Moshe Feiglin – who was a Likud MK in 2013-2015 – is out of the Knesset, for now at least, but his nonconformist thinking continues to arouse interest and spark fiery debate.
Feiglin took issue with the uniformly uncritical and adoring way Israel's media has been covering the plight of gay parents who were stranded with their newborn babies in harsh conditions, following the Nepal earthquake. These men hired poor Indian women to serve as surrogate mothers for their babies and then brought them to Nepal in order to give birth, because Indian law no longer allows gays to enter the country for the purpose of taking babies who were born through surrogacy.
About 20 such babies were born in Nepal in the days that immediately preceded the earthquake there. As a result, their gay parents reported situations of extreme distress. TV reports show the back seats of cars replacing the incubators in which some of the preemie babies had been held, and other difficulties faced by the parents.
In a Facebook post, Feiglin quoted two such men, who had been staying at a hotel that collapsed, as telling the press: “We got away with the children but the state [Israel – ed.] is not helping us. We have no diapers, there is no Materna [breastmilk substitute – ed.] and it will soon be nighttime, and it is starting to rain.”
Feiglin noted the obvious: the reason the fathers cannot feed their babies is that "they do not have breasts": "In other words, suddenly, when the outer shell of enlightenment and progress was abruptly shed, when the shaking earth left you and your child alone with it, without go-betweens – it suddenly turned out that a man has no breasts, and he cannot feed a newborn baby.”
"Of course,” he added, “one can conclude that whoever cannot breastfeed should walk around with a spare can of Materna on him, 24/7. Because you never know when an earthquake will catch you. That is the natural and obvious (and technically true) conclusion – for those who stick their heads in the sand.”
"But perhaps there is a deeper conclusion. Maybe, only maybe... it is not just the physical need that only the mother can satisfy. Maybe there is a spiritual equivalent – a kind of spiritual milk, you could say – that only she can provide? And maybe, only maybe, tempting a Third World woman to give birth to a child she will never see – is terrible cruelty? Did you think motherhood is an on-off thing?”
Feiglin noted that he is writing his post with trepidation, for fear of the backlash from gay activists. He explained, however, that he feels the need to write it because the children involved “are doomed to be motherless from the day they were born.” He also cited a recent US National Health Interview Survey that found that emotional problems were over twice as prevalent for children with same-sex parents than for children with opposite-sex parents.
Thursday, April 30, 2015
By Rabbi Yisrael Rozen
Dean of the Zomet Institute
In the Wake of the Funeral Procession
On Rosh Chodesh of the month of Iyar, Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein was called to the heavenly place of learning. Reb Aharon, as he was universally known, was a lion of a man who made Aliyah from the "Babylon" in America, bringing with him the Torah approach of the United States in the form of the methods of the "Rav" – his father-in-law, Rabbi Joseph Dov Soloveitchik, who raised the banner of involved academic Torah, the type of Orthodox Judaism in that land. Much has been written about Rabbi Lichtenstein in the press, and he has been crowned with many titles with respect to his traits, personality and ethics, and his world outlook. I have therefore decided to forego any attempt to add some more notes to his epitaph, and I will write today about one aspect of his written legacy – the Hesder yeshiva.
Reb Aharon left a legacy in the Har Etzion Hesder Yeshiva, along with its branches of offshoot yeshivot, of the Brisk style of learning, according to the traditions of Lita, which passed through the land of New York and was enriched by positive aspects of Western Culture. In this way he broadened and extended the labors of Rabbi Chaim Yaacov Goldvicht, who blended this Torah method with a Jerusalem-Chassidic approach in Kerem B'Yavneh, the first and the archetype of the Hesder Yeshivot.
A third type of Lita-style erudition in the study of the Talmud, which preceded the two mentioned above, was extant in "Merkaz Harav," in the form of the classic style of the yeshivot of Lita ("Volozhin"), with the added inspiration of the Torah of Eretz Yisrael and the concepts of the coming of the redemption.
These three yeshivot (with the fourth "archetype," Yeshivat Shaalavim) served asthe precursors of the Zionist yeshivot, and I venture to suggest that all the other yeshivot and batei Midrash can be viewed as derivatives based on these innovators.
Integrated Army Service
However, with respect to integrated army service within the framework of the Hesder yeshivot, combining Torah study and military skills, "I see a topsy-turvy world in front of me" (see Bava Batra 10b). As opposed to what might have been expected, Merkaz Harav has not fully accepted the integrated framework, in spite of the sanctity of the country and the army that are part and parcel of its approach. To this day this integrated approach is not an intimate part of its program. The students at Merkaz put on uniforms, but each student does so in his own time and following his own path – for short or full army service – but not as a standard program in the yeshiva.
As opposed to the spiritual path of Merkaz Harav, the "practical" approach of the Hesder was fully incorporated into Kerem B'Yavneh in the early sixties. The Rosh Yeshiva there accepted the outlook of his students, dedicated members of Bnei Akiva, that service in the IDF (including Nachal units) is the heart of showing loyalty to the State of Israel, and that there is an obligation to be fully integrated into the system. As far as I am concerned, this approach was accepted a priori (I was there myself!), recognizing the action as a challenge and an obligation of the first degree. After all, the ideology of integration is the heart of religious Zionism. The "vav" – "and" – of integration was transferred from the slogan "Torah and Labor" to a similar combination of "Torah and the army." Thus, the institution of the Hesder symbolized the extension of the religious settlement activities, which depended solely on this integration of goals.
Other Hesder Yeshivot were founded after the Six Day War – the Kotel, Golan, Har Etzion (and Shaalavim, which we mentioned above). They all followed the pattern of Kerem B'Yavneh, on the ideological basis of "Torah and..." as an ideal. And then Reb Aharon came and modified the approach somewhat, as far as I can see, on an intellectual level. In volume 7 of Techumin (5746-1986), we printed his essay, "This is the Essence of the Hesder." (It was also published in issue 100 of "Alon Shevut" in 5743.) This essay includes the following abstract – " A Hesder Yeshiva is the norm, a pure yeshiva is an anomaly." In this article there is no mention of the "vav of integration," rather it emphasizes the moral viewpoint that rejects standing off to one side, the need for "kindness," and the prohibition, "Do not stand by when your colleague's blood is in danger" [Vayikra 19:16], among other things. The nationalist obligation to "support Yisrael against an enemy who attacks them" [Rambam, Hilchot Melachim 5:1] is not prominently displayed in the article, and neither is the mitzva of conquering the land and taking possession of it, both of which serve as the basis of Rav Kook's support for settlement policies. Ethical and humanitarian considerations are what characterized all of the behavior and the outlook of Rabbi Lichtenstein, and he viewed the "essence of the Hesder" through the same prism.
In any case, Rabbi Lichtenstein saved his historical enthusiasm of the enterprise of the Hesder Yeshivot and his pride and excitement in the fact that he had been privileged to lead such a "creation" for the sentence he wrote as a summary of his essay: "When he stood with tears on the peak of the Mount of Olives with the depressing sight stretched out before his eyes and with the insight that 'the holier something is, the greater its destruction' (a quote from a letter that the Ramban wrote to his son), what would the Ramban have given in order to have served as the head of a Hesder Yeshiva? "
Posted by Jason Gold-Editor at 4/30/2015 06:26:00 AM
Posted by Jason Gold-Editor at 4/30/2015 06:18:00 AM
Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Firestorm over ex-MK's thoughts about the gay men who hired surrogate mothers for the babies now being extricated.By Gil Ronen
Posted by Jason Gold-Editor at 4/28/2015 08:51:00 PM
Monday, April 27, 2015
By Shmuel Sackett
Help is on the way! A major earthquake rocks Nepal and thousands are feared dead. While most of the world sits silently and simply watches the news, Israel put together a team of medical experts plus a search and rescue team that will risk their lives looking for survivors. I have to be honest. You may get excited when Israel sends emergency teams and supplies to help in international disasters, but I do not. Sorry for being so blunt but I do not jump for joy when I see my brothers and sisters running to Haiti, Indonesia or Pakistan, unless it is to save Jews who are trapped there. Since this sounds very selfish, mean and un-Jewish (aren’t we merciful people?) allow me to explain.
Posted by Jason Gold-Editor at 4/27/2015 11:01:00 AM
President Obama asserted on April 2, 2015 that he was ready to conclude an agreement with the Ayatollahs "only if Iran came to the table in a serious way." On April 6, 2015, Obama stated that it would be "a fundamental misjudgment" to precondition an agreement with the Ayatollahs upon the transformation of thenature of their regime.
Indeed, the Ayatollahs must come to the table in a serious way for an effective agreement to be concluded - advancing peaceful coexistence, rather than fueling violence. However, "a serious (peace-driven) way," on the one hand, and thenature of the Ayatollahs, on the other hand, constitutes an oxymoron.
The well-documented nature of the Ayatollahs consists of: Islamic supremacy; violent intolerance of the Christian and Jewish "infidel;" apocalyptic and megalomaniac worldview and policies; worshipping martyrdom/suicide bombing; ruthless domestic repression; hate-education in K-12; sponsorship of global Islamic terrorism; subversion and terrorism against all pro-US Arab regimes; collaboration with all anti-US regimes; nuclear cooperation and co-development of long-range ballistic capabilities with North Korea, a rogue nuclear power; expansion of economic, military, gas and nuclear cooperation with Russia, which collaborates with Iran in Syria and Yemen; undermining the US position in Latin America via the enhancement of economic, military and gas cooperation with Venezuela and Bolivia, which supply uranium to Iran, as well as overall cooperation with Argentina and uranium-rich Ecuador; demonization of the USA in schools, media and mosques - "the Great Satan;" celebration of the November 4 "Death to America Day;" systematic non-compliance with agreementsthrough the art of nuclear concealment, double-talk and deception (Taqiyyah).
The nature of the Ayatollahs' regime constitutes a clear and present threat to vital US interests.
An effective agreement must not subordinate reliability to desirability. Therefore, the track record of the Ayatollahs should override - and must not be sacrificed on the altar of - the hopes and aspirations of reaching an agreement. The reality inside the negotiation halls must be determined by – and not conflict with - the reality of Iran's track record outside the negotiation halls. As pertinent as are the details of an agreement, the details of the Ayatollahs' track record – domestically, regionally and globally - constitute the dominant element which will shape the ripple effects of an agreement: will it promote peaceful coexistence or intensify violence?
Short-term political convenience and assessments must be subordinated to long term assessments of the imperialistic goals and rogue foreign and national security policies of the Ayatollahs.
An agreement with a rogue regime cannot be effective unless preconditioned upon the dramatic transformation of the nature of the regime.
The ethos, mission and long-term vision of the Ayatollahs are reflected most authentically and lucidly in their school textbooks, which were analyzed by theCenter for Monitoring the Impact of Peace (CMIP). According to CMIP, which analyzed 115 textbooks, "Hostility towards the USA is apparent everywhere in the textbooks, backed by a set of titles of which 'the Great Satan' is exclusively reserved for the USA…. Iran prepares its school students to fight the West – the US in particular – as an indispensable phase of the Islamic Revolution…. Much emphasis is put on Jihad[Holy War] and martyrdom…. Iran's school system prepares its pupils for World War III in the name of Islam against American world hegemony…. A life-or-death global war against the infidel oppressors…. 'O Muslims of the world, you should overcome the fear of death and leverage the passionate and martyrdom-seeking youths…. We shall not cease until the annihilation of all of them (Islamic Viewpoint, Grade 11)'…. 'The exalted God gives eternal Paradise to anyone who becomes a martyr [Islamic Culture and Religious Instruction, Grade 8]…. There is a clear differentiation between Islam and the other monotheistic religions. Islam is considered superior… the only valid religion…. Israel is presented as a base created by Western Colonialism for the control of the Arabs and Muslims [Geography, Grade 11]…."
Unlike the USSR which adhered to the principle of mutual assured destruction (MAD),the apocalyptic worldview of the Ayatollahs – who had no compunction in dispatching 500,000 children to clear minefields during Iran's war against Iraq - considers MAD-driven martyrdom an inducement, a sublime prize. Furthermore, the Ayatollahs believe in the imminent emergence of the 12th (Hidden) Imam, the Mahdi – Muhammad's successor - through apocalyptic events, which could be accelerated via military confrontations, including nuclear.
While negotiating with the USA, the Ayatollahs follow core Islamic principles such as the Hudaybiyyah Treaty – which allows Muslims to conclude an agreement, to be abrogated, in order to overcome the "infidel" – and Taqiyyah, which legitimizes deception in the pursuit of Islamic goals. For example, on November 5, 2004,notwithstanding the facts, the current Foreign Minister, Zarif, wrote: "The predominant view among Iranian decision-makers is that possession of nuclear weapons would only undermine Iranian security…. There are also serious ideological restrictions against weapons of mass destruction…. A costly nuclear weapon option would reduce Iran's regional influence and increase its global vulnerabilities." On September 12, 2002, Iran's current President, Rouhani, proclaimed on ABC-TV: "We are not pursuing nuclear, chemical, biological weapons." On March 21, 2003, theSupreme Ayatollah, Khamenei, stated: "The statement that the Islamic Republic wants to obtain chemical weapons and the atomic bomb is totally false."
Against the backdrop of the track record of the Ayatollahs, it would be a well-intentioned fundamental misjudgment – which could lead to a global chaos, including a nuclear war - not to precondition an agreement with the Ayatollahs upon the drastic transformation of the nature of their regime.
Posted by Jason Gold-Editor at 4/27/2015 11:00:00 AM
Friday, April 24, 2015
By Rabbi Yisrael Rozen
Dean of the Zomet Institute
Dean of the Zomet Institute
"After the two sons of Aharon died..." [Vayikra 16:1]. "I will be sanctified through my holy ones, and I will be honored in front of the entire nation. And Aharon was silent." [10:3].
"The Secret of Redemption Lies in Remembering"
The past two weeks have been filled with sadness and grief. Last week included the Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers and for the Victims of Terrorism, and the week before that we marked Holocaust Remembrance Day and its dreadful times. Yom Haatzmaut (the Day of Independence) which we celebrated in the last few days is a direct consequence of the previous sad days, and it gains its great strength from the memories. My feeling is that these memorial days are the high point of our national patriotic feelings. They express our stiff-necked national attitude with strength and pride, together with our eternal cry, "The nation of Yisrael lives!" This in a way is more vital than the celebrations of Yom Haatzmaut with its ceremonial character and its flags and barbeques.
I am writing this article soon after Holocaust Remembrance Day, before Memorial Day and the Day of Independence, and I can still hear in my ears the talk of Holocaust survivors who live amongst us. Their horrifying personal memories bring out amazement, appreciation, and wonder: "How could you return to normal lives, at least in external appearance, after the frightening experiences that you had?" The answer that they all gave was: the eternity of Yisrael - the G-d of Yisrael, and the nation of Yisrael. The individual weaved his or her life from the point of view of the community as a whole, and this was their source of strength and life.
We Remember Together
From this we can move smoothly to the memory of the fallen soldiers, with added emphasis on the victims of terror attacks. Murderous terrorism strikes against us without pause.
For the last few years a very impressive event has taken place in Jerusalem on the eve of Memorial Day, called "We Remember, we Sing, and we Tell." The entire evening is a way of giving an embrace to bereaved families. This event is organized by the organization "Zochrim" (We Remember), headed by Dov Kalmanowitz (the first victim of the First Intifada, now a member of the Jerusalem city council), who recovered from very serious burns and dedicated himself to initiating a national project that enhances the pride of bereaved families and of us all. Thousands of people gather at the Sultan's Pool, outside the walls of Jerusalem, and listen breathless and with tears in their eyes to words, music, and poetry all saluting those who were injured in the battlefields, both those wearing uniforms and in civilian clothing. The unique element of the evening is the tremendous cooperation between IDF injured and victims of terrorism, between nonreligious, religious, and Chareidim (!), between Jews and non-Jews (Druze, Christians), between the fallen and incurable injured ones and those who have made remarkable recoveries.
As I write this article I still have strong memories of last year's event. This edition of Shabbat-B'Shabbato will be published after this year's gathering, which will have taken place in the intervening week, and which I also hope to attend. To our great sorrow, every year new families are added to the legions of the bereaved, with their own stories of national and personal heroism. This year we salute the warriors who participated in Operation Protective Edge, those who sacrificed themselves and were either killed or injured while performing their duties. We also remember the three young men who were kidnapped in Gush Etzion and their amazing families, together with many people who were stabbed in the cities and roads throughout the land, in addition those who were purposely run over, killed or maimed at bus stops, train stations, and hitchhiking stations.
"He who avenges the blood will remember them" [Tehillim 9:13] – This refers to the Holy One, Blessed be He, and we follow in His footsteps. From the depths of our hearts we cry out about the car attack which cut short the life of a young man in his prime, Shalom Yochai Cherki, son of our colleague Rabbi Oury Cherki, also injuring his close friend – and we wish her a speedy recovery. There can be no more eloquent words than the cry of a father at the funeral of his son, a martyr because he was a Jew, whom no other creature can stand up to. (See Bava Batra 10b.)
After Aharon's sons died, we are told, "And Aharon was silent" – as quoted above. This "silence" means that the one who experienced the suffering was quiet, but that those around him are commanded to console him, by trying to calm him down and by crying out to G-d: "Enough!" As our sages taught us, "'And Aharon was silent' – To be quiet means to offer consolation." [Avot D'Rebbe Natan, Chapter 5].
A big sin is perpetrated for the people themselves and for the families by those who have adopted the "modern" practice of a foreign culture of mourning, best described by the verse, "He sits alone and is silent" [Eicha 3:28]. This is not the way of Judaism, which has been blessed with a number of mitzvot related to consolation, including the instructions to the mourners not to lock the door for people who come to offer consolation. And even beyond this, sitting alone in mourning is a missed opportunity. The practice of "shiva" provides an opportunity to remember the good traits of the deceased and to praise him or her as an educational or ethical example, so that "the living can take the matter to heart" [Kohellet 7:2].
The mitzva of consolation goes hand in hand with the mitzva of attending a funeral. Since I have raised the subject of mourning, I will take note of an event which has upset me very much since a funeral which took place on the first day of Chol Hamoed Pesach: The command is to "accompany" the deceased and not to push and crush other people. What was the Holy One, Blessed be He, trying to hint at in the terrible tragedy of the deaths of "two sons of Aharon" who were trampled to death "in their close approach" to the coffin of one of the Torah giants of this generation, Rabbi Shmuel Halevi Vazner? Only G-d has the answers! It is silly to blame the police or the organizers of the funeral. Only G-d has answers, and we at a loss about what to do...
Posted by Jason Gold-Editor at 4/24/2015 12:29:00 PM
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Posted by Jason Gold-Editor at 4/22/2015 11:16:00 PM