Tuesday, December 18, 2007

do these questions really help kiruv efforts?

A news story in a local Jewish paper opens, “Is it permissible for an Orthodox family to play host to a Jewish couple if they don’t observe laws mandating sexual abstinence during the period surrounding menstruation? That was among the questions posed to two leading rabbinical authorities at the XXXX Convention….”

I nearly fell off my chair and choked while reading this over dinner. One of the many reasons I will never be a “leading rabbinical authority” of any kind, aside from not knowing anything, is because I could never restrain myself from screaming “Are you people crazy?!” if asked a question like this. What is the hava amina to think one needs to be privy to people’s bedroom practices to invite them over for Shabbos or Yom Tov?

The article goes on to tout this organization’s efforts to put more effort into kiruv. I wish them luck, because if were I a regular reader of jewish magazines and newspapers and paid attention to the great ideas the members of these grand organizations were dreaming up I would need a lot more kiruv myself.

16 comments:

  1. Anonymous10:58 AM

    One of the many reasons I will never be a “leading rabbinical authority” of any kind, aside from not knowing anything, is because I could never restrain myself from screaming “Are you people crazy?!”

    Perhaps the reason you and I feel this question is so odd is indeed due to our lack of knowledge somewhere.

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  2. Maybe... if so, hopefully someone will comment and point me to the din in shulchan aruch that says we need to be aware of people's level of observance of taharas hamishpacha before extending them a shabbos invitation and explain how one is to elicit such information from guests. Until then I will operate under the (mis)conception that it would be a breach of tzniyus to poke one's nose into matters like this.

    The phenomenon of non-observant guests staying at an orthodox person's home for shabbos has been around for decades (centuries?) and did not start with the kiruv movement. It is truly a wonder that the previous doros nerver thought of such an obvious shayla to ask, no? I guess I should be grateful that I live in a dor of such talmidei chachamim that they ask shaylos that were never before considered before on dinim that I don't even know where to find. This post is simply a testimony to my own ignorance.

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  3. Anonymous1:44 PM

    I won't bother arguing with your cynicism.Instead I will agree with you.A guy who can't refrain from acting in a condensending manner when a foolish shaaloh is presented to him is indeed unworthy of being a Rov.

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  4. Perhaps the reason you and I feel this question is so odd is indeed due to our lack of knowledge somewhere.

    True. One of the signs of true gadlus is being able to interact with ignorami of all stripes; I'm reminded of the story of the kohen wagon driver who asked R' Chaim Ozer if he could transport a divorced woman in his wagon (badly misinterpreting the issur of taking a divorcee). Sounds like the paper missed the point, though.

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  5. Anonymous, you and I clearly are on different wavelengths, but humor me by considering a mashal. If you've been paying attention to the presidential debates (which I admittedly haven't) you know that they had sessions where ordinary folks could submit questions and ask them. Do you not think that every single question was carefully screened in advance and only the select few which sounded intelligent made it on air? Do you not think the networks hosting these events would be embarassed to throw an absurd yokel up there to ask tipshus to someone who potentially could be the next president?

    The nimshal: An organization hosts a conference in which a limited amount of time is dedicated for the top guns in the rabbinic world to enlighten us on issues of kiruv. Instead of effectively capitalizing on that time and dedicating it to issues of substance, it is squandered by letting yokels ask silly questions which are broadcast through the mass media. Instead of hiding their head and shame, this is seen as a sign of chochma, as representitive of this organizations being on the ball with their initiative.

    My ire is not directed at the yokels - my ire is directed at the organizational leaders who cannot distinguish an intelligent issue worthy of public address and a wagondriver question that should be responded to with patience, but in private.

    Josh M's story is beautiful, but is that the type shaylos you want to read in Shu"T Achiever? If the answer is no, then I don't understand why you fail to see how a public convention covered by news media designed to have a public impact is not the forum for a wagondriver type question either.

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  6. Who says that the organizational leaders aren't themselves yokels? (sigh...)

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  7. I find it to be a symptom of our times and the things that are important to the minds of people.
    I would not want to be a leader as I would feel remiss for not having done a better job teaching the difference between teven and bar.

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  8. Anonymous11:46 PM

    "Do you not think the networks hosting these events would be embarassed to throw an absurd yokel up there to ask tipshus to someone who potentially could be the next president?"

    It does not seem that they are! It is viewed, apparently, as charming, in touch with the masses, etc.

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  9. Lifnei Iveir, if you hold it's applicable even not bitrei avri de'nahara; or you could call it mesayei'a. You could think of it as 'enabling,' or harboring, sheltering, aid and comfort, the usual lawyerly terms. Especially if you're giving them one bed and not two.
    And how would you feel about having an unmarried couple sleeping over?

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  10. Who holds that L"I applies in a case that's not trei avrei d'nahara?

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  11. My initial reaction was to agree that this was truly a silly question.

    Upon further thought, though, taka: Why is it that most of would have a problem hosting an unmarried couple, but no problem hosting a married one that never availed themselves of chuppa and kiddushin? Don't both couples have the same status as far as Torah Law is concerned (aside from the niddah problem that both share)?

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  12. The Minchas Chinuch in Lifnei Iver (in parshas Kedoshim) brings the Shach in YD 159:4 and the MA in OC 347:4 as proof that there is an issur derabanan of LI even not bitrei avri, but from what I can tell that's based on Mesayei'ah. The Minchas Chinuch says, (I assume because of the Gemora in Avoda Zara around daf 6 that there can't be lifnei iver on doing business with a goy if it's not bitrei avri,) that this issur mesayei'ah does not apply when the avaryan is a non-Jew.
    Still, I agree that notwithstanding a possible lomdus basis, it gives my brain hives.

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  13. Anonymous8:52 AM

    if you host an unmarried couple and put both members in the same room you are directly causing them to be meyached

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  14. Wait a second, how would hosting a couple who are not shomrim tah"m be lifnei iveir? (We're assuming two beds and we're assuming no issue of yichud, of course). I don't think that it would be analogous to giving a nazir a cup of wine that he could get anyway, being that one is not *giving* the niddah to her husband, but rather just providing them with a setting in which they can more easily avail themselves of the issur that exists anyway. If anything, it would be analogous to giving a nazir an empty glass, knowing that he could theoretically use it to drink his own wine.

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  15. Gosh, this has gone far afield. You can only be guilty of lifenei iveir type issurim if you abet sin. How in the world do you know if people keep taharas hamishpacha? The question assumes knowledge which is not in evidence. And if the question is built on the presumption that people are ba'alei aveira, why ask specifically about this area - ask how you can feed someone who won't say a bracha, etc. Taharas haMishpacha is the one area where the questioner would have the *least* knowledge of the guest doing anything wrong.
    The host's responsibility ends with providing seperable beds. What people choose to do or not do, esp. in this area, is their private business, not yours. There is simply no way to know and no reason for anyone to investigate what halachos people keep in this area.

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  16. And how is nursing a baby an issur shabbas of mefareik that needs a hetter of "mesukan eitzel chalav"? You're just holding the baby there, and if he chooses to nurse, not my problem! Putting a couple into a bedroom is not the same as giving a nazir an empty glass. It's giving him the keys to the wine cellar.
    But there's a great hetter here- halitei'hu lerasha ve'yamus, as discussed in YD at the beginning of hilchos ribbis.
    But again, I agree with the premise of the original post-- the whole issue is just silly. There are just some questions that best remain unconsidered. It could be that working with BT rubs off on people. (Question: How many Chanuka candles do we light tonight? Answer: Um, yesterday we lit four.)

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