Monday, April 25, 2016

Death in the Family

New Update

Baruch Dayan HaEmes. My brother Barry Maryles passed away on the 1st day of Pesach in Chicago. Assuming the Meis (body) arrives at Ben Gurion Airport on schedule the funeral will take place Tuesday in Israel at the Eretz HaChaim Cemetery near Bet Shemesh.

There will be no new posts until after the Shiva - which begins this Motzi Shabbos.

Shiva Information

I will be sitting Shiva at 13/9 Nachal Shimshon in Ramat Bet Shemesh - Aleph (RBS) Motzi Shabbos and S,M,T between 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM
...and with my brother Jack by Sandy and Levi Shultz at Tarshish 7 in Hashmonaiim S,M,T from11:00 AM to 3:00 PM

I will be  sitting Shiva in Chicago with Barry's children and my brother Jack on Wednesday night after Mincha til 9:00PM and Thursday after Shachris til 9:00PM at 2826 W. Morse.

Get up from Shiva: Friday morning after Shachris

Davening times (Minyanim) in Israel (all in RBS on 13/9 Nachal Shimshon):

Motzi Shabbos: 8:15 PM
Shachris S,M,T: 7:00 AM
Mincha S,M,T: 7:05 PM
Maariv S,M,T: 7:45 PM

Davening times (Minyanim) in Chicago:

Shachris on Thursday and Friday is at 7:30 PM. and Mincha/Maariv on Wednesday night and Thursday night is at 7:40 PM.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Happy Pesach

It’s Erev Pesach. I want to take his opportunity to wish everyone a happy and Kosher Pesach. I have been quite involved with my family here and enjoying every minute of it. As in the past I am linking to a number of past Divrei Torah I’ve written that anyone may use at the Seder table. They are all printable. Here is the list:

When Fellow Jews are Hurt Because of my Principles

Rabba Sara Hurwitz - first woman to be ordained by an Orthodox rabbi
One of the most troubling things about the currents in Modern Orthodoxy today is the fact that some very sincere and honorable women feel slighted and disrespected because of the opposition by rabbinic leadership across the Hashkafic spectrum denying ordination to women.

An intelligent woman that I respect very much recently explained that to me in a facebook discussion. If I understand her correctly, she said that denying something to a woman only because she is a woman, (and no other reason) denies her the ability to be who she really is… and is capable of being based on her personal strengths and talent. That is not denied to men. Which makes it inherently unfair. And since there is no real Halachic basis to deny women the right to be ordained, that makes it hurtful.

I have been having this discussion for quite some time. And I am truly hurt myself, when people are hurt because of my religious views. That is the last thing I want.

Why am I so opposed to giving women Semicha? I have stated my reasons many times. But at the end of the day, the main reason is that rabbinic authorities across the Orthodox Hashkafic spectrum are opposed. Including the Roshei Yeshiva at YU, the flagship institution of Modern Orthodoxy. So it doesn’t really matter what I – or anyone else thinks.

One might deduce from this that I am Charedi in the sense that I believe in the infallibility of rabbinic leadership. This is not the case at all. If one does a cursory look at the many times I disagreed with a rabbinic body on a variety of issues - one will see that I am not like that. At the same time (…and I have expressed this before as well) I do not believe that rabbinic leaders should be ignored. Far from it. They do posses more Torah knowledge than the rest of us. So that in cases where there is universal agreement across the Hashkafic spectrum on an issue, there is little room for people like me or others of lesser stature to debate it with them.

It’s true that some individual and even quite knowledgeable rabbis (but of admitted lesser stature) have argued against the prevailing rabbinic view that a woman may not be ordained. But that view pales when compared to the entire vast body of rabbinic opinion by rabbis of great stature across the Hashkafic spectrum with which they disagree. This in part is why the Modern Orthodox RCA in a recent resolution voted upon by its membership has rejected the idea ordaining women so completely.

The fact that critics have pointed out that it was a close vote does not really indicate the level of opposition. A lot of those (but certainly not all) who voted against the resolution were in favor of it in principle – but felt that a new resolution which basically reiterated their previous position was counter-productive. So they voted against making the resolution, but not against the principles contained therein.

One must respect the rabbinic opinion if it is universal. It is not like the issue of Metzizah B’Peh. Where there is a variety of views by rabbinic leaders – depending on what their Hashkafa is. That’s why the RCA has the policy of rejecting the legitimacy of female rabbis. To say things about them like ‘they are an old boys club’ or the like is untrue and grossly unfair. So that even if some of them were like that (which I don’t think they are) they can’t all be like that.  

At the end of the day, I have to respect rabbinic leadership when its agreement on an issue is across the board in the wide spectrum of Orthodoxy. I firmly believe their agreement on this issue is no less principled that those that disagree with them.

But that does not make me feel any better about hurting fellow human beings that see this is an unfair constraint on their personal growth in Yiddishkeit. They too are principled. And I am personally hurt when my views hurt others even though it is unintentional. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A Professional Perspecive on Rape

Guest contribution by Dr. Yehoshua H. Breyer*

2010 study: One in four domestic violence cases are men (Daily Mail)
A few days ago I wrote about the sensitive subject of rape on campus and Rabbi Pruzansky's perspective on it. About which I was very critical. That post drew quite a variety of responses. One of which was sent to me privately by an experienced Orthodox  mental health professional that deals with cases of this type. He discusses a tangential issue that is rarely spoken of but is quite serious and more common than most people realize. You may recognize his writing style. I have featured his thoughtful words here before. With his permission I offer it here in its entirety. It follows.

I concur that true  rape is on the increase.  In fact, sexual activity has extended far beyond the boundaries that existed for centuries – a healthy and precious part of a loving emotional, marital relationship.  We have at the present countless forms of behavior that is recognized as sexual behavior, and the permissiveness about the entire subject, both the action, and the communication in verbal and image terms would be unrecognizable to earlier generations.  

Virtually all advertising is founded on some form of subliminal sexual message.  Books do not sell without something sexual in the content or marketing.  With the “new values” being set for America and other countries that consider all sorts of perversions legitimate, we are only facing something far more monstrous than just the “oldest profession”.

Among the problems here is the disconnect, often to the 100% level between physical intimacy and the emotional relationship.  If all of sex is about drama, entertainment, and the moments of physical pleasure, than there becomes the underpinning of addiction to it, where that becomes an end in itself.  Such experiences are, by definition, devoid of true meaning, and are fleeting moments of endorphin rush.  If there is no pursuit of something more lasting, this just gets repeated, and becomes the raison d’etre.  If the target participant is unwilling, then the option that is preferred is to overcome the resistance.  Whether that means physical force or some other form is irrelevant.  That is rape.

But there is another huge problem here.  I divert for a moment.  The field of domestic violence is becoming seriously damaged by a phenomenon that occurs whenever legislation is passed to create a new attitude and to lash back at a cultural pattern.  The DV system is flawed by bad research, that allows a limited amount of information to be recognized, despite scientific rigor.  

This model assumes that all DV (domestic violence) is perpetrated by the male against the female.  So there are no shelters for battered husbands, and there is not a single program in all 50 states to protect a husband that is being abused by his wife.  Existing DV programs deny the vast amount of true science that finds the male edge as perpetrators of DV at around 56%.  This means that close to 50% of reported DV is simply untrue.  And a few states have introduced legislation to make the false reporting of DV a crime that can be prosecuted.

Let’s get back on track.  Rape exists, is illegal, horrible, and is probably increasing.  And it is also underreported.  However, I also suspect that there is a percentage that is too big to ignore of false reports of rape.  It is too easy to do that, and no one needs to prove a thing.  This has already been documented, even in a case that was covered in national media.

The subject has too many complicating factors.  I hesitate to buy into anyone pushing a single agenda.

*not his real name

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

When an Accused Sex Abuser is Innocent

Alan Dershwoitz (Breitbart)
This is one of those times when blaming the ‘victim’ was justified.  Famed attorney and Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz was accused of sexual assault last year by a woman know only as Jane Doe #3.  He denied the claims.

Ordinarily someone accused of sexual misconduct will do that. Has there ever been a sex offender that admitted his crime? If he wasn’t caught, he will deny it. So when Dershowitz denied it, skepticism prevailed. After all the vast majority of sex abuse accusations are valid. So  denial by the accused is standard operating procedure. For me that tainted the reputation of someone I admired. Mostly for his principled stand supporting Israel.

When a man of his stature does that, it means a lot more than if I do it. Especially when a liberal like Dershowitz does the defending. But after he was accused, I saw him more as a liability than an asset. Who wan’t an accused sex offender defending anything I believe in?

Well here is what was reported in Breitbart:
(Jane Doe #3’s attorneys Bradley Edwards and Paul Cassell) acknowledge that it was a mistake to have filed sexual misconduct accusations against Dershowitz and the sexual misconduct accusations made in all public filings (including all exhibits) are hereby withdrawn.”
This was after Dershowitz filed papers proving that he couldn’t have been where the misconduct took place at the time it was reported to have happened.

I guess that’s the kind of proof you need when you are accused of a sex crime.

I have not been reticent to call out our own religious community about its slow uptake in how sex abuse should be treated. Far too often the accused is believed over the victim. Especially when the accused is a respected member of the community with no known history of abuse. That it might have gone on for years in secret does not occur to his defenders. Denials by the accused are not only believed, but often result in further victimization of the victim. And if a family members gets involved – like when a father believes his son and reports the abuse to the police - he can be accused of the actual abuse. This happened in at least one case I know about in Lakewood. Fortunately that family has survived and to the best of my knowledge is doing well. Some (but not all) of the father's accusers have apologized to him.

But every once in awhile the accuser gets it wrong. And sometimes it is an outright lie that was made for personal gain. I don’t know that this was he case with Jane Doe #3. But if I had to guess, I would say that there was probably either a financial motive… or that she is just plain mentally disturbed. After all she also accused Britain’s Prince Andrew and former President Bill Clinton.

But her lawyers believed her nonetheless. And they were going to extract justice. Probably in financial terms.  

I guess what I’m trying to say is that even in a climate where victims are usually right and often mistreated by a community that defends an accused abuser that is likely guilty… even though life-long struggles that occur to people that were abused (hence their preference to be called survivors) when these things happen to people… there is still the very real possibility that someone was falsely accused… and when that happens not always can he disprove those allegations the way Dershowitz did. And that will result in devastating consequences - not only for the accused but for his family as well. Not to mention that when things like this happen, it can hurt the credibility of future victims of abuse.

Monday, April 18, 2016

And Away We Go!

I’m off to the holy land. My wife and I will be in Ramat Bet Shemesh for Pesach with my son and his family. This will be my first Pesach in Israel ( wife was there once before we were married) and everyone assures me that it is an amazing experience. I am looking forward to it… and to enjoying my grandchildren.

I will be Davening mostly in Maasas Mordechai on Nachal Dolev. If you are in the neighborhood. come on over and say hi.

Meanwhile, today is a travel day so there will be no new post. For extra credit...  the above is a picture of my entire family (including the Israeli branch) ...all of my children; all of my grandchildren; my wife and me. It was taken last Chol HaMoed Sukkos in Highland Park, Illinois. Do you know any of these people? Which ones are the Israelis? Can you spot me? (Hint: I'm wearing an orange t-shirt and standing next to my wife - also  wearing an orange t-shirt. She's the one in the skirt.)

Hope to ‘see’ you all right back here on Tuesday.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Rape is Rape!

University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor (NPR)
I was recently asked by a woman I respect (even though we disagree on a few things) to comment on an essay Rabbi Steven Pruzansky wrote on his own personal blog. I responded that I was not inclined to comment, because of the overwhelmingly negative response already published - with which I agreed. I felt that I had nothing to add.What he wrote was out of line and wrong, but since there has been so much written about it, I did not want to pile on. She responded that my voice was needed since I am viewed as someone more right wing than those who were currently responding.

I thought about it, but I just wasn’t sure how to express my feelings about it accurately. However, I understand the need so I have decided to add my voice to those who have criticized his essay.

What Rabbi Pruzansky seems to be saying is that despite identifying it as such there is no such thing as a rape culture on college campuses these days. What is called rape today would never have been called rape in the past. But because of our promiscuous times - where ‘hooking up’ seems to be the norm - a coed who cries rape by a fellow student hasn’t really been really raped at all. It is a relationship gone bad.  He thereby excuses a rapist that had some sort of relationship with the victim. In short he seems to be promoting a kind of ‘blame the victim’ mentality.

Here is the thing, though. Unwanted sex is rape, whether it is at gunpoint or at a party where alcohol and/or drugs are being served. Can anyone imagine it wouldn’t be? Excusing or explaining it away because of a permissive culture where women are willing participants does not change that fact. Does he not realize that it doesn’t matter what kind of relationship there is? Has he not heard of marital rape? If a woman does not want to have sex with any man and is forced to have it - it is rape. Period.

How does Rabbi Pruzansky think his words affect the women that were rape victims over time? Here is an excerpt from one rape victim’s response
I was traumatized by the experience of being a rape victim and having the cops doubt my credibility, and am re-traumatized when people like you today suggest it was my fault.
It doesn’t matter whether the rapist was carrying a weapon, a roofie to put in a victim’s drink, or emotionally manipulates them. Rape is rape…
60 percent of rapes are unreported (90 percent on campus) because women have given up trying to convince people like you that they were subjected to a violent, demeaning, dehumanizing condition, one that could cost them their lives, by men who simply wanted to assert their power over them. 
Last Friday the RCA posted an open letter on Facebook responding to Rabbi Pruzansky. It more or less reflects my own view here. Here are the key excerpts: 
(Rabbi Pruzansky) argued in a way that many find objectionable and was hurtful to many who themselves were victims of sexual violence or who were troubled by what he said…
The empathetic, pastoral ear and heart that were absent from his entry implicated his colleagues. We as religious leaders feel an added and primary responsibility for compassion, for the defense of the weak and the vulnerable, and to defend those who are or consider themselves victims of aggression and assault… 
However, we are dismayed by the overkill that has become the response to Rabbi Pruzansky's blog entry. Some have misrepresented his remarks; some are fomenting personal attacks and boycotts against him… Response to perceived disrespect is not through disrespect 
I think that final point should not be overlooked. I have disagreed with Rabbi Pruzansky before. More than once – on a variety of issues. And I strongly disagree with him here. But I do not think he is a bad person. Nor do I think he intended to hurt anyone. He was trying to convey a point about the current promiscuous culture so prevalent on college campuses today (which is unarguable in my view) and suggest that abstinence would be a way to turn the tide… and lower if not eliminate the number of rape cases.

One can agree or disagree with that. But there is not a doubt in my mind that there is a ‘hook up’ mentality on college campuses today. That has created a culture where having casual sex with a coed is as acceptable as eating a candy bar. The values of modern times have taken a deep dive downward. The idea of abstinence as a solution is laughed at. It is unworkable in today’s culture. The idea of saying ‘no’ to this culture by refusing to participate in it is seen as unrealistic. Maybe so. Everyone who does not have strong religious values regarding the morality of having casual sex sees no problem with it as long as neither of the participants are in a committed relationship with another person.

There is little doubt in my mind that this attitude creates an environment that in many cases sees a man talking a woman into having sex with him even if she doesn’t really want it as ‘no big deal’. There is no question that incidences of rape on college campuses have increased in recent years. I think the promiscuous society in which we live (especially on college campuses) has contributed to the numbers.

This of course does not excuse rape when it happens under any circumstances. This is where Rabbi Pruzansky went wrong. But the increase is real and there has to be a reason. (I don’t think it is only the fact that reporting it is up. I think the actual rape numbers are up, too.) There may be other contributing factors but I don’t think this one should be discounted.

Had Rabbi Pruzansky stuck to this point, I might have agreed with him. Unfortunately with his words he entered to territory about which he seems to have little knowledge… and hurt a lot of people in the process.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Being Different

Chasidic activist Ezra Freidlander (left) and Governor John Kasich (JTA)
When I say we are in the silly season, I’m not kidding. Yesterday I saw a couple of videos of Ohio Governor John Kasich touring Orthodox sections of Brooklyn. One was in a book store and the other (courtesy of Rafi’s ‘Life in Israel’ blog and available for viewing below) was in a Matzah factory. I say silly because of the way Mr. Kasich looked throughout that tour. I don’t think I have even seen a facial expression that looked more like ‘get me out of here’ than I saw on Mr. Kasich’s face. Not to mention the absurdity of his comments about Jesus in front of all of those Chasidic Jews.

Now, I am sure that Governor Kasich is not an antisemite. But that didn’t make him look any less uncomfortable in that environment. The question is why? Why would a group of obviously religious Jews make him so uncomfortable (or at least look that way – even if he wasn’t)?

I think that the answer is the distinct cultural look of these Chasidic Jews. They look radically different from most of the American mainstream. He probably felt like he was on a different planet. 

Please do not misunderstand. I would be the first one to defend the the right of any group or individual to dress in any manner they please as long as it was lawful. The freedom to be who we are and express our differences is one of the values I hold dear about this magnificent country in which we live.

But that doesn’t mean that it won’t make you uncomfortable to be surrounded by a group of people that look so radically different than the rest of a society. Of which you are a part. So it is not the religion, or the Orthodoxy that makes him uncomfortable. It is the specific look of a specific segment that might.

The irony is that part of the reason that Chasidim look this way is specifically to be different. They do not want to look like the rest of a society whose culture they perceive as decadent and reject. They take literally the biblical admonition of Lo Selechu B’Chukas HaGoy (do not follow in the statutes of a non Jew) and Uv'Chukosehem Lo Selechu (in their statutes you should not follow).

Another more mainstream interpretation of this Halacha is that it applies only to the immoralities of their culture. Not to all of it. But for Chasidim anything a non Jew does, should be avoided by a Jew.

So to Chasidim - if a non Jew wears a suit, we must wear a Kapote or Bekeshe. If a non Jew wears a normal looking fedora, we need to make a hat that looks different. If a non Jew speaks English well, we must not.

I hasten to add that wearing a Kipa - which almost every Orthodox Jew does - makes Orthodox Jews stand out and look different, too. But I think it is a question of degree.

For Chasidim - so strong is their desire to not follow the culture that they try to isolate themselves. What better way to accomplish that, then to look and sound so radically different.  Their thinking is - if you don’t look and sound like a ‘Goy’ you won’t act like one. Which is a terrible way to behave. Wear your own distinctive clothing and speak English only when necessary (Yiddish being the preferred language) so that you will not be tempted to join them since they will look at you as weird anyway.

However, if you look at the video of Governor Kasich and these Chasidic Jews, there is a very definite attempt by the Chasidic activists accompanying Mr. Kasich to get him to like them… to appreciate their culture. They go out of their way to explain the beauty of Judaism as they understand it and live it. They fully understand that making a good impression on a possible future President is important. It is always a good idea to have a national leader look favorably upon a constituency.

For his part Governor Kasich understands the kind of voting power that exists in Chasidic world. That’s why he’s there. To get their block vote. But I’m not sure it worked out for either of those goals. Kasich kind of blew it with his Jesus comment. And I don’t think the Chasidic Jews succeeded in making a favorable impression on him either.

In one of those videos, Kasich asked some Chasidic Yeshiva students what they were studying. They answered the Talmud. He said that he meant what specific material they were studying. They answered they were studying about ‘Shabbat’. I have to wonder if Kasich even knows that many Chasidim do not have a secular education at all… which is one reason they do not speak English well. That the only subjects they study are religious subjects. How would he feel about that if he knew? Would he even care? …as long as he gets their block vote?

At the end of the day, no one did anything wrong. Aside from my issues about their lack of education (which leads to a whole slew of other problems) I have no problem with choosing the lifestyle they lead, including the way they look and sound. God bless them for living the ideals of Judaism as they understand them as long as they do not infringe upon the rights of others. That – like I always say – is what America is all about. 

Chasidim should however realize that there may be negative consequences to that. I doubt for example that Governor Kasich or any non Jew that has this kind of encounter would ever say that their way of life is one that should be emulated.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

When Being Honest is Newsworthy

Joseph Waldman calling the bank about the money given to him in error (YWN)
How sad it is that when an Orthodox Jew from Kiryas Joel is honest, it make the news. YWN reported a story about a Chasidic man that returned to a bank, the money  that was given to him in error. Kiryas Joel resident Joseph Waldman cashed a check for $25 dollars and was given $2500 instead by the teller.

Every Jew has an obligation to be honest. Stealing from a bank is a violation of the law of the land -  the Dina D’Malchusa. Which makes it a violation of Halacha.  But even without that, to allow for a possible Chilul HaShem is not in anybody’s interest – except for the antisemites of the world who revel in stories about dishonest Jews. They salivate about these kinds of stories we constantly hear about in the media.

Well this time there is what YWN calls a Kiddush HaShem. Perhaps. But consider the possible consequences of his not having returned the money. It is very possible the bank would have traced the error back to him. And then he would probably have been criminally charged with theft. So not only would he have been ethically wrong, he would have been criminally wrong. 

And that would have been a Chilul HaShem. Mr. Waldman was very wise to return the money. He was additionally wise to record the conversation with the bank informing them of the mistake and to have someone take a video of the actual return.  This way everyone can see what he did.

I have to wonder though, why he didn’t immediately notice that the money he got back was far in excess of the $25 dollars he was supposed to get. What took him so long to notice? Most people count the money they receive from a bank teller to see if they got the right amount back. But I will give him the benefit of the doubt and say that he was in a hurry, just took the envelop with the cash in it, and ran out without checking to see if the amount he received was correct.

That this story makes news - makes it a ‘man bites dog’ story. Which implies that most of the time Orthodox Jews will not think twice about keeping money given to them in error. Which is the way of the world I suppose. But aren't we supposed to be the most ethical nation in the world? Shouldn't our standards be higher than 'the way of the world'?

It is so sad that so many Jews do not take seriously our mandate to represent the values of the Torah. So that when someone does, it becomes news. 

At the end of the day, I applaud what Mr. Waldman did. He did the right thing – even if he decided to record himself doing it and so that others could see it. I just wish it wasn’t so newsworthy that an Orthodox Jew is so honest. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Wedding on the Temple Mount

Image from the Jewish Press
I like the Jewish Press. I wish other Orthodox weekly publications were more like them. They are by far the most inclusive Orthodox weekly periodical. A wide variety of  Hashkafic perspective are published by them. They feature regular columns from Charedim, Lubavitch,  and Modern Orthodox rabbis. They even feature a monthly column by Open Orthodox founder Rabbi Avi Weiss. And they have been very gracious to me in publishing hundreds of my post in their online edition. And a few even in there print edition. Nor do they refuse to publish pictures of women. 

But - as I have stated in the past -there is one thing about their editorial policy that troubles me. It permeates just about every story they do. It is their very right wing approach to Religious Zionism. Now they certainly have a right to their opinion. And I hate to bite the hand that feeds me. (Well, they don’t exactly feed me since they do not pay me anything. But they do give my articles a wider audience - allowing me to reach people I would not otherwise be able to. And for that I am very grateful.)

So why does their version of Religious Zionism trouble me? Because in my view it borders on the extreme. I had written a post about an example of this a few months ago. To their credit they published it despite the fact that my views were diametrically opposite theirs. The critics opposing my views that commented on it were vicious. Including a  threat from one individual to have my posts banned from the Jewish Press. Thankfully they have not banned me. 

The Jewish Press subsequently published a rather harsh rebuttal to my post. I submitted a response to that rebuttal which they did not publish. I suppose they have a right to have the last word. It’s their paper.

I’m afraid I have to do this again. And if they choose to publish this one, they will not doubt have a similar response.

Yesterday’s online edition of the Jewish Press featured an upbeat story about a marriage that took place on Har HaBayis - the Temple Mount. They described the details of how this came about and could not have expressed more joy that it happened – wishing a hearty Mazel Tov to the young couple. As if the most normal and Jewish thing one could do was to get married on Har HaBayis.

My immediate thought was, ‘How many Jews are going to be killed because of this?’ This kind of comment always precipitates rejoinders like the following from the right wing of Religious Zionists:

‘How dare you blame the victim?!’ ‘Jews get randomly get stabbed and you blame an unrelated event that had nothing to do with the victim who was killed or wounded?!’ ‘What is the matter with you?!’ What kind of a self hating Jew are you?! ‘Go join up with your friends Hamas since you seem to be endorsing killing Jews randomly!’ ‘If your worried about inciting the Arabs to violence, why not bar Jews from living in Tel Aviv?! (…love that one.) ‘The truth is they don’t want Jews living anywhere in ‘Palestine’ which to them is every inch of Eretz Yisroel including Tel  Aviv.’

I suppose in the eyes of people who share those views it makes me an antisemite.  

Well, I am not an antisemite. I just care that Jews might be killed because some people got their jollies getting married on Har HaBayis. There is little doubt in my mind that the series of almost daily stabbings in all parts of Israel that began back in October – is a result of these kinds of activities on Har Habayis that took place at that time. There were no Jews stabbed on a daily basis like this prior to that. Not in Tel Aviv and not even in East Jerusalem. 

That violence finally seems to have died down. But I fear that an incident like this may rekindle it by Arabs worried about losing the Al-Aqsa Mosque – something a few even more fanatic Jews have been promising to do.

First of all, Har Habayis is not a wedding hall. Even if we had full control of it. The idea that one wants to get married in the holiest place on earth may have its appeal – even if it is not designed to be used that way. But at what price?!

Yes. As I have said numerous times. Har HaBayis belongs to the Jewish people and no one else. But God in His infinite wisdom has put obstacles in front of us. He has allowed another nation to place a building in its heart in service to their own religion. And has assured that all the nations of the world support them. God does not appear to want us up there now.

The Charedi Gedolim of yesteryear and even the current Charedi rabbinic leaders have issued a blanket Issur- forbidding entry to any part of Har HaBayis. That’s because Jews in our day are in a presumed state of perpetual Tumah – spiritual uncleanliness. We’ve lost our ability to remove ourselves from that state.The Makom HaMikdash may not be entered in that state. Now it is true that there are some areas that allow people that are Tameh. But the Charedi  Gedolim fearful that those areas may be breached inadvertently or otherwise have decreed that all Jews should stay of of Har HaBayis. I agree with them.

Religious Zionist rabbis on the other hand  – have determined which areas are permissible and allow – and perhaps even encourage people to go up there. I could not disagree with them more. First for the reasons the Charedi Gedolim have given. But also because it incites them to violence. I believe that the Charedi rabbinic leaders agree with that reason too. That is unarguable. I suppose the reason Religious Zionists encourage Jews to go up there is to assert our rights. To make it known to the Arabs that we are not relinquishing them. Besides, the Israeli government approves of it. The idea being that both Jews and Arabs have a right and are therefore allowed to go up there.

To me this is exceptionally foolhardy and has brought untold tragedy upon Klal Yisroel. I see no upside to the wedding ceremony that occurred there. Only a downside. And I protest it strongly – as well as protesting the Jewish Press approval of it.

I want to make one thing perfectly clear. My motives in protesting it is in service to saving Jewish lives. It is simply not worth putting the lives of all Israeli citizens at risk in order to show that Arabs who’s boss. Until it can be proven that going up there does not do so, I will remain opposed to it no less than the current Charedi leaders are.