Jewish News Links

From Hirhurim:

  • Possible split among Hesder roshei yeshiva: link
  • Man-made tools found in Israel dating back 750,000 years: link
  • WJC criticizes pope’s decision to beatify Pius XII: link
  • Spinka Rebbe sentenced to 2 years in prison: link
  • RCA statement on EJF scandal: link
  • R. Yehoshua Eliovson on parenting in the internet age: link
  • Some Charedi websites close down: link
  • R. Yair Hoffman on the media, lashon ha-ra and the EJF scandal: I, II
  • S. [] posts:
    >As a reaction to Graetz and his followers and to the secular Zionist movement that purposely negated all the past Jewish history of Jewish accomplishments in the Exile

    That is a bizarre, bizarre reading of Graetz. Yes, he didn’t like Kabbalah, and yes, he didn’t like R Yosef Karo. But if anything his History’s were about how wonderful and civilized the Jews were, while their host nations were a bunch of drooling barbarians. This was so obvious and apparent that it alarmed many of the Jews who actually had to live in those host nations. It continued to provoke antisemitism (which, in fairness to Graetz, was there all along anyway), and even got him in legal trouble (for espousing Jewish heresy, go figure). He may not have been a tzaddik, but the description has nothing to do with his historical writing!

    Furthermore, R. Wein’s statement that Graetz left Jewish observance is either a canard or an unfortunate display that R. Wein should brush up on the thing which he ostensibly knows really well, ie, Jewish history. Graetz was not what you’d call “frum,” but he was as observant as any Orthodox Jew. Indeed, how could it be any other way? He was passionately anti-Reform, and living when he did, that meant that one was therefore observant. There is even an (unflattering?) story about how he read the haftarah in a British shul, making his own emendations out loud as he recited, but tied his handkerchief around his neck when he walked out into the street. This is not a man who “left Jewish observance,” even if there is much to critique about him from an Orthodox or other perspective.

    As for debunking and mythbusting, while it is true that as a vocation it is probably not constructive, neither should all myths all the time be given free reign just because they’re myths. I don’t mean that the Chanukah oil bubble specifically needs to be burst, but neither is it national suicide to maintain all the tales and legends which have accumulated without inquiry. When my son was born, was I partaking in national suicide because I frankly doubted that Lilith was lurking around his bassinet? Besides, it’s hard to remain a critical thinker and also refuse to think critically about various texts and evidences. Maybe some people can bifurcate their minds in this way, but not everyone can.

    DF posts: Rabbi Wein, a teacher of mine, is walking down an impossible path, and he knows it. Because it is impossible to be consistent in Jewish life. Rabbi Wein himself has many times debunked myths in his lectures. For example, he frequently states that we like to think of Jewish life in Europe as all sweetness and religious, but that is just a myth.

    It is impossible to know where to draw the line, why some myths – the existence of demons, the golem, the efficacy of kapporos, etc – are debunked and why others arent. Same is true with customs. Who can decide when something is “minhag shtus” and when something is “minhag yisrael saba”? There are countless innovations in current Charedi life, such as women working, yet these same people will be the first to yell about chadash being assur min hatorah.

    Same is true with halachos. Some we keep, some we dont.

    This is too long a topic. Bottom line, nobody is entirely consistent with anything in religious life.

    READER POSTS: I respectfully suggest you weigh in on the mega scandal currently dominating the news in the Jewish World. I know you wanted to avoid it, perhaps because of your peripheral relationship (per your downfall of enemies post) but I dont think you can avoid it any longer. You are considered the main centrist orthdox blog, and I dont think you should allow far left or even anti-religious sites, like Dovbear or failed messiah, to be the default. Perhaps you have a more measured view you can share with us. You are attempting to ignore a gigantic elephant sitting right in the middle of the highway.

    RABBI GIL STUDENT RESPONDS: I have no insight into the matter. I only hope that this means the end of the EJF. I don’t share the cynicism of many other bloggers, nor the rush to judgment. I don’t consider myself to competent to judge on these matters. Regardless, EJF had turned into an anti-Modern Orthodoxy organization and I hope it dissolves.

    It doesn’t take courage to write such a post. But it’s unbecoming because it will associate me with the breaking scandal and I have no desire to be dirtied in that way. This isn’t a news or scandal blog. Readers come here for Torah.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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