From the Desk - Ivanka, Jared and Shabbat
Shalom Friends! It was a wonderful Shavuot here at Beth Ora. We had a great evening program on the first night. I gave classes on Shabbat Microphones and Women Presidents and we were treated to a fascinating presentation from Rabbi Heshy on The Oral Law and an inspiring class from Rabbi Raphael Bensimon of Petach Tikva Kollel on the way in which Torah commitment transforms our lives. The rest of the festival was also wonderful and included some great kids' activities and a talk on the Book of Esther from Rebbetzin Carly. Coming up on June 14th is the first of our summer BBQs! Please join us at 6:00 pm for a wonderful community event. More programs are coming our way so watch this space for more details! We wish to extend our deep condolences to Eva Kardos on the passing of her mother, Elizabeth Kardos z"l, to Faygie (Frances) Spodek on the loss of her sister Susan Brisgel z"l and to Steven Davidovics on the loss of his mother, Mania Davidovics z"l. May they all be comforted by good memories and may they only know happy times in the future. Sadly, the world saw more terrorism this week with the brutal attacks in London. There are many ways to respond to such tragedy. One way is to publicize the behavior of those who behave with love and respect and eschew hatred and discrimination. I found this story to be quite inspiring. The rest is left to us. How will each of us and we as a community ensure that love and kindness prevail and that evil terrorists do not have the last word in determining what kind of world we live in? On a happier note, we wish a big Mazel tov to Manny and Hoda Dalfen on the engagement of their grandson, Elyasaf, to Moria! May they and we have much nachas and ongoing simcha! Please G-d, this week should be one of blessing and peace. Wishing you all Shabbat Shalom, Rabbi Anthony and Carly Knopf Dovid, Rachelli Yehuda and Avrami
What's the Deal with.... Ivanka, Jared and Shabbat? Much publicity has been given to the fact that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner observe Shabbat. At the same time, the media has also picked up on some puzzling exceptions to their observance. I am indebted to Rabbi Gil Student's article on this topic in which he discusses this. Without knowing exactly what the reasons were for this (though accepting that they may well be valid), it's interesting to mention some of the extreme cases where Halacha allows what would otherwise be forbidden Shabbat activity. The Book of Maccabees tells how the ancient Jews were hesitant to fight the Greeks on Shabbat until they realized it was necessary in order to save lives. This is the rule of thumb: when lives are at risk, we may set aside Shabbat restrictions. This is not a carte blanche. Medical personnel receive detailed training regarding which circumstances merit Shabbat violation and the Israeli army has a military rabbinate trained to advise on these issues. Orthodox Jewish doctors regularly consult rabbis concerning what they may do on Shabbat. Sometimes, policy debates rise to the level that justifies minor Shabbat violations. Sometimes, when lives may be immediately saved, they justify major violations. Observant Jews involved in high-level American politics have carefully balanced the needs of the American public with their personal religious needs. Senator Joseph Lieberman and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew are two observant Jews who refrained from work on Shabbat but sought rabbinic guidance concerning when exceptions were allowed. Jared and Ivanka Kushner are observant Jews who advise the president on potentially lifesaving policy decisions. They too seek rabbinic guidance on how to observe Shabbat while still advising the leader of the free world.