Author: Avi Shafran

Flat-Earth

The Professor Stumbles

You just can’t, as they say, make this stuff up. A performer recently made news by implying that 1) Holocaust denier David Irving deserves reconsideration, and 2) that the earth...

A member of "Women of the Wall" group (2nd R) wears a prayer shawl and Tefillin, leather straps and boxes containing sacred parchments, that Orthodox law says only men should don, during a monthly prayer session at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City May 10, 2013. An Israeli police spokesman said on Friday that five ultra-Orthodox Jewish men were detained during a protest against the group. Last month the Jerusalem District Court said that the women should not be arrested for wearing prayer shawls at the site. REUTERS/Amir Cohen (JERUSALEM - Tags: RELIGION) - RTXZH7M

Western Walls

Many are celebrating the official setting aside and expansion of a part of the Kotel Maaravi for non-traditional public prayer. I’m not among them. My thoughts on the matter are...

Elephant001

Iranian Elephant

“Whatsa matter, you don’t like the other one?” That was what an old-time comedian claimed his mother-in-law said when she saw him wearing one of the two neckties she gave...

258817 / Pixabay

Illogical Leadership

“Because you were convincing me,” was the woman’s straightforward reply. Her questioner was my rebbe, Rav Yaakov Weinberg, zt”l, then the Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshivas Ner Yisrael in Baltimore. He...

Obama Crying4

A Crying Shame

Readers of a certain age will likely recognize the name Edmund Muskie. He was a candidate for the Democratic Party nomination for President back in 1972. There were several reasons...

cellphone-davening3

From the Mouths of Mexicans

I’ll call him Pedro; maybe it’s even his name. He seems to be a custodian of some sort for a shul – though I have no idea where it might...

1743252

Howling Hounds and Golden Calves

Whether or not they happen to own dogs, some politicians have an affinity for dog whistles, at least the political type. That term plays on the fact that dogs can...

israel_nica12369889_393337c

Blame Terrorists, Not Songs

Some politicians and pundits – including several writers in Haaretz – seem misguidedly intent on extending blame for Jewish terrorism across Orthodoxy, even to the charedi community and its Torah...

ee75f4c3e04f8749a2d0d78bb50930ef

Prominence ≠ Importance

When President Obama called the recent U.S. military announcement that all combat roles will now be open to women a “historic step forward,” the image that came to mind was...

090309-165459_Lg

Happy Meals, Jewish Style

There’s something – and something Jewish, as it happens – to be said for willfully denying ourselves foods, at least at times. An article I wrote for the excellent site...

8567813820_32b8aa4810_b

Trumping Terrorism

When the Obama White House and Dick Cheney agree on something, it’s worthy of note. What united the two – along with a conga line of Democratic and Republican presidential...

gay marriage

“Marriage Redefined”

Newly posted online is a video of an Agudah convention session titled: “Marriage Redefined: Should I Care?” I was one of the presenters, and if you have interest in the...

book tank

Merits, Not Munitions

The reporter’s question: “Should the chareidim serve in [Israel’s] military, or at least serve in some other capacity such as recognized public service commensurate with military service?” The query was...

through-others-eyes

Through Others’ Eyes

There were ample arrows in my quiver for shooting down the question, or at least for deflecting it. But our Shabbos night seudah guest, a young Jewish woman with limited...

West Bank label

Of Labels and Fables

In European Union countries, the words “Product of the West Bank (Israeli settlement)” will now replace “Product of Israel” on labels of foodstuffs, cosmetics and other consumer goods produced by...

Kosher Style

Denominational Déjà Vu

In 2001, I predicted that the Conservative movement would soon enough “halachically” approve what halacha forbids in no uncertain terms. [It did so 5 years later.] I perceive precisely the same Conservative approach to halacha in what bills itself today as “Open Orthodoxy.”