Monday, November 11, 2019

The Jewish Link welcomes letters to the editor, which can be emailed to [email protected]
Letters may be edited for length, clarity and appropriateness. We do not welcome personal attacks or disrespectful language, and replies to letters through our website comment feed will not be posted online. We reserve the right to not print any letter.

To the Editor:

When I first began receiving the Jewish Link, my assumption was that the paper was published from the point of view that Torah is paramount and Halachah is followed. The advertisers, who support the paper - yeshivot, kosher stores, the Orthodox Union - clearly presuppose an Orthodox audience.

After reading the last few issues, however, it appears to this reader that several of the authors aren’t entirely on board with the Mesorah of Orthodoxy. One article in particular stuck out and demands a response.

In her op-ed of October 17, supporting solutions for agunot, Jeanette Friedman refers to the Halakhic process of Heter Meah Rabbanim as a “fiction.” Without delving into a debate as to when such a Heter is advised, allowed, or even valid, suffice it to say the concept is certainly not a fiction. To call it such insults the Halachic process.

Furthermore, Ms Friedman frames the agunah crisis as a battle between cowardice and courage. Rabbis who aren’t “afraid of losing their authority” and “have the guts” should create Batei Din with the power to unchain any agunah. The implication being that all agree that there are avenues for freeing agunot, but that they are not being utilized out of fear and timidity - rather than out of legitimate Halachic objections.

She even takes a swipe at Rav Yosef  Dov Soloveitchik, zt”l (something I never thought I’d see in print in Teaneck!) for not endorsing Rabbi Emanuel Rackman’s strategy of annulments. The fact is that annulments of bad marriages have always been part of the Halachic discussion, but Rabbi Rackman’s wholesale expansion of the tactic was rejected by the overwhelming majority of the Orthodox rabbinate - then and now.

I do not mean to minimize the agony of agunot in general or of Ms Friedman in particular. I am not privy to such pain. Nonetheless, for a Halachic solution to be viable it would require the endorsement of the RCA, not the JOFA. Today’s rabbinate is composed in the main of God-fearing individuals who are actively pursuing Halachically viable avenues for agunot. Ms Friedman does a disservice to the community to proclaim, and to publish, otherwise.

Srully Epstein
Bergenfield, NJ

JF replies: I should have written abused Heter Meah Rabbonim instead of the fiction of it. Otherwise I stand by my piece, since many Orthodox rabbis  told me they are “afraid” to do anything. As for my “swipe” at Rabbi Soleveitchik, he said, “Once Judaism recognizes a presumption it never changes. Women today and women 8,000 years from today, would prefer to live with a husband who is a leper and abusive rather than live alone.... We (must) also surrender the everyday will.” Respectfully, I feel that he is wrong. Pikuach Nefesh is not negotiable in my opinion.

To the Editor:

No New Jersey conservative should vote to re-elect Gov. Christie. If previous examples of Christie’s leftist inclinations weren’t enough, he has just given us another one, leaping to do the bidding of the New Jersey Supreme Court after the justices declared that same-sex “marriage” must be condoned by law. Christie noted his disagreement, but in the next breath he ordered the Department of Health to comply with the decision, and he has since dropped his legal appeal. There are words and there are actions, and they do not mean the same thing.

Christie became famous for taking on the public school unions, but he did a lot more yelling about it than anything else. His actual demands of the unions were small, and they were nothing compared to what Gov. Scott Walker did in Wisconsin with a lot less bluster. Again, words and actions do not mean the same thing.

In general, Christie has governed more as a leftist than a conservative. Not only has he increased the state budget, given in to the unions, nominated awful judges to the courts, and made no effort to reform the state’s irrational gun laws, he shamelessly brags in his campaign commercials about providing “the most education funding ever!” And now, in the face of a raw exercise of judicial power, he can’t bring himself to stand up for such fundamental institutions as popular government and marriage.

Christie’s weakness will cost us all. Without these twin supports of society, our freedoms and well-being will continue to decline. Government of, by, and for the people isn’t just a saying we learned in history class (do they still teach that in the public schools?); it’s been the very basis of our political life from the earliest years of the nation, the principle we fought a civil war to protect, and the main bulwark of our freedoms. Unfortunately, we have relinquished much of it, allowing courts and government-protected unions to control more and more of our lives. The recent court ruling was the latest in a long string of illegitimate governmental actions. Ultimately, we must decide whether we will be ruled by ourselves or by a small cadre of arrogant, unelected, and virtually unremovable judges and bureaucrats.

And the family hasn’t been called “the cradle of civilization” for no reason. It is the natural place for having and raising children. It is only in the family that children’s physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual needs can be tended to personally, day by day, year after year, by those who care for them the most, those who jointly gave them life. It is only in the family that mothers and fathers learn the meaning of love and self-sacrifice in serving their children and each other. The family is not only necessary for the survival of society, it is the very school of society, where both adults and children learn to be good. None of this can happen, however, if children are deprived of their mother or father from the outset; or if the connection of a married couple has no other purpose than immediate personal satisfaction.

Now, if both popular government and the family are dispensed with, what can await us?

Most clear-eyed observers of U.S. history in recent decades already know the inevitable consequences: (1) the loss of popular rule leads to a government with hardly any recognizable limit—from violations of religious liberty by Secretary Sebelius, to property confiscation by the EPA, to the continued manipulation of public education by unions (at ever greater expense), to home invasions by a militarized police force (see the Boston lockdown); and (2) the break-up of the family leads to steep rises in illegitimacy, indigence (especially for unmarried mothers and their children), violent crime, ill health, and domestic abuse (most often by boyfriends).

But for those who haven’t been paying attention, the state of New Jersey will serve as yet another glaring warning. If it wasn’t obvious before that bureaucracies and judges have replaced popular government, and that they’re doing everything possible to implement the radical left’s anti-family, pro-poverty agenda, it’s quite obvious now. And it’s quite obvious, too, that Christie is just another Republican politician who cares more about staying in office than fighting for principle.

Don’t vote for Christie. He is likely to win the election, but conservatives shouldn’t do anything to widen his margin of victory. Make him sweat and worry and doubt that he’s taken the right course. Even in the Northeast, conservatives can and should expect better.

Josh Levy
Teaneck, NJ