Friday, July 29, 2011
Up until now I thought that the baseless hatred that destroyed the second Miqdash was the sin keeping the third from being built. Now we seem to be regressing to the "halcyon days" of the end of the first Miqdash era marked by the three cardinal sins of homicide, adultery and idolatry.
May HaShem have mercy on His poor and beleaguered People and extricate us from this seemingly interminable and corrupting exile before there is truly no havdala at all between us and the nations of the earth.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
! גוט מארגען קאזע was a delicious Yiddish expression that my parents OBM would say, usually accompanied by rolling eyes or a deep sigh, when their lumpy-headed son would finally, at long last, observe/discover the obvious and self-apparent.
This was the expression that immediately sprung to mind when reading an Op-Ed piece/ Book-Review entitled Birds Do It, Bees Do It in this past Sunday edition NY Post. The author, Maureen Callahan, reviewed the Coffee-Table Book "The Exultant Ark: A Pictorial Tour of Animal Pleasure" which illustrates not only animal pleasure but such noble animal experiences as "feelings", emotion, funeral rites, care for the less fortunate and suffering. Ms. Callahan sees these as proof of an essentially flawed notion of Havdala between humans and animals and comes to this boneheaded, myopic and shallow conclusion:
If crustaceans can suffer, elephants mourn and dogs feel happy, what are the ramifications? ... but we are also forced to reconsider just what it means to be human. At the very least, it seems we’re not so special after all, not in the slightest.
Really now? Not special in the slightest? The human capacity to reason? Human speech? Human thumbs capable of both opposition and apposition? The human capacity to behave in ways that run counter to both nature and nurture. These are empirically observable distinguishing characteristics that don't depend on a framework of faith.
Those of us who are members of faith communities have more than a theology= theories about G-d, but (to coin a term) a humanology= theories about man, as well. Among other things we we believe that humans are uniquely endowed with free will. As such, only they are dogged by an inclination to evil that makes them uniquely susceptible to depression, nihilism and suicidal tendencies. That they are endowed with a soul that is a scintilla of the living G-d that existed prior to it's interface with it's physical mate, (the astounding, spectacularly complex human body, structured to reflect the Torah's 613 commandments) outlives it's separation from the body and that ultimately, after living a disembodied afterlife, will be reunited with a regenerated but qualitatively different body. That humans are G-d's shining creation, His masterpiece of self-portraiture superior not only to the inert, plant-life and animals that G-d created but even to the Angels. That they are a microcosm of the great macrocosm.
The point that מדות -defined here as emotional based character traits- is something that humans share in common with animals, is well taken but hardly news. Millenia ago our sages taught(Eruvin 100B):
Rabbi Yokhanan taught: Had the Torah never been revealed humans could still have learned moral/ethical lessons in proper emotional driven behaviors from the animal kingdom. E. g. we'd conceal ourselves when voiding bodily wastes as felines do, we'd respect the property of others as ants do, we'd be monogamous as doves are and we'd be tender in lovemaking as roosters and chickens are.
The fact that humans are susceptible to animalistic emotion-based drives, both the kind and the antisocial, derives from mans identity as a microcosm incorporating all the creatures that preceded human creation. So while man is capable of the doves monogamy and the ants industry s/he is equally capable of the sloths laziness, the tigers ferocity and the tomcats promiscuity. Not to mention the territoriality-based hostility that is the root of most wars and mass murders.
Seforim HaQedoshim teach that the human capacity to ennoble and refine their emotions/character traits derives from the Divine mandate and blessing to the first humans to dominate, domesticate and control the earth and all of the lower species:
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Press Release: Marriage Vote in NY State
NEW YORK - In an unusual display of unity, leaders of five Chasidic groups today issued a joint statement in support of proposed state legislation to allow same-sects marriages.
The groups represented were Belz, Pupa, Satmar, Bobov, and Lubavitch.
"Of course we want same-sects marriages," said Rabbi Wurzma Shtreimel, head of the Belz movement. "A Belzer should marry only a Belzer. That makes perfect sense."
The other rabbis agreed.
"If a Satmar weds a Bobover, woe to their offspring," proclaimed Rabbi Praymita Gartel of Satmar. "What would their children be—Satovers? That's totally unheard of."
The rabbis shared concerns about the dilution of their individual groups through inter-sect marriages.
"The Tanya warns us," said Rabbi Mendy Pantz of Lubavitch, "If a Lubavitcher marries outside his sect, his children lose half their heritage. His son is not Lubavitch, just Vitch. And his grandson becomes a son of a Vitch."
Rabbi Lieb Larva of the Pupa sect expressed particular concern that inter-sects marriage might bring the Pupa out of their sheltered cocoons and expose them to the outside world. "They might, G-d forbid, become social butterflies."
At a separate news conference, Chasidic women expressed similar concerns. "It's less confusing when our kind marry their own kind," said Rebbetzin Donna Kittel, founder of a Pupa women's group, The Mamas in the Pupas.
To prevent inter-sect marriages, Belz rebbetzin Gitta Kapotah announced the formation of a new community matchmaking service, Wedding Belz. "We must protect our Belz," she said. "They're our family jewels."
Contacted by Mr. Richard Feder of Ft. Lee, N.J., Rebbetzin Emily Littella of Bobov asked: "What's all this I hear about same-sox marriage? Only our men wear long white sox--not our women. When the Rebbe hears about it, there'll be a big hubbub at the Bobov."
א ביטערע געלעכטער
Monday, July 25, 2011
No sooner did I post about everyone whining about the heat than the Ribono shel Oilem gave me something to kvetch about.
We received a call from Con Edison on Erev Shabbos that because of the unprecedented demand in order to avoid brownouts and blackouts power to our neighborhood was being cut by 5-8%. That's what they admitted to. But if you ask me it felt more like a 30-45% cut in juice.
The room AC units in my home were on the fritz all Shabbos long. The dining room Freitig tzu nakht was intolerable and our bedroom uninhabitable. There was no rhyme or reason as to which units worked with regular cooling efficiency and which groaned and collapsed. Some older and larger units worked better than newer or smaller ones. Anecdotally , a neighbor having a Sholom Zokhor, the Shul and a relative with central air all had a comfortably cool Oneg Shabbos. I didn't even feel a 5% reduction by them! I'm convinced that the Hashgokha Elyona singled me out for limited heat abuse as comeuppance for my critique of others whining about the torrid heat and humidity.
Old timers here know how poorly I tolerate heat. The Aibershter has a sense of humor.
Friday, July 22, 2011
I'll leave it to esteemed climatologists such as Al Gore or Michael Moore to determine whether this is reflective of normal cyclical ups and downs or of an alarming pattern of Global Climate Change brought about by human misbehavior. (Reportedly it has not been this hot on July 22nd since 1951). But I do feel qualified to weigh in on an apparent change in human nature. Whether or not the weather is significantly and/or permanently more brutal now than it was when we were kids we certainly complain, moan and kvetch about it more now than we did then.
I could hardly believe my ears listening to the radio on my morning commute. Nary a word about the debt-ceiling crisis or any details on the Levy Aaron prosecution but incessant, obsessive coverage about the hot weather. Interviews with Con Edison and LIPA executives to see if the power grid is equal to the imminent AC Armageddon, man-in-the-street interviews to make the astounding discovery that people are uncomfortable and would rather be someplace cooler (why not just replay last heat waves man-in-the-street interviews ?) and incessant repetitions about the existence of "Cooling Centers" and the need to stay hydrated dominated the airwaves. One would have thought that the weather was what was happening in the city rather than the mere stage and backdrop for what was happening in the city. I felt offended and diminished as a New Yorker and thought I was back in some Kansas hamlet where Church Bake-Sales and cats caught up in trees are deemed newsworthy.
When I was young weather reports took about 30 seconds. One heard the highs the lows and whether or not it would rain. Now we obsess over wind-chill factors and it's summertime alter-ego, real-feel temperatures, barometric pressure, Canadian Air Masses, storm "systems", "pop-up" storms and Nor'easters et al. Whatever the weather happens to be on any given day, it is consistently kevtch-worthy.
The spike in whining, moaning, obsessing and kvetching is probably due to the perfect-storm like confluence of an aging population, the easy availability of prescription and over-the-counter pain-killers, the increasing ubiquitousness of central air-conditioning, and a hedonistic culture in which Comfort is King and Pleasure is Prince. Any notions of stoicism or ennobling suffering have long since been jettisoned. This seems to be a permanent Sociological change and not something cyclical so I hope that you'll forgive me the nostalgia and sentimentality that I'm about to indulge in.
Give me Tom Brokaws "Greatest Generation". To beat the heat in 1951 they would have stripped down to their refugee T-Shirts, slept in parks or on fire escapes and sat in front of a block of ice backed by an electric fan with metal blades. Most fetching of all, they would've gone about their business and kept their mouths shut about how hot it is.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
While some Havdala Heroes have decided to resign rather than be a party to the Havdala Obliterating and Oblivious rebellion against G-d and Nature known as the Marriage Equality Bill, others have decided they just can't wait to aid and abet the outrage.
Unable to forbear the anguish and suffering of the LGBTers even 21 hours longer, the powers that be in Greenburgh, New York have decided to voluntarily open@ noon on Sunday for the same-sex marriage business when the bill becomes law (July 24th) rather than wait until Monday morning at nine. To add to the historic occasion , representatives from the LOFT — a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community center in White Plains — are planning special festivities at Town Hall to commemorate the event.
Also, Antun's of Westchester, an Elmsford catering service, is expected to donate food for those waiting in line, Town Supervisor Paul Feiner said.
"We were on the forefront of the issue over 10 years ago, because we were the second community in Westchester to allow for domestic partnerships," Feiner said Tuesday. [Apparently Feiner is hell-bent, and I do mean hell bent, on a first place finish this time]
Well the day is certainly historic. Historic like the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Sinking of the Titanic or the destruction of the World Trade Center were. June 24th 2011 will join these on the list of re-letter days that will live in infamy. Greenburgh Town Clerk Judith Beville may have been prophesying unconsciously (ניבא ולא ידע מה ניבא) when she predicted : "I anticipate an overflow into Greenburgh,". Hell ya. An overflow such as the Deluge that inundated the world in the times of Noah!
To the esteemed progressive, Havdala Oblivious Municipal Government of Greenburgh, to the LOFT and to Antun's of Westchester I say: a pox on all your houses. You will go down in history as the first ones to have made the misstep that slips down the slope towards the coming apocalypse. Or to paraphrase the Mayor of the far more egalitarian Munchkinland:
"You'll be HISS , You'll be HISS, You'll be HISS-TORY,
and we will horrify your name,
for your breach of trust
in the suburban sprawl of shame"
בא המבדיל והעמידן על אחת
"Those who cannot tolerate Havdala cannot appreciate Qedusha".
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
The Kletzkys live on the sixth floor of a semi-shabby brick building at the corner of 15th Avenue and 57th street. While it features one of those elevators that have an exterior door that must be opened manually when the car arrives at your floor, the edifice has the look and feel of a walk-up. Were it situated in any other Brooklyn neighborhood but a Kharedi one it would be occupied by the poverty-struck and the recent immigrant.
Before entering the building I observed at least three News Vans, a gaggle of reporters, photographers and beat-cops plus police brass. I had the sense that a VIP even bigger than Lipa was ensconced within.
Everything that you've heard about the demands for discretion is true. There were English-Yiddish bilingual signs warning visitors not to dare discuss the details of the horrific crime with the mourners posted on the exterior double glass doors, the lobby doors, the elevator and the apartment door. What is it about the cold-blooded murder of Jewish Youth that evokes signage redundancy? I recall that until about three years ago there were at least 15 signs of various shapes and sizes (but all in brilliant blue and white) on the Ari Halberstam Memorial ramp (connecting the southbound FDR Drive to the Brooklyn Bridge) indicating that it was, in fact, the Ari Halberstam Memorial ramp. In recent years I think it's been toned down to a modest six or seven signs. Another sign on the elevator read that no more than five people should use it at the same time. We complied.
When we alighted on the sixth floor about twelve women and seven men were lining the hall leading to the Kletzkys apartment waiting to get in through the brown framed door inlaid with chipping beige paint. Misaskim had provided folding chairs for those waiting on line to pay their respects. Most just stood. All had concerned and downcast looks on their faces. Yet another sign on the door announced that all menakhmim keep their visits short and that they should vacate the apartment as soon as it begins to get crowded.
Although the others and I standing in the semi-dark hot, humid, close and claustrophobic corridor attempted our shiva calls at a time prescribed by Misaskim in their HaModia newspaper announcements, we were denied access. A gatekeeper appeared and declared that the Kings County Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes was paying his respects and that no one would be allowed in while the VIP was there. He couldn't say of we'd have to wait another two minutes or another hour. He beseeched us to show sensitivity to the floors other residents by not crowding about the Kletzkys door and to move our line back past the elevator. Just as most of us complied the elevator disgorged about 6-8 new Shiva visitors who, being closer to the apartment door than those of us who'd just moved behind the elevator and convinced that rules are for little people, brushed right past the gatekeeper and gained access. The only other folks who gained entry while I was there was a woman who said that she was a social worker, a fellow who looked like a Ruv and a few who slipped through as the DA, some of his office brass and a few Boro Park Community Council looking types exited.
The gatekeeper was still adamant. No one is going in. "The Aveilim are not out in the public area" he explained "they are meeting with their Rov". Again he could not say if we'd be allowed in to the Kletzkys in five minutes or in 45 minutes. Although I like to think that I do have a heart I felt like the Tin-Man halted at the Gates of Oz being told "No one sees the WIZARD!!!! Come back tomorrow". The gatekeepers claim was corroborated by one of the guys who had slipped in during the DAs exit who emerged frustrated saying that, indeed, the Kletzky parents and sisters were secluded behind closed doors.
I waited a few more minutes and then , pressured by a combination of claustrophobia and the need to get the young Brayette over to the Orthopedists office to mend what turned out to be a possible broken bone, I turned to leave.
Heading to the landing I noticed every identical brown-beige door on the floor had a very large Mezuah affixed to the Halakhically mandated spot. Most had olive-wood or etched mirrored Hebrew name plates disclosing the identities of families that dwelled within. This was an all-frum, most likely all-Khasidish building. I wondered about the neighbors on the floor and in the building. How were they taking all of this? Did they too have school age kids and were those kids Leibys schoolmates or playmates? Staring down their own hall they were constantly confronted by that sign-encrusted door. There at the end of their hall lay not just a neighbors portal, temporarily surrounded by an imaginary velvet rope and manned by a a rolly-polly Kharedi bouncer, but the threshold that Laiby never crossed on that fateful day, a triumphant "big boy" who'd navigated halfway home all alone. As they stare at it, do the neighbor parents or grandparents wonder at the randomness of it all and whisper reverential thanks to HaShem that their own sheyfelehs were not the ones who were lost, killed and dismembered last Tuesday?
I took the stairs down and as I exited the building DA Hynes and his entourage were besieged by reporters. I tried sticking my head in to hear what it was he was telling them. I heard whirring and clicking as, for a few moments, I stood directly behind Mr. Hynes. Who knows? If you look closely at tonight's news, today's internet clips or tomorrows newspapers , you may actually behold the miserable visage of Chaim Grossfrestant, third Bray of Fundie.
The only words that I snatched were (I paraphrase) "I've prosecuted many high-profile cases in the past and you know my track record for being forthright with you. There will definitely be more details forthcoming about this case". I was struck by the contrast between the 24-hour-news-cycle-pressured reporters insatiable need to know ever more minute, albeit gruesome, details and the families psycho-spiritual quest to remain ignorant of same.
I left only mildly frustrated. After all Nachman Kletzky and I have never met before and there are no words of wisdom or consolation that I could possibly have said to him or his family to ease their pain. Still I think a yunga vaibel conversing with her friend and waiting on line the same time as I did put it best when she said "I think that when they see how many other people are broken up by this imglick, when they see how many of us care it will give them Khizuk"
As being menakhem the Kletzkys is beyond the human ken I will close with a prayer to the בעל הישועות ובעל הנחמות that the Kletzky family should be zokheh to מן השמים תנוחמו ומן השמים תתחזקו
Witness the achingly beautiful, incredibly sympathetic editorial in last Wednesday Daily News and the informal memorial that went up spontaneously outside the auto repair shop where some of the remains of the physical coil that housed Laibys innocent nesumeh were found.
See if you can read through those words without shedding a tear and if you can't, then remember that there seem to be some things that just transcend even the most basic of Havdalos. I've said that in the past and I'm feeling it again recently in the wake of this heartbreak.
Maybe it's time to close up shop
Friday, July 15, 2011
Yaakov German is a hero. Since the moment that the villain Levy Aron was apprehended people have been amazed at the detective work that broke the case and led to the bust in record time. Now it has been reported that an amateur sleuth, a private citizen , was the first to begin reviewing the tape from various security cameras. Most brilliantly he was the first to deduce from the absence of Leiby Kletzky z"l on any footage of The Childrens Place store on 13th Avenue, that the child had never made the right turn out of his day-camp onto the Avenue as he was supposed to.
R' Yaakov proved that not only is the Yiddisha Kop alive and well but that it is capable of functioning under great stress and duress. He kept his head and thought analytically while others were losing theirs. And while he cannot speak English straight, he certainly can think straight proving once and for all that the former is NOT a prerequisite for the latter.
Yasher Koakh to him. May the Aibershter bless him and his family for his heroism, concern and success in צדק צדק תרדוף by being so instrumental in the swift apprehension of the killer and in providing key evidence that will eventually bringing him to justice.
What makes his detective work particularly incredible and stereotype-busting is that it was performed by a greasy-Kugel eating herring-scooper with clogged arteries and early-onset-Alzheimers. R' Yaakov German is a member of the permanent underclass. He was raised in a school system and society producing group-think, lemming-like morons lacking the most rudimentary critical thinking skills.
So the next time you hear, or read on a J-Blog, the blood-libelous canard that paints the portrait in the paragraph above this one in part or in whole, direct the writer or speaker to the featured video-clip and the linked New York Daily News article. Then ask them: How could the type of kharedi that exists only in their own demented organization of reality have ever been so clever, dogged, persuasive, ingenious, deductive , clear-thinking-when-others-lost-their-heads and altogether brilliant?
They speak an impeccable, even eloquent English and have been the beneficiaries of suburban affluence and higher education. They probably even hold advanced degrees. They ought to be able to figure it out.
בא המבדיל והעמידן על אחת
"Those who cannot tolerate Havdala cannot appreciate Qedusha".
Guest post by Korakh the Blogger
(read this first)
On July 12th President Barack Obama presented the USAs highest military honor, the Congressional Medal of Honor to Army Ranger Sergeant first class Leroy Petry. בא קרח והעמידן על אחת...כי כל העדה כולם קדושים
Those who cannot tolerate equality would have all their "inferiors" be their slaves!
Thursday, July 14, 2011
There are some courageous individuals out there willing to sacrifice there livelihoods rather than compromising their principles by signing marriage licenses for same-sex couples under the Marriage Equality Bill set to take effect on the 24th.
Some money quotes from the article:
"The Bible clearly teaches that God created marriage between male and female as a divine gift that preserves families and cultures. Since I love and follow Him, I cannot put my signature on something that is against God," she wrote."I would be compromising my moral conscience if I participated in the licensing procedure,'
"In Massachusetts, more than a dozen justices of the peace threatened to resign in 2004 after a state court ruled that barring same-sex marriages was unconstitutional, and at least one resigned. In 2000, the town clerk in Tunbridge, Vermont resigned even though state law would have allowed her to appoint someone else to sign marriage licenses."
In an inundating ocean of sameness these Havdala-sensible heroes stand out for their championing of the innate differences that were programmed by G-d, that appeal to the non-brainwashed rationale and that recognize the immutable diversity that, among other things, saves us all from dying of monotony induced boredom.
One of the arguments I've read in favor of marriage equality has been about the financial and economic inequities and hardships that the LGBTers have to endure because of being joined in mere Civil Unions instead of in full-fledged marriages. Question: Aren't these Havdalaniks of conscience entitled to having their own livelihoods and earning power protected under the law??? Hmm???
I talk the talk, ad infinitum and ad nauseum. These heroes walk the walk. They put their money where my mouth is. Shkoyakh to them!
בא המבדיל והעמידן על אחת
"Those who cannot tolerate Havdala cannot appreciate Qedusha".
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Thousands are filled with an ineffable sadness. Poor innocent, suffering child. Poor parents and sisters shattered to jagged pieces. Poor fellow campers, classmates, shul-mates and everyone who knew and loved Leiby up close and personal. We are sad for all the traumatized children for whom the streets of their formerly "friendly confines" neighborhoods will never be the same.
There has to be some lava hot fury as well. I would hazard a guess that Leibys parents want to rip the suspect limb from limb while he is still alive. Heck, I want to. There would be fury at the incredible randomness of it all. That of the hundreds of fine ehrlikha yidden whom Leiby passed while ferblonzhet, all of whom would gladly have helped him and returned him safely to his parents, he kept passing them by and trudging forward for his appointment with a maniacal Malakh haMovehss. Except that as ma'aminim we believe nothing is random.
So toward whom is our fury directed? Towards the murderer? Perhaps he is so mentally ill as to not be responsible for his actions. Towards a munificent and omniscient Creator that allowed the murderer to exercise his evil free will choice? That anger is not allowed. Perhaps we must swallow harder than usual when pronouncing ברוך דיין האמת but we must still believe that for reasons unknown and unknowable גאט אין זיין משפט איז גערעכט . Still, at times like these when we are horror-struck by incredible suffering of the innocent in an immediate and intimate way, much of what we've heard in dispassionate academic discourses about not being privy to the vast eternal plan rings hollow. It is a forbidden anger but Lashon Hara is strictly forbidden as well and we have a very hard time observing that prohibition. May HaShem redirect our anger and help us not to be מהרהר אחר מדותיו יתברך in our hour of need.
But if there is one silver lining to be taken from this whole affair it is the incredible outpouring of concern, caring and empathy that emanated from the Frum community. For thousands to search when the weather was so scorching and humid, to trudge forward for hours in exercises in futility while hanging on to the long-shot hope that somehow one could help find Leiby alive and well, was to march into hell for a heavenly cause. It wasn't merely about davening or learning in his z'khus, it meant closing businesses and traveling in from Monsey and Lakewood to join in the search. It made me proud to be a Frum Yid. The heartbreak and deep sadness felt today is the flip side of the coin of the sense of togetherness that fueled the massive manhunt yesterday. It wasn't some strangers lost 9 year old boy...it was our own.
May HaShem grant the Kletzkys the consolation and strength to reintegrate themselves and to carry on. May He guide both the community leaders and NYPD to see that justice is done even here on this world of lies and vale of tears. May He, end once and for all, this bitter Golus that conspires to make such Jew-on-Jew horrors possible.
Lakewood mayor puts it well.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
A typical reaction to my prior posts and to comments that I've made on this topic elsewhere in the J-Blogosphere goes something along these lines:
Why should a Frum Jew care at all about the marriage Equality Bill recently passed by the NY State Legislature? How does it affect the Frum Community? What real difference will it make in our observance or Yiras Shomayim if the far-removed-from-us LGBT-ers have what they refer to as a "Civil Union" or a "Marriage"? Why be such a busybody? We live in a land of separation of Church and State, why impose our own religious based values on other US Citizens? Hasn't this wall-of-separation benefited us in the past and kept the governments grubby hands out of our lifestyles and institutions? Why would we want to jeopardize that? If we fight to take away Gay Marriage what's to stop them from fighting to take away Milah/Metzitzah or Shekhita? Do we really want to align ourselves with Catholics and the X-tian Right?
These are all good and well-intentioned questions. Full disclosure: I cannot, nor will I even attempt to, answer all of them. But I'd like to share something with you that IMO makes this battle qualitatively different from previous Church-State battles over school prayer, tuition vouchers and public displays of religious symbols et al.
The preamble to the Parsha of Arayos= Sexual Morality in the Torah reads:
כְּמַעֲשֵׂה אֶרֶץ-מִצְרַיִם אֲשֶׁר יְשַׁבְתֶּם-בָּהּ, לֹא תַעֲשׂוּ; וּכְמַעֲשֵׂה אֶרֶץ-כְּנַעַן אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי מֵבִיא אֶתְכֶם שָׁמָּה, לֹא תַעֲשׂוּ, וּבְחֻקֹּתֵיהֶם, לֹא תֵלֵכוּ. =After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do; and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do; neither shall ye walk in their statutes.
It seems Ancient Egyptian and Canaanite Civilization were synonymous with sexual immorality. Furthermore the plainest meaning of the text indicates that this was not a mere haphazard social trend allowed in an Über-tolerant society but that there was a statutory-legislative element to this immorality. The Safruh Akhrei Mos 6:9:8 expands on this:
כְּמַעֲשֵׂה אֶרֶץ-מִצְרַיִם ; וּכְמַעֲשֵׂה אֶרֶץ-כנַעַן לא תַעֲשׂו יכול לא יבנו בניינות ולא יטעו נטיעות כמותם תלמוד לומר"וּבְחֻקֹּתֵיהֶם, לא תֵלֵכוּ". לא אמרתי אלא בחוקים החקוקים להם ולאבותיהם ולאבות אבותיהם. ומה היו עושים? האיש נושא לאיש והאשה לאשה. האיש נושא אשה ובתה והאשה ניסת לשנים. לכך נאמר : וּבְחֻקֹּתֵיהֶם, לֹא תֵלֵכוּ"
My humble adaptation:
What does the Torah mean when it prohibits "doing as the Egyptian did (the Canaanites do)"? Is it teaching us that we are forbidden to build homes or plant gardens since the Egyptians did such things? No. The prohibition is limited to (activities covered by) the depraved statutes that the Egyptians and Canaanites legislated for many generations (such that these laws became their infamous international reputation).
And what was it that the Egyptians/ Canaanites "did" (i.e. legislated)? They had laws legalizing male and female homosexual marriage, allowing a man to marry both a mother and a daughter and allowing a woman to marry multiple men!
IOW the progressive and forward thinking ANE civilizations had even broader marriage equality than NY State does, and, they had it thousands of years earlier! I lack the time and the strength to transcribe and translate any more of the Safruh but scan the page that I linked (and the one before it) and you will find that per the Safruh...
A. The Egyptians and Canaanites of that time and place had the most immoral civilizations ever and...
B. That it was this legislative immorality that doomed these civilizations and through which they, essentially, forfeited their right to exist.
It's one thing to tolerate the Toevah of homosexual activity but a far more immoral thing to accord it legal/ statutory sanction. And so quite aside from any narrow internal or cultural osmosis Jewish/ Kharedi concerns good citizenship compels us to fight against marriage equality legislation. Think of it as doing your jury duty, paying your taxes or opposing unsafe nuclear reactors. Such legislation puts all residents of the societal entity that passes such legislation at risk. Not at risk of becoming a homosexual but at risk of becoming a corpse. Maybe the Gedolim did not go far enough when they said that passage of the bill will make it impossible for a Jew to live in New York State. Perhaps it will make it untenable for anyone to live in this state. While I deny that I am homophobic I will concede that I am homo-legislation-phobic
Even if there were no existential threat on account of such legislation, and even if we do nothing internally within the Jewish community to mimic or sanction this legislation (although heterodox branches of Judaism are, in fact, doing so) do we really want to reside in a State that sets the Gold Standard for depravity and immorality? Meeting, and perhaps surpassing, that of the ancient Egyptians? To me this is akin to what distinguishes German Genocidal Antisemitism from the generic kind. Sure there were Romans, Crusaders and Cossacks who mass murdered Jews long before the Holocaust. But it took Nazi Germany to give us the Nuremberg Laws and give antisemitism a legal imprimatur.
בא המבדיל והעמידן על אחת
"Those who cannot tolerate Havdala cannot appreciate Qedusha"
Friday, July 8, 2011
Guest post by Korakh the Blogger
(read this first)
Riddle me this: Which "Five Books of Rabenu" character most closely resembles yours truly??? Bilam? WRONG! Balak??? Negatotree. Pharaoh? Sorry Charlie. The Snake in the Garden perhaps??? Not even close.
The one who bears the strongest resemblance to me is Pinkhos ( a first cousin twice removed of mine BTW...Did I mention that Shmuel is a grandson of mine???)
"No way" you must be thinking to yourself "Pinkhos was a hero, Korakh...a zero. Pinkhos, even more cheated out of it as a birthright, did not seek kehunah but was granted it, Korakh hankered for it but was denied."
Allow me to explain.
Pinkhos and I are birds of a feather inasmuch as neither of us were cowed by Amramowitz the Youngers power and prestige and insofar as we were both victimized by his untrammeled egomania.
I publicly called "Rabenu" out for the preposterous premise underpinning his fabricated Mitzvos of Tekheles-Tzitzis and Mezuzos. Pinkhos publicly called "Rabenu" out for "forgetting" the "halakha" and for his feckless inability to walk the walk after mumbling the talk. It's hard to know which part of the episode was more humiliating for Moshe, Zimri "the enemy" challenging him for denouncing intersex while marrying a Midianite himself... or Pinkhos "the disciple" reminding him that according to his own, ahem, Torah he ought to be running a spear through Zimri himself. Truth be told any Rabenuist disciple that puts his thinking cap on immediately becomes a potential enemy. Can you imagine Amramowitz the Youngers wrath when Pinkhos pointed out the forgotten halakha that now had to be implemented l'ma'aseh? Small wonder that "Rabenu" "forgot" this "extra-legal Halakha". When you lie, lie and lie again it gets really hard to keep the story straight.
I've read where one latter day Rabenuist opines that the fact that Amramowitz the Younger had "successful" showdowns with me and my 250, Datan and Abiram, and... PINKHOS established his incredible credibility (if that sounds like an oxymoron...it is). The logic goes that if, while he was alive, he played to so tough and critical a crowd then no one can wake up generations later and claim; "This stuff sounds fishy to me. The Generation of the Exodus was comprised of a bunch of Kool-Aid drinkers. Had I been there I would have given Moshe Rabenu what for!" There were plenty of coevals of Amramowitz the Younger who, in fact, did give him 'what for' and he withstood them all. What other possible conclusion could we come to than משה אמת ותורתו אמת ??? Right?
Like hell! (A place that I'm very familiar with). Are we supposed to believe that manipulative Moshe, who was Machiavellian millennia before there even was a Machiavelli, validated himself and his TMS mythology? He stilled the voice of criticism and dissent not through persuasion but through intimidation and coercion, not by offering logical, rational, winning counter-arguments but by killing or attempting to kill all of his opponents! The 250, burned (as were his own nephews Nadab abd Abihu!). Datan and Abiram, swallowed by the earth. Me, both burned and swallowed.
As for Pinkhos, while everyone seems to think that Amramowitz the Younger telling Pinkhos " קריינא דאיגרתא איהו ליהוי פרונקא "= "Let he who read the scroll carry out the decree" was either a way of paskining an extra-legal הלכה ואין מורין כן din implicitly, rather than explicitly, or the demure man of humility stepping aside so that his great-nephew could earn some independent glory. It was neither. It was the craven and cunning Amramowitz the Younger playing Pinkhos like a fiddle and sending a patsy on a suicide mission. There is no way that he thought that the brash and hotheaded Pinkhos would survive crashing the Shimonites orgy and assassinating their tribal chieftain. (Centuries later when David sent Uriah to die as a "hero" in battle he was taking a page out of Amramowitz the Youngers playbook for dealing with מורדים במלכות ). Best case scenario for Amramowitz the Younger would have been for Zimri and Pinkhos to mortally wound one another thus killing off two rabble-rousing challengers with one spear. Amramowitz the Younger always liked to hedge his bets and have it both ways. As the Rabenuist Amoraim taught "Had Zimri turned a round and slain Pinkhos it would not have been a capital offense since Pinkhos was a Rodeph".
Of course, the shrewd and cowardly Amramowitz the Younger would never think of putting his own neck on the line to defend his own "Torah" any more than his big brother thought of putting his own neck on the line to defend the first two commandments when asked to build a Golden Calf.
I reiterate, Pinkhos and I are nearly clones. He grew righteously indignant over a Desecration of G-d's name when a Havdala boundary that should never have been crossed was, and I grew righteously indignant over a Desecration of G-d's name when a Havdala boundary that should never have been created was. We both concluded that אין חכמה ואין תבונה ואין עצה לנגד ה' כ"מ שיש חלול השם אין חולקין כבוד לרב . Why he should have gone down in history as a hero and me as a zero is one of lifes eternal mysteries.
One last thing we share in common. Neither of us experienced death. He ascended to Heaven alive and I descended into hell alive. He got the climate and I got the conversations. Unlike him but very much like the Man of La Mancha I was willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause. Now you decide who the bigger hero is.
Very loosely based on the Meshekh Khokhma to Shemos 6:14
בא קרח והעמידן על אחת...כי כל העדה כולם קדושים
Those who cannot tolerate equality would have all their "inferiors" be their slaves!
Thursday, July 7, 2011
After four years of commenting, guest posting and , for the past two years, having my own blog I finally have some small inkling of what it must feel like to be a geherigeh blogger.
As the image shows my numbers on July 5th and 6th absolutely dwarf whatever preceded it. Moreover the visit length, usually running at 75%-85% of hits that are for 5 seconds or less, was down to around 60%. IOW not only did I enjoy 5-6 times the amount of unique visitors than I normally enjoy on my "best days" but, for a change, some folks were actually reading what I wrote! Why so few commented remains a frustrating mystery but with my blathering being disseminated so broadly it's almost enough to make me want to dismantle the 'ol Red Tent!
But lest you imagine that this really encourages me I say: "Not to worry". וְנַפְשִׁי, ידַעַת מְאד that the sudden, unprecedented and exponential surge in readership was not predicated on merit or the Bloggish עולם finally coming around to appreciate me but that I was merely basking in the reflected spotlight of Hirshel Tzig's mega-popularity. It was the fact that he linked to my requiem for Yeshivisha Brooklyn post that did it. It may also have had something to do with Gimel Tamuz.
In any event for all those who despise me and await the second death of this blog or, more to the point, for all those apathetic practitioners of "insulting ignoration" who have voted with their blackberries , mice and keyboards by staying away in droves I say: My momentary success this week will NOT effect any vacations from blogging that I may take this summer. Nor will it forestall that greatly exaggerated demise of mine which is as inevitable as taxes and their hikes.
Even as we speak the numbers are dropping precipitously to their pathetic normalcy. So... while my tent is a big one it will remain a red one. Tzig has the only Circus Tent.