March 31, 2008

Islamic Threat and the Jew

This post will mostly be a rant, so I am sure I could go into more detail, but after a certain thread I read, I can’t contain myself. I hope all of you watch this video while it is still available. It is the video that a Dutch lawmaker created about Islam that is sending waves all around the world for its “offensive” content. Not surprisingly, (and when you think about those two words, they are really sad), threats are rising for makers of this film as well as the website that initially carried it. had to remove the film because the staff was being threatened.

What a world this has turned out to be. What a sad little world. Where once people recognized the dangers of where unchallenged hate and fascism could lead, they have now decided to cower before the growing dangers of Islam. Global leaders are denouncing this video as offensive and unwarranted.

"There is no justification for hate speech or incitement to violence," he said in a statement. "The right of free expression is not at stake here."

-U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

It’s insane how much pandering goes on about the Islamic world. Where freedom of speech in these countries is under direct attack, The lessons of WWII have obviously not been learned. That when tyranny is at your doorstep, you do not invite it in or cuddle it, you have to immediately destroy it before it is allowed to grow and gather more strength. And that’s basically what’s happening right now. The Islamic population is growing in Europe, and with it, a base of operations for a “distorted” Islam to grow and transmit its hateful speech. Why isn’t the world waking up before it is too late? The truth is, I think world leaders
are realizing it, but are too afraid to do anything. There is a realization of what kind of “humans” these fanatic Muslims are and what they are capable of doing, and simply prefer to steer clear of their wrath. But they don’t realize that the longer they appease these Muslims, the larger the threat will ultimately grow.

It saddens me to find this insanity in the Jewish world as well. Actually, it more than saddens me. I’m totally mind-f#$ked by it. In the Jewish world, the discussion of Islamic terror is more focused on the Israeli-Palestinian struggle. We have bloggers like Candyman who insist that Israel is not doing enough for peace

“There's more to making peace than "conceding" a couple of yishuvs. It takes reaching out, building bridges culturally. Saying, "We need each other." Giving the other side respect.”

A couple of yishuvs??? Gaza was a couple of yishuvs? But when I bring up Gaza, he simply says:

“Dude, they didn't leave Gaza out of a feeling of obligation to the Palestinians. They left Gaza to reduce attacks and casualties, the vast majority of which were taking place there.”

Amazing isn’t it? Excuses. Always some excuse. Let’s make this clear: WE LEFT, WE LEFT, WE LEFT, WE LEFT and all we heard in response was NO PEACE. It did not matter if we didn’t go with smiles on our faces or a sense of “obligation” to our brothers, the Palestinians. Reality is tough. Sometimes, two groups of people will NOT get along. Love is not always the solution, though I wish it were. But it’s not. All that talk about building bridges is useless when you are talking to a nation that just does not want to build a bridge. Nazis did not want to build bridges. Sometimes there are evil nations and if it was recognized before, why is it so farfetched that it is happening again? When will people like Candyman and JewishAtheist and even OnionSoupMix (from Candyman's thread) realize this is not about individuals. Yes, of course there are awesome individuals. There are always going to be spectacular individuals, but for now we have to take care of those that do not share in the efforts of the individuals. And in order to deal with that, you have to deal with Muslims as a nation, just like we did with Germany. And, I do not mean to imply that we should drop thousands of pounds of explosives on them. I refer to the knowledge of a growing threat and that threat is a united entity. It can’t be denied that there were good Germans, but in time of crisis and war, you have to deal with the group as a whole. The good individuals were a secondary consideration to the more immediate threat of the group as a whole. That, sadly, is the nature of the world. Unfortunately, it is even sadder that people have forgotten that already. God have mercy on us all if people like today’s fanatic liberals existed in the mid 20th century to maintain that we have to understand the grievances of the Germans (which they believied they had).

This new breed of fanatic liberals scare me to no living end. Seriously. This last comment thread with Candyman really showed me, how even coming from a Jew, Israel is still the devil, always in the wrong and no matter how much it has extended its hand, it’s all meaningless. I feel like someone is just about to pull the trigger and kill me while a liberal is standing behind him trying to reassure me that the killer is not really a danger. Interestingly enough, you see a lot of this attitude in OTD Jews. It’s quite fascinating and I plan to write a post on it.

And then we have people like Dovbear, that wish to remind us that the real threat is the right-wing Christians (Update: speaking of which) He can give you post after post about stuff Pat Roberston will say about Jews needing to accept Jesus to be saved, but seldom write a post about the threat coming from the Arabs. Because according to him, the Arabs of today are not the same as the Arabs of the 1920’s, but yet he has no problems generalizing Republicans and their Jewish supporters. But of course you can’t say anything because you will immediately be branded a racist. I didn’t even see him mention that 84% of Palestinians approved of the killings at Merkaz Harav. I wonder why?

I can only echo what Prof. Marc Shapiro said this past Shabbat. That he realizes what the Evangelical Christians believe, but that in this world of ours, finding friends, especially for the Jews, is extremely hard if not impossible, and we have to take them as they come.

Clarification- I don't want people thinking Candyman actually said "Israel is the devil." It's only an exaggeration to make a point.

* A hardy thank you goes to Shoshana for helping me with this post.

March 27, 2008

Happy Birthday

To my radient, gorgeous, hott, smart, partner in crime, preparer of mighty meals and mother of two perfect creations.....Happy Birthday

Thank you for putting up with me :) (along with the rest of the blogosphere)

1 10113 4011 3012311312

PS- If anyone wants to contribute to a gift, please email me for instructions. Cash only please.

Genesis Shmenesis Part 2

I decided to write this post because the last one started to get too long with the same comments being repeated over and over again. So with this post, I hope to break down the actual arguments and perhaps make it easier for other people to understand the topic and perhaps even get their opinion on the matter. If anything, I should thank RG for at least forcing me to think more about this topic, even though I do not agree with him. So thank you.

Here is the verses from Lev. 11: 20-23 Parashat Shemini.
20 ‘All flying insects that creep on all fours shall be an abomination to you. 21 Yet these you may eat of every flying insect that creeps on all fours: those which have jointed legs above their feet with which to leap on the earth. 22 These you may eat: the locust after its kind, the destroying locust after its kind, the cricket after its kind, and the grasshopper after its kind. 23 But all other flying insects which have four feet shall be an abomination to you.
My question was simply, what does verse 20 mean? There is no such thing as a four legged insect.

RG's tries to answer it like this:

The Torah only allowed the insects specifically set forth in verse 22 (locusts, grasshopper and cricket). The Torah calls these insects (albeit with an extra two jumping legs) as a four legged insects. Jewish Tradition technically does not allow for ALL four legged jumping insects, only the ones named in our mesorah, hence, many Jews don't eat locusts and grasshoppers etcs, since they do not know the exact identification for them. RG contends that the answer to verse 20 is that ALL the REST of the locusts and grasshoppers and crickets that are NOT specifically part of the mesorah is what the actual prohibition is talking about (ie. Yeminites will only eat locusts found in a swarm).

My problem is this:

1) This does not seem pshat. The Torah in verse 20 seems to be talking about OTHER insects OTHER than the exception it layed out.
2) The Torah gives you specific simanim. What is the point of the Torah giving us simanim if the only insect we will be allowed to eat are the specific ones named in verse 22? If the only thing we can eat would be those specific insects, then the torah should just have given us a list like it did with the bird section and not bothered with simanim. I am contending that technically any insect with four legs and two jumping legs are kosher and that the torah is simply giving you an example list of what is allowed. (RG disagrees)

Mevaseretzion sent me this:
well here is rambam on which ones are kosher

כא מיני חגבים שהתירה תורה, שמונה; ואלו הן: (א) חגב; (ב) ומין חגב, והיא הדובנית; (ג) חרגול; (ד) ומין חרגול, והיא עצרוניא; (ה) ארבה; (ו) ומין ארבה, והיא ציפורת כרמים; (ז) סולעם; (ח) ומין סולעם, והיא יוחנה ירושלמית.
כב מי שהוא בקי בהן ובשמותיהן, אוכל; והצייד נאמן עליהן, כעוף. ומי שאינו בקי, בודק בסימנין; ושלושה סימנין יש להן: כל שיש לו ארבע רגליים, וארבע כנפיים שחופות רוב אורך גופו ורוב היקף גופו, ויש לו שני כרעיים לנתר בהן--הרי זה מין טהור. ואף על פי שראשו ארוך ויש לו זנב--אם היה שמו חגב,

he takes the simanim as good enough, with the torah's list just giving you the names, so you dont have to worry about simanm for those ones so it would seem that all 4/2 [four legged w/two jumping legs] that have wings that cover most of their body are kosher! and the list is to show you that they have to have wings covering most of their body the ones that are 4/2 that arent kosher DONT have large enough wings
This seems to suggest that the Rambam (from the gemara) merely made a list to help you identify the ones allowed to make it easier for us and chazal identified that these insects wings must be large enough to cover their bodies (does there exist a locust, grasshopper or cricket that doesn't have large wings?). Hence, from these lists, Jews decided that it is better to simply work from a list which chazal gave.

The question is, and this is how it ties in to RG's point, is verse 20 referring to locusts, grasshopper and crickets that did not make the list? I do not see that as pshat at all. Also, from the Yeminite example, it seems that Jews had a subjective hand in decided what fits the definition of a locust and what does not. The Yeminites decided that locusts that are not in a swarm are not kosher. So does that mean that single locusts found among themselves fit verse 20? Verse 20 is clearly talking about OTHER four legged insects, and NOT simply four legged w/two jumping legged insects that are not on the list in verse 22 or that do not have large wings.

3) From what I remember, Ramban comments that verse 20 is referring to a bee. He says it uses its two inside legs merely to balance, but not to walk. If the pshat is like what RG is saying, wouldn't the Ramban know about it? Also, I am told (you can check for yourself as I will) that other achronim asked the same qeustion that I am regarding verse 20. Again, if the insects that that verse was referring to were simply OTHER four legged jumpers that are not on the list (like RG) why did they not know that?

I hope I managed to clear things up :)

March 25, 2008

Genesis Shmenesis

Remember all the hours spent on discussing Bereshit, and how it does not match up with science? Feh. Thats nothing. You could somehow wiggle out of that by claiming its all a mashal. No. The real problematic parasha is non other than this weeks parasha (Checking calendar). Parashat Shemini.

So why is this parasha more problematic? Well, I think because this one deals with a clear example of halacha that could be checked to see if its true or not. This parasha is famous for introducing us the greatest of all animals.....the shafan. I don't think I need to get into it. The Torah says the shafan chews its cud when it clearly doesn't Lev. 11:5) . An interesting point is the commentary Artscroll includes:
Thus they appear to chew their cud, but what they do is in no way similar to cows and sheep. Perhaps the term "bringing up its cud" simply refers to any animal that brings food back to its mouth from its stomach whether or not it is like a cow.
Perhaps?? LOL, what happened to the oral law. Isn't the oral law supposed to tell you what something like that means? And this is not some complicate legal issue that depending on circumstances, might change the outcome. We are dealing with a one time definition that sticks throughout the generations.

Now, there is also another issue that I don't think I have ever seen dealt with:

Lev. 11:20 Every flying teeming creature that walks on four legs - it is an abomination to you. Only this may you eat from among all flying teeming creatures that walk on four legs: One that has jumping legs above its legs, with which to spring upon the earth.

The problem obviously is that insects, which what is being talked about here only have six legs. Artscroll jumps in and says:
R' D.Z. Hoffman raises the difficultly that all insects have six legs not four. He explains that they have four legs that are used for simple walking, while the other two are used for jumping [grasshoppers].
But that does not really help much sense since the next pasuk clearly mentions that. Meaning the first pasuk is obviously talking about insects OTHER than the ones that use two to jump. I remember this bothered me a lot, so I decided to do a little research, and I finally came up with this friendly guy. Besides basically walking on four legs (it uses the other two legs as claws to kill prey) and flying, it is also predatory and the females are known to eat the males. This seems to fit the pattern in the Torah of forbidding eating animals that are predatory. So you would think the problem is solved, right? Well, I brought my findings to non other than Rabbi Slifkin and he told me I am wrong and that it does not fit the sheretz that the Torah speaks about. :( I forgot what he told me, so please feel free to email him and ask. Too bad though. I really would have liked my name printed in some commentary.

March 24, 2008

Potential Scholar-In-Residence

My shul will soon start making a list of potential scholar-in-residence speakers. The rabbi there told me that if I want, I can help out with some ideas of my own as to who to bring. Personally, I am interested in the the more academic speakers. They are usually much more fascinating then your typical "feel-good-emunah" speaker that comes every once in a while. Anyhoo, I would love to know if any of you have any interesting ideas as for who we can invite.

If you can, please provide some info as to who this person is (i.e. books written, positions held, location etc.) . It could also be a woman. Actually, the women speakers that the shul has brought tend to be more interesting :)

March 20, 2008

Megillat Esther: Fact or Fiction?

A good read

It's getting tougher for me to keep these holidays. Definitely not the proper motivation.

March 18, 2008

Culture and Halacha

Hakirah vol. 4 had a wonderful little essay called "Is handshaking a Torah violation?" by R' Yehuda Henkin. I'm not going to get into the details of it all, but he sums it by saying that anyone that wants to be stringent in the manner, basically has something to rely upon, as long as they do not say it is halacha. He also, very clearly, makes a point to say that hand shaking does not fall under the category of k'mo metashmish.

A couple of weeks ago, I was reading a different essay in that Hakirah during davening, when a friend of mine asked to see it. He started reading R' Henkins essay and he made an interesting observation that I would like to share with you. Both of us are Ashkenazi and both of us married Persian women. In Persian culture, as many in the middle-east, when people greet one another, they kiss each other on both sides of the cheek. To them, it is no different than a handshake. It is simply a greeting.

R' Yehuda Henkin makes it a point that handshaking is permissible because there is no sexual desire to it. He brings attention to a Rambam where he forbides kissing and hugging because it is considered a "pre- and proto-sexual behaivor" (which he says is an infraction of a negative commandment based on Vayikra 18:6). but continued by saying:
This proviso precludes social handshakes from being subsumed under the lo ta'aseh, since a handshake is not a preliminary to relations. This is so even if the handshake includes an element of affection or pleasure [emphasis mine]; affection alone without the feature of desire is not a Torah violation. The Shach already wrote this when he stipulated "the way of desire and affection of intercourse" (derech taavah v'chibat biah) rather than simply "affection."
The problem with all this is that, like I said, in the Persian culture, greeting one with a kiss, is no different than the westernized handshake. It is a sign of respect and showing of affection, especially to your elders, whether they are male or female. It seems to me that when halchot are paskened, cultural differences are sometimes neglected in order for this all to be one cohesive unit of all of us doing the same thing. But why should one cultural norm decide for another?

Another final and important point he made was this: If it ever came to a point where this question was actually brought up for halachic consideration, sitting down in front of books and halachic sources would most likely be difficult or even hopeless. One has to LIVE and breathe this culture to understand it, in order to properly pasken such things. Could a Rav from Europe understand the cultural nuances of Persians by reading halachic books and trying to pasken? Probably as much a Persian rabbi trying to understand French Jews by opening up one of his Tshuvot.

March 16, 2008

Shadal: Genesis 1:1

Shadal's (Shmuel David Luzzato) commentary on Genesis 1:1*

The wise understand that the intent of the Torah is not to teach of the natural sciences, but that the Torah was given only to direct humankind on the path of righteousness and justice, and to establish belief in the Unity and Providence of God in their hearts, for not to the scholars alone was the Torah given, but to the entire people. Just as concepts of Providence and reward and punishment are not explained (and properly not explained) in the Torah in a philosophical manner, but are treated in human terms ("And the lord was angry with them," "And His heart grieved," and many other such expressions), so the story of the Creation is not told (and properly not told) in the Torah in a philosophical manner - for as the Rabbis said, to impress upon flesh and blood the power of the Creation is impossible
Therefore it is not proper for the torah scholar to force the Scriptures from their literal meaning to make them conform with the natural sciences, nor is it proper for the critic to deny the Divine origin of the Torah if he finds things its stories that do not conform with scientific research. Both scholar and critic ought instead to examine the inner nature of the human mind, and the different learning approaches nature takes when it speaks to each mind: to a child in its way, to a youth in another way, to an aged man in another, to the strong in a special way, to the weak in a special way, to the rich in one way, to the poor in another

I love this comment. Why? Because it looks like its out of nowhere. At least to me. I have yet to find commentary, pre-20th century, to say what Shadal said. I don't think you will find it anywhere. I believe this is mainly due to, not only who Shadal was (which I am still learning about), but also due to the general culture of Italian Jewry (IJ). From the introduction to the commentary, Dan Klein writes that IJ was open to secular culture as well as secular methodologies. With this in mind, you can understand that with new tools at their disposal and an open attitude in general, a different way of looking at the text was bound to occur. With further study into the ancient near east, one has an almost automatic shift in how they perceive the stories and characters. You start understanding that it was an all together different society and in order for one to better understand what is happening in the text, you have to pull yourself out of your own time and place and try to put yourself in the time of when the stories were written (this is one of his principles as well). Interestingly enough, he does not say for us to try to enter the society and minds of each character at their specific time (though I doubt he would not attempt this as well), but instead, to understand WHEN it was WRITTEN. Afterall, things were not written at the exact time Abraham did this, or David did that, but instead, he seems to want us to understand the stories as the author wrote it and how the recipients understood what that author meant to convey.

That's one thing I find interesting. The next thing I find interesting is the following question: Was he, or who was he referring to in his comment? I would understand this comment appearing in contemporary works as some sort of anti-Aish Discovery article, but who did they have in the mid-19th century trying to kvetch the sciences in the Torah? Hopefully, somebody has an answer to this, but I will take a shot.

In the introduction to the commentary, I learned that Shadal had an "anti-rationalistic outlook - one that was equally characteristic of the Italian Jewry tradition - in that he refused to elevate philosophy and the functions of the mind above righteous behaivor and the values of the heart." He did not approve of "Rambams penchant for philosophy." Could this commentary be in a way polemic against a growing fear that, as the Rambam and other mefarshim were attempted at times to reconcile Torah with the "sciences" of their day, that this was happening in his own day with enlightenment spreading around him?

Just a guess.

* All quotes are from: The Book of Genesis, A Commentary by Shadal, translated by Daniel A. Klein

March 13, 2008

Science Classes and Genesis

My hashkafa regarding Genesis is pretty simple. It's to be read as is. It's not allegorical nor does a day mean a million years. You understand it as the first readers understood it. There was evolution and no global flood. My dilemma (maybe not dilemma, but something I feel strongly about) is what is the best way for a school to tackle this thorny issue. I have spoken to two differnet science teachers in two different schools and each handle it in different ways.

1) One way is to not even get into the topic of evolution at dating of the earth at all. Basically to stay away from the controversy. The school has no problem with dinosaurs and does not care what you believe happened during the six days. The science teacher just skips the whole thing and instead, as he told me, tries to instill tools in the kids a sense of how to think rationally and understand evidence.

2) The other science teacher teaches what radiocative dating is and touches just a bit on evolution. He discusses the how scientists reach conclusions and shows them evidence of how radiocarbon dating works. The kids then go to their Torah teacher and he gives them a different answer. The science teacher agreed conflicts do arise and the kids often come back to him with more questions regarding what the rav said. Allegorizing Genesis is not off the table from what I understood from the science teacher.

So I don't know. Knowing what my hashkafot are, what is the preferred method?

March 12, 2008

Rabbi Don Segal's Comment

Well, as my wife predicted, this was bound to happen. There now seems to be growing controversy about R' Segal's comment, regarding the killings at Merkaz Harav. R' Segal feels this is divine punishment for Israel breaking the three oaths that it took:
1) Returning to Israel by force
2) Rebeling against the nations
3) Delaying the moshiach by sin
Basically, it looks like he is blaming the zionist ideology, and since this yeshiva was a religious zionist institution, well...
Harry Maryles seems to be handling the issue on his own. Pointing out that the Satmar rebbe refrained from giving any theological reason behind the killing and simply stating that this was a horrible day for the entire klal yisrael, whereas while people are still sitting shiva, R' Segal decided this was the time for him to give a very "inspirational" speech. To tell you the truth, I do not even want to deal with this. Instead, I have a couple of questions
1) This may be a stupid question, but for those that identify with rabbis that "live and breathe" Torah, why is it that they are sometimes so tactless?
2) Since when do so many people have access to the cheshbonot of God? Why is it people feel they know why so and so happened? Since when did they become prophets? And let me be clear, this is not a charedi problem only. You find it in religious zionism as well. We all heard about the reasons Rabin was killed, and why Sharon is in a coma. I will admit that it is quite intriguing. You begin to think and start piecing patterns together and all of a sudden you come up with a reason why X,Y or Z happened. And who knows, maybe they are right. But perhaps, they are also wrong. There are no prophets living in our time and since a chacham adeef m'navi, shouldn't they really by chacham and just keep their thoughts to themselves?

hat tip to Mevaseretzion

March 11, 2008

Learning From History

The old cliche of "If you don't learn from history, you are bound to repeat it" should mean something to the Orthodox Jews. I say 'should,' but I know it doesn't, at least not to a very large segment of Orthodox Jews. The haskala, to the charedim is an extremely profane word. Images of Jews being taken away by a demonic entity called enlightenment, into assimilation and heresy, fill their heads. Hence, they pass this idea to the next generation both in oral and written form. From a certain perspective, they are right. Traditional Jews did suffer much from it. But from another perspective, they have totally lost the bigger picture of what happened.

It is often repeated in lecture halls that the reason Jews left Judaism was because of the Reformers and Maskilim. One that reads even a bit about this period will see this is not entirely the whole story. Jews left, because Judaism, instead of adjusting and learning, it withdrew into itself. I think its fair to say that both Western and Eastern Europe did this to varying degrees. Eastern Europe though eventually decided to totally close themselves up from the outside world. Jews in Western Europe were able to adjust, again, in varying degrees. Italian Jewry for example, was much more able to deal with the haskala because their society was always much more open to the outside. The Eastern rabbinate chose to simply censored the entire world out. Anything new was assur and rigidity, especially in the yeshiva system was the direction they things went. That is why the attrition rate was higher amongst the young in eastern Europe than in Western Europe*

In reality, we don't really have to go very far back to understand what happened in the late 19th century. If the charedim today would simply learn history they would see what they are doing today is no different than what was done then. All you really have to do is replace 19th century haskala with the internet. Replace it with clothing. Replace it with music. Replace it Zionism, etc, etc. and badabing, we are right back in Europe. The charedi’s INABILITY TO RESPOND, WITHOUT A REACTION TO THE EXTREME OPPOSITE DIRECTION has only been hastening the inevitable of disillusioned people leaving Judaism. Basically throwing away the baby with the bath water and in the process, turning Judaism into a joke. Creativity is shunned and any new idea not proscribed in the Talmud or mefarshim, is deemed unworthy of being considered remotely true. Jews, like the rest of humanity cannot be strangled, with the noose getting tighter and tighter with every new chumra, issur and ban and not explode. I think it already has exploded. For example, I don’t think rabbinic authority, as an enterprise if you will, has had such little respect by so many Jews around the world. Instead of a rabbinate that deals with fraud, molestation, poverty etc, turn to issues of minutia and end up totally missing the forest for the trees.

What is this, if not for the haskala playing itself out all over again? Everything that should have been learned from it, is being totally ignored, that too much control is just as dangerous as the anarchy they fear so much. So now, instead of learning from this part of our history, a particular sub-sect of Judaism is recreating what was a failure then.

Cross-Currents had a post on Marvin Schicks response to the Lipa Concert ban. One commenter said this:

· I’ll probably be a lone voice on this internet blog, but here goes:

My rebbe, Rav Avigdor Miller, ZT”L, explained that our Father Abraham was called “Ivri”–because he was on one side and the entire world was on the other. That’s how he earned the right to be the father of the “Chosen People.”

Our nation lives and dies on its ability to be “a separate people.”–”Am LeVaDad YishKon.”

We live in a very dangerous time. It’s roughly analogous to the period of the Renaissance in Europe, when the Ghetto walls were torn down, and the Jews were finally permitted to integrate with gentile society. The result in France and Germany was rampant assimilation.

In Russia, where the exclusion of Jews remained intact, Judaism flourished. In Hungary, where the Orthodox Hareidim separated themselves officially from the Reform and “Staus-Quo” community, Judaism flourished.

The Jewish community in America is at serious risk of assimilation to the gentile culture. Rav Aaron Kotler used to talk of Jews in America as “30-40-50% Goyim.”–What percentage of our thinking is gentile?

Music has the power to move the soul. It is profoundly influential. Shlomo Carlebach started the modern Jewish Music movement, and it has now evolved to the point where it is morphing into a sanitized version of gentile rock-and-roll and “Rap” music.

The gentile world has finally awakened to the corrosive effect of this jungle music on the moral development of their youth. We, evidently, have not. We’re 10-20 years behind.

Our Gedolei Torah are the people who are closest to our Torah ideals and Torah sensibilities. With all due respect to Dr. Schick and to Rabbi Alderstein, they are not as immersed in Torah to the same extent as our Torah leaders, who live and breathe Torah 24/7.

If we can’t follow our Torah leaders, and give them our full support and cooperation–no matter how difficult–then we are surely lost.

Comment by HILLEL — March 10, 2008 @ 11:08 am

This comment is a perfect example of a belief that the only way to respond to anything, in this case a fear of assimilation, is by taking the extreme opposite path. Hence, he agrees with the banning, since our Torah leaders, in their infinite wisdom, -- like the wisdom of the late 19th century rabbanim, -- see assuring and tightening the noose as more fitting.

I will close with something a very well known charedi rabbi told me a few weeks ago when he was here in Los Angeles. I was walking him to his car, and I don’t remember how, but we got into the topic of Jews going to the extremes. He told me, and I am paraphrasing:

“I was talking to a friend at YU and I told him the next generation of Jews will belong to him.”

He simply then told me that charedi Judiasm of today cannot last.

* Marc Shapiro "Between The Yeshiva World and Modern Orthodoxy. The Life and Works of Rabbi Jehiel Jacob Weinberg," pg 27.

March 10, 2008

Merkaz Harav Memorial

I wanted to share with you some of what was said at the memorial, Young Israel of Century City along with the Simon Wiesenthal Center put together this past sunday for all the victims at the Merkaz Harav Yeshiva. LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Councilman Jack Weiss were invited, amongst others, and I was very pleased to see them there. Even the media came and I was even shown on the evening news. It was all very moving, especially at the very end when everyone was singing Ani Ma'amim and Hatikva. It was also a bit difficult realizing these are really the only times I feel Jews are a unified people, without first looking at what kippa the other is wearing.

LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

Councilman Jack Weiss

Rabbi Marvin Hier

Ani Ma'aamin and Hatikva

March 9, 2008


So, ya, I decided to open my own blog. God knows why it took so long. I think I always wanted to, but just never had that push to do it. I think for a variety of reasons which I will get into. First a brief introduction of who I am.

Many of you know me already, infact, after a few years, some people know me on a personal level. For those of you who don't know me, I am, THE Holy Hyrax. I gave myself this name during the the banning of R' Slifkin's books (i.e. The Camel, Hare and the Hyrax). In hind site, I guess I could have chosen a tougher animal, like a hippo or a mongoose. Anyways, I am a BT. I had always been interested in Judaism particularly its history. I always wanted to keep shabbat and be more traditional. At around the age of 20, I went to some kiruv seminars and I fell hook, line and sinker. To make a long story short, I started developing doubts about the Torah and our entire history in general. I got married and the doubts grew. I eventually stoppd being religious for about two years and only came back to it after reading Godol Hador's blog. Quite the irony. I came back to a semi observant lifestyle (certainly not what it was before), but the doubts were still there and the more blogs I read, the worse it got. I grew angry but I never gave up that perhaps I would find some sort of answer to inspire in me some hope that perhaps there is something to all this.

Fast forward to 2008. Here I am, with my own blog. so then why did it take me so long to open my own blog? Well, I don't consider myself the "leader" type. I am usually at my most comfort level when someone else does the talking or deciding, and I follow in. Thats just my personality. I'm also a horrible writer, which also kept me from opening my own blog. Most people I know when to college, did a great deal of reading and have built up quite a vocabulary and ways to express certain ideas down. I never had that really. I went to school for graphic designing. So you will have to forgive me for when I perhaps repeat certain adjectives or other words. I see bloggers writing huge posts and I was quite often intimidated if I could ever get close to that sort of substance.

So for these, I decided to open a blog. I want to become a better writer. I want to be able to take chances and experience things I would normally not feel comfortable doing. Even if its something as trivial as a blog. I mean, I don't want to be on my death bad and regretting not opening up a blog. :P Just yesterday, the western regional director of AIPAC was at my shul talking about things we can do to help. Motze Shabbat, I emailed him that I want to do something.

The other reason and maybe the most important reason I opened up this blog, is because I believe I finally found that thing that inspires me, that perhaps there is something to this Judaism. Maybe its not all from God, but I don't think its all BS anymore. (I guess I didn't get GH'ed in the end). I will be talking about this, as well as the inherit difficulties I am having now with this new hashkafa. This blog will hopefully inspire me also to do my own reading and researching about things that interest me in Judaism (i.e. anything to do with history). I have been talking to S. lately about Shadal. Very interesting stuff. I really want to commit to learning more and sharing with you. If I make mistakes, gam ze tov. In fact, the more I make mistakes and you correct me, the more I will learn. Just be kind, I bruise easily. Believe it or not, I was talking to someone at shul and he said I should go back to school and get a masters or doctorate in Judaic Studies. I think, God willing, I may just do that. Why not? You only go around one time right?

Oh, there will most likely be some venting about what I feel is the greatest danger to Judaism today. I think most of you know my feelings on what that could be :)

I think you get the drift. This is going to be a place for me to express things on my mind,( any other blog I guess) and maybe even post up some of the design stuff I am working on. :)

Anyways, welcome everyone. Feel free to email me at holyhyrax at gmail dot com.

PS- I don't believe in spell checker, so get used to it.