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The Systems of the Jewish Year

"Holy?!" - Comments

1 Fred Schor on 2008 05 01

I wouldn’t want to call attention to it, but technically the Chofetz Chaim was wrong in observing that the shul was filled with women only, actually it was women and the Chofetz Chaim only.

As you, I would not question th Chofetz Chaim, but since you did, I will also. I don’t know about the people during his time and place, but is it the Jewish women that should be concerned about striving to be holy? I would argue that he should have been addressing the men instead of the women.

2 yitzchak rosenbaum on 2008 05 01

thank you.

3 Yossi Shandelman on 2008 05 01

Rabbi Haber, I always enjoy your Divrei Torah and this is no exception. I can’t disagree with Fred’s suggestion. From a Jewish historical perspective beginning with their adamant non-participation in the Egel (Golden Calf), the women were the protectors of Torah life and it’s associated Kedusha while the men tended to be more wayward. Bnos Tzelafchad received a special reward for their love of Israel by having Hashem respond to their question of inheritance via Moshe. In Miriam’s zechus we had the Be’er. In Rus’s zechus we have Dovid HaMelech. In Esther’s zechus we were saved on Purim. The list goes on ...

Perhaps the Chofetz Chaim was re-emphasizing the traditional role of Jewish women in the continuity of Kedusha and to reassert their efforts in perpetuating Kedusha.

4 Rephoel Yonah ben Yaakov M on 2008 05 01

The 3 above comments are very good.The truh is,it is the women,noshim tzadkonios,who influence their husbands. The rabbonim and rebbeim must teach the men but the women have the extra responsibility to make sure the home is kodosh. Women dress tzniusdig,married ones cover their hair and let their husbands represent their families in public. In those days in many towns,the women werte becoming lax in the laws of mikvah,hair covering and types of entertainment they brought into their homes. The influence mothers have on their little children remains with them for life.

5 Mrs. SR on 2008 05 01

From the voice of a frum woman with 3 little children I will say that the Chofetz Chaim was absolutely addressing the right group of people.  Obviously I have a 21st century perspective, but the men go to shul, the men learn, the men are involved in their Yiddeshkeit...a woman with small children does the dishes, the laundry, the shopping, often works and then, if she is lucky maybe finds the time for a tefillah that is interupted by someone needing something.

Kedoshim Tihiyu! We need to be reminded that we are special and also that it is in our hands to bring that out.

6 Rephoel Y.b.Yaakov M. on 2008 05 01

The women are to BE HOLY (special),by behaving HOLY they become special. The men must be reminded that the women are special,but should be able to notice that by the SPECIAL (holy) behaviour they exhibit.

7 Fred Schor on 2008 05 02

To hold women responsible for the behavior of their husbands, especially in the orthodox to ultra-orthodox, which is such a patriarchal environment, is ludicrous. It is just another way for men not to take responsibility for their actions. Ask any anti-semite if they hate Jewish women.

8 anonymous on 2008 05 02

Many of the mitzvos in PArashas Kedoshim deal with how we treat our fellow Jews, hence, all men, women and children have to be holy.  If Hashem demands that we have to be holy, it’s not something unattainable.  It so happens that many of the mitzvos coincide with the Pirkei Avos Chapter 1.  We need to be holy in this generation, in order to nullify the “sinas chinam” that brought us out to galus.  And if Hashem put s it in the Torah, that means that we can do it.  It is not unattainable.  And in this generation, we have no choice left but to be holy.  We need redemption now.  Our enemies are killing us from all sides.

9 S.L. Atkin on 2008 05 02

I agree totally with all comments, most especially no. 8.  It is certainly the responsibility of the entire klal but it is not harmful to approach each segement of the klal individually to point out the unique responsibility of that portion of the group, in this case the noshim tzadkonios, which in its totality is bnai Yisroel.  In this way we are all able to understand the attainability of the goal of Kedusha.

10 lee anske on 2008 07 23

All the comments seem to have some trueness to them, but who is the next generation? the child, who raises the child?, who cares for the child?
Who has the Torah told us about when men fall a little short that carry out what G’d has put forth?

If you are not seeking to be Holy and walk as G’d has call all to do,what are you up too.

11 S.L. Atkin on 2008 07 27

It would seem a reasonable assumption that those going to this website are those who strive to achieve kedusha in their lives and the lives of their children as well.

12 Ephraim on 2009 05 01

Even though I observe here certain self gratifying consensus, I need to disagree, with all due respect. Yes, women are wonderful and holy and good. Usually, women are and were more dedicated to Yiddishkeit than men, and had it not been for the women, probably we were lost as a nation. But Chofetz Chaim knew perfectly well who he spoke to and why. Historically, at those times Mikvah attendance was gravitating to zero, and almost no women were covering their hair. This was true in traditionally observant Eastern Europe, and even more so was it true in Western Europe. This is a sad historical fact that we have to come to grips with. See Chofetz Chaim’s addresses and open letters about covering hair and observing Taharas HaMishpochah. In order to make sure that we are not making mistakes in the future, it is important that we don’t fall in complacency today about our yesterdays.
This fact does not mean that only women didn’t do things right. Obviously they followed the suit of men, but we have to be alert to the historical reality to understand the context of that particular event.
I am not in a position to judge anyone or to say that we are any better. All I am trying to say is that there was certain historical reality that Chofetz Chaim was dealing with, and our philosophizing about who he should have spoke to is irrelevant.

13 Michael Bierman on 2009 05 02

I was totally blown away by this week’s D’var Torah it exuded Kadusha- until I read the comments - why do we as a people have to nit pick every good d’rasha can’t we for once not be so literal and talmudic and historical and inquisitive and just acknowledge the spirituality of the moment? Rav Soloveitchik offered a similar comment to one of his outstanding students when the Rav suggested learning Tanya the student was turned off and became over critical of Chasidut. l

14 Daniel Eliezer on 2009 05 03

Ephraim is correct. The religious deterioration of the Jewish world after WWI was devastating (and would that we were only willing to admit and teach this), and it is against this background that the entirety of the Chafetz Chaim’s, zt"l, life must be viewed. Merely reading what the Chafetz Chaim said on the afternoon of the opening day of the first Agudath Israel’s convention in Vienna in 1923 says it all. The story, which is entitled “Sand in the Water”, can be found in The Maggid Speaks by Rabbi Payasch J. Krohn, copyright 1989, Art Scroll.  pp. 167-9

Had it not been the Chafetz Chaim who said it, these words would be lost forever. As it is, his words should be the charter of every Jewish religious school that’s existed since day the Chafetz Chaim spoke them. What a definition of “col Yisrael areivim zeh l’zeh.” The purest Chaftez Chaim.

Pertaining to “Kodoshim t’hiyu, ki kadosh ani HaShem Elokeichem”, a very sweet Jew, David Hertzberg, zt"l, in addressing the question of whether this is a commandment or a statement, quotes the Rav of Slobodka on the pasuk “v’ahavta l’raechah c’mocha, ani HaShem.” “Since our love for ourselves is natural love, not something that we have to be commanded, so, too, we must love each other naturally.”, thus we can read the pasuk, “We must love each other as naturally as we love ourselves, just as HaShem loves us naturally.

In the same way, just as HaShem is naturally kadosh, so, too, do we by doing what He asks of us become kadosh. It’s the natural outcome of doing holy things. we become holy.


15 Rabbi Moshe Edelman on 2011 04 29

A brilliant dvar Torah by Rav Haber. I had the zechut of being with him in Yerushalayim one afternoon with my wife who had worked with him. His understanding of the concept of kedusha and the role of women is vital for 21st century Jewry of every level of mitzvah observance. My ema from Czech prior to WW2 had to learn Hebrew “under the table” while her brother had a melamed. Her life of kedusha was not limited to the kitchen or tzniyut or taharat ha-mishpacha, it was IN the kehillah as a dugma to other non Orthodox women who needed to see and know a Jewish woman in USA who learned, lived, laughed, led as a Jew.  My fellow Conservative Jews can take this Chafetz Chaim story and grow from and with it. Kol HaKavod

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