mail-jewish Vol.65 #43 Digest

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Jun 23, 2022, 4:56:12 AM6/23/22
Mail.Jewish Mailing List
Volume 65 Number 43
Produced: Thu, 23 Jun 22 04:56:10 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Branches of Judaism? (2)
[Martin Stern Joseph Kaplan]
Conversion policy
[Martin Stern]
How do I cope with my Anti-vax spouse?
[Martin Stern]
Where Does A Woman Find Happiness in Life? (2)
[Prof. L. Levine Joseph Kaplan]


From: Martin Stern <>
Date: Tue, Jun 21,2022 at 11:17 AM
Subject: Branches of Judaism?

Immanuel Burton wrote (MJ 65#42):

> When Rav Yehezkel Abramsky was appointed Rosh Beis Din of the London Beth Din
> in 1934, one of the steps he took was to increase the standards of kashrut.
> According to an account in "Emunah - Pathways in Contemporary Jewish Thought"
> (volume 2, 1990), a local butcher who opposed these changes took Rav Abramsky
> to the secular court, charging that the new rules were not democratic. In
> court, Reb Yehezkel Abramsky said:
> "It is a well-known fact that nothing can stand in the way of the truth.
> Democracy itself is meant to serve the truth. When a Jew asks for kosher meat,
> he means meat that a competent rabbi, well-versed in Jewish Halacha,
> designates kosher; if the meat is anything other than that, the shop owner is
> fooling the customer. Anyone attempting to dispute this truth on the grounds
> of democracy is committing a double offence - he distorts the truth and he
> debases democracy itself by suggesting that it is meant to serve the cause of
> falsehood."
> This account concludes with a quote from the judge's ruling:
> "Although this old leopard roared in a manner this courtroom is unaccustomed
> to hearing, I must nevertheless unequivocally declare that he is correct."

If I am not mistaken, there was a revealing dialogue between the judge and Rav
Yehezkel Abramsky at this particular trial.

The judge first asked Rav Abramsky "Who is the foremost authority in Jewish law
in this country?"

After a few moments consideration, Rav Abramsky replied "Myself!"

To this the judge commented "Rabbi Abramsky, is that not a somewhat immodest

Without hesitation, Rav Abramsky replied "I know, your honour, but I am under
oath to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth!"

I suspect that this contretemps is to what the judge was referring as "this old
leopard roared in a manner this courtroom is unaccustomed to hearing".

Martin Stern


From: Joseph Kaplan <>
Date: Tue, Jun 21,2022 at 01:17 PM
Subject: Branches of Judaism?

Immanuel Burton's description (MJ 65#42) of Rav Yehezkel Abramsky's testimony in
a British court was interesting. However, in an American Court under the current
understanding of the First Amendment, the court would not take the case. Rather,
it would leave those religious issues (what is kosher, who is a competent rabbi
and the like) for others to decide.



From: Martin Stern <>
Date: Tue, Jun 21,2022 at 12:17 PM
Subject: Conversion policy

There was recently a letter published in the Jerusalem Post (June 8) headed
"Empathy and kindness" by a Tzila Rabinowitz in which she called for "a more
inclusive and supportive process of conversion"

In it, she was essentially calling for the undermining of the whole conversion

Her reference to "the growing population of close to half-a-million
halachically labeled non-Jews [sic] in Israel" implies that she considers
this group to be Jews, only disqualified by some arcane technicalities.

The vast majority were brought to Israel from the former Soviet Union under
the "Law of Return" which allowed those with some family connection to Jews
to immigrate and acquire Israeli nationality. Most have no interest in any
commitment to Torah and mitzvot though they might be prepared to accept a
'Judaism' that consists of customs from which they can pick and choose. No
wonder "many applicants had given up their plans for conversion after
discovering that the requirements were ... [that they] had to pledge that
they would be Orthodox Jews".

She claimed that "there have always been great rabbinical adjudicators who
found ways to be more lenient in acceptance of converts", but this has
always been in the context of the Jewish situation in previous generations.

At one time, converts from the dominant religion to Judaism were executed.
While this may have ceased, Jews certainly lived under considerable
disadvantages. Thus, any applicant for conversion could be assumed to
genuinely desire to adopt a Jewish lifestyle (unless s/he was deranged).

This does not apply in Israel today where being Jewish has many advantages,
a situation similar to that in the days of Kings David and Shlomo when the
official Batei Din did not accept ANY converts, however sincere.

While this might nowadays be too stringent, it is a better paradigm than to
accept anyone who says that they "commit to having a kosher home and observe
Jewish traditions" when they have no intention of doing so.

Any comments?

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <>
Date: Tue, Jun 21,2022 at 11:17 AM
Subject: How do I cope with my Anti-vax spouse?

Prof. Yitzchok Levine wrote (MJ 65#42):

> I recall reading that Rav Avraham Pam used to say, "My minhag is to do
> whatever my wife tells me to do". I sincerely doubt that there are many
> husbands who would adopt his minhag!

This observation should not be gender restricted. It does, however, remind me of
a piece of advice that Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky once gave.

The background was that someone came to him with a problem - his daughter
was getting married and his custom was that the two fathers would escort the
chatan to the chuppah, and the two mothers would escort the kallah, whereas
his mechutan's was that each set of parents would escort their own child (it
might have been the other way round - I can't remember that detail). As they
could not come to a compromise he had suggested that they should approach
Rav Kamenetzky and ask him what his minhag was - and agreed that they would
follow it either way.

His response was "My minhag in this matter is to do whatever will make my
mechutan happy!"

This philosophy of avoiding disputes over relatively trivial matters is the
mark of a true gadol. As he quoted

> Rabbi Ribner replied with a fundamental piece of advice about disagreement in
> marriage, and other areas as well. In the world that we live in, the person
> who is the bigger "bar da'as", generally needs to capitulate to the lesser
> "bar da'as."

Unfortunately, though, Prof. Levine's comment is probably correct, which may
be one reason for the increasing number of divorces.

Martin Stern


From: Prof. L. Levine <>
Date: Tue, Jun 21,2022 at 11:17 AM
Subject: Where Does A Woman Find Happiness in Life?

Leah Gordon wrote (MJ 65#42):

> To answer the other implied question, women are no more and no less likely to
> be happy exclusively because of a marriage than men are. The reason it seems
> that women are more reliant on a marriage to be happy is because of the
> historical economic exclusion of women from life except as adjunct to a father,
> husband, son, etc.

What is the basis for this assertion? Does she have any data or studies to back
it up? Is it based on extensive observations on her part? Is it true for all
women? Is it true for observant Jewish women?

Please can she elaborate.

Kol Tuv

Professor Yitzchok Levine


From: Joseph Kaplan <>
Date: Tue, Jun 21,2022 at 12:17 PM
Subject: Where Does A Woman Find Happiness in Life?

Irwin Weiss writes (MJ 65#42):

> I think it might be more reasonable to ask women, who have the ability to speak,
> how they find happiness, rather than have a guy dictate something like this. I
> am sure many women find happiness in their husbands and homes, their children
> and families, but also in their professional endeavors as doctors, judges,
> architects, scientists, artists, artisans, and so forth.
> Don't you?

Absolutely. And it would be wonderful if the women on Mail Jewish chimed in on
this issue as Leah Gordon has done. I"m grateful for her response which is so
much more meaningful than an outsider's view. This is a topic where we men
should sit on the sidelines and listen respectfully.



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