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PAGE 8A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, AUGUST 1, 2014 Sneakers on Tisha B'Av: when spirit and letter collide Muriel Gottrop via Wikimedia Commons Flip-flops (pictured) are a popular footwear choice on the Jewish fast days of Tisha B'Av and Yore Kippur due to an injunction against wearing leather shoes. Though not as emotion- ally charged, there are many other points of striking dis- sonance between codified law and modern reality that dot the landscape of Jewish observance. One that has caused something of a stir lately is the ban on legumes and rice for Ashkenazi Jews on Passover, a rule that ev- eryone seems to know and bemoan as an artifact of early-modern grain storage techniques. Another, which appears to have escaped popular scrutiny so far, is the injunction against wear- ing leather shoes on the fast By Binyamin Kagedan JNS.org days of Tisha B'Av and Yom Kippur--though the reason for the disparity in critical interest should not be hard to comprehend. Rabbinic law from the Talmud delineates five prohi- bitions that apply equally on Tisha B'Av, the day of greatest tragedy, and Yore Kippur, the day of gravest repentance. These are: eating/drinking, marital relations, applying cosmetics, bathing, and wear- ing leather shoes. The inten- tion is to create an experience of uncomfortable abstinence, in one case as a sign of mourn- ing, and in the other as a method of self-purification. And yet for the observant Jew living in the age of Nike, the prohibition against leather shoes has only meant that twice a year, every year, on the two most solemn days of the year, we were allowed to wear our most comfortable shoes to synagogue. True, not everyone came in gel-soled basketball shoes. Many opted for funky rubber flip-flops with socks, or the ubiquitous white Keds. It isn't as though the irony of the situation is totally lost on modern Jews. I recall my elementary school teachers taking the time to explain the reasoning behind the prohibi- tion as that leather shoes were once the most comfortable kind of footwear, back when these rules were first being written. Implicit in the inclu- sion of this clarifying detail was an acknowledgment that we are now living in the absolute reverse situation: that at this point in history, the leather shoe epitomizes podiatric discomfort. Tra- ditional halakha, as it often does, stands firmly planted in an older order of things, in this case collapsing upon itself in a way that precludes any of its original meaningfulness. That the prohibition against leather shoes is really a prohibition against com- fort-rather than stemming from some ritual problem with leather itself--is dem- onstrated meticulously by Dr. Ari Zivotofsky of Bar-Ilan Uni- versity in an article featured in Jewish Action magazine in 2011 (http://www.ou.org/ jewish_action/09/2013/ whats the truth_about-fast- ing_and_wearing_leather_ on_yore_kippur/). Zivotofsky cites awealth of legal writings beginning with the Talmud that address the problem of what type of shoe ought to be worn on Tisha B'Av and Yom Kippur. The masters of the Talmud variously sported shoes of bamboo, reeds or palm branches, or wrapped simple pieces of cloth around their feet. Maimonides advised that whatever shoes are cho- sen should be flimsy enough The wider world of tra- ditional Judaism is moving in fits and starts toward a renegotiation of the terms of halakhic observance. At ques- tion is the importance of social change in the understanding and application of the legal logic of the sages of old. In the last several years, voices from within the Orthodox fold have raised a formidable challenge to certain established norms of Jewish life and law, especially regarding the possibilities of female religious leadership. Taught by Senior Rabbi Aaron D. Rubinger Beginning Monday, August 11, 2014 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. If you would like to strengthen your Jewish Spirituality or are considering conversion to Judaism, this course is for you. This 18-week survey course distills the essence of Jewish faith, beliefs, customs and traditions from the perspective of the Conservative movement, and includes basic Hebrew reading for synagogue use. Class topics include: • Jewish ViewsAboutGod& ConceptofMitzvah • The Difference Between Torah, Bible, and Talmud • Jewish View o] the Messiah and the Afterlife • High Holidays: Elul, Rash Hashana, Yam Kippur • The Meaning and Observance of Shabbat • The True Meaning of the Dietary Laws • Festivals: Sukkot, Pesach, Shavuot, Hanukah, Purim & Other Important Jewish Occasions • Jewish History I - Origins of the Jewish People until Destruction of 2nd Temple • Jewish History H - Rabbinic Age until Modern Time • Life Cycle h Brit, Naming, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, and Weddings • Life Cycle fl: Divorce, Death and Dying and Rites of Mourning • What are Tzedakah, Talmud Torah, and Ma'osim Tovim? • Structure & Meaning of Our Prayer Service • Comparative Judaism: Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform - What does it mean to be Conservative Jews • What Every Jewish Home Should Have: Preparation for Conversion Upon completion of this program, those considering conversion must meet traditional requirements. For fees and registration information, please call Meryl Poweski at 407-298-4650 or email: office@ohevshalom.org Congregatio Ohev Shalom n i Founded in 1918 Member of The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism ...... 613 Concourse Parkway South, Maitland, FL 32751 * (407) 298-4650 Please view our Website: www.ohevshalom.org Ken Banks via Wikimedia Commons Adidas sneakers on display. so that the wearer feels virtu- ally barefooted as they walk. In a similar vein, the Ba'al HaMaor, a contemporary of Maimonides, includes within the category of prohibition any shoe that is especially protective of the feet. Although many Jewish communities continue to "sidestep" the sneaker contra- diction, some contemporary authorities have issued rul- ings intended to rescue the spirit of the law. Zivotofsky notes the opinion of Rabbi Yaakov Ariel of Ramat Gan, Israel, who adds to the pro- hibited list any non-leather shoe that one would com- monly choose to wear day in and day out for their comfort, i.e. sneakers and other leisure footwear. Other legalists such as Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky and Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch uphold the "protectiveness" approach, expanding the prohibition to any material construction that functions as well as leather. On the other side, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach manages to resolve the prob- lem more leniently, asserting that all modern people fall under the Talmudic category of istinis, roughly meaning "persnickety." In Rabbi Au- erbach's view, given our very low tolerance for physical discomfort, banning comfort- able non-leather shoes on Tisha B'Av and Yom Kippur would be tantamount to un- necessary cruelty. Wishing all a mindful and meaningful fast this Tisha B'Av, and remember: don't judge another man's shoes until you've walked a mile in them. Binyamin Kagedan has an MA in Jewish Thought from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. He can be reached at bkagedan@ gmail.com. Custom Print Marketing Invitations  Announcements Digital g- Offset Printing Brochures G Bod4ets Direct  Services Forms - Letterheads EJs 407-767-7110 B, MefrdonThisAdand Receive 18% Disco.nt Friedman & Friedman Excellence in Real Estate Jeffrey and Barbara Friedman 407-222-6059 - Direct friedmanandfriedman@aol.com One Team. Twice the Knowledge, Service and Experience Serving the Central Florida Jewish Community for over 12 years ao.= 205 W. Fairbanks Avenue i...,mi,: Hilhna, Winter Park, Florida 32789