Monday, January 31, 2005


Having read "Holy Terror's" two most recent posts on -=JeW*SCHooL=- I am prepared to pass judgement:

I believe Holy Terror is a parody. No one can be that devoid of self-awareness. No one can be that unappolgetically Phillistine. I think Moby invented her to show us how nuts the righties are, and I'd venture to suggest that he got the idea from Yitzhak Eyezik. <-- link fixed!

This is why I am inviting "Holy Terror" to guest-blog here anytime she likes.

We'd be very glad to have her.


But there's really nothing respectful that can be said about Rabi Plaut's response to his critics on House of Hock

Here we have a man who doesn't understand science - medieval or modern - pontificating on both. I suppose that's fair, when you remember that he makes decisions about the universe using the epistemology of a five year old.

His signs off with a decleration of faith, ("The world is 5,765 years old and counting.") but so far as I can see he never explains why he thinks God has deliberately tricked us into thinking that the universe is millions and millions of years older.

Where did this idea of a very old universe come from? Did all the scientists fail to calibrate their instruments? Is it a conspiracy? Is Rabbi Palaut suggesting that modern cosmologists are knwingly deceiving us?

Or perhaps, Rabbi Plaut believes someone else has lied to us. Perhaps Rabbi Plaut believes that the scientists are doing their very best with the tools at their disposal, but are failing to uncover the truth, because God has designed the world to "appear" very old, when in fact it isn't.

Is that it, Rabbi Plaut? Is your god a prankster, pulling the wool over the eyes of gullible science?

Let's have it, Rabbi Plaut: Do the "Heavens proclaim His glory," as the Psalmist said, or is the universe God created one big, fat lie?

Rabbi Plaut, if you read DovBear we'd like to hear from you.


Here's a sweet, but implausible story from today's New York Times
Mr. Sharansky found himself in the Oval Office in an hourlong conversation with the president about his book, 'The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror.' Mr. Bush apologized for not finishing it, Mr. Sharansky said in a telephone interview last week from Jerusalem - 'He said, 'I'm on Page 211' ' - but otherwise threw his arms around Mr. Sharansky's theme that spreading democracy is in the strategic self-interest of free societies.

'I felt like his book just confirmed what I believe,' Mr. Bush said in an interview on Thursday in the Oval Office. 'He writes it a heck of a lot better than I could write it, and he's certainly got more credibility than I have. After all, he spent time in a Soviet prison and he has a much better perspective than I've got.'
Oh, what we would pay to be able to ask the president even 3 questions about that book.

I'd even let the president refer to the book for his answers. I'd even let him see the questions in advance.

"I'm on Page 211." Yeah, right.


Over at Israellycool Dave says it "Seems like a low - and indeed desperate - blow" to criticize Dick Cheney for appearing at Aushwitz in the garb of a K-mart shopper.

I will agree that Cheney's poor choice of clothing is not one of the big issues of the day, but I find it exasperating that the same right-wing blogosphere that giggled for days when Kerry mispronounced the name of a football stadium, is piously insisting that Cheney's sartorial faux paus is a non-issue. And, it should be noted that high-minded Dave is himself currently deep into a high-browed series on Mahmoud and his smiles.

Finally, it's silly to say that Cheney was simply dressing warmly. A man as wealthy as the Vice President can surely find a tailor with enought skill to create an outfit that is both warm AND dignified. At the innauguration last week, when it was frigid in Washington, Cheney (or his tailor) managed the trick. So what went wrong in Auschwitz?

Cheney didn't care, and that, finally, is the point.


Taking the long way around.

1. Go to

2. In the Start section, select "Norway" from the list box and enter "Haugesund" into the "City" field

3. In the End section, select "Norway" from the list box and enter "Trondheim" into the "City" field

4. Click on "Get Directions" ...

Well done Microsoft.


They are all big. I struggle with a few of them myself; if I had the answer to this one, I wouldn't need to blog:

Why is it that there seems to be an ever-decreasing circle of people who believe roughly as I do, who see Judaism the way I do?


Circle I Limbo

People who take midrash literally
Circle II Whirling in a Dark & Stormy Wind

Peter Gumple
Circle III Mud, Rain, Cold, Hail & Snow

Rush's Audience
Circle IV Rolling Weights

Ned Flanders, and people like him
Circle V Stuck in Mud, Mangled

River Styx

People who confuse "your" and "you're"
Circle VI Buried for Eternity

River Phlegyas

Karl Rove
Circle VII Burning Sands

Those who imagine hats and tables are essential to Judaism
Circle IIX Immersed in Excrement

Rush's Sponsors
Circle IX Frozen in Ice

Design your own hell


The Virginia Military Institute "has opened an investigation after photographs of some of its students posing in Nazi costumes and parodying gays were posted on a public website."

Let me ask a serious question, or three: If the VMI cadets dressed as devils, or kings, or gangsters, or Richard Nixon, would anyone mind? No? So what's the difference? Aren't devils a symbol of absolute evil? Haven't kings and gangsters committed more than their share of criminal atrocities?

Perhaps, we've simply reached a point where the "Nazi" has become a joke, ripe for parody, much like the gangster in his fedora and sharp suit. I'm ready to agree with Miriam; "On occasion this can be tasteless, but ridicule is not a bad way to strip the swastika of some of its malign power"

Certainly, anyone in the audience laughing at (former Jew) Mel Brooks and the Producers would agree.

Sunday, January 30, 2005


If you're furious about the CC article discussed here, have a hearty laugh at its expense here.


Well, let's credit the American Nazi party for one out of three. They can hate, but it seems they can't spell.

As Miriam reports the Nazis of Oregon have volunteered to pick up trash along a quiet stretch of rural road in Oregon in exchange for recognition on small road signs.

However, KATU of Oregon is reporting that someone misspelled the name of the group on their application to the program. The original signs said "American Nazi Party," while the application states that the group is actually called the "Amerian Nazi Party."

Which reminds me of a joke. What do you call a Nazi in third-grade?
An ex-Nazi.

Jesus General
suggests we litter the road with pictures of "Spongebob or Dora the Explorer to remind them what they are fighting against."


How does this work?

On Friday, SoccerDad, a nice little blog, was ranked at about 2900. Today it's at 433?!

What caused the enormous, overnight leap?

Meanwhile, I'm hovering at 3000, which is excellent, really, for a blog that was born in November 2004, except TLB says I get 47 "Inbound Unique;" my own stats say it's more like 400.

Can anyone explain?

Another TLB anamoly: Kesher-talk, a fine blog that doesn't link here, put up a post that TLB says received 149 links. 149! I'd love to read it. I'd even provide the elusive 150th link.

Does anyone know what it was?


Writing about Slifkin, the ban, and the cowardice of moderate Orthodoxy's leaders, I wrote: " means that we have lost. It means that a certain old, and very good style of Orthodox Judaism has been murdered; yet another victim of the Eastern European Jewish tsunami."

I wrote these words on Bloghd a moment ago, and it was a sort of revelation. This is why I am so angry. I am furious at the thought that a perfectly legitimate strain of Judaism has been swallowed whole by a younger, and perhaps less-legitimate, strain of Judaism.

This is not the place to attack the authenticity of the style of Judaism practiced by the Eastern-Europeans. Instead, let's say simply that their style of Judaism (and please note I am discussing style, and style only) is very different from the style of Judaism practiced in the West. For the sake of conversation, I'll even stipulate that both styles are equally authentic, and equally legitimate.

However, I can't pretend that the Western-style is newer, which is one of many lies institutional Orthodoxy asks us to accept.

A raft of examples:

Nusach Ashkenaz isn't modern; it predates Hasidic sefard by at least 500 years. Singing Yigdal on Friday night isn't modern; it was done in Amsterdam as early as the 18th century. Blue-shirts and ties aren't modern; until very recently Jews dressed like everyone else. Opposing upshurin or eating g'broks on Passover isn't modern; the customs of upshurin or refusing g'broks didn't even exist until less than 250 years ago. Singing the tefilla isn't modern; as far back as 1623 the Council of the Four Lands inveighed against it. And of course, imagining the universe is very old is not a modern idea. Jewish scholars of stature and rank believed this several hundred years before Darwin.

But the average Haredi man on the street knows none of this, he chooses to remain ignorant of it. His leaders make no effort to educate him, and forbid him to seek education on his own.

This willful ignorance is overtaking us, the lies multiply, and no one gets the joke that what the Haredim call "modern" is, in fact, very old, and some of what the Haredim imagine essential to Judaism is, in fact, very new.

Meanwhile, those of us who know better and refuse to play along with this new Judaism are tarred as "modern" and cast into the street. It's our punishment for insisting on the authenticity and legitimacy of our older traditions.

This is what galls most about the Slifkin ban. Our way is the older way, but this counts for nothing among those who piously insist that the old way is the best way.


The first round of voting has ended over at the JIBs, and Dave, has quite correctly deducted votes from a number of blogs that were discovered to have benefited from voter fraud. (Dave is careful not to accuse the blog proprietors. I, too, make no accusations. Well-meaning fans can go overboard in their devotion, of course.)

However, it is worth reporting that one blog gained more than any other from fraud. In all, this blog received more than 20 fradulent votes, in each of the five categories for which it was (self?) nominated.

Of which blog do I speak? Why, it's Jewish Whistleblower, of course, the idol-smashing blog that stands for "accountability and transparency within our institutions and leadership".

Three cheers for transparency, 'eh?

Saturday, January 29, 2005


for a very long time.

About the Republicans I mean. Like Ayelet, I can remember when they were tolerable. I can remember when they weren't drunk on God, when they made no practice of demonizing their opposition, when they could be trusted not to lower public discourse, when they didn't divide the public in pursuit of their exclusive ambitions.

I remember good Republicans. Really I do.

In my shul is a man who was told as young boy, "Vote Republican. They'll let you alone and let keep your money." And to this day, this boy, now a middle-aged man, like middle-aged Jewish men in every shul, votes Republican. And because he's Jewish, and not very well read, he does not see and he does not know that GWB's Republican party is made up of several distinct elements - at least four, of which three are neither libertarian, nor fiscally conservative. He doesn't see that all we Jews have to keep us safe is liberty, and he doesn't see that this president and his cronies in the other three wings of the GOP have waged a steady war on liberty -in this country, never mind Iraq, where liberty is hardly a forgone conclusion, anyway - a steady war on liberty from the very day they took office.

He doesn't see, and he doesn't care. This middle-aged man, like middle-aged men in every shul, counts his money, and he laughs at the less fortunate, and says his prayers, and perhaps mutters thanks that his neighbors judge him on the size of his hat and the shine on his atarah, rather than the size of his heart.

Thus, I blog.


Wow... I didn't see that coming. Money quote: "Is this the freedom that George Bush champions? This is not ideals and values but precisely the opposite."

We see something is amiss at the Haredi paper of record, for the same article favorably cites a HARVARD professor! His definitions - not the torah's, not the gedolim's, but HIS definitions of freedom are put forward. Revolutionary stuff! For them, anyway.

Oh, Dei'ah veDibur, what have you done with R' Mordechai Plaut? On second thought, don't tell us.

This new Dv'D has potential.


There's a facinating piece at TNR on the letters of Isaiah Berlin (Who was Isaiah Berlin? Years ago, I asked the same questions, and was told "Not to know Isaiah Berlin is to argue yourself unknown." Great line, no? In brief: He was brilliant. He was Jewish. Tzeh u'lemad.)

For the general Jewish audience, here are two bits from the recent TNR article likely to amuse, inform, and perhaps enrage:

First bit:
The synagogues that he attended with his parents in Bayswater, Hampstead, and Golders Green were, architecturally and socially, testaments to the determination with which bourgeois Anglo-Jews staked their claim to a stable place within the institutions of late-imperial Britain. The interiors were (and are) oak-paneled; the windows neo-Victorian stained glass; the yad, or pointer, for the Torah readings was made from Hatton Garden sterling silver; and the synagogue's official notables, the 'wardens,' were dressed in black silk top hats and seated in their very own closed pew, the 'box,' which solemnly opened and shut each time one of them emerged to mount the steps to the Ark. "
Second bit
In Palestine in 1934... Berlin diagnosed much of the surliness of British officials (neither malevolent nor benevolent) toward the Jews as stemming from a resentment that their usual imperial role of Kulturträger to the natives had been usurped by dentists from Kraków, demoting the pukka pashas to the status of glorified traffic cops. Hence the romantic eagerness of the British to adopt the role of protector of the noble Arabs against the pushily disruptive Jews and their Mitteleuropa culture of coffee, cake, and Kinder.

Friday, January 28, 2005


Cheney at Auschwitz. (Herbert Knosowski -- AP)

Robin Givhan of The Wahington Post is most displeased with the VP's sartorial choices:
Cheney stood out in a sea of black-coated world leaders because he was wearing an olive drab parka with a fur-trimmed hood. It is embroidered with his name. It reminded one of the way in which children's clothes are inscribed with their names before they are sent away to camp. And indeed, the vice president looked like an awkward boy amid the well-dressed adults.

Like other attendees, the vice president was wearing a hat. But it was not a fedora or a Stetson or a fur hat or any kind of hat that one might wear to a memorial service as the representative of one's country. Instead, it was a knit ski cap, embroidered with the words "Staff 2001." It was the kind of hat a conventioneer might find in a goodie bag.

It is also worth mentioning that Cheney was wearing hiking boots -- thick, brown, lace-up ones. Did he think he was going to have to hike the 44 miles from Krakow -- where he had made remarks earlier in the day -- to Auschwitz?
How 'bout a little respect? And dignity?

[More: Dick Cheney, Dressing Down (]


Gill writes: R. Emanuel Feldman brilliantly comments on the Slifkin controversy.

hmmmm. Let's see.

The Following Are Real Time Thoughts That Occured to Me As I Read R' Feldman's Article

  • Hey, he can write! They ain't making Rabbis like that anymore. Wonder where he went to school, and if he'd let his own kid go there.

  • Uh oh. Why is he bashing the Modern Orthodox? Ok, he's cleverly put the bashing into the mouth of a "highly intelligent baal-teshuva" but it's bashing all the same. He repeats that the same hoary myths about MO culture, and makes the same mistake about the MO approach that every yeshivish person makes. Why is he doing this?

  • Here's the nut of his attack on the MO: He looks at the MO masses, and pretend that their behavior defines the movement. But every single shortcoming he identifies among the MO masses are present to the same degree among the black hat masses. Casuallness. Materialism. It's all there. So why aren't the black hatters defined by their masses? Why are the black hatters defined by their rabonim instead? Couldn't he offer the MO the same courtesy and define MO by their rabonim? This dishonest approach is all too common, and its 100 percent unfair.

  • Oh my! When writing about the Haredim, he hedges: "I fully realize that many individual haredim are kind, generous, charitable, but the group comes across..." No similar bone was thrown to the MOs. They were denounced as a group, with no exceptions offerred. No mention was made of all the sincere, religiously scrupulous MOs. Why?

  • He writes: "After all, it was the cultural elite of the 20th century who were also the leaders of 20th century brutality, playing Bach while the crematoria did their work." Excuse me, but owning a record player, and knowing how to operate it does not make you a "cultural elite." This is a straw man. And a flabby one at that.

  • He writes: "Despite all this, the haredim have been most successful, and have really defeated the MO on the battlefield of ideas." No, they just have more children.

  • He writes: "They have a charismatic leadership, a consistent ideology, they are intensely Jewish, they sacrifice." Spoken like a man who has never been inside a Brooklyn shul, or on the sidewalk outside a Brookln starter-palace. Charisma? Sacrifice? You mean they bought a Lexus instead of a Mercedes?

  • He writes: "Their is purpose in their lives, spiritual strength, sanctity, self assurance - and these have attracted many Jews under their umbrella.Unlike the MO, they have little difficulty is retaining their next generation" Spoken like a man who's never been inside Yeshiva University. Is that Bes Medresh silent? Is there no purpose inside those walls? Has enrollment at Hesder Yeshivot dropped? The lies in this little sentance are too many to count.

    Overall: What a disapointing hack job. And I don't know what Gil was talking about. This article doesn't discuss Slifkin. It's just a vile propoganda attack on the MO.

    His lips move.

    Meet Clifford May
    Remember that U.N. official who complained about Washington's contribution to the tsunami victims? He neglected to mention that even as he was deriding Americans as "stingy," the United Nations was refusing more than $50 million in aid.
    Don't remember? Don't feel bad. It's not Alzheimers. It never happened.
    Jan Egeland, U.N. undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs, said no such thing. According to a transcript of a Dec. 27 news conference, what Egeland was talking about was, generally, what he considered low levels of foreign aid money from wealthy nations and, specifically, the fear that these countries would spend all of the new year's foreign aid allocations on tsunami relief, leaving little money for the other emergencies that typically happen:

    We were more generous when we were less rich, many of the rich countries. And it is beyond me why are we so stingy, really, when we are -- and even Christmas time should remind many Western countries at least how rich we have become. And if actually the foreign assistance of many countries now is 0.1 or 0.2 percent of their gross national income, I think that is stingy, really. I don't think that is very generous.

    The word "United States" appears nowhere near "stingy." Yet somehow Egeland's remarks were grossly distorted into a claim that the U.S. was being "stingy."
    Somehow? Somehow? I'll tell you how the "gross distortion occured."

    Right-wingers lie.


    Nope, we're not going to say that, ahem, those people in the majority, are close-minded, mouth-breathing morons.

    At least not today.

    But we think this little poll from Christianity Today, makes that suggestion.

    I believe demonic possession is: (Check all that apply)

    not taken seriously enough by Christians.: 35%

    not taken seriously enough by doctors.: 21%

    possible, but only for non-Christians.: 24%

    possible for Christians.: 13%

    a belief of primitive cultures.: 4%

    not real. It's a biblical literary device.: 3%

    See that? 21% thought that DOCTORS should take demonic possession more seriously. You know, instead of schizophrenia, epilepsy, or cancer, maybe doctors should consider demonic possession as a diagnosis -- because that's what it could be.

    Horrifying thought: If Deah V'Dibbur ran a similar poll, how do you think their readers would answer?


    What Would Prudence Say?

    From the snail-mail bag:
    [Wedding Invitation]

    Chuppah at seven o'clock
    Simchas Chosson v'kallah at 9:45
    (We hope to be on schedule as the music ends at 11:00 pm)

    This is all 100 percent verbatem by the way, including the annoying inconsistancy with the way the time is written.

    And frankly, I'm impressed. In just three lines, the hosts have mananged to announce (1) no attention to detail (2) stinginess (3) chronic lateness and (4) absense of personal responsibility, ie: if the band goes home before we're ready it's not the host's fault. It's the guest's fault. Bad, bad guests.

    Bonus: Guess the sect affiliation of the hosts.

    Thursday, January 27, 2005


    Mayim Achronim

    Sometimes, before the grace after meals, your host will pass a mayim achroi'nim set. There is no reason for this. Most rabbis agree that the tradition traces back to ancient times when people ran out of gift ideas for newlyweds and began to buy them little cups and saucers. The newlyweds were forced to use the useless trinkets when the people who gave it to them came over for lunch. So, they filled the cup with water, passed it around, and everyone dipped their fingers into it.

    And now you know the rest of the story.


    This arrived in the in-box today. I wasn't going to publish it. After all, it isn't a humorous post, and the JIB-voters are looking for funny. Then - and I promise this was a quick decision - I thought: Screw it. This is more important

    Dear Dov: Will you please post this letter?
    Yes. Here it is, with some edits.

    The ban on Rabbi Slifkin's books has far-reaching repercussions. It has caused pain and confusion. For instance, if you are a teacher who has used R' Slifkin, and the Rishonim upon he relies, to strengthen your student's faith in traditional Judaism, you have just been informed that you taught heresy. The students who passed through your classrom were taught kefirah. By you.

    If you are a kiruv worker, an NCSY advisor, or even a friendly person who speaks with non-observant colleagues have you, in your attempts to explain or to defend Judaism, been spreading views that are counter to our tradition?

    In this group, I include myself and I feel the pain. Rav Dovid Feinstein just declared that I have been spreading heresy, and that is a source of confusion. He has just declared that I, and everyone I have influenced, are outside the pale of Orthodox Judaism. If he is right, then I am guilty of very serious offenses that make me shudder. If he is wrong, or he never intended it this way, then I am even more hurt.

    Rav Malkiel Kotler has announced that Rav Aryeh Kaplan and all of the many Jews who were influenced by him are heretics. Everyone who had some contact with him surely feels pain over this. Was Rav Kaplan really a heretic? All those college students who became frum because of him, are they really closet heretics? Is the frum community really so infected by this heresy? Baalei tshuvah, in particular, must be extremely hurt by this declaration that, in truth, they have never become truly frum.

    Rav Matisyahu Salomon has disqualified just about every member of the Association of Orthodox Jewish Scientists. Should the group be disbanded? Every member of AOJS, and every Jew who respects the doctors and scientists who dedicate their lives to Torah and science, has been hurt by this.

    Every shul rabbi who has discussed this topic has infected his congregants with heresy. Can that damage ever be undone? Has the rabbi unwittingly harmed the souls of the people who were placed in his charge? The distress many are going through is unimaginable.

    It is likely that the roshei yeshiva have not yet heard from people removed from the centers of their communities. Shouldn't they hear from us how much pain and confusion people are suffering? If we want to balance out the personal influence that those within the yeshiva world have on the roshei yeshiva, we need to voice our pain. Let the roshei yeshiva know that we have been hurt. With one fell swoop, thousands of Bnei Torah who have dedicated their lives to Yahadus have been written off. We, our rabbeim and our students have been pushed michutz lamachaneh.

    Let us call Rav Dovid Feinstein, Rav Malkiel Kotler, Rav Matisyahu Salomon and the others, and, with all the respect they deserve, express from our hearts how much we have been hurt. Let us pour out our souls, cry over the phone, share our grief over the position in which we have suddenly been placed. Let us express the enormous pain that this ban has caused and beg either for clarifications or at least sympathy.

    I ask every reader to forward this message along to anyone to whom you think this may be relevant. Everyone who signed the ban against Rav Slifkin should be called until you personally get through to him and express your personal pain. Be respectful. Be humble. Be honest. And be persistent. Keep calling until you get through to him. Leave specific messages and keep calling until you speak directlywith the rosh yeshiva and relay to him your personal pain. He needs to hear it from each and every one of us.

    I do not think it is appropriate to post phone numbers in this venue. Try

    Rav Malkiel Kotler is listed in Lakewood, NJ, under the name A M Kotler
    Rav Matisyahu Salomon is listed in Lakewood, NJ, under the name M Salomon
    RavElyah Wachtfogel is listed in Fallsburg, NY, under the name Eli Wachtfogel
    Rav Chaim Stein is listed in Wickliffe, OH, under the name Chaim Stein
    Rav Dovid Feinstein can be reached at his yeshiva, listed in NY, NY, as Mesivtha Tifereth Jerusalem
    Rav Meyer Hershkowitz is listed in Stamford, CT, as Meyer Hershkowitz
    Rav Raphael Schorr is listed in Monsey, NY, as Raphael Schorr


    Writes Newsweek:
    The X-Hawk is the first helicopter built to maneuver in tight spaces. Developed by Israeli helicopter company Urban Aeronautics, the X-Hawk is a "rotorless" aircraft. Whereas top-mounted rotors make it hard for conventional choppers to avoid buildings and power lines, the X-Hawk's rotors are encased inside ducts and mounted on the tail. Small vanes in the front and back of the ducts allow the helicopter to move forward and backward, or right and left, without rolling. Though the first X-Hawk is not expected to be available until 2010, a prototype passed 10 hover tests with flying colors in December
    Now, where's my robot maid.


    French President Jacques Chirac, among them.

    Ntodd:Why Auschwitz matters today.

    He's right.


    Survivors also visit death camp 60 years after liberation.

    I don't understand going back, and I certainly don't understand wearing the old clothes. Or even recreations.

    That can't be emotionally healthy.


    DailyKOS is beating the drums of dismissal for Senator Joe Leiberman:
    Republicans love him for the same reason that Democrats love McCain -- because they both spend a great deal of the time beating up publicly on their own party.
    But for that reason, especially given our minority status (when the party needs to stick together for survival), Lieberman must go. I don't want another six years of him bashing Democrats on Fox News next to a fawning Sean Hannity.
    My, my what an unpleasant pickle for the GOP Jew:
    • On the one hand, who the hell is this Kos to mess with a Jew's livelihood?
    • On the other hand, Leiberman shouldn't be in high office, anyway. It's bad for the Jews, and all.
    • But on the other hand (we're from the Love Canal vicinity) if Leiberman goes down in the primaries, as Kos wishes, he'll likely be replaced by a real democrat, ie: one who won't bash the party on Fox TV.

    So, if you're a GOP Jew, what do you do?

    As you may have noticed, I am not a GOP Jew, plus I like Leiberman. I hope he stays in the Senate forever.


    Experts Agree: CNN's copywriter either fell asleep or was drunk. Or maybe half-dead, half-alive Zombie Bin Ladin is on the prowl?

    [Hat Tip Wonkette, who damn well better reciprocate one of these days.]


    Milestones:Rabbi Sholom Klass, zt`l And The Jewish Press
    The Jewish Press also became a significant source for unvarnished news and independent opinion about Eretz Yisroel and the Jewish community in America, and a fearless advocate for the political and legal rights of Jews around the world.
    Are these people clueless or delusional? Or do they just think their readers are morons?


    The LOR (local orthodox Rabbi) says that Slifkin is being challenged on three grounds:

    1 - He denied the science of the sages. Example: He claims spontaneous generation isn't real.

    2 - He denied the cosmology of the sages Example: He claims the universe is more than 5000 odd years.

    3 - He denied the authority of the sages. Example: He says the sages are fallible.

    According to the LOR, the first two are excusable, but the third puts Judaism on a slippery slope; therefore its intolerable.

    But what about horayot*? Yeah, I asked that, too. Apparently, only the sages themselves can conclude that they themselves have made an error. Slifkin (a) isn't a sage, and (b) it's not his own error he's correcting. Ergo, his testimony is out.

    This strikes me as foolish. Because if the sage dies before he realizes his mistake, what's our recourse? How do we keep errors from becoming part of the tradition, if no one can ever correct a sage?

    Recipe for disaster, no?

    *Tractate of Talmud that seems to recognize the fallibility of Sages.


    Ah, another day. And with it a fresh opportunity to stand up for freedom, to make a show of your patriotism and to stick it to the terrorists.

    Vote DovBear


    The OU declares war on kiddush clubs

    And, this just it:
    The official reaction from The Shteeble Authority (Boro Park:) "See, this is why we don't recognize those modernishkahs running the OU. Pass the creamed herring, will you please? My Tam-Tam is dry."

    [Hap Tip Miriam, who, we gather, never imbibes.]
    [Esther, who endorses me in the JIBs, is all over this story]


    For reasons unknown this is in my head:
    v'af al pee she at po
    v'at kol kach yofa
    mee'maych ani borayach kmo mee magayfa
    od yesh harbay d'varim she rotziti la'asot
    at betach tislichee lee gam ba'shana hazot
    So let's make a game out of it.

    Name that tune anyone?


    From the writings of A.P Kores*


    1) In ancient times, people would sacrifice such things as cattle, incense, and virgins. Some would sacrifice their virginity. This behavior pleased the Lord, who rewarded the ancient people with all the pestilence, famine, droughts, and invading barbarians they desired.

    2) After the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, the rabbis decided that the Almighty was displeased with the Jewish method of worship, which amounted to little more than tailgating outside of the Holy Temple. Reasoning that everyone should suffer, and not just the Kohens and Levi'im who always got stuck mopping up the blood and guts, the rabbinate ordered that prayers replace the ancient barbaric custom of sacrifices.

    3) Prayers began with a recitation of the Sh'ma and the Shmoneh Esrei. It took eight minutes. Soon, a well-meaning yet masochist rabbi decided that this didn't cause nearly enough pain, so he composed a poem for everyone to sing. Not to be outdone, another rabbi decided that it was also necessary to read Tehilim. And a third began to write his own poems, and so on and so on until there were scarcely five minutes left in a 24-hour day that did not have some prayer to say.

    4) Somewhere along the line "singing" the prayers fell out of fashion. This sped up the services, but. Jewish memory being what is, there are presently entire communities of Jews under the misapprehension that singing is "modern." [Ed note: These are the same people who think eating gbroks is modern and that the ashkenaz liturgy is modern. Math, not history, is our strong suit.]

    5) Today, prayers grow with every generation as each congregation tries to outdo the others in terms of time spent praying and total prayers said. Pretty soon, we will all just have to move into Schul since there will be no point of ever going home since, by the time we got there, we'll just turn around again. [Note: I davened in a shteeble in Boro Park one sukkot, and this is exactly what happened. Morning services took so long, I almost ate my esrog]

    Shira's "post party" made me think of this.

    *If A.P Kores will identify himself, I'll gladly give him credit. His writings appeared in my email box this week, stuffed between the angry Letters of Protest, and the ads for manhood enhancement (which were immidiately forwarded to the authors of the Letters of Protest. Ha! Ha!)


    [Via The House of Hock]
    The essence of [Rabbi Plaut's] argument is this: If you can prove that a certain body of knowledge, call it 'b', is true, and then prove that subsequently a series of parties know with 100% certainty that the proceeding party knew that knowledge 'b' was true, then there is certainty down the line that knowledge 'b' is true. This has an obvious connection with Mesorah, where, if you accept that what was given to Moshe is true, and you are certain that each teacher down the line of Mesorah knew with 100% certainty that what his teacher knew was true, then, we here today, can know, with 100% certainty that our Mesorah is true"
    The theory is stillborn. There are conflicting traditions WITHIN the mesorah as to what CONSTITUTES the mesorah. I am aware of at least three theologically valid opinions as to what precisely God gave to Moses. So even if all of Rabbi Plaut's other assumptions are valid (They aren't. Let's save that for another post) we're still forced to muddle through, because we can't say with any certainty what precisely the mesorah contains.

    Wednesday, January 26, 2005


    Compare and contrast

    The Liberal Jew
    A Journalism Story: Editorial vs. Advertising (long post)
    “Um, excuse me, these people are paying for the article? If that is the case, then I’m not doing this assignment. I write journalism, and sometimes I’m hired to write brochures or other marketing material, but I never mix the two. I refuse to write advertising for this organization that will appear under the guise of a news feature. No way.”

    The Conservative Non-Jew
    Writer Backing Bush Plan Had Gotten Federal Contract (
    "In 2002, syndicated columnist Maggie Gallagher repeatedly defended President Bush's push for a $300 million initiative encouraging marriage as a way of strengthening families... But Gallagher failed to mention that she had a $21,500 contract with the Department of Health and Human Services to help promote the president's proposal"

    For those keeping score -- me!! -- that's two right-wing columnists Bush had in his pocket (right near where he keeps Colin Powel's testicles, and the emergency flask, I can only presume.)

    How many more are there? Is there a GOP pundit left still thinking for himself?


    Gil, from Hirhurim, proves, "It doesn't matter."


    At the beginning of a marriage.
    Ron Ben-Israel's cakes can cost $25,000 and up. Delivery, often hundreds, if not thousands of dollars more, is extra.
    At the end of a marriage.
    When five dozen roses didn't work, an estranged husband took out a full-page newspaper ad to ask his wife for forgiveness.
    The cost? $17,000


    First reaction: Wow, there is a lot of room in here!

    Ok, I pointed my friend, the GOP Jew, to this list. His reply:

    Oliver North's comment was right on target. The terrorists were rooting for Kerry.

    DB: And therefore?

    GOP JEW: We were right to vote for Bush!

    DB: Why does one follow from the others. The terrorists might have thought Kerry would be soft on terror. Does that mean they were right?

    GJ: Um...

    DB: The terrorist think Bush is Satan's spawn. Are they right about that?

    GJ: Um...

    DB: They think Jews make matzo from gentile babies. Are they right about that?

    GJ: Um...

    DB: So the opinion of terrorists matter only when they coincide with your emotional desires. Am I right?

    GJ: (shouting) Four more years!

    DB: sigh


    Yesterday's Drudge Report!!!!

    TED TURNER COMPARES FOXNEWS TO HITLER: Banner Headline, above the fold

    RUSSIAN LAWMAKERS CALL FOR BAN ON JEW GROUPS: Small headline stuffed below the fold.

    Ok, NOW we understand the real meaning behind that quote we made up, and falsely attributed to Mathew "MadMatt" Drudge: "Mess with the Jews all you like, but don't pick on my favorite TV station."


    ... Divorced at 21.

    The life of an Orthodox Jewish lesbian

    Points to ponder:
  • Does Jewish ritual law forbid girl-on-girl sex? I know the arguments for and against. But has a definitive ruling been issued?

  • I think her story reinforces the notion that homosexuality isn't a choice. Don't you?
  • How many other "Chanis" are out there?

  • If we can agree, as I think we must, that homosexuality isn't a choice; and if we can agree, as I think we must, that the Torah forbids it, what is the Orthodox Jewish community's obligation -if any- to frum gays?


    TOP TEN MOST OUTRAGEOUS STATEMENTS OF 2004 [from Media Matters for America]

  • Rush Limbaugh on the Abu Ghraib photos: 'I'm talking about people having a good time, these people, you ever heard of emotional release? You ever heard of need to blow some steam off?'

  • Ann Coulter: '[Senator John] Kerry will improve the economy in the emergency services and body bag industry.'

  • Tony Blankley called philanthropist George Soros 'a Jew who figured out a way to survive the Holocaust.'

  • Michael Savage: 'When you hear 'human rights,' think gays. ... [T]hink only one thing: someone who wants to rape your son.'

  • Oliver North: 'Every terrorist out there is hoping John Kerry is the next president of the United States.'

  • Pat Robertson on gays and lesbians: '[S]elf-absorbed hedonists ... that want to impose their particular sexuality on the rest of America.'

  • Pat Buchanan: '[H]omosexuality is an affliction, like alcoholism.'

  • Bill O'Reilly to Jewish caller: '[I]f you are really offended, you gotta go to Israel.'

  • Bill Cunningham (Clear Channel radio host who appeared as a guest on The Sean Hannity Show): The election is over because 'Elizabeth Edwards has now sung.'

  • Jerry Falwell: 'And we're going to invite PETA [to 'wild game night'] as our special guest, P-E-T-A -- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. We want you to come, we're going to give you a top seat there, so you can sit there and suffer. This is one of my special groups, another one's the ACLU, another is the NOW -- the National Order of Witches [sic]. We've got -- I've got a lot of special groups.'"

  • Agree? Disagree? What's missing?





    Shorter Mis-nagid: Keep your promises. Oh, and did I mention yet today that I really don't like Judaism?

    Longer Mis-nagid: Lord, this is long.

    I confess: I didn't read it all. I bet you won't either.


    9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-119-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-119-11, 9-11, 9-119-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-119-11, 9-11, 9-119-11, 9-11, 9-11

    Sadam Hussein, Sadam Hussein, Sadam Hussein, Sadam Hussein, Sadam Hussein, Sadam Hussein, Sadam Hussein, Sadam Hussein, Sadam Hussein, Sadam Hussein, Sadam Hussein, Sadam Hussein, Sadam Hussein, Sadam Hussein

    9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-119-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-119-11, 9-11, 9-119-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-119-11, 9-11, 9-119-11, 9-11, 9-11

    Hey, it worked for the GOP.

    Vote DovBear!!


    In which we meet the Smedlies

    PS - I was on a role that week...


    When I was a kid, I used to wonder: How do Israeli children tell their parents that they're done on the tiolet and ready to be wiped? After all, speaking Hebrew in the bathroon, I was taught, is forbidden.

    Turns out I wasn't crazy.

    In fact, I think the question is stronger now.

    Tuesday, January 25, 2005


    Sure, Ren Reb, it's a great song, and yes, yes its a biblical tragedy on the level of frogs and locusts that neither your kids nor mine learned it in school this year, but do you know the words?

    Not just the 'Tu b'Shvat higiyah' part.

    The words.


    Dear Esther, bride of Satan,

    You put this blog on the map. A great many of my blog's first few dozen comments were from you. You gave me the confidence to continue.

    All I needed to do was make some half-baked remark about Madge and the Kabbalah, and there you were adding value to my blog with some clever quip.

    Then... then... you went on to greener gardens. The comments on DovBear ceased. You were spotted cavorting with Jack of the Shack. Clever quips carrying your name were posted on MoChassid and Ari Goes Down. An 8-part series, dedicated in your honor, appeared on Hirhurim. ["It was supposed to be longer," said Gil,"after all an 8-part series isn't so unusual for me, but then that Slifkin thing broke."]

    All of which will make kicking your butt in the JIBs extra sweet.

    Please know I hold you in the highest and deepest regard.


    I'm not kicking anyone's butt. Protien Wisdom has me in a choke hold. Readers of the kvetch. Help set up the dream-match. Esther's won group B, handily. Help me win Group A. [Then, I'll appeal to the readership of some other blog to put me over the top. Ooops did I say that out loud?]"


    Jesus might not have had suffiecient power to secure an Oscar nomination for himself - or to save himself from crucifiction, for that matter - but Jewish-controlled Hollywood has seen fit to honor another preachy, red-state-hero who has made a career of trading on his famous father.

    We're pleased to announce that George W. Bush is up for not one but two Golden Raspberries

    Worst Actor: George W Bush – 'Fahrenheit 9/11'
    Worst Screen Couple: George W Bush and either Condoleeza Rice or his pet goat – 'Fahrenheit 9/11'

    The Razzie ceremony takes place at the Ivar Theatre, Hollywood, on February 26. Please join us in wishing George W. the very best of luck.


    "'I'm also mindful that man should never try to put words in God's mouth. I mean, we should never ascribe natural disasters or anything else to God. We are in no way, shape, or form should a human being, play God." --- President Bunnypants, appearing on ABC's 20/20, Washington D.C, Jan. 14, 2005"

    And in no way shape or form should a marble-mouthed moron from Texas play president.


    On the web. Get it? Ha! And you wanted to know why this was a JIB-nominated humor blog?


    Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright.
    The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light.

    And, somewhere men are laughing, and little children shout,

    because there is no joy in Mel Gibson-vill--
    mighty Jesus has struck out.

    Good. Jew-hating snuff films shouldn't get Oscars. At least not so long as we rule Hollywood.

    [As Leon wrote in a blisteringly negative review back in March: "There is only the relentless destruction and dehumanization of a man, who exists here to have his body punished with an almost unimaginable fury. He falls, he rises, he falls, he rises; he bends beneath the blows, but never mentally; his flesh is ripped, his head is stabbed, his eye is beaten shut, his hair a wig of dried blood, he is a pulp with a cause."]


    BAD NEWS FOR TORAH? We mean Torah Bright (above) not that other, less-cute-in-snow-clothes, Torah.

    Seems Torah Bright, Australia's great hope for the next Winter Olympics fell on both her runs at the world championships in Whistler, Canada, to finish last in her heat. She photographs okay, though. right?

    Anyway, we're in deep mourning. Not having Australia at the Olympics is a real bummer.

    This feature has been brought to you as part of DovBear's Be-Nice-to-Australia-Coverage. (Though some churls insist on calling it DovBear's Suck-up-To-Dave-Because-He-Runs-the-JIBs-Coverage.)


    Apropos this I was told:

    Mrs. Dovbear is "not permitted"!?

    That's scary- and so is her adoption of your first name as her own.
    shifra | 01.25.05 - 10:48 am | #

    I was merely speaking the language of faith, shifra dear. It's an election season after all.

    Like Laura Bush, Mrs. DovBear does as she pleases when the voters aren't looking.

    (Oh, and "DovBear" is her first name, not mine.)


    Which can only mean that, somewhere, an evangelical is happy.

    I bet this is why.


    Focus: Auschwitz, 60 years on

    More than one facinating article, here, including articles written about Nazi Germany in the thirties and forties.


    For reasons known only to Dave, the handsome, erudite, Ozzie running the JIBs (and counting the votes) you're permited to vote evey day. So get to it.

    And remember: Our wife doesn't wear red.

    [Flogging the photos]


    To see the video:

    Step 1: Click here

    Step 2: Click on "Emotional Hines Ward disappointed -- especially for Jerome Bettis, who "deserves to be a champion" (1/24)" [sidebar]

    Step 3: Wait through the commercial and the newscaster's intro

    Warning: Not for weak stomachs, or for anyone else who doesn't like it when grown men bawl.


    There is a puzzling disconnect, or perhaps an inadvertant metaphor, in David Treppenwitz's most recent story.

    In the story, Dave is driving a carful of hitchhikers trhough a stretch of Arab villages, when he discovers that one of the riders is carrying a baby under the folds of her clothing. Understandably, he's furious:
    Now I was pissed! I didn’t have a baby seat in the car and this idiot had put herself, her baby, and me in a very awkward (not to mention dangerous) situation. If we were near a Jewish settlement I would have pulled over and let her out right away. But in a potentially hostile area I was faced with the unhappy choice of continuing on with an unsecured baby in the car, or turning back and wasting half an hour in order to return her and her baby to Karmel. In the end I fumed in silence and dropped off the group in Kiryat Arba without a word.
    In the end, David seems to decide that the woman with the baby is willing to go without a car seat simply because she trusts God more than he does. Fine, but the denouement puzzles:
    I understand that this total trust in the Almighty (read: surrender of basic common sense/prudence) is a necessary personality trait for anyone who elects to raise a family in a trailer on one of these windswept hilltops amidst a gazillion angry Arabs. But where does one draw the line? When does this blind faith that everything will be OK cross over into dragging others (e.g. me) into extremely serious safety/liability issues?
    Odd. Because, can't the exact same complaint be leveled at anyone who "elects to raise a family in a trailer on one of these windswept hilltops amidst a gazillion angry Arabs?" Aren't they, and their illegal outposts, selfishly and carelessly dragging all of Israel, even all of Judaism, into an "extremely serious safety/liability" situation? The woman with the baby trusts God, and is therefore willing to put David and her child, and the other people in the car at risk. Just like the most radical of the settlers*, no?

    David’s anger toward the woman without the car seat is familiar. It’s how some of us feel toward the least prudent settlers.*

    * No, we don’t mean Efrat. No, we don’t mean the natural growth of existing cities. We mean the entirely new outposts that have sprouted recently "on windswept hilltops" in definace of the wishes of Israel's goverment and the wishes of the majority of Israel's people.

    Monday, January 24, 2005


    "...And it would be mystifying to consider that anyone short of bin Laden or the Devil Himself would object to such a thing."

    Call me Dovie bin Ladin, I guess. Old Osama seems to have more money and more wives than the devil anyway. Also, our president clearly is more concerned with fighting the devil, so opting to become bin Ladin is safer, too.

    Man.The USA/Jesus fish. What will they-who-do-not-think think of next?

    If I can find a photo of this charming piece of automotive jewlery, I'll be sure to post.





    Like you, we're sad there aren't more.


    Andrew Sullivan writes about Jimmy Dobson's homosexual love-affair with Sponge-Bob Square Pants:
    What's interesting to me is that what Dobson is objecting to is not gay sex or gay relationships or gay identity, or any legislative or judicial proposal. What he objects to is tolerance of gay people, or teaching children that gay people deserve respect. That's SpongeBob's crime! Revealing, no? Now, recall that this man is the most powerful social conservative in Bush's Republican party.
    As the Wall Street Journal put it on Tuesday "There is something about `SpongeBob' that whispers `gay.'" Yeah. And there is something about James Dobson that shouts moron.


    Here's is today's story you'll see tomorrow on JewSchool and Jewlicious. (assuming they haven't done the obvious thing and merged.)
    JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Female legislators in Israel have seen red after a leading rabbi compared women who wear the color to prostitutes. Protesting against a ritual ruling by Rabbi Eliyahu Abergil, head of the rabbinical court in the southern city of Beersheba, banning Jewish women from dressing in red, several woman lawmakers wore the color in parliament Monday. "It's not up to a rabbi to tell us to whether to wear black or red or any other color," said Erela Golan, a legislator from the Shinui party who organized the protest. "Just because we wear red doesn't mean we are prostitutes."
    Not that it should affect your JIB vote, beloved true believers, but Mrs. DovBear is not permitted to wear red. Ever. And not just because I'm still a wee bit bitter about how the election turned out.

    We hereby call upon our JIB competitors to make the same decleration of faith and fidelity.

    IF YOU LOVE ME LET ME KNOW casting a vote for DovBear in the innagural JIB awards.

    I can not tell a lie: I am proud (not humbled, Miriam, PROUD) to have been nominated in the following categories:

  • Best New Blog (Group A)
  • Best Humor Blog (Group A)
  • Best Personal Blog (Group A)
  • Best Post by a Jewish Blogger (Group A) (YitzhakEyzik , who is much funnier than me, was nominated here, too)
  • Best Series by a Jewish Blogger (Group B) (Jews who love Christmas)

    Further honesty: I'd really like to medal in in at least one event so vote early, and vote often, ie: once per day as the rules allow.

    (Dear Miriam and Paul: We're glad we aren't going head-to-head with you in any of these categories. You'd be tough to beat. Even though you don't do snarky. Good luck to you, too.)

    (Dear Sarah: Bribes! What a great plan! And so much more sportsmanlike than demonizing the competition, which was my first idea. Good luck to you, too)

    WHAT'S SO FUNNY? If you're new to the blog, you might be thinking, "Wow, this blog is dull as dishwater. How'd a god awful speller dullard like DovBear get himself nominated in the "humor" category?" well...

    check back later today. I am going to put links in the comments to some of the funny posts the nominating committe might have had in mind. If you're a regular reader, put your own suggestions in the comments.

    I'll find the links.

    NOTE: Haloscan commenting is back on line.


    From the Kosher Mattress website:

    "A standard "twin" size bed, alone, is not by any means large enough for a full size adult."

    Cut down on the cholent, lady, and you'll fit just fine.



    One of Johnny Carson's best on-stage moments had a strong Jewish flavor.

    The Setup: Actor Ames, a genial guy who played Indian Mingo on TV's Daniel Boone, agrees to demonstrate his tomahawk-throwing skills. Presented with a life-size wooden board, complete with cowboy silhouette, Ames settles himself about 10 feet away, readies the weapon and lets it fly.

    The Punchline: In a you-couldn't-have-scripted-it-better-if-you'd-tried moment, the ax lands squarely in the cowboy's crotch and stands at attention like a 14-year-old boy seeing Porky's for the first time. Carson grabs Ames by the arm to keep him from removing the tomahawk, and lets the moment stand--almost a full minute of laughter follows--and then ripostes, "I didn't even know you were Jewish." More laughs. Then adds, "Welcome to frontier bris." Howls of hysteria. Ames asks Johnny if he wanted to try throwing it. "Well," said the host, "I can't hurt him any more than you did."

    See it: Click here: It's in the middle of Clip One. (Although this page is a thinly-veiled advertisement for home videos from the classic late-night TV series' 30-year run, three good montage packages are available for free online viewing.)


    With a big assist from GoldaLeah, the WesternJew:

    Part I In which the question is asked.
    Part II In which her Rabbi hems and haws around the obvious answer.

    The verse:
    Rashi (Ex. 10: 21-23) says that 80 percent of the Jewish people (about 12 million souls) died during the plauge of darkness.

    The questions:
    (1) Why doesn't the Torah mention this?
    (2) How can the exodus be thought of as a time of great celebration if everyone was in deep mourning?
    (3) How is it possible that fifty-five men who went down to Egypt with Yaakov could be the ancestors, over 210 years, of 15 million people? (Ibn Ezra)
    (4) During the 10 plagues, the Jews were always spared. How is it possible that Jews died -and in such great numbers - during a plauge that killed no Egyptians? (Ibn Ezra)

    The obvious answer
    "The whole thing is a derash; don't rely on it. Maybe the one who said it at the outset had a hidden reason (sod)." --Ibn Ezra

    Sunday, January 23, 2005


    Atrios does cat blogging. I do Slifkin blogging. Here's my latest:

    Writes one of my email buddies:

    What bothers me most about the Slifkin ban is that Rav Elyashiv's name is on the ban. They have turned a senile gadol into their puppet toy. It sickens me.

    Is he senile? I've heard about how Rav Elyashuv is used nowadays, but this is the first time I've heard the "S" word.

    What sickens me is this: Judaism has a rich history of adaptability. Our tradition has always been malleable. Two-thousands years ago, the midrash was employed to solve maculations in the text; 1000 years ago the Rambam reconciled Judaism with Aristotle and scholastism; 100 years ago the Tiferes Yisroel looked evolution in the face, and said with no irony, "Mazal Tov! This confirms what we always knew was true."

    There are many, many Rishonim and Achronim on the record supporting the idea of an old universe. All of that old, old scholarship, along with our wonderful tradition of elasticity, is being swept away, like so many broken eggshells, by a handful of 21st century Rabbis who are motivated, at least in part, by a foolish, misplaced fear of appearing too "modern."

    In our day, the Haredi street and the Haredi Rabbinate says modern is trief. The sad irony is that their attitude is what's most "modern" of all.



    Ayelet, the bad mother has been fantasizing about presidential administrations. In rotissere politics, the game she invented, the idea is to name the people you'd like to see installed instead of the jerks who started their new terms on Thursday. Much as I like Ayelet, and her game, the team she chose is a little too left for me. So here's mine:

    President: John McCain. He is a war hero, a centrist, a solid legislator, an opponent of the Christian right, a denouncer of big-money politics and he's been slimed by Karl Rove & GWB, so we wouldn't have to worry about his bringing along any of the bad Republicans into power.

    Vice President: Joe Leiberman. Unfairly denied in 2000, and right-wing Judaism could always use a few more bogeymen.

    Secretary of State: Colin Powel. I still admire the man, and in some perverse way, I like him even after the casteration he endured serving Bush. He deserves the chane to show us what he can do working for an honest boss, and for one who believes in diplomacy. If Colin turns me down, I'd take Bill Clinton. Let old Bill close the deal in the middle east, now that Arafat isn't around obstructing.

    Secretary of the Treasury: I don't think it matters. Let me do it. You won't notice any difference.

    Secretary of Defense: Wes Clark

    Attorney General: Eliot Spitzer. Tough as nails. Always on the side of the angels. And a New Yorker

    Secretary of the Interior: Al Gore. See: Earth in the Balance And if you havn't read it, kindly shut up.

    Secretary of Agriculture: Another one that doesn't matter. I could take care of Treasury on Mondays, sign off on farm subsidies on Tuesday, and still have plenty of time to blog.

    Secretary of Commerce: George Soros

    Secretary of Labor: Al Gore would be a good choice, but I want him in Interior. The guy I want for this post isn't impressed with big business, and, though he enjoys sticking it to fat cats, isn't some suicidal socialist either. Can you think of anyone?

    Secretary of Veterans Affairs: John Kerry

    Department of Homeland Security: Obliterate it. This department is a waste of time, and a waste of money that exists only to scream "orange alert! orange alert!" whenever Bush needs a boost in the polls.

    National Security Adviser: Tommy Franks

    Chief of Staff: Rudy Gulianni. The boy can get things done, and if he isn't setting policy or given executive power there isn't anything to fear. And he's a New Yorker.

    Ambassador to the UN: Dennis Ross

    White House Counsel: Jack McCoy from Law and Order.

    Director of Central Intelligence: Any of the Men in Black

    Secretary of H.U.D.:
    Secretary of Transportation:
    Secretary of Education:
    Secretary of Energy:
    Secretary of H.H.S.:
    Office of Management and Budget:
    Drug Czar:
    U.S. Trade Representative:


    Bridgette Quinn, a FOX news anchor GOP butt-boy, discusses the Bush inaugural, on live TV, with Judy Bachrach from Vanity Fair and appears to suffer a cerebral hemorrhage when Bachrach departs from the official, sanitized, GOP/FOX talking points.

    Special touch from Quinn: Our troops don't need armored vehicles... Why? because the president said a prayer on their behalf at the end of a party(!)

    [Video link is here:]


    Yeah, I'm in reruns today.

    I want to play in the snow. If you're indoors, read this -- or look over last night's post shabbas blogging.


    Saturday, January 22, 2005


    Yeah, about that VW ad... turns out, it's a hoax.

    Oh well.


    And so is Samson Rephael Hirsch for that matter... presuming any of the Haredi Rabbinate read Hirhurim.

    Money quote
    However, the Rabbis have never made the acceptance or rejection of this [theory of the age of the universe] and similar possibilites an article of faith binding on all Jews. They were willing to live with any theory that did not reject the basic truth that "every beginning is from God."
    Props to Gil for doing his small part to bring SRH back from the dead. If any great Rabbi needs an image overhaul, SRH is the one...

    Wondering.... What would R' Mordecai Plaut say about this?

    Charles Krauthammer: Mr Ethics...


    Hide and Seek

    Hide and Seek
    by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen

    You'd think the recent revelation that the Catholic Church refused to relinquish Jewish children after World War II would prompt a Vatican investigation. You'd be wrong.

    The money quote:
    But, most of all, the Church apologists' implicit, or ever more explicit, justification is that the sacrament of baptism gives the Church the right to take children forever from their Jewish parents. Says Father Peter Blet, the Church's whitewashing official chronicler of Pius XII's wartime activities: "On the basis of the canon law of that period, it was obligatory to provide a Catholic education"--which Jewish parents would not do--"to a person who had been baptized." Another apologist, the prominent German Church historian Gerhard Besier, published an article in Die Welt with the perverse headline: "the church may not abandon its children." By sleight of hand, the issue gets transformed. Jews are now trying to take away God's children, whom the Church is protecting.
    Same church, same old *#&$ing story.

    Who can't weep?


    Harvey Fierstein is the new Tevya on Broadway.

    FIRST JEW REVIEW: According to The Times:
    Tevye must to some degree be an everyman, albeit in exaggerated, crowd-pleasing form. And Mr. Fierstein, bless him, shakes off any semblance of ordinariness as soon as he opens his mouth. Every phrase he speaks or sings, as he shifts uncannily among registers, becomes an event... This can be quite a bit of fun. Tevye's first solo, "If I Were a Rich Man," takes on a fascinating new life, as Mr. Fierstein slides and rasps through its wordless connecting phrases. But it is sometimes hard to credit this exotic spirit as that of a tradition-bound father who has trouble making the adjustment to changing times.
    SECOND JEW REVIEW: Al Pacino Stars as Shylock in a new film of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice.(trailer) Said the inestimable Stanley Kauffman in The New Republic
    With Pacino's past in mind, we might have expected that he would make the sulphurous most of the role's raging moments. (I remember George C. Scott in the my-ducats-and-my-daughter speech: I thought he had literally gone crazy.) Pacino, presumably with Radford's guidance, in the main does otherwise. Excellently made up and costumed, he takes the part inward and makes it tight, bitten, soul-scarred--a man rather than a collection of scenes.
    The last word, however, goes to Harold Bloom, eminent Shakespearean, who said: "One would have to be blind, deaf, and dumb not to recognize that Shakespeare's grand, equivocal comedy The Merchant of Venice is nevertheless a profoundly anti-Semitic work"

    Friday, January 21, 2005


    Sarah socializes with her readers


    From Kesher Talk, who seems to have provided a link to every blogger in creation -- except me.


    This is a link, not an endorsement, and not a judgment. I don't know any of the parties. I realize this website might be a libelous prank - or worse - and I make no claims or statements about its veracity.

    Read. Draw your own conclusions. And tell me what you think in the comment section.


    So that's what Jack looks like.


    More beard than we expected, though.


    Should someone make a shehecheyanu?

    [As TNR has reported: "What most--including many of the president's fiercest supporters--don't know, however, is that Bush doesn't go to church. Sure, when he weekends at Camp David, Bush spends Sunday morning with the compound's chaplain. And, every so often, he drops in on the little Episcopal church across Lafayette Park from the White House. But the president who has staked much of his domestic agenda on the argument that religious communities hold the key to solving social problems doesn't belong to a congregation." Carter and Clinton, the article continues, attended Sunday service far more regularly.]


    Yup, it is business as usual for the Liberal Media

    [Hat tip Atrios]


    This is funny. And scary. But mostly funny.

    Click on the link, and you'll find a letter of firm Christian rebuke sent to the editor of the Ridgcrest Daily (CA) The writer sounds an awful lot like YitzhakEyezik, only she's Christian, not Jewish. Plus, we think she's real.
    As Mr. Scott points out, the glorious Constitution is there to protect the rights of Christians to profess their faith. This country was founded by good Christians and the Constitution guarantees our right to express our religion.

    It just is completely beyond me how we have allowed Liberals to deny us this guaranteed right.

    Oh, they raise ridiculous arguments like other (false) religions would be "upset" if they were forced to pray alongside the righteous in schools or council meetings.

    Surely those others would appreciate the opportunity to be saved. As God's chosen people, we Christians have the right to express our religion and praise tolerant, patient and merciful God, and I don't want to read any more letters from Liberals suggesting non-believers should be allowed to express their superstitions just because we Christians can express ours.

    WE HATE YOU...

    Boruch the Dinosaur, a decidedly heterosexual, yet fictional character first seen here (in the comments), has gotten his big break: The Godol Hador is hosting his show.


    ...about Slifkin

    ...we think.


    When God leads the Jewish people out of Egypt, in the beginning of this week’s parsha, He takes them the ‘long way,’ purposely bypassing the shorter route since it would lead through the land of the Philistines. Hashem sees that these people, slaves yesterday, cannot magically become warriors today and be willing to encounter a hostile nation -- they might just turn back in fear and return to Egypt. God knows that human nature cannot change overnight

    Using this verse as his proof text, the Rambam argues [Guide for the Perplexed 3:32] that God used our order of sacrifices as a "ruse", ie: “the long way” to wean people from the idolatrous and pagan sacrifices they were accustomed to. The Rambam seems to be suggesting that our order of sacrifice, in and of itself has no religious meaning, and that the Temple, the status of priests, the laws of ritual purity and impurity, were all a concession to the need to wean people from idolatry

    The RambaN (surprise) (VaYikra 1:9) reports the Rambam’s position, vehemently rejects it, and articulates his own view.

    We're not choosing sides -it's irrelevant until Moshiach arrives, anyway. We're just letting the olam know about the controversy.


    Troubling... very troubling.

    Serious questions have been raised by the American Family Association, a serious organization, about the heterosexual vigor of certain colorful, animated drawings. The accused pictures are: SpongeBob SquarePants, Barney the Dinosaur, Arthur, Dora the Explorer, JoJo, Clifford the Big Red Dog, and Bob the Builder.

    We think the AFA might have a point. Consider: Spongebob SquarePANTS...Barney with all the singing and dancing he encourages... Arthur's open relationship with talking rabbits... Dora out exploring when she should be in the kitchen...

    But Bob the Builder? Gay? In the relam of toys, and talking glyphs, who is more manly than Bob? (I mean besides his girlfriend Wendy.)

    Perhaps if Bob bombed things instead of building them, the AFA would like him better.


    Growing up, we all heard something like this, didn't we:
    ...before Kennedy all presidents wore hats in public. Kennedy decided not to, and not one president has since, so from then on that's not the way an adam chashuv [important person] walks, [in the street] so there's no more chiyuv[religious obligation for Jews to wear hats.]
    Poor Kennedy. Taking the blame for something he didn't really do. Here's the truth about JFK, hats, and presidents.

    Thursday, January 20, 2005


    Rashi's daughter in on the case.

    Why is Spongy in danger? Because he's gay, of course.


    Yup, folks, that's what the ad says: Tsunami: Nature's Meatphor for Loshon Hara

    I can't wait to find out which irregular weather event is "nature's metaphor" for women who wear skirts that are too short.



    The Jewish Press has printed a real solution for extravagant simchas

    It's not a bad idea, which is another way of saying that it won't ever happen. Besides, the gedolim are too busy banning books to worry about this.

    My own suggestion:
    If YOU'RE planning a wedding, be a man (or woman) and don't do more than you can afford. I promise we'll love you, anyway.


    Bush: Better Human Intelligence Needed

    We give up. You were right. Bwaaahaha!

    [VIA - and you can see it more clearly here]


    Support for War in Iraq Hits New Low: 39 percent

    But... but... but... Didn't Bush say you voted for the war when you voted for him?



    Today, George W. Bush received a letter of rebuke (pdf) from his erstwhile supporters on the Christian right. It reads, in part:

    Dear Mr. President:
    .. already there is a challenge to the biblical norms that you stand for, and it comes from within your very own family. This Thursday, your two daughters, Jenna and Barbara, will appear before the earthly world in attire that cannot be described in any sense as modest... Do not risk offending Him... by presenting forth your own daughters as Oholah and Oholibah, who, like Jezebel, painted their eyes and decked themselves with ornaments to entice men to commit adultery with them.

    Pretty strong words. And to think these people supported the president in November. Now, two months later, his daughters are whores and he is an offense to God.

    The speed and ferocity of this betrayal worries me: What sort of letter do you think will be sent to the Jewish people once the Christian right realizes that we aren't playing along with their rapture fantasies? I bet it goes something like this:

    Dear Jews:
    Though we've tolerated and supported you for many years, our Christian Love was cynically provided in the service of one selfish goal: bringing the rapture. Now that we see that you have no plans to martyr yourselves so that the kingship of Jesus on earth might be restored, the deal is off: Renewed Jew-hating commences immediately.
    Your Friends on the Christian Right


    Why is a vicious and slanderous comment like this permitted to remain on a serious, well-respected, and fair-minded site like Hirhurim?

    On DovBear? Fine. DovBear is 98 percent shtick and 2 percent politics.
    But, on Hirhurim?

    [Note: Comments disparaging Hirhurim or its author will be edited or deleted at my discretion. This is a serious question. Not an invitation for insults.]


    ... by Boruch the Dinosaur

    They're pretty funny.

    Wednesday, January 19, 2005


    Bad news Gil! YitzhakEyezik no longer reads Hirhurim!!


    The Ner Ya'kov / O.J "drug ring."

    Insert your lubovitch / carlbach / piamenta joke here.


    The Hasidic Musician writes: The inauguration will not not be takana compliant. Will any of the Agudah rabbonim attend?

    Of course, they will.

    After all, the smirking chimp's George W. Bush's views on Jesus, abortion and homosexuality, welfare, family values, etc, are not halacha compliant, but that didn't keep the Haredi Rabbinate from endorsing him.


    In three acts...

    Act I
    Act II
    Act III


    They don't keep Shabbos. They don't keep kosher. But the good Jews of Greenpoint Long Island care about Jewish tradition, goddamit, which is why they have, today, announced (in the New York Times!) their renewed commitment to a very old, very venrable Jewish tradition, a tradition that dates to the time of Yerovam ben Nevat.

    After 101 years, of being a one-shul town, the kingdom of Greenpoint is splitting in half, and adding a second synagouge.

    The back story, and stop me if you've heard this before: Rabbi (above) comes to town, full of new ideas. Board members hate new ideas, though they voted to hire the Rabbi, in the first place. Rabbi criticized. Board criticized. Angry words exchanged. Lawsuits threatened. Board changes locks on the shul doors. Rabbi opens new shul. New York Times writes article. DovBear blogs.

    The only unusual thing thing about it? Chabad isn't involved.


    The AP reports that Yigal Amir, the assassin of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, received a booty call in his cell from a woman he says he married-- "secretly over the phone by a Rabbi."

    We wonder: Is this the same Rabbi who told Amir that God wanted Rabin dead? Has God also told the Rabbi that two witnesses are no longer required for a Jewish wedding service? Or is Amir simply suffering from, um, testosterone poisoning, and willing to say absolutely anything for the chance to, um, get some?


    Reason #16: "Rabbi Eric Slaton has the Jewish perspective from Congregation Beth Israel, a century-old, Conservative congregation in Hamilton, the seat of Butler County. There are so many churches nearby that the synagogue's public-address system has surprised congregants by picking up snippets of sermons about Jesus."

    [... the rest of the story]

    Tuesday, January 18, 2005


    Hope to see you at the World's First CounterInaugural Ball where we protest the costly, wasteful spectacle that is the Presidential Innaguration... by throwing a costly, wasteful spectacle.


    ...Miriam mentions the war

    Updated for the Fawlty Towers-impaired:

    Basil:"Don't mention the war. I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it. So it's all forgotten now and let's hear no more about it. Right, that's two egg mayonnaise, a prawn Goebbels, a Herman Goering and four Colditz, wait a minute...I got confused because everyone keeps mentioning the war.

    German: "Will you stop mentioning the war?"

    Basil: " You started it."

    German: " We did not start it."

    Basil: " Yes you did, you invaded Poland..."


    Never exactly geniuses, those right wing Jews who praised Bush's Israel policy are now very intellectually hungover. As they blink into the profane daylight and nurse their horribly throbbing theories, they put me in mind of that wicked aphorism by the French writer and theorist Edmond Jabes: "Even the future has a morning after."

    To which I add: "Even Abu Mazen gets an invitation to the White House," or as Arutz Sheva bitterly complained: "The admitted Holocaust denier has accomplished that which Arafat was unable to attain, acceptance from Israel and the White House despite spewing much of the same anti-Israel hate rhetoric and vowing to continue the Arafat legacy."


    I see Shmarya and my off-the-derech brother YitzhakEyezik are going into business together.


    Thanks go to the General, J.C Christian Patriot, for linking his blog to DovBear yesterday. We first thought something was up when we noticed thoughtful comments on the political posts; the tsunami Colarado Avalanche of new vistors (presently over 1000) was our next clue. Then we discovered supportive emails in our box, and we knew the world had turned upside down.

    Though the General's troops are welcome here, I'd like to reiterate that this blog doesn't make a point of being hospitable to right-wing, Jew-hating, moralizing, missionizing, Christians. We'll make an exception for the General, and his little soldiers, but the policy remains intact: Bill O'Reilly and William Donohue, for example, will still be turned away at the door. (We also have a rule about accused sex felons which is the other reason O'Reilly can't get in.)

    But the General is different. Something about him appeals to our inner-Republican. So welcome to DovBear friends of J.C Christian Patriot, and remember, great things await you - and all others who link here.


    The new year brings the promise of a new best seller, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, due to arrive on bookshelves soon. Along with Muggles and magic, this installment features a morbid resolution: Harry's creator, J. K. Rowling, kills off another character.

    The British betting site is offering odds (natch!) on who will die. The best bet? Rubeus Hagrid. As John Sellers put it in this month's Atlantic, "Has Rowling simply run out of alliterative exclamations for this loyal brute, who spews nonsense like "Gallopin' Gorgons!" and "Gulpin' gargoyles!"?

    That's fine with us, so long as nothing bad happens to the Goblins. Pace J.K and her unconvincing denials, those big-eared, greasy-haired, unemancipated, clannish bankers are my peeps.

    Surah Malka's two cents

    [Read more in The Atlantic Monthly.]