Saturday, May 14, 2022

Problematic Contemporary Halakhists

How should Jews react to the repeal of Roe vs. Wade, such that various states in America are at liberty to ban abortion? The OU released a very cautious statement explaining that they can neither applaud nor condemn it, since Judaism's position is complicated, varies from case to case, and does not neatly line up with either the pro-life or pro-choice position. Rav Jeremy Wieder of YU, in an interview on the always-excellent Orthodox Conundrum podcast (Spotify/ Apple), says that a repeal is unfortunate, because the consequences of abortion being unavailable even in cases where halachically necessary are more serious than the consequences of it being available even when not halachically permitted. 

Rabbi Dr. J. David Bleich, author of Contemporary Halachic Problems, on the other hand, unreservedly applauds the repeal, in a very disturbing article published on Cross-Currents. His article is deeply problematic for several reasons:

1) Detachment from Reality

Since even the more conservative halachic authorities permit (and even require) abortion in certain cases, what happens if a woman in an anti-abortion state needs one? R. Bleich claims that the Orthodox community will create a fund to finance such a person flying to a state that permits it, after receiving permission from the fund's Posek. Does this really sound plausible? Some teenage girl from a frum family, raped by her rosh yeshiva uncle, is going to come forward to a rabbinic committee and testify that she was raped? And then she will be given thousands of dollars to fly to a different state and receive medical care and recuperate there? 

And where is this money going to come from? Who exactly is going to be raising it? It won't be R. Bleich, unless the Posek for the fund ignores the views of most halachic authorities and takes the exact same extreme stringent view on this topic as R. Bleich does!

2) Callousness

The sheer callousness of R. Bleich's essay is jarring. There is no expression of sympathy for the girls and women who really need abortions and will now have the greatest difficulty in getting one. And if they do get one, in many cases it will be out of their home state and away from their homes and families. I'll quote from a friend of mine in the US who is a community activist:

"All I'm saying is that if you've never been asked to find a rav for a chassidish girl scared that her brother impregnated her while raping her so she could ask for a heter to get an abortion, maybe shut up about it.
"Maybe if you've never been involved in a case where someone was raped by a family member and because they're not allowed to drive they have to beg their mother to get them a pregnancy test because their period was late after being raped, I don't really want to hear your opinions.
"Maybe if you've never had anyone crying to you on the phone about how terrified they are of being pregnant because they know they won't survive it and can't afford an abortion, stick your "principled conservative" nonsense somewhere else.
"Spend a few years doing the work I do and you'll realize really quickly why easy access to abortion is critical."

3) Racism

I was horrified to read the following paragraph:

"No Jewish woman is likely to die in the wake of its repeal. Abortion for medical need will continue to be available in most, and probably all, jurisdictions. If any lives are lost it will be because of inability to afford the expense of travel, not because of constitutional impediment."

Great, so no Jewish woman is likely to die. Only non-Jewish women, who don't have the financial support network of a Jewish community, will die. And so there's no reason not to celebrate the repeal.

If Cross-Currents is not sensitive to the inherent callousness of such a statement, I would have thought that they would at least have the sense to think about the ramifications of such a thing appearing in print.

4) Intellectual Dishonesty

And now we get to the meat of the problem - R. Bleich's sheer intellectual dishonesty in his halachic presentation. 

"Rambam, Noda bi-Yehuda, R. Chaim Soloveichik and R. Moshe Feinstein (and, at least in one pronouncement, the Israeli Chief Rabbinate as well) – and that list is far from exhaustive – unequivocally found feticide to be a non-capital form of homicide justifiable only if the fetus itself poses a threat to the mother."

Actually, the truth is that far from Rambam's view being "unequivocally" as R. Bleich claims, there are many scholars who interpret Rambam's view differently. A dozen other rabbinic authorities, including such luminaries as R. Yechezekel Landau, Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzinski, and Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer, understand Rambam to mean that the fetus is less than a full human life. According to these views, abortion is not homicide - and it therefore may be permitted even in certain cases where there is no mortal threat to the mother. R. Bleich knows about all these other views, since he's written about them himself - how can he now pretend that they don't exist?

Furthermore, Rambam is hardly the only Rishon to weigh in on this matter. He's not even the majority view. Most Rishonim and Acharonim are of the view that a fetus is not a "nefesh" and thus abortion is not a form of homicide. Precisely for this reason, there is great debate as to what the nature of the prohibition of abortion is, and whether it is a Biblical or rabbinic prohibition; some rate it as chavalah, wounding the mother, while others see it as an extrapolation from the prohibition against wasting seed. And according to those who take the latter view, there is consequently much greater scope for leniency. Again, R. Bleich knows this - why is he presenting such a distorted picture here? (There's an excellent discussion of the whole topic by Rav Eliezer Melamed, now in English translation at this link.)

R. Bleich continues:

"Rabbi Feinstein was an extremely pleasant, sweet, mild-mannered and tolerant person. Yet, when confronted by a much more permissive responsum of a respected rabbinic figure he did not hesitate to write in response, “May his Master forgive him.” 

Yes, that is true. However, it is also true that there was a respected rabbinic figure who felt that it was Rabbi Feinstein that was badly mistaken here. I'm referring, of course, to the one that Rabbi Feinstein was arguing with, Rav Eliezer Waldenberg, the Tzitz Eliezer. On what grounds does R. Bleich simply dismiss him, not even mentioning him by name, merely because Rav Moshe Feinstein disagreed with him? Furthermore, there were many other Poskim who respected Rav Waldenberg's approach, and would send women to him to receive a heter for abortion. How can R. Bleich simply dismiss them all and refuse to acknowledge their existence?

R. Bleich continues further:

"As far as non-Jews are concerned, there is not even a scintilla of controversy. Abortion is an even more grievous offense under the provisions of the Noachide Code.”

Again, this is a distortion. Yes, the punishment in cases of forbidden abortion is more strict for non-Jews, and yes, there are some halachic authorites who take a more stringent approach  regarding abortion in general with non-Jews. But there are others who disagree. Rav Eliezer Melamed writes as follows: "It appears that regarding the permission for abortion in a case of serious illness, the rules of Jews and Noachides are the same, and whenever it is permitted for a Jew to have an abortion, it is equally permissible for a Noachide."

Now, R. Bleich certainly does not need to agree with Rav Melamed. But it is dishonest and wrong to claim that he doesn't exist!

Conclusion

If you've been following R. Bleich's various positions over the last few years, as discussed in several posts here, all this will unfortunately come as no surprise. 

Several years ago, R. Bleich wrote an article about Chazal and science in which he ignored the existence of views which say that Chazal could have based halacha on scientific error. I wrote a letter to Tradition pointing out the existence of such views. R. Bleich wrote a twenty-page response, dripping with condescension, futilely attempting to justify why he had pretended that those views do not exist, and claiming that it is impossible and unacceptable to say that Chazal mistakenly believed in spontaneous generation - either they didn't believe in it, or it really exists! You can read the comments of Professor Lawrence Kaplan and myself regarding R. Bleich's article at this link.

(Note that R. Bleich's refusal to acknowledge that Chazal's knowledge of science was deficient has very serious ramifications. It means that his ruling against organ donation, based on his "deductions" about Chazal's view on brain death, is fundamentally mistaken.)

A few years later, R. Bleich made the incredible statement that Rambam - the rationalist par excellence - does not "explicitly deny" the possibility that certain people can "employ metaphysical or transnatural powers to achieve physical ends." As I pointed out at the time, it's also the case that Rabbi Bleich does not explicitly deny the possibility that he considers me to be the Gadol HaDor, but I still wouldn't ascribe that belief to him! Is Rabbi Bleich unaware of Rambam's deep philosophical opposition to the notion of changing the natural order through supernatural means, or is he in denial of it? Neither reflects well on him.

Then, there was a bizarre interview with R. Bleich about methodology of psak, in which he claimed that "there is no such thing as a machmir and a meikil. Anyone who talks in that language is not a posek." He also claimed that neither he nor any legitimate posek could ever change their approach over time. I discovered that Rav Aharon Lichtenstein ztz"l had long been bothered by such statements by R. Bleich, and wrote an article in which he emphatically pointed out that major Poskim such as Rav Chaim of Volozhin both used the terminology of machmirim and meikilim, and admitted to changing their approach over time. (Though I suppose that if R. Bleich can negate the existence and legitimacy of countless Rishonim and Acharonim and contemporary Poskim regarding abortion, he can do the same for Rav Chaim of Volozhin.)

The problem is this. Since R. Bleich teaches in YU, is very knowledgeable about certain areas of secular knowledge, and writes in a highfalutin style, many people in the Centrist and Modern Orthodox community assume that he is a great authority who shares their basic epistemology and worldview, rather than recognizing that this enlightened exterior conceals an anti-rationalist worldview and intellectually dishonest approach no different from the standard traditionalist charedi Gedolim. In the case of brain death, this has led to organs being unavailable for those who desperately need them, and now it may lead to women who desperately need abortions being unable to obtain them. It's unfortunate to have to expose the flaws in his approach, and it will doubtless lead to people slamming me as being "disrespectful", but it's important, and potentially even life-saving.


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74 comments:

  1. So let me get this straight. It's alright for you to bash for Rabbi Bleich for pilpul he wrote years ago about Rambam's approach to supernatural powers; and yet you feel free to twist and turn to avoid the clear psak of the Rambam that a gentile is chayav mita for abortion? Certainly, the Rambam very well could have agreed that genuine medical needs might change that ruling; but nothing Rav Bleich wrote disagrees with that. The quote from a friend of yours is even more shocking; you regularly inveigh against chassidim for only caring about their own community. Should I, as a modern orthodox Jew, let what I believe is the murder of millions of unborn continue just because a tiny fraction of those cases involve my own community?

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    1. Abortion might be wrong, but it certainly isn't murder. At least, not in traditional Judaism.

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    2. Yitzchak, if a gentile is chayav mita for abortion, saying it's not murder is a distinction without a difference.

      But to recognize such broad and firm distinctions between us and them flies in the face of the "rationalist" Judaism agenda. And it most definitely has an agenda.

      The status of "not murder" only applies to Jews anyway, but it is still forbidden in the vast majority of scenarios considered. All one has to do is consider the absolutely absurd hypothetical scenarios (and false dichotomies) proposed to justify abortion, or any other evil they embrace and call good. Rape and incest and the like are unseemly, but they are not justifications for abortion or liberal laws on the subject. Such an exception wouldn't be a bad start anyway, since you'd eliminate 99% or more of abortions with one act.

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    3. A gentile is also theoretically chayav mita for petty theft. Maybe abortion is more like petty theft than like murder?

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  2. I am Yaacov and I didn't write the above comment.

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  3. This is for the legislature who represents the people.

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  4. As a former fan of yours, I wonder if there's any great "rationalist" position you've arrived at in the past 10 years that wasn't in accordance with the views of the contemporary liberal establishment.

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    1. To call the Tzitz Eliezer "the contemporary liberal establishment" is laughable.

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    2. The contemporary liberal establishment insists on the availability of abortion on demand for any or no reason beyond the point of viability. Halachic sources may allow for abortion under extremely limited circumstances. The contemporary Orthodox liberal conflates the two: "A hassidic girl was raped by her brother? Maybe shut up about any restrictions on abortion."

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    3. Al Eileh Ani BochiyahMay 15, 2022 at 9:24 PM

      Solid point. Slifkin is really a wannabe Jewish liberal. Deep down he knows their wrong, but he wishes he was that. We love abortion! Yay! We love killing tiny babies!

      The proof is, his critique of a halachic-based response, begins with addressing, not halacha, but callousness and racism.

      Let's get this straight. What happened to the callousness toward the innocent baby that wronged nobody and just wants to live?

      Besides, he gives terrible examples of rape and suffering. Nobody said it isn't horrific. But you are, classically, avoiding the point. Those people need the most care they can possibly get. But we are dealing with another question altogether.

      Is that so hard to understand? Suppose someone is born into poverty and is caught stealing. The Slifkins of the world would not penalize them because of their unfortunate circumstances.

      If it was during the times of the Sanhedrin and someone was on trial for sodomy or carrying in a public domain on Sabbath, he would argue about how horrific it is to end a life. But that is not the point of the matter.

      Then comes an even sillier argument. He is angered about racism. The focus on Jewish women. Um, yeah because the rabbi is Jewish and is writing for a Jewish readership, you silly goose.

      Slifkin wants abortion-on-demand to exist, to help in cases of medical emergency. Did you ever dream that a better situation is, where abortion is outlawed, with a clause allowing for medical emergencies? Is the only solution in your world, that abortion-on-demand be fully permitted, to be there for emergencies, where over 90% of abortions are elective?

      Finally, it surely makes sense in such cases to be machmir and lean toward the majority halachic opinion, which includes the greatest halachists of recent times, where human life is at stake. One who runs toward some minority opinion, and tries to extend it as far as possible, demonstrates that he is a liberal or a liberal wannabe, who should never ever be taken seriously.

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    4. "Al Eileh", you clearly did not actually try to understand a single word in this article. Where did RNS say he thinks abortion is a good thing? What the article actually said is that the position of Halacha, according to most poskim, is different from the Catholic/Evangelical position which you clearly support, and offers more nuance in defining the status of the fetus and of the act of abortion. As frum Jews, who believe that Halacha, not MAGA, reflects the correct behavior for a Jewish person, we aught to believe that abortion should be allowed, under the circumstances in which it's halachically permissible, and required under the circumstances in which Halacha requires it. This position is much better supported under the current "roe" framework.

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    5. When the Professor left traditional Judaism for the halls of academia, it was a lead pipe cinch that the replacement religion of liberalism would soon follow. I mean, a dead bang certainty. And sure enough, it wasn't long before he labeled other orthodox Jews (but not himself) as racists, homophobes, misogynists' - every Ani Maamin of liberalism, to a T. Nu - did you expect abortion would be any different?

      Gn. Pckls.

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  5. Anonymous read Rationalism v.s. Mysticism by RNS and you will understand what he is talking about.This issue is not about liberalism but rather about two
    different approaches to Judaism.


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  6. "I'll quote from a friend of mine in the US who is a community activist:"

    And hardly a paragon of rationalism. I guess we all have our blind spots. What a pity that yours is apparently millions of dead babies.

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    1. What informs that assertion that abortion results in a "dead baby?" Does the Maharit agree? The Yaavetz? How about Tosafos in Niddah?

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    2. What we still need to know is how abortionists think it's a mothers sole right to choose, yet a) they can't define a "mother" in the first place, b) if the baby lives the father is somehow responsible to pay for it, and c) these same "my body my choice" proponents were also among the biggest supporters of forced vaccine mandates. This is what happens when liberal values replace authentic ones. Total mess of hypocrisy and confusion.
      Grn. Pkls.

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    3. Such a silly argument. "Let's embrace the Catholic view on abortion, because the woke crowd is so stupid."

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    4. Yours is even dumber. "Let's embrace the woke crowd, because the Catholic view isn't identical with halacha on every possible point."

      GP

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  7. בֶּן נֹחַ שֶׁהָרַג נֶפֶשׁ אֲפִלּוּ עֵבָּר בִּמְעֵי אִמּוֹ נֶהֱרָג עָלָיו. וְכֵן אִם הָרַג טְרֵפָה אוֹ שֶׁכְּפָתוֹ וּנְתָנוֹ לִפְנֵי אֲרִי אוֹ שֶׁהִנִּיחוֹ בָּרָעָב עַד שֶׁמֵּת. הוֹאִיל וְהֵמִית מִכָּל מָקוֹם נֶהֱרָג. וְכֵן אִם הָרַג רוֹדֵף שֶׁיָּכוֹל לְהַצִּילוֹ בְּאֶחָד מֵאֵיבָרָיו נֶהֱרָג עָלָיו. מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל:
    "A non-Jew who kills someone, even a fetus in its mother’s womb, is executed. Even if he kills someone who has an incurable, terminal illness, or tied someone up and placed him in front of a lion or he let him starve until he died is liable since he caused someone to die. Similarly, if he killed a Pursuer88 when he could have saved his friend by merely injuring one of the Pursuer’s limbs, is also executed. This is not the case with a Jew."
    Rambam is clear that for a non Jew, abortion is murder.
    Rabbi Bleich is a Posek in his own right, and is entitled to agree with the opinion of Rabbi Feinstein.
    He certainly is not required to be subservient to the opinions of lesser contemporary poskim such as Rabbi Melamed who claims "Nevertheless, it would seem that when it comes to abortion necessitated by severe illness, the law for Jews and non-Jews is the same; in any situation where Jews may terminate a pregnancy, non-Jews may, too." I don't think that even Rabbi Waldenberg takes that view.

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    1. Rabbi Bleich has the right to rule in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Feinstein. But he does not have the right to give the false impression that Rabbi Feinstein's opinion is the only, or even the standard, one. The most prominent poskim from both the MO/Dati and Chareidi camps, both in the U.S. and in Israel, do not rule that way. Therefore, Rabbi Bleich is also severely understating the amount of cases where there will be conflicts between halakha and laws enacted by U.S. states.

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    2. "Anonymous", use a name. It can be a fake name, just use a name.

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    3. Who can explain me how the abortion of a rape victim can be permitted?
      Assume I understand how bad is for a girl raped by her rabbi uncle. Let's take even worse case, when a girl is raped by her gdol ha-dor father (and the fetus is hereby mamser). So what is the permission? Rapes occurred in days of Hazal too, but they did not distinguish.
      You can claim that Tora is cruel and unjust. But this is not a reason to falsificate it. You are free to look for a better religion.

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    4. Why should we explain it to you? Read the teshuvos of Chavos Yair and Yaavetz and learn it for yourself. You don't get to decide what Judaism does and doesn't say based on your ignorance.

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    5. @Dave An exact reference, please.

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    6. @Dave an exact reference, please.

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    7. https://library.yctorah.org/lindenbaum/abortion-in-halakha-a-study-guide/

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    8. Thank you @Anonymous, it's exactly what I requested for.

      With the due respect, what Chavos Yair and Yaavetz say cannot be taken seriously.

      A condemned woman can be hit so that the fetus’ death because the fetus will die along with the mother anyway.
      We are obliged to kill the mother. Since the fetus is not "fully alive" and its termination is not considered "complete" murder, the prohibition to kill the fetus does not stop us from fulfilling the commandment to execute the woman.

      Indeed, it is sometimes permitted to kill the fetus to fulfill a major mitzva. At least, it is permitted to save the mother's life. Now we have yet another case: the commandment of execution by respective death (yes, it is a commandment from a list of 613 mitzvot!). Probably it is permitted when it is necessary to carry out brit-mila or something like that. But by all means it does not mean that we can kill the fetus whenever we want.

      Answering the Yaavetz: it's correct that the malicious woman is deserving of death (and the fetus would die with her), but in the case that Gemara brought the fetus dies as a side-effect of carrying out a specific commandment, not because the fetus can be killed per se.

      Now, it's true that preventing a shame and disgrace from a person (even a sinner) is great mitzva. Moreover, the Sages explicitly say that preventing a shame and disgrace can nullify any commandment! However, the Sages continue, it can nullify any commandment de-rabanan and no one commandment de-orayta.

      If you are going to let preventing a shame and disgrace ("kvod ha-briot" as the Sages call it) to cancel a commandment de-orayta, there will not be any commandment to fulfill. Any commandment can cause troubles. For example: "I cannot keep Shabat because I an ashamed from my non-Jew neighbors that laugh on me." Or: "I can not refrain from eating pork because everyone here eats it and I am ashamed if I do not". And so on.

      We leave in a generation of liberalism and political correctness, when respecting of feelings became major common trend. So what? Some times ago Christianity was the common trend. Idolarity with human offers was the common trend once. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depended of how you take it) we cannot distort Tora and the Sages words according to common trends Even when it causes a shame and disgrace for us.

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    9. Thanks Brodsky for displaying how ridiculous you guys sound. This clown am haaretz says that the Chavos Yair and Yaavetz cannot be taken seriously. Please continue on with your narishkeit!

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    10. Wow, reading Brodsky again, the ignorance shines through in every line. "it can nullify any commandment de-rabanan and no one commandment de-orayta" Did you learn Berachos 20a ever? Maybe at least while doing the daf? And this is the guy arguing on the Chavos Yair and the Yaavetz. Such a chutzpah.

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    11. @Dave, never underestimate chutzpah of your opponents. Some of them dared to learn much more "dapim" than you could assume. For example, Berachos 19b.
      ת"ש גדול כבוד הבריות שדוחה [את] לא תעשה שבתורה ואמאי לימא אין חכמה ואין תבונה ואין עצה לנגד ה' תרגמה רב בר שבא קמיה דרב כהנא בלאו דלא תסור
      What is specific for non-Jews trends lovers is lack of derech-erertz towards "traditional" Jews. You don't surprise me with our slurs.

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    12. I guess you don't realize that Berachos 20a comes after 19b.

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    13. @Dave, do you know what is a difference between us?
      - I sign with my real full name: whatever I write I am ready for responsibility for my words. You do not.
      - I criticize *words* of Chavos Yair and Yaavetz, I don't attack them personally. In contrary, you try to insult me.
      - I am specific, I explain my point of view. You do not, and I guess why: you actually don't have any arguments.
      Let's that suffice.

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  8. I have much respect for Rabbi Bleich. In my younger years I corresponded with Reb Moshe zt"l and met personally with Rav Waldenberg in his home regarding abortion in a specific case.
    By definition, a posek considers various aspects of a question, assigns varying weights to them, and renders a decision. We call this shikul hada'at. Anyone familiar with psak and poskim knows that extra-halachic considerations receive significant weight in considering important questions, and no doubt this is also the case with abortion.
    Therefore, dissecting the Rambam (or the Mabit, Chavot Yair,etc...) one way or another, quoting one posek but ignoring others, and rendering sweeping psakim regarding this issue belies the original premise. All poskim decide intuitively on the issue and then assign the appropriate interpretation and weight to sources that support their decision. Reb Moshe did this, Rav Waldenberg did this, and Rabbi Bleich is certainly doing this. Once we recognize this pattern, we need not regard any current psak as the final word, and need not overly criticize any position on the issue.

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    1. Shlomo Zalman: Rabbi Bleich is not issuing a ruling here concerning a specific case. He stating a broad public policy opinion.

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    2. The lack of consideration the detailed circumstances of individual cases is one of the reasons there was such opposition among the great rabbis to writing codes. And perhaps why the gemara itself usually presents rulings in cases rather than philosophical or general legal principles.

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  9. My two cents: The fact is that the framing of this issue in the secular world creates problems in the Torah-observant world. Talk of choice and bodily autonomy do not sit well with “our crowd,” for the simple reason that anyone observant of Orthodox halakha knows that we do not truly believe in choice or bodily autonomy. We may not get tattoos, we may not undergo entirely unnecessary surgical procedures, and so on.
    But this that we cannot align ourselves with the talking points of the secular pro-choice movement has resulted in the unfortunate dual error of a: believing that we can align ourselves with the secular pro-life movement, and b: that in practice, halakha more closely mirrors the so-called pro-life position than the so-called pro-choice position. It is true that this may be the case concerning the more extreme views in halakha. But bottom line, R’ Moshe’s opinion is not, contrary to popular perception, the mainstream one, not among the Litvish yeshivish poskim nor among the MO/Dati poskim. Most do not believe that “life begins at conception,” and most do not regard abortion as murder, and will allow it in cases of great need, not only when the life of the mother is in danger.
    For me, I would prefer a situation for American law where abortions permitted by halakha are always legal, even if that means that abortions prohibited by halakha would remain legal as well.

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  10. "Some teenage girl from a frum family, raped by her rosh yeshiva uncle" it's very bad taste on your part to use an example that happens very very rarely if at all.

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    1. Actually I wrote that because of precisely such a case that I know of.

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    2. Right, but it's still very very rare.

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    3. So, you’re ok with women with atypical cases being caused to suffer….

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    4. I knew of such a case, sadly. Well not exactly because the rapist was not the uncle but another (and even closer) relative, hashem yirachem. Read the article by Avital Chizhik Goldschmidt for all sorts of other reasons abortions get approved for frum women. https://forward.com/life/406674/orthodox-jewish-women-abortion-stories/

      I am also bothered because his concern for needed abortions doesn't even extend to all Jewish women, just to frum women who can access his fund.

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    5. And since we are discussing the U.S., and the majority of Roshei Yeshiva are in NY or NJ, both Democrat controlled States, the chance of this exact scenario being an issue due to the Courts position are nil.

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  11. From a legal standpoint, Roe has to be repealed because the courts can't made laws. Nowhere the constitution says that up to 24 weeks the states can't restrict abortions, but after that they can. A pure invention of the liberal judges. Especially now, when there was a case of a baby born at 4th month.

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    1. Nowhere in the constitution does it say that states can't restrict access to birth control. That is a pure invention of liberal judges. Nowhere in the constitution does it say that states can't put restrictions on marriage between people of different races. That is a pure invention by liberal judges.
      Shall we go on?

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    2. THE 10TH AMENDMENT: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."













































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































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    3. "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
      -10th Amendment, US constitution

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    4. Note to Rabbi Slifkin: can you please remove the unbearably long blank space in this comment?

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  12. The issue is that American domestic policy should not be based on evangelical Christian theological concerns. I personally have significant theological opposition to shaving with a razor and the lack of parapets on flat roofed buildings. That does not mean that legislation should be based around those proclivities. Ultimately, as a religious minority I want the most open law possible so that I can act according to my posek and not my congressperson. In political slogan terms, בין אדם למקום should be kept בין אדם למקום.

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  13. Natan, sad but what's become of you is just someone who bashes and attacks those with different views than yourself. Sort of what you decried by the book ban, regarding how all the rabbis treated you.

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  14. As a proud American conservative who supports abortion I am very happy with the Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v Wade. Let me explain:
    I support abortion on demand, because I believe that any mother that wants to abort her baby will not be a good mother, and therefore that child will grow up in a very bad psychological state, and have mental issues its entire life. To avoid an entire generation of messed up kids, every mother who wants to abort her child should be allowed to.
    However, I am against judges twisting the Constitution to fit their beliefs. There is no inherent Constitutional right to an abortion, because it is simply not in the Constitution. Maybe I believe it should be in the Constitution, or maybe I believe it shouldn't be in the Constitution, but it is definitely not in the Constitution.
    The opinion written by Alito explains this very point: The right to an abortion is just not there in the Constitution.
    Now, do I hope that the states (or the federal government) enact laws to allow abortion? Of course! Do I hope we amend the Constitution to make abortion a Constitutional right? Of course I do! But the bottom line is that the Constitution does not CURRENTLY give mothers the right to an abortion. That is left to the states.
    If we allow (liberal) federal judges to find some sort of warped Constitutional right to every pet peeve they have, some liberal judge could one day claim that the Constitution gives the local mayor the right to ban all vehicular traffic to protect the environment, and then a frum girl who was raped by her rosh yeshiva uncle might not be able to get to the local doctor to abort her baby!
    Abortion is good public policy, and public policy is decided by the state legislatures. The judges need to stick to interpreting the Constitution, not creating public policy. This Alito decision overturning the baseless Roe v Wade decision is a good one. And it is good for American democracy

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    Replies
    1. https://americanlookout.com/pollster-freakout-over-abortion-is-going-to-hurt-democrats-in-midterms/

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  15. The Halachic position doesn’t conform to the pro choice position or the pro life position. It is a very nuanced position and according to many poskim abortion is allowed and even required in cases where the pro life movement would make it illegal. On the other hand Halacha is certainly opposed to abortion on demand. Therefore as Torah observant Jews we really can’t identity with either side. Headlines has a very good podcast http://podcast.headlinesbook.com/e/51422-shiur-–-730-–-roe-v-wade-–-what-s-the-torah-s-approach-it-might-be-a-lot-different-than-you-think/ about it, Rav Dovid Cohen is on there and he agrees with Rav Wallenberg

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  16. In #2, you imply that Rabbi Bleich arrived at his position because he's never actually dealt with these issues personally. I'm sure that you realize that he's been approached with and paskened numerous abortion situations.

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  17. I have noticed through many of your posts that you are very unfamiliar with the system of government in the USA. The issue here is whether the Federal government has the right to be involved in abortion, or whether that power belongs to the States. Every US citizen [pro-life and pro-choice] should be happy that the supreme court upheld the constitution. If you want to write your argument about how Jewish law views abortion that is fine but that has nothing to do with the 10th amendment of the US constitution.

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    1. That may be the issue that you're interested in, but as you note, I am not familiar with USA government and it's not what this post is about.

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    2. Daniel: That is not at all the issue addressed by Rabbi Bleich in his article, nor is that the issue in this post.

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    3. Fourth Amendment: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated". Having the government force a woman to use her body to support a fetus against her will constitutes illegal seizure by the government, and is explicitly prohibited by the US constitution.

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    4. Yehoshua and RNS: This article opens with the following question: "How should Jews react to the repeal of Roe vs. Wade, such that various states in America are at liberty to ban abortion?
      My point is that everyone should react to that question based on their interpretation of the US constitution regardless of their interpretation of Jewish law. Why not just bring up the article that you wish to critique?
      Yaakov: According to your interpretation of the 4th amendment, no state should be allowed to pass a law barring abortion even one moment before birth, making Roe vs Wade unconstitutional on grounds that it allows abortion laws after week 24.

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    5. @Yakov Tolwin a woman doesn't have exclusive rights to the fetus, it's not her body or property. There are three shutfim.

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    6. 1) the fourth amendment argument is not the basis for the current law, which is based on the 14th amendment, which gives the right to privacy. The problem with that law is that it gives rights only if we assume the lack of personhood of the fetus. The 4th amendment, however, would give absolute protection to a woman over her body, and will probably be the source of any new cases brought in the event that Roe is repealed. There is a Harvard law review article from 2015, which discusses it in detail.
      2) the woman does not require rights over the fetus, she has the rights over her own body, and the government can't forcibly give those rights to the fetus.
      3( this is not necessary in line with my own worldview, which I try to match to the Halacha, as I mentioned in a previous comment

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  18. Thank You for this astute analysis of Rav Bleich's essay that drips with self-importance, insensitvity, condescension, and detachment from real people's real-life problems.

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  19. The question of abortion is a very complicated matter as R' Slifkin tried to present. For a further, more detailed discussion about the subject, the reader might want to turn to this week's podcast by R' Dovid Lichtenstein on the subject where he discusses the matter with a number of people, including R' Dovid Cohen and R' Yonah Reiss. The link is https://podcast.headlinesbook.com/e/51422-shiur-–-730-–-roe-v-wade-–-what-s-the-torah-s-approach-it-might-be-a-lot-different-than-you-think/

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  20. The way that the comments are split between the thread here and the one on your Facebook page is annoying beyond belief.

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  21. https://edition.cnn.com/2022/05/15/politics/nebraska-abortion-ban-roe-v-wade-cnntv/
    This is why both sides of the abortion debate are against Halacha, and that it’s dangerous for us to blindly support the pro life movement.

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    Replies
    1. Who says "blindly"? Most Orthodox Jews understand halacha doesn't accord *exactly* with either side, but also understand that the pro-life side is - far and away - more in accord with their values than the pro-abortion side.
      GP

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    2. While the pro life position is closer to our values it has real drawbacks. The pro choice may be morally bad, but it doesn’t directly affect us. In the Roe world if a posek permits or mandates an abortion the woman can simply follow the psak and get the abortion. In a pro life state there is a good chance that the Psak is against the law and the abortion is not allowed.

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    3. Any pro life state that bans abortion will likely leave in an exception where life and death is concerned. And if they don't, big deal - you go to the nearest blue state and get it done there. The hysterics of the left over this is laughably overblown, and shame on this blog yet again for blindly following them.
      GP

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  22. R.Bleich and his ideological supporters are fighting for their religious world view. If they conceded their spiritual world would be destroyed! They cannot and will not adopt R.N.S. 's
    worldview.We are all religious ,
    believing, committed Jews. We all are faced with belief challenges. How can we help
    R.Bleich and his supporters
    deal with these
    challenges without their feeling that they have deserted true Judaism,that they are religious
    believing Jews in good standing?















    and


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  23. My favorite part of R’ Bleich’s article is the putative “abortion gemach” he supposes will fund interstate travel for abortion when halachically appropriate…

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  24. Community Activist: "... because they're not allowed to drive they have to beg their mother to get them a pregnancy test because their period was late ...."

    Confused. Can't they walk to the pharmacy themselves? Is their mother allowed to drive?

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  25. It seems to me that viewing halacha through the lens of contemporary American conservatism (which is in turn driven by contemporary American Evangelical Christianity) -- as seems to be increasingly popular in the frum world -- is just as hazardous as viewing halacha through the lens of contemporary American progressivism.

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  26. C'mon you can't have an opinion on Roe v. Wade being repealed unless you directly work with woman who have tried to get or needed an abortion in the past? You can have a legitimate and even correct opinion without having personal experience with a given issue. I'm not saying he is right here but that is no reason to discount his opinion. Also, it is not exactly anything close to settled Halacha that brain death is considered death halachically so it's hard to use that position of his as a way of delegitimizing him.

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  27. This article inverts reality. The orthodox pro Roe vs. Wade case is that literally hundreds of thousands of gentile (and secular Jewish) babies should he put to death per year, under conditions that are unambiguously shefichas damim for gentiles or Jews alike, so that perhaps a few dozen necessary and correct abortions can be performed by orthodox Jews, since it's just to hard to work towards a better policy. How is this not 'racist', 'callous' etc.?

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