Monday, February 28, 2005

No Tears for Jesus

"While Million Dollar Baby was busy winning the Heathen/Gay/Jew Awards (we call them “The Oscars,” it’s less of a mouthful), Jesus was busy collecting a Golden Crucifix from the Movieguide Faith & Values Awards for The Passion of the Christ.

Predictably, JC peppered his acceptance speech with shout-outs to his father, mother, and his agent (the Holy Spirit always gets ten percent), then thanked Mel Gibson for “really making it look like I was getting my ass kicked for two hours.” The Messiah then added, “It was pretty hilarious to show up at craft services covered in stage blood, flaps of flayed skin dangling, and overturn the breakfast buffet table in righteous anger because they were out of glazed doughnuts.” Unfortunately, the Son of Man’s riff on director Mel Gibson’s penchant for practical jokes was drowned out by the orchestra."

[Lifted clean (ie stolen) from here]
[From Armstrong to Gannon]
Read This

On the European front in the last months of World War II, the Nazis sent 350 U.S. Army prisoners of war to work in a concentration camp in eastern Germany. First on the list were all the American Jews they could find.

The story of what the Nazis did to Jewish American soldiers in in yersterday's (anti-Israel, Jew-hating) New York Times Magazine. Go there.
Putting a Finer Point on It

I see Lazer's Land is too long for some people, so let's boil down the old thoughts and add some new ones:

Lazer Brody wrote a letter to a correspondent who asked him for historical proof of the Torah. In his answer Lazer:

1 - Provided a proof from the torah itself. We call this: Begging the question.

2 - Demonstrated ignorance of Nach. He argued that three times per year, during the life of the first Temple, all Jews reported to Jerusalem at festival time, leaving the borders unprotected.

Unfortunately, the Book of Kings is clear: The Northern Kingdom as a whole gave up the pilgrimage festivals a good 400 or so years before the destruction; the Southern Kingdom was led, usually, by idolatry-loving Kings who had no use for God or his holidays; and the people, for the most part, were sinners who ignored God, and his festivals. Given this description, I rather doubt that any borders were left unprotected.

3 - Demonstrated ignorance of the Second Temple Period. Lazer also argued that three times per year, during the life of the Second Temple, armies were recalled, leaving the borders unprotected.

Unfortunately, the Second Temple Kings were largely corrupt, and largely Hellenized. Many had Greek names, tolerated High Priests who weren't, in fact, priests, and demonstrated an indifference to God that was protested by the people and decried by the Rabbis. Do these sound like men who would trust a divine promise and abandon their borders?

4 - Demonstrated ignorance of the military tactics of antiquity.Though he has nothing in the way of evidence to prove it, Lazer believes that a foreign army never attacked Israel or Judea at holiday time. And he thinks this is remarkable.

Unfortunately, it isn't. Ancient campaigns were launched in the late Spring, when the weather was good, and when food was easier to find. An ancient army marching in winter would quickly starve, or freeze. Therefore, almost all ancient campaigns began after Passover, and by the end of the summer, ancient armies werer almost always settling in for the winter. Based on this, my gut tells me, that it's unlikely that any ancient country -divine promise or not - was attacked at Passover or Sukkot.

5 - Demonstrated ignorance of the archeological record. It's true that Kings tells us that the Assyrian army was miraculously annihilated in one night; unfortunately the archeological record reveals that the Assyirans told a different story. I'm not equipped to judge between the Assyrian account and the Jewish account; indeed, I'd like to believe the Jewish account. Lazer's correspondent, however, asked, not for biblical proof, but for historical proof. By ignoring the existence of competing accounts, Lazer undermines his reply.

Perhaps later on, I'll take a chance at answering the question Lazer received by myself. In the meantime, your thoughts, comments and counter-arguments are welcome.
Boycott the Siyum!

Some rain on the Siyum Daf Yomi parade. Money quote:
While others around us rush to join in what they see as an opportunity to honor accomplishment in Torah study, we can, respectfully, disagree. When schools plan trips to attend the celebration, we can decline to be included. When others, in our presence, speak of how lovely and wonderful an event it will be, we can offer some analysis of the flaws spoken of here.

Staying away from communal Torah gatherings is and should be a difficult choice. But experience shows that a phenomenon such as Daf Yomi, enticing precisely because it relieves people of the obligation to take responsibility for growing in their knowledge of and understanding of Torah, will rule the day unless it is met with a reasoned and well - articulated opposition.

We usually boycott only that to which we object so strongly that we cannot stomach participating, that our presence would so necessarily imply approval, however limited, that we must remove ourselves from it. We should boycott the Siyum haShas not because it meets those criteria, but because it is the only way we have to shake our community out of its attachment to a practice that, as many admirable qualities as it has, is ultimately destructive for implementing study of Torah as a central value of the Jewish religion and of avodat Hashem.
Let it be said that the author, Rabbi Gidon Rothstein, is Orthodox and an instructor at a prominet day school, one that feeds students to Yeshivot like Gush, Shalavim, and KBY, as well as Yeshiva University.
American Idol, only for people with talent.

Shall we arrange a J-blogger field trip?
Koach Ha'Zmanim

On this date in history

1854 The Republican Party is organized in Ripon, WI.

Mr. Ed, the talking horse, dies.

1993 A gun battle erupts in Waco, Texas, when U.S. Federal agents raid the Branch Davidian Compound housed by David Koresh and his followers. Four agents and six Davidians are killed, and a 51-day standoff follows.
Rim Shots

You don't belong at the Siyum Hashas if...

  • You are the only guy at Madison Square Garden wearing a Knicks
    jersey, eating the funnel cakes, and sitting with his wife.

  • You think "Siyum" means "It's the 9 days, but we get to eat meat"

  • You're bummed about missing last year's Siyum Hashas

  • You think Gezirah Shavah is a law forbidding more than one wife.

  • You didn't know Yomi means Daily

  • You say your favorite mesechta is "The one with the picutres"

  • You think Daf means one side of the page.

  • [I'm very anxious to credit for these awful jokes, but I can't find this list on their site, though it sounds like their work. (I received the list by Email, in a less literate version, a version I cleaned up for posting here. Why'd I bother, if the jokes are so bad? For the hell of it really.)]


    Sorry folks, but the free content you all enjoy will be arriving a little slowly today, if at all.

    I'm struggling with a glitchy ISP. Or maybe it's blogger's fault.

    Whatever the problem, when it is resolved, I'll be back. For now, in lieu of an audioblog, imagine me cursing like a sailor.

    Meantime, why not chew over Lazer's Land? Or, why not pay a visit to any of the excellent writers listed on my blogroll?

    Sunday, February 27, 2005

    Officer Bas Kol

    Every day a bas kol, a heavenly voice, calls "shuvu banim shovavim, return to me o' wayward sons." [Chagigah 15]

    Every day a bas kol. The trick is, you have to hear it.

    Note to my friends in the peanut gallery: I know Chagigah tells us that the bas kol says: shuvu banim shovavim chutz me'achar, and I know this agadata isn't a kiruv agadata, but an anti-apostate agadata. So, sue me.

    Hat tips: Sarah and Allison
    Pigs Fly

    My goodness. Shmuley Boteach has said something that makes sense.

    In just one article, Michael Jackson's Chief Rabbi attacked Pius XII and fat William Donohue, and Shmuley also went after the spineless court Jews (ie: Jeff Jacoby, Charles Krauthammer, Dennis Prager and Michael Medved) who cynically betrayed their people last December during the Bill O'Reilly led war to "Save Christmas from the Jews."

    And (yes, there's more, all in one article! An abundance of riches!) Boteach also gave Rabbi Daniel Lapin the thrashing he richly deserved for "quoting from Hitler's Mein Kampf to strengthen the point that Jewish degeneracy nurtures anti-Semitism: "Was there any form of filth or profligacy, particularly in cultural life, without at least one Jew involved in it?"

    I hate to say it, but as someone who has previously ripped Shmuley, I must: Kol hakavod, Rabbi Boteach!

    Oh, and Daniel Lapin? You're a kapo.

    Belated hat tip: Zman Biur
    Lazer's Land

    Lazer Brody's latest letter is laughable, so laughable that I am obliged to ask: Why do people take this man seriously? What follows is the letter's best bit, and then my animadversions:
    Open up your Bible to Leviticus 34:24, which states: "No person shall covet your land during your pilgrimage to Hashem's holy temple three times a year". This is a strict Torah ordinance that requires every Jew to come to the Temple in Jerusalem 3 times a year - once for the festival of Passover, once for the festival of Shavuot, and once for the festival of Succot. That means that 3 times a year, during the months of Tishri (Succot), Nissan (Passover), and Sivan (Shavuot), the entire army was required to pack up and leave the Jordan border, the Syrian border, the Lebanon border, and the Egyptian border, and report to Hashem in the Beis HaMikdash (holy temple).
    The first and second temples stood and were active for a total of 830 years. Never in these more than 8 centuries, was Israel ever attacked during the above mentioned 3 months (except for once, as we'll soon see), that is, at the time of the festivals. How can that be? The borders were wide open!
    There are several faulty assumptions here. Let's count them:

    1: Lazer assumes that all attacks on the Jewish state are recorded in books that we have in our possession today. Unfortunately, no such account exists for the second temple period, and, the Book of Kings, our primary historical record of the first temple period, is full of gaps. Frequently, a period of twenty or thirty years is glossed with a single verse.

    2: Though the Book of Kings does tell us about various foreign kings and their military campaigns against the Jewish state, dates are not provided. We're told the year, but aside for the final campaign against Jerusalem and the temple, which occurred in Av, we have no dates. What is Lazer's source for imagining that none of the many attacks recorded in Kings occurred at holiday time? Wishful thinking? Faith? The record upon which he relies is inconclusive.

    3: Lazer writes that the "Torah ordinace required every Jew to come to the Temple in Jerusalem 3 times a year" but was this law followed? He seems to forget (or perhaps he never knew) that Yerava'am, the first king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, prevented his people (ten out of twelve tribes!) from turning to the house of David. In fact, he set up two golden calves, one in Beth-el and the other in Dan, on the plea that the pilgrimage to Jerusalem was "too much" for the people. Is Lazer suggesting that Divine protection extended to the people who went to Dan and Beth-el to venerate golden calves?

    And, in the Southern Kingdom, people weren't much more observant. In fact, the prophet testifies (2 Kings 23:21-23) that everywhere Passover was largely ignored: "Not since the days of the judges who led Israel, nor throughout the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah, had any such Passover been observed."

    Ok, so much for the first temple period. Were people any more pious during the second temple period? It's hard to know, but do recall that Jerusalem had gymnasiums and a large population of Hellenized Jews; in its very last year Jerusalem was a center for the Judeo-Christians. Neither Hellenist nor Christian was likely to keep the sacrifical rites.

    4: Moreover, there's ample evidence that the kings who ruled in Jerusalem and Shomron had no use for the Torah or its holidays, making it very unlikely that the kings permited "entire armies" to "pack up... and report to Hashem," leaving their borders defenseless. With few exceptions, we're told that the Kings were evil, idol-worshippers, who did "what was wrong in the eyes of God." Do these kings sound like men having enough faith in God to leave their land unprotected three times per year? The Book of King's description of first temple kings militates against such a view.

    And in the second temple period the he Hashmonian kings who governed were equally bad. They quickly became Hellenized; one, Alexander Yannai, was pelted with esrogim on the Temple Mount one sukkot when he performed a Temple service improperly; others allowed the office of the High Priest to be filled by men who were not even kohanim. Do these sound like men who might trust the divine promise Lazer's adduces and leave their land unprotected at holiday time?

    [Other nit-picks: moved to comments for the sake of brevity.]

    Who does Lazer think he's serving by perverting the historical record, and by showing a blatant disregard for the Book of Kings? Certainly not his original correspondent, who wrote: "I'm curious to know if it's possible to substantiate the Torah from solid recorded historical evidence."

    If she's smart enough to approach our religion from this perspective, from the perspetive of criticial thinking, I fear she's also intelligent enough to see through the bad arguments and bad facts in Lazer's answer and to be sent running in the opposite direction.

    She deserves a better answer. Anyone?

    Saturday, February 26, 2005

    I don't want to encourage this guy...

    ...but sick/funny is sick/funny.

    PS - Didn't Oral Roberts play a similar game?

    Yup. It was Oral Roberts who appeared on TV wearing his weepy face, insisting that God "will call me home," unless Grandma in Kansas ponied up her pension check.

    Wow. It really is a shame that that my readers are so much smarter than Oral Robert's followers. I mean you are smarter... um... aren't you? Like, you'd never fall for a scam like that... um... would you?

    Theoretical question for research purposes only:
    How much would you pay to keep God from calling me home?

    the ShasPod.

    If Apple doesn't litigate them into oblivion, we'll want to know why a scary-looking man wearing a fedora is this company's spokes model.

    Did a marketing survey reveal that only scary-looking men study the Daf? Or does someone at ShasPod think that wearing a fedora is indispensable to the semi-serious daily study of the Talmud?

    Friday, February 25, 2005

    Great Moments Marketing, 1 (LA Lakers.)
    On their team site, your mouse pointer becomes a mini-ad (windows only I think.) Marketing, 2 (Organon, a Dutch company)
    A pharmaceutical company sends anonymous Valentine's cards to Dutch gynaecologists. Later, apologizes.

    ... in Magic (Jharkhand, India)
    In an effort to ward off "evil," the village married children to puppies. Radio Programming. (Sirius)
    Do they expect people to listen to car races? Litigation (Lufthansa)
    Lufthansa may sue for damages because of flight cancellations caused by President Bush
    Take Back the Torah?

    [Warning! This post contains generalizations. If you find generalizations offensive, or have not yet learned that we all generalize all the time, please find something else to read. Thank you]

    OOSJ (via Miriam) argues that it's time for the modern orthodox community to overcome it's "utter lack of confidence" and "inferiority complex regarding Halakhah and our intellectual abilities"

    If only it was so simple. Modern Orthodoxy may be under seige, with its children defecting in large numbers to the right and left, but this isn't a problem of confidence. It's a systemic problem that touches every aspect of Orthodox Jewish life.

    Look at shuls, mikvahs, and schools. Who is the mikvah lady? The third-grade rebbe? The shteeble Rav? Aren't they almost always the Chasidim or Chasidishe-inclined? And the reason is easy to discern. They can't or won't become professionals, and they are trained only at indoctrination, so what happens? Modern Orthodox parents go to work, and leave child-rearing to people who are more than happy to convince children that their parents are shkotzim. And that's lucky. All too often, the attempt at indoctrination has the opposite affect, and the child is driven away from Judaism. [See: Englander, Nathan]

    There's also a PR problem. Take Flatbush (please.) The pool halls and movie houses of Flatbush are full of Jews, and judging from their dress and accents, they aren't "modern." Every third house has a satellite dish on the roof, or a teen "at risk" in the living room. Talking in shteebles is rampant, and often they are talking about the latest shady business deal, or the table-mate who got caught. Materialism is also everywhere, or do you imagine the massive, reconstructed houses and overpriced boutiques are evidence of an aesthetic piety?

    But when we talk about "black-hat" or "yeshivish" culture, none of this is mentioned. Instead, we hear about are the yeshivas, and the scholars - which is well and good, of course - while the masses of fat, ignorami crowding Avenue J and yammering through shul, are ignored, or called "exceptions."

    In Teaneck, though, what might also be called exceptions, are instead thought to be the rule. Any discussion of Modern Orthodoxy (like those led by Steve Brizel in Hirhurim's comment section) centers on their supposed indifference to halacha, rather than on the genuine scholars and committed Jews who live the life of Modern Orthodoxy. As a result, Young Israels, not shteebles, are the icons of poor shul decorum; and Rubin Hall, not Muss, is thought to be representative of student life at YU.

    So it's not the Torah that needs to be taken back, but the institutions and the terms of the discussion. Modern Orthodoxy needs to find a way to remind the rest of Judaism that indifference to halacha is not unique to Teaneck, and they need more of their own kind to take control of their communal organizations.

    Until that happens, the seige continues.

    Thursday, February 24, 2005

    [Click the Picture]

    Portman Part II

    Miriam Blogd says: "My guess is that Director Amos Gitai needed that scene for the movie and didn't fancy hiring extras. When the movie's released, I'm willing to bet (albeit not a lot...) it'll contain a bunch of Ultra-Orthodox men rushing towards the characters played by Natalie Portman and Aki Avni, shouting, "Immoral! Immoral!"

    In her comment section, I replied:

    ...I can't agree with you. Even if the director wanted this precise reaction, it doesn't excuse the rioters.

    And a kiss in a parking lot hardly counts as temple desecration. As a commentator on my site reminded us, in the very old days far worse was tolerated on the same kotel plaza we venerate today.

    The director may have provoked this reaction, but bad history and bad manners is what made it inevitable
    Update: Miriam was kidding.

    Another blogger wishes to deflect blame from the rioters asking:"Why are some bloggers more concerned about the reaction of the Hareidim than the obvious stupidity of filming Peritzut at the Mekom Hamikdash?"

    The simple answer: Natali and he co-star weren't kissing "at the Mekom Ha'Miskdash." They weren't even on the plaza. Are you going to argue that in all of history no kiss has ever been delivered in the parking lot outside the Shaar Ha'ashpot?

    The more complicated answer would require a detailed study of Jewish law. Because no one will sit through it, you'll have to trust me when I say that a little lip-action -even on the Mekom Ha'mikdash itself - does not justify a riot. In fact "rioting" is not provided by halacha as a legal remedy for any religious crime, so far as I know.

    I'll agree that the director made a bad decision, but those who reacted with bad behavior, insulted a tinok she'nishba, and splashed embarressing reports about Judaism across the Fox-owned newspapers are not entitled to your protection.


    I KNEW Psycho Toddler was on my side!
    Good News
    She doesn't think I am a heretic.

    Bad News
    See if you can guess.

    Excellent News
    Godol Hador is going to be so mad when he sees Sarah called him a heretic. Haha!
    An exchange in the comment section reveals that there are still some people unaware that the Swiftvet's ads told lies.

    Tze U'lemad
    Jousting With Giants

    Round 1

    Round 2

    If you'd like to host Round 3 sign up below.

    Update: Boruch She'kevanti!
    Princess Leah's Mother Angrily Confronted at the Kotel

    Report: Natalie Portman was on location in Jerusalem for the shooting of Free Zone, an Israeli-directed film, when a kissing scene with co-actor Aki Avni [ed note: they aren't married.] in the parking lot next to the Kotel infuriated Jews praying at the site, who slammed the smooch as an act of "lewdness" before chasing the pair and the crew off the set.

    Wow. I'll bet that experience will encourage Natalie to embrace the faith of her fathers. I'm sure she's filling out her application to Aish Hatorah as we speak.

    As for the mob of Jews who drove her off, let me just say that I am impressed with your work. Not only did you protect the sanctity of a pile of stones, but you also managed to insult a living, breathing Jewish person and, to top it off, you drove her (and her Jewish descendants) further away from Judaism.

    Well done!

    Update: Haredi apologists are already emailing me:

    I think Natalie was impressed to see how that Jewish people respect and honor the holiness of the Kosel. It showed her how spiritual Judaism is and made on her a profound impression.

    My goodness yes! I agree! As she ran from the enraged crowd, and from their flying projectiles, I'm sure she thought to herself: "Who is like you O' God, and who is like your people Israel." That's what any normal person would do.

    I retract everything.
    Ok, who has John Paul II in their death pool?

    [ABC News: Pope Rushed to Hospital With Flu Relapse]
    - Developing Story -

    Did the Gedolim ban Slifkin, hoping and expecting that their decree would make his views more popular?

    As I've pointed out elsewhere, the Gedolim previously banned vegetables... something healthy... something not enough Jews eat with any regularity. Sure, they could have banned kugel, but that would have backfired. So instead, they ban vegetables, and gedolim haters (predictably) respond by stuffing their faces with insect-infected spinach.

    This manipulative game is getting transparent.

    Bring Out Your Dead

    The New York Times reports that Richard D. Fishman, the director of the division of cemeteries at the New York Department of State is spending about 30 percent of his time trying to sort out the business dealings of Jewish burial societies and congregations. The reason?
    These organizations bought blocks in cemeteries and sold plots off to their members. But in many cases, their records have been lost, were less than thorough or were kept only in the brain of someone who is long dead.
    As a reuslt the societies and congregations sometimes sold the same cemetery plot to two and even three different people.

    Remarks I expect to hear this weekend if I daven with the UOs: See? What do you expect from the anti-Semetic, anti-Israel New York Times, splashing private Jewish business all over the front page of the metro section?

    Remarks I expect to hear this weekend if I daven with the MOs: See? That's what happens when you run your business affairs like a shteeble. Without records, professionalism and old-fashioned yashrus you end up having private Jewish business splashed all over the front page of the metro section in the anti-Semitic, anti-Israel New York Times!


    Maybe, I'll just daven at home.

    [Related 1 and 2]

    In which I attempt to close the Pandora's box.

    Late Teens
    Haredi Wannabee

    Early 20s
    G. Green

    Late 20s
    Acharit Yomim
    Meryl Yourish
    Pravda Ne'eman
    Crossing the Rubicon
    Bnai Levi <- Update

    Early 30s
    Barefoot Jewess
    Frum Actress
    Lisa OTF
    Musings of a J-Soul
    Mystical Paths

    Mid to Late 30s
    Also A Chussid
    Hasidic Musician
    SL Aronovitz

    Early 40s
    Luke Ford

    Wednesday, February 23, 2005

    Dirty GOP Tricks
    And still no outrage from Jews who say they value morality

    The General writes:
    Dear Mr. Jarvis,

    I'm very impressed with your recent ad attacking the AARP for hating our troops and treating homosexuals like human beings. They've tried to keep their agenda secret, so secret, in fact, that they didn't even allow themselves to know about it. Thanks for exposing them for what they are.
    Charles Jarvis, of course is the despicable head of USANext, the despicable organization that ran ads recently accusing old people of being pro-gay and anti-troops.

    And if you doubt my assessment of Mr. Jarvis's character, consider that he went on national television to defend the ad, saying it was "to test how quickly the liberal bloggers would overreact to a tiny ad buy."
    Heresy Sells

    Has it occurred to you, heretics and bashers of the Torah Greats, that our dear, divinely-inspired Gedolim might have outsmarted us all?

    I mean, consider this: Suppose you wanted to make sure that Nosson Slifkin's idea reached the widest possible audience. Which approach would you employ?

    Would you (a) announce that his books are required reading, and essential to the spiritual development of mankind; or would you (b) announce a worldwide ban?

    Those of you who rented an illegal projector and waited anxiously for your parents to take a vacation so that you and your friends could crowd together in the laundry room watching I Am Curiose Yellow, an authentically Banned in Boston motion picture, know exactly what I mean. And the parents of small children in the audience are nodding their heads and making mental notes ("Ban asparagus") for later.

    Update: See what I mean: Pure genius!! Absent the ban, no way a Nosson Slifkin book commands $100 on eBay. Absent the ban, Nosson Slifikin's books are gathering dust in the back of Eichler's warehouse, next to the Jewishly-themed Baby-on-Board knock-offs.

    In fact, having prayed on this matter for several seconds, I'm ready to proclaim via posters on the streets of Jerusalem, that Slifkin was in on the plan from the beginning.

    He has six hours to respond, and no, I will not be showing up at the meeting.
    Chuck Pennacchio has video of Rick Santorum entering a meeting to chants of "hey hey, ho, ho Social Security has got to go!"


    1 - Why hasn't this been made into a slick Democrat attack ad? If I was Howard Dean I'd kill myself, but first I'd put this video on Florida T.V, and see if a single senior citizen ever votes Republican again.

    2 - Why don't the Democrats ever run slick attack ads? All the great hammer jobs (Willy Horton, Swift Vets) were GOP productions. The Dems never play that dirty game, and they won't run with this video either. Why is that?

    3 - Why don't the very, merry, moral morons (GOP-Jews: I am talking to you) ever acknowledge that right-wingers play dirty? Why don't those of you who make a show of your own values and morality ever credit the Domocrats for their foolish yet, arguably more moral -and certainly more honest- approach to politiking?

    4 - Why are the people in the video using such a tired, cliche of a protest chant? Can't the party of Karl "the Boy Genious" Rove give us something more amusing than "hey hey ho ho?" Is this color war?

    5 - None of the Jewish blogggers are going to touch this issue with a 10 foot pole. Why? And they won't comment about it here either. Isn't it odd?

    The same bloggers who call foul when the Gedolim play dirty, have nothing to say when their favorite political party plays the same game.
    Here we go again
    with another DovBear Experiment.

    This next post was outsourced to a third-world American neighbood, where they don't charge such high per word rates. The author is "Eliyahu," who you know from the comment section. He would like the readership's thoughts on the following:

    "Let's say you lived in an major urban area where the majority of Jews were not involved in the community. For example, some may be attending temple/shul just at high holidays or not at all. And their children, some of mixed marriages, might not be in weekly or day schools. These Jews are possibly intermarried or divorced, some with children. Given a modest budget for a year, ($6000/month) what would you do to entice Jews to be part of community? The conservative and reform temples, and maybe a chabad center or two, might lend the use of their facilities. comments?"

    Onward Christian Soldiers!

    Keith Olberman says he is still getting email from deeply offended Bush-voters. They are upset that Keith doesn't agree with high-profile scold James Dobson regarding the sexual preferences of SpongeBob Square Pants, a children's cartoon.

    "SpongeBob is gay," they insist. "And for the Love of God don't make us tell you why James Dobson is so certain."

    Here are some real examples of their mighty letters of protest:

    Chris, Denver, North Carolina:
    P.S. I think Jesus said it best when he said, ‘Get behind the (sic) Satan.

    -Dee, Hixson, Tennessee:
    Your prejudism is definately showing.

    - Tami & Eric, Dieterich, Illinois:
    It came up a long time ago that Spongebob was gay. It is a theory not a fact. It is a general belief among society that Spongebob is gay.

    - Todd, Middletown, Ohio:
    Todd’s ‘subject’ line said it all: Stupid Intellegenece.>

    Focus on the Family, is what Dobson calls his organization, but as Olberman said, and as he can see from these fine examples of Christian rectitude, perhaps society would have been betetr served had Dobson "founded something called Focus On The School System."
    Let's Guess Again

    I inadvertently left a few names off my earlier post about the ages of other bloggers. A few of those who were omitted complained (as I would have) about being left out of the fun, so I've gamely attempted to embarrass and or humiliate them below.

    Also, if you can believe it, a few of my earlier, faith-based guesses were wrong. Corrections follow as well.

    As usual, your deeply felt grievances belong in the comments.

    Here's the addendum.

    Late Teens
    Jewish Whisteleblower

    Early 20s
    Cara of her eponymous world (correction)

    Late 20s
    Noa, Jeruselem Revealed
    Gil ben Mori, If I forget thee
    Miriam Bloghd (correction)
    The Hedyot (correction)

    Early 30s
    Dave at Israelly Cool
    Akiva, Mystical Paths
    Zman Biur (correction)
    Simple Jew

    Late 30s
    PsychoToddler (correction)

    Tuesday, February 22, 2005

    Not Old Enough To Know Better

    Paul asks:

    "...who are the oldest and youngest Jewish bloggers on our circuit??? Who else is, er, middle-aged?? "

    Goodness, Paul, that's an impertinent question! And one we'll be happy to answer!

    Hmmm... let's see what we (think we) know.

    (Warning, warning: the following contains rampant and irresponsible speculation. It's also a neat excuse to drop some links.)

    If I'm right, you don't win the multi-colored tie, but I'll be happy to guess your weight as a follow-up:


    Late 20s
    Zman Biur
    Rashi's Daughter
    Mobius of JewSchool

    Early 30s

    (Chayyei) Sara
    Esther of the Kvetch
    Miriam Bloghd
    Ren Reb
    Godol Hador
    Jack of the Shack
    Gil of Hirhurim
    Ari Goes Down

    Late 30s
    Reb Yudel
    The Hedyot

    Early 40s

    Late 40s

    Ben Chorin
    Dilbert of the House of Hock

    No clue
    Simple Jew

    Update: Thought this was an easy way to give out some links. Have decided it is too much trouble. Having a beer instead. Perhaps later I'll reconsider. If you feel slighted, please take a page from the book of Bear and post your deeply felt grievance in the comment section.
    Baby stable after second head removed
    Shuls: 1
    City of Surfside, FL: 0

    Though they may have relocated to Florida, I'm glad to see our grandparents have not foresken the traditional Jewish pastime of litigating when you don't get your way.

    I'm also pleased that the Florida anti-semites got stuffed by the Supremes, though I suspect it's just a case of one group of wrinkled oldsters helping out another.

    Money quote:

    Without comment, [Supreme Court] justices declined to review a lower court ruling that said the Surfside, Fla., law was discriminatory because it allowed similar private clubs that were nonsecular to locate downtown

    The case pitted Surfside in Miami-Dade County against two Jewish synagogues, Young Israel and Midrash Sephardi, which preferred the downtown location because it was within walking distance of their members' homes. The orthodox Jewish tradition bars driving on Sabbath and the Jewish high holidays.
    An Unfortunate Choice of Words

    Ah, life is good when they write the jokes for you. Here's a bit from Wolf Blitzer's Feb 10 interview with the porn entrepreneur/ hooker / reporter formally known as Jeff Gannon.

    (but what do you expect from a show starring a guy named Wolf Blitzer?)

    BLITZER: So what are you going to do now?

    GANNON: Well, there's -- you know, God closes doors and opens windows. And I believe this is going to be a good opportunity for me, even though it's been painful. And I'm going -- I believe that there's a silver lining out there.

    BLITZER: Do you have something already in the works?

    GANNON: I've had some people call and make inquiries to see if I had any interest in certain positions.

    Apropos, this...

    MoChassid is turning FIFTY!

    We're reluctant to tease Mo about this, for fear he might run us down with his bike, but we can't resist pointing out that "in a matter of weeks" Mo will be closer to SEVENTY than he is to THIRTY.
    A new day, a new outrage

    How is the GOP going to privatize social security?

    With arguments? With open debate and discussion?

    No, no, no. Not in Karl Rove's America.

    Instead, they'll use slanderous ads like this one:

    Think this is a joke? Sorry. It's too real.

    And yes, of course, part of me wishes the Dems could go hard-core on the opposition like this. Unfortunately, Dems have standards and this costs them.

    Update: They pulled the ad [Via: Ntodd]
    Question of the day:
    "What does it mean if the main limb of a lucky Wishing Tree suddenly snaps during religious festivities and plunges to the ground, scratching a four-year-old boy's head and breaking a man's leg?
    Class acts:
    "...guards have recently been placed around the grave of [Ariel Sharon's] wife, Lily, following threats that her gravesite might be desecrated, Israeli media has reported. Slogans have appeared warning Mr. Sharon that his wife is waiting for him."
    v'ha'ayin l'tzion tzofiya... u'bochee'ya
    I Swear it Wasn't R' Sternbuch's Letter That Made Me Think Of This.

    (Really. I swear.)

    The Ayatollah's Book Of Etiquette

    From “A Clarification of Questions,” by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, published in 1985 by the Westview Press. Khomeini's treatise sets out his position on 3,000 questions of everyday life.

    107. The whole body of an infidel, even the hair, the nails, and its wetness, is unclean.

    112. Industrial alcohol used for painting doors, tables, chairs, etc., is clean if one does not know it was made of something inebriating.

    120. The sweat of a camel that eats unclean substances is unclean.

    462. Divorcing a menstruating woman is void.

    464. If a woman begins menstruating while praying, her prayer is void.

    2,629. It is not unlawful to swallow the food that exits from between the teeth as a result of flossing if one's nature has no aversion to it.
    Has he been reading Pius IX?
    The DovBear Experiment seems to have fizzled out, but now Shifra's picking up the ball.

    Good luck.
    Open Thread

    I really don't want to keep harping on Slifkin and Sternbuch...

    Okay. That's a lie.

    Today's open thread question:

    After we invent time travel, and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Darwin was correct, what about Orthodox Jewish life will change?

    Where've I been?

    Writing and deleting snarky putdowns of Rav Sternbuch's letter, if you must know.

    So instead let me be direct and straightforward:

    I object to the letter because the science is infantile. I object to the letter because the arguments are infantile. I object to the letter because it attempts to silence minority and dissenting voices. I object to the letter because it slanders scientists. I object to the letter because it slanders heretics. I object to the letter because it insists that Judaism is homogenous.

    I object to Haredi society because it produces men, like Rav Sternbuch, who are absolute masters of halacha yet incapable of seeing the errors of fact and errors of logic in this letter.

    And finally, I object to Haredi society because they have no one of rank or stature willinging to entertain the objections we lesser lights have made.

    Monday, February 21, 2005

    Sunday Slifkin Bloging

    As those of you following the Slifkin story know (or maybe you just read bloghd) Rav Moshe Sternbuch has issued a letter about Slifkin.

    Gil's already addressed the substance of this letter (and I might do it myself, eventually) but for now, I'm content to pick at nits. It's sort of my niche, you know.

    Rav Sternbuch words are in italics; my comments are interpolated:

    Scientists -even those who are described as religious - are ashamed that we don’t agree with the views of the leading scientists that man is descended from the apes.

    No one - not even Darwin - thinks that man descended from apes. What the sceintists think is that man and monkey had a common ancestor. This is an important difference, from the persepctive of paleontology, but I fail to see why it matters from the perspective of Torah. Let us be decendant from apes, or let us share an ancestor. Neither of these scenarios obviate Matan Torah and halacha. Insisting that man and monkey are seperate creations is a function of pride. There is nothing in halacha or hashkafa that militates against Darwin's ideas.

    This attempt to make Judaism consistent with science occurs in spite of the fact that the idea that man came from the apes is itself utterly shocking.

    Yes. Very shocking. But not for the reason you think. Let's say it once more for those who came late: This idea of yours about the apes being our great-grandfather is not the view of any scientist.

    It also must be said that aside from being factually incorrect, this is an absolutely horrible argument, an argument from the "I know you are but what am I," book of forensics.

    Why would you think a "shocking" idea is necessarily false?

    They will accept anything that enables them to avoid acknowledging that G-d created man with His wisdom.

    Ok, so why hasn't the idea that aliens populated our world with their mutant offspring caught on? Like evolution, the idea of an alien ancestor "enables them to avoid acknowledging that G-d created man with His wisdom." But no scientist accepts that idea. And I could go on. There are hundreds if not millions of ideas that scientists could embrace if, as Rav Sternbach says, all they wanted to do was deny God. That fact that so many of those sort of ideas have been rejected by scientists shows that something else is at play.

    They will accept anything that enables them to avoid acknowledging that G-d created man with His wisdom. Therefore they use misleading and distorted citations from Torah literature to claim justification for such scientific beliefs in the words of our Sages.

    If they want to deny God, why are they mining the writings of Sages? If you want to deny God, you BURN the writings of people like the Sages. You don't trot them out as proof of your heretical ideas.

    This required acceptance of the traditional age of the universe is all the more obvious since every man and woman and child knows that the world was created 5765 years ago.

    Men, woman and children entertain all sorts of mistaken ideas. Many of them voted for Bush, for example. Others support the war in Iraq. You won't get very far if you rely exclusivly on the average man, woman or child. Incidently, this is one reason why people like Rav Sternbuch are so popular. If we didn't need experts to do the deep thinking for us, the men, woman and children could issue our halachic rulings, giving Rav Sternbuch more time for remedial science.

    Consequently a person who casts doubts on this accepted tradition [that the world is 5765 years old] even if he is widely respected person by the Jewish people - must be carefully investigated.

    Does this mean that the Tiferes Yisroel should expect a midnight knock on his door? How terrifying. Is Rav Sternbuch going to investigate one of the leading authorities on the Mishna?

    The obvious truth is that the order and nature of creation is concealed. For example, how did man come to inhabit all the continents and islands in the ocean - thousands of years ago?...the scientists have no answer to this question.

    Maybe not, but the guy who wrote my Grade 9 Biology text book had the answer. I agree: this guy may not have been a scientist. But still he knew that the fossil and geological evidence shows the continents were once connected, and had since drifted apart.

    This ignorance has led them to the ridiculous and nonsensical idea that man developed from the apes. This absurdity is so firmly accepted by them that they view with contempt anyone who doesn’t accept their ideas.

    I know I am beating to death this horse about scientists not really believing that we come from monkeys, but it needs to be sad one last time: the only people scientists view with contempt, are those who go around claiming that scientists believe things that they, in fact, do not.

    P.S I would like to say, for the record, that Rav Sternbuch is a godol b'torah; however, per, Rabbenu Avraham and countless others, it does not follow that a godol b'torah is also a godol b'science.


    I just want to say that I'm glad the DovBear Experiment went so well. Thanks got to Shifra for writing the first post.

    I'm willing to do this again, so if you have a pet topic you'd like the readers of DovBear to discuss, write a post and email it to

    Faux News (We Seig, You Heil)

    Yes, the fair and unbiased people have been caught rewriting a Hillary Clinton quote.

    Next they'll be publishing President's Bush's Newspeak dictionary:

    Item 1: Democrat = Traitor
    Item 2: Losing = Spreading Democracy
    Item 3: Rising Insurgency = Mission accomplished.

    And just so you know: I'm tried of the Clintons, (and I never liked Hillary) but I am even more tired of Fox News and the popular, yet entirely unsupportable and easilly rediculed view that they are honest, unbiased, kind to children, gentle with kittens, etc.

    From the writings of A.P Kores*

    Chapter 11: Upsherin

    Many Ashkenaz Jews refuse to cut the hair of their male children until the child is three years old

    There are two possible reasons for this:
    1) the parents delight in making their boys look like girls, and
    2) the parents are cheap.

    Prior to the cutting, be sure to take a picture of the child withg very long hair. Be sure to show the pictures of the child with long hair to everyone in order to traumatize the child - and also to lead him to believe that he, himself, was actually a girl until reaching 3 years of age.


    Saturday, February 19, 2005

    Pop Quiz

    When a Jewish girl-child is born, a naming prayer is said in synagouge. According to the standard Ashkenaz siddur, the last bit of the prayer includes the wish "va'yigadla l'torah, chupah, v'ma'asim torah," that you should raise her to Torah, marriage and good deeds.

    Now, what do you think the hard-core Hasidim say?
    Here's A Secret

    Don't tell, but I'm as tired of the whole Gannon thing as you are. Unfortunately, I've noticed that the only thing about the whole, dirty affair that really bothers my GOP friends is the number of blogs posting about it. And, as you know, whenever a Republican is upset, another angle gets his wings.

    And so, it gives us great joy to present the best write-up yet about Gannon, and the very real damage done in his name. Money quote:
    Thus a phony journalist, planted by a Republican organization, used by the White House press secretary to interrupt questions from the press corps, protected from FBI vetting by the press office, disseminating smears about its critics and opponents, some of them gay-baiting, was unmasked not only as a hireling and fraud but as a gay prostitute, with enormous potential for blackmail

    Friday, February 18, 2005

    Confidential to the Godol Hador

    I'm glad to see that you've spruced up your template (though lord forbid you should ever help out around the house) but if you're going to steal my idea about putting quotes on your sidebar, you really should put up a little message with big letters, reading "This Idea Inspired By My Idol and Inspiration DovBear Who Has No Ego"

    Oh, and I don't live in New Jersey. Bub.

    PS: If your alter-ego was really the Koton Hador he would be the Koson Hador.
    Other Thoughts on Maus
    What kind of Jew made it out from the war?

    In Maus, the main charactar is always organizing. Everywhere he goes, he manages to arrange protection and food for his family He makes deals with gangsters and criminals. He hides himself and his family in bunkers he built himself, bunkers that deceived soldiers and dogs. In Aushwitz he's relativly well-fed; in fact the chapter called, "And Here My Torubles Began" speaks about Dachau! In other words, the man's "troubles" didn't begin until after he had been in Auschwitz for 10 months! And even in Dachau he managed a scheme to get himself extra soup.

    What kind of man is that? 1 in a million.

    Would I have survived. No way.

    I took a certain kind of man to make it out of Europe, and his grandchildren are now competing with me for jobs, and for influence in the Jewish community.

    I don't stand a chance.
    I'm so confused.

    My Torah True Manual is very clear about the New York Times. It's right there under T for "treif," next to the photos of the pork flesh, and the little girl who doesn't wear tights.

    My GOP Jew Handbook is even more dismissive. It describes the Times with words like "anti-Israel" and "dishonest" and [shudder] "liberal." And, on the cover, so that there are no misunderstandings, they've put a picture of Sean Hannity giving Arthur O. Sulzberger a wedgie

    So will someone please explain to me why the Times keeps printing these pro-Jewish articles?

    Last week, for example, we saw a flattering article about Rachel Factor, an Orthodox Jewish artist who only performs for woman; earlier in the week, there was a long piece about Orthodox Jewish authors. Both pieces were sympathetic toward Jewish ritual and religion. I could detect neither mocking nor sneering. Israel was not insulted. The Palestinians were not mentioned.

    How disappointing! That's not the sort of yellow journalism we've come to expect from a publication as ideologically despicable as the Times. (I read soccerdad!) I propose, therefore, that the Time's recent kindness toward the people of Israel is all part of an elaborate campaign involving Pinky, the Brain and perhaps Rush Limbough's drug pusher.

    My readers are warned to be on their guard.

    Wow. This has never happened before. It's halfway throught the morning and I've said nothing. Nothing!

    And it's not like I even had anything to drink last night.

    I'll be back later this morning - as soon as my nuerons unconstipate.

    Thursday, February 17, 2005

    A DovBear Experiment
    Note to the reader: The following post was written by "Shfira" a frequent commenter on DovBear. The post grew out of a conversation that began here, a conversation that deteriorated mightily before rebounding into something provocative and worth sharing. I'll be moderating - and with a stricter hand than usual, so please comment freely but cleanly.

    Update: Moved to the top of the page because it is going so well. Ha! An adult conversation on DovBear. Take that detractors!

    (S)expectations and Reality
    In this world where sex is everywhere you look it is very difficult to keep a child innocent. To protect their children the Yeshiva world takes great pains to keep their boys and girls not only insulated but also separated.

    When these children become teenagers they are expected to basically forget that the opposite sex exists and completely tune out their sexuality as they mature into adulthood.

    No questions are asked or answered. Confusion is met with silence, breeding guilt or ignorance when it comes to their sexual feelings. Not much later and with little guidance, they are expected to marry and have children, without ever confronting themselves as sexual beings. I've heard way too many stories to the contrary to believe this is healthy. Christianity believes that sex is a sin but as Jews we do not, in fact it's a MITZVA!

    Is there a way to keep our kids informed and in tune with themselves so that they can lead full happy adult lives while keeping them out of trouble as teens

    Amshinover - the floor is yours.

    MoDo on Gannon:
    I'm still mystified by this story. I was rejected for a White House press pass at the start of the Bush administration, but someone with an alias, a tax evasion problem and Internet pictures where he posed like the "Barberini Faun" is credentialed to cover a White House that won a second term by mining homophobia and preaching family values?


    At first when I tried to complain about not getting my pass renewed, even though I'd been covering presidents and first ladies since 1986, no one called me back. Finally, when Mr. McClellan replaced Ari Fleischer, he said he'd renew the pass - after a new Secret Service background check that would last several months.

    In an era when security concerns are paramount, what kind of Secret Service background check did James Guckert get so he could saunter into the West Wing every day under an assumed name while he was doing full-frontal advertising for stud services for $1,200 a weekend?

    Does the Bush team love everything military so much that even a military-stud Web site is a recommendation?
    Does the apple fall far from the tree?


    Not Funny

    Ok, maybe a little.
    Wish I'd Said It

    But Atrios did, and that's okay, too. More people read him:
    If Dan Rather had grossly and deliberately misrepresented something that Ronald Reagan had said, here's what would have happened:

    It would be all over AM radio.

    Howard Kurtz would write several columns in the Post and discuss it frequently on CNN.

    The New York Post would headline "Rather Kicks Reagan's Corpse!!"

    The New York Times would run a prominent feature about it,

    Editorial boards from around the country would weigh in on this travesty.

    Every columnist - conservative and liberal - would be falling all over themselves to condemn Dan Rather.

    It would for years to follow become the reference point for "bad journalism."

    Now we have Brit Hume clearly deliberately distorting something FDR said, and several other Foxmonkeys following suit. Will any of the above happen? No. Brit Hume has no standards. Fox News has no standards. And, none of the usual suspects even tries to hold them to any standard.

    So, when people ask why the 'left' can't collect any scalps, that's why. You can't shame people who have no shame."


    PsychoToddler has begun telling his mother's story.

    I'm hooked
    Batteling About Ballam

    Mis-Nagid, our friendly-neighborhood kofer, posted a little competetion yesterday, that brought to mind what very well may have been my first-ever argument with a Rabbi.

    If you're Orthodox and a graduate of pre-school, you know that Billam was a prophet. If you continued your education, you know that the discussion ends there. You see, the (other) dirty secret of Jewish education is that most of your top Middle School and High School instructors never tell you that Rashi's view on the subject is often rejected by other authorities. I would be glad to suggest that this is because they don't know that Rashi isn't the final word on biblical exegesis but that would be disrespectful, and I am all about the respect.

    Here, verbatim from memory, is the argument from 9th, or maybe 10th grade.

    Rabbi: Billam was a prophet!

    DovBear: Um, aren't there other views on the subject? [This is called "baiting the victim," for you argument amatures.]

    Rabbi: It's right here in Rashi. Billam was a prophet!

    DovBear: Well, what about the Ramban? Does he have anything to say on the subject [This is called "asking a question when you already know the answer."]

    I'm trying to teach a class here, DovBear.

    DovBear: That's ok... let me take a quick look and see what I can find (big show of rustling pages. My thumb was on the right page from the begining.) Ah, here we are: (Numbers 31, 8)
    The Ramban says: "And they killed Bil'am son of Be'or by the sword. We see from this that Bilam was not a prophet. It is inconceivable that Israel would have been permitted to kill a Prophet of God."*

    Rabbi: You don't understand the Ramban!

    Ah memories. With medication I can control them

    *The citation, like the argument is from memory. I'll look it up later and put in the exact words.

    Above I gave the wrong verse, but the words I cited from memory (aproximately)can be found in the Ramban's commentary to Num 22:31. The translation is Chaval's (pg 258):

    "...and God-Forbid that they should stretrch forth a hand against a prophet of God."

    On the same verse the Ramban says: "From this verse we learn the Balaam was not a prophet because had he been a prophet how could it be that he required "opening of the eyes... and indeed scripture calls him a Ballam ben Beor, the soothsayer[Kosaim]"

    First Lady Laura is putting her foot down. She's fired the chef. She's fired the social secretary. And now CNN reports a world of hurt is on it's way for President Bunnypants:
    Gerhart added: "She is saying, 'Look, I know you don't want to stay up very late but darn it, every once in a while, I want to have some fun people around, a little music, a little dancing, a little wine, a little more fun at night.' And he says, 'OK dear.'"
    I guess that whole "I'm a War President" strut is only for the outside.

    If you listen closely you can hear the murmerings of Rabbi Lamm's brute squad as they plot his revenge.

    Wednesday, February 16, 2005

    Support the Troops!

    But don't go crazy or anything. Money quote:
    The Bush administration is fighting the former prisoners of war in court, trying to prevent them from collecting nearly $1 billion from Iraq that a federal judge awarded them as compensation for their torture at the hands of Saddam Hussein's regime
    When he was asked, in 2003, why the admiinstration was stiffing American soldiers, Scotty "Mouthpiece" McClellan made a frowny-face and said, "No amount of money can truly compensate these brave men and women for the suffering that they went through at the hands of this very brutal regime and at the hands of Saddam Hussein."

    Ah. Ok. All clear now, chief. "No amount of money can truly compensate" them, therefore they get squat.


    (By the way, if my boss tried that ("DB, no amount of money can truly compensate you for your good work, therefore you get sqaut") I'd kick him in the groin.)
    What Was That Rummy Said?

    Oh yeah. He said: "As you know, you go to war with the Army you have..."

    Right. So why are they bothering Grandpa?
    Pants on Fire

    The olam is advised that Swift Boat Vetrans For Rent will be receiving a big fat smooch at the Conservative Political Action Conference for their help in getting Smirky McBunnypants re-elected.

    And I am reminded yet again, that the so-called liberal media was on summer vacation when these serial lying stooges accepted Karl Rove's money and agreed to drag Kerry's good name through the mud.

    (Shivering but not with pleasure)

    Yeah, I don't care.

    Hockey this year was like the last days of Arafat. There will be a season. There won't be a season. Good riddance.

    Know How I Always Say the Comments are Better than the Posts?


    And we still have not heard from Surah Malka.

    (PS: Anyone who says I am promoting myself on my blog (my GOD! What will we tell the children!!) needs to read these comments, and then you can THANK me for making sure you saw them.)

    Alert Honest Reporting

    In the print edition of Newsweek, the photo that accompanied this story featured a man in a kippa walking beneath one of Christo's Gates.

    Online, it is nowhere to be found! DovBear demands an answer! Why did Newsweek spike the kippa pic?!


    Miriam, who has been blogging less than usual, links to a Commentator story on gambling at YU.
    It must be noted that we only know this story because YU supports a free and open student press. It appeared, after all, in the student newspaper.

    If Ponovezh had a student paper (presuming the bochrim could pay someone with linguistic skills to do the actual writing, I mean.) it would be full of juicy stories, too. Male human beings, aged 18-22 - even when they are learning at fine, Israeli institions- will engage in unsocial behavior, from time to time. It's part of what makes us men.

    Incidently, I would like to state for the record that there aren't any YU alums in my monthly poker game. The ones OI know are all too busy hanging out at strip clubs.

    Ha ha! That's just a little joke. All the Yeshivish guys I know like strip clubs, too.
    Self Blogging

    Over here I wrote about the illegal apartments in my neighborhood, and asked As a Jew and an American do I have an obligation to report the lawbreaker to the state?

    LibYid said: As an American, I am not sure you have an obligation to report them. As a Jew, you are absolutely forbidden from reporting them.

    This sounds dodgy.

    Would anyone else like to weigh in?

    Recently in The Jew Republic
    A round-up of this month's Jew-friendly articles, in the Jew-friendliest of publications.

    Child Proof: Jonah Goldhagan defends his article on how the Church stole Jewish children.

    Group Therapy: Alan Mintz reviews Jews in the Twentieth Century

    Jerusalem Dispatch: True Colors: Michael Oren explains that Ariel Sharon was never a true Likudnik.

    Hide and Seek Jonah Goldhagan's article original article on the Church's kidnapping scandel.

    And please relaize this was a slow period for TNR. There are streches when articles such as these appear every week.

    Note: Some of these require subscription. If you email me, I'll send you the articles.
    wink, wink
    Flogging the Horse

    Top reasons why I may not be invited to MoChassid's minyan.

    I wear a tie to shabbos mincha

    I haven't been to a mikva in years

    I'm not really all that crazy about cholent.

    Single malt scotch? Pheh.

    Haven't been able to shake the habit of using a fork.

    I davan Ashkenaz (Just like cough MoC's ancestors, did. Cough, cough.)

    There's Mordechai Ben David on my IPod.
    O.J.'s Brother Implicated in Deadly Crash ...may have fallen asleep at the wheel.

    If he fell asleep, convict the creep.

    Tuesday, February 15, 2005

    PC: Gone too far?

    This just in. Earth round and:

    U.S. fans can be “bloody annoying,” and "the vast majority of Americans don’t know what’s going on in the world."

    The professional golfer who said this was forced to undergo counseling. And to apologize. Yeesh.

    Was he wrong?
    Slandered in the Globe

    First the Boston Globe called Eric Alterman an anti-Semite. Then they did it again. And still, they have not permitted him to set the story straight.

    The paper trail is here.

    PS: As of this instant the story isn't in JewSchool, which shocks the living daylights out of me. Are you guys liberal, or what?
    Fertility Bell?

    Are the masses morons? Someone at ebay thinks so. He writes:
    Bought by my mother at a local flea market about 18 years ago to be part of her bell collection. She had already went through menopause so she thought she was safe to buy the bell.\Well, my little sister turns 18 years old this month.... In 1997 out of all my mothers bells our cat fluffy knocked the fertility bell off the shelve onto the floor. On may 6th, 1997 fluffy gave birth to 5 kittens (we still have them all)!
    My god, what if a person knocks it over?
    Paging Mr. Collins

    Pssss. Cara. Try this

    Why do I bother.

    No one ever gives the Torah posts any encouragement.



    I'm an NCSY alum, and one of the fun things about being an NCSY alum is every few weeks you receive a letter begging for money.

    I am looking at one now. Way down at the bottom it reads:

    PS: We need your old NCSY pictures! We will airbrush and crop to protect your children's shidduch opportunities! [SIC]

    Directly beneath this plea, appears the NCSY tagline:

    Guaranteeing Jewish Continuity Through Torah

    We made you frum, but the jokes on you! If anyone finds out you were an NCSY member, your kids won't get married. (Now send us money.)

    Tagline: Guaranteeing Jewish Continuity Through Torah So Long As No One Finds Out You Were A Member

    We made you frum, but the jokes on you! If anyone learns that you were ugly and looked like a dork, you're out of luck! The phenomenal pettiness, and bigoted intolerance of frum Jews... like the sort you are now... because of us... will prevent your children from ever getting married! (Now send us money.)

    Tagline: Guaranteeing Jewish Continuity Through Torah So Long As No One Finds Out You Were A Dork

    Sure, we NCSY-insiders know that NCSY is full of boy-on-girl zmirot singing, but we're all cool here. Dig? So don't be afraid to send us your pictures of kumsitz make-out sessions. The secret is safe with us. (Now send us money.)

    Tagline: Guaranteeing Jewish Continuity Through Torah So Long As No One Finds Out The Truth About NCSY
    And you thought the J-Blogosphere was a rough neighborhood? This guy owns the cake.


    WHAT GIVES: I live in an exceedingly pious neighborhood with mezzuzot on every door post, and woman who wear bulletproof stockings with seams on every street corner.

    Cholent is available 24/7. You need to wear a hat and a gartel to take the amud in most shuls. Our local schools for boys are open 6 days per week, and would never, chas v'sholom, close on a national holiday, chas v'sholom.

    So why does every third house have an illegal apartment of some kind?

    Kol Hakovod

    Sarah's really hit the big time.



    I don't think the IbnEzra would have appeared on the Ramban's blogroll.

    Why do I say that? Well, I study Ramban, and it's hard to miss the Lion of Gerona's disdain for his fellow exegete.

    Most of the time, it's is gentle. Soft rebukes of the Ibn Ezra appear in the Ramban in too many places to count. These include: "I find it impossible to accept his opinion." or "His words are wrong." or, the ultimate hedge, "What he wrote seems wrong to me."

    There are, however, several examples of outright viciousness (Gil or Ben can probably provide the exacte cites):

    In Toldos, the Ramban says, "Now Rabbi Abraham ibn Ezra has erred here exceedingly..." and, "I'd like to know who blinded the Ibn Ezra, and made it possible for him to write such a thing."

    In Mishpatim, he says: "Rabbi Abraham ibn Ezra forgot that in another place he explained this with better understanding."

    And in this week's parsha, Tetzaveh we find: "Rabbi Abraham Ibn Ezra attempted to display wisdom in the matter of the Urim and Tummim by saying that they were made by a craftsman from gold and silver... but what he said is of no importance"


    When I was young and without battle-scars I had great sympathy for the Ibn Ezra. It bothered me that the big-bully Ramban shoved the smaller guy around and showed him so little respect. I reconsidered after a few points occurred to me:

    1) The Ibn Ezra is mentioned in a very large percentage of the Ramban's posts comments. Only Rashi gets more ink. Surely there were other bloggers exegetes around in those days, so perhaps the Ramban's frequent ravings about the Ibn Ezra's shortcomings as a scholar were, after a fashion, signs of respect. In any event, if we remember the Ibn Ezra and give him a place among the Mikraot Gedolot it's due, at least in part, to the attention the Ramban showered upon him.

    2) You have to be willing to let the Ramban be the Ramban. Sure, he could have shown more tact in his dealings with the Ibn Ezra. But Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman wasn’t a flatterer. He was nobody’s toadie. If he thought you were a moron, he said so, and damn the consequences. Had the Ramban pulled his punches, he would not have been the Ramban.

    3) Any two-bit exegete can flatter his colleagues and offer simpering praise. That sort of behavior may suggest manners, but it doesn't demonstrate brains, talent or confidence. Endless praise is the behavior of a sycophant, someone who values popularity over truth and integrity. Is that really what we want from our professional bloggers Torah commentators? An endless exchange of Valentines?

    As a blogger who has been smacked around (and who has done his share of smacking) I can relate. The roughness is how some people prefer to communicate but it's always sign of respect to be noticed, and mentioned. Moreover, rough language often comes with the territory when ideas are at stake.

    But there's a bigger point here, so let me put a very fine point on it:

    Don’t you wish, we had a scholar of the Ramban's rank with the guts to say to Rav Elya Wachtfogel, regarding Slifkin, You have erred exceedingly. I'd like to know who blinded you and made it possible for you to write such a thing."

    I sure do.

    Monday, February 14, 2005

    THIS POST IS (TRYING TO BE) FUNNY: In a recent post, the very great MoChassid suggested that I might not be welcome at his minyan.

    He was joking. How do I know? For starters, MoChassid's minyan is the Nassau Community College of minyanim. ( I almost wrote "the girl you don't want your daughter to grow up to be" of minyanim.) Even misnagdisha liberals (with cruel, yet handsome eyes) can get into MoC's minyan. His statement was OBVIOUSLY a joke, as obvious as the religion and nationality of the Pope, for instance.

    Also, this sort of joking is what MoChasid and I do, together with a growing handful of other blogs. (You will remember Satan's harem, for example)

    We tease. We poke. We exchange links (the absolute and ultimate sign of respect in the blogosphere.) It's fun. Everyone gets some traffic and no one gets hurt. And, to be honest, it's rather infrequent. Of my 600 odd posts very few (he'd say "not nearly enough!") are about MoC or any of the other bloggers. We cultivate a variety of interests here at DovBear.

    So before I continue, permit me to make it clear for the record: I welcome the joking. I strongly encourage the joking. I get it. And I am sure Mo does, too.


    It has recently been suggested to me that, in theory, some people might not enjoy the inter-blog bantering that barely passes for humor here at DovBear. Yes, strange but true: in theory, some people are made of paper tissue, and, in theory, they worry that the rest of us are, too. They fret that feelings are being hurt, and the nice, cheerful blogosphere is being made too rowdy and too unpleasant for the delicate souls among us.

    They want it to stop.

    Though I'm tempted to pass the milk, and to dismiss their, theoretical, dressing down, these fragile scolds are also people readers. Their views must be considered. After all, DovBear strives to be a customer-service focused blog, and always tries to be super-responsive to the needs of its beloved readers.

    Therefore, in deference to this, theoretical, opinion, I am very pleased to announce a policy change, a policy change I urge all blogs to adapt immediately.

    No more inter-blog bantering.

    Additionally, I announce with deep indignation and righteous anger that I found MoChassid's joke about not welcoming me into his minyan to be offensive. In retribution, I am hereby calling for a boycott of all MoChassid products and services. My anti-MoChassid Manifesto (working title: "Making the Blogosphere More Peaceful By Publicly Denouncing Other Bloggers") will appear just as soon as Mis-Nagid, manifesto writer to the stars, finishes it. (And he'd better not just swap the word "Torah" for "MoChassid" in one of his own manifestos. I paid for an original work.)

    Please note that the preceeding was a joke. I have not been hauled over the coals by anyone, in theory, or otherwise, and I'd chew off my own arm before I'd do anything that would hurt a blogger like MoChassid. He rocks.


    Wouldn't it be great if along with the improved commenting system, blogger could give us some sort of closed-captioning for the humor-impaired?
    PHEW the super-terrific, RenReb redesigned her sidebar and the news from the front is all good:

    1 - I'm still on it.
    2 - Her blog still seems to function
    3 - Blogger still seems operational.

    You may think that 2 and 3 are "out there" (hopefully you thought 1 was "out there," too) but long-time readers of the Reb will recall the Black Screen That Lasted for Several Days.

    Seriously. We all thought the Phils had found her out. Or her husband, maybe.

    Come to think of it, Blogger WAS slower than usual this morning.


    Town Crier, a Jew, a Liberal and a fine American, has uncovered a Jewish Press Letter to the Editor so idiotic it makes previous Jewish Press Letters to the Editor seem profound and wise.

    Town Crier is all over the fallacies, but let's pile on.
    Being that our children are priceless to us, we should forbid boys from returning from weddings the same evening. Notwithstanding the bittul Torah, the roshei yeshiva cannot allow this situation to continue. Pikuach nefesh is docheh Torah! Only if a chartered bus can be arranged would it be permitted to come back the same night. Only boys 21 years and older with experience of having driven on highways at night would be allowed to drive other boys to and from weddings. Finally, no boys should be driving in winter.

    Hopefully, with these takanos in place and with the blessing of rabbonim and roshei yeshiva, there will be a dramatic decline in what we have recently been seeing.
    What I find most insulting is the LW's basic assumption: Jews need a big daddy rabbi to do the hard thinking for us. What are we? Catholics? Since when do we need to address every new emergancy with a new takanah? That's Judaism? A bunch of unelected clerics with the power to micro-manage our lives?

    If I hadn't lived in Brooklyn for too many years, I'd believe this letter writer represents only himself. Unfortunately, I know these people. And when they aren't busy blaming the troubles of the world on short skirts and/or modern Jews, they are dreaming up remedies like this one.

    And the truly amazing thing, is that these same people almost always vote GOP. They don't want the democratically chosen government to run their lives, but it's fine if a group of long beards in a herring-filled room ban (and there's that pesky word again) boys from driving in the winter.

    TWO HANDS CLAPPING: "Leaders of the White House Correspondents' Association plan to meet with President Bush's press secretary tomorrow to discuss tightening the White House press-credentialing proce"

    The sit-down follows the recent uproar over James Guckert, a "reporter" for a "news" "organization" who uses the aliases Jeff Gannon, Studly, Hootie McBoobidie and Buck Naked but still managed to get within spitting distance of President Jorge McBunnyPants.

    AmericaBlog, a site covered with unsafe for work pictures of the plant in the press-gallary, adds:
    Ultimately, it is the hypocrisy that is such a challenge to grasp in this story. This is the same White House that ran for office on a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. While they use a gay hooker to write articles for their gay hating political base? While they use a gay hooker to destroy a political enemy?
    No matter what you say about Bubba, his hookers were always straight.



    "With odds against the pope's survival set as high as 12-1, Las Vegas' biggest sports books took a massive financial hit last weekend when the ailing pontiff pulled off a huge upset against his heavily favored archrival, death.

    "No question, it's a catastrophic loss," said Bally's sports book director Tony Silvestro. "You've got a frail and gaunt 84-year-old man with massive health problems and he finally gets the flu. It's like a gift from God for oddsmakers. I've never been more confident of a betting line."

    [VIA Las Vegas Mercury: Mercury World Report
    PS: The contents of the Mercury World Report humor section are fictional.]
    IN WHICH I REPLY TO MIS-NAGID AND OPEN MYSELF TO A WORLD OF PAIN Mis-Nagid, president of the "We-read-DovBear-even-though-he-is-in-the-grasp-of a nefarious-cult-fan club " writes:

    Why is prayer any more reasonable than a red string?

    Prayer is more reasonable, because prayer (like hard work and exercise) can be a form of self-improvement. How?

    Samson Rephael Hirsch, who was smarter than Mis-Nagid, and also more handsome, said that the root word for "thought possible", "Peelail" (Pey, Lamed, Lamed), is related the word "Tefilah", prayer. The root word is also phonetically related to the word "Beelail," which means mixing two substances together to make them one.

    Rabbi Hirsch says that "Beelail" (mixing) is to material substance what "Peelail" is to ideas, thoughts, facts, or principles. In the Jewish sense, prayer means [Quoting Hirsch; you can tell from the needlessly flowery language that this sentance began in German.] "to penetrate oneself ever afresh again, with eternal, everlasting truths and facts", to prevent them from becoming unclear and obscure.

    According to this explanation, prayer is not from within outward, but from without inward. It is a time of reflection on truths, which in turn become part of our essential being. This is the reason why Jewish Prayer involves the use of a liturgy, filled with ideas and perspectives, which, with daily review, can become clearer and clearer to us.

    Mis-Nagid might call this brainwashing, and he's right, but only in the sense that any study is a form of brainwashing.
    BECAUSE BLOG-READING DOES NOT FULLY MEET YOUR TIME-WASTING NEEDS Hardworking professionals looking for proven time-management applications will want to check around to make sure management is not lurking near the cubicle before clicking this.

    It's even more fun to play on company time.

    WIN A RABBI? While supplies last

    Bonus chuckle: Eliot Gould in a hat, with no tie.
    KIDDUSH CLUBS AREN'T THE REAL PROBLEM In his tirade against that despicable and loathsome practice of slipping out for a drink during the boring parts of shul, OU big-wig Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb commits a little slip of his own.

    Here is the money misquote:"In the three years of my tenure as Executive Vice President of the Union, I have had the opportunity to visit Scores..."

    The strip club?