Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Is Supporting the Yated A Mitzvah?

As Rabbi Student pointed out, the European Yated (which includes the online version) is no longer publishing on a weekly basis. It seems fairly obvious from the notice currently on the website (see below) that the problem is financial.

Apparently, according to the folks at the Yated, supporting the Yated is a mitzvah, and one can use Ma'aser money to support them. As it says on their website (bolding mine):

Notice to Our Readers

Boruch Hashem we have managed to make arrangements with all the relevant parties and to receive permission from the relevant authorities to continue. Financing is on a "can afford" basis. We have arrangements in place for the news for a few weeks and we seek donors for other sections. Although it is not tzedokoh in the strict sense, for those who undertook ma'aser kesofim to include general mitzvah expenses, according to the rabbonim they may donate from their ma'aser kesofim.

I'd like to know who the rabbonim are who said that supporting a newspaper can be done with Ma'aser money. I'd also like to know on what grounds supporting the Yated is a mitzvah, especially when there are other right-wing Chareidi publications available.

So, what's the story? Am I being too cynical and there are real grounds to allow Ma'aser money to be used in supporting the Yated? Or is this just a way to get people to part with their Ma'aser money to support a private business venture?

The Wolf

UPDATE: Upon doing a search, I see that Dag posted about this first. My apologies, Dag.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Helping Singles

I saw a sign in shul on Shabbos, indicating how we could all help solve the "shidduch crisis." The sign indicated that one can help all the desparate Jewish singles in the world to find their mates by... learning the laws of Shmiras HaLashon! They even started a Yahoo! group SegulahForSingles for this. As it states on the group's homepage:

The power of shmiras halashon is awesome. By learning just two lessons a day of shmiras halashon via e-mail, we can b'ezras Hashem do our part in helping singles throughout klal yisroel.

Now, I'm certainly in favor of people learning Hilchos Shmiras HaLashon. Learning Torah is always a good thing. But somehow, if we, as a community, want to do something to help solve the "shidduch crisis," there are other steps that we can take that would prove far more productive than learning Hilchos Shmiras HaLashon:

  • We could reduce some of the societal barriers that prevent young men and young women from meeting each other. As it is, in many parts of our community, young men and women have only option to meet through "official" channels -- the shadchan. By increasing the chances that young men and women have to meet each other, you are almost certain to increase the marriage rate.

  • We could go back to judging prospective grooms and brides on their strength and content of their character, instead ofwho their parents, grandparents and uncles are, how long one parent will support the young couple and instead of what political gains the marriage will gain for the family of the bride or groom.

  • We could educate young men and women about the things that are important in the search for a spouse. We could educate them that things such as what type of shoes he wears, what tablecloth her mother uses on the Shabbos table and so on are not important at all. We could teach them to focus on the things that *are* important -- Is he a good kind person? Does she share the same outlook on life that I do? Will he make me happy? Am I physically attracted to her? (Yes, it's important.) Does he make me feel special? Does she have any important character defects? Does he want the same things in life that I do? -- Those are the important things in the search for a spouse. Most of the rest is nonsense.

  • We could teach our young women that learning full-time isn't for everyone and that working for a living is not a b'dieved. We could teach young men that marriage isn't only about finding a father-in-law who will support your learning for ten years. There are certainly those who can, and should be encouraged to learn full-time after marriage - but we, as a community, have to realize that it isn't for everyone and should not include everyone.

Driving these points home to our young men and women will do far more to end the shidduch crisis than learning Hilchos Shmiras HaLashon.

The Wolf

Sunday, December 17, 2006

More Theme Challos

As she did last year, Eeees made theme challos for Channukah again. This year, she made four dreidel challos, one each for Nun, Gimel, Hay and Shin. With her permission, here are pics of the challos. Needless to say, they were delicious.
The Wolf

Friday, December 08, 2006

Funny What Sets People Off

Unless you've been living under a J-blog rock, you've certainly heard about the story of the woman who was beaten up on a bus for refusing to sit in the back of the bus.

I don't know whether the story is true or not, nor do I have any way to verify it. However, it should be noted that the issue involved is only one of a chumra, a stringency, and certainly not one that is universally held. There was certainly no Rabbinic or Biblical commandment being disobeyed here.

And yet, could you see this story happening because she was eating treif on the bus? Could you see it happening because she was eating chometz on Pesach? Could you see it happening because she was returning from having been on the Temple Mount? Could you even see this happening because she had a tattoo?

Personally, I cannot. If someone were to tell me that she were beaten up for violating a mitzvah d'oreissa, I'd have a hard time believing it - but for this, it sadly sounds plausable.

Funny which "violations" will cause people to react violently.

The Wolf