UPDATED: Why Marvin Schick Is Wrong – The Menorah Lighting That Wasn’t

Tbilisi_menorah

Tzemach Atlas has a post about a menorah "lighting" held by the Patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church and the Chabad Chief Rabbi of Georgia. An Orthodox Christian website describes the encounter this way:

TBILISI, Georgia – During the eight-day long holiday of Chanukah, an
extraordinary event occurred at the headquarters of the Head of the
Georgian Orthodox Church, where Ilia II welcomed Rabbi Abraham
Mikhaelashvili, the Chief Rabbi of Georgia and Chabad Lubavitch
representative.

The Christian Orthodox leader extended
congratulations to the Jewish people on Chanukah and lit the candles of
a Menorah, presented to him as a gift by Rabbi Mikhaelashvili. The two
religious leaders then joined one another in singing the first psalm –
the Patriarch singing in Georgian and the Chief Rabbi singing in Hebrew.

At
this festive meeting, the parties discussed issues concerning the
freedom of worship in Georgia. Ilia II and Rabbi Mikhaelashvili
emphasized that the traditional religions of Georgia were notable for
their mutual respect and goodwill, which, in turn, has assisted in
maintaining mutual understanding and peace in the region.

The
Georgian religious leader added that brotherly relations between the
two peoples have resulted in a positive influence on relations between
the two countries – Israel and Georgia. The Patriarch noted that
Georgian Jews preserve the Georgian language and Georgian traditions
when they return to their historical homeland. He also supported the
initiative recently expressed by Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili
to provide Georgian Jews, who have immigrated to Israel, with dual
citizenship.

This is the menorah "lighting" Marvin Schick has been so worked up about. Here is what Schick wrote:

In the name of tolerance, too much that is alien is being tolerated. An
example is the extraordinary recent Chanukah Menorah ceremony in
Tiblisi, Georgia. Chabad’s Chief Rabbi and the Patriarch of the
Georgian Orthodox Church performed the ceremony, with the Christian
leader lighting the Menorah and the two clergymen singing the
blessings, one in Hebrew and the other in his native language. I am
looking at a photo of the event as I write.

But, as I noted on Mentalblog:

There was no bracha recited here. It was during the day. And the menorah was presented as a gift to the Patriarch, who lit it himself. It was not a Jewish menorah-lighting ceremony for Jews.

As you know, I’m not shy about criticizing Chabad, but what wrong took place here?

Unless Marvin Schick, et al, hold that any friendly contact with non-Jewish religious leaders is somehow forbidden. But fair warning: You are writing many Rishonim and Achronim out of Judaism by doing so.

And this is my problem with Marvin Schick. Conflating a presentation made to a religious leader with a public menorah-lighting ceremony is a large mistake to make. It is even worse when one realizes Schick accused Alan Dershowitz of promoting intermarriage, when all Dershowitz did was endorse the Reform movement’s position on patralineal descent and encourage the Jewish community to be more welcoming of those who had already* intermarried. Dershowitz’s position is not Orthodox by any stretch of the imagination, but it is not the same as advocating wholesale intermarriage for the sake of intermarriage.

I’ve made the point before that Chabad has honored men who should not be honored by an Orthodox Jewish institution. Dershowitz is not one of those, because he has done much for Shabbat and kashrut observance at Harvard, and stood up for Israel at a time when that was extremely unpopular on college campuses. He is not himself intermarried, and is a deeply concerned and committed Jew.

Marvin Schick cannot see this. He cannot see the difference between Chabad’s Children’s Museum honoring actor Jeff Goldblum, the non-committed, inter-dating, once and perhaps soon again intermarried Jew who has done, in his own words, nothing Jewish his entire adult life except make an occasional trip to the local deli.

There is much to criticize about today’s Chabad, much that makes me fearful for its future and the future of the Jewish people. Honoring Alan Dershowitz or presenting a local non-Jewish religious figure with a menorah are not part of them.

Schick sees real problems with Chabad. For the most part, I agree with his assessment. But I cannot for the life of me understand why an educated man so consistently chooses examples that cannot make his case.

* UPDATE: I received the following from Marvin Schick’s son Joe:

[Dershowitz] wrote "If a non-Jew wants to marry a Jew and is prepared to have a rabbi participate in the ceremony, a rabbi should be willing to lend his or her Jewish participation to so important an event."

So, perhaps it would have been more correct for me to have written, "have already intermarried or made the irrevocable decision to do so."  Again, I disagree with Dershowitz, and I would not have asked him to speak at the Chabad convention. But Dershowitz’s positives are at least as prevalent as his negatives, and a (weak, to be sure) case can be made for having him speak. This is not so with other Chabad speakers and honorees, including the very publicly intermarried mayor of a major city honored with lighting the public menorah, the actor Jeff Goldblum as noted above, and others.

Of course, all this begs the important question. The above Dershowitz quote is from an obscure article** published in the Harvard Crimson. Few people have seen it. Yet, Marvin Schick makes a charge – Dershowitz promotes intermarriage – and does not bother to quote or cite this article, which is in effect his lone source for making his allegation. If Schick had actually done his homework (he clearly did not do so), he would have cited this quote in his original article. But he did not. If he had, much of Chabad’s hostile reaction would have been muted, and Schick’s point would have been made. So why didn’t Schick do this? The only conclusion I can reach is that he did not have this quote at hand when he wrote his article, and based his opinions about Dershowitz on other information that, if he had cited it, would not have made his case.

**UPDATE #2:  Joe Schick also notes that the above quote appears in Dershowitz’s book, The Vanishing American Jew, and so it does, on page 322. But the context of the quote makes it clear that my understanding of Dershowitz’s position is correct – that, if nothing else can be done, welcoming the non-Jewish spouse is the only path to take. Dershowitz makes it quite clear that he fully endorses discouraging intermarriage, and he fully understands the Orthodox and Conservative movements will not count non-Jewish spouses as Jews or welcome them religiously. He only contends they should be welcomed within the larger Jewish community, and he does this for a clearly stated reason, a reason that seems true: Discouraging intermarriage by sitting shiva for the child, withdrawing from the child, etc. has not worked on any level. While I disagree with Dershowitz’s proposed solution, to imply that he is advocating intermariage as a first option is absolutely incorrect.

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81 Comments

Filed under Chabad Theology

81 responses to “UPDATED: Why Marvin Schick Is Wrong – The Menorah Lighting That Wasn’t

  1. dover eimes bilvovoy

    there are a few ennoying points with this situation .
    1- they are not the first to do a joint tehillim session . in recent memory , r’ toaf and his successor of rome did it with the pope , the jewish community of cologne did it in cologne too .
    when somebody else does it , chabad will be at his throat clamoring against lending hand to avi avos hatumoh.
    unless, unless , their “shaliach of the rebbe” is invited to be in first row and be allowed to shake the pontif’s hand . Is this archbishop of Georgia any more tahor than the others.
    2- A R’ Mikhaelashvili, of Chabad is a Chabad flag planted on the grave of the glorious Georgian Jewry , in favor of a kat that promotes nothing but itself .
    3- This is all deception , they don’t mean a word of it, they will keep their kids out of it “lest they become confused” .
    In fact , their teaching calls for the exact oposite attitude . Who are they fooling ? The gentiles ? Their fellow non-anash Jews ?
    Both ? Is it OK to fool people ? If it’s OK , does such religion elevate it’s followers or debase them ?

  2. pushkina

    i just have an observation, which has nothing to do with tblisi, bt which came up last week in a conversation i had with a jew currently living in iran.

    if lubavitch is trying to enact the lurianic kabbalah concept of “collecting all the sparks” and their ‘creed’ of going anywhere to provide jews the services they need, then why aren’t there any in iran, a country with 30,000+ jews and little rabbinical leadership?

    a lubavitch shaliach in every beach town in california but not one in a country that was the first of the diaspora, with a rich jewish history and presence (imagine a country with 4 real jewish queens ruling over it and not just the mythic queen esther) seems very strange to me. the region where the academies which codified the talmud and earliest commentaries took place and not one lubavitcher brave enough to even try to go there.

    i imagine that after what happened with the 900 iranian jewish boys taken out of iran to croawn heights in 1979, lubies might not be welcome, but since when has that ever stopped them?
    tsk tsk tsk.

  3. I don’t think Iran will allow it. For a long time, they only let in Satmar because of its anti-Zionism.

  4. pushkina

    what is the saying, where there is a will, there is a way? the entire chasiddishe mentality is totally alien to iranian jews, altho’ they do understand the cult of personality thing, having lived in the islamic republic for 27 years.

    nor do i think the lubies would be welcomed by most iranian jews, as the ashkenazi practice and customs would wreak havoc with iranian ones, but still; for a group to make so much noise about tikkun to bring the coming of the messiah, to ignore so many halachically correct jews, it just goes to show (yet again) where their priorities really lie.

  5. Yekhonyahu

    You mentioned california ; in california , i saw last year a chabadnik on the local farsi tv channel , advertising a summer camp for obviously persian kids in california .
    I do not think that iranian jews are anti ashkenaz as such , i know many have sent their kids to Litvish Ner Israel type yeshivas baltimore , colorado and other places . There , they learn Torah .
    I guess the fact that the rebbe has not been sending emissaries to persia lately , is better for the community.
    Who said they are leaderless ?
    They have leaders , they even print their own bi lingual very nice siddurim in hebrew and farsi . Gd bless them and give them strength . Better if the Sefardic Centre send them Rabbis from Israel , those who know Farsi and are real belongers .

  6. Yekhonyahu

    “so much noise about tikkun to bring the coming of the messiah, to ignore so many halachically correct jews, it just goes to show (yet again) where their priorities really lie.”

    shomer nafsho yirchak

  7. Anonymous

    the problem is that from the iranian jews they cant get aney money

  8. Anonymous

    There is a shliach. He is persian. It cannot be publicizes for various reasons…

  9. Anonymous

    “The above Dershowitz quote is from an obscure article published in the Harvard Crimson. Few people have seen it.”

    This quote appears on page 322 of Dershowitz’s ‘The Vanishing American Jew.’

  10. Anonymous

    Shmarya – sounds like you may have some beef with M. Schick. The strength of your post against him is sort of surprising.

  11. Anonymous

    Why do the Lubavitchers go around all over giving menoras as gifts to non-Jewish dignitaries ? Is there any support for such a practice in Jewish sources ? What are the non-Jews supposed to do with the menoras anyway ?

  12. Anonymous

    The Georgian church Patriarch has such a nice, Lubavitch style beard, how can Lubavitch resist farbrenging with him ?

  13. Anonymous

    i concur with the writer that Shmarya has some beef with Marvin. Or he has some ties with Dershowitz. In any event: it is not surprising since Shmarya is NOT Orthodox as is seen from his whole blog so he “embraces” Allan’s call for “embracing” intermarriage and sees nothing wrong with that; he does not beleive in torah she baal peh patrillineal descent etc etc.

    Marvin as always chazak veematz!

  14. Anonymous

    correection: i meant to say that Shamrya does not beleive in Torah She Baal peh and therefore beleives in patrilineal descent.

  15. 1. I do not “believe” in TSBP? Fool. I do not believe in today’s crop of rabbis.

    Now, do you mean the divinity of TSBP? Or do you mean the accuracy? Or what?

    2. I do not know and have never met or corresponded with Dershowitz, and have disagreed with him on many issues for many years.

    3. My beef with Marvin Schick is as follows: I dislike sloppy argumentation and bad scholarship. Dr. Schick had valid points, but his sloppy arguing – which came from poor research – destroyed his case. And that is sad, because a case well-made might have forced real change within Chabad.

    4. I don’t have Deshowitz’s book, so I cannot confirm the quote and its context. That said, Joe Schick has informed me of it and I have no reason to doubt him. I’ll update the post again shortly.

  16. Anonymous

    1- you do *not* belive in Tsbp period. You posted earlier about the historicity of patrilineal descent in a manner that it is contrary to tsbp.

    your entire blog mocks “todays crops of rabbis” and yesteryear’s crop of rabbis except the few selected that conform with your myhths.

    And obviously you disagree with the “Divinity” of it and also with the accuracy.

    3- Marvin’s arguing is on more solid grounds than your rampages at “the crops of rabbis of today”. The only thing that he did not document his case.

    Your beef with marvin is apparent here as you all of sudden have “rachmonus” on the chabad rabbis and the rabbi of georgia.

    Let me tell you: whatever your position, the position of the REbbe was that there be no encounter with higher members of of the christian clergy. How much more so by having any kind of “chanukah lighting” (with or without a blessing) it’s ludicrous and insulting to the position and practice of the Rebbe.

    Yes, and Marvin’s bringing it to light wil arouse greater input of chabad rabbis who care so that there will be no further recurring event in the future. Yasher Koach to MArvin.

    4- About Allan D. : Your tipsy turvy acrobtactics notwithstanding, he esposused things that are anathema to Halachik Judaism and the divinity thereof; as long as he did not renounce those he cannot be spkesperson for the vision of these movements. And of course it does not negate the accomplsihment of him as a person and is to be rewarded for all his good deeds.

    After all your acrobatics, i will not forget how he spoke strongly ten years ago in the Zev Brenner show on motzey shabbos about the torah shebaal peh…he is cloer to the conservative thiking that orthdox (as you are) and since he is a person who is regarded for his views and opinions he should be a spokesperson at a banquet for movement that espouses halachik judaism.

  17. martin

    correection: i meant to say that Shamrya does not beleive in Torah She Baal peh and therefore beleives in patrilineal descent.

    Posted by: | February 14, 2006 at 07:05 PM

    He does? Is that true Shamyra?

  18. Some questions for you brave anonymous person:

    1. Do the medical cures in the Gemara work? If not, how can you say TSBP is both accurate and divine?

    2. The Gemara refers to Shimon HaTzaddik several times. The problem is, we have contemporaneous documents from the period and Shimon HaTzaddik lived years after the events quoted. Is the Gemara wrong? If not, why not?

    3. The Gemara discusses the female anatomy but is incorrect in both its descriptions and its understanding of how that process works. Is the Gemara wrong? Is it perfect? Is it 100% divine?

    4. Dershowitz is not and was not a “spokesperson” for Chabad. That being said, I noted that I disagree with him and would not have invited him. My argument with Dr. Schick is very clear: Dr. Schick made abad argument and lost a debate he should have won hands down.

    5. Now be a good little anonymous commenter and answer the questions, won’t you? And, if you actually have the courage to do so, make sure to leave your name (or an alias, as posted in the comment rules on the top left of this page).

  19. Martin –

    No. What I have said is all academic research points to patralineal descent being the norm during the First Temple era, and conversion as we know it not coming into play until the end of the Second Temple era.

    Our anonymous commenter has difficulty understanding nuance.

  20. Neo-Conservaguy

    With respect to Jewish-Xtian relationships, it is interesting to note that in France during the period of Rashi’s life (11th century CE), when one well known Xtian priest died, the local Jewish population wore sackcloth and ashes in grief. Can you imagine that today?

  21. Nope. Today all we “heimish” Yidden throw parties. Very sad.

  22. Jath

    Nope. Today all we “heimish” Yidden throw parties. Very sad.

    even sadder , some threw parties when a jewish leader like rabin was murdered

  23. Anonymous

    Dear Shmarya,

    Thank you for posting what you really beleive about patrilineal descent. That corrnorates what i thought all along that you belong more in the conservative movement not in an Orthodox setting. You will not find *any* orthodox person saying that patrlineal descent (without a proper halachik conversion) was the norm during any time of jewish history. You should be honest in the future and let other people where you are coming from.

    WRT to you questions to me: *anything* that is not clear *halacha* and *has* place in our traditional sources have legitimacy and validity.

    So while i adhere to the school of thought of “emunah pshutoh” i what our trradition says; i do not villify those who hold in matters of science our rabbis erred, for there are traditional and halachik sources for their positions.

    But regarding clear piositions in halacha accepted by our rabbis for thousand years etc. i cannot and will move one inch towards accepting another view “as legitimate”. You think otherwise, that put’s you in the camp of conservative thinking.

  24. pushkina

    reb anonymous,

    i don’t know where you learned your jewish history, but patrilinial descent is there… all through the text of the hebrew bible. things change, the rabbis arrived and matrilineal descent became the thing.

    i will never forget my surprise when i was in iran and met a jewish man, who had two wives (who were identical!) the jewish wife was barren; the muslim wife bore all the kids. there was no conversion necessary for those kids because their father was jewish, his ‘official’ wife was jewish and that was enough. ever see that in any of your commentaries? these people identified themselves as orthodox, kept a kosher home,shabbat, etc but because conversion did not exist in that community (because in islam if a woman converts out, her punishment is death) she was just accepted, but more importantly, her (his) children were accepted as kosher members of the community.

    don’t forget that iran is one of htose places where the first codifications took place.

    each diaspora takes the face of where they are. simple.

  25. Anonymous

    so you are entitled to your opinion and you can join shmarya and other who think like the conservative movement. but orthodox position is that patrilineal was not the paramterter since sinai and matrlineal was the one.

    i fail to see what “proof” you bring from people who for a reason or other (especially difficulties of galut) in today’s generation do not observe mitzvot; especially that it is clear as the day that for the past two thgousand years it is clearly recorded that there is no other halachik paramter other than matrilineal.

  26. Dover Eimes Bilvovoy

    to : | ,
    What is orthodoxy in your opinion ? a contest of who is crazier ?
    Orthodoxy is defined by what one is not .
    Is Chabad orthodox ? Not in my opinion ,
    their views are certainly unorthodox , not normative .
    And people like that want to posture as the custodian of the keys to Judaism ?
    Give me a break !

  27. 1. Stating what academics agree on with regard to patralineal descent and conversion is not heresy and it does not remove one from Orthodoxy.

    2. You obviously are unfamiliar with open debate and normal academic discourse.

    3. The positions you believe are from Sinai are in fact for the most part positions adopted by many, but not all, Rishonim. Some can be traced back to the Gemara but no further – not to the Mishna or Tosefta, etc., and certainly not to Tanakh. The claims of direct lineage to Sinai are almost all late Gemara or later.

    4. I see you still do not have the courage to use your name, and still do not have the courtesy to follow the Comment Rules. I suggest you re-read them. They are posted on the upper left of this page, and apply to you.

  28. Dover Eimes Bilvovoy

    Pushkina,
    I think your encounter with kids of the proxy moslem woman , may be somewhat far fetched . I understand very well what you are saying , but maybe it’s a misunderstanding of a situation . In situations like this , maybe not all are familiar with the details of the particular family. True , probably the woman never converted to judaism . But may be the kids were circumcised with conversion in mind , al daat the local beis din . Of course being so far away from the scene, I can’t speculate , and I maybe totally wrong .

  29. Nachum

    Do I see round arms on that menorah???

  30. Dover Eimes Bilvovoy

    yes round arms . this is the one they give to gentiles , perhaps , it need not be kosher !

  31. Anonymous

    I still am waiting for some answers – Why do the Lubavitchers go around all over giving menoras as gifts to non-Jewish dignitaries ? Is there any support for such a practice in Jewish sources ? What are the non-Jews supposed to do with the menoras anyway ?

  32. Anonymous

    You telling me they don’t use those with round arms inside ? Is it only the big ones outside that they have straight arms for ?

  33. Be honest

    Dear Shmarya,

    Look at Maimonedes in the introduction to Yad and in Hilchos Teshuva chapter 3 where he states that the commentray of tthe Written Torah ie. the interpretation of the 613 mitzvot of the Written Torah were given together with the Written Torah.

    He writes that one who denies the pirush of Torah She Baal Peh is a “kofer”. Note that it is not i or other rabbis that call this; rather the enlightened Maimonedes who knew of all sciences in his day ruled so.

    Hence to claim that the identity of jews has changed since Sinay for 1600 or more years is “kfira” in the words of the rambam.

    The one who susttains these views is deemed a kofer inthe eyes of maimonedes.

    No orthodox person can hold these views and be considered an “orthodox” person.

    Therefore, dear shmarya, i think it would be more prudent on your part that you identify yourself as a non orthodox jew and then we will be able to understand where you are coming from. Otherwise you are really fooling others and being disingenous with them. Be moral and ethical and identify yourself to others as to what you really are.

    Good luck!

  34. Neo-Conservaguy

    Ihe ignorant person that keeps claiming Shmarya is “conservative” needs to stop confusing the Conservative movement (which like the Orthodox movement(s), requires matrilineal Jewish lineage) with the Reform movement (which in 1983 endorsed a resolution to accept patrilineal too).

    As for Rambam, some would suggest that his writings are tailored to different readers; some are more directly and harshly worded than others. One need only trace some sections of legal thought from the Sifra, Mishna, Tosefta, then the Bavli AND the Yerushalmi and then the generations of commentators to see that the concept of “Torah She Baal Peh” clearly has not uniformly been kept even by our greatest sages. When is the latest one can say the evening Sh’ma? The answer depends upon which sage you follow, and during what period. How can that be – didn’t haShem give the one true answer via “Torah She Baal Peh”? Shouldn’t everyone have had that one true answer for all such questions?

    And, by the way, what’s that “First Mishna” referred to in the Misha text when it’s pointed out there were different answers to some questions in that earlier text? Which version was “Torah She Baal Peh” – the one true set of answers from haShem?

    Hey, while we’re on a roll here, where can I take my wife for some of those bitter waters of sota? After all, it’s right there in the mikra, it says I have the right to do so. That way, if I ever want to divorce her (God forbid) and not pay the funds specified in the (Rabbi Shimon ben Shetah’s) ketubah, I’ll just whip up my right to put her through the ordeal, accuse her of adultery, and shift the burden of proof on her! Or, is that exactly what drove Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakai to abolish (preserved the mitzva but limited its application) the use of sota, OVERRULING a Torah law? How can that be – did he have exclusive access to “Torah She Baal Peh” that would nullify the mikra in times when men were using sota for evil purposes?

  35. Be Honest –

    I would only add that many people were kofrim on the eyes of the Raavad who were not in the eyes of the Rambam and vice versa. And this plays out among dozens of Rishonim on many issues.

    Further, you should learn the Rambam’s Moreh Nevuchim. Then you could add him to your list of ‘kofrim.’

  36. Be Honest!

    Dear Shmarya,

    While you may hold whatever you want; Orthodox people follow the Rambam’s *Yad* regarding belief and Halacha.

    And yes, regarding the few places where Rambam Raavad disagree etc. you may have a point (but even then there is a “halachik process” wherere there is no chaos and confusion with regards to practice) but wrt to things where there are no disagreements everyone agrees that deviating from the accepted norm is kfira.

    wrt to our discussion: not *one* opinion in TSBP accepts trhat patrilineal descent is sufficient to establish jewishness without conversion. Denying this is denying simple tsbp. *no* orthodox rabbi or member will deny it; those who think differently are outside of the pale of orthodox thinking.

    Neo: While for *practical* purpose s conservative may think that it is better to keep magtrillineal descent; ideologically conservatives agree in priniciple that halacha has changed and so too wrt to identity of jewishness therefore shamarya’s and allan’s D beloeng to the non-orthodox thnking.
    \
    Best of luck!

  37. pushkina

    reb anonymous,

    what is ‘orthodox’ in brooklyn is not necessarily torah misinai. sorry to have to tell you this. there are many jewish communities in the world who look at what comes out of brooklyn, bene brak and mea shearim, and wonder what din you people are trying to practice…and not succeeding in that practice (altho we all know that practice amkes perfect).

    reb dover eimes, you may think the story far fetched but, in the tradition of the place they were/are from, it was most important for a jewish man to have children (especially sons) and becuase of the law of the place, the father’s religious status decided who they were. there are even more such stories in the past, as there were in europe, but as long as a certain closemindedness remains in the european jewish communities about the ways jews have lived the world over, those stories will remain misunderstood.

    my favorite is that of a very prominent ‘orthodox’ family here where i live;’ their daughter decided to go back to the old country and research the family history. what she found was shocking; that in the 17th century, for some reason, a xtian family decided it really wanted to be jewish. so they packed their wagon and went to live in a far, different part of hungary, as jews. they were accepted and have so lived since then. they have never halachically converted. now that this is known within their family, they have no intention of converting because they have a certain social position and yichus (and lost of money) and they have no intention of damaging either of the first two. pillars of the ‘orthodox’ community they remain and will remain, no matter what their daughter the historian has found.

  38. “While you may hold whatever you want; Orthodox people follow the Rambam’s *Yad* regarding belief and Halacha.

    Really? What about the hundreds of halakhot in the Shulchan Aruch where we hold against the Rambam?

    Rav Schach famously said with regard to Chabad’s Rambam-learning campaign, We do not paskin from or follow the Rambam – halakha is not like the Rambam. He said this to note the problem he felt would arise from the campaign – that jews who did not know better would belive we follow the Rambam’s Yad for halakha and hashkafa.

  39. Puskina, Dover Emes:

    I very dimly remember that there was a controversy over some Jewish communities in Iran, and poskim needed to decide how these people should be viewed – as having a hezkat kashrut or a being sofek yidden with all that entails. Because the rov was believed not to have whatever the problem was, poskim went after the rov and paskened for their hezkat kashrut.

    I do not know the details of this or the exact time frame. I think it may have been in the late 1800’s.

  40. Dover Eimes Bilvovoy

    Could it have been on the subject of the Meshhedi community – Meshhed was governed at that time by very fanatic people- that was subjected in the early 18th century to forced conversion under threat of death , they maintained their judaism as crypto jews -very frum- and reverted to open judaism either by leaving Meshhed to other places in Iran or immigrating to Israel , where many settled in very frum communities and in the meanwhile , Meshhed government revoked the gzeiros .
    I am asking , because your mention rung a bell & it seems to me that Pushkina is refering to something from our life time .

  41. Dover Eimes Bilvovoy

    ….that in the 17th century, for some reason, a xtian family decided it really wanted to be jewish. so they packed their wagon and went to live in a far, different part of hungary, as jews. they were accepted and have so lived since then. ……

    Pushkina , this story is reminescent of the novel “The Slave” by Isaac Bashevis Singer.
    A very nice book , where the son of the woman who never converted became a gadol batora . Very nice book .
    The truth is , halakha : when one blends in a community , after 3 generations , the status need no longer be verified even if you prove with DNA that 4 generations ago , his forefather was Haman Harashaa . (who must have been a meshhedi him self in a later gilgul 🙂 )

  42. Dover Emes –

    Your proabably correct. I may have been thinking about the Meshedis.

  43. B”H

    Rav Schach famously said with regard to Chabad’s Rambam-learning campaign, We do not paskin from or follow the Rambam – halakha is not like the Rambam. He said this to note the problem he felt would arise from the campaign – that jews who did not know better would belive we follow the Rambam’s Yad for halakha and hashkafa.

    Posted by: Shmarya | February 16, 2006 at 01:48 PM”

    I heard the Rebbe replied to that that if I were to make a campaign that everyone should learn Talmud he [rav Shach] would say people shouldn’t learn Talmud because some will “pasken” according to it [according to the opinions not accepted as halocha in Shulchan Aruch]…

  44. Be honest!

    Shmarya,

    When the Rambam is *not* contradicted by any other *posek* we *do* pasken like him.

    You’re poshut missing the fundamentals of halacha. It’s no surprise but be honest and recognize that you do not belong in an orthodox setting.

  45. You’re right. However, no case like that exists. You are confusing what happens if the Rosh and/or Rif agree with him, with all poskim. All poskim have probably never agreed on anything. And, to press the point further, some Rishonim disagreed with the Rambam’s Ikkarim, and later Rishonim often did notpakin like him with regard to them, and the Rambam himself contradicts what he writes there and in the Yad in later works including Morah Nevuchim. Your emuna peshutta is charming, but it is not the halakha.

  46. Neo-Conservaguy

    Game, set, and match: Shmarya. Thanks for playing, “Be honest”.

  47. be honest!

    again you missing the pint. You talk from the “acdamecians” point of view. but with all due respect you are a big am hooretz wrt to how the things work from the inside. You babble what these “scholars” write about “moreh nevuchim” etc. What you write is laughable to any bar mitzva boy who has a cursory knowledge in the know how of how shas and poskim and halocho works.

    Listen carefully one more time: when Rambam writes something and no one argues then that is the halacha. beginning and end of the story. Ramba’s writing that Torah She Baal peh is thepirush of the mitzvos written torah and was given in siany is something that is shared by *all* rishonim! andposkim no argument here. The statementof the rambam that someone who denies thepirushof tasp is a kofer is not arguaed by any rishon and possek. ergo all your point are pointless.

    Yes, if you want to talk about the scholars in JTS you have a point but if you will talk to any yeshiva bochur any orthdox torah beginner will tell you that what you write about these elementary things do not pass third grade.

  48. The problem is your presonal understanding of halakha is still like a bar mitzvah boy, cursory knowledge and all. I don’t know where you learned, but whoever taught you failed to expalin the nuances of halakha.

    Now, since you are such a big posek that you consider yourself able to pasken kefira, answer this question for me:
    Which sections of the written Torah were given at Sinai and what has been added or removed since then. Please be specific.

  49. Be honest!

    All the chamishoh chumshey torah are dictated word by word by Hashem as the Rambam writes in hilchos teshuva and says that someone who denies this is an apikoress.

    (the timing of each parsha is a debate and discussion in messechet gittin but ultimately before Moshe left this world this whole torah was transmitted to yidden).

  50. That is disputed by Yehuda HeHasid, the Ibn Ezra, and about 10 other Rishonim, all of whom hold that Ezra added some things to humash. One holds Ezra added every line that says, “And God spoke to Moshe.” Yehuda HehHasid holds that, and more, including several chapters of Tehillim being moved from humash to Sefer Tehillim by Ezra. By your definition, these Rishonim are heretics, kofrim.

    Now, a followup question: Which parts of the Oral Torah were given at Sinai? What has been added since then and what has been lost?

  51. benayahu

    (this whole torah was transmitted to yidden).

    what yidden , there were no yidden then , there were hebrews children of israel if u prefer . jews came about to be only after the splitting of the kingdom . and , i hate to disappoint you , nobody spoke yiddish during the time of moses our master .

  52. be honest!

    exact source of Ibn Ezra, please.

  53. Anonymous

    all of the 613 Mitzvot were given at Sinai. No Mitzva has been added or detracted as ruled by maimonedes in his Yad.

  54. benayahu

    yes , unfortunately, we all have to be in line , close our eyes disregard ibn ezra and be all equally idiotic .
    funny chabad is fond of rambam (excluding moreh nevuchim) as they feel he answers for their messianic situation . in their case i believe the situation came first and the ideology and apologetics followed.
    i thought of this , as rambam wrote the guide to the select few with binah to discern the yad hachazaka was for everyone. reading hilchot rambam , one is under the impression that he is not really pasqening, but rather , listing , cataloging the mitzvot . siyum rambam of chabad is a parody of parrots who seldom know right from wrong .

  55. All mitzvot were given at Sinai, but not the Mishna or Gemara or midrashim, etc.

    So, again, please tell us exactly which sections of the above works were given at Sinai and which were added later. Also please tell us what, if anything, is missing from the oral law that was given to us at Sinai.

  56. Anonymous

    i see that you did not have yet have a chance to loomk in JTA’s guidebook to find the source of the Ibn Ezra.

    All the mitzvas and their basic explanations were given at Sinai. Ie how to put on tephilin and to observe shabbos.

    Obviously: there was also given the power to later generations to “darshen” and derive halochos from the text and also the power to resolve halachik questions pertaining to the new innovations of the age etc.

    Shmarya give it up: you are *not* an orthodox jew by any stretch of imagination.

    BE HONEST AND COME OUT OF THE CLOSET ALREADY.

  57. |–

    1. So every part of the Gemara and Mishna are NOT divine or given at Sinai, except for the specific mitzvot mentioned and any explanation of how to do them that is agreed on by all with no dissent.

    2. Look at Marc B. Shapiro’s recent book on the the Rambam’s ikkarim. There you will see a large list of Rishonim who argued on almost every one of them. You will also find citations for all of them, including the Ibn Ezra.

  58. Be honest

    1- You are distorting what i said.

    Oral Law: IS Divine. But Oral Law has a cocept “mah shetalmid vossik ossid lechadesh niten lemoshe misSinay” therefore it itself is Divine.

    2- Give me an exact location of Ibn Ezra.

  59. 1. I am not distorting what you said. The Diven-given authority to darshan is not the same as saying all of TSBP is divine.

    2. I gave you a work that has dozens of clearly cited references that prove you wrong.

  60. be honest!

    and now: which “orthodox rabbi” holds that “historically” jewishness was defined according to father? which orthodox rabbi holds that Basic explanations ie definition of mitzvoh and halachik concept of a jew changes, contrary to maimonedes?

    In fact, serch for around 40 plus years ago when Ben gurion asked orthodox scholars about the definition of jewishness tell who wrote that “historically” this changed….

    nothing and nothing of such thinking belong in any serious orthodox setting …i challenge you to offer me something of the sort in writing…

  61. be honest!

    2- i don’t have that work. Since you do give that citation.

  62. Be honest

    you said i said that TSBP is bnot divine: i told you that a) the basuc explanations of the mitzvoh were given to moshe by Hashem at sinay and is Divine, in addition Hashem gave mitzva to Amud of TASBP” as the rambam calls them to darshen and teach derive halochos from the torah…

    Definition of, for instance, “not to work on shabbos” is given to moshe in sinay by Hashem to consist of the 39 avos melochos….this is clearly Divine. IN addition the laws that the RAbbis derived concerning these 39 melochos also gain the power of TAsbp (hence Divine) since the carry the same wight of “deoraysso” as their “Father”….

    these are all simple things that any cheder boy will know but the academicians apikorssim hack a tcheynick about…

  63. Be honest

    you said i said that TSBP is bnot divine: i told you that a) the basuc explanations of the mitzvoh were given to moshe by Hashem at sinay and is Divine, in addition Hashem gave mitzva to Amud of TASBP” as the rambam calls them to darshen and teach derive halochos from the torah…

    Definition of, for instance, “not to work on shabbos” is given to moshe in sinay by Hashem to consist of the 39 avos melochos….this is clearly Divine. IN addition the laws that the RAbbis derived concerning these 39 melochos also gain the power of TAsbp (hence Divine) since the carry the same wight of “deoraysso” as their “Father”….

    these are all simple things that any cheder boy will know but the academicians apikorssim hack a tcheynick about…

  64. #1. Should read “The Divinely-given authority …”

  65. No. You’re wrong. If there is no argument at all about the details, those details would then have the status of “Divine.” But if there is any argument whatsoever, we go after the the rov (or whatever decision the Gemara reached, if that is clear). But, and this is the important point, two opposites cannot both be true. If TSBP has two (or more) differing explanations of how to do a particular mitzva (or on what that mitzva actually is), one is wrong and one is correct. Therefore, we go after the rov, decide by the majority, but record the minority view in part because there is always the possiblity that is actually correct and the majority view is wrong. For halakhic issues this means one has to follow the din as it is brought down and paskined. But for hashgafa, as Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan famously pointed out, there cannot be any pesak din. So, if there are any arguments on a hashgafic issue recorded, if those arguments were not clearly refuted by the Gemara, the minority arguments are still “kosher” in the sense that they are not kefira.

    Now, back to our case. Noting that there is no factual support for the idea that matralineal descent is from Sinai is not kefirah. Neither is arguing that patralineal descent was the norm in the times of Humash and part of Nach, including post-Sinai.

    Arguing that we should accept patralineal descent today is also not kefira – but it is clearly not a position rov poskim (probably all poskim) would accept. Therefore, acting on this argument and accepting patralineal descent as valid for Orthodox religious purposes would be wrong, and doing so would place one in danger of being excommunicated.

    Do you see the difference between the two?

  66. Anonymous

    You got into an whole new area “elu voelu divrey elokim chayim” where despite them arguing over each other; despite that the practical halacha is only according to the rov or another halachik principle, nevertheless they are both ELOKIM CHAYIM! DIVINE!

    In any event you diverted from the issue and then come back.

    Listen: You claim that in times of Nach and
    chumash was not “matrilineal descent” but patrlineal is not kefira.

    Again: The Rambam clealry puts you in the kfira list: He writes that the laws of Torah have not changed ie. if the Torah defined shabbos as not making 39 melochos so it must be from times of Sinay! this is the “pirush” of the definition of shabbos. So if you counter and deny this according to the rambam you are in the lines of kfira.

    the same with the definition of a Jew: if you are “mefaresh” the *practical* halachik defintion of who is a jew different than the pirush of the torahsbPeh as explained by it you are kofer batorah according to the rambam. it’s that simple.

    now if you would find *one* source that argues with the rambam over this principle i would say that you may have a point but NO ONE orthodox rabbi claims that the pirush of the defintion of who is a jew has changed (not only in practice but ideologically) that put’s youout of the thinking of orthodoxy in any shape or form.

    great shabbos

  67. 1. Unfortunately, Rav Schach’s remark that studying the Rambam as a campaign would lead to people paskining like the Rambam and confusing the halakhic process has come true.

    2. Ze ve ze divre elokim hayyim does not mean both opinions are correct or that both are divine. It simply means that, when the proper process is followed with the proper intent – to reach the correct decision w/o pride or arrogance – then both opinions are arrived at in the correct fashion, and the process is divine. But one opinion is still incorrect. In other words, the incorrect opinion is not Torah from Sinai. It is a mistake, arrived at honestly. Ze ve ze divre elokim hayyim does not mean all of TSBP is divine.

    3. “if you are “mefaresh” [publicize] the *practical* halachik defintion of who is a jew different than the pirush [explanation]of the torahsbPeh as explained by it you are kofer batorah [heretic] according to the rambam. it’s that simple.”

    Do you have any source for me doing this? You cannot, because I never have.

  68. “… now if you would find *one* source that argues with the rambam over this principle i would say that you may have a point but NO ONE orthodox rabbi claims that the pirush of the defintion of who is a jew has changed (not only in practice but ideologically”

    I have not investigated this in detail, but I would not be so quick to say no one has. I was shocked by much of what Marc B. Shapiro cited in his book on the Rambam’s ikkarim. But they were all true citations.

  69. Be honest

    1- unfortunately by R. shach standards you would a far worse apikores than by the L! keposhut!

    And as said i did not see any *other* *single* rishon claiming a different interpretation for jewish definition other matrlineal descent, in which case anybody that denies the pirush of tradition is a kofer!

    2- shmarya: again you missing basic elementary knowledge of the simple way they are explained in plain yeshivos for 6th graders:

    “elu voelu” “divrey elokim chayim”! means that both position have *validity* and are *divine* (“divrey ELOKIM chayim”! (ask a sixth grader what means “elokim) ; but for *practical* practice in halocho we follow in this world one way only, but both ways are “divrey elokim chayim”. The problme is that your knowledge comes from academicians and are missing poshut knowledge in how things are and work from the inside.

    3– you said that historically jews accepted jewishness by patrilineal descent and only later by the mishnah (or whenever ?) they decided for some reasons that it should be matrilineally. The TSBP says otherwise: it says that we learn from pssukim from TSBK that it is matrilineal and patrlineal definition is *ruled out*. Your explnation is contrary to tsbp and hence kfira.

  70. Be honest

    if you would have a more than a cursory knowledge in inside books rather than reading academicians you would know that what youu is laughable: there is not *one* source that can argue with the mishna that rules out patrilineal descent: meaning there is not even one opinion in the mishna and the brayssos that would claim that a descendant from a jewish father and goyish mother is jewish; there is simply no such opinion period.

  71. Again, as I pointed out above, noting what academics say and what the evidence is, is not kefira. Further, as I also said, find one instance of me advocating a practical halakha of patralineal descent. You did not because you can not. So your “basis” for labeling me a kofer is not valid.

    You understanding of ze ve ze divrei elokim hayyim is very fitting for a heder-level child. But it is not the only normative understanding.

    Now, here are the rules:

    If you can point to one instance of me advocting a halakhic acceptance of patralineal descent, post it here. If not, apologize.

  72. Be honest

    again shmarya,

    “kfira” in halacha does not necessarily refer to advocating a *practical* stance different than the rabbis; that belongs more to the term “mamrim”; “kfira” relates to ideological positions contrary to basic tenets of the torah.

    So: your holding on to “orthdoxy” becauseof “practical” reasons and “advocating” no change in “practical halacha” does not make you into a “non-kofer” which is a term selected for issues of “faith” as presented by Rambam and all others.

    You cloak yourself in the other rishonim etc. It does not help you’ for jews have accepted for the past hundreds of years the 13 ikkrey EMUNAH of the Rambam. Whether you like it or not, they have accepted them as a matter of fundamentals of faith. So if today someone disagrees with any of these articles they are not “orthodox” jews.

    the rules are not invented by shamrya or “be honest”; they were accepted by jewry for the past hundreds of years and they carry the power of tradition (your disagreeing put’s you with the thinking of the conservatives).

    I hope you start learning the issues from the *inside* so you could start at the heder level and then you could hopefully proceed to progress in better understanding and living yiddishkeyt.

  73. “You cloak yourself in the other rishonim etc. It does not help you’ for jews have accepted for the past hundreds of years the 13 ikkrey EMUNAH of the Rambam. Whether you like it or not, they have accepted them as a matter of fundamentals of faith. So if today someone disagrees with any of these articles they are not “orthodox” jews.”

    1. You are a what is called in common parlance a pious fool.

    2. Read Marc B. Shapiro’s book for literally dozens of Rishonim who argued on the Rambam’s Ikkarm.

    3. Your understanding of kefira isnot normative. Try asking a posek or two.

    4. Now go off into your haredi darkness.

  74. “kfira” in halacha does not necessarily refer to advocating a *practical* stance different than the rabbis; that belongs more to the term “mamrim”; “kfira” relates to ideological positions contrary to basic tenets of the torah.

    And where have I advocated patralineal descent? No where.

    Now apologize or go away.

  75. Explaining what other believe and why they believe it is not kefira in any way. Rashi does this. The Rambam does this. oznayim LaTorah does this. Dozens of Rishonim and Achronim do this.

    You are a fool.

  76. be honest!

    resorting to personal insults do not get you anywhere. remember that you have no cursory knowledge of the inside of the tsbp that a 10 year old heder boy has and you come sounding off as an expert on these matters.

    you “explain” what others say? no, you go past that; you advocate matters of beleif and theology the way you see it.

    you denigrate the divinity of torah She Baal peh and the rabbis of today and the rabbis of the centuries like the worse maskilim.

  77. be honest!

    resorting to personal insults do not get you anywhere. remember that you have no cursory knowledge of the inside of the tsbp that a 10 year old heder boy has and you come sounding off as an expert on these matters.

    you “explain” what others say? no, you go past that; you advocate matters of beleif and theology the way you see it.

    you denigrate the divinity of torah She Baal peh and the rabbis of today and the rabbis of the centuries like the worse maskilim.

  78. Be honest

    listen fool:

    Bring *one* source from marc b. shapiro or from another academician who claim that one can belief in the orthodox etting that the halachot of the torah and definition of the jewishness of the jew has undergone change.

  79. Benayahu ben Yehoyada

    “you denigrate the divinity of torah She Baal peh and the rabbis of today and the rabbis of the centuries like the worse maskilim.”
    Being honest is very good .
    Being anti maskil is not .
    Freezing the jewish people into obscurantism , is neither good, nor desirable !
    Let’s face it , fighting haskala was a mistake ; a very bad mistake .
    On one hand it is causing the degeneration of judaism into an arcane obscurantist frame .
    On the other hand , it is losing some of the best jews that could otherwise be very good affiliated and observants , but have no interest otherwise in accepting a foolish non religion .
    Those responsible for this jewish self inflicted Shmad , will be made to account for it after 120 years .

  80. aryeh calvin

    The adoption of the rambams ikkaring by rov gadolei israel occured in the 19th century as a reaction to the haskala movement. nonetheless the definition of “orthodox” judaism is defined by the ikkarim and I think even marc shapiro agrees to this.all shapiro does is say that the rishonim debated the extent of the ikkarim. the manuscript of the rabbi yehuda hahasid commentary on the torah contains references to king david moving tehillim to the book of tehillim from the chumash.the beit din in yerushalim ruled that manuscript could not be published without removing those comments because they are too dangerous today and rav moshe feinstein ruled that today they constitute kefira. That does not negate the fact that great gedoeli israel of past generations argued on the rambams ikkarim. Our gedolim can decided what constitutes kefira but g-d alone retains the right to decide which view is correct because its not in heaven applies only to halacha.

  81. be honest!

    in addition to Aryeh’s point, the main contentions against the rambam were if they were “ikkarim’ btu certainly many of the items considered by the rambam ikkarim are still considered by his opponenets part of the toah: like for instance about the beleif in the coming of moshiach. the Chassam Sofer points out that although it is not necessarily an “ikkar” it’s certainly part of torah that a Jew blieves in together with every single part of torah.

    It is inconceivable that any of the rishonim would write something like “patrilineal descent” was the norm after Sinay; it is only later that they changed it to “matrilineal”. *every* single one of the rishonim who disagree with the rambam’s ikkarim would find such statement sacrilgeous. it’s that simple.

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