Monday, October 31, 2005

Name that street


Torah u Maadah Way is a great idea. I also like DovBear Boulevard.

Any other thoughts?

Unintentionally fnny

"'Let's give Judge Alito a fair up-or-down vote."
Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.

Somewhere,Harriet Miersis gritting her teeth.

The Curse of Ham

If I had to choose, my least favorite verses in all of Torah would have to be the ones in this week's sedra about Canaan being cursed - not because of what they actually say, but because of how they are gleefully misrepresented and misapplied.

Noah, first of all, did not curse his son, in the sense of causing misfortune to befall his own offspring. Rather, writes Samson Rephael Hirsh, Noah simply announced that Canaam was doomed. With the words Arur Canaan Noah told us what he saw. He didn't cast a spell, or offer a prayer, or work any sort of charm. His utterance was merely the biblical equivlent of telling your child "Son, you'll never amount to anything."

Next, is the horrible institution this mistake has been used to serve. In the verse, Noah decrees that Canaan will be slave to Shem and Yefes, and this decree has been used for thousands of years by Jews, Christians and Muslims to justify black slavery. Odd, when you realize that Noah and his family are not described in racial terms. Support for the idea that Canaan turned black is found in the midrash (Breishis Rabba on 9:25) and in the Me'am Lo'ez, where insult is added to injury with the teaching that the black man is not just dark-skinned, thick-lipped, and kinky-haired --- but also red eyed and unalterably immoral, all because of the curse.

Happily, there's help. Almost 1000 years ago(!) the Ibn Ezra warned against those who imagine that slavey and blackness are biblicaly linked. In his commentary to Genesis 9:24, he writes: "There are those who think that the black people (Cushim) are slaves because of Noah's curse. But they have forgotten that the very first king in the Torah after the Flood was from Cush," ie: black. (This was Nimrod)

The Ibn Ezra's point seems clear: Black slavery (and one might presume black skin, too) has nothing to do with Noah's curse. The very first king after the curse was from Cush; if the curse had any weight this would have been impossible. The Cushites would not have produced an globally-respected king.

The IE could have made the same argument by pointing out that Canaan --the one specifically cursed in the text-- is the only one of Ham's four children who is not the forefather of dark-skinned people, nor is he thought to be the forefather of Africans. Kush is west central Africa, Mizraim is Egypt and Put is Libya. Canaan, however, is not in Africa, but between the Jordan River and the Mediterranian Sea where people are more olive-colored than black. So the idea that Noah's curse made Canaan's skin turn black -and black Africans into slaves - appears to be defeated by the text itself.

Finally, we'd do well to remember that the only Biblical curse that specifically mentions a change in skin color is in 2 Kings 5:20-27 where Elisha punishes Gehazi - by giving him white skin.

Weiss vs. Wieseltier

Don't know how I missed it, but Rabbi Avi Weiss, and Leon Wieseltier recently exchanged insults on TNRs letter page regarding Leon's legendary Gaza article. Here's a snippet:

Without naming me, Leon Wieseltier quotes my assertion— published in The Forward—that it is natural and proper to feel a sense of mourning over the loss of Gaza (“The Fall,” September 5).“The disengagement from Gaza,”Wieseltier writes, “is not our loss.” For his part,Wieseltier “will not squander” his “powers of sorrow” on those places or feel “tribal” empathy for the suffering of those people who, at their government’s behest, settled the sand dunes and have now lost everything.

Wieseltier’s “powers of sorrow” may be more precious than those of the rest of us and therefore worthy of being meted out more judiciously. But we—who, admittedly, cannot quite shake off our unenlightened “tribal” empathies—continue to feel it is natural and proper to share the sense of mourning with those who have lost their homes, their livelihoods, and their sense of community— whether it be by an act of God (a hurricane or a tsunami, for example) or a political decision.

At their government’s behest? Rabbi Weiss must be kidding.The settlers were not dragged kicking and screaming into the territories.They had uses for various governments and various governments had uses for them. Now the old tricks are not working, and they wish to be called victims.They are not victims, they are losers. It is not the same thing.

One cannot feel equally for everybody. This is an elemental fact of ethical life.The soldiers who lost their lives and their limbs in the defense of the settlers, and the families of those soldiers, have more of a claim on my sympathy than the settlers who lost their “sense of community.” Why should I wear sackcloth for the settlements if I believe that they injure Israel strategically and spiritually?


The only thing that worries me about Sammy Alito, the new nominee to the Supreme Court, is that conservatives seem to like him. Otherwise, I have no complaints (yet) about this pick.

Meanwhile, the Bush presidency is still over and his crony-filled, stumble-bum administration is still crippled.

As an op-ed in today's paper put it (paraphrasing) all Bush
ever had going for him were the myths - myths of leadership, myths of compassion, myths of competance, myths of patriotism. Now that those myths have been demolished what does he have left?

Even his conservative bonafides are suspect. Taxes haven't been lowered (not without strict sunset provisions, anyway). Government hasn't been shrunk. Spending hasn't been cut. Deficits haven't been eliminated. The debt has been expanded.

Bush fools the rubes, but that's it.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Rebuking Lazer Brody, Sultan Knish (again)

This never gets old. Because today Biur Chametz has joined the ever growing collection of bloggers who think Lazer Brody and Sultan Knish were just plain wrong for saying that Hurricane Katrina was Gods way of punishing the president and the secretary of state for their roles in the Gaza pull back. Biur cites Shmuly Boteach who writes (in part):
But if it is true that God is punishing the US for its corruption and if it is true that natural disasters are a sign of divine displeasure, I have but one question. Where is the big hurricane that should have destroyed Riyadh, the capital of a country that has funded religious hatred and sponsor terrorism, for decades?
And though he's not a blogger, or Michael Jackson's personal rabbi, why not add Ecclesiastes to the mix? He says: As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother's womb,so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things."

Live "Frei" or Die!: Chumrah of the Month


Learning Berayshis with the DovBearlings

Friday night's table conversation, of course, was about Parshas Berayshis, and because the apple never falls far from the tree my 8-year-old asked some excellent questions. Here they are, along with my lame attempts to answer:

1 - How did God make himself?
Nobody made God.

2 - So where did He come from?
We don't know.

3 - Why not?
Because our knowledge is incomplete. However, we believe that God always existed.

4 - That's weird.
I know.

5 - How did God make light before he made the sun?
I don't know

6 - Sigh
I'm sorry.

7 - What happened on the second day?
The water got separated, and dry land was either uncovered or created.

8 - Does that mean there is water in the sky?
It sure sounds that way from the verses.

9 - That's weird.
I know.

10 - How did plants grow before there was sun?
I don't know.

11 - Maybe God planted the trees on the third day but they didn't pop up until the sun came out on the fourth day.

12 - Did the snake used to talk?

13 - Who did Adom and Chava's kids marry?
Well the Tiferes Yisroel says there were lots of other people alive at that time, left over from previous types of creation.

14 - Weird
I know

Brit Hume to a Black Man: Someone Needs To Hose You Down”

Think Progress has Fox correspondent Brit Hume invoking the ghost of Bull Connor on Fox News Sunday:
JUAN WILLIAMS: You can try to minimize it, but the fact that you have Scooter Libby, so involved in justifying going to war, and in the posture of trying to smear a critic of that justification. I think is pretty revealing and pretty damaging to the Bush White House. I think they’re going to have to rebuild a sense of trust with the American People. And that’s why when Brit asked this question, why did he have to lie, he felt the need to lie if he did lie, but by all indications he’s going to say I didn’t remember it quite the way this person remembered and all the like. That’s not very strong in my book, and I think Fitzgerald did a terrific job on Friday. But the reason he felt the need was to make it clear that he was not involved in what really was a conspiracy to defame Joe Wilson.

BRIT HUME: Juan, somebody needs to hose you down.
To put this in perspective, imagine if Brit had said to Avi Weiss, "What a gasbag you are!" or if he had told the late Simon Weisenthal "Simon, somebody needs to strip you naked and steal your gold fillings."

It really is almost the same thing.

Friday, October 28, 2005


Rosa Parks

Wellington Mara

Did anyone else die over Yom Tov?

Expanding the brand

In the begining there was DovBear:The Blog.

Next came DovBear: The Movie, and
DovBear: The McArthur Foundation Genious Grant Recipient

Now we give you: DovBear: The Search Engine

Hat's off

... to a newcomer who starts strongly today with a wonderful post on hats.

Her blog is a dance

I may have been joking about DovBear:The Musical (Was I?) Yet, it appears that someone else's blog really has been turned into a dance. What will they call it?

I suggest: Never Been Kissed Until After I First Spent Lots of Money on Adult Toys and a Boatload of Time Blogging About All of It: The Dance

...or is that going to be too hard to fit on the marquee?

Great moments in Jewish history

Sukkot c 80 BCE: The Hasmonean King, Alexander Yannai, is pelted with esrogim on the Temple Mount by a mob of proto-Palestenians who had observed him performing a Temple service improperly.

Simchat Torah 2005: Several hundred members of rival Satmar sects riot in a Williamsburg shul. A riot? Cool. That must be another kooky Hasidic custom, like leaving the sukka on Shmini Atzeres, or staying in the sukka even if it's raining.

Hasidim have all the fun don't they. All litvaks do on Simchat Torah is pour water on the bal musaf's head. And, of course, I am sure no-one in Satmar Central is exactly wringing his hands over the bad press their odd rioting ritual aquired. Sure the police intervened, and the story got splashed across the papers, but it isn't like anyone got caught supporting Israel. Am I right?

Hat tip: Miriam

Put the champaign on ice

"...the lawyer for presidential confidant Karl Rove said his client has been told he will not be indicted for now but remains under investigation. "

Sit tight, true believers. We're not done yet.

Repaying the favor

Heshy, that brainsick backer of all things sensless and illogical, has been kind enough to mention me in two of his recent posts: 1 & 2 (In what appears to be an homage to one of my famous tics, he even went to the trouble of misspelling my name.)

Because I believe no good deed should go unpunished, I've scoured my archives for posts in which I made mention of Heshy. There are quite a few. Here are some of the best ones.

If you have time for just one of these links, let it be this one:

Anniversaries (2)

Monday, Hoshana Raba, was the first anniversary of DovBear:The Blog (not be confused with DovBear:The Motion Picture, an excellent flick in it's own right, or DovBear: The Musical, an unfortunate and misguided attempt to expand the brand. )

According to our crack statisticians me and the monkeys on typewriters who keep this blog going have produced several thousand posts, registered close to 150,000 "unique hits" and insulted the Hasidim a disturbing number of times.

I can also lay claim to coining the following phrases:

- GOP Jews
- Cross Currents (Jewish)

If, along the way, I have caused you to think poorly of George W. Bush, or Christian fundamentalists... well, I am happy to have been of service.

Thanks for reading. And, I mean that.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Anniversaries I

Tuesday night, Simchas Torah, was the 19th anniversary of Game 6. Because of how the Jewish calandar works, the Hebrew and English dates coincided.

On Simchas Torah night, 1986, a large group of us walked 2.5 miles to the local Jewish high school for "Hakafot." And yes, calling the gathering "hakafot," of course, was wishful thinking on the part of the organizers: 20 teenagers were inside with the Torah, while the rest of us - perhaps 150 teenagers in all - mingled on the lawn, chatting and flirting.

On the walk to the school, one of us peeked through the window of a bar to check the score. The Mets were losing 2-0. By the time we reached the school, it was 3-2 and late in the game. I was a casual Met fan at the time, hoping for a Mets win mostly for the bragging rights. When the rumor spread through the crowd that the Mets had lost in extra innings 5-3, I was more disapointed than I expected to be. I suppose I'd been looking forward to strutting in front of the local Yankee fans, boys who had done their share of strutting during the recent years of Yankee feasting and Met famine.

The rumor of the Met's loss, of course, was false. With a string of two-out, two-strike, extra inning hits, the Mets battled back from the brink and tied the score. Then, the ball, you will recall, got "through Buckner" allowing Ray Knight to dash home from second base. Or as Vin Scully put it. "Here comes Knight! And the Mets win it!" -- "it" being only the most improbable victory in World Series history.

I knew nothing about it until the next day. When I stumbled into shul, I found one of the ganze Met fans sitting in his seat reading a newspaper. No one objected, I suppose, because it was Simchas Torah, and for Simchas Torah reading a paper in shul is a fairly innocuous display of disrespect. And I certainly didn't object to the headline on the back cover, a headline which brought me the news of the Mets victory.

A preacher, I suppose, might use this story to illustrate the power of redemption, or to teach us that our situation can change in the blink of an eye. May ayvel l'yom tov and all that jazz, I suppose. But for me this incident, the most marvelous Met victory of all time, is simply an indelible memory of my teenage years.

What's wrong with the women?

Gil Student on women and Simchas Torah:
Simply put, it stinks to be a female on Simhas Torah. I mean, look at them! They just sit or stand and stare at the men dancing... I see them in shul staring at us and if they're not bored, I'm bored for them.Why can't they just dance in the women's section? It's not like they need Torah scrolls to dance.
Maybe the sociologists in the audience can explain this phenomenon to us. They're permitted to dance, to join in the festivities of Simchas Torah, so why don't they?

Is it a form of false consciousness? Have they convinced themselves that it's good and proper and right and True to Judaism for them to be left out of the party? Or is it simply their choice - a choice to be lazy - to sit and socialize while their men sing and dance.

[Anecdote: When my wife and I were first engaged we went to the Yeshiva for Simchas Torah. As I did the circle dances, she sat in the woman's section watching me. Each time I passed her, I smiled or raised my eyebrows in greeting. After 15 or 20 minutes of this, the woman sitting in front of my wife said to her companion:(in a voice my wife later called "a mixture of pride and indiganation") "Why does that guy keep smiling at me?"]

Mulling over the Mean Loez

A clever post by Lamed Zayin brought this to mind.

An old problem with the Me'am Loez on Bereishas is that he has some very awful things to say about black people. I don't remember his exact language, but it's clear from his words (as they were translated into Hebrew from the original Ladino, at least) that he imagined them all to be sexual devients of minimal intelligance.

By our standards, in 2005, these views are unaccaptble, and ought to cast a large shadow over the rest of his writings. Yet, they remain in publication.

This isn't PC handwringing. I am not carrying a brief for black people, nor do I seek an appology from the Meam Loez's publishers and heirs. I simply wish to point out that the Meam Loez was wrong, and to wonder aloud why we're shy about saying so, and unwilling to take his incorrect ideas out of circulation.

In the grand scheme of things, what's more damaging to the Jewish people? The ideas of the Mean Loez which encourages us to hate perhaps a third of mankind, creatures that were made in God's image and share with Him a universal covenant? Or the ideas of the Tiferes Yisroel, among others, who teach that the world God created came into existence, by Divine command, billions of years ago, and not thousands of years ago?

So, what does it say about Judaism in 2005 that it is the latter, and not the former, which provokes outrage and fiery condemnations from our leaders?

Misrepresented by Menken, Part N

This time it's Francis Crick

Referring to Francis Crick's bizarro theory that some form of primordial life was shipped to the earth billions of years ago by extra-terrestrials, Yaakov Menken writes:
What [Crick] proposed is, of course, Intelligent Design without a Divine designer.
No. Not at all.

Per Wikkipedia: "Intelligent Design is the controversial assertion that certain features of the universe and of living things exhibit the characteristics of a product resulting from an intelligent cause or agent, not an unguided process such as natural selection."

In other words, ID teaches that God guides evolution, and that every outcome is the result of God's will. But this isn't what Crick thought. Crick accepted natural selection, and he accepted the idea of life evolving via an "unguided process." Rather, Crick (like me, incidently) could not conceive of live evolving from non-living chemical. He overcame that obstacle with the alien-seeding idea; once that obstacle was overcome he had no further need for a Designer.

Gary Rosenblatt, where are your scruples?

Dear OrthoMom:

Is it true that your blog operates a multi-million dollar slush fund? Wait. Don't answer that. In fact, I'm not even going to send this question to you. Instead, I'll just report the above "accusation" in my "newspaper," as if it had some substance to it.


Gary Rosenblatt

For Mar Gavriel

MG asks "What, DovBear, no posting about how long Simchat Torah services lasted?"

We finished, yesterday, at about 2:30 pm. And by we, I mean those of us who stayed for the every end, and not those who made break-away minyanim and booked early.

Tuesday night I made kiddush at 11 pm. It was followed by the quietest meal of the week. :)


USATODAY: 2,000 dead in Iraq a time for grief and realism

The Tally
2000 dead soldiers
30,000 dead Iraqi civilians
300 dead U.S. civilians and contractors
100 dead British troops.

And more than 15,000 U.S. soldiers have been wounded in combat, many saved by medical advances only to have their lives shattered in other ways: lost limbs, shot nerves, paralysis.

Now, the unpleasent question: Was it worth it?

The president took us into war with Iraq, promising that this would save lives. Well, it hasn't worked out that way. To date W's lovely little war has killed more than 30,000 people. How many people would have died over the last four years had we not dethroned Sadaam - who remember, had no WMDs and no links to Al Queda? If your number is less than 30,000 - as it surely must be - we didn't come out ahead and the war was not worth fighting.

Who's next?

Harriet Miers withdraws. allowing allow George W. Bush to select someone who is qualified (and will overturn Roe) in place of Miers who was unqualified (and would overturn Roe.).

When the distraught and petulant President Bush finally comes out of his room, what will he do next?

Tell the country to stuff it, and nominate Anita Hill?

Repay a favor, and nominate Pat Fitzgerald?

Go for another underqualified crony, and nominate Karl Rove?

Suck up to the Christian right by nominating Daniel Lapin?

You can add you own, if you like.

The best thing about October baseball

Celebration photos you can willfully mis-interpret as homoerotic

Why I blog

Sunday, we went to the city to see the sites. When the lunch bell rang, we bought a pie at Jerusalem, and took it to the Lubovitch Sukkah in Bryant Park, behind the public library.

In the sukka, a medium sized lubovitch man nodded a hello, and pointed us to a table. The group behind us - a pack of teenaged girls, many of whom were wearing pants - received a different greeting: "Did you shake the lulav today?" Three of the girls said no, so one-by-one the man gave each an esrog and a Lubovitch lulav (one with perhaps 25 haddasim on it, instead of the customary three) with instructions to say the blessing and to shake the lulav according to the Hasidic custom: Right, Left, Front, Up, Down, Back.

Were the girls of Hasidic ancestry? No. So why weren't they given a lulav with three hadasim? Why weren't they taught their own custom? And, yes, of course, I know that these questions are Lilliputian indeed, but this small quibble is part of a much broader complaint. Increasingly, as Orthodox Jews talk about "authenticity" and "legitimacy" the old ashkenaz customs have become marginalized. I attend a shul where the majority of the membership are convinced that singing Yigdal after maariv Friday night is a "modern" or "Young Israel" practice, when in fact it predates their shtriemals. In my own shul, I am an outsider because my nusach - a nusach that dates to the Geonim, is deemed inferior by men who use a nusach established less than 500 years ago, and because my clothing is deemed too modern by men who descend from men who consciously chose to copy the dress of Polish and Hungarian aristos.

And this is only the tip of the iceberg. I blog in a community where people are happy to tell you that certain practices and beliefs are Torah True - to the exclusion of all of other Jewish practices and beliefs - when in fact, the tradition records a multiplicity of approaches. Just last year our very own gedolim deleted the Tiferes Yisroel and Samson Rephael Hirsch from the mesorah when they were found to support R' Slifkin's view of the universe. Orthodox Jewish people have lost their tolerance for diversity, for the richness of Judaism's own tradition. And with it - or perhaps because of this - Orthodox Jewish people have lost their respect for Orthodox Jewish people like me.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Slow posting...

It's a holiday, you may have realized, and for this reason I've not been posting at my usualy frenetic pace. Apologies.

We'll be back to normal by the end of the week.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Just Appalling

KatrinaPalooza continues:

On the morning of August 31, Marty Bahamonde, a 12-year career FEMA employee who was in New Orleans before, during, and after the Hurricane and spent two nights in the Superdome along with evacuees, sent a dire message to his boss, FEMA Director Michael Brown about deteriorating conditions at the Superdome. In part, it read:
Sir, I know that you know the situation is past critical. Here some things you might not know. Hotels are kicking people out, thousands gathering in the streets with no food or water. Hundreds still being rescued from homes. The dying patients at the DMAT tent being medivac. Estimates are many will die within hours. Evacuation in process. Plans developing for dome evacuation but hotel situation adding to problem. We are out of food and running out of water at the dome, plans in works to address the critical need.
This message was ignored, but a few hours later Sharon Worthy, Brown's press secretary, sent Bahamonde a dire message of her own: is very important that time is allowed for Mr. Brown to eat dinner. Gievn [sic] that Baton Rouge is back to normal, restaurants are getting busy. He needs much more that [sic] 20 or 30 minutes.
[Video, Emails]


Yoinoson Schreiber writes about avoiding nuts during Tishrei (and he doesn't mean my brother-in-law, bada-bing) Money quotes:
The Shulchan Aruch tells us that the accepted custom is not to eat nuts on Rosh Hashonah. Why not you may ask? Two reasons are given - a logical one and a er, well less logical one. The logical one is that nuts make people cough and since we spend most of our New Year in Shul in quiet prayer the coughing would disturb the concentration of those trying to daven (pray). The less logical one is that nuts in Hebrew have the same numeric aggregate as the Hebrew for sin.
Yonatan is right about the reasons often given for avoiding nuts, but he misses the best part of the story: The math doesn't work. The numerical value of nut ("egoz") in Hebrew is 17; the numerical value of the word "chet," which means sin, is 18. However this doesn't stop everyone from kindergarten teachers to shul websites from insisting the two sums are equivlent.

The lubovs and their lulav

I was going to write a few words about lubovitchers and their weirdness with the esrog during Halal, but the definitive post on the subject is already here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The New York Times Loves Us

If last summer's coverage of the Catskils didn't convince you, how about this from today's Food Section:

Stalking Kosher Game (Hold the Giraffe)

My only quibble is this: I'm a regular reader of the food section, and whenever they cover a kosher restaurant or wine, the article always opens with a sentance or two expressing mock surprise, as in today's piece: "This is kosher? Yes, but check your delicatessen expectations at the door. This is kosher game."

It's a little like how Ezzie always pretends to be horrified whenever he catches himself agreeing with me.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Sorry folks

I have sukkot to decorate, and cabbage to stuff, and kids to bribe/terrorize into helping, so I won't be posting again today.

We'll pick this up Thursday, kay?

PS: If you're bored, here's a left-over question from earlier in the month: Is GWB a Christian? Or did he believe what he was saying when he told us, in his Yom Kippur message, that: "The Rabbis teach that on Yom Kippur, God holds open the gates of Heaven and listens to every word of every prayer. As those final prayers are shared and the Shofar is sounded, God remembers every name -- those living and those departed.In this moment, we draw near to God, sharing in the wonders of all creation and the miracle of all life. Yom Kippur teaches us that we merit forgiveness and mercy through repentance, prayer, and acts of charity."

Remember, none of that jives with Christian doctrine.

Sunday, October 16, 2005


OrthoMom tagged me with the 7 meme. And I thought we were friends. Anyway, off we go!

7 Things I Can Do:

* Read all 5 megilos in front of a shul
* Make a perfect omlet
* Post 3-10 times per day, while mantaining a regular life (and no, this isn't my secret.)
* Name all of the American presidents in order, as effortlessly as my son might recite the alphabet
* Grow grass (the green kind)
* Drink you under the table (I have a hollow leg)
* Tell you how quite a few magic tricks are done.

7 Things I Can't Do:

* Discern the differences between expensive wine and swill
* See dirt
* Roll my tounge
* Tolerate vapid people
* Prove Torah mi Sinai
* Play an instrument
* Think of a seventh thing

7 Things I Hope To Do In My Life

* Write something deathless
* Finish the Great Books
* Raise kids that are intelligent and well-mannered.
* Live in a great city, like London or Manhatten
* Perform some major league philanthropy
* See great-grandchildren
* Demonstrate that the Torah isn't hostile to liberalism; that ball mofsim are frauds; that you can be a Torah True Jew without toeing the party lines.

People I'd like to infect with this meme:

* Zman Biur
* Chayyei Sarah
* Jason Maoz
* Amshinover
* Gil Student
* Yakov Menken
* Toby Katz

Saturday, October 15, 2005


TTC has posted an object lesson on media bias. As you may have learned from OrthoMom, the Five Town Jewish Times reported that Hillary Clinton made a stupid comment in front of a group of Lawrence luminaries. What the FTJT neglected to mention, is that Hillary also spoke about Zachary Baumel, the Israeli MIA.

About this, OrthoMom says: "Her comment... was still... dumb... but only a partisan rag like the 5TJT would virtually (DB: ?) ignore her promise to help on the Zachary Baumel issue in order to take a dig at Hillary."

Adds the Crier: "Just goes to show you how unappreciative and partisan some Jews are that Democrats Like Hillary Clinton, Carolyn McCarthy, Jeff Toback and Tom Suozzi actually care to do something good for them and they can't even acknowlege it."

The beating he deserved

Chayyei Sarah responds to the horrible, furious, anti-single tirade GH inexplicably posted on his serious hashkafa blog.

PSA for Yeshiva Boys

Rabosai: When you protect your hat from the rain with a plastic shopping bag, especially a plastic shopping bag which promotes the local market, and then walk through the streets wearing the hat cum bag on your head YOU LOOK STUPID.

A hat is worn to keep your head warm and/or dry. During wet weather, cover your head with a rain hat. Don't wear a hat that needs to be covered itself. If you're the sort who won't pray without a hat on your head, wear the rain hat into shul, and daven with that on your head. No one will object. In a room full of men, odds are no one will notice. And here's another secret: If you do wear a rain hat and choose to leave it in the cloak room, no one will think bad of you if you for davening hatless. They aren't required.

Back when I was a wee lad, the old timers in our shul all saved their felt Barcelenos and Stetsons for better weather, and wore London Fog rain hats when it was wet. To the best of my knowledge, all of their sons were admitted to fine yeshivas, and all of their daughters were wed to estimable men. My own father-in-law, an estimable man in his own right, goes without a hat, and his daughter did pretty well, don't you think? So, please, Yeshiva Boys, put aside your superstitious fears. Wearing an ordinary rain hat, instead of a bag-covered hat in the rain carries no consequences. (Except the very desirous consequence of NOT LOOKING STUPID.

Incidently, this new habit of treating an ordinary hat as if it were a sacred ritual item is why the hat is one of the things I like least about Orthodox Judaism.

Maoz tries (and lies) again

And gives me what might be a backhanded mention
"In the sour grapes department, some bloggers whose sites the Monitor ignored made the preposterous claim that they were left off the list because of their liberal political views"
It's true I think the list was heavily conservative (a claim Moaz denies, and we prove below) and it's true that Maoz has an unhealthy hostility for the left, but there were no sour grapes from me: I was proud to be omitted from that list. I wouldn't want to appear alongside many of the blog Maoz names.

Which brings me to this: Over at Hirhurim, Gil, who made the second cut, is popping champagne. Gil, please. Where's your dignity? Do you really want to be part of a list that honors SultanKnish?

PS: Maoz says more than one blogger ("some bloggers") made the "preposterous claim." Who, aside from me, Gil and Miriam (who are brilliant, but non-lefties all the same) even mentioned the stupid list? Could Maoz be lying?

PPS: Maoz says "[O]f the fifty sites named, no fewer than eighteen -or 36 percent of the list- can fairly be described as neutral or liberal." Here Maoz is lying with statistics because of the fifty sites he names, only about 20 are proper political blogs, and among those are:

1 - A few neutral blogs
[Decision ‘08 (, The Daily Howler (]

2 - Many, many wingnutty blogs
[Neo-Neocon (, Captain’s Quarters (, InstaPundit (, Times Watch (, Melanie Phillips’s Diary (, Power Line (, Little Green Footballs (, Free Republic (, Roger L. Simon (, Right Wing News (, Oh, That Liberal Media! (]

3 - And exactly three liberal blogs:
[James Wolcott (, The Politicker ( and The Huffington Post (]

Moreover, among the 30 other blogs that are not true political blogs are many that lean right, and have written wingnutty posts (including Cross-Currents (, CAMERA ( and Boker Tov Boulder) together with many (like Seraphic Secret) which appear to have no political views at all.

So who does Maoz think he's kidding when he protests that 36 percent of his list is "neutral or liberal?" Three of his honored blogs are liberal. Three. And almost all of the rest are either obscenely conservative, moderately conservative, or altogether quiet about politics.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Oh Boy

A fun fight seems to be brewing

Interesting deal, the Vatical is proposing: Give us back the room, that certainly isn't the place where the last supper was held (the architecture of the building is 1000 years too late) a building that passed legally into your hands, and we'll return one, but only one, of the shuls we stole from you.

I hope the people involved tell the Church to stuff it.

Well, that's not going on her study wall

Good News: The obsequious Harriet Muirs is on the cover on the current TNR.
Bad News: The article is called: Welcome to the Hackocracy

And elsewhere, conservative George Will has jumped the ship, finally realizing that the earth is round, demons aren't real, and GWB isn't a conservative. Money quote:
Conservatives are not supposed to be cuddly, or even particularly nice. They are, however, supposed to be competent. And to know that scarcity—of money, virtue, wisdom, competence, everything—forces choices. Furthermore, they are supposed to have an unsentimental commitment to meritocracy and excellence. The fact that none of those responsible for the postwar planning, or lack thereof, in Iraq have been sacked suggests—no, shouts—that in Washington today there is no serious penalty for serious failure. Hence the multiplication of failures.
(Four good Yom Kippur Posts follow this.)


1 - You're supposed to start musaf before the seventh hour of the day. Many authorities advise skipping piyutim, and making Shachris shorter to ensure the deadline is met. So why do many shuls break before musaf, thus ensuring that musaf will start late?

2 - I'm an irreverant guy, with an irreverent blog, but on Yom Kippur I am all business. I keep my mouth shut, my eyes in my machzor, and I spend the day singing and davening. So it's hard for me to understand the irreverence that's displayed by so many people, especially during Neeilla. I don't mean the sitting in front of the open Ark which, though allowed, remains a pet peeve. I mean the joking, and the laughing, and the shmoozing. I've seen it in shteebles, and I've seen it in Big Shuls. They do it where shtreimals are worn, and they do it where the Hatikva is sung. And I just don't get it.

3 - Perhaps some of the ladies in the readership can explain why many of you pin doilies on to your heads before entering the sanctuary. Does it have to be a doily, or will a napkin or a piece of Bounty paper towel suffice? Are you trying to cover your hair with the lacy, see-through-material? Or is this your idea of a yarmulka?

Time for another round of everybody's favorite game:

Nu? What time did you start? What time did you finish musaf? And how long were your breaks?

Start: 8 AM
Musaf: 2 PM
Break: 2 hours.

A whole bunch of post Yom Kippur thoughts

Hashem Hu HaElokim
Of course, every Jews feels something as he shouts these words (even if you're Mis-Nagid and what you feel is revulsuion.) But that feeling isn't an end of itself. That feeling is a tool you're supposed to use going forward as a motivation for doing good deeds, learning, etc.

The goal of Yom Kippur isn't to get that feeling. The goal of Yom Kippur is to get that feeling, so that it impels you to change the way you live going forward.

Art Scroll Irritates
It took some doing, but I've determined which of the many annoying bits of the Art Scroll Commentary on the Machzor is most annoying of all. It appear near the begining of Yom Kippur Maariv: "[The piyutim are] infinitly more than inspired poetry."

Anyone know how to solve this equation?

inspired poetry^infinity=?

Didn't think so. When ArtScroll announces the piyutim are "infinitly more than inspired poetry" do they mean the authors were prophets? Does it mean those verse we read, with their rhymes, rhythems and meters, aren't really poetry, but something else? Or does it mean that the editors of Art Scroll, like too many Torah True Jews in 2005, are poetry phillistines? (Hint: "Yes" is the right answer to that question.)

The only reason the Wise Men of Chelm Art Scroll call it "infinitly more than poetry" is because they inhabit a milieu where poetry is suspect, and possibly treif. "Infinitly more than poetry" is NewSpeak, a way of hiding a frightening fact (ie: that it really is poetry, and that our community, for all it's jive about being "authentic" is failing our fathers, and making a mistake by not teaching our young people to write and appreciate poetry.)

If Elazar HaKalir, Meshullem Kolynomous, and our other leading literary lights lived today, they'd either be living miserably as Jews, with their gifts supressed and denied, or they'd be flourishing outside the Jewish community. Sadly, there's no longer a place in Torah True Judaism for a genious of letters.

My new machzor
Pace PsychoToddler, I've decided to go back to the Birnbaum- at least for Yom Kippur - after years of sipping the Art Scroll Kool-aid. I used Birnbaum yesterday, and was impressed with the commentary and the translations - especially when compared with the Art Scroll. Two examples of the differences in the commentary: (1) In the Art Scroll, several piyutim are attributed to annonymous; in the Birnbaummost of the "annonymous" authors have been identified. (2) Art Scroll insists that the acrostics have "kabbalistic" significance, and provides drivel-heavy explanataions of the method; Birnbaum tells the truth, ie: in the days before the printing press, acrostics were an essesntial memory aid.

Godol Hador Death Watch
Well? Did his blog survive Yom Kippur? And isn't it a little early in the TV season for a cliffhanger?
Update: He lives! And did you all catch him baiting me in his very, very first post-Yom Kippur post? So much for teshuvah....

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

To Sir, With Love - New York Times


Last thought

I know many of you are easting twice today. After Yom Tov you can explain to me where this gluttenous custom comes from and how it jives with the idea that we say Vidui at Mincha "Lest one choke while eating the pre-Yom Kippur meal and die without atonement, or lest one become intoxicated and unable to concentrate on the prayers at night.(Mishna Berura 607:1)"

What if you choke at the first meal?

To the Readers of DovBear (lurkers, too)

Best wishes to all of you (yes all of you) for a Gmar Chatima Tova and Besorot Tovot. (Amshi: you can have a gumur choseema toiva, and besoiros tovos.)

May this be a year when wishes come true.

Rampaging Rebbetzin

The heliaga work-avoiding Ren Reb takes issue with me here and here (comments)

And in deference to her argument, I'd like to point out to the masses that when the the Sages of Lakewood banned the Internet they used the word "breast" in an appropriate context.

They did not write:

Yowza! There sure are a lot of breasts on the Internet. We ban it!. Go learn Shir Hashirim instead!

They did write:

"I am a wall and my breasts are like towers" In the Talmud Rav Yochanan says "I am a wall" this is the Torah "My breasts are like towers" there are the scholars. And Raba says "I am a wall" this is the congregation of Israel. "My breasts are like towers" there are the synagouges and study halls.

Happy now?



Leader George has issued his annual Yom Kippur message. Let's examine it for instances of disingenuousness, shall we?

In the following I imagine what our good, Christian, moral, integrity-packed president might have mumbled under his breath as he read the message:

"Yom Kippur is the Sabbath of Sabbaths, the most solemn day of the Jewish calendar. On this day, Jews around the world reflect on their lives and give thanks to God for their many blessings.

"Which is a big fat hairy waste of time. Unless they've accepted Jesus into their hearts."

The Rabbis teach that on Yom Kippur, God holds open the gates of Heaven and listens to every word of every prayer.

"The Rabbis? You mean them Pharisees who killed the Lord? The hell do I care what they have to say?"

As those final prayers are shared and the Shofar is sounded, God remembers every name -- those living and those departed.

"Yeah! If they were baptised first!"

In this moment, we draw near to God, sharing in the wonders of all creation and the miracle of all life. Yom Kippur teaches us that we merit forgiveness and mercy through repentance, prayer, and acts of charity.

"But the true religion, ie mine, teaches that's if you don't have Jesus don't bother."

May we have the strength to achieve all these things, so that we continue to build a more hopeful Nation and a more peaceful and free world.

"With lower taxes for everyone."

The point, friends, is that Bush is either lying to the American people when he announces himself a true Christian, or he is lying to us in the Yom Kippur message. Which is it?

And also, doesn't Christian Love look a little less lovely when its doctrines are placed so starkly against ours? And these are your "friends" O' Israel?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

What's next?

Now that the Sages of Lakewood have introduced their Internet ban with a bible verse which discusses big hooters, can we expect the following creative applications of the Bible?

The Ban on Poor Bathroom Hygine (1 Kings 16:11)
"And it came to pass, when he began to reign, as soon as he sat on his throne, that he slew all the house of Baasha: he left not one that pisses against a wall, neither of his kinsfolks, nor of his friends"

The Ban on Breaking Wind During Sermons (Isaiah 16:11)
"Wherefore my bowels shall sound like an harp for Moab, and mine inward parts for Kirharesh."

The Ban on Streaking at Weddings (Micah 1:8)
""Therefore I will wail and howl, I will go stripped and naked: I will make a wailing like the dragons, and mourning as the owls"

The Ban on Eating at Bad Resturaunts (II Kings 18:27)
"But Rabshakeh said unto them, Hath my master sent me to thy master, and to thee, to speak these words? hath he not sent me to the men which sit on the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you?

The Ban on Reading Blogs (Psalm 140:4)
"Keep me, O LORD, from the hands of the wicked; preserve me from the violent man; who have purposed to overthrow my goings."

And, if you think this is unlikely, please remember how it all started:

The Ban on Using the Internet (Song of Songs 8:10)
"I am a wall, and my breasts like towers: then was I in his eyes as one that found favour."

Irony slits its wrists

Via a letter in which the word "breast" appears three times, the Sages of Lakewood have prohibitted the use of the Internet by students at their yeshiva.

Hat tip Godol Hador

Revenge of the chickens!

5.4 meters is my best score

Update: Those of you suggesting a low arc have the right idea. I just broke 12 meters.

Subways are ssafe

Tip on N.Y. subway threat a hoax



Yoohoo!! Wolf!!!!

Oh look, there's a wolf eating a sheep.

Or is "Hoax" what you call it when the guy you're torturing tells you what he thinks you want to hear?

Anyway, I would LOVE LOVE LOVE for some enterprising reporter to really investigate this and to find out exactly where the terror tip originated. And maybe while he's at it, the same enterprising reporter can find out exactly how the Bushies plan to wag the dog when those Plame indictments come down.

Flattery gets you everywhere

"You are the best governor ever!"

"Hopefully Jenna and Barbara recognize that their parents are 'cool' - as do the rest of us."

"All I hear is how great you and Laura are doing."

"Texas is blessed."

Who's that? A 12-year old girl? Nope, it's Harriet Miers, the lady your president thinks would be a swell addition to the highest court in the land. To the great benefit of rich people everywhere, George has done an incredibly effective job filling the government with useless and unqualified people. The only qualification that these people have is that they can lick butt at a world class level. Looks like Harriet's another one, or as David Frum tells it:

"In a White House that hero-worshiped the president, Miers was distinguished by the intensity of her zeal: She once told me that the president was the most brilliant man she had ever met."

Ye freakin' Gods.


What does it say about our commander in chief that we even needed a Senate resolution to ban cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of prisoners of war? In pursuit of a vaguely defined "war on terror," this country has seized hundreds of people from around the globe, isolated them in secret cells and given them no meaningful notice of what wrongs they are alleged to have committed or any serious opportunity to show that the allegations are wrong . Terror suspects are also sent overseas - to places like Syria and Egypt -by the United States for interrogation by security officials who are accused of using torture, not least by the US State Department. And of course, we've all seen the photos from Abu Ghreb, and read about the prisoners who were routinely tortured in Afghanistan.

Like most Americans, I am embarrassed that it's taken a Senate resolution to make it clear that these pratices are unacceptable. Wouldn't you expect the president of the United States to know right from wrong on his own?

In a similar vein, I am embarrassed that the Supreme Court of Israel needed to intervene to stop the Israeli Army from using Palestinians as human shields. Why doesn't the average Israeli military man know that it's wrong to send civilians into houses to see if they are booby-trapped? That's it's wrong to use a civilian driven ambulance and a shield? There are some standards of behavior which are recognized by every other civilized nation. Perhaps this is my cultural arrogance speaking, but I expect the United States and Israel to be leaders, and not followers, in this regard

Monday, October 10, 2005

Good news

According to my Stat counter, only 90 of you visited DovBear on the first day of Rosh Hashana. That's about half of what I get on Shabbos, and about a seventh of a typical weekday.

And though I don't care what any of you do in your private lives, I am happy to see anecdotal evidence that suggests the holy and pure readers of DovBear have, for the most part, figured out that there won't be new posts here on Yom Tov.


Here are perhaps the smartest set of sentances I've seen this season about"spirituality":
...spiritualism belongs to a longstanding strain of American freethinking. It caught on during the second half of the 19th century when grieving survivors of the Civil War longed to reunite with their dead relatives. Electricity, the X-ray, expansions on Mesmer's experiments with magnetism, and the telegraph, with its rat-tat-tat, in syncopation with the spiritualists' ghost rappings, reinforced the notion that there were all sorts of invisible forces at play in the world.
Though Jewish spiritualism has other origins, the roots are similar. So it is no suprise we're less spiritual nowadays. Few of us die before our time, thank god, and we've grown comfortable with magnetics, radio waves, and so on. As a result we're less interested in the netherworld, and less likely to accept supersitions about strange powers and forces.

In other words, we're less spiritual not because of a moral defect in ourselves, or because of a flaw in our education, but because we're the most blessed generation in history.

Oh those days of yore

I hate to rain on the nostalgia parade going on today at Cross Currents (Jewish), but it wasn't so great in the old days. Remember the wars? The sickness? The early deaths? In the anecdotes Jonathan Rosenblum trots out, he make no mention of the suffering, nor does he display even a hint of skeptism, preferring to take the fabulous stories at face value. I am sorry, but if you were to take a time machine back to old Lita, you wouldn't find "fish trembling in the rivers." You'd find lots of poor, hungry, unhappy, uneducated Jews. Anyone trembling would likely be shaking from the cold, and not from the awe of heaven.

Moreover, if people could abandon their families and jobs to spend a whole month in Kelm, a practice Rosenblum celebrates, it only means that they were unemployed, or on the outs with their wives.

I can understand being homesick for situation you've experienced yourself. I did it myself today. But Rosenblum's shtetle-envy is something else.

Move over Grammy's

We've found an even less significant award.


What do you miss?

At the high holidays, Jews feel the bittersweet longing for situations of the past. My friend Ben Chorin for example, has a post up today, in which he talks about his homsickness for the dinky shteeble where he grew up. As he puts it:
Here I am, the first generation in my family in probably two millenia to be a free Jew in Eretz Yisrael, waxing nostalgic for a grimy little shtiebel tief in gulos, populated by the most tortured souls on earth
And what do I miss? The big and beautiful shul, full of those polished and practical oberlanders. It had everything over the grimy shteeble where I find myself today.

So nu. What do you miss?

Sunday, October 09, 2005


My torah-true brother has discovered a mistake in the siddur.


Earthquake death toll rises to 30,000

If experience is any indicator, the Bushies will comment sometime late Tuesday afternoon, offer a couple of hundred in aid on Wednesday, and then wonder why the world hates us on Thursday. By Friday they'll be calling for tax cuts and legislation with huge giveaways to corporations, all as part of an "aid" and "security" package for the region.

Meanwhile, Lazer Brody will surprise us all and tell us that the quake is proof God hates Muslims, Ovadya Yosef will wonder why the brown and swarthy people of Pakistan spend so little time learning Torah, and Sultan Knish will cobble together 17 random bible verses to prove that the quake is saying God wants us to go ahead and oppress the widow, the orphan and the stranger so long as a random gay person also gets screwed on the deal.

Friday, October 07, 2005

George Bush: 'God told me to end the tyranny in Iraq'

The Gaurdian is reporting that, in June 2003, our president said this to a group of Palestenian ministers: "God would tell me, 'George go and fight these terrorists in Afghanistan'. And I did. And then God would tell me 'George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq'. And I did. And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, 'Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East'. And, by God, I'm gonna do it."

[The minutes of the meeting are here It isn't clear if the president meant the real God, or his personal God Karl Rove.]

Ok, now a few things makes sense.

First, this is a solution for all the crazy, counter-intutitive stuff our president does. Like the Virgin Mary herself, he blames it all on God.

Take universal health care, for example. Or gun control. Or nation building in Iraq. Or the appointment of Harriet Muirs. Or any one of a thousand other times when Bush took a position that was the exact opposite of his piously professed principles. We, mortals, thought he was just a garden variaty panderer. A hypocrite. But instead it turns out he was carrying out God's will.

Second, this revelation explains the president's serenity and ruthlessness. If a man believes -truly believes- that he is acting for God, he is capable of anything. He can twist the truth, oppress the poor, exalt the rich, despoil the earth, ignore the law -even murder children- without the slightest compunction, the briefest moment of doubt or self-reflection. In history, many men who thought themselves God's annointed agent did just this. Though, to date, Bush has stopped short of murdering children, he does imagine himself to be the president who's never made a mistake. Now we know why.

And finally, speaking for myself, I know that I am absolutely relieved. It's about time we had a prophet serving as president instead of a sinner who might rely on reason, logic, or other tools of the devil.

[HT MisNagid]

Pro Piyutim

I think it's amusing that the frum thing to do nowadays is to complain about the High Holiday piyutim Some say they are boring, others argue they should be dropped from the service. None of this makes any sense to me. Also confusing is the claim, often repeated, that davening is not a show.

Oh, really?

Of course it's a show (some of it is anyway) and this is what the composers of the tefillah intended. Aside from the silent Amidah, which was set aside for silent reflections and meditations, and the Torah reading, the tefillah has been designed to sweep you up in the mood, a mood that is set by the liturgical readings (piyutim) and the sacred music (chazanut.) Every so often, you are even called to participate in the pageant - during modim at oleinu, for example, or during the avoda when everyone becomes an actor in the events the Reader is describing.

The strange, new idea that you're supposed to sit with your forehead scrunched in rapt concentration for the full service would be foreign to those who composed the tefillah, imho. They designed tefillah to be enjoyed. From where I sit, the philistine complaining about music and poetry sounds a lot like the griping you get when you accompany a small child to the symphony or the opera.

And that analogy about the opera is meant to work on many levels because, as I have said before, the piyutim need to be appreciated as art. What else did those who elected to include them in the davening expect us to do with them? There's not magic spells, or kabbalistic formulas. They're poems that are meant to be appreciated as poems, and that are meant to have the affect on you that is realized by all good poetry.

If a poem doesn't mean anything to you - especially a poem that chazal thought appropriate for Yom Kippur davening - don't you owe it to yourself to find out what you are missing?

Full circle

October 24, 2004 (my first post!)

October 7, 2005 (Aidel's last post? If so, the j-blogosphere's lost a giant.)

Why he nominated Miers

The Internets are full of explanations of the President's odd choice, some more convincing than other.

1 - Quid pro Quo Miers knows a secret. She was appointed to the court to prevent her from telling the world that W's still drinking, or that Karen Hughes actually does change the president's diapers. Or somethng like that.

2 - Fear The president's men are worried about some of the cases (Plame, torture, etc) now winding there way up to the Court. Miers was nominated because the President trusts her to carry his water.

3 - Arrogance The media says I appoint too many cronies, so goddamit I'm appointing cronies! Ha! Take that!

4 - Stupidity It's possible, some posit, that the president just doesn't realize his personal lawyer, a woman who has never been a judge, might not be qualified to sit on the highest court in the land.

5 - Cynicism Many have noted that it would be bad for business (the business of GOP politics that is) if Roe vs. Wade were to be overturned. All those hillbilly state senators and Assemblypeople would have to actually do something about abortion instead of just fulminating about it impotently as they do now. The polls say that in many places a state law against abortion would put many of those loudmouths out of a job.

6 - Ignorance Perhaps the president really does believe that his old friend is the most qualified person for the job. That's not impossible -- expecially when you recall that this president brags about ignoring newspapers, thinks that Jesus was the bestest philosphicalwhoozit of all time, and needed the cliff notes to get through My Favorite Goat.

What did I miss?

DovBear's Stupid List


I should have known better than to quickly cobble together a list of some of my favorite blogs. I should have known that I'd inadvertently leave out some of the worthies. And of course I did.

Chief among the slighted were Shana, DM, and Jack, of the shack. Also omitted was the civil war enthusiast Ben Chorin, Barefoot, kaspit, kesher, Baraita, Elf, Eliyahu, Dilbert, the Hedyot, Z of JewView Aidel, IsraellyCool, Wolf 1 and Wolf 2 , GoldaLeah, Biur, the Mysticals Path and Politics, and Soccer Dad, who absolved himself of right-wing sins by inventing Havel Havalim.

Naftuli, Chana, Chaim, Ezzie, AbbaGav, and CWY deserve a mention, too, if only for their support of DovBear (their own blogs are still too young to stand on their own.) And let's spare a word for still wonderin', AirTime, and just passing through, a trio of bloggers who we wish would post more often.

And finally -acharon, acharon chaviv- there's Cara, of her eponymous world.

Have I left out others? No doubt. Only the pope is infalliable. But unlike the pope, DovBear will cheerfully correct his oversights if you'll kindly bring them to his attention.

ARGH! I left out Steg. I left out Allan. I left out Mar Gavriel. (who else?)

Resolved: DovBear will never again attempt to list all the blogs he likes. There are too damn many of you.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Jason Maoz's Stupid List

Over at the Jewish Press Jason Maoz has helpfully provided a list of blogs that nobody reads.

Though he calls his list a "Web Honor Roll" how can that be true if it doesn't list Godol Hador, Hirhurim, ChayyeiSarah, Krusty, Pinky, Treppenwitz, Mirty, RenReb, Bloghd, TTC, OM, Lioness, Velveteen, PsychoToddler, Krum, Shifra, LForD, Yudel, Yuter, YitzhakEyezik , Mississippi Fred MacDowell, the Bronsteins, Ari, or Amshinover?

And look at some of the blogs he does read. SultanKnish? All that tells us is that he and the Sultan are buddies becuase per The Truth Laid Bear hardly anyone else has ever heard of the KnishKing. Also, who in their right mind (is Maoz in his right mind?) would choose to honor a blog which insists that God send eclipses whenver he wants to let us know that he really really really hates gay people? (Don't miss RebelJew's awsome takedown of the Sultan in the comments.) If you're going to honor Sultan, why not go all out and include Heshy of the haunted House? Why not list Charedi World, too? Either of those blogs have as much to offer as Sultan. (Incidently, RebelJew does a very good job of demolishing Heshy, too)

When you break it down, Moaz's "honor roll" is just a bunch of conservatives news blogs (InstaPundit, Captain Quarters) and those Jewish blogs which most often offend thinking people (Cross Currents, for example, and Sultan Knish again) plus a couple of good blogs like Canonist and James Walcott thrown in, apparently to mislead us.

Miriam puts it best: "Why would anyone want to be considered a favorite by that rag?" To which I can only add: And why would anyone want to be listed among the noxious blogs that are included?

A great day in modern American history

The day Harriet Miers was nominated to the Supreme Court will be remembered as a great day, because it was on this day principled conservatives finally realized what principled liberals have known all along: President Bush's character is deeply flawed.

Because instead of keeping his campaign pledge to appoint only strict constructionists to the court, he rewarded a crony. Instead of standing up for a principle he's often said he values, he gave the plum job to a political hack. Instead of finding someone in the mold of Thomas and Scalia -as he promised he would- he went to an old friend.

It's bizarre behavior- but only if you were ever foolish enough to believe that Bush really is a man of principle.

All we are saaaaaaying is give fear mongering a chance.

Last throes for the Bush Admninistration? Consider this:

1) The President's approval rating is in the toilet, and spiraling ever downward.

2) Even Conservatives were apalled to learn the president had placed an unqualified lackey at the head of FEMA; and even Conservatives were horrified to discover that -4 years after 9/11 - FEMA lacks the ability to respond competantly not just to a disaster, but a disaster they knew about in advance.

3) The Republican leader of the House has been indicted.

4) The Republican leader of the Senate is under investigation

5) Karl Rove, the President's chief aid, is under investigation

6) Scooter Libby, the Vice President's chief aid, is under investigation.

7) 90 Senators, including 43 Republicans, delivered a stinging rebuke to the President by passing a resolution against torture

8) And now, Conservatives are outraged about the nomination of Harriet Miers, a longtime Bush crony, to the Supreme Court.

So how does the president respond? By going back to what he does best: Fear mongering


Why put your shoes on and walk to the river, when you can throw your sins at your monitor instead?

Oh, and, one more pet peeve: people who throw bread at Tashlich. It's a stupid custom, that is also forbidden (you can't feed animals that don't depend on you during Yom Tov) and it makes a big mess.

(hat-tip EnigmafourYou)

Big famous writer comments on DovBear

It's true! Dr. Allan Nadler, author of the The Faith of the Mithnagdim and quite a few scholarly articles about Judaism, stopped by after Yom Tov to call me a "barely literate blogger," and all I had to do to get his attention (apparently) was to call him a raging lunatic.

So apropos nothing....

Allison Kapler Sommer: Raging Lunatic
Norman Mailer: Raging Lunatic
Miriam Shaviv: Raging Lunatic
David Foster Wallace: Raging Lunatic
Gil Student: Raging Lunatic
David McCullough: Raging Lunatic
David Weiss Halivny: Raging Lunatic
Cynthia Ozik: Raging Lunatic
Gabriel García Márquez: Raging Lunatic
Ian McEwen: Raging Lunatic
VS Naipaul: Raging Lunatic
Francis Fukuyama: Raging Lunatic

Seasonal pet peeves

in no particular order

1 - Kids who carry overstuffed loot bags through the sanctuary. In the history of the human race no child has ever starved to death while waiting for lunch on Rosh Hashana.

2 - People who don't stand when the Ark is open. They'll excuse themsleves saying that standing for an open Ark (technically) isn't demanded by the law, but it looks lazy if you're sitting while the rest of the room is on its feet.

3 - The Rosh Hashana Recess. Taking a refreshment break before musaf on Rosh Hashana is absurd. Those in favor of it argue that it's needed "because we're finishing at 3:30." Yes, but if it weren't for the one-hour break, you'd be done at 2:30! Also, refreshments (other than something very, very light) are not allowed before shofar blowing.

4 - The naughty old men who think it is so hysterical to joke about "blowing the chauffer." The next one who does that in my presence gets crucified without nails.

5 - People who study Talmud during davening. The Mishna Brurah doesn't like it, and neither do I. If you're learning, while we're singing I judge you a show-off and a spoil-sport.

6 - The auction. For the love of God, it's one of the holiest days of the year. Must we conduct business from the pulpit right in the middle of the sancturary? Are a few hundred dollars really more important that the dignity of the day and the sanctity of the place?

9 Republican Senators Vote for Torture

Like you, I am surprised it wasn't more.

These are the nine Senators who are cool with torture:

Allard (R-CO)
Bond (R-MO)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Roberts (R-KS)
Sessions (R-AL)
Stevens (R-AK)

I wonder how many of them are born-again Christians?

Update: All of them?

Time for everybody's favorite post-holiday game!

What time did you finish?

Monday, October 03, 2005

No red meat for the wingnuts

President Bush nominates White House counsel Harriet E. Miers

I do have some sympathy for the right-wing Christians. This was supposed to be their moment, their chance to make it clear that they were calling the shots, and that the president was indebted to them. Instead, Bush appoints a cronie, demonstrating that he learned absolutely nothing from the FEMA humiliations.

Now, I suppose it is possible that the nomination means the bushies are scared about the upcoming indictments and legal challanges: Plame, Abu Graib, sending captives out of country to be tortured, holding prisoners without counsel, and so on. But it's more likely that the president is once again putting loyalty to his fixers and appratchiks ahead of all other considerations.

The three stages of teshuva

Denial, resentment and bargaining


No evidence backs up reports of rescue helicopters being fired upon

Money quote
Among the rumors that spread as quickly as floodwaters after Hurricane Katrina, reports that gunmen were taking potshots at rescue helicopters stood out for their senselessness.

On Sept. 1, as patients sweltered in hospitals without power and thousands of people remained stranded on rooftops and in attics, crucial rescue efforts were delayed as word of such attacks spread.

But more than a month later, representatives from the Air Force, Coast Guard, Department of Homeland Security and Louisiana Air National Guard say they have yet to confirm a single incident of gunfire at helicopters.
Let me break this down for you: Our military -the same military that George W. Bush promised to rebuild- was prevented from rescuing people out of NOLA by a RUMOR that turned out to be FALSE.

More proof that the Feds managing the resuce were not just inept, but dumb.

Birthday Guest Post

The following is a guest post that's been in the hopper for several weeks. It raises some interesting thoughts.

Although it’s been almost 30 years since then, I remember clearly the day of my classmate’s birthday party. 23 little girls, dressed in their shabbos best, munching on potato chips and playing musical chairs. I was having a ball.

Until that dreaded announcement came: “everybody gather ‘round – we’re opening the gifts!”. I sat slumped in my chair as each gaily wrapped box was opened to the “oohs”and “aahs” of my friends, and of the birthday girl’s mother. As the pile of unopened gifts grew smaller and smaller, I prayed that my father would arrive to pick me up early. I knew what lay ahead.

Mine was one of the last. The birthday girl read my name off the tag, ripped off the wrapping and stared at the cheap toy I had given her. Silence. There were no “oohs” or “aahs”. I knew it was a crummy gift, but my parents struggled just to pay the rent. I hung my head in shame.

This memory has never faded. I would never allow this tradition at my own childrens’ celebrations, but I have seen it over and over again at other childrens’ parties. Parents of the birthday child – please realize that there are people out there who just can’t afford to buy expensive gifts every time they are invited somewhere. Sometimes, an invitation will be declined for this reason. Someone else may spend money they can ill afford to in order to avoid public humiliation. And sometimes, a child will feel shame because he or she has come empty-handed, or knows that his or her gift is not up to par with the rest. Parents, when your child is fortunate enough to receive 20, 30 or 50 gifts at a celebration, is it necessary to show them off as well?

One more for our side (I think)

Add Pinky Schmeckelstein to the list of luminaries who think Lazer Brody and Sultan Knish should get out of the business of reading God's mind.