All posts for the topic: Blogging Jewish Law

Racist NIMBYism: anti-eruv “arguments” in Australia

Est Reading Time: 9 min [CN: Racism, propaganda] Yesterday I posted about some far-right anti-mosque propaganda. This type of fear-mongering doesn’t stop there; the campaign against the St Ives eruv shows its wide scope. Unlike the previous post, I should explain what an eruv is. In Orthodox Judaism, it’s essentially forbidden to carry (inc pushing a stroller) on Shabbat except for within one’s home or outside with the aid of an eruv. An eruv consists of boundary demarcations (usually poles/wires), the symbolic acts of renting space from a non-Jew and setting up a communal meal for each Sabbath. More here, and just to make it […]

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Segregated seating on planes: is a non-bigoted compromise possible?

Est Reading Time: 6 min The behaviour of Chareidi (more commonly known as “Ultra-Orthodox”) flight passengers has hit international news a few times, mostly around them not wanting to sit next to women who have at times been asked to switch seats, something El Al is being sued over. There have been some other stories too, eg. Chareidi men who have smashed a flight screen showing an “immodest” movie or flying in plastic bags (such as the ones pictured) which protect their Kohanic selves from the ritual impurity of flying over a cemetery (more info here). The issue of El Al and segregated seating is […]

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Denial about Jewish extremism

Est Reading Time: 3 min You may have seen the news about Yishai Schlissel: he stabbed marchers during Jerusalem’s LGBT parade in 2005, served 10 years and did it again as soon as he got out. He stabbed six people at last week’s parade including 16yo Shira Banki who died of her wounds. This has sparked a strong response from both within Israel and Jewish communities around the world. This is great and the more Jewish groups can marginalise such overt, violent homophobia the better. However, that the Jewish tradition has loads of homophobic teachings, I’m disturbed at the fact that almost all Jewish organisations […]

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Surely a rabbi wouldn’t order violence!!1!

Est Reading Time: 4 min A story broke a few weeks ago about some rabbis in New York using violence to obtain Jewish bills of divorce. If you haven’t seen it, here are some excerpts from this story: Orthodox women who are unable to obtain a get from their estranged husbands cannot remarry in the faith. The group allegedly would charge the wife $10,000 each for the three rabbis on a religious court to approve the kidnapping, and $50,000 to $60,000 to hire the thugs who would do the actual violence. Rabbi Moshe Tendler, a Yeshiva University professor […] said Friday that no religious court […]

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Dressing Up Barbarism

Est Reading Time: 4 min I was recently at a Jewish funeral prayer service for a friend’s grandfather. I often heard as part of my Jewish education that Judaism’s approach to mourning is very effective to help the grieving process despite (or because of) being counterintuitive. I’m not sure about this — there are things that probably do help but others might not. There’s probably the bias of a ritual being familiar from childhood and hence assumed to be helping. Or even “I did XYZ, I eventually reached a certain stage in grieving, therefore XYZ helped me reach this stage”. One custom I find particularly […]

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Five Misconceptions About Judaism

Est Reading Time: 5 min I have five today. The first 2 are the “normal” kind: ones held by those who just don’t know much about Judaism. But the last 3 are a kind I find a lot more annoying. These are misconceptions commonly held by Jews (especially of liberal/Reform/feel-good persuasions). Sometimes these are even found in lists on misconceptions about Judaism — the kinds of lists that start with the assumption that Judaism is “nice” or “fluffy” and work backwards. I may do more of these in the future. 1. Judaism is mainly about following the 10 commandments Since there are 613 commandments in […]

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Torah Problems, Rabbinic Solutions (Part 3)

Est Reading Time: 3 min Final part of the series, previous parts here and here. Area: Non-observanceTorah Problem: There are a large number of transgressions for which a Jew is to be excluded from the Jewish community. This could be problematic since it’s very divisive and there are so many laws that a great number of Jews today would fall under this. Furthermore, according to some of the harshest views (eg. Maimonides), these Jewish “heretics” can be killed at will, and according to standard Orthodox Jewish law, when they die their relatives are to hold celebrations feasts instead of mourning.Rabbinic Solution: While some have opted […]

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Torah Problems, Rabbinic Solutions (Part 2)

Est Reading Time: 3 min A continuation from Monday’s post. Area: The Sotah (woman suspected of adultery, Num 5:11-31)Torah Problem: I’ve posted on this here and here), but basically the ritual is particularly misogynistic, allowing husbands free reign to bully and humiliate their wives in public.Rabbinic Solution: While some Talmudic rabbis are happy to take the hardline misogynist positions, many offer a way out. The general ruling appears to be that a husband is forbidden to warn his wife not to seclude herself with another man (which sets off the whole ritual) and that the ritual only applies where a husband has broken this law. […]

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Torah Problems, Rabbinic Solutions (Part 1)

Est Reading Time: 3 min As I’ve posted before, I see a large part of Jewish law (at least when it was formed) as reconciling the Torah, with its barbaric and tribal mentality, with a more modern and (mostly) more humane outlook. When I was looking at the Torah for abridgement, I noticed this to be quite a strong theme: in many cases the law as it’s plainly stated is quite different to the Jewish rabbinic interpretation. This seems to be a series of problems and solutions, whereby the Torah presents something impractical or barbaric and the rabbis try to minimise or reverse the impact. […]

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Diet and Medical Advice in Orthodox Texts

Est Reading Time: 4 min We may be very obsessed today with diet, exercise and health tips. But by no means is this new — we’ve been obsessed with it for tens of thousands of years, ever since we’ve had the language to wax poetic about the brealdown of our bodies. Religious texts are often great repositories of what kind of medical knowledge was around in the day. Of course 95% of medical knowledge up until the 20th century has been quackery, but it’s interesting nonetheless. The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch has had a few diet tips so far that I thought interesting*. Firstly, it seems […]

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