Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Ultimate Summer Vacation

A Glatt vacation in Switzerland (Totally Jewish Travel)
Glatt Lemehadrin, Gormet Cuisine, Best Locations, Exceptional Excursions – Switzerland at the Villars Palace Hotel…

This is the gist of an ad I saw in Mishpacha Magazine last week. It is typical of the many ads one finds in magazines like this.  

It sure is fun being rich!

That comment made to me many decades ago has stuck with me to this day. It was made by a Hispanic fellow when we both worked at my brothers’ dental laboratory. He was responding to the brand new car another employee had just bought that had all the ‘bells and whistles’ available in that day.

I always think of this comment when I see the numerous ads like the one above. It amazes me how much wealth there must be among Charedi Orthodox Jews that are targeted by these ads.

The problem is that it isn’t only the wealthy that read these magazines. They entice us all wealthy or not. Perhaps even more-so those of us that are not wealthy. Who wouldn’t want a vacation like that? The thinking among some is where there is a will there is a way. They will find the money somehow.

I can understand the need to get away from the daily grind. A luxury vacation in the Switzerland like the one advertised is a very appealing and ‘kosher’ way to do that. But how ‘kosher’ is it really? Not the food. That is surely kosher enough. But is the actual vacation kosher? Ads like this one appear in great abundance prior to Pesach. But those ads talk mostly about spas and golf courses. Not so much about the actual event Pesach celebrates. 

But that isn’t even the problem I’m address here. It is the fact that people that can’t afford it are somehow enticed into doing it anyway. That may work out well for the organizers and vendors. They make a bundle. (Which they are entitled to do). And it surely works out well for the rich. But for the average individual with a large family to feed and tuition bills to pay, it may not work out so well.

This is in part what causes people to go into debt. Which is not so great for more important vendors in their lives, like the credit giving grocer, or the religious schools that their children attend. Already on scholarships, I suspect that a lot of people can’t even meet their reduced financial obligations. Because they have become victim to the Frum’ version of ‘Madison Avenue’ with ads that are clearly made to entice us all into buying what we can’t afford

Please do not misunderstand. This is not to deprive the wealthy from enjoying their wealth. I have no problem advertising to them. God bless them. But for the rest of us it creates a desire to pursue a materialism that we can’t afford. And worse - it sometimes causes the kind of debt which in some cases ends up in the inability to pay at all - those should be first in line to be paid. All because of a materialism fueled it part by those ads. 

So yes, it’s fun being rich. But that should not cause us to pretend that we are - when we’re not. There is absolutely no Mitzvah to keep up with the Katzes and Cohens.

I’m not sure what to do about those ads.  People can advertise a product they sell. Nothing unethical there. And magazines are entitled to sell ads to anyone they want. Nothing unethical there either. They are in the business of making money. Of which selling ads is the primary means of doing that.

In the meantime the problem is still there. It is human nature to respond to luxury ads with a desire to have what they offer. But I think its important to know what we can - and can’t afford. And not to try and figure out ways to somehow get those things anyway.

What to do about it.

In some ways the line ‘It sure is fun being rich’ speaks to that. It is the realization that indeed it is fun, but it is also true that we are not rich enough to afford it. One can dream – and hope that someday they will be able to - but to otherwise realize that we should appreciate what we do have and what we can afford. The sages say it best (Avos 4:1): Ezeh Hu Asher? HaSameach B’Chelko. Who is the rich man? The one that is happy with his portion.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Are They Rabbis or Not?

Navit Tzadik (L) and Amira Ra'anan - Rabbis?  (Jewish Press)
I have always supported the idea of recognizing in some official capacity great achievement in Torah study. For men there are many ways to be recognized that way. One of which is being ordained as a rabbi.  But what about women?

As most people know by now, despite a few renegade institutions under the banner of ‘Open Orthodoxy’ or Liberal Orthodoxy’ the ordination of women as Orthodox rabbis is prohibited. This is the view of virtually all of Orthodoxy, from the Charedi Agudah; to the Centrist OU and RCA; to the European Rabbinate; to the Israeli Rabbinate.

While this may not seem fair to the egalitarian eye, it is nevertheless a fact.  However, despite that fact a few women do get some sort of ordination every year. In some cases have been hired by OU member synagogues for rabbinic positions. That of course did not sit well with the OU leadership.

After these hires became public some OU member rabbis protested with a threat to break away from the OU if that was not corrected - by either ejecting the violators or getting them to fire those rabbis.

Ever treading a fine line - the OU came up with a compromise that forbade any Shul from hiring a female rabbi;  no Shul that had a woman in that position could become a member of the OU;  those OU member Shuls that had already hired women had 3 years to correct that situation by complying with guidelines delineated by OU Poskim – on pain of expulsion if at the end of that period they did were not in compliance

Happily that ‘compromise’ seemed to satisfy both sides.

The question is - what exactly does compliance mean? In order to understand that we need to know exactly what role a woman may have in an Orthodox Shul.  That was described in great detail in a lengthy statement issued by OU Poskim which included an explanation of how they arrived at their conclusions.

The short version is that women may serve in a variety of capacities but not as clergy in any way.  They may for example serve as teachers, scholars in residence, executive directors, programming directors, professional counselors, communal spiritual advisers and even Halachic advisors such as Yoatzot Halacha (women that can advise other women on matters of Taharas Hamishpcha).

The question remains, how can we recognize achievement in any of these areas without giving them a title implying some version of being a rabbi? I’m not sure how to answer that question. But I do think that any person, man or woman, who achieves a certain level of expertise in any field, has a right to be recognized. No different than a PhD or Masters Degree is recognition of expertise in a particular field. How to apply that to women without breaking the taboo of calling them a rabbi is beyond my pay grade.

One thing is certain. There is no Halacha stopping any Jew – man or women - from studying Torah to their hearts content and achieving a high degree of expertise in Torah knowledge. It is the title ‘rabbi’ and its implication that is the problem.

I should note that the greatest Torah scholars of our time were not necessarily ordained as rabbis. Famously, the Chafetz Chaim was recognized as a Gadol HaDor (if not THE Gadol HaDor) for his Torah scholarship long before he was ordained. Out of his great sense of humility, he did not need nor care about that title. He was ordained late in life out of necessity (for a technical reason that I no longer recall). Having the title ‘rabbi’  does not mean all that much in terms of recognizing achievement in Torah study.

Perhaps those women that want to be ordained for purposes of being recognized for their achievement can look to the Chafetz Chaim as a role model.

Most Yeshiva students on the right don’t ever bother getting it, unless they need it for a job. In fact there are plenty of ‘rabbis’ that were never ordained and yet use the title in their jobs.  It may very well be the most abused title in Judaism these days.

All of which brings me to Rabbi Shlomo Riskin. The Jewish Press recently reported that he conferred titles of ‘spiritual leaders’ and’ teachers of Halacha’ upon 3 women who passed his rigorous exam. (Participating in the ceremony was Rabbi David Stav and Rabbi Kennneth Brander.)  On the surface it seems like he has violated the near universal prohibition against ordaining women. And yet he denies it: 
It should be noted that, despite a misleading headline in Srugim, “On the eve of the giving of the Torah, two more women were ordained as Rabbis,” the title that was awarded the three women stops short of a rabbinic ordination, recognizing them instead as spiritual leaders and teachers of halacha – after they had completed the first and unique program of training women as authorized to rule on halachic issues and to become spiritual leaders. 
But after denying it he goes about explaining why today’s Semicha (ordination) is not real Semicha anyway. Real Semicha actually ended in the 4th or 5th century. As such he proclaims that today’s Semicha is nothing more than a degree recognizing their accomplishment. Which seems to contradict his denial. Why bother explaining that title if that is not what has been given? Furthermore, calling them Rabbaniot hardly a makes his denial persuasive.

It is also not entirely true that there is no connection to the real Semicha. That was noted  by the Poskim of the OU: 
Consideration of the ordination of women also raises questions regarding the nature of semikhah. While contemporary semikhah differs from classic semikhah (as described in the Talmud) in many regards, it must, nevertheless, be viewed as an extension of the original institution of semikhah (Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 242:5-6). 
It appears to me that Rabbi Riskin’s intent is to have his cake and eat it too. He seems to want to comply with the prohibition against giving women Semicha and at the same time granting 3 woman a version of it. While I completely understand his motives and explanations – which I believe he bases on his sense of equity and understanding of Halacha, I have to question his execution of them. At the end of the day, his clarifications are anything but clear. And denials notwithstanding he appears to have given a form of Semicha to these women.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Supporting a Family when Kollel Life Ends

A Jewish Wedding (Jozef Israëls,1903) - Wikipedia
I had an opportunity yesterday to speak to a young Charedi couple (probably in their late 30s or early 40s. For me, that is still a young couple). The wife was educated in the Beis Yaakov system and her husband went to a Charedi Yeshiva high school. The conversation turned to Shidduchim (dating for purposes of marriage). Their daughter is in - what is called ‘the Prasha’ - a euphemism for that kind of dating.

They both expressed concern about how their daughter would be supported once her husband left Kollel.  Did his ‘ Shidduch resume’ include a ‘plan’ for a livelihood in the future? And what was it?

They are concerned about a familiar response which they feel is vague and unrealistic. Something like ‘I’ll just go into business’. Unless he had relatives that promised to ‘take him in’ and train him, that kind of response shows how clueless they are to the reality of making a decent living. And yet this seems to be the general attitude among young Charedi men these days as they are  prepared for and directed into a life of full time Torah study.

Supporting one’s family is virtually ignored it seems. This kind of response raises concerns like the one expressed by this couple.  I assume that they are worried that their daughter was going to be misled by such promises.

I have always maintained that at least in America, young men get a basic secular studies education. And therefore they have an advantage over their Israeli counterparts that get absolutely no secular education at all. That might still be true. But it seems that the American attitude about it is not all that different than the Israeli attitude. The only difference being that in America they are ‘forced’ to take those courses – but not seen as in any way relevant to their lives now – or in the future. And if they had it in their power they would eliminate them entirely. Considering them a complete waste of time better spent in Torah study.

This is not about whether there is any intrinsic value in secular studies. It seems that they do not even see any practical value in them!  It seems that they are taught to completely devalue secular studies as much as their Israel counterparts do – and may even be jealous of them since they don’t have to put up with it at all.

This not how it was in my day. We all understood that we needed to support our future families. And that the best way to achieve that was by taking our secular studies seriously and going on to college. Which would enable us to get decent jobs. Back in those days, it was common for those of us in a post high school Yeshiva program to attend college at night towards getting a degree.

A good friend of mine who is about my age and attended Yeshivas Chaim Berlin told me that  80% of the students there did that then. Another friend just a bit younger who also attended Yeshivas Chaim Berlin told  me that Rav Hutner used to advise his students which courses take based on their personal strengths. But that was then. This is now.

The process of change began not long after my time in school. The value of secular studies has deteriorated immensely since then. The idea of learning full time has become the new standard to the exclusion of anything else. Including preparation to support a family someday. I have no real issue with being taught the importance of Torah study. I can even understand being influenced to continue studying Torah for a while after marriage. What I do not understand at all is the complete abandonment of any kind of preparation for a future livelihood… leaving it to fate.

Which brings me to another revealing comment made by the wife.  She offhandedly told me about her own experience along these lines when she announced her engagement just over 20 years ago. One of her  friends retorted along the following lines, ‘What?!’ ‘Your getting engaged to someone in medical school?!’  ‘I NEVER thought YOU would do that!’

What she of course meant is that her values had somehow been compromised. Having attended Beis Yaakov schools all of her life and a seminary of similar Hashkafa in Israel, she was surprised that she ‘settled’ for someone not learning full time.  

I asked her why that was considered ‘second class’? She could only answer that they were taught to that the ideal type of man to seek as a husband was someone studying Torah full time. If they weren’t, they were considered less than ideal – and at best second tier. It seems that marrying someone like that excluded you from that lofty community. In essence putting you outside the Charedi camp to a certain extent.

It didn’t matter that her Chasan was Charedi, and Talmid Chacham. Nor did it even matter he that had actually published a Sefer.  What mattered it seems was that by opting to go to med school instead of a Kollel, he was not first tier marriage material. And this was already the case over 20 years ago!

That they are concerned with this very issue now that their daughter is involved with Shiduchim is a good thing. But I wonder just how many are like that now?  Has the tide turned? Do Charedi parents think along these lines? Or are most Charedi parents on on the same page as their children, hoping their children will be living a life of full time Torah study and not all that concerned with the material welfare of their future families? 

Are parents these days able to do what parents of 20 years ago did? Support their children in Kollel? Or has the money run out? Are there are second mortgages still to be had - or not? Are parents still selling life insurance  polices to support their children? Are parents still willing to work until the day of their death to support their children? And do they even make enough to do that - especially if they have a lot of children? And even if they do make enough, is it right for a child to even accept help under these conditions? Do young couples feel good about being supported that way? I sure wouldn’t.

Friday, May 18, 2018

A Momentous Occasion of Pure Achdus*

Invitation to a very special wedding
We are on the eve of a momentous occasion. The world has for weeks been counting down to this regal event. Tomorrow it will have finally arrived to the great joy of the entire world. Meghan Markle will be getting married to Prince Harry. (Not me. A different Prince Harry.)

It was the lead story this morning on the CBS Morning News and has been among the top stories every evening for weeks now - on just about every major mainstream media outlet. 

I wish I could say I’m surprised that the 6th person in line to the throne of the British Empire gets more attention than the meeting between the the President of the United States and the Communist dictator of North Korea to discuss the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. But that didn’t quite make it to the top. Nope – the marriage of 2 of the most insignificant people in the world did.

For me, the wedding of a British Royal who is 6th in line to a monarchy that has no more relevance than a bucket of warm spit (to paraphrase former Vice President John Nance Garner) – is a non event. And yet the world can’t get enough of it. And the media is all too willing to accommodate them with endless talk about who will walk Ms. Markle down the aisle; or what her gown will look like; or who will or won’t be invited. What a vacuous world we live in!

Not so the Jewish people. We too have been counting down the days to our own momentous event. It is a marriage of a different sort: Kabbolas HaTorah. Tomorrow night on the sixth of Sivan we begin Shavuos, the day God gave us the Torah at Sinai. Choosing us - His people Israel - over all other nations.

We too had anticipation. We united: VaYichen Shom Yisroel Neged HaHor. And Israel encamped opposite the mountain (Sinai). Rashi adds, K’Ish Echad B’Lev Echad. We were united as a people like one man with one heart - unlike any other time in history.

The Gemarah in Zevachim (116a) tells us that at that moment the nations of the world gathered in front of Ballam and asked him  a strange question. Was the world going to be destroyed again in a catastrophic flood? Ballam told them, no, this was not the case. HaShem Oz L’Amo Yitain - God was giving His people strength. They responded by saying HaShem Yevarech Es Amo BaShalom – May God bless His people with peace!

In order to understand the unique value of this kind of unity we need look no further than our own time where we often experience  a different kind of unity. A type of unity that unfortunately occurred many times in Jewish history. A unity based on tragedy.

When a tragedy strikes we often unite around it as a people. Let me illustrate by excerpting from a post I wrote on June 3rd 2015:
One year ago today, I6 Sivan 5774 on the Hebrew Calendar, Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Fraenkel, and Gilad Shaar, HY’D were kidnapped and murdered by Hamas terrorists. The entirety of world Jewry had united in solidarity with the parents of those three teenagers. It didn’t matter what Hashkafa one had.
There was a feeling of pure Achdus. Unity. We were not Charedi, Modern Orthodox (MO), Dati, Religious Zionist or secular. We were not Orthodox, Conservative or Reform. We were the Jewish people - feeling the pain of our brothers and sisters in Israel. It was a moment in time of pure magic. A time where our differences were forgotten or ignored as irrelevant.  
We can now understand why the nations of the world asked Ballam if a catastrophic flood was about to descend upon the world. The only unity they understood was the type where people unite under tragic conditions. So when they heard that the people of Israel were uniting as one with a single heart, they though that perhaps God had revealed that he was going to destroy the world again. Why else would they unite?

That, says Rav Meir Shapiro of Lublin, is not a true unity. It is a situational unity that quickly dissipates once the tragedy passes – it quickly becomes ‘business as usual’. Everyone returns to their own agenda.

This was Ballam’s wise message. The people of Israel were not united in tragedy. They were united because of the great gift they were about to be given. A gift to His people intending for us to be a ‘light unto the nations’ and build up  the world  with God’s kingdom. For one brief moment in time, the nations of the world appreciated that and blessed God’s people, Israel with peace. Because unlike the fleeting kind of unity based on tragedy the unity experienced by the people of Israel on that momentous occasion was the ultimate unity.

Good Yom Tov

*Taken in part from Torah L’Daas by Rabbi Matis Blum.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Torah Based Careers and Sex Abuse

by Rabbi Dr. Binyamin Zev Telsner* - Guest Contributor

Convicted sex abuser, Eliezer Berland - a Torah based career
I am pleased to present the words of Rabbi Dr. Binyamin Zev Telsner* about what might be one of the most serious issues of our time. It was sent in response to yesterday’s post about yet another prominent individual accused of sexual abuse. 

Rabbi Telsner* is a well known Rav who is trained in - and deals with these issues on a regular basis. I believe his words are true and represent authentic Torah thought. His words of wisdom are in some cases unfortunately lacking even among even among those who are seen as rabbinic of lay leaders. His thoughts follow.

The Torah community is not immune to the ravages of a physical drive that is not enclosed in proper boundaries. Allow me to copy and paste a halacha of the Rambam (Isurei Biah - laws of forbidden sexual relations 22:21)

וכן ינהוג להתרחק מן השחוק ומן השכרות ומדברי עגבים שאלו גורמין גדולים והם מעלות של עריות. ולא ישב בלא אשה שמנהג זה גורם לטהרה יתירה. גדולה מכל זאת אמרו יפנה עצמו ומחשבתו לדברי תורה וירחיב דעתו בחכמה שאין מחשבת עריות מתגברת אלא בלב פנוי מן החכמה. ובחכמה הוא אומר אילת אהבים ויעלת חן דדיה ירווך בכל עת באהבתה תשגה תמיד 
Free Translation (HM):

A person should distance himself from joking, drunkeness, and flirting, because they tend to lead to forbidden sexual relations.

A man should not live without a wife, for this (living with a wife) customarily leads to great spiritual purity. And greater than all this they (our sages) say - one should turn his thoughts to words of Torah, and broaden his wisdom, for the thoughts of forbidden relations grow strong solely in a heart empty of wisdom.

As (Shlomo HaMelech) in his wisdom says: "She is a beloved hind and a graceful doe - her breasts satisfy you at all times. You will always be obsessed with her love." (Mishlei  5:19)  

The implication of the Rambam is that the void of Torah true Torah allows for the foothold of these boundary violations. But the sticky part of this is that there is widespread belief that those whose positions are Torah based, including askanim who are עוסק בצרכי ציבור, (active in the community) are immune, having filled themselves with חכמה.

I postulate that this assumption is untrue, and that one can be a לב פנוי מן החכמה  (a heart empty of wisdom) even if one serves as a genius Rosh Yeshiva or any other position of Torah expertise. In fact, I take a further, riskier step in stating that being Torah True Torah, while is undeniably the goal, is not at a 100% correlation with academic achievement, or even the status of genius in Torah knowledge. 

What's the beef, you may ask?

We are guided that our learning must be לשמה, a concept that is still elusive in its complexity, and the subject of multiple definitions. I doubt that this can be summarized well enough to fit into a box here, but we can make a few statements that at least approach the target.

Bearing vast Torah knowledge, certainly as asset, is not the ultimate goal. A computer chip can contain huge amounts of data. Shrinking Torah to the level of simple data is tantamount to kefira. 

Approaching Matan Torah, as we are doing today, is not about formatting our internal drives so that Har Sinai serves a cable to download Dvar Hashem. This reductionist perspective is erroneous. Rather, Torah is a hefty portion of a life guide, with prescribed attitudes, ideas, and halachos (the Taryag mitzvos). 

Whichever way one cleaves unto Torah, one is the recipient of the greatest gift in existence. For one, it is the absorption of voluminous data, the ability to integrate these huge amounts of knowledge to produce chiddushim, shiurim, etc. For another, it is the following of one's heritage by way of halacha and minhag, etc. One of these paths is not better than the other, just as an oncologist is not better than a dermatologist, just different, but practicing the same field.

There is a point of Torah dedication, in which one is fully involved, intellectually and emotionally, with the fulfillment of Ratzon Hashem (the will of God). This is 24/7, and contains no compromises. It sets limits on an individual that are as relevant and active when alone as when in presence of others. It means that all levels of morality are fully followed anytime and anywhere. 

In this state, people do not engage in violations. Someone (in) this space would not entertain even a passing thought of allowing desires to execute without restraint, and kal vachomer (certainly not) violate the safety and innocence of another. One could not tempt the boundaries of a marriage, and one could not stomach the very thought of being a baal taavoh. One could not refrain from committing issurim because of fear of getting caught.

Yes, the academic achievements of being a Torah scholar can co-exist with the basest of immorality. One just needs to "hide it from the kids". But this is a fictitious life. And we all know sheker to "have no feet". It explodes somewhere. 

I surmise this can explain many of the shocking revelations we have experienced over these last few decades, where persons of supposed religious accomplishment and stature were found to be responsible for some pretty awful offenses.

Torah knowledge should ideally be consistent with true spirituality. Sadly, this is not always true, and these media reports scream quite loudly when there is inconsistency. Can we make this year's Kabolas Hatorah an emotional experience, in which we rededicate ourselves to absorbing the values of Torah into our very being? I pledge to try.

*Not his real name. The writer chooses to remain anonymous for obvious reasons.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Why Do They Do It?

Jakob Daskal (New York Times)
We are way past ‘innocent until proven guilty’ when it comes to accusations of sexual abuse. This is not to say that this principle should not apply as a matter of law. Of course it should. But as a practical matter, false accusations are rare. Not so rare are denials by the accused and the community which has come to respect them.

This is the case with yet another Orthodox Jew so accused.  The New York Times reports the following:   
The influential leader of a Brooklyn safety patrol known as the shomrim had been sexually abusing a teenage girl, the police were told.
A day later, detectives arrested the man, Jacob Daskal, a leader of one faction of what has been, since the 1970s, a sort of auxiliary police force for the ultra-Orthodox Jews of Brooklyn’s Borough Park, Crown Heights, Flatbush and Williamsburg neighborhoods.
Mr. Daskal, 59, was charged with statutory rape, sexual abuse and other crimes. The authorities believe the abuse took place at Mr. Daskal’s home between August and November of last year, when the girl, who is now 16, was a year younger. But the inquiry is continuing, to determine if the alleged abuse occurred over a longer period of time or if there were additional victims. 
I wish I could say I am shocked. His community was. Unfortunately I am not. I have become conditioned to almost expect this kind of thing on a regular basis. Especially now ever since Harvey Weinstein was outed as a serial rapist/abuser. Which began the #MeToo movement exposing scores of additional prominent respected figures to have been involved in a variety of sexual misconduct.

I wish I could say ‘Well… sad as this may be – at least it isn’t about us, the Torah observant community.   Again - unfortunately I can’t say that either. It is as much about us as it is about ‘them’. The idea that our values are not the values of the street is irrelevant. There have been far too many ‘religious’ people who are inclined to preach that very thought – guilty of the very behavior they blame on street values.

I am not saying that the sexual mores of the general culture haven’t declined. They have in very significant ways. Our values are indeed not the values of the street.  They are the values of the Torah. But these values do not always determine our behavior. Even for those that are often seen as the most exemplary of those values. 

Leaders (rabbinic and lay), movers, and shakers. So many people that have made a difference in our lives – for the better have fallen. People that rose to prominence and gained our respect - becoming celebrities in a way. This seems to be the case with Daskal – just as it was for others outside of our circle. 

There is no difference. The only commonality between them is that they were prominent and thus had some power. One might say that this happens even with ordinary people too. It’s just that the prominent ones are the ones that are newsworthy. While I think that’s true to a certain extent, I don’t think that is the only reason. I think it is their very celebrity that exacerbates the situation for them. It gives them the opportunities they would otherwise not have.

What is the dynamic behind all of this? Allow me to speculate.

The sex drive is a very powerful force.  It needs to be fed no less than eating and sleeping. The difference being that the sex drive can be delayed or even sublimated into other activities.  But to deny it is to deny the human condition.  It can easily be aroused and acted upon inappropriately. Given the opportunity it takes a lot of will power to resist. Which is what we should all do when those feelings arise in inappropriate situations. 

Most of us don’t experience opportunities like that. But prominent people do. Especially if their prominence is due to great accomplishment. Which means that they are looked up to by a lot of people. Requiring them to work harder to resist any temptations arising form their celebrity.  Values often get put aside when the attraction is great enough and resistance is low. It is easy for most of us to say we would never be tempted, no matter the opportunity or the attraction. But for me there is little doubt that celebrity and opportunity are factors. It’s too easy for most of us to judge – having never been put into those situations.

This can result in two very different scenarios. One is becoming involved in a consensual but immoral relationship – such as cheating on a spouse. The other far more serious scenario of sexual abuse.

In these cases, the added ingredients extant are power and psychopathy. Their celebrity makes them feel entitled - compared to the rest of us.  When their sex drive is aroused, they take advantage of their celebrity and opportunities that present themselves with a feeling of invincibility that their sense of power gives them . 

The best example of that is Bill Cosby. He used all of the above ingredients to become a serial rapist over the many years of his career. His victims admired him and approached him. He took advantage of that. All while maintaining his image as a role model of propriety to the world. He did a lot of good. But he did a lot more bad with apparently no conscience! A true sociopath.

Daskal is no Cosby. He has no where near his prominence or celebrity But he apparently had enough within his own community to lead him in the same direction. His sex drive, and sense of power derived of his celebrity gave him a sense of invincibility, too. That no doubt enabled him to lure a defenseless 15 year old into having sex with him. All while maintaining his image as a defender of the defenseless. A sociopath just like Cosby.

Sociopaths have no conscience, but they act as though they do - fooling a lot of people because of the good they otherwise do. Only a sociopath would force themselves on others and never think about it. And then deny it when caught. Or blame the victim. This is unlike someone who is having an affair. They may be weak and morally corrupt. But they can and often do have a conscience that produces guilt. 

What I have discovered is that there are enormous amount of prominent people that are closet sociopaths. People that have abused others secretly while acting as icons publicly. It is very possible that many of these sociopaths would not have done it had they not had opportunity and and sense of invincibility their celebrity gave them – feeling immune to any kind of downfall. Celebrity creates a ‘power trip’ that is ultimately an irrational way of seeing oneself. When they get caught, no one is more surprised than they are. 

That is how I see it. Daskal is but the latest in a long chain of miscreants that have used their celebrity and opportunity to have their way. Sociopaths with no redeeming value – despite all the good they might otherwise do.

The question is, how many of us would have an affair - or worse - turn into a Daskal or Cosby given their circumstances? I think most of us would say, ‘Never!’ – and really mean it.  But I am beginning to think that a lot more of us would fall into one of those 2 traps than we would expect. I only hope and pray that I am wrong.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Truth about the Gaza Protest

An unarmed 'peaceful' protester
Those of us that are Chicago Cubs fans have been made proud over the last couple of years. Even for those not into baseball it had been a widely known and accepted truism that the Cubs were the immutable  doormat of the National League - destined to remain there forever. Those ‘lovable losers’  were a perennial joke for comedians - forever incapable of making it to the World Series.

I recall the burst of laughter by the audience when the 1989 movie ‘Back to the Future II’ predicted that the Cubs would win the World Series in 2015. That movie was off by a year. In 2016 the Cubs won the Worlds Series.

What changed? It was the new owner’s determination to build a winner. Tom Ricketts bought the Cubs in 2009 and 7 years later people stopped laughing. Ricketts had a World Series winner. 2016 was 108 years since the last time the Cubs did that.

What many people today might not know is that the Cubs were once seen as so antisemitic that no respectable Jew would be a fan. Most old time Jewish Chicagoans that are in to baseball  remain loyal Chicago White Sox fans for that reason.

So as a Cub fan, I was particularly pleased to see  VIN report that Tom Ricketts (the new RNC finance Chair) had flown to Israel to attend the US Embassy opening in Jerusalem yesterday. My how times have changed.

As inspired as I was yesterday by the show of support for the Jewish state by so many people from diverse backgrounds, I was nevertheless disappointed by those who saw this magnificent event as troubling instead. Many of whom were Jews – some even religious Jews.

According to VIN 4 Republican senators, 10 Republican congressmen and one Republican governor attended. But not a single Democrat.  Most of whom expressed doom and gloom about it. Although at least one offered written support: 
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, issued written statements of support.
“Every nation should have the right to choose its capital. I sponsored legislation to do this two decades ago, and I applaud President Trump for doing it,” the top Senate Democrat said in a rare moment of agreement with the Republican president. 
What is most egregious however (and what these doomers and gloomers were reflecting) was the mainstream media focus on Palestinians that were trying to cross the border from Gaza into Israel. A prime example of this was a  British rag called The Guardian
International condemnation of Israel’s killing of 59 Palestinian protesters in Gaza escalated as thousands rallied in the coastal enclave to bury the dead from the latest round of violence.
The killings took place on Monday during demonstrations at the Gaza border fence, which coincided with a high-profile ceremony to mark the controversial transfer of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by the Trump administration that overturned decades of US foreign policy.
As senior UN rights officials condemned the killings as an “outrageous human rights violation” – adding that it appeared anyone approaching the Gaza border fence was liable to be killed by Israeli soldiers. 
Not a word about context. The message is that Israeli soldiers care little about human life as they shoot to kill unarmed Palestinian whose only goal was to protest the harsh conditions imposed on them by the Israeli occupiers. 

That message is a shameful and bold faced lie. I’m sure that not a single Israeli soldier at the border crossing had any intention of killing a Palestinian. They did not shoot to kill. Israeli snipers aimed for and shot them in the legs to stop them from surging across the border. That was actually reported by a mainstream media reporter yesterday stationed in Gaza who witnessed where all the wounded Palestinians were injured. That 59 died needlessly is a tragedy. There is no shame in reporting that. The shame is in how it is being characterized. And in who they blame.

Let us be clear. Israel was protecting its borders from a people who have fired thousands of rockets indiscriminately into Israeli cites near the Gaza border. A people from whose ranks many have tried mightily to infiltrate Israel - and kill as many Jews randomly as they could. Mostly through terror tunnels.

It is also the stated policy of their Hamas leadership in Gaza - and the not so secret desire of the more ‘moderate’ Palestinian Authority (whose leader, Mahmoud Abbas, is an antisemitic Holocaust denier) to take back ‘their country’ for Islam by all means necessary. Including death to some of them while trying. 

Hamas surely knew that Palestinians trying to storm that border would be killed. They urged their people to close up shop and amass on the border to do exactly that – hoping for those deaths to occur so they could use them against Israel.  This too is not a secret. Even some of the mainstream media reported that truth albeit buried some where deep into their report. Which consisted mostly of Jews killing poor unarmed Palestinian protesters. Some of which was blamed by reporters on the Embassy opening in Jerusalem. Which Hamas cynically knew would be reported that way. 

And what was their reason for doing this? Not the poverty they suffer because of a blockade imposed by both Israel and Egypt. Both of whom did that as a means to prevent arms being smuggled into Gaza which would be used against them. No... that wasn’t it. It was not a protest about the squalor in which they live. 

They wanted to return to the land their parents and grandparents abandoned during Israel’s war of independence in 1948 -  which they claim as a right. That too was reported last night in a rare moment of mainstream media honesty.

One can quibble about why they left and whose fault it was. But there is no way that the exponentially greater number of descendants are going to get that land back. To do so would mean the end of Israel – and they know it. Which is of course their goal.

What about the possibility of a 2 state solution with East Jerusalem as their capital? One of the protesters was randomly interviewed about what he thought about that. He categorically rejected the idea claiming all of Jerusalem is theirs. No Palestine without all of Jerusalem. 

It is pure fiction that the Israeli snipers were purposely killing unarmed Palestinians peacefully protesting at the border. There was nothing peaceful about it. They may not have brought guns. But that was only to done to paint  themselves as victims. They did, however, throw Molotov cocktails at Israeli soldiers. Molotov cocktails can be deadly in frightening ways causing people to burn to death. They also brought slingshots. Flinging stones with force of a  slingshot can easily kill someone hit in the head by it. 

What is Israel supposed to do? Bring their own slingshots and Molotov cocktails?! Of course they are going to protect themselves and the rest of Israel in the most efficient way possible. All while respecting human life. They used teargas to try and disperse the crowds and snipers firing at the legs of the protesters trying to storm the border. Some were killed. But that is exactly what their leadership wanted so they could show the world how evil Israel is in shooting unarmed protesters. That they have staged more than one death for those purposes has been proven. It wouldn’t surprise me if they did some of that here.

This is the context missing from the mainstream media. All they see is starving Palestinians so desperate that they are willing to risk their lives to make their case to the world. And that they are  being killed by Israelis who are fault for their lot in life. Which is exactly what the Hamas leadership orchestrated them to see.

So those that pity the poor souls dying for their cause, ought to save that pity for people that deserve it. Not for those who choose to be killed that way.

The truth is that most Gazans hate all this and just want their lives to get back to their normal. They are not necessarily in lockstep with their leaders tactics even though they might agree with their goals. That was yet another moment of truth reported yesterday by the mainstream media.

The Guardian also reported the following:
The UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said: “Those responsible for outrageous human rights violations must be held to account. 
I actually agree with him. My only dispute is - who it is exactly that is responsible. I don’t think there can be any doubt to anyone even slightly objective that understands context. It is Hamas, the terrorist organization that is purposely leading its people down the path of poverty, death, and destruction. They are the ones that should be held accountable. It is more than high time that the mainstream media reported it that way. 

Oh - how things might have been different had Palestinian leaders taken Gaza and made their own ‘desert bloom’ -  instead of doubling down on their goal of destroying Israel. They could have asked Israel to help them do that. I am 100% certain that they would have. That might have led to a 2 state solution years ago. Instead they have 59 dead Palestinians and little to show for it. 

Monday, May 14, 2018

A Brief but Joyous Moment in Time

President Rivlin celebrating the US moving its embassy to Jerusalem
I didn’t think it would affect me this way. But it did. I have just finished watching a live feed from Jerusalem where my country, the United States of America, moved its embassy officially to my country, the State of Israel. Yes. I said my country in both cases. I am extremely proud to call them both my home. And I was deeply moved by the ceremony.

I realize this event was more about symbolism than it was about substance. And even as a symbol, moving an embassy from one city to another might not seem like much of a symbol. But for me it was. 

Watching all the dignitaries speak about the historic significance of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital – established by Dovid HaMelech and the reality of being rededicated as Israel’s capital 70 years ago after over 2000 years of exile was indeed a moving experience for me. That reality was finally recognized by the most powerful nation on earth by a President who - unlike his predecessors - kept his promise. A point made numerous times by many of the speakers. The references to God's hand in all of this was mentioned many times too. Proof that Israel is not the ‘Godless’ state its religious critics from the right accuse it of being. 

The dignitaries present included many religious leaders, both Chritian and Jewish. They included current and former Chief Rabbis, many religious members of the Knesset, and even Charedi Knesset leaders. I noticed for example that Charedi MK (and Gerrer Chasid) Yisroel Eichler was there too. 

A variety of Hashkafos were represented by the many different styles of Kipot. Together with secular leadership and opposition members of the ruling coalitions - this was a moment of real unity that in Israel is rare. 

I was also happy to see them all the religious members sit quietly while a female singer, the daughter of 2 refugees from Ethiopia  sang two inspiring songs. This was obviously the right thing to do despite the fact that they were forced to listen to Kol Isha by doing so.

Perhaps the most inspiring moment was when an Evangelical Pastor, John Hagee, made the closing prayer. It was a beautiful prayer that could have been recited by any Rav. Even a Charedi one. He talked about God’s hand in all of this. His protection of the Jeiwsh people, the absolute right of the Jewish people to the land promised to them by God, he spoke of the religious significance of the the temple mount where Avaraham and Yitzchok were involved in the Akedia... and when he finished, he got a standing ovation. Which if I am not mistaken included some of the Charedi Keneset members among those standing! If anyone would have ever told me that Charedi rabbis would stand up after a Christian minister said any prayer, I would have accused them of being absolutely insane. But that's what I saw.

Everyone that spoke was inspiring, including Jared Kushner, whom US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman noted was the single biggest force behind the embassy move.

President Rivlin’s voice cracked when he spoke about the siginifcnace of this day. You could see the emotion written on his face. He made a Shechiyanu (without Shem U’malchus) after putting a Kipa on his head for the moment. Prime Mister Netanyahu made one with Shem U’Malchus without a Kipa.

I was also happy to see in attendance many American senators and congressman. As well as dignitaries representing  many foreign countries.

Everyone thanked the President for this day. He deserved it. Mention was also made of the contributions Nikky Haley has made in the UN with respect to Israel. I was glad to hear her thanked.

I was one of those that originally questioned the wisdom of making such a move. Much as I thought it was the right thing to do, I feared the consequences of possible violence would outweigh any real benefit. I even wondered what  tangible benefit there would be.  I’m not even sure there is one.

But I now see why it was important to do. It has made clear to the world how close Israel and America are - closer than ever! Besides, doing the right thing is always important. Maintaining a lie is never the right thing. The reality is that Jerusalem is, was, and always will be Israel’s capital. The capital of all the Jewish people. It is the city that we have never forgotten. It is the city we have prayed for and continue to pray for everyday. 

Jerusalem was established by Israel as its capital the moment Israel declared its independence. Like every single country in the  world, Israel has the right to choose where its capital would lie. They chose the obvious… the city that was established by Dovid Hamelach as Israel’s capital. It has been considered such by us even after we were exiled. That never changed. Once we regained our land 70 years ago we reclaimed it as our capital. 

It was renewed again when the rest of Jerusalem was recaptured in 1967 by Lt. General Mordechai 'Mota' Gur as he entered the old city with the cry of Har HaBayit B’Yadenu -  the Temple Mount is in our hands. That moment touched every Jew in Israel. This cannot be understated. To wit: 

Last week former Prime Minister, Ehud Barak was interviewed on PBS. He mentioned how moved he was when he heard those words. He made clear how far removed he was from any Jewish practises or beliefs. Raised in a secular Leftist Kibbutz he did not believe in anything except the socialism that was preached there. By his own word, he does not keep Shabbos; he does not keep Kosher; he never celebrated his Bar Mitzvah; and never put on Teffilin. Not even once. 

But when he heard those words it effected him deeply. This was his ‘pintile yid’ talking to him. I believe that there is a part of every Jew that identifies with the essence of Judaism - no matter how deeply buried those feeling are , no matter how remote they are form its practises and beliefs. That feeling was awakened by him that day.  But I digress.

The peace process was not forgotten at this event. Nor was the fact that under Israeli rule all religions are free to worship according to their own traditions, a situation that did not exist prior to the recapture of Jerusalem. In fact the minute they had the opportunity after Jerusalem was recaptured in 67 they passed legislation to that effect and pledged to restore all religious institutions damaged or neglected before and during the 67 war.

Juxtaposing this magnificent event is what is happening on the border between Gaza and Israel. Palestinians are trying to break through that border with violence. Leave it to the mainstream media to neglect the fact that this has nothing to do with the celebration in Jerusalem today. These protests have been going on for weeks. They are suffering greatly there. They blame Israel for that. And the mainstream media dutifully reports it that way.

But as one of the speakers (I think it was Jared) noted, these protesters are not the solution. They are the problem. That comment received a lot of applause.  

If they realized that it is their Islamic fundamentalist leaders that are really to blame, they would be protesting them. Their intransigent 'Israel must be destroyed' attitude and terrorist approach trying to achieve that - is why Israel blockades them. Israels first obligation is too protect its people.

Israel is no more to blame for their misery than the United States is to blame for Iran’s misery. I suspect that they might even know that deep down. And that their goal is the same as their fundamentalist leaders to destroy the Jewish State and replace it with an Islamic one. If they were really focused on the blockade, they would be protesting Egypt. They are blockading Gaza too. To the best of my knowledge there is not a single Gaza resident doing that. 

Contrast this with the Iranians. They know the truth. That has recently been made clear by the mainstream media through one of their reporters situated in Iran. They do not blame America as much for their problems as they do their own fundamentalist leadership . It would be nice if the Palestinians had the same epiphany. And realized who is really to blame for their misery. Unfortunately I don’t have much hope for that kind of change.

It’s really a shame that Israel, which has given so much to the world is not shared as well by its neighbors. Their hatred of Israel prevents them for that. Just as it does from making peace – even as they cry about how much Israel is to blame for that.

Today’s celebration does not change any of this. Israel would like nothing better than to make peace with its Palestinian neighbors. Thankfully its is doing so from a position of strength. All Palestinians need to do is want it badly enough. But as has been abundantly clear since Oslo, peace is not their ultimate objective. Palestinian rule over all of Palestine is.

The only thing Israel can do is remain strong and hope that somehow the Arab fundamentalism will someday be replaced by Arab pragmatism.  Alas, I don’t see that happening in my lifetime. But today, for one brief moment in time, I could not be happier about what I saw happening in our holy land.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

A legacy of Lies

What will happen to him when he realizes his father lied? 
There is little doubt about the lies being spread among our religious brethren living in extremist enclaves like Meah Shearim. Lies about the founders of the modern State of Israel and their ideological heirs that run the country today.

These lies are perpetuated from generation to generation - whose numbers keeps increasing in far greater proportion than any other segment of the Jewish people. These are a lies that can and do easily lead far too many of their youth to rebel and go OTD  once they realize they have been lied to.  This following is a message that every young Charedi Jew from that world should hear: 
...Yanky, or Usher, or Chaim, you will grow up, im yirtzeh Hashem, and you will begin to think more independently. It might happen when you reach bar mitzvah age, or it might happen a little later. Suddenly you will see that the picture of the world you got from your father when you were nine or ten isn’t exactly true. You’ll find out that life in the Zionist state is nothing like a concentration camp. For example, maybe relatives from Eretz Yisrael will come to visit, and you’ll see that they look just fine — properly dressed, well-fed, happy, and if you ask them where their yellow stars are, they’ll laugh...
You’ll be left confused. The first seed of doubt will sprout in your heart, and it will take root. Little by little, you’ll begin to feel that your father deceived you about this critical issue. The more you mature, the more you will discover that the reality in Eretz Yisrael is quite different from what you imagined when you were a young boy who took in everything without question. You will learn that Eretz Yisrael isn’t Auschwitz, and nobody wears a yellow star… But you’ll also see that those who choose to devote themselves to Torah are able to do so without interference.
In the meantime, I pity you, and I fear for you. For once you lose your implicit trust in your father and doubt begins to gnaw at you, it won’t let go. 
This is not me expressing these views. It is Mishpacha Magazine Editor in Chief, Rabbi Moshe Grylak expressing them in his weekly editorial. Rabbi Grylak is what I would call a moderate Charedi. His magazine’s negative policy with respect to publishing pictures of women notwithstanding.

I obviously agree with him. Rabbi Grylak goes on to tell us what happened to individuals like that he knows from that community: 
He was a nice chassidishe fellow who worked in a print shop. I got to know him… and we became friends. We talked a lot, but I always had the feeling that the conversations were masking something else that was going on inside him.
One day, he took off the mask and revealed that he’d lost his emunah, because of the type of deception (described above). Little by little, he lost faith in everything, until he no longer believed in Torah or Hashem… The worm of doubt had gnawed clear through him, and when I went back to that print shop some months later and asked about him, they told me he had taken his own life, leaving a young widow and two small children. He couldn’t withstand the struggle that was tearing him apart.
I was involved in two similar cases as well, which baruch Hashem didn’t end in physical suicide, but rather spiritual suicide. One bochur was still single when he abandoned Torah and mitzvos; the other took his wife with him. 
This dark cloud may be a blessing in disguise, depending on how this community faces the challenge. If they continue along the same path they are now, they are clearly in danger of losing many of their children both physically and spiritually. 

If they can somehow be convinced by this sad phenomenon that their scorched earth policy of criticizing Israel is the main reason for it – they might modify their views. Perhaps they will take a look at the approach taken by Rabbi Menachem Bombach - a man from that community that was raised with similarly negative views. But whose views were modified by the reality he eventualy saw. 

Rabbi Bombach has rejected the ‘Big Lie’ perpetuated currently among extremist Charedim. His views are now clearly more mainstream and he is transmitting them to his students - most of whom have been raised with those negative views. 

On the other hand, I fear their current characterization of Zionism as Nazism is ironclad - a belief that is as inviolable to them as is the forbidden nature of Chilul Shabbos. 

I fear that they might see their increasing numbers overwhelming the numbers going OTD as a price that must be paid in order to maintain the purity of their position. 

If they see it as a numbers game, they very well may tolerate the increasing losses and take some sort of solace from their even greater increase in numbers via their high birthrate. As much as I wish for the former scenario, I fear the latter to be more likely. There has been too much water over the dam... too much time and effort invested in it.

If my inclinations are right, that wouldbe  both callous and tragic to the families that actually experience such losses. Suffering the loss of even a single child – whether physically or spiritually is not  compensated for by the fact that the rest of your children are doing just fine  – no matter how many children you have.

I am, however,  happy that a prominent Charedi publisher understands the reality and has made it clear to his many readers. If nothing else, it exposes the truth to a wider audience. It is an expression of Emes. And that is always a good thing.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Feminism Can Never Trump Judaism

Rabba Dina Brower and Rabbi Daniel Sperber (VIN)
There’s definitely no limitation for women when it comes to Jewish studies and religious studies. This is the sentiment expressed by Rabba Dina Brower, a recent ordainee of Yeshivat Maharat - a Yeshiva on the far Left of Orthodoxy that ordains women for the rabbinate.  Rabba Brower, who was raised in Chabad, made it in response to those who claim women are limited as to what they are permitted to study.

I actually agree with her about that. It is my belief that women are both capable and permitted to study any Torah subject they wish as deeply as they are individually capable of. Same as men.  Rav Soloveitchik had  made that clear many years ago. He said that in our day when women are getting PhDs in all manner of difficult fields, it is ludicrous to say they are incapable of studying Gemarah in depth. He put that belief into action by giving the first Gemarah Shiur to women at Stern College.  

But that is where my agreement ends as does Rav Soloveitchik’s. Rabba Brower’s primary goal is about advancing the cause of feminism. Serving God may be a part of her motive. But she said nothing about that in a recent interview as reported by VIN.  This founder of the United Kingdom’s  branch of JOFA (Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance) made perfectly clear what her goal was:
“I wanted to be a role model to women and girls in the community, to show this is not something only possible as a man, but definitely possible as a woman and something women should aspire to,” she told the Jewish News. “Young girls should become anything they want.
In other words it’s about what women want. Not about what God wants.

I have often been accused of attributing feminist motives to women that want to become rabbis when in fact I really have no clue about what their real motives are. I don’t however think there can be any question about Rabba Brower’s motives. She proudly proclaims,
“I will describe myself as a rabbi, that’s what I’ve trained to do and that’s what I’m qualified to serve as,” 
Well if this story doesn’t make absolutely clear what her motives are, I don’t know what would.

I will grant that she can contribute to our people in the variety of ways via her education. There is nothing wrong - and everything right - with wanting to do that. No fair minded person should deny any human being, man or woman, the chance to be a scholar in residence or perform some of the duties usually reserved for rabbis – such as pastoral counseling. 

No one should deny her an opportunity to give a Drasha (Torah based lecture) to both men and women. That would be serving God in ways that are acceptable to many Orthodox Poskim. If she felt that this was the best way she could serve God, more power to her. It is her desire to equalize Judaism  to conform to her feminist perspective that is wrong. 

Some have challenged the notion that feminism is an illegitimate motive. But it is. That’s because ultimately feminism as defined today is an ideal of equality that outweighs all else. So when in conflict with a religious ideal, it must give way to the feminist ideal.  

That is an obvious contradiction to the idea that what God wants is the higher value. Not feminism. While the two value systems collide religion must give way to feminism. 

This is clearly anathema to Orthodox Judaism. Even someone like YCT’s Chair of Talmud, Rabbi Ysoscher Katz - who supports ordaining women has acknowledged that simple fact. Ultimately in Judaism, feminism has its limits. 

To illustrate that simple fact, women can never be counted as part of a Minyan - the minimum number where a Davar ShebeKedusha (such as Kaddish) may be recited. 100 women and 9 men cannot suffice. Even if all all 100 woman are Maharats. If on the other hand the ten most ignorant Jews on the planet are together in a room - it is a legitimate Minyan. Fair? No. Equal? Certainly not. Halacha? Absolutley! - even according to the most left wing interpretations of Jewish law. 

I’m sorry to see this phenomenon continue - when virtually every single Orthodox institution has rejected it. Including the movement in which she was raised, Chabad. It is a shame that someone with Dina’s obvious talent, intelligence, and Jewish education has chosen to make feminism a priority.

What an asset she would be if she didn’t insist on making herself a role model for her movement. She really could make a difference that the vast majority of Orthodox Jews could support. There are a lot of Jews that would benefit from her knowledge. It’s too bad that, by her choices, she will never get support form the Orthodox mainstream rabbinate. The only support she will ever get is from Left wing  rabbinic outliers.