Tuesday, May 31, 2011
No I'm not talking about Qomemiyut.
The Modern State of Israel was built primarily by Labor Zionists (possibly, depending on ones Theology and Eschatology, with the supranatural help of either HaShem or להבדיל אלף אלפי הבדלות the Samekh Mem). Thinkers such as Moses Hess, Nahum Syrkin, Ber Borochov and Aaron David Gordon factored G-d out of the equation but fused ideas of a National Homeland for the Jews as dash endlosung dash judenfrage with a Marxian vision of a classless society and collective ownership of the means of production to cobble together their ideology and political philosophy. Though we live in an era of both post-Zionism and near-post-Socialism, the historical gains and successes of the Labor Zionists cannot be overstated. The Nation-State of Israel has endured longer than the USSR and Mainland China, while still basically totalitarian, is red in name only. Some have argued that the purest incarnation of Marxist-Leninist theory ever were the HaShomer HaTzair Kibbutzim in their 30s-70s heyday.
And while Kibutzim and the Sokhnut have been losing steam in recent decades who would have thought that, with Yiddishe kep running the show, that a society aspiring to classlessness would ever mutate and bifurcate into one of a very wide gap between rich and poor. You see, the State of Israel finds herself right smack-dab in the middle of a rather ignominious list. Using a statistic called the Gini coefficient, which rates countries from 0 to 1, where zero indicates perfect equality and one indicates all wealth goes to a single individual, the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)has produced the top (bottom?) ten list of Nations with the worst and widest income inequality. Israel is number five on the list.
I guess a new retooling of the old Marxist slogan apropos to a Modern State of Israel that has completely betrayed her Labor Zionist roots would be "From each according to his exploitability to each according to his greed!" If Golda and Ben-Gurion were alive today these otherwise shameless Labor Zionist leaders would , no doubt, be concurring that the OECD report constitutes a horrible שאנדע פאר די גוים!
All those Jerusalem and Bnei -Beraq Kolleleit כן ירבו plugging away in willful unemployment and subsistence poverty must be to blame for this. Just another nefarious Kharedi conspiracy.
בא המבדיל והעמידן על אח
"Those who cannot tolerate Havdala cannot appreciate Qedusha"
Sunday, May 29, 2011
The only reasonable explanation I could come up with is that the long passage of the Rambam was inaccessible. And so, quite apart from it's centrality to my thesis of the danger of false messiahs and doomsday predictions, even gentile ones, I present a translation of the pertinent Rambam now that is fascinating and provocative in its own right. Enjoy and, FCOL, discuss.
"If he did not succeed to this degree or he was killed, he is not [the redeemer] promised by the Torah. [Rather,] he shoud be considered as all the other proper and legitimate kings of the Davidic dynasty who died. G-d only caused him to arise in order to test the multitude. As it is written [Daniel 11:35], "Some of the wise men will stumble, to purge, to refine, and to clarify, until the appointed time, for it is yet to come." Jesus of Nazareth who aspired to be the Mashiach and was executed by the court was also spoken of in Daniel's prophecies [Daniel11:14], "The renegades among your people shall exalt themselves in an attempt to fulfill the vision, but they shall stumble." Can there be a greater stumbling block than [Christianity]? All the prophets spoke of Moshiach as the redeemer of Israel and their savior, who would gather their dispersed ones and strengthen their [observance of] the mitzvos. In contrast [the founder of Christianity] caused the Jews to be slain by the sword, their remnants to be scattered and humiliated, the Torah to be altered, and the majority of the world to err and serve a god other than the L-rd. Nevertheless, the intent of the Creator of the world is not within the power of man to comprehend, for [to paraphrase Yeshayahu 55:8] 'His ways are not our ways, nor are His thoughts our thoughts. ' [Ultimately,] all the deeds of Jesus of Nazareth and that Ishmaelite [i.e. Mohamed] who arose after him will only serve to pave the way for the coming of Mashiach and for the improvement of the entire world, [motivating the nations] to serve G-d together, as it is written [Zephaniah 3:9], "I will make the peoples pure of speech so that they will all call upon the Name of G-d and serve Him with one purpose." How will this come about? The entire world has already become filled with talk of [the supposed] Messiah, as well as of the Torah and the mitzvos. These matters have been spread among many spiritually insensitive nations, who [now] discuss these matters as well as the mitzvos of the Torah. Some of them [i.e. the Christians???] say: "These commandments were true, but are not in force in the present age; they are not applicable for all time." Others [i.e. the Moslems???] say: "Implied in the commandments are hidden concepts that cannot be understood simply; the Messiah has already come and revealed them." When the true Messiah king will arise and prove successful, his [position becoming] exalted and uplifted, they [I.E. X-tains and Muslims] will all return [repent] and realize that their ancestors endowed them with a false heritage; their prophets and ancestors cause them to err."
בא המבדיל והעמידן על אח
"Those who cannot tolerate Havdala cannot appreciate Qedusha"
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
לרבינו המהרש"ל (שהיה רב וראש ישיבה בלובלין לפני 400 שנה) היה תלמיד שהתאלמן מאשתו. חלפו כמה חודשים מפטירתה והאברך עודנו מתהלך אפוף מרה שחורה. קרא לו המהרש"ל ושאלו לפשר הדבר, לאחר שהפציר בו רבות, גילה התלמיד שכאשר שכבה אשתו על ערש דווי, הבטיח לה בתקיעת כף שלא ישא אשה אחרת לעולם. אמר לו המהרש"ל, ע"פ דין תורה השבועה לא חלה, דהו"ל נשבע לעבור על המצוה, ולכן מותר לך, ועליך להקים בית בישראל, ולזכות להעמיד דורות. התלמיד עשה כפקודת רבו ונשא אשה.
לא עברו ימים מועטים וכל לובלין היתה כמרקחה, האברך נפטר לבית עולמו!… משספרו זאת למהרש"ל, ביקש להזמין את אנשי החברא קדישא, וציוה להם לעשות לאברך את טהרתו ולהתנהג בו כרגיל, וכשיהיו מוכנים להניחו בקברו, יודיעו לו. וכך עשו. לקח המהרש"ל פתקא ורשם: "שלום שלום לכם פמליא של מעלה, אני פסקתי ע"פ דין תורה שתלמידי מותר וחייב לשאת אשה, ואני גוזר 'בכח התורה' שתחזירו לי תלמידי"!… חתם שמו, וציוה להניח הקלף ביד המת, להניחו בקבר, ולהשאיר את הקבר פתוח, ושכולם יעזבו את בית העלמין… לא עברה שעה קלה, האברך יצא מקברו בתכריכיו, והתהלך ברחובות, כאילו מאומה לא קרה… כשבא המת עם תכריכיו לביתו, נבהלה אשתו וברחה לבית אביה מרוב פחד ואימה.
בבוקר שלח המהרש"ל לתלמיד שילבש בגדיו ויבוא לישיבה, כשהתלמיד בא לישיבה פחדו התלמידים לשבת ע"י מת. גזר המהרש"ל "בכח התורה" ששר השכחה ישתלט על לובלין, וישכיח את כל הענין מאנשי לובלין, האברך שב להיות כאחד האדם, וזכה לראות בנים ובני בנים עוסקים בתורה ובמצוות…
As far as the actual p'sak is concerned I had a few follow-up questions:
1. While she has the highest rabbinic dispensation imaginable I wonder if there would be any point, לפנים משורת הדין for her to keep her promise? Per the Kikar report, probably not, because the Rav blessed her to find a new zivug rapidly. OTOH maybe he was just being kind to a broken hearted widow but had she been made of sterner stuff he might have related a לפנים משורת הדין khumrah.
2. I wonder what motivated the deceased request; deep love that would transcend the grave? possessiveness and a desire to control his wife posthumously? Maybe the deceased thought it better for his/their childrens well being that they be raised by a single parent rather than in a blended family or as step-children?
3. What about a מי שפרע? Is a one persons word to another, particularly their most dearly beloved, meaningless? Again, apparently not, because she received not only a p'sak but a blessing.
4. One has to know when, and from whom, to ask a Shailaeh. In such a case would it have been more appropriateto have queried a Rebbe or a Ba'al Mequbal than a posek, no matter how august? In a Din Torah בבית דין של מטה between the living and the dead the dead don't stand a chance.
5. Wonder if the deceased will ever come to her in a dream??? If he does he will , no doubt, validate the p'sak! That would be the most fitting ending to this drama. OTOH לא בשמים היא
and, as Dayan Fischer z"l once said IIRC vis a vis a Din Torah between the Bergsaser and the Toldos Ahron Rebbes, "let your father come to ME in a dream"
בא המבדיל והעמידן על אחת
"Those who cannot tolerate Havdala cannot appreciate Qedusha"
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Well, you may ask,where's the harm in yet another crackpot X-tian Adventist being exposed as a fool, fraud, delusional or all three? So what if atheists all over the world are having another good belly-laugh at the Harold Campings expense?
A. Gullible people who believed him suffer in very real measurable ways. One Staten Island פתי is out 140 Gs!!! Not to mention the grief and mental anguish in seeing ones most cherished beliefs completely debunked.
B. The Atheists of the world conflate all deists into one undifferentiated mass. To the secularized, westernized individual the Quran burners, the Hillary photo-shoppers and the rapture-a-waiters are all about the same. As different as a Fruma yid looks from an Adventist or a burkha-Donner, to the average secularized Joe-(or, worst of all, Yossel)-in-the street we are all about the same and each and every news item like this that goes viral continues to paper the file on our collective irrationality and craziness. We are all, every last religious person on earth, malevolent and highly dangerous to the balance of humanity at worst or not-to-be-taken-seriously at best.
C. Here's the worst part: While my enmity for all things X-tian in general and Catholic in particular is well known, per the following Rambam I must grudgingly concede that X-tianity is a dark cloud for world Jewry with the silver lining of advancing the vast-eternal -plan:
י אף ישוע הנוצרי שדימה שיהיה משיח, ונהרג בבית דין--כבר נתנבא בו דנייאל, שנאמר "ובני פריצי עמך, יינשאו להעמיד חזון--ונכשלו" (דנייאל יא,יד). וכי יש מכשול גדול מזה: שכל הנביאים דיברו שהמשיח גואל ישראל ומושיעם, ומקבץ נדחיהם ומחזק מצוותן; וזה גרם לאבד ישראל בחרב, ולפזר שאריתם ולהשפילם, ולהחליף התורה, ולהטעות רוב העולם לעבוד אלוה מבלעדי ה'.
יא אבל מחשבות בורא עולם--אין כוח באדם להשיגם, כי לא דרכינו דרכיו ולא מחשבותינו מחשבותיו. וכל הדברים האלו של ישוע הנוצרי, ושל זה הישמעאלי שעמד אחריו--אינן אלא ליישר דרך למלך המשיח, ולתקן את העולם כולו לעבוד את ה' ביחד: שנאמר "כי אז אהפוך אל עמים, שפה ברורה, לקרוא כולם בשם ה', ולעובדו שכם אחד" (ראה צפניה ג,ט).
יב כיצד: כבר נתמלא העולם כולו מדברי המשיח, ומדברי התורה ומדברי המצוות, ופשטו דברים אלו באיים רחוקים, ובעמים רבים ערלי לב; והם נושאים ונותנים בדברים אלו, ובמצוות התורה--אלו אומרים מצוות אלו אמת היו, וכבר בטלו בזמן הזה, ולא היו נוהגות לדורות. ואלו אומרים דברים נסתרות יש בהם, ואינן כפשוטן, וכבר בא משיח, וגילה נסתריהם.
For those of you not fluent enough to understand the above here's the main thrust: The ways of providence are mysterious indeed. And although X-tianity and Islam have brought incalculable suffering to the Jewish People and, in the case of the former, has caused much of humanity to worship a false G-d in the great historical sweep leading towards the Messianic Era it is davka these two religions that have popularized some manner of Torah and Mitzvos and have brought the belief in and anticipation of the arrival of a personal Messiah to the farthest reaches of the earth. And so the long history of these two faiths have been a partial fulfillment Zephaniah's prophecy: For then will I overturn to the peoples a language of clarity, that they may all call upon the name of the L-RD, to serve Him with one consent.
But this only holds for as long as these religions retain some modicum of credibility. The more ludicrous and ridiculous they become the more the world backslides into the darkness of Torah and Moshiakh denying skepticism. With every cult-leading madman with a Messianic-complex psychosis, with every end-of-days calculator who messes up the deadline, humanity as a whole takes an entropic step backwards into time, back to the era when Torah, Mitzvos and Moshiakh were unknown to all but the Jews. Instead of a Safah berurah we have the confusion and contention of the babbling generation of the dispersion again. A thousand cut-throat-competitive schools of thought are contending, but all the "rational", "scientific", "empirical" and "credible" ones have consigned the concepts of Torah, Mitzvos and Moshiakh to the dustbins of mythology, anthropology, legend, ahistorical nonsense and just-so stories.
Who knows how many of Campings followers have lost their faith completely and how many other sundry Adventists have had theirs severely shaken? Who can calculate the damage of millions of smug skeptics and Atheists, including Jewish ones, who have had their LACK of faith confirmed by this episode never to be reexamined again for as long as they live?
Rabbi Berel Wein has said that modern Jewish History, with all of its "isms", shmad and mass disaffection began in the wake of the revelation of Shabbetai Tzvi's SR"Y fraudulence. With every Messianic pretender exposed as either a charlatan or a lunatic, with every doomsday that comes and goes with continued tomorrows, more and more people lose their faith never to find it again.
This is bad for the Jews and for Hashem's plan for the balance of humanity as well. And this is why humble me is convinced that when Khazal cursed those who calculate the end of days with a withering תפח עצמותם של מחשבי קיצין it was not limited to Jews predicting the coming of Moshiakh ben Dovid.
בא המבדיל והעמידן על אחת
"Those who cannot tolerate Havdala cannot appreciate Qedusha"
Monday, May 23, 2011
The essential point that he makes is that the goals, aims, methods and alliances of the OrthoFems place them far outside the parameters of even the most liberal definition of Jewish Orthodoxy. In a certain sense this represents a rather modest proposal as labels of "Branches of Judaism" are a construct of fairly recent provenance, elastic and given to petty semantical parsing for wiggle room. Still, the erudite, thorough and literary polemic does leave the reader with the impression that it is an intolerance of basic Havdalos that fires the OrthoFem imagination. The segue into the sympathy that JOFA has for Orthodox Homosexuals further cements the notion that planned gender conflation and erasing any notion of innate differences between the genders is what the OrthoFems are all about.
My only objection to the magazine is that I did not receive a copy in the mail even though the first issue was rumored to have been sent gratis to a broad mailing list. It seems that I am as much of a non-person in the real world as I am in cyber-space. That said, I have borrowed a copy and am slowly making my way through it. I don't have it in front of me now but I hope to update this post with a throwaway line of Rabbi Kobres that essentially says that an awareness of havdolos and assigned roles is the baseline consciousness required of every Oved HaShem.
בא המבדיל והעמידן על אחת
"Those who cannot tolerate Havdala cannot appreciate Qedusha"
Friday, May 20, 2011
Yesiree. This is it. No kiddin' around. My very last post on innate-differences.blogspot.com.
Is it because my muse has left me with no forwarding address?
Is it because I have, again, grown tired of a nonexistent readership and a visit length pie chart showing that 80%+ of those who do "visit" do so for 5 seconds or less? (דרך אגב could someone explain to me how a "visit length" can be for ZERO seconds as it so often is here in the land of the tumbling weed?)
Is it because I am commenting in a near vacuum and have tired of exhibiting the virtual psychotic equivalent of talking to myself for all three of you to see?
Is it my passive-aggressive way of punishing DovBear for kicking me off his posting team?
No,No, No and, again emphatically NO!
(Is that wailing and gnashing of teeth of the legions of fans for this beloved blog that I hear? bemoaning the demise of the very reason that they have internet service? ...I didn't think so).
No...It is because tomorrow you, I and all but a few select enraptured X-tians will be vaporized on Judgment Day as Yoshka SR"Y makes his second coming (talk about Jewish Standard Time...). And while this may sound scary look at the bright side. between now and likht tzinden go out and smoke like a chimney. Give what- for to your boss, your shviger and all others you have major Ta'arumos on . Assuming that we get vaporized sometime in the afternoon, go ahead and have second and third helpings of Chulent and kigel.
But AAMOF I would not be posting this just for a little לצנותא דעבודה זרה chuckle. Yes The Reverend Harold Camping has become a laughing stock and the object of near universal scorn with his crackpot gimatriyos and tired old Adventist eschatology but it's still important to remember a couple of things: I haven't taken a poll or done the proper research but it would not shock me in the least if this crackpot charlatan had more followers worldwide than any individual Khasidic group. It would surprise me only mildly of he had more followers than all of Kharedi Jewry combined. So his teachings and influence are not negligible and it is a major nebikh for his benighted followers and true-believers.
I have more to say but until I get vaporized I am still a Shomer Shabbos and am getting grabbed by the clock. Stay tuned for more early next week WHEN not IF we all survive. You heard it here first. Bet the rent on it.
In the meantime Ah Gitten Shabbos, may we all be zokheh to Yom Shekulo Shabbos and may a hearty תפח עצמותם של מחשבי קיצין befall FamilyRadio.com and its' founder. Hopefully before the clock strikes midnight.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
There is a custom to head /date letters written during Sefiras HaOmer with that days number followed by the the word Matmonim, a cute compound word that breaks down to "counters of 49". e.g. a letter written today would be dated ל' למ"טמונים. I've read about this in seforim and IIRC maybe even seen a few haskomos printed in seforim with this dating system but I've never received such a letter. Have you?
Is it just me or did the rest of you find images such as this terribly unsettling ?
As part of the Facebook and Twitter fueled Arab-Spring, demonstrations such as these may snowball until the sheer numbers of fence climbers may overcome whatever border defenses the Israelis have in place. IOW they may finally detonate one of their demographic bombs. And so my knees jerk in a reflex of lilly-livered cowardly anxiety.
But above and beyond my strategic skittishness, there is a deep ironic symbolism conveyed by these photos that gives me the nilly-willeys.
The cornerstone of the Halakhic /Hashkafic anti-Zionist conversation is the Gemora in Kesuvos 111A that discusses "the 3 oaths" first of which is (depending on the variant texts) "Not to rise on the wall/ not to rise as a wall". Per Rashi and others this is a metaphor for the Jewish People mounting a united effort to retake the holy city/land. But whatever various commentaries both ancient and contemporary say and however they interpret this passage the words taken literally mean to climb on or as a fence/ wall.
So to see the genocidal Jew-hating Palestinians literally "climbing the walls" at the borders in their unceasing efforts to retake the Holy Land struck me as far more ominous than just another stray Katyuscha. Being that HaShem does not merely reward and punish but that He does so with quid pro quo poetry מדה כנגד מדה could this be the beginning of the retribution for the Jews having broken their vow by having climbed the walls by establishing a State?
I suppose that a cockeyed optimist religious Zionist might say אדרבה these photos depict the Yishmaelim failing trying to do precisely what we succeeded at, indicating that the vows have been annulled or are inapplicable. But, in spite of what my many "fans" may think, I am neither that Zionistic nor that cockeyed. Instead, when considering the nadir to which the Jewish State has fallen in terms of security, political capital and the confidence in the righteousness of it's own cause בבחינת תולה ארץ על בלי מה I shudder.
Here's to hoping that my fears are irrational and baseless.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
LeBron James is a freakishly superb basketball player. Arguably he is the best at his craft in the world. Not surprisingly he is among the worst in the world at making apologies. Allow me to fisk the one he made last Wednesday night after vanquishing the dragon known as the Boston Celtics:
“I knew deep down in my heart, as much as I loved my teammates back in Cleveland
love means GIVING to the ones that you love. Not TAKING the max that you can from them.
and as much as I loved home,
I knew it couldn’t do it by myself against that team,” James said.
IOW those old Cleavland teammates that you supposedly love so dearly were a bunch of stiffs who could barely play
“The way it panned out with all the friends and family and the fans back home, I apologize for the way it happened.
it didn't just "happen" on it's own like some unpreventable accident. YOU colluded with Bosh and Wade to play in Miami and YOU decided how an when to deliver your grand announcement in the most vulgar and tacky way, an hour-long ESPN Special called "The Decision", instead of just holding a traditional press conference or skipping even that to minimize the pain to the old hometown and to show a bit of humility and ambivalence about your decision to abandon ship. Instead you gloried in it. It didn't happen to the fans. YOU did it to them. Rule number one in apologizing: expressions of regret must be prefaced by admissions of guilt and owning up to the crime.
I knew this opportunity was once in a lifetime.
Now, within the apology, the apologizing ends and the apologetics begin. He is no longer offering regrets, only rationalizations. IOW "Here's WHY I hurt Cleavland and it's fans: If I had to do it again I would. It was the right decision." Rule # 2 in apologizing: expressions of regret must be followed by commitments never to repeat the offense. If Cleavland is the abused wife and LeBron is the abusive husband he is essentially saying: "Baby Im'a sorry ya got that black eye and busted nose. Ya know that I love ya baby. But hey, provoke me again and Im'a bust you upside your pretty head all over again"
To be able to come down here and pair with two guys
again, calling his Cavalier teammates a bunch of stiffs
and this organization
a dig at the Cavalier front office that signed him straight out of High School and made him a fabulously wealthy man
— in order for me to move on with my career, that team that we just defeated, we had to go through them.”
IOW I am a cruel narcissist with an ego at least as outsized as my basketball skills. It's about me, me, me. I need more fame, I need multiple championships. How else will I ever be in the same conversation as MJ and Kareem as to who was the greatest ever. If millions of little peoples hearts on the Shores of Lake Erie get broken in the process...big deal. They are little people with little hearts. I'm...well I'm LeBron!!!!
The timing of this non-apology was also galling. While it was wise to let some time elapse between offense and apology because as time heals wounds it generally cools down fury as well, but after defeating a team he never could while a member of the Cleavland Cavaliers one could imagine that Cleavland fans fury was flaring anew right about then.
As I said all this is completely unsurprising. Prodigious athletes are coddeled and sucked-up tp from the moment their superb athletic abilities are recognized. They are surrounded by boys who want to be them and girls who want to be with them. They are enabled by sycophants, wooed by coaches, alumni boosters and agents all of whom want to hitch and thereby enrich their wagons to the athletes rising stars. Is it any wonder that any time there is any unpleasantness in their charmed lives that they conclude that it is the other party that is at fault? If not 100% then at least 90%. No wonder that despite theri superlative hand-to-eye coordination they are clumsy klutzes at apologizing who only open their mouths to change feet.
even more closely related
Monday, May 16, 2011
Apologizing בין אדם לחברו is, in general, a lost art. Few people ever do it with any sincerity in their lifetimes. It takes inordinate levels of self-awareness to recognize the offense and inordinate levels of courage to admit as much to the offended party. Furthermore, as interpersonal sins are rarely clean-cut and one-way, and "who started-what-when???" becomes obscured in the ever-deepening spiral of reciprocal antipathy, we tend to justify and whitewash our own misdeeds and to shift blame for "the whole bloody mess" to others, usually the party or parties that we've injured or offended . As a result on the rare occasions when people do try apologizing they usually , hedge, equivocate, add fat to the fire and deepen the hurt of the original offense. Rarely if ever is the sincerity and passion of the apology commensurate with the of the sincerity and passion of the actual insult and/ or injury that we are apologizing about. The silly, pro forma and banal reciprocties of Erev Yom Kippur just don't cut it.
AAMOF the only reason we find ourselves capable of reciting long viduyim on Yom Kippur without fainting or jumping into the nearest foxhole is because, sadly, our low levels of emunah inure us to the fact that we have ACTUALLY been nasty to HaShem or that He's even there listening! Can you imagine having to recite an alphabetical list of offenses akin to viduy to your wife/husband, boss/employee, parents/ children, friends/ neighbors? Much less to ask forgiveness after having done everything on the list? Most of us would sooner assume the fetal position, go to sleep and never get up again.
The ubiquitous apologies of celebutards and sports figures are almost invariably prefaced with the off-putting equivocation "IF I've offended anyone" as if to say "what I said wasn't offensive at all. It is YOUR hang-ups, insecurities and hypersensitivities that caused this mess ". This is essentially the spirit that informed the notorious apologies of Di Tzitung and Di Voch.
So I wouldn't fault the publishers of these Kharedi publications too much for their ham-handed, repetition/deepening-of-original-offense apologies that were written in pidgin English to boot. They, as we, were trained from childhood on that reading a script א בי יוצא צו זיין is an adequate substitute for thoughtful, self-aware, sincere, courageous admissions of guilt and requests for forgiveness.
Elton John got it right. "Sorry" does seem to be the hardest word.
I'm sure all four of you just can't wait ;-(
Thursday, May 12, 2011
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
After all, we Kharedim have voluntarily excluded ourselves from the values and morays of the dominant culture. As is painfully obvious, none of the Hillary-be-gone photo-shoppers were even remotely aware that their historical-revision-by-excision might give offense in some quarters before the worldwide uproar exploded in the last 48 hours. It's really hard to formulate a coherent, sincere and well written apology when , a moment ago, you had no idea that you were doing anything wrong. What's Bynums excuse for smacking an over-sized forearm upside someone's (much shorter) head???
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Suffice it to say that it is most astonishing and incredible that a scoop stemming from a short post on a blog with a 95% kharedi target audience has gained worldwide prominence in the last 48 hours. And that, with this as a precedent, J-Bloggers will never again be able to claim presumption of insularity-based-invisibility in the future.
FWIW I don't think that my Bloggish compadre' Hirshel Tzig is responsible for the current disaster. While the scoop belongs to him, having first uncovered the excisions last Wednesday, any fair reading of that post (really just two photos and a title) will show that it was vintage "Circus Tent" conveying a tzikahveh story in an understated way, with a Hebrew title to discourage the prying eyes of עם לועז and without passing any value judgment on the propriety of the photo-shoppers decision-in-favor-of-excision. In short, as he often does, Hirshel was providing another open thread for his relatively narrow readership (הלוואי אויף מיר געזאגט אזא narrow readership!) to have something to hock about.
No. IMO the blame goes directly to "Failed Messiah". He hat-tipped "Critical Minyan" for the story (though I have been unable to find that blog, if it even is a blog and not just someones pseudonym) so maybe "Critical" was the first to publish the story in easily accessible English and/ or to pass negative judgment on it. But "Failed Messiah" certainly has more exposure and cache than does "Critical Minyan" and had he not posted about it I doubt that it would have gone viral. By publishing the English title along with the White Houses caption and disclaimer (implying not mere Tznius fanaticism and poor judgment but actual illegality) it was "Failed Messiah" that threw Di Tzitung under the bus. If, indeed, all this negative publicity accrues to Khilul HaShem it will be "Failed Messiah" that will have hell to pay for it. Conveniently, he no longer believes in שכר ועונש .
I have already posted about what a cautionary tale this is and how the editors of Di Tzitung were in the wrong. But while the publishers of Di Tzitung are guilty of incredibly poor judgment, a lack of editorial discretion, a total lack of e-media savvy and a understanding-of-society-around-them deficiency all these are relatively benign compared to "Failed Messiah"s treachery, venality, מתכבד בקלון חברו and headlong rush to, once again, cast his coreligionists in the worst possible light. And while the folks at Di Tzitung have at least attempted to atone for their indiscretions with a (clumsy) apology I eagerly await "Failed Messiah"s apology for all the negative press and renewed antisemitism his post has caused. But I'm not holding my breath.
Monday, May 9, 2011
We Jews have always done ambivalence and moral ambiguity extremely well.
In the objectionable category we have such fine examples as the coevals of Elya haNuvee straddling both sides of the fence by practicing both Hashem and, l'havdil by a thousand thousand degrees of separation, Ba'al worship, crossing the Sea of Reeds while clutching Pesel Micha or a common thief praying a heartfelt prayer for success in his endeavors.
In the benign category we find such fine specimens of simultaneously holding such mutually exclusive concepts/practices as predestination vs. free will, wearing Talesim with dark stripes extruding Tzitzis with T'kheles, diagonally mounted Mezuzos, A Just and Benevolent G-d vs. the suffering of the innocent and the apparent interminable nature of the Jewish Diaspora vs. constantly awaiting and yearning for the Messianic Salvation. All this while carrying on with our daily lives as Torah Observant Jews.
In the commendable category we learn from Moshe Rabenu refusing to work the various makkos that afflicted the Rivers and Sands of Egypt that even while I hate my enemies some modicum of gratitude is owed them for favors rendered. This is canonized by Jews who both lustily sing the victorious Shiras HaYam while aware that Khaza"l taught us of HaShem not allowing the angels to do the same and by dripping wine from our cups during recitation of the Makkos.
So here's the question: While it is undoubtedly true that the Zionist Entity is the bane of our existence, that the Zionist creators and Post-Zionist maintainers of said entity hate G-d, Jews and Judaism, that they have shmaded children from Iran and Yemen, that they have built Shabbos-desecrating roads and highways, theaters, stadia and mixed beaches and swimming pools, that their ministry of education runs a G-d and Yiddishkeit-free school system and messes with our school systems curricula and standards of Tznius, that they maintain the bawdy house of women in the IDF, that they have disturbed the bones of those who slumber in the dust and that, worst of all, they have plunged millions of simple Jews worldwide into the qefira of Messianic replacement Ideology and "My Strength and Might of my Hand" heresy is there REALLY nothing at all that we ought to thank them for?
Torah-True Judaism is enjoying a post-war renaissance (some have argued and unprecedented flowering) within the boundaries of the despicable Zionist entity that is inspiring to behold. There are easily a hundred times more Yeshiva Bokhurim and Kolleleit in Israel today than there ever were in pre-War Litteh and possibly more than at any other time in Jewish history since Sura and Pumpeditha. I have no hard statistics on this but I'd hazard a guess that there are more Gerrer Khasidim in Israel today than in pre-war Poland, more Belzer Khasidim in Israel today than in pre-war Poland-Galitzia and Hungary, more Vishnitzer Khasidim in Israel today than in pre-war Romania and more Lubavitcher Khasidim in Israel today than in pre-war Russia and Belorussia. The physical plants of todays Yeshivas , Batei Yaakov, Rebbisha Hoifen and Khasidim Shteibelakh are vastly superior to their pre-war counterparts.
Kharedim in Israel today enjoy greater nutrition , health-care, longevity, freedom of assembly and expression and political clout and lower infant mortality and disaffection of their children from the fold, than in the interbellum period in Europe. All this had happened under the the watch of the Zionist and Post-Zionists and within the political-historical construct of the Medinah-shel-Gehinom they built and maintained with their own hands with a helpful assist from the Samakh Mem. Sometimes with active financial and physical assistance and sometimes with their benign neglect.
Had the Steipler Gaon z"l not escaped Europe when he did it's as likely that his son Rav Chaim shlit"a would either have perished young in a Gulag or ended up a gold-toothed, chest-bemedaled Red Army Vet / Apparachik as the Gaon and Tzadik that we know him as today. At least since the petirah of The Satmar Rov z"l and Rav Moishe z"l (if not earlier) world Jewrys spiritual center of gravity has been inexorably shifting towards Eretz Yisrael. Thus we have a whole new generation of Israeli-born, Ivrit-first-language Roshei Yeshiva, Rabbonim and even Admorim leading ALL of Kharedi Jewry today. Does any rational Kharedi today think that the state of Limud haTorah and Diqduq B'Mitzvos would really be better off under the Tzar, the Communists or the Polish Sejm? Or, for that matter, that it is better off in the fleshpots of the gilded , but decidedly non-Zionist, Golus of the USA? Is there another nominally Kharedi person out there somewhere thinking these thoughts besides me?
So while we expect our benighted, simpleton and/or evil brethren who are all-in for the (fooya) State of Israel to ask the simple question: "How could G-d have been the One responsible for creating and/or maintaining the work of the wicked" shouldn't we be asking ourselves the question: "How can we be so totally, unambiguously and 100% ungrateful for the favors bestowed upon us by the work of the wicked? "
I'm not , kholila, suggesting that anyone recite Hallel without a brakha, display a Kakhol V'Lavan flag or enter a float in the Salute to Israel Day Parade. I'm just asking for a tiny amount of ambivalence, confusion and ambiguity. These are good things. If it's possible for the Jewish psyche to both celebrate (99.9%) and mourn (.1%) the suffering of the Egyptians and feel gratitude toward our former taskmasters who plunged us down to the 49th gate of defilement then it ought to be possible to for the Jewish psyche to both despise the Zionist entity, its founders, enablers and maintainers and feel gratitude toward our current oppressors who may or may not have plunged us down to the 49th gate of defilement but have, at the same time, presided over, if not actually fomented, a new golden age of Torah, Teshuva, Avodah and Gemilus Khasodim.
So perhaps the next time you raise a l'Khayim to the speedy and rapid dawn of the Messianic era and the concomitant displacement and dissolution of the unlawful, rebellious, Moshiakh delaying Zionist entity, spill off a drop or two of your fine wine to commemorate the spilled blood of those whoremongering Israeli khayalim who, paradoxically, saved you and yours while being rodef you!
For crying out loud it has been said about a certain comedian with a Jewish birth mother that he could find something morally ambiguous about a flashing yellow light!
No...not Osama ( Usama ויש גורסים ) bin Laden but Hillary Clinton. "Hiding" on the pages of Di Tzitung and "in plain sight" of the rest of the world.
This story was first blogged about by Critical Minyan and Failed Messiah (well, that's about as accurate as the photo-shopped picture, see the next link) featured on Circus Tent and DovBear , picked up by the Jewish Week and has by now made it onto the Huffington Post - AOL Home Page where it will, no doubt, go truly viral. Not just in the J-Blogosphere but around the world.
This is a cautionary tale to my fellow fundies. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, anymore that can be published for internal consumption only. We are transparent. We can only hide those secrets that our lips do not utter and that our presses do not publish. So if any sense of מה יאמרו הגיום or א שאנדע פאר די גוים still exists (though some might argue that, אדרבה , this particular instance is א קידוש שם שמים פאר די גוים though a brief scan of the comments on the Huffington Post article belie this) think about this before you publish or post: Would you want the most skeptical non-Jew or the most rabid Jew hater to see/ read this???
This, of course, applies to all blogs and newspapers except my own.
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Our communities often tend to be rather unforgiving places. Terror reigns that a single youthful indiscretion, nonconformity or stepping out of line may ruin ones reputation and chances at fine shidduchim, employment and/or general socialization... for life! Erasmus of Rotterdam said that "in the land of the blind the one-eyed man is King." Conversely, in a perfect society, or at least in one striving for same, the one-pimpled man is a quadriplegic or even a quadruple amputee. Not , kholila, differently-abled but completely and totally disabled.
At the other end of the spectrum lie the worlds of Sports and Entertainment. In those worlds not only does no bad deed go punished but forgiveness for bad words and deeds is easily forthcoming and rinsed, lathered and repeated ad infinitum and ad absurdum. A most remarkable example of this process is Mel Gibsons recent resurrection from his passion of alcoholism, misogynist domestic violence, racist blather and more antipathy towards Jews than absolutely necessary.
Thumbing through a NYC Tabloid today a slavishly positive review of Mels performance in Beaver met my eyes. This deeply saddened me just as, to be candid, the descent of this virulent anti-Semite of the ancient Kooky-Catholic variety into the שאול תחתית of professional hell had me smiling. Thinking this an anomaly and one, isolated professional critics opinion I did a bit of web-surfing and was naively shocked to find that there seems to be a consensus that this is a remarkable comeback on the part of Gibson. Some money quotes:
Gibson’s superb performance as a troubled man who employs a hand puppet for a most peculiar kind of self-help
this scene may be the best acting that Gibson has done in his entire career.
Gibson’s deeply committed performance helps get you past this
He’s aged for sure, but its classic dramatic Mel, powerful, visceral and complicated.
the actor deserves credit for the vulnerability and poignancy of his performance,
Mel Gibson's real-life meltdown wrecked his career. His meltdown in Jodie Foster's new drama, 'The Beaver,' could help save it.
Well you get the picture. Despite the fact that if ever there were a man who did not deserve to ever work in this town again Mel Gibson was that man, he has returned triumphantly. Not only to work... but to accolades. While the jury is still out on whether or not audiences will forgive him (let me go on record as predicting that they will) it is abundantly clear that producers, directors and critics already have. So, to get back on point, what makes Hollywood such a forgiving place and Lincolnwood and Boro Park such unforgiving places?
נו וואס זאגט איהער...לויט אייער נעריש'ן שכל???
(Hopefully...an open thread)
As a Havdala proponent I would never advocate particularly chummy relations between the Chosen People and any particular grouping of the balance of humanity. (Even the provocative and controversial passage in Rav Chaim Vital about loving EVERYONE doesn't go so far as to say that the love we owe our fellow man be as great as the love that we owe our fellow Jew) Nevertheless their are certain levels of affinity that are the byproducts of a long and bitter golus, geopolitics and realpolitik. And if , as Charles Dudley Warner said, "Politics make strange bedfellows" then, to coin a phrase that the mint of the intellect will discard, "Thermonuclear Geopolitics produce bizarre and mutated offspring."
And so I put the question to my loyal and erudite readership of three: It is well known that diplomatic relations between Israel and India are unusually warm and fuzzy because of their shared fear of the Islamic Bomb. So, for whom should an average Yid feel a greater (relative) affinity ? with...
A. Arab Muslims with whom we share a patriarch, a monotheistic believe system , a veneration of a holy book and a system of law that grows out of it (too bad that theirs is the false prophet and the wrong book, but at least they get the basic idea. Jibes at Chabad notwithstanding, Islam is the closest religion to Judaism) but who are currently the most rabid annihilationist genocidal anti-Semites that the world has to offer. or with
B. Indian subcontinent Hindus with whom we share a gnawing existential fear of Islamofascist threats, a proclivity for hi-tech and some terrorism martyrs (the Chabad House of Mumbai) but who are idol-worshipping, Cow-venerating, untouchable-marginalizing polytheists who are responsible for Bollywood to boot?
I eagerly await your thoughts and answers
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
This is bad news. Not because it paints a more human face on a boogieman we all seek to paint in as diabolical poses as possible. Does a creature who masterminded and ordered the incineration, death-by-being-crushed, death-by-being-blown-to-smithereens or death-by-jumping of 2000+ innocent non-combatants require any further demonetization? It is bad news because the release of the death photos still rages and as long as it does the real possibility of no photo being released exists.
The confluence of the revised details and the absence of a death photo or video gives fodder to two kinds of crazies, those that hate Obama at all costs and those that love Osama throgh thick and thin, that just as the reports of OBL wielding a gun, female human shields and a drone strike on the compound proved inaccurate at best and conspiratorial misinformation at worst, so , perhaps are the ongoing reports of OBLs demise, which may have been greatly exaggerated.
It poisons an already polluted American Political Discourse to give fodder to those who think that the President fabricated the assassination just to get a bump in the polls, and it emboldens sleeper cells and young recruiys of Al-Qaeda , already strongly oriented to believing firmly in the unlikely and impossible, to hang on to the notion that there may have been a case of mistaken identity, that there was just some other random Arab who could've played in the NBA roaming the Abbotabad compound and that their beloved Sheik is safe elsewhere.
Release the photos and video clips NOW. the longer the administration waits the more the Loony-tunes will maintain that super-sophisticated top-secret technologies, photo-shop on HGH, were used to forge evidence that passes muster as the real thing.
Whenever I feel that I am not getting my minimum daily adult requirement of aggravation i can always rely on reading the latest issue of the Forward to put me over the top.
The pre-Pesach issue was choc-full of articles and items guaranteed to make me hotter than I'd be if I bit the top off the marror root on my Seder Plate. In particular, there was one especially egregious tour de force in Havdala obliviousness entitled The Four ‘Sons’ as Characters From ‘Glee’ (I kid you not). קודם כל I want to thank Jay Michaelson for providing me with fodder for multiple posts. For todays offering I will limit my angst to analyzing the authors remarkable sensibility hellbent on getting everything 180 degrees backwards. The money passages (emphasis and excisions mine) :
Rachel Berry (Lea Michele) is the “Wise Child” — to a fault. She endlessly touts her Jewishness in one way or another, ....She is also an irritating control freak, just like the unctuous Wise Child, who asks annoying, detailed questions about the statutes, laws and ordinances that God has commanded. The Haggadah obviously wants us to praise this kid, but most years I just want to slap him. Just like Rachel, he’s a know-it-all and a drama queen. “Look at me!” the Wise Child brags, just as Rachel does. ....Like Rachel in her goody-two-shoes sweaters, the Wise Child is intolerable....performs her Jewishness in the same way she performs her many solos on the show: in your face, turned up to 11. The Wise Child is the same way.
Noah “Puck” Puckerman (Mark Salling) is the “Wicked Child.” His is the most original of the Jewishnesses on “Glee,” contradicting every stereotype that Rachel serves to uphold. Puck is a bad kid: in and out of juvy, dumping geeks in trash cans and impregnating another guy’s girlfriend. He’s a big, strong kid who doesn’t act or “look Jewish” in stereotypical ways. Yet for all Puck’s badness — and maybe because of it — there’s something irresistible about him. (the previous italics are the authors not mine BOF).. Puck is the bad boy with whom many of us can’t help falling in love even though we know he’s bad for us.
Puck, like Rachel, is also very upfront about his Jewishness. Often this is played for laughs, since his character is so un-stereotypically Jewish that his high level of pride and Jewish knowledge seems out of place. One moment he’s insulting disabled people (in front of a disabled person), the next he’s singing Neil Diamond. As Puck says at one point, “I put the Jew in ju-vy.” ...
And so we have a clinic here in (with apologies to the Toevah Community) מַצְדִּיק רָשָׁע, וּמַרְשִׁיעַ צַדִּיק-- תּוֹעֲבַת יְהוָה, גַּם-שְׁנֵיהֶם . You see, the Mesader of the Haggadah, and Jewish sensibilities for centuries, have it all wrong. A wise child embodies all that is repulsive about a Jewish personality (control freak, unctuous, annoying, detail oriented, goody-two-shoes, in-your-face, intolerable etc.) Whereas the wicked son is really misunderstood goodness incarnate (original, big, strong, lovable, proud, knowledgeable). Mr. Michaelson superimposes some cartoonish popular sitcom de jour characters on the Haggadah in a pitiful attempt to establish his iconoclastic credentials but succeeds only in revealing himself as one who has probably never met either a חכם or a רשע in the flesh and in displaying his own abysmally low Jewish I. Q.
The truly wise may be control-freaks... but they are self control freaks hewing to the dictum in Avos of איזה הוא גיבור--הכובש את יצרו, שנאמר "טוב ארך אפיים, מגיבור or as General Douglas MacArthur put it in his "Soldiers prayer" : "A son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men."
Being detail oriented is what we call דקדוק במצוות and is symptomatic of anything that people attach a high degree of significance to. If it is worth doing it is worth doing with excellence and precision.
In-your-face? Again, anyone familiar with flesh-and-blood wise and righteous know that they live their lives, particularly their inner religious lives modestly and close to the vest. They enjoy intimate relationships with G-d and like all forms of intimacy no one knows what goes on behind closed doors.
As for the wise son shouting "look at me", if he means the Kharedi propensity for wearing distinctive, out-of-style, non-western clothing this is not about attention grabbing. Rather it is an embracing of our own otherness that, per the article, is what "Glee" celebrates. It is not so much that the wise are "intolerable" as the fact that Mr. Michaelson is intolerant of those who make him aware of his own Jewish inadequacies.
The wicked son is original? Is excluding oneself from the community of Jews and trying to be as stereotypically Greek-Italian-African (fill in the blank) something daring and original? It as least as old as the Misyavnim and all others who have historically been uncomfortable within their own Jewish skins.
The mere, I repeat mere, attitude of " to-hell-with-you and your opinions" and the willingness and ability to deal violently with all who'd dare to express a contrary opinion does not equate to pride and strength in my book but to hubris and cruelty.
The absurd message that singing Streisand or Neal Diamond songs somehow equates to "a high level of Jewish knowledge" would be laughable were it not so lamentable.
The ignoramus author, rating others degrees of Jewish knowledge is apparently unaware of Rav Nekhuniya be HaQanas prayer. In part it goes: ולא אומר על טמא טהור ולא על טהור טמא,= "that I not pronounce what is impure pure and vice versa". If in fact he has ever uttered this prayer it has, nebikh, gone unanswered.
He was spot on about one thing though. It was when he wrote: "Yet for all Puck’s badness — and maybe because of it — there’s something irresistible about him... Puck is the bad boy with whom many of us can’t help falling in love even though we know he’s bad for us."
I just wonder why he waffled. Clearly, his adoration of the Puck is not in spite of his wickedness but, davka, because of it.