Friday, February 29, 2008

New Hillary ad

It reminds me of something a Republican might do..

"It's 3 a.m., and your children are safe and asleep," the announcer says. "But there's a phone in the White House, and it's ringing — something's happening in the world. Your vote will decide who answers that call." [DB: McCain sends a lacky, rolls over and goes back to sleep. Hillary tries to find Bill. Obama takes the call.]

....all thats missing are the large carnivores.

Possible inspirations: 1 and 2

Thursday, February 28, 2008

I have seen the light

You know, those Republicans are right. It is outrageous that a presidential candidate has accepted support from a controversial religious figure who has made a career out of insulting other religions. See more here

Hat-tip: CA

INTERESTING CONVERSATION ALERT: The comment thread is discussing this question: Would you prefer a religious president or an atheist president? (For me, it a no-brainer)

Short Post

Concerns have been raised that an earlier post of mine was too long.

To compensate, I am making this post too short.

Quality Post

By Jameel

Lord, save me from your followers.

Calif. Capitol chaplain says religious tolerance offends God
An evangelical chaplain who leads Bible studies for California lawmakers says God is disgusted with a rival fellowship group that includes people of all faiths.

"Although they are pleasant men in their personal demeanor, their group is more than disgusting to our Lord and Savior,"
[DB: A God capable of disgust doesn't seem like much a of a God to me] Drollinger wrote on the Capitol Ministries' Web site.
The comments drew immediate fire from others in the capital, including the Republican lawmaker who sponsors Drollinger's Bible study group.

Drollinger said "progressive religious tolerance" is an offense against God and causes harm to its practitioners.
[DB: Unitarians and Reform Jews: United to destroy the world]

He said the other Bible study group was perpetrating a "deadly lie" by presenting Jesus as "a good moral teacher who loves everyone without distinction."
Aside: Who else has noticed that it's only and always the nasty, selfish, power hungry, ignorant, creepy people who represent God as nasty, selfish, power hungry, ignorant, and creepy? Anyway, the point today is that here is yet another Christ-loving evangelical who doesn't sound like an especially fine friend of the Jewish people.

Krum's famous!

...and in the right.

I never get tired of this

From here

Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump.
I said, "Don't do it!"
He said, "Nobody loves me."
I said, "God loves you. Do you believe in God?"

He said, "Yes."
I said, "Are you a Christian or a Jew?"
He said, "A Christian."
I said, "Me too. Protestant or Catholic? "

He said, "Protestant."
I said, "Me too! What franchise?"
He says, "Baptist."
I said, "Me too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?"
He says, "Northern Baptist."
I said, "Me too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?"
He says, "Northern Conservative Baptist."
I say, "Me too! Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist or Northern Conservative Reform Baptist?"
He says, "Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist."
I say, "Me too! Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist Great Lakes Region or Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist Eastern Region?"
He says, "Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist Great Lakes Region."
I say, "Me too! Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879 or Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?"
He says, "Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912."
I said, "Die, heretic!"
And I pushed him over!

Ten DB Stars of Achievement to the one who best adapts this to Judaism.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Strange fantasies

Some dream about women. Some dream of money. Only our man Mar Gavriel fantasizes about new Jewish liturgies. Read his proposal here

Time to vote (again)

Welcome, true believers, to the final round of the DovBear motto search. Please vote (at least) once.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Kahane vs. Olmert

About 20 years ago the future prime minister debated Meir Kahane on Nightline with Ted Koppel.
See it here

I give the win to Olmert, in a decision, with an assist from Koppel.

An timely and important Torah teaching

Another guest post by MAR GAVRIEL as if the spelling wasn't enough of a give-away.

Listen to the beginning of this recording.

Note the part where Kevôd Ho-Rav says that the debate between Rambam and Tôsfôs, about whether or not we are permitted to appoint a woman to a position of authority, is relevant only if there is another equally (or more) qualified person for the job.

However, "[I]f the most qualified person to be rabbi of a shul, or president of a shul, is a woman, then it is clear that one should appoint her", even according to Rambam's position, which ordinarily forbids us from appointing a woman to a position of authority. (Tôsfôs would permit appointing a female rabbi even if there were more qualified people for the job.)

Let's just sit shiva, and start over

More than you ever wanted to know about the ban on Lipa's concert, and, by extension, the state of Haredistan

Oy, mah hoyo lonu

More on Conservatives and their sky-scraping morality

This is why I don't own a TV set:
Putting pixels on body parts didn’t save Fox from the wrath of the Federal Communications Commission. The agency has rejected the network’s contention that an episode of the defunct reality program “Married to America” did not violate decency standards because female breasts and buttocks were pixelized during a raunchy bachelor party scene in 2003, Reuters reported. The commission said: “To be sure, the pixelation of the female strippers’ naked breasts and buttocks does render the material less explicit and graphic than it would have been in the absence of pixilation. However, the material is still sufficiently graphic and explicit to support and indecency ruling.” Fox disagreed. The commission, acting against only those stations subjected to complaints, fined 13 stations and affiliates $7,000 each.
If these sort of indecencies can occur on the mighty, moral broadcasting home of Bill "Falafel" O'Reilly, I shudder to think what's allowed on those lascivious liberal stations.

MEANWHILE: I see that Roger Stone, another fine, conservative gentleman has joined with some other upstanding Americans to create an anti-Hillary Clinton 527. They call themselves Citizens United Not Timid, and no we are not making this up.


Let's get the Purim train out of the station

Purim Myths and Facts

We seem to be everywhere

Check out the frum fellow, in full uniform, on the Feb 21, 2008 episode of The Price is Right.

Our hero, Daniel Hochstein(sp?), is the fourth person called down at the beginning of the show. After enduring a very awkward hug from the woman at his right, he wins $10,500 playing Plinko in the show's second segment. Amazingly, he and a second contestant, a woman, both hit $1 on the big wheel leading to more awkward inter-gender touching before Danial prevails on the tie-breaking spin. Then its on to the show-case showdown! Does Daniel find glory and additional riches? Is he forced to make contact with yet more forbidden flesh? Will his frum sisters rush the stage after he wins? Do tzitzis fly?

The answer to these questions and more wait for you here

Materialism, hooray!

A guest post by MAR GAVRIEL

We learn from the Torah portions of ויקהל and פקודי that Bezalel was a materialist לשם שמים (i.e., for the purpose of beautifying objects used in ritual or religious experience).

We learn from the Torah portions of תרומה and תצוה that God was/is a materialist לשם שמים!

So let me, too, enjoy being a materialist לשם שמים.

One of the things that I do is plan wild, 48- or 72-hour shabbatonim for various holidays, most prominently יום ויושע (AKA the Seventh Day of Pesach) and שבועות. These shabbatonim involve "seiders" (modeled after the Pesach seider) at each meal, and all-night vigils on each night (of each holiday, except for a little sleep on the first two evenings of Sukkoth), including lerning and doing the Jew thing. These are following by vosikin davvening each morning, of course with full piyyutim and everything. The idea is for them all to take place in my (future, iy"h) apartment.

So, at my Shovu`ôs shabbaton/seder, at ערבית, all the men, at least the married men, will wear hats
(not necessarily black hats)-- except the שליח ציבור, of course, because the ש"ץ has to wear a קעפּכֿן. And all the married women (or at least the married ones) will wear hats, shaitels, or headscarves.

So then we'll come over to the table, in the adjacent room / adjacent section of the big room, and all the people will keep their big head-coverings on for Qiddush. (I, on the other hand, as בעל הבית and leader of the seider, will be wearing a käppchen and a Shabbes Robe AKA tish-bekkeshe.) People will keep on their big head-coverings also for the first washing (before the appetizers dipped in liquid, such as vegetables in vinegar, crackers in ḫumūṣ (or is it ḥumuṣ?), and samosas in spiced olive oil.

Then we'll begin the "storytelling/lerning" part of the seider.

I'll tell them the medrāsh about how the Israelites received two crowns at Mt. Sinai, one for נעשה and one for נשמע.

And, because we're in the preparatory phase, the עשייה phase, we'll receve our first crowns.

I shall announce: All the men should now remove their hats, and all the married (or, for that matter, unmarried) women who feel comfortable doing so should remove their shaitels / hat / headscarves.

I'll crown my wife with a leafy garland, and she'll crown me with a leafy garland, and then I'll crown all the men with leafy garlands, and she'll crown all the women with leafy garlands.

We'll keep them on throughout the rest of the seider, until ben(t)shen. Before benshen, i'll announce: "The men are now asked to put on käppchens underneath their crowns, and the women are now asked to put shaitels or headscarves underneath their crowns." (No hats, of course, because hats won't fit). Oh, and benshen will of course be recited על הכוס, as is most probably required by halokho (though most people ignore this halokho during the week, and even on the Sabbath and Festivals). The מברך will have a beautiful large golden goblet, and each of the other people around the table will have beautiful silver goblets.

After benshen, we'll remove the käppchens and shaitels. At the crack of dawn, when we begin davvening, we will again put on käppchens and shaitels under our crowns.

The washing before the duchenen of Shacharis will be performed right there in the בית כנסת area of the living-room, in full view of the people who are sitting on the couches, or standing, while listening to חזרת הש"ץ. The washing will be performed with beautiful silver vessels, as is done at KAJ. Oh, and there will be a green Yontef פרוכת on the little Torah-ark in the room, modeled after the one at KAJ (though of course much smaller, because it will just be a small Torah-ark, the kind that can be easily wheeled-around, and fits well in a livingroom-shul.) The picture below is not great , but one can see the green פרוכת up front (though not the embroidery on it), and the silver duchenen vessels on the pieces of furniture on either side of the front of the middle section of seats.

And then, right before leynen (or perhaps right afterward, or perhaps in the middle), I'll say: "It's time for the second crown, for נשמע, when we hear the voice of God in the Decalogue!"

And I'll crown my students with silver diadems-- you know, the thin-ish ones. Lemme find a picture online.

Something like this, though preferably without the top part, even without the part which goes on top of the head / hair:

These diadems will lie slightly higher on the head than the green leafy garlands, such that each of them will be clearly visible. At the end of Shacharis, I will encourage the people to remove their käppchens/shaitels, and let the two crowns suffice as head-coverings, at least as long as they remain inside. (Obviously, people should remove the crowns if they nap. And most people probably will want to nap between 7:30 AM and 12:55 PM, if they have been up all night.)

[I'll really need a rich father-in-law or patron, or [thoroughly improbable] receive a grant from some organization, in order to fund all this. Rebbeim just don't make enough money to buy all this stuff. I mean, unless they're Chasidic Rebbeim, of course.]

The people who slept will don their two crowns again at the beginning of the lunch seider. (It is to be remembered that the texts used in the Lunch Seider, between the milchig course and the barbecue, are mainly about the שתי הלחם, and therefore the divré tora given by students will mainly be about this topic.) When benshen-time comes around, people will put their käppchens and shaitels back on, underneath their crowns.

(To be continued...)

Friday, February 22, 2008

More bias

A google search of IOIYAD returns SIX items


Fancy that.

Got nothing

Talk among yourselves.

And you dared to correct my spelling?

Holischkes or holishkes but never holipchis.

See here

Motto Contest: Time to Vote

Last week, the wise and witty readers of DovBear suggested close to 500 mottos for ORTHODOX Judaism. With the help of the Board of Governors we've whitled the list down to 40 and now we're asking you to choose the winner

Polling in round 1 begins today and concludes when Shabbos starts tomorrow afternoon. Please vote (at least) once. and thanks for playing.

Please look below this post for Fresh DovBear Content!

Rabbi Avigdor Miller on Evolution


Thursday, February 21, 2008

If life hands you a lemon...

..ask for money:

The McCain campaign is already using the [Times article about how McCain allegedly did the Clinton] in its fund-raising effort. In an appeal describing the article as “a scurrilous attack against a great American hero,” the McCain campaign asks supporters for contributions so the campaign has the resources to “respond and defend our nominee from the liberal attack machine.”

“We need your help to counteract the liberal establishment and fight back against The New York Times by making an immediate contribution today,” says the appeal, according to a copy supplied to The Times.
If the Dems lose to this nitwit, in this political enviroment, its time to bury the party for good.

Gay sex makes the earth move

Quote of the day
"The Gemara mentions a number of causes of earthquakes, one of which is homosexuality, which the Knesset legitimizes." -- M.K. Shlomo Benizri

A trendy new fad?,,20179011,00.html

Aguilera, 27, did not demure when talked turned to her son's Bris. "We are not a very conservative couple," she told DeGeneres. "For decorations we put up penis balloons all over the place. It was really fun, it was really great."

Oh those clever celebrities.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Pop food quiz

Can you identify the following delicacies?

* Holischkes
* Delkelekh
* Shlishkes
* Nockerln
* Kokosh
* Letcho
* Rucketcrumpli

I've just finished a conversation with a well-known blogger who I thought knew a thing or two about Judaism. I am dismayed to report, however, that he was able to identify just two of the items on my list. He also - and this part is absolutely inexcusable - said that chicken paprikas is "grilled chicken with paprika."

Ye freaking Gods.

Wow, did this guy get schooled

Note the deer in the headlights moment

More on marriage

Teachers, listen to Yael
Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu responds to yesterday's open letter against early marriage.

And, just for fun, here's Lori Gotleib in the previous Atlantic urging women to compromise their ideals, and to settle for Mr. Not-Quite-Right.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

SWING.... and a miss.

YID With LID, noted Republican blogger, is in a lather. He's discovered that Hillary Clinton belongs to the Methodist Church, and that the Methodists have, at times, been less than 1000000 percent supportive of the Likud party. This makes Yiddie ask angry questions:
So Hillary the big question is do you AGREE with the Publishing ventures of your Church? If you don't isn't it time to speak out? If you remain silent do we assume that you do agree. In other words Senator Clinton, "Where's the Beef?"
Poor guy. What do you suppose he'll say once he discovers who else prays Methodist?

Marriage can wait

Marriage can wait - Israel Opinion, Ynetnews: "In remarkably candid open letter, a religious girl urges others not to get married at young age"

Just do it

Church Urges Hanky Panky Among Members: "YBOR CITY, Fla. (AP) - A southwest Florida church issued a challenge for its married members: Hanky panky every day. Relevant Church head pastor Paul Wirth issued the 30-day sex challenge to take on high divorce rates.

'And that's no different for people who attend church,' Wirth said Sunday. 'Sometimes life gets in the way. Our jobs get in the way.'

The challenge doesn't extend to unwed congregants, however."

Here we go with another stupid pashkevil

See it here

Translation of some choice snippets (Note: These words are describing an ordinary upscale clothing outlet!):

-- "Like a harlot...";

-- "...without the slightest amount of shame has dared to open ... a dirty 'outlet of abomination' in the style of Manhattan God forbid -- like the worst of the Goyim, God have mercy!"

-- "'God hates harlotry'... 'wherever you find (sexual) decadence a plague comes'... God forbid"

-- "how will we educate our children... in the presence of such debauchery?"

-- "...together, let's fight this horrifying abomination!"

Whoever is behind this idiocy (and let's hope it wasn't the store's competitor!) is taking us down the path to Taliban-town. Tear your clothes. Put ashes on your head. Sit on the floor and wail. This isn't the Judaism of our fathers, but unless good Jews and brave Rabbis protest it will be the Judasim our children inherit.

Morning in America

Poor, silly, conservative commenters, like Charles "Chucky" Krauthammer, seem terribly confused. After years, and years of insisiting that glib old Ronald Reagen is deserving of deification for believing "that America was both great and good and had been needlessly diminished by [foolish policies]" Chucky wants us to know that positive thinking isn't enough and that St. Reagan's approach was wrong:
And now, in the most amazing trick of all, a silver-tongued freshman senator has found a way to sell hope. To get it, you need only give him your vote. Barack Obama s getting millions.
Like Reagan, Obama believes that America is great and good. Like Reagen, Obama believes that the country can be restored, and that we have been diminished by bad leaders and bad policies. Like Reagen, Obama offers charisma, dignity, and the ability to communicate with power and persuasion. I don't claim that Obama is the second-coming of Ronald Reagen, and like most fair-minded people, I believe Reagen's legacy has been overstated and unjustly celebrated. But conservatives like Krauthammer owe us an explanation: Why was it okay for Reagan to smile, and wave the flag, and talk about America's promise, but an unpardonable act of deception when Obama plays the same game?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Today's non-Issue

Summary: Obama's speech last weekend, included a riff previously heard from the mouth Deval Patrick when he was running for Governor of MA. Instead of annoucing the words were written by Patrick's speech writer, Obama behaved as if they had been written by his own speech-writer. (Incidently, both men rip off MLK, JFK, and the Decleration of Independance without attribution.)

The hopeful sign: If a speech-writer working for Gore, Clinton, or Kerry had done this the so-called liberal media would have crucified the candidate without nails. The fact that Obama is so far unscathed suggests that perhaps the rules have finally changed, and Democrats are going to get the same sort of deference and respect from the media that Republican candidates traditionaly receive. If this accidently borrowed riff announces the end of IOIYAR, we can all celebrate

Which students work hardest?

A few days ago, the Times ran a story about New York City students who wake up early, and travel long distances to choice City schools. We're introduced to two students at Bronx High School of Science who leave their homes before 7 a.m. and aren't back until after 5 p.m.

Sound grueling? Well, no, not to anyone who attended an Orthodox Jewish school. To their credit, the Times printed the following rejoinder today:
To the Editor:

As I read “The Trip to Bronx Science: A Long Ride to a Choice School”, I could not help but chuckle to myself. As a student at Ramaz Upper School, a Jewish day school in Manhattan, for me the day described would be an anomaly if it ever happened.

I am one of Ramaz’s many commuters, and I make the trip from Teaneck, N.J., to the Upper East Side daily. Though I board the bus at 6:50 a.m., I am lucky to be home by 5:30. This is on a day when I do not choose to stay for extracurricular activities.

On the two or three days a week when I stay for an activity, I am lucky to be home by 7:15. Once I get home and eat dinner, I am able to begin my formidable amount of homework at the earliest, 7:35.

Aaron Marans
Teaneck, N.J., Feb. 13, 2008
Well, fair is fair, so I must concede that even the hard-working Mr. Marans looks like a slacker next to the average yeshiva student. Suppose one of them read the Times.... what would his reply sound like?

The Macho Right

The Macho Right
a guest post by Kylopod

In his book The Conservative Soul, bleeding-heart conservative Andrew Sullivan writes, "Even the most passionate of the [Bush] Administration's defenders cannot argue that [waterboarding] is not 'cruel, degrading and inhuman' treatment.... The notion that 'waterboarding' is not torture under the plain meaning of the word as well as its legal meaning is preposterous" (p. 169).

I contrast that with Rudy Giuliani's statement about being unsure whether waterboarding is torture. How do you possibly resolve a disagreement like this? Unless you go to the extreme of testing waterboarding on yourself, as Daniel Levin did, it's basically one person's opinion against another's. Frankly, I doubt the former New York mayor, who built his reputation on dogged machismo, is likely to be swayed by, let's face it, a prissy gay Englishman.

Sullivan attributes the Bush view of torture to "the fundamentalist psyche," which holds that "what matters is his intent, not the empirical analysis" (p. 170). This forms part of Sullivan's larger theory that the world is divided into two types of people, fundamentalists and...well, everyone else, I guess. Into the first category he includes various Evangelicals, Catholics, Mormons, Zionists, Islamists, Nazis, and Communists. He characterizes fundamentalism as hostile toward reason, and among the unreasonable qualities he lists are, oh, a black-and-white "us vs. them" mentality. Hmmmmmmm.

The chip in his theory is that Giuliani is no fundamentalist, by the plain meaning of the word as well as its legal meaning. I therefore propose an alternative theory that is equally simplistic, but at least it knows it is. The assault on reason here is coming not from the Religious Right, but from the Macho Right.

Contrary to popular belief, members of the Religious Right are quite capable of reasoned thought, at least when it suits their purposes. Reason is absolutely irrelevant to members of the Macho Right, who are driven not by reason, but by testosterone.

Even if you've never heard the term, you surely are familiar with the right-wingers who seem to build their whole outlook on machismo. "We gotta be tough on crime. We gotta bomb the commies/Muslims/insert-your-own-enemy back to the Stone Age. We gotta stop the liberals who want to take guns away from the real men who own them."

It's no wonder all those tough-guy movie stars, at least the ones who aren't into martial arts, vote Republican: Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Eastwood, and Willis.

Schwarzenegger, who has never clearly explained why he's a Republican, is a perfect example. You remember when he characterized his Democratic opponents as "economic girlie men" (never mind that he supports universal health care). Then some gay rights organizations, eager to play Charlie Brown to Lucy's football, complained that his remarks were insulting to homosexuals. Uh-huh.

To qualify for the Macho Right, you don't have to be religious. You don't even have to be conservative in a traditional sense. You certainly don't have to be genuinely tough. As we have seen, right-wingers are more than willing to paint true American heroes like John McCain and John Kerry as spineless sissies.
Some notable examples of Macho Rightists in the media are Michael Savage, Ann Coulter, and Bill O'Reilly. You remember Savage. He's the guy who got kicked off of MSNBC because he referred to a caller as a "sodomite" and told him to "get AIDS and die."

Savage, an irreligious Jew, can hardly be accused of Bible-thumping. Macho Rightists aren't fueled by the Bible, which may even provide them with some distractions, such as the admonition to love the sinner. They're the types of people who are given to saying things like, "Get your hands off me, you faggot!!!!"

When Hilary Clinton called Ann Coulter "heartless," referencing her book Godless, Coulter replied, "Oh, lighten up, girl." Apparently realizing the flaw in Hilary's approach, Joe Maguire titled his anti-Coulter book Brainless. That of course has more bite, but it still misses the point. Macho Rightists don't care about brains. They care about cojones.

After all, who else is the emblem of the Macho Right today than President George W. Bush, that tough, macho cowboy who's just like...well, certainly not like the folks from Brokeback Mountain. Those are just sissies who herd cows.

I was once listening to a Macho Right acquaintance of mine rail against bicycle helmets. He wasn't talking about government regulation. He simply hated seeing kids wear them, claiming that today's parents are raising a generation of wimps who can't handle the world.

I had a nasty bicycle spill when I was fifteen. I was wearing no helmet or kneepads. Luckily, I didn't land on my head, but what if I had? I might not be here now to talk about the incident.

The experience gives me a slight advantage when arguing with Macho Rightists. I wouldn't stand a chance against them if all I had were statistics and reasoned arguments. When a Macho Rightist talks, there is absolutely nothing you say, no reasoned argument, that can possibly sway them. On the contrary, the slightest appeal to reason makes you sound like the wuss they know you are. The only way to combat their rhetoric is through more macho rhetoric.

Bill O'Reilly has actually used Macho Right logic to argue against the death penalty. He says that we should give the convicts life in prison so that they can suffer more.

It's hard to say how many Macho Rightists there are, but you know them when you hear them. If you ask any of them whether they belong to the Macho Right, they aren't likely to admit it. The term probably reminds them too much of the Village People.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Is Lakewood Yeshiva getting a web site?


Here we go with another Dovbear contest

My friend, and former team-mate, the scintillating Ms. Enigma tells us that Freakonomics is hosting a contest for a six-word-motto for the US and A.

The best ones so far include:

  • Luckily, our parents left your country
  • Let Freedom Ring (void where prohibited.)

  • (This deliciously insiduous idea evolved from a serious effort by the British Parliment, to reduce the essence of being British into a motto, which was satirized by a motto-writing contest sponsored by The Times of London. Great entries included "Once Mighty Empire, Slightly Used" and "No Motto Please, We’re British")

    Anyway, its Friday, and I have nothing better to do, so let's have a go at this ourselves. Submit a motto for Orthodox Judaism, using as many words as you like. If the blog's Board of Governers (ie: Me, Cousin Oliver and RenReb) find one we like best, we'll reward the author with a mention, a link and whatever else we can pull together.

    Thursday, February 14, 2008

    The Wig Store: Epilouge

    A new letter from the Rosh Yeshiva of Chaim Berlin has been published (right)

    My translation from the original Loshon Hakodesh follows (note: The language of the letter isn't standard Hebrew but Loshon Hakodesh, a dialect of Hebrew favored by pious types.)

    I'm a man of news

    The owner of the store about whom I have writen in the past has capitulated with good will and changed the situation at his store, and now a scactuary of Torah is able to surround it with honor as is befitting

    Issiah the prophet said, "Whoever calls in my name for my honor, he I have created and fasioned" There is nothing that can be said to call in His name more than the Torah. There is no one who can be said to be "those He has fasioned" more than Israel, about whom it is said, "This nation I created so that they might sing my praises."

    The fundemental desire of every Jew is to bring praise to the name of God.

    I am overwhelmingly pleased about this Jew who switched desecration to praise.

    Who is like your nation Israel?!

    Oorah's Humiliation

    I am sure Ooorah is a wonderful organization responsible for ooodles of good and holy work, but they sure look like uncooperative fools in this CWII Fact-Finder report. In particular, the dour-looking woman who appears to supervise their phone bank must be taught not to wag her finger at television cameras. She comes across like Cruella DeVille in a kosher hat. I'd also advise the men who work at Oorah headquarters office not to slouch and to tuck in their shirts when cameras are rolling. Oh, and standing in a very menacing half-circle around a woman who is simply trying to get some questions answered is also bad form

    Finally, (and, sorry, but this seems self-evident to me) when the overly-inquisitive reporter is attempting to leave your property, do not send an employee to illegally obstruct her van in front of (a) the police and (b) her cameras.

    No charge for the advice, and keep up the good work. (And yes, yes, of course the liberal Jew-hating media is totaly to blame here. How dare they ask questions and attempt to file reports. Total chutzpah.)

    Stupid Headline of the Century

    Republican women organize to defeat liberalism, jihad

    Someone please remind these moronic Republican women that without liberalism the only thing they would be organizing is their recipe books.

    Making Mike Savage Look Like a Girl Scout

    Stolen whole:

    Even the dead are political pawns to the Republicans (then again, we already knew that post-September 11). House Republicans, at the bidding of the Bush White House, are upset that House Democrats are voting on contempt citations for Harriet Miers and Josh Bolton today. So they're disrupting proceedings in the House today, calling for "protest votes" and the like that eat up 15 minutes of the day at a time. Well, they just called one such protest vote in the middle of recently-deceased Democratic Congressman Tom Lantos' memorial service, which they certainly knew was taking place. This is akin to forcing people to leave a wake on purpose. The House Republicans and the White House couldn't wait for Lantos' service to be finished before forcing everyone back to the House floor to vote for something silly. They intentionally disrupted a dead man's memorial service for political gain. But as was already noted, the Republicans have been abusing the memory of 3,000 dead for seven years now, so why expect anything new and better from them now. -- by John Aravosis for Americablog

    The War on St. Valentine's Day

    My wife, God bless her, would toss me into the street if I brought home flowers or candy in honor of St. Valentine's Day. Alas, not every Jewish man is as lucky as me. If your wife (or husband) wants you to recognize this most immodest of holidays, send them this cold shower, courtesy of the Beadle:
    ...there is a grim, long forgotten reason for Jews not to rush out to invest in lingerie or make dinner reservations. According to Cecil Roth in his classic 'The Jewish Book of Days', it was on this day in 1349 that the Massacre of Strasbourg took place, perhaps the worst of the many anti-Jewish outrages that occurred during the Black Death. The locals had blamed fluctuations in the price of corn on the Jews, whom they suspected of being protected by the city council. It was on February 14th that a mob barricaded the Judengasse (Street of the Jews) and drove the whole Jewish community into the cemetery where they built a huge pyre. About two thousand Jewish men, women and children were burned to death.
    A few words about the post's title: Every December, the Christian Right (They are neither[*]) makes as much noise as it can about how the forces of Soros and Donahue are ruining their little tree festival. They call it the War on Christmas (if only.) In this hysterical little clip a Daily Show correspondent brings them up sharply.

    [*] John McCain's line. Worth repeating. Often.

    Breaking: Arrests in RBS

    Our RBS correspondent reports that Tuvya Stern's attackers have been apprehended.

    If this was an episode of CSI, one of them would have flipped by now, and the police would be on their way to rabinical mastermind's house. So let's keep our fingers crossed.

    Wednesday, February 13, 2008

    A little early for Purim (even Purim Koton)

    ...but why not?

    Islamic Medical Students Refuse to Wash their Hands

    For real
    Muslim medical students are refusing to obey hygiene rules brought in to stop the spread of deadly superbugs, because they say it is against their religion." According to a Fox report, "More Muslim Women Medics in U.K. Refusing to Follow Hygiene Rules", there are specific problems with this mindset in several different locations, schools, clinics and hospitals. The report in the Telegraph article, " Female Muslim medics 'disobey hygiene rules'", which is cited by the Fox report, states: "Women training in several hospitals in England have raised objections to removing their arm coverings in theatre and to rolling up their sleeves when washing their hands, because it is regarded as immodest in Islam.
    Sorry Gadfly, I am too tired today to extrapolate something from this onto Judaism. Anyone else wanna try?

    Update: What are those zealous muslim women doing in medical school anyway? You don't see any zealous Jewish women (or men for that matter) becoming doctors do you?
    Update: HOW DARE the prophet Muhamed allow his loyal adherents to be sickened by infidel superbugs. I am quite certain that if Jewish doctors were to sanctify our faith by refusing to expose their skin, blessings and protection would rain down upon them from heaven.

    I Would Have Done It For $150

    by CousinOliver
    LONDON (Reuters) - British officials paids a psychic to exorcise a supposed poltergeist from state housing after the distressed occupants said otherwise they would leave and become homeless, a council official said on Tuesday.

    Easington Council in County Durham said the family could not be persuaded to stay in the house, and that through paying half the psychic ghosthunter's 120 pound ($235) fee they were saving money as otherwise they would have had to pay for emergency housing.

    Team Iceberg

    Team Iceberg
    By the Bray of Fundie

    Paradoxically in Super bowl 42 the “Giants” played the role of David to the Patriot’s Goliath-giants. But to me what was most satisfying of their mother-of-all-upsets victory was not the near miraculous plays, the ferocity and subterfuge of the Blitz packages or even the feel-good story of nursing-home old vets like Strahan and Feagles finally getting that long coveted ring. No, the very best part of this morality-
    play-disguised-as-a-sporting-event was the fact that the New York Football Giants were the iceberg that sunk the New England “Team Titanic”.

    Let’s not forget that the Patriots led with less than five minutes to go. This lead held despite the Giants playing their guts out (and their finest game of the season by far). More significantly, even
    after the Giants had spent their miracle the Patriots trailed by a mere 3 points and the two-headed monster of Brady and Belichek had 34 seconds and three time outs to move into field goal range. Had the monster opted to try and tie the game and live to play a sudden “death” they would, little doubt, have gained football life-everlasting.

    Why did they heave impossibly long Hail Mary’s? Why not do two-step drops and complete three to four 12-17 yard strikes? Why… with their full compliment of time outs they could even have thrown these over the middle! Where was Brady’s unflappable steely nerves and surgical precision? Where did the genius of X’s and O’s flee? Where was the ghost of Adam Vinatieri who got this whole dynasty rolling in the first place? Why didn’t they play for the tie, live and play another quarter and finish 19-0?

    There is only one answer. An unspeakable arrogance and hubris gripped Belichek, Brady, Moss and company. They were in denial that their ship of perfection was about to capsize, break up and sink. Brady, playing the role of Mrs. Sylvia Caldwell, no doubt expressed concerns to Belichek before taking the field for what would be, but didn’t have to be, his team’s final series of 2008 and the hooded savant expectorated

    That graduate of the New Orleans JCC, Elisha Nelson "Eli" Manning, gained universal acclaim for exhibiting cool-as-a-cucumber calm under fire. But what really won the day was neither the ice-water in his veins nor his team’s role as an iceberg. What won the day for the Giants was the Patriots stubborn adherence to Titanic hubris. As the wisest of Kings wrote; (Mishlei 16:18) writes לִפְנֵי-שֶׁבֶר גָּאוֹן;
    וְלִפְנֵי כִשָּׁלוֹן, גֹּבַהּ רוּחַ= = “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” [DB: Mishlei, was not, in fact, written by a King]

    This is a great moshol for the setbacks that await the hyper-rationalists. Those who delude themselves into thinking that technology, empiricism and reason hold ALL the answers sail the seas of their lives on a weltanschauung vessel they imagine to be unsinkable. But the David-like giants of faith rise above the waters lurking to break their pride. My advice: try a little humility now. You’ll avoid loads of humiliation later.

    Michael Savage Hits New Low

    You're not supposed to talk badly about the dead. I generally wouldn't do it. But in the case of Tom Lantos, I'll make an exception. I think he was one of the most -- he was a scoundrel. And I'll tell you why I detested Tom Lantos. The man survived the Holocaust of World War II and used it as a weapon the rest of his life.. You can't have it both ways. You can't suffer such a horror, and then use it as a weapon without people noticing it. You know what I'm saying to you? I didn't like Tom Lantos --Michael Savage

    Tuesday, February 12, 2008

    Popping Safran's Balloon

    Our man Avi said:

    I couldn’t help but wonder if something synchronistic, maybe even meaningful, lay in the act that the day designated by the rabbis to pray for [the defeat of any attempts to tamper with the Israeli haredi community’s educational system] turned out to be the one on which New Yorkers celebrated the Giants’ win – in the fact that what was [a day of prayer] for some happened to become a joyous celebration-day for others... So perhaps it’s not too fanciful to hope that Tuesday’s confluence of parade and prayer proves to be a good sign – for a positive response to the latter.
    A smugly self-statisfied Safran-ism, if ever there was one, to which Garnel Ironheart supplied the perfect rejoinder:
    Of course, if you’re a Patriots fine [SIC fan], Tuesday’s parade means that anyone who thinks they’re perfect, the ultimate example of their culture, and without self-doubt as to the rightness of their cause can be felled at the most unexpected time. Does that mean Chareidim in Boston have reason to be worried instead of celebratory at the Superbowl result?
    Comment by Garnel Ironheart — February 8, 2008

    Meanwhile Hitler reacts to the Patriot collapse.
    [This is a parody of a scene from The Downfall in which Hitler rages at the news that Berlin is lost]

    Great Grabs

    Ok, New York, who made the more difficult catch: Endy Chavez, David Tyree, or Willie Mays?

    The Blessing of Babel

    ba·bel also Ba·bel (băb'əl, bā'bəl) n.
    A confusion of sounds or voices

    From the very begining its been the habit of Jewish commenters to project ideas onto scripture. One famous example is found in a Midrash about the Book of Ruth. The verse (2:3) tells us that Ruth gleaned with the male reapers [וַתְּלַקֵּט בַּשָּׂדֶה, אַחֲרֵי הַקֹּצְרִים] and further (2:5) tells us that this breach of modesty scandalized Boaz [לְמִי הַנַּעֲרָה הַזֹּאת]. After the male reapers pin Ruth's blunder (2:6) on her foreign birth [וַיֹּאמַר: נַעֲרָה מוֹאֲבִיָּה הִיא] Boaz diplomatically (2:8) tries to encourage her to glean with the women instead [וְכֹה תִדְבָּקִין, עִם-נַעֲרֹתָי] She doesn't get the hint (2:21) [ גַּם כִּי-אָמַר אֵלַי, עִם-הַנְּעָרִים אֲשֶׁר-לִי תִּדְבָּקִין] and it needs to be reinforced by her mother-in-law (2:22) [טוֹב בִּתִּי, כִּי תֵצְאִי עִם-נַעֲרוֹתָיו] However, despite this clear textual evidence that Ruth was unaware of ancient Judean ideas about modesty, the lesson the Midrash shoehorns into the text is that Ruth demonstrated exemplary modesty by bending her knees to glean, and not her back, thus exposing less of her legs. (!)

    The other night I opened Accepting the Yoke of Heaven by Yeshayahu Leibowitz (who?) and realized at once that the famous professor is guilty of the same offense. Like almost all darshanim before him, he sees what he wishes to see in the text, treating it like something of a projection screen. A point worth mentioning though, is that what Leibowitz wishes to see in the text is magnificent (and modern!). As an example, consider the argument for pluralism he attributes to the story of the Tower of Babel

    It appears to me that the root of the error, or sin, of the generation of the separation was not the building of a city and tower, but the aim to use these artificial means to ensure a situation of “one language and one speech”-of centralization, which, in modern parlance, would be known as totalitarianism. One language and one speech is, according to many naive people in our days, a description of an ideal situation: all of humanity a single bloc, without differentiation, and, as a result, without conflicts. But one who truly understands will know that there is nothing which is more threatening than this artificial conformism: a city and tower as the symbol of the concentration of all of mankind about a single topic-where there will not be differences of opinion and there will not be a struggle over different viewpoints and over different values. One cannot imagine greater tyranny than that, one cannot imagine a greater mental and moral sterility than that-that there should be no exceptions and that there should be no deviations from what is accepted and agreed upon, and this being maintained by the artificial means of a city and a tower. In His mercy and compassion for mankind, God prevented this from occurring, and He made a humanity where a totalitarianism of complete unity cannot be.

    There are echoes here of famous arguments, arguments Leibowitz no doubt knew cold, made in defense of pluralism by another Yeshayahu, the great Isaiah Berlin (who?) Or, to boil it all down to an easilly digested soundbite: The folly of absolutism (and OJ, alas, has absolutist tendencies, tendencies that run afoul of so much of the mesorah) is not that there is no Absolute. The folly is that no doctrine or belief system perfectly and completely contains the Absolute.[*]

    Thus, pluralism.

    [*] The words " The folly of absolutism is not that there is no Absolute. The folly is that no doctrine or belief system perfectly and completely contains the Absolute" aren't my original thought. I do not recall where I saw it first.

    Monday, February 11, 2008

    Baal Habos: Say What?

    Baal Habos: Say What?

    An Update on the Licentious Sheital Store

    They caved

    Is God a Magic Toaster?

    by CousinOliver

    A fine chap said to me this past weekend: "The laws of physics say that things don't move unless an outside force moves them. The outside force for the Big Bang is God". I didn't have much time to discuss it, but I wonder why this bloke would jump to God as being the answer to his equation.

    By answering 'God', he accepted that there are some things that don't need to be created. If so, why not accept that the density, temperatures and pressures expanding and cooling that caused the big bang was infinite. What is the difference and why is God a more acceptable answer?

    Why does 'God' need to be the answer? Why can't some other, non deity, that was outside our realm be the answer? It is just as acceptable to believe that aliens from an alternate dimension did it. I could also suggest that this `thing` did the deed, moved on and has no part or care in our universe. I could go further and suggest that whatever it was is now dead. Isn't it reasonable to believe that a magical toaster set things in motion when the timer rang?

    Quantum Physics has all sorts of strange laws. Time was created at the big bang. I can't even ask what was "before" the big bang, because time didn't exist. Cause and Effect, the need for an outside force to get our universe going, need not hold true at the big bang. Matter didn't exist. Quantum Physics can make things appear from nothing. I can't comprehend the fact that space is ever expanding, let alone a dense gravity energy space that was 'before' the big bang. Jumping to a deity, as an argument for first cause, is even harder for me to do.

    The fine chap picked God and I don't know why. I like the magic toaster thing.

    Total BS

    Little Foxling tries to tear up yet another vinyard:

    A third group recognizes that religion isn’t true, but also recognizes that it doesn’t matter, because religion isn’t a science, but a way of life.


    This group feels that religion can’t be sustained without believing in its tenets and therefore feels compelled to “believe” in religion, although it realizes the evidence is against religion.

    Not exactly.

    In this group, lies dovbear.


    What is included in “belief” various from person to person. Some outright lie to others. Some, outright lie to themselves. Some engage in sly pomo philosophy to evade the question. They go by “moral relativism,” “multiple truths” "noble lie" "nationaly mythology" and other such stuff.

    Oh brother. Your contempt for things your don't understand bothers me.

    Still others simply avoid thinking about the question or taking a firm stand on the matter, so they won’t need to deal with it. Others say “we don’t really know”

    um... we don't really know. Do we?

    ...which is really just an excuse to not have to admit you are a kofer.

    Or maybe --and hold on to your hat -- its just an honest way of expressing a true fact, ie, WE DONT REALLY KNOW

    My problem with this group is that I find it to be intellectually dishonest.

    My problem with you (and your Sith mentor) is that you think Truth is docheh hakol.

    If you think OJ is crap, how can you justify going around telling people, especially your kids, that it’s true.

    Because (listen again) Truth is not docheh hakol. There are all sort of other values, all of them equally important. The include love and mercy and equality and beauty and many, many more.

    Anyway, there is no such thing as truth, not about the really big, really important things (as our Rabbis have recognized), and its a fool, a narcisist, a self murdering masochist, who pursues that chimera at the expense of all the other equally good, and important values.

    What kind of father are you?

    Bite me. Good fathers lie to their kids every day of the week.

    The Unaccepted Blessing of Locusts

    Having read a wonderfully informative article in the current Atlantic (not yet online) about the benefits of entomophagy, or insect eating, I'd like to know why Rabbis everywhere aren't encouraging us to eat kosher locusts.[*] Locusts are plentiful, inexpensive, and nutritious. They can be raised and prepared for market, without introducing ethical dilemmas or inviting PETA protests, and unlike your favorite rib-eye, bug protein poses no cholesterol risks. According to estimates I have seen, a kosher family can live quite cheaply and quite healthfully on a diet of bugs.

    So where are the Rabbis? Why do they have the energy for fights about modesty or fights about doctrine, but nothing to say about public health? Where is the campaign for locust consumption?

    Come to think of it, this same set of questions might be asked about the rabbis and their reluctance to throw their beef-fed weight behind a campaign for green vegetables, lentils and beans. Those foods are plenty healthy, too. Yet, no one rabbinic seems to have any opinion about them one way or the other. A shame, actually. I mean think of the good it would do if the long bearded-smicha types who are too-happy to tell us dress and how to think, were to take it upon themselves to tell us how to eat. Suppose the same Rabbis who urged us to shut our mouths during tefillah were to urge us to take it easy on the kugel following services. Suppose the same Rabbis who refuse to certify pizzerias when men and women sit together, were to withhold certification from grocery stores that display aisles and aisles of snack food. Suppose the rabbis who cover Brooklyn with pashkevils about skirt hems, were to set their printing presses loose in defense of good eating?

    And, as Helen Lovejoy would say, "Will someone please think of the children?" School administrators are careful to keep foreign and dangerous influences like baseball cards out of the classrooms, but they are famously lax about what goes on in the lunchrooms. The ayatollahs of Boro Park are guilty of the same crime: They insist that TV be kept out of our dens and rec rooms, but they have no comment about what we put on our dinner tables. Could you imagine the boon to public health if yeshivot universally declined to admit students who come from families the eat unhealthily? Or if they ran Kedushat Habeten programs instead of those dedicated to Kedushat Anayim? Or if they encouraged from their students the same OCD-level anxiety about eating healthy that they do about keeping kosher.

    Given the iron-clad evidence about the benefits of healthy eating, and the demonstrable harm caused by sugar, fat and salt, their silent disinterest is altogether perplexing.

    RIP Tom Lantos

    Baruch Dayan Emet

    Weekend reading

    Friday, February 08, 2008

    Perhaps we bombed the wrong Middle Eastern Regime back to the Stone Age?

    Religious police in Saudi Arabia arrest American women for sitting with a man

    They also strip-searched her and subjected her to other forms of abuse. Her crime? Sitting with an unrelated man in the "family" section of a Saudi Starbucks.

    And I won't even point out that plenty of Brooklyn and Monsey resteraunts also have family sections, though to the best of my knowledge, no one objects if unmarried men and women sit there together. Certainly, no one takes the offending woman into a dark prison and takes away her clothing. (Those cynics whispering under their dispicable breaths that its "only a matter of time" are kofrim and rabble-rousers who don't understand that the pure and perfect Law delivered to us via the unbroken chain of Mesorah NEVER EVER CHANGES. Ever.)


    Public Service Announcement

    by: CousinOliver
    This is a PSA for our sheltered youth who get married and still have NO IDEA how this works.

    Thursday, February 07, 2008

    A super segulah for pregnancy

    Swallow the foreskin of a newly circumcised boy.

    Note: We are not making this up.

    Tip of the barf bag: On request

    We have lost our Mittens!

    Romney drops out! Wow, it sure is tough for a rich, white man to get ahead these days.

    Perhaps his five military age sons will volunteer for service in Iraq now that the important work of squandering their inheritence on a vanity campaign getting their father elected is finished

    A good old thread...

    ..from the good old days


    One reason conservatives have been able to navigate the rapids ofmodern America is that they’ve often gone out of their way to make their case with good cheer. William F. Buckley, the father of the conservative movement, skewered liberals, but always with wit and élan -- William Kristol, writing on February 5, in the New York Times
    Certain Republicans live in a bizzaro land of their own making, and Kristol's last column helps prove it. Only in bizzaro land have Conservatives gone out of their way to make their case with good cheer. Here, in the real world, conservatives use nasty words like traitor, and commie and terrorist-lover. They gay bait. [Father William F. Bucky himself for all his wit and élan was a gay-baiter] They publish books suggesting liberals and Hitler are twins separated at birth. And so on and so forth.

    You read Kristol's words and you just have to ask yourself what kind of besotted nut is capable of not only ignoring the truth, but of claiming that the opposite has taken place? What kind of person is capable of seeing nasty and destructive words repeated again and again without recognizing them for what they are? Is it a kind of Stokholm Syndrome? Or perhaps Kristol has decided, for some reason, that Conservatives are generaly good, kind people, so therefore even the awful things they say are l'shem shamayim.

    What a dangerous delusion.

    Wednesday, February 06, 2008

    XGH: "Guest Post this NOW!"

    The recently retired XGodol Hador checks in from the 16th hole with a missive: "Guest Post this NOW!"

    What is it?

    Only the latest in a series of slanderous attacks by Alan Nadler on our friends the trute and pure Hassidim. The best bit
    ".. there seems to me to be something unique about the Spinka case. Many other sects of Polish and Russian origin have found themselves mired in financial and legal scandals. But I believe their shady activities pale, both in magnitude and frequency, next to those of the Rumanian and Hungarian Hasidim. Why?

    The answer can be found mainly in a failure of historical and theological evolution among these groups, despite the dramatic evolution of their circumstances since arriving in America. The mind-set of numerous smaller, mostly Rumanian and Hungarian Hasidic sects is typically mired in a romance with the "glory days" of their respective founding Rebbes. In the case of Spinka, this harkens back to the distinctly inglorious late 19th century era of what Jewish historians have dubbed "decadent Hasidism" in the loosely Austrian-ruled district of Bukovina, in the infamously lawless land of Rumania.

    Indeed, it may all go back to the father of "decadent Hasidism," Rabbi Israel of Ruzhin — who, you'll recall, was also the very man suspected of putting out the hit on Oksman and Shvartzman in the Mayseh Ushits. Following his release from prison in February 1840, Rabbi Israel fled Tsarist Russia to the Austrian-ruled Rumanian district of Bukovina, there to establish the wealthiest and most unabashedly materialistic dynasty in Hasidic history. As the Israeli scholar David Assaf has richly documented in his magisterial biography of Rabbi Israel, this Rebbe inaugurated a uniquely opulent style of Hasidic leadership that spread like prairie fire to Hasidic courts all across Rumania, modeling itself after the decadent lifestyle of Central Europe's most debauched royal families. Rabbi Israel unabashedly demanded enormous sums of money from his Hasidim (presumably without offering kickbacks or illegally inflated tax-receipts). He wore outrageously lavish, silver and gold-laced outfits, favored royally decorative walking-sticks, was serenaded to sleep by his personal orchestra and was transported in a gilded chariot said to have been drawn by a dozen white stallions (some say six Arabians, while others argue three Rumanian nags). And he infamously was fond of declaring, as a kind of personal motto, "All the money in the world belongs to me."

    Historians of Hasidism have long considered the establishment of R. Israel of Ruzhin's palatial headquarters, and those of his followers such as the Rebbes of Sadigora and Buhush in Bukovina and Tchortkov in Galicia, as the inception of a period not only of material decadence but also severe theological and intellectual decline within Rumanian Hasidism. For alongside the amassing of considerable fortunes by these Hasidic Rebbes of Rumania, there was a discernable descent in learning and a steep rise in superstitious gullibility on the part of their Hasidim, particularly relating to the Rebbes' alleged supernatural abilities and personal immaculateness.
    Alleged? What does he mean alleged? I don't think I like that....

    Close call

    Boy, do I feel bad for the woman who lost this one...

    RYA Hearts Dallas (but lets his biases show)

    From RYAdlerstein's love letter to Dallas

    I associate large "cathedral" type shul buildings with centrist Orthodoxy, not groups further to the right.

    -- Funny. I associate the cathedrals with Hassidut, and can point to buildings that fit that definition in Kaiser, in Square, in Tash, in Kiryas Joel, and in various Boro Park and Jerusalem neighborhoods. Furthermore, in the MB 150:2 the mechaber says the synagogue must be the tallest building in the city. Shuls of this sort can be seen in the Diaspora Museum's famous Hall of Synagogues, dating to the time before the modern distinctions between RW and centrist Orthodoxy existed.

    Ohr HaTorah, however, is built in the tradition of the large, central structure meant to be a place for davening and learning – and much more. Still, the dominant suit color is black; the modal – but by far not exclusive - head covering is Borsalino. Seating is at tables that are meant to hold seforim, not rows of chairs or pews.

    -- This peculiar prejudice against pews has never made much sense to me. I seem to recall learning that it is preferable to have one room set aside for tefillah, a room that isn't used for any other purpose including Torah study, but I can't seen to put my finger on the source. Perhaps I made it up. In any event, I don't see the advantage of praying where you learn, and vice versa, though I know that's the fasion today; in earlier eras it wasn't done this way. Ruins of some ancient synagogues display ampitheater-like seating, for example.
    [Fun fact to know and tell: At least two Byzantine-era synagogues found in the Galilee region had floor mosaics whose centerpieces contained a Roman zodiac, in the middle of which was an image of Helios (the sun-god) holding the sun under his arm]

    Yet, the easy camaraderie between klei kodesh and baalei batim was palpable. Zmanin are uncompromised halachic ones, and the baalei batim don't seem to mind;

    -- A note: Where I live the ballei batim who like to daven late, and object to efforts to meet the "uncompromised halachic zamnim" are all black hatters, who would call themselves yeshivish or hasidic-lite. (Those who want to keep the zamin, I should add, would also call themselves yeshivish. RYA seems to be pretending that all yeshivish people wish to daven on time, but are prevented from doing so by modernishkes. He and I both know that more often it is yeshivish people who prevent other yeshivish people from meeting the zamnim. In short, this isn't a dispute between Jewish sects, but between lazy people, and non-lazy people.)

    The parts of the davening are nusach Young Israel and the klei kodesh don't seem to mind.

    -- Another note: I don't know specifically what RYA is referring to here, but in my experience much of what the RWers cavalierly dismisss as nusach Young Israel is in fact very old, in some cases older than the nusach of the shteible. Examples include the singing of yigdal after Friday night services, and the tune used for Vayehi Bnsoa Haaron.

    They have the mandatory old-time congregational singing interludes on Shabbos that yeshivos have long shunned.

    --How perplexing. If they are mandatory, and old time, why have they been shunned by the yeshivos? What is there heter for dropping a long-established element of the liturgy? And shouldn't this call into doubt their claims of authenticity?

    Children sing Yigdal and Ein Kelokeinu. Women have full visibility, because the one-way glass was engineered the right way, and does exactly what it was designed to do. The Kolel yungerleit do not have their own minyan, but daven in the shul by choice.

    -- um Hooray?

    Tuesday, February 05, 2008

    The Jewish Americans

    A guest post by TikunOlam

    I've been watching a PBS series entitled "The Jewish Americans." It is a very well done series and I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about Jewish-American history. I have only watched two of the episodes so far but have already learned a lot. How much of the below did you know?

    1. Jewish song writer, Irving Berlin, wrote Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, God Bless America and White Christmas

    2. Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company, had his own paper, The Dearborn Independent, where he spouting his anti-Semitic rhetoric through a series of articles entitled "The International Jew" The World's Foremost Problems. It circulated as many papers a year as the New York Daily News. He received an award from Hitler.

    3. Under President Woodrow Wilson, Justice Brandeis became the first Jew to serve on the Supreme Court. Justice McReynolds, who served during the same time period, was an overt anti-Semite who would at times walk out of the room when Justice Brandeis would speak.

    4. Hank Greenberg, professional Jewish baseball player, during the 1934 pennant race, with a rabbi's blessing, played baseball on Rosh Hashanah and hit two home runs. He did not play on Yom Kippur. His team lost on Yom Kippur but went on to win the pennant that year

    5. Leo Frank, a Jewish man of Georgia was accused of killing a young girl named Mary Frank. He was tried by a Jewish Prosecutor, defended by a Jewish attorney in front of a Jewish judge. Despite lack of evidence, he was convicted of the murder and sentenced to death. In 1915, John Slater, governor of Georgia, commuted the death sentence because of the lack of evidence. Less than two months later, 25 men who called themselves the "Knights of Mary Fagan," broke into his jail and lynched him. The Knights of Mary Fagan quickly evolved into what is now known as the KKK.

    6. In 1945, Bess Meyerson was the first Jewish American crowned Ms. America.

    7. Stand Up Comedy originated by Jews in the Catskills such as Mel Brooks, Sid Caesar and Carl Reiner

    8. The Conservative movement is understood to have developed in part as a way to keep Jews shul going once they moved to the Suburbs.

    9. The public celebration of the Bat Mitzvah originated in the United States

    10. Rabbi Joachim Price, originally from Berlin, was the only Jewish leader who spoke at the famous march on Washington with Martin Luther King Jr.

    Is that Suha Arafat hiding under the Arab head-dress?

    ..because otherwise we have no complaint.

    Per the official GOP-Jew handbook: "kissing or otherwise demonstrating affection for an Arab who despises Israel and the Jewish people is 100 percent acceptable and not worthy of being mentioned in any forum UNLESS the Arab being kissed is (a) also the wife of an Arab terrorist AND (b) is named Suha Arafat."

    Tip of the kiffiya: TTC

    Yeshiva World hoists itself on its own petard

    Today's exciting post from the worlds most exciting blog is a letter from a YW reader written in the inimitable style of the uneducated. It criticizes the ads that have appearing in support of Hillary Clinton in various Jewish newspapers. The endorsements are signed by various big and small wigs from the Jewish community, and each is listed as a member of some group like Bobov or Hatzolah. The ad makes it clear that the names of the groups are provided for "identification purposes only."

    Does this stop our letter writer from blowing a gasket? Of course not!

    First of all, who are these “Community Leaders” to self proclaim that they represent the “Greater Jewish Orthodox Community”? And are we led to believe that BOBOV, SATMAR, HATZOLAH, SHOMRIM, CHAVEIRIM, KRASNE, VIZNITZ - all endorse Hillary? Did Rav Dovid Feinstein sign his name on behalf of Hatzolah? Did the Bobover Rebbe sign his name? Did the Satmar Rebbe sign his name? Were these Rabbonim even consulted?
    Uh no. They probably were not consulted. This is why it says, on the ad, that the group names were provided FOR IDENTIFICATION PURPOSES ONLY.

    Suppose the groups themselves actually were announcing formal and official support of a particular candidate. Is the letter-writer suggesting this could ever occur without the blessing of that group's own leader? How strange. And if such a thing were possible, wouldn't every psak and every public statement by any Jewish organization immediately be called into question? The whole system would collapse.

    Anyway, the part of the letter we like best is this:
    Where is the Heter to deceive the general public into thinking that these organizations endorse a particular candidate?
    Leading us to once again ask the YeshivaWorld Editor to please supply his heter for deceiving his audience into thinking that Barack Obama and Al Sharpton are running mates.

    Krum's famous

    Then check the paragraph begining with the words "A local rabbi"

    A half-hearted, but not insincere Super Tuesday endorsement

    For Immediate Release:
    Tuesday, February 5, 2008

    The board of governors and editorial managers of DovBear are neither excited nor proud to announce their mostly indifferent support for Barak Obama. The seven or eight nimrods who read DovBear with any regularity are expected to entirely disregard this announcement and to vote as they think best, irrespective of what some anomo blogger suggests.

    Senator Obama had no comment.

    DovBear issued the following statement on his blogs endorsement:

    "I'm not going to sit shiva if Hillary wins, but I believe that Obama has a better chance of cleaning up the mess made by the outgoing president. Everything Hillary attempts will be scrutinized, challenged, misrepresented, and dismissed by the dittoheads who unfortunately have come to dominate the national conversation. Obama carries none of that baggage, and has already demonstrated an ability win support and respect from the other side of the aisle."

    "For the record, I won't rend any garments if McCain wins either. The man, as even Ann Coulter has conceded, isn't really a Republican. I like his thinking on immigration and campaign financing, and I really like the fact that he is despised by those talk-radio fanatics who call themselves "true conservatives." The glorious thing about this primary season is not, as some have said, that the Democrats are going to nominate a black man or a woman, but that the Republicans, at long last, have entirely repudiated the despicable and clueless wing of their party."

    According to experts and political strategists this endorsment isn't expected to matter in the slightest.


    Monday, February 04, 2008

    Once a chumra, always a chumra?

    A guest post by CA

    Dear Mr. Bear:

    I suppose you bounced me from your team because of my lack of productivity. Ah well. I guess I'll just have to work on my own blog.

    However, a thought came into my mind today at shul that you might want to share with your loyal readers.

    Today's haftara (for Mishpatim) concerns one mof the reasons why God allowed Nebuchadnezzar to destroy the First Temple. Apparently, in response to the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem, the Jews had freed their slaves. However, when King Neb slacked off a bit, and the Jews thought that maybe the worst was over, they enslaved them again. (Jeremiah 34:8 et seq.) This got ol' YHVH so pissed off that the fate of the Temple was sealed and our people were off to exile.

    Now our rabbi was trying to sell us a bill of goods about how this meant that even thought the Torah permits slavery, God isn't really so hot about it. But it occurs to me that this passage is nothing less than a proof text for requiring chumras to replace halacha. After all, the Torah allows slavery. The Jews in Jerusalem had NO halachic obligation to free their slaves. But once they decided to go above the letter of the law and free them, God wouldn't let them go back and start owning slaves again. In other words, once the Jews take on a chumra, they're stuck with it.

    Now, as a semi-observant member of a Conservative community, I'm not sure whether I like my own interpretation. After all, what I'd like is someone who can fiddle with halachic requirements to make as many of them as possible a dead letter, or at least optional. In that, I'm really more of a Reform Jew at heart, it's just that I grew up Conservative, and don't like Reform ritual. But here we have a biblical prooftext that supports the concept of chumras. Could the Hareidim be right?

    Earth round and..

    ... divorced women dont have horns

    HT: The beadle

    RBS blogging

    The latest on Montag, the kannoim, and more, all at Life in Israel.

    Is it all its cracked up to be: Inquiring minds want to know

    By TikunOlam

    So back in my Modern Orthodox high school days, I took a required Taharat Hamishpacha class with a 20 something year old newlywed. She told us that by abiding by the laws of Taharat Hamishpacha, we would ensure that marital intimacy would stay fresh and interesting as long as we both shall live. In fact, she seemed to want us to believe that without abiding by these laws, we were destined to have failed marriages, husbands who cheat and awful sex lives.

    I haven’t been observant in many years and am a happily married woman. The laws of Taharat Hamishpacha don’t make sense to me. The apologizers will inevitably argue that the laws are in no way a result of men viewing menstruating women as dirty. I can’t help but understand the Taharat Hamishmacha laws as yet another way to marginalize women.

    So married folks out there, inquiring minds want to know. Is Taharat Hamishmacha all it was cracked up to be in my high school class?

    Friday, February 01, 2008

    What does Kumbaya mean?

    A fun fact to know and tell

    Kumbaya is clearly and demonstrably a slightly mispronounced Aramaic phrase, Qum bi haya, Eli--"Rise with Life, oh my Lord"!


    A note on Exodus 24:10

    One of the stranger verses in the Torah:
    ויראו את אלהי ישראל ותחת רגליו כמעשה לבנת הספיר וכעצם השמים לטהר׃
    And they saw the God of Isael and beneath his feet was a sapphire* brick which was like the heavens in [the] purity [of its color]

    This is a shocking and frank anthropomorphism, one not at all in keeping with previous and subsequent expressions about man being unable to see God and live. Typically, Onkilos dodges the difficulty with a translation that reads "and they saw their sacrifices had been accepted favorably" Rashi ignores the anthropomorphism, but addresses the second problem by saying that they, in fact, were doomed to die, but not wanting to spoil the party, God differed* the punishment to a later date.

    * Pace almost every single English translation of the bible in the world, sapphires were unknown in ancient Israel. The Hebrew word here likely refers to a different sort of blue stone, the lapis lazuli.

    *I know. Spelled wrong.

    Why I am happy

    Last night, I found me some aufshnit.

    Oh baby.

    Fact Free

    I defy you to find a single true statement in this editorial. Perhaps a fisking later if I have the strength. Meantime, I'll link to your rebuttals.