Monday, December 18, 2006

The "Real" Miracle of Chanukah?

I went back to UMD this past Shabbat and the student who gave the D'var Torah at Shalosh Shiddus asked an important question: "Why in all of the nessim of Chanukah do we commemorate the event by lighting a menorah?" His answer, which came after some proofs, is that by acknowledging a small nes it allows us to appreciate the larger ones more.

Unfortunately I don't know his name, but I think he's right on target.

Rav Shlomo Aviner points out that when there's no Shemen Tahor it is possible to light the menorah with Shemen Tameia. When Rov Am Yisrael is Tamei it is still possible to bring the Korban Pesach and to build the Temple. The same din is applied when there's no Shemen Tahor; it is mutar to light the menorah with Shemen Tameia because it's a communal activity. (Tal Hermon vol. 2 p. 85)

So, if there is the case, why the big deal about finding a flask of pure oil and, more importantly, why did HaShem deem it necessary to make it last for eight days? Rambam tells us that this is how long it takes to produce Shemen Tahor, but why does any of this matter if they can use the Shemen Tameia instead? Why the נס פך השמן?

I think the answer comes back to the student's original question. "Why in all of the nessim of Chanukah do we commemorate the event by lighting a menorah?" It is the seeming triviality of the nes that makes it important. The Jews in the Temple went out of their way to find the Shemen Tahor and their actions were rewarded with a nes.

If this idea is accurate then HaShem davka made the נס פך השמן so that we would appreciate the Chag more. Instead finding us celebrating the נס הניצחון הצבאי in some other way, we are found at home bringing light into the world with our families.

Chag Orim Sameach

Sunday, December 10, 2006

On the Bus Beating

ADDeRabbi and Harry have posted great comments on the recent Bus Beating. I don't think she was doing - as Harry termed it - a Rosa Parks style sit-in. First off, she wasn't doing anything contrary to the signs on the bus. Rosa was a hero, this woman did even more.

I am copying the comments I left on Harry's post because I feel very strongly that this needs to be spread to as many people as possible so that the outrage becomes known; to hopefully prevent this Chillul HaShem from ever happening again.

There are many comments in this thread that as an Orthodox Jew I find truly disturbing. It is no wonder that the Chiloni world hates Charedim so much. For all of the Ahavas Yisroel that we're supposed to have we can't even treat a woman - who may or may not be in the wrong -with simple Kavod HaBrios. Explain to her why the community has the feelings it does, talk to her. Treat her with dignity - she'll listen.

Egged is not a Halachic company - it is however a company that will abide by Halacha if the community demands it. If the bus wasn't a Mehadrin bus then it wasn't a Mehadrin bus and the Community obviously doesn't care enough to go through the process of getting it fixed.

That's the end of the story. Whatever wrong she did shouldn't even be discussed; the community has decided it doesn't care enough to prevent something like this from happening.

Friday, December 08, 2006

On the CJLS decision

I received an e-mail from a commenter asking me about my opinion regarding the recent CJLS decision to permit Homosexual marriages and Rabbinic Ordination. So I'll try to take a stab at it:

In my opinion the CJLS has reniged on it's charter - that to be the Halachic deciding body of the Conservative Movement - there is absolutely no way (as Joel Roth's tshuva said) to allow this al pi HaHalacha. As a self-described Halachic movement, I fail to see how they could allow this.

I have been told by a Conservative Rabbi (she's the mother of a friend) that this decision - in April she knew it'd pass - had less to do with Halacha than it does with trying to save the population slide within the Movement. While I think that has a lot to do with the decision, it still does not make sense; the long term survival of the movement does not need to permit this.

Two of my former roommates are currently at JTS now. While they disagree to the level that Homosexuals should be active within the Movement, they both agreed that it was absolutely the right thing to do and nearly 90% of the Student population agreed. It bothers me, that the students at JTS believe that driving on Shabbat is assur yet Homosexual marriage and ordination (let alone the Homosexual act) should be permitted by Halacha.

As you may have read, Roth and Rabinowitz - two of the major forces within the CJLS - have both resigned following the decision. I fully support their decision. Elliot Dorff, one of the authors of the decision to allow Homosexual marriage and ordination, said “Celibacy is a cruel option.” If it is cruel we still must be aware that the Torah demands it. We cannot pretend that it does not.

I will take this opportunity to post a quote from an article that I read regarding the Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem.
Judaism looks negatively at homosexual activity, but not at the homosexual nature, whether it is genetic or acquired (the Torah does not express any view on the matter), is immaterial. This nature in no way diminishes or affects the Jewishness of a homosexual. He is as beloved in G-d's eyes as any other Jew, and is as responable as any Jew in all the mitzvos. He is obligated to achieve life's goals by directing his life towards spiritual growth, sanctity and perfection of his character - no less than is any other Jew. He will merit the same share in the World to Come which every Jew merits, minimally by being the descendant of Avraham Avinu and maximally by totally devoting his life towards the service of G-d.

Rav Aharon Feldman (quoted by Rabbi Moshe Hauer in "Horror, Sadness, and Concern" in the Baltimore Jewish News 11/24/06)
I think this is the proper response to the issue. This is where the joke Im tirtzu ain zo Halacha - If there's a Rabbinic Will there's a Haalchic way ends. There is no way to change the Torah and two thousand years of Rabbinic legislation.