Archive for February 11th, 2010

Using Compassion in Determining Halacha: An Early 20th Century Example

Rabbi David Tzvi Hoffman was a most unusual rabbi for his time. His attitudes toward a perspective convert was pretty liberal–especially when compared to the positions taken by numerous Modern Orthodox and Haredi rabbis living today. It is unfortunate the past generations of rabbinic scholarship expressed far more imagination and creativity than the newer generations of rabbinic leaders we have today.

R. Hoffman was born in Verbo, Hungary in 1843, and he died in Berlin in 1921. His great erudition encompassed all ...

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Why the Hatzolah Rescue Units ought to make us all proud . . .

An interesting new story broke out in the Israeli papers yesterday. Haredi rabbis are upset over Mogen David Adom (the Israeli equivalent to the Red Cross) placing a station in the heart of the Haredi community in Jerusalem. They are objecting to the lack of “modesty clad” women who would be assigned to the station.They fear that the ladies walking around the community in unacceptable garb might  violate the community tznius (modesty) code. Although some authorities suggested placing the station ...

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Authentic Mysticism vs. McMysticism

A true Jewish mystic doesn’t need to use hype or self-promotion like  Rabbi Yitzchak Batzri’s snake-oil charms. Any self-respecting Kabbalist shouldn’t live for the next photo-op.

Martin Buber has always been a great inspiration to me. His views on Jewish mysticism are grounded in the interpersonal realm of the ethical. We meet God when we respect the Other who is before us. Emmanuel Levinas expresses a similar thought in many of his writings as well, but Buber still remains my favorite.

Historically, ...

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Hell has no fury like a Dybbuk scorned . . .

The story about Rabbi Yitzchak Batzri’s exorcism continues to surprise me. How can anyone be so gullible?

Channel 10 archives produced another one of the Kabbalist’s exorcisms involving a woman who claimed to be possessed by the spirit of her deceased husband, who had died about two-and-a-half years earlier. The man was believed to be a drunk who neglected to say Kaddish over his parents and dead sister. To make a long story short, the woman speaks in a deep voice ...

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Rabbi Yitzchak Batzri–The Telegenic Exorcist Extraordinaire

Most people usually associate exorcism with the rites seen in the Catholic Church, but how many people are aware that exorcism rites exist also in Jewish tradition? Well, recently in the news once again [1], a Rabbi Yitzchak  Batzri, a telegenic exorcist extraordinaire, recently attempted to exorcize a “dybbuk” – an evil or morally demented spirit that has seized possession of a person. It is also known as “spirit possession.”

According to the news, a Brazilian man claimed that a dybbuk ...

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