Opinion: “Modernizing” Judaism


judaism1By Yisroel Feldman, Novato, Ca.


On August 12, Matzav posted a feature titled “Conservative Rabbi Says Georgia’s Kosher Law is Unconstitutional Because it Favors the Orthodox.”  It was about a group of Conservative rabbis who want the American governments to give them legal recognition in giving kosher certifications.  In the comments discussion there, I posted a remark (#5) explaining how the Reform and Conservative movements, with their mistaken philosophies of “modernizing” Judaism, are thus openly stating that their “Judaism” is NOT the same Judaism/Torah that our nation has carried throughout the centuries.

 After that, a few readers posted remarks that the Reform and Conservative people can easily retort that in what we think of as “true” Judaism, there are many things that have been “changed.”  This excellent point certainly requires elaboration.

 R. Leibel and Yanky, you made an excellent observation.  Reform and Conservative people certainly DO point to various aspects and events of our Torah HaKdosha and exclaim: “Ah ha!  You see that our Torah changes!!”

 Of course, these items they point to are not proofs at all, for they have nothing whatsoever to do with any kind of change!  B’Ezras HaShem, let us look at a few of them. 

 1.)  The incident with the daughters of Tzelafchad had nothing to do with “changing” HaShem’s laws of inheritance.  Rather, the story, as related in Bamidbar/Numbers, chapter 27, verses 1-11, is as follows.  The four daughters of Tzelafchad approached Moshe Rabaynu and his colleagues with the problem that their deceased father had no sons to inherit him.  Now, if his property were to revert to other parts of his family, his particular name would be lost.  So, to keep his name alive, they requested (see the commentary of Rashi) that either they be given their father’s property, or, that their mother should do a Yibum-marriage to their father’s brother (in which the deceased’s name IS kept stamped on the family; see Devarim/Deuteronomy chapter 25, verses 5-6). 

 The commentary of Rashi points out that the girls stressed that they were making these requests BECAUSE their father had no sons.  They thus clearly implied that if their father had had any sons, they would have had no question at all.  For they would have fully understood and fully respected that then, the sons would inherit, and they had no objection to that at all!  So obviously, they were NOT a group of “progressive” women “demanding” equal hand-outs!  Furthermore, the entire theme of their so-called “complaint” was not for anything for themselves, but rather for the preservation of the name OF THEIR FATHER!  (Wow!  The administrators of the women’s liberation organizations would probably call these daughters of Tzelafchad a bunch of REGRESSIVE Uncle Toms!)

 Anyway, HaShem answered Moshe — again, HaShem was not “changing” any of His laws — inheritance goes from the father to his sons; only, in this particular instance where the father had no sons, then the inheritance goes to the man’s daughters.

 2.)  The Korbonos — the extensive service of animal and food offerings performed in the Beis HaMikdash — AS PROBABLY BEEN THE MOST MISUNDERSTOOD AND MALIGNED AREA OF OUR RELIGION!!!

 They have been called primitive and even barbaric ancient practices that were abolished a long time ago.

 First of all, the reason we are not making offerings right now is not because Judaism “changed” and “they” “abolished” the Korbonos!!  The reason we are not making offerings right now IS BECAUSE WE ARE NOT ABLE TO!!

 The armies of ancient Babylon and ancient Rome DESTROYED the Beis HaMikdash; ever since then, the various empires that ruled over Eretz Yisroel never allowed us to rebuild it.  Today, we see how even a partial Israeli country has vehemently enraged the Arab world to make all out jihad on us.  Those countries that are friendly and supportive of us, still, in order to make peace, advise us to give up this piece and that piece and that other piece and this other piece, etc. to the Arab terrorists!  If even one of us makes even a slight move at the Temple Mount, the already violent situation explodes into a wild fireball of massacres of our people!

 Furthermore, with our long centuries of exile, right now, we do not even know HOW to build a Beis HaMikdash!  

 So obviously, we are forced to wait until HaShem in His mercy, will bring the Geula Sh’laima, in which He will supernaturally give us an already made Beis HaMikdash!

 We certainly pray and beg HaShem every day to very soon bring the Geula with the restored Beis HaMikdash and the reactivation of the Korbonos.

 Now, many people heavily point to numerous verses in the section of TaNach called “The Prophets.”  These transmissions of what HaShem instructed our holy Nevi’im — our ancient holy prophets, could be misread to sound like a call to end the Korbonos.  For example:  “What do I need your many offerings for? . . . Stop bringing the meaningless meal offerings!”  (See Yeshaiyahu/Isaiah, chapter 1, verses 11-13.)

 See the commentary of Rav Menachem Mendel Hirsch, ZT’L (son of Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch, ZT’L), on the Haftora of Parshas D’varim.  There, in great detail, Rav Hirsch vehemently condemns the twisted distortions that have been made of these and similar verses.  He demonstrates that HaShem is, of course, not abolishing the mitzvos of the Korbonos.  Rather, HaShem is denouncing the MISUSE of the Korbonos.  The issue is that people would bring a fine Korbon to the Beis HaMikdash.  Then, they would think that with the Korbon, they had fulfilled their obligation of serving HaShem, and they were now at liberty to do what they want. 

 This is a common problem that has existed in all religions up through the present time.  People think that if they go to the house of worship and piously say a lot of prayers, then they are good religious people.  Then, they have no qualms with, for example, engaging in under the table schemes of monetary deception and/or abusing their wives at home.            

 Such attitudes are totally wrong and the exact opposite of what the Torah is.  Our Torah HaKdosha, the D’var HaShem — the Word of G-D, is to elevate and sanctify ALL aspects of our ENTIRE lives.  Therefore, in Judaism, for example, the conducting of business transactions with the fullest honesty and integrity, and a man giving his wife the highest respect and dignity, are just as much full religious obligations as the saying of prayers on Yom Kippur!

 So the procedures we do in the Beis HaMikdash, as extremely important as they are, are not the entire picture of service of HaShem.  Rather, when we take an animal and offer it up to HaShem in the Beis HaMikdash, this is to be a symbol to us to teach us to now go and offer OURSELVES up to HaShem and fully serve Him WHEN WE GO OUT OF THE BEIS HAMIKDASH!! 

 But to (mis)use a Korbon (or a prayer) as a front to appear real frum while, for example, being mean to people, is a terrible perversion of what a Korbon is; it is these phoney Korbonos that HaShem condemns and declares: “Stop bringing the meaningless offerings!”

 Very unfortunately, our Jewish brethren who are far from the truth of our Torah, are certainly far from the true understanding of the Korbonos.  They have been fed the sick propaganda (mentioned above) of the offerings being long discarded primitive rituals.  Therefore, in the making of their “modernized” prayer books, those prayers that ask HaShem for the restoration of the Korbonos were either reworded into different statements or totally removed!! 

 (The payrush on the Haftoros by the son used to come together with the whole set of the previous translation of the Hirsch Chumash; now, it is sold as a separate volume.  See:  http://www.judaicapress.com/product_info.php?cPath=28_65&products_id=463&osCsid=f3578ec95b7172accbfa9e7ff716b81d)

 3.)  When commanding us the various Mitzvos, HaShem many times stressed that we must “guard” these Mitzvos.  Now “guarding” Mitzvos obviously means that we must be very careful to make sure that we properly do them; being very careful to make sure that we properly do them certainly includes taking appropriate measures to facilitate and ensure our doing of the Mitzvos.

 Let us think about a little parable.  A person has a job that starts at nine o’clock in the morning.  Now, the rule of the job is that he needs to be at the job at nine o’clock in the morning.  The terms of the job though does not say anything about what time he must leave his house to come to the job.  However, the term of the job IS that he must be there at nine o’clock in the morning.  Now, if the time it takes him to travel from his house to the place of the job is about a half an hour, then — in order to fulfill the terms of the job — he obviously MUST leave his house at eight thirty!

 Furthermore, this is only when the modes of transportation that he uses are working well and thus the travel time is always just thirty minutes.  But if, for example, there has been an increase of wild drivers in that area who often cause severe crashes on the highway, and when such an accident occurs, there can be a heavy traffic backup that can take even an hour to clear up, then, on such a day, the travel time is going to be a lot longer than thirty minutes!  On such a day, the travel time could possibly be an hour and thirty minutes!  So now — and it has nothing to do with that the rules of his job have “changed”; on the contrary, it is so that HIS POSITION WITH THE COMPANY WILL NOT “CHANGE” (in other words, we do not want him to get fired!) — he cannot first leave his house at eight thirty; instead, he will need to leave his house at seven thirty!

 L’havdil, let us now look at an example from the Torah.  A large area of our Torah is that of Shabbos and Yom Tov with numerous Mitzvos that lay out what we should and should not do on these holy days.  One of these Mitzvos is that we cannot write or draw any letters or pictures on these days.  Now, it is obviously understandable that when a person picks up a pen or a pencil or a crayon or a felt marker or any writing or drawing instrument, he feels an impulse to write or draw something with it.  So it is basic common sense that since on Shabbos and Yom Tov we are not allowed to write or draw anything, we should also not handle writing or drawing instruments then either.  In more recent centuries, our nation was in exile and we were thus not able to maintain a high degree of holiness of thought and action, and in general, people became weaker in self control.  So then it became very prudent for our nation to declare an across the board set rule that on Shabbos and Yom Tov, we are not allowed to even handle any writing or drawing instruments. 

 So, when our Rabbonim thus declared these Halachos of Muktzeh, that a “K’li Shemelachto L’issur” — “a utensil that is used to perform an activity that is prohibited (on Shabbos and Yom Tov)” is termed “Muktzeh” — “off limits,” they obviously were not making any “changes” in our Torah.  On the contrary, they were trying to PREVENT people from making any changes in Shabbos and Yom Tov!

 Let us look at a similar related example, one that Yanky noted in his comment.  In one month from now will be the

Yom Tov of Rosh Hashana.  As is well known, one of the key aspects of our celebration of Rosh Hashana that the Torah instructs us is the Mitzva of blowing the Shofar.  Now, the format of the Shofar blowing program is quite complex and it is something that we do not do every day.  So when Rosh Hashana comes when we do need to use the Shofar, an average person may not have one available and may not know how to use it.  So, he will go to where he can get one, and take it over to where there is a Talmid Chacham who can show him what to do with it.    

On Rosh Hashana, this is perfectly fine activity.  However, if the day of Rosh Hashana is a Shabbos (as it will be this year), then this is NOT permitted activity!  For on Shabbos (and also Yom Kippur), we are not permitted to move items through the open public space, and here, the person is taking the Shofar out of the building where it was and carrying it through the street and into the building where the rabbi is.

 As I explained above, in latter times, people are on a much lower level of holiness and have much less knowledge of the requirements of our Torah.  So on a Rosh Hashana that is on Shabbos, very many people will understandably be very excited about it being the special holiday of Rosh Hashana, but will forget that it is also Shabbos and will certainly forget that we cannot carry things through the street on Shabbos.  And in their eagerness to do the special Mitzva of Shofar, they will take Shofars all around from one place to another in order to get all the blowing done.

 We see this phenomenon very much in our current era.  Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are now not called just “holidays,” they are called “The ‘High’ Holidays”!  They are thus presented as being THE holidays that are really “important,” while all the other holy days of Shabbos and the other Yom Tovs — are, of course, very nice, but are not really “so crucial.”

 Of course, the real truth is quite different.  Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are certainly, certainly, certainly, extremely sacred times with a holiness and connection with HaShem that is totally beyond our ability to even begin to comprehend!!  As eminently great that Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are though, in certain aspects, the Yom Tov of Sukkos/Simchas Torah that follows, is even greater!!  In fact, the Yom Tov of Sukkos/Simchas Torah forms “Part II” of the whole “Yamim Noraim” — “Days of Awe” program; it starts with Rosh HaShana, continues with Yom Kippur, continues further with Sukkos, and reaches the concluding climax on Simchas Torah.

 And, as eminently great as all the Yom Tov’s are, in certain aspects, the weekly Shabbos is even greater!!  The weekly Shabbos is the starting point and the foundation of all the Yom Tovs.  The lesson of Shabbos, that HaShem created and runs the world, IS the  fundamental principle of all the Yom Tovs and, really, of all of Judaism!  The various lessons of the different Yom Tovs are merely various specific aspects and manifestations of this central principle that HaShem created and continually operates the world that is taught by Shabbos.

 (NOPE!!  We do NOT believe in “Evolution”!!  Instead, we vehemently believe that all schools must teach all children the REAL science that G-D created, I repeat, G-D, yes, CREATED the world!!!)                                  

 Therefore, it is entirely understandable that when the day of a Yom Tov coincides with a Shabbos, in all the special Yom Tov prayers, Shabbos is always mentioned first!

 Therefore, when the Yom Tov of Rosh Hashana coincides with a Shabbos, as very great as Rosh Hashana is, and as very great as the ritual of the Shofar is, it cannot be done at the expense of Shabbos! 

 In general, we are not allowed to do “A Mitzva Haba’a B’Aveira” — “A Mitzva that is done by doing a crime.”  To say it even more bluntly, “A Mitzva Haba’a B’Aveira” — “A Mitzva that is done by doing a crime” — IS NOT A MITZVA!!  So, for example, if a person STEALS a Shofar and blows it, he did not do any Mitzva; he did not do his obligation, and he is thus required to go blow or hear it all over again from a kosher NON-STOLEN Shofar!!

 Similarly, we cannot do the ritual of Shofar if it would involve the Aveira of breaking Shabbos.  As we explained at length above, with the lower levels of spiritual awareness that most of us have, doing the Shofar on Shabbos would easily lead to the breaking of Shabbos.  Therefore, our nation declared that when Rosh HaShana coinsides with Shabbos, we DO NOT blow the Shofar.

 This exact pattern of logic applies to the day of Sukkos that coincides with Shabbos.  With the lower levels of spiritual awareness that most of us have, in our eagerness to do the special Mitzva of Sukkos of using the Esrog-Lulav set, we would very likely forget about the rules of Shabbos and carry the Esrog-Lulav set all over.  Therefore, our nation declared that on the day of Sukkos that coincides with Shabbos, we DO NOT use the Esrog-Lulav set.

 Again, in these cases of the Shofar and the Lulav, we are obviously not, G-d Forbid, “changing” the Torah!  On the contrary, we are doing this so that people will NOT change the Torah by forgetting about Shabbos!! 

The “Takanos D’Rabonon” — “The enactments that our nation — and, specifically we mean those people of our nation who have attained high levels of holiness, integrity, and scholarship in our Torah and are thus fully equipped and qualified to lead us in observance and study of our Torah, whom we call the ‘Rabonim’ — The enactments that our Rabonim declared,” are NOT, G-D Forbid, “changes” in the Torah.  On the contrary, our Rabonim are merely doing what HaShem has commanded us all to do, to use our basic common sense to do whatever is necessary to ensure that we DO NOT ever try to “change” the Torah!! 

 {Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. With all due respect to this well written article. By defendiong reform or conservatives “proofs” you are giving thems credence. Everyone knows they are simply an excuse for which to lead their lives devoid of true Judaism.

    I once met a non-religious teenager who once had the following insight. Amazing. He said ” I am not religious, but if I ever wanted to become more connected to my Judaism, I know reform is baloney” He explained further
    ” Reform believe that the Torah adapted, changed to fit our times, yet for some reson all of those “changes” are ones that loosen the Torahs commandments” “Isn’t there at least one if not hundreds of laws that are made easier by todays conviniences that they should be stricter?!?!”

    Reform is a joke. There is no need to refute their claims because these Proofs/questions arent questions at all, they are answers why they lead this lifestyle”

  2. Well Said.
    But, How can you convince a Judge and Jury that the ‘original’ Hilchos Yerusha only excluded the daughters when there were sons.
    How can you convince them that Pesach Sheni was the ‘original’ plan.
    He will say, what happened to your Avodim, Ivri and Knaani. You no longer drill their ears? How about selling young daughters.
    You no longer do Korbonus on Bommohs as was done before the Mishkan and certain times in Eretz Yisroel?
    You no longer do an eye for an eye, was the money thing really the ‘original’ plan?
    The conservative rabbi will say that, like the Rabbis in the past, his movement is making Tekonos to guard Judiasim for hundreds of future generations.
    He will argue that, that is certainly more important than abolishing Shofar because of some person who decides to blow himself, but yet can not remember not to carry.
    He will say that his ideas are more important than Shlomo Hamelech feasting with Klal Yisroel on Yom Kippur.
    He will pint to the Cheirums of Rabbeinu Gershom, forbidding things that were done by his own ancestors.
    Very hard to win such a case.

  3. It seems that the writer is looking at things from inside the circle or tunnel, based on certain accepted premises, which is good.
    But there is a world out there, that also looks at things from outside that circle as pointed out by Comment #2.
    Many children today are at risk, because they were never exposed and trained in Yeshiva, to thinking outside that circle, and can not deal with those ideas once they step out of the door of yeshiva.

  4. #4 Yes, that’s why ??”? were ???? the blessing – ????? ??? ???? – To hear the sound of Shofar. But there is no way to HEAR the Shofar without BLOWING a Shofar. Therefor, blowing the Shofar is an integral part of the ???? ????, because you can’t do one without the other.

  5. why does number 3 have to give a reason hy kids go off the derech that fits into an agenda…honestly, hat you cal ‘the other side of the tunnel’, we call tumah, which we dont give our kids – there are plenty of rabbonim who through torah and plain sechel, without learning the ‘other side'(and others that did since they were at that level and had a heter which we dont have, ‘leday lehoros’, like rabbi avigdor miller zt’l, who asked reb moshe for a heter to do so before writing his seforim on evolution, bible critics, etc..), who are able to answer these kids just fine if they want to be answered.

    So it’s pashut – send the kids to reb yerachmiel milstein or another rov who works with this kind of thing, but we dont change the chincuh system because kids might have questions – there is a way to allow these questions(not calling the kids apikorsim is a nice start) without opening the doors of the yeshiva to tumah.

  6. I believe any lawyer would be amazed at the precision and formula of talmudic law – show him clearly that rabbeinu gershom is a takkanh, a community-wide prohibition that has no connection to actual halacha, but rather a prohibition of a different category.

    It’s pashut – any conservative and reform must agree that there are different levels of prohibtions and obligations: deoraysoh, derabonon, minhagim, etc..

    The shmaytsah says that each derabanon is bechlal a deoraysoh because of lo sasur – so show this to a judge(if it’s mutar, i dont know, better to have a frei jewish judge whom it’s mutar to teach torah to), so show them that this is not merely a difference of ‘interpretation’, but rather a systematic formula which had been used for thousands of years, which was suddenly derailed at whim by secularists and their ilk, including conservative.

    Halacha never changed – this is easy to demonstrate by showing the system of halacha. Even a hebrew-school educated frei jew would understand that we ant korbanos, but cant do them since there’s no bais hamikdash; the rest are just as easy to answer based on mesorah – just show the judge that we orthodox jews at least claim to be following the mesorah os handed-down judaism; the conservative believe in changing halacha to fit whatever they think is right for the ‘times’ – these are two fundamentally different approaches, enough for one to call the other heresy. Once this has been done, that the other regards the other as a different religion, then to a secular judge it is only logical to have the orthodox standard – why? orthodox jews believe that this is kosher, and conservative do not say it is non-kosher, so you’re making everybody happy without risking an orthodox person eating treif.

  7. Right on, Yisroel Feldman!

    “A few readers posted remarks that the Reform and Conservative people can easily retort that in what we think of as ‘true’ Judaism, there are many things that have been ‘changed.'”

    Judaism is based on the Torah. The Torah does not change. As Mr. Feldman writes, what the Rabbis are allowed to do is to enact a law which is a “Fence’ around the Torah, to guard the Torah and to prevent people from making any changes in the Torah observance.

    The other 2 so-called “Judaisms” believes that intermarriage, being Jewish as long as either parent is Jewish, the practice of toeivah, toeivah “clergy,” not keeping Kashrus, Shabbos & Chagim, and Taharas HaMishpacha, and not keeping the laws of Giluy Aroyos and modesty, are all ok and are part of “modernizing” Judaism.

  8. YZ, there’s a lot more – there are teshuvos from all the gedolim; rav ahron, reb moshe, etc.., abut the new york board of rabbis, and so on – al denouncing reform and conservative as not being judaism – it’s no chidush, when you take animals and plants out of biology you dont really have biology anymore – when you take torah from judaism, you dont have judaism!

  9. There are some further excellent comments here to which I have needed to reply. Therefore, I must ask Mechila-forgiveness from those people who wrote them for my delay in writing a reply.

    Mr./Mrs. Anonymous: The wording of your closing statement: “There is no need to refute their claims because these Proofs/questions aren’t questions at all, they are answers why they lead this lifestyle,” seems to indicate that you know about a famous story that occurred with, I think it was, Rav Yitzchak Elchonon Spector, ZT’L.

    The incident was that a heretic came to the Rav and told him: “Rabbi, could you please answer some questions that I have?” So the Rav replied: “To give an answer to a question — sure! That is what I do! However, what you have are not questions; what you have are ANSWERS; they are answers that you have made up to “answer” why you do not want keep the Torah. And I cannot give an answer to an answer!”

    Now, obviously, I am certainly not, Chas V’Shalom, trying to defend or give any credence to the wicked arguments of the different Kofrim-heretics. The issue though is that, Boruch HaShem, we have been given the true Mesora-legacy of our Torah. However, as Mrs. “Toby from Flatbush” noted, very unfortunately, a vast majority of our Jewish brethren HAVE NOT been given the true Mesora of our Torah. Instead, very many of them have been given these sickly distorted ideas about Torah, and they thus think that what was taught to them by their Reform or Conservative or Reconstructionest temple is full legitimate “Judaism.”

    We certainly have a Chiyuv to be Mekarayv them — an obligation to bring them back to the way of HaShem. In that process, there is a very good chance that they will ask us: “but what about this?” and “what about that?” Furthermore, in this issue of Kashrus that we are dealing with now, Conservative rabbis are clamoring for government certification. Now we will try to explain to the government officials that what the Conservatives and similar groups do is not real Judaism, for they change things around. But as Leibel and Yanky and Shlomo wisely noted, the Kofrim rabbis will simply retort: “Your honor, that is just THEIR (orthodox) interpretation! Look at this and this and this!” as they proceed to show the judge pieces in TaNach, Gemora, and even Poskim that could appear to be examples of “change.”

    Chazal teach us: “Da Mashetashuv L’Apikores — Know what to answer the heretic” (Pirkei Avos/Sayings of The Fathers, chapter 2, paragraph 17). Rav S. R. Hirsch, ZT’L, explains that this means that we must know our Torah studies so perfectly well and understand them so very clearly, that when faced with challenges from the heretics, we will automatically realize — as Mr./Mrs. Anonymous writes — how totally ridiculous and absurd and worthless these arguments and proofs are.

  10. Obviously, an in depth study of every so-called “proof” that the different Kofrim – heretics point to is well beyond the scope of a comment or article on this news stories web site. Boruch HaShem though, in the above article post, we did cover quite a few key items.

    B’Ezras HaShem, we will look at a few more items that were mentioned here.

    1.) The issue of the Halachos of Tuma V’Tahara is similar to the issue of the Korbonos: no “change” has taken place; it is just that in our current situation in Galus, we do not have the necessary instruments that are needed for the procedures of becoming Tahor. Therefore, it is not possible for us to be Tahor, and we and all of our utensils are, right now in Galus, in the state of Tuma. Of course, as we said before, we beg HaShem to soon restore for us the Beis HaMikdash with all its apperatuses, so that we will be able to resume doing these many Mitzvos of becomming properly Tahor and performing the procedures of the Korbonos.

    2.) The issues of the various Avadim are similar to this: no “change” has taken place; it is just that with the structure of current society, we are in no position now to have any kind of Avadim.

    3.) The Cherem — the ban that Rabaynu Gershom placed on having more than one wife at a time was not a “change” of Jewish law. Rather, it was like any of the Mitzvos D’rabonon: a measure taken to prevent people from changing laws of the Torah.

    It is an obvious and self understood fact that if a man were to have two or more wives at the same time, that he is strictly obligated that he absolutely must treat all of them and respect all of them completely exactly equally. (see Sh’mos/Exodus, chapter 21, verse 10.)

    Understandably, even for a wonderful perfect kind saint, this something that is extremely difficult to do. Rabaynu Gershom, who certainly was a wonderful perfect kind saint, and who certainly did everything he possibly could to treat his two wives exactly equally, well probably felt that he did not do everything exactly perfectly. And when he saw how very difficult it was for him, he realized that for the average man, it would be nearly impossible to properly treat all his wives equally. And especially when he considered how in the latter generations, people are on a much lower level of fear of G-D, holiness, kindness, and even basic decency, Rav Gershom realized that the rule of a man to treat all of his wives equally — it is just not going to happen!

    Now when a man does not treat his wives equally, when he treats one better than another, he causes numerous very serious problems. Every time he in any way slights the less favored wife, he is committing the Aveira of Ona’a — the sin of afflicting another person. Furthermore, doing things that will slight the less favored wife is not going happen only in his private room; it is going to happen also in front of other people. When company are invited over, they will be shown who is the “real” wife, and who is a “step” wife. And this “step-child” wife will be kept in her place too when the family arrives at public functions.

    All of this is simply pure undiluted “Malbin P’nei Chaveiro B’Rabim” — “Embarassing a person in public”: a sin that is even worse than murder and for which the punishment is “Ain Lo Cheilek L’Olam Haba” — “He has no portion in the World to Come” (Pirkei Avos/Sayings of The Fathers, chapter 3, paragraph 14).

    Then, understanably, this inferior “step-wife,” Rachmana Litzlan, is going to sneak out, find a man who will not treat her as inferior, and run off with him!

    So again, it was not, G-D Forbid, to change our laws; on the contrary, it was in order that our families do not change our laws by deteriorating into these terrible corruptions, that Rabaynu Gershom declared: “Please, only one wife at a time!”

    4.) In Devarim/Deuteronomy chapter 25, verses 5-10, the Torah informs us of the Mitzva of “Yibum.” If a man dies with no offspring at all, then the oldest brother (from his father) that he has who was born when he was still alive has a Mitzva to perform a Yibum-marriage to his wife. The new family will bear his name so that his name will not dissapear. Now if this brother does not want to do a Yibum-marriage to his deceased brother’s wife, he has another option: he can perform to her the ritual called “Chalitza,” which will release her from her bond with her deceased husband’s family, and she will thus be free to marry whomever else she wants.

    In relating the procedure of Chalitza, the Torah, verse 8, states: “Then the elders of his city shall call him and speak to him . . . ” (translation at: http://www.chabad.org/parshah/torahreading.asp?AID=36237&p=7). The commentary of Rav S. R. Hirsch, ZT’L, explains that the Talmud, Yevamus 101b, elaborates that this speaking to him by the elders is to advise him what is the best thing for him to do. There will be cases where they will instruct him that he should do Yibum. There will be other cases though, where they will instruct him that he should NOT do Yibum, but rather Chalitza. Rav Hirsch further elaborates that our sages have instructed us to, for now, to always do Chalitza.

    So again, no one is “changing” anything; no one is saying that the Mitzva of Yibum is not relevant to modern times; no one is publishing a new updated edition of the Torah wherein verses 5-10 of chapter 25 of Deuteronomy are omitted. Nope, those verses are staying right where they are! On the contrary, we are just doing what verse 8 there says: ” . . . the elders of his city shall call him and speak to him . . . ” So our “elders,” the holy sages of the Talmud and the holy sages of the commentaries on the Talmud, have, considering our current lowered state, advised us to for now to always do the option of Chalitza.