Category Archives: Religion

Israel’s First “Secular Yeshiva” Opens

Jewish texts like the the Torah, Talmud and Mishna are studied. What’s missing? God, and any idea of commandments. Ynet (briefly) reports.



Filed under Israel, Religion

Pelegish Makes A Comeback – In Iraq, With Shites

The Washington Post reports:

Fatima Ali was a 24-year-old divorcee with no high school diploma and no job. Shawket al-Rubae was a 34-year-old Shiite sheik with a pregnant wife who, he said, could not have sex with him.

Ali wanted someone to take care of her. Rubae wanted a companion.

They met one afternoon in May at the house he shares with his wife, in the room where he accepts visitors seeking his religious counsel. He had a proposal. Would Ali be his temporary wife? He would pay her 5,000 Iraqi dinars upfront — about $4 — in addition to her monthly expenses. About twice a week over the next eight months, he would summon her to a house he would rent.

The negotiations took an hour and ended with an unwritten agreement, the couple recalled. Thus began their "mutaa," or enjoyment marriage, a temporary union believed by Shiite Muslims to be sanctioned by Islamic law.

The Shiite practice began 1,400 years ago, in what is now Iraq and other parts of the region, as a way to provide for war widows.…

[Hat Tip: Who else?]


Filed under Religion

Rewriting Judaism Haredi Style

Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyahiv, the titular head of Lithuanian haredim, brokered a political deal that made Yona Metzger, an unqualified rabbi without experience as a religious judge and a man who had been censured by the chief rabbinate for behavior inappropriate for a rabbi, chief rabbi. The Jerusalem Post has a Q & A posted with Rabbi Metzger. Here is one "highlight":

Liza Zimmerman, Budapest: Dear Rabbi, my question is about the Kabbalah. Is there any stream in Judaism that doesn’t accept it? Is the Torah, which has been given direct from Hashem not enough?

Rabbi Metzger: There is no stream in Orthodox Jewry – the original Jewry – that does not accept the Kabbalah, the Kabbalah is a secret Torah and is one of the deepest layers of interpreting the Torah and understanding the Creator’s way in running the world.

1. There is a section of Yemenite Jewry that rejects Kabbalah. 2. There is a section of MO that rejects Kabbalah. 3. There is a section of old line Ashkenazi Jewry (as opposed to the followers of the GRA) that rejects Kabbalah. 4. The Zohar is clearly a forgery. 5. Implicit in Metzger’s response is that the Torah is not enough, and neither is the Torah combined with the Mishna and Gemara. 6. The Rambam clearly knew nothing about Kabbalah. 7. The further back in history one goes, the fewer communities and rabbis one will find who follow or endorse Kabbalah. 8. Orthodox Judaism is not the "original" Judaism. It is a reaction to the Haskalah (Enlightenment) and the early Reform Movement.

To tell anyone they must follow or believe in Kabbalah is wrong. All a believing Jew must do is believe in God and follow the Law to the best of his ability. No incantations are necessary.

An important note: The Kabbalah that preceded the Ari (and does not make use of the Zohar) is really a completely different animal. That Kabbalah, the "original" Kabbalah, to borrow a phrase from the Ashkenazi chief rabbi, is the Kabbalah that mentions a very old world, 15 billion years old, and much of the other cool things kiruv workers teach recruits. This is the stuff the gedolim, led by Metzger’s master, banned and labeled "heresy" during the Rabbi Slifkin Ban. Lurianic Kabbalah, as filtered through the prisims of Shabbatai Zvi and the hasidic movement, is the Kabbalah practiced and endorsed today. It is Zohar-based and worried excessively about demons and un-holy spirits. It is Voodoo without dolls and pins.


Filed under Haredim, Israel, Jewish Leadership, Religion

Federal Court Rules Vatican Can Be Sued In Abuse Scandal – Will This Apply To Agudath Israel, Too?

The AP reports:

Sex abuse victims can pursue damages from the Vatican in a lawsuit alleging top church officials failed to report known or suspected cases of child abuse, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II allows three men to pursue claims against the Vatican over allegations of sexual abuse by priests in the Archdiocese of Louisville.

The men alleged that the Vatican knew or suspected some of its priests or bishops were child molesters, but failed to warn the public or local authorities about them because of a policy prohibiting it.

I wonder if rabbinic rulings by members of the rabbinic leadership of Agudath Israel and Torah Umerorah that prohibited telling police about rabbi-on-boy sex abuse cases would open up Agudah and Torah Umesorah to legal challenge? Let’s hope the answer is yes.

[Hat Tip: Dr. R-F.]


Filed under Crime, Haredim, Mikva Abuse, Religion

Evangelical Good

A Bedouin clan numbering 250 people – 110 of them children – is left homeless by a savage storm in Israel’s Negev region. A nearby Arab town gives the Bedouin temporary shelter in a school closed for winter break. But what to do when winter break is over? This:

…"I contacted the government but did not receive a response," says Rahat Mayor Talal al-Kirnawi. "It was urgent because I needed the school for January 7" after the holiday break, he says.

"So I thought of Rabbi Eckstein… I know he has a big heart."

Rabbi Eckstein heads the "International Fellowship of Christians and Jews", a non-governmental organization founded in the United States in 1983. In this role, he raises funds from the staunchly pro-Israel evangelical Christians in the US "largely to support Israel".

Last year, he raised USD 75 million (58 million euros) from half a million donors, most of them regular contributors of modest means.…

A few hours after talking to Rahat’s mayor, Eckstein gave the green light to unblock USD 148,000 to help the al-Amrani clan.

And last Friday, in rain and freezing wind, dozens of volunteers were bustling about outside Rahat, welding metal girders and covering them with metal sheets as they put up 56 solid – though not necessarily the most comfortable – shelters.…

"It’s Christian money? So what?" smiles Nasar al-Amrani, pulling off his work gloves. "We need help, they are here. Jews, Christian, Muslims, it’s all the same God. What I understand is that the rabbi is doing this so that God sees it and knows it."


Filed under Israel, Religion

The Third Temple


My old friend Chaim Clorfene has constructed scale models of the Third Temple (following the Ramchal’s understanding), and has published a book with detailed plans and models. Here’s a sample page from the book:


He lectures around the world using a PowerPoint presentation. He lives in Tzefat, but is in Chicago now and will be there for several more months, so now is a good time to have him speak in the US and Canada. You can reach him through his website.


Filed under Religion

It’s Official: Harry Potter Is Jewish

That’s right, folks. Daniel Radcliffe, the actor who plays Harry Potter, is Jewish:

…British actor Daniel Radcliffe, best known for playing Harry Potter in the blockbuster movie series, told Australian TV last month that his mother is Jewish.

On December 22, the London Jewish Chronicle reported the same news as I did and added a few details:

Radcliffe’s mother is Marcia Gresham, a casting director, raised in Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex. The JC [Jewish Chronicle] spotted artistic talent in the family way back: the 11-year-old Marcia was featured in our pages in 1968 after winning 10 trophies and several medals for ballet dancing.
Ms. Gresham’s mother, Patricia Jacobson, told the JC she was "a real Jewish grandmother" when it came to Daniel. She said: "I was proud of him before he was Harry Potter, because he’s just lovely."…


Filed under Religion