By Yisroel Feldman, Novato, California
Part I. At http://matzav.com/obamacare-will-kill-millions-of-babies there was reported how various political factions brought out serious concerns that the President’s Health Care Reform program would further encourage and support abortions.
In the comments on the article, Comment #11 from Rachel R wrote the following:
“Why are we following the directives of the Christian right wing? Since when do they determine our hashkafos? The Torah permits abortion under certain circumstances, to save the life or health of the mother. The Christian rightists would deny abortion even to a woman who will surely die if the pregnancy continues. Since when do we let Christians posken our sheilos for us?”
“Remember, these people believe that you and I are going to burn — forever because we don’t accept their human-style god. They ‘befriend’ us only because they want to convert us to their beliefs. They ‘support’ Israel only because their Book of Revelations states that Israel must be reborn and then destroyed so that their deity can ‘come back.’
They are free to believe this, as they are non-Jews, but why are we buying into their hashkafos?”
Comments #9 and #12 and #14 also pointed out some of the same observations.
Comment #9 from Yay #1:
“. . . By the way, abortion is NOT halachically forbidden, so when did we join the crazies in this one?”
Comment #12 from Shua Cohen:
“I agree with “chosid” (comment #7). Talk about hyperbole. The “Right to Life” organization would ban abortions even when they are halachically permitted, and this is one of their typically disgusting propaganda (scare tactic) headlines.”
Comment #14 from Meir:
“Careful, any goyishe lobby is likely not in line with halacha on this issue. Has a rov paskened on this bill?”
To Rachel R, Yay #1, Shua Cohen, and Meir:
You all raised some very excellent observations, which touch on some very fundamental points of our Avodas HaShem. Therefore, B’Ezras HaShem, we will need to try to examine and explain a little bit of these principles.
B’Ezras HaShem, let me begin with a little story.
Many years ago, I was privileged to briefly attend Yeshivas Ner Yisroel in Toronto. When the yeshiva hanhala member who had interviewed me, Rav Eliyahu Attias, Sh’lita, informed me that I was accepted, he gave me a statement-of-being-a-student. However, I did not (then) realize its importance, and thus, to this day, I do not remember what I did with it.
When I arrived at the airport and was ushered into a border official’s office though, the official quickly made it clear that without that letter of acceptance from the school, I was now in extremely serious trouble. She further expressed to me the resentment that many Canadians understandably feel regarding the callous attitude (toward these border crossing regulations) that is probably shown by many American visitors: “Canada is NOT a 51st state!”
The problem was only resolved when she called the yeshiva and was, at least for the moment, satisfied with a verbal telephone statement that verified that I was coming into the country to be a student at that institution. She stressed though, that this allowance was just temporary; I still had to get them the actual letter.
Upon arriving at the yeshiva, one of the senior Talmidim (who had evidently been present when the call from the airport came in) told me that the Rosh Yeshiva had, had to really put in an excessively heavy effort to get me out of the trouble. When I latter met the Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Naftoli Friedler, ZT’L, he sharply scolded me for my mess up; he strongly demanded that I (get another statement-of-being-a-student from the office and) at once go downtown to the appropriate government office to immediately take care of the immigration paperwork. I can never forget how he looked up straight at me and forcefully exclaimed:
“WE ARE HERE TO MAKE A KIDDUSH HASHEM IN THIS WORLD!”
Yes, making a Kiddush HaShem in this world is a very major part of our task in this world, and, a very major aspect of this task of making a Kiddush HaShem in this world is to be a “Light to the Nations,” which is to bring into the world the realization of G-D and adherence to His rules of decency. Therefore, when certain elements of people make efforts to try to establish some level of some adherence to some of these Divine rules of decency, there is a Chov Kodesh on us – there is a sacred obligation on us – to applaud and assist and strengthen and expand these efforts.
In the current political arena of our time, groups classified as being “Right Wing Conservative,” “Extreme Conservative,” “The Religious Right,” and “The Christian Right” have been making various efforts at establishing, or really more correctly, re-establishing, in our country’s legal codes, a little bit of these Divine rules of decency — Divine rules of basic decency, which, until very recently, formed the understood bedrock of all parts of human civilization. So again, we are certainly obligated to support and augment these efforts.
The three biggest issues of the current efforts have been:
1.) Stopping Abortion, both pre-birth abortion and partial birth abortion.
2.) Stopping Toeiva (so-called) “rights” and now, specifically, stopping Toeiva (so-called) “marriage.”
3.) Creationism: Teaching in schools the true science that G-D created the world, as opposed to (the current) teaching in schools the atheistic fairy tales of the world coming into existence by itself in “The Theory of Evolution.”
It does so happen to be that these items are just as much our issues, straight from our Torah!
B’Ezras HaShem, let us take a look at them.
1a.) Now abortion is a bit of something that is a good bit complicated. As Rachel R, Yay #1, Shua Cohen, and Meir correctly pointed out, there certainly are certain Hetairim – certain leniencies – with it. At the same time though, while there are certain leniencies with it, there are also some non-leniencies with it too! For the fact is that, in general, abortion is prohibited. Now, you will certainly confront me with the accusation: “Where does it say such a thing?” So, B’Ezras HaShem, let us take a look.
As, Im Yirtza HaShem, we will soon see, it is actually one of the first instructions in the Torah. Right after the flood, when HaShem was consoling Noach and giving him a promise of hope for the newly rejuvenated world, He also reiterated to him a few of the most basic rules of human decency that the people of this newly renewed world were going to have to adhere to. This was that the human being is created “B’Tzelem Elokim,” and thus human life is very sacred and to murder a human being is very terrible. “Shofiech Dam HaAdam BaAdam Damo Yishafeich, Ki B’Tzelem Elokim Asa Es HaAdam” (Berayshis/Genesis, chapter 9, verse 6).
This verse can be read in two ways:
One way to read it is like this:
“Shofiech” – “He who spills”
“Dam HaAdam” – “the blood of man,”
“BaAdam” – “by man”
“Damo Yishafeich” – “shall his blood be spilled”
“He who spills the blood of man, (now pause) by man shall his blood be spilled,” that when someone kills a human being, people (i.e.. the courts, see Targum Onkelus) have the authority to put him to death.
HaShem is mandating the death penalty for murder.
A second way to read it is like this:
“Shofiech” – “He who spills”
“Dam HaAdam” – “the blood of man”
“BaAdam” – “IN man,”
“Damo Yishafeich” – “shall his blood be spilled”
“He who spills the blood of man IN man, (now pause) shall his blood be spilled,” that when someone kills a human being WHO IS INSIDE OF ANOTHER HUMAN BEING, HaShem will make him die. Where is there a human being who is inside of another human being? This is obviously a fetus who is inside of its mother’s womb. So someone who kills a fetus who is inside of its mother’s womb — what we call “abortion” — HaShem will make him die.
HaShem is saying that abortion is a terrible crime, and He will take away the life of whoever does it.
1b.) Again though, as Rachel R, Yay #1, Shua Cohen, and Meir pointed out, there are certain leniencies with abortion. Now exactly what are these leniencies?
In Mesecta Ohalos, chapter 7, Mishna 6, the Mishna lays out certain guidelines for the exception to this prohibition of abortion. Very briefly, the Mishna, and the commentaries of Rashi and Rabaynu Ovadya from Bartenura delineate three guidelines:
A.) The question of permission to do an abortion is where going through with the birth would be a danger to the life of the mother.
B.) In this case where there is danger to the life of the mother, if the baby did not yet come out of the womb at all, then an abortion MUST BE DONE to save the life of the mother.
C.) However, even in the case where there is danger to the life of the mother, if the baby did already stick out even just its forehead, then an abortion cannot be done.
(We see from this last mentioned parameter, that what is called “Partial Birth Abortion” is always prohibited, even where the birth is a danger to the life of the mother.)
(At http://matzav.com/conservative-sen-elect-brown-says-he-supports-womans-right-to-choose, in comments 69 and 70, in great detail, I quoted this Mishna and explained it along with the explanation of the Talmud and the commentaries of Rashi and Rabaynu Ovadya from Bartenura.)
1c.) So again, there certainly are leniencies with abortion; not only are there leniencies – Hetairim – permissions – to do abortion, in these cases (where the life of the mother is in danger from the pregnancy or birth) WE ARE REQUIRED TO DO AN ABORTION! Yes, let us say that again: Where the life of the mother is in danger from the pregnancy or birth, we are not just permitted to do an abortion, WE ARE REQUIRED TO DO AN ABORTION!
Now that we have established this fact, we could then say that since in certain cases (where the birth or pregnancy will be a danger to the life of the mother) the Torah permits and even requires an abortion, this shows that, according to Judaism, abortion is not a bad thing at all and is something that is really OK!
I think though, that we can admit that to say such a statement is not really accurate; it is not really showing what is actually — the whole picture.
For a minute, let us look at a different subject, that of, what we just went through a short time ago, the Yom Tov of Yom Kippur. As is well known, one of the key observances of Yom Kippur is that we must fast for the entire day. At the same time though, it is also well known that if, Chas V’Shalom, a person is extremely sick and so sick that if he were to avoid eating anything for any length of time, he could possibly die, then he does not have to fast. Not only does he not have to fast, HE IS NOT ALLOWED TO FAST!
Oh, so now that we have reviewed this well known fact, we could say that since in the case where a person is deathly sick, the Torah says that he does not need to and is not even allowed to fast on Yom Kippur, this shows that in Judaism, Yom Kippur is not really an important thing at all and is not even any kind of a holiday!
On that one, of course, even the most irreligious person from the most reform of a Reform Temple will tell you that such words are complete utter nonsense! He will tell you that Yom Kippur is certainly one of the most holy of holy days, and a major aspect of the celebration of this very holy day is that we must abstain from all (physical) food and drink. It is just that in a case where someone will be in danger of his life without immediate physical nourishment, then, HaShem Himself tells us in His Torah in His rules for Yom Kippur, that that person is obligated to eat whatever food he needs to keep himself alive.
This line of logic is exactly the same with abortion. Abortion is certainly an extremely terrible crime! It is a level of outright murder! It is a severe cheapening of the Divine value of human life. It is a favorite tool used by people to get rid of an inconvenient child.
It is just that in a case where the pregnancy is a danger to the life of the mother, then, HaShem Himself tells us in His Torah in His rules about abortion that we are obligated to do an abortion to save the life of the mother.
(As related above though, this is only regarding a pre-birth abortion; a partial-birth abortion though is never permitted, even when the mother’s life is in danger.)
1d.) Of the several various conservative political groups, one political party that concentrates on moral issues and specifically the issue of abortion is called “The Right to Life Party.” It was specifically this Right to Life Party that strongly complained about the ObamaCare health plan paying for abortions. Now, as quoted at the opening of this discussion, comments 11 and 12 correctly pointed out that the position of the Right to Life Party is that abortion should always be prohibited, even where the mother’s life is in danger.
That this group has this position is completely understandable. To explain, let us start with a review of some basic facts that we well know.
HaShem gave us — the Am Yisroel — His Torah in two parts: 1.) The Torah Shebichsav – The Written Torah, the part of the Torah that was put into a publicly published physical book form that we call the “Kisvay HaKodesh” – the “Holy Writings” or the “TaNach.” 2.) The Torah Sheba’al Peh – The Oral Torah, the part of the Torah that was taught and transmitted orally by teacher to student, starting with, of course, HaShem Himself, Who taught it to Moshe Rabaynu – Moses our teacher – who taught it to his successor Yehoshua – Joshua – who taught it to his successor, teacher to student, generation after generation, all the way up to our present time.
When our nation was conquered, subjugated, and forced into numerous exiles, the unstable situations and conditions made it impossible for there to be proper teacher to student oral transmission. Therefore, our Torah leaders of those eras realized that key parts of the Torah Sheba’al Peh also needed to be put into publicly published physical book form. Thus, along with the TaNach, we also have the “Talmud,” the “Rashi,” the “Tosafos,” the Ramban, the Rashba, the Ritva, the “Rambam,” the “Shulchan Aruch,” the “Shach,” the “Taz,” the “Magen Avraham,” the Chofetz Chaim, the “Mishne Berura,” the “Igros Moshe” and the countless other seforim and meforshim – the countless other books and commentaries – of our Torah Sheba’al Peh.
Again, all this HaShem gave to us, the Am Yisroel. In a certain way, the world’s other peoples do have the Torah Shebichsav, the TaNach, which they took and translated according to their beliefs and understandings. The Christians call it the “Old Testament”; to it they attach their own made up material that they call the “New Testament,” and they call the entire piece the “Bible.” However, the Torah Sheba’al Peh, they do not have at all. Some of their sayings are really reflections of, L’havdil, what was proclaimed long before them by the Jewish Torah sages, but, as a sacred text, the terms “Mishna,” “Gemara,” and “Talmud” are foreign words in the Christian lexicon.
So when they have a question of what is the right thing to do, maybe, they will look for an answer in our side of the Bible; it is more likely though, that they will look for an answer in their side of the Bible. For sure though, they are not going to look for an answer in the Gemara, or in the Shulchan Aruch, or in the Igros Moshe! And they are not going to ask the contemporary Posek HaDor Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashuv either!
So when a certain Christian oriented political group declares a position on a certain pro-moral issue that is not exactly the same as the Halachos of our Torah, that should not surprise us at all. That though, does not in any way at all lessen our obligation to still fully show our strongest support of the pro-moral issue; of course, when we declare our support of the issue, we will declare what is the position that is instructed to us by our Mesoras HaTorah.
1e.) There is a certain Ben Torah communal activist in Brooklyn named Rabbi Yehuda/Lewis Levin, web site: rabbilevin.com. (He was a close disciple of Rav Avigdor Miller, ZT’L, opened and serves as Rav of a shul in Flatbush called Beis Medrosh Mevakshei Hashem, gives a weekly radio show, web site: thefearkashes.com, and founded and directs the activist organization “Jews For Morality,” web site: jews4morality.com.)
(Matzav.com has posted a number of articles with numerous comments, which relate how, especially in recent weeks, there has been tremendous controversy over and extremely sharp criticism of much of Rabbi Levin’s methods and actions. However, that issue, of whether what Rabbi Levin does is right or wrong, or whether Rabbi Levin is a good guy or a bad guy, is not my subject now. In fact, I am not mentioning Rabbi Levin because I want to talk about him at all; rather, as will be apparent in the following paragraphs, I am only mentioning him in order to explain something else. So, whatever your opinion of Rabbi Levin is, even if you think that he is a very terrible person, please, continue reading!)
In the 1984 election, Rabbi Levin attempted to run for the position of the US congressional representative from the Boro Park-Flatbush area as the candidate of both the Republican and the Right to Life Parties. As this Right to Life Party’s position on abortion is what it is (to prohibit abortion even when the mother’s life is in danger), he was viciously condemned by a certain other activist for going after the endorsement of this small party whose views are not like our Torah.
So, on his radio program, Rabbi Levin calmly related that when he had begun working with the Right To Life Party, he clearly explained to them what our Mesorah of Torah instructs us regarding abortion where the mother’s life is in danger — AND THEY RESPECTED THAT! Yes, they fully understood and respected that, that is the teaching of our Jewish religion and that Yehuda/Lewis Levin is a Jew and is thus obviously going to follow that.
On the contrary, they admired Rabbi Levin for being a communal activist who is very strong on the moral issues. They thus put him up in that election as their candidate for Congressman, and a few years latter, they again put him up as their candidate for the Mayor of New York City.
So again, the Right To Life Party has this position of opposing abortion even where the mother’s life is in danger. However, we see from what Rabbi Levin related that this party is fully aware of — and fully respects — the fact that our Jewish religion says that abortion is generally forbidden; however, where the mother’s life is in danger, then, on the contrary, our Jewish religion says that abortion is required.
2.) Stopping Toeiva “rights”
2a.) That Toeiva is something bad is stated right here smack in the middle of the Torah. It is right in the middle of the middle book of the Torah: the Book of Vaiyikra/Leviticus. It is right in the Parsha HaShavua/the weekly Torah portion of Acharay Mos-Kedoshim that we just read a number of weeks ago.
Chapter 18, verse 22: “You shall not . . . this is an abomination.”
Chapter 20, verse 13: “And a man who . . . both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon themselves.”
(English translations at http://www.chabad.org/parshah/torahreading.asp?aid=15581&v=ds&p=4 and http://www.chabad.org/parshah/torahreading.asp?AID=15581&p=7&v=ds)
As the act of Toeiva itself is such a terrible crime, then to attempt to intensify that act by declaring a certain Toeiva relationship as being “married” will certainly greatly intensify the severity of this very terrible crime and make it into a very terrible of a very terrible crime. That our Torah views making a toeiva “marriage” as being such a hyper-crime is evidenced by the famous statement of Chazal, which says that HaShem made the final decision to bring the Mabul – the horrific massive hyper-flood that destroyed almost the entire world – when people began writing Kesubos – marriage contracts – for pairs of toeiva men.
Furthermore, such a “marriage,” as a marriage, is completely and utterly meaningless. Every yeshiva student who has studied even just a little bit of the division of the Talmud titled “Nashim,” which deals with the laws of marriage and divorce, well knows this legal principle: By all the severely perverse illicit relationships, if the two bad people still try to make their illicit relationship a “marriage,” no marriage happened! That’s right, no marriage happened! The actual Talmudic legal terminology is: “Ain HaKiddushin Tofsin” – “the marriage did not take effect.” The whole “marriage” is worthless nothing.
B’Ezras HaShem, we can begin to understand a reason why. As just quoted, in Lashon Hakodesh, the word for marriage is “Kiddushin,” which literally means “an act of sanctification.” So if the relationship is that of severe illicit perversion, obviously, no sanctification is taking place! The only thing that is taking place is an extremely tremendous amount of the complete very opposite of sanctification!
2b.) Even though the Torah so openly and forcefully condemns Toeiva as being of the very worst crimes, there are some who do not oppose the pro-Toeiva political efforts and will support pro-Toeiva politicians. There can be three reasons given for this non-Toeiva opposition.
A.) “What do I care about their Meshugas?” “What do I care about the Hashchasa in the velt? What do I care if this politician is pro-Toeiva? If this (pro-Toeiva) candidate is going to give me and my community the (monetary) programs that we need, I will go for him.”
B.) “We cannot force our (ultra-frum Jewish) beliefs on other people.”
C.) “We must always oppose all discrimination; otherwise, how would we like it if ‘they’ were to discriminate against us Jews?”
B’Ezras HaShem, let us examine each of these arguments.
Argument A.) “What do I care about the Hashchasa in the velt?”
It is totally understandable that we would have such an attitude. For let us for a minute pretend that our outlook would be completely the other way; we are super idealistic and thus want to really get out there and spread Torah throughout the world. So what do we do? We go to a large major public place, like, for example, Times Square in New York City, set up a table with pamphlets on it, and stand next to it. Then using large bullhorns, we continually call out to the many thousands of people passing by:
“GOOD MORNING EVERYONE! LISTEN TO THE WORD OF THE LORD! BE GOOD! DON’T BE BAD! BE GOOD! DON’T BE BAD! BE GOOD! DON’T BE BAD!”
It is obvious that we would accomplish very, very little.
First of all, most of the people going by would probably not even notice us. Of those who do see us, a significant many of them would walk by with a mean smirk wondering when the police are going to come and haul us off to the nearest mental hospital! Another significant many may have a “kinder” view as they assume that we are from one of those missionary organizations, which employs these totally inappropriate means to get people to join their particular religion group. Most would probably think that we are just a couple of naive kids from some cult who have been fooled by the sick master of the cult into believing that we are going to go “save the world!”
Yes, the direct approach to try to “save the world” is not going to “save” very much.
Instead, our teachers of Torah instruct us what is stated by the Gemara: “K’shot Atzm’cha, V’Achar Kach K’shot Acheirim” – “Fix yourself, and after that, fix others.” We need to first, make ourselves be good and develop ourselves in being good and strengthen ourselves in being good. As we do this, just by our strong presence, more and more people around us will be inspired and influenced to also do good. Furthermore, thus developed and strengthened, we will be in a much better position to directly reach out to others and teach them about being good.
Now, as we have been instructed that we have to, for now, concentrate on building ourselves, we can easily then think that this means that we do not really care about those outside of us. We do not have to worry about trying to teach outside people anything about our Torah. We do not have to worry about how terrible the Hashchasa is in the outside world. We do not have to worry about our actions and our election choices causing expansion of and intensification of the Hashchasa in the outside world — for we do not care about the outside world!
Yes, it is totally understandable that we should have this outlook. At the same time though, we need to realize that the fact is that such attitudes are totally wrong and are outright wicked!
First of all, such an idea (that we do not care about the outside world) is not what the Gemara says! The Gemara never said such a thing! The Gemara does not say; I repeat, the Gemara does not say: “K’shot Atzm’cha, V’Al Tidaeg B’Acheirim” – “Fix yourself, and do not worry about others.” The Gemara does not say: “K’shot Atzm’cha, V’Tishchach Acheirim” – “Fix yourself, and forget about others.”
Instead, what the Gemara does say is: “K’shot Atzm’cha, V’Achar Kach K’shot Acheirim” – “Fix yourself, and after that, fix others.” Yes, the Gemara does say: “K’shot Atzm’cha, V’Achar Kach K’shot Acheirim” – “Fix yourself, and after that, fix others.” I will repeat that again: ” . . . V’Achar Kach K’shot Acheirim” – ” . . . and after that, fix others.”
So on the contrary, the Gemara tells us that we do care about other people! Let us repeat that again: On the contrary, the Gemara says that we do care about other people! What the Gemara is saying about this concept though, is that the way that we can best care about and help and improve other people is for us to first fix ourselves.
Second of all, this outlook of caring about the outside world is a major principle of our Torah. We just recently went through the Yomim Noraim; in every Amidah of Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur, we said an expanded version of the B’racha of Kedusha, in which we ask HaShem: “Uv’chein Tein Pachd’cha Al Kol Ma’asecha . . . V’Yiraucha Kol HaMa’asim, V’Yishtachavu L’fanecha Kol HaBruim, V’Yayasu Kulam Aguda Echas La’asos R’tzonecha B’Leivav Shaleim” – “And therefore place your fear upon all of your handiwork . . . And they should all form one union to do Your will with a complete heart.”
On Rosh HaShana itself, each Amidah climaxes in the moving words that we beg HaShem: “Elokaynu Valokay Avosaynu, M’loch Al Kol HaOlam Kulo Bichvodecha!” – “Our G-D and G-D of our fathers, rule over the entire world completely with Your honor!”
And on every day of the year, we are required to end our prayers with the heartfelt plea that we beg HaShem: “Al Kein, N’kaveh L’cha HaShem Elokaynu, Liros Bim’hayra B’Siferes Uzecha . . . L’Hafnos Ailecha Kol Rishay Aretz . . . ” – “Therefore, we hope to You HaShem Elokaynu, to quickly show with the glory of Your strength . . . to turn to You all the wicked of the earth . . . “
So again, we certainly do care very much about the outside world; we certainly do care very much about the terrible Hashchasa in the outside world, and we certainly do care very much about the outside world becoming good. However, the way that we get the outside world to become good is to first start making ourselves become good!
At the same time though, even while we are in this first-concentrating-on-ourselves state, we do have countless opportunities to help people in the outside world to begin to become good. For there are countless times and places and situations where we need to and actually do interact with the outside world. It should go without saying that wherever and whenever we are in those situations of interaction with the outside world, that we must conduct those interactions in ways that will influence the people there to want to be good. That means that in those interactions, we must be completely honest, polite, courteous, appreciative, kind, and helpful. Where we can voice our opinion and the question is asked: “Should two — be able to ‘marry’?” we must clearly exclaim our strong condemnation of Toeiva and of all immoral corruption. When there are elections, we must vote for those candidates whose positions are closer to the ways of goodness that HaShem wants for the world.
As Rav Friedler, ZT’L, bluntly told me: “We are here to make a Kiddush HaShem in this world!”
Argument B.) “We cannot force our beliefs on other people.”
Every word in this sentence is so wrong that it is a total waste of ink to write them!
First of all, the Issur against toeiva is not some kind of “extra frum” “Jewish” thingy that we “made up”; instead, it is one of the “Sheva Mitzvos B’nei Noach”! It is one of the rules of basic human decency that HaShem states everyone has to follow!
Furthermore, who are these “other people” who you say we are “forcing” our ideas on? Granted, there are a lot of people out there who do want Toeiva; at the same time though, there are an awful lot of people out there who DO NOT want Toeiva! I can never forget the episode of the evening local news where the program showed a scene of an anti-Toeiva demonstration. The event was packed with people who were holding up signs with big printed words — very mean words that we Bnei Torah do not use: “G * D – H A T E S – F A G S !!”
And chances are very good that these type of people are the bulk of the population; phrases used by conservative politicians and activists groups like “The Silent Majority” and “The Moral Majority” are probably right on the mark.
Furthermore, the issue has nothing to do with us forcing anything on anyone. Many years ago, when society had a little bit more of basic decency, there were statutes on the books that did prohibit Toeiva called “Sodomy Laws.” However, these were all thrown away long ago. Ever since those laws were repealed, there has been no one forcing anything on the Toeiva people.
So as I just said, the Toeiva people cannot complain that someone is forcing something on them. Rather, what they are complaining about is that they want to be able to force something on us!This aspect of the issue is also a response to the earlier argument of “What do I care about their Meshugas?” which, in other words says: “What do I care about this Meshugas of theirs that has nothing to do with me!”
The obvious answer to this is that this Meshugas of theirs DOES have quite a lot to do with me! This Meshugas of theirs greatly affects me! For, as just related, the Toeiva people are not satisfied to have this “Meshugas of theirs” to themselves; instead, they want to force a good bit of it on us too! Of course, they cannot force us to, Chas V’Shalom, do the act of Toeiva itself, but, with all the “Toeiva Rights Legislation” and the “Toeiva ‘Marriage’ Legislation,” they are sure forcing us to do quite a lot. These new toeiva laws are outright forcing us and everyone:
To accept and recognize what they do as being a full proper good way of life
To accept and recognize them as being full proper good citizens
To accept and recognize them as being “married” and to refer to them as “Mr. and Mr.” and “Mrs. and Mrs.”
To record them on business and government forms and documents as being “married”
To let them come in and live right next to us in our own housing units
To hire them as full employees and have them work right next to us in our own private businesses and offices and other enterprises
The big current toeiva issue is that of their “marriages.” Along with this though has been another big item called “Toeiva education.” In California, several laws have been recently approved that require the schools to teach all of our children that Toeiva is a full respectable way of life and that the toeiva people are full good respectable citizens. One of these laws established the date of the birthday of someone named Harvey Milk, May 22, each year as a mini-holiday called “Harvey Milk Day.” (Mr. Harvey Milk, Sheim Reshaim Yirkav, was, a Jewish man who, very tragically, became an extreme radical Toeiva leader, who himself engaged in the very worst levels of Toeiva, and who promoted the most extreme forms of Toeiva.) On this day, all schools are required to have all students participate in special programs to remember and honor this super, super rasha.
Now, Bnei Torah can easily retort: “Aw, this is all in the public schools; (because of many other problems) we already rejected the public schools a long time ago.” “Instead, we send our children to our own yeshivas and Beis Yaakovs (where, of course, we do everything according to our Torah).”
Well, we certainly do hope, Im Yirtza HaShem, that our yeshivas and Beis Yaakovs are and will remain safe from the outside world’s problems. However, with the increasing severity of the outside’s wickedness, we need to realize that HaShem is giving us a warning that the integrity of our Torah schools is not a simple matter at all.
First of all, in order to establish and operate any kind of business, professional office, or educational institution, the establishing people must secure from the government full approval for every aspect of the endeavor along with all the appropriate licenses. Educational institutions need to also get academic certification, so that the courses they teach and the diplomas they give will be legally recognized. Educational institutions, even private and religious ones, further receive from the government various packages of monetary assistance.
Now, the official government academic standards require the instruction of acceptance of Toeiva, and many of the government officials themselves are supporters of Toeiva. So how can our yeshivas and Beis Yaakovs expect to secure from the government any approval and assistance without satisfying the government’s Toeiva requirements?
These fears are not mere speculation. All of us who have ever collected Tzeddaka painfully know that when we approach wealthy people who do not agree with what the collection is for, they do not give us anything!
Furthermore, in the realm of education, there is a very well known organization called “The Boy Scouts of America,” which trains boys in various camping and other outdoor group activities. Its policy is that it does not want Toeiva people in its ranks, not among the campers and not on the staff. With all of the Toeiva rights thingy of recent years though, the Boy Scouts has been repeatedly severely harassed by the government. Boruch HaShem though, there were a number of lawsuits that the Boy Scouts did win. (See http://www.jlaw.com/Briefs/BoyScouts.html for the text of the legal brief that Agudath Israel of America filed in one case in defense of the Boy Scouts.)
However, with more and more pro-Toeiva legislation being passed, and more and more justices (who would be judging the lawsuits) and other government officials themselves being pro-Toeiva, what is going to happen to the Boy Scouts in the future? (In the 2000 elections, for several weeks the results of the extremely close election were not decided; during that period, there were rumors that the Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Albert Gore, stated that if he were to win, he was really going to “crack down” on the Boy Scouts.)
If at some point, Rachmana Litzlan, the Boy Scouts — which is officially a secular organization with a little bit of a religious orientation — gets banged down, who will be next? Will it be organizations and institutions that are fully religious? Then, once even religious operations will start being knocked over, how safe will our Torah schools and our Torah centers be?
Argument C.) “We must always oppose discrimination.”
The various issues of discrimination and civil rights that came out in the Twentieth Century all centered around one fundamental principle, which is certainly reflective of what our Torah teaches us. It is that as HaShem created everyone in the world, then obviously HaShem created every person and placed every person here in this world for a reason. Therefore, every person, no matter who he of she is, has value, and no person, no matter who he of she is, should ever be abused or hurt in any way or held back from being able to achieve what HaShem put him or her here to achieve.
The placing of the Toeiva so-called “rights” business in together with the other civil rights/discrimination cases is a severely wrong error. For the opposition to Toeiva is not trying to, Chas V’Shalom, hurt any person because of who he or she is; rather, the opposition to Toeiva is just simply saying to every person, no matter who he or she is: “Do not do bad things!”
So on the contrary, because we immensely respect and value every person, no matter who he is, or who she is, we say to him, and we say to her: “Do not do this terrible thing of Toeiva, which so very horribly ruins a person and ruins the world!”
B’Ezras HaShem, I would like to conclude this part of the discussion with a little story that Rav Avigdor Miller, ZT’L, liked to relate many times. He reported about his Rebbe, Rav Issac Sher, ZT’L, who was one of the Rosh Yeshivas – one of the chancellors – of the famed prominent Yeshiva of Slabodkia in Lithuania. Rav Sher had a special project that he devoted his life to; this was working on the Inyan of G’dulas HaAdam – the subject of the greatness of man. This is the endeavor of learning about and delving into and contemplating on and understanding and teaching and expounding and conveying to others the realization of the infinite greatness that HaShem implants in every human being.
In his latter years, Rav Sher moved to Eretz Yisroel. When he embarked on his journey, his Talmidim – his students – from the yeshiva accompanied him to the train station. On the way there and as they were waiting to board the train, Rav Sher taught his students further lessons in this subject of G’dulas HaAdam. When the boarding time arrived and Rav Sher got on the train, from his seat, he continued his lecture, speaking to his students through the open window! When the train began to move, he continued right on talking, and his students slowly walked right alongside the train car by his open window.
At this though, one of the officers on the platform came over and roughly pushed the students away. [Evidently, the way that he angrily shoved them showed that he did not do this from any concerns of safety (that it was dangerous for them to be walking next to a moving train), but rather that he did not like seeing such intense religious activity or he maybe even had an attitude of Sinas Yisroel.] At this, Rav Sher pointedly remarked: “We’re trying to make him great (I.e., we are trying to say how good and great he is) — and he doesn’t let us!”
Yes, this one line can really be the summation of our efforts to instill Torah values in people and the opposition we get: We are trying to show and bring out how very great and wonderful people really are, and yet, they don’t want us to do it!
3a.) That G-D created the world — that is the very first sentence in the Torah: “B’rayshis Bara Elokim Eis HaShamaiyim V’eis Ha’Aretz”! That the common English translation of these words: “In the beginning, G-D created the heaven and the earth,” is probably the most famous verse of the Torah, is quite understandable. That HaShem is the only One real Existence and the Source and Creator of everything, is THE fundamental principle of our whole religion.
Now the argument has been advanced that religion and science do not have to collide. It could be that G-D did make the world, but the way He did it was with evolution. This “reconciliation” is both ridiculous and unnecessary. A few years ago, the “Jewish Observer” magazine had an issue with the cover story about evolution. One of the key lines there was from Rav Chaim Dov Keller, Sh’lita, the Rosh Yeshiva of Telshe Yeshiva in Chicago. He bluntly stated that we do not have to apologize for our Torah and twist our Torah to fit it in with this evolution garbage. Evolution is not science at all; there is no proof for it at all! By their own terminology, it is only a theory!
(This point really shows up the mean wickedness of the situation. For even though the whole evolution business is only a proposed theory, and the scientists themselves only call it a proposed theory, it is still taught and presented in the schools, in the halls of government, in the news media, in historical documentaries, and in entertainment productions as if it were an obvious well known scientific fact. And any person, and especially any teacher or board of education member who dares to question this most holy of holy of holy doctrine, is ridiculed and expelled from his job for being “old fashioned,” “unscientific,” “uneducated,” and an agent of the “Religious Right.”)
Furthermore, it is not even a theory. A theory is an idea that is a well thought out logical piece of reasoning that is proposed to explain the mechanics of a certain phenomenon. While it is not known if it is actually true, since it is so well thought out and logical, there is a good chance that it is really true.
Evolution though, is not this at all; it is not a piece of logic at all; it is not a piece of thought out thought at all. All that it is, is something that is absolutely of absolutely of absolutely ridiculous and outright insane!
The following well known — what is a piece of logic — I will say the way the rebbe of the class I was in at Yeshiva Ner Yisroel in Baltimore, Rav Chaim Dovid Lapidus, Sh’lita, explained to us. We were sitting in our classroom of the new three story school building that had just been built about a year before, as he related:
“Just imagine; in order to build this classroom building, they came over here with several helicopters in the air, which dumped out all of the bricks and sheets of glass and pieces of metal and wires and tiles, etc. (Then, if all that was formed was just a messy pile of materials, they scooped everything up and put it all back in the helicopters.) Then again they dumped out all of the bricks and glass, etc. (Then, if still there was just a messy pile, they again put it all back in the helicopters.) Then again they dumped out all of the bricks, etc. And again they dumped out, etc. And again. And again. And eventually, somehow (maybe there were some very heavy winds that pushed the bricks in line, etc.) all of the bricks and sheets of glass etc. all fell into the right places and the building was formed!”
“Sounds crazy, yeah?”
“Well, to say that this is how this building was built IS MORE LOGICAL than to say that by means of evolution was formed of an insect EVEN ONE EYE!!”
(Obviously, the Rebbe just chose the eye of an insect as a random example of something that is, relatively, very small. Of course, the exact same point is just as much true with even one cell of an eye of an insect; the truth is even with just one molecule of one of the substances of one cell of an eye of an insect. The real truth is even with just one atom of one molecule of one of the substances of one insect’s eye cells. For modern science is just barely beginning to discover and realize that the structures and the mechanisms and the operations of just one atom are infinitely more complex and beyond the ability of the human mind to understand than all of the school buildings and office buildings and skyscrapers in the world combined!)
Furthermore, of course, once we believe in G-D, WE DO NOT NEED EVOLUTION, for, of course, G-D could make the world in any way that He wants, without any evolution!
3b.) There is an issue though, as Mrs. Rachel R. correctly pointed out, that vast numbers of humanity have some very different ideas about Who G-D is. Because of this, we conclude every service with the ritual of “Alaynu,” in which we fervently pray that HaShem will soon bring all of humanity to have the true realization of Him.
3c.) In our time, we are faced with an extremely severe problem, which is that of atheism, of not believing in a G-D at all. This is certainly one of the main roots of all the problems modern society is facing today. I can never forget the part of the Rav Avigdor Miller tape where Rav Miller, ZT’L, asks the following pointed question:
Suppose there is the following scenario: It is inside a classroom of a major college. The semester term has just finished; the time is now late at night after all the classes have ended and almost of the students and faculty have left the building. In this particular classroom though, the professor — a professor of biology — has been using the evening quiet to finish up the end of term paper work. For a little break, he gets up from his desk and walks over to and looks out of a large open window.
At that moment, a student, who happens to be one of his students, is walking in the hallway and passes by the open door of that classroom. Glancing inside, he sees his professor leaning over with his head and shoulders stuck outside of the window. It just so happens to be that this student is quite a bum; he had done very few of the assignments, and thus the professor had given him an “F” for the course.
The student also knows that directly below this window that the teacher is leaning out of, is the incinerator, and at this time, the incinerator is on, burning at full heat. So if the teacher were to fall in there, he would be quickly burnt up well beyond recognition. Then, early each morning, the contents of the incinerator bin are emptied and taken away by the local scavenger company. The student further knows that his instructor is not married, so with no family and the school now on vacation, if the instructor were to be killed, it would probably be a good few days, maybe even a good few weeks, before anyone even realized that he had been missing.
Furthermore, this science professor, whom this student is enraged at for failing him, this very science professor himself taught in this biology course — and this student was there and heard it many times — that there is no such thing as any kind of a “god”! Rather, he explained that all of the different life forms in the world are merely the results of different sets of extensive complex chemical reactions that “evolved” over the years.
So Rav Miller asked: “In this student’s mind — with what he has been taught that there is no G-D, and with his assessment that the police will never be able to figure this one out — is there any reason why he should not go over to where his teacher is leaning out the window, and, from behind the teacher, push him all the way out of the window down into the burning incinerator????”
We just demonstrated in great detail how these themes of morality, specifically these three subjects of stopping abortion, stopping Toeiva, and creationism, are key central areas of our own Torah. As such, we ourselves, with our duty to be a Light to the Nations, should already be heavily championing these issues. That there are many non-Jewish groups that are out fighting for these causes, certainly gives us much, much more of a Chov Kodesh – a sacred obligation – to make a Kiddush HaShem and show our own strong support of these items.
Instead though, the exact opposite has been happening: it is non-Jewish conservative/religious oriented groups are the ones who are championing for the moral issues, while numerous Jewish organizations are pushing for all the immoral positions. This is extremely sad and greatly bizarre; it can well be termed: “The big lie of history.”
When I began my career in the yeshiva world, I was privileged to attend Yeshiva Ner Yisroel in Baltimore. I was in a special Shiur – a special class – for beginners, which was given by by Rav Chaim Dovid Lapidus, Sh’lita. As it was a beginners Shiur, we often had little discussions about various general Hashkafa topics – topics about what our general outlook needs to be. One of these chats was about this phenomenon; the year was 1970, which was just at the end of the decade of the 1960s, that turbulent era of vehement rebellions against the “old order” of life. Rav Lapidus related how it was Jews who were at the forefront of all these radical leftist movements; I can never forget how he thus exclaimed:
” . . . AND IT’S A TERRIBLE CHILLUL HASHEM!!”
Several years latter, I was privileged to attend several of the weekly Thursday night lectures by Rav Avigdor Miller, ZT’L. The year was 1979, and one of the major issues in the Jewish world then was that a certain Nazi group had been given, by a decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, official government permission to stage a massive march and demonstration in the town of Skokie, Illinois. Skokie, Illinois is a large suburb of the city of Chicago; it has a large population of Jewish people, very many of whom are survivors of the World War II Holocaust.
So this planned Nazi march was not some little secret gathering that they were going to make in some back woods enclave in a rural area countryside. Instead, it was to be a major demonstration right in the middle of one of the most major urban metropolitan areas of the world. It was thus obviously intended to be a public declaration of the great power and success of the contemporary Nazi movement. It was also to be done right in the face of a large Jewish community of people who had just recently endured the excruciating horror of the Nazi halls of sadistic torture. It was thus obviously meant to be a fiendish teasing and taunting of our emaciated people.
Understandably, the American Jewish community was severely alarmed; in the back of everyone’s mind was the chilling thought of the anxiety of “‘It’ could happen here!!”
During that time, Rav Miller gave several lectures in which he mentioned the problem and taught us many key principles of what our Hashkafa – our outlook – needs to be. He was especially incensed about the fact that it was Jews — lawyers of the A.C.L.U. (the American Civil Liberties Union) “with Jewish sounding names” — who had argued the Nazi’s case before the US Supreme Court and had thus pressured the court to grant the permit for the march.
During one of the times when he was discussing this issue, the tape on which the lecture was being recorded finished. As we heard the closing click of the recording machine, Rav Miller remarked: “The tape has finished; that’s good, because what I am going to say is not to be public.”
Then, he literally took off. In a voice chocking with anger, he bitterly related that in 19th and early 20th Century Germany, the Reform/secularized Jews actively attempted to push and promote various liberal trends which would weaken and break down German society. So when Hitler and his Nazis latter took over the government and began their campaign of propaganda of saying that “the Jews” were ruining the country, “the middle class Germans (thought in their minds that Hitler was correct and thus) did not stand up for them!”
“THAT’S WHAT HAPPENED IN GERMANY, AND THE SAME THING IS HAPPENING HERE!!!”
“ITALIANS ARE ABHORRED THAT THE NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL WANTS TO GIVE EQUAL RIGHTS TO (THE TOEIVA PEOPLE)!!! AND WHO ARE THE LEADERS OF (THE TOEIVA PEOPLE)??? JEWS!!!”
I recently saw a little bit of what Rav Miller had warned about. A couple of months ago, the (television) “History Channel” (web site: history.com) put on a documentary program about the growing problem of neo-Nazi hate groups in our country. The program showed a visit to the camp of one of these groups; the spokesman for the group bluntly stated and repeated several times, their philosophy:
“WE DON’T WANT JEWS, AND WE DON’T WANT QUEERS!!”
“WE DON’T WANT JEWS, AND WE DON’T WANT QUEERS!!”
“WE DON’T WANT JEWS, AND WE DON’T WANT QUEERS!!”
We just recently went through the Yamim Noraim – the Days of Awe – when we begged HaShem: “Elokaynu Valokay Avosaynu, M’loch Al Kol HaOlam Kulo Bichvodecha!” – “Our G-D and G-D of our fathers, rule over the entire world completely with Your honor!”
Obviously, if we want HaShem to do this — to remove wickedness from the earth, to restore goodness to the earth, and to rule over the world with His honor — we need to show Him that we really do want Him to do it. Certainly one of the first of the key items we need to do to show that we do want goodness returned to the world is for us to correct this big lie of history.