Reflections from members of the CJLS https://www.rabbinicalassembly.org/index.php/jewish-law/committee-jewish-law-and-standards/reflections-members-cjls en Reflection from CJLS meeting on May 25, 2011 https://www.rabbinicalassembly.org/index.php/node/451 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Reflection from CJLS meeting on May 25, 2011</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><span lang="" about="/index.php/users/rabbsuperuser" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">rabbsuperuser</span></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Thu, 05/26/2011 - 14:11</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><div style="margin-bottom:10px"><b>Posted on: </b>Thursday May 26, 2011</div><p>By <a href="http://www.tbala.org/page.cfm?p=840" target="_blank">Adam Kligfeld</a>, Temple Beth Am, Los Angeles, CA<!--break--></p><p>I share with you one iinsight stemming from a <em>teshuvah </em>(legal responsum) we discussed this week at the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards on the question of the <em>heresh </em>(one who is deaf) and to what extent sign language can, halakhically, stand-in for speech when creating rituals that permit the non-hearing community to be as fully enfranchised within Jewish life as possible.  Many around the table got stuck on the matter of Torah-reading.  Blessings can be recited in any language, according to <em>halakhah</em>.  One may recite the <em>Amidah </em>in English.  And so there is no reason a non-hearing person cannot "recite" blessings using signs.  Does that extend to Torah-reading?  What is the status of a Torah-service in which the congregation is non-hearing, and at which the way that the Torah is read is by means of a non-hearing person reading directly from the Torah scroll, but instead of chanting/articulating what s/he reads simultaneously signs it?  Many agreed that while sign language is a/the primary language for the non-hearing community, the rendering of the words of the Torah into sign is, itself, a translation, a "<em>targum</em>" and not a direct recitation.  Most linguists consider sign language to be a language in and of itself.  American Sign Language differs from  Hebrew Sign Language, and Hebrew sign language is not, itself, Hebrew.  Nor is there any certain way to render biblical Hebrew into sign-language completely faithful to the nuance of the original.  Therefore, we would encourage the non-hearing community to experience the Torah in this way, to engage in learning the Torah this way, but we may not be able to claim, halakhically, that was is taking place is fulfillment of the mitzvah of "<em>kriat haTorah b'tzibbur</em>"--reading the Torah in public.</p> <p>What struck me in this exchange was the idea that, quietly, informed it: there is sanctity--unique, supreme, perhaps even mystical sanctity--to hearing our holy Torah chanted, perfectly, in the original.  Think about it.  For many regular shul-goers, Hebrew is not a fully, or immediately, comprehensible language.  This is true for many Torah-readers!  And so the exercise of reading Torah in our shuls often involves a non-Hebrew-speaker chanting Hebrew sounds/syllables to an audience that, mostly, does not understand the words.  And yet we consider that ritual to be, in its pristine state, so sacred and unimpeachable that we would consider a rendering of the Hebrew text into a medium that would be comprehensible (ie, English for our community, sign-language for the non-hearing community) somehow less than authentic. </p> <p>I raise this point not to question whether our association with Torah-in-Hebrew ought to persist; I believe it should.  I raise it to have us consider what it means for the individual Jew, and the community of Jews, to pray and, quite literally, "hear revelation" every week in a foreign language.  Religion pushes us beyond the rational, and engages the mystical.  Whether we are full-blown kabbalists who impute to each Hebrew letter unlimited power and import, or Jews looking to taste and touch  something of the transcendent, the Hebrew text, the Hebrew word and the Hebrew chant is our medium.  Let that sink in this weekend as you recite the Shema, savoring each syllable, asking yourself why it is more meaningful articulating "Sh'ma yis-ra-el..." than "Hear O Israel."  Consider it as you listen to the reader bring you in to Parshat Bemidbar in what is most likely not your natural tongue.  Let the Hebrew enter into your soul, to a place where, we believe, only it can reach.</p><p><em>Rabbi </em></p></div> <section class="field field--name-comment-node-story field--type-comment field--label-hidden comment-wrapper"> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-19268" class="comment js-comment by-anonymous"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1462187069"></mark> <footer class="comment__meta"> <p class="comment__submitted">Submitted by <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Amit (not verified)</span> on Fri, 11/27/2015 - 05:32</p> <a href="/index.php/comment/19268#comment-19268" hreflang="en">Permalink</a> </footer> <div class="content"> <h3><a href="/index.php/comment/19268#comment-19268" class="permalink" rel="bookmark" hreflang="en">tfOVWXGfMPxThMBdnsm</a></h3> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item">Wishing you all a safe and merry festive sesoan. I hope the new year brings you lots of happiness, laughter and love. All the best x x x</div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=19268&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="gpU6FRQV3RCAJuGLS3gpXZN7T6lC6afN0P7trjZceb8"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> </article> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=451&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="UctmKPu1n3j9m-kXKqi6w8HOMnDbfydfZCNK4Ih1fXo"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Thu, 26 May 2011 18:11:18 +0000 rabbsuperuser 451 at https://www.rabbinicalassembly.org https://www.rabbinicalassembly.org/index.php/node/451#comments Reflection #2 from CJLS meeting on May 25, 2011 https://www.rabbinicalassembly.org/index.php/node/453 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Reflection #2 from CJLS meeting on May 25, 2011</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><span lang="" about="/index.php/users/rabbsuperuser" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">rabbsuperuser</span></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Fri, 05/27/2011 - 09:49</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><div style="margin-bottom:10px"><b>Posted on: </b>Friday May 27, 2011</div><p>By <a href="http://rabbilubliner.wordpress.com/about/" target="_blank">Jonathan Lubliner</a>, Jacksonville Jewish Center in Jacksonville, FL<!--break--></p><p><em></em>At the most recent meeting of the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, we explored the issue of communal pray in a <em>minyan </em>for the non-hearing.  There was general consensus that the Talmudic era strictures placed upon the non-hearing were based on a lack of knowledge about the cognitive abilities of the deaf; had our rabbinic ancestors been privy to the information we possess, in all likelihood they would have framed the halakhah governing the <em>heresh </em>(one who is deaf) quite differently.  Committed though we are to the sources of our tradition, the Conservative approach to halakhah has never shied away from making use of scientific knowledge in framing new approaches to age-old questions as integral to the halakhic process.  It is not surprising, then, that members of the Committee agreed with near unanimity to the elimination of myriad constraints placed upon the ability of a non-hearing shaliah tzibbur (prayer leader) to lead services in sign language for the deaf community.</p><p>There was debate, however, over the permissibility of signing from the Torah as part of a communal Torah service in which individuals called to the scroll would recite the aliyah blessings.  If sign language is a language like any other, can it be said that signing is identical to “reading” the Hebrew words present on the scroll, or is the act more analogous to translating and interpreting the original in a different language?  While there is a long and venerable history to the translation of the Torah reading into the vernacular during worship, doing so has never served as a replacement for reading the Hebrew text in the original.</p><p>Beyond the specifics of any ritual discussion, halakhic discourse often furnishes us with a way to express profound truths unrelated to the parameters of the issue itself.  Ours is a tradition rich with multi-layered understandings of text, one in which we are invited to comment, interpret, and exercise our religious imagination.  Yet despite this license – or more correctly, because of it – our forebears insisted that the public reading of the Torah in Hebrew attest to an urtext of Jewish unity, a kind of foundational dinner plate upon which the delicacies of midrash might be heaped.  If the “Torah is a minimum of revelation and a maximum of interpretation,” as Abraham Joshua Heschel once noted, it is based on our common embrace of a single text, even if we sometimes understand that text differently from our ancestors or from one another.</p><p>This lesson is not only worth considering with the approach of Shavu’ot, but is particularly appropriate in a world where we often blur the distinctions between spin and plain meaning.  Rather than bother to read the speech of prominent political and cultural figures and then make up their own minds about what was (or wasn’t) said, too many rely on the blogosphere to tell them not only what was intended, but sometimes even what was articulated.  The danger lies not in using such filters to help us make better sense of the infinite sea of information through which we daily navigate, but in forgetting the substantive difference between an original and the distillation of its meaning through translation.</p></div> <section class="field field--name-comment-node-story field--type-comment field--label-hidden comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=453&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="FnKPX6zwUg2UHuNhEMfqY3ZKQxPjIkELrgteazfp2iU"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Fri, 27 May 2011 13:49:58 +0000 rabbsuperuser 453 at https://www.rabbinicalassembly.org https://www.rabbinicalassembly.org/index.php/node/453#comments Access & Equality: Reflections on the CJLS https://www.rabbinicalassembly.org/index.php/node/856 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Access &amp; Equality: Reflections on the CJLS</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><span lang="" about="/index.php/users/rabbsuperuser" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">rabbsuperuser</span></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Mon, 11/21/2011 - 11:15</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><div style="margin-bottom:10px"><b>Posted on: </b>Monday November 21, 2011</div><p>By <a href="http://test.uj2.org/Default.aspx?id=6268" target="_blank">Aaron Alexander</a>, Associate Dean, Ziegler School</p><p><!--break--></p><p>Last week we intensely and passionately discussed and debated no fewer than eight <em>halakhic </em>topics. However, this particular meeting illuminated one coherent theme: <strong>Access</strong>. Or, access, status, and equality in the light of Torah.<img src="https://www.rabbinicalassembly.org/index.php/sites/default/files/public/headshots/aaron-alexander2.png" style="border-style: initial; border-color: initial; margin-left: 0px; margin-right: 0px;" class="ra_client-image-class-1" width="85" height="101" /></p> <p>Access to Revelation.<br />Access to Authority.<br />Access to Relationships.<br />Access to God on behalf of the Community.</p> <p>We talked deeply about real issues and real people. While it is impossible to cover everything at once, significant change demands careful attention, more questions than answers, and a healthy realization that different people understand and intuit God's will and word in diverse and distinct, yet equally valid ways. </p> <p>(<em>What follows is <strong>my </strong>take on four of the issues discussed, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the entire CJLS, or individual members.)</em></p> <p><strong>Access to Revelation</strong>: Rabbi Pamela Barmash put forth an appendix to her already unanimously passed teshuvah, "<a href="https://www.rabbinicalassembly.org/index.php/sites/default/files/public/halakhah/teshuvot/2011-2020/Status%20of%20the%20Heresh6.2011.pdf" target="_blank">Status of the Heresh and of Sign Language</a>." One issue remained unresolved: whether or not a deaf community could hold a fully ritualized Torah reading in sign language, complete with blessings. Rabbi Barmash brought with her well respected members of the deaf community who addressed the CJLS with passion and eloquence.</p> <p>While the CJLS remains somewhat divided on whether or not sign language is 'reading' or 'translation', which impacts the Torah reading more than other rituals, Rabbi Barmash's teshuvah passed virtually unanimously. In this case, members of the Law Committee powerfully elevated inclusion and near-equal access to Torah for its deaf members of the Jewish community.</p> <p><strong>Access to Relationships: </strong>Rabbis Elliot Dorff, Avram Reisner and Danny Nevins put forth a worthy draft for a gay-marriage ceremony as a follow-up to their landmark teshuvah that passed in 2006. As the committee begins to fully unpack and internalize their effort, it is clear that the needs and rights of the gay community are being well considered within a framework of Halakhah and the Torah's most precious values.</p> <p><strong>Access to Authority: </strong>Rabbi Joseph Prouser presented a paper to rebut an unfortunate ruling by a prominent orthodox rabbi, that basically bans a convert from sitting on a Bet Din, even with all other qualifications being equal (see more <a href="http://hirhurim.blogspot.com/2009/03/may-convert-serve-on-bet-din-for.html" target="_blank">here</a>).</p> <p>Rabbi Prouser has written an extraordinary response in the form of a teshuvah for the Conservative Movement's <a href="https://www.rabbinicalassembly.org/index.php/practical-rabbinics/bet-din" target="_blank">Joint Bet Din</a>, bringing the best of <em>halakhic </em>discourse, academic rigor, and <em>aggadic </em>prose to strongly deflate any possible stringent opinion. In doing so, he beautifully reaffirms exactly how the Jewish community ought to treat and view those amongst us who make the holy choice to join Judaism - as nothing less than full Jews in every respect.</p> <p><strong>Access to God on behalf of the Community: </strong>Rabbi Gail Labovitz has addressed a question that has vexed living communities for quite some time. Knowing how essential and embedded the Yom Kippur fast is, may one who is unable to cease from eating based on medical advice (pregnancy, breastfeeding, etc..) still serve the community and God as Shaliah Tzibbur, prayer leader? Rabbi Labovitz's answer, Yes. While some restrictions will help guide the community in deciding how to implement this ruling, it is evident that Rabbi Labovitz has deftly utilized traditional sources and a realistic awareness of individual and communal needs to navigate this question. </p> <p>After spending a few days reflecting on my first CJLS meeting I feel nothing less than honored and humbled to be nestled amongst this brilliant and thoughtful group, doing this work, all in service of God, Torah and Israel.</p></div> <section class="field field--name-comment-node-story field--type-comment field--label-hidden comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=856&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="A29YHz88cOysZqm2oosBdp7pjCne-4u7G9TCcBOGxKQ"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Mon, 21 Nov 2011 16:15:58 +0000 rabbsuperuser 856 at https://www.rabbinicalassembly.org https://www.rabbinicalassembly.org/index.php/node/856#comments