Friday, January 05, 2024

The true explanation of the Chamushim Midrash

Remember the famous Chamushim Midrash? The way it was taught to us only one-fifth of the Jewish people left Egypt. But there is much more to the story...

Found in the Mechilta, the midrash hinges on the word "chamushim" in Exodus 13:18. Literally meaning "armed," it appears throughout the Tanakh in reference to weaponry. Even the modern Hebrew word for ammunition stems from the same root (tachmoshet). The Mechilta itself acknowledges this, and tells us at the start that this is real meaning of the word.

But based on the word play, the Sage suggest "chamushim" could also mean "one-fifth."

Many folks jump to conclusions with this midrash, using it to draw grand lessons or fuel pre-existing agendas. For instance, I recently came across a statement suggesting that all diaspora Jews today are akin to the 4/5 of the Jews who chose not to leave Egypt - which seems like an overly simplistic and one-dimensional way to discuss other people (not to mention nasty!).

But before we all go down that rabbit hole, let's take a closer look at the text itself.

Here's the catch: The actual Midrash references other rabbis who offer varying numbers – one-fiftieth, one-five-hundredth, even one-five-thousandth! (And the part about the stay-behinds dying during the plague of darkness doesn't apply to the 4/5 but to the 4999/5000!!)

Now, let's be honest, those numbers don't exactly add up. As Ibn Ezra said: "We have enough problems with the Muslim scholars who ask how, in 210 years, 600,000 men above the age of 20 could descend from 55 men" - and now you want to multiply that by 5 (or 5000?)

So, what's the real deal? The point seems to be all about emphasizing the exceptional nature of the survivors. Picture it like a grandparent saying, "You're one in a million!" – it's not meant to be a literal statistic, but an expression of how special you are. The idea seems to be that the people who made it to the end of the exile were survivors who had done something exceptional.

Those people who busy themselves wondering what happened to the 4/5 (or the 4999/5000!!!) are exactly like the overly concrete thinker who hears the expression "you're one in a million" and then devotes time and energy and imagination trying to figure out what happened to the other 999,999.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Yom Kippur 2023

I'm pleased to report that I had an excellent Yom Kippur. Here are the details:

Start: 8:00 AM
Finish: 3:00 PM
Break: 90 minutes
Neillah: Ended late
Break Fast: Cake, then soup, followed by pasta

Quality of the music: better than ever.
Quality of the introspection was not bad but MYOB
Quality of the Koren: Amazing. Burn your Artscrolls, and don't look back!

Big discovery: There was a hot shot German philosopher named Franz Rosenzweig who decided at the age of 27 to convert to Christianity. This wasn't a big deal, because he had never been much of a Jew. But he wanted to be a Jew before converting. He didn't want to convert as a pagan, but as a Jew. So he went to Yom Kippur 1913 and came out a changed man, dropping the idea of converting.

I went down the rabbit hole last night trying to find out what exactly happened, but no one seems to know. The smarter sources say he never told anyone, while the dumber ones say it was a "mystical experience." Either way, he went on to commit himself to Judaism (not sure exactly how far he went observance-wise) before dying at the age of 42 of ALS.

So... make of that what you will.

But along the way, he wrote "Star of Redemption," which some smart people online call a masterpiece. I have started to investigate it, and I'm not deep into it yet, but it seems fascinating so far.

Your turn?

Tuesday, September 05, 2023

Why do bad things happen to good people?

Jack: Why do bad things happen to good people? People who learn and do chesed should be healthy, wealthy, with wonderful things. Why do some suffer?

Jill: Your premise is wrong. Where does it say anywhere that people who do chesed will be rich? And who says being rich is a reward?  Being rich can frequently lead you to sin, or cause you to suffer. 

Moreover, no one every promised that good people would be rich. According to our sages, the reward of a mitzvah is a mitzvah, not money. 

Another thing: Most human suffering is caused by natural forces. Natural forces don't single out evil people. I mean does it say anywhere that gravity stops working for people who do chesed? If a righteous person and a sinner jump out of a 10th story window they get the same result. Natural forces are impartial and treat righteous and evil people identically These forces - including things that make you sick, like chemical reactions and biological processes - do not differentiate between the righteous and evil people.

Jack: It's a common human desire for evil to be punished. While free will plays a role, people yearn for Hashem to dispense justice in this world. It's a somewhat human desire, even if it isn't explicitly supported by religious texts.

Jill: People are morons. It's never ever worked like that. People are always saying, "I don't get it. Why isn't that nice person rich?" Maybe people should finally catch on and realize their whole premise is faulty. They mistakenly believe that performing mitzvos should yield material rewards and valuable prizes. However, that notion is fundamentally flawed. Mitzvos shape your character and enable you to perceive the adversities of the world in one of three ways A) impartial, i.e., something caused by natural forces that aren't singling you out, B) caused by men exercising their free will, or C) something you caused yourself via your own bad choices.

Friday, September 01, 2023

The Moral Lens of Interpretation: Understanding Chazal's Approach to Interpretation

Observation: The Torah stipulates capital punishment for a child displaying gluttony and disobedience to parents. However, Chazal, in their interpretation, adopted an exceptionally hyper-literal reading of the text – a method they applied in few other situations – in order to render the directive nearly impossible to execute.

Question: What prompted them to do this?

Answer: According to their own sense of morality it was unacceptable to kill children for trivial crimes. So they re-read the verse.

However, I do not think they viewed their reinterpretation of the Torah as a case of their moral judgment superseding God's divine wisdom.

I assume they held a fundamental belief in God's inherent goodness. When they encountered passages in the Torah that appeared morally questionable, they didn't question God's morality; rather, they assumed they must be misunderstanding the text.

In their view, their reinterpretations and glosses on the Torah weren't an act of correcting God, but rather an attempt to uncover what they believed was the true, moral essence of the text.

They saw their role as interpreters, striving to align the Torah with their own moral standards.

So, it wasn't a matter of saying, "This law is immoral, let's change it," but rather, "At first glance, this law may seem immoral, but how could the Torah be immoral? Let's uncover its deeper, morally sound meaning through interpretation."

Halivai Rabbis of today did this, too.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Fortunate and Hopeful: Rabbi Akiva's Response to the Loss of the Temple

Rabbi Akiva said, "Israel, how fortunate you are! Whose presence sanctifies you? It is your Heavenly Father, as it is written, 'I will sprinkle clean water upon you and you shall be holy.' And further, 'The Lord is the hope (mikva) of Israel.' Just as the mikva purifies the impure, so does the Holy One, blessed be He, sanctify Israel."
This teaching by Rabbi Akiva evokes curiosity and invites numerous questions. Why did Rabbi Akiva choose to convey his message through a pun? What inspired him to impart this particular wisdom? And ultimately, what is the fundamental lesson he wished to impart?
The answer, I think, like so many things, has to do with the Christians. During that time, one of the central teachings among early Jesus followers was that Jesus had replaced the Temple. "Destroy this Temple and in three days I will raise it up," he said, according to the Gospel of John. "... but he spoke of the Temple of his own body."
The Gospel of John, considered the last Gospel written, is a polemic text reflecting the thoughts and teachings of its era. John isn't trying to tell us what happened. It is trying to make an argument, to persuade Jews to join the Jesus movement. If John says that Jesus claimed to replace the Temple, it follows that the idea the the Temple had been replaced had currency at the moment, and we can speculate that it was an appealing message.
Without the Temple, Jews were religiously handicapped. Although the physical Temple was no more, the longing among Jews to offer sacrifices, witness the High Priest's avodah, and partake in other Temple rituals remained. Some Jews likely worried that without the Temple, they could no longer worship God properly, achieve ritual purity, or obtain atonement. R. Yochanan ben Zakkai famously provided a response that resonated with some Jews. However, the Gospel of John reveals an alternative view was circulating: whatever was once accomplished through the Temple could now be accomplished through Jesus.
Rabbi Akiva lived during the time when the Gospel of John was circulating, and I propose that his homily is his response to the notion of Jesus as the new Temple. Rabbi Akiva is saying, "While we may have lost the physical Temple, we have not lost our connection with God. It was never the building that sanctified you. Your fortune lies in the fact that you are His chosen people, and He is your loving Father. Nothing more is required for your holiness." The use of pun not only reinforces the central idea but also provides an additional assurance: despite losing the Temple and enduring exile, we are not without hope.

Monday, February 06, 2023

Shirat Hayam is certainly poetry

Rabbi Ysoscher Katz is a talented Rabbi and a fine person, however he tends to rely too much on the contrasting stereotype of litvaks as cold and hasidim as warm, which can sometimes result in questionable biblical interpretations. An example of this can be seen in the dvar torah he wrote on Bshalach. You can see his post here, and my response below:
I have several disagreements with his approach:

First, the text clearly states that Moshe did not write in prose. It says, "Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the LORD."

Second, Miriam *sang* with the women. The text says: "Miriam sang to them: "Sing to the LORD, for he is highly exalted. The horse and its rider he has hurled into the sea." Thus, to propose that they had different responses appears unsupported. Miriam may have incorporated dance, but their initial reaction was the same, which was to sing.

Third, the Song of the Sea is not prose. It's not a literal recounting of the events at the sea. We're told the Pharaoh and his captains sank in the depths of the sea (Verses 4 and 5) but that's about as close as it comes to describing the events of Exodus 14. There's nothing in the song about a splitting sea, or the Israelites walking across on dry land, or indeed about any miracle at all. Moreover, it **differs** from the narrative in the preceding chapter in several ways. As James Kugel mentions, citing research by Frank Cross and David Freedman, the song could be about an event that took place far offshore or, as verse 8 states, "at the heart of the sea" where God's blast of wind from His nose caused a wave to capsize the boats or barges, resulting in the Egyptians sinking "like a stone" and "like lead in the mighty waters". Kugel also points out that "if the Egyptians were pursuing the Israelites on a dry path in the midst of the waters, then there was no place for them to go down or sink, as they were already on the bottom of the sea bed."

Fourth, the conclusion of major sections of the Torah are often marked by lengthy poems. The patriarch tales end with Jacob's Blessings, the Wilderness tales end with Haazinu, and significant periods of David's life also end with poems. The same is true for the Exodus tales, with the Song of the Sea serving as the poem.

Fifth: The Song of the Sea exhibits several traits of poetry, such as the use of metaphor, phonetically overlapping verbs, and a distinct rhythm, which conforms to the conventions of Biblical poetry. It also contains several striking puns, such as the one in the second verse עָזִּי וְזִמְרָת יָהּ, וַיְהִי-לִי לִישׁוּעָה; זֶה אֵלִי וְאַנְוֵהוּ, אֱלֹהֵי אָבִי וַאֲרֹמְמֶנְהוּ. The sense of the word "zimrah" is likely "power" but it puns on the more common meaning of the word "song" With this pun, the poet is saying God is the source of the speaker's power and also the source of the song.

Sixth: In the Torah, the Song of the Sea is structured in a brick pattern, a layout that is used in only one other place in the first five books of the Torah: The Song of Haazinu.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Three Oaths

Pessach is the right time to discuss the most anti-Zionistic midrash of them all, which is based on a verse that appears three times (with slight variations) in the Song of Songs

Young women of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and the wild does of the field: do not stir up or awaken love until the appropriate time.

According to Rav Yehuda (Ketubot 111a) this means that no act of redemption should be performed until a time arrives when it pleases God to bring about the redemption. We also see from elsewhere that Rav Yehuda thought that it was forbidden to return to Israel. 

Other sages understand the passage slightly differently, and also suggest reasons for the three-fold mention.  

Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, most famously put it this way:

Why are three oaths mentioned? One, so the Jews don't return to Israel en-masse (like a wall) Two, so that they should not rebel against the nations of the world. Three, that the nations of the world shouldn't excessively subjugate the Jews.

Both Rambam and Rabenu Bahya understand this to mean that Jews are to wait patiently for a supernatural redemption, and to do nothing to "stir up love before its proper time" 

These ideas formed the basis for religious opposition to the establishment of the state of Israel. 

In response, Zionist religious authorities have suggested several approaches, all of which seem to me to be perfectly valid, while suffering from one flaw: They all seek to change or obviate  a traditional understanding of a Talmudic passage because that traditional understanding is no longer convenient.  

Now let's be clear: I don't object to this at all. 

After all I believe that it was exactly this sort of approach that distinguished the original Pharisees from their more conservative and traditional opponents. In fact, because I hold that such interpretations are inevitable, I also think they had to have been anticipated by any divine author. How could God give a book to men and not expect them to interpret it?

I just wish that we'd all be more honest about this and recognizes that it happens

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Prayer might prevent you from getting what you want.

If Rambam is right about Divine Providence it is only available for those who have True ideas about God. If he's right about God, nothing we can do can change him. Therefore, this popular notion that our prayers can compel God to do something is not only a false idea, but also, ironically, likely to PREVENT us from getting the thing we want as believing it works disqualifies us from receiving divine providence.

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Tisha Bav Trends I do not like

Trends I do not like:

Everyone doing a siyum during the 9 days and using it as an opportunity for partying 

Organizations having meat fundraisers during the 9 days

Resteraunts having siyums on the hour so they can sell meat 

Tisha Bav being a day for "inspiration" rather than a day or mourning (related: Yom Kippur davening becoming a kumzitz as if we think that the decree can be averted via repentance, charity and humming lalala)

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Fulds Dumb Article About Anti Semitism

Hilel Fuld, a legit public figure, who is therefore fair game, has posted something about antisemitism that seems to me to be full of mistakes. I shall point a few out below, but let's start with the piece's fundemental problem. His article's main argument is that Jews must abandon America where they are allegedly being murdered in the streets in favor of Israel where they are actually being murdered in the streets. I'm not making this up. He wants us all to jump directly from the pan into the fire. And he supports this recommendation by outright lying about the current situation in America. In paragraph after paragraph Fuld wildly exagerates the dangers of living here For example, he writes: "In America! Nazi flags waving freely in the streets of America, but if someone were dumb enough to wave an Israeli flag or god forbid to wear a Star of David? They can expect an expensive hospital bill!" How does something so clearly untrue get published? Does Fuld really beleive this malarky, or is he just being an ammoral huckster who is happy to lie in support of his objectives? And what is the objective? Getting us all on the next plane to Israel, or course. His advice to every past and future victim of these fictional crimes is to decamp immediately to Israel, which he calls "the safest place the Jews have ever known." But is it really? What about the existential threat Israel is always facing? What about the Gaza rockets that are always raining down on their cities? What about the nuclear threat from Iran? This is a safe place? The country's defense budget alone strongly suggests it isn't. Over 10,000 Jews have already died in Israel's wars. Several thousand have died in terrorist attacks. This year alone there have been attacks on Jews in Beersheba, Hadera, Elad, Benai Brak and Tel Aviv. More than 20 Jews died in those attacks. Is anything like this happening in America? Has there ever been a wave of attacks against Jews in America similar to what Israeli Jews endured just last spring? No, of course not. But according to Fuld, America is too dangerous for Jews because there are, unfortunately, occasional attacks on Jews, but menwhile, Israel, where there are regular attacks on Jews, plus the ever-present threat of a nuclear attack, is the safest place on the planet for us. Is that logical? Along with forgetting how dangerous it can be to live in Israel, and exagerating the threat of living in the US, the other big mistake Fuld makes is suggesting that some big act of genocide is on the horizon. But what he doesn't seem to understand is that genocides aren't carried out by crazy people waving flags. They are carried out by states. As unpleasent and dangerous as it might be to encounter a DeSantis supporter with a swastika flag, or to see Marjorie Taylor Green at a Nazi event its pure alarmism to say that these events mean a Jewish genocide is around the corner. In Nazi Germany, the police participated in anti semitic attacks. Here, the state still works very hard to prevent Jews and to prosecute the perpetrators. This matters. Because as long as the state is still committed to protecting the Jews, genocide isn't possible - and to suggest it is, as Fuld did repeatedly, is the worst form of fearmongering. Bonus Parsha Error Fuld: "We know the story of the exile from ancient Egypt in the Torah. But did you know that only one fifth of the Jews left Egypt? The other four fifths stayed because they were comfortable. Yes, they were slaves, but they had all their needs taken care of. They had food, shelter, a community. Why would they leave?" Um, no. According to the midrash four fiths of the Jews failed to leave Egypt because they were dead, having been murdered during choshech, not because they stayed back to enjoy the delights of slavery.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Who says the world was created?

Who says the world was created?

Aristotle didn't think it was created. Rambam thought it was, but acknowledged Aristoteles argument had force and that he couldn't prove creation was true. All he could do was show the flaws in Aristotle's argument, one of which is this: 

 Aristotle's underlying assumption was that "will" is evidence of imperfection and therefore a perfect God couldn't have suddenly willed the creation of the world. However, while its true that human will is aroused by a lack or a need or some external factor, divine will might be different. Divine will might be independent of those things. In fact when we speak of human will and divine will we might be speaking of two entirely different things, that are alike only by analogy. As Rambam says (paraphrase) a men might decide to build a house because he's cold, or decide not to build the house because he doesn't have tools. So his will is contingent on these surrounding external factors.

If God's will to create the world is uncaused by anything outside of God we are talking about a very different type of will. If God's will to create the world is uncaused by anything aside for the will itself, this would not be evidence of any imperfection on Gods part as He is not changing in response to anything outside of himself. 

Thursday, May 12, 2022

J. David Bleich's terrible anti-abortion essay

J. David Bleich has a reputation for being an intellectual. It's hard for me to see how that reputation will survive the publication of this paragraph:

 "Craven political correctness is no defense for the indefensible. We should not seek to curry favor with, or the approbation of, the so-called intelligentsia. I daresay that no Jewish woman died as a result of legal restraints prior to Roe v. Wade. No Jewish woman is likely to die in the wake of its repeal. Abortion for medical need will continue to be available in most, and probably all, jurisdictions. If any lives are lost it will be because of inability to afford the expense of travel, not because of constitutional impediment."

Let's take it apart line by line

Craven political correctness is no defense for the indefensible. 

Craven sucking up to evangelicals is also no defense for the indefensible. Most Orthodox Jews who oppose abortion are just taking cues from Christians about morality. They don't consult authentic Jewish sources. They listen to whatever the preachers say on Fox News.  

We should not seek to curry favor with, or the approbation of, the so-called intelligentsia.

We should also not seek to curry favor with  or the approbation of the Catholic church as Bleich himself does in an earlier paragraph. Why is seeking a smile from the Pope any better or worse than seeking a smile from intelligent people?

I daresay that no Jewish woman died as a result of legal restraints prior to Roe v. Wade. 

I daresay Bleich completely wrong. If no Jewish women died as a result of legal restraints before Roe (extremely doubtful) it was only because abortion was legal in the states where almost all of the Jewish women lived. 

No Jewish woman is likely to die in the wake of its repeal. 

Read that one again. This reassurance that "no Jewish woman is likely to die as a result of its appeal" (almost equally doubtful as the previous claim) is an unbelievably chauvinistic statement. Jewish blood is not cheap but the blood of poor women is?

Abortion for medical need will continue to be available in most, and probably all, jurisdictions. 

Abortion for medical need will not continue to be available in most red states; many plan to allow it for emergencies only - with "emergency" being defined as narrowly as possible. And the fact that abortion doctors will need to hire lawyers to prove in court that the emergency was real after they are sued by state empowered vigilantes will only make doctors less willing to deliver this sort of medical aid. 

If any lives are lost it will be because of inability to afford the expense of travel, not because of constitutional impediment.

If any poor women die its not society's fault for making medical abortions extremely difficult to obtain. It's her own fault for being too poor to afford travel. Just terrible. Imagine saying that about food: If the poor woman dies its her own fault for not being able to afford the food.  Or about any other medical procedure: If the poor woman dies its her own fault for not being able to afford an appendectomy. Does that fly? If you can see clearly why the food example and the appendix example are both morally obtuse, why can't you see it about the abortion example?

Thursday, May 05, 2022

Believe it or not, there is a liberal approach to reducing abortions:

Believe it or not, there is a liberal approach to reducing abortions:

1) minimum wage that keeps pace with productivity or at least the cost of living.
2) expanding Medicaid.
3) affordable day care,
4) student loan relief
5) Robust public education.
6) Free birth control
7) Paid family leave

Why don’t allegedly pro life people want to do any of these things? Why is criminalizing a medical decision or imposing on everyone else their extreme Christian idea on when life begins their answer to everything? (because they're not pro-life, they're pro-birth. Once the baby is born then its life is worthless to them)

Consider a more sympathetic understanding of the anti-woke people.

On Twitter, I was urged to consider a more sympathetic understanding of the anti-woke people.
I tried, but I admit I'm stumped.
Maybe you can help? Here are three little sketches of how the anti-woke people look to me.
If you have a better way of understanding it, please let me know.
Here is my POV:
1. Disney sees that Trader Sam offends people and perpetuates stereotypes that hurt people. "Why," Disney says to itself, "should we be in the business of helping people think that minorities are X,Y, and Z.?"
2. Out of compassion, Disney removes Trader Sam
3. People who value their own nostalgia over everything else in the world scream "woke!!"
Here is my POV
1. People see suffering in the world
2. People try to mitigate that suffering with compassion. Some examples of that compassion may include using words that make people experience less suffering.
3. People who are insecure in their own identities and value nostalgia over everything else yell "woke!!"
Here is my POV
1 The owner of Dr. Suess sees illustrations that perpetuate stereotypes that harm people. "Why", the owner asks itself, "should we be doing anything to help small children accept stereotypes about Asians and Africans?"
2. The owner takes the books out of publication
3. People who value their own nostalgia over everything else in the world scream "woke!!"
Do you see this differently? Great. Give your POV

Wednesday, May 04, 2022

What's so great about being UOJ?

What's so great about being UOJ?
"In our country, they say that he who wishes to tell a lie has his witnesses live far away." That's the Ramban at the Disputation explaining why the claims of Christianity mean nothing to him.
What good is it, he continues, to say that Jesus has saved us from sin, or given us eternal salvation? These claims are impossible to falsify. What you say may be true, or not, but who can tell?
An identical charge, alas, might be made against some of the claims of Ultra Orthodox Judaism.
Go to a BT seminar, or question your local Haredi believer, and you'll be told that there are three primary reasons for living the Ultra Orthodox lifestyle.
In this post, I attempt to discuss them with the bombastic lack of nuance for which I am quite unjustifiably famous.
First up, the claim that **This is God Wants.** Oh, really? And how exactly do you know that? How do you propose to prove that God wants you to wear strange headgear, mutter old poems three times daily, and gorge yourself on meat and potatoes on the weekend? The only proofs are circular (the book says so and the book is true because the book says its true) and far too many UOJ behaviors that are considered essential and original are really nothing of the sort. None of these more recently added Ultra Orthodox affectations can honestly be said to be what God wants, not when perfectly spectacular Jews did otherwise for thousands of years. Did the Rambam say Kabbalat Shabbos? Did he know from upshurin? Where was his kippa? In fact, a halachic conservative Jewish lifestyle -- one that features scrupulously ethical behavior together with non-glat kashrus, regular mikva trips, and the contours of an observant shabbos - is just as plausibly What God Wants, but with none of the accoutrements, and a tenth of the difficulty. Why not do that instead? (Answer: Superstition, ignorance, fear of neighbors)
Second, **It Will Make You Happier. ** Yeah, says who? Admittedly most of my social contacts are Orthodox Jews, so I don't have much basis for comparison, but my cronies don't seem especially joyful. Many are downright miserable. Working extra hard to pay exorbitant tuition bills, and feeling forced by society to pay for obscenely lavish smachot will do that to you. As for the UOJs as a whole, well, lets play amateur sociologist: Ultra Orthodox Jews are less educated, make less money and have larger families. None of these factors are traditional indicators of happiness.
If UOJs are happier, perhaps it is a result of the smugness/sense of certainty that comes from thinking of yourself as God's Special Guy, or from the satisfaction acquired from completing our daily maze of religious rituals and obligations. The former is available to the LWCJ/OJ, too; indeed its available to anyone - Jew or gentile - who lives right, according to his or her own standard of right. As for the latter, well, I agree the real world offers nothing quite like the satisfaction of making it through Yom Kippur, or starving through a flight when no kosher food is available, but this isn't necessarily an indictment of the real world.
Third, **It Will Make You Smarter**. At the BT seminars, this claim is too often backed up with bogus bible codes. Your local heredi true believer is more likely to say that everything scientists know is contained in the Torah, and attempt to prove it via the famous, but undocumented, Chazon Ish anecdote, or by pointing to some medieval commentary who, when read in just the right light, seems to presage Einstein.
I agree that UOJs generally have much more candlepower than most, but too many of them just don't seem to know anything. Is it because their schools teach them nothing, or are they just not taught modern modes of thinking? My friends who practice medicine in Lakewood and Williamsburg have a new story every month about some cockamamie treatment plan that everyone seems to swear by. Once it was crystals, another time garlic in the ears. The fact that these methods don't work, and are endorsed by no one save the neighborhood yenta seems not to matter. Over and over again, we see UOJ people falling for scams like segulot, and blessings for money. Over and over again we see UOJs shutting off their brains once it seems clear a "Rabbi said so". And of course I've acquired countless grey hairs, stress lines and stomach ulcers attempting to explain to the so-called smartest of the smartest how history works, what midrashim are, and why blindly relying on authority is a lousy way to acquire knowledge. These are all things that ordinary non-UOJ creatures of the 21st century just seem to know, in the same way that ancients just seemed to know that dragons were real. So why are the UOJs lagging so far behind?

Monday, May 02, 2022

Zionists be like...


Also, them: Heyyyy.... I don't like how Jews or Israel were depicted in that media!! HOW OFFENSIVE. WE MUST BOYCOTT THEM NOW!!

Sunday, May 01, 2022

Points of disagreement between me and the Orthodox Jews

Points of disagreement between me and the Orthodox Jews

  • I don't think Zionist Israel is special
  • I don't think hasidut is special
  • I don't accept any kind of witchcraft
  • I don't accept any kind of magic
  • I think the reward for a mitzvah is the mitzvah (and I try to embrace all consequences thereof)
  • I reject ATM Judaism*
  • I reject gold star Judaism*
  • I refuse to treat God like a hired hand
  • I refuse to treat our great Rabbis like Catholic saints
  • I think the call for us to "storm the heavens with our prayers" suggests some rather awful things about God
  • I realize it's blasphemous to suggest God enjoys listening to us chant and sing and wave around our arms
  • I think Uman is a joke
  • I think what Israel is doing in the West Bank is disgusting and immoral
  • I don't think we're ever obliged to believe Midrashim
  • I think were often obliged to accept that the authors of midrashim believed exactly what they said
  • I think education is more important than chinuch
  • I don't think black hats or Zionism or sitting and learning is michaper kol avonot

You go up to God with a card and a pass code (=zechuyot) and you get cash and prizes

Mitzvoth have no intrinsic value. They don't make you better. They just add to your collection of gold stars which you can sell to other people in things like a zevulen/yissacher deal or trade in (hey God here are ten gold stars, please save Moshe from cancer)