Check out this interesting Statement of Principles, written and edited by leaders in the Modern Orthodox community:
For the last six months a number of Orthodox rabbis and educators have been preparing a statement of principles on the place of our brothers and sisters in our community who have a homosexual orientation.
The original draft was prepared by Rabbi Nathaniel Helfgot. It was then commented upon by and revised based on the input from dozens of talmidei chachamim, educators, communal rabbis, mental health professionals and a number of individuals in our community who are homosexual in orientation.
Significant revisions were made based upon the input of Rabbi Aryeh Klapper and Rabbi Yitzchak Blau who were intimately involved in the process of editing and improving the document during the last three months.
The statement below is a consensus document arrived at after hundreds of hours of discussion,debate and editing. At the bottom, is the initial cohort of signators.
We, the undersigned Orthodox rabbis, rashei yeshiva, ramim, Jewish educators and communal leaders affirm the following principles with regard to the place of Jews with a homosexual orientation in our community:
1. All human beings are created in the image of God and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect (kevod haberiyot). Every Jew is obligated to fulfill the entire range of mitzvot between person and person in relation to persons who are homosexual or have feelings of same sex attraction. Embarrassing, harassing or demeaning someone with a homosexual orientation or same-sex attraction is a violation of Torah prohibitions that embody the deepest values of Judaism.
Last week, Georgia Gov. Sunny Perdue signed into law House Bill 1345, which fixed the Kosher Food Labeling Act (KFLA) of Georgia, which required that any food sold as kosher had to meet the guidelines of the “Orthodox Hebrew religious rules and requirements.” This law was ruled unconstitutional because it had the government mandating whose standards qualified as acceptably kosher – not a good position for our government to find itself in, and mirrored a similar problem found in New York’s Kosher Law Protection act of 2004. Apparently this problem was later fixed, as New York adopted a law that set them on the same path that Georgia is now treading .
The new law in Georgia requires rather that consumers are informed about the standards under which any kosher food product was certified. I will be interested to see if Georgia can
do well imitate New York didn’t‘s path in a matter regarding religion. I’m not really sure how helpful all this will be to the kosher consumer, but I suppose that I would be pleased to know the standards set by any given hashgacha. I wonder, though, if it will really help solve the “this rabbi is rumored to never show up and check” problem
Mar Gavriel tells us:
Most of the world is observing Yom Ha’Atzma’ut on Tuesday, because Yom HaZikaron is the day before Yom Ha’Atzma’ut and when Yom HaZikaron is due to be on a Sunday we push the whole lot up a day – Yom HaZikaron on Monday and Yom Ha’Atzma’ut on Tuesday – so as not to encourage people to drive to the memorials when it is still Shabbat.
Consideration 1: According to Rav Hershel Schachter (top bod at Yeshiva University), halakhic Yom Ha’Atzma’ut can never fall on any date other than 5 Iyyar, because that is the actual date on which the miraculous event occurred. So no pushing it off to Tuesday – if 5 Iyyar is a Monday, Yom Ha’Atzma’ut is a Monday, end of story.
Consideration 2: But this Monday was Ta‘anit Behab. Almost no one today still fasts, but a number of communities still recite the associated Selichot.
So — on Monday, the main YU Beis Medresh minyan recited Selichot AND Hallel. Not something one generally sees.
Upon setting out to write this dvar Torah, I had grand visions of talking about the halakhic status of coed toilets. If a woman is ritually unclean, how can other members of her family use the same toilet, for example?
There was going to be a blow-out Foucauldian analysis of the halakhic sources, followed by a lengthy exegesis on Melanie Klein’s partial object; Kohut’s narcissistic transference, and Freud’s paranoia “syllogism” as taken up by Lacan. And then the ground-breaking revelation that we have been/are currently/always will be sinning.
It was going to be fabulous.
Perhaps fortunately for you, Masechet Niddah, Masechet Khullin, and Masechet Keilim (11:2) took me to school. Once again. We can use the same toilet as someone who is ritually unclean because the toilet is “מחובר לקרקע” (it is connected to the ground)—this is the loophole. (For those following at home, this is the same term used in reference to mikvaot, or ritual bath pools.) Furthermore, I learned that in our times–i.e. post-Temple times–we are all tamei met already, and thus this is a non-issue.
Now that we’re all breathing comfortably…
I will tell you, instead, about how I first learned about sex. (What does this have to do with tazria metzorah, you ask? Just wait. You’ll see.) More »
This weekend, Pope Benedict XVI voiced concern over the use of those creepy full body scanners at airports. He’s against them, saying “the primary asset to be safeguarded and treasured is the person, in his or her integrity.” The Pope continued:
Respect for the principles he enunciated “might seem particularly complex and difficult in the present context”, he told his audience, which included airport managers, airline executives, security workers, pilots, cabin and ground staff.
They had to contend with problems arising “from the economic crisis, which is bringing about problematic effects in the civil aviation sector, and the threat of international terrorism, which is targeting airports and aircraft”. But, he warned: “It is essential never to lose sight of respect for the primacy of the person.”
The pope’s words will delight civil liberties campaigners opposed to a device that strips passengers virtually naked.
He’s only a few weeks behind various Islamic authorities, who have come out against the scanners. Fiqh Council of North America issued a
fatwah statement as passing through the scanners would violate Islamic rules of modesty.
And the Jews? There seems to be (shocking, I know), differing opinions. The Rabbinical Center of Europe (an umbrella organisation for Orthodox communities) has declared the scanners to be immodest, but allowed. Part of their issue is that men should review images of men, women those of women. They were assured that images are reviewed by computer software, and humans are only involved if something is found. But this isn’t accurate. We know from many reports that the images aren’t written over or erased, that security staff are looking at images. So will rabbis in Europe reconsider? What about in North America?
In honor of Jewish Disability Awareness Month, I asked Rabbi Judith Z. Abrams, who teaches Talmud online at Maqom.com and author of Judaism and Disability: Portrayals in Ancient Texts from the Tanach through the Bavli, to prepare a Torah lesson on the topic. – Reb Yudel.
If you look at the blessings we are supposed to say in the morning, you can see that we are supposed to thank God for each thing we have as we become aware of each blessing we have. We thank God for sight when we open our eyes. We thank God for the ability to stand up when we get out of bed. When we put on clothes, we thank God for them.
In fact, the list of blessings in the prayer book is only a suggested “starter list. We should get into the habit of thanking God for every single thing we have when we experience it. (In Eastern religions this is called “mindfulness” and, yes, we have it in Judaism.)
We have blessings to thank God for all these things but, at first glance, it seems that we don’t have blessings for the two senses that are prerequisites for taking part in the sages’ system: hearing/speaking and cognition. You could be a blind sage (in fact, two of our greatest sages, Rav Sheshet and Rav Yosef, were blind). But not hearing or speaking or understanding booted you right out of the sages’ system. This put you in the class called, “the deaf/mute, the mentally ill/disabled and preverbal children.” Those people fell outside the sages’ system.
So if hearing was so important, why wouldn’t that have been the very first blessing you’d say in the morning, right after you were awoken by the rooster (or your alarm clock)? Actually, you say a blessing that acknowledges not only your hearing and cognition but the hearing and cognition of all the world around you.
Before you even open your eyes, you hear the rooster–and you hear the rooster’s cognition and voice–and you thank God for your hearing, for knowing what you hear,
for knowing that the birds really only do start singing
at the very first light of dawn,
a light the human eye cannot discern,
for the bird having a voice,
for the whole world making sense again.
When you say, “Blessed be God, who gives the rooster the understanding to
distinguish between day and night”, you acknowledge the most profound gifts
in your day: you woke up and you knew who you were.
1. Why are those the two most profound gifts you have all day long? What
would not having those gifts imply?
2. Now that we’ve unpacked some of the meanings of this blessing, can you
3. What would this blessing be if the sages had invented it today?
Editor’s note: The following is a guest post by Dvora Meyers. She usually blogs at Unorthodox Gymnastics.
I saw Srugim for the first time over the summer. Ever since then I’ve been hooked on the Israeli television show that follows the romantic travails of four Modern Orthodox singles in Katamon, Jerusalem’s equivalent of the Upper West Side, as they search for partners and meals on Shabbat.
Since the program does not air on any channel in the U.S., I was forced to download it illegally on the Internet thus opening my computer up to a whole host of viral threats. But it was definitely worth it.
Apparently, I am not alone in my fandom. The [spoil alert]Jewish Week has just run this cover story about the show’s popularity stateside. The show has just begun its second season in Israel (and on my computer in Brooklyn). If you’d like to watch it without endangering your hard drive, the JCC in Manhattan (in conjunction with Jewschool) will be screening the first season (two episodes a week) starting Wednesday, Feb. 3 at 7:30pm.
In addition to being entertained, it’s the perfect opportunity to sharpen your Hebrew comprehension skills. Or if you are seated next to a particularly cute man/woman, you can pretend to not understand what’s transpiring on-screen and ask for help. I’m sure that the show’s characters would approve. Or you can tally the number of halachic inaccuracies you can find throughout the two episodes. Sounds like a good idea for a drinking game to me… Though I suppose the alcohol part will have to wait ’til afterwards, when the Jewschool crew heads next door to Amsterdam Alehouse. Join us! Bloggers and readers alike will be toasting pints and sipping cocktails in the back party room.
SRUGIM COCKTAIL CONTEST: We’re taking suggestions for drink specials in the comments field of this post. The only rule is that you must include the name of the drink, its ingredients, and, of course, the name of the drink must be related to a character, place or theme of the show. The top three favorites will be served at the Jewschool after party on Wed. Feb. 3 – and those three lucky winners will suck down their first drink on Jewschool. RSVP on Facebook now!
Looking for an opportunity for full time study in an egalitarian setting? Yeshivat Hadar in New York City offers a chance for both summer and year ’round study for women and men to study together – and you even get a living stipend. I’ve been to a bunch of classes, lectures, and more than a handful of weekday services. It’s quite an eclectic bunch of of students – and their teachers are excellent. Want to learn more? Check out this Wednesday night’s event – in person or online.
The Cairo Geniza: Crumpled Papers, Revolutionary Prayers
A Taste of Yeshivat Hadar — open to all
Considering applying to Yeshivat Hadar’s 2010 Summer or Full-Year Program?
Interested in experiencing learning at Yeshivat Hadar and asking your questions?
When: Wednesday, January 13, 2010, 7:30-9:00 pm
Where: Yeshivat Hadar, 190 Amsterdam Avenue (at 69th Street), NYC
Taught by Rabbi Elie Kaunfer
In December 1896, Solomon Schechter traveled to the “Ben Ezra Synagogue” in Old Cairo and discovered 200,000 Hebrew manuscripts, some from as early as the 9th century. Among them were alternative liturgies that will astound those used to the standard Ashkenazi prayerbook, including alternate versions of the weekday Amidah. In this class, we will study how crumpled papers in a forgotten attic can change our understanding of prayer.
RSVP to info-at-mechonhadar.org
Prospective Applicants to Yeshivat Hadar are especially welcome to this program, which will end with Q+A about Yeshivat Hadar’s full-time programs.
Can’t come to NYC? Join us on the phone or on ustream. Here’s how:
Go here to watch a live broadcast. Register for a free account ahead of time, and login to chat your questions.
Have specific questions? Email Aryeh Bernstein, Director of Recruitment, at bernstein-at-mechonhadar.org.
You can download our applications here: Summer (2010) and Full-Year Program (2010-11).
The following is a guest post by Yisroel Bas. He blogs at אומשלאָף.
This past spring I decided that I wanted to start wearing tsitsis, at least on Shabbos. This decision came out of an embrace on my part of biblically-based Jewish symbolism/self identification. However, I was not attracted to the traditional undershirt variety and I wanted something a little more special. So I designed a T-shirt style beged to wear on Shabbos. I chose blue ribbons to match the color of tekheles. Although it took some time, I convinced my mom to make it for me. I wanted the garment to be as square and shirt-like as possible, and a preliminary look at the Torah yielded no problems with my design.
When my mom finished the garment, I spent an afternoon figuring out and eventually tying the tsitsis (Ramban Teymeni style). I was really happy with the final project and decided that I would wear it for the first time at Yugntruf‘s Yiddish Week retreat. While there, several people asked me why I had tsitsis on a shirt with closed sides. I was told that the majority of the beged needs to be open in order for it to be khayev tsitsis. I asked for the source of such a rule and was met by a lot of “I’m not sure”s and “gemora”s. After the retreat I started on a journey to find the source of this “rov beged” injunction. I would walk around on Shabbos with the shirt on and go from shul to shul asking the rabbis if my beged was khayev tsitsis. One told me that the source as Manakhos in the Gemora. Another had no clue. And yet another was convinced that as long as it has daled kanfes, it’s khayev tsitsis.
I went home, found a translation of Manakhos, read it, and found no mention of “rov beged” or even the slightest hint of a definition of kanfe. Finally the Chabad Shliakh in my building found the injunction in his Shulkhan Orukh, but he did not know where the Shulkhan Orukh got it from. Finally after asking the shliakh at my school a million times to look up the source, he put me on the phone with the chief librarian at the Chabad library. He found the source: the students of the Maharam of Rothenburg (d.1293).
Okay, so my shirt is fine according the Torah and Gemora, but not the Maharam (nor anyone who thinks that the Shulkhan Orukh is from Sinai). On top of my own doubts and uncertainties, I now had several rabbis telling me that I can wear it all I like, but just not on Shabbos (because if the beged isn’t khayev tsitsis, then I am “carrying” them about when I wear the beged). I’ve been wearing it anyway, partly because I like how I feel when I wear the beged, and partly because I am not sure of how much the Maharam and what he supposedly taught matters to me. For all I know the beged is khayev tsitsis in that the majority of the beged is open (sleeves and bottom), just not contiguously. Right now I am getting ready to make another similar beged and I think I’m going to stick with “closed” sides.
ראה הפֿקדתיך היום הזה על־הגױיִם ועל המלכות
זע, איך האָב דיר געשטעלט הײַנטיקן טאָג איבער די פֿעלקער און איבער די מלכותן
אױסצורײַסן און אײַנצוּװאַרפֿן
און אונטערצוברענגען און צו צעשטערן
צו בױען און צו פֿלאַנצן
Last week, a discussion was organized at Yeshiva University in NYC called “Being Gay In The Orthodox World: A Conversation with Members of the YU Community.” The event, which took place on December 22, was sponsored by the YU Tolerance Club and the Wurzweiler School of Social Work. It was an open event; people from the YU and Stern communities were invited to attend, as were members of the Jewish communities at large. (I received several invitations to go but was unable to make it.) Many of you found out about it on twitter; our most popular tweet, which more of you clicked through than any other, was a link to The Curious Jew‘s transcript of the panel discussion, which Chana posted within a couple hours of the event’s conclusion. This transcript has been as close to hearing about it as those of us who weren’t there could get, since Rabbi Yosef Blau said in his opening remarks:
What we WILL be doing is addressing the pain and the conflict that is caused by someone being gay in the Orthodox world. Our four panelists, one present student and three alumni of Yeshiva, will be speaking about their own lives and experiences. I would ask you not to take pictures of them and not to record to respect privacy. Recordings have an unfortunate tendency to enable someone to take out a snippet and then use it for various and sundry purposes.
Each speaker then went through his own personal story of being gay in the Orthodox world. Dr. Pelcovitz, a psychologist on faculty at YU, presented a psychological/Orthodox perspective; he made sure to emphasise that there is a difference between “feeling” and “doing” gay, and said that “nobody has the right to judge a feeling,” regardless of halakhic understanding. Questions were then taken from the audience of 800 people, and the event ended more or less on time.
But, of course, it didn’t actually end there. More »
Shabbat at the Hazon Food Conference is an exceptional experiment in pluralism. I wish I had the time to comment on it, but perhaps that will be saved for reflections tomorrow evening once I’m back home. For now, I will report on the sessions I sat in on today. The first involved a private meeting with current and future rabbis (and the occasional educator) and Nigel Savage, the director of Hazon and a true visionary. The second session, titled “The Vegetable Monologues,” after “The Vagina Monologues,” focused on the stories of three Jewish, female farmers. Before Havdallah, I attended a session of the status of Genetically Modified Organisms in Halakhah put on by Zelig Golden, an environmental lawyer with the Center for Food Safety and Rabbi David Seidenberg. More »
You might think we would be getting tired of this topic by now. But, no, we need to revisit it periodically just to forget about how many other worthwhile problems we could be addressing.
An Orthodox Jewish school in London was found guilty of violating UK racial discrimination laws. The problem at hand was that a 12 year old was refused admission to the Orthodox school because his mother had converted under the auspices of the Masorti movement. The problem lies in the fact that there apparently isn’t any other Jewish school available. It’s that one or none.
Now, technically, there really isn’t any good reason for the Orthodox to refuse to recognize Masorti conversion – like all halachic conversion, Masorti Judaism requires mikveh and milah (for males) and profession of a belief in one, unified, God. Much of the brou-ha-ha is about extra-halachic matters. But despite my opinion that the Orthodox are wrong not to recognize Masorti conversions, I still think that this is a bad idea.
Do we really want secular courts deciding who gets to be considered Jewish (or any other religion, for that matter)? I know that Europe views government interaction with religion quite differently than my government here in the USA (or in theory ought to, anyhow), and there are certainly circumstances in which it makes no sense for us to try to separate our opinions from the religious sensibilities that formed them (or not), as long as we try to be honest about where those sensibilities come from. But having a presumably secular government decide that the Orthodox have no right to exclude Masorti Jews is just a recipe for trouble.
The potential for other decisions to go awry is just too great. Now, if they want to rule that no school has a right to exclude anyone of any religion from enrolling, okay then, as long as they also grant that the school gets to insist on its curriculum without outside interference, and the enrolled student has to follow along if he (or she) enrolls.
In Israel, government participation in religious business has caused just no end of trouble. The founding fathers of the USA were more than right when they noted that a healthy religion is not going to be helped by having government promote it. Reading Steven Waldman’s book Founding Faith made me think a lot more of how religion developed in the USA — and why our secular government, with all its problems, works much better in the arena of helping religion by ignoring it than nearly any other in the world. Which is not to say that doing so hasn’t had its own problems. Certainly the idea of an agora for religious ideas has also resulted in people treating at least Judaism as if it were something one could choose in pieces, treating it as any other product, to evaluate on, say, whether it makes you happy, or is fun, rather than Judaism as something to which we might have to submit ourselves in order to make ourselves better, or our community better. Further, we need to realise that we might not be better off for choosing our community according to whom we like to hang out with, rather than being stuck with the lumpy mess that is true community. But overall, we are better off with a hands-off policy from the government.
Let the argument commence.
The new Sh’ma is out. It’s got some great articles about the intersection of Judaism and “the law of the land” (i.e. this land), and responses to a wonderful passage from Agnon about Hanukkah — its not what you would think.
Check it out:
||Look Inside >>
|December 2009, The Law of the Land is the Law
Some people see halakha as a sort of calculator into which you enter circumstances and from which you obtain answers. Some people see it as a great tide sweeping across time and space and carrying the Jews willy-nilly with it. And some people see it as a language, rising from the common experience and shared past of those who speak it and used to communicate matters of current concern.
However you conceive of halakha, rabbinic Judaism has always needed people who understand how it works. The computer scientists, the linguists, the navigators, depending on your model of choice.
I like understanding how things work, which is why I like halakha. I also like applying that understanding for practical effect, which is why a) I write Torahs b) I will be spending this Sunday at…
Mechon Hadar’s Halakha Yom Iyyun
Halakhah as a Language of Applied Values:
Theory and Practice
Sunday December 6
at Yeshivat Hadar
190 Amsterdam Ave, NY
(@69th St – West End Synagogue)
A whole day with other people who think halakha is a living language. And who speak that language and use it to talk about everyday things and also those things which other languages cannot reach. And who are making rabbinic Judaism once more about halakha, in these days when “rabbi” chiefly means “pastoral adjunct.”
“We are all mediators, translators.” -Jacques Derrida
There have been three distinct moments since I began learning in the Jewish legal tradition that have significantly altered my perspective on the goals and intent of what we apply the blanket term, Halakhah. It is something that I struggle with on a daily basis and has a direct effect on my faith, my practice and my identity. More »
Nathaniel Popper writes in the Forward that the Conservative Movement does not seem to be living up to their push for better wages for workers. I’m not entirely sure what the point of the article is; is it to point out that some congregations (and not just Conservative ones) underpay their workers? Is it say that the whole Magen Tzedek enterprise is hypocritical because not everyone in the movement lives up to it already?
If it’s the first, he’s a little behind – we already knew that; if the second, again, he’s a little behind the curve; I certainly have not backed off from critiquing the Conservative movement in the past – it certainly has plenty to critique, but I’ll have to say, I disagree. I don’t disagree because it’s not true, but because I think he’s missing the point.
As Rabbi Jill Jacobs says in the article, “It’s always easier to look slightly outside yourself rather than to look inside… There certainly hasn’t been any large-scale change.”
That’s true – but it’s a little premature to write off the whole project becasue it hasn’t been perfectly realised prior to beginning. Having Magen Tzedek has spurred some shuls to reexamine their own policies towards their own workers; Rabbi Jacobs is part of a movement of many people who turned to rabbinical school not necessarily because they loved to give sermons, but because they were driven to repair the world, and thought that a uniquely Jewish vision could help to do so. Rabbi Jacob’s tshuva is not the end; although it has gotten less press than Magen Tzedek, over time, I think both will be understood as the fulcrum for major change in the Jewish community as a whole.
Of course, there are still people like those quoted in the Forward citing the same tired arguments for why we shouldn’t do the right thing (they could work somewhere else; we’re doing important work that couldn’t get done if we paid our employees more; another variant of the “businesses might have to close and pay nothing at all if you made them provide benefits”…), but having Rabbi Jacob’s tshuva and the Magen Tzedek will help rabbis do their job better – and that job is to teach – to help people become knowledgeable, practicing Jews, and to have a relationship with God – which we achieve through mitzvot which include paying the matzah bakers enough to eat, and the people who clean the shul enough to not have to work two jobs or go on welfare. If we haven’t achieved it yet, well, even Moses couldn’t get Israel to quit worshiping idols. It’s a start and Baruch haShem it’s starting rather than not!
Although most modern Jews have abandoned the practice of Kapores, in some parts of the community, it is still common. I’m not sure what the Masorti movement thinks it will accomplish by joining with the SPCA -Tel Aviv, ince the parts of the community that are practicing kapores aren’t the parts likely to care what the masorti movement does, but all in all, it can’t hurt.
In the story from which I took this post’s name ( an adapted tale based on the original story by Sholom Aleichem) the author in fact points out that the practice of taking a chicken (male for men, female for women) swinging it over one’s head to “catch” one’s sins, and then slaughtering it, is not exactly halacha ( Jewish law). And while in general one ought not to depend on fiction for accurate portrayals of Jewish law, in this case, it happens to be correct. Not only is “Where is it written?” a good response, but where it is written, the rabbis aren’t too happy with it, considering it (Like many folk customs which have become embedded in Jewish practice) akin to idolatry, or at lest very improper.
And reasonably so, while it might be a midat chesed (act of mercy) to buy a chicken which one will then donate to the poor to eat (although that does raise some questions about how that came about… really? We’re giving our sins to the poor to eat? Hmmm. I hear a sin eater story in here somewhere for those of us familiar with that southern custom), the problems with the ritual as a whole are numerous. For now, let’s set aside the problem of tzaar ba’alei chaim – the requirement not to be cruel to animals (in this case, by packing them in itty bitty crates sitting around in the sun all day until it’s time for them to be grabbed and swung around by the feet) and concentrate on the symbolism of the custom itself.
While there seems to be some kind of yearning for authenticity as played by certain elements of the Jewish community which favor dress styles not native to Israel, but rather early modern Europe, I’ve never been able to fathom why people attach their sentiments to these kinds of customs (including within the community, but without it as well). There’s somehow a sense that it looks or feels more authentic – but how could it be? If Judaism and our peoplehood is based upon our connection to God through God’s commandments, as the Torah tells us, then one couldn’t possibly repent by swinging a chicken around.
I far prefer the formulation of the Talmud (Brachot 17a) (See the bottom of the post) which likens the fat that one loses during a fast to the fat offered as a sacrifice in the times when the Temple stood. That makes far more sense to me.
Most importantly, if w are repenting, we cannot hope to shed our sins elsewhere without the ful act of teshuvah that goes with it. Whether we are speaking of ourselves as individuals, our individual communities, or Israel as a whole, our own sins cannot be displaced by any symbolic act, whether we’re talking about swinging a chicken or saying that the other party involved has done bad things and so they have to repent first. NO, we are responsible for the sins of ourselves, and the sins of our people. If we wish for peace, we have to act first to recognize and admit our sins; to make reparation to those whom we’ve harmed; to confess to God – because in doing so, we humble ourselves and take into our hearts that our acts, whether accidental or intentional, whether preemptive or retaliatory, were wrong; and then to not do it again when the opportunity presents itself.
Stop building settlements, stop demolishing homes, stop blaming others for acts over which we have agency. Goldstone isn’t our enemy, and taking on against him, as the Rabbinical Assembly has just, entirely ridiculously, done, will not bring peace.
As long as we treat acts for which we need to repent as thought they were public relations bloopers which can be addressed if we only change our spin, there will not be kaparah, atonement, no matter how long we fast on Yom Kippur, no matter how many chickens we swing. We have to do the work ourselves.
(From the Yom Kippur Haftarah Isaiah 58:2-7)
They ask Me for the right way,
They are eager for the nearness of God:
3 “Why, when we fasted, did You not see?
When we starved our bodies, did You pay no heed?”
Because on your fast day
You see to your business
And oppress all your laborers!
4 Because you fast in strife and contention,
And you strike with a wicked fist!
your fasting today is not such
As to make your voice heard on high.
5 Is such the fast I desire,
A day for men to starve their bodies?
Is it bowing the head like a bulrush
And lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Do you call that a fast,
A day when the Lord is favorable?
6 No, this is the fast I desire:
To unlock the fetters of wickedness,
And untie the cords of the yoke
To let the oppressed go free;
To break off every yoke.
7 It is to share your bread with the hungry,
And to take the wretched poor into your home;
When you see the naked, to clothe him,
And not to ignore your own kin.
When R. Shesheth kept a fast, on concluding his prayer he added the following: Sovereign of the Universe, Thou knowest full well that in the time when the Temple was standing, if a man sinned he used to bring a sacrifice, and though all that was offered of it was its fat and blood, atonement was made for him therewith. Now I have kept a fast and my fat and blood have diminished. May it be Thy will to account my fat and blood which have been diminished as if I had offered them before Thee on the altar, and do Thou favour me.. (Brachot 17a)
I apologize for being such a slacker this past year in posting. (New job and all that- not an excuse, but still).
Still, this morning I find myself with an embarrassment of riches, which I will try to cover over the next few days.
Today’s topic: a terrific post reflecting on tshuvah, and using the teachable moments recently offered us in public by politicians sports figures and musicians for how not to apologize.
I’ve noticed, myself, the spreading plague of people who “apologize” if I have hurt your feelings, implying that it is the victim who is oversensitive to a rather minor slight, or worse yet, implying that they have done nothing wrong at all, and the victim is to blame.
I actually blame the politicians for this one – the non-apology! It all started as a way for them to seem to apologize without actually taking responsibility for what was done wrong.
I would like to note that this is not really an apology. More »