloaking itself as an authoritative interpretation of Jewish biblical law,” according to a January 26 statement by Abraham H. Foxman, ADL national director.

He is referring to the book Torat HaMelech, by Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira.

Here is the full text of his statement:

Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira's book is a perversion of Judaism, rejecting the morals and ethics inherent in the Jewish faith for an extremist ideology that encourages the killings of non-Jews. His teachings are anathema not only to the tenets of Judaism but to the humanitarian and democratic principles upon which the state of Israel was founded.

It is outrageous that several prominent rabbis have endorsed this book. The failure of religious leaders to condemn the distorted views of biblical law advocated in Torat Hamelech may have contributed to an atmosphere in which heinous attacks, such as the attack against the Palestinian mosque in Yasuf, are encouraged and condoned as being supported by biblical commandments.

We applaud those rabbinic scholars who have condemned the book and banned it from their schools. We call on the chief rabbis of Israel and rabbinic leaders in the Orthodox community -- in the United States and throughout the world -- to speak out against this text as a perversion of Judaism, cloaking itself as an authoritative interpretation of Jewish biblical law.

Foxman may be correct. But I suggest that he himself is totally incapable of reading the book, of understanding it and of being able to argue with it. He, at the least, could have named those Rabbis who did read the book and who understood it and with whom he took advice.

Moreover, he tags on this:

Ten settlers were arrested January 18 in a raid on Yitzhar by Israeli security officials.

Foxman is engaging in guilt not only by association but based on tenuous facts and acts. For example, besides the elementary principle of "innocent until proven guilty" from which Jews suffered in the lapse, there are less than 10 persons currently incarcerated since they were released already. His liberalism is affected not by truth but what the goyim will say.

By the way,

Israel’s Supreme Court this week rejected an appeal by the Twelfth of Heshvan, a coalition of Israeli religious organizations, to force Israeli Attorney General Menachem Mazuz to take immediate action against the book’s authors. The judges accepted the Attorney General’s request for more time to deal with the matter [the Hebrew version of the court's decision is here],

But, let's return to the essence - what of the book. Well, here's the pronouncement of the group called Sanhedrin, which is easily the most radical right-wing group in the religious national camp:

30 Cheshvan, 5770 [November 17, 2009]

Concerning the book "Torat haMelech (Laws of the King) - Capital offenses between Israel and the Nations"

1. There are two kinds of books in Jewish law: books published which have been universally accepted by all the scholars of Israel for practical rulings in Jewish law (probably the last one of this type was published in 1965[1]) and study books; Shapira and Elitzur's book "Torat haMelech" is a study book. Even a partial review of the material shows it contains a study of mostly medieval material and the opinion of the researchers, and does not attempt to survey modern halachic authorities on the subject.
2. The book is one of about 30,000 study works published by thousands of researchers in our time. This book is one of the studies, and like the rest, it does not obligate anyone.
3. It is not meant to be a ruling in Jewish Law, but rather a summary of some of material written on the subject. Even the endorsements of rabbis who gave their endorsement were praising the efforts to study, not suggesting to use this book in the application of practical Jewish Law.
4. The book is not sold in stores, and obviously it is not meant for the general public unfamiliar with the material, and can only be obtained by direct request to the authors. The authors are not known as halachic masters or decisors in Jewish Law.
5. In the culture and nation of Israel, there is complete academic freedom. Anyone can write and self publish his studies. For the mass media to intercept and falsely portray this book is akin to intercepting someone's doctoral thesis and falsely portraying it in the uninformed popular press.
6. If not for the newspaper Haaretz, which published a story on the book, the religious community probably would not have heard of it. The newspaper published its contents in a partial and perverted manner, as part of its tendency of the newspaper and its owners and members of its system to slander the rabbis of the settlements, residents of the settlements, all of mitzvah observant Judaism, and all the principles of Judaism. They are prepared, as part of their war on the religion of Israel, to slander, by means of partial quotes, their Jewish brethren, in spite of them knowing, as journalists, that they were quoted amidst further falsification, and in a manner which causes anti-Semitism, and hatred of Israel, and even though they are endangering the peace of all the Jews in the Diaspora.
7. At the time of this writing, there are about 35,000 websites quoting the misinformation that Haaretz (and other anti-religious Israeli papers) published, and therefore we see the need to publish this notification.
8. Despite the massive war of propaganda by Israel's enemies against the Jewish people -- which make use of Israeli secularists' and atheists' attacks on Judaism -- the truth is that Judaism is the religion which brought to the world the prohibition against killing children, by our holy Torah[2]; never has a Jew been instructed by religious law to kill innocents, or to commit suicide in order to kill others, (unlike suicide bombers who target families with their children).
9. In spite of all the lies published by the anti-Israeli press, apparently starting from Haaretz and including the hostile European and Arab press, there is no army which strived so much to refrain from harming citizens who are not participating in fighting, as the IDF does, not just in Operation Cast Lead, but since its founding.[3]
10. Therefore, we admonish and condemn in every way the Israeli and worldwide press, printed and electronic, that on the basis of the story in Haaretz (and other anti-religious Israeli papers) published attacks on Israel, on Jews, and on Judaism itself.
11. We have forwarded this message directly to Haaretz. Perhaps they will learn that even in hatred of religion there must be some limit.

Rabbi Yoel Schwartz
Rabbi Yeshayahu haCohen Hollander


1. e.g. Shmiras Shabbos K'hilchasa
2. Leviticus 18:21, 20:2-5; I Kings 11:7; II Kings 23:10; Isaiah 30:33, 57:5, 57:9, 19:5; Jeremiah 32:35; Amos 5:26
3. e.g. British Col. Kemp testimony prepared for the emergency UN Human Rights Council debate on the Goldstone Report

Israeli TV has just announced that the judge ordered Rav Shapira by released, noting that the police have not the least slim bit of evidence that would justify extending his remand but the police appealed and so he'll be in jail one more night. I doubt a priest or immam would have been chained about his ankles and wrists, as was Rav Shapira when brought into court.


Here's a Hebrew language clip of Rav Shapira talking about the book:

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Torah View on Homosexuality

This dvar Torah is from TorahWeb’s Rabbinic Board:

Rabbi Herschel Shachter
Rav Hershel Schachter
Rabbi Mordechai Willig
Rav Mordechai Willig
Rabbi Michael Rosensweig
Rav Michael Rosensweig
Rabbi Mayer Twersky
Rav Mayer Twersky

Torah View on Homosexuality

“K’maase Eretz Mitzrayim asher yeshavtem ba lo sa’asu – like the practice of the land of Egypt in which you dwelled do not do” (Vayikra 18:3)
This verse prohibits the most immoral forms of behavior – idolatry, incest, adultery, bloodshed, male and female homosexual activity and bestiality[1]. The prohibition against male homosexual behavior is repeated in Vayikra 18:22. Prohibited homosexual activity includes any non-platonic physical contact; even yichud (seclusion) with someone of the same gender is forbidden for homosexually active individuals[2].
In addition to its legislative content, this verse also provides a fundamental insight into human nature and propensities. The Torah emphasizes “asher yeshavtem ba - in which you dwelled”; but Jews of all generations most certainly know that we lived in Eretz Mitzrayim. The Torah’s statement of the obvious warns us to be on guard against societal influence. We become susceptible to even the most egregious and vile forms of behavior if we do not guard against societal influence. “Human nature is such that a person in his beliefs, character, dispositions, and actions is drawn after his friends and colleagues and acts in the same fashion as his countrymen” (Rambam Hilchos De’os 6:1). (How to take such precautionary measures will, God willing, be discussed below.) Thus a full interpretive translation of the verse reads: the behavior of Eretz Mitzrayim, to which, having lived there, you may be inclined, is forbidden to you.
Ramban[3] comments that the descent to Mitzrayim foreshadows the current galus. He highlights the historical symmetry between the descent to Mitzrayim and the origins of the current galus. Sadly, we can highlight an additional point of symmetry. The “Mitzrayim” in which we find ourselves is also plagued by aberrant behavior, including the practice of homosexuality. Here too due to societal influence we have become susceptible to such behavior. Moreover, Mitzrayim of old not only engaged in corrupt behavior, it legitimized and mainstreamed such behavior. “Our sages said, what were they (i.e. Mitzriyim) accustomed to doing? Men married men and women married women…”[4] Similarly, the Mitzrayim of today’s galus seeks to legitimize and mainstream the abominable practice (toeiva) of homosexuality. Frighteningly, we who live here are not only practically affected, but also axiologically and ideationally infected. Not only our behavior but our very Weltanschauung has been compromised and contaminated.
Let us illustrate and elaborate the effect of society’s insidious influence regarding homosexuality. In a Torah society, unaffected and uninfected by today’s Mitzrayim, what should one’s attitude be towards homosexual behavior and homosexual individuals? Homosexual behavior is absolutely prohibited and constitutes an abomination[5]. Discreet, unconditionally halachically committed Jews who do not practice homosexuality but feel same sex attraction (ssa) should be sympathetically and wholeheartedly supported. They can be wonderful Jews, fully deserving of our love, respect, and support. They should be encouraged to seek professional guidance. Moreover, in an uninfected Torah society, appropriate sympathy for discreet shomrei Torah u’mitzvos who experience but do not act upon ssa is clearly distinguished from brazen public identification of their yetzer hara for forbidden behavior. In a pure Torah society people would recognize that every individual neshama is given its own unique constellation of challenges and some of these challenges consist of feeling an impulse to forbidden behavior. But every individual neshama also possesses the resilience and strength to triumph over its challenges[6].
How painful, sad and sobering is the sharp contrast between the clear attitude that should prevail in a pure Torah community and the confusion that exists among well-intentioned individuals within our communities. We are not speaking of the heresy of elements who although identifying themselves as Orthodox demand (sic.) change in the Torah, rachamanah litzlan, a clear violation of the thirteen principles of faith. Instead we are speaking of the confusion caused by today’s Mitzrayim within our communities. Due to the influence of today’s Mitzrayim, appropriate sympathy in discreet settings has become conflated with public, celebratory identification of people with an urge for forbidden behavior. In today’s galus ssa is not viewed as a challenge of kevishas hayetzer (overcoming and taming impulses for forbidden behavior), but rather as a troubling halacha lacking in compassion, rachmanah litzlan.
The influence of today’s Mitzrayim on our thinking is sadly and dramatically evident. The light of Torah, however, dispels confusion. Talmud Torah, when honestly and unconditionally pursued, allows us to recognize societally induced pre/misconceptions and biases. Talmud Torah allows us to absorb the divine Weltanschauung. Inevitably, with respect to homosexuality, Talmud Torah will place us at odds with political correctness and the temper of the times. Nevertheless, we must be honest with ourselves, and with Hakadosh Baruch Hu, regardless of political correctness, considerations or consequences.
Editor’s note: Readers may also be interested in the following audio shiurim: A Response to the Recent "Orthodox" Gay Forum and Absolute Truth and Alternate Life Styles: The Torah's Position on Homosexuality

[1] The Sifra (Vayikra 138:5), cited by Rashi ad loc. refers to the atrocities of Eretz Mitzrayim as being the most corrupt of all nations. The Sifra (138:7) further provides the list of activities in which the Mitzriyim engaged. See also Rambam Hilchos Isurei Biah 21:8.
[2] Rambam Hilchos Isurei Biah 21:1,2; 22:1,2. See also Shulchan Aruch Even HoEzer 24
[3] Commentary to Breishis 43:14, 47:18
[4] Rambam Hilchos Isurei Biah 21:8
[5]Vayikra 18:22
[6] In the present forum we are not discussing the halachic category of shotim.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Understanding Melbourne by Not Brisker Yeshivah

Great post over at Not Brisker Yeshivah - Understanding Melbourne

There is something about hatred for Chabad that transcends all political and religious affiliations. All of a sudden, everybody understands each other, and can all exchange the proverbial winks. Even people that can’t agree on anything seem to band together in a harmonious cadence of “Chabad bashing”.

There are many reasons for this. By some, they get to feel smug and intelligent, that their predictions were accurate. That baffles me. בשלמא those who in the 60’s predicted the madness of the late 80’s and early 90’s; we can give them a little room to rejoice over the fulfilment of their own prophesies. But predicting the Melbourne shenanigans? That was easy. It is the Sabbateans all over again – just with better PR.

Others feel self-righteous bashing Chabad; they get to feel the internal glow of the zealots that they despise. They feel like they are doing G-d’s mission and sticking up for what is right. They feel like they can take the moral high ground, quoting chapter and verse from Professor Berger like he is Charlton Heston.

What is very revealing about the nature of the Chabad hatred is that many- after innocently wondering if ‘all Lubabs are Meshichists’ - feel the need to sprinkle their criticism with disclaimers such as ‘oh, I daven in a Chabad shul’. Or even worse, ‘some of my closest friends are Lubavitchers’. Goebbels, ימ''ש, complained that he got too many phone calls from Nazis asking him to save their friends.

Regarding Meshichism: For many, it is a messianic vision in which Chabad, which controls the world now, will be recognized, by young and old alike, as the center of the universe. Everybody will have their pamphlets with the daily dose of Chasidus and Shteinzaltz Gemaras. All the politicians, whose decisions were anyways always decided by the Rebbe, will pay homage to him. They will bring fruit on silver platters. The world will be filled with knowledge of the Rebbe’s sichas - no need to sit in 770 with headphones. The little Temimim will sit in the front while the best of the other segments of Judaism will sit on the periphery, chalilah.

Furthermore, Meshichism has nothing to do with Moshiach. Obviously, it is an expression of an intense need to make the Rebbe larger than life; Meshichism is just a HT- היכי תימצא. The greatest level a human can obtain is to be the Messiah. Theoretically, if they would be convinced that a different position, let’s say Kohen Godal, would be the ultimate one, they would dredge up all the sources indicating that the Rebbe was really the High Priest.

A thought about the Melbourne incident: the reason why such a thing can only happen in Chabad is obvious. Someone who became religious through, let’s say one of the many selfless shiluchim of the Chafetz Chaim network, would be self-conscious and embarrassed to publicize something that is ridiculed by the overwhelming majority of Jews. Not so in certain known groups of a certain group. Their handlers take advantage of them. They feed them all the Chabad talking points. They are taught that only Lubavitch cares about others, remained religious under duress while the Lita was being destroyed spiritually; they overdose on exclusionism, xenophobia, and hate.

Someone who a Chafetz Chaim talmid was mekarev is more open to outside influences. He is not convinced that the only way to save the world is to learn very slow, or that Chafetz Chaim yeshivas are the true representatives of Slabodko, even though in Slabodko they were intentionally not ‘into the shiur’ and they stressed individuality. He/she might later join the followers of Rabbi Friefeld or Aish Kodesh - and maybe even Chabad. He will send his kids to good yeshivas and might fulfil the dictum of חנוך לנער על פי דרכו better than a FFB. And more importantly, they don’t feel compelled to quote Reb Henoch Leibowitz at every public function and simchah.

Contrast that to some of the elements of Chabad. They know more stories about how the MiSnagdim always persecuted the faithful than עין יעקב. They would never quote or look at a sefer written by a non-Lubavitcher. They are taught that only Chabad are the true Jews and anything positive in Judaism results directly or indirectly from Lubavitch. Those people in Melbourne, couldn’t care less that they are being scorned upon by everyone else. They were taught that no one else counts.

In conclusion, one story will illustrate the point: There was this person who became frum via Chabad. Succos time, he started going to the Succos of other groups (maybe he was looking for a mattress). His handlers admonished him; they told him how the Stoliners are terrible and the Snags are the devil incarnate and Satmar is who knows what. This person, fortunately, ignored them, got to know the other Jews, and was pleasantly surprised that they weren’t as bad as they were made out to be.

On the first night of Succos, he was in for a rude awakening. His host, who was sitting in a beautifully decorated Succah, told him that we have to greet the Ushpizin. He asked his guest if he knew who the guest was for that night.
The reply: the Alter Rebbe.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Rav Mayer Twersky: A Response to the Recent "Orthodox" Gay Forum December 28, 2009

Rav Mayer Twersky
A Response to the Recent "Orthodox" Gay Forum
December 28, 2009

This is a chiuv for every Yid to listen to and internalize.

Special Shalach Manos for the Rosh Yeshiva (from Heichal HaNegina)

One of the foremost talmidim of Rav Aharon was none other than Reb Shlomo Carlebach, who attended the Lakewood Yeshiva from its inception in 1943, through 1947. Much has been said about the “falling out” between these two, but it is my fervent hope that the following eyewitness account will dispel some of the erroneous notions about this. Please read on.

Special Shalach Manos for the Rosh Yeshiva

The following story is an adaptation and transcript of a true story, told by the man who was present when it happened – my good friend Reb Itzik Eisenstadt. R. Itzik is a fellow music enthusiast, who became involved with the music of both Modzitz and Reb Shlomo Carlebach in the 1950s. Known by Carlebachers as the “Treasurer of the Niggunim,” Reb Itzik accompanied Reb Shlomo on many of his journeys, both in the US and in Israel.

“It was 1957, and Reb Shlomo came home from St. Louis for the holiday of Purim, and he was to read the Megilla in his father’s Shul. It was their custom to read it quickly, and indeed, they finished it, word by word, in twelve [12] minutes! I stood there, a child of fourteen, and I couldn’t believe it! This cannot be – yet it was! Afterwards, Shlomo signaled me to wait, even though his mother, the Rebbetzin, invited me to come up to eat. His father had a room, his study, with a sofa. This room had a window which had a staircase [or fire escape] which led outside – and this was the only way that Shlomo could leave the house unnoticed.
“Shlomo told me to wait in the corner, although his mother had told us to go to bed. His parents came to check on us, to make sure that we had done so. After the ‘inspection’, I snuck out of the bedroom to meet Shlomo in his father’s study, and we left through the window. At approximately 10 pm, someone came by with a car and picked us up. I thought that we must be going to Brooklyn, to 770 – where the Lubavitcher Rebbe was. But no, we were setting out on a much longer journey.
“In those days, to get to Lakewood from Manhattan took about 2-1/2 hours. We arrived at the Yeshiva at around midnight. The Yeshiva was located in a small house in those days. There was a very small study hall [Beis Medrash] downstairs, with stairs leading up to a women’s section [ezras nashim]. There was also a small room upstairs, Rav Aharon Kotler’s study, which had a window through which he could observe what was going on in the Beis Medrash below.
“Shlomo came in – and let’s not forget, this was Purim night – and he found a number of [approximately nine] talmidim learning in the Beis Medrash. ‘Shalom, a freiliche Purim, a joyous Purim to you,’ he greeted them. The talmidim were in the midst of learning – not Masechta Megilla [which is relatively “light” and deals with the Laws and stories of Purim], but Masechta Yevamos! [This is a tractate of Talmud which contains perhaps the most complex areas of Jewish Law]. Shlomo began to engage them in the sugyos [topics] of the Gemara that they were learning – including what he had learned from Rav Aharon when he was in Lakewood. They were amazed! This was exactly what they were learning! And it was some ten years after Reb Shlomo had left the Lakewood Yeshiva. In addition to the Rosh Yeshiva’s Torah, Reb Shlomo added some pearls of wisdom of his own. The talmidim began to whisper to each other, ‘Is this Shlomo Carlebach?’
“Suddenly, a light went on in the Rosh Yeshiva’s room above the Beis Medrash. The window opened, and he looked down to see what was going on. Then he began to come down the stairs. Rav Aharon didn’t drag his feet – within seconds he was down the stairs, and walked directly over to his own shtender [lectern]. Shlomo saw this, turned around, and went over to him. Without even greeting each other, they began to discuss the Gemara Yevamos as well.
“You taught us this, but I’ll add this now,” Reb Shlomo said to the Rosh Yeshiva.
“You added that then, as well,” countered the Rosh Yeshiva.
“I didn’t follow a word – it was above my head,” said R. Itzik Eisenstadt [remember, he was only 14 then!]. “The talmidim, the man who drove us, and I – we all watched this scene, and we were trembling!”
“It was a rare occasion to have seen Rav Aharon laughing. If something humored him, one corner of his mouth turned upwards in a semi-smile. Suddenly, Reb Shlomo stopped the serious learning, and began to say [humorous] Purim Torah – on Yevamos! Rav Aharon burst out laughing. But all the talmidim were still trembling. (R. Itzik remembered one of the jokes: apparently Haman and Achashverosh were brothers, and Haman wanted to perform yibum while his brother was yet alive!]
“After that, the Rosh Yeshiva turned to Reb Shlomo and asked him to sing. Without a guitar or anything else, Reb Shlomo sang ‘Lulei Soras’cha [track 8; longer link here, sung by D. Zeller] -- a niggun he had composed for the Rosh Yeshiva. Rav Aharon closed his eyes. (“If I ever saw someone ascend on High, it was then,” said R. Itzik. “He was just not there. Until Shlomo stopped singing.”) Shlomo went on with the niggun – the only one singing – for some ten or fifteen minutes. Then Rav Aharon nodded ‘goodbye’ and left, going back to his room upstairs.
[R. Itzik told us, that at the time he didn’t even know that it was Rav Aharon Kotler. When they went outside, he asked R. Shlomo, “Who was that?” “The Rosh Yeshiva,” Reb Shlomo responded. “Umm…you mean, Rabbi Aharon Kotler!?” Itzik said, trembling once more.]
“And the Torah that they learned together, was Reb Shlomo’s ‘shalach manos’ for the Rosh Yeshiva.”
“Everybody says that Rav Aharon threw Reb Shlomo out of the Yeshiva, and that after he left, they had nothing to do with each other. But I heard from a Rabbi in Queens, that in the year 1951, the Lubavitcher Rebbe sent Reb Shlomo to be the rabbi of Dorothy, New Jersey – a small town not too far from Lakewood. Being that this position was not very demanding, Reb Shlomo took advantage of the amount of free time that he had, and traveled every day – to learn in Lakewood! On Motzaei Shabboses [Saturday nights], he would go to the Yeshiva and teach the boys there Modzitzer niggunim. The Rav who told this to Itzik said that there is where he met Reb Shlomo and became his good friend, and afterwards they remained friends. Shlomo learned like this for two years.