Showing posts from August, 2015

Four Generations of Jewish Women

I come from a strictly Orthodox family that values three things above all: the worship of G-d, the learning of Torah, and strong family bonds.

There are some cultural differences.

My mother's side of the family is "Litvish." Literally this means "from Lithuania." The yeshivot in Lithuania were renowned for the quality of the Torah scholars they produced. So in practice this cultural tradition places an emphasis on learning halacha in a yeshiva setting. The meaning of life comes from accurate observance of the laws.

My great grandfather, Reb Dovid Garfinkel, a"h, was a Torah scholar in the Litvish tradition. I am not sure if he meant this humorously or not, but I am told he used to say that a person should not be grandiose in their aims: "Just don't make the world worse."

Reb Dovid emphasized the importance of taking care with one's words. You may have heard the saying "speech is silver and silence is gold." He emphasized the Jewish …

A Troubling Parsha: Ki Teitzei

The focus of today's D'var Torah (Parshas Ki Teitzei) was the laws of the so-called "beautiful captive." This term refers to a non-Jewish woman seen and desired by a Jewish male soldier at war. The law gives him the right to kidnap her, bring her home and rape her, after a waiting period of a month.

The right to rape a woman seen and desired in wartime, albeit with certain conditions, is conferred on all soldiers, although it is true that the ancient Rabbis frowned on it. They predicted that those who took advantage of this accommodation to human fallibility would suffer in the end. 

But as the Rabbi explained, they ancient sages understood that war created savages out of decent human beings.

Still, it's a very concerning section.

How do we understand the seeming sexism in Judaism that is displayed in this law and elsewhere? Including:

Rationalizing systematic rape, albeit in war.Allowing a married man to have sex outside of marriage, albeit with a woman who is single…

A Special Visitor To A Special Synagogue

Today we had a visitor to our synagogue, Magen David Sephardic Congregation, North Bethesda, Maryland. 

It seems like our shul draws interesting people and this week was no exception. I was drawn to this woman and we talked.

She said, "I wanted to pray in a Shabbat service" - even though she is not Jewish!

All people are welcome at our shul.

I could tell that she was a spirit-teacher.

All opinions my own.