Rape, Hashgocha Pratis and the GOP

As most people don’t really look things up, the notion of a “separation of church and state” in the US is not only poorly defined but also poorly understood.  While this term was first introduced by Thomas Jefferson and others as a colloquial elucidation of some portions of the First Amendment to the US Constitution, it’s come to mean something nearly entirely different in each person’s mind.

Deep into the current US presidential campaign, headlines are sometimes all that matter and if someone you’ve never met says something, you might be liable for the consequences based solely on a similar party affiliation.

Richard Mourdock, the Republican Senate nominee from Indiana was recently headlined to have asserted that God intended for the pregnancies due to rape to have occurred.  I think it’s funny that people take offense to this and not to the myriad of other things that such a claim — albeit not nearly as inflammatory in tone, if you read the article quoting what he actually said and in what context — reveals about this man’s perspective on the world as seen through his religion.  Would he claim that God intended for the students slaughtered in the Columbine High School massacre or that the Jews were executed en masse at Auchwitz?  If people see life through a very spiritually driven, God-guided lense, aren’t making these claims really no different than saying that God intended for Spain to win the 2010 FIFA World Cup?  My point is that the media didn’t need this guy to make these comments for them to build a case against him — they could have simply interviewed him about his views and extrapolated.  But people often don’t carry things forward in their mind, and so we need this guy to say this outloud for there to be an issue.

R’ Mordechai Yosef Leiner, frequently referred to as the Ishbitzer, was also of the opinion that everything that occurs falls directly under divine sanction and determination, and there are many in the Orthodox world who see it his way.

I wonder how those in Orthodox circles who promote a notion of intense, all-encompasing hashgocha pratis (divine providence) would respond to this .

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Catholic Mom

    No — of course he’s not asserting a deterministic view of life that says “whatever happens was intended by God.” Hence — if Auschwitz happens, Auschwitz was intended by God. Although actually, there are certainly individuals of ALL religions (including Judaism) that assert exactly that, as you just pointed out.

    From the perspective of Christianity (or at least Catholicism) it’s a very simple principle. God is on the side of life. He is the creator of life. He is the sustainer of life. Life does not occur without God. So yes, even in the case of rape that results in pregnancy, God intended for that life to occur. But he did NOT intend (or, shall we say, desire) for the rape to occur because it is a complementary principal that God NEVER intends evil.

    In the NT, Jesus heals people, but he never inflicts sickness upon them. He raises Lazarus from the dead, but he stops Peter from killing a Centurian — indeed, he heals the Centurian that Peter has attacked. No bad thing is ever intended by God. Yes, there is a great mystery as to why evil exists, and every religion struggles with this question and comes up with different answers. But Catholicism asserts without qualification that God never intends evil.

    But God can bring good out of evil and even life out of death. In the case of a rape resulting in pregnancy, that child may be intended to bring some great good into the world. Or there may be some other reason for that child’s existance — because all life has a purpose.

    I’m no Republican (my Irish Catholic ancestors would roll over in their graves if I were) but twisting this guys words around to make it look like God wants somebody to get raped so they can get pregnant is just plain ignorant and unfair. He’s saying something total simple: the rape was evil, the life that might result from it comes from God and is good.

    I’m willing to consider the argument that abortion in the case of rape may be the lesser of two evils (in terms of the trauma to the woman or girl who is bearing the child) but it always has to be remembered that the lesser of two evils is still evil.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      I’d like to comment on a few of the points you brought up:

      1) “No bad thing is ever intended by God.” This cannot be the case because good and bad are to some degree relative. So if I had plans to go to the park today and it rains, which is something which God intended to cause, then my missing out on playing with my kids in the park today is a bad thing and God directly caused it.

      One may argue that had it not rained and I had gone to the park, perhaps I would have been attacked by a rabid raccoon and so, really, it was a good thing that we were not able to go to the park, but you must admit that this will become an increasingly strained response, for it’s quite unlikely that everyone’s original plans that were cancelled due to inclement weather were to have originally resulted in raccoon bites and the like.

      And then you switch it to evil, which might be fine in obliterating any examples of missed park play because of rain — I mean, not being able to go to the park hardly constitutes evil from God.

      A much simpler explanation is that God does not have a hand in all things, which will be covered in a few weeks when we get to Joseph in the weekly Torah portion.

      2) I won’t discuss Jesus and the NT here because it’s largely a different topic. Of course, you might see Jesus as (or representing a form of) God while I do not, and so perhaps it’s not a different topic for you. :)

      3) To say that all life has a purpose is sort of one of those canards that people say but that can’t really be substantiated. Surely, any life (and even some inanimate objects) will result in a purpose because everything will connect with everything else in some fashion, even in the most indirect fashion.

      4) Ultimately, this has nothing to do with rape — I believe the point of discussion was abortion, in which case the consensus of opinions related to the topic of abortion would be the deciding factor.

      • Catholic Mom

        The question of “theodicy” is one which is central to both Judaism and Christianity and which both religions have worked out various different answers to. There is no point in rehashing them here because Mourdock was (contrary to either the deliberate misunderstand of him or just the stupid misunderstanding of him) not talking about this.

        “Canard” does not mean what you think it does.

        To say that “life has a purpose” is meaningless is true in the way you phrase it. It has meaning, however, in a theological sense. The purpose of life is to know God in this life and ultimately to be united with him in the next. A child born of rape has the same purpose (and value in the eyes of God) as the most desired and loved child in the world. If you equate fetus with child, then Mourdock’s statement makes all the sense in the world. If you don’t, it doesn’t, but it is, as you point, a matter of how you view the status of a fetus, not a question of whether or not you think God causes people to get raped.

        • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

          I take canard to mean an unfounded belief and I take what you said to be an unfounded belief with its foundation more in trying to have a positive outlook than in reality. But, then again, we’re not coming from the same place — most of what you believe I’d probably maintain to be unfounded belief and vice versa.

          Even still, we can agree on the contents of your 3rd paragraph.

          Have a great evening!

      • BZ

        “A much simpler explanation is that God does not have a hand in all things, which will be covered in a few weeks when we get to Joseph in the weekly Torah portion.”

        Maybe I should wait for that Torah portion, but I must say that I cannot disagree with you more. G-d intends everything that happens even if we don’t understand why. This does not absolve sinners because from their point of view, they do have free will. We can only apply the above principle if the thing that happens is not caused by us in the first place.

        I thought the above was pretty much the universal orthodox point of view.

        • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

          I emailed you a sneak peek.

    • Doug

      @Catholic Mom I ignored your last comments because I became frustrated that you ignored my questions and my responses to promote your own self righteous agenda. I’ll just let Thomas Friedman elegantly explain how I feel about rape and people who consider ‘pro-life’ to “begin at conception and stop at birth.”

      http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/28/opinion/sunday/friedman-why-i-am-pro-life.html?smid=fb-share

  • Holmes

    I don’t see any connection between the first paragraph of the post and the rest of what is written.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      Mourdock’s perspective on divine providence is influencing his understanding, interpretation and application of US laws. Why I, you or anyone else should care how he understands abortion in his religion ought to be protected under the First Amendment.

      • Holmes

        That point is quite a stretch and in any case was never brought out in your post not even implied.

        Mourdock’s perspective might also influence his interpretation of the rest of the Bill of Rights.

        When you say, “Why I, you or anyone else should care how he understands abortion in his religion ought to be protected under the First Amendment” you have me confused. Which part of the First Amendment is impacted by my caring about a candidate’s views?

        • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

          I was speaking loosely — we should not have to worry about how Mourdock’s understands scripture or its derivatives because any perceived distortion on my part would amount to an imposition on his.

  • Peter

    What I wonder about all of this is if you continue to go with this type of thinking you end up saying that if someone has cancer it was G-d’s will and therefore man should not change anything about what was G-d’s will and therefore the person should not be treated. There are people who believe this and therefore do not receive blood transfusions etc. and become sicker than need be or even die. G-d made the world incomplete for man to complete it. G-d does not create bread but the seeds that grow wheat and man must work to produce the bread. Man is created such that a male child is circumcised on the 8th day. Religious Jews do not accept the argument that what G-d does is perfect and we should not change it. Why shouldn’t a politician say I believe that life begins at conception but I believe G-d has given man free will and therefore if someone believes different than I, I will leave it up to them to us free will and decide if that person should have an abortion or not. Why should I take away the right of an individual that G-d himself has given man.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      G-d made the world incomplete for man to complete it.

      This would only be the case according to a specific worldview. I’d say that a person need not accept such a statement as true — wouldn’t you?

      Largely, you’re presenting a Jewish view of things in focusing on circumcision and drawing what you might feel is an obvious connection to wheat. This was R’ Akiva’s response to Turnus Rufus when he asked the rabbi why Judaism performs circumcision — a deed of man — in apparent disregard for the deeds of God.

      The point here, I believe, has nothing to do with abortion but with a list of things held sacred by Christians — and even that statement is controversial because different denominations will have different lists. So we have n number of people’s with n number of lists and we’ve just got to, by consensus perhaps, come up with the best way of preserving enough of the items on the lists without contravening too many items on other lists.

      In the same way the US don’t allow murder of a white adult male, it does not permit the murder of a white male child. Even though white adult males and white male children are different, that difference is not currently recognized as enough of a distinguishing characteristic to permit the murder of white male children. And so on and so forth this is applied to white adult females and white female children, as well as to males and females, adult and child, of other races as well — although this was not always the case. Before slavery was outlawed, was it not (more) permissible to murder blacks? But people got together and formed a new consensus.

      In the US, it is currently as illegal to kill old people as it is to kill young people. Once someone, old or young, is on life support, I think that law changes and it is the choice of the parent or guardian, in the absence of a formal advanced directive, whether to maintain that person on life support. But what about the infirmed who no longer want to live? Currently, assisted suicide is illegal in the US but that’s not the case everywhere else in the world — for example, in Luxembourg since April 2009. One day, it might be legal in the US or illegal in Luxembourg and it will depend on consensus.

      What about killing a fetus? Well, as I see it, it’s no different. Some people will just feel that it’s wrong, while others will feel just as certain and emphatically that it’s wrong to tell them that it’s wrong. For the most part, it’s currently legal in the US and will be so until it is deemed illegal. It’ll be based on consensus, although that of the elected representatives, not each individual throughout the nation.

    • Catholic Mom

      “Why shouldn’t a politician say I believe that life begins at conception but I believe G-d has given man free will and therefore if someone believes different than I, I will leave it up to them to use free will and decide if that person should have an abortion or not. Why should I take away the right of an individual that G-d himself has given man. ”

      Why shouldn’t a politician say “I believe we should all live in peace and tolerance, but if someone believes differently than me and chooses to attempt to wipe out another race or religion, I will leave it up to them to exercise their free will to do so. Why should I take away the right of an individual that God himself has given man?”

      Because there are those rights of “free will” that God has given us (the right not to believe in God, for example, the right to engage in personal sin, the right to make really bad choices) and those rights that neither God nor man has given us (rights that affect others, as most obviously, the “right” to kill someone else). If you believe that life begins at conception, then you have no right to kill that life. Of course, others may not believe that life begins at conception. But it is illogical and absurd to say that if you DO believe life begins at conception, you shouuld not seek to extend to that life the protections granted to all other human life.

      Look at it this way — in Hitler’s views, the Jews are not human, ergo it is permissible to kill them. Others think differently — therefore it is both reasonable and rational for them to try to stop Hitler. this is not a matter of “you do your thing and I will do mine.”

      Here’s the problem with Judaism — Orthodox Jews know halacha out the wazoo but many are completely oblivious to the basics of their own theology.

      • Peter

        Dear Catholic Mom,
        You state, “Look at it this way — in Hitler’s views, the Jews are not human, ergo it is permissible to kill them. Others think differently — therefore it is both reasonable and rational for them to try to stop Hitler. this is not a matter of “you do your thing and I will do mine.” Can you see how an atheist would feel? I would think the vast majority believe what Hitler stated, that Jews are not human is not correct, and this is not based on religion. However I see a distinction between a person who is born and breathing on their own and a fetus. When you must list your age on a legal document do you add 40 weeks to the day you were born to come up with your answer. Whatever your personal beliefs are, which I respect, to state everyone should be forced to live under rules that are based on any religion and not have a choice is just wrong. This country does not have a stated religion. The laws in this country should not be based on restricting everyone’s choice because of religious rules even if those religious rules are your own religion. If 60% of the people do not believe in abortion because of religious reasons, then 60% of the people will not have an abortion. Another 20%, such as myself, would not have a close relative have an abortion if we could help it, but my 20% do not want to dictate to everyone what they could be allowed to do legally. I do not want to dictate my religious beliefs on others. (The percentages were made up.) Do you now see a distinction where before you seemed to have seen none?

        • Catholic Mom

          No, because there is none. Leave religion out of it for the sake of argument. Hitler believed that Jews were not humans. He thought this was a scientific, not a religious belief.

          Simply logic then proceeds as follows: “It is wrong to kill human beings. It is not wrong to kill non-human beings. Jews are non-human beings. It is not wrong to kill Jews.”

          Compare and contrast:

          “It is wrong to kill human beings. It is not wrong to kill non-human beings. Fetuses before they are born are non-human beings. It is not wrong to kill fetuses.”

          Exact same logic. It has nothing to do with religion, per se. It’s a matter of whom you choose to admit to that status of “human being.”

          You choose not to admit fetuses. (Or maybe you do, I don’t know.) Others may choose not to admit severally retarded people, or severally disabled people, or an elderly person in the final stages of Alzeheimers. [Does one have to be "breathing on your own" by the way, as in your distinction, to qualify as a human being? Because there go several thousand people in the U.S. right there.]

          If you believe that another person is, in fact, a human being (however you reach that conclusion) then you are morally obligated to protect their life with the same vigor and consistency that you protect your own life.

          If, say 75% of Germans (to use your percentages argument) determined that Jews were not human beings, would that make them not humans? Do we vote on each others humanity?

          This is not, and cannot, be a matter of consensus. It is a matter of each individuals informed conscience, and each individual must act as they are morally bound to protect life as they see it.

          You may not regard a fetus as a human being. Therefore you are not morally bound to protect the lives of fetuses. Mr. Mourdock does belive that a fetus is a human being. Therefore he is morally bound to try to protect their lives, even the life of a fetus that results from a rape.

          You are a smart guy. You understand logic. Why is this a difficult concept?

          • Catholic Mom

            Sorry, you are not D. Rosenbach. You did not say “breathing on their own.” You may still be a smart guy, however. I will give you the benefit of the doubt. :)

          • Doug

            I think Peter finds it difficult because you are using quite simplistic, and possibly offensive, logic.

            Let’s begin with your comparison of fetuses to Jews, (and other non-humans deemed by Hitler) who died during the Holocaust. Outside of your very specific, narrow example, how does this comparison work? Are you saying a dead fetus is equal to a dead Jewish person? I’m sure you’re not, but see how easy it is to misconstrue words when you make foolish comparisons?

            And how can you compare abortions to genocide without ATLEAST considering motivation (y’know, while also ignoring how ridiculous and kind of offensive this line of logic is). Hitler treated a group of humans as non-humans. True. He also took away their humanity because he HATED Jews. Who decides to abort their child out of pure hatred, and not out of fear? Most people who decide to have an abortion do not see the child as a ‘non-human’ – that’s terribly black/white thinking – and it’s once again offensive to not only assume every motivation for an abortion, but to assume that all, or most, of the motivation is out of hatred.

            (On a side note, I find it….humorous….that you then compare a fetus to the elderly and mentally/physically handicapped, which besides for being illogical, are the most marginalized groups of people in America. But I suppose it’s a lot easier to fight for something that one can only see in ultrasounds, than for tangible members of society who one looks away from when one sees them in public.)

            Finally, if as you stated, “This is not, and cannot, be a matter of consensus. It is a matter of each individuals informed conscience, and each individual must act as they are morally bound to protect life as they see it.”, why are you defending a politician who wants this to no longer be an ‘individuals informed conscience’? Just like some people don’t want to be told they cannot get an abortion, if their conscience guides them to do so, so too I can assume you don’t want to be told that you MUST get an abortion.

            Also, what happens when the woman doesn’t want the child from the fetus? Are you going to adopt him/her? Is Murdoch going to ensure that the child receives enough food, clothing, shelter, education and secure attachments so that the child can grow up and be a functioning, positive member of society?

            It’s illogical to spend so much time and effort standing up to what you believe is the morally right thing to do to save fetuses, if right after you turn your back on the fetus. If anything, I find it more morally reprehensible and irresponsible.

      • Peter

        For someone who believes life starts at conception does it follow, under that logic, that birth control should be voted to be illegal? Where do you draw the line? Should this country become a country that bases all its laws on religious beliefs? Should we have stoning the law of the land for working on Saturday / Sunday, or both days because the religi0n states this? Are you saying we should only make the laws in America the religious rules when it comes to life?

        • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

          I think birth control acts to prevent conception rather than deal with an already fertilized egg — in that sense, it would not be murder, but perhaps would fall under a different prohibition.

          The line should be drawn where most people will agree that it should be drawn. Substantially, I don’t see anything wrong with killing people who are old and demented who don’t know what’s going on anymore, but not enough people agree with me so it’s still illegal.

          • Catholic Mom

            So we vote people off the planet now? So when the Nazis decided to (and did) get rid of the “unfit” — those that couldn’t “contribute” to society, as they envisioned it, that was OK provided they were in the majority?? The sub-humans (Jews first, gypsies next, slavs right behind them) can be dispensed with as well, provided that we all agree on it?

            Amazing, simply amazing. Really, I’m amazed.

            • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

              Exactly — majority rules.

              What gives you the right to take someone off life support or to abort a fetus more than to strike down your able-bodied neighbor while he’s watching Seinfeld re-runs? It’s only because we have come together as a community and agreed that able-bodied neighbors ought not be executed but that there’s this sort of gray area of fetuses and people connected to respirators.

              I’m not saying it’s a good idea to kill any sort of person or that we ought to do so — I’m just saying that the deed becomes permissible when we get together and, well, permit it. And it applies equally to the issue of capital punishment.

              • Catholic Mom

                Well, good to know. Also good to know the Germans were right to complain that the Nuremberg trials were nothing more than ‘victor’s justice.” There is no objective morality, right? Everything is moral provided enough people agree to it, yes? Stunning, simply stunning.

                • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

                  Well, I wouldn’t define morality by the majority opinion on the matter, but not the majority action on the matter. It’s quite likely for the majority of people to sense that activity X is not nice, unbecoming, etc. but still perform or endorse it, in which case it would de facto be defined as immoral but still be the action seemingly endorsed by the majority.

                  From my understanding, it was merely the Nazi regime that perpetrated the Holocaust and not the country of Germany. Sure, its tentacles spread far and wide and there were many complicitors, but they didn’t necessarily maintain the view that Hitler himself did.

                  Why is terminating a fetus not as bad as terminating an already bone or cut-out baby, or perhaps not bad at all? Because that’s what people think, whether its based on religion or not, directly or indirectly.

                  In Judaism, the life of a gentile is not as highly valued as that of a Jew. In Judaism, violation of the Sabbath is specifically permitted when it conflicts with saving the life of a Jew, and it is only after some modifications based on things such as protection of the Jew in the eyes of the gentile that permission is granted to violated the Sabbath to save the life of a gentile.

                  So too, a Jew may not violate the 3 cardinal sins — murder, sexual indiscretion and worship of foreign gods — even if it means death to him or her. That’s great for when sexual indiscretion actually meant something, but in 2012, when you can barely become famous unless you release a sex tape or pose for Playboy, what’s sexual indiscretion? It’s been relegated to something your grandmother likes to talk about:

                  Lorraine: I don’t like her, Marty. Any girl who just calls up a boy is just asking for trouble.
                  Linda: Oh, Mom, there’s nothing wrong with calling a boy.
                  Lorraine: I think it’s terrible! Girls chasing boys. When I was your age I never chased a boy or called a boy or sat in a parked car with a boy.
                  Linda: Then how am I supposed to ever meet anybody?
                  Lorraine: Well, it will just happen, like the way I met your father.
                  Linda: That was so stupid! Grandpa hit him with the car.

                  So who’s to say what’s a sexual indiscretion? Well, Judaism seems to have a very rigorous definition, but that’s certainly not the case for the general populace. When Elizabeth Bennet thoughtlessly accepts Darcy‘s invitation to dance, she must comply with the rules of the time or be seen as an outcast, but society has moved on and we all laugh and read about this because it’s just so captivating because of its quaintness. Because a secular society has no guiding force other than itself, it’s free to choose for itself what is and what is not moral.

                  You might disagree, but I sense that it’s your Catholicism talking.

                  • Catholic Mom

                    “Because a secular society has no guiding force other than itself, it’s free to choose for itself what is and what is not moral.”

                    Exactly — “the dream of reason produces monsters.” Science cannot create morality. It’s produces only monsters when it tries. Science can only teach us “what is.” Religion teaches us ‘what should be.”

                    Theoretically, you are a Jew. Do you count yourself among the secularists who vote on whether or not other people deserve to live or among the Jews who say “thou shalt not kill” ?

                    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

                      I wouldn’t say that I am only theoretically a Jew. :)

                      But I recognize that it is only because I am a Jew that I hold the Five Books of Moses any more sacred than I do the Koran or Barney Teaches Good Manners.

                      Secularly speaking, I don’t think it’s in my jurisdiction as a Jew to demand that gentiles refrain from murder any more than it’s in my jurisdiction to insist that they refrain from sleeping with each other’s wives or consuming meat torn from live animals — both of which fall along with murder into the 7 Noachide laws that, according to Judaism, are incumbent on all people of all faiths, Jew or not.

                    • John

                      I am not an expert on Judaism but I believe, as you probably know, Judaism does not hold that when the statement “thou shalt not kill” is stated, there is no all or nothing answer. The answer is always it depends.

                    • Catholic Mom

                      Sometimes it is translated as “you shall do no murder.” Secular and religious law of virtually all countries allows”killing” in self-defense and many allow capital punishment.

                      One may take the “self-defense” argument to consider that abortion is moral in the case of a threat to the life of the mother. That, however, is only a factor in tiny percentage of the millions of abortions in this country. So that doesn’t come close to justifying it.

                    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

                      Judaism does not permit gentiles to ever kill a human — there’s a blanket prohibition, from abortion to euthanasia and anywhere in between, including cases of self-defense.

                      But why a gentile would consider this significant I cannot fathom.

                    • Anonymous

                      Alright, assuming that your interpretation of Judaism is that it allows you to let the gentiles go to hell in their own way, so long as Jews are not involved (meaning that if you were living in a society in which one group of gentiles was committing genocide against another, you would do nothing to stop them – in short, that there is no Jewish equivalent of a “righteous Gentile” )…would you not still be required to keep JEWS from committing murder? So why would the subject of Jewish abortion be outside of your purview?

                    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

                      That’s a great question!

                      Balancing the permission we need from the US government to follow the laws of Judaism properly with the unfortunate reality that permitting something in all cases so that we can perform that something in select cases will most certainly allow Jews to perform that something when now permitted by US law but still prohibited by Jewish law is indeed something to think about, but perhaps such a consideration would not amount to a need to endorse a vote of NO for the proverbial Jewish politician.

                      There’s a complex notion of lifnei iver, colloquially translated as “placing a stumbling block before the blind”, that limits one’s action or inaction when such action or inaction will facilitate another’s transgression — and this would apply to both facilitating Jews and non-Jews. This concept of lifnei iver, much like all the rest of Judaism’s rules, takes on a very technical format. For starters, from a biblical standpoint, the assistance provided by the Jew to the individual trangressing a rule must be critical to that individual’s ability to transgress. The example given in the Talmud (Bavli A”Z 6a) is a Jew providing a nazir access to some wine, knowing full well that the nazir will proceed to drink the wine in violation of his biblical vow. The Talmud outlines a case in which the focus of the discussion is on the ferry boat owner who gives the nazir a ride across the river to get to the wine — without providing the nazir passage across the river, he or she will have no access to wine. But what if the nazir has 6 bottles of merlot but prefers Chardonnay. Since the nazir does not depend on the ferry boat operator’s assistance, the ferry boat operator would not be liable to lifnei iver (aiding and abetting the transgressor) in a biblical manner.

                      Rabbinically, there is a prohibition of lifnei iver even when the transgressor has access to the manner in which he or she can transgress, but one assists them at the time of the transgression. So to pass a nazir a glass of wine which he will then immediately drink would be rabbinically prohibited, even though the nazir could have easily walked over to get the glass himself.

                      This question comes up for rabbis when they are asked to officiate at weddings at which it is known that the bride and groom do not intend to observe the laws of niddah. Since the couple can easily find another rabbi to wed them — and you don’t even need a rabbi to perform the wedding, so really there are a myriad of others who can perform the wedding, the rabbi can be certain that there is no biblical violation of lifnei iver involved. And since the bride and groom will not transgress the laws of niddah in a biblical fashion immediately following his involvement in their wedding ceremony, perhaps he will not be in violation of any rabbinical lifnei iver either. Obviously, this is merely an overview, and so many other issues will affect or drive any particular rabbi’s decisions and each case will have their particular nuances and details that others may not be made privy to, and so this is not meant to endorse or thwart the cause of any rabbi who agrees to disagrees to officiate at such a wedding.

                      So back to abortion — voting yea or nay does not physically permit someone (Jew or gentile) to undergo an abortion procedure and while it may directly or indirectly make it easier for any woman in particular to access abortion therapies, again, the politician interested in voting in an appropriate fashion should seek out rabbinic counsel to that end, and the same would go for voting for or against gay marriage, euthanasia, capital punishment, bigamy, bus service on the Sabbath in locations where irreligious Jews are likely to use said bus service, etc. Some sages, such as the Chacham Tzvi and perhaps the Chasam Sofer that gentiles may not consume eggs because of the transgression of eiver min hachai (eating a limb from a living animal). Would one not be allowed to own a grocery store store where it’s known that a (large?) percentage of the customers are gentiles who are purchasing eggs for consumption? The possibilities are endless, and so wherever practical, one should seek rabbinic counsel.

                      Moreover, abortion is only murder for gentiles, not for Jews. Irreligious Jews commit multiple transgressions on a daily basis — seeing how nearly everything one can or shouldn’t do in daily life is legislated to some degree by the Shulchan Aruch and the Minchas Chinuch, the irreligious Jew probably commits thousands of transgressions every day. Perhaps preventing them from transgressing one more violation is not really all that important — this is a bit controversial, but in speaking with one of my spiritual advisors, this was his opinion on the matter when the subject came up one day. I think is particular it had to so with whether or not one must, as part of kiruv, attempt to break up a Jewish person with his or her gentile fiance. His position was that, if the person already doesn’t keep Shabbos, doesn’t keep kosher and doesn’t do anything else he ought to and does everything he’s not supposed to, how does preventing him or her from engaging in sexual relations with this person on a regular basis (because that’s all it will be — the marriage will not be a valid one) and producing children really be so terrible relative to everything else that he or she does? It took me by surprise, and we never really finished that conversation (perhaps because I don’t think such a conversation really ever ends — it would just keep going and going until both of us had to stop talking for some reason because there’s just so much to discuss), but that’s what his opinion on the matter was.

                      And Hell is very over-rated. I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but frankly, we’re all going to Hell. :) Judaism proscribes so much and there’s only so much we can all do that it’s inevitable that we all did something wrong, and seeing how Jews go to Hell for doing something as seemingly inconsequential as stirring the chulent on Shabbos while it’s still in the crock-pot, what’s the big deal about Hell anyway. And then there are so many mitigating circumstances, and so we really cannot (actually, not figuratively) figure out who’s going to Hell and for what. There’s this secular notion that one goes to Hell for commiting adultery and murder, but Judaism prohibits eating lobster and wearing wool and linen, and the punishments for those things is also Hell — so I don’t mean to underplay the significance of Hell, but it’s not nerely such a dramatic thing related to the worst of the worst violations like it might be portrayed in the movies and in colloquial speech — that’s all.

          • kweansmom

            Are you speaking about religious law or secular law? I wasn’t aware that we get to vote on what the Torah permits.

            • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

              I’m speaking about events in the US, which promotes a secular law. US law might have been drafted based on religious law, but that’s only because secularism was unheard of at the time. Despite its religious origins, the US is supposed to provide for the freedom of religion to some degree — certainly, though, if one’s religion demands that people who trespass upon one’s freshly-mowed lawn receive death, the US ought not not uphold one’s religious freedom to carry that out.

              As a Jew of Torah observance, I follow certain guidelines as to how I live my life and interact with others, both within and outside of my faith, but I recognize that the majority do not uphold the validity of what I say, think or do. So if I personally decry homosexuality, it’s not because I really think there’s anything wrong with it per se — it’s just that the religion that I subscribe to decries it and and as a subscribing member, I must maintain such a view. And if I were an elected official, I would not impose such a view on others.

              The issue of pro-life or pro-choice is a difficult one. To begin, I think we’re all pro-life — it’s really just a matter of how we define life. The life of a mouse is not as protected as the life of an adult human and, somewhat similarly, the life of a fetus is not as protected as the life of an adult human. As a Jew, one must take the position of pro-choice because Jewish law demands abortion in at least a single scenario — when the baby poses a life-threatening risk to the mother’s life. What, then, is the prohibition transgressed when performing abortion? Is it murder? In Judaism, many consequential authorities assert that it is not murder but rather falls under the category of chovel — “wounding”. That’s very significant, because taking a tooth out also falls under the category of chovel, and yet allow that for very little reason, all things being relative. A simple toothache and the recommendation of a dentist are really sufficient to permit the extraction of a tooth in Jewish law, and I’m not here to provide rulings on when and when not an abortion might be ritually permitted in Jewish law, but that’s the main drift.

              But if US law took a turn towards strict pro-life, it would be illegal to perform an abortion. And dina d’malchusa dina (the law of the land assumes the standing of ritual law) is only true when the law of the land doesn’t conflict with Jewish ritual law. So just as some countries might permit a parent to kill a child when that child disgraces the family, but Jewish law would still be in effect prohibiting such a murder, so too, US prohibiting abortion would fall in the face of Jewish law demanding an abortion.

              Would you want to live in a society where murder is permitted? Probably not. Random acts of killing, execution and assassination because of stolen girlfriends, intersection fender-benders and quarrels related to who got to the bakery in time to purchase the last marble rye? If you view abortion as murder, it’s no different in your eyes to permit abortion than to permit random murder. Do I need to agree? No, but from a secular perspective, we’ve got to comply with the majority, at least officially in the form of formal legislation.

              • kweansmom

                Well, even from a purely secular perspective it’s not as simple as “majority rules”. The Constitution creates a system of checks and balances. The judicial and executive branches can overrule the legislative. Roe v. Wade was a Supreme Court Case and dealt with a constitutional right to privacy. I believe any laws that would let you put grandma on an ice floe would have some constitutional challenges as well.

                • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

                  I was speaking very loosely. We elect a president and the president appoints the Supreme Court justices with congressional approval.

                  We can’t all have our say or there’d never be any rules. But suffice it to say that, to some degree, all of our country’s laws are a derivative of the majority opinion, however modified of a process they encounter through proposal and ratification.

                  • 3456

                    “And Hell is very over-rated. I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but frankly, we’re all going to Hell. Judaism proscribes so much and there’s only so much we can all do that it’s inevitable that we all did something wrong, and seeing how Jews go to Hell for doing something as seemingly inconsequential as stirring the chulent on Shabbos while it’s still in the crock-pot”

                    Where did you get that psak from?

                    ”but Judaism prohibits eating lobster and wearing wool and linen, and the punishments for those things is also Hell”

                    punishment for those two are lashes, not hell!

                    “Judaism does not permit gentiles to ever kill a human — there’s a blanket prohibition, from abortion to euthanasia and anywhere in between, including cases of self-defense.”

                    That’s highly debatable.

  • http://hipsterjew.com Chicky

    The idea that God is only on the side of Good belittles God’s supposed all-knowing and all-encompassing power. To say that God is only there during the good times is terribly flawed logic – although then again, what is religion if not that?

    • Catholic Mom

      No, it doesn’t. God is not there “only in the good times” unless you believe that God has abandoned anyone who suffers.

      When the OT says “I have set before you life and death, therefore choose life” and the NT says “I have come that you may have life, and have it more abundantly” it would seem to be terribly flawed logic to say that God is on the side of death.

      • Seriously?

        G-d created life and death at the same time. So he is OK with death.

        G-d does not have anything invested in life, per se. He only cares about what we do with the choices we have during our lives.

        • Catholic Mom

          Which is of course the opposite of the “kergma” (the essential message) of all Christianity, which is: “By man came death, through sin, but eternal life comes through Jesus Christ.”

          • Seriously?

            I am comfortable with that. Judaism does not have Original Sin, and when G-d created plants he created the necessity of death. We, too, are partly animals.

            In the Garden, the Torah tells us there was a Tree of Life – and we did NOT eat of it, so we were always mortal. We just did not learn of it until the expulsion.

          • Seriously?

            Also, we are much less obsessed with the afterlife. The dead cannot praise G-d. What counts is what we do in this world. This is our one shot, and I am wasting some of it on this site….

            • Catholic Mom

              Well, we too believe that what counts is what we do in this world. As the old gospel hymn has it:

              Just one life
              It will soon be past
              Only what’s done for Christ will last

              But we believe that the afterlife is pretty much *nothing but* praising God. Which we are at last fully able to do, no longer distracted by our our own sinful nature and internet blogs.

              • Seriously?

                Psalms 115:17 and 6:5 and 30:9
                Isaiah 38:18

                My life can and should change the world. That is anyone’s ultimate legacy.

                • Catholic Mom

                  Early Judaism did not believe in an after life. Later Judaism clearly did, especially Pharasaic Judaism.

                  Job 19: 25-27

                  I know that my redeemer lives,
                  and that in the end he will stand on the earth.
                  And though worms destroy my body,
                  yet in my flesh I will see God;
                  I myself will see him
                  with my own eyes—I, and not another.

                  • Seriously?

                    The classic (i.e. not corrupted by Xianity) idea of an afterlife is nothing like your (apparent) view. Jews are all over the map on this, and the most Torah Jews can agree on is that at some point in the future the dead will come back to life. The trigger is probably the coming of Moshiach. And that is why Job talks about “the end”.

                    • Catholic Mom

                      Exactly. Jews are all over the map on this. So you cannot make a definitive statement about what “we” believe.

                      In any event, Job is propounding the “resurrection of the body” which is to happen at the end of days, when the Messiah comes (or returns, as it were) which is such pure Christianity it is enshrined as a basic belief in the Nicene Creed.

                      As to what else we might know about the afterlife, St. Paul says we can’t actually know in this life, yet the one thing we be can confident of, is that we shall see God.

                      1 Corinthians 13 — quoted in part by President Obama in his inaugural address:

                      “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I reasonsed as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

                      For now we see as through a glass, darkly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; but then shall I know fully, even as I am also known.”

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      One’s religious affiliation will certainly affect how one sees the belittling of God’s eminence.

      To some, supposing that God is concerned with how one straps black boxes on one’s arm would serve to belittle God’s eminence, while to others, this seems perfectly within the parameters of God’s interest.

      • Catholic Mom

        What does “God’s interest” have to do with whether or not God wills evil? The entire universe is of interest to God. To say that God wills only good is not “belittling his eminence.”

        You are an educated guy. You know what a monotreme is. Go google “theodicy.” Several billion words (both Jewish and Christian) have been spent on this.

        • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

          You are speaking straight from your faith — but if the US declares that it will provide for the individual’s right to choose their faith or none at all, you cannot then propose it as objectively and universally accepted by all that the entire universe is of interest to God. For starters, I certainly don’t think the entire universe is of interest to God.

          I happen to have a citron plant in a pot on the table here next to my laptop. The lowest leaf is yellowing and will probably fall off very soon. I’d maintain that God did not necessarily intend for it to fall off before the one a little bit higher up which is also yellowing. He leaves (ha!) these things up to the randomness of nature and there are many arbitrary things of nature, such as the leopard catching this gazelle over that gazelle in the herd. Is the gazelle who got away going to give birth to offspring that will one day invent sustainable and efficient cold fusion or prove Goldbach’s conjecture? No. It doesn’t really matter which gazelle gets eaten today vs. tomorrow and it doesn’t really matter which earthworm dug deeper so as to avoid my shoveling it up and feeding it to my fish. Does God protect and aid those who did eventually invent the cotton gin and Velcro? Maybe yes, maybe no and maybe maybe — we can discuss and debate that in another post with the rest of the time we have left alive. :)

          There are those who propose that God plans for everything, including which leaf falls off the tree first, but I do not subscribe to such a view.

          • Catholic Mom

            OK, don’t google “theodicy.” Keep making elementary theological mistakes like assuming that saying ‘God takes an interest in everything in the universe” is the same thing as saying “God has a master plan in which every molecule in the universe is pre-ordained to do exactly what it does.”

            • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

              Well, that’s what the Ishbitzer would have claimed has he known that molecules existed.

              • Catholic Mom

                And that’s relevevant to this discussion because? I thought you were using your own mind.

                • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

                  I don’t think Judaism knows how much God possesses an interest in any particular event, and so many speculate different levels.

                  Judaism is unlike many other faiths — a Jew is not often free to believe what he likes for Judaism has a position and it is mandatory for Jews to take the party line on particular views for them to be considered as being compliant with Judaism. A good place to start on this topic if one is more deeply interested is Menachem Kellner’s Must A Jew Believe Anything?

                  Because of the variance of views, there is considerable room for different opinions, but there are some areas that do not permit much self-decided positions. Personally, I reject the notion that God cares about everything that happens, although I accept that god cares about some things. Between the very few things that Judaism is adamant that God cares about and the things that most anybody but the Ishbitzer himself would maintain that God does not care about exist almost everything else — and I am unsure as to the extent of God’s interest in how these events play out.

                  So I use my own mind but I have religious constraints on its use in a few disciplines. :)

                  • Seriously?

                    I keep it simple. G-d is a Clockmake G-d for most of the world, most of the time. That is why we can derive so-called Laws of Nature.

                    G-d gets involved with people to the extent that they welcome Him into their lives.

  • J-Funk

    He was wrong for stating this not because there is anything wrong with this worldview but because it was insensitive and bad politics. I would think that even the sensitive jews who have an “intense, all-encompasing hashgocha pratis (divine providence)” philosophy would have the tact to articulate this philosophy only to like minded people for comfort, and certainly not to play politics.

    Plus while the Ishbitzer may be a bit revolutionary in his understanding of this idea, there are allusions and references to this throughout the talmud, so it is certainly not a modern concept like you seem to infer- The Ishbitzer lived 1801-1854. (I picked on this b/c your tone and source seems to indicate that this is a hasidic or new age idea when in reality its roots are way older and established within jewish literature and culture)

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      I picked on the Ishbitzer because that’s who most people will quote when bringing up a topic like this, but it certainly predates the Hasidic movement. When the Talmud discusses it, though, it would likely fall in aggadic, and thus unauthoritative, places.

      And I agree — his problem was making a comment that could be so easily distorted. But like Romney said at the Alfred E. Smith dinner, “Tomorrow’s headline will probably be: ‘Obama embraced by Catholics; Romney dines with rich people.’

      You can never win with the media.

    • Catholic Mom

      Except that’s not what he said at all. That’s just what people are trying to twist his words to mean. The Chairman of the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committe released the following comment:

      “Richard [Mourdock] and I, along with millions of Americans – including even [the Democratic candidate -- who is pro-life] believe that life is a gift from God. To try and construe his words as anything other than a restatement of that belief is irresponsible and ridiculous. ”

      See if you can parse the difference between these two sentences:

      “God brought Anne Frank into the world so her writing could bring a message of human hope and dignity to millions of people.”

      “God perpetrated the Holocaust so Anne Frank could write an inspiring book.”

      Tricky — I know, but see if you can spot the subtle difference.

  • bratschegirl

    One reason that people take greater offense at this statement than at the others which you rightly propose as similar: most people who say things like this are really speaking in code, so what is said isn’t really what is meant. Perhaps he’s one of them, perhaps not; I tend to think he is. And in this particular code, what this statement translates to is “Virtuous women don’t get raped. Or if they do, they can’t get pregnant from it. So if you’re pregnant, you must be a promiscuous slut and you should have to pay for that by carrying this pregnancy to term and raising the child so you will be reminded every day for the rest of your life that you are trash.” I personally have no problem categorizing this statement as more offensive than the others you brought up.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      I can’t say for sure, but I thought the drift was that rape is not a sufficient exception in his world view to permit abortion, and carrying that a bit forward, which he shouldn’t have done, was to profess that everything that occurs does so because God deemed it so.

      You don’t know this guy, so I think it just as odd and unfair as the media spin that you seem to be able to infer that he’s suggesting that virtuous women don’t get raped.

    • Catholic Mom

      Unfreakin’ believable. It’s hopeless. It really is.

      • Seriously?

        Yup. Now you know why Talmudic Logic is a perjorative.

  • http://conservadox.tripod.com Woodrow/Conservadox

    Bratschegirl illustrates the distinction between what people say and what others hear.

    What Mourdock said was essentially that if 100 women get raped and 5 get pregnant, God decides which 5 get pregnant, in the same way God decides which non-raped women get pregnant.

    But because Mourdock is generally a right-wing lunatic who seems like he SHOULD be saying offensive things on a regular basis, people who aren’t right-wing lunatics HEAR something roughly akin to Todd Akin’s (IMHO, more objectively offensive) remarks.

    Its kind of like the difference between your liberal friends complaining about greedy bankers and David Duke saying the same thing: if you hear the first, you hear “liberals complaining about corporate power” and if you hear the second (even if the EXACT SAME words are used) you are probably going to hear “Kluxer complaining about Jews.”

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      :)

  • Shmuel Zalman

    where’s Heshy???

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      You didn’t hear — he’s been extradited to Luxembourg.

  • Dan

    I believe literally that G-d caused the Holocaust, the churban, and for me to get a parking ticket today.

    And I’m pretty sure that is the normative understanding among Orthodox Jews.

    And I take comfort in it too. Dovid Hamelech says: Shivtecha u’mishantecha heima yenachamuni. Your staff and your cane, they comfort me. Now, a staff and cane are used by a shepherd to discipline the sheep, not to comfort them!

    But Dovid Hamelech says: when we feel the staff and the cane, we know that G-d is still watching us and still cares about us, and it comforts him.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      To glean from your source, King David also said: “Let us fall into the hands of God, for His mercies are abundant, but let me not fall into the human hands” (II Samuel 24:14) and this statement is not relegated to obscurity but recited nearly daily in the Tachanun prayer. David recognized that God does not direct the will of humans and that a lot is left to chance and redirection.

      It may be the popular Orthodox approach, but popularity does not define reality; and it’s only normative because people like to live life with rose-colored lenses.

    • Catholic Mom

      Nobody disciplines sheep! :) Here speaks a total city guy. The “rod and the staff” are the tools by which the shepherd herds the sheep away from dangerous places and keeps off the wolves — the “crook” which the shepherd uses to reach a sheep that has fallen into a ditch, for example, and pull it out. That is why all bishops in any ceremony carry “croziers” which are fancy shepherd’s crooks. They are the “shepherds” who guard the “flock” from danger. The psalm says that we are like sheep whom a good shepherd cares for — the good shepherd protects the sheep from danger and guides them to places of protection and plenty.

      • Dan

        I’m gleaning from the rabbinic commentaries, who all interpret the shevet, staff, as a punishment. This seems to be in accord with the way shevet is used throughout the old testament. Cf. Lamentations 3:1, I am the man who saw affliction with the staff of his anger.

        In particular, I am quoting the commentary of Metzudas Dovid who combines the shevet and mishenes and says that when G-d hits me and then comes back and supports me, I know that he has not abandoned me to random chance.

        • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

          You know no such thing, but merely apply what you have already accepted to situations that seem to fit.

          • Dan

            I know no such thing? You know what I know?

            I accept it as proven to the degree that I say “I know”. The same way I know that Obama is the president even though I haven’t seen it.

            • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

              Knowing that Obama is president is very different than your proposed knowing that “God has not abandoned you because you sense that He hit you and then came back to you”.

              In the same way that you know that God is watching over your every move and intervening to give you aid when necessary, Kurt Warner knew that he owed thanks to Jesus after he was named MVP in the Ram’s victory over the Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV, even though I maintain that Jesus had nothing to do with either Kurt Warner or his Super Bowl win other than a perceived yet very psychologically real placebo effect.

              • Dan

                I don’t know what Mr. Warner thought or what level proof he requires to “know” something. And I happen to think he was mistaken.

                I have been mistaken before. Once, I knew I put my keys in my pocket but really had left them on the table.

                So you think I am wrong. I think you are wrong. We both thing one of us is wrong.

                • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

                  And so the conversation comes to a close.

  • Mary

    I was wondering what Catholic Mom, or others, have to say in regard to what Doug said above.

    • Catholic Mom

      I spent a long time replying to Doug but it went into the ether. His comments are so incoherent and illogical they almost aren’t worth the effort to re-reply, but I’ll try, briefly.

      “Let’s begin with your comparison of fetuses to Jews, (and other non-humans deemed by Hitler) who died during the Holocaust. Outside of your very specific, narrow example, how does this comparison work? Are you saying a dead fetus is equal to a dead Jewish person? ”

      Very, very, simple, easy-to-grasp comparison.

      Hitler justified killing Jews on the grounds that they are non-humans.

      Abortionists justify killing fetuses on the grounds that they are non-humans.

      You may agree or disagree with Hitler or with the abortionists, but the LOGIC the allows you to kill someone is the same.

      “And how can you compare abortions to genocide without ATLEAST considering motivation”

      Because motivation has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not an act is *permissible*, only with whether or not an act should be *punished*.

      Basic concept of law. You may kill your mother-in-law because she’s suffering from incurable cancer (“mercy” killing) or because you hate her, or for any other reason. But your mother-in-law is still protected by law. You can’t kill her *regardless* of your motivation. So “motivation” is never considered in deciding whether or not an act should be legal — it’s only considered in imposing punishment on a person who has peformed the act. This is a pretty simple concept.

      You MUST pay your taxes. Why you failed to pay your taxes will be taken into account as to whether or not penalties apply when the IRS find out you didn’t. But “motivation” has nothing to do with the requirement to pay. Or the requirement to refrain from killing somebody.

      “Most people who decide to have an abortion do not see the child as a ‘non-human’ ”

      Really? They see the child as a human being but they kill it anyway because it’s expedient? God, I hope that’s not true.

      “(On a side note, I find it….humorous….that you then compare a fetus to the elderly and mentally/physically handicapped, which besides for being illogical, are the most marginalized groups of people in America. ”

      Well, that’s because you utterly failed to grasp the connection. Again — simple comparison. Fetus = helpless, unprotected, dispensible life that may be inconvenient to others. Elderly/handicapped=helpless, dispensible life that may be inconvenient to others. How we treat people at the beginning of life is not unrelated to our attitudes and treatment of people at the end of life.

      “Finally, if as you stated, “This is not, and cannot, be a matter of consensus. It is a matter of each individuals informed conscience, and each individual must act as they are morally bound to protect life as they see it.”, why are you defending a politician who wants this to no longer be an ‘individuals informed conscience’? ”

      Why is this difficult to grasp? Substitute ANY OTHER FORM OF HUMAN LIFE for “fetus” and this makes perfect sense. Try this one. You think it’s OK to kill your grandmother when she gets old. I think it’s murder. Therefore, an “informed conscience” (this is, a conscience that is informed with a sense of the value of human life)
      compels me not only to NOT to kill my OWN grandmother, but to seek to protect the life of YOURS — that is, to keep you from killing her.

      Here’s another one. I am Chinese. I just had a baby girl. I don’t want her and in my mind its OK to kill her. You (hopefully) as a Jew recognize that she is a human being and cannot be murdered. Your “informed conscience” must not only cause you to refrain from killing your OWN baby girl, but must seek to protect MY baby girl by keeping me from killing her.

      We could go on, but I hope (perhaps vainly) you get the point.

      “Also, what happens when the woman doesn’t want the child from the fetus? Are you going to adopt him/her? ”

      By this logic, we should clearly go and kill all the kids in every orphanage in the world. I mean — if you are not willing to take them into your home, raise them, and send them to Harvard, they do not deserve to live.

      • Doug

        No, I’m not saying you have to take them to Harvard….your extreme exaggerations have nothing to do with the child. But when you decide that morally you HAVE TO keep every fetus alive, even women who don’t want to have their children (rape or otherwise), you are now responsible for their lives. By forcing people who don’t want children to have children, the life of that child falls on you.

        And your response is that it isn’t your responsibility. It’s your job to save fetuses, but then once they are brought into unloving or unwanted homes…well damnit.

        And no, if the child was born and then the parent didn’t want to keep the child, that’s a different story. But when you decide that your morals MUST be imposed on everyone, the consequences are YOUR responsibility.

        • Catholic Mom

          When the government says you can’t murder your newborn baby, the government has to take care of your baby for the rest of its life?

          The government says you can’t murder your wife, so the government has to support your wife for the rest of her life?

          OK, I buy it. Listen — I’ve had it with my teenagers. Come over and get them immediately or else I’m shooting them as soon as they get back from school.

          You know what’s astonishing. There are *numerous* philosophically and legally and scientifically compelling arguments for abortion. Not that I agree with them, but I respect their intellectual rigor. Not one of them has been stated here. What’s been argued here is complete intellectual mush.

          As Foolbert Sturgeon said in that great ’60’s comic book “The New Adventures of Jesus” — “the problem is not sin, it’s stupidity.”

          PS As I’m sure you’re well aware, study after study has shown that religious people in the U.S. do far far more to care for the poor and unwanted among us than do secular liberals.

          • Dan

            I love agreeing with Catholic mom. I was at a debate between two law professors over the contraception mandate; a jewish one and a catholic one.

            And I said: Being orthodox in 2012 means that when you see a jew debating a catholic, you agree with the catholic.

          • Doug

            Okay, I’ll take your bait:

            “When the government says you can’t murder your newborn baby, the government has to take care of your baby for the rest of its life?”

            Yes. The government does, until the child is legally an adult (or, if they end up in jail from never forming strong, positive attachments, then yes, the government takes care of them for life). If you are deemed unable to take care of your child, and there are no other family members to take care of the child (or they are unable to), the child is left in the hands of the state. It’s called child protection agencies.

            “The government says you can’t murder your wife, so the government has to support your wife for the rest of her life?”

            No. Because your wife is an ADULT who under the law (religious and secular) is in charge of themselves. Once again, your comparison doesn’t work. I’m not talking about adults, I’m talking about minors.

            “OK, I buy it. Listen — I’ve had it with my teenagers. Come over and get them immediately or else I’m shooting them as soon as they get back from school.”

            I’m not really sure how this applies? Are you saying that fetuses are similar to teenagers? Are you implying the government has to take care of teens who are unwanted by their parents?

            “You know what’s astonishing. There are *numerous* philosophically and legally and scientifically compelling arguments for abortion. Not that I agree with them, but I respect their intellectual rigor. Not one of them has been stated here. What’s been argued here is complete intellectual mush.”

            That’s great! But since you decided that abortion was a moral issue, I’m not sure why science, law, or philosophy matters. And since you don’t care about science, law, or philosophy in regards to abortion, I just saved you a lot of time. Is the ‘intellectual mush’ your frustration that I take your morals and logic to a natural conclusion?

            “PS As I’m sure you’re well aware, study after study has shown that religious people in the U.S. do far far more to care for the poor and unwanted among us than do secular liberals.”

            Thanks for your bullsh*t smug moral superiority! Do you have any proof of this? Does this include lack of support for government programs such as neonatal care for the poor, Head Start programs, well-funded schools in poor areas, and free, accessible healthcare?

            I guess all I can ask is, what happens to a fetus that isn’t aborted, even when the mother wants the abortion to happen?

            • Catholic Mom

              What happens to a child that is born when the mother doesn’t want it?

              What happens to a two year old when the mother doesn’t want it?

              What happens to a teenager when the mother doesn’t want it?

              HINT: “They are killed by medical doctors” is not the actual answer.

              “since you decided that abortion was a moral issue, I’m not sure why science, law, or philosophy matters. ”

              Because, unless you’re an idiot, scientific, legal, and philosophic arguments are taken into consideration whenever you consider, not *what* you believe in general terms, but the proper application of that belief to real-life scenarios.

              Under what circumstances can you steal? Under what circumstances can you disobey lawful authority? What consititutes a “just war”? See the theme here?

              It is possible to say “I believe life is sacred, but I do not believe abortion is a taking of a sacred life for the following reasons [followed by rational scientific, legal, or philosophical argument.]

              Here is NOT a scientific, legal, or philsophical argument:
              “I refuse to say whether a fetus is a human being or not but obviously killing them is OK anyway because what the hell else are you going to do with them if nobody wants them?”

              See the difference??

  • Paul

    Let me see if I understand. Secularism would hold that the majority would rule. Religion would hold that if 85% of the people believe something, it does not matter, if the religion says it is wrong the 15% must force the 85% to do it the way the 15% believe. Then we see that different religions believe different things and may come up with a different answer to the abortion question within a different set of circumstances. Whose religious beliefs do we follow? The majority of the religious group? CNN just stated that 80%- 85% of the population believe abortion should be legal when pregnancy was caused by rape and a similar percentage believe abortion should remain legal when the life of the mother is at risk. I haven’t seen a definition of risk. What if there is a high percent chance the mother will have a stroke and have a lasting effect on her quality of life for the rest of her life but still live? Do we ask someone to decide after they hear what the possible lasting effect would be? One politician stated in today’s time with modern medicine the life of a mother is never really threatened. GIVE ME A BREAK!!! There are still deaths going on in this country during child birth and there would be many more if abortion would be outlawed under all circumstances. Can we just leave the decision up to the mother and father and the doctor with a possible consultation with their (not your) religious adviser? Oh, we can not do that because it would be against the religious beliefs of some people. This problem is answered by some, in this country, by the idea of separation of church and state. Others then argue what is really meant by separation of church and state? Did I summarize the issue?

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      Let me see if I understand. Secularism would hold that the majority would rule.

      Is that not an appropriate legislative course of action? Let’s, in general, do what most of the people want, assuming we’re all in it to make things a better place — but even that’s quite subjective once we begin asking “better place for whom.”

      Religion would hold that if 85% of the people believe something, it does not matter, if the religion says it is wrong the 15% must force the 85% to do it the way the 15% believe.

      I’m pretty sure that Judaism maintains that gentiles may not perform abortions even to save the life of the mother, but I can’t expect gentiles to follow what Judaism says they ought to do any more than Islam ought to expect I give a darn about how they maintain I ought to live my life. And so I’m alright with giving gentiles the freedom to not live by the laws imposed upon them by Judaism. If the majority of us can agree that abortion is fine, it should be a law that it’s fine. If the majority of us agree that abortion is not fine, I will have to transgress that US law when it conflicts with my religious demands, and I might transgress that law when it conflicts with my personal desires but falls within the permissibility of my religious requirements. How many Jews allow their underage children to drink wine from kiddush? Anyone who does fails to uphold the law of the land, but we generalize that it’s fine — but it falls within the permissibility of Jewish law (other than, perhaps, contravening dina d’malchusa dina). If a Jewish person would like to terminate a pregnancy and such a termination would be deemed permissible according to Jewish law, he or she would likely rather not be encumbered by the secular US law.

      But if one were a member of Congress during slavery and a law was put forward permitting the arbitrary killingof blacks because they were deemed to not fall within the confines of the parameters of murder, were one not to agree to such a thing and not like to live in a society that did, ought a person not vote against it? There’s really no difference between the categories: deciding that killing blacks or killing fetuses or killing old, sick people who want to die from a secular perspective. Whatever is agreed upon by the masses is what the masses de facto decide is the law. You might disagree with the law, but I can’t seem to find anything different, despite what I may feel about it.

      So what you’re saying here does not necessarily reflect religion.

      Then we see that different religions believe different things and may come up with a different answer to the abortion question within a different set of circumstances. Whose religious beliefs do we follow? The majority of the religious group?

      You’re asking a great question and I don’t have the answer. For those who see abortion and perhaps even the disposal of fertilized embryos as equivalent to murder of an adult, to them, the suggestion that abortion be legal is like suggesting that murder of an adult be legal. How can they stand there, as a member of Congress, and allow such a thing to pass on their watch? That’s how they feel. For everyone else, it’s just someone else telling them what to do with their body. The unborn child is not seen as a separate living entity is the decision to have an abortion is essentially no different than that of deciding to have a breast enlargement or growth hormore injections or a tattoo or perhaps even a haircut. Don’t tell me how to treat my body and I won’t tell you how to treat yours.

      It’s not an easy thing to resolve.

      CNN just stated that 80%- 85% of the population believe abortion should be legal when pregnancy was caused by rape and a similar percentage believe abortion should remain legal when the life of the mother is at risk.

      Lots of people are swayed by emotions, which may or may not have anything to do with this. I imagine being raped leaves the victim psychologically and emotionally damaged, but can they murder the rapist? I’d imagine that the animalistic, blood-lust of revenge might be seen by some as cathartic just the same as one being given the option of murdering the killer of one’s child, sibling, spouse or parent. But that’s murder, and so we would not permit it. If abortion is murder, it ought not be permitted, and everyone is going to say what they will in relation to abortion being equivalent to murder.

      I haven’t seen a definition of risk. What if there is a high percent chance the mother will have a stroke and have a lasting effect on her quality of life for the rest of her life but still live? Do we ask someone to decide after they hear what the possible lasting effect would be?

      We’ll have to assume that the risk is as defined by a physician or other specialist of contemporary times.

      One politician stated in today’s time with modern medicine the life of a mother is never really threatened. GIVE ME A BREAK!!!

      Politicians are well known for both saying really stupid things and for being misquoted — either way, it really shouldn’t be entered into this debate.

      There are still deaths going on in this country during child birth and there would be many more if abortion would be outlawed under all circumstances. Can we just leave the decision up to the mother and father and the doctor with a possible consultation with their (not your) religious adviser?

      What if mother, father and religious advisor say that a 3 year old child can be beheaded because an evil spirit has gotten into him? Ought we to allow that? What if they say that a 17 year old daughter who elopes deserves death to rectify the family’s honor? We would not permit that, would we? It’s all relative to how we settle the freedom to practice one’s religion with its infringement on others it affects negatively. I’d say that the unborn fetuses are negatively affected, but they’re not around to complain.

      Oh, we can not do that because it would be against the religious beliefs of some people. This problem is answered by some, in this country, by the idea of separation of church and state. Others then argue what is really meant by separation of church and state? Did I summarize the issue?

      Separation of church and state is a myth because, as you can see, we cannot disentangle secular and religious protection.

      • Paul

        So for better or worse, you agree with my summary of what has been said.

        • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

          Largely, except for the part about everyone having to follow the 15% of the religious bloc.

  • kweansmom

    http://drinkingage.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=002591

    You’ve done nothing wrong giving your kids kiddush wine

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      Thanks for that — really interesting.

      I noticed that Florida is not listed in any of the exceptions, and even though the average age for Jews in Florida might be 65, the reality exists that people transgress the underage drinking law every Friday night and holidays, too!

  • Zev

    I was wondering how or what you and your readers see as the difference between what the law should be regarding abortion, contraception etc., in the United States vs a country that has an official religion and therefore officially or unofficially run by the church. If someone believes there should be no difference how do you explain what I learned in my 5th grade American history class that people came to America, and this country was created on the idea of religious freedom.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      Really, it’s a fallacy to assume that this country was created on the idea of religious freedom because such a thing cannot exist. As seen in the various discussions above, life and religion are inextricably tied to one another and putting one’s religion to the side will likely change one’s views on either some or all of one’s principles.

      The people who fled England to start America wanted the freedom to practice their religion as they saw fit, but at the time, I think, there was really no such thing as secularism in the civilized world.

      Today, there is a very different reality. The secular movement, devoid of religion, should enjoy freedom from religion as much as religious people should enjoy freedom of religion, but such a thing doesn’t seem like it will ever truly be impossible given the deep religious undertones of our nation’s origins.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      I missed something.

      One big difference between the US and a country with an official religion is that the US is represented by elected officials and a country with an official religion, even if laws are made by a group of elected officials, will have a religious directive or mandate maintained by either the crown or another (pseudo-)ruling body.

      If enough Islamists pack into the right districts and vote in their representatives, there’s no stopping the subsequently elected officials from drafting legislation based on their perspectives, except for perhaps the sitting president (until he’s an Islamist, too) and the Supreme Court, which after a while, might be packed with Islamists as well.

  • http://www.comic-strip.org Miriam B.

    Question about prayer or religion in Public Schools is outrageous and very annoying. It shouldn’t need to be asked. For example, It is a “sin” in my religion, to offer our prayers to worldly prophets that are considered G-d, as Jesus is in Christianity, so for a Public School Teacher to be allowed to remain teaching, with this evidence that she or he is not aware of the Public School commitment to be non-secular, how could teacher be allowed to remain with a mere slap on wrist? Public Schools used as a religious forum where young, captive audiences are forced to give attention to a teacher using his/her power to preach on a Public Pulpit, with a goal for conversion by Teachers is outrages enough, but when a specific sect of religiosity is hailed over another, it is a compounded outrage. These Teachers should be fired as an example because the simple minded educators don’t even have the awareness of Who They Are Educating, they are not getting it! Freedom from Religious Persecution should apply here too.

    Question could also be, “Should Christian Religion be allowed in Public Schools? ” because that is the religious flavor being expressed to the pupils . . . which should alarm everyone. What if teacher were expressing the value of prayer to Mohamed or a non-Christian entity? It wouldn’t be so quietly swept away. Either way, it was a waste of time to fancy question this morning by WPIX-11 morning news team, as per Daily News article 10/13/12, Bronx middle school teacher disciplined for ordering her students to pray to Jesus: Michelle Schindelheim told investigators she stopped class and told pupils “they were going to talk to God” By Rachel Monahan And Ben Chapman / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS.

    We all know down deep that a teacher’s particular view on something so private should not be thrust on impressionable minds. Some of these students would better be placed in religious schools “of their particular denomination” but that they can’t afford it. We trust the Public Schools not to place our students in an uncomfortable situation like this one. I have more opinions on this subject, which may or may not be related to your article, Sorry, again . . .

    • Catholic Mom

      Well, according to D. Rosenbach “majority rule” is all that matters. So I would say that clearly if the majority favor abortion, it should be legal, regardless of the Consitutional protection of life. Similarly, it is clear that there should be crucifixes in all classrooms and mandatory catechism classes on Saturday regardless of the First Amendment.

      Actually — there are good pedagogical arguments in favor of crucifixes in school. Like the kid who was completely screwing up in public school and failing almost all his classes. In desperation, his parents moved him to a Catholic school. Immediately he began to shape up, study hard, and get good grades. The first marking period he came home with straight A’s. Amazed, his parents asked him what about Catholic school made the difference. “Well, I’ll tell you,” he said. “When I walked in there the first day and saw that guy nailed to the wall I said ‘whoa — these guys mean business!'”

      • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

        You forget that life is defined as the majority chooses to define it, and only that is protected under the Constitution.

      • Lem

        That’s not a good argument that’s a joke.

        • Catholic Mom

          Really?? We are sharp this morning! :)

  • Joseph

    To Catholic Mom,
    I believe you are making a big jump when you state the constitution protects life and therefore it protects against abortion. You believe life begins at conception. This is not within the constitution and I hope the constitution is never changed to mean that. If that was the case, there would be no legal basis to make any exceptions to allow abortion for any reason. This would also mean many medical procedures that are currently being done would also be against the constitution, against the law, and against my religion. Oh wait a minute, that is exactly what you and various congressional candidates want in the first place. Why when one of these candidates apologize if they offended anyone it can not be genuine since they meant exactly what they said. They and you want to force your religious beliefs on everyone. The President of the US scares me regarding Israel but the republican right ring party scares me also. The question is which scares me more. I haven’t figured out the answer to that question as of yet.

    • Catholic Mom

      Your reasoning is faulty. First of all, my point about “majority rule” was that, according to D. Rosenbach, apparently the majority trumps the Constitution even when it comes to killing grandma. So this was saracasm.

      Now, the question of whether or not a fetus is a “life” protected by the Constitution is obviously a weighty one. The Constitution does not define “life.” But then — in those days, there wasn’t much question about it. Abortion, as we know it, didn’t exist (or was illegal) and the concept of alive but “brain dead” didn’t either. So the Framers didn’t struggle with this question. In this sense I will agree with D. Rosenbach — the Constitution says whatever the majority of justices on the Supreme Court say it says, and right now they don’t say it says that a fetus is a “life.” Which is not to say they couldn’t so hold in the future.

      However — it is completely not true that if the Supreme Court held a fetus to be a “life” that there would be no possible basis for abortion under any circumstances. For exampe, under the “self-defense” exception, there would clearly be the right to abort a fetus who posed a serious threat to the life of the mother. And defining “alive” as referring to brain activity (as the courts now do) there would be a case for aborting, for example, an anencephalic fetus.

      However, even if the courts were to rule that a fetus was a ‘life” there would then be the question of the definition of a fetus. Never in a million years would a fertilized egg be defined as a “fetus” — this indeed would be the imposition of religion on science since science does not accept this definition. Even the Catholic Church, which *does* consider life to begin at conception, refused to support the ‘fertilized egg is a person” movement as hopelessly doomed. So that would allow abortion up until the moment when the courts feel that the developing embryo is a “life.” And that’s exactly what we have now — except the courts say that it is a “life” when it can exist independently outside the womb. But, as we all know, that is an extremely arbitrary standard which continues to change.

      Fascinating fact — Roe v. Wade was decided on the basis of a so-called “right to privacy” — which exists nowhere in the Constitution. Google it. Constitutionally it’s incredibly weak.

      • Mary

        I am confused. Didn’t Bush state fertilized eggs that were going to be discarded could not be used for stem cell research, that had the potential to save future lives, because this may encourage other couples to discard fertilized eggs. Are you saying the Catholic Church was not against this? Are you splitting hairs on this very important topic?

      • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

        Of course the majority trumps the Constitution — in fact, that’s actually the whole point.

        The Consitution is of the people, by the people and for the people and if the political thinkers of our time or some time in the future decide to trash the whole thing, such a move would indeed be, well, constitutional.

        • Catholic Mom

          That would require a super majority, not a simple majority, however.

          • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

            But that’s just a technicality/safeguard to make sure that it’s really the majority and not a fluke of a decision — my point still stands.

  • Catholic Mom

    Sigh…I see you are confused. You have a whole bunch of things mixed up together.

    There was a movement recently to attempt to amend a number of state constitutions to state that a fertilized egg (zygote) was a “person.” Since virtually all laws in this country use the term “person” in a very specific legal way, this would mean that huge number of laws would suddenly apply to a zygote. (Basically, whatever rights a “person” would have, a zygote would have.) . This would have extreme legal ramifications which the Catholic Church realized would never be accepted, so there was no attempt to support this effort.

    Bush never said that fertilized eggs or embryos couldn’t be used for stem cell research becaue “this may encourage other couples to discard fertilized eggs.” I have no idea where you got that from. Perhaps from your fertilile imagination.

    Notwithstanding that abortion is legal in the country, it has always been (thank God) illegal to perform medical experiments on living fetuses. I’m sure we’ll get there eventually — but we haven’t gotten there yet. So the question is not “can you disguard” (destroy) a fertilized egg, but 1) can you experiment on it? and 2) does the taxpayer have to pay for it? [And if you can experiement on it, at what stage of development do you have to stop?]

    In fact, you CAN experiment on embryos provided that the taxpayer is not paying for it. All Bush did was forbid *federally funded* research programs from using embryos in stem cell research. They are regularly experimented on in private laboratories.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      What Bush did is akin to a Jewish POTUS forbidding federally funded research programs from hiring any gentile employees who have had an abortion because such a thing (gentiles having abortions) is against said Jewish POTUS’s view of how people should live.

      Would not such a thing be seen as not only politically offensive but illegal, seeing how abortion is legal?

  • Yirmi

    The “everything happens for the good” view in Judaism has deep roots and is very prevalent today. It’s not just the Ishbitzer — basically all chassidus believes the same thing. Rashi appears to have been of the same belief (see his comment on the kingfisher eating a particular fish) — the same with Avraham ben Rambam and Rabbeinu Bachya (not to mention Rabbi Akiva and Nachum Gamzu). This doesn’t really help the pro-life argument, though, because once an abortion happens you could say that was for the good too. The point of the pro-life position is that once conception happens, G-d wants that fetus to survive and get the chance to live. Judaism has traditionally taught the same thing — abortion is forbidden and considered murder unless the life of the mother is in danger (and in that case abortion is mandatory). The Catholic belief is that abortion is forbidden even if the mother would die otherwise.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      The axiom of “Everything happens for the better” is very similar to that of “Who is wealthy? One who is happy with his lot.” They are both meant to reflect positive outlooks on life rather than serving to actually describe life.

      We do not cease from increasing our lot for fear of our ambitiousness betraying our true feelings of inadequacy of what we already have. Rather, when things don’t work out the way we thought they ought to, our sages provided psychological advice — be happy with what you already have because many people have less and it can always be worse. So too, everything certainly does not happen for the better. Sure, Uncle Moishy sings about it and one might recite it to himself on a daily basis, but he won’t be saying it the day someone comes and cuts his head off — and by this, I don’t mean to observe that a dead man without a head cannot have opinions or make statements. Rather, gam zu l’tova (“this, too, is for the better”) is a mantra, and a good one to live by, but it’s no more true than “cheaters never prosper.”

      And in respect to Judaism’s view on abortion, although it’s commonly taught in high school yeshiva classrooms that abortion is akin to murder, that’s hardly the actual position maintained by halacha.

      Just like shortly after marriage, new grooms and brides learn the truth of Judaism’s stance on birth control, once the information becomes apropos, young parents to be learn the truth of Judaism’s stance on abortion.

      As stated above, most rabbinic authorites maintain that abortion does not fall under the prohition of retzicha (murder) but rather, under the prohibition of chovel (wounding). Both are biblical prohibitions, but the extenuating circumstances need to be quite considerable to permit the former, whereas there is tremendously greater leniency in regard to permitting the latter. And so, therapeutic abortion is just as permitted as therapeutic limb severing or therapeutic tooth removal. Don’t get me wrong — the definition of halachically therapeutic abortion might be extremely limited, but once an abortion is deemed to fall within this category, most rabbinic authorities will permit an abortion, contrary to your comment above.

      And I contest your comments relative to the point of the pro-life position, either in Christianity or Judaism. Unlike what you stated above, “the point…is that once conception happens, God wants the fetus to survive,” I don’t see that as the point whatsoever. Rather, the point is that, for those who maintain that life begins at conception, a fetus is equivalent in some degree to a 4 year old child. Just like the latter is alive, the former is to be considered alive. Now, I am not a Christian scholar, but I imagine they might make an exception here or there, such as when the fetus poses an imminent and statistically certain mortal or religiously equivalent danger to the pregnant mother, and that’s for them to decide what their religion insists on. But it’s most certainly not an issue of God wanting the fetus to survive any more than saying that once a person’s arm has been severed that God wants ther person to bleed to death and we should refrain from interfering. It’s that life is deemed sacred and ritual practice demands that actions A, B and C be taken or actions X, Y and Z be refrained from being acted upon to that end.

      Once again, I am not a Christian scholar, but perhaps your lack of familiarity with your own religion’s rules belies your familiarity with the rules of other religions as well.

      Kol tuv!

      • Catholic Mom

        “It’s that life is deemed sacred and ritual practice demands that actions A, B and C be taken or actions X, Y and Z be refrained from being acted upon to that end.”

        Right — but it has nothing to do with “ritual practice.”

        The reason Catholicism does not approve of abortion to save the life of the mother is, as I said, because Christianity is not guided by ritual law but by a set of principles. Thus “what would Jesus do?” is pretty much how you come up with the answer to everything.

        Jesus said “greater love than this has no man, than he lay down his life for another.” Similarly “I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Thus — if Jesus had to choose between his own life and that of another, he would choose the life of the other person. Hence we should too.

        • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

          By ritual practice, I meant Christian ritual law. Jewish ritual law prohibits murder, and if unjustified by Jewish ritual law, killing someone is murder even if, say, the US federal government claims otherwise. So, for instance, it would be prohibited by Jewish law for a Jew to serve as an executioner who electrocutes, shoots, drowns, lethally injects or otherwise kills someone even if said killing were performed under the guidance and jurisdiction of a capital punishment ruling in, say, the State of Texas.

          And so, it has everything to do with ritual practice, ritual referring to the religious (as opposed to secular) practice, or action, of an individual at a given time.

          “What Would Jesus Do?” is most certainly a very vague way of handling things. As a Catholic, maybe that suffices, but I don’t think anyone would know “What Would Moses Do?” or even “What Would Maimonides Do?” In the absence of a definitive understanding, one ought not do the unthinkable merely on the pretense that that’s what Jesus might have done.

          But that’s me, a Jew speaking. For Catholics, as you explain, that’s apparently good enough.

          • Catholic Mom

            It’s extremely hard for people from two different cultures or two different religions to understand one another, mainly because they can’t understand that the other person isn’t just like them only they say “pero” for “dog” or they have “canon law” instead of “halacha.”

            Christianity doesn’t just have different “rules” than Judaism, — it’s apples to oranges. In some sense, it has no rules AT ALL. St. Paul says “the law kills, but the spirit gives life.” In other words, when people operated by codified instructions, they immediately find a way to violate the spirit of those instructions. Hence, Christianity pretty much has no “codified instructions” (ritual law, halacha). What it says is this — would would a *perfect* person do? If you were capable of complete and total love for every other person and complete and total foregivness of every other person and complete and total willingness to do anything for any other person, even to laying down your life for them, what would you then do in a given situation? And just to make it easy, God sent you a perfect person to show an example.

            You know those questions they always sent to ‘The Ethicist” in the NY Times? “My wife just got a diagnosis of cancer yesterday. I was planning to tell her next week that I want a divorce but now I don’t know what to do.” See — Christians don’t turn to “canon law” (which is what I think you mean by “ritual law”( for the answer. They would say “what would Jesus do?” And what Jesus would do would be not to divorce her at all in the first place. THIS is the basis for the Catholic Church saying that you don’t kill a baby (or a fetus) even to save your own life.

            I honestly don’t think you’re going to get this concept, but I feel compelled to keep trying.

            • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

              Fair enough.

              But I think I think that just as a digital device must convey analog data in a digital format — because that’s all it has the capability to do — so, too, Judaism must convey all non-Jewish concepts in a Jewish format, because that’s how they’re seen: through the lens of Judaism.

              So you’re probably right on target, but that’s the way a discussion on a Jewish blog has got to work, just like a discussion on a Christian blog has got to be generated in terms of Christianity.

              Being such an analytical and technical set of rules and regulations, Judaism does see even Christianity — and most everything else — through the lens of these analytics and technicalities.

              Judaism refers to bonafide events and occurrances as chalos shem, which may be best translated as “an effective reality”. So a Jewish guy and a Jewish girl can hug and kiss and live as husband and wife while maintaining the laws of purity and have children and grandchildren, but they will not be seen as married unless they have effected a wedding ceremony according to Jewish law, consisting of such things as a marriage proposal (kiddushin), nupitals (nisu’in) a marriage contract (kesubah), valid witnesses, etc.

              The question then arises: how can, according to Jewish law, the prohibition of adultery be applicable to gentiles if they don’t engage in a Jewish marriage? What is the chalos shem (effective reality of a) marriage for them?

              As part of the Noachide laws, a gentile may not be intimate with his friend’s wife, but what would define their marriage and what would define their divorce? I remember having this question way back when and it intrigued me.

              Most rabbinic authorites will say that whatever constitutes a marriage in secular civil law will constitute a marriage within the paremeters of Jewish law for a gentile such that he or she can then violated adultery, and so too for divorce so that some forms of sexual indiscretions would no longer be prohibited (such as intercourse with another’s ex-wife, while intercourse with one’s sister or mother would still remain in effect no matter to whom one would maintain that he is no longer married).

              And in the absence of a state marriage license, I would assume that Christians would recognize the word of Judaism to certify marriages, divorces, etc.

              So while you, as a Christian, see Judaism as perhaps possessing a set of honorable and noble, yet perhaps inequivalent, rules of morality and ethics, I as a Jew see Christianity (along with all other groups of people who profess to act in accordance with some form of understanding of what God desires of them) as a set of technical rules and regulations, with loopholes and contemporary issues just the same as Judaism has, albeit parallel.

              Thanks for this bit of clarity. :)

              • Catholic Mom

                “So while you, as a Christian, see Judaism as perhaps possessing a set of honorable and noble, yet perhaps inequivalent, rules of morality and ethics, I as a Jew see Christianity (along with all other groups of people who profess to act in accordance with some form of understanding of what God desires of them) as a set of technical rules and regulations, with loopholes and contemporary issues just the same as Judaism has, albeit parallel.”

                OK, I think you’re getting it. You cannot believe how many Christians think that Judaism is basically Christianity without Jesus. Likewise Jews who believe that Christians are just a bunch of 1st century Lubavichers who got carried away with the “Rebbe is the messiah” thing and crossed into “the Rebbe is God.”

                In reality, the two religions are completely different ways of trying to answer the question “what does God want of us?” not just two different religions that happen to have different rules about different things.

                In the marriage case you cited — if these were two Christians, the validity of the marriage would have no ritualistic elements at all. Very simply — the couple *marry each other* — in other word, they do the marrying, not a priest — and they do this by giving to each other vows of life-long unbreakable fidelity and committment. Technically the priest only *witnesses* this exchange of vows. There have been many many cases of couples who married each other without witnesses or a priest, and the marriage was valid. It was “illicit” — meaning in violation of Church law, because Church law tells you NOT to marry without a witness or a priest just because of the probable mess of confusion this is going to make — but once done, it’s still *valid.* The couple is married. In Judaism (as I understand it) something *cannot* be “illicit but valid” by definition.

                Conversely — you could be married by the Pope himself and if you didn’t truly (in your own mind) make a vow of life-long committment, then you wouldn’t be married at all. Which is the basis of the concept of an annullment — the marriage never happened at all because one or both parties did not have the intent to enter into a Christian marriage.

                The reason you cannot divorce and re-marry is because you can obviously only make ONE promise of life-long committment to one person at a time, or otherwise, by definition, it isn’t a promise of life-long committment. This is the way it was with all Christians up to about 100 years ago when the Protestants decided that they didn’t want to be *that* much like Jesus. You know — just a little bit like him. Like helping old ladies across the street or something. Not like — you know — being stuck with your ugly old wife for the rest of your life . :)

      • Dan

        D. Rosenbach: In fact, as you are likely aware, abortion is murder in halacha when performed by a non-jew because they are governed by the pasuk of shofech dam haodom, while jews are governed by the passuk of lo tirtzach.

        • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

          Yirmi’s blanket statement that “[In Judaism,] abortion is forbidden and considered murder unless the life of the mother is in danger” is false and misleading.

          My wife’s OB/Gyn is Jewish and your distinction would thus not apply if he were to perform the case. Furthermore, a Jewish woman would not need to sign a theoretical DNA (Do Not Abort) order in case she’s incapacitated and a gentile physician were around and would otherwise attempt to save her life…in the hope of preventing herself from being misaye’ah (aiding and abetting) the gentile from transgressing the prohibition of murder (aborting a fetus).

          • Yirmi

            I was referring to the view of Rabbi Moshen Feinstein. I know there are more lenient positions, but isn’t his the mainstream position among Orthodox rabbis today?

            Your statement that the “everything is for the best” view is simply hortatory and not a literal description of the world is one legitimate view, but a very common view found in chassidus and earlier sources, and very prevalent today, is that indeed everything is bashert. This view is found in countless contemporary sources.

            • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

              “Everything is for the best” is the most prevalent view today because that’s what the schools teach and even when people grow up, they cling to it for psychological and emotional reasons.

  • Huh

    This blog is finished

    If heshy is still out there he obviously doesn’t care about the blog anymore

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      He was just on Facebook today talking about it — there will be a second coming of Heshy, you just wait!

      • http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/10/30/hurricane-sandy-s-biggest-idiots-jet-skiing-in-the-hudson-more-video.html Alter Cocker

        Yeah, he just came back to confirm that the blog is indeed dead and he doesn’t really care what happens to it.

        • Seriously?

          Good for him. About time he realized there is more to life than making fun of other people. Humour is good and valuable, but a marriage can (and should) be divine!

  • https://www.facebook.com/daniel.sayani Daniel Sayani

    Judaism has a far more nuanced answer to the question of abortion in general, but on the topic of abortion in the case of rape, there are many poskim to be relied upon. R’ Yehuda Perelman miMinsk, in an 1891 teshuva (Shut Ohr Gadol #31), says that while a woman is considered a receptacle for reproduction (karka olam), as a human being, a woman is under no obligation to carry a fetus conceived under less-than-mutual circumstances. Basing his psak upon the shita of Rav Yosi (Yevamot 35a and Ketuvot 37a) that after being raped, a woman would use a mokh (post-coital contraception) and would then therefore be allowed to immediately marry, Perelman says that the products of conception can be uprooted as quickly as possible. Furthermore, the mental health impact of the rape would constitute legitimate grounds for abortion in the eyes of many more poskim, especially the Mishpetei Uziel (Hakham Benzion Uziel), who allows abortion in any case where there is benefit for the mother’s standard or quality of life (social, economic, and psychological factors are all grounds for allowing abortion, he says).

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