Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews -- For those who like their news and truths frank and sharp

How Many Orthodox Rabbis Does it Take to Change a Light Bulb? What? Change?

Let’s talk about the sudden new pandemic flexibility of Orthodox rabbis.

Some leading Orthodox rabbis reacted swiftly, this time. Amazing.

Do click on the links to see the details of the rulings.

Most rabbis, as soon as they understood the dangers, said: as always, listen to the doctors. And suddenly, the totally inferior option became possible! The second option (to pray at home) became the preferred one!

And men should skip the ritual bath. That’s the new piousness.

As it seems that you not only need two to tango but also to get married (and two witnesses), this could be done mostly online too.

Prayer over the Internet can be answered with Amen. Kaddish can be said with a virtual prayer quorum. There are even suggestions of saying Kaddish on one’s own or to recite a substitute Kaddish for the single worshipper. I would say that there is no difference between 10 men praying in the field or 10 men praying from balconies where they all can see each other. So I don’t understand the opinion that the latter is not a prayer quorum.

Much less jolly is that outside of Israel, in Europe and the US, the situation of Jewish communities is dire or getting there, may Heaven help. And since it’s more important to protect the living (of the burial society) than give the deceased a perfect Jewish farewell, superficial preparation of the body for burial and even state-ordered cremation are not outside of the pale. This, because the coronavirus stays alive after the patient dies. Just as with its sister virus of SARS can you contract the illness from touching a corpse. Also in Israel, burial procedures have changed. The body is put in plastic.

The Jewish community of Bucharest, Romania, even received rabbinical permission to bury its coronavirus victims on Shabbat to avoid cremation.

A Jew needs to bring new cooking and eating utensils that are not made by Jews to the ritual bath before using them. Instead of risking one’s health doing that, the rabbis agree to have you sell your new utensils to a non-Jew temporarily. It’s only forbidden not to dunk your own stuff. And one is allowed to use utensils of non-Jews if they were never used by them.

Assorted utensils can this year be made kosher for Passover in the oven!

Kosher for Passover has the highest stringency of kashrut. The so strict London Rabbinic Court permits certain uncertified stuff for Passover this year! Every year, our leading rabbis ask the saintly public to not go too crazy on Pesach cleaning. New to me: “Just check on the evening before the Seder”! Once, it was a Mitzvah to invite others to the Pesach Seder and Shabbat and Festival meals. Now it’s a sin. Just like for those who must eat for health on Yom Kippur, that becomes the Mitzvah while fasting the sin.

At the beginning of the Seder, we say: “All who are hungry, let them come and eat; all who are in need, let them come and join in celebrating.” I always had some difficulty saying this with the front door closed and everyone present already being invited. How do we say this this year, with no guests and many of us on our own? Well, we can invite ourselves! In fact, much can be added to the Seder this year to say and contemplate.

Surprisingly, unsurmountable difficulties under normal circumstances, (kinyan, siyum, tevilah bayom, morid hatal) under these circumstances, can all be solved. In other cases, general leniencies (batel beshishim, tashlumim keriat hatorah) are only now discovered by some.

For the Passover Eve, many people at different locations can join through Zoom. (Some strongly-worded opposition to it arose but that’s nothing new. Neither is this Zoom permission. During war, it’s permitted listen to the news. Just, if you can, switch it all on before the Holy Day.)

The greatest rabbis have always been the ones who permit, who try to help Jews live the best lives; not the ones who want to pose as serious.

(One of the unspoken problems here is that non-Ashkenazic Jewry has managed to stay united while the Ashkenazic approach of piling stringency upon stringency has led to splitting up into Reform, Conservative, Modern-Orthodox, National-Religious, Orthodox, ultra-Orthodox, and more.)

And many advanced small-scale Orthodox-Jewish meetings from the Holy Land suddenly became virtually accessible to the whole world!

A Jew shouldn’t remove himself from the community. May I suggest that to mean: not deviate from it. Most of us are now secluded in our homes. So we should not stray from that. When we all are gathered each in our own dwelling places, we are one for G^d. That is more important than not feeling lonely, I would say. (I’m not a rabbi, so my opinion has no weight.)


Isolated inside our homes, we’ve never been so close to so many people. Thank G^d for the quietness of the (upcoming) Shabbat. Gut Shabbos.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, an almost daily blog contributor to the Times of Israel, and previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. He often makes his readers laugh, mad, or assume he's nuts—close to perfect blogging. He's proud that his analytical short comments are removed both from left-wing and right-wing news sites. None of his content is (partly) generated by AI. * As a frontier thinker, he sees things many don't yet. He's half a prophet. Half. Let's not exaggerate. He doesn't believe that people observe and think in a vacuum. He, therefore, wanted a broad bio that readers interested can track a bit about what (lack of) backgrounds, experiences, and education contribute to his visions. * If you don't know the Dutch, get an American peek behind the scenes here: * To find less-recent posts on subject XXX among his 2000 archived ones, go to the right-top corner of a Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". One can find a second, wilder blog, to which one may subscribe, here: * Like most of his readers, he believes in being friendly, respectful, and loyal. Yet, if you think those are his absolute top priorities, you might end up disappointed. His first loyalty is to the truth. He will try to stay within the limits of democratic and Jewish law, but he won't lie to support opinions or people who don't deserve that. He admits that he sometimes exaggerates to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * Sometimes he's misunderstood because his wide and diverse field of vision seldomly fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what some love about him. He has written a lot about Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (including basic statistics), Politics (Israel, the US, and the Netherlands, Activism), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA+, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust, and Jewish Liberation), the Climate Crisis, Ecology and Veganism, Affairs from the news, or the Torah Portion of the Week, or new insights that suddenly befell him. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim, Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. * One of his rabbis calls him Mr. Innovation [Ish haChidushim]. Yet, his originalities seem to root deeply in traditional Judaism, though they may grow in unexpected directions. In fact, he claims he's modernizing nothing. Rather, mainly basing himself on the basic Hebrew Torah text, he tries to rediscover classical Jewish thought almost lost in thousands of years of stifling Gentile domination and Jewish assimilation. (He pleads for a close reading of the Torah instead of going by rough assumptions of what it would probably mean and before fleeing to Commentaries.) This, in all aspects of life, but prominently in the areas of Free Will, Activism, Homosexuality for men, and Redemption. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, and disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. He aims to bring a fresh perspective rather than harp on the obvious and familiar. He loves to write encyclopedic overviews. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds should be disputed. In short, his main political positions are among others: anti-Trumpism, anti-elitism, anti-bigotry and supremacy, for Zionism, Intersectionality, and non-violence, anti those who abuse democratic liberties, anti the fake ME peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, pro-Science, pro-Free Will, anti-blaming-the-victim, and for down-to-earth, classical optimism, and happiness. * He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to parents who were Dutch-Jewish Holocaust survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork. He grew up a humble listener. It took him decades to become a speaker too. Bullies and con artists almost instantaneously envy and hate him. * He holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam) – is half a doctor. He practices Re-evaluation Co-counseling since 1977, is not an official teacher anymore, and became a friendly, empowering therapist. He became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids non-violently. For a couple of years, he was active in hasbara to the Dutch-speaking public. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's being a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. He lives with his library in Jerusalem. Feel free to contact him. * His writing has been made possible by a (second-generation) Holocaust survivors' allowance from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having an original peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me. * His newest books you may find here:
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