Join Geoffrey Stern and Rabbi Roy Feldman on Clubhouse Friday July 23rd at 4:00pm (ET). as we use the iconic call to Faith of the Shema Yisrael to explore the complexity of faith and especially the contribution of the Mussar Movement and it’s rejection of “cheap faith” as opposed to the hard work of faith.
Join Geoffrey Stern and Rabbi Adam Mintz on Clubhouse Friday July 16th at 4:00pm (ET). We explore the sanctification of powerlessness in Rabbinic Judaism and the internalization of failure. We discuss the tendency of Jews to seek fault in themselves as individuals and as a people as part of a harmful pattern that gave rise to anti-Semitism.
Join Geoffrey Stern and Rabbi Adam Mintz on Clubhouse Friday July 9th at 4:00pm (ET). We use the compromise solution offered to the tribes of Reuben and Gad to settle on the West Bank of the Jordan River as an excuse to discuss the history of the concept of Greater Israel and the potential for Religious Peace Building in Modern Day Israel.
Join Geoffrey Stern and Rabbi Adam Mintz on Clubhouse Friday July 2nd at 4:00pm (ET). We use the intriguing case of the Daughters of Zelophechad to explore Patrilinear and Matrolinear decent in Judaism.
Join Geoffrey Stern and Rabbi Adam Mintz on Clubhouse Friday June 25th at 4:00pm (ET). As we identify the miracle of the Talking Ass as a singular gratuitous miracle which serves as neither a sign or lesson, punishes the wicked or provides a victory to the children of Israel. We use this as an excuse to explore the refreshingly ambivalent attitude of the Torah and Rabbinic Judaism to miracles.
Join Geoffrey Stern and Rabbi Adam Mintz on Clubhouse Friday June 18th at 4:00pm (ET). The Red Heifer purifies the defiled and defiles the pure and is universally taken as a commandment that defies reason and logic. According to science, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction so where’s the illogic? Even according to Rabbinic scholars such as Saadia Gaon and modern scholars such as Jacob Milgrom there is nothing unreasonable about this enigma. So why is the ḥoq of the Red Heifer so troubling. Why does it keep God up at night?
Join Geoffrey Stern and Rabbi Adam Mintz on Clubhouse Friday June 11th at 4:00pm (ET). A “Talit that is wholly blue” (טלית שכולה תכלת); arguably the first fashion statement, has entered popular Jewish and Israeli folklore and culture. We use this popular account of the Korach rebellion to continue our exploration of the Bible’s rejection of class privilege, pride, entitlement, and the corruption that they invite and a democratized vision for Judaism and Israel.
Join Geoffrey Stern and Rabbi Adam Mintz on Clubhouse Friday June 4th at 4:00pm (ET). We will explore the thoughts of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, Rabbi Yitz Greenberg and Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach with regard to what it takes to build a homeland, renew a people and to find a lovemate….
Join Geoffrey Stern and Rabbi Adam Mintz on Clubhouse Friday May 28th at 4:00pm (ET). We theorize regarding the relationship between the Biblical Pesach Sheni (2nd Passover) and the later instituted Ibur Shana (Leap year). We hypothesize regarding the theological and social ramifications of correcting an irregular and seemingly imperfect planetary system.
Why and when did matrilineal descent become the norm within Judaism?
In this Mother’s Day episode of the Madlik Podcast we explore the emergence and stature of matrilineal descent within Judaism, an otherwise male dominated and patrilineal religion and legal society.
Recorded live at TCS, The Conservative Synagogue of Westport Connecticut we come to the surprising conclusion that the introduction of matrilineal descent might have more to do with removing any stigma attached to a captured and redeemed single-mother and less to do with the status of the child.
As part of the historic handover of Japan’s imperial throne on Wednesday, the incoming emperor, Naruhito, will receive a sword, a jewel and official seals in a sacred ceremony that dates back thousands of years.
But the new empress, Masako, Naruhito’s wife of 26 years, will not be allowed to attend — another illustration of the diminished status of women in the imperial family, and of the challenges women face more broadly in Japanese society.
Under the Imperial Household Law, which governs the line of succession as well as most matters of protocol related to Japan’s monarchy, women in the royal family are not permitted to be in the room when the new emperor receives the sacred regalia signifying his rightful succession to the world’s oldest monarchy.
You shall not intermarry with them: do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons. For they will turn your children away from Me to worship other gods, and the LORD’s anger will blaze forth against you and He will promptly wipe you out.
Now then, let us make a covenant with our God to expel all these women and those who have been born to them, in accordance with the bidding of the Lord and of all who are concerned over the commandment of our God, and let the Teaching be obeyed.
Wherever there is [a valid] betrothal and no sin, the child follows the male [with regard to familial status].
Which is this? This is a Kohenet, a Levite woman, or an Israelite woman who married a Kohen, a Levite or an Israelite.
Wherever there is [a valid] betrothal and there is a sin, the child follows the defective one.
Which is this? This is a widow married to the Kohen Gadol [High Priest], a divorcee or a chalutzah [the widow of a childless man released from the obligation of levirate marriage by a ceremony performed by her brother-in-law] [married] to an ordinary Kohen, a mamzeret [the female offspring of certain prohibited relationships who may not marry into the general Jewish population] or a Netina [female Gibeonite] to an Israelite, a female Israelite to a mamzer or Netina.
[With] any [woman] for whom there is no betrothal to him, but there is betrothal to others, the child is a mamzer.
Which is this? This is one who has sexual intercourse with any one of the forbidden sexual relations [mentioned] in the Torah.
Any [woman] for whom there is no betrothal either to him or to others, the child is like her.
Which is this? This is the child of a [non-Jewish] maidservant or a non-Jewish woman.
Aha Sar HaBirah and R. Tanhum bdR Hiyya from K’far Akko redeemed captive women… one of whom had been impregnated by a Gentile. They came to R. Ami, who said to them: R. Yohanan, R. Elazar, R. Hanina all say: When a Gentile or a slave has intercourse with a Jewish woman, the child is a mamzer. Said R. Yosef: Is it a great trick to mention many names? Rav and Shmuel in Bavel, and R. Yehoshua b. Levi and Bar Kappara in Eretz Yisrael… all say that when a Gentile or a slave has intercourse with a Jewish woman, the child is kasher! … When a Gentile or a slave has intercourse with a Jewish woman, the child is a mamzer. R. Yehoshua b. Levi says the child is mekulkal. Abaye said to him: Why do you rely on R. Dimi [to establish that Rabbi [Yehudah HaNasi]’s position was that the child is a mamzer], rely on Rabin! For when Rabin came, he said: R. Natan and R. Yehudah HaNasi rule permissively… Babylonian Talmud Yevamot 44b-45b[i]
רבי אחא שר הבירה ור’ תנחום בריה דרבי חייא איש כפר עכו פרוק הנהו שבוייתא דאתו מארמון לטבריא הוה חדא דאעברא מעובד כוכבים ואתו לקמיה דר’ אמי אמר להו ר’ יוחנן ור’ אלעזר ור’ חנינא דאמרי עובד כוכבים ועבד הבא על בת ישראל הולד ממזר
אמר רב יוסף רבותא למחשב גברי הא רב ושמואל בבבל ורבי יהושע בן לוי ובר קפרא בארץ ישראל ואמרי לה חלופי בר קפרא ועיילי זקני דרום דאמרי עובד כוכבים ועבד הבא על בת ישראל הולד כשר
אלא אמר רב יוסף רבי היא דכי אתא רב דימי אמר רבי יצחק בר אבודימי משום רבינו אמרו עובד כוכבים ועבד הבא על בת ישראל הולד ממזר
רבי יהושע בן לוי אומר הולד מקולקל למאן אילימא לקהל הא אמר רבי יהושע הולד כשר אלא לכהונה דכולהו אמוראי דמכשרי מודו שהולד פגום לכהונה
מק”ו מאלמנה מה אלמנה לכהן גדול שאין איסורה שוה בכל בנה פגום זו שאיסורה שוה בכל אינו דין שבנה פגום
מה לאלמנה לכהן גדול שכן היא עצמה מתחללת הכא נמי כיון שנבעלה פסלה
דאמר רבי יוחנן משום רבי שמעון מנין לעובד כוכבים ועבד הבא על הכהנת ועל הלויה ועל הישראלית שפסלוה שנאמר (ויקראכב, יג) ובת כהן כי תהיה אלמנה וגרושה מי שיש לו אלמנות וגירושין בה יצאו עובד כוכבים ועבד שאין להם אלמנות וגירושין בה
אמר ליה אביי מאי חזית דסמכת אדרב דימי סמוך אדרבין דכי אתא רבין אמר רבי נתן ורבי יהודה הנשיא מורים בה להיתירא ומאן רבי יהודה הנשיא רבי
6. Reform Responsa
The concept of paternity as the determining factor in progeny being considered as having Jewish descent is a constant in the Hebrew Bible, as the authors of the Report elaborated: “both the Biblical and the Rabbinical traditions take for granted that ordinarily the paternal line is decisive in the tracing of descent within the Jewish people.” Numerous examples in the Hebrew Bible determine a child’s status by the father’s tribe. The Report further asserts, “in the Rabbinic tradition, this tradition remains in force,” citing as prooftexts examples of Priestly status–“the child of an Israelite who marries a Kohenet is an Israelite” and the Talmudic precept, “the most important parental responsibility to teach Torah rested with the father (Kiddushin 29a; df. Shulchan Aruch, Yoredeah 245.1).” Only in the case where “the marriage was considered not to be licit, the child of that marriage followed the status of the mother (Mishna Kiddushin 3.12, havalad kemotah).” The Report offers a sociological interpretation of the reason for matrilineal descent in illicit unions: “the woman with her child had no recourse but to return to her own people.[ii]
In Contemporary Israel – The Problem
Lev Paschov, an Israeli soldier who immigrated to Israel under the Law of Return from the Former Soviet Union, was killed while on active duty in Southern Lebanon in 1993, and buried twice. He was first interred in a regular Israeli military cemetery, but after it was discovered that his mother was not Jewish, his body was exhumed, and Paschov was buried a second time, in a cemetery for non-Jews.
For many Israelis, the macabre end of Paschov’s brief life journey was deeply disturbing. How was it possible that someone could be welcomed to Israel under the Law of Return, serve the Jewish state’s army, and die defending his adopted homeland, and still not be considered Jewish enough to be buried alongside his comrades?[iii]
Return to Patrilineal descent in Israel
Responsa of Rabbi BenZion Meir Hai Uziel, the chief rabbi of Israel in the 1940s and 1950
…From here we learn,that a patrilineal Jew brought by his father for a conversion should be accepted by the beit din. Even though this child is called the child of the Gentile woman, he is still considered zera yisrael (of Jewish stock)… everyone agrees that children of a Jewish man born to a Gentile woman are called zera yisrael, therefore, when the father brings him to convert, the child reverts to his original lineage. Responsa Piskei Uzziel BeShe’eilot Hazeman #64[iv]
…מכאן אנו לומדים במכל שכן כשגוי זה הוא בן ישראל מנכרית ואביו מביאו להתגייר שבי”ד נזקקים לגרותו משום דאע”ג שהוא נקרא בנה של הנכרית אינו יוצא מכלל זרע ישראל… הלכך כשאביו הביאו להתגייר חוזר הילד לעיקר זרעו, … הא למדת דבן הבא מן הנכרית נקרא זרעו של ישראל ועובר עליו משום ומזרעך לא תתן להעביר למולך, הלכך אם בא לגיירו מצוה עלינו להזדקק לגרותו כדי לכפר עון האב מאחרי הגרות ולבל ידח ממנו נדח. ואין לחוש שמא יגרר אחרי אמו דאדרבא אם דוחים אותו ועוקרים אותו ממקור חייו וזרעו שהוא אביו ודאי שיטמע בין הגויים ויכפור באלהי ישראל, וישנא תכלית שנאה את היהדות ותורתה…
Feminist Response – Irony
I hope it is not impertinent, for someone writing thousands of miles distant from the great country in which the women’s liberation movement has made such rapid strides, to express astonishment that the clamor to change an ancient law which makes Jewish status depend on the mother should have originated in that very country.
10. Feminist Response – The Jewish Community’s “Need” to Punish Men Who Intermarry
Judith Hauptmann, a Talmud scholar widely known for her work in advancing feminist scholarship of Judaism. … proceeds to argue that the modern Jewish community should not rescind matrilineal descent because doing so would have the effect of removing a punishment against Jewish men who intermarry.[vi]
Matrilineal descent Redux
Hence a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, so that they become one flesh Genesis 2: 24
[v]Originally published in Judaism 34.1 (Winter 1985), 55-59.
[vi] Patrilineal Descent–an Examination of Non-Lineal Descent.” Judaism, Winter 1985, pp. 46-50.
[vii] Laws regarding a Bat Levi as relates to the redemption of the first born son: If the father is a kohen or a levi, or if the mother is the daughter of a cohen or a levi, there is no mitzvah of pidyon haben (Shulchan Aruch 305:18).
If a boy is born from a non-Jewish father and a bas levi, there is also no mitzvah of pidyon haben since his mother is the daughter of a levi. However, if a boy is born from a non-Jewish father and a bas kohen, a pidyon haben is performed. Since the daughter of the kohen has violated her kedusha by having relations with a gentile, she loses her hallachic status as a bas kohen (Shulchan Aruch 305:18). Similarly, if a bas yisroel has a child with a non-Jew, a pidyon haben is performed. The Aruch Hashulchan comments that in this scenario it is difficult to ascertain who is obligated to perform the pidyon haben. The father, who is not Jewish, is obviously not obligated to perform this or any mitzvah. The mother is exempt as well, as this mitzvah is never the obligation of the mother (as we shall explain). Rather, in this case the child should perform his own pidyon when he reached the age of thirteen. Other poskim disagree and feel that the beis din should perform the pidyon right away- see Igros Moshe Y.D. 195 and Sheilas Yeshurun page 140.
The mishna taught that Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel said: There were no days as happy for the Jewish people as the fifteenth of Av and as Yom Kippur.
However, what is the special joy of the fifteenth of Av? Rav Yehuda said that Shmuel said: This was the day on which the members of different tribes were permitted to enter one another’s tribe, by intermarriage. It was initially prohibited to intermarry between tribes, so as to keep each plot of land within the portion of the tribe that originally inherited it. This halakha was instituted by the Torah in the wake of a complaint by the relatives of the daughters of Zelophehad, who were worried that if these women married men from other tribes, the inheritance of Zelophehad would be lost from his tribe (see Numbers 36:1–12).
What did they expound, in support of their conclusion that this halakha was no longer in effect? The verse states: “This is the matter that the Lord has commanded concerning the daughters of Zelophehad, saying: Let them marry whom they think best; only into the family of the tribe of their father shall they marry” (Numbers 36:5). They derived from the verse that this matter shall be practiced only in this generation, when Eretz Yisrael was divided among the tribes, but afterward members of different tribes were permitted to marry. On the day this barrier separating the tribes was removed, the Sages established a permanent day of rejoicing.
א”ר שמעון ב”ג לא היו ימים טובים לישראל כחמשה עשר באב וכיוה”כ: בשלמא יום הכפורים משום דאית ביה סליחה ומחילה יום שניתנו בו לוחות האחרונות
אלא ט”ו באב מאי היא אמר רב יהודה אמר שמואל יום שהותרו שבטים לבוא זה בזה
מאי דרוש (במדבר לו, ו) זה הדבר אשר צוה ה’ לבנות צלפחד וגו’ דבר זה לא יהא נוהג אלא בדור זה