Sunday, July 31, 2005

The right likes to cheat

Attempting to prove that the Washington Post lacks the integrity and independence of, say, a really stellar house organ like the FOX network, SoccerDad cherrypicks a process article about SCOTUS nominee John Roberts ("Democrats Say Nominee Will Be Hard to Defeat") and, representing it as a profile, compares it unfavorably with the real profiles the Post published about Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsberg back when they were nominated.

Conveniently, in his rush to show us how unreliable the Post is, SoccerDad omitted to mention the Post's actual profile of Roberts, a fawning article titled: "Nominee Excelled as an Advocate Before Court: Roberts Is Noted For His Preparation And Persuasiveness."

In his comment section, after being challenged by yours truly, SD attempts to explain away the sleight of hand saying, "I can't imagine an adversarial "process" article written about a Democratic nominee."

Which is bizarre. Because the process article about Roberts he cited ("Democrats Say Nominee Will Be Hard to Defeat") was anything but adversarial.
If I was a Frenchman...

Krugman: the extent that the French have less income than we do, it's mainly a matter of choice. And to see the consequences of that choice, let's ask how the situation of a typical middle-class family in France compares with that of its American counterpart.

The French family, without question, has lower disposable income. This translates into lower personal consumption: a smaller car, a smaller house, less eating out.

But there are compensations for this lower level of consumption. Because French schools are good across the country, the French family doesn't have to worry as much about getting its children into a good school district. Nor does the French family, with guaranteed access to excellent health care, have to worry about losing health insurance or being driven into bankruptcy by medical bills.

Perhaps even more important, however, the members of that French family are compensated for their lower income with much more time together. Fully employed French workers average about seven weeks of paid vacation a year. In America, that figure is less than four.

So which society has made the better choice?
Correct me if I am wrong, GOP-Jews, but is this not further evidence that to truly be "pro-family" you must also be "pro-labor?"

Friday, July 29, 2005

Look who's 1,869th in line for the presidency

Return us to those days of yore

Have you ever studied tractate Chagigah? This week, in between the meetings and the mountain climbing, I learned that Temple Days were, in some unpleasent ways, very much like our own.

You see, according to the Talmud, there were in Temple Days two classes of people: (1) Perushim who were meticulous about purity, and accepted certain stringancies to protect the purity of their food and their bodies; and (2) Amei Ha'aretz who were not meticulous and could not be trusted to even keep the basic requirements.

Throughtout the year, those priests who were perushim refused to take trumah (food offerings) from Amei Ha'aretz, and there were strict rules limiting the participation of the amei ha'aretz in Temple services. This was done to protect the priest and the Temple from being polluted through contact with food that may have been handled by people who were, themselves, in a state of impurity.

There are echos of this in our own day.

Some shuls withhold the amud from people who haven't embraced stringencies like the hat or gartel. Other shuls ban certain hechsharim. And some schools turn away prospective students from families that keep the basic law but not the more advanced stringencies. In a sense, those who wear hats and refuse to watch TV and movies are modern perushim; those who are, perhaps, a little sloppy with the basic law and have no use for chumrahs are our amei ha'aretz.

This neat analogy between our time and Temple time shatters when you recall that the rules were different on holidays. On holidays the amei haaretz and their food were accepted by the persuhim with love. All stringancies were suspended. Why? Because the sages feared that the amei haaretz would go off and start their own sect if they weren't made to feel welcome in Jerusalem on holidays.

And weren't they wise? Don't we see this happening in our own day? All of our modern subsects are, to an extent, the product of stringencies.

Wouldn't Judaism -universal Judaism- be so much stronger if we followed the approach of the Sages and stopped using stringencies as an excuse for excluding and belittling other Jews?
Now it's time to say goodbye to all our company

Ok. Party's over. Get out of my house. Your guest-blogging term is over. Thanks for keeping things busy during my absence. You did great. All of you. Even Amshi.

Experiment Postmortum

Pissed off Amshi
Pissed of Mis-Nagid
Pissed off Toby Katz
Made Krum, Shanna, Shifra, and Wolfy feel special
Brought some new energy to the blog
Brough new attention to some other blogs

Pissed off Amshi
Pissed off Mis-Nagid
Pissed off everyone who wasn't asked to guestblog (Don't deny it. Even TobyKatz is mad that she wasn't asked. All I can say is there will be a next time, and if you'd like to be included let me know, ASAP.)

Sigh. Well? Don't be shy, what did you think?
Where in the world was DovBear?

Covering the AFL-CIO convention in Chicago?
Wearing orange in Kfar Maimon?
Subbing for Godol Hador?
Hiding from Amshi?
On board Discovery?
On Amshinover

His side: Click

My side:

1 - It isn't "censorship" when a private person makes an affirmative choice about standards. A newspaper doesn't have to publish everything, and neither do I. All of you who are using the word "censorship" to describe the choices I have made about content for my own blog, are misusing the term.

2 - Amshi isn't permanently banned from the comment section. He was given a one-day time out (that inadvertantly stretched to two days when I was delayed) because he posted the same abusive comment on 6 or 7 different threads. (I deleted all but one of them.)

3 - When I banned him, Amshi wasn't "defending his point of view." He was cursing me out - on multiple comment threads.

4 - I don't understand why so many people seem to think that a "liberal" is obligated and required to tolerate anything and everything. That's a big mistake on your part, not an inconsistancy on my part.
I'm baaaaaak

Miss me?

(Please take a moment to say thanks and good-bye to the very excellent guest bloggers. Their time expires this afternoon.)

Thursday, July 28, 2005

A Conversation with My Husband

Here is a conversation that took place just an hour ago.

Husband: Um Shifra, I forgot to tell you, but two days ago, when I went to heat up some french fries, the oven wouldn't turn on.

Shifra: *tests the oven herself, checks pilot* What?! Did you call a repair man?

Husband: No

Shifra: And you didn't tell me?!

Husband: Um... no

Shifra: These things need to be taken care of right away! If you weren't going to do anything about it you should have at least TOLD me... and now it's Thursday night! I have not even started cooking for Shabbos and now I can't possibly cook anything.... hey.... wait a minute...*Smiles*

Husband: Way ahead of you Shif! *Smiles back*

The End

This message was brought to you by the kosher takeout and excellent excuses commission.

Conversion Camps

The following is an article reprinted from and written by Ron Reagan Jr. I saw a report on these on last night/this morning similar to this on CNN.

Summer’s here, meaning thousands of kids are heading off to camp and participating in a host of familiar activities: hiking, canoeing, archery, re-programming their sexual orientation. Don’t you remember that from your summers at camp?

It’s part of the so-called refuge program, one of several similar efforts to turn gay teens straight. When a 16-year-old gay Tennessean known only as Zach blogged about being forced to attend one of these camps, other bloggers jumped in and the issue reached new prominence.

According to the Reverend John J. Smid who runs the program in question, the goal is to put “guardrails” around the teens’ sexual impulses. To that end, there are rules: no secular music, no more then fifteen minutes behind a closed bathroom door, no contact with other gay folks, and, for reasons I’d rather prefer not to imagine, no Calvin Klein underwear.

Reverend Smid himself claims to be a recovered homosexual. He goes on to say, “I may see a man and say, he’s handsome, he’s attractive, and it might touch a part of me that is different from someone else.” Reverend, that would be the gay part.

At the heart of this is the notion that people choose to be gay so they can chose to switchback. Common sense suggests otherwise. Remember coming home from school and telling your parents you decided to be heterosexual? I didn’t think so.

But the homophobic fringe clings to this mean-spirited fiction so they can deny that issues like same sex marriage are matters of civil rights. After all, if certain people are simply born gay, it wouldn’t be fair to persecute them. So, to stave off this uncomfortable reality, they induce in vulnerable teens the same self-loathing that so obviously troubles men like Reverend Smid.

The report on CNN included a conversation with 2 different attendees of the 'Reverend' Smid's camp. One became convinced at the camp that G-D had made him gay and that was how he planned on living. He current lives in TN and attends Church with his boyfriend and works to help others improve their lives. The second one has been at the camp for several weeks and plans to be there for at least another 8 months and plans on possible going on to seminary to become a Pastor/Reverend. He stated to the reporter that he could now see himself marring a woman and having kids and being happy.

I really don't know what to think about this issue. Ron Reagan made several good observations about the reasons for this type of camp existing in his final paragraph. I know the biblical prohibition, but I also have a good friend from college that is gay. I have to say I am torn on this issue. I would never tell my friend that he is wrong, but at the same time I wonder about the situation.

If one accepts the Torah as being divinely written, then can you really say that there is nothing wrong with homosexuality. G-D said it was wrong.

If you do not accept the Torah as being divinely written, then you can start to analyze. The first thing you need to do is to decide whether the Torah is divinely inspired but written by man and corrupted to their idea. Or you could look at the Torah as being nothing more than a book, if this is the way you look at it then perhaps the prohibition is nothing more than our ancient forefathers way of differentiating us from the many cultures around ours that allowed or even encourage same sex relationships.

I guess I will just have to spend more time and thought, not to mention prayer and meditation, trying to comes to gripes with both my secular thinking and my religious thinking. And maybe, just maybe, one day I will have the type of epiphany that will resolve the issue in my own head.


At Starbucks, I order a medium.

Thou Shalt Not Be a Fool

AddeRabbi has a great post regarding the Rambam's interpretation of the mitzvah "Tamim tihiyeh im Hashem Elokekha." His basic point: it's assur to be a fool. Certainly relevant to the discussion here. But the quote that jumped out at me:
Anyone who believes in these and similar things, and thinks to himself that they are real and full of wisdom, but that the Torah prohibited them, is a fool lacking in intelligence, and is in the category of women and children whose intellects are incomplete.
I think I will use this one the next time I have an argument with my wife: "But honey, it is mefurash in the Rambam! I win!"

UPDATE: My wife's answer: "nishtanu hateva!!"

Apples and Orange(s)

Earlier MomOf4 wrote about Gaza settlers writing their national identification numbers on their arms as a way of comparing themselves to Holocaust victims. Today, she revisited the topic to point out that some settlers intend to wear concentration camp uniforms as they are being evacuated.

I don't care how beautiful your home is, how sad you are to be leaving your community, how distasteful you find it to be escorted out by fellow Jews, or how difficult it will be to rebuild your life. This comparison is sickening, and the leaders who allow it to continue should be condemned.

Cross-posted at Devarim.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Calculated Risks

I once promised myself I would never blog after midnight so I've got to get this post up quickly if it's going to get out at all.
It's about risks and reactions, specifically the risk DovBear took by leaving his blog in the hands of other bloggers/commentors while he was away.
Now, most of his choices were pretty conservative:
Shanna, all kegstanding aside is pretty grounded, same goes for myself, the always polite and rational Little Wolf, and Krum, who is posting some sharp and timely stuff, not unlike the blogowner himself.

And then there is Amshinover....

Oh Amshin how you keep us guessing. You know, Amshin is the kind of guy I'd love to have over for dinner, but not really the kind of guy I'd want to hand my housekeys over to if you know what I mean.... True, DovBear seems to have the ability to pop in and check on the blog now and then, so maybe choosing a wildcard like Amshinover wasn't such a risk, but Amshin was also not ready to edit himself or keep his posts pareve. I give the man credit, he was able to fit his two favorite topics into just one post - Misnagid bashing and the Holocaust- and he almost got away with it.

Maybe in 50 or 100 or 1000 years a person will be able to compare holocaust deniers with those who find the torah to be less than holy but for now it's too soon and too close to all of us.

DovBear, you played with fire and got burned. I respect your right to edit your blog any way you see fit and in fact I agree with you that this post had to go....
But honestly man, what WERE you thinking!?

Mystic or Charlatan?

"Founder of Hasidism," is a book by Moshe Rosman about the Baal Shem Tov. In it he describes the genesis of the term "ba'al shem." According to Rosman, "ba'al shem", literally, a"master of the name," referred to an individual who knew how to use God's Name to pull stunts like moving souls around, disappearing, and shortening distances between places. During the middle ages, there were many "ba'alei shem" and their ranks included such luminaries as R' Yonasan Eibeshutz. R' Yonasan Eibeshutz in particular described the wonders he performed in his writings.

I am somewhat skeptical that the people can work magic by using God's Name or other kabalistic incantations, but I suppose I can't rule it out. What bothers me is if I don't believe these stories, that basically means I am calling the Baal Shem Tov and R' Yonasan Eibeshutz either charlatans or delusional. No?

Biblical Archeology

I heard about this this morning. As we were earlier discussing the idea of the transmission of biblical passages I thought this might be appropriate. (Not to mention interesting.)

A secretive encounter with a Bedouin robber in a desert valley led to what an Israeli archaeologist hailed Friday as one of the most important biblical finds from the region in a half century.The discovery of two fragments from a nearly 2,000-year-old parchment scroll give rise to hope that the Judean Desert may yield more treasures, said Professor Chanan Eshel, an archaeologist from Tel Aviv's Bar Ilan University.The two small pieces of brown animal skin, inscribed in Hebrew with verses from the Book of Leviticus, are from "refugee" caves in Nachal Arugot, a canyon near the Dead Sea where Jews hid from the Romans in the second century, Eshel said in an interview with The Associated Press."No scrolls have been found in the Judean Desert" in decades, Eshel said. "The common belief has been that there is nothing left to find there."Now, he said, scholars may be spurred on to further excavations.Archaeologist and Bible scholar Steven Pfann said he had not seen the fragments. If authenticated, they would "in general not be doing more than confirming the character of the material that we have from the southern part of the Judean wilderness up until today."But "what's interesting and exciting is that this is a new discovery," Pfann added. "This is the first time we've seen anything from the south since the 1960s."The finding constitutes the 15th scroll fragments found in the area from the same period of the Jewish "Bar Kochba" revolt against the Romans, and the first to be discovered with verses from Leviticus, Eshel said.

Below is a link to the entire article with contained other information on antiquities and the finding of other items in Israel.


In this post Amshinover tried to demonstrate that terrific arguments can be made in support of terrible ideas. The post, however, was taken by many to be suggesting that atheists in general (and my friend Mis-Nagid in particular) are either holocaust deniers themselves, or their moral equivlent. Though I don't believe that it was Amshi's concious intention to make that suggestion, the suggestion itself is unacceptable, and the post has been deleted.


Liberal media alert

The Atlantic Monthly, a liberal magazine, published in Boston, the place red staters love most to demonize, is running an article in their September edition called "How Yasir Arafat destroyed Palestine."

I haven't read it yet, but look for my comments in this space soon.

Kindergarten Mesora

The other night, after sh'ma, my son asks me "Knock-Knock"
Me: "who's there?"
Him: "Mickey Mouse's underwear!!"

I heard the same joke when I was 5. Yet it's not written down anywhere. Nor did I, my wife or his rebbe teach it to him.

If 4 and 5 year olds can pass on an oral tradition and preserve it in pristine condition, why is it so hard to believe that the intelligent learned adults described here did the same?

You know what? I should go work for Discovery. Kugel anyone?

Pinky and the Brain

Can you name these 2 bad boys?

They're Pinky and The Brain
Yes, Pinky and The Brain
One is a genius The other's insane.
They're laboratory mice
Their genes have been spliced
They're dinky They're Pinky and The Brain,
Brain, Brain, Brain Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain Brain.
Before each night is done
Their plan will be unfurled
By the dawning of the sun
They'll take over the world.
They're Pinky and The Brain Yes, Pinky and The Brain
Their twilight campaignIs easy to explain.
To prove their mousey worth
They'll overthrow the Earth
They're dinkyThey're Pinky and The Brain, Brain, Brain, BrainBrain, Brain, Brain, BrainNarf!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Where are you?

You haven't posted since July 5th. I know BP gets quiet in the summer, but come on!! No car accidents? No intra-Bobov politics?

Are you in the country? (or as you probably call it, "de kuntr-r-ry"?) Sitting on Route 52 with your laptop waiting for something, anything to happen?

Did R' Mordche Dovid's goons get you?

Were you sad that orthomom stopped featuring you on a daily basis?

Please come back.

Dear Dov Bear,

perfidy \PUR-fuh-dee\, noun:The act of violating faith or allegiance; violation of a promise or vow; faithlessness; treachery
A note to my readers

Dear Friends,

I asked Amshinover to join the team of guest bloggers covering for me during my vacation because he's funny, freakishly knowledgeable and a whiz at Google. Like the blog, Amshi makes his points provocatively and there's a bit of the Gonzo about him. He and I don't agree about everything, but that's part of what makes knowing him so entertaining.

A few weeks ago I, and many (if not all) of my readers, were deeply offended when Toby Katz told us that the Holocaust was, in part, a punishment for the Reform movement. For a few days we yelled at her, criticized her, poked holes in her specious reasoning and turned her into a bit of a punching bag. Yesterday Amshi chose to open those old wounds by publishing private correspondence he exchanged with Toby during those events. Many of you have expressed disappointment and even disgust with Amshi's decision to publish that correspondence.

In private email I apologized to Toby for this violation of her privacy, an apology she graciously accepted, and I asked Amshi to remove the post. He has done so, and I consider the matter closed.

Amshi's tenure as a guest blogger ends on Thursday. During his remaining time I (like you, I hope) look forward to more of the the sort of funny, unrestrained, barely comprehensible posts that have made him a favorite commenter in the Jewish blogosphere.


Kippa Conundrums

Since a lot of nuance can be lost in the blogesphere it seems I've misinterpreted respondingtojblogs indentity crisis by being overly defensive on the MO side of things (see what a righteous convert I've become!) Please read his comments to better understand where he is coming from before responding to my post. I still feel that my post has merit on it's own (although not as a direct response to "responding") so I will leave it up in tact.

There has been a bit of discussion going on my blog shameless plug regarding this comment from “respondingtojblogs.”

I first confronted my MO identity crisis when I posted a profile on Frumster. I put myself down as MO, but I am from a very Yeshivish background (through high school). I felt that there is no way I can justify calling myself Yeshivish. While the Frumster profile has gone away, my crisis as it is has not. I think I am MO by default although I don't subscribe to its dogma.
My question is- am I full of crap if I wonder if I should change my kippa type from Yeshivish velvet to the supercool MO crochet? Does that show that my transformation was for cosmetic purposes only?

Before we get to the externals ie your choice of headwear, it is interesting to me that you consider yourself MO by default. Since you claim not to subscribe to the MO dogma by which I assume you mean valuing secular knowledge, Zionism, torah u’maddah, etc… I can only assume you mean that you are not as observant of mitzvos (or perhaps chumros) as you used to be. This to me is not a sign that you have become MO at all, only that you feel you have become less observant and now feel that you identify more with the less observant MO crowd (who seem more at ease with their laxity) than the less observant UO crowd who hide their lack of observance (Fakers) or flaunt it in an odd way (Yeshiva Bums, see also Hockers.)
Ok with that out of the way the next order of business is to choose how you want other people to see you. While I FIRMLY believe that kippot, hats, etc… are purely external matters of fashion with no intrinsic value (unless they affect the way you behave while wearing them) they do affect people’s perception of you. My husband, a lifelong srugah wearer discovered a few years ago that black velvet yarmulkes cost about $6 whereas srugot cost about $25. Because he is um… frugal… he bought a few to see if he could make the switch. It did get a big reaction around town and in the end he decided he was more comfortable with his old look. If you feel that you now are more aligned with the MO crowd these days and want to identify yourself that way, go ahead, but in the end it’s more important to be true to yourself than to try to force yourself into an image that doesn’t really fit.

Shuttle Launch

As our estemed host will occasionally post things of a non-Jewish content. I felt compelled by both my own interest, and in the interest of maintaining a diverse content, to post this.

The STS-Discovery had a successful launch. May Hashem protect this crew and bring them safely back to earth.

The Kherson Genizah

For those of us who refrain from listening to music during the 3 weeks, I highly recommend R' Alan Brill's classes on Modern Orthodoxy at Aside from the serious discussions of the thought of major orthodox jewish figures of the last 300 years, you will hear such delectable hock such as, whether the Rav z"l ate redi-whip with his ice cream or R' Hershel Schachter's position regarding the halkhik propriety of doing headstands at weddings (I am serious).

The last class covers Chabad, which Rabbi Brill argues is a form of Modern Orthodoxy. Chabad was the first hasidic movement to systematically publish seforim that set out its system of thought in an organized manner. Chabad also invented kiruv over a hundred years ago. R' Shalom DovBer (three Rebbes ago) visited Freud and incorporated psychological concepts into Chabad philosophy.

Chabad also published history books. The "friedike" rebbe (hint: in Chabad-speak, this refers to the rebbe before R' Menachem Mendel z'l). wrote a number of history books based largely on a set of documents found in the Kherson Genizah. These documents included such gems as:

1. Chabad preexisted the Baal Shem Tov
2. Hidden lamed vavniks would meet regularly in the forest and determined that Chabad would be the one "true" chassidus
3. The Haskala movement was directed by a "Haskala Rebbe" who would give secret orders to misnadgim

Sure enough, these documents were revealed as forgeries and no one today, other then Chabad, accepts them as genuine. To name just a few of the problems, the letters were written in the wrong style of Yiddish, utilized modern Hebrew, included dates that actually fell out on yom tov (when writing is forbidden) and referred to people who have already died as contemporaries with those who hadn't yet been born.

If only they had Google...


So if orange is the color of the anti-disengagement camp, and blue is the color of the anti-anti-disengagement camp (because I don't think "pro-disengagement" is the right term)...then what does that mean for Mets fans?

I understand the meaning behind the orange-and-blue ribbon that our BlogHost has on his sidebar, but I'm not sure I can get behind it. Just saying "I want all of Israel to be united" won't make it so. Having sympathy for the settlers while still asking them to leave won't give them their homes back. Blending the colors implies that blue-without-orange is "missing" something, that within the government there is no sympathy for the settlers.

Blue is "our color," or at least it was before it become the un-orange. Blue is cheesy Chanukah decorations in December. Blue is techelet. Blue is Israel. In choosing orange, the anti-disengagement camp set themselves against the blue. They chose agression instead of cooperation, separation instead of unity. "Jews dont expel Jews" has a much stronger message when we're all wearing the same color.

It's time to reclaim the blue.

(With credit to my husband for sparking this train of thought.)

Cross-posted at Devarim

Monday, July 25, 2005

So THAT'S Why Radio Stinks (or Why I Love Eliot Spitzer)

Ever turn on the radio and wonder why the music coming out of the speakers is irredeemably bad? Is it your ears? Your speakers? Well, as reported here, New York AG Eliot Spitzer found out that you can get any old piece of crap on the radio. See, the trick is to pay the dj money. Even a walkman would do it, for goodness sake. Some emails discovered by Spitzer:
  • "We ordered a laptop for Donnie Michaels at WFLY in Albany. He has since moved to WHYI in Miami. We need to change the shipping address."
  • "Can you work with Donnie to see what kind of digital camera he wants us to order?"
  • "I am trying to buy a walkman for Toya Beasley at WRKS/NY.… Can PRS get it to me tomorrow by 3 p.m. … I really need to get the cd by then or I have to wait a week or two before she does her music again …"
  • "Gave a jessica trip to wkse to secure Jessica spins and switchfoot."
  • "Two weeks ago it cost us over 4000.00 to get Franz [Ferdinand] on WKSE."
So, as it turns out, money is a very good thing to have. Not only can it get your son the talmid of the week award, it can get your warblings in the shower played during the drive at five. What a country!!

Beating a Dead Horse

To follow up on the discussion here, here is a quote from an article in Tradition by Prof. Chaim Waxman (If it's in Tradition it's got to be true. Tradition even has footnotes!!):
"It is neccessary to distinguish between two types of modern Orthodoxy. One may be called philosophical, while the other is more appropriately characterized as behavioral. Within the category of philosophical modern Orthodox, or centrist Orthodox, would be those who are meticulously observant of halakhah but are, nevertheless, philosophically modern. Within this context, being modern means, at minimum, having a postive perspective on general education and knowledge, and being well disposed to Israel and religious Zionism.

The behaviorally modern Orthodox, on the other hand, ore not deeply concerned with philosophical ideas about either modernity or religious Zionism. By and large, they define themselves as modern Orthodox in the sense that they are not as meticulously observant as the right wing states one should be. "

(Link). While Prof. Waxman grossly overstates things, there is a kernel of truth in what he says, in my opinion. This does not mean that UO communities are better than their MO couterparts. Judaism is not merely a religion of laws, and "meticulous observance" is not the sole basis on which a community should be judged. To take one example, the UO community's rejection of R' Slifkin was a heck of a lot worse than improper hemlines.

Killed by the Brits,without due justice.

Can you name this great man?

Finding my inner MO

Have you ever seen one of those awful movies about a sweet sensitive guy who is a sharp dresser, has a beautiful girl for a best friend, is a fantastic interior decorator/gourmet chef/hair stylist, has a massive poster of Patrick Swayze in his bedroom, and everyone knows he’s gay except him?

Well, that’s me and Modern Orthodoxy.

Since I’ve been blogging (or commenting really) people have been asking me where I stand on the Orthodox spectrum and it’s really been making me think about where I see myself. I’ve never liked labels, and to me the word “modern” (having first heard it used in an exclusively in negative sense in a UO environment) always had a bad ring to it.
To me it sounded like an apology or an excuse. I’ll do what I like and still call myself frum because I’m “Modern Orthodox.” So for these many years, although I’ve gone to college, I’ve married a totally MO guy, I have a TV which I’ll admit to watching, I read everything and anything, and have my own little blog, I’ve never really been able to embrace my Modern Orthodoxy. I’ve always considered myself a Rebellious UO.
“I’m still yeshivish,” I say as I look in the mirror “look at my sleeves, see how they cover my elbows..basically… and my hair it’s covered, um….mostly… I’m just cooler, you know different, smarter…” Ugh.

OK, so I’m not yeshivish, at all. Now that I’ve come to terms with being MO I'm feeling less and less like a hypocrite and I'm almost at peace with it. The friends who I share this new revelation with just crack up. “What did you THINK you were?!” they ask me. Frankly I’m too embarrassed to answer.


A while back krum got me hooked into post secret

anyway this weeks' postcards include one that really sums it all up

Woodstock for the Orange Olam


Because the TOBYKATZ thing is never dead

DOV asked that i remove the letter so i have.
summation of what happened
TOBY accused the holocaust victims of deserving it.
AMSHINOVER berated her
AMSHINOVER made remarks about her passing
AMSHINOVER apologized for the death remarks
TOBY wrote love letter that did not accept apology
AMSHINOVER still regrets death remarks
TOBY still thinks 1 and a half million jewish kids had it coming
DOV BEAR asks me to remove MY POST of TOBYS letter.

Things I Have Learned Today

Aha! It's all so clear to me now...

  1. DovBear does not hate me;

  2. DovBear does not think I'm a bad writer;

  3. DovBear thinks my blog has fallen into the dumps;

  4. DovBear doesn't know that we've just had our bathroom retiled and therefore could not shower at home all last week;

  5. I bug DovBear enough to make sure he has my email address;

  6. DovBear has pulled my FBI file;

  7. my fellow guest-bloggers did not speak with my elementary school classmates;

  8. I'm totally getting shafted the next time around;

  9. I totally should have won that spelling bee in eighth grade (P-H-A-R-Y-N-X); and

  10. DovBear knows I'm a self-promoting sucker.

Cross-posted to Devarim.

Heard at the shabbos table

At a recent shabbos table, I heard a story about a parent in a local yeshiva that was solicited a donation and agreed to give it in exchange for a commitment that his child would be granted a particular school-related benefit. Money was given and sure enough the child received the benefit in question. Quid pro quo.

First I was shocked. "Lo sakiru panim bamishpat, k’katon k’gadol tishmi’un!" I thundered. Then I thought "why am I being such a self-righteous fudidud? Shuls sell aliyas, Daniel Lapin sells degrees, so why should school be any different? And this could solve the tuition crisis I have been reading so much about." And then I thought, "all this thinking is making me tired," so I went back to sleep.

So here is my proposed price list for Yeshivas Kesef Daniel D'Five Towns and Far Rockaway for Boys:
Shabbat Ima...$18
Shabbat Abba...$180
Having your kids' bullies kicked out of school...$200
Having your kids' bullies kicked out of school and their fathers' books banned...$250
Looking the other way while your kid bullies others...$275
A coterie of adoring best friends...$300
Answers to the tests...$325
Right answers to the tests...$350
Playdates with the kid in the class whose parents have the pool...$375 Sleepovers with the kid in the class with the older sister...$400 "Unfortunate misunderstanding" involving said older sister...extra $50

Did I miss anything?

Testing-testing. Is this a live mike?

DovBear has kindly asked me to serve as a guest blogger for him for the next day or so. To make sure I am up to the task, I have spent many, many minutes studying the DovBear oeuvre. I have determined that there are six DovBear posts (please note that I agree more or less with 1-4):

1. Bush/Cheney/the GOP is stupid/evil
2. Cross-Currents/Heshy/GOP Jews is stupid/evil.
3. Kaballa/segulot/spirituality is stupid/evil.
4. People are stupid/evil.
5. Iyunim b'Harry Potter/Star Wars/Lord of the Rings
6. Something about kugel.

Add some biting humor, intelligence and horrendous spelling (just enough to get orthomom started), press "publish" and let the fun begin.

I will do my best to follow in his footsteps so please stay tuned.
Here we go with another DovBear experiment

During the next few days, while I'm off on a vacation/secret mission, the blog is being left in the capable hands of a few friends and neighbors.

Please treat the substitute teachers exactly as you would treat me (ie: like a baby treats a diaper.)

If you're interested in subbing for me, please let me know by email. If you weren't asked to sub this time it's because of one of the following reasons (1) I hate you (2) I think you're a bad writer (3) You're too busy with your own blog (4) You smell (5) I don't have your email address (6) I don't know enough about you (7) The other bloggers think you're a dork (8) I'm planning to ask you next time (9)You can't spell (10) I didn't think you would do it.
"I have no compassion for murderers... They should be punished. Severely"

Received an idiotic comment yesterday, a comment that permits me to share some important points about my views on Israel. So forgive me for reprinting it here, along with my reply:

Thank you Bluke. DB continues to bemoan the woeful plight of the Palestinians living in this made up refugee situation.

I also bemoan the fate of Jews who suffer from this. My heart is big enough to sympathize with innocent parties on both sides of the conflict.

As if there is such a thing as Palestinians.

What does that have to do with anything? Call them Martians. Call them Zibblehoops. Call them anything you like. They are still people, many of whom are suffering through no fault of their own. Who cares what they call themselves?

If Israel offered a transfer to Egypt or any Arab country in the world (which strangely, would never accept their Arab brothers and sisters....hmmm.....)

Would you expect any country to accept millions of refuges? The US wouldn't do it. Canada wouldn't do it. Britain wouldn't do it. So why should any Arab country? Because you have some condescending and patronizing notion about Arab "brotherhood?"

If Israel offered a transfer to Egypt or any Arab country in the world... with compensation, DB would be protesting and demanding the "Palestinians" be allowed to live freely anywhere they wished.

No, I wouldn't. I would be encouraging Arabs to take the money and go. Don't try to read my mind. Paying Arabs to move is a wonderful solution to the current problem. I'd support it fully.

When will the left wake up and realize this has never been about a homeland for displaced persons

Ariel Sharon is on the right.

When will the left wake up and realize this has never been about a homeland for displaced persons but about seeing the end of Israel?

That's part of it. But not all of it. This isn't a simple problem, so your simple explanation fails.

He's so smart. So all knowing. So full of compassion for murderers and those that train their youth to be murderers.

Nope I have no compassion for murderers, and those "who train their youth to be murderers.". None. Zero. They should be punished. Severely. My compassion is reserved for those who aren't murderers. Do you see the difference? Or is your mind so narrow and so poisoned, that you're unable to accept that some Arabs, Palestinians even, aren't murderers?

Actually, DB sounds like someone who stays home when Parshas Zachor is read. Take a hint from Rambam: Morality is not defined by any mortal.

Tell you what. When Israel stones adulterers and sabbath desecraters, you can use the halacha to punish Arabs. Don't be such a frumack when it comes to the Arabs, unless you're going to hold Jews to the same Torah standards.
What came first: The chicken or the ashkenaz tefillin knot?

You men in the audience know what I am talking about. The halacha says that the knot on the arm tefillin needs to touch the box, but ashkenaz tefillin are designed so that the knot doesn't stay put. In normal use, the knot is forever sliding away from the box. Most of us use a piece of sinew or a special knot to keep it in place; the rest of us spend davening readjusting.

So what came first? Ashkenaz tefillin or the rule about the knot? My own, ignorant and speculative hunch is that the knot rule is another one of the Ari's late additions*. Does anyone know for certain?

* In honor of yesterday's public fast, let's discuss two other Hasidic reforms:

(1) Hasidic women don't observe the minor fasts. If you ask, they'll modestly look away and send their husband or older son to say: "It isn't our minhag (custom) to fast, accept on Tisha B'av and Yom Kippur." Can anyone on the inside comment? Is this a real minhag, a minhag shtus, or a concession to the fact that an overwhelming number of Hasidic women are usually pregnant or nursing?

(2) Hasidim don't say "Avinu Malkaynu" on public fast days, reserving it for the 10 days of repentance alone. That's really pretty cool. They finish davening a few minutes earlier, yet in every other way their prayer service looks just like Judaism.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

A letter from the cops

Dear Miriam:

We were very pleased to read your recent post on the merits of cooperating with the authorities. We especially liked your argument about how only a person with something to hide would, on principle, object to a search.

Therefore, we are requiring you to set a good example by submitting the following:

(1) A copy of every email you've sent in the last five years
(2) The names and telephone numbers of every person you've interviewed in a professional capacity
(3) Your most recent bank and credit card statement
(4) The key to your house
(5) The name and address of your doctor(s)
(6) A tongue swab
(7) A blood sample.

As you, of course, have nothing to hide, we're certain you won't object to this random search of your person, house, papers, and effects,


Personally, I'd rather end up in a box, six feet under ground, than live where the cops can go through your possessions without probable cause. And if you had any sense of the stakes so would you.
Serach Bat Asher, the Deathless Jewish Woman

If you've not heard of Serach Bat Asher, let me introduce you to the Deathless Jewish Woman.

She was Jacob's granddaughter, the daughter of Asher. She makes her first appearance in Genesis 46:17 (The sons of Asher were Jimnah, Ishuah, Isui, Beriah, and Serach, their sister) and doesn't show up again until Numbers 26:46, in the genealogical list presented at the Second Census.

We call her the Deathless Jewish Woman (and believe me, we're doing our best not to think about that old lady from Titanic) because a Midrash, cited by Rashi, explains Serah's appearance at the census, by telling us that Jacob accidentally gave to Serach the (cue the creepy music) gift of eternal life.

The story goes something like this:

When Jacob's sons returned to Canaan with the news about Joseph being alive and also rich, they experienced an odd moment of cowardice. Not one of them had the guts to tell Jacob. So they went to Serach, an experienced music-maker and breaker of good news, and asked her to gently tell her grandfather that his eleventh son was alive and well. She composed a song, with the chorus "Joseph lives, Joseph lives" and went into her grandfather's tent to perform. When she got to the good part, the old man was so surprised he said, "Ha! You should live so long." (Though it sounds like Jacob was speaking Yiddish, I assure you he was not.)

Anyway, as it turned out, she did live for a long time, thanks to Jacob's blessing. Or at least, that's how Rashi and the midrash explain her presence at the census.

The Ramban, our old pal from Provence, has another explanation. And those of us who like our Torah with as little magic as possible, are very glad to have it.

The Ramban explains that Serach is mentioned simply because she has an inheritance in Israel, ie: her descendants were entitled to land in the promised land. That's why she's mentioned at the census, along with everyone else with descendants who stood to get a family plot on the nice side of the Jordan. Many of the people on the list were dead at the time and some of them are even woman (the daughters of Zelophehad (Num 46:33) so there's really no reason to presume, pace the midrash, that Serach had to have been living in order to make it on to the list in Numbers 46.

Hold still, Beaver. The fifties are almost over.

Or as DovBear Jr. put it, "Why are they dressed for the olden days?" I don't mean to drag the black-and-white-saddle-shoe-wearing four-year old through the mud, especially when I have absolutely nothing against his father (yet) but didn't you also think that the kid and his sister would have fit in here?

Anyway, screw the judge and POTUS: The boy is the most powerful being in the picture. He is the one living his life and living in the moment

Still, Mrs. Roberts, you'll want to sign him up for karate, pronto. He, unfortunately, will need it when he becomes a 12 year-old boy with classmates who know how to work Google.

Mike's Summer Day-Dream

Mine, too
Soft on Terror?

I note with disapointment that many of the loudest, most vehemently anti-terrorist members of the Jewish blogosphere have neglected to denounce abortion-clinic bomber Eric Rudolph and his tactics.

What shall we conclude from this? Shall we hold them to the same standards they impose on the New York Times? And what do you suppose these on the right who claim to oppose terror would say if the deal the US Justice Department cut with the ideologically-motivated Rudolph, had been made with an ideologically-motivated Arab, instead?
Krum writes...

UPDATE: After thinking it over and reading comments, I realize that it was certainly possible that Cross-Currents received the photo from some other source and rightfully posted it without attribution to Lamed or another website, in which case it was wrong for me to assume any wrongdoing on the part of Cross-Currents or its contributors. However, I am still left with the question of how Cross-Currents used a nearly identical headline as Lamed. Unfortunately, Cross-Currents does not publish the email addresses of its contributors and thus I have no way of determining the source of the picture. If anyone has R' Menken's email address or has any information regarding the source of the picture please let me know via comments or email. Thanks.

At DovBear we believe in unhappy coincidences, so we concede it's possible that Menken didn't swipe the picture. We add our apologies to Krum's, and pledge in the future to cause Menken grief only when he fully deserves it.

Friday, July 22, 2005

On Sloganeering

Martin Peretz:
The settler camp lapses into the crude Nazi analogy almost by reflex. a jew does not expel a jew: the slogan is plastered almost everywhere. But that is exactly not the point. If expulsion means what it meant throughout Jewish history in the exile, the Gaza disengagement is emphatically not that. It is a project of Jewish sovereignty for Jewish political and military ends. It may be mistaken (I don't believe it is), but it is not made to fulfill the purposes of an enemy power. And, since this Jewish sovereignty is democratic, the minority must honor the process that gives it its practical rights in the first place.

Carl M. Perkins
To call the evacuation an expulsion is Orwellian. It devalues what Jews throughout history who were truly expelled have had to face. Were those who were expelled from Spain in 1492 awarded generous compensation and rights to beautiful property along the Mediterranean Sea within the borders of a sovereign Jewish state? Could those expelled from their homes by the Nazis look forward to life and liberty? This shameful and manipulative rhetorical move should be condemned.

Ben Chorin
It is our opinion -- but we respect your right to disagree -- that no person of any race, creed or sexual orientation shall evict from their homes any person (or other species), especially women and persons of color, and hand these homes to militants and/or freedom fighters who have exercised their natural right to murder and mayhem.
He who trades liberty for security deserves neither and will lose both

Alarmed by a new round of attacks in London, police in New York have begun random searches of bags and packages brought into the city's vast subway system.

Brilliant. A system that is truly random -- in which the police exercise no discretion -- is 100 percent useless. Given that more than 4 million people use the subway per day, random searchs won't deter squat.

Moreover check out this HUTA rule: "People who do not submit to a search will be allowed to leave, but will not be permitted into the subway station."

So, let me see if I have this straight: If you’re a terrorist and you don’t want your backpack full of dynamite to be inspected, all you have to do it decline the random search, walk to one of the other 468 stations in NYC, and try again

At the end of the day, all this does set the dangerous precedant of permiting the police to search people without cause.

Note: If the searches are truly random, I don't see a constitutional problem - yet, but we're on the slippery slope, and for what? The police can't check even one-half-of-one percent of the people passing through the subway system each day.
Was the chastity belt too expensive?

An Alexandria woman couldn’t get out of her house Thursday because her husband nailed the windows shut and put a dead bolt on the outside of the door, city police allege.

I bet he gets sentenced to house arrest.
The right man, for the right job, at the right time

Which of the following statments apply to President Bush's nominee for US ambassador to Germany?

a) He has no diplomatic experience.
b) He doesn't speak German.
c) He raised lots of money for Bush's campaign.
d) All of the above.
Cross at Cross Currents #929173

Shorter Eytan Kobre: We conservatives love the free market -- so long as it’s not the free market of ideas, you’re talking about

... from an authentic Jewish perspective, ought one not also be saddened by the introduction of brazenly immodest Western styles and the devaluation of women’s dignity and the trampling of deeply important notions of modesty and restraint that ensue therefrom.

No Eytan. We ought not be saddned therefrom. I'm not saddened at all, in fact, and here's why: If your ideas about women are the right ideas (as I think they are, mostly) they will prevail in the free market of ideas.

I don't think the Torah's ideas are bad ideas, so they have nothing to fear from a free and open society. When something is suppressed it does not go away. It just takes on a romantic underground life and flourishes rather than being brought to the light of day where it might be refuted. Let the truth meets its enemies unencumbered in the free market of ideas, and truth will out: the best argument always wins; and when the truth wins on its own merits it acquires a legitimacy and a permanence that can never be artificially imposed.

Shorter Yitzhak Alderstan: I hate TV; but boy oh boy do I love myself.

On the other hand, there was pressure to segregate the kids from the “better” homes (i.e. ones without TV) so that they could achieve more of their potential without being subject to the educational drag of children from less spiritually rarified families. (The assumption was a gross generalization, but it harbored a good deal of truth.)

No it didn't harbor any truth, it just fed into your pre-existing prejudices. Educational drag? Do you really believe that the best and the brightest grow up without TV? Name any scientist or any scholar at any University, and I guarantee you he had a TV in his house when he was young. What happened to the "educatonal drag?"

But of course you don't mean that kids with TVs are less bright (though that's what you said.) What you mean is that kids with TVs are less holy, and that, too, is laughable. How many of us know kids who grew-up in the "spiritually rarified" air of homes that had no TVs but overindulged the moment they could? As one of your own commenters said, "The problem is not television. It’s bad television. If you restrict your kids... television can be a good influence." To which I'll add, lousy parents can ban their kids from watching TV, and if they are lousy parents the kids will still turn out bad. TV is not inherently evil

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Well done.

I am so happy to see other people jumping aboard the "Lazer Brody is out to Lunch Bandwagon."

Well done, Orthomom.

[related 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

Great mind think alike.

As Krum points out, that photo of the praying protesters and soldiers was everywhere today. At least five blogs posted it, but only one, the blog that boats of its Torah True personality, (though it is named after a Christian magazine) neglected to attribute it to Lamed, though along with the photo, they stole the title.

Who's shocked? Not me.

Another point: There's been a whole lot of ooohing and aaahing about that photo. I don't know why. The pic is only meaningful if you're surprised to see Jews praying together. Unless you've foolishly bought into the myth that the secular military despises God and Torah there's nothing sad or beautiful or especially unusual about that photo. If you needed to be reminded that the protesters and the soldiers are more alike than different, well, shame on you.

In Israel, soldiers and civillians praying together, thank god, is just another day in the life.

The closing of the Jewish mind continues...

Mississippi Fred's found a quote in a new book of Torah scholarship, a book from the hand of one Rabbi Aharon Yisroel Kahan, which proclaims a ban upon the "venomous writing" and "distorted attitudes" of "shallow minded" writers like "Ash, Bialik, Buber, Singer, Weisel and Leon Uris, to mention a few."

Set aside the fact that no one who understands Bialick or Buber or Weisel could ever call their work"shallow minded."

Set aside the fact, that there are no ideas present - distorted, venomous, or otherwise - in the works of Leon Uris.

Set aside the fact that the odds Rabbi Aharon Yisroel Kahan has read any of the authors he's so recklessly banned are exactly one in 100 million.

Set it all aside, and still this is scandelous. When did the "people of the book" become so terrified of words and ideas?

Names he missed
Godol Hador
And we might as well throw in Yehudah Halevi, while we're at it. Love poems, you know.

Men and the moon

It's rare I learn somethng from the Hirhurim comment section (ok, that's a lie. It taught me Haredi-minded Jews with little real knowledge have unfettered access to computers at work together with plenty of free time) but here's a gem from yesterday:
We say every month in Kiddush Levana "Just as I jump toward you and cannot reach you..." Therefore the moon shots were an illusion; they would violate the Torah's reality if they were real.
Clearly the writer is kidding. (right? )

Gil has more.

All honor Hillary Clinton

Stop the presses: Democract Senator takes on immorality in video games - and wins!

(That sound you hear is Rich Santorum gnashing his pointy yellow teeth; or maybe it's James Dobson thrashing someone's puppy).

Money quote:
Sen. Hilary Rodham Clinton, D-New York, applauded the ratings change but said she remained disturbed the sex content appeared on store shelves in the first place. She has asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate and called on the Entertainment Software Rating Board to do more to police game content.

"Apparently the sexual material was embedded in the game. The company admitted that," Clinton said. "The fact remains that the company gamed the ratings system
Look at that GOP Jews. Two moral, religion and tradition respecting Democrats in one day. I guess its time to draft some new talking points, eh?

All honor Joe Leiberman

Stop the presses: Democract Senator demostrates fidelity to tradition and religion in public!

(That sound you hear is Rich Santorum gnashing his pointy yellow teeth; or maybe it's James Dobson thrashing someones child).

The Town Crier has the pics of the CT Senator sporting his shloshim beard on the floor of the US Senate.

TTC also links to a few newspaper articles which praise the senator, while also making comical misstatements about Jewish mourning rituals. Some of the howlers:

From The New Harven Register

1 - "The faith’s traditional law, in fact, calls for a full 11 months of mourning which, in the most strict observance, calls for the twice daily formation of a 10-man "minyan" and recitation of the traditional kaddish prayer."

2- "...sitting only on wooden stools, the legs of which have been sawed to well less than their intended length."

3. "Twice-daily recitations of the kaddish traditionally follow readings from the Torah."

From the Medil News Service

1. "When a family is “sitting shiva,” friends and neighbors show their support, often by delivering typical Jewish comfort foods--bagels, dried fruits and sweets."

I guess this means Cheny is in charge

The president is circulating his resume.

Do they hate Jews in Massachusetts ?

No. Of course not.

Not yet, anyway.

Ask me again when Shanna is through with them.


This morning I lingered over an article which described how a group of stalwart Republican lobbyists have been hired by Wal-Mart to assert and defend the retailer's right to exploit its workers by denying them mininimum wages, health insurance, unions, and overtime pay.

I wish I could understand the thought process of these men. Do they simply hate poor, brown people? Or do they justifty themeselves with the corrupt mindset of "Well, a job's a job?"

(And for those of you bad readers who call me partisan, I also have this question for Hillary Clinton, who, from all accounts, reads my blog, "What did you say about it or do about it when you were on Wal-Mart's board?")

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Pointed questions for the orange olam

Pointed questions for the orange olam

Okay, you don't want Israel to leave GK; you worry and cry for the 8000 settlers who are being asked to sacrifice for the state by moving. Exquisite -- and I don't mean to minimize the sacrifice of the settlers. In my book, the ones who obey the law are heroes. Seriously.

But, we're not discussing the settlers, orange olam, we're discussing you - and here are my questions:

(1) What does your morality say about the fact that those thriving communities we're about to abandon were built on stolen land with stolen water? When screaming about the raging injustice of the expulsion, do any of you pause to suffer guilt pangs about the origins of the community about to be expelled? Update: Some PC minded thugs, perhaps correctly, have objected to my use of the phrase "stolen land." I apologize, and reiterate that I have no wish to offend. Please suggest a substitute phrase, recalling that the land did not belong to Isarel before 1967, and that it was through the (justified) use of force that it entered Israel's control. "Stolen" is the wrong word, perhaps, but what is the right word?

(2) Have you noticed, orange olam, that GK sits on land the Jewish people seem not to want? Only 8000 settlers, remember. Tell me: if GK is as wonderful, as beautiful, and as idyllic as your current propganda campaign insists, why have so few people chosen to live there? Isn't it true, that over the last 30 years we're voted with our feet, and made it clear that we do not want Gaza?

(3) Have you considered that returning stolen land, and allowing the Arabs to attempt to create a life for themselves there, is simply the moral thing to do? Yes, the withdrawl might not lead to a peaceful solution. Yes, some terrorist scum are certainly going to use Gaza for evil purposes. And yes, many in the Palestenian leadeship are outright thugs who wish to destroy Israel. Maskim. But that's all 1000 percent irrelevant. Va'asita et hatov v'hayashar... Jews are required to do what is good and what is right and to let the chips fall where they may. They aren't supposed to justify evil, and forcing 1 million Arabs to live as second-class citzens for the pleasure of 8000 settlers is evil.

Like you, I love Israel (promise!) and yes, for 2000 years we Jews have thought about Israel, and dreamt about Israel, and remembered Israel in our prayers. Pleasent sentiment, to be sure but not license to to impoverish her children, bulldoze her rose garden and put our boots on the dining-room table.

Our rights as Jews -and we, Jews most certainly do have rights in Israel, and even in Gaza- do not obviate the co-inciding rights of other people.

Happy moon day

July 20, 1969 is the day mankind first touched the moon, and to celebrate Google Moon has some cool imagery - and a special treat, if you zoom in.

When Rationalists Attack

Nothing elicits a pavlovian response from the rationalist wing of Judaism quite like the the Zohar. If you're going to mention the Holy Book of Splendor in their presence you'll need to have a mop handy. (Or at least a rebuttal for all the very good arguments which seem, at first glance, to preclude the book's existance.)

Anywho, it gives us a good deal of pleasure to present a frothing-at the-mouth hissy-fit that makes Joan Crawford look like Mother Theresa. Really. Reading this might be the most fun you can have wearing pants.

Ladies and Gentelman, once again, the Google Hador.

Attention ba'lei dikduk

Which is the more accurate transliteration for the word we use for the shtreimal wearing gentleman who chops shishi and sits at the front of the room:

Rav or Rov?

RIP James Doohan

Scotty gets beamed up

Three seconds of Googling (a lifetime, no?) has uncovered no connection between Scotty and the Jews. Except that he liked scotch and computers and spoke mit a vierd oxcent.

SCOTUS blogging

Ok, folks, it took me some time, but I think I've found a few reasons to hate John Roberts.

(Note: Yes, I am aware that digging for disqualifiers is the behavior of a partisan hack but it's also my snide way of saying that the Vanilla White Boy might turn out ok)

Here we go:

1 - The quid pro quo Digby says: The president's first two nominations to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia curcuit --- generally regarded as the stepping-stone to the Supreme Court --- went to Miguel Estrada and John G Roberts Jr., who had played important behind-the scenes roles in the Florida litigation.

2 - In an emrgancy he, likely, would vote GOP. Or more to the point: Roberts contributed to the legal argument that resulted in Bush v. Gore, or as I like to call it: Dred Scott 2000. Roberts involvement in the worst Supreme Court ruling in the history of mankind, suggests that he is a partisan hack.

3 - They are cackling in cow country In his press release, James "he who must not be named" Dobson sounds gleeful. When that man laughs, my scar burns.

4 - The media is distracted. Not that we expected the MSM to be able to walk and chew gum at once, but today even the most banal tidbits about Roberts (he plays squash! ) are driving Rove-gate off the front page. So let's review: Rove broke the law and lied about it to federal investigators. Spread it around.

On the bright side, some are suggesting that this choice exposes the fact that Republicans, including the President, are beholden to narrow chested Bible-thumpers who are determined to ruin the lives of average Americans by taking away our right to live we choose. If this can be leveraged, the GOP coalition is history.

And please note, no matter what the fat GOP Jew who sits next to you in shul thinks, in the long run it is bad - no terrible - for us Jews if the court manages to erode our fundemental right to pursue happiness by living life as we think best.

Today's sports reports from Israel

"Hockey keeps growing in The Holy Land. The first International Israel Ice Hockey Tournament will be held Jan. 24-26 in Metulla's magnificent Canada Centre rink. Plus, a new ice arena will be built in Tel Aviv thanks to Israel Hockey Federation successes."

Meanwhile, here in the US we've forgotten hockey exists. Up next from the cutting-edge Israeli sporting authority: USFL football and indoor soccer.

ADDeRabbi : "ArtScroll is canonizing stupidity."

Snap... :)

True story: When playing the boardgame Taboo, a good many years ago, I pulled the word "crutch."

"ArtScroll Gemarah" was the clue I gave my partner and he guessed my meaning instantly.

Unfortunately, as ADDeRabbi makes clear in his scathing review of the new Siddur for Woman, ArtScroll, today is more than a crutch. In their recent publications, they've lazily papered over real disagreements, making it seem like all poskim are in agreement on, what are in fact, disputed points.

The Gedolim, you'll recall, played the same game with Slifkin.

What's behind this spreading timidity, this intelectual dishonesty, this maddening fear of controversy, this closing of the Jewish mind?


As Shanna and Miriam have noted, I went after the wrong anglel on yesterday's breathless Time's story about frightening fruit stickers, and the lasered tatoos that will soon replace them. Sure, anyone who can't handle fruit stickers without getting them in his or her hair belongs on the closed ward of a mental hospital; and yes it would be a boon for bloggers to have access to a database full of stories about morons who think fruit stickers are the greatest threat facing the republic. But for Jews the real issue is kashrut. To wit:

1) Will some sort of die be introduced into the fruit, a die that might introduce a kashrus problem?

2) Will we be permitted to eat fruits on shabbos if it means disturbing the letters?

3) How much money does the OU stand to make now that they can legitimately tell people that fruits need a hechsher?

Mirty's two cents:

Ay ay, laddies, me thinks hidden treasure lies ahead!

What is it Captain? Buried gold?

No, laddies, better than that. More hechshers, now on FRUIT! We'll be making a pirate's booty for sure.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Story of my life

Sad but true

Here we go.....

Bush to announce Supreme Court pick:

President Bush has made his decision about whom he plans to nominate to take Sandra Day O'Connor's place on the Supreme Court and will announce his pick to the nation in a prime-time address tonight.

I know it will surprise my loyal readers to hear this, but I honestly hope the war president shows some moxie and chooses a wingnut. The reason is simple: If we want to destroy the GOP (which of course we do) by turning the entire country -including moderate, sensible Republicans like McCain, Whitman and Pataki- against the preachers, and the the god-drunk pig farmers, we must strike down Roe v. Wade.

Here's the DovBear dream scenario:

Bush introduces Elmer Gantry as the nominee.
+ 2 weeks: Confirmed, preferably with no opposing votes, so the rube gets overconfident.
+ 5 months: Court hears an abortion case
+ 8 months: Court strikes down Roe
+ 8 months and 2 seconds: Preachers and pig farmers begin agitating within their miserable little states for tough anti-abortion laws.
+ 8 months 5 seconds: Moderate voters within those cow-focused states are appalled
+9 months: Moderate Republicans, disgusted that their party is putting the preachers and their special interests above everything else, begin fleeing the GOP.

Not possible? I see you've forgotten about the moderate Democrats who, 20 years ago, ran to the GOP under simillar circumstances. Today, we call those moderate democrats "neo-cons."

It could happen again, and if Bunnypants gives us a wingnut (please) my five dollars says it will.

Haloscan wierdness

I see comments in the D-base that are not showing up on the site. Is anyone else experiencing this?


Um... did we both read the same book?

Chayyei Sarah writes

"Saturday night I picked up my copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and read the whole thing between the hours of 10 pm and 10 am the next morning. It was a killer staying awake on Sunday, but it was worth it. This was definitely a very good Harry Potter book, much much better constructed and edited than Book 5. And that's all I'll say for now, so as not to include spoilers on my blog."

Some clues which suggest Sarah's version of HBP was not the exact same as mine:

1 - My version wasn't well edited, or well constructed. It was flabby and thin.

2 - My version was not "a very good Harry Potter book." My version was a very bad Harry Potter book. A very good Harry Potter book has interesting subplots, shows us new and facinating corners of the magical world, (think the Dept of Mysteries in OP) and puts old familiar charactars in new situatons (Lupin, Moody and Malfoy, are past exmples) This book had none of that. (We don't even see or hear about Moody. He appears to have vanished from the Potter universe)

Worst of all it was boring. The hint of promise in chapter 2 is never developed and them it's nap time until the very end, which, as I remarked elswhere, was a scene that, for all its drama, was equal parts New Hope, Batman, and every Kung Fu movie ever made. In fact, my ratings of the books in the series, from best to worst as of today, are as follows:

Prisoner of Azkaban
Order of the Pheonix
Chamber of Secrets and Goblet of Fire (tie)
Sorcerer's Stone
Half Blood Prince

4- Though we do get some back story in HBP, none of it is especially interesting. First, it's all about Voldermort, and none of it is earth-shattering in its originality. Why does Volfy spend his days plotting evil? Why, in books these days, does anyone - artist, serial killer, superhero - do anything? An unhappy childhood, of course. And unlike James Potter, who was revealed in OP to be complicated and nuanced hero, Voldy is all evil all the time, and surrounded by cardboard henchmen.

5 - I finished my version in just about 8 hours. If it took Sarah 12 hours to get through hers something's definately amiss. I want to read her version. Mine was a big let-down.

Texas: Torah True State

You heard me, right: Texas is a Torah True State, a place where our God-given gender roles are taken seriously.

Why else, I ask, would the Texas Music Educators Association have banned Mikhael Rawls, who has won many awards for his singing, from auditioning as a countertenor — the male parallel to soprano — with the state's All-State Choir?

As God himself has been heard to say, in between tugs on his mighty wad of Red Nation tobacco: "In Texas boys play football. (Rashi on the spot: "Or lead cheers") They don't sing no soprano."


Don't be alarmed: Fruit stickers will soon be obsolete.

Thank god: Tattooed Fruit Is on Way, so you can all wave good-bye to those,"tiny stubborn stickers that have to be picked, scraped or yanked off produce."

And just in time, too. Becuase as the quote of the day, if not the year, found midway through this facinating piece of professional journalism, makes clear, fruit sticker are a horror worthy of the next summer blockbuster:
I was picking all the little stickers from the Piggly Wiggly off my plums and my avocado pears and my peaches," said Ms. [Jean] Lemeaux, 76. "Then I had to make fruit salad out of the ones that got hurt when I took the stickers off, and then I had to wash the glue off the other ones before I put them in the fruit bowl."

"One time," she said, "I got up the next morning and looked in the mirror and there were two of them up in my hair."
Ye gods. Where do reporters find these people? Are they tapping into a database of inept morons? Which government agency would be responsible for managing such a thing?

And how do I get access?

Scenes from the Oval Office

July 7, 2005

Presidential Lacky: (rushing in) Mr. President! Now the bastards are bombing London!

President: (twirling mustache) Curses! How is Sadaam doing that from jail?

Monday, July 18, 2005

Facinating concept

[click to enlarge]

Apparently we can "change the course of history" simply by listening to a few speeches at a program starring Dov Hikind. With no kabbalah involved. Amazing!

My holy brothers, the people of Guf Katif need you. Don't stand on your brother's blood. Or on his toe, or the hem of his talis, for that matter. Go to the speech. Listen to Dov Hikind mewl. You'll find the experience to be exactly like moving to Israel, buying a house, settling down and voting in an election. Only safer. And less likely to have any effect.

Notes on the Withdrawl

I knew I liked Google. The Google Hador that is. Finally, he's opened his snarky mouth about Politics, and, as with Slifkin, he's on the side of angels, or as the angels themselves put it, "he agrees with Dober."

Though I'd prefer not to see Googely on my turf going forward, I'm very glad to know he's a bedfellow.

His view on Gaza

My view on Gaza:

Israeli settlers have made many arguments against Ariel Sharon's plan to withdraw(a) from the Gaza strip.

I've heard their theological arguments (1) their political arguments (2) and their sentimental arguments.(3)

But is seems clear our legal argument (4) trumps them all.

a: I'm not picky. Sub in a euphomism for withdrawal if that makes you smile: You can say "disengagement" or "relocation," or "running scared" for example.

1: The theological arguments:
(a) God won't know we love him if we give up one inch of the land that lies adjacent to David's former kingdom.
(b) The Messiah won't come before we've re-conquered every inch of the land that lies adjacent to David's former kingdom. He's a prima donna, that Messiah.
(c) The era of peaceful prosperity we've long-awaited won't begin until David's former kingdom and the land lying adjacent to it has been made free of Arabs.
(d) God always acts in the best interest of the Jewish people. It's called hashkofa pratis you kofer, with the exception being when something I don't like happens. In that case it's not the work of God but of the sitra acher/liberals/secularist/media/ bogeyman under my bed.

(e) God gave the land to us. So there. Phhhhbtt.

2: The political arguments:
(a) If we make concessions, the Arabs will become more violent.
(b) Retreat = defeat
(c) Maximum borders are our best, and some would say only, protection
(d) We have lots of guns and nuclear bombs. Ergo, we'll do what we want and you'll like it.

3: The sentimental arguments
(a) I was born here, raised here, kissed my first girl here, etc, and therefore I can't possibly permit myself to be separated from this land.
(b) I feel very strongly that God wants me here. So there. Phbbbbt.
(c) Our fathers fought, and in some cases died for this land. So there. Phbbbt.

4: The winning Legal argument
I know beans about Israeli law, but in America we have something called eminent domain. This is government's right to appropriate private property for public use, with compensation to the owner, as required by the Fifth Amendment. If the government has decided that it is in Israel's best interest to put the Gaza Strip to another use, and is willing to pay the owners a fair price, isn't that eminent domain? The democratically elected governement thinks this withdrawl is in the best interests of Israel. Who but a wild-eye conspiracy nut, or the selfish sort of nut who ferverently believes that God only acts in Israel's best interests when His actions coincide with your desires could object?

The imposter has been banned.

If you'd like to know why, please see the trouble he caused on this comment thread.

His IP address is I encourage all bloggers to ban him, too.

"Sorry" doesn't make it ok

Love Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry:

Today, RNC chair Ken Mehlman will apologize for the Republicans' divisive, racist Southern strategy: "Some Republicans gave up on winning the African American vote, looking the other way or trying to benefit politically from racial polarization. I am here today as the Republican chairman to tell you we were wrong.

Wrong, but successful:

From 1880 to 1948, when Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond invented the Southern strategy he would take with him to the GOP, Democrats won every Southern electoral vote in every presidential election except 1928, when they nominated Al Smith, a Catholic. In 2000 and 2004, Al Gore and John Kerry didn't win a single electoral vote in the South.

Not that there's anything especially racist about the South or the GOP, though. It's just a fun coincidence that acting all anti-black payed great dividends in the land of Jim Crow.

In 1964, when LBJ courageously signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Democrats controlled both houses of Congress because of the solid South. Today, Republicans control both houses of Congress and all three branches of government because the South is in their column

Now, if only the GOP would apologize for things they are doing now.

She wants us to know she is cynical

Shanna writes:

I know you ignore my suggestions anyway, but I'll keep sending them to you:

Go look. This is a great post - along with referencing the great Cynthia Ozick, Shanna makes a dead solid point about warm and fuzzy Judaism. Oh, and it's cynical.

What have you done with the real Yaakov Menken?

Torah? On Cross-Currents? (Note: The Devar Torah is undeniably bad, but at least it's Torah, and not adulterted with Yaakov's terrible politics. We've never seen that before on CC, have we?)

What's next? Politics on Google Hador? Humor on Hirhurim? Tolerance and understanding at the Hovel? A reader at OM? [Just a little joke OM. I read OM. At least.] A link for me on Bloghd?

Stranger things have happened.

Speaking of pathetic and boring... I was just below, in reference to Horrible Heshy, I read HP 6 over the weekend and I can say with confidence that JK is mailing it in. This was the billionaire’s thinnest and laziest effort so far. There’s a complete absence of interesting subplots, and we aren’t told much new about the Wiarding World. In fact, most of the book is spent inside Dumbelrdore's pensieve. The best thing about the book is we’re finally shown a Slytherin who isn’t altogether evil, and the question of Snape and his loyalties appears to have been answered – though, for those reading carefully one, not insignificant, mystery remains.

Oh and someone dies, but, that event, on first analyses, is either an old cliché or an even older narrative trick. So no points to JK here.

I won’t spoil the rest for those who read slowly, so I’ll close my comments with this: It sucked. Really.

I think you should know... isn't me commenting at Heshy's Hovel, and nothing the mystery guest is saying about me, my wife, or my private life is accurate - as smart people have deduced. Frankly the whole le 'affair Heshy has the stink of week old egg salad about it. He's pathetic and boring. With the consent of the readership, I'm ready to ban him and his bigotry from the blog you've all come to love.

What say you?

Friday, July 15, 2005

Quick question

Who does this describe:

He didn't like the mainstream way of doing things... so he made up his own approach... and denounced the old ways... and recruited followers to his side... who were attacked by the extablishment... and he attacked back... some say, with dope spooky magic... which of course he knew...

Is it Voldermort? Or the Bal Shem Tov?

Lies My Rebbe Told Me #019385103

If you're Orthodox and a graduate of pre-school, you know that Balaam was a prophet. If you continued your education, you know that the discussion ended 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 when Rashi or the Midrash's view on a subject has been 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.

Anyway, as the story in the Midrash goes, Balaam was not just a prophet but a prophet with powers almost equal to Moshe:

Our Sages ask, "Why did G-d bestow the gift of prophecy upon a wicked man like Balaam?" Because in the future, gentiles will complain to G-d, telling him that the Jews were granted prophets and therefore they were able to advance spiritually. G-d will answer that it was not the gift of prophecy alone which caused the Jews to advance. For He also granted the gentiles a prophet, Balaam, and what did he do? Instead, of helping the people advance spiritually, he encouraged immorality.
Wonderful, except the Ramban, who we must presume at least glanced at The Little Midrash Says when he was a tyke, isn't buying it.

His view on the matter can be found in the his comment to Num 22:31, where he exclaims:

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

He adds: "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 Balaam ben Beor, the soothsayer [Kosaim]"

Yes, yes pedants. I know this isn't really a lie, but an incomplete truth. Though the Midrash does say that Balaam was the second greatest prophet of all time, not everyone accepts the Midrash.

More Giant Gapping Plot Holes

To celebrate the arrival of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, me and the badspelling monkeys who produce this blog, are pleased to present: THE BIGGEST, MOST ANNOYING, PLOT HOLE IN THE HISTORY OF PLOT HOLES

First the runnerups:

The Bible: Where did Cain's wife come from?

Star Wars: A New Hope: Darth Vadar can sense the presence of his son Luke from across the galaxy (ep vi), but when his daughter Leah is standing directly in front of his face (ep iv) he feels nothing?

On Her Majesty's Secret Service: When James Bond meets Ernst Stavro Blofeld, neither man recognizes the other, despite a previous confrontation in 1967's You Only Live Twice

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: The entrance to the Chamber of Secrets, built and hidden by Salazar Slytherin, founder of Hogwarts, approximately one thousand years ago, is accessed through indoor plumbing

And the winner, a plot hole big enough to fit the egos of me, Godol Hador, and at least 6 of your least favorite ultra-Orthodox community leaders, is...

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Voldermort's snuck a secret agent on to the grounds of Hogwarts, for the purpose of kidnapping Harry, but instead of capturing Harry straight off, the secret agent waits a full year. For what? Why wasn't Harry snatched on the first night of the term?

Heshy brings the pintel yid out of the closet.

Excerpted from a comment at Heshy's house:

...the reason I venture such a daring assay, given your previous feints at the women/liberals/“homos,” etc., is that I have my reasons for believing that all may not be exactly as it seems at Chez Heshy. I’ll just say that some of us are picking up the vibes you’re sending, my friend... I can't say that the lack of a Mrs. Heshy has escaped my attention, or the virile braggadoccio about your culinary skills, or the come-hither look as you position yourself among your flower garden like a rose awaiting the bumblebee...

I’ll be frank, Heshy: I want to come for Shabbos. I want to come all Shabbos, every Shabbos. I really, really do. I know it is forward of me, since we have not yet met face to face, but I feel like I already know you so well from your posts. And don’t be afraid of our passion, my dove.... I want to spend a lot of time just being held by you, walking home from the shteibel hand-in-hand, snuggling up by the warmth of the blech, "accidentally" brushing up against each other as we simultaneously reach for the pre-checked salads. Then perhaps we could sing some zemiros at the table, surrounded by the strayed yiddin that you have brought back to the path with your openness and insight, me looking at you with eyes that promise a just reward for the joy that you have brought to so many. HaMayvin Yavin, my friend.

Thank you for taking the first step by posting your cell phone number. I’ll be
calling soon.

That's Dash Riprock, and if there was a JIB for best comment, I'd say we have a winner.