Friday, November 25, 2011
I recently heard this anecdote from a friend of mine living in Jerusalem:
Rav Avrohom Yehoshua Soloveitchick ZGZ once remarked to להבדיל בין חיים לחיים the late great Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel OBM "Why don't you just erect a roof over the entire neighborhood of Bais Yisroel and declare the whole thing Yeshivas Mir" to which the latter responded: אמן !"
בא המבדיל והעמידן על אחת
"Those who cannot tolerate Havdala cannot appreciate Qedusha"
Thursday, November 24, 2011
S. blogs at onthemainline.blogspot.com. He is also known as Mississippi Fred MacDowell. He is a retired delta blues singer, who put down his bottleneck slide and now dabbles in seforim. This is his first guest post at HaMavdil. S. would like to thank his host for this opportunity and remind all that for all our innate differences we have much in common.I would wager that most of us are familiar, or vaguely familiar with, a sample of the Rambam's handwriting. Numerous fragments in his own hand were recovered from the Cairo Genizah (see here for many). In it's own way, the Nesher Hagadol's own handwriting is famous just like his alleged visage (on his portrait, see here and here).
Here is said sample:
Now, this particular piece is very special. It says "Corrected from my copy. I, Moses ben Rabbi Maimon z"l (at least z"l is what it may say - some assume it says zatza"l and others zaqa"l; I read it almost certainly as a tzade). This is found at the very end of the Huntington Manuscript 80 (Ms. Hunt. 80) owned by the Bodleian Library at Oxford.
There is now an entire website dedicated to displaying this precious manuscript which was personally reviewed by Maimonides. (link).
And here is another sample, of many, from the Genizah:
In Jews in Many Lands (1905) Elkan Nathan Adler (himself no Genizah neophyte) writes that
"Four or five autograph letters of [Maimonides] have been found in the Fostat Genizah. One is a genuine twelfth century שו"ת, i.e., "question and answer."We have come a long way in 105 years!
A few years earlier (1898) an article in a peculiar Christian journal called A Peculiar People wrote, quite correctly, that before the Genizah there was only one example of Maimonides' writing (available to the general public, as will see):
Needless to say, there are things we take for granted. How fortunate are we that we can sit in our own home, with a bowl of Cheerios at our side, and look over something as mind blowing as this! Interesting times - which is not necessarily a curse.
It really was not so long ago where most people did not have access to such things, and even the people who did have access, only had access to the things in their own grasp. To see a snippet of writing by the Rambam? This was a rare, almost impossible sight. I will describe when and how and why this changed below.
The Hebrew collection in the Bodleian Library was in reality so awesome, that legends and rumors arose about it. For example, Solomon Schechter writes in The Hebrew Collection of the British Museum (Studies in Judaism, First Series) that
"The Hebrew collection in the British Museum forms one of the greatest centres of Jewish thought. It is only surpassed by the treasures which are contained in the Bodleian Library at Oxford. The fame of these magnificent collections has spread far and wide. It has penetrated into the remotest countries, and even the Bachurim (alumni) of some obscure place in Poland, who otherwise neither care nor know anything about British civilisation, have a dim notion of the nature of these mines of Jewish learning.Although it already had a Hebrew collection since the days of Sir Thomas Bodley in the early 17th century, it was not until 1829 that its collection went from good to astounding. In that year the library acquired the Oppenheimer Collection, named after it's collector, the av beis din of Prague, Rabbi David Oppenheim (1664-1736). The library itself describes this collection as "thought to be the most important and magnificent Hebraica collection ever accumulated." It consisted of "780 manuscripts and 4,220 printed books in Hebrew, Yiddish and Aramaic, many of which are the only surviving copies." Rabbi David was not only a proficient collector, but a man of wealth and taste. Thus, many of his books were special orders, printings on colored paper or vellum (that is, klaf). You can read the original catalog prepared for the sale, Kohelet David - Collection Davidis (Hamburg 1826), here. If I recall correctly, this collection remained unsold (but available) for 70 years (or was it 90?). When the Bodleian finally acquired it, they got it for a song. I once calculated how much it was in today's dollars, and I think it came out to less than $1 million. (My memory is blurry; part of me seems to remember that it was only about $250,000, but in all likelihood that was pounds, not dollars.)
All sorts of legends circulate amongst them about the "millions" of books which belong to the " Queen of England." They speak mysteriously of an autograph copy of the Book of Proverbs, presented to the Queen of Sheba on the occasion of her visit to Jerusalem, and brought by the English troops as a trophy from their visit to Abyssinia, which is still ruled by the descendants of that famous lady. They also talk of a copy of the Talmud of Jerusalem which once belonged to Titus, afterwards to a Pope, was presented by the latter to a Russian Czar, and taken away from him by the English in the Crimean war; of a manuscript of the book Light is Sown} which is so large that no shelf can hold it, and which therefore hangs on iron chains. How they long to have a glance at these precious things! Would not a man get wiser only by looking at the autograph of the wisest of men?
But even the students of Germany and Austria, who are inaccessible to such fables, and by the aid of Zedner's, Steinschneider's, and Neubauer's catalogues have a fair notion of our libraries, cherish the belief that they would gain in scholarship and wisdom by examining these grand collections. How often have I been asked by Jewish students abroad: "Have you really been to the British Museum? Have you really seen this or that rare book or manuscript? Had you not great difficulties in seeing them? Is not the place where these heaps of jewels are treasured up always crowded by students and visitors?"
However, the Bodleian was already in possession of Hebrew treasures. Two such treasures were Rambam manuscripts acquired by Sir Robert Huntington in Aleppo, Syria in the late 17th century. One is a manuscript of the Perush Ha-mishnayot written by Maimonides himself! (In Arabic, so it's the Kitab as-Siraj) The other is a very special codex containing Sefer Madda and Ahavah of the Mishneh Torah. This is Ms. Hunt. 80, and it contains the Rambam's own seal of approval. Apparently these were sold to Huntington by the Rambam's own descendents.
The manuscript's existence was a national treasure, but it had not been a national secret. At least one rabbinic authority refers to it several times in his responsa. Here is one such place in the teshuvot of the Radbaz:
As you can see, he writes that he "searched in the correct manuscripts which were checked according to the book checked with the Rabbi's own book, that is in Aleppo." Thus it sounds like even in Egypt, where he lived, there were copies circulating which was checked from this very manuscript, known to have been approved by the Rambam himself.
Who brought this signature to the attention of the world? The answer lies in a great book published in 1851 called Ginzei Oxford - Treasures of Oxford. This work was a joint effort of two great scholars, Leopold Dukes and Hirsch Edelmann, who described the treasures of Oxford. The book was written in Hebrew by them, and translated to English by Marcus Heinrich Bresslau, and thus the book contains a Hebrew and English section. The introduction is by Edelmann. Here is what he writes:
Note: he says that Huntington acquired it in Cairo. This is, I believe, a mistake. In any case, here is the fac-simile that is given for the first time ever, in the Hebrew section.
As you could see above, Edelmann explained that he noticed the signature and asked Bresslau to request from the librarian Bandinell that they be allowed to make a facsimile (presumably Edelmann didn't speak English).
The rest of the facsimile is of a few lines in the same handwriting, thus also written by the Rambam, in the beginning of the manuscript. It is a tribute to the owner, evidently a deceased student of the Rambam's, named R. Elazar ben Perachiah. It is hard to read, so for this we need a transcription. Since the Hebrew section includes a transcription, here it is:
The translation is pretty faithful, but not exact. Since I am always going on about the ס"ט acronym, note that the Rambam doesn't merely mention "Rabbi Elazar of blessed memory, the son of Perachjah." He writes "מ' אלעזר ז"ל ול"ת בר פרחיה ס"ט."
While Ginze Oxford was published in 1851, apparently Edelmann had not kept it a secret, for already in the April 22, 1850 issue of the Allgemeine Zeitung des Judenthums there is an article about it. In a footnote, the editor hopefully asks "Koennte nicht dieses autograph lithographirt werden? Wie Diesen waere dies eine willkommne Gabe!/ Might not this autograph be lithographed? That would be a welcome gift!" So Edelmann obliged.
It didn't take very long before this signature became a desirable thing to reproduce in works by the Rambam. Thus, in the 1861 Kovetz Teshuvos (ed. by Abraham Lichtenberg) we see this:
Actually, this particular signature, as produced in this sefer, even became used as a source in a certain valuable book on names for gittin, but I won't get into that since that is for another post in the works.
And a beautiful fold-out facsimile in the 1864 Vienna edition of the Moreh Nevukhim (with German translation, called Moreh Nebochim, ed. Max Emanuel Stern):
The same volume is available on Google Books, but look what it has:
A frustrating example of how Google Books messes up - too frequently - with no evident plans to correct these errors.
Here's a luxury, deluxe, full-service example from the periodical Achiasaf:
I thought it was from volume 12 (1904) but now I'm not sure. It includes a snippet of text from his Moreh Nevukhim, and it post-dates the Cairo Genizah.
And here's one from a book from 1918. It just uses the image from the Jewish Encyclopedia:
Rather than go on and on and on in this vein, I will supply one more example. Rabbis Moses Hyamson and Chaim Brecher produced a fantastic edition of Sefer Madda and Ahavah, based on this manuscript. It consists of the Hebrew text and translation. They were careful to print and translate this manuscript, and thus they even included the poems and asides, such as the signature certification. The translation of the Rambam's signature is on the bottom:
Finally, to bring things back full circle - how amazing it is that the Bodleian spent effort, time and money to place this invaluable manuscript online for the entire world to use at leisure? Here is an advertisement on the very last page of Yeshurun 3 (1997) for a facsimile edition of this precious manuscript, in a limited run of 300 copies:
It would still be nice to own it, but it is no longer necessary. Viva democracia digital!
first appearance 22 comments
second appearance 109 comments
Todays offering??? The sky's the limit!
One often hears the constant refrain of the USA being a מדינה של חסד= a Country of Loving-kindness and that our Gilded Golus in this sanctuary of Church-State separation has been a Golden Age Diaspora unparalleled in Jewish History. And while it's undeniable that there is much to be grateful for, everything from penicillin to kosher sushi, there are many unprecedented ways in which the United States of America has been "bad for the Jews". Below I submit a heartfelt, but by no means comprehensive, list:
We offer no thanks to a country and culture- that has served as an enabler for the most rampant intermarriage rate in Jewish History.
We offer no thanks to a country and culture- that has caused more Jews to assimilate and at a rapider pace than at any other time in Jewish History.
We offer no thanks to a country and culture- that has provided the most fertile soil in which so-called Jewish movements (Reconstructionist and Humanist Judaism to name a few) antithetical to Torah Judaism have taken root and flourished.
We offer no thanks to a country and culture-that is so sex-saturated that people have been reduced to walking, talking libidos and where the sexualization of children rages unabated. This causes overcompensation among Shlomei Emunah manifesting itself in increased actual and cultural ghettoization and onerous and absurd chumras.
We offer no thanks to a country and culture-that so glorifies conspicuous consumption that the culture, including Jewish subculture, grows ever more selfish, narcissistic, tasteless, showy and grotesque.
We offer no thanks to a country and culture-that is more secular than a supermarket . Whose intellectual elite broadcasts explicit and implicit messages that ALL deists of any stripe are, by definition, abject, ignorant morons unfit to partake in society or in dialogues that concern public policy
We offer no thanks to a country and culture-that lionizes and aggrandizes empty-headed and soulless entertainers, mafiosi and sports figures and marginalizes teachers, Doctors and soldiers.
We offer no thanks to a country and culture-that eats drinks and abuses drugs way too much and that has created legions of the obese and the addicted while draining the resources of third world countries, over-fished and treated food-source animals inhumanely in the process.
We offer no thanks to a country and culture- that is addicted to fossil fuels and stubbornly refuses to develop alternative energy sources thus strengthening the hands of Israel's worst enemies.
We offer no thanks to a country and culture- that has created a culture of entitlement providing social welfare programs that rob our youth of initiative and industry and that tempts them with lives of indolence and fraud .
We offer no thanks to a country and culture- who's credo is "You are what you owe" and who's easy access to credit coupled with the above mentioned conspicuous consumerism has contributed mightily to a generation of Jews saddled with crushing debt and faced with the sad dilemma of deciding whether it is nobler to be פושט יד= schnorring for handouts or פושט רגל= absconding from fiscal responsibility by declaring bankrupcty.
We offer no thanks to a country and culture-that insists on having the perennially awful Detroit Lions be one of the two permanent host teams for it's Turkey Day NFL Football offerings. The games are NEVER competitive and this is bad for the football fans, Jewish and non-Jewish alike! (Note for 2011:I readily admit that this complaint is dated and that the Packers-Lions game today figures to be a good one)
While I am no Reverend Wright shouting an angry "G-d D**n America" I think it is high-time that we reassess this land and it's culture as an unmixed, unmitigated blessing. While it is a land and culture abounding in eclectic blessings it is our historical job as Jews to make holy havdala and distill the pure good from the bad dross currently mixed into it.
Of course the USA is an undeniable מדינה של חסד= a Country of Loving-kindness, but maybe it's time for us to recognize another level of meaning and translation of the word " חסד= as in the following passage:
יז וְאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר-יִקַּח אֶת-אֲחֹתוֹ בַּת-אָבִיו אוֹ בַת-אִמּוֹ וְרָאָה אֶת-עֶרְוָתָהּ וְהִיא-תִרְאֶה אֶת-עֶרְוָתוֹ, חֶסֶד הוּא--וְנִכְרְתוּ, לְעֵינֵי בְּנֵי עַמָּם; עֶרְוַת אֲחֹתוֹ גִּלָּה, עֲוֹנוֹ יִשָּׂא." And if a man shall take his sister, his father's daughter, or his mother's daughter, and see her nakedness, and she see his nakedness: it is a shameful thing; and they shall be cut off in the sight of the children of their people: he hath uncovered his sister's nakedness; he shall bear his iniquity. "
Sometimes love and kindness misdirected to targets one is too closely related to can have disastrous results. The resulting children are afflicted with an Appalachian imbecility. Odd that this nation that is so tolerant and embracing of it's Jews has produced the most illiterate, imbecilic, havdala/qedusha oblivious Jewry of all time.
בא המבדיל והעמידן על אחת
"Those who cannot tolerate Havdala cannot appreciate Qedusha"
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
I also have an idea for a post on a Hashqafic question that's troubling me but A. As blogging has, again, been impinging on my real life and B. Because attention starved narcissist that I am I'd rather not waste so good a post on the doldrums and reduced readership of the Thanksgiving Legalday. Look for it @ the beginning of next week.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Based on the Quran rather than the Torah, the predominant Islamic belief is that while an Aqeda indeed took place there never was an Aqedas Yitzchok. Instead, it was Avrahams older son, Yishmael, who was bound up and nearly slaughtered as a burnt offering. Here are the salient points from the Wikipedia article on the topic:
The Qur'an states that Abraham was commanded to sacrifice his son. The son is not however named in the Qur'an (e.g., 37:99–113). In early Islam, there was a dispute over the identity of the son. However, [later] Muslim scholars came to endorse the belief that it was Ishmael, not Isaac. The argument of those early scholars who believed it was Isaac rather than Ishmael (notably Ibn Kutyaba and al-Tabari) was that "God's perfecting his mercy on Abraham and Isaac" (12:6) referred to his making Abraham his friend and saving him from the burning bush, and to his rescuing Isaac. The other parties held that the promise to Sarah was of a son, Isaac, and a grandson, Jacob (11:71–74), excluded the possibility of a premature death of Isaac. The early dispute was more concerned with Persian rather than Jewish rivalry with Arabs, since the Persians claimed to be of descendants of Isaac. Al-Masudi, for example, reports a Persian poet (902 C.E.) who claimed superiority over Arabs through descent from Isaac.
The submission of Abraham and his son is celebrated and commemorated by Muslims on the days of Eid al-Adha Sacrifice festival. During the festival, those who can afford and the ones in the pilgrimage sacrifice a ram, cow, sheep or a camel. Part of the sacrifice meat is eaten by the household and remaining is distributed to the neighbors and the needy. The festival happens in the pilgrimage hajj season. The well-known site of Marwah may be identified with the biblical Moriah (Hebrew מוריה) in Gn 22:2. Marwah being the mount just outside the perimeter of the Kaaba.
The Quranic account of Abraham being saved from the burning bush sounds like an amalgam of Moshe at the Sneh and Avraham tried by fire by Nimrod in Ur Qasdim . I find it fascinating that the Persian-Arab rivalry is not merely a theological one but an ethnic/ racial one as the Persians hold Yitzchok to be a nobler ancestor than Yishmael! I wonder if in the contemporary Sunni and Shia branches of Islam the prevailing opinions over which son Abraham bound and nearly slaughtered breaks along the lines of "Rov" Islamic scholars vs. Ibn-Kutaba. It is also interesting and telling that the Quran shifts the location of the Aqeda from Jerusalem to Mecca. While we associate Aqedas Yitzchok with a fast day, they associate Aqedas Yishmael with a Feast day.
Some other twists of the Quranic narrative:
Hagar is taken by Avraham to Arabia and dumped there (with ample supplies) by direct command of G-d, not by command of Sarah.
A miraculous well is not merely seen by Hagar but "kicked" into existence by either Yishmael or the Angel Gavriel (anticipating Moshe Rabenus Mei Meriva?).
Yishmael is a little baby at this time not a 16 year old boy.(???)
Elsewhere it seems to imply that Aqedas "Yishmael" happens when Yishmael is 13. When then, per the Quran, did his circumcision take place? As I don't read Arabic, don't know how to search online Qurans and am unclear on this point form the various Wikipedia articles I presume that he was circumcised as a baby.
Claiming Yishmael was 13 at the time of "his" Aqeda seems to be a clever exercise in Islamic apologetics in response to our own Midrashic conversation between the sons of Avraham. In this conversation Yitzchak clearly wins the spitting contest. According to some (see Rashi Bereshis 22:1) the דברים האלה that served as the prelude to Aqedas Yitzchak went as follows: First Yishmael bragged to Yitzchok about his willing cooperation in his own circumcision in spite of his advanced age (13). Then Yitzchok responded "You're so proud about the sacrifice of one limb/organ? If G-d asked me to sacrifice my very life I would not hesitate to do so" . In the Quranic-Islamic narrative it is their patriarch Yishmael who, of his own volition, is willing to sacrifice life and not merely limb!
In the Quran there is no באר לחי רואי in southern Israel-Negev desert. Instead Hagar and Yishmael are saved by the Zamzam well in the Arabian desert. The Zamzam well is located approximately 20 m (66 ft) east of the Kaaba paralleling Judaisms Shiloakh stream that flowed through the courtyard of the Bais HaMiqdash in Jerusalem.
In the Torah a death, Sarahs, is associated with the Aqeda. In the Quran it is the annunciation of a birth, Yitzchoks, that is associated with the Aqeda. How convenient. Yitzchok could not possibly have been the son who was bound and sacrificed as he wasn't yet born at the time of this great trial! I wonder how Ibn Kutyaba and al-Tabari explain that Quranic passage.
Loyal Maimonidian that I am, I dismiss all of these distortions, lies and Chinese-menu-one-from-column-A-and-one-from-column-B narratives as yet another proof of their authors inveterate prevaricating and mental instability. But when Jewish sources claim that there was an Aqedas Yishmael, I sit up and take notice.
I am not referring to the essay by Professor Uriel Simon, a latter day academic , drawing conclusions from the juxtaposition of the parshiyos of Yishmaels expulsion and Yitzchaks Aqeda and from the internal parallels between Avrahams near-loss through near-death of Yitzchak and actual loss and near-death of Yishmael. Intriguing as his essay is for all I know Dr. Simon may be afflicted with the Havdala Obliviousness that is pandemic in Academia. No, I am talking about the parshanus of the revered אור החיים הקדוש.
The problem in Bereshis 21:14
Some will opine that Yishmael had to be expelled forcibly because he liked his cushy life as the scion of a rich and important man. I prefer to see his resistance in a more positive light. As cavalier an attitude that Yishmael might have affected towards his own holiness, he still retained enough Qedusha consciousness that when he felt the imminent threat of being cut off from Qedusha forever... he fought like mad. [Per the Kohen, Yishmael retained enough in common with Avraham that it required דוקה Sara, who was totally antithetical to Yishamel (Gevura of Qedusha vs. Khesed of the Sitra Akhra) to banish him from Avrahams legacy.]
But whatever the cause of his resistance the fact of his resistance was remedied by an Aqeda. As was to be the case with the only, beloved son... Yitzchak, Avrahams final act before losing his elder son was to hog-tie / bind him. THAT is Judaisms Aqedas Yishmael.
It is remarkable that so many of the foundation myths, motifs, symbolism, observances and holy places of both X-tianity and Islam are ripped off from Judaisms seminal event, Aqedas Yitzchak.
UPDATE cross posted here on November 28th 2011
בא המבדיל והעמידן על אחת
"Those who cannot tolerate Havdala cannot appreciate Qedusha"
Sunday, November 20, 2011
In spite of their best malevolent efforts, the ציונים הארורים failed to eradicate a species of frog from G-ds green earth.
The path to Hell on Earth is paved with good intentions and it has always been the ציונים הארורים 's credo that nothing ought to stand in the way of progress and modernization. Least of all a traditional habitat and way of life. And so, in keeping with the founding fathers myth-making of draining the swamps and making the deserts bloom, the ציונים הארורים drained most the Hula valley's lakes and marshes in the 50s in efforts to eradicate malaria transmitting mosquitoes and to make the land arable. In so doing they destroyed the natural habitat of the Discoglossus nigriventer, the Hula Valley Painted Frog, AKA the Israel Painted Frog and the Palestinian Painted Frog.
One of the greatest ironies of this classic example of "we-know-what's-best" Zionist hubris is that species such as the painted frog feed on the very mosquitoes that carry malaria!
The IUCN has classified this species as extinct since 1996 but the Zionist Entity in Palestine continued to list it as merely an endangered species in the slim hope that a relict population may be found in the Golan Heights.
As a non-Scientist I'd be most appreciative if any of the 4 readers here could provide me with a clue of how these frogs survived 50 plus years of near extinction.
Were they breeding numerous generations of small families in remaining Hula Lake puddles hidden in plain sight from the prying eyes of Galil Kibutzniks who sought to water-them-dry and thus exterminate them?
Like some amphibious Conversos, did they move underground and say their פרק שירה in "Lake Hula of the Cellars" all the while changing their spots to avoid discovery of their true endangered species identities whenever they ventured out in the open? (Who knows? Maybe further research will reveal that this species is endowed with chameleon like chromatophores)
Did they move to refugee camp swamps in Lebanon and Syria to avoid Zionist genocidal designs only to exercise their right of return as part of the larger Arab Spring?
Did some mad scientist clone them from extant DNA stolen with חיטוטי שכבי from the cadavers of the last known specimens collected over a Yovel ago?
Did they spontaneously generate from sweat just to spite Rabbi Slifkin?
No matter how these painted frogs survived to make their triumphant reappearance this past Wednesday we congratulate them, wish them Mazal Tov and hope that they make like the sherotzim that they are from here on out. And while we continue to mourn the apparently successful speciescide of the cyprinid fish Acanthobrama hulensis and cichlid fish Tristramella intermedia at the hands of the ציונים הארורים , the phoenix-like ascent of the Palestine Painted Frog fills us with hope, התקוה שנות חמישים , that we will live to see the day when once again these species of Fishalakh miraculously rematerialize and fulfill the יעודים of וידגו לרב בקרב הארץ and ושבו דגים לגבולם .
And whether we are talking about the indigenous Ishmaelite or Alteh Yishuv People of Historical Palestine there are two major take-way lessons here for the Hubris-blinded, hellbent-on-speciescide Zionists:
A) At times it is precisely the growth and flourishing of the species and genus that you wish to eradicate that will help solve the problem at hand.
B) In spite of your best misguided efforts at driving them to extinction the indigenous species and genus of Palestine will always make a comeback. Just when you think that they have disappeared from histories stage, there they are again!
בא המבדיל והעמידן על אחת
"Those who cannot tolerate Havdala cannot appreciate Qedusha"
Friday, November 18, 2011
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
A Dream Scenario...what if we could have intra-Jewish Ecumenism??? (SIGH)
The Eidah HaCharedis new chief liaison to Modern Orthodox Jewry met mixed reviews during his debut visit to the United States, thanks in part to statements on the pending naming of a new building at Yeshiva University the Teitelbaum Center for Math and Science after the Satmar Rebbe Rav Yoel Teitelbaum ZY"A.
In what turned out to be a bumpy start, Rav Menachem Nochum Veisfish angered some RCA and Union of Orthodoxy leaders when he told an audience at Congregation Bnei Yeshurun, in Teaneck, N.J. that many Modern Orthodox Jews approve of the hagiographical treatment of the Satmar rebbe in a recent biography.
Veisfish added that the long-demanded opening of the Satmar Holocaust-era archives — which many historians believe will help resolve allegations that Teitelbaum abandoned his followers and cowardly fled on the Kasztner Train and did not do enough to protect fellow Jews — would shed no more light on the question.
Earlier in the day, members of this intrafaith audience were among hundreds who gathered at Bnei Yeshurun to hear the בנש"ק deliver the 18th annual Oesterreicher Memorial Lecture titled, “Theological Questions and Perspectives in Modern Orthodox-Kharedi Dialogue.”
Rabbi Steve Bil"u, director of intrafaith affairs for the Anti-Triumphalism League, said the בנש"ק s opinions raised issues that demonstrate “the continuing challenges facing Caveman-Contemporary relations.”
Bil"u said the בנש"ק s views on the Satmar Rebbe were of particular concern because they “espoused the viewpoint of Satmar Rebbe apologists, rather than the majority of noted Modern Orthodox and Poalei Agudah scholars.”
Veisfish said some Young Israel members have told the Raava"d of the Eidah, Rav Moshe Shternbuch “don’t avoid lionization of this Gitteh Yid.”
“We have other MOs who come and say, ‘declare this Rebbe as one of the 36 hidden Tzadikim,’” Veisfish said, referring to the ...title bestowed on ostensibly salt-of-the-earth-Jews who save humanity in each and every generation... .
The ATL’s Bil"u said he was concerned that the Rebisha kindt “cites opinions of solitary or fringe MO and Khavakuknik voices to validate perspectives on these issues, giving them the same weight as mainstream MO positions, which disagree.”
Bil"u found other statements made by Veisfish troubling. “What does Veisfish mean that there is only ‘one אמת'ן דרך המקובל לנו מאבותנו מדורי דורות’ and not ‘multiple authentic paths to the truth?’” Bil"u said. “Why does he choose to describe MOs and Kharedim as ‘thorns’ in one another’s ‘sides?’ This is the language of the Catholic Antisemitism.”
This past July, Rav Veisfish came into conflict with both the Askenazic and Sephardic Israeli chief rabbis..., when he wrote in Der Blatt, official organ of the Ahroni Satmars, that the flag of the Zionist Entity is “the permanent and universal Tisha B'Av” and a symbol of "the primary cause of the Holocaust."
Rabbis Metzger and Amar responded in a subsequent edition of Der Blatt , “If the terms of the discussion are those of pointing MOs to the way of the Date-Palm Tree, it is not clear why there should be dialogue.” The Chief Rabbis response was also reported in Ivrit on the Blogsite HaMavdil.
Similar tensions involving language and sacred Yiddish arose in New Jersey during the hour-long question-and-answer session on October 30, which was organized by the Council of Centers on Caveman-Contemporary Relations.
The בנש"ק answered questions slowly and deliberately. But his English was shaky and there was a palpable sense of frustration as the בנש"ק gave either shrill or rambling responses. At one point, he was pressed a couple of times on the question of whether the Eidah believed that Jews could be saved without utterly rejecting every iteration of Zionism, without becoming literate in Yiddish and without eliminating secular education entirely. He offered a long and winding reply that appeared vague until an aide, Reb Mohn Katzenelenboigen clarified that all Jews would ultimately be “safe,” though just how would only be known in “אחרית הימים.”
Shortly before the question-and-answer session, Devoirah Schvartzyuhr, president of the International Council of YCT and YU Alumni (ICYCTYUA), said one of the major problems of Caveman-Contemporary dialogue is that certain words familiar to both groups have totally different pronunciations and connotations. “It is precisely because we share so many of the same terms and use them in such different ways that it creates difficulties. We are two tribes divided by a common religion” Schvartzyuhr said.
When Veisfish was asked about his statement regarding the Israeli flag as the eternal Tisha B'Av and it's connotation to Modern Orthodox Jews as a symbol of National Liberation and Messianic Aspirations, he said, “I know the history what Zionists have made with the כחול ולבן and I think that it is our duty to show that the כחול ולבן isn’t a motive for love of the land and its liberation. In the Kharedi view the כחול ולבן is an invitation to a rejection of G-d and His Torah and I can’t understand why Modern-Orthodox Jews can’t be repelled and disgusted by this invitation.”
After the talk, Rabbah Sara Hurwitz, former president of the ICYCTYUA, said the Rebisha kindt failed to answer questions “fully” and sometimes appeared to skirt them altogether.
“I don’t think he’s quite on a par with his predecessor,” Hurwitz said, referring to Rav Simcha Binim Sonenfeld, who left the post in 2010 and who possessed rudimentary skills in conversational Ivrit and English.
During the discussion, Rav Veisfish frequently quoted the work of Ben Hecht. Hecht, a prolific screenwriter and Irgun-Zionist, is a favorite of The Raava"d.
But audience members protested that Hechts history is not as highly regarded outside the Eidah as it is within.
Hurwitz, a founding member of the board of Orthodox Female rabbis, interrupted one of theבנש"ק 's answers in which he was quoting Hecht. “I hate to say it,” Hurwitz said, “but you are barking up the wrong Date-Palm tree.”
After the session, Alan Brilliant, chair of MO-Kharedi Studies at Lander College, said he found the בנש"ק “Tzeegeluhzen” and “open for future confrontations.”
“I think on many things he gave us very black and white vilifications,” Brilliant said, “but we hope to dispatch him to a reeducation camp in future to have him compromise more.”
Brilliant added: “This is his first public appearance. Ask me when he has been in the post a year because having seen בנש"ק s in the past, they sell-out while on the job.”All triple dots and words in purple are my insertions or deletions. original article here.
Monday, November 14, 2011
The cross is “the permanent and universal Yom Kippur” and... Jews can look upon the cross as “a symbol of reconciliation”... In the Christian view the cross is an invitation of reconciliation and I can’t understand because Jews can’t be content with this invitation.”
-Cardinal Kurt Koch, the Vatican’s new chief liaison to world Jewry.
First a brief primer to those Jewish readers unfamiliar with some rudiments of X-tianity in which I will attempt to explain some of the premises of Cardinal Kochs "invitation":
Per X-tian belief their founders "passion" and death on the cross provides complete absolution from sin, AKA salvation, for humanity. On one condition; that the sinner accept X-tianities founder as their Lord and Savior. Hence "permanent" inasmuch as it is not limited to one day a year and "universal" as, unlike Judaisms, X-tianities Yom Kippur and, in particular, the scapegoat service on Yom Kippur, it is not a parochial atonement limited to one people but open and available to all of mankind.
Now for the benefit of the stray Cardinal who may chance upon this blog I'd like to explain why at least one Jew (me) is a malcontent vis a vis this "gracious" invitation.
We Jews have this quaint and antiquated belief that when we abuse various means for absolution by transforming them them into enablers for sinning then those means for absolution lose their power to absolve and reconcile man with G-d.
"האומר אחטא ואשוב אחטא ואשוב אין מספיקין [מאפשרים] בידו לעשות תשובה אחטא ויום הכפורים מכפר אין יום הכפורים מכפר"
משנה מסכת יומא פרק ח משנה ט
One who says "I will sin and repent, sin and repent" Providence doesn't allow him/her the wherewithal to repent. "I will sin and Yom Kippur will atone for me!" then Yom Kippur will not atone for him/her
While the Mishna doesn't explicate it, it seems pretty clear that if one were to say this about any of the various means of atonement (e.g. my suffering, the death of the righteous, my animal sacrifice et al) that the same would hold true. As such, although the X-tian belief in their founders power to absolve others is basically a corrupted, on-steroids, ripoff of the Jewish concept of "the death of Tzadikim atones" run amok, in the Jewish view, even if we were to entertain for a fleeting nanosecond that the founder of Xtianity was a Tzadik, (he was SR"Y, anything but), the fact that his suffering and death has been abused by sinners from the faiths infancy to this very moment as the ultimate enabler for lives of wickedness, debauchery and incessant sinning have robbed the cross of any Yom Kippur symbolism for us. Far from being a permanent and Universal Yom Kippur it was and is a permanent and universal shorthand for אחטא ואשוב אחטא אחטא ואשוב אחטא ואשוב .
We have another belief that a Mitzvah that comes about by way of a transgression is no Mitzvah at all. Applied here this would mean that Teshuva= repentance, achieved through idolatry is no Teshuva at all. And since the invitation to partake of the cross as the universal Yom Kippur comes with the steep cover charge of accepting he who died on that cross as a deity it is more of a bait and switch than an invitation. BTW cardinal, instead of being stymied at Jews unwillingness to accept this "invitation" maybe you'd be wise to examine why your fellow X-tians, the Mormons and the Witnesses declined the invitation as well.
Lastly and most importantly we Jews recognize that even beloved symbols and practices can become despised through abuse and cooptation by the forces of evil. We call this m'eekorah ahuva v'hashtah senuah that is why e.g although the patriarchs offered animal sacrifices when and wherever the spirit moved them to do so, once pagan idolaters began worshiping their seirim and other false deities in this manner of spontaneous-wherever animal sacrifice, we Jews stopped the practice of spontaneous, wherever sacrifice in favor of sacrifices at one exclusive location, the Temple in Jerusalem. Seeing as the cross has been used as justification for inflicting death and unspeakable barbaric suffering on millions of people throughout the history of X-tianity far from wondering why Jews refuse to accept the invitation perhaps Catholics and other X-tians would be well advised to retire it and come up with a new religious symbol. I know of quite a few Jewish Graphic Design firms in Boro Park and Lakewood that could help the Church of Rome come up with a great new logo
To bring this last point home could the good Cardinal grasp why Jews would not be content with the invitation of the swastika as a symbol of"reconciliation"? After all the swastika is a cross that antedates X-tianity. The cross becomes a particularly off-putting and galling invitation when one considers that, per Cross embracers beliefs, had Eichmann confessed and accepted Yoizel SR"Y as his Lord and Savior prior to Israel hanging him by the neck until dead he would be "saved" and headed straight for heaven. OTOH his hundreds of thousands of innocent Jewish victims, some of whom were truly saintly people and the majority of whom suffered prior to their gruesome deaths in ways that would make the passion of Yoizel SR"Y seem like a day in the spa, would be headed to "eternal damnation" by dint of their declining the cross' "invitation". On second thought, a Cardinal who thinks that Jews want to ‘declare this Pope ( Pope Pius XII) as "Righteous among the Nations,’” probably wouldn't get it
Thursday, November 10, 2011
The spirit of Ecumenism is rooted in Havdala Obliviousness.
Havdala conscious Jews are comfortable with the inevitable gulf that divides them from the balance of humanity and remains satisfied with the comparatively modest modus vivendi of a limited amount of ferries and bridges that provide the barest minimum of two way traffic across the gulf.
Not so progressive Jews. Intensely uncomfortable in their own Jewish skins and in their roles as the eternal "other" they seek a modus vivendi of geologically cataclysmic proportions. They want nothing less than the merging of continents. Trouble is that the pieces of this jigsaw puzzle were never meant to dovetail and fit neatly together and so they are invariably disappointed to the point of fury when this truth that is self-evident to the Havdala Conscious is made clear to them.
Witness the reactions to the recent pronouncements by the Vaticans newest ambassador to the Jews. As reported in the Forward the standard bearers of ecumenism were shocked, SHOCKED to learn that, once again, they'd gotten it backwards.
As any Jew with a sense of history and grounded in reality knows sending a Vatican Representative to patch up Jewish- X-tian relations is like sending an arsonist to douse the flames of a three-alarmer. Among Cardinal Kochs most inflammatory doozies:
* many Jews approve the potential canonization of ... Pope Pius XII...We have other Jews who come and say, ‘declare this Pope as Righteous among the Nations,’” * the cross is “the permanent and universal Yom Kippur” and... Jews can look upon the cross as “a symbol of reconciliation”... In the Christian view the cross is an invitation of reconciliation and I can’t understand because Jews can’t be content with this invitation.”
*" Jews and Christians as ‘thorns’ in one another’s ‘sides"
The great irony here is that the ecumenists fail to realize that the Vatican is one of the great bastions of Fundamentalism and that Fundies of all religions take the traditional teachings of their religions very seriously and literally. It just so happens that they are as passionate about their absolute falsehoods as we are about our absolute truth. Furthermore, as these teachings are revealed Divine truths they are not subject to compromise without dilution or parsing without dissolution. Even for the noble cause of making nice to post-Holocaust Jews. A devout Catholic cannot excise the planks in his/her religious platform that deeply offend and wound Jews, OFTM Muslims, without essentially losing their faith entirely.
During one of his answers at the conference Cardinal Koch quoted Jacob Neusner. Rev. John Pawlikowski interrupted him saying “I hate to say it, but you are barking up the wrong tree.” WADR to Rev. Pawlikowskiit is not the cardinal but the Havdala oblivious ecumenists who are barking up the wrong tree by seeking rapprochement with the Vatican. They ought to seek out like-minded X-tians, those who share their own breezy, dismissive and elastic attitude towards their own faiths fundamental truths. Try a Unitarian or left-wing Episcopalian on for size. What they are doing is roughly equivalent to an ecumenical X-tian seeking out the Satmar Rebbe as a peace partner. Truly a spectacle from the Theater of the Absurd.
בא המבדיל והעמידן על אחת
"Those who cannot tolerate Havdala cannot appreciate Qedusha".