Friday, April 29, 2005

We need a new scandal

Slifkin is so over, so been there, done that. And no one talks about the wigs any more. Even the talking fish of New Square has been forgotten.

Extremist gedolim please help us out! We need a new scandal!

If you're an Extremist Godol and you're reading my blog, here are some suggestions:

1 - Announce that kitniyot is kosher for pesach again, as "God intended."

2 - Instead of laying the blame for everything bad that's ever happened since the dawn of creation on the doorstep of declining skirt lengths, announce that all of mankind's troubles are cuased by his expanding waist-line.

3 - Abolish the all-night shavuot learning marathon because it causes us to sleep through the first day of yom tov, obviating the point of yom tov which is chatzi lochem, v'chatzi loshem

4 - Solve the aguna crisis by abolishing marriage. Instead of wives, men will take pilagshim a perfectly good device for allowing Jewish men and women to live together and to enjoy all the privelages, thereof. Also, as the gemarah says (Sanhedrin 21a) the difference between a wife and a pilegesh is that a pilegesh is “without kiddushin and without kesubah." No kesubah, no need for a get. And if you don't need a get, you can't be an aguna. (Tell me that isn't brilliant. I dare you!)

5 - Declare Hassidut to be "a historical error." I promise not to run over to Akiva's house and bellow "I TOLD YOU SO" (Sniff. DovBear doesn't bellow.)

More ideas will be posted as they come to me...

Are we still talking about Slifkin?

Rabbi Benjamin Hecht of NISHMA weighs in.

GH, how about you read it for us, and boil it down into one of you funny parodies? I'm bored with this already. The Slifkin battle is over. America won. Meah Searim lost. Wisdom trumped authority, exactly as it should be.

Clobbering Cross Currents

One of the things that has fascinated me about Cross Currents is its occasional capacity to rise above the routine moral callousness of hack conservative punditry and attain a level of exquisite depravity normally reserved for villains in James Bond movies.

To wit, the claim by Yaakov Mencken that liberalism begat Hitler: "And none of [these societies and leaders from the past who persecuted Jews], not one, managed to create an era as bloody as the one created by that pinnacle of modern, sophisticated, democratic, liberal life—Germany, circa 1940."

Pretty sneaky, isn't he? If all you read was Cross Currents, your [nasty remark self-edited] and you'd think that Hitler was a good liberal, a direct result of German liberalism. Why you might even think that Germany, circa 1940, was the "pinnacle of modern, sophisticated, democratic, liberal life" and not a place where people were frequently shot on the street for no reason.

Unfortunately for Mencken and his anti-liberal slurs, Hitler wasn't a product of "modern, sophisticated, democratic, liberal life." Nor was his Germany, circa 1940, the pinnacle of anything, save thuggery, murder and supression.

Hitler wasn't liberal or the product of liberalism. He was a backlash against it. True, the world might have avoided Hitler if the German progressives had been stopped (as conservatives of the time may have wished) from transforming corrupt, monarchist Germany into a modern, liberal state, but the rise of Hitler isn't an argument against liberalism anymore than the rise of Islamic terrorism is an argument against Zionism or capitilism.

Anyway, who ultimately buried Hitler? The liberal democracies, of course.

More Times related nudity

Last Tuesday the Times ran a substantial piece on the Society of Illustrators a century-old organization that now holds public Tuesday night sessions where you can swing dance to a live jazz band, drink at the cash bar, or sketch nudes -- all in the dining room of the same Manhattan town house. [128 East 63rd Street, $10 to get in or $12 to sketch.]

Counting that article on nude swimming (which inexplicably neglected to mention Frank Barone) that's two stories on nudity from the Times in the same week.

Not that we're keeping track.

Nude Swimming: Not just for Hasidim. WASPS like it, too.

Yesterday, the New York Times turned its august attention to naked men.

Did you know that Manhattan's alpha males are meeting around private pools in private clubs and swimming together, naked? I didn't, and when I remember that most of the alpha males I know are fat, bald and short, I say to myself: "Thanks for putting that image in my head New York Times!"

Anyway, it seems that, according to the Alpha Males, at least, nude swimming, like pastrami with mayonaise on white bread, is something we ethnic types aren't supposed to understand.

"It's a matter of the WASP ethic," said one investment banker in declining an interview about [his] club's swimming practices. "What goes on at the R.T.C. [ed note: The Racquet and Tennis Club (five recommendations needed for admission)] stays at the R.T.C. We don't want the general public having a peek at the last bastion of old-school pleasure, the last oasis."

Well, sorry, Mr. WASP, but not the very last oasis. Unless we miss our guess (and we never do) Amshi, MoChassid, Akiva, and perhaps some of our other regular male readers, are regularly enjoying the delights of nude bathing, too. Just like WASP bankers!

Ok, there are some small and insignicant differences. The mens' mikva in Amshinover was not designed by McKim, Mead and White, and Woodmere's ritual bath has nothing like The Racquet Club's "cavernous rooms for... obscure racquet sports played since the time of the French Revolution by the kind of people against whom the French were rebelling." Still, nude swimming, is nude swimming; out of shape men, are out of shape men; and once you've enjoyed the pleasentness of floating naked in one amniotic pool, you've floated in them all.

So take that WASP bankers.

Thursday, April 28, 2005


You heard it here first: "I will blog through the middle to end of May. I start my new job on May 30th. At that time, I'm done. Really." -- MoChassid

Time for MoC to start his grand farewell tour. We propose he compose a final guest post on each of his favorite blogs. At each stop, the blog proprioter can present MoC with a rocking chair and/or a lifetime supply of BenGay and wax poetic about MoC ample and substantial contributions to the causes of freedom, justice and the NBA. In tribute we'll all wear beckashas and mispronounce Hebrew. And this time next year, if that new job playing minor league baseball doesn't work out, we'll sell a boatload of tickets to the ceremony welcoming MoC back to the blogosphere.

I might even learn Yiddish for the occasion.

Sigh You'll be missed, Mo.

Say it ain't so Mo

Is MOChassid done?

We hope not.

Hasidim, again

Yonatan writes:
There are lots of things that make a Three-Day-Yom-Tov an uncomfortable experience; for me though it is the horror of facing three days of festivities, where showering or taking a proper bath is considered sinful.
Man, do I feal bad for the Hasidim. The ordinary Orthodox (and this could be why the Hasidim hate us so much) know that it is 100 percent okay to shower on Yom Tov. I should know better, but it really suprises me that the Hasidim are unwilling to accept this.

Another surprising Hasidic stringancy: Ordinary Jews know that the very best thing about having granite counter tops is that they're easy to kasher Boil some water, toss it on the counters and you're done. Unless you're hasidic. For reasons I'll be glad to explain if you send me an email including your social security number and banking information, hasidim say that granite can not be kashered unless you cover the counter with water and iron it.

[Two second explanation: Ordinary hagalah isn't enough, the Rabbi explained to me, because we worry a kli rishon touched the granite, there4 something closer to libun is required.]

Scenes from the matzo ball eating contest

Slate has a barely-amusing article about a Friar's Club-sponsored orgy of eating, the famous, but also barely amusing, Matzo Ball Eating Contest. And of course Slate, in a typical display of wit, has slugged the piece: Great Balls of Matzo!

Two bits of information:

(1) The contest winner ate 30 matzo balls in 5 minutes. That's pretty gross. Especially when you consider the event took place in a famous lodge, and not at a Pesach Hotel, where such displays of glutony seem to be de rigueur

(2) The Friar's Club has strayed further from their Jewish heritage than even we imagined. As Slate reports, their matzo balls are inedible: "A thin, moist crust quickly gave way to a pastelike mantle, followed by a sawdust core. I got the whole thing stuffed in my cheeks, where it defied my attempts to swallow. I finally choked it down and reached for the next one. The centers were killing me: No grandmother of mine would ever have served such dusty balls."


PS: If Amshi were here (all together now: Sigh) he'd be so all over the last line of that quote.

Quote of the Day II

Every dime that finds its way into Cuba first finds its way into Fidel Castro's blood-thirsty hands.... American consumers will get their fine cigars and their cheap sugar, but at the cost of our national honor --- Tom Delay

Fine words. Powerful words, in fact.

But, what's that Tommy has in his mouth? I mean besides his foot.

Women: Avoid South Carolina.

[Hard to believe but all attributed statments are real]

DovBear: Hey! Rep. John Graham Altman (R-Dist. 119-Charleston) tell us how you feel about cock-fighting.

Altman: Cockfighting reminds me of the Roman circus, coliseum.

DovBear: I see. So you probably voted for the bill protecting roosters that recently passed through the House Judiciary Committee.

Altman: I was all for that.

DovBear: Super! Now, there was also this bill that advocates say will protect the victims of domestic abuse. How do you feel about the domestic violence bill?

Altman: I think this bill is probably drafted out of an abundance of ignorance.

DovBear: What do you mean? In South Carolina, cockfighting and domestic violence are currently misdemeanors, punishable by 30 days in jail. If the bill passes, cockfighting will become a felony, punishable by five years in jail. Domestic violence crimes will remain a misdemeanor.

Altman: People who compare the two are not very smart and if you don't understand the difference between trying to ban the savage practice of watching chickens trying to kill each other and protecting people rights in CDV statutes, I'll never be able to explain it to you in a 100 years.

DovBear: [!!]

Quote of the day

"We're not prophets, but we're the sons of prophets, and we know that anything could still happen." -----Natan Fagan, 46, one of "tens of thousands" of Israelis who marched Wednesday to protest the planned evacuation of all Gaza settlers this summer.

Gotta hand it to Natan. He's great with the predictions. Incidently, I have a prophecy of my own: In six or ten months time, I predict old Natan Fagan will be right there saying, "See?!? Told you so. Anything happened. Exactly as I predicted."

Guess who was at the kotel last night?

Vladamir V. Putin

Or, "Poopy-toots," as the president of the United States and leader of the free world likes to call him.

Other endearingly, abusive nicknames used by the President to belittle all those people his advisors force him to talk to:

Tom Delay: formerly "Tom Terrific," but now "That guy I don't really know everyone keeps talking about"
Dan Quayle: The Boy Genious
Colin Powel: Boy
Condaleeza Rice: The colored lady
Karl Rove: Mr Rove, sir.
Prince Abdullah Saud: Daddy
Ted Kennedy: Life Guard
Ariel Sharon: Fat Jewboy
Joe Leiberman: Short Jewboy
Henry Kissinger: Old Jewboy

This is not a complaint about my wife

My wife is outstanding at planning and logistics. Really outstanding. She has a gift I can only describe as second sight, and she's an excellent shopper, with the unfailing ability to get the very best products at the very best prices. If she wasn't a scholar, she'd be a fantastic administrator, and if she were a soldier instead of a scholar she would be a quartermaster, first class. In fact, if the DovBear family was the US military we actually would have been greeted with flowers because the enemy combatants would have been too well fed to even consider lifting a weapon against us.

So it came as no small surprise, on Tuesday morning, to discover that Mrs. DovBear had omitted to buy sugar for Passover. Otherwise, her holiday provisioning was perfect. Our refrigerator is stocked with steak and salmon, and potatoes, squash, tomatoes and onions. We have sufficient pots, pans and aluminum cooking trays. Plenty of forks, knives, plates and spoons, too. We even have cholov yisroel cheese that tastes like cheese and not like the inside of a garden hose. And of course, there is plenty of juice, soda, milk, coffee and tea. But no sugar.

I'm one of those sad, unhappy people who need coffee if they are to function properly. And coffee - especially the instant coffee with which we afflict ourselves at Passover - requires sugar. On Tuesday, I drank my coffee without sugar. (If the DovBear family was the military that would deserve a Purple Heart) And instead of complaining about the abscence of sugar (a Silver Star) I very gently and politley said, with a tone that was at once considerate, sensitve and non-complaining, "Hey, no sugar?"

Mrs. DovBear had the answer. You, who have no second sight, probably thought the answer was "Oh, sorry. Can you pick some up on your way home from work," but you are ignorant and foolish. You don't have the gift.

Mrs. DovBear, who does have the gift, together with a brilliance surpassed only by her thriftiness, replied: "Oh, sorry. Can you bring home some sugar packets from work?"

Sure. Why not? Sounds reasonable. Besides, I thought, Passover is all about sacrifice, and flexibility, and acting bizzarly for the amusment of the gentiles. So, while some other bloggers were suffering the deep humiliation of eating matzoh at work, I was raiding the break room and filling my pockets with pilfered sugar packets.

Some of you are thinking: Do you live in Siberia? Why didn't you just go to the store, and buy some sugar? That's an excellent set of questions. Really first rate. And you know what? An even better question would be, "Why, DovBear, did it take you all the way until Thursday morning to come up with that idea?"

This afternoon, I am so going to the store.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Two words: SO BUSTED!

Tony Perkins is Family Research Council President, a Very Good Friend of Frist, a fine Republican, and a leading force behind "Justice Sunday." He is also has a rather ugly skeleton in his closet.

Four years ago, Perkins addressed the Louisiana chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), America's premier white supremacist organization, the successor to the White Citizens Councils, which battled integration in the South. In 1996 Perkins paid former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke $82,000 for his mailing list. At the time, Perkins was the campaign manager for a right-wing Republican candidate for the US Senate in Louisiana. The Federal Election Commission fined the campaign Perkins ran $3,000 for attempting to hide the money paid to Duke.

As the emcee of Justice Sunday, Tony Perkins positioned himself beside a black preacher and a Catholic "civil rights" activist as he rattled off the phone numbers of senators wavering on President Bush's judicial nominees. The evening's speakers studiously couched their appeals on behalf of Bush's stalled judges in the vocabulary of victimhood, accusing Democratic senators of "filibustering people of faith."
I blame Abraham Lincoln for this. If only he had the foresight to just let the South go, America would be the leading light of the world instead of an embarrassment.

Serious thought: Filibustering people of faith? What annoys me most about all of this is that the Christian Right has rather successfully convinced a great many people, including the yokels who run Cross Currents, that the only true people of faith are those on the extreme right of the political spectrum. Progressive politics are actually much more religious than Republican politics. How many times does the Torah talk about homosexulaity, for instance? And how many times does it remind us that God himself protects the poor, widowed, and orphaned? Though you wouldn't know it from the media, or from the right-wing blogs, there are many people of faith (like me) on the left-side of politics, and some of us (me again) oppose the "stalled judges" on religious grounds. Their extreme judicial and ideological views are anthama to anyone who takes seriously the very old, very hallowed, Jewish traditions of social justice.

J.B. Stoner, white supremacist to the end, dies at 81


When I'm in Atlanta, next week, maybe I'll make a side-trip to do some dancing on his grave. On second thought: Nah. I hate waiting on lines.

The Pesach tragedy

Golda on the Williamsburg fire:
I'm afraid this is going to turn into a very long session of blaming the victim and using the Williamsburg residents' "otherness" as an excuse to do so. We've all seen the tragic stories of Christmas trees going up in flames and injuring or killing people. There is at least one of those incidents every December. I'm still waiting for the Fire Department's safety guidelines which read "for a safe Christmas, don't put lights on your tree." I think I'm in for a long wait.

The sixty second seder

Everyone and their uncle is talking about this. Why? Sure, the graphics are good - very good, in fact - but otherwise it's vapid. The one bit of wit in the whole entire thing comes at about the thirty-second mark when the words "Enough, enough, enough." [Die, ie: daled yud] begin to blink over the seemingly endless words of Rabbi Akiva, Rav Yosi and Rabbi Elazar. Oh, and that falling cow at dever.

Otherwise, it trivializes the seder, and serves only to prove that someone, somewhere is talented at using Flash to create eye candy.

Like Paris Hilton, its pretty but not very clever.

Great moments in marketing

"We certainly had no intention that the name, 'Nogger', would be associated with any negative word."

That's Petronella Warg, a spokehole for GB Glace, the Swedish ice cream maker, defending their lying through her teeth about GB Glace's new flavor "Nogger Black."

It is just a funny coincidence, I suppose, that the entire campaign - including the graffiti style logo - is a parody of hip-hop culture.

[Related: The MooLatte a frozen drink with a name that corresponds both with a racially insensitive word, and a film about female genital mutilation.]

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

More Abdullah at the ranch...

Wrong, but funny.

And another thing: Perhaps some of you GOP Jews could explain this: Why did Israel's close and good friend, the very religious, very God-fearing President Bunnypants, have all that tough talk for Ariel Sharon, but nothing of the kind for the Saudi prince?

Where in the world is AMSHINOVER?

4 pm, and still no sign of him. I hope he knows that DovBear is open today.

Pesach moments to remember

My second most favorite Pesach moment came at about 3 pm on Sunday afternoon when I showed my father and brother-in-law that the Rama and the Mishna Brurah both rule against saying Halel after maariv in the synagouge on seder night. It was cool. You could actually see their minds expand.

(Explanation: Halel in the synagouge on Seder night is a Sephardi minhag that was adopted by the hasidim who combined the Sephard liturgy with the Ari's liturgy to create something new, and wholly their own. In our mixed up day, anything with the slightest Hasidic whiff to it is considered "better" or more "authentic" so many God and neighbor-fearing Jews, including, apparently, my father and brother in law, have adopted Hasidic customs without even realizing it, halel in the syangauge on Seder night being one of them.)

My most favorite moment came about thirty seconds later when my mother-in-law said, in a tone of pure exasperation, "You're not Hasidim! You mean we could have started the seder 25 minutes earlier last night?!"

Post script: On the second night, I skipped halel and went home. My father in law and brother in law stayed behind, giving me the bonus yom tov pleasure of really annoying my MIL.

"Where are they," she fumed. "How long does Hallel take anyway?"

Haha! I bet no one in that family will be saying halel next year! I hope the neighbors aren't too offended!


The very best thing about the Dear Leader's romantic walk with Parade Magazines 5th Worst Dictator is we can ram it straight down the throat of anyone who ever again mentions Hillary's make-out session with Arafat's fat wife.

Repeat after me:

The name of the holiday is Peh-sach, not Pay-such.

This public service message brought to you to honor the memory of the Lubovitcher Rebbe.

Everybody Share. Now.

Chimpy says: NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim April 20, 2005, as Education and Sharing Day, U.S.A

And the best part? For reasons known only to Karl Rove, "Education and Sharing Day" was created not just to encourage sharing, but also to honor the memory of the Lubavitcher Rebbe (!)

I guess "Bogus Messiah Day" was deemed impolitic.

The Hottest Button: How The Times Covers Israel and Palestine

In honor of Pesach(?) the Times writes a defense of its Middle East reporting.

Just read it - and quickly: these links have a way of expiring.


For the lazy, and the self-certain, here's a quick and incomplete summary of Daniel Okrent's article:

1 - The Times is not anti-Semitic ("If reporting that is sympathetic to Palestinians, or antipathetic to Israelis, is anti-Semitism, what is real anti-Semitism? What word do you have left for conscious discrimination, or open hatred, or acts of intentional, ethnically motivated violence? The Times may be - is - imperfect. It is not anti-Semitic. Calling it that defames the accuser far more than it does the accused.")

2 - The Times is not pro-Arab. In fact, if you think Arabs are satisfied with the Times coverage, you are wrong. As Okerent reveals, they are every bit as angry with the paper as some Jews are, and like those Jews, these Arabs organize boycotts, and letter-writing campaigns to protest the Times "pro-Israel bias." [side note: Some of these pinheads sound quite a bit like the pinheads at (dis)]

3 - Those who believe the Time's coverage is anti-Israel or anti-Palestenian, are usually making the mistake of not knowing the very first thing about journalism. Okerent provides several examples, and makes his case convincingly.

And finally, for the very lazy, we present the money quote:
Journalism itself is inadequate to tell this story. Like recorded music, which is only a facsimile of music, journalism is a substitute, a stand-in. It's what we call on when we can't know something firsthand. It's not reality, but a version of reality, and both daily deadlines and limited space make even the best journalism a reductionist version of reality.
True, my powers of summarization are formidable, but for the love of all that is good and holy: just go and read it

I have an imitation bagel. It's called a matzo

New York City bagel store owners went whining to the newspaper about how hard it is to make a profiit at Passover. Sorry. But, it isn't easy for me to work up any sympathy for people who charge upwards of a dollar seventy five for a lousy bagel with a shmear.

For New York's Bagel Shops, Passover Week Is No Festival

Money quote:
If it is hard to be a Jew on Christmas, it may be even tougher to run a bagel shop at Passover... "Every bagel shop owner knows about it, and we have to prepare," said Benjamin Choi, the owner of Lenny's Bagels at 98th Street and Broadway, who will roll about 10 percent fewer strips of yeast-laden dough and step up production of macaroons. "Otherwise, you'll have lots of leftovers and little profits."
Yeah, life sucks. And no other business has seasonal complications.

Unrelated pile-on: My number one bagel store pet peeve is this: When you order a coffee does the clerk fill your cup for you, and mix in the sugar and milk? No In more and more places, you're expected to pay $1.50 or more for a foul-tasting cup of brownish, brackish water and not only that, you have to make the coffee yourself. In my local bagel shop, I fill up the cup. I mix in the sugar, and I add the milk. And for this high privlage I pay $1.50.

That's outrageous. I suppose it's only a matter if time before we're asked to scramble the eggs, and shmear the cream cheese, too.

Exception: Brooklyn Bagels on Nostrand Avenue and Ave P, makes the best bagel shop coffee in the entire known civilized world, they charge only one dollar, and get this: they make it for you.

Bush's man-date: Love blooms in Crawford

And I thought the prince usually carried Bush around in his pocket.

Death of a Hero

Ezer Weizman 1924-2005

Money quotes from the Times obit:
Mr. Weizman made his name as one of Israel's most celebrated fighting men, yet he worked to transform himself into a dovish politician. He was involved in the 1978 peace negotiations with Egypt that led to Israel's withdrawal from the territory he helped capture a decade earlier.

His eventful life paralleled that of the country he served for more than half a century. A fighter pilot with Britain's Royal Air Force during World War II, Mr. Weizman created Israel's fledgling air force in the war at Israel's founding in 1948. He became an acclaimed military strategist, a forceful cabinet minister and a leading figure in each of the country's two major political parties.

"He represented everything mythic and heroic about Israeli society; he also represented everything chauvinistic and impolitic about Israeli society," said Michael B. Oren, author of the best-selling book, "Six Days of War," about the 1967 war.
and my favorite thing about him was this, as the Times put it:
Mr. Weizman rarely, if ever, censored his sharp tongue, irreverently skewering opponents and allies alike. With almost every major figure in his public life, he had an openly contentious, even combative, relationship that he seemed to relish.

This might be the worst job in the world

... and of course his name is Iyov (Job)

To Soothe Dutch-Muslim Nerves, Try a Jewish Mayor

Money quote
Job Cohen is not just the mayor of Amsterdam, the brash and boisterous Dutch capital. He is also a calm, somewhat reserved Jewish intellectual who has made it his task to keep the peace between the city's Muslims and Christians.
Of course we wish him well, still: What do you want to bet he owns a horse named Rocinante?

Friday, April 22, 2005

It's a new Spanish Inquisition

Pope Benedict: It's wrong to have homosexual relations, unless you work for me, in which case it can get you a promotion and a transfer to Rome.


Pope Benedict XVI has responded firmly to the first challenge of his papacy by condemning a Spanish government bill allowing marriage between homosexuals.

The bill, passed by parliament's Socialist-dominated lower house, also allows gay couples to adopt.

A senior Vatican official described the bill - which is likely to become law within a few months - as iniquitous.

He said Roman Catholic officials should be prepared to lose their jobs rather than co-operate with the law.

I hear he also gave them the option of sewing pink triangles on their clothing.

and have you done this mitzvah yet?

Great moments in misogyny

DovBear: So Rabbi, do I need to move my stove and refrigerator to get at whatever might be beneath it?

Rabbi (Hasidic): Nah. The Mishna Berurah rules this is unnecessary. If you can't get at the chometz you don't need to worry about it. But don't repeat this at home?

DovBear: Don't repeat this at home?

Rabbi: Cleaning for Pesach is the biggest thing in a Jewish woman's life. It's her one opportunity to really exert herself for a mitzvah. She won't be mekabel [willing to accept the leniancy] and she'll just think you're a shaigetz. [irreligious.]

DovBear: !!!

Guest Post

Received by email:


please post

Anything for you Amshi.

This is one of those "revenge is a dish best served cold" moments

Powell playing quiet role in Bolton fight:
Former secretary of state Colin L. Powell is emerging as a behind-the-scenes player in the battle over John R. Bolton's nomination as ambassador to the United Nations, privately telling at least two key Republican lawmakers that Bolton is a smart but very problematic government official, according to Republican sources.

On Baseball in General, and Pesach in Particular

Bernard-Henri Lévy on the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York:
This is not a museum, it's a church. These are not rooms, they're chapels. The visitors themselves aren't really visitors but devotees, meditative and fervent. I hear one of them asking, in a low voice, if it's true that the greatest champions are buried here—beneath our feet, as if we were at Westminster Abbey, or in the Imperial Crypt beneath the Kapuziner Church in Vienna. And every effort is made to sanctify Cooperstown itself, this cradle of the national religion, this new Nazareth, this simple little town that nothing prepared for its election and yet which was present at the birth of the thing. An edifying history, told in the exhibition rooms and the brochures, of the scientific commission created at the beginning of the twentieth century by a former baseball player who became a millionaire and launched a nationwide contest on the theme "Send us your oldest baseball memory." He collected the testimony of an old engineer from Denver who in 1839, in Cooperstown, in front of the tailor's shop, saw Abner Doubleday, later a Northern general and a Civil War hero, the man who would fire the first shot against the Southerners, explain the game to passersby, set down the rules, and, in fact, baptize it.

It was in honor of this story that the year 1939, exactly a century later, was chosen for the inauguration of the museum. In a well-known article in Natural History, the paleontologist and baseball fan Stephen Jay Gould recalled that a long-ago exhibit at the museum noted that "in the hearts of those who love baseball" the Yankee general remains "the lad in the pasture where the game was invented."

The only problem, Tim Wiles, the museum's director of research, tells me, is that Abner Doubleday, in that famous year of 1839, wasn't in Cooperstown but at West Point; that the old engineer, who was supposed to have played that first game with him, had been just five years old; that the word "baseball" had already appeared in 1815, in a novel by Jane Austen, and in 1748, in a private letter found in England; that a baseball scholar, an eminent member of the Society for American Baseball Research, had just discovered, in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, an even older trace; that the Egyptians had, it seems, their own form of the game. The only problem, he says, is that we have always known—since 1939, in fact, since the museum's opening—that baseball is a sport of the people, and even if, like all sports of the people, it suffers from a lack of written archives, its origin is age-old. The only problem is that this history is a myth, and every year millions of men and women come, like me, to visit a town devoted entirely to its celebration.

Two hypotheses to work from. Either the visitors in question are ignoramuses who believe, in good faith, that it's all true; or, on the contrary, they are in the know. They know that the story doesn't hold true... They are all in full agreement about the falsity of the legend; they celebrate a myth, not believing for an instant that it's true.

To revere a counterfeit as if it were real. To rewrite the history of an age-old pastime as if it were a national sport. What is at stake in each case is a relationship to time, and in particular to the past—as if, with this nation so eminently oriented toward its present and, especially, its future, regret for the past occurs only on condition that the past can be reappropriated with well-calculated words and deeds. As if with all one's strength—including the strength and power of myth and forgery—one had to reassert the power of the present over the past....
There's an analogy here.

For those, like me, who believe the Exodus occured preciesly as the Bibles says it did, though no evidence supports the account, Pesach holds a special charm. When we sit at the seder, and repeat the maggid we celebrate, not just the redemption of the Jewish people, but the creativity of our great sages, and the wonderful, reassuring myths of Jewish history. It's when we recognize that Seder isn't merely a celebration of the past, but of the ideas that were invented to give the past meaning. The facts of the Exodus are believable but unknowable and, anyway, completely beside the point. What we admire is the message that was attached to those facts.

We don't really care exactly how baseball began. We simply love the game.

Holes in the J-Blogsphere.

If you're late to the blogging game, and looking for a niche to exploit, there are a few good ones left. As of yet, our little J-blog bubble still has not produced a:

  • Renegade Rabbi

  • loud mouth, opinionated (near impossible to read) blog from a Stern girl.

  • single, man, who writes about dating and/or life in Israel

  • crotchety psudeo-Hasidic blogger who is devoted to her holy husband.

  • mother/son news-blogging team.

  • muckracker dedicated to exposing corruption in the Reform Jewish heirarchy.

  • well-read, amusing, charedi fanatic who can deliver short, snappy answers to each and every skeptical argument.

  • Charedi scholar who feels the need to post a gloss on everything he has ever read in his entire life.

  • liberal team of bloggers who use the Torah as cover for their political agenda.

  • So, if you're a blog reader who'd like to enter the wonderful, but self-esteem-destroying world of blog writing these are niches you can explore.

    Thursday, April 21, 2005




    Bishop Yitzchak Alderstan sends a love letter to an oveid avoda zara, who thinks Judaism is deficient, to congratulate him on "remaining true to his principles."

    Call to Arms

    On Monday I was at a bris mila, where the father, Reuven, performed the metziza b'peh himself. Afterwards Reuven and I were chatting, and he told me in a tone of real disgust that "some rabbi in Monsey" was working “hand-in-hand” with the state health authorities to outlaw the metziza ritual.

    "I did it myself on my own son as a statement," he all but shouted.

    Reuven is a little crazy, not very well read and easily excited. Also, he'd just swallowed a mouthful of his son's blood, so I thought this was a bad time to tell him that his information about Rabbi Tendler was wrong. Besides, the lies about Tendler are an old story. Surely, by now, intelligent people have learned the truth.

    Tuesday, I received this by E-mail. It's an article from the Yated, describing a rally that took place in Monsey. Like almost everything the Yated prints, it is unintentionally hysterical.

    "Wow," I thought. "The crazies sure are multiplying; still, anyone with half-a-brain can see this anti-Tendler propaganda for what it is."

    Today, my optimism was demolished. A smart person, a man I respect and admire, repeated the lie, saying he knew for a fact that Rabbi Moshe Tendeer is "colaberating" with "anti-Semites" who are trying to "destroy" bris milah.

    Mark Twain said it best: A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.

    Ladies and gentleman, this has gone too far. The lie about Rabbi Tendler is halfway around the world, and a very good man's name is being ruined.

    It is time to put our boots on.

    I beg you to send this article and any of the posts cited below to everyone you know. Tell them that Rav Moshe Tendler is being slandered and harassed by people, solely and strictly, on the basis of lies and gossip, and that you're writing to help set the record straight.

    And tell them DovBear sent you.

    Related: [I, II, and Rabbi Tendler's letter of protest to the Yated. ]

    President's Passover Message, 5765


    Tom Delay's descent into madness continues

    The House's head-psycho has upped his rhetoric:
    We've got Justice Kennedy writing decisions based upon international law, not the Constitution of the United States? That's just outrageous," Tom DeLay told Fox News Radio on Tuesday. "And not only that, but he said in session that he does his own research on the Internet? That is just incredibly outrageous."
    Ye Gods. Not the Internet. Silly judge. He should have just consulted his bible.

    Can't argue with that

    "'Membership in the Hitler Youth doesn't disqualify someone from being pope." -- Efraim Zuroff of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

    And why should it, seeing as how the Church laid the groundwork for Hitler, provided both the template and the rationale for his anti-Jewish policies, and later, enabled his programs.

    [If you haven't read Hitler's Pope, Popes Against the Jews, Papal Sins, or Constantine's Sword, please do not litter my comment section with ignorant objections to this statement. However, if you've read the books, but disagree with their findings, please make yourself heard.]

    Things we already knew

    The Today show is an infomercial.

    Reducto Ad Hitlerum

    The New Republic lands a solid punch on Uncle Tom Lapin, show Rabbi of the religious right, here:
    There is no rhetorical tactic more overwrought than comparing one's ideological opponents to Nazis. So it comes as no surprise that a politically conservative clergyman has insensitively compared an international gay pride festival and march planned for Jerusalem this summer to "the Nazis marching in Skokie."

    What is a surprise is that this disrespectful and inapt comparison comes from a Jewish clergyman, Rabbi Daniel Lapin, president of the conservative political group Toward Tradition. Lapin is not the only religious leader to voice objections to the World Pride Festival. On March 30, a coalition of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim clerics came together to announce their united opposition to its presence in Jerusalem. It would have been heartening to see these disparate groups united in something. Too bad it was only in their common bigotry.

    That bigotry may be genuinely theological in origin, but Lapin's dishonesty is not. Religious leaders may object to homosexuality, but they cannot plausibly claim that the gay pride parade advocates intolerance--much less harm--against people of faith, as the neo-Nazis marching in Skokie clearly wished on the city's largely Jewish population. In using such outlandish rhetoric, Lapin is a bit like Goebbels--oops, did we say that?

    Wednesday, April 20, 2005

    Which is the real quote?

    The boy king said one of the following today, April 20, 2005.

    Which was it?

    1 - I'm going to spend a lot of time on Social Security. I enjoy it. I enjoy taking on the issue. I guess, it's the Mother in me.

    2 - Pope Benedict? Well, thanks, mightily, but I do prefer hash browns and a fried egg for breakfast.

    3 - In terms of timetables, as quickly as possible—whatever that means.

    You can't take Republican's anywhere...


    Six elephants escaped from a zoo and roamed around the South Korean capital Wednesday, briefly crashing their way into a restaurant before being rounded up, police and zoo officials said.

    Apparently those elephants are as badly behaved overseas as they are at home. One thing, however, remains the same:

    The elephants were on a parade... when one was apparently startled and bolted... The five others followed "because they have the tendency to do that," the official said.

    In defense of pluralism

    The folly of absolutism is not that there is no Absolute. The folly is that that no doctrine or belief system perfectly and completely contains the Absolute.


    Sarah is smart

    Where? Well, everywhere. But here especially.


    And many happy returns of the day.

    What's this?

    What does this look like to you?

    @#(D 2($*Ef hfhs #(*@(4
    #(_ XJOSFj

    JRowjrOjFC @*$*)2# cjls

    No idea? If you're a Christian from Chicago, maybe you think it looks like Mary?

    "...systematically biased against any cadet that does not overtly espouse Christianity"

    In American Jews have nothing to fear from Christians. Right? Wrong.

    "[T]he Air Force Academy is scrambling to address complaints that evangelical Christians wield so much influence at the school that anti-Semitism...[has] become pervasive.There have been 55 complaints of religious discrimination at the academy in the past four years, including cases in which a Jewish cadet was told the Holocaust was revenge for the death of Jesus and another was called a Christ killer by a fellow cadet.
    Well, Holy Hitler Youth, Batman!

    hmmm. Don't you have to be like, smart and stuff to get into the Air Force Academy? So the hell are all those evangelicals doing there? Still, I guess both evangelicals and soldiers are people who are happy to do what they're told, especially if it's a big strong man doing the telling, and above all, they never question authority. So it sort of fits.

    Onward Xtian Soldiers?

    As Popapalooza 2005 draws to a finish....

    ...we have some closing thoughts:

    Though Ratzi (rhymes with Nazi) was a card-carrying (but compulsory) member of the kraut boy scouts Hitler Youth and the Luftwaffe - at a time when conscientious German objectors went to Dachau instead - the only overt anti-Semitism he's demonstrated since deserting the German air force is his theology. Yes, his theology.

    Some highlights, of the Popenfuhrer's teachings: (1) Judaism, like all non-Catholic religions is "deficient." (2) Jesus is the one and only way to heaven; and therefore (3) Jews should accept him as the messiah and savior of the world.

    In it's pathetic, historicaly obtuse, defense of the new pope's theology, the Jerusalem Post mentioned some of this, but shrugged its shoulders. "That's what it means to be Catholic," they seemed to say. Big deal.

    What the Post fails to understand is that an affirmation of the Christian mission to the Jews is a delegitimation of Jewish belief. The new Pope's documented reluctance to let the Jews be Jews is a slippery slope towards the chauvinistic and triumphalist views that led the church, when it had the power to do so, to lead crusades and impose inquisitions.

    Yes, Jerusalem Post, that is what it means to be Catholic. And if you have a sense of Jewish history and Jewish honor it is a very big deal.

    We must not forget the cruel and insulting history, and we must not think for a moment that those absolutists in their blood-stained, blood-colored robes, who are forever praised by the faithful for the conservative fidelity to the absolute truth of their traditons, have renounced the supercessionist teachings that made the horrors possible.

    Sof davar hakol nishma et ho'elokim yerah v'et mitzvotav shmor kee zeh kol ha'adom

    Ad kaan, Popapalooza 2005.

    Lies the Hasidim taught us

    Here we go with another DovBear list:

    Lies the Hasidim taught us

    1 - Tables are better than pews
    2 - Shirts that are white are better than shirts that are colored
    3 - Late is better than early (when it comes to davening, or starting (and ending) shabbos)
    4 - Sephard is better (and more "authentic") than ashkenaz
    5 - No gebroks is better than gebroks (Corollary: Those disgusting faux "noodles" are better than kneidals.)
    6 - Yiddish is better than Hebrew
    7 - Lag B'omer is better than Yom Haatzmaut
    8 - Skipping tachanun is better than saying it (except on Yom Haatzmaut)
    9 - Long beards are better than long hair. [this line was edited at 11:46 am]
    10 - Shishi is better than shlishi
    11 - The Alter Rebba is better than the Rama

    Lightweights, please note: I'm not arguing, for example, that ponytails are better than beards, or that pews are better than tables. I don't believe that normative Orthodox Jewish law expresses a preference, or announces a requirement, in any of the cases listed above. If you want to skip tachanun at every opportunity, fine: You have whom upon to rely. If you want to sit in a pew, rather than at a table, also fine: This says nothing about your character, your ahavas hashem or your yiras hashem.

    Unfortunately, in my experience, many hasidim, and those under their influence, think differently and from this much needless sinas chinan has followed.

    Tuesday, April 19, 2005

    The story we'll never hear....

    Did Jean Marie (Aaron) Lustiger, the Cardinal of Paris, and a born Jew, cast his conclave vote for Joseph Ratzinger (right)? Did Aaron's heart skip a beat when he learned that his new most Holy Father was a man who had been part of the Nazi youth organization, someone who had saluted the organization that killed his parents, someone who had served in the Luftwaffe?

    At the moment the vote became final, did Aaron's thoughts turn, even for an instant, to his real father, the father the Nazis murdered?

    Did he say, "I'm sorry?"

    Habeum papam

    NBC is reporting white smoke and bells. I'm watching it live here.

    Why do I care? For the same reason I like football: the pageantry, the history, and the story line.

    It's a soap opera I'm permitted to follow.

    Update: It's Ratzinger, and he's calling himself Benedict XVI.

    On the brighter side of life: Pope Benedictine is likely to massively unpopular, especially in North and South America. As a cardinal, he helped squelch "liberation theology" in South America, and he helped to hide Cardinal "above the" Law from the police in Boston. He also forccefully opposes "collegiality" or the idea that local parishes and dioceses should be able to make decsions themselves. That doesn't go over well on these shores.

    I have a feeling he's going to piss a lot of people off, weaken the church and widen the wedge between the priests and the people. As someone who is eagerly looking forward to the day when the whole outdated and stupid enterprise becomes completly and totally Walt Disneyified, I say let's go Pope Panzer!

    Or is it Pope Palpatine?
    Or maybe Pope Clayven?

    Thoughts on the Tenth Anniversary of The Oklahoma City Bombing (ie: today)

    "My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building." -- Time magazine cover-girl Ann Coulter

    And my only regret is that I cancelled my subscription to Time magazine two years ago.

    I really want to cancel it now.
    I don't understand why Jews are churning out articles in defense of Joseph Ratzinger, including one in the Jerusalem Post that seemed writen only for the purpose of rebutting a harsh description of the cardinal's background that had appeared the week before in the Sunday Times of London.

    Look: I don't think Cardinal Panzer was a Nazi, and though many Germans chose to go to Dachau as conscientious objectors I can't fault the young Ratzinger for going to the seminary instead (following his brief, but compulsary, tour with the Hitler Youth.)

    However I can -and do- fault him for the hateful theology he willingly articulated during his long career in the Church. From the Sunday Times article:

    He upset many Jews with a statement in 1987 that Jewish history and scripture reach fulfilment only in Christ — a position denounced by critics as “theological anti-semitism”. He made more enemies among other religions in 2000, when he signed a document, Dominus Jesus, in which he argued: “Only in the Catholic church is there eternal salvation”.

    And I can -and do- fault Jews for wasting ink in defense of this man.

    Bye Bye Henry Hyde...

    Do you remember Henry Hyde?

    Here's MSN: "U.S. Rep. Henry Hyde, the Illinois Republican who steered the impeachment proceedings against President Clinton and championed government restrictions on abortion funding, announced Monday that he will retire when his term ends in 2006."

    How strange. Those pointy-headed liberals found all those nice things to say about the mighty, moral Mister Hyde, but forgot to mention Cherie Snodgrass

    Monday, April 18, 2005

    Israel, ahead of everything?

    Jeff Ballabon, one of the founders of Cross-Currents, the thinly disguised pro-GOP, pro-Christian "Torah" blog, was quoted in the Forward last Friday regarding Tom Delay.

    He said: "DeLay's concern for Jewish survival and his active friendship for Israel are deep and personal. They existed long before the Oslo terror war and long before Jewish organizations or fundraisers ever discovered him. Those in the Jewish community who have come to appreciate the depth and magnitude of his friendship ought to stand with him now."

    Jeff Ballabon have you no shame? If Delay is as slimey as even his fellow Republicans seem to think he is, he does not deserve our support or our friendship. He deserves to be drummed out of the House in disgrace. Lo savo asnan zona u'mechir kelev beys Elochim l'chol neder.

    Israel does not need, and should not want, the support of crooks and liars, and it does not serve Israel or Zionism for you to embrace an ethical pariah in the name of some misguided sense of loyalty.

    Moral Equivlance?

    The more I read about Jack Abramoff* the less I like him.

    But this little story takes the cake, and says it all: [Jack's] uncompromising piety drove him to condemn the one Orthodox Jew in the Senate, Joe Lieberman, for securing "the tortuous death of millions" by supporting abortion rights. Mr. Abramoff's own moral constellation can be found in e-mail messages in which he referred to his Indian clients as "idiots" and "monkeys" even as he squeezed them for every last million. A previous client was Zaire's dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko, who, unlike Senator Lieberman, actually was a practitioner of torture and mass murder.


    * Who is Jack Abramoff? He is an Orthodox Jew, and K-Street fixer who is currently being investigated by nearly as many federal agencies as there are nights of Passover.

    Aso, from the time he was introduced to Tom Delay, by Daniel Lapin, show rabbi of the Christian right, old Jack has been a wonderful help to the sleazy and embattled House Majority leader. More here here and here)

    Ms Wrong

    Oh, my poor bleeding eyes.

    Because Hell is a place like Texas

    The voters have spoken, and because DovBear is not a shteeble (nor the state of Florida) their votes have actually been counted.

    The girls (and MoChassid) won.

    So, say goodbye to the OnlySimchas post. Or, copy it and post it elsewhere is you're so inclined. I won't sue. But act fast: sometime this week the post joins RenReb's best work up in the big blogspot in the sky.

    Worth Reading

    Martin Peretz in TNR, on Moshe Safdie's new Yad Vashem: [It] is not just a museum. It is a moral statement.

    How much did you pay to sell your chometz?

    Just wondering...

    Also, do Reform Rabbis sell chometz? And do they get paid for it?

    A DovBear lesson in economics

    MOChassid writes:

    [I] asked whether people could name educators who had a lasting impact on their lives. I meant a positive impact. Most of the commentors had no such mentors. Many comments were about Jewish educators who had negative impacts (sometime incredibly negative and destructive impacts).

    GOP-Jews insist that the market solves everything, and salivate eagerly for vouchers. "Vouchers will solve everything," they chorus, "and make the public school system functional!"

    In a word: ha.

    Our yeshivot have always operated on free market principles. You can send your kid anywhere you want. The different schools all compete for your business, and in mahy Jewish neighborhoods there are six or nine or 50 schools from which to choose. According to market dogma, all this free competition makes everything better. According to market dogma you'll get the best product at the best prices if you leave things alone.

    So why does the Jewish education system, which is more expensive than ever, suck beans?

    Simple. Education isn't a market, so market rules don't apply. Free competition can't improve quality and prices because, with education, we aren't dealing with a real market.

    Why isn't education a market? See the comments.

    Ha'aretz: Smart money on Pope Beryl Rosenberg I?

    Miriam is pooh-poohing the report in Haa'retz that Jean-Marie Lustiger, the Jewish cardinal archbishop of Paris, has emerged as a late favorite to become the next Pope - at least according to the odds set by Irish bookies.

    What neither Miriam not Ha'aretz mention is the impetus for this sudden change in the odds.

    The Times has the story: [I]n 1139... an Irish saint called Malachy received (in a vision, naturally)... that only two popes would preside after the pontiff whom his adherents recognize as John Paul II, and that the second-to-last would be born a Jew. "Smart" money? Hmm.

    Friday, April 15, 2005

    Picking at nits

    Friends of Micronesia writes:

    Someone forwarded me an email from StandwithUs' national director who was at the Caterpillar shareholders meeting, where anti-Israel activists tried to stop the company from selling bulldozers to Israel.

    "Anti-Israel" or "anti-bulldozing the houses of people who've not been found guilty of any crime."

    There is a difference, you know.

    (Perhaps FOM means to say that these were "anti-Israel protesters who were engaged in an activity that was not, in of itself, anti-Israel." But this is not clear.)

    Really. It's an homage. We promise.

    I guess, all the good bug names were taken.

    Hattip: Town Crier

    More Only Simchas Blogging

    The famous tub picture

    True or False?

    True or false?

    When you walk up to the average GOP Jew and say, Hey, what newspaper do you read," he answers: Read? Who has time to read?

    But when you go up to the smarter-than-average GOP Jew and say, "Hey, what newspaper do you read," he (waits to make sure no Rabbi can overhear) and answers: The (unbiased, conservative, Torah True) New York Post!!

    I've only done this 900 times, and I swear on the grave of the dead Pope (He's dead right? We won't have any more of that "He has Risen" jive, will we?) that 9 out of 10 times I get ones of those two responses.

    How about you?

    If Yaackov and Paul were teenage girls

    A DovBear diorama starring: Paul and Yaakov

    Paul: OH... MY... GOD

    Yaakov: OH... MY... GOD

    P: The Pope looked at me.

    Y: He looked at ME

    P: Whatever

    Y: Sigh. He's so good

    Y: And so moral.

    P and Y together: Yeah.

    P: I love the way he's so firmly authoritarian in his defense of an absolute truth we don't really recognize or accept.

    Y: Yeah, and I get all tingly whenever he mentions Jews.

    P: Oh my god, ME TOO!

    Y: And when he talks about us in one of those encyclicals...

    P: Oh my god. I thought I was going to just die when he mentioned the Rabbi of Rome in his will...

    P and Y together: I know.

    P: It's soooo cool that he talks about us.

    Y: sigh He demonstrated such a great friendship towards the Jewish People

    P and Y together: Sigh

    (If you read their blogs on the subject you can' t help thinking , gee, I hope they like their wives as much as they liked JP II.)
    I don't usually remark on the stupid comments that appear on other blogs but here is an exception:

    On another blog, someone stated that the previous generation's gedolim (R' Moshe, R' Yaakov, R' Yoel ZT"L) never issued as many bans as our present day gedolei hador. That point is correct, but an important distinction must be made. R' Yoel ZT"L and R' Yaakov were never faced with any of the following problems: (a) The World Wide Web and all of its terrifying traps. (b) Off the derech youth and their drug, alcohol and sex problems. (c) Full color cellphones with cameras and Internet access. (d) Nosson Slifkin.

    Those are your idea of big, ban-worthy problems? You think anything on that list (Noson Slifkin(!!!) compares to the issues previous generations faced? Please.

    Here's a short list of bigger problems from the past that threatened the wholesome and Torah-True status of our precious youth and forced them to make difficult choices: (a) the Haskalah (b) Darwin (c) Freud (d) The Documentary Theory (e) forced conversions (f) forced sermons (g) pogroms (h)Crusades (i) extreme poverty (j) extreme hunger.

    This self-centered idea that our battles are harder than ones our forefathers fought is really quite silly.

    I thought this type of wedding was only legal in Massachusetts....

    Pesach Reading

    I'm looking for suggestions for some Pesach reading, aside from the Gedolai Yisroel Hagaddah of course, which has been banned from my house. (Why? Ask him)

    Please make your recommendations in the comment section.

    And, because I believe in returning favors, here's what I think you should read over the holiday.

    by Ian McEwan

    Papal Sins
    by Garry Wills

    Notes of a Native Son
    by James Baldwin

    Should it stay or should it go?

    DovBear is reader responsive.

    Should the whole OnlySimchas post come down? Should I just remove the new, but hysterical, pictures, GH posted in the comments? Or should I take the position of the Yated Ne'eman (God's Newspaper (TM)) and shrug my shoulders, ignore the complaints and use some misconstrued, misquoted, misapplied rabbininc ruling to justified my continued attacks on people who choose of their own free will to post unflattering photos of themselves in the public domain.

    Vote in the comments.

    (Oh, and note to the guy who called this blog "widely read:" Ha-li-vie.)

    Did the (so-called) conservative, religious, Israel-loving papers put this story on their front page?

    The New York Times
    Page A1, above the fold
    April 14, 2005

    Money quote:
    Eight days before Hitler annexed Austria in March 1938... two prominent Jewish families in Vienna raced to a Swiss bank. Coolly realistic about the troubles facing them and determined to preserve their ownership of one of the country's largest sugar refineries, they set up a trust account to protect their ownership.

    The attempt quickly unraveled. Within months the bank had violated the terms of the account, and the business was "aryanized" - sold for a fraction of its value to a Nazi sympathizer. In a letter dated Dec. 22, 1938, a bank officer provided an explanation as blunt as it was chilling: "The situation has changed."

    Yesterday, 67 years later, Edward R. Korman, a federal judge in Brooklyn, approved a $21.8 million award to surviving members of the two families, the Bloch-Bauer and Pick families, which owned the sugar company with other investors.
    Meanwhile on the front page of the Fox-owned tabloid every upstanding GOP-Jew swears is wholesome, proper, and pro-Israel Jewish reading, we have this.

    Thursday, April 14, 2005

    Insipid, Vapid...

    ...Larry King

    The dear leader's taste in music

    Tounges are wagging about George W's taste in music now that an an aide has revealed the playlist of the president's new iPod player. (How'd I work this corn-traption? Laura!! Dang it, if 8-track players were good enough for Jesus, why I need this fool thing fer?")

    What's George listening to as he clears the brush and chops the wood on The Lazy W's north forty? Crap, mostly. The president's little unit is filled with 1970's corporate-rock songs and cheesy country ballads -- and nothing by a black artist, a woman, or from a genre less than 25 years old.

    We have to help. Our Dear Leader deserves better. Any suggestions for beefing up iPod One?

    Only Simchas Blogging

    Ok, everyone a big DovBear Mazal Tov to:

    Happy Couple

    Cone head


    Blind girl (Alternative title: Rich father)

    Tip of the spudik to Batsheva



    Where've I been?

    Duking it out with Yaakov Mencken here.

    Sorry for the light blogging.

    FInally Something from Cross-Currents to cheer!

    Of course it's a comment, not a post, but I didn't write it:
    On Israel, President Bush has been very, very good, [ed note: snort] at least until he announced that there shouldn't be new building in Maaleh Adumim. But supporting President Bush is not the same thing as supporting "the right." The first President Bush was no friend of Israel, and it's not an anwer to say that he also wasn't very Conservative.

    Your post devotes more space to an explanation of the reasons we should not join the left than it does on reasons to join the right. We ought to support people or issues; I'm a bit hesitant when we are asked to support movements, because they tend to bring along lots of baggage. There are lots of right-wing issues that don't make much sense for our community --gun control is a prominnet one that comes to mind. Another issue concerns public benefits programs – should we attempt to ascertain the impact of budget cuts or programmatic changes to our community? I don’t know, but I suspect that there is more angst... in Orthodox homes when some programs are cut than when a parental notification prior to abortion bill is defeated.

    Since you rightly criticize the recent and current policies of the left, while recognizing that movements prior appeal, you ought to learn an important lesson from that experience. Jews supported the left, because of their candidates and because of the rabid anti-semitisim on the right. Then, we forgot the reasons for our support, and supported the left because that’s what good Jews did. Now, we support candidates on the right, often for good reason. [ed note: again snort] But when we support the right because that’s what good Jews do, we are being as foolish as our predecessors who supported the left.

    Sorry, I don't understand CafePress

    Though I give CafePress all the credit in the word for taking down the horrible Kill Bush T-Shirts, they are they still marketing T-shirts and mousepads that celebrate the death of Rachel Corrie.

    She made a mistake, and was killed for it in an accident that made Israel look monsterous. This is why Jews can not afford to appear callous on the subject.

    As Surah Malka said in a comment (a comment I disavow) on the original post "Maybe we can get kidney shaped mousepads in honor of the pope's renal failure."

    Good Advice From the Torah

    You think only Lazer can offer good advice? Ha! Check out how I solved my very own neighbor's problem last night.

    "DovBear," he said,"I am so exhausted. Our newborn child keeps me up all night long."

    "What about your wife?" I asked

    "She's worn out from everything she does all day long. So I get up at night."

    "Shmendrick!" I said starting to hum, and stroke my beard just like the big, by which I mean self-important, Rabbis you see giving free advice on street corners,"It sez in de Shcriptures azas Hashem HEE sokum!"

    And before my neighbor could say a word, out went my hand for my donation. I swear, I really must start an advice column.

    Wednesday, April 13, 2005

    The party of moral values

    Naphtuli has been arguing that the Republicans are creatures of principle, especially when it comes to abortion. And indeed, Republicans like to claim that they are the defenders of "life," particularly the lives of those who are most vulnerable, such as the severely brain-damaged and the unborn. But how, then, do you explain the embarrassing fact that, according to the Centers for Disease Control, the decline in the number of abortions under Bill Clinton has not continued since George W. Bush took office? And, more importantly, how do you explain the fact that, on March 17, Senate Republicans rejected an amendment Democrats Hillary Clinton and Harry Reid offered to the budget bill that put forward a comprehensive plan to reduce unwanted pregnancies and thereby reduce abortions?

    If you take Republicans at their word--that they seek to protect the lives of fetuses--then it is inexplicable. If, on the other hand, you believe the thesis of Thomas Frank, author of What's the Matter with Kansas? --that Republicans cynically use moral issues like abortion to get working-class Christian voters to the polls while their real agenda is mostly about helping the wealthy--then it begins to make more sense. Why allow Democrats to reduce abortions when that might erode your ability to campaign against their supposed hostility to the lives of the unborn?

    Or perhaps the Republicans' rationale is even more nefarious than electoral advantage. After all, opposing the distribution of condoms, the teaching of safer-sex methods, and the increased availability of birth control are ends unto themselves for cultural conservatives. What they really oppose is not so much the deaths of innocent fetuses but female reproductive freedom and premarital sex. And it seems they are perfectly willing to tolerate more abortions to achieve those goals.


    [Note: On December 24 the hyperlink was added to the word "Source" which was written (but due to an error) and included - but not linked to anything - in the original post]

    Where there is a rabininc will, there is a rabbinic way: Viagra edition

    A flurry of bad puns about bread - and other things - rising is expected now that the Rabbis(TM) have found a loophole to permit the use of Viagra on Passover.

    That man you see cartwheeling down Avenue J is Amshinover.

    Hat tip yaak.

    Heil Holy Father?


    "Support for German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger appears to be building ahead of the conclave to select a new pope, Italian newspapers reported Wednesday."

    Way to go, Rat-Zinger! Ascending to the Throne of St. Peter would be one heck of an accomplishment for someone who started out as just another Hitler Youth.

    Still, the teachers make a buck ninety per hour...

    The Las Vegas Hebrew Academy raises approximately $700,000 at "Gala Event" and Announces Sheldon and Dr. Miriam Adelson to give $25 Million for New Hebrew Academy High School

    ...and tuition is higher than ever.

    Sicker than sick

    A very bad person has created a clothing line to celebrate the crushing of Rachel Corrie by an Israeli bulldozer.

    Isn't it amazing how the sort of lowlifes who make Pizza Oven jokes about Jews exist almost everywhere on the political spectrum?

    HatTip: Alexander for the alert by email.

    Who said it?

    'We've got to uphold the highest standards of legality and ethics. You can't have your leader under a cloud."

    Godol Hador, about the Gedolim?
    Shmarya, about Chabad?
    Lincoln Chafee, about Tom Delay?
    Ehud Olmeret, about Omri Sharon?

    New from the people who promised to bring accountability and values back to Washington

    Report: "House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, hoping to hold support among fellow Republicans, urged GOP senators Tuesday to blame Democrats if asked about his ethics controversy and accused the news media of twisting supportive comments so they sounded like criticism."

    Our Tom Delay resignation/impeachment watch begins today.

    Help Wanted

    My new friend Stephen I Weiss appears to be arguing that anyone (like a Pope, Shaman or Witchdoctor, for instance) who knows the magic words or possesses the magic trinkets can tap into the supernatural and work wonders.

    If you are aware of a Jewish source that argues against this idea, please add it to the ones I have already cited here.

    Your tax dollars at work

    Can't the FBI find anyone to update their website?

    Hat tip

    And I thought NY was expensive.


    If you're interested in buying an extravagant home, the most expensive property on the U.S. market is a $75 million spread in Bridgehampton, Long Island, that includes a 25,000-square-foot main house, a nine-hole golf course, three large ponds, and a 3,000-bottle wine cellar. But million-dollar homes aren't just for people who like to golf in their back yards. According to a recent report from Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies, the number of owner-occupied U.S. homes valued at a million dollars or more increased by 170 percent from 1989 to 2001 (the total number of homeowners grew by only 21 percent); the average price of such houses now stands at roughly $1.7 million. A full 41 percent of the nation's million-dollar houses are in California, and five percent of them are within the Los Angeles city limits alone. But for concentration of expensive houses L.A. can't compete with Cambridge, Massachusetts, where 11.6 percent of all single-family dwellings cost $1 million or more—though $1 million buys only about 1,800 square feet in crowded Cambridge. There, locals say, "fancy starts at $2.5 million."

    —"'Million-Dollar Homes' and Wealth in the United States," Zhu Xiao Di, Joint Center for Housing Studies, Harvard University

    Tuesday, April 12, 2005

    Pop Quiz: Next

    Though the number of American infant fatalities, AIDS cases and war casualties have all increased since 1990 under both Republican and Democratic presidents all the "culture of life" meatheads see fit to talk about is abortion, which was of course the answer to our last pop quiz.

    Next question: Who was the first suicide warrier in recorded history?

    Ashrecha yisroel mee komocha*

    It is worth noting that non-Jewish stores lower their prices at holiday time.

    Why is it worth noting? No, not because my local heimish grocery store wants, like, 6 dollars for a dozen eggs. But because of this

    Hat Tip: Jew School

    *Oh Israel you are praiseworthy, and who is like you?

    How can you tell when Bill O'Reilly is lying?

    His lips move.

    Celebrating our shared humanity

    If you don't love Moby I'm officially worried about you.

    Hat tip: Bloghd

    and speaking of faith healing....

    The JewZoo brings John of God to our attention.

    Who is JOG? A Brazillian con-man who has made a fortune convincing fools and suckers, (including the mental midgets who produce ABC documentaries) that he posesses healing powers.

    James Randi explains why JOG is a liar, and tells us how ABC got scammed. But we Jews shouldn't rush to condemn ABC, should we? After all, you can't spin a cat by its tail in Williamsburg without hitting someone who claims similar abilities for the Hasidic masters.

    Read carefully! I am not saying that Hassidic masters are con-men! (though I'd welcome a James Randi investigation into certain store-front "kabbalists")

    Rather, I am saying that their flocks are guillible and all too-willing to attribute powers to their Rebbehs that do not exist, and that the the Rebbehs never claimed for themselves.

    It's not about the Pope

    Note to Pope-weary readers: The preceeding post discusses the Pope, but it's not really about him. The true subject is faith healing, a subject I hope to explore, with the help of your comments, in greater detail this week.

    Monday, April 11, 2005

    Miriam, Steven, the Pope and Me

    Miriam is reporting that the campaign to cannonize JPII has begun, with the preposterous claim by his longtime secretary Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz that Pope John Paul II once cured an American Jew of terminal cancer "in just a few hours."

    Miriam is rightfully appalled, and though Steven I Weiss is clever enough to suggest that the man the Pope cured was Marc Rich, he can't seem to understand the source of Miriam's indignation. (Hint: Jews take it badly when unofficial Vatican campaign are launched to suggest that Holy See has something essential to offer Judaism, which, as you may not have noticed, is this story's subtext.)

    Making matters worse, Steve demonstrates a rather precious naivete, writing, "[H]ow many American Jewish millionaires are there? Add in that he would've had to have cancer (which may or may not have been reported) and, most significantly, that at any given time he would've been in a country other than the U.S. at the same time as JPII during 1998, and it can't be all that difficult to find out his identity."

    "How many Jewish millionaires are there?" Are you serious? Tens of thousands is my quick guess. Between Great Neck and the 5 Towns there must be over 1000 in Nassau County alone. Also, very third house in Flatbush between Avenues L and M is worth over a million, making their owners, paper millionaires - at least. And what about the Hollywood Jews? And the Wall Street Jews? No, Detective Steve, this won't be an easy case to crack.

    As for his other "clue" Steve has it exactly backwards. "Add in that he would've had to have cancer?" No. Odds are the mystery millionaire was always cancer-free. That's the how the law of parsimony would explain the vanishing tumors: They were never there.

    In fact, if you behave like a Jew, or even like an ordinary thinking person, and refuse to accept that that the Pope and his magic Communion wafer cured the man, you're left with just two explanations: Either the Pope was fooled by a man who claimed he had cancer when he did not, or the Pope lied about the facts of the case or the results of his intervention.

    Neither scanrio is an argument for sainthood, and both put rather substantial dents in JP II's much vaunted infallibility armor, wouldn't you say?

    Anti-Semitic joke, or pyramid scheme?

    You tell me.


    America: The kick-butt version

    Like you, we very much enjoyed yesterday's patriotic music video, but we felt something important was missing: bombs: After all, what's patriotism without firepower?

    Happily, some sick, twisted goon has gone and fixed things: Click here

    Warning: Contains profanity.

    I do love it when bloggers fight

    Chakira has lost his mind. Sultan Knish tells us why.

    Turning the screws

    At his ranch today, President Clinton told Ariel Sharon not to expand Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

    Whoops. Typo. That should read "President Bush today told Ariel Sharonnot to expand Jewish settlements in the West Bank. "

    Or, as MonkeyPants McFlightSuit put it after their big meeting this morning over at The Lazy W, "I told the prime minister not to undertake any activity that contravenes the road map (U.S.-pushed peace plan) or prejudices final status obligations."

    Well, yee-haw.

    I'm sure you GOP Jews are as surprised about this as I am

    Tom Delay, Tom Delay, Tom Delay

    This week's Top Ten Conservative Idiots

    The guy who puts this list together says the hardest part is limiting it to just Ten Conservative idiots. Most weeks he has several dozen from which to chose.

    Cross-Currents Reality Check

    Yitzchak Alderdstan:

    The last days of the Pope contrasted with the circus surrounding the tragic end of Terri Schiavo. The Pope, who had made so many more meaningful, dramatic gestures in his lifetime, made an important one in his death as well. It was hard to miss both the dignity and the love of life inherent in his determination to bear the pain of infirmity, and in the extent of medical attention lovingly offered him.


    As the International Herald Tribune reports: "On Thursday, two days before he died, the pope refused to return to the hospital for more aggressive treatment, deciding instead to die in the sparsely furnished bedroom in his Vatican apartment."


    "He was not at all holding onto life," Cardinal Achille Silvestrini, one of the last people to see the pope on the day of his death, said in a telephone interview Sunday.

    In other words, the Pope decided for himself when it was time to die. According to the 5 witnesses Judge Greer and the Court of Appeals accepted, Terri Schavio made a similar decision for herself, didn’t she?

    So if there was a "contrast"between the last days of the Pope and the last days of Terri Schaivo it was this: The Pope's decision was respected, and Terri Schavio's decision was not.

    Who's your favorite dead person?

    Between Terri Schiavo and the pope, we've feasted on decomposing bodies for almost a solid month now.

    According to Liz at BlondeSense, other recent deaths are more worthy of our attention.

    Bloghead: And the brides wore....

    Miriam writes about attending a Jewish commitment ceremony between two women.

    I have mixed feelings about this.

    On the one hand: It's none of my business.

    On the other hand: I don't think government should have anything to say about this subject. If two gay people are willing to commit to one another, they should enjoy all the rights and privileges straight people enjoy after they sign the papers. The government that offers tax breaks, and other benefits to straight couples should not be the business of making gender distinctions. Also, I find it hard to disagree with the arguments in Andrew Sullivan's A Conservative Case for Gay Marriage, and I expect honest conservatives will, too.

    On the other hand: Woman getting married?

    On the other hand (I grew up near Love Canal): Women getting married! Yeah, baby.

    Toomah and Taharah out West

    GoldaLeah on the Parsha:

    1. Why have the instances of tameh remained for women and all but disappeared for men? (It hasn't disapeared for men: The types of toomah that devolve on men are either long-lasting and can only be removed with the ashes of a red cow, or disapear over night. Also, the types of toomah that devolve on men are random and don't follow a set schedule, like toomai nidah.)

    2. Are the 40 and 80 days still practiced in the Orthodox world? Yes, but in practice it's not necessary because the post-natal bleeding usually lasts a long time. And though post-natal bleeding doesn't make you tomai according to Torah law, rabbinic law says it does. Additionally, a man gets an aliya 40 or 80 days after childbirth, or on the shabbos his wife returns to the synagouge after giving birth.)

    3. Liberal women tend to think they need to run around liberating Orthodox women from their oppression -- and things like tameh and taharah mishpacha are often mentioned. I'd love some insight from Orthodox women (maybe someone can post some links to other blogs?) (Liberal women are cool, but here they are out of their element.)

    Sunday, April 10, 2005

    Puke is hard to get out of a keyboard... you'll want to put plastic over yours before watching this.

    Thinning the herd

    My shul is too crowded. There are no seats for our sons, or for our guests, and it's near impossible to walk from your seat to the door without disturbing someone. This weekend I and a few like-minded friends tossed around some ideas for thinning the herd:
    • Lock the doors at 9:15
    • Start davening at 8, instead of 9
    • Take out the tables.
    • Cancel the weekly kiddush
    • Ban alcohol
    • Introduce a learning seder after davening
    • Crack down on talking, with extreme malics
    • Limit entrance only to men who've been to the mikva that morning.
    The very sad thing is the first seven ideas would work, without question, but the last would probably fail. Most of the kiddush loving, latecoming, talk-aholics are very careful to dunk before shul.

    As you can see, it's not doing them much good.

    He came too late and he stayed too long

    Christopher Hitchens Declines To Mourn the Pope
    Money quote:
    Without, it seems, quite noticing what they are saying, the partisans of the late pope have been praising him for his many apologies. He apologized to the Jewish people for the Vatican's glacial coldness during the Final Solution, and for historic filiations between the church and anti-Semitism. He apologized to the Eastern Orthodox Christians, and to the Muslims, for the appalling damage done to civilization by papal advocacy of the Crusades, and by forced conversion and massacre in the Balkans during the church's open alliance with fascism during World War II. He apologized to the world of science and reason by admitting that Galileo should not have been condemned by the Inquisition. These are not small climb-downs, and they do not apply just to the past. They are and were admissions that the Roman Catholic Church has been responsible for the retarding of human development on a colossal scale.

    Shver Tzu Zein A Liberal

    Mishlei Shlomo on being a liberal in GWB's America.

    Our good friends on the Christian right

    Eric J. Greenberg, of The Forward, warns that the "Left Behind" novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins now have a children's auxiliary: a 40-title series, "Left Behind: The Kids," that warns Jewish children of the hell that awaits them if they don't convert before it's too late.

    Eleven million copies have been sold on top of the original series' 60 million, books that all but pant for the bloody demise of of Jews and other nonbelievers at Armageddon.

    (And Naphtuli, a card-carrying GOP-Jew, bissfully declares: "I have no idea why you guys are against Jesus.")

    Pop Quiz: Culture of Life Edition

    Which of the following has been in decline -under both Republican and Democratic presidents- since 1990:

    1 - American Abortions
    2 - American infant fatalities
    3 - AIDS cases
    4 - War casualties

    Come on folks, this should be easy!

    Friday, April 08, 2005

    Good Morning


    Israeli President Moshe Katzav and Syrian President Bashar Assad shook hands on Friday at the funeral of Pope John Paul II, Israel Radio said.

    The radio said the Iranian-born Katzav also spoke at the funeral in his native Farsi with Iran’s president, Mohammad Khatami.

    Katsav and Assad, sitting one row apart, said “good morning” to one another and shook hands as the funeral got under way, the radio said.

    Malcolm Hoenlein: "I love the Pope"

    Listen to Malcolm "X" Homlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, kissing the feet of the dead pope on this morning's Nachum Segal show:

    Ick alert: Malcolm says some "Jews(!)" have nominated JP II for a posthomous Nobel Prize.

    Same tailor?

    The Pope meets the Rabbi of Rome.

    Paul of bloghd's been making a meal of the fact that this Rabbi was mentioned in the Pope's will. Big deal.

    The Rabbi was mentioned at the very end of a paragraph that refers favorably to all the cardinals, archbishops, bishops, priests, Catholic lay-people and non-Christian brothers in the world. At the tail end of that, one Jew gets a mention, and not even by name, but by his office.

    In context, it looks tacked on, or like a courtesy mention.

    Great Lines

    President Bush on Friday said that attending the funeral of Pope John Paul II was "one of the highlights of my presidency."

    Why? Because you've been looking forward it? Because you're glad he's gone? Because you got to ride on a plane?

    "No doubt in my mind the Lord Christ was sent by the Almighty," Bush said. "No doubt."

    And that, Mr. President, is one more reason why we don't trust your judgement.

    Republican Family Values

    Report: "The wife and daughter of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay have been paid more than $500,000 since 2001 by DeLay's political action and campaign committees, according to a detailed review of disclosure statements filed with the Federal Election Commission and separate fund-raising records in DeLay's home state, Texas."