Thursday, August 29, 2013

More Highlights of Recent Inspiring & Notable Twitter Posts - Uman Updates

As I've said in the past, some thoughts, ideas, or announcements are too brief to warrant a separate blog post, so I've become more active on Twitter as a platform from which to share thoughts/quotes/etc. which I would not have blogged about. See below for some highlights of some notable examples. If you would like to receive these tweets, I invite you to "follow" me on Twitter by clicking on my account or clicking on one of the "Follow" links in the embedded tweets below.

In addition, I hope to continue posting thoughts/observations/updates during my trip to Uman starting on Sunday night when I depart for Kiev so be sure to follow my Twitter account to receive those. Kol tuv and enjoy the samples below!

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Kvitelach for Rebbe Nachman's Tziyun in Uman for Rosh Hashana

IY"H I will be in Uman for the two days preceding Rosh Hashana through the morning of Tzom Gedalia. I am happy to daven for people at Rebbe Nachman's tziyun during that time for the things that they need. If you would like me to do that, please leave a comment with your/the person's Hebrew name son/daughter of the person's mother's Hebrew name (if you know it) or email me directly using the email link in the right sidebar with that information.

To see a summary and video of my last visit to Uman three years ago, click here.

May we all merit a ksiva v'chasima tova l'alter, l'chaim tovim, u'l'shalom!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Rav Moshe Weinberger's First Public Shiur as YU Mashgiach

YU Torah has posted the first big public shiur given by Rav Moshe Weinberger as the new mashgiach/mashpia at YU. He speaks about preparing for slichos and Rosh Hashana. Click here to listen!

Update: For anyone able to be at YU, Rav Weinberger will be givin the following shiurim:

a shiurim in Glueck 308 every Monday afternoon from 12:15-1:00 p.m.  entitled "Toras Eretz Yisroel" using the sefer Mimaynei Hayeshua.

A  shiur every Monday evening from 9-10 p.m. in Glueck 308 entitled "Introduction to Toras Habaael Shem Tov." I hope they put this on YU Torah!!! HT Ari Ackerman.

Picture courtesy of Neil B.

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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Next Installment of Rav Itamar Shwartz Rosh Chodesh Women's Shiurim on Sunday!

The next installment of Rav Itamar Shwartz's monthly Rosh Chodesh phone shiurim for women on the avodah of the month will be this Sunday at 4:30 p.m. Israel time (9:30 a.m. Eastern time). The shiurim will take place the first Sunday after Rosh Chodesh each month. The group currently has 50 women participating and they would love to see it get up to 100 for this month. But you most go to G-d Direct Torah's website to get information on signing up.

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New Breslov Research Institute Pamphlet for Elul - Highly Recommended

I definitely recommend that everyone download this e-booklet, Elul, Returning to Hashem, put together by the Breslov Research Insitute (with whom I'll be spending the two days before Rosh Hashana in Uman!).

There is a very direct and straight-to-the-point essay Page 13 of the booklet by my friend A Simple Jew called "Rushing to Get to Infinity: An Open Letter to Myself." A must-read for Elul.

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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

New Book in English by Rabbi Tal Zwecker - Returnity

Rabbi Tal Zwecker just came out with a new sefer in English which collects teachings by many of the tzadikim expanding on the concept of teshuva. It's called Returnity and is available for about $16 including shipping and handling. It's 112 pages and is softcover.
May everyone have a productive Elul!

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Monday, August 5, 2013

Novel Solution to Coalition's Legal Problems with Criminal Sanctions for Yeshiva "Draft Dodgers"

Here's a problem. One terrible provision of the current Israeli government's plan for drafting a portion of chareidim into the IDF or national service is the criminal sanctions for those who do to serve in order to stay in yeshiva. This provision is a train wreck waiting to happen and also prevents any potential consensual solution because no one our side could ever support a law which includes that provision.
I've heard Rabbi Lipman say that he also does not want this provision but that the government's legal advisers say they have no choice but to include it because it would be illegal to exclude just one group subject to the draft from criminal sanctions (the chareidim) while the other group (all non-chareidim) would remain subject to criminal penalties.

I have a possible solution. This idea, however, would only work as part of a comprehensive and consensual solution reached between the government and Torah leadership. I have another idea regarding a framework which would facilitate such a consensual resolution by both sides which is the subject of an article I wrote, which is currently in the submission process for publication.

This idea to address the criminal sanctions issue, which could avoid a scenario in which boys could be arrested for learning Torah, is the following: For those bochurim who are not completely exempt (part of the 1,800), who are not serving in a chareidi IDF unit, and who will not elect for a national service option outside of the beis medrash, change the national service rules such that religious studies will be eligible as a form of service in fulfillment of the national service option!

Indeed, under the current law as drafted, any bochur who is drafted already has the national service option if he does not want to join the IDF.

We know that Torah study confers infinite benefit not only on those who study it but on the whole Jewish people as well, so it fits. Certainly there are likely to be a number of initial objections from all sides, like:

(i) How is this different from the 1,800 exemptions which are also in recognition of the value of Torah study?; (ii) some purists/kano'im may still prefer criminal sanctions to Torah study "l'sheim sherut l'umi" rather than the same Torah study where the person did not write on a form that he was studying Torah to fulfill his sherut l'umi requirements; (iii) although they could be revised, the current national service rules are presumably currently drafted not to include Torah study as a service option; and (iv) what's to stop chilonim from trying to use this redefined form of national service to avoid IDF service as well?

Again, this idea is meant as part of an arsenal of ideas and proposals to give all parties the flexibility to come up with a plan that everyone can eventually agree to. And in that context, the parties can come up with ways to address/work-around potential objections to the idea, like the following:

(i) It is true that the sherut l'umi Torah study option would not really be so different in practice from the 1,800 exemptions. The difference would mostly exist on paper, but if it, in combination with a comprehensive resolution, would allow for a larger solution k'ein that which Rav Shteinman and others were working on 10 years ago, most can live with the very small difference between the full exemption and the Torah-study-as-national-service option.

(ii) Most people will agree to fill out paperwork to "get credit" for their Torah studies to fulfill their national service requirement. It's not so different from the hundreds of yeshivos which already give actual college credit for yeshiva study. And for those that won't, in the context of a consensual agreement with the support of the Torah leaders in Eretz Yisroel, there will be much less sympathy or hullabaloo from anyone if a small number of people cause themselves to get arrested for not studying Torah in the same yeshiva as before l'sheim sherut l'umi.

(iii) Just redraft the national service rules to permit people to fulfill the requirement through religious studies generally or Torah study specifically.

(iv) And what would be so bad if chilonim began signing up for yeshiva or seminary in order to avoid the IDF service? It would be a fantastic opportunity for the kiruv world! And to the extent anyone decides to do so at a non-orthodox seminary of some sort, it will (a) be their own choice so not a lifnei iver/mesayeya l'dvar aveira issue and (b) be an added incentive for catch-more-flies-with-honey-than-with-vinegar kiruv work.

Whether this specific idea is ultimately adopted as park of a wider framework of a consensual resolution to this multilateral and very painful conflict is not necessarily important. The main thing is that I think there are ways around even the most intractable aspects of the current conundrum (the constitutional objections to not having criminal sanctions) if and when the parties are ready to work out a long-term solution which addresses the biggest concerns on both sides.

I'd be curious if anyone out there knows of any reason why this idea wouldn't work as part of a larger toolbox such that there is no work-around to the problem. And again, I'm sure there are other objections a variety of parties may have but I'm specifically talking about ones without some sort of possible work-around as part of a comprehensive and consensual solution.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Highlights of Recent Inspiring, Thought Provoking, or Humorous Twitter Posts

Some Torah thoughts, inspiring ideas, thought-provoking messages, insights, and humorous ideas are short or quick and are not right for a full blog post. Therefore, I have begun sharing such ideas on Twitter because of the 140 character limit. I encourage people, if you would like to receive these short ideas/links, to "follow" me on Twitter. See below for some recent highlights (including some "retweets")!

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