Thursday, November 9, 2017

Prenups I: The Emperor’s Waiver has no Close – Part 1 – Siluk

Author's note – This subject involves very emotional and very complex Halachic issues. I am not a dayan or a posek but I strongly stand behind the Halachic corollaries that I present and believe them to be worthy of serious Halachic debate.

The laws of the Torah are longer than the Earth and wider than the sea (Iyov 11:9). No amount of research on these Halachic topics is sufficient. The Halachic arguments presented here are subject to differing interpretations of the Poskim, errors, and oversights. In addition, some concepts require more detailed explanation than can be fit into even a lengthy essay and may not be sufficiently clear. I welcome all respectful comments and questions.

Ever since the dawn of time (or Mattan Torah), man has pursued a never-ending quest to develop two specific mechanisms:

·         A perpetual motion machine

·         A valid Halachic formula to avert agunos and siruvei gittin once and for all.

Both of these quests have proven to be impossible; the former due to the laws of physics and the latter due to the laws of Shulchan Aruch.

Additionally, in an earlier post I wrote another reason why a wholesale hetter-agunah mechanism will never come about. HKBH does not want it to. The logical explanation for this would be that If marriage can be so easily dissolved, it loses its “staying power” and its sanctity.  So He created a system where getting out of a marriage has to come at a price. For everybody.

This is because HKBH wants marriages to last. He wants the couple to invest in the marriage, to maintain it and nurture it as opposed to neglecting it. He also wants people to have the proper goals in mind when they look to get married which will help ensure that they get married to the right people. He wants us to take it seriously.

Of course HKBH doesn’t want recalcitrance, either, but He gives all human beings free will to choose between right and wrong.

Despite the impossibility in both cases, people haven’t stopped trying. And once in a while somebody screams “Eureka!” – I have found it – only to see it ultimately debunked.

In the case of agunos and siruvei gittin, we know the “usual suspects” – hafkaas kiddushin, get zikui, and t’nayim.  Although some of these mechanisms may be applicable in exceptional instances, they never were and never will be approved for commercial use.

Undaunted, the “free-the-agunos” askanim of today, sponsored by the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) and its judicial branch, Beis Din of America (BDA), are trying to peddle another “solution” – the prenuptial agreements.

The Halachic issues involved have turned it into a very convoluted document and, accordingly, a very controversial one. This is evidenced by the strange kim li clause at the end of the document. Without too much detail, this clause states that the parties agree to accept whatever halachic opinions are required to make this work, even if they are not the prevailing majority opinions. This, by itself indicates that the BDA acknowledges that the validity of the prenup depends on some off-Broadway opinions.

I am not one to say whether it is valid or invalid but I do think it is a stroke of genius. This is because they developed a two-phase agreement. Phase one is that the parties are granting the BDA itself exclusive authority to arbitrate their dispute. Phase two is that (ex-)husband-to-be commits himself to the financial arrangement outlined in the agreement. Since the BDA are the primary backers of the Halachic validity of the agreement and they are also arbitrating the dispute, they will have no problem upholding the agreement at their discretion – with the help of the kim li clause.

To quote chief architect Rabbi Mordechai Willig, Shlita – “a belt and suspenders!”

The more chareidi batei din, who don’t work on kim li’s of minority opinions, are not as supportive of this agreement, nor are they as eager to see problem marriages end in divorce (although they certainly do not condone recalcitrance). And many of these poskim have voiced their objections. The overwhelming issue is the question of a forced get (get meuseh) and the lion’s share of the literature debates this issue. As I look at this, I see some other less prominent Halachic issues that need to be addressed. And these are what I want to discuss.

The Halachic controversy can only be understood from a point of knowledge. So let’s see how this mechanism is supposed to work.

The initial model for the current day BDA prenup was the concept of the husband declaring a self-imposed penalty (knas) for not issuing a get. Since this penalty is self-imposed, his agreement to divorce would not be considered a forced get (get meuseh).

This idea goes way back and is discussed openly in the Rema in Shulchan Aruch Even HaEzer 134:5. The Rema personally does not see a problem with this system but he notes that there are those who don’t approve (Teshuvos HaRashba). Accordingly, he says it should not be done l’chatchila and even if it is done, the knas should be waived. He rules that despite this, if this system was used the get is still valid, but in his closing words, he throws in some scary language that the get is valid “since initially he was not forced to do this…”

This implies that if it is possible to claim in any given case that the initial “self-imposed” knas was forced, even the Rema might invalidate the get!

Because of all of these problems, it was understood that the right-wing Rabbinic world will not approve of a prenup based on the knas concept to be implemented l’chatchila. We must stay out of Knas-land.

Undaunted, the framers of the prenups created a new domain which seems to be advocated by the Toras Gittin (ibid.):  Mezonos-land!

The Mezonos-land method works as follows. In every standard marriage the husband has rights (benefits from his wife) and obligations to the wife (benefits from the husband).  Chazal defined and arranged these rights and obligations in a way to create a balance where some of the benefits given to the husband balance those awarded to the wife.

The idea of this prenup is that the husband agrees of his own volition that, in case of marital strife, he will uphold and even increase his financial obligations to his wife and at the same time renounce his rights to financial benefits from his wife. Since all he is doing is to uphold his marital obligations, even though he is now creating an imbalance which puts upon him financial duress, this is not construed as a Knas – at least, in the eyes of the Toras Gittin.

To understand the issues of the prenup, we need to assess the validity of both segments – (1) boosting his obligations and (2) renouncing his benefits. In this post, I will only deal with the renouncing part – the “Waiver” - which has gotten a back seat look from the Poskim. But I think some aspects were overlooked and, hence, it is the more problematic issue. Indeed, Rabbi Mordechai Willig, Shlita, in his famous shiur, noted that this segment is “very sticky”. From his brief description, I don’t think he adequately demonstrated how sticky it is. (B’mechilas kvodo, I am not convinced that he grasped it himself).

As stated earlier, in a situation where the wife has a significant income, the waiver is vitally important to create the needed imbalance. Without it, the rules of Mezonos-land dictate that as long as he covers the support, he can collect her earnings. If her earnings are substantial they can offset the augmented support. If this collection is not waived, the force of the agreement is neutralized. So this waiver is a crucial ingredient.

However, for the ingredient to work properly, the waiver would need to be effectual and irrevocable. And herein lies the rub. It is difficult to make this waiver effectual and – as far as I can see – virtually impossible to make it irrevocable.

Let’s discuss why.

In general people earn money through one or more of three basic methods:

·         Dividends

·         Profits

·         Wages

Dividends refer to the yields of property holdings. This would include rental income from real estate, dividends from stocks, and proceeds from other investments. In the Talmudic agricultural society, it refers to the actual yields of produce from fields or the offspring of livestock. In Talmudic language this is called “peiros nechasim”.

Profits are the earnings from buying and selling merchandise or providing self-employed services. In Talmudic terms, we can call this “iska” (business).

Wages are salaries from hired labor. In Modern Hebrew it is called “maskoret”. Also “schar tircha” or “schar pe’ula”.

For our purposes, the first category – Dividends - stands alone as “peiros” (Property rights) and the second two categories – Profits and Wages - can be combined together to be called “maaseh yedayim” (Earnings).

In today’s world, most people obtain their primary income from maaseh yadayim. Some people have investments in stocks and/or property holdings but usually it is stored in savings and not used for income. More important, very few women have any property when they are first married.

We noted that according to the prenup, the husband will renounce some financial rights that he gets from his wife. What rights does a husband get? They are the two kinds that we just described: Property rights and earnings. A woman basically has no property rights from her husband, meaning she has no rights to any property that the husband brings into the marriage except that she has an automatic lien on his property for her Kesuba and other marital rights (mezonos).

These two rights of the husband - Property rights and Earnings - have different rules. Since the husband is the one renouncing some of his rights in the BDA prenup, we need to discuss both of these.

To review the Property rights, by Torah law, when a couple marries, all property that belongs to the husband remains his. Likewise for what he acquires in his own name over the course of the marriage. As for the wife’s properties, things are a bit different. Upon the commencement of the marriage, the property remains under the official ownership of the wife, but, by decree of Chazal, the husband is granted partial rights to the property which are:

·         He can hold her back from selling the property to somebody else.

·         He is entitled to personal consumption of all proceeds from the property in terms of produce or revenues.

·         He inherits the land to be his own upon her demise – if they are still married.  

These rights are looked upon as if the husband has a physical stake in the property. As if he is a part owner. Since the property is tangible, this “stake” is tangible. Thus, at the conclusion of the chuppah, if the woman has any properties, the husband makes a tangible acquisition.

Chazal call this “nichsei malug”.

Incidentally, this also applies to properties that the woman acquires in the course of the marriage through inheritance or as a gift.

Let’s suppose that the wife does not like this arrangement. She does not want her new husband to get a tangible stake in her property. And let’s say the husband agrees to this setup (like she won’t otherwise agree to marry him. This is very common, if not standard, by second marriages where there are children from the first one. ) How do they circumvent the decree of chazal which takes effect automatically at the moment of nissuin?

The simple thing to suggest is: let him be mochel (waive) his rights. Alas, Halacha is not so simple.

The concept of “mochel” cannot apply here. According to most poskim, mechila is like giving a gift. It only applies to a monetary obligation from one to another.

In our case, nobody is obligated to give anything to the other. Chazal are in control and they determine that he automatically gets the property together with the girl. Before the chuppa, it is not yet his and she has no monetary obligations to him that he can be mochel. Even during the betrothal she has no obligations to him. After the chuppa, the property [rights] automatically land in his pocket courtesy of Chazal. At this stage, he cannot be mochel. He has already taken possession. One cannot be mochel what one has in his pocket. It won’t move out by itself.

For this reason, we need to devise a different concept. It is called “Siluk” and it means abdication – not waiving. Although there is no obligation from her to enable him to be mochel, he can choose to be mesalek (abdicate or renounce) his ownership of the property before or after he receives it via Chazal. But there is a difference between before and after.

Before he receives it, all he has to do is recite (or write) that he wants nothing to do with the property. Return to Sender.  Once he receives it (at the conclusion of the chuppa), he cannot do this by a mere statement (even in writing). His stake in the property has already been deposited into his pocket and it’s not going to leave on its own. He needs to do a kinyan with his wife to actively transfer his stake back to her.

Hence, Chazal delineate different rules for three specific periods of time:

·       Before the entire marriage, one cannot do any siluk because he has no stake in the property even in potential. This is like calling your Post Office to refuse a package that has not arrived there at all.

·       After the Kiddushin and before the nissuin, she is already his “wife” but he does not receive his stake in her properties until he brings her in (kenisa=chuppa=sheva brachos ) when the benefits and responsibilities of the kesuba take effect. Still, since it is understood that he is destined to acquire this stake in the property, he can block it with a statement so as not to acquire it in the first place. This is like receiving a notice in your mailbox that there is a package waiting for you to pick up at the Post Office. You can simply call up the PO and tell them that you are refusing the package and to return it to sender.

·       After the nissuin one has already accepted delivery of the package and calling the PO won’t accomplish anything. The only way to return it to sender is to replace the brown paper, go down to the PO, pay postage again and send it back.

All this is the subject matter of the ninth perek of Kesubos and is spelled out in Even HaEzer 92. These Halachos apply exclusively to the nichsei malug of the woman. They do not apply to the maaseh yadayim!

A few more important details about a siluk are in order.

From the description of the gemara and Shulchan Aruch, a siluk is an on the spot action that takes effect immediately in the here and now. The groom recites or writes his siluk sometime during the kiddushin period and his acquisition is immediately “blocked”. If after the marriage, he must do it with a kinyan and it takes effect immediately. There is no discussion in the gemara or Shulchan Aruch about a situation where the groom recites that a siluk will take place at a future time but not now (and not for the interim). Is such a thing possible?

Presumably not.     

It definitely cannot work with a mere declaration because a declaration is only valid if he has not yet accepted delivery on the package. Once he has claimed the package, which he does in the interim,  he will need to do a kinyan.

Can he do a kinyan now that will take effect later?

The only kinyan one can make “up front” is a kinyan sudar and, in general, a kinyan sudar done today cannot be delayed until tomorrow because tomorrow the sudar is back to its owner (Choshen Mishpat 195:5).

How about we do a kinyan sudar now and we state that when the circumstances call for the siluk, it will take effect retroactively from now (me’achshav)?

Here we walk on thin ice. Even though such a thing is effective for a simple purchase or a self-imposed obligation (hitchayvut), it is very difficult to say that this can work with a siluk. Why? Because me’achshav is not a magic wand. It doesn’t make a delayed kinyan work later hocus pocus. It actually means that we retroactively determine that the transfer of ownership takes effect now. Like now!

Let’s assume a 12 month delay me’achshav. In the case of a purchase, after 12 months, me’achshav determines that the new owner has been the actual owner for the past 12 months. He has held the rights to all the benefits of ownership. If the original owner was using the item in the interim, he is liable to the new owner for its use (unless the new owner is mochel).

If me’achshav will work with a siluk, the trigger point – which may be many years later - will determine retroactively that the siluk took effect from the day (and time) of the kinyan. The husband will be liable to his wife for all the proceeds that he took control of from that time. Thus, a siluk will only work if he is “meirim yadayim” (hands off) in the interim or if he settles with his wife on the proceeds of the interim period. But if he displays that he has no intention of honoring the siluk retroactively, he is megalah daas that he does not want the siluk to take effect until the trigger point. Whereupon, he will need to make a new kinyan at that time to effect the siluk.

You can’t be mesalek from your cake and eat it first!

What if he makes a written agreement now to do a kinyan when it is called for?

No problem with that, but until he does the kinyan, there is no siluk. If he is an honorable person he needs to keep his word but nobody can force him to. So, until the time comes and he actually makes a kinyan, no one can stop him from backing out of the agreement.

What emerges is that in all the earlier suggestions, the siluk is not effectual and in the final suggestion, the pledge to do a siluk in not irrevocable.

So now that we know all of this, let’s go and analyze the BDA prenup.

The BDA wants to put the Toras Gittin’s suggestion in action. This is to have the groom agree now that, in a future time when appropriate, he will increase his mezonos obligation to his wife and at the same time to renounce his financial rights. (Note- Toras Gittin makes no mention of making an agreement now for the future. This is critically important and will be discussed in a future post.) And so they word their prenup as follows:

I hereby now (me’achshav) obligate myself to support my Wife-to-Be from the date …Furthermore, I waive my halakhic rights to my wife’s earnings for the period that she is entitled to the above-stipulated sum, and I recite that I shall be deemed to have repeated this waiver at the time of our wedding. I acknowledge that I have now (me’achshav) effected the above obligation by means of a kinyan (formal Jewish transaction) in an esteemed (chashuv) Beth Din as prescribed by Jewish law. 

Which halakhic rights is this referring to and what makes this waiver take effect?

Are we talking about the maaseh yadayim or the peiros, or both?

Well, I am certain that Rabbi Willig, Shlita wants to cover both bases but it looks like he is weaving shaatnez – wool and linen mixed together.

The term “my wife’s earnings” and “waive” (as opposed to “abdicate from” or “renounce”) certainly indicate that he is renouncing the maaseh yadayim.  Maaseh yadayim does require mechila (we will discuss this in the next post) and, besides, peiros cannot be called “my wife’s earnings” because they are automatically his as soon as they come into existence. Yet, the phrase “and I recite that I shall be deemed to have repeated this waiver at the time of our wedding” indicates otherwise. Why are those words there?

Rabbi Willig explains himself (71:00):  
If you look in Kesubos 83 it says that you can’t do that (waive his rights) before the eirusin

Kesubos 83?? Isn’t that talking about siluk from nichsei malug?

Perhaps it doesn’t matter and this rule of siluk applies to maaseh yadayim as well?

I cannot discuss maaseh yadayim in this post, but I will give you a sneak preview. My perspective is that, for maaseh yadayim, it does not help to recite this not before the wedding and not “at the time of our wedding”. It is only effective at the time of the actual mechila. I will explain this in the ensuing post. So, if it refers to maaseh yadayim it should read: “and I recite that I shall be deemed to have repeated this waiver at the time of our separation (or notification)”.

For the moment, let’s pretend that we are indeed discussing peiros – the proceeds from nichsei malug. Is this clause effective?

Well, I already wrote that, if this is the case, it should read, “I abdicate myself from the proceeds of my wife’s pre-marital properties…” instead of what it says. He cannot waive the peiros that automatically land in his pocket. (It’s like if the Israeli government gives you Child allowance through automatic electronic direct deposit, you can be mochel it all you want but it is still sitting in your bank account.)

Aside from this, it is not bound to be too practical because most women do not have nichsei malug.  If the couple earn their living from renting properties the properties were probably jointly bought in the course of their marriage. In this case, he is a part owner on the keren – the principle - of the property and he is certainly not abdicating from that. Same goes for stock shares.

But, more important, as we discussed, once he took possession of his stake in the nichsei malug, he cannot relinquish them without making a kinyan with his wife at the time he wants to relinquish it. If he is a recalcitrant, good luck with that.

Can the kinyan that he made at the chosson tish take effect retroactively at the time of separation to facilitate a siluk all the way back to the day of the wedding (me’achshav)?

We must say that either it doesn’t at all because he was megalah daas all these years that he had no intention of effecting a siluk from the time of the wedding (and this negates the me’achshav), or, possibly, we can say that it does take effect (me’achshav is not negated) and he is now liable for all the proceeds that he took for himself for all this time.

I think that in order to make the latter viewpoint valid, this ramification would have to be expressly spelled out in the prenup agreement. Moreover, it is very unreasonable to promote an agreement which puts a young groom at such risk and likewise more unreasonable to expect him to want to sign it and it is criminal to demand him to sign it. Remember, the terms of the prenup are independent of whether he is recalcitrant or not.

Incidentally, Rabbi Willig’s assertion that the wife is not required to surrender a “sophisticated” income to her husband (based on a shita of the Bach) might apply to maaseh yadayim but it certainly does not apply for the proceeds of nichsei  malug. Whatever it yields is all his. So there could be a lot to give back for a retroactive siluk.

For all these reasons, it is abundantly clear that the waiver in the prenup has no effect on the husband’s rights to the proceeds of the wife’s personal properties. The intent of the agreement must be relating to the maaseh yadayim. (Note that the Toras Gittin expressly mentions maaseh yadayim  and seems to ignore peiros nichsei malug.)

So now we need to examine if it this “waiver” is effective for the maaseh yadayim. But this is a post in itself.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of…

...The Emperor’s Waiver has no Close.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

War(time) and Peace(time)

Since my last post (and even before) I have been spending a lot of time doing research on the Halachic status of the BDA prenuptial agreements. I have wanted to write on that subject ever since Emes V’Emunah put out a few posts in favor of the prenups back in August. I am too preoccupied to write about it now, but maybe I will get a post out in time for Chayei Sara ;-).

Currently, the army issue is making the headlines along with some severe traffic jams in Yerushalayim. It is annoying. I had to miss the Tolna Rebbe’s shiur last Thursday because it was impossible to drive out there.

Personally, I am caught between the two rabbinic opinions. I understand the position of the “hardliners” despite the fact that I am from the moderate camp who believes that if you can just show up at the Lishkat HaGiyus and get a legal deferment, why be obstinate and aggravate the IDF?  

Besides, I do have a son who served. (My other sons obtained legal deferments.)

I have never yet written a full 1A7B overview on the army issue. It is a very complex issue and it is very hard to do justice to it in a blog post. My posts are way too long as it is (which is because it is very hard to do justice to any major issue in a brief  blog post).

That said, a fellow blogger who is a very sincere Char-da”l (Chareidi/Dati-Leumi) type has just posted on the issue and it was brought to my attention. It follows the same widespread erroneous assumption that “serving in the army” is identical to “fighting in a war”. As such, these people apply the known halachos of fighting in a war to the concept of serving in an army (when there is hardly any war).

You can see his analysis HERE.

My comment is there, as well, but I have since enhanced it and, therefore, I am reprinting it here: 

I really haven’t written directly about the army issue, but there are many misconceptions at play.

1. There is no obligation to be part of an "army" whatsoever. There is an obligation to participate in a "war" (milchama) but not to serve in an army when there is no war. So the important thing is, how do we define “war”?

Every indication from Tanach and shas is that a "war" is an active military engagement in the face of enemy hostilities; when an armed force of men is mobilized for battle. In the past 30 years, there has been very little activity which meets the criteria of “war”. Desert Shield can be called “war”, Cast Lead can be called “war”, Second Lebanon War, Tzuk Eitan, Amud Anan, whatever you want. All these “wars” probably won’t add up to six months over the past twenty years. Manning checkpoints and going into Arab villages to arrest terrorists are not wars.

2. Every indication from Tanach is that there was no major standing army in Biblical times. The Jewish armies in those times were militia style armies of regular people – farmers, laborers, and perhaps even scholars – who were called up to arms when there was a call to arms. The rest of the time, they stayed home and worked or studied. We see this clearly in the wars of Barak and Gideon as well as Moshe's war against Midyan.

Indeed, there were professional Jewish soldiers under the command of the kings’ generals like Yoav and Avner but there is neither reason nor source to say that these soldiers were anything but volunteers. Also, a proper king has the right to draft anybody he wants into his personal guard. Nevertheless, there is no indication whatsoever that anybody was ever forcibly conscripted into a standing army to hang around and waste their lives when there was no active war going on.

In fact, as far as I know, the only place in Tanach that discusses a long-term conscription of any kind was Shlomo Hamelech's labor force for building the Bais HaMikdash (Melachm I 5:28). Even that was a rotation of one month on duty and two months at home.
Interestingly, the gemara in Sanhedrin (94b) clearly relates that when the nation of Yehuda was beiong attacked by the army of Sancheiriv which comprised 185,000 commanding officers, Chizkiyahu Hamelech conscripted every able bodies person to study in the Beis Midrash!

3. Today’s army is forced enslavement of young people for three crucial years using the excuse that they must be thus enslaved so that they can fight in combat just in case there is a week or two of actual “war” during this period. There is no Halachic premise to sanction this. Ironically, when the second Lebanon war occurred (34 days in 2006, the longest in the past 20 years), the IDF mostly left the army intact and called up reservists!

4. Incidentally, almost nobody who takes on this issue, including our esteemed blog host, seems to mention that Rashi,in no less than three places in Chumash, goes out of his way to stress that, even for a call up for active hostilities, the minimum age for soldiering is 20 years old.

So, to answer your title question, nobody has to serve in the army but anybody over 20 who is needed has to fight in a war for as long as that war is in effect.

Y. Hirshman

AuthorOne Above and Seven Below

עת מלחמה ועת שלום

May we be zocheh to see the final geula and put this whole controversy to rest once and for all. BB”A.

Once we are in Parshas Lech Lecha and discussing the Kedusha of Eretz Yisroel, please see this fascinating post from 2008:

Good Shabbos!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Creational Thinking

I wrote in my book that I wanted to insert an autobiography chapter to provide more personal background about it. After I wrote the chapter, I realized that it was too long and distracting to be published in full but the book would lack some depth if I totally left it out. I “compromised” by choosing some excerpts that were the most significant and printing them in an Appendix at the back of the book.

In one of these excerpts (Excerpt 4 page 276) I related that the local Jewish day school that I attended in my early years was more of a Modern Orthodox, Religious Zionist type. It did not begin to teach Chumash until third grade and when it did, it only began teaching from Parshat Lech Lecha and skipped the previous two Parshas. I am not sure why, but I remember being told that this is when Avrohom Avinu and the promise of Eretz Yisroel come on to the scene, so that’s where they want to start.

As a result, I passed through third grade being totally clueless about our tradition of Creation!

To make things worse, I wrote that by that point, I had already been fully indoctrinated to the concept of evolution from the numerous magazines, TV shows, museums or what have you. Thus, when a year or so later, my father finally sat me down to fill in the blanks and teach me Parshat Breishis, I was intellectually (not emotionally) traumatized.

Here is what I wrote in the concluding lines of that excerpt:

The trauma of the event was not that I will have to shift gears, but rather, this is what initiated me to the fact that there are more than one set of gears to shift to. To this point I was not aware that religious people and irreligious people do not share beliefs on fundamental issues.

Religious people think very differently than irreligious ones and conservative people think very differently than liberal ones. It doesn’t stop there. I have observed that there are even liberal thinking religious people and conservative thinking religious people – and they think very differently.

Likewise it seems to be an established fact that males think very differently than females.

As for me, aside from being religious, conservative, and a male, I also happen to be left-handed. I am of the opinion that left-handed people think very differently than right handed people.

Left-handed people are vastly outnumbered. We are forced to live in a right-handed world. This gives us a bit of an advantage because we can see the world from the perspective of the righties and work with right-handed devices (except for those @#$%^& can openers), because we are forced to, as well as from our own perspective. Since righties are the overwhelming majority, it is very hard for them to understand how lefties see things. As such, it is hard for them to even acknowledge that there is another way to see things.

Let’s carry this up to the other discrepancies. In the Western world, secular people vastly outnumber religious ones and liberals outnumber conservatives. (Let’s keep males and females at even odds and disregard this factor.)

If we follow our trend, the minority group is certainly aware of the majority opinion. They understand there is more than one style of thinking. They are also aware that the way they think is the less popular style. In the face of all this, they consciously choose the one that makes most sense to them. There is a distinct aspect of conviction in the perspective of the minority.

As for the majority (secular, liberal) group, there is no dispute that they are also thinking in the way that makes most sense to them. The question is: is this likewise a matter of conviction or is it a matter of expediency? More accurately, have they chosen this way of thinking out of a group of alternative options or are they unaware that there even are any alternatives?

It’s very hard to tell.

When I wrote the excerpt in my autobiography chapter, the message I was trying to send is that it took me until I was about ten years old to realize that there are different tracks of thinking on fundamental issues. I was being a bit apologetic. I thought I was a late bloomer. But after ten years in the blogosphere, I learned otherwise. Not only was I a bit advanced to make this observation and to “get there” ahead of the competition, but a good portion of the competition still hasn’t gotten there even now!

The liberal thinkers just cannot understand that there is another way to look at things. And so, anyone who doesn’t think like them is not merely a minority opinion, he is totally wacko. He can’t be rational. He must be meshugga, insane.

As I have written repeatedly in the past posts, this is most of the feedback that I receive from the outside world. "Moron. Retard. Idiot. Twisted." "How can any rational person even consider that Chazal’s 'solutions' can solve today’s problems???" This is how a popular “Rabbi” originally from New Zealand can call me a “lunatic”. (This was on Facebook but has since been removed).

A lunatic is somebody who is out of touch with reality.

The most recent example appears in the comments section of a recent Emes V’Emunah post.  Rabbi Maryles seemed to feel there is a toelles to laud the words of some anonymous “chareidi” who thinks that the Jews of the Yeshivish/Chareidi sector are not truly genuine. In other words, this “chareidi” feels that everyone is just like him.

I proclaimed otherwise. We do not impoverish ourselves in schar limud for our children and more mehudar hechsheirim to impress anybody. And kollel people do not stay in kollel to impress anybody.

In the course of this give and take a commenter broke in to contribute nothing except a reference to the controversy over my writings on the Malka Leifer episode. His reference revolved around the Judging the Judges Part II post. He did not link to it, so I did. He promptly volleyed (emphasis mine):

I doubt many sane people will have a higher opinion of you after reading that.

I promptly responded:

Depends on how you define a "sane person".
I highly suspect that you use the conventional "rosh kattan" definition of a "sane" person: "one who thinks just like you do".

There are people who like what I write. Not that many, but they are there. And there are people who do not like what I write (a much larger number). Those who like what I write will (and do) continue to respect me after reading posts like that. Those who do not like what I write will not change their minds from such a post.  That is, unless they are willing to change the way they think - which is why I wrote the post.

That would be a tall order and too much to expect from the average reader. They cannot handle the intellectual trauma.

I don’t think like this commenter and he doesn’t think like me. This much is clear. But, it’s not just that he doesn’t think like me. He is certain that no sane person would think like me. Anybody who thinks like me must be insane.

When I was a teenager there was a television series called Masterpiece Theater and my mother wouldn’t miss it. One series, titled I Claudius, was about the reign of the deranged Roman Emperor, Caligula – the ultra-perverted madman who fancied himself a god. In one bit of dialog, Caligula asks his uncle Claudius, “People, say that I am mad. Am I truly mad?

The wise Claudius, one of the few insiders who actually stayed alive long enough to outlive Caligula, discretely answered, “Oh no, Caesar, that is not possible. You set the standards for sanity!

So this commenter lives in a liberal, secular-minded world and, for him, his peers set the standards for sanity.

People like me, have a different set of standards for sanity. We define sanity as one who thinks like HKBH wants us to. In more practical terms, one who thinks how the Torah and Chazal instruct us to. This is why I wrote the post about Thinking Like a Jew before I wrote any of the Malka Leifer posts.  In order to understand how I think, take a look at how Chazal think. It’s really the same.

Of course, some misguided Australian “rabbanim” can call this list of marei makomos “fundamentally flawed” though, thus far, none has been able to reveal any of the fundamental flaws. The one who called me a lunatic on Facebook may be way more in touch with “reality” than I am, but he is hardly as in touch with Shas and Poskim.

I am a religious, conservative-minded, (left-handed) male thinker. I am a very small minority. But only religious, conservative-minded people think like Chazal (even if they are not left-handed).

Truth is not in the majority.

The whole world believed in self-gratification and gay rights for ten generations. Only Noach thought differently (was he left-handed?). Everybody thought he was insane. Building a big boat in the middle of the inland for 120 years! Nuts!

But he thought differently. He thought like Mesushelach taught him to think. Everybody knew Mesushelach, but nobody emulated him. He was an old fogey. Of course, he was the only one in town who personally learned at the feet of Adam HaRishon, but he wasn’t up to date. A bit senile by now, don’t you think? Insane.

Only Noach withstood the test of time (and of the Tahom Rabba).

After the flood, the masses were a tad better behaved in the debauchery department. But they were big on paganism and idolatry and human sciences. We can hold up the sky and control world events. A New World Order!

After another ten generations, only one person thought differently. He stood on the opposite side against all popular opinion. Avram the Ivri!

Nobody thought like him. He must have been insane (or, at least, fundamentally flawed). “We can’t let some unseen G-d or some ‘Torah’ tell us what to do. It’s way too imposing on our personal agendas. Let’s see how much heat this fellow can handle…”

להודיע...שכל הדורות היו מכעיסין ובאין עד שבא אברהם אבינו וקבל שכר כולם!

This tells us that all of the generations were [increasingly] angering HKBH until Avraham Avinu came and received the [potential] reward of them all.

There is power in numbers. But truth, and sanity, is with the few and the brave. Noach and Avrohom Avinu were not trying to win any popularity contests. They won much better things.

Likewise, I do not write my posts to win any popularity contests.

There are better things to win.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Drop by Drop – Another Look at 1A7B and the Yom Kippur Connection

When I first opened this blog, I wrote a post to explain the connection of the concept of One Above and Seven Below – אחת למעלה ושבע למטה – that we have in the avoda of Yom Kippur to the theme of my book, which is the single level of Im Bechukosai Telechu – One Above (אחת למעלה) versus the seven levels of V’Im Bechukosai Tim’asu – Seven Below (שבע למטה).

In short, the seven lower drops represent the seven levels of sin in the tochacha in Parshas Bechukosai. I credited this connection to the Chizkuni in Vayikra 16:14.

I have just found another connection.

Last Motzaei Shabbos before selichos at Kehillat Bnei Torah, Rav Yitzchok Rubin, Shlita, gave his regular pre-selichos schmooze and he brought down the words of the Rem”a in Toras HaOlah 59. The Rem”a says that the One Above drop represents the Neshama and the Seven Below drops represent the seven names that the Yetzer Hara is referred by as stated in Sukka 52a: Rah, Arel, Tamei, Sonei, Michshol, Ehven, and Tzefoni.

He says that each of these names represents seven steps (levels) of the Yetzer Hara one above (below?) the other and they bring the person down. Each level is stronger than the previous.

On the “other side” the Neshama drop stands alone and it is the intellect and the Yetzer Tov. This is “One Above” and it does not fall below this number (I think he means that it is not subject to a quantity more than One). And this drop can overpower any of the seven names (levels) of the Yetzer Hara.

This is as much as the Rem”a says explicitly. He does not explain exactly how the Neshama can overpower the seven levels – or names – of the Yetzer Hara. But other scholars such as Ben Yehoyada, not to mention Harav Rubin, fill in the blanks. The gemara in Kiddushin 30b tells us: I (HKBH) created the Yetzer Hara and I created the Torah as its antidote.  Further it says: If this vile one (the Yetzer Hara) meets up with you, pull him into the Beis Midrash.

The Rem”a says that the Neshama is the intellect. The Malbim in Mishlei (20:27) tells us that the Human was given this intellect for one purpose: to study and master the word of G-d. This is why we begin the central part of the standard shmona esrei with “Attah chonen l’adam daas…” Without this daas, we will fall prey to our Yetzer Hara and fall into the Tahom Rabbah.

This drop is the “ameilus b’Torah” that is required to achieve Im Bechukosai Telechu. The One Above – Achas L”Maala. The Seven Below is ushered in by neglecting to use one’s intellect for Torah study. The first level of the Seven Below – the first drop – is for one who neglects to study Torah (lo lammad – Rashi) even though he is meticulous in performing mitzvos!

This is because, even though he does mitzvos, he has no defense against the Yetzer Hara. In fact, the first thing that the Yetzer Hara will do “for him” is to let him convince himself that he is a gold standard Jew by virtue of the fact that he keeps mitzvos.

The next step is to let him convince himself that certain altruistic activities - that aren’t truly mitzvos – are the greatest of mitzvos. And then he will let the person convince himself that his concept of mitzvos is more accurate than those who do indeed study the Law. He knows better than the Rabbi or the Shulchan Aruch (which he barely knows at all).

And after this, the Yetzer Hara lets him convince himself that he doesn’t really have to do mitzvos at all. After all, he is a “Human Being” a mentsch, and this is all that HKBH really wants. The only purpose of doing mitzvos is to help one become a mentsch, but for people like him who are already a mentsch, there is no need. It is better to be a “Human Being” than a “Rabbi”.

So, now, he has descended to level 2 and, before he knows it, he is at levels 3-4-5-6…of the slippery slope. Way down under.

Drop by drop.

TeshuvaTefillah – and Tzedaka will save us, but the Tefillah and Tzedaka will only buy us time. It will not take us to where we need to be. Only the Teshuva, which corresponds to Torah, can enable us to beat the Yetzer Hara and bring ourselves into the One Above camp. This is where the Neshama is.

כי נר ה' נשמת אדם

HKBH is waiting there – and He’s keeping the light on for us.

Gmar Chasima Tova

Bonus post: Click HERE to see what we need to atone for most of all - the most terrible crime that a Human being can commit!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Parshat Nitzavim – Going Down Under to a Whole Nother Level

I was checking in with my friends in the RCANZ and RCV in Australia and the prognosis isn’t good. I glanced at their charts and saw some bold WNLs. Not "Within Normal Limits" and not "We Never Looked". It seems they have gone down under to a "Whole Nother Level".

In this week’s Parsha (Nitzavim), the Torah – via Moshe Rabbeinu - warns us about deviating from the mitzvos. It warns us not to be over-secure and to think “I will be okay even if I pursue my heart’s desires” for “Hashem will not be willing to forgive him…”

Right in between these two phrases, Moshe throws in a strange comment: למען ספות הרוה את הצמאהso to be adding the satiated on to the thirsty”.

What does this mean?

Rashi tells us, based on Onkelus, that it means he (the sinner) will be “including the involuntary sins together with the willful ones” on his rap sheet.  Satiated” really means inebriated and “thirsty” means sober.  When one is inebriated he is not in full control of his faculties so he has some kind of an excuse for doing inappropriate things. When one is sober he has no such excuses. 

Rashi goes on to explain that if one commits sins due to involuntary circumstances or duress (inebriated), HKBH is willing to be lenient (forgiving) when judging him. However, once he commits the same sins willfully and when there is no duress (sober), not only is he punished for these willful transgressions, but all the involuntary ones are tacked on to his rap sheet. So in this case, the involuntary (inebriation driven) sins are added to the voluntary (sober) ones.

He has upped the ante and has brought the sinfulness WNL – to a Whole Nother Level.

A perfect example is that it is very common for young men who are unmarried to be unable to withstand natural temptations and they fall in shmiras habris. We hope that HKBH will be very forgiving of this iniquity being that there is basically nowhere to go. But, once the young man marries, he can be expected to channel his temptations to the proper address and do teshuva for the past. This pasuk indicates that, if so, he will get off easy. In the past, he was “inebriated” – not in full control.

However, if even under these circumstances, when he has permissible options, he continues with this behavior, he is in trouble. He is “sober” now and more responsible to stay out of mischief. If he continues on the same path, he is demonstrating retroactively that he never did care to avoid this behavior. As such, not only will he have to answer for his current “sober” behavior, he will have to answer for his past “inebriated” behavior, as well.

Chazal tell us that no man is free of “cheht”. Cheht (חטא) means a human failing. A misstep. All of us do these. We can almost tell HKBH that we are “inebriated” and under duress. Hopefully, we’ll get off the hook. But when these activities become more willful and enter the realm of avon (עון) and pesha (פשע), we have brought things to a Whole Nother Level.

Let’s cut to the chase.

The Midrash Rabbah in Breishis 26:9 states:

Rav Huna says in the name of Rebbi – The generation of the Flood was not obliterated from the world until they [reached a stage where they] were writing gimumsiot – marriage contracts – to a fellow male or to a beast.

The message here is that even though mankind had degenerated to the point of rampant homosexuality or bestialty, nevertheless, as long as society officially considered it a taboo, HKBH was not angered enough to take the extreme step of destroying mankind. But once these practices became institutionalized as legitimate (alternative?) behavior, human society had reached the point of no return and had to be extinguished.

HKBH can tolerate this promiscuity as long as those who engage in it at least acknowledge that they are doing something immoral. But once it is redefined as moral, they have brought themselves down to a Whole Nother Level. As a consequence, this brought the waters of the Tahom Rabba up to a Whole Nother Nevel.

And so the gemara in Chullin 92a tells us:

Ulah says that this verse (the reference to 30 silver pieces in Zechariah 11:12) corresponds to the 30 commandments that the Bnei Noach accepted upon themselves, [and yet] they only uphold three of them.  (1) They do not write marriage contracts to fellow males (2) They do not sell the flesh of the dead in butcher shops (3) They respect our Torah.

Rashi explains:

Even though the non-Jews are suspect for homosexuality, and they even designate personal partners for their purposes, they are not so light-headed with this [negative] commandment to the extent that they will write to them marriage contracts.

This says that even though they are audacious enough to wantonly transgress 27 out of the 30 mitzvos that they accepted, they have the prudence not to transgress on these three – at the head of which is the taboo for institutionalizing homosexuality and same-sex marriage. They have learned from the Great Flood that nothing angers HKBH more. It’s a very dangerous line to cross. Don’t mess with this.

This is a Whole Nother Level.

We see that in the times of Chazal, homosexuality (Same Sex Attraction – SSA) was as common as it is today. Still it was acknowledged within Judaism and without that it is not a good idea for Jew or non-Jew alike to give this condition the imprimatur of “marriage”.

A lot has changed since then.

In July of 2010 a 12-point Statement of Principles on the Place of Jews with a Homosexual Orientation in Our Community was released which currently has about 200 signatures from Modern Orthodox rabbis and laypersons. The gist of the statement was to say that even though our Halacha does not support SSA activity, the greater community needs to be compassionate and accepting of the struggles of those who are affected with it.  To its credit, in Principle 11, it expressly distanced itself from any kind of approval of “same-sex commitment ceremonies or weddings”.

I wrote a post about this Statement about two days later which basically echoed some of the objections of other pundits, predominately of one commenter on the Emes V’Emunah site that calls himself ClooJew. The most significant excerpt of his comment is this (emphasis mine):

By underscoring "our obligation to treat human beings with same-sex attractions and orientations with dignity and respect," the signatories go beyond dignity and respect, and enter the grey zone toward legitimization. Protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, the inherent nature of a public pronouncement is to overemphasize the facts it pronounces. This is what the activist agenda of the gay community thrives on. The reason for gay pride parades is not simply to announce but to publicize and promote.

What Mr. ClooJew was expressing is that, even if we can deem the entire statement Halachically acceptable, what in Heaven’s name is the purpose of composing it? Liberal minded progressive Jews have no need for such a statement and right wing traditionalists like me will not appreciate it. So who was it written for?

Is there some “undecided” swing vote that they were targeting? Not on this issue, there isn’t.

He smells, as do I, a covert agenda which is a subtle step toward legitimization. To confirm this notion, I noted in my post that this statement was starkly devoid of a sense of reciprocity in terms of requiring the SSAs to acknowledge the sensitivities of us straights who strangely think that Klal Yisroel is meant to be a Mamleches  Kohanim and a Goy Kadosh. Indeed, one apologetic commenter wanted to claim that this was implied in a short phrase in Principle 7 which suggests that the SSAs need to take into consideration the “needs of the community” when deciding whether to be open about their orientation.  I personally reject this suggestion as grossly inadequate since it is written in the same sentence that contends that this decision is theirs alone to make.

Beyond that, at the end of my post I pulled out the clincher, but I need to rephrase was I was saying.

The statement was heralded as a call for acceptance and understanding and was trying very hard to avoid giving the impression that it was suggesting legitimization. However, if this was the sincere aim of this body, they would need to make an extra effort to denounce a sister movement that is openly promoting full legitimization. I noted that this statement was released a mere few days before the exceedingly audacious and provocative Gay Parade that is deliberately held in Yerushalayim Ir HaKodesh. If this group was sincere about calling for acceptance without legitimization, it would behoove them to speak out strongly against this abominable provocation and Chillul Hashem which took place merely two or three days later. Their silence was deafening. To my knowledge there is not a single signatory on record who spoke out against this perennial debacle.

למען ספות הרוה את הצמאה...

In my recent post about The RCANZ Revisited, I noted that at least two members of the RCANZ Executive committee are signatories on this statement – Rabbi James Kennard of Mt. Scopus College in Melbourne (hometown of Millie Fontana) and Rabbi Alon Meltzer, spiritual leader of Canberra, ACT (where Millie spoke to Parliament - well worth listening to but I cannot advocate watching her). And I also noted something else.

The statement that was released in 2010 was satisfied to refer to this group as “Jews who have a homosexual orientation” or “same-sex attractions” or the like but, yet, “struggling to live their lives in accordance with halakhic values”. As I noted, this implies Jews who look like regular Jews and dress like regular Jews and in all other areas of life, behave like regular Jews. It very aptly and wisely did not hop onto the alphabet train. It seemed to be referring to those who are not in control of their “sexual orientation “and can be considered “inebriated” or “involuntary” in the sinfulness of this condition.

However, subsequent statements by some of the signatories of this document, in particular Rabbi Alon Meltzer of the Executive Committee of the RCANZ, extend this declaration to the more degenerate cars on the alphabet train – the BTQs on the LGBTQIA line.

The Bi-sexuals are shtufei zima plain and simple. They are not SSA (same sex attraction) but rather ASA (any sex attraction –AC/DC). They are forbidden in yichud with anybody. There can be no tolerance for this. Of course, if they are married to opposite gender spouses and have genuine kids, the kids are as kosher as anybody’s.

The Ts and Qs have more than just their sexual orientation messed up. I suppose a good percentage of them are not rational and can be Halachically deemed as shotim and are exempt from all positive mitzvos in the Torah (they are still not permitted to knowingly engage in arayos or any negative commandments). But if any of them are rational, there is no way to accept or excuse their lifestyle.

The Torah commands us to be Kedoshim and forbids us from numerous degenerate practices that are not intrinsically sexual (though they all come in one package). This includes cross-dressing (Lo Yilbash), weird hairstyles that almost always involve shearing the payos (Lo Takifu), tattoos (Ktovat Kaaka), and things like flashy clothes and body piercing can all go into the umbrella issur of Bechukoseihem lo teilechu. And a sex-change operation for a man is sirrus. All told, these are not people whose only “crime” is that they are looking for loving committed relationships in a family setting, just from the wrong side of the mechitza. And these are not people “struggling to live their lives in accordance with halakhic values” even if they keep kosher and Shabbos (they sure don’t keep Taharas HaMishpacha!)

This is “adding the satiated on to the thirsty”. This is taking the SSA temptation to a Whole Nother Level. This is what we call a “slippery slope”.

All the way down to the Tahom Rabba.

So now we can finally talk about current events.

Australia adopted a law in 1961 called The Marriage Act and amended it in 2004 as the Marriage Amendment Act. This law is currently in force and it states that “marriage means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.” As such, same-sex couples are legally unable to be wed in Australia. Kol Hakavod.

Over the past decade there has been a growing demand to change the law to allow same-sex marriages, but this would require a popular vote, or a plebiscite. A plebiscite can only be done as an act of Parliament and, so far, Parliament was unable to garner the support for such a plebiscite because (drum roll…) it’s too expensive. So they proposed to conduct the vote via a Postal survey which does not require Parliamentary approval. This was challenged in the Australian Supreme court and, on Thursday, Aug. 31, a ruling was announced that the Postal Survey can proceed – since they promised to keep the price below $122M AUD. So now there will be an official nation-wide vote about changing this law (non-binding). Kol Habizayon.

On Sept. 4, the Rabbinical Council of Victoria (RCV) issued a statement encouraging “citizens” to vote ‘no’ to reforming the Australia Marriage laws. And all Tahom Rabba broke loose.

Incidentally, this statement cannot be found on the RCV website, nor on its Facebook page.

Evidently, there was an enormous backlash. Where did this backlash come from?

I can tell you this. It wasn’t from non-Jews and it wasn’t from straight Torah observant Jews.

And this backlash was so strong that it sent the president of the RCV, Rabbi Daniel Rabin, reeling. Two days later he issued a personal apology on his own Facebook page. This is very strange because the RCV itself as a body did not formally retract the statement. This was a personal apology which said, among other things, “The RCV should not have told people how to vote and refrained from making a divisive statement.So this fellow is rebuking the statement of the RCV and said it shouldn’t have been issued - but he is the president that issued it!

Now, I’ve been advising the Australian Rabbinical councils (RCANZ and RCV) to refrain from making divisive statements since last June. They are very slow learners. But I digress...

Is this a retraction or not? If it is, we are looking at a Rabbinic body that is charged with leading the masses that has issued a statement which, in the main, is meant to reflect Jewish Halachic values - and they need to retract it?? (Or, if it wasn’t retracted – their own president has to personally apologize for it??)

Incidentally, it seems that the Vice President of the RCV, Rabbi Ralph Genende, actually resigned over this.

In my humble opinion, this statement was very appropriate but the opening paragraph was grossly misworded. Firstly, it definitely should not have targeted “citizens” as if to imply "Australians" - Jews and non-Jews alike. The statement should only address the constituents of the RCV. I think it was this blunder that gave the “Orthodox” Community Centre Ark Centre and the Caulfield Shule the impetus to publicly oppose it. Secondly, assuming it is a reflection of Halachic guidance, it should have been more resolute. (And, if it wasn’t Halachic guidance, they had no business issuing it.)

The first paragraph should have said something closer to this:

The RCV states that Orthodox Jewish Halacha does not recognize or sanction same-sex marriages. According to Talmudic and Midrashic sources, this practice is forbidden for Jews and Noahides. We urge all Jews and Noahides loyal to Halacha and Jewish tradition to vote accordingly.

Of course this comes across a bit firm, but Halacha is very firm. The point is once we narrow down the target audience to those who are actually interested in Halachic guidance, it is not too firm at all. (The rest of the statement softens it up, anyway.)

In any case, the RCV is reeling. They got into Tahom Rabba way over their heads. And why?

We have noticed, now and in the past, that the Australian Rabbinical councils are not interested in standing up for Halacha. Such a stance would result in their constituency shrinking to only include Jews who actually want to adhere to the Halacha. They are interested in “reaching out” to encompass the largest possible constituency even at the price of extreme compromises in Halacha. Instead of reducing their constituency to conform with upholding the Halacha, they feel it is wiser to expand the Halacha to conform to the “sensitivities” of a larger constituency. They call this being “progressive”. We call this being “regressive”.

למען ספות הרוה את הצמאה

As it stands, I saw in one report that besides Rabbi Rabin, at least six other RCV member Rabbis “distanced” themselves from this statement. Makes me ask: “Who approved of this statement to start with?"

The only member Rabbi who seems to have his eyes in his head and understand what's going on – and seems to have resigned – is Rabbi Chaim Cowen. He wrote (emphasis mine):

Taking a public position against the RCV on a matter which is clearly stipulated in Torah and codified by the Rambam, embraces a corrosive groupthink mentality which seems to be concerned more with popularity than integrity and fidelity to our Divine mandate.

Hey, I could have written that. As a matter of fact, I did (although on a different subject) – right HERE.

Now that I mention it, where are my friends from the RCANZ in all this?

They are quite vocally silent.

Rabbi Kennard disassociates himself from the statement and regards it as “wrong in itself.” Both he and Rabbi Mirvis say that it is not their role as a Rabbi to tell people how to vote. I don’t know about Rabbi Mirvis, but Rabbi Kennard has gotten a ton of flak for not coming out in support of a Yes vote. Rabbi Shamir Caplan (both RCV and RCANZ) did indeed write a letter to support those who “Orthodox Jews” who wish to vote Yes. Although it looks like he wouldn’t vote Yes himself, or at least he acknowledges this lifestyle as problematic, he understands that a Yes vote can be seen as a defense of Freedom of Religion.

Have LGBTQI philosophies become a religion?

Rav Yaakov Glasman has denied any personal involvement in this statement and does not want to support it. He states: “I believe the statement was ill-conceived and served no purpose in advancing the cause of Orthodox Judaism

As stated above, I agree with him due to the way it was written. But, I must comment, that he and his organization (RCANZ) are no strangers to ill-conceived statements that serve no purpose in advancing the cause of Orthodox Judaism.

He does indeed refer us to some earlier statements. He writes:  Our position on traditional marriage and the exemptions we expect for religious institutions should the Marriage Act be amended was submitted to the Government in January as part of the Senate’s Exposure Draft into the Marriage Amendment Bill. 

There were two statements issued in January. They can both be downloaded HERE as Submissions #128 and #133.

The first submission is #128 signed by Rabbi Dr. Benjami Elton. As Rabbi Glasman notes, it focuses on the need for religious institutions to be exempt from enforcement.  This is a very appropriate statement but it opens our eyes to a scary truth. There is something at stake here for the religious community. This statement discusses the idea of “Ministers of Religions” to be forced by law to officiate at these ceremonies. It does not mention a few other similar hazards such as schools being required to include same-sex relationship education in their science or social studies and the lawsuits against bakers for refusing to bake wedding cakes with same-sex motifs.

This puts to rest the notion that this is exclusively a civil matter and that religious bodies have no grounds to voice their opinions. These were the “justifications" for “Orthodox” bodies such as the JCC Ark Centre and Caulfield Shule and scores of commenters on numerous Facebook sites to object to the  RCV statement.

The second statement is Submission #133 and I am greatly disturbed by it. At the end of the statement it states:

At the same time, RCANZ and RCV reaffirms Judaism's fundamental obligation to respect and embrace all people irrespective of their sexuality and condemns in the strongest possible terms words or actions intended to denigrate or hurt others.

I don’t mean to be harsh (though I have a reputation for harshness to uphold) and I hate to say this but…there is no fundamental obligation in Judaism to embrace all people irrespective of their sexuality

In some cases it’s a good idea and appropriate to embrace these people and in some cases it is not. It depends on how sincere they are and if their actions can be deemed harmful to society at large or to individuals. Moshe tells us that if one is raveh – i.e. shogeg, involuntary, under duress, ”inebriated”, contrite and respectful then HKBH is willing to be “maavir” (forgiving). But if one is tzme’ah - provocative, callous, audacious, agenda-driven, self-serving, hedonistic, “sober” and a toevah, we must distance ourselves from them and cast them from our midst. We have no choice.  This is not out of bigotry or spite and it’s not out of vigilantism (which doesn’t seem to bother RCANZ anyway) and it’s not because we want to. It’s because we have to. We have to be a Mamleches Kohanim and a Goy Kadosh.

But it’s not just us. It’s all of mankind. The Midrash Rabba indicates that nothing angers HKBH more than legitimizing degenerate behavior with same-sex marriage singled out as a dealbreaker. This is not a “civil” issue or a “religious” issue. This is an existential issue and an apocalyptic issue. This is at a Whole Nother Level.

ורבצה בו כל האלה הכתובה בספר הזה.

May HKBH save us from the coming tsunami... because the Rabbinical Councils of Australia certainly will not.

ועל המדינות בו יאמר: איזו לחרב ואיזו לשלום...

לשנה טובה תכתבו ותחתמו!