Thursday, May 21, 2015

Reprising a Shavuos Post (they were pretty rare)

Do you Remember? You MUST Remember!

I'm asking for my erudite readership of two to help me out on this one to fill in the blanks and flesh out the anecdote.

I recall hearing in a Drasha by a TK that there was once a Godol contemporaneous to the Mahrsh"a (or was it the Mahrsh"a himself) who led an old time pre-Volozhin revolution Yeshiva. When he was בוחן = give an entrance exam (to) the prospective students he would ask them " Since Khaza'l teach us that ALL Jews were present at Ma'amad Har Sinai = the revelation at Sinai I need to ask you; Do you remember it? What can you tell me about it?"

What I need help with is: A. Who was the בעל המעשה = the protagonist of the story and B. Was this the ONLY question on the entrance exam (that's how I recall it but I'd like corroboration) or just the first/final question. Any and all other details welcome. (per the comment thread at the time the בעל המעשה was supposedly but I'm open to other suggestions ... especially ones that can provide a link to a printed version of this anecdote)

BTW...What can YOU recall about Ma'amad Har Sinai? No answer required to comment on this Red-Tent Blog but I'm just curious.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Outsourcing Speaking and Writing

Internationally acclaimed speaker,
 writer and recantour ...
The Bray of Fundie
Shkoyach Rabbi Adlerstein for a long-overdue idea.

Just one quibble.  The olam should be contacting me, the Bray of Fundie, the Mouth that Soared (Sored?  Sword???), the Pen that Roared, The Quill that Broke, The Spake that Spoke, Word-Processor of the Idea-Fresser, Dictaphone of the Picking-Bone, Poetry-Faucet of the Old Testament Prophet, The Lebanon-Cedar of Public Speakers. NOT  Rabbi Y. Adlerstein and his cadre of hoarse-throated stuttering mumblers and semi-literate lithographers who are to fine writing what חק תוכות is to the calligraphy of illuminated manuscripts!

The fact that Cross-Current gets more hits in 5 minutes than Hamavdil gets in 5 years is irrelevant to the relative quality of the essays posted on the two blogs.  The fact that I am obscure and unknown is among the great philosophical imponderables.  There must be some mistake.  right?  I mean ... there MUST be some mistake.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Reprising a Barnburner

Hard to be creative on a tight schedule. Please note the brand new masthead quote line. 
I Found this in draft form.  Seems it was up for about 48 hours over 5 years ago. I imagine that because it is pretty prurient and explicit I got squeamish and lost my nerve lest the Victorian obscenity police pillory me.  Perhaps I will again. In the meantime lets see if it garners any more conversation now than it did then.

Gay Promiscuity? I Wouldn't be Surprised

The public perception among straights is that for gays, promiscuity "goes with the territory". I must admit that popular media reports in the pre AIDS/HIV era of gay bathhouses with orgiastic scenes featuring multiple partners every night as well as reports of anonymous encounters in bathroom stalls have done much to confirm this allegation in my mind. Might such media reports, and the opinions formed by them , be the product of homophobia and heterosexual bias? Could be. Might scientific studies quoted by the X-tian right (not people I'd like to be bedfellows, if you'll pardon the expression, with) that seem to confirm it, be spurious? One never knows.

So, for the time being, I'll allow the cooler head of my nature to prevail and suspend judgement. But based on Torah sources if indeed the research turned out to be true I wouldn't be surprised. Here's why:

We are all familiar with the Pasuk in Parshas Akhrei Mos prohibiting male Homosexual intercourse by negative commandment. Less well known is the issur asey- the prohibition deduced from a positive commandment prohibiting same.

The Pasuk in Bereshis 2:24 states:
עַל-כֵּן, יַעֲזָב-אִישׁ, אֶת-אָבִיו, וְאֶת-אִמּוֹ; וְדָבַק בְּאִשְׁתּוֹ, וְהָיוּ לְבָשָׂר אֶחָד. = Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh. Cleave is a very King James -Stained Glass sounding word. For our purposes lets say it connotes unity and attachment. Khazal derive two issurei asay are from this phrase : "וְדָבַק בְּאִשְׁתּוֹ", וְלֹא בְּאֵשֶׁת חֲבֵרוֹ; "וְדָבַק בְּאִשְׁתּוֹ", לֹא בְּזָכוּר; ""= He shall unite with his woman and not with his peers woman (i.e. anothers wife) He shall unite with his woman and not with a male. (See Rambam Melakhim 9:7).

While one might argue that the straightforward reading of this Khazal states that while D'veykus is possible with another mans wife or with a male it is prohibited, passages in the Gemara and Rashi in Sanhedrin 58B state clearly that intercourse of the adulterous or at least of the homosexual anal kind lack D'veykus altogether.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Never Shall the Twain Meet

In what sounds like a very likely hoax Arutz Sheva INN reports that a group of crypto-Zionist Jews exists in Williamsburgh and is planning to form their own agricultural community in Givat Zev after making aliyah.  It's roughly equivalent to discovering a group of Lubavitchers secretly jettisoning Shulchan Oruch Harav in favor of following minhagei haGR"A.

On the one hand I find the report somewhat credible because there is so much disaffection and cynicism in Satmar today, especially with the schism between the two brothers, that I suppose anything is possible.  Certainly a quote like this "“Anything I say that can be understood as support for Zionism, will haunt me and my family. There is a real mafia out there that can threaten to throw my children out of the educational institutes, and since we do not have an alternative at the moment, I and the rest of my friends cannot expose our identities yet.”" sounds and feels authentic.

OTOH it is impossible to verify anything without having real names and contact info to follow up with.  I wish that Snopes could investigate.

Ironically, another thing that I find makes the story seem plausible is the Pollyannish, pie-in-the-sky approach to making aliyah that "Aaron" promotes.  Regurgitating century old bromides of pre-State Idealistic Collectivist-Agrarian-Zionism is typical for one stemming from a community that A. Has only book knowledge of anything beyond their friendly confines and that B. Arrogantly contends that anything that their educational system did not emphasize can be mastered in 10 minutes or less.  These are features endemic to all of Cheredi society but are even sharper and more pronounced in the Satmar sphere of influence.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Only G-d can Make a Dinosour

A T-Rex With an Identity Crisis

The discovery of a new dinosaur species has scientists stumped. The exhibits characteristics of many diverse species and has the pelvis of a bird. One expert averred that if these bones had been found scattered in different digs the consensus would have been that they were from many diverse species.

Money quote from The Guardian article:
“I don’t know how the evolution of dinosaurs produced this kind of animal, what kind of ecological pressures must have been at work,” said Fernando Novas at the Bernardino Rivadavia Natural Sciences Museum in Buenos Aires. 

Err the "evolution of dinosaurs" did NOT produce this kind of animal. The אין ציר כאלוקנו ... בורא שמים וארץ תבל ומלואה הימים וכל אשר בהם produced this kind of animal. Wonder if Rabbi Slifkin has posted on this yet.

סוד הצמצום?

One of the ani maamins of Lurianic Qabalah is that in order for Creation to ensue there needed to be an empty space, a place void of the Endless Light, in which to fill something "other" than the Creator. This empty space,  חלל הפנוי (not to be confused with sharia-mandated dietary-code) was achieved through a process known as tzimtzum, a contraction of the Endless Light into Itself, leaving a void of nothingness in the vacated space.

Astronomers around the world are now tummeling about a "supervoid" in space that is described as "the largest object ever discovered" (semantic quibble:  if it is a void can it really be described as an "object"?) . For those Kiruv Clowns who love to selectively cite scientific data only when such data is supportive of religious tenets, this discovery s a G-dsend. It will, no doubt, be used as "proof" of the truth of this Lurianic ani maamin.

If it is not the חלל הפנוי itself it must be an example of astronomical/mystical vestigiality.  If we view the macrocosm as an אדם גדול rather than man as a microcosm, is it so far-fetched to say that just as we find the appendix and wisdom teeth in humans we may also find a leftover, downsized vestigal  חלל הפנוי in the cosmos that has outlived it's functionality since the moment of ויכולו  on the sixth day of Creation?

I haven't bothered to insert an image of this vestigal חלל as all images of the supervoid are A. Conceptually impossible (how can "nothing" look like anything?) and B. Reminiscent of a poorly executed  Fabergé egg or an HD amoeba.

Here's a conceptual representation

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Havdala Exercise

What is the qualitative difference between this, this and this on the one hand, and THIS on the other hand?  Remember the question is qualitative NOT quantitative.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Separated at Birth?

The Doppelgänger
By all accounts the Doppelgänger is a champion of transparency, Some critics say that he just wears his heart on his sleeve.

while the star is a paragon of accountability.