Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Better Know a Blogger!

Today, Harry Maryles is in the seat of heat, and tells us a little bit about what he does, what he thinks, and what he drives. Please ask your own questions in the comments, and Harry might answer them.

Previous BKAB

His morning routine:
Shachris 6:00 AM followed by Daf Yomi, breakfast (coffee and doughnut) while reading a newspaper. and then work. I have a small business, which I run out of my house. And of course I do spend a great deal of time blogging.

His evening routine:
It varies. When I’m home, I try and catch the evening network news (usually NBC) and then supper, spending some quality time with my wife and then later… intermittent blogging and occasionally a little TV that I’ve recorded, hardly ever during broadcast. Nightly news and weather (10:00 PM locally here) and then I try to get to bed early. Pretty boring stuff now that I think about it.

I also have an avocation which is videotaping Simchos, usually weddings, almost always at night.

When my children were growing up, I was far more active communally and would spend many an evening out at school meetings or related fundraising events such as concerts, banquets, and their preliminaries.

On Shabbos and Yom Tov, I spend most of my time with Seforim.

His favorite sitcom:
Nothing now. Of all time: Taxi

His prized possession:My children (If one can call them possessions. They are all married)

What he drives:
A 2005 Maxima

His favorite Jewish philosopher:
Has to be Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik. His “Halakhic Man” I believe to be the essence of Judaism

Something that opened his eyes forever:
I’m not sure. Perhaps the banning of books by Rabbis Kaminetsky and Slifkin.

The book he most often goes back to:
Currently that would have to be “Logic of the Heart, Logic of the Mind” by Rabbi Aaron Soloveichik

His favorite clothing item:
Don’t have one.

A chumra he keeps:I do not use city wide Eruvin

A chumra he'd never keep:I don’t keep many. .

His opinion of gay marriage:
I’m firmly opposed to them. I am very sympathetic to people who have same sex attraction and they should be treated as human beings the same way heterosexuals should be treated. Sexual proclivity is not forbidden by the Torah, Only the execution of the homosexual act.

But I am opposed to normalizing any such union as just an alternative lifestyle which is what gay marriage would do. I am certainly opposed formalizing it in “holy matrimony”. I could never give my imprimatur on an act the Torah calls an abomination and for which it mandates the death penalty. And though the conditions needed to employ the death penalty are no longer extant, the Issur still exists intact. I doubt, in fact, that the punishment was ever carried out since it required two Kosher witnesses, and warning about the consequences prior to witnessing it… a highly unlikely scenario. I’ve written about this subject many times.

His view on the rest of what the torah calls a "toyavah"
My objection to the forbidden homosexual act is not so much to the fact that the Torah calls it a Toevah. It is more to the seriousness of the offense as a capital one. To that end, I equate it to Halachic adultry (a man and a married woman other than his wife). I consider them equally wrong.

But although I find homosexual acts more difficult to deal with emotionally, intellectually I think adultery is a greater ‘wrong’ (…for lack of a better word).

For a heterosexual, the sex drive need not be satisfied through adultery. There are legal ways to satisfy that drive. But to a homosexual, the drive cannot be satisfied in any way that is Halachic. Thus it is much more difficult for a homosexual to live a Halachic lifestyle than it is for a heterosexual. Transgressions by homosexuals should therefore get more sympathy, in my view, over transgressions by heterosexuals. But in this world, I’m afraid the opposite is true.

His view on inhabiting "the theological middle":I guess I’m a bit of a “Lonely Man of Faith” here. But I truly believe that somewhere between the two extremes lies the truth. And since extremism seems to be in vogue lately, I stand somewhat alone. But that doesn’t deter me since one of the main things that guides my life is Emes.

Why Reform Rabbis are entitled to be called Rabbi (or not):I’m am of the Rabbi Avi Shafran mentality on this issue. I do not recognize the religious legitimacy of non- Halachic Jewish denominations. That said, I will accord them the honorific if that is how they choose to be called. But I will always preface the first reference to them identifying their denominations. In other words if I write an article about, for example, Ammiel Hirsch, executive director of ARZA, I will first refer to him as Reform Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch, and then subsequently refer to him as Rabbi Hirsch.

A new blog the JIBs introduced him to:
Do you mean the JIB awards? Or the world of Jewish blogging in general? Currently, I have not seen any that have piqued my interest. But In the past, I have. Amongst them XGH’s blog,

Gbroks or not?Not!

Hat or no hat?Depends on my mood. (My wife likes the way I look in a hat. But I am not theologically married to it.)

His favorite midrash.
I don’t know about Midrash but one of my favorite Mesechtos is Avos. There-in lies the basis for much of Jewish ethics. And one of my favorite people there is Rebbi Meir. What interests me most about him is his relationship with Elisha Ben Avuyah, also know as Acher.

These two figures have intrigued me ever since I “met” them in that Mesheta. I always held Rebbi Meir up be my role model with respect to knowledge. He did not fear learning truth from any source that offered it. Elisha Ben Avuya included.

Elisha Ben Avuya was of course a Tanna, quoted in Mesches Avos before he abandoned Mitzvah observance. That puts him in a very high category with respect to Torah knowledge, Rebbi Meir had absolutely no compunction about learning from him. When asked about it he simply answered “Tocho Ochel U’klipaso Zarek” …he took the food and discarded its shell. His philosophy of knowledge was MiKol M’Lamdei Hischalti. Everyone could be his teacher. He sought truth wherever he could find it. And Rebbi Meir was one of the greatest Tanniam of the Mishnaic era. Stam Mishan K’Rebi Meir. All Mishnayos without specific attributions are considered his. He was truly a role model for me in that sense. When my son was born, I had an opportunity to name him after my wife’s grandfather whose name was Avraham Meyer. It was perfect. I immediately thought of my great Mishnaic hero and have called him Meyer ever since. And that is how he is known.

Next: REN REB (Note: Ren Reb has not, if we're going to get technical, formally agreed to participate, in that her exact words when asked were: "No way Dovie."

Still, we're hopeful. Worst case scenario I'll just make stuff up.

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