Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Not too shabby for about 63 days of existence. And to my critics I say :"So what if I am responsible for about 3800 of the page loads myself...it's still MIGHTY impressive".
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
What a cruddy way to enter z'man simkhasenu.
My finances are in ruins and my family and I do without many things deemed standard by most. Don't get me wrong. I'm not a Tomchei Shabbos case but meeting my monthly expenses is tough and I've got an unhealthy amount of credit card debt. So what's really wrong with skipping MY OWN 4 minim once? I can arrange to have a מתנה על מנת להחזיר the first day and a loan the subsequent days. It's not like I'll be skipping the actual Mitzvah דאורייתא or דרבנן it's just that I might miss some naanuim, circling the bimah during HoShanas and, of course, the comfort of conformity and to a lesser extent the pride of ownership. (It's not like I can EVER afford the Aleph sets that people stop in Shul to admire or shake יוצא צו זיין לכל הדעות. No trophy esrogim or baseball bat Lulavim for me in any event !)
In the old country whole communities were often yotzay on the Rov or G'vir's 4 minim. I've got to believe that with modern agricultural techniques, refrigeration and jet transportation that the average $50 set today is more mehudar than the Gvir's was in 1935 and certainly in 1875. So how big a scandal would this be?
Am I a cheap son of a gun, exercising some fiscal restraint/responsibility, have my priorities totally warped or some combination of the three?
Qedusha-Havdala...Have you had YOURS today??? Hmmm???
Sunday, September 27, 2009
While unready to apologize for the original "offenses" that precipitated my banning I do regret something that happened subsequently and mean to do something about it.
In what can only be described on acting out of anger and a need for revenge I published a post called "Fools Rush In". It was unnecessary and petty and I regret posting it. And so within minutes of the publication of this post that one will be expunged from the archives of HaMavdil.
Wishing everyone and especially DovBear a G'mar Chaism Tova.
Friday, September 25, 2009
In order to capture the proper Artscrollish ambiance appropriate for Fundie Brayers I will italicize the entire Vidui:
For the sin that I have sinned before you by ....
Q' seder spelling things with Qs that are conventionally spelled with Ks, just to look arch and to annoy the readers
W hining publicly about lack of traffic, comments and attention when you have bestowed far more meaningful gifts upon me that I ought to be grateful for
E rring about facts, figures, dates and names and not bothering to do the research to correct them
R egurgitating old posts that weren't even very good the first time around
T yping without thinking and in violation of all laws and conventions of grammar and spelling even to the point of overriding the green and red-lined mussar that my word-processor so kindly provides.
Y akking interminably in the comment threads when its a monologue and not a dialogue
U nderachieving in real life and overcompensating by blogging obsessively
I ntroducing unsuspecting neophytes to the roiling cesspool that is the rough-and-ready J-Blogosphere
O ozing exaggerated gratitude for the merest intimation of a compliment and thus manifesting a borderline psychotic insecurity hungering for כבוד המדומה = illusory honor and prestige
O bfuscating to hide my ignorance when I ought to just say “I don’t know”
P osturing and pretending to hold positions and opinions that, in truth, do not reflect my own
A ttacking people instead of their arguments and/or positions
S plitting hairs and parsing words and phrases in order not to be pinned down to a position that has been disproven
D amning with faint praise
F isking those targets that are not likely to read or respond
G oogle-ing and posting images with little regard to copyrights
H urling insults and pejoratives when I’ve exhausted my supply of arguments
J esting unfunnily with a tin ear for comedy
K nocking things before I’ve tried them
L ollygagging and not researching unfamiliar topics thoroughly. L ollygagging and ignoring my many other real-life obligations in order to blog in an OCD way
Z ealously defending my right to apathy
X punging comments that ought best never have been thought of, much less posted in the first place. But it was too late, the damage was already done. Including but not limited to those comments transgressing the very real and grave sin of Khilul HaShem
C hameleonymously blogging instead of attaching my name proudly and courageously to my own opinions
V enom spewing in ways that confirm every spurious Kharedi-bashing canard
B ashing the slightest whiff of criticism when I should stop, contemplate, and listen and, in the best case scenarios, be built by the constructive criticism. Bringing infamy instead of glory to Havdala consciousness
N ot sticking to SWE when posting and commenting
M ollifying my critics by compromising my principles…in other words selling-out
I have examined all the keys of my board from “M” to “Q” and found them wanting. There is nothing cogent or compelling in them.
Of course…Much of this is projection and sins I find bloggers other than myself guilty of . Kind of like the actual vidui that we do on Yom Kippur. This list is also afflicted with the fundamental structural problem of lip-service confessionals and “ritualarium submersion while still grasping the contaminating rodent carcass” as I have little intention of modifying even those Bloggish behaviors I KNOW myself to be guilty of.
In the final analysis this “new confessional” is akin to a streetwalker authoring a new A to Z vidui where she owns to among other things, drug abuse, dishonesty, the destruction of homes and the dissemination of STDs. (And those were just the "Ds"!) The Teshuva for such a sinner is not to correct this or that detail of her lifestyle but to leave the bawdy-house and look for another line of work.
Anybody know some kosher hobbies?
Have you had YOUR Qedusha-Havdala today??? Hmmm???
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Arguably the most vital part of this prayer (it is indicated as such in many Makhzorim) is the passage wherein we forgive all those who have sinned against us interpersonally and pray that G-d intervene so that we find favor in the eyes of all those against whom WE have sinned so that THEY forgive us as well. Vital, because the Day of Atonement's powers are impotent in the face of unsettled interpersonal grudges and gripes even after monetary restitution has been made. Troubling, for the types of forgiveness it includes, excludes and for the motivation that informs it.
The prayer issues a blanket pardon and forgiveness to "all who've sinned against me physically or monetarily (presumably emotionally and spiritually as well although this is nowhere explicated) except money that I intend to sue for and except for one who sinned against me using '(s)he will forgive me anyway' as a rationalization for giving offense."
I understand the exceptions. There is no reason why a person should suffer a monetary loss in order to extend forgiveness, or necessarily, even to gain forgiveness. As for the part about: "except for one who sinned against me using '(s)he will forgive me anyway' as a rationalization" this parallels the limitations HaShem Himself placed on T'shuva for sins between ourselves and Him. As Khaza"l teach us: האומר אחטא ואשוב אחטא ואשוב אין מספיקין בידו לעשות תשובה = "One who says; 'I will sin and repent, sin and repent' Providence arranges that
(s)he lack the time/wherewithal to do T'shuva". In other words we need not be more compassionate or forgiving than G-d Himself. If G-d does not forgive in a particular scenario neither need we.
Or maybe not...The prayer DOES demand that we extend forgiveness to people who have not even apologized. Does HaShem do this? I think not. כל מי שהוא אומר שהקב"ה וותרן הוא יתוותרון בני מעוהי, אלא. מאריך רוחיה וגבי דיליה= "Anyone who says that the Holy Blessed One is a 'forfeit-er' has, in fact , forfeited his own viscera. Rather He is slow to anger (lit: lengthens His spirit) but collects his debts" . In other words though G-d's patience and capacity to forgive is infinite where there is no T'shuva on the part of the sinner there is no "forgiveness". Why must we then, as it were, be holier and more forgiving than G-d?
Similarly the passage regarding forgiving Lashon Hara speakers that says "or who has gossiped about me or even slandered me" implies a human capacity for forgiveness that exceeds the Divine. Because slander AKA מוציא שם רע =untrue malicious gossip in interpersonal sins correlates to חלול השם=desecrating HaShems name in the category of בין אדם למקום= sins between man and G-d . And our Sages taught that such sins cannot be forgiven through T'shuva, The Day of Atonement or even suffering, only the proverbial "Day of Death" can atone for the sin of defamation of HaShems Name. Why then must we be more forgiving than HaShem especially, at the risk of being redundant, in light of the fact that those who defamed us haven't even owned to their offenses or begged our pardon?
Finally I'm unsettled by the overt, self-serving quid -pro-quo. Let's face it. Tefilas Zaqah is a shortcut. The poskim have provided us with "how-to"-techniques and the limits of our obligations in asking forgiveness from those whom we've sinned against. The problem is not that we lack the ways and means for interpersonal T'shuva but that we lack the courage and ego-abnegation necessary to employ those ways and means. And so we take the cowards way out. Instead of investing the time for introspection to discern our interpersonal sins and then mustering the courage required to say to another "I wronged you" we weep under our Talesim or into our hankies for a few minutes before Kol Nidre and hope and pray for Divine intervention. And, in truth, we could really care less about the atonement for those who've wronged US. It's OUR atonement for having wronged OTHERS that we are after*.
Contemporary Kharedism has been criticized in some quarters , sometimes accurately, for it's proclivity for "horsetrading" with G-d, especially vis-a-vis Segulos. The trend today seems to be more and more towards things like: "If I say this many kapitlakh of Tehilim, read the Qetores from a Q'laf, contribute to Chai Rotel Mashkeh, say Perek Shira, visit Amuqa et al, then HaShem will do X,Y,Z for me." I hate to say it but this famous and heartrending passage may be the grandaddy of all Divine "hondeling": If I just say that I forgive others I will secure for myself the grandest of prizes...forgiveness.
Have you had YOUR Qedusha-Havdala today??? Hmm???
*ADDENDUM @ 5:23 EST : I've often wondered about the rule of our sages : המתפלל בעד חברו והוא צריך לאותו דבר...הוא נענה תחילה ="One who prays on another's behalf and shares the same need will be answered (i.e. G-d will fulfill his need) first". Does this work under all circumstances or only when it is not self-conscious. By this I mean does it only work if the petitioner on behalf of the other is unaware of the rule or unaware of the shared need e.g. Ruven prays that G-d should cure Shimon of his cancer and, t the time, Ruven has undiagnosed cancer or the very smallest of unnoticed tumors. Because if the one praying on behalf anf another IS aware of both his own similar need and the rule can it really be said that one is praying on behalf of another??? It seems to me that he is, somewhat cynically , praying on his own behalf with hopes for even speedier positive results. Similarly in Tefilas Zaqah are we really forgiving others at all or merely trying to "manipulate" kavayokhol G-d, into having THEM forgive US.
A quirk which occurs whenever the Shofar is not blown on the first day of Rosh Hashanah just struck me. Starting the day after Tzom Gedaliah the days are three sequential numbers simultaneously. E.g. today is Yemei Teshuva 3 (or so it says in every printed Slikhos that I've ever prayed from) weekday 4 (like every Wednesday) and Tishrei 5. One day that is simultaneously 3-4-5. It just can't make up it's mind. Tomorrow as 4-5-6 will be similarly conflicted and confused.
Now why Tzom Gedaliah is designated as the first day of Aseres Ymei T'shuva when , in fact it is the third (the first day of Rosh Hashanah being the first. Try finding 10 any other way) is beyond me and I'd be much obliged to any reader who could post a comment explaining this numbering system in the slikhos.
Qedusha Havdla ....have you had YOURS today...hmmm???
PS I plan on posting something more topical ad substantive no later than 1:30 PM EST. Thanks in advance for checking back early and often.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
What exactly is there to memorialize? All a service will do is call more unneeded media attention to the intermarriage that wasn't.
People in the shtet'l are being meranen about Mendel that he doesn't fast on Tzom Gedaliah. The Rov calls him in to his Bais Din Shteeb and wants to know if it's true.
Mendel: Rebbe, I'm afraid so.
Rov: But Why Mendel? WHY??? You're a Yiddish Kint. Why would you not observe this public fast day?
Mendel: Rebbe ג' תשובות בדבר :
A. It's been over 2000 since Gedaliah was killed I think that that's more than long enough to observe a Yuhrzeit don't you think?
B. What do I have with this Gedaliah? Let me ask you Rebbe, Do you think for a minute that if kholila I had been the one who was murdered that this Gedaliah would fast even once on my Yuhrzeit? And finally...
C. I eat on Yom Kippur, why should I fast on Tzom Gedaliah?
It's the Seinfeld approach. A Blog about nothing.
BTW It's hard for me to beleiev that my tails/ head post didn't generate a single comment. I really think it is a compelling question about the prevailing custom.
Friday, September 18, 2009
Heads or Tails may you always win throughout the coming year and beyond. Also, Rich or poor it's good to have money.
Rabenu Yona says that among the things Ba’al T’shuva should pray for is “The return of G-d’s shining countenance.” In our idiom this means that we yearn for a state when the sin is not just forgiven but forgotten as well. That “things” between us and HaShem are just as they were before the sin. Ours is not a casual easy come-easy go relationship with G-d where a modus vivendi will suffice. We are בני ברית . We enjoy a covenantal passionate exclusive monogamous relationship. And for this nothing short of a “return of G-d’s shining countenance” will do.
I wish I could remember where but IIRC the S’fas Emes points out a paradox between two Mamarei Khazal re virginity and applies it homiletically to Avodas Hashem. On the one hand the initial intercourse is singular in that it is a sterile, non-reproductive, “reproductive” act. אין אשה מתעברת מביאה ראשונה = "a woman will not become pregnant by/from her first intercourse." And yet it is precisely this sterile deflowering that creates a relationship unlike any other; אין אשה כורתת ברית אלא למי שעשאה כלי = “A woman will not ‘cut’ a covenant other than with he who made her into a vessel”.
In classic Jewish thought sexuality is a metaphor for the giving and receiving of all and any השפעות= outflows / overflows/ emanations with HaShem playing the masculine role of the source of the "overflow"and all His creatures, male and female playing the feminine role of the receptacles to receive and nurture same. Often, one finds their very first real ardor and zest for spirituality to be spontaneous by divine grace, an אתערותא דלעילא = “an awakening from on high”. This spiritual high dissipates. Not being the result of ones own free-will exercise it is sterile and cannot engender future similar experiences. For those to occur the Oved HaShem will now have to motivate themselves and have an “awakening from below”= אתערותא דלתתא to evoke the next Divine emanation. Yet although sterile in and of itself the memory of that first אתערותא דלעילא unearned experience creates a lifelong fealty and love between the Oved HaShem and HaShem. It was that experience that was Kores bris= that established a covenant.
In Elul we strive for the ultimate in T'shuva. Though we’ve strayed with infidelity and , tragically, done our "level best" to break and ruin the covenant, we now strive for that moment in our past when we were about to be “made into vessels” to absorb G-d’s loving emanations.
On Rosh Hashanah the King appears. Until then, the royal consort readies herself by returning to her pre-vessel state so that, beloved again, she can bask once more the light and heat of the Kings shining countenance.
Have you had YOUR Qedusha-Hvdala today??? Hmmm???
Gruengras: Fahvoo... aren't we still doing the simanim= symbolic foods?
Frishvasser: Ya know Godel, for decades now I've been a big fish in a small pond. I'm surrounded by mediocrities , underdeveloped pinheads with VERY narrow horizons. This is the year I want to break out.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
In this clip, Leonard Cohen performs "Who by Fire".
I got this as part of a Rosh HaShanah greeting email with "This is great" in the subject bar. Well I suppose it's great music but is it great for the Jews?
Cultural osmosis and interpenetration between Judaism and the balance of humanity is a hot button issue. In the J-Blogosphere one extreme you have DovBear who basically opines that NOTHING is "authentically" Jewish, that everything is a foreign import at . While at the opposite pole you'll find the likes of Rabbi Raphael Bearmant and Jewish Philosopher who are convinced that Rav Miller z"l, to the exclusion of all other Tzadikim and streams in Torah Observant Judaism, represents pure Judaism untainted by ANY foreign importations.
The truth, of course lies somewhere in the middle, and the pressing questions are: Is the "Goyisha" import in the manner of a Ger Tzedek- a righteous convert? Or, to use the Lurianic parlance, is it a spark that has been raised back to it's source? Is it a lost scintilla of Qedusha that has been reincorporated into the Jewish People, the "recapturing of a captive" :
י כִּי-תֵצֵא לַמִּלְחָמָה, עַל-אֹיְבֶיךָ; וּנְתָנוֹ יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, בְּיָדֶךָ--וְשָׁבִיתָ שִׁבְיוֹ.
10 When thou goest forth to battle against thine enemies, and the LORD thy God delivereth them into thy hands, and thou carriest them away captive,
יא וְרָאִיתָ, בַּשִּׁבְיָה, אֵשֶׁת, יְפַת-תֹּאַר; וְחָשַׁקְתָּ בָהּ, וְלָקַחְתָּ לְךָ לְאִשָּׁה.
11 and seest among the captives a woman of goodly form, and thou hast a desire unto her, and wouldest take her to thee to wife....or is it an invader, an interloper seeking to adulterate Qedusha with khol=the mundane? Is it an intermarriage sans conversion that leads to the antonym of Jewish continuity?
IMO Qedusha is most difficult to maintain when it's boundaries are being expanded and a Havdala line is erased to allow for that expansion.
No where does this controversy rage more than in the field of Jewish Music. Is Klezmer Jewish or not? Is Shlomo Carlebach's music Jewish or not? When Schlock Rock, Variations or Lipa rip off classical or popular musical notes and wed them to Jewish/Yiddish lyrics are they "Jew-ifying" the tune or "Goy-ifying" the lyrics? Is co-opting Goyisha tunes this way something reserved for Rebbes only? After all the Khasidic traditions contains such "coopted-from-the-Goyim" numbers as Nyet Nyet Nikabow, Napoleans march, Sol-ah-kokosh mahr and Yam Yam to name a few.
However It seems a lot easier to tolerate when we move the music towards Judaism rather than when we move the Jewish lyrics towards Jazz or other musical forms not originally found in Torah Judaism.
I don't know much about Leonard Cohen but I find this clip off-putting. To me it is not so much that he is raising the holy sparks scattered in Jazz as drowning and submerging the holy of holiest sparks found in U'Nesaneh Toqef Qedushas HaYom into the ugly, coarse husks of smoke-filled rooms and easy virtue. I could be wrong but I think if Rav Amnon of Mainz could be resurrected he would sooner re-suffer his gruesome and excruciating death by dismemberment than see his lyrics, transmitted to atone for a hairsbreadth desecration of HaShem's name, and intended to be wailed by Jews with the Ark doors opened on the holiest day of the year, played in a Jazz bar.
What do you think?
Have you had YOUR Qedusha/Havdala today...Hmmm?
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Hat tip Hirshel Tzig of Circus Tent.
For the time being I'm satisfied with Reb Shlomo Carlebach's approach to the anatomical metaphor of Virgo that I cited here. But I am still flummoxed by the proof-text which connects the dots between virginity and T'shuva= Repentance: שׁוּבִי בְּתוּלַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, שֻׁבִי אֶל-עָרַיִךְ אֵלֶּה. = Return, O virgin of Israel, return to these thy cities. Why? Because read in context the posuk/im (30:20, 22-24) in question describe(s) a "return" to the land of Israel. The "Virgin" is an anthropomorphic metaphor of , among other things, organic integrity in contrast to the dispersion and organic disintegration of the Diaspora. Superficially at least, there is no hint that the prophecy alludes to the "return to (fill in the blank)" that defines what WE refer to as T'shuva.
I suppose that one or more Religious Zionist theoreticians use this proof-text to teach that true T'shuva is impossible in the Diaspora. That real T'shuva is contingent upon a return to the land. And while there may be something to this, and while the Rambam (author of Hilkhos T'shuva) is buried in Teveryah, I think it might come as a surprise to Rabenu Yonah who wrote THE book on T'shuva to discover that , perishing in the diaspora, he missed the boat. (On second thought his NOT making it to Eretz Israel MAY have been considered a failure in his personal T'shuva vis a vis the Rambam book burnings.)
IMO the posuk might be conveying this message:
Sin is not just the cause of exile and dispersion it is, itself, a kind of exile and dispersion. The בעלי מוסר וחסידות spoke about the self-sabotaging character trait of פזור הנפש= the souls dispersion/ scattering. When I become too much of a Jack-of-All-Trades, when I jump around from task to task and interest to interest I lose strength through dissipation. Imagine two garden hoses fed by the same plumbing and sharing the same level of water pressure except that one has a shower-head type sprinkler attached and one has a standard hose head that can focus a concentrated spray. While the former might be "broader" and water more grass it essentially leaves all the grass arid and thirsty, if your goal is to saturate one spot then it's better to use the standard hose head.
It's the same in our lives and spirits. When I lose focus and concentration and spread myself too thin important things remain undone (sins of omission) and I often miss the mark of what I was aiming for (sins of commission). So forgetting the Virgo part for a moment, the proof-text describing the ingathering of the exiles ," the Virgin of Israel returning to her cities", is indeed a very apt metaphor for T'shuva even for those Jews who do remain in the Diaspora. An exiled "Virgin of Israel " is not just diminished by not dwelling in her natural habitat but weakened through dissipation and disintegration. Returning to her cities she regains bio-structural integrity and consequently strength, power and purpose.
אין בכלל אלא מה שבפרט= "there is nothing in the general that does not exist in the particular as well". To do T'shuva, to return to HaShem/ One's soul root/ the pre-sin time in ones life, it is necessary to first refocus and undo the soul-scattering that is both the cause and effect of sin.
Have you had YOUR havdala/ Qedusha today...Hmmm???
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
But what if next of kin receives such exaggerated news? Can you imagine the grief the anguish for naught? Think it can't happen in a first world country in this day and age? Think again.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Yesterday on what was scheduled to be her wedding day, Connecticut State Police discovered what is being reported as the body of Annie Le secreted inside a wall in a Lab building on the Yale Campus. It seems that now, they may even have a suspect.
Ms. Le was to have wed Jonathan Widawsky who, at least judging by his face, surname and intelligence is a Jew from central casting. Her murder is an unspeakable tragedy. There is no silver lining nor solace in the fact that she was non-Jewish as I'm certain that once he overcomes his grief Mr. Widawsky will continue to inter-date and, if I were a betting man, I'd wager that his eventual wife will , again, be oriental.
However IMO what compounds the tragedy from a Jewish POV is that among the subliminal messages communicated by this high-profile nationally (internationally??) publicized case is that there was absolutely nothing untoward nor extraordinary about the scheduled marriage itself. The Noah Feldman brouhaha several years ago had already delivered a body blow to any sense of taboo surrounding intermarriage (and IIRC his oriental wife had undergone some sort of bogus conversion). It made liberal Jews ashamed to be ashamed of intermarriage. For such shame was nothing-other than soft, low-grade Racism. The more alienated and unaffiliated Jewish youth see unremarkable couples whose very ethnicity shouts INTERMARRIAGE the more the very last vestiges of the intermarriage taboo evaporate.
It is completely illogical yet there still exists a tiny minority of unaffiliated forty-something Jewish parents who, while raising their kids without a scintilla of Yiddishkeit and who never protested inter-dating, are somehow nonplussed when their boychiks or girlchicks bring a shaigitz or shiktza home to mother. The saturation coverage this case is getting will only lead to more broken hearts and spirits among this self-sabotaging, headed-for-extinction species of Jewish parents. The vast majority of whom will never be grandparents of Jews even if they are Jewish Grandparents.
Have YOU had YOUR Havdala-Qedusha today? Hmmm?
ס' דרך מצותיך לבעל "צמח צדק", מצות לא תבערו אש, ע' פט,ב: "אנו רואים למטה שיש בנ"א שעיקר חיותם הוא כשפועלים דין בבנ"א כנראה בחוש כאשר יקרה לבנ"א הללו אנשים עוברי עבירה תיכף מתחמם לבבם ויתמלאו חימה וכעס להענישם ולהכותם מכות אכזרי ורציחה ממש ובפועל ידם דוקא ולא ינוחו ולא ישקטו עד עשות בהם פעולה הרעה בתכלית והיינו מצד שטבעם רע בעצם ע"כ זאת הרעה שיפעלו בבנ"א תחי' אותם חיות וקיום נצחי ובלעדו אין להם חיות כלל ובבוא לידם פעולת הרציחה כאילו מתחדש נפשם מצד שזה חיותם. והנה הגם שילבישו הדבר לש"ש על שעבר עבירה אין זה אמת כלל כי באמת הרי הוא ית' מלא רחמים וחסד וכמ"ש באור פני מלך חיים (משלי ט"ז ט"ו) לפי שהוא מקור החיים ומקור הטוב והחסד ומקור התענוגים ואין פעולת הרע באה מחמתו כלל כמארז"ל (מד"ר בראשית פנ"א) אין רע יורד מלמעלה (ומה שנסתעף הדין הוא ע"י שבה"כ שנבראו שלוחי הדין שתובעים דין והש"י מסכים לזה לא לנקמה על העובר עבירה ח"ו אלא כמו רפואה שמרפאים חולי הנפש הנעשי' מהעבירות ע"י היסורים וגיהנם כמו שהאומן מוציא כתם מבגד ע"י מתכת חם כו') אלא שזהו מצד מזג רוע הנפש מוטבע' מגבורות קשות להריע ולהעניש כו' ועד"ז הם שלוחי הדין הרוחני' מבחי' גבורות קשות וחפצם בדין לפעול פעולת הדין ובזאת יחיו כו
With apologies to Hershel Tzig of Circus Tent my humble adaptation follows for the Lashon Qodesh illiterate/challenged:
From Sefer "the Way of thy Commandments" by the third Chabad-Lubavitch Rebbe Rav Menachem Mendel the Tzemach Tzedek. Mitzvah "Thou shalt not kindle a flame" page 89B:
Here below (i.e. in the material world) we observe people who are most vital and alive when they can "effect justice" (i.e. punish) other human beings. It can literally be seen that when individuals who have transgressed commandments happen to cross the paths of these "effect justice" types their hearts become inflamed immediately and they are consumed with anger and fury (and want nothing more than to) punish them (the transgressors) and strike them with cruel and even fatal blows. Refusing surrogates they must deliver the blows themselves. Nor will they rest until the evil/ punishing act has been fully executed against the transgressors.
The reason for their desires and behavior is that they are intrinsically BAD/ mean. Such that when they can visit evil /suffering upon others it quickens their vitality and gives them eternal permanence. Lacking this (capacity to punish) they (feel as though they) lack existence. So when presented with the opportunity to murder they feel as though they are being reborn for this (being evil/mean) is, in fact, their (entire) life force.
Now behold; Though they may garb their actions in holy intentions "for the sake of heaven" for after all, their victim transgressed a commandment , this is not at all true. For, in truth, He (G-d) the Blessed One is suffused with mercy and loving-kindness. As the verse (Mishlei 16:15) states: "For in the light of the Kings countenance is Life". For He is the source of life and the source of good and kindness and the source of pleasures. The actualization of evil/pain/punishment does not come through Him at all. as the sages taught (Bereshis Rabbah 51): "Evil does not descend from on High (i.e. from G-d)". The reason that "Justice" (i.e. punishment for transgression) appears at all is because there are agents of Justice (angels) who demand justice and the Holy Blessed One agrees with them but NOT to gain revenge against the transgressors. (Rather) it (the punishments/ justice) is a kind of palliative , healing them from their soul-sicknesses through suffering and Gehinom (or) like a craftsman might remove the stain from a textile using a hot iron.
Whereas (earthbound zealots act on account of a) bad spiritual mix in their souls makeup stamped by the "hard/severe might" (= Gevoros haQoshos) to inflict pain and to punish. And for this they are /become agents of spiritual justice (but only from the aspect of) "hard might" such that their entire desire is justice i.e. to execute "acts" of justice (by inflicting pain on transgressors). They live for this.
So whether Rabbi Bearmant is real or a spoof the values that he espouses are all too real and are celebrated by many in the Kharedi camp today. I think that reading this Torah from a universally revered early-middle Khasidic master ought to give us pause and stimulate some soul-searching to determine how much of our kanous=zealotry is "for the sake of heaven" and how much of it is just an expression of an inner ornery, mean-spiritedness that we wrap in a flag of "the sake of heaven" as a sadistic scoundrels last refuge.
Sad is the cruel one who can only feel life through the suffering and death of others.
Have you had YOUR Havdala-Qedusha today??? Hmmm???
Thursday, September 10, 2009
In which a Chasidic Master Delineates an Innate Difference Between Jewish and Gentile Sinning(and Repenting)!
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Some late edits appear in blue
Owing to some recent comments and emails I'd like to distinguish my approach from that of Rabbi Raphael Bearmant of the "Authentic Judaism" Blog. The "Rabbi" has since been exposed as a teenage spoofer. Still he is a talented one and the ideology he letzonusdikly espouses still mistaken for my own by some and as such worthy of this post and edits by way of response"
First a common denominator; We share the notion that as long as evil exists i.e. until some point in the eschatological future, hatred will have to be part of the psycho-spiritual-emotional makeup of everyone with pretensions to being an Oved haShem. If nothing bothers you or arouses you to some NEGATIVE passionate feelings in this corrupt and broken world then there is something seriously wrong. I'd also mostly agree that a line needs to be drawn in the hashqafic sand beyond which certain weltanschungs are beyond the pale.
But based on my reading of his writing, we part company in several significant ways. First and foremost his writing comes across as though he (Rav Avigdor Miller z"l???) feels that a parity exists between the Mitzvos of אהבת ישראל ושנאת שונאי ה'. = "the love of ones fellow Jew and the hatred of the enemies of G-d" He seems to almost gleefully seize the opportunity to hate appropriate targets for hate. In fact sometimes it reads as though the Mitzvah to hate precedes and ranks higher than the mitzvah to love. As I understand things, this is a warped approach.
At one point in Jewish history מצוות יבום קודמת למצוות חליצה = "the Mitzvah of the levirate marriage took precedence over the mitzvah of the release process". If at that point in history the surviving brother who, for whatever mitigating reason, had to perform חליצה then he ought to have done so with an ambivalent krekhtz thinking: "yes it's a mitzvah but I wish I'd been zokhe to be performing the primary rather than secondary mitzvah". AAMOF IIRC the Khinukh opines that both חליצה and the mitzvah of עריפת פטר חמור = "decapitation of the firstborn donkey" are penalties for not doing the "right" thing. Yes, they are both the will of G-d and yes, they are counted as 2 among the 613 mitzvos but, all things considered, we'd rather be performing an alternate mitzvah.
I think that it is a קל וחומר that this applies to the alternative Mitzvos of אהבת ישראל on the one had and שנאת שונאי ה on the other. If historical and social contingencies are such that we must apply שנאת שונאי ה to our fellow Jews then we ought to do so with ambivalence and wistfulness. After all our Ahavas Yisrael along with all are mitzvos ought to be expressions of הליכה בדרכיו = Imitatio dei . And it goes without saying that kavayokhol HaShem would prefer to exercise the midas horakhamim than the midas hadin.
Even if I am wrong on this point the Ba'al HaBlog of "Authentic Judaism" seems to have placed halakhically mandated hatred at the very center of his avodas haShem. This is off-putting for three reasons;
A. It sounds remarkably similar to the ideologies of our worst (and, presumably HaShem's worst) enemies Hamas and Iranian Shi'ites. At the very least in terms of centrality and emphasis we ought to at least consider relegating it to the realm of מעיקרא אהובה והשתא שנואה = "Things that were formerly beloved but now despised" and
B. Since (pardon the expression) authentic קנאות =zeal and שנאת שונאי ה are the obverse of the ahavas yisrael and, more importantly, ahavas Hasem coin, then it follows that pretenders to קנאות are essentially declaring themselves to be big time lovers of G-d. To which the average persons reaction is "I'm from Missouri...show me..." הלואי that we should all have a modicum of the lower level of יראת שמים = "The awe of Heaven" before claiming such lofty madreigos for ourselves.
C. (really B2) We are wise to emulate the lifestyles of the righteous. Gedolim are the best role models. Still, we run into trouble when we adopt behaviors of theirs that do not relate to our own spiritual level. When we do so we become self-parodies and look like nothing so much as a three year old comically running around in his Tottys hat and jacket. It's good for a laugh but should never be mistaken for genuine Avodas HaShem. This midah is a great case in point. The Satmar Rebbe, the Bisker Rov and Rav Miller zekher kulom livrakha had the requisite level of Ahavas Yisrael to be true Kanoim and passionately hate those targets they deemed worthy of hatred. To understate it, the same cannot be said of "all" of their followers.
We also part company on where precisely the line in the sand ought to be drawn. No need to elaborate but suffice it to say that IMO when the big boys fight it is appropriate for their followers, while confident in their own leaders approach, to maintain a respectful regard for the other "big boy" adversary. The people whom the Ba'al "Authentic Judaism" blog dismisses כלאחר יד =backhandedly were great Torah Scholars and it raises the troubling question of when ideological purity/correctness trumps gadlus b'Torah and just who is and who is not "entitled to an opinion." But that issue is for another post (if at all).
Moreover while I agree that certain ideologies are beyond the pale I certainly don't believe that Judaism as I or the tzibbur that I am a part ofractices it is the sole legitimate expression of "Authenticity". When reading "Authentic Judaism" I get the sinking feeling that although just a few "whipping boys" are actually named the spoof writer affects the pose of someone convinced that they have the sole monopoly on truth in Judaism- בחינת אני ואפסי עוד . Few things, in fact, could be further from the truth.
If all this renders me inauthentic and an appropriate target for hatred I can only pray that HaShem enlightens me to the error of my ways. But I am , after all, a blogger so conceding an error is not among the easier things that bloggers do.
Having said all this I am still deeply troubled by those J-Blogosphere movers and shakers who have allegedly started a campaign to devalue Rabbi Raphael Bearmants Google ranking. First I think that his is an important voice that needs to be heard. Rav Miller z"l was an influential post-war Godol with thousands of talmidim and it's informative to hear someone articulating his shitos. Second I essentially agree with his overarching thesis that uber-tolerance often betokens an absence of spine and a devaluation of core values and that some folks are so open-minded that their brains have fallen out. But most importantly I am struck and stung by the hypocrisy of the putative tolerant, broadminded, free-speech champions who seek to marginalize and even silence speech expressing an opinion that they deem abhorrent. It is davka that speech which needs to be protected most. Whatever happened to the attitude summed up in a quote attributed to Voltaire : "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."? This is a reflection of what's going on the larger culture where Michael Savage has been banned in England.
Having myself been the victim of a campaign that has marginalized and effectively silenced my voice in the J-Blogospher I empathize with Rabbi Bearmants plight.
Qedusha-Havdala...have you had YOURS today???? Hmm???
6 And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
A while ago I blogged about the "skank blogger" case. In case anyone thought that emailing provided greater cover than blogging for hidden identities behind which one could defame another with impunity, think again.
Holiday Image, a company that creates Christmas displays for New York city's toniest stores, filed papers in Queens Supreme Court demanding that Google preserve its records so the Long Island City-based company can find out who posed as its CEO and sent an e-mail to Gap Inc. claiming that the decorating firm was under investigation and that it had cheated Gap out of $100,000.
Read the whole story here.
Qedusha-havdala...have you had YOURS today???
Friday, September 4, 2009
Read about these Mazel Tough Guys here. I was recently able to upload the front page photo used in the NY Post this morning and I strongly recommend that anyone who can get their hands on a copy do so. It is sure to be an instant classic/collectible.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Perhaps I am arguing on Aesop too as essentially Mr. Will draws the conclusion that is the moral of the “Tortoise and Hare” fable namely that “slow and steady wins the race.” After all both JFK and RFK were cut down in the primes of their lives while they still had great accomplishments beckoning in their futures whereas the baby of Joseph and Rose Kennedy’s family lived a normal full lifespan. And, George Will opines “Charisma is less potent than the smitten imagine; endurance is not sufficient but it is necessary.” And the youngest Kennedy “served in the Senate for 47 years, more than a fifth of the life of the constitution.”
To use a baseball metaphor that Mr. Will would no doubt appreciate he is assuming the position of those Hall of Fame voters who favor “compilers”. They will sooner enshrine someone who through a fine but not beyond belief 17-20 season career reached many of the milestone numbers for RBIs and Homers, career wins and strikeouts than someone with a much shorter career who was absolutely Ruthian for 6-9 seasons.
I beg to differ. Not all seconds, minutes, months years and decades are created equally. I subscribe to the theory (George Carlin??) that “life is not measured by the number of breaths that you take but by the moments that take your breath away.” Avraham Avinu lived for well over a century but we remember him primarily for the day, nay the moment, of the Aqeida. JFK and to a lesser extent Bobby gave the USA many such moments; the Bay of Pigs, The Cuban Missile crisis, The Inaugural address, The “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech, the Hoffa prosecution, the Chavez strikes. Perhaps most of all, in secular Aqeidos that were the real thing rather than near misses, the manner of their deaths. These were perception changing moments that were seared onto the collective national consciousness. They changed attitudes, the scope and pervasiveness of political assassinations, conspiracy theories, covert operations and the very course of American and world history.
IMO had Ted’s last name not been Kennedy, had he not been a member of a clan where all of the male progeny had presidential aspirations and had JFK and RFK not been assassinated then he’d have gone into history as not any different than a Strom Thurmond or a Robert Byrd. He'd be remembered as an influential and enduring Senator to be sure but, in the large scheme of things, no more than a minor historical footnote. Endurance alone, while necessary to be an impactful Senator is insufficient to lay claim to being a Kennedy of indisputable historical significance.
As a Jew approaching the ימי הדין =the Days of Judgment I yearn for the one moment that can rehab and reclaim abused and misspent decades. That true epiphany of a genuine Hirhur T’shuva. The Kotzker’s proverbial eye-of-a-needle opening that, though tiny, rends steel. Call me a get-rich-quick-in-spirituality schemer but my role models are not Shimon HaTzadik but Rav Eliezer ben Durdoi and Rav Khanina ben Tradyons executioner. יש קונה עולמו בשעה אחת- בשעתא חדא וברגעא חדא
I forget from whom, where and when I read this great quote so I’ll have to paraphrase. “Don’t be afraid to take the occasional bold, gigantic leap, great chasms cannot be crossed in several small consistent steps.”
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
I grew up in a home in which my parents conversed in Yiddish with one another, with their friends and, to a great extent, with their children. All but a few of the mispaleleim of my childhood Shul were post and pre war immigrants and their babble was a veritable Babel of Yiddishs with dialects and accents representative of Poland, Raissin, Vohleen, Mizrakh Galitzia, Maariv Galitzia, Romania and Hungary. The same was nearly true of the elementary and high schools that I attended where many of the Rebbeim conducted classes and shiurim in Momma Loshon. In addition to what I picked up in Shul I also heard Israelified wrinkles, my first classical Litvisha Yiddish, and the Americanized drawl of Chofetz Chaim alum affecting the same, in school.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I think that Yiddish is either unique in Jewish History or irreplaceable in the future of the Jewish Diaspora (though I passionately hope that the Diaspora will be a distant memory long before the centuries that need to pass to evolve such a language come to pass). I’m sure speakers of Babylonian Aramaic and Ladino felt much the same way that I do about Yiddish. They too took Leshonei La’az , infused it with words and letters from Lashon Qodesh, concepts from the written and oral Torah, uniquely Jewish sensibilities, the wry gallows humor of a dispersed and oppressed People and, converting the Goyims language, made it their own. It was “their” convert and they loved it above and beyond the language that was “born Jewish”
When listening to recordings of the Shiurim and Schmuessen of the post-war Torah Giants I am transported to a rarefied time and place and enthralled by the cohesion of medium and message, of style and substance. The brilliance and clarity filtering through the stentorian tones of Rav Yoshe Ber Soloveitchik, the grandfatherly gentleness of Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky,the passion and bell-clear elocution of the American born Rav Gifter in his Shiurei Da’as (or as one arch Telshe alumnus told me they called them “back in the day” in Cleveland -Shiurei Ka’as), the newly minted phrases, well timed pregnant pauses and emphasizing repetitions of Rav Hutner, the stamina and raw power of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Varshaver “yakhs” and “kuns” of Yerachmiel Domb, the almost-but-not-quite german of Rav Mikhel Ber Wiessmandel, the pathos and humanity apparent in the post-stroke slurring of Rav Chaim Shmulevitz all convince the listener that there exists no better temporal language for conveying the eternity of Torah than Yiddish.
Truth be told I am a bit of a Yiddishist and have blurred the havdala bein Qodesh L’khol when it comes to Momma Loshon. I also enjoy the comedy of Dzigan and Schumacher, the songs of Theodore Bikel or some of the contemporary figures in the Klezmer revival and the occasional reading of Bashevis or Peretz in the original.
I love the diminutives and terms of endearment in Yiddish. I roar with laughter at roundabout Yiddish curses. The inflections, modifiers and idioms are zaftig and wry. The syntax and sentence structure sound, by turns, exotic, clever, enigmatic, antebellum southern or British Cockney to the SWE trained ear.
Of course I speak here of a language that is rapidly growing extinct. Languages are not static .They evolve and, sometimes, devolve. IMO something Orwellian has happened to Yiddish over the past 20-30 years and lacking more than 2-3 overused and misapplied modifiers the language one hears today is impoverished and dry. Everything, but I mean everything is “Gevaltik” or “Moiradik”. There has also been a dilution through over-infusion of Hebrew, Aramaic and English. Things are no longer “Bah-voost” but instead are “Yodua-dik”. A window is just a vindow and no longer a fenster. A trained ear will hear in the rhetoric of Yeshivasha orators attempting Yiddish, line by line translations of English idioms and syntax rather than the original Yiddish. Their Yiddish jars my ears as those cheap giveaway English translation Breslover tracts burn my eyes.
Here’s is one of the great remarkable historical ironies: Among the many hostile Jew-hating nations that hosted the Jewries that grew Yiddish it was the native speakers of the language that gave birth to Yiddish alone who would design, implement and execute the Jewish genocide. To coin a phrase it was a Lingocide as well. For as it destroyed 5 million or more Yiddish speakers, frum and frei alike, it nearly killed off the language as well.
I don’t want to leave the 3 readers of this post with the wrong impression. So I will close on a Havdala note. Yiddish is not, never was and never can be Lashon Qodesh. The formers Qedusha is acquired while the latter’s is innate. I know of one great pre-war Polish Rebbe who spoke only Loshson Qodesh on Shabbos and Yom Tov and not a word of Yiddish. [Listening to his Tisch Torah must’ve been a real hoot!] Yet I think that my father z”l summed it up best when he said זאהל זי-ין אז אידיש איז נישט לשון קודש-עס איז כאטש לשון קדושים = "While Yiddish may not be Loshon Qodesh (the Holy tongue) it is, still, Loshon Qedoshim (the tongue of Holy Martyrs)".
The words in blue are edits to the original post and reflect the authors original intent
Qedusha-Havdala...have you had yours today???