Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Tznius Police

Watch out!  The tznius police are at it again! 

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Haredi modesty patrol catches violators on camera
Members of Committee for Preserving Sanctity and Education employ professional photographers to document yeshiva students attending 'immodest' cultural events. Images will be passed on to yeshiva heads
Ari Galahar

The next hot item in the haredi fight against immodesty is debuting this summer – professional photographers hired by the Committee for Preserving Sanctity and Education to catch yeshiva students on film at "immodest" concerts.

Rabbi Mordechai Baloi, chairman of the committee, recently announced that whoever attends the mixed-gender rock concerts of haredi performers Yakov Sheweky and Avraham Fried may be putting at risk his and his children's chances of being accepted into various yeshiva frameworks.
According to Baloi, the committee has arrangements with a number of the show's organizers to hand over pictures taken during the concert because they do not want be in trouble with the rabbis.

1st time offenders given pass

"Once, we used to send photographers to the concerts. But now we have officials in the organization who send us pictures of those participating in the events," said Baloi. "Everyone who goes to these concerts knows that he was there. Everyone knew he was there, unless he disguises himself. We will bring this to the attention of the leaders of the educational institutions," explained Baloi.
The event managers themselves explained that the concerts are not directed at the haredi public, but are intended for the National Religious crowd. However, Baloi does not accept their claims, and says the fact that the artists are being billed as haredi attracts many haredim to the concerts, even if they are not officially part of the target audience.
Not only mixed-gender concerts are being targeted by the Committee for Preserving Sanctity and Education.
According to Baloi, the committee sent photographers out on motorbikes on the eve of the World Cup final to document yeshiva students watching the game.
"We dispatched three motorcycles with cameras to the streets to pass through restaurants, coffee shops, and bars in the city," elucidated Baloi. "The photographers are not haredim, but are secular professionals."

Baloi explained that the committee has no problem with the soccer game itself, but with things surrounding it, such as advertisements. He added that many of the yeshiva students left the venues when they saw the flashes go off.
The Committee for Preserving Sanctity and Education explained that they do not usually hand over photographs to the yeshiva heads the first time a student is caught, unless they are specifically asked by the yeshivas with which they are in contact.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Kiddush Hashem and Chilul Hashem

Only the "rav" of Rahm Emmanuel could find a kiddush Hashem in an intermarriage.

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We are living in interesting times.  In years past, it would be clear that an intermarriage, between a Jew and a Methodist, with a rabbi and a Methodist minister co-officiating, on a Shabbat afternoon, no less, is a high level chilul Hashem: Have we no pride?  Have we no shame?  And I am not saying that everything has changed.  The Clinton Mezvinsky wedding could clearly be categorized in the chilul Hashem column.
And yet, how can you look at the pictures of Marc with his tallis – a wool tallis! – and his kipa, with American royalty, Chelsea Clinton, and not say, “Hmm… maybe there is something significant and even, good?, for Americans to see.”  Here was not a Jew who was hiding his identity, who was minimizing his Jewishness.  No, what the world saw is that a fully attired – proud? – Jew could get right to the top of American society.  Not that reaching high society is our goal.  But the fact that there were Sheva Brachot, a chupa, a k’tuba and that tallis and kipa, for the world to see, doesn’t that put the wedding in the category of Kiddush Hashem as well?  Perhaps not, but I would bet that a lot of our enemies are scratching their heads wondering how the Clintons could marry their daughter to a Jew.  Maybe some are saying, “Aha, see this intermarriage! We now know the Jews are doomed.”  But I would bet most are scratching their heads wondering if the Jews have gotten the upper hand.
We are living in a world where what was once taboo, intermarriage, has the possibility to expose millions – millions of Jews – to a tallit they may never have known about.  And it was a Reconstructionist rabbi Ponet who did the “dirty” work.  For now, Orthodox rabbis, even Conservative, don’t want anything to do with an intermarriage.  But this Mezvinsky guy was willing to wear a tallis and a kippa in all the pictures – should we shun him forever?  No, certainly after the wedding, we welcome him – and Chelsea as well.  But maybe we need to think of a way of extracting the Kiddush Hashem from the Chilul Hashem.  I don’t know how – but I know that a lot of smart people read this blog.
Perhaps Chilul Hashem and Kiddush Hashem are closer than we thought.
Rabbi Asher Lopatin
Er iz a "Brisker", er hut gelernt by an einekle fun Reb Chaim.  Apparently there are tzvei dinim here, chilul Hashem and kiddush Hashem.

Chilul Shabbos

Al aileh ani bochiah, aini yordah mayim.

Click here for the announcement
Additional Kabbalat Shabbat: What and Why
This additional Kabbalat Shabbat tefillah is an opportunity for the Bayit to express our commitment to expanding women's roles in tefillah within the bounds of halakhah, which is a part of our broader vision of inclusiveness and openness. At the same time, we aim to balance it with our commitment to our Orthodox identity.
The tefillah will meet in the 2nd Floor Beit Midrash. As all Bayit tefillot do, it will maintain a mehitzah (separation between men and women), and the prayer leader will occupy a distinct space that can be accessed by men or women at separate times, exactly modeling the Main Sanctuary. We will offer a participatory Kabbalat Shabbat and Maariv with much song, following the style of the Main Sanctuary's Friday night tefillah.
Kabbalat Shabbat will be led by a woman. This is a halakhically acceptable practice, and models our values as indicated above. In anticipation of interest in the following issues, we want to lay out the factors which are raised regarding this type of tefillah. We invite you to talk with Rav Steven and Rabba Sara with further concerns or conversation on these topics.

Nature Of Kabbalat Shabbat
Kabbalat Shabbat is not an obligatory prayer service and contains no devarim shebikdushah (liturgical elements like Barkhu and Kedushah which have male leaders). No distinctions are made between men's and women's involvement in Kabbalat Shabbat in the general literature about this tefillah. For both of these reasons, there are no issues surrounding the leader fulfilling the obligations of the congregation across gender lines.

Kol Ishah (A Woman's Voice)
This topic has been analyzed and reanalyzed in contemporary times, and halakhic attitudes regarding men hearing women's voices vary widely. We will study this topic together in the coming months for those who wish to deepen their understanding of it. For now, two relevant points can clarify how this affects our tefillah:
1) A number of halakhic sources point out that (based on sources as early as the Talmud) kol ishah is not a
concern where women are chanting in a liturgical context
2) From the Talmud to medieval sources through contemporary writers, a common thread regarding questions
of women's voice have seen this in a contextual light: in a setting which is modest where the singing is in a
modest and respectful fashion, the kol ishah prohibition does not obtain. A compelling analysis in this
regard was recently written by R' David Bigman, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Maale Gilboa, and may be seen

In our own Bayit, we have a few precedents for this kind of women's leadership. This is our second tefillah of this type this year, following one in December in which various women led Kabbalat Shabbat mizmorim. In addition, women lead Kinot on Tisha B'Av and sing at other occasions throughout the year (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Yom Hashoah). We have mixed readings of the Megillot throughout the calendar year as well.

Broader Orthodox Context
We recognize that this type of tefillah is not practiced in other Orthodox synagogues. We hope other synagogues will make room for this inclusive vision of tefillah. Nonetheless, in deference to our own inclusive values beyond women's involvement, and not wanting to distance ourselves from the Orthodox communal standards, we are not having this tefillah as our only Friday night tefillah, but as an addition to the Main Sanctuary tefillah. At this time, this tefillah is meeting occasionally, as we gauge response and interest.
If you have questions or concerns or wish to learn more, please contact Rav Steven at,
or any member of the rabbinic staff. Much more discussion of these topics is available at,, and in the new book Rabbi Dr. Sperber recently discussed in the Bayit, "Women and Men in
Communal Prayer: Halakhic Perspectives".
I just wanted the oilam to notice that Weiss still calls Hurwitz by the title Rabba, despite his alleged concession to the RCA to stop using the title.