Thursday, March 31, 2005

Just wondering...

Why do heimish and Torah True people all but refuse to use English for the following words:

Wedding (chussanah)
Funeral (levayah)
Eulogy (hesped)
Bride (kala)
Groom (choson)
God (Hashem, Ribono Shel Olam)
Israel (Eretz Yisroel)
School (yeshiva)
Lecture (shiur)

Black person (shvartze)

Many more in the comments.

It's weird. You'll see people who can't talk their way out of an Israeli paper bag, self consciously switch to Hebrew for these few words.


NB: I understand some Hebrew words offer a different connotation; other words (like shul (yes, it's Yiddish, I KNOW!) are just warmer than the English. But I don't think these explanations apply to the examples above.

Tom Delay has lost his mind

Yup, the Bugman is still using Terri Schavio's dead body to shield himself from a House ethics investigation, only now he's also threatening judges and doctors:
"Mrs. Schiavo's death is a moral poverty and a legal tragedy. This loss happened because our legal system did not protect the people who need protection most, and that will change. The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior, but not today. Today we grieve, we pray, and we hope to God this fate never befalls another. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Schindlers and with Terri Schiavo's friends in this time of deep sorrow
It's been pretty widely reported that the DeLay family pulled the plug on their own poppa, so where does the pest get off judging others? When he goes down, I hope he lands on his head.

Quiet down Gary

Happy as we are to see a newspaper article about Jewish blogging which isn't all about Aidel, the body of Gary Rosenblatt's current Jewish Week column is mostly whine, whine, whine.

Gary's target appears to be the JewishWhistleBlower. Money quote:

One of the better known Jewish reporting blogs calls for “accountability and transparency within our institutions and leadership,” a noble goal, indeed. But the “About me” area on the home page where the blogger usually posts some details about him or her self is empty. To demand full disclosure of others without identifying one’s self seems the height of chutzpah and hypocrisy to me.
"Better known?" In which alternative universe is JWB a better known blog?

Anyway, I think Gary is out to lunch on this one. JWB is entitled to his anonymity and to his style. The fact of the matter is that it is not JWB's job to be responsible, or nuanced, or to think about whether his posts are productive or dangerous, or cogent, or even defensible.

Gary's objections are the sort of criticisms one might make of, say, a journalist, someone whose job description includes being responsible about what he says in public. JWB, however, is not a journalist—he is an entertainer. Or maybe it's better to say that he, like all bloggers, is part of a peculiar, modern, and very popular type of news industry, one that manages to enjoy the influence of journalism without the stodgy constraints of fairness, objectivity, and responsibility that make trying to tell the truth such a drag for everyone involved.

Or you could call it atavistic, a throwback. The truth is that what we think of as objectivity in journalism has been a standard since only the 1900s, and mainly in the United States. Have a look at some European dailies sometime.

Furthermore, as Achar suggests in the comment section, only an uninitiated maroon would take seriously the allegations of an anonymous blogger. If JWB wants his stories to carry the weight of grown-up journalism, he'll act like a grown-up journalist.


Terry Shiavo

If I am ever in a 'persistent vegetative state' please let my wife and kids decide. And whatever you do, keep Tom Delay and Operation Rescue far away from me.

It's going to be the little Kinderlach who make Moshiach hurl

Have you ever wondered what the Jewish Menudo might look like? Do you dream of little Jewish boys running around in uncoordinated circles meant to suggest dancing? Do you find yourself lying awake at night saying, "Gee, if only we had more David Hasselhoff to enjoy?"

Ladies and gentleman..... The Kinderlach!

1 - "Everybody WANT moshiach?" Would saying "Everybody WANTS moshiach" really have thrown off the timing?

2 - I will say this: They're better that the Miami Boys, even (especially?) when they're singing the MBC's own songs.

Let's give Michael Schavio the benefit of the doubt

This for you, Chaim Rubin, and anyone else who dares to suggest from his armchair that Michael Schavio's motives are less than good.
There are two different opinions about what the culture of her own life meant to Terri Schavio. Her husband, Michael, insisted that, like many other Americans, she expressed a strong wish not to be kept alive by extraordinary measures. Her parents said they did not believe that was true, that they wanted her feeding tube kept in and her care transferred to them. One measure of how topsy-turvy this story became was the constant suggestion that Terri's husband should simply accede to the desires of his in-laws, as though that would be a good thing instead of a gutless betrayal. My own husband knows that I never want artificial means to keep me alive. What an insult to my memory and our marriage it would be if he opted out when the going got rough and permitted others to salve their heartbreak by maintaining a shadow of my self.
Read the rest of The Culture of Each Life

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Not for the humor-impaired

New from Mis-Nagid: Oy vey

Note: This post is rated R, for heresy and blasphemy, and is not recommended for Brooklyn women, yeshiva bochurim, bal teshuvas or small children.

Mazal Tov Ayelet Waldman (sort of)

Good News: Our old buddy(1) Ayelet Waldman(2) got props this week from Gawker.

Bad News: Yeah, for stalking her own husband, Pulitzer Prize-winner Michal Chabon

(1) A lie. Unlike the high-quality bloggers we adore(a) Ayelet never(b) acknowledged our existance
(2) Come on! You remember her! Ayelet wrote Bad Mother, a wonderful blog, giving her own children new, and previously unconsidered reasons, to hate her guts.

(a) Too many to list. You know who you are.
(b) Yes. We tried.

Great moments in Misnagdism

Who said this:
"There is among them one who is small and impoverished and who is completely empty of any knowledge, who has attempted to study neither mysticism not Talmud; he acts deceitfully, raising his voice, skipping upon the mountains, with music and loud songs... Although he has not learned, he is called a Sage and "Rebbe." The more he engages in movements and gesticulations, the more he is praised in the mouths of women and children... the dim witted and simple-minded offer up some of his praises, saying:"What a Hassid, what a righteous man."

Colorado, gaining on Alabama

A local cable talk-show host, upset over a City Council decision to stop funding community access television, fired off an e-mail to the mayor calling him "Big Jew Mayor Ruzzin." The subject line on Jann Scott's e-mail said, "City Jews persecute Christ."
Yo, if you want to get away with the sort of loudmouth, irresponsible, behavior you need to get a blog, Chirpie. Or a talk radio show.

Boruch Dayan Ha'Emet

Milton Green

Appeal Rejected

Report: "With time running out for Terri Schiavo, a federal appeals court on Wednesday rejected her parents' latest attempt to get the brain-damaged woman's feeding tube reinserted... "Any further action by our court or the district court would be improper," Judge Stanley Birch Jr. wrote. "While the members of her family and the members of Congress have acted in a way that is both fervent and sincere, the time has come for dispassionate discharge of duty."

So what does this mean for all the "fervent and sincere" protesters? Where do they go from here? Back to volunteering in the soup kitchens, the hospitals, and the old-age homes, right? Because helping others is what those "fervent and sincere" protesters are all about, right? right?

Ok, who wants to buy a bridge?

Very cute Peter!

I can't make it fit in the tiny space blogger allows for posts, so you'll have to click here

For those of you saying, "Gee. I don't already have enough things to buy for Passover."

Bag of Frogs
Item Number: RLtTYFROG/5
Our Price: $3.99

Live out the plague of the frogs with these small life like rubber frogs, have fun with your kids as you describe to them the plague of the frogs, with actaully almost real life frogs! [more]

What's next? A bag of blood? Stick on boils? Hey, how about this: for $1.99, I'll come to your house and blow all your lighbulbs, then you can "have fun with your kids" as you live out the "plague of darkness!"

Nosson Slifkin to the Nth degree

As you certainly know, Rabbi Nosson Slifkin is in hot water because he said that the Sages of the Mishna and Talmud (Chazal) might have been wrong about the natural world. (Well, actually, prominent Rishonim and Achronim, chas v'sholom, said it first, but no modern day "Godol" is going to put them in hot water.)

Anyway, in his Mysterious Creatures, an interesting book with a bad cover and a horrible font, R. Slifkin says that the mistakes Chazal seem to have made about science can fall into five categories. Briefly they are:

(1) Nes Chazal were right, but over the last 2000 years nature has changed

(2) Nisayon Chazal were right, and you can't trust those atheist scientist who are just lying to you for the purpose of furthering their secular aganda

(3) Metaphor When Chazal appeared to be speaking about science they were, in fact, speaking in a sort of code, and their real subject wasn't science but metaphysics or morality or something else.

(4) Misunderstanding In a living language, the meaning of words change over time, so when Chazal, for example, said "dragon" they really meant snake; and

(5) Mistake Chazal were just wrong. They were experts in halacha, not science, so they relied on the folk wisdom of their day and, in some cases, made mistakes.

Ok, with me so far? Good. Let's go one step further.

If we can say that Chazal were wrong about the natural world, because they occasionally relied on the folk wisdom of their time (that's plain and clear from the writings of Rabbenu Avraham, btw) why can't we say the same thing about the Achronim? (later authorities)

For example, every 17th century bubbushka beleived in demons and gilguls, right? So why should it mean anything if some achronim did, too?

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Crossing CrossCurrents

Should it bother me that the group-thinkers at the symbol of Jesus I mean, Cross Currents haven't asked me to produce an article? I mean, as my beloved detractors tell me via email, I can obfuscate, ignore evidence, and deliver illogical arguments as well as anyone.

Judging from the typical Cross Current's post, these seem to be the only required skills.

A beautiful, almost poetic example of this ability was evident yesterday, when Yitzchak "Eyezick" Alderston wrote:
"My earlier posting regarding the Terri Schiavo case produced some blogging at its best: much intelligent back-and-forth between readers, several of whom clearly knew much more about the case than I did. My thanks in particular to Sholom Simon, who took me to task for faulting the judges rather than the legislators. He also led me to a wonderful source of primary source material regarding the case. Here I was able to read many of the court decisions in the original. Having now waded through both the law and how it was handled by the judges (Judge Greer in particular) I am even more convinced that there are both theoretical and practical areas in which Torah Jews should take umbrage with the approach of the judges – not just the legislators.
Translation: Gee, I didn't know what I was talking about, back when I wrote that first post, ha, ha, ha. But did that stop me? No way! And you know what? Lots of the readers know a hell of a lot more about this than I do, including Shalom Simon, who went to the trouble of proving it to me via source material that maybe I should have read the first time around. Anyway who cares: I was right and they were wrong.

You can almost slice the smugness with a knife.

Misnagdim of the world unite! You have nothing to lose...

(This will offend 50 percent of my readers, I predict; let me apologize to them in advance.)

Akiva wrote:
The Baal Shem Tov taught that a leaf doesn't turn over in the wind without it being hashgacha pratit (divine providence). Is it part of the divine plan that we all get annoyed?

In a fit of pique, I answered:
The Rambam absolutely disagreed, but as we all know, in the upside-down world that is 21st century Judaism, the Besht, who wrote no books and had no school, is bigger [by which I meant more widely revered] than the Rambam.

Am I the only one who finds this maddening? [Akiva, certain as ever, will say my anger is part of the divine plan.] It's topsy turvy. The Rambam is a Rishon, and a Spanish Rishon to boot. Why do Hasidim backseat him?

In fact, the more I think about this and related questions, the more maddening I find the whole of the Hasidic movement. The original Hasidim broke with the tradition of their ancestors, introduced approaches to learning and living the great men of their time found offensive, and changed the emphasis of the religion.

In another place and another time this would have been called reform.

Now, in our day, this reform is glorified by legions of long-coated Jews who insist, ever-so piously, on the absolute and final primacy of "tradition." If they are aware of the irony they pretend not to see it.

Their reform is further glorified by Jews who have no use for the wisdom of the Rishonim and instead prefer the culture of Eastern Europe. The Rishonim, for example, said magic was false, and decried it all as superstition. The peasant women of Poland disagreed, and in our mixed-up muddled up world their peasent view adheres. (and their peasent dishes are considered great delicacies.)

The original Hasidim chose clothing the emulated the non-Jewish noblemen of their day. Shtreimals and beckishes? Any Polack gentile with some money dressed like that in the 17th centruy; now these same outfits are glorified as "authentically Jewish."

These same Hasidim imported customs like upshurin and the nusach ha'tefillah from Israel because the wished to distinguish themselves from the European Jewish establishment; today their decendants are the very first people to look down their noses at the srugy-wearing, sefard speaking Jews who only wish to distinguish themselves from the American Jewish establishment.

Like I said: maddening

Tearing apart Toby

I just read a post by Toby Katz, the class clown over at Cross Currents, which made me furious.

Her silly, inchoate, post overflows with errors of fact, errors of logic, histrionics and hyperbole. As I was getting ready to point all of this out, I came across the comment section where, thank goodness for lazy, little old me, all of my arguments had been made.

So head over there and see for yourself how very little Toby knows about abortion law and abortion halacha, and how the "Michael wants her dead" argument is finally and absolutely demolished.

Finally, pay special attention to my guy Dilbert's impassioned defense of liberalism at the very end.

His royal Majesty, the Rabbi

Elsewhere, two bloggers I like a lot, are arguing that the rabbi must be the ultimate authority in a shul. RenReb, for example, says her husband should be entitled to veto the songs that are played at a Purim party; MoChassid, too, thinks the Rabbi's word is law and goes so far as to suggest that Modern Orthodoxy is in collapse, because the Modern Orthodox shul Rabbi does not normally receive such deference.

I disagree.

The men and woman who make up the membership of a shul are adults; and as adults (adults who are paying the bills, no less) they have the right to any sort of religious experience they desire. If they with to grow, that's their option; if they wish to stagnate, that, too, is their prerogative.

The hired Rabbi's obligation it to facilitate their religious desires and to give them the sort of shul they want.

If he isn't willing to do this, he should find another position.

Will the real Pat Buchanan please stand up?

Oh my. More conservative flip-flops. What will we tell the children Gop-Jews?

Pat Buchanan on Schiavo:

"What George Bush ought to do right now is send federal marshals in and pick up Terri Schiavo and put that ... food and hydration tube back into her.... Action [by the president] ... creates consensus." --- March 23 Hardball with Chris Matthews

Pat Buchanan on Elian Gonzoles:

"The predawn Easter weekend raid on the home of the Miami family of Elian Gonzalez was a police-state tactic one associates with a Communist tyranny, not the United States." -- April 22, 2000, The Associated Press

Did you know?

Schiavo Edition II

Michael Schiavo has agreed to an autopsy. Afterwards, I expect written apologies from those of you who have said (1) she isn't really in a persistent vegetative state or (b) her abusive, slimeball husband is trying to hide something.

You know who you are.

Schiavo Edition III

Tom Delay, the publicity-seeking fraud, who has regularly defamed Michael Schiavo, was once in the same position as Michael Schiavo and - guess what! - he made the same decision.

Sixteen years ago, Tom Delay's father was severely injured in an accident, and the Delay family agreed to withhold treatment. Congressman "Err on the side of life" DeLay did not object.

Ladies and gentleman, call off the search: We have found our Pandering Hypocrite of the Millennium.

Monday, March 28, 2005

V'ha'ayin l'tziyon tzofiya - u'bochiya

received by email

Dear Dov,

On Purim night we had in our shteeble a band that played some good music. In between sets, the keyboard man started hammering out the Hatikva. One of the people at the party took the mike and began to sing. Would you believe that the Rav's son ran out so as not to hear the music, he said later? And the Rav himself claimed not to know that it was the Hatikva, but later when he found out he was really steamed. The Rav isn't a Naturai Karta person. He's just a plain old Chusid.

What are your thoughts on this matter?

Your loyalest reader (not Amshi)

Well, first let me say that I hope you play sports, because with that diction you'll never make it as a blogger. I don't really have anything to say about your Rabbi, except this: Non-Hasidim who imagine this behavior isn't common are deluding themselves.

Perhaps the hasidic bloggers can weigh in? And perhaps the less cynical readers, assuming they exist, can offer my correspondant some advice. What should he have done or said?

Hip O' Crits

Sing it brother:
This pandering to the “culture of life” movement by Bush and the Republican Congress represents the ultimate in hypocrisy. Why? Because on the very same weekend that these neocons-turned-nursemaids wrung their hands and spouted platitudes about protecting the sanctity of Schiavo’s life, the Bush administration eliminated all funding for the Federal Traumatic Brain Injuries Act!

That’s right. Our president and his sycophants in Congress don’t care about saving brain-injured patients who could actually improve with treatments. They don’t even care that 60% of the wounded soldiers coming back from Iraq have traumatic brain injuries, according to doctors at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Now, brain injured combat veterans are being turned away from federal programs, denied help from the very same government that they fought to serve and protect. Is there no shame among the Republican leadership? How can those who staged the Terri Schiavo dog-and-pony show while depriving brain-injured soldiers critical medical care stand to look at themselves in the mirror? Or hold their heads up in public?

Silly Indians

Why should the president of the United States waste time pandering to you?

Report: Native Americans Criticize Bush's Silence
Response to School Shooting Is Contrasted With President's Intervention in Schiavo Case

From all over the world we are getting letters of condolence, the Red Cross has come, but the so-called Great White Father in Washington hasn't said or done a thing," said Clyde Bellecourt, a Chippewa Indian who is the founder and national director of the American Indian Movement here

The reaction to Bush's silence was particularly bitter given his high-profile, late-night intervention on behalf of Terri Schiavo, the brain-damaged Florida woman caught in a legal battle over whether her feeding tube should be reinserted. "The fact that Bush preempted his vacation to say something about Ms. Schiavo and here you have 10 native people gunned down and he can't take time to speak is very telling," said David Wilkins, interim chairman of the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota and a member of the North Carolina-based Lumbee tribe
Isn't there a word in your language for "lame duck?"

Daniel Lapin, beware

The religious right has turned on Jeb Bush, accusing him of betraying Terri Schivio and of demonstrating indifference to Christian values.
The Crossroads pro-life organization issued a statement comparing Bush with Pontius Pilate, who presided over the Crucifixion: "This Holy Week, another governor must be asking himself, 'Is one helpless woman's life worth my political career?'
Meanwhile, President Bush's approval ratings hit new lows, 43% and 45% respectively.

Daniel Lapin are you listening? You, and other Christian apologists, insist that evangelicals are our closest, firmest friends. Well, how do you think they will react to you, and to us, when Christians finally realize that there values and our values do not, in all things, coincide?


The flexible logic of zealots

Kanoai Monsey (ie: American ultras)
"Rabbi Moshe Tendler has destroyed the livelihood of a mohel. That's wrong!"

Kanoai Meah Shearim (ie: Israeli ultras)
"Let's destroy Nosson Slifkin's livelihood!"

It's also BS. Rabbi Tendler didn't do anything. Furthermore, my Rockland County sources tell me that the mohel's livelihood has never been better. The point of this post, please understand, isn't to criticize Rabbi Tendler, but to point out how flexible the logic of zealots can be.

Ooooooh. Those dangnabbed intelligent and educated people!

"We've been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of the culture." -- pastor and parent Ray Mummert, 54, explaining his objection to teaching evolution in his local school. [More]

Meanwhile, the good pastor's opponents are being attacked by the stupid and ignorant elements of society.

My sympathy is with them.

hat tip

We are STRONGLY OPPOSED to activist judges!

We demand activist judges.

Let's nuke Iraq! Let's execute minors!
Poor people don't deserve health care!
Seniors can go to Canada if they need drugs!

We must err on the side of life.
(And kill anyone who disagrees.)

Damn lawyers are RUINING AMERICA!

I understand that this case has been
heard twenty-two times already, but surely
they'll change their minds this time.

Shameless Democrats are always playing politics!

"God has brought us Terri Schiavo."
"The pro-life base will be excited."
"This is a great political issue."

A marriage is between a MAN and a WOMAN and
nothing should come between that!

I don't think Terri's husband should make
this decision. Jeb Bush should do it for him.

Don't you Dummycrats know that
this is a nation of LAWS?!

Stupid laws.

We should take the federal government
and drown it in a bathtub!

It warms my heart when the federal government
intrudes upon a private family matter.

You stupid America-hating
LIEberals should go back to Russia!

Damn, I've run out of toilet paper.
Wait, this old rag should do the trick.

[Source: Democratic Underground]

The Right to Life Cult

How strongly do some Schiavio supporters believe in "life?" So strongly that they're willing to, uh, kill for it.

"I advocate the use of force to rescue Terri Schiavo from being starved to death. I further advocate the killing of anyone who interferes with such rescue."
-- Hal Turner

But, wait, wait. Don't post those letters of complaint just yet. It gets better. When old Hal, a right-wing crackpot of the highest order, discovered that Terri is Jewish, he thoughtfully re-wrote his opinion:

"I've been proceeding from the assumption that she was merely a totally innocent, completely helpless woman... seeing as racial jews are the lowest form of scum in the history of this planet.. maybe starving Terri to death isn't too bad a thing at all."

Yup. That's what he said

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Do you have Prince Albert in a can?

Ben Chorin prank calls the Moetzes Gedolei Hatorah. (torah sages)

Two cheers for Vashti

Tell it, Miriam.

Did you know? Schiavio edition

Did you know:

Micahel Schiavo offered to donate Terri's inheritance to charity if the family would consent to the removal of her hydration and nutrition? source

Made up morality

The moral obtuseness of some of Terry Schivaio's advocates is maddening.

Let's be clear: Terry Schiavio is being starved to death* not because we live in a cruel and immoral country but because Michael Schiavio managed to convince three judges, in three separate trials, that (a) his wife would not want doctors to take extraordinary measures to save her life and (b) she has absolutely no chance of recovering.

The court's opinion about Terry Schiavio's wishes came from the sworn testimony of five witnesses, including Terry Schiavio's own brother and sister; and their opinion about her long-term prognosis was bolstered by the expert opinion of several doctors.

So, the argument to restore Terri's feeding tube boils down to this: Maybe the judges came to the wrong conclusion, so let's be cautious and err on the side of life.

Fine. I can get behind that. Really.

In fact, as I have always argued, I think that same argument should apply to capital cases. I think we should say, "Let's abolish capital punishment. Maybe the judges in those cases also came to the wrong conclusion, so let's be cautious and err on the side of life."

Unfortunately, I expect the typical Terry Schivaio advocate is a bit more hard-hearted.

*Note: I agree with those who say it would be more humane to kill her quickly. A death stretched out over two weeks is barbaric.

Dabbling in the mystical

Below, we had a little conversation about the strange coincidence (some say "prophecy") found in the Book of Esther and reader ModernChasidish chastised me as follows:

Or how about the fact that the ari claimed that hipul pur meant that haman used a horoscope. Historians revealed that hitler and his crew were heavy into astrology like haman was. The parallels are cool. DB why try to undo the coolness? [sic]
I have reflected on the words of ModernChasidish, and I regret what I have done. Rather than undo the "coolness," I shall now attempt to add to the "coolness."

Hold on to your hats.

Other "cool" parallels between Haman and Hitler

"Historians reveal" that Hitler was a man. So was Haman.
Hitler had a mother. Though the evidence is spotty, we think Haman did, too.
Both men had names beginning with the letter "h"
Hitler was "heavy" into Jew hating, just like Haman.

The inescapable conclusion? Both Haman and Hitler were evil men.

Wow! I don't know about you, but I am blown away. Those parallels sure made things crytal clear! And hey! Wasn't this so much more fun than actual Torah, or scholarly learning?

Thanks for encouraging this mystical moment ModernChasidish!

Post Purim Worries

Now that the mishloach manot have been collected and distributed, these are the two questions on the mind of every God-fearing Jew:

Did I suck up to a sufficient number of people? And did a sufficient number of people suck up to me?

How do we know the Jews of Shushan were super patriots?

Haman's original decree, signed by the king, was that the Jews of Persia would be killed.

How did the Jews react? With resignation. They cried. They fasted. They sent Esther to intervene. But, from the text it seems that, worse comes to worse, they were content to follow the law. We see no indication, from the text, that the Jews of Persia planned to use force to resist the decree.

The second decree, the one published by Mordechai and Esther, gave the Jews permission to defend themselves. The reaction? Joy, mirth and celebration! L'yehudim hoyita simcha, v'soson! V'yehefach may'avel l'yom tov!

What changed? Only the law of the land.

By Mouth

Meziza b'peh came up again this weekend, and the knock-out question was asked:

How did Avraham Avinu perform this procedure on himself?


Great Moments in Marketing

What will they call it in Israel?

For the Hebrew impaired:
Zima, or זימה means lechery

For the prudes
"xxx" does, too.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

M'aymati Omrim "GoodNight Moon"

Reb Yudel's answer.

I guess it was a business lunch

Click here to see Mel Gibson's meddling letter on behalf of Terri Schiavo.

Look at the fax signature on the upper left corner, and ask yourself why the big movie star can't afford a better office for himself.

Update: Naturally, I didn't catch this, but apparently Terri's name is misspelled, too.

Purimfest 1946!!

The story
Look at the names of Haman's sons listed in Esther 9:6-10. See three small letters? They are Taf, Shin, and Zayin, which can represent the Hebrew year 5707, corresponding to the year 1946-47. And, holy canoli, on October 16, 1946 (21 Tishrei, 5707) ten convicted Nazi war criminals were hanged in Nuremberg. The last man to go was Julius Streicher, and his very last words, per Newsweek, October 28, 1946, were, "Purimfest 1946."

Things that are cool
1 - In Esther 9:13, Esther says, "If it pleases the king give the Jews in Sushan permission to carry out this day's edict tomorrow also, and let Haman's ten sons be hanged on gallows." This is odd. The ten sons of Haman had already been killed, why is Esther asking to hang them again? On the word "tomorrow," in Esther's request, the Sages comment: "There is a tomorrow that is now, and a tomorrow which is later." (Tanchuma Bo 13 and Rashi on Exodus 13:14).

2 - In all, twelve war criminals were sentenced to hang, but one committed suicide ahead of time, and the other was convicted in absentia, leaving ten Nazi war criminals to correspond to the ten sons of Haman.

3 - 21 Tishrei, 5707 was Hoshana Raba, the day when God's Yom Kippur judgments are sealed and made final.

4 - Streicher shouted Purimfest 1946.

Cold water
1 - In 9:13 Esther is simply asking that the dead sons of Haman be allowed to remain on the gallows as a warning. She isn't asking to kill them again. She is asking the King to let them hang for another day.

2 - God's verdicts are sealed on Hoshana Rabba only for the baynonim, those who are neither fully righteous nor fully evil. Were the Nazi leaders baynonin?

3 - The taf-shin-zayin combination only equals 707. The millennium (5000) is not indicated.

4 - There are at least three traditions of large and small letters in the names of Haman's sons. The Yeminites, for example, have no small zayin.

[Hat tip Western Jew.
Related: The Famous Code in Megillas Esther]

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

On the Home Front

My father-in-law, normally a wonderful guy, is causing trouble.

"I am not coming to your Purim Seudah unless you serve meat, and the meat has to be the primary dish."

Mrs. DovBear makes an excellent tuna-steak, and given that Purim falls on Friday this year, she planned on serving that.

"No good," said her father and lord help me but I gave him the Mis-Nagid answer.

I said: "Do you really think God is going to be offended if we serve fish instead of beef?"

We asked a Rabbi who said, and I quote, serve anything you want. And we are. The father-in-law has been told that he's welcome to bring any additional dishes he desires and we'll be pleased to serve them, which should work out okay.


What would holiday feasting be without family fights, resentment and bad feelings?
Is Avi Shafran a rascist?
"None of us can claim to know what constitutes a meaningful existence and all of us have a responsibility to preserve even severely compromised human life."

That's Avi Shafran, director of public affairs for the national Orthodox Jewish organization Agudath Israel, talking about the Schiavo case.

Has Avi made a similar statement about the Sun Hudson case?

A Google search came up empty, meaning it is reasonable to ask Avi this question: Why doesn't your commitment to the sanctity of life apply to the lives of poor black children?
Does George W. Bush posses the self-awareness of gravel?

"In cases like this one, where there are serious questions and substantial doubts, our society, our laws and our courts should have a presumption in favor of life."

Yup, that's what old Smirky McSmirkestein had to say about the Florida circus


Now, why oh why, didn't those noble-sounding words about "serious questions and substantial doubts" apply to the major doubts about weapons of mass destruction and the deaths of thousand of Americans and even more Iraqis?

The hypocrisy and cynicism with which the Republican leadership are using this poor family are truly astounding. And let's not forget Tom "The Bugman" Delay, who is enjoying the smoke screen this case is providing for the investigation into his ethical failures.
Irony is so Ironical

The state court judge in the Schiavio case requires constant police protection: The standard-bearers of the "culture of life" keep threatening to kill him

Nevada Appeal
...the six-month-old Texas boy was taken off life support, breathed his last few breaths, and died in his mother's arms... the mother, Wanda Hudson, did not want her son taken off life support. She fought to have his life extended, and was devastated that the hospital ended Sun's life. Wanda Hudson's problem is that... she had to deal with a Texas law that allows the withdrawal of life support from terminally ill patients, even against the wishes of the family, if they don't have money to pay for the care. This law was created with the signature of then-Gov. George W. Bush, who made an emergency trip back to Washington this weekend to sign a bill to help restore life support to Schiavo.

Republican Party Platform on Government Reform
We must acknowledge that the federal government’s role should be to set expectations in policies, then get out of the way and let the states implement and operate those policies as they best know how.
This Just in:

George Bush is a pious snot.

Tom Delay's real motives revealed.

And, finally, Tom Toles on the root of the problem.
Can a Nobel Prize in Medicine be Far Behind?

Dear Lazer:

Congratulations on discovering that mental illness can be cured via long walks in the park.

What's does the AMA say about this? I'll bet they're pissed. HaHa! Serves them right. Psychiatric medicine, what a joke! Sitting on a couch and talking. Pills and medication. Ha! Who are those "shrinks" fooling? Everyone knows REAL medicine is practiced with leaches!

Have you gotten many letters of appreciation from lunatics? I mean, more than usual? I am sure the millions of people currently committed to mental institutions for diseases like schizophrenia, are excited to know that a nice long walk through a "nearby river, park, field, or woods" can send their demons packing. I bet they can't wait to meet you and thank you personally!

Lazer, I know you're a busy man, but have you had the time to test this fantastic cure on other afflictions? Is walking in the park a solution for mental illnesses only, or can it be used to cure other diseases, too? I'd really prefer not to continue wasting my hard-earned money on those sneaky so-called doctors.

Anyway, keep up the good work.

Your loyal reader,
Is David Orlofsky the Koton Hador?

Facts in evidence:
1 - The Koton Hador, obm, was funny.
2 - David Orlofsky is funny.
3 - The Godol Hador writes the Koton Hador.
4 - The Godol Hador performed a service for David Orlofsky ("I actually worked with Rabbi Orlofsky a little to ensure that the final draft was better.")

Was there a quid pro quo?
Did David Orlofsky provide the Koton Hador with jokes in exchange for lessons in manners and grammar?

And why did the Koton Hador mysteriously and conveniently disappear the moment GH's editing services were no longer needed?

We need a special prosecutor.

Plot Holes in the Book of Esther

Why wasn't the first party co-ed?

Why didn't the Greeks, Persia's traditional rival, take over the kingdom when everyone important was partying in Shushan?

Why didn't the king blink when Haman asked for permission to murder millions?

Why didn't the King take Haman's bribe? After throwing all those parties, he didn't need some spare change?

Why did Haman need to build a gallows for Mordechai? Couldn't he just hire the firm of Two Guys Named Vito to settle the score quietly?

Why didn't Esther accept the King's offer of half the kingdom. He made it twice, so we can assume he was serious.

Why did Esther drag Haman and the King to a second party? Couldn't she have ratted out Haman at the first party?

Why did Charvonah have such a big mouth? And if he had it in for Haman, why did he wait until the last minute?

Why did Mordicha get Haman's job? What were his qualifications? Is that how it worked in Persia? If someone plotted to kill you and your people, did you automatically take his position when the plot was foiled?

For your convenience
Because this is a customer focused blog.

For those of you too lazy to scroll, or too simple-minded to follow the plot, I'm pleased to present links to my satire of the Book of Esther, here on one easy-to-navigate post.


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9&10

And if this doesn't get me a 2005 JIB for Best Series, I just may have to increase my payments to little IsreallyCool Jr's college fund.
Book IX

The home-stretch, or the post in which I mercifully end it all.
The Book of Esther
Perek Tet

The Jews went out and killed just like they were told, except for the Hasidim who hired illegal immigrants to do the killing on their behalf. The Meggilah says no Jew touched any of the spoils of war. Instead, they took new, fresh stuff only (spoiled stuff, like rodeo, and paying retail, is for the goyim.)

The Jews further decided that it wasn’t fair that non-Jews had Halloween while all they had were a bunch of fasting and praying "holidays," so they decreed a new day of celebration in which everyone got to dress up and act like an Irishman.

At the last moment, the Pashkez Snack Corporation sent Mordichai and Esther a large cash gift; as a result the giving of gift baskets was also worked into the holiday, even though, when you think about it, there's no real, organic connection between being saved from genocide, and distributing junk food around the neighborhood.

In any event, they sent:

Home Baked Cake................................and
Inexpensive Fruit............................... and
Kedem Grape Juice............................ and
Chocolate Wafers from Pashgez....... and
Peanut Chews..................................... and
Super Snacks...................................... and
Kugel.................................................... and
Leiber’s Potato Chips........................ and
Cheap Beer......................................... and
Peanuts............................................... the

ten most common items in the packages.

As time went by, Jews being Jews, tried to outdo each other, all the while giving pious lip service to how non-materialistic Jews are. As the rivalry increased, and the gift baskets became more and more elaborate, both in quantity and quality, everyone forgot the true reason for the celebration, ie: that the Jews were free again to buy irresponsible gas-guzzling cars.

(Only among the Ultra Orthodox is this recalled. This is why, ad hayom hazeh, Ultra Orthodox yeshivot make a point of dressing their students in big bunny rabbit costumes and sending them around town in oversized cars.)

The downside is all this gift distribution ties up traffic causing the non-Jews to wish Haman had succeeded.

But, too bad on them: By now, Mudcha was head Muckity-Muck so the non-Jews had to eat it, or move to the suburbs.

Book X
Perek Yud

Ach taxed everyone to death, exept for the richest one percent, while Mudcha (dressed in fabulous purple robes, wink, wink) lived happily ever after listening to the Miami "Boys" Choir squeal Besiyata Dishmaya over, and over and over again.

The End
Book IIX

The end is finally in sight
The Book of Esther
Perak Chet

With Haman dead, Mudcha aquired Haman’s old house, his position in the government, and his Official Tiger Woods set of golf clubs.

Mudcha was quite pleased, but there was still that whole genocide thing hanging over their heads. So, Ester got down on her hands and knees and went to work on Ach pleading for him to retract the old law barring the Jews from buying SUVs. Yeah, and also the genocide thing.

The king, who was drunk again, said that, he was very sorry, but a law could not be retracted once made, which makes no sense when you consider that the king had absolute power. ("A miracle," Rashi says. "I'm begging you to shut up," Rashbam says.)

Besides, Ach had made plans to hang out on the balcony in a beach chair with a brewsky in the coming month of Adar to watch some serious slaughtering.

So he said "You know what? Let the Jews kill people, too. It doesn't really matter to me who does the slaughtering so long as I have a front row seat."

Ach, you see was a wise and generous king.

So, Ester and Mudcha wrote the king's compromise into law and everyone was happy and joyous and full of mirth and celebration.

Except the people who got killed. But, as non-Jews, they don't count.

to be continued...
Get ready to yawn

The Purim edition of YU's student paper is online

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Finally, the famous letter?

Is that David Orlofsky's infamous attack on Nosson Slifkin, posted over at Failed Messiah? Shmarya isn't sure.

And for the record, neither am I.

Regardless of who wrote it, this is a fabulous, not-to-be-missed, specimen of Haredi Newspeak.

The message boils down to this: "Believe the Godolim, no matter what, or you're going to hell," with some unsubstantiated character assassination thrown in for good luck.

How long before the Godol Hador blogger publishes a well-deserved fisking?

Update: The Godol Hador confirms the letter is Orlofsky's but offers important qualifications.
GH also reveals that he helped Orlo bring the letter into line with commonly accepted standards of honesty and decency. I guess those were standards Orlo hadn't learned to respect, living, as he does, among the haredim.
Toot! Toot!
Yeah, I'm blowing my own horn, but this comment thread rocks.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: The best commenters in the whole Jewish blogosphere are on DovBear.

Hmmm. Maybe we should run a contest?

Let's give it a try: Cast your vote below for best DovBear commenter. One computer, one vote.
Book VII

And on we go...
The Book of Esther

Perak Zayin

Haman and Ach arrived at Ester’s kegger the next day where Ach was thrilled to see his wife had as big a drinking problem as he did. As they chugged away, Ach was about to ask Ester to get naked when he remembered the problems he had with Vashti. Instead, he decided to play it smooth, and asked her, "I see you are sad. What is wrong?"

Ester started to cry and announced that an evil man, with a comical moustache, was planning to kill her and her people -- not to mention that he had all but made it impossible for them to buy SUVs.

The king, aroused by Ester’s tears and willing to say anything to get her in the sack, asked “Mee hu zeh v'ayzeh who!" Ttranslation: "Who be this, and this be who?”]

The king, you see was quite drunk.

"Haman," Ester replied, and the king, having had one margarita too many, shook with alcohol poisoning. Off he ran to go throw up and Haman threw himself at Ester's feet to plead for both forgiveness and Knick’s season tickets.

When the king returned, he thought Haman was trying to put the moves on his girl. Now the truth is, the king was not all that upset with the genocide plan, as he had okayed it himself- also, the King was no big fan of SUVs - but nobody hits on his woman with the king in the house.

Still, the king had always thought Haman was a handsome man, and was about to propose a threesome when Charvonah, one of the king’s butlers, announced that Haman was planning to hang Mudcha, the mime, on a gallows outside his house. The king, who loved mime, ordered Haman hung from it, instead.

By his testicles, Rashi adds with a bit too much enthusiasm.

to be continued...

Written by A.P Kores
Edited by DovBear
"Smithers, release the hounds."

Federal Judge Denies Request to Reinsert Schiavo's Feeding Tube

The judge today denied a request from the brain-damaged woman's parents, saying the case had been "exhaustively litigated."

Next: Congress passes new law reading, "All federal court decisions related to Terry Schivio must be approved by Tom Delay." Bush cancels vacation and signs bill "in the name of freedom."

Bloggers who agree with me
House of Hock
Zman Biur
Soccer Dad

Bloggers who disagree with me
Life of Chiam
Book VI

Oh God in heaven, when will this end?
The Book of Esther
Perak Vav

That night, Ach couldn’t sleep. Rashi, his gift for the obvious on display, says the king was hung-over.

Done, for now, with the vomiting, Ach called for a bedtime story. But the king was tired of My Little Goat and he asked for something new.

The servants decided to read about the special favors that had been performed for the king. Soon, they got to story of Mudcha ratting out Bigsan and Teresh. The king asked what reward Mudcha had received. The servants said nothing. The king sat upright in bed and announced that something really fantabulous must be done for the man who saved the king’s life.

"OK", the servant suggested, "Let's ply him with riches," to which the King replied, "Is his middle name Haliburton?"

The servant next pointed out that Mudcha was a Jew, and suggested it might be nice to spare him from the upcoming genocide. However, the king felt that Mudcha would want to be a good sport and participate so that idea was also rejected.

It so happened that at this precise, exact moment (Rashi: It was a miracle. Rashbam: Snort!) Haman was walking past the palace. The King saw him and asked for his help, noting that riches were definitely off the table unless someone else wanted to be the donor. Haman, who had always wanted a pony, suggested that the man be given a horsy ride around the city in silly, colorful clothes.

“Great idea!” said the king. “And inexpensive!”

So Haman dressed Mudcha in ridiculously loud clothing and paraded him around the city on a horsy. Not being a seven-year old, Mudcha thought this was quite a lousy reward.

And, to make matters worse, Haman wouldn't let him keep the fabulous clothes.

To be continued.

By AP Kores
Edited by DovBear
Blotting out the name of the tax deadbeat

Tounge, firmly in cheek, Clyde Haberman says:
Perhaps the time has come for even more creative [tax collection] measures, like those tried recently by the authorities in Rajahmundry, a city in southern India. They hired drummers to bang away nonstop outside the homes of property-tax deadbeats. The [Purim]-style tactic worked. A single week of constant drumming was enough to clear 18 percent of the tax backlog.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Book V

Our story is still not over...
The Book of Esther
Perak Hay!

Ester put on her sleaziest outfit and approached the throne room. Once inside, she saw Ach busy with one of the chambermaids, which explained why he never seemed to have a desire for her. A bit ashamed, Ach offered Ester half the kingdom if she would just forget about it, and not mention it to any of the papers. Rashi says that it was an election year, and Ach had only a narrow lead in the polls.

Instead of complaining, Ester invited Ach and Haman to a kegger that she planned to throw later that day. Ach, who would have done anything to avoid being dragged into divorce court, agreed, and sent for Haman. At the party, Ach could see that Ester was still peeved and offered her half the kingdom again. Inexplicably, instead of just taking half the kingdom, and letting all the Jews move there, Ester asked Ach to bring Haman to another party with even more booze the next day. Ach agreed.

Haman left the palace and saw Mudcha miming and steam blew out of Haman’s ears like Yosemite Sam. He screamed “Ooooooo, I hate that Mudcha!” with a curious southern drawl.

Rashi points out that it was a miracle of G-d that Haman, who, as we will soon see, was able to hang Mudcha on his own authority, didn’t ask one of his heavily-armed body guards to kill Mudcha on the spot. Rashbam says, "It bugs me that you keep using that 'miracle of God' jive to plug the plot holes."

When Haman got home, his wife Zeresh asked him what was wrong, and Haman threw a major temper-tantrum. "Mudcha won't bow to me. And he's an awful mime!" Haman cried. His wife tried to comfort him, but got nowhere.

Suddenly, Haman knew what to do: "I'll make a tremendous gallows and hang a sign on it that says “Mudcha is a putz," Haman exclaimed, "This way the whole city will know that Mudcha is a putz."

Zeresh suggested that instead of a sign, they hang Mudcha and Haman liked that idea even better. He had his ten boys begin building the gallows, except for his gentle son Freddo who had been sent to Vegas to learn the casino business.

To be continued...
In Deference to Gil
I won't say who wrote this, I'll just say why it is wrong.
v'hamayvin yavin, wink wink say no more.

Collected on the Internet:

"When the breeze comes in from the east, the atmosphere is perfumed with citrus blossoms, a divine fragrance that's capable of reviving any thirsty soul"

A soul is spiritual. Not physical. Therefore, it does not become thirsty, and it can not be "revived" by an odor. The author is confusing his emotions with his soul.

"If you take a walk outside of town to the Lachish River, say about an hour before dawn, you can hear a symphony that surpasses anything that Beethoven or Brahms couls [sic] ever compose."

Then why is this wonderful treat undiscovered? Why aren't music lovers flocking to the Lachish River? And why hasn't some intrepid entrepreneurs recorded the songs of the river for resale? If it surpasses not just Beethoven, but Brahms, too, surely there's a market for this sort of thing?

Then, we get bizarre:

Let me share it [the sounds of the Lachish River] with you right here.

Unfortunately, what you hear when you hit the link is "Limpkin and the Frogs" from Voices of the Swamp. To the best of my knowledge, this was recorded in America, not alongside the Lachish River. I call this bizarre, because the author, whoever he is, makes no effort to conceal that fact that what he represents as the sounds of the Lachish River, are in fact the sounds of an ordinary American swamp.

King David, the saintly Ari (the father of Kabbala), and the Baal Shem Tov (the founder of the Chassidic movement) could all understand the language of plants and animals.

1 - Why is the Ari "saintly" and not the other two? Is King David chopped liver?
2 - And here we go with another history mistake. The Ari was not "the father of kabbalah" that honor, if it must go to anyone, belongs to Moshe de Leon.
3 - Of course. Because plants speak. With their vocal cords.

Have you noticed that it's always a Hasidic master, and never a Rishon or a non-Hasidic acron who can perform these marvelous tricks? Why is that? Maybe next time I'm in Kosher Delight, I'll see if the salad bar can explain.
Gagging at the Press Gaggle

No word if the person asking the question used his own name or an alias...

MR. McCLELLAN: This is a complex case where serious questions and significant doubts have been raised. And the President believes the presumption ought to be in favor of life. We ought to err on the side of life...

Err on te side of life? Does Mr. McClellan not remember that his boss, as governor of Texas, rubber-stamped the execution of 152 prisoners, giving an average of 15 minutes apiece to their death row appeals? Now this pandering, retrograde moron is preaching that we must "Err on the side of life?"

Meanwhile, his phony, war-mongering Congressional colleagues are passing around a memo calling this, "A great political issue,” as they seek to whip up the most backward, ignorant and intolerant elements of our society for the purpose of exploiting a family tragedy for their sordid political purposes.

What a sick joke.


ADDITIONAL NOTE ADDED JANUARY 11, 2007: The two phrases colored blue appeared first here.
Book IV
The Book of Esther
Perek Deled

While performing his mime outside the palace gates, Mudcha heard about Haman's plan and immediately put on sack-cloth and ashes to make himself look more disheveled in the hopes of dredging up some sympathy business. He began to wail that he would not be able to get that truck-sized SUV he had always wanted. "Without an SUV, how will I let people know I'm a really tough guy," he wailed, the tears smudging his mime makeup.

Then he remembered: mines don't wail. So instead he mimed his sorrow for pennies.

When Ester heard that Mudcha was crying in the street, she immediately sent a servant to find out what was wrong. Mudcha beseeched Ester to approach the king and beg him to retract the ban on SUV sales to Jews. And, so long as she was beseeching anyway, to see what she could do about that genocide thing, too.

Ester hesitated at this request, knowing that the only thing that the king loved as much as drinking was a good genocide. The only way to get him to change his mind would be to sleep with the fat oaf, something she had not done since the first night that had been together. Rashi claims that it was yet another hidden miracle that Ester's refusing to sleep with her husband didn't tip him off that she was Jewish.

After some negotiating and quite a few rounds of back and forth, which, normally, is not something you do when the lives of a few million people are on the line, Ester magnanimously agreed to pick herself up and walk into the next room to see the king.

But she insisted that the lights be kept off.

To be continued...
What a brave idea!

Some courageous soul is making fun of onlysimchas
We interrupt our story for
News of the Day
Whether Teri Schiavio lives or dies is none of my business, and not having reviewed her medical records, I can't comment on how halacha might approach the problem. Besides, my views on halacha are about as interesting as Gil's views on politics. My comments on the case, therefore, are as follows:

1 - Tom Delay is a snake. Why is a sitting member of Congress attacking the character of a private citizen and who has not been accused or convicted of any crime? And why is the media piling on?

2 - President Flight Suit is fooling no one. He's every bit the vote-whoring panderer that Bubba was. If he cared about human life, he wouldn't have let Texas fry so many people, and he would have thought twice before going to war on bogus information.

3 - I am offended that Congress can convene itself on a weekend to interfere with a judicial matter, but can't ever find time to do it's own damn job.

4 - Let's sum this up: (a) A case has been litigated fully and completely by a court with competent jurisdiction. (b)Congress now has said that the game must be re-done with new rules that heavily favor one side over the other.

Writes CBS: The implications of this are astonishing. Just think about it. Anytime Congress doesn't like the result in a particular case, it could swoop in and call a "do-over." If this law is declared valid, no decision in any state court in the country will be immune from Congressional second-guessing. It would throw out of whack the entire concept of separation of powers. It truly will be fascinating to see how federal court judges react to this-- whether they simply bow down to this end-run or whether they back up their state-court colleagues.

PS - Having said all this, let me add that if, god forbid, I was in Michael Schivio's shoes, I certainly would not be pulling anyone's feeding tube.


Sunday, March 20, 2005

Book III
The Book of Esther continues
Perek Gimmel

Getting ahead in Ach's kingdom was really very easy. For example: George Tenet, who screwed up the Gulf War intelligence, received a Medal of Freedom; Condaleeza Rice who lied about Al Queda under oath was made Secretary of State; and Alberto Gonzalez the man with the lackadaisical view on torture that made possible the Al Garib prison scandal was rewarded with the post of High Inquisitor. So it was no surprise to anyone when Ach promoted Memuchan, the lowly junior advisor from Book I, to the position of Viceroy, meaning assistant to Roy

Furthermore, coming, as it did on the heels of that whole Jeff/Jim Gannon thing, no one was exactly shocked when Memuchan took an alias and began calling himself Haman, son of Hammedasah, the Aggagite.

The king immidiately decreed that everyone had to bow and kneel before Haman, or they wouldn't be allowed into the presidentail town meetings or press briefings. Unfortunately, the king didn't quite realize that the word "everyone" included himself, and he was pissed when he had to bow to his subordinate. But, the law is the law.

Now, Mudcha and Haman were old Yeshiva rivals. They both had gone to Telze, and Mudcha had been Haman's frat sponsor in the fraternity Aleph-Lamed-Reish-Nun (ani lo rotze nashim). Part of frat rules is that a brother never has to do anything a younger pledge tells him. So, Mudcha decided not to bow to Haman, always flashing his old ALRN frat ID card at him. Haman was furious that Mudcha wouldn't bow to him. He also hated mimes. And, he also recalled the times during Haman's initiation that Mudcha and the other older Jewish members of the fraternity stuffed his head into a toilet after ten of them had used it. Rashi says ten men used the toilet so that there would be a minyan.

Overflowing with jealous and anger, Haman decided to kill all the Jews who had never let him take part in their fun rituals such as fasting, praying, and refraining from sexual relations for 99% of their lives. And since he hated mimes he figured that this would be a good way to kill two birds with one stone. Haman, however, couldn't decide when to do it. So, held a lottery to pick the day. Rashi says that in truth Haman couldn't remember the names of any months, or even count past four and was just too embarrassed to tell anyone. The lot was cast, and it fell on March 17th, and because Haman didn't want to upset the St. Patrick's Day celebrations with bloodshed, he cast the lot again and again until it landed on the 14th day of Adar. Haman quickly checked and to his glee saw this was the only good day on the entire calendar to commit genocide.

Next, Haman went to king Ach and told him that he wanted to kill a few million people. Ach, who was quite drunk and in the middle of the Twilight Zone Marathon, said "Speak to Cheny." Having no idea what this meant, but assuming it meant, "go for it," Haman wrote up a bill that decreed that all the Jews should be killed, annihilated, and wiped out on the 14th day of day of Adar - especially Mudcha. To add to the suffering and degredation, Haman additionally decreed that the Jews could no longer be sold SUVs AND he tacked a rider onto the bill giving himself a raise and eliminating the tax on dividends and capital earnings. Those last provisions were cut in committee and only the Kill-All-Jews-Especially-Mudcha and SUV sections made it into law.

Haman celebrated with a triumphant jig, and brought the king a bottle of Don Perignon to celebrate. Unfortunately it was after 9:30 PM and the King was already tucked into bed, so Haman drank alone, cackling gleefully.

To be continued...

From the writing of AP Kores.
Edited by DovBear
Book II
The Book of Esther
Perek Bays:

Old king Ach was a very shrewd king and a very shrewd king was he. He had a black Secretary of State and an Hispanic Attorney General / Grand Inquisitor; now, with the position of Queen open, Ach saw a golden opportunity for pandering to yet another minority.

He put an ad in the Jewish Press: "Hot Jewish Woman Wanted to Serve as Helpmeet for Studly Christian Leader of Free World. Frequent love-making and occasional cookie-baking required."

As you might have expected, the ad was ignored, though some say Daniel Lapin sent a polite letter of inquiry. Rashi says the ad was ignored because the Jewish Press had religious scruples and refused to publish it. The Rashbam says, and I quote, "Scruples? Don't be naive. So long as the King paid in advance the Jewish Press was glad to have the business. The bad response was because the copy-editor misspelled every third word."

Undeterred by the poor response to his ad, Ach went to plan "B" and put up posters on all the shteeble walls announcing that the king was giving away free copies of Lazer Brody's new book and/or free copies of the Miami Boys Choir's Besiyata Dishmaya album. This worked. Soon hordes of squealing seminary girls were pounding on the palace door.

It so happened that a big, fat guy of Hasidic descent who had gone into exile when the Boro Park housing market exploded lived in Shushan at this time. His name was Mudcha and he was a little light in the loafers, as they say. Mudcha loved reading Lazer Brody and listening to the Miami Boys Choir while sitting in a tub of lavender bubble bath, so he sent his niece to the palace for the freebies. His niece’s name was Haddasah, but Mudcha didn’t want anyone to know that she was Jewish, so he gave her another Jewish name ie: Ester. Mudcha was a low-watt bulb.

Mudcha further instructed Ester never to tell anyone that she was Jewish, even though she always double parked in front of Pick & Pay and spoke with that horrible Flatbush accent. Plus she clicked her tounge when she got impatiant, so who did Mudcha think they were fooling anyhow?

Ester arrived at the palace, and to her surprise she was immediately escorted over to the palace beauty shop and given a full Jenny Jones style makeover. When Ester asked why she needed a makeover to pick up a book and some audio cassettes the attendants giggled and explained that there was a little something she needed to do before they could give her the valuable parting gifts.

That night, Ester was led into a dimly lit bedroom with a leopard-skin pattern bedspread, candles, and Luther Vandross playing on the stereo. Ach came into the room, wearing nothing but a pair of Speedos. Ester, who like any good Jewish girl had never been told about marital relations, was unfazed. The night passed and the next morning Ach chose Ester, who was somewhat shell-shocked, as his new queen.

Some time later Mudcha, who performed mime and worked a three-card-monte table outside the palace gates, overheard two palace guards, Bigsan and Teresh, bad-mouthing Mudcha's favorite hockey team. Mudcha grew more and more furious the more they talked, especially since his team hadn’t made the playoffs in four seasons. So, Mudcha went to Ester and told her that the two guards were planning on killing the king. Ester reported the matter on Mudcha's behalf, and the two men were apprehended and sent to the prison at Guantanamo Bay, where they were never formally accused of any crime and denied access to their lawyers.

Later, under a Geroge W. Bush supported-practice known as "extraordinary rendition," Bigsan and Teresh were sent for questioning in Syria or perhaps Pakistan. Though Bigson and Tersh had previously insisted on their inocence, they "got with the program" the moment the Syrian, or perhaps Pakistani, agents attached the electrical wires to their genitals. In between howls of pain, B & T confessed their plan to kill the king, and for good measure they even admitted to being part of a world-wide terror organization. Rashi adds that B & T were even ready to confess to the Kennedy assassination "if that would make the pain go away."

Overjoyed with the confessions, Ach had the men returned to Shushan where, following a three and a half-minute trial, they were convicted and hanged in the name of freedom.

Mudcha, who snickered gleefully at the execution, was recorded as the King's savior in the official records.

To be continued...

From the writings of A.P Kores* Writen by A.P Kores Edited by DovBear

Saturday, March 19, 2005

From the writings of A.P Kores*

(A long, time ago in a galaxy far, far away . . .)
The Book of Esther
Perek Aleph:

Old King Achashveirosh was a merry old soul, and a merry old soul was he. Ach, as his drinking buddies called him, was the son of Cyrus, XL, King of Persia. After blowing off his National Guard Service, Ach went to Harvard Business School where the heavy drinker, and recreational cocaine user could only manage a “C” average. Later, after discovering the non-Jewish Lord at the bottom of a beer bottle, Ach settled down and married Vashti, but was still given to occasional relapses. Ok, that's a lie: Ach was drunk 24/7.

Anyway, in the third year of his reign, Ach decided that instead of a holiday bonus, he'd throw a big party for all ministers and employees. Halfway through the first party, the king decided to throw a second party in honor of the first party. He also ordered his servants to give the guests everything they wanted. Since everyone was a guest, though, there were no servants. Old Ach was too buzzed to notice. As a result, things got pretty chaotic, which was common for Persian merrymaking. How did Persia come to dominate the world given that all Persians did was party all day? The Ibn Ezra insists this was a miracle. Answers the Ramban, "Jane, you ignorant slut!"

By the fifth day of the revelry, when the booze and vomit were flowing freely, Ach decided that he wanted his wife, Vashti, to put on a strip show for the guests. Vashti refused unless the men promised to put bills in her thong of denominations of at least $10 or more. She also demanded that Ach strip for woman at the hen party she was hosting. Oddly, it occured to no one that the party might be imporved it it was co-ed. The Ibn Ezra insists this was a miracle. Answers the Ramban, "Jane, you poor misguided scrag!"

Ach was furious at Vashti's demands. He sent a messanger to remind her that when they met, she was working Scores. She sent word back that he was a lousy tipper, and that now she wanted $20s. That did it for Ach: he flew into a rage, closed down the buffet and told everyone to get the hell out of his house. Unfortunately, the clean-up crew also left and Ach spent the rest of the night scrubbing vomit and guacamole stains out of his expensive Persian rugs. Vashti was pissed and forced Ach to sleep on the couch for the evening.

The next day Ach convened the Persian National Crisis Counsel to deal with the catastrophe. Memuchan, the most junior advisor, suggested that they impeach Vashti. By noon the next day, Vashti had agreed to resign the Queenancy. "You won't have Vashti to kick around anymore," she said as she climbed aboard her helicopter waving to the crowd with both hands over her head, and a smile on her face.

Afterwards, the king sent a letter to every man in his kingdom with his Top Ten Tips for Keeping Your Disrespectful Woman in Line. The king was terribly disapointed, however, when he realized that this meant writing over 30 million letters by hand. Ramban says the king whined about it nightly, saying, "Being King is hard work. Really hard work. Really, really hard work."

To be continued...

* ie: not me (though I edited it heavily.)

Friday, March 18, 2005


I love Purim. It is one of my favorite holidays. Discussing the origins of some of the customs we associate with Purim should not be construed as an objection to the holiday itself.

I thought that was clear, but apparently I give people too much credit.
Ok, not really.

Christian Republican stands on principle.
(again, not really)

WASHINGTON - Three weeks ago, Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., vowed to fight President Bush's "unacceptable" plan to eliminate funding for Amtrak. He changed tracks yesterday, voting with the president and against an amendment to add $1.04 billion in government assistance for the system. ...Appearing on "Meet the Press" on Feb. 27, Santorum said Bush's proposed cut was "not acceptable to me" and predicted it would not pass.
All together now boys and girls, "it's not the sex... it's the lyyyyyyingggg"

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Why do we rattle noisemakers at the mention of Haman's name?
Or, here we go with another retro-reason.

There's a temptation to link the practice of noisemaking in the synagogue to the verse "Thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek" (Deut. xxv. 19)" but I've found no evidence that this custom existed prior to the middle ages.

Most everything you can find using Google, will agree with Wikpedia which attributes the custom to:

"French and German rabbis of the thirteenth century who introduced the custom of writing the name of Haman, the offspring of Amalek, on two smooth stones and of knocking or rubbing them constantly until the name was blotted out. Ultimately, however, the stones fell into disuse, the knocking alone remaining. Some wrote the name of Haman on the soles of their shoes, and at the mention of the name stamped with their feet as a sign of contempt; others used for the same purpose a rattle--called "gregar" (from Polish grzégarz), and producing much noise--a custom which is still observed by the Russo-Polish Jews."
Interesting, but our familiar problem remains. How was the custom established? What brought it into being? Did the French and German rabbis of the thirteenth century meet at an Aguda convention, where they resolved that a new custom was needed? If so, where is the record of their proclamation? Did they vote? Was there debate? Were other ideas considered?

Or were the Rabbis of medieval Europe simply as promiscuous about introducing new customs as our modern Rabbis are about issuing bans?

Our question ("How was this custom brought into being?") becomes stronger when you consider two non-Jewish practices. Of course, neither analogue comes with a signed note asserting that it is the official antecedent of our Purim custom; stiill they are interesting.

In Jewish Festivals A Guide to Their History and Observance, Hayyim Schauss maintains (page 265) that Purim has its roots in an old spring festival marking the change of seasons. At this time of year, ancient people thought themselves vulnerable to the influence of evil spirits and would often made loud noises for the purpose of driving the spirits away. Haman, you will remember, was the name of the Persian underworld demon. Possibly, driving away the demon at springtime was a pagan rite the Jews borrowed.

Another idea, cited by Tzidkuni, suggests the custom has a direct Christian antecdent. He writes that on the first night of Passover, Christian children would go through the streets of Jewish neighborhoods and congregate around the synagogues with noisemakers to eradicate the memory of Judas Iscariot. On that night, the priests would also 'eradicate the memory' of Judas with great noisemakers or by pounding sticks upon wooden boards suspended from the Church steeples.

Is it a coincidance that Jews, Christians and pagans all had a spring noise rite connected to the eradication of a depised charactar? Perhaps.

Is there a firm link between the three customs? No. But this blog was not created to promote certainty. This blog was created (in part) to throw sand in the eyes of people who insist that everything Jews do today was known to Moshe and his Sanhedrin (bearing in mind, of course, that Sanhedrin is a Greek loan word, making it unlikely that Moshe had anything of the sort. See? I did it again.)
Ironic, Ain't it?

Still wonderin' puts a finer point on it:

You're saying that one of the central customs of Purim -- a holiday centered around the Jews' rebound from punishment for participating in a non-Jewish festival -- is an adaptation of one of the central customs of a non-Jewish celebration.

To which I answered:

This is not cynicism. You're using the word incorrectly.

Here is a simple presentation of the facts. You can draw your own conclusions, but be reasonable:

Fact 1 - No record of Jews wearing costumes before 14th century
Fact 2 - non Jews wore costumes for their own event AT THE SAME TIME OF YEAR long before the 14th century
Fact 3 - The first account of Jews wearing costumes occurs in a place where the Christians were known to do it.
Fact 4 - The costume wearing custom DOES NOT EXIST in non-European communities. Persian Jews, for instance, don't wear costumes.

Those are the facts of history. Do with them as you wish, but try to be honest.

Frankly, I am surprised this very ordinary idea (Jews, like everyone else, borrowed from the surrounding cultures) has met with such hostility.

Prediction: Still wonderin' is going to hate tonight's post.
Oh Say Can You See By the Dawnzer's Lee Light

Do you know this song?
(transalation follows below for the Hebrew impaired)

Hag Purim, Hag Purim
Hag godol hu la yehudim
Masaychot rashanim
Zemirot v'reekudim

Ok, stop! What comes next?

If you're a Jew like me, you learned to say: Hava na'reesha rash! rash! rash!


If you're a Jew like the Haisidic kid who sites in front of me you laugh out loud when you hear this and insist that you learned to say: Hooomon HaRasha: rah! rah! rah!

Is this a legitimate alternative version, or is the Hasidic kid just a little hard of hearing?
[Closed-caption literal translation for the Hebrew-impaired.]

Holiday of Purim, Holiday of Purim
Is a very important holiday for the Jews
Masks, noismakers
songs and dances.

Ok, stop! What comes next?

If you're a Jew like me, you learned to say: Let's use the noise makers: Rash! Rash Rash! ["Rash" is the sound of the noisemaker and an example of onomatopoeia.]


If you're a Jew like the Haisidic kid who sites in front of me you laugh out loud when you hear this and insist that you learned to say: Haman the evil doer: bad! bad! bad!

Is this a legitimate alternative version, or is the Hasidic kid just a little hard of hearing?
We got soldiers at war, so youz all better speak English


A ninth-grader is protesting his school’s decision to broadcast the Pledge of Allegiance in foreign languages as part of National Foreign Language Week.
advertisementPatrick Linton said he and other students at Old Mill High School sat down rather than stand Wednesday when the pledge was read over the school’s public address system in Russian. Linton’s teacher told him if he had a problem he should leave the room.

He did, and did not plan to return this week.

“This is America, and we got soldiers at war,” the 15-year-old said. “When you’re saying the Pledge in a different language which nobody understands, that’s not OK.”
Charles Linton, Patrick’s father, said the use of other languages is disrespectful to the country. “It’s like wearing a cross upside down in a church,” he said.

Isn't it great that a 15 year old who uses phrases like, "...we got soldiers at war," has set himself up as a language cop? God bless America!

This just in: A very patriotic teenager from Maryland is refusing to use coins.

"They gots that "E Pluribus Unum" on their baskside," he said, "and Me don't speak no Latin. This here is a punch in the nose to them there troops to be puttin' Latin on this here money when we gots soldiers fighting a war."

And how DO you wear a cross upside-down, anyway? Stupid kid is probably already a member of young Republicans

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Here we go with another retro-reason

Collected on the Internet
Many adult congregants and children also come to services in costumes depicting the Purim characters and other notable figures from Jewish history and contemporary life. According to one interpretation, this is because just as God was "hidden" throughout the Purim story, so do we "hide" behind masks and costumes
As is often the case with retro-reasons, historical accuracy is somewhat beside the point. Pleasant as it is to imagine a commitee of Rabbis, gathered around a large oak table, making decisions ("Yes! Masks! What a wonderful way to emphasize this important theological message!) the real reason for the custom is far more mundane.

The sad, unhappy truth, is the custom of donning masks and costumes on Purim was borrowed from the surrounding culture. It was first reported in Provence in the early fourteenth century, where the Jews of Italy, who observed the Italian Catholics' Lenten carnival at around the same time of year, adopted this custom for themselves; later it achieved popularity under the influence of the German Fastnacht celebration; later still it was tied to the idea of God's "hiding his face" as found in the Talmud. [Source]

So, if you think about it, wearing a mask on Purim is a little like wearing a blue shirt to shul on Shabbos - only the mask has the support of a clever little retro-reason.
Fat Lady Set to Sing

President Bush has appointed his long-time nanny, Karen Hughs, as the State Department's head p.r. flack.


President Bush will nominate one of his closest longtime advisers to a key State Department post in an effort to help repair the United States' image abroad, especially in the Arab world, a senior administration official said Saturday.


As undersecretary, Hughes' main responsibility will be to repair the image of the United States which was badly tarnished abroad by anger over the Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq and overthrow its government.

If everything goes as planned, foreign countries will be persuaded that the United States never abused drugs and alcohol, never failed to perform required military reserve service, and that "compassionate conservative" is a phrase that means something.

The more things change the more they stay the same

Keynoting a three-day Catholic-Jewish theological dialogue, a top Vatican official said among the main tasks facing Catholic-Jewish relations in coming years are conversions, forced sermons, and if necessary, auto de fes.
Kidding! What the top Vatican official really said he wanted was this: deeper historical studies, dialogue on fundamental theology and advancing cooperation in charitable and social work. It's just that whenever a Catholic prelate opens his mouth, I see death camps.
Blog of the decade if not the millennium

Hat tip Godol Hador (who should not be confused with the Godol Hadoar, that strange and mysterious apparition who rises out of the pumpkin patch on Halloween Eve and shoots Linus Van Pelt right between the eyes. That's right: It's the Great Mailman Charlie Brown!)