Monday, September 29, 2008

Ghosts of Rosh Hashana Past

Rosh Hashana: Make it a one day holiday
Let's make it a one day holiday. You know, like the Torah says.

Seasonal pet peeves
Among them: The Rosh Hashana Recess. The refreshment break before musaf on Rosh Hashana should be abolished.

Davening Dilemma
All I really want for the High Holidays is a superbly-talented chazzan, in a magnificent room, leading a congregation of hundreds in prayer and song. And I want to be done by 1:30 pm.

Very familiar (almost)
In Tannaic times the chazan at the Nasi's minyan changed the nusach. What happened isn't what you'd expect.

A homily on teshuva
R. Eleazar b. Dordia visits a hooker and learns an important lesson about repentance.

The Purple Matzo Ball.
Does the New York TImes really think that this obcenity is an appropriate dumpling for Rosh Hashana?

Slichos make me sleepy
The new custom is to say Slichos at 10:30 PM. Traditionalists, of course, despise this. Not.

What I look for in a chazaan
My list.

Pro Piyutim
I think it's amusing that the frum thing to do nowadays is to complain about the High Holiday piyutim. This is because Orthodox Jews no longer appreciate words.

Friday, September 26, 2008

More Flaws in the Purim story

Read at your own risk

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Turning Point

A guest post by JS:

"Turning point"

Well, that's what this post was going to be called anyways. I had this great post in mind about the standoff that was due to occur tonight: Barack Obama at the debate in Mississippi versus John McCain in Washington. Debating and campaigning versus leading and legislating.

But, then McCain blew it and decided he WILL attend the debate after all. Apparently "enough progress" has been made on the bailout plan in the few hours he's been in Washington (and for most of that time Obama was there too). What a hack!

I actually thought staying in Washington was a smart political move. Imagine McCain coming forward at a press conference with Republican and Democratic leaders to announce an agreement on the bailout as Obama stands alone at his podium to talk foreign policy. What a disconnect! Imagine the ads! Imagine the headlines! Image after image of McCain triumphantly saving the economy while Obama talks about troops levels overseas. It wouldn't even matter if McCain had nothing to do with a compromise. He could easily spin it that way. John McCain "feels your pain" and Obama is aloof and unsympathetic.

Just goes to show that McCain's campaign is running scared and is completely floundering and trying to come up with desperate measure after desperate measure to win this campaign and they don't care what shenanigans they have to pull to get there. Whether it's picking an attractive airhead for VP or announcing a halt to campaigning to deal with the economic crisis or then announcing they'll attend the debate after all. McCain's campaign is sunk.

Rereading this post, I think the title "turning point" is still apropos. This is a turning point and McCain lost it big time.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Foresight in 1999

A guest post by TikunOlam

Original New York Times Article from September 1999.

September 30, 1999

Fannie Mae Eases Credit To Aid Mortgage Lending By STEVEN A. HOLMES

In a move that could help increase home ownership rates among minorities and low-income consumers, the Fannie Mae Corporation is easing the credit requirements on loans that it will purchase from banks and other lenders.

The action, which will begin as a pilot program involving 24 banks in 15 markets -- including the New York metropolitan region -- will encourage those banks to extend home mortgages to individuals whose credit is generally not good enough to qualify for conventional loans. Fannie Mae officials say they hope to make it a nationwide program by next spring.

Fannie Mae, the nation's biggest underwriter of home mortgages, has been under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans among low and moderate income people and felt pressure from stock holders to maintain its phenomenal growth in profits.

In addition, banks, thrift institutions and mortgage companies have been pressing Fannie Mae to help them make more loans to so-called sub prime borrowers. These borrowers whose incomes, credit ratings and savings are not good enough to qualify for conventional loans, can only get loans from finance companies that charge much higher interest rates -- anywhere from three to four percentage points higher than conventional loans.''

Fannie Mae has expanded home ownership for millions of families in the 1990's by reducing down payment requirements,'' said Franklin D. Raines, Fannie Mae's chairman and chief executive officer. ''Yet there remain too many borrowers whose credit is just a notch below what our underwriting has required who have been relegated to paying significantly higher mortgage rates in the so-called sub prime market.''Demographic information on these borrowers is sketchy. But at least one study indicates that 18 percent of the loans in the sub prime market went to black borrowers, compared to 5 per cent of loans in the conventional loan market.

In moving, even tentatively, into this new area of lending, Fannie Mae is taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any difficulties during flush economic times. But the government-subsidized corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980's.''

From the perspective of many people, including me, this is another thrift industry growing up around us,'' said Peter Wallison a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. ''If they fail, the government will have to step up and bail them out the way it stepped up and bailed out the thrift industry.''

Under Fannie Mae's pilot program, consumers who qualify can secure a mortgage with an interest rate one percentage point above that of a conventional, 30-year fixed rate mortgage of less than $240,000 -- a rate that currently averages about 7.76 per cent. If the borrower makes his or her monthly payments on time for two years, the one percentage point premium is dropped.Fannie Mae, the nation's biggest underwriter of home mortgages, does not lend money directly to consumers. Instead, it purchases loans that banks make on what is called the secondary market. By expanding the type of loans that it will buy, Fannie Mae is hoping to spur banks to make more loans to people with less-than-stellar credit ratings.

Fannie Mae officials stress that the new mortgages will be extended to all potential borrowers who can qualify for a mortgage. But they add that the move is intended in part to increase the number of minority and low income home owners who tend to have worse credit ratings than non-Hispanic whites.

Home ownership has, in fact, exploded among minorities during the economic boom of the 1990's. The number of mortgages extended to Hispanic applicants jumped by 87.2 per cent from 1993 to 1998, according to Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies. During that same period the number of African Americans who got mortgages to buy a home increased by 71.9 per cent and the number of Asian Americans by46.3 per cent.In contrast, the number of non-Hispanic whites who received loans for homes increased by 31.2 per cent.

Despite these gains, home ownership rates for minorities continue to lag behind non-Hispanic whites, in part because blacks and Hispanics in particular tend to have on average worse credit ratings.

In July, the Department of Housing and Urban Development proposed that by the year 2001, 50 percent of Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's portfolio be made up of loans to low and moderate-income borrowers. Last year, 44 percent of the loans Fannie Mae purchased were from these groups.

The change in policy also comes at the same time that HUD is investigating allegations of racial discrimination in the automated underwriting systems used by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to determine the credit-worthiness of credit applicants.


Sure to tick off all the chicks... oops, I mean ladies...out there.

President of Pakistan meets with Palin and gets a little frisky. Full report here.

Maybe this is the start of a new foreign policy strategy?
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Seizing the Initiative or Politics as Usual?

John McCain has effectively stopped campaigning to travel to Washington to deal with the economic crisis. He has also called for a postponement of the debate scheduled between him and Barack Obama on Friday night.

McCain was scheduled to appear on David Letterman last night and canceled. Letterman ceaselessly ripped into McCain, and essentially called him out for cynically taking advantage of a crisis to try to get him campaign back on track. Letterman also questioned why Palin doesn't continue the campaigning while McCain is in Washington to deal with the problem.

Letterman isn't the only one who was taken aback by McCain's decision. Obama's campaign seems stunned and isn't quite sure how to react - do they call him out or do they push off the debate? Will they seem to be better equipped to handle the crisis or seem to not be taking it seriously enough?

Personally, although I don't see how McCain can possibly be useful in Washington right now (this problem is better left to the various financial and economic wizards to sort out), there's no question this is a brilliant political move, cynical as it is. As for why Palin doesn't continue campaigning, I think that's obvious (see any of my previous posts on Palin for the answer).

So, in terms of the title of this post, my answer is "yes and yes", by engaging in "politics as usual" McCain has seized the initiative on the economy from Obama.

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But Palin is ready!

By now you know, I presume that Katie Couric and Dave Letterman destroyed Palin and McCain yesterday. [Read about it here.] The best bit, and one that demonstrates further that Palin is too ignorant to be given the responsibility she is seeking:

Couric: “But he's been in Congress for 26 years. He's been chairman of the powerful Commerce Committee. And he has almost always sided with less regulation -- not more.”

Palin: “He's also known as a maverick though. Taking shots from his own party, and certainly taking shots from the other party. …”

Couric: “I'm just going to ask one more time, not to belabor the point -- specific example in his 26 years of pushing for more regulation.”

Palin: “I'll try to find you some, and I'll bring them to you.”

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"The fundementals of our economy are strong" -- John Sidney McCain

More whiners suffering from a "mental recession" I see:
According to a study by the Department of Labor, initial filings for state jobless benefits increased by a seasonally adjusted 32,000 to 493,000 in the third week of September. It was the highest number of weekly claims since Sept. 29, 2001, when unemployment soared in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks
Of course, none of this is any reason to increase unemployment beenfits. We have better uses for our $1.3 trillion. Some rich bankers might not be able to afford their Beluga.

Who still thinks the market is magic?


Think things are bad and looking worse now? Imagine the outlook had Bush managed to implement his harebrained scheme to privatize social security. The takeaway lesson from recent events is this: Unregulated capitalism is a bad idea. (Of course, those of us who read The Jungle in seventh grade knew that already) (Yes, Republicans I'm gloating that your crazy voodoo live-and-let-the-weak-die approach to the economy has been shown up as a false God. If you publicly recant, and we think you mean it, we can skip the auto de fe)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Welcome to Charedi-stan

Sep. 22, 2008
Matthew Wagner

If it relies solely on its newspapers for information, the haredi public will not even know what the next prime minister looks like, Arye Frankel, a veteran haredi ad man at the Gal BSD agency, said Sunday.

"You simply will not see a picture of Tzipi Livni in the haredi newspapers," said Frankel. "And in some cases you will not even see her first name," he added. A senior editor at Hamodia, the oldest haredi daily, controlled by the Ger Hassidic sect, said that in his paper the name Tzipi would not be mentioned. "We might write 'Mrs. T. Livni' or just 'Mrs. Livni,' but the name Tzipi is too familiar. It is not acceptable to address a woman using her first name, especially when she goes by a nickname," he said.

The editor said that the policy regarding Golda Meir, the previous female prime minister, had been different.

"Golda was an institution. She was a respected figure with decades of political experience before she became prime minister. But in recent years there has been depreciation in the level of politicians," he explained.

Avraham Kroizer, a haredi public relations strategist who works with Eyal Arad, Livni's PR adviser, said that different papers had different policies regarding the use of women's first names.

"Hamodia is the most conservative," said Kroizer. "But in other papers you will find 'Tzipi.' But no haredi paper will publish Livni's picture. Graphic artists will blur the faces of women that do make their way into pictures that the papers want to use. They will also blur pictures of television sets or other items deemed improper to be seen by the wider haredi public.

"Photoshop [the graphic art program] works overtime in a haredi newspaper," he explained.

As Hamodia's editor put it, "For us the newspaper is an educational device that not only informs but also teaches people how to behave. If it detracts from yiddishkeit, it won't be in our paper

The bolded words are a lie, of course. As has been pointed out to me, the real reason why Golda could be shown, while Tzipi is kept hidden is this: Just forty short years ago Charedi Judaism was much less insane.

Quality post

Ready to lead

You'll want to read the whole thing, but this fictitious exchange between Charlie Gibson and Sarah made me laugh:

Charlie: "Governor Palin, are you ready at this moment to perform surgery on this child's brain?"
Palin: "Of course, Charlie. I have several boys of my own, and I'm an avid hunter."
Charlie: "But governor, this is neurosurgery, and you have no training as a surgeon of any kind."
Palin: "That's just the point, Charlie. The American people want change in how we make medical decisions in this country. And when faced with a challenge, you cannot blink."

HT: On request


The Jewish Press has a new editorial about Twerski, which basically lays the blame of Hikind's doorstep.


Elul and Blogging

A guest post by JS:

Thought I would post this article on how people tend to become a bit, shall we say, "uninhibited" when they go online and believe they are shielded by anonymity.

After all, it's Elul and Rosh HaShana is less than a week away, so we should all be a bit more introspective and recognize when we act online in ways we would never act in person (hopefully). But, if that's not reason enough, modern technology is slowly starting to strip away some of that anonymity:

“When we first started with online blogs and that sort of thing, people weren’t aware of how much the environment could affect their behavior, but now people are getting much more savvy about it,” Wallace says. “But the issue that needs to be considered now is there’s no privacy. People need to recognize that they just can’t send out these blogging responses and e-mails and expect their anonymity to be preserved. It probably won’t be. Recording devices are everywhere and Web 2.0, with its user-generated content, greatly amplifies the Net’s power to expose and publicize.

“It also archives forever.”

Of course, it's never too late to apologize and repent, as our online sins are just as real as our "in-person" sins. So, I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to anyone who I have wronged and I would encourage others to perhaps use the comments section of this post to do the same.

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The Jerusalem Bridge causes another ruckus

A Guest Post by Rafi G.
originally posted on LII

The Calatravva Bridge is a bridge that has been trouble since day 1, with the main debate being whether it should ever have been built, considering the high cost.

Regardless of that, the newest issue to arise is one in which residents are complaining that in certain areas near the bridge, one can look up and catch a upskirt view of females above.

The newspaper article is comparing this to the fiasco of the dance troupe at the inaugural party of the bridge a few months ago in which women participants were forced to wear sacks and hats to cover their body shapes. That was a true fiasco, because that is something that should have never happened, and whatever solution was going to be implemented should have been dealt with in advance, not at the last minute.

The truth is though, that this problem has nothing in common with that fiasco. that fiasco was part of the battle of the extreme Haredi against the secular over the atmosphere and style of Jerusalem. This is just a problem. It is not just Haredi women who do not want men looking up their skirts. Any woman who wears a skirt would not want to be exposed like that.

Maybe they compare it because secular women generally wear pants and not skirts. But that is not true - they wear miniskirts, and plenty wear skirts as well (even if only on occassion), and they do not want to have people looking up their skirts.

I remember when the cellphone industry had first started putting cameras into cellphones, there was an issue in Japan, and maybe other places (but I remember reading about Japan). They were forced to change certain standards and abilities because women were complaining that they were catching men on buses and trains taking upskirt pictures of them.

So it is not just Haredi women who have a problem with this, and this should not be portrayed as a fight of the Haredim against the secular.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Thanking the September Nadvan

Rosh Hashanah Season is almost here! What better way to wish a Shana Tova than with the giving of Oh! Nuts Rosh Hashana Gift Baskets.

Oh Nuts is the leading kosher online store for nuts like pecans and more, chocolates like Malted Milk Balls and more, dried fruits like medjool dates and more, bulk candy, kosher gift baskets and more! Featuring items such as Rosh Hashana Gifts and Honey and apple gifts, Oh Nuts offers a large variety of exciting gifts nuts and candy! Best of all, we're only a click away!

Rally wrap-up

Do you think she realizes the two men aren't anything alike? Is this stupidiy or hyperbole?

By what possible metric is Sarah better than Hillary?
On Israel? No.
On Foreign Policy? No
On anything Jews care about? No (this is why the Hasidim of Williamsberg, Square and KJ support her like fish support water.)
HRC has always said and done the right thing on this issue in particular, so its brutally unfair that she's taking a hit because of how the rally organizers screwed up

Note the (Jewish) man's sign ("Palin: Call me") and let's hope what he had in mind was some Torah by Phone.

HRC's letter to the coallition running the rally Its letter perfect.

No Blank Checks

Here we go again. Six years ago, Bush told us some pretty lies about Sadam's ability and intentions, and Congress was terrified into handing him a blank check and new powers, powers the Bush administration used irresponsibly. Now the Bushies are using the credit meltdown to demand still more new powers, and more new money, together with the ability to act as they please with inadequate regulation and virtually no oversight.

I'm not interested in hearing about the brilliance of the administration's plan. I don't care if the Treasury Secretary walks on water. This president and his men have abused the nation's trust, and has used crises after crises to usurp power. No more.

I don't care what the consequences are. I don't care what it means for my interest rate or my mortgage. The line must be drawn here, and for the sake of every future American generation the president must be forcefully reminded that he is not a king, he is not entitled to special deference, and that the founders, in their deathless wisdom, wanted no man to be trusted, because no man is an angel.

To quote the Times "We agree with Senator Barack Obama that the administration’s plan lacks regulatory muscle, and we agree with Senator John McCain when he said: “When we’re talking about a trillion dollars of taxpayer money, ‘trust me’ just isn’t good enough.”

Demolishing Dumb Arguments (Dems love Sharpton)

Can we please put to rest the lie, recently repeated in my comments, about Al Sharpton and the Democrats. Many of the unthinking masses imagine that Sharpton's candidacy in 2004 suggests that Democrats embrace him and his ideas. In fact, it tells us the very opposite.

In the primaries Al Sharpton took less than 1 percent of the total votes, scoring less than 30 votes [thirty: not a misprint] in Maine and North Dakota, and ZERO [not a misprint] in Hawaii and Idaho.

He also lost the black vote in virtually every Democratic primary and caucus. As TNR tells it: "In New York, Sharpton's home state, Kerry beat him among black voters by 30 points; in California, he beat him by 49 points; in Georgia, he beat him by 51 points; in Virginia, he beat him by 52 points; and, in Maryland, he beat him by 55 points. And Kerry doesn't even have a particularly strong connection to the black community. "

These numbers show us that rather than embracing Sharpton and his views Democrats -white and black - entirely disowned him.

PS: If Sharpton's terrible showing in the primaries indicates to GOP-Jews that Democrats support his inanities and insanities, what lessons about the Republican party should be drawn from the fact that racist, anti-Israel, Holocaust-minimizer, Pat Buchanan outright WON the New Hampshire primary?

Monday, September 22, 2008

For this we fought a war?

A guest post by JS

An Iraqi lawmaker, Mithal al-Alusi, faces prosecution at home by his fellow lawmakers and possibly the death penalty for visiting Israel. Typical sentiment: "'Al-Alusi has insulted the hundreds of Iraqi martyrs who fell while fighting the Israelis,' said Osama al-Nujeifi, a Sunni lawmaker. 'It was a provocative visit to a historical enemy.'"

What was so provocative about al-Alusi's visit to Israel? Why, his visit to Israel, of course - aren't you paying attention? More specifically, Al-Alusi "visit[ed] Israel and advocat[ed] peace with the Jewish state - something Iraq's leaders refuse to consider."

Even more irony? Al-Alusi was in Israel to attend a counterterrorism conference "and conversed with a lecturer on a panel about insurgency and terrorism in Afghanistan, Iraq and Israel...[and] seek international support for Iraq as it struggles against terrorism." So the guy goes to Israel to seek out the world's experts on dealing with terrorism to help his country and is slapped with criminal charges that could lead to the death penalty.

al-Alusi was the target of a 2005 attack that left his two sons dead. His other crimes? He is the leader of the Iraqi Nation Party, a "liberal, secular and democratic party."

But wasn't our takeover of Iraq supposed to herald the beginning of a new Middle East? One made up of Arab democracies living in peace with their fellow Jewish democracy? Surely the US is going to intervene and set things right....right? "The U.S. Embassy declined comment. 'It is an issue for the Iraqi parliament, not the U.S. Mission to Iraq,' said spokesman Armand Cucciniello."

Good job, guys. Keep moving that target until it's so low we can legitimately declare victory.

See the full article here.
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Today's reminder of the way of all flesh

Haredi men discovered secretly surfing tabooed sites


It needs to be remarked in this forum that Rick David, McCain's campaign manager, admitted to a double standard and committed a Kinsley gaffe by saying that princess Palin will be sequestered until the press treats her with "respect and deference."

The double standard: Palin is entitled to deference, but not HRC who was reviled in the press from the time she was first lady. Palin requires deference, but not Obama, who has been scrutinized almost to the breaking point? (as well he should be)

The gaffe: A candidate for office is not to entitled to "deference" from the press. The press's responsibility, often abdicated, is to shine as much daylight as possible on the views, and behavior of those who propose to lead us. By suggesting that Palin can't face the scrutiny, and answer questions even during the friendliest of softball interviews, Davis is letting us know that Palin isn't fit to be vice president.

That's all there is to it.

Rav Soloveitchik on sexual molestation and abuse against children

A Guest Post by Rafi G.
originally posted on LII

Originally I was not going to post this here, as it deals mostly with a local situation of molestation and abuse. However I reconsidered because there really is no such thing as a "local case". the fact that many ignore these situations, that schools can hire rebbes who are under investigation for such heinous crimes, that peoples parnassah are more a concern than childrens safety, etc. is not just a "local situation", but one that plagues us all over. So here goes...
(Written by a talmid of Rav Chaim Soloveichik shlita, Ramat Bet Shemesh, Israel. Motsei Shabbat Parshat Ki Tavo, 5768)

Rav Chaim Soloveichik in his weekly Shabbat drasha on Parashat Ki Tavo called upon community leaders to take a more forceful approach regarding child abusers. Rav Soloveichik heads Mosdot HaRav Aharon Soloveichik – Bet Knesset Ohr Shalom, located in Ramat Beth Shemesh and founded by his father HaGaon HaRav Aharon Soloveichik.

Rav Soloveichik began his drasha by referring to the simcha which the community experiences when witnessing smachot involving the younger generation, such as brit milah and bar mitzvah. The Rav noted that such smachot are so great because of the continuity which they represent. “Our children are our future-we rejoice at smachot connected to them and we must be vigilant in acting to protect them from harm.”

Rav Soloveichik cited the vidui maasroth which is mentioned as the second mitzvah in parashath Ki Tavo and raised the question of why one must say a vidui regarding sins which one did not do, whereas generally one does so regarding sins which one has transgressed. The Rav stated that the purpose of vidui is making a "complete accounting". “Leaders, heads of institutions and rabbanim must make an accounting for that which they have and have not done for their communities.

One issue regarding which a more serious accounting needs to be done is the issue of child-abuse. I have been apprised of a local problem with an alleged child abuser who is employed as a teacher of young children by a local school. The teacher is currently being investigated for inappropriate behavior with children, and community leaders and rabbanim say that we must not remove the teacher lest his parnassa be damaged.”

Rav Soloveichik emphasized that while one’s parnassa is an important issue this does not trump the need to separate such a teacher from children for whom he constitutes a presumed danger.

There are numerous opportunities for parnassah which do not require being responsible for 30 kids.

“It is hard to believe that rabbonim who know gemara, the poskim, mishna berura, backwards and forwards do not have the sense to realize that when non-frivolous claims have been made, an alleged child-abuser must be distanced from a position of contact with children until his name has been cleared. When no leadership is demonstrated by rabbanim, then the bloggers will inevitably fill the vacuum.”

Rav Soloveichik reiterated that an approach which only allows one to separate an alleged child-abuser from talmidim once there has been a criminal indictment or conviction unreasonably endangers children.

The Rav impassionedly cried out:” Those who ask ‘what about the parnassa of the teacher?’ must be rebutted with the question ‘what about the children, what about the children?”

The Rav called upon community leaders to take vigorous action to assure that alleged predators are kept far from positions from which they can pose a threat to children. “Let us restore community initiative to the rabbanim and community leaders. We need to be the ones making the clarion calls, not just the bloggers.”

Rav Soloveichik praised the new initiative of Lema'an Achai, the Ramat Bet Shemesh chesed organization, which has established a "Safe Kids" program. Concerned local parents and kids call "Safe Kids" for professional and practical advice from qualified, experienced social workers, about child abuse.

Rav Soloveichik ended his drasha wishing upon the community that we have the zchuth to act wisely and forcefully for the sake of a better future for our children.

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RedState's Memo to the American Jewish Community

This article, found by Charlie, is viciously anti-Semitic, and fits what I have been saying all along. Seemingly philo-Semitic Christians don't like us qua us at all; rather they like us in the way that we like chicken and beef, i.e. as something that can used to fill a self-serving need.

What these pretend lovers of Israel want is for us to serve as pawns or actors in their fanciful end-of-time dramas. They want us to act like they imagine Jews are "supposed" to act. And when we fail to live up to their selfish and limiting expectations, ugliness always follows.

Liturgical creativity

Though it is already being described -and denounced- as a "blessing on gay sex," the author of the "Kavannah for Unexpected Intimacy," which has been included in the new siddur released by San Francisco's main gay synagogue, says his prayer has a subtler intention.
[Andrew] Ramer, who describes himself as “fiercely monogamous” and politically conservative, stressed that the prayer was not intended solely for gays and lesbians. He also emphasized that it need not refer solely to encounters of a sexual nature, but to any exchange with a stranger that was deemed meaningful.
If this seems like an odd thing to pray about, well, consider some of our more traditional blessings.

The Anshe Keneset ha-Gedolahh have already asked us to take a moment to remember God upon seeing rainbows, oceans, mountains, and men of great power, intelligence, ugliness or beauty. There's a prayer to be said on seeing men who are blind, and lame, and a prayer to said when meeting giants, dwarfs, elephants or apes. We bless the appearance of the new moon. We even have a prayer for when the myriads of Israel gather in one place.

The purpose of all these prayers, I think, is that they require us to recognize the presence of the divine in these moments, indeed in all moments. If a man is ugly, its because God made him so, and so on. If a mutar/permitted moment with a stranger (i.e., something besides anonymous, gay sex: I don't say we should be recognizing the Jewish God in acts and moments the Torah prohibits) makes possible a similar recognition, what's the harm in blessing it?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

"John McCain" recording campaign ads on SNL (video)

A Guest Post by Rafi G

If you saw and enjoyed last weeks SNL clip parodying Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton and enjoyed it, then you will love this weeks clip of SNL with "John McCain" opening...

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Protecting Palin

A guest post by JS:
The debate format has been settled on. See the details here.

Looks like McCain gave in to demands to have a more open and less structured Presidential debate in exchange for a more controlled and less direct Vice Presidential debate.

Interesting point: The demands were not made by the Obama camp. They were made by the organization running the debates which insisted the candidates actually engage each other and address each other's responses instead of just delivering answers to the moderator's questions.

It seems McCain will enter a format likely to favor Obama in order to have a format which will protect Palin against Biden. Why?
McCain advisers said they had been concerned that a loose format could leave Ms. Palin, a relatively inexperienced debater, at a disadvantage and largely on the defensive.

The Republicans must be betting that although Obama is a better orator, McCain can still beat Obama in the debates with his greater experience and grasp of the issues. Whereas the best Palin can do against Biden, who is more seasoned and more knowledgeable, is essentially what she did in the Charlie Gibson interviews: spout pre-packaged, stock answers.

We'll see if the GOP's gamble pays off with voters.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Tina and Amy do Sarah and Hillary

A guest post by TikunOlam

Tina Fey as Sarah Palin may be one of the best impressions of all time. . .

Vintage MBD: "Someday"

He looks like Fagin, and his pronunciation is too Brooklyn-ee for my taste, but everything else about this performance is damn near perfect.

Where was Hillary last night? (as not seen on Yeshiva World)

Helping Israel and denouncing Iran

What Carlbach would sound like if he had a good voice

HT. Amshi

America is over

The head of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve began discussions on Thursday with Congressional leaders on what could become the biggest bailout in United States history. While details remain to be worked out, the plan is likely to authorize the government to buy distressed mortgages at deep discounts from banks and other institutions. The proposal could result in the most direct commitment of taxpayer funds so far in the financial crisis that Fed and Treasury officials say is the worst they have ever seen.

Let me see if I have this straight. After raiding the Treasury, and indebting us to China for the purpose of waging a bogus war, the Republicans are now using our very last few pennies to bail out billionaires from their own incompetence and corruption. And I love how the article makes a point of mentioning that this bailout is going to be funded with "taxpayer funds." What are we taxpayers getting out of this? Payback with interest? Unionized workplaces? National healthcare? What???

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Raise your voices!

Several bloggers are asking their readers today to send the following letter to the editorial board of the Jewish Press (and if you have your own blog, we ask you to post it as well.) It states, simply, that we are tired of the culture of kanois (zealotry) that has made it impossible for our community to solve its own problems. Please make your own objections known by sending the letter that follows - or one like it - to the Jewish Press at As it says on the wall of a famous museum in Washington D.C.: Thou shalt not be a victim. Thou shalt not be a perpetrator. Above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.

To the Editorial Board of the Jewish Press:

I would like to express horror at the intimidation and harassment of Dr. Benzion Twerski for his efforts to protect our children from molestation, and to salute you for your courage in publishing an Op-Ed column condemning it. I feel that exposing the actions of the kannoim (zealots) is the first step in reversing their campaign of terror against members of our community.

I am fed up with the fact that the extremists in our community are allowed to intimidate peaceful citizens with threats and I would like to see the people who do this arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

If there are any acts of intimidation or threats of violence to Dov Hikind's next appointee to the Child Safety committee I intend to join and support a massive email drive to our elected officials – on the local, state and federal levels – and to ask them to step in and protect those who are helping to protect our children.

I respectfully ask you to run an editorial next week condemning this disgraceful intimidation of Rabbi Twerski that acknowledges the number of these emails that were sent to you and also calls on our leaders and rabbonim to publicly distance themselves from acts of intimidation and violence each and every time they occur with the same fervor reserved for other actions that contradict our holy Torah – and to declare the acts of violence as the sins they are.

Sincerely yours,
Dov Bear

30 years on one mitzvah!

A Guest Post by Rafi G.
(originally posted on LII)

The following Letter to the Editor is amazing. It ran in the Yated Ne'eman yesterday..

The guy posts that 30 years ago they took a sherut (shared taxi service) to Bnei Braq and when they disembarked they mistakenly took a sheitel box that was not theirs. there was asheitel inside and for 30 years they have been looking for the owner unsuccessfully.

Can you imagine holding on to something you found for 30 years? And still thinking about it and looking for the owner? Amazing!

Buy his book already! (please)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Today's stupid non-issue

Haillary Clinton won't be appearing at the UN rally on Monday to scold Ahmadinejad because the rally organizers have invited Sarah Palin, too.

A quick accounting of the stupidity

1 - Hillary, you're an idiot for falling into this Republican trap. If you skip the event people are going to suggest your absence "proves" something. (see 2) Sure, if you go, the event becomes a dog and pony show, but that what it is anyway, arguably. (see 3)

2 - People who think Hillary's absences proves something, you are idiots. She's always done and said the right things regarding Israel and the Jewish people. She's never done a negative thing and AIPAC loves her. The fact that she is skipping a partisan, political event tells us nothing about her "true colors" or whatever.

3 - People who think this lame event matters, you are idiots for believing this. Ahmadinejad isn't going to change his ways on the basis of a UN rally. Sure, it would be nice if Hillary was there, but do you honestly think it matters in the long run? Whether she's there or not Ahmadinejad will always be Ahmadinejad

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A Qotons Denunciation (edited)

by the Bray of Fundie

In classic brevity DovBear hearts Shmarya's latest project. While very far from Gadlus I'd like to lead the loud and hysterical shouts (braying??) of denunciation. I think that this is a stupid agenda driven idea from the man whose axe is ground so sharp that it can split hairs. Thanks to this "wonderful" project:

Watch for more distilled quotes on Nazi websites "proving" the turpitude of Jews and Judaism.

Watch half-wits like half nut for more cherry picking quotes from poorly translated/lost-in-translation responsa to fuel ever more asinine Halakhic misinformation and inane arguments on threads such as these here and at other popular stations in the J-Blogosphere.

Watch for more secular and skeptical Jews lost to frumkeit forever because this in-a-vacuum context-less exposition of Halakah/the Halkhic process provides Oros too intense and heavy for their constricted Keilim to bear.

If you are already a Qofer and or a Socialist then by all means Buy DovBear's book. (please)

If I was a Godol, I'd totaly denounce this

Shmarya is attempting to translate Jewish law writings and post the results here.

So, apparently I am famous else to explain the discovery of my name in the Jerusalem Post?
After reading the comments on the blogs, and being in a room full of some of the most diverse and stridently opinionated people in the Jewish world, I will never doubt that statement again - from blogs such as IsraelMatzav (on the political right) to DovBear (on the left).
I don't agree that I'm IsraelMatzav's polar opposite, nor do I think I'm quite the leftiest Jewish blogger in the world, but hey, no such thing as bad press.

If you're happy and you know it, and not being affected by the slow, morbid collapse of Wall Street, the banks, and the capitalist system buy my book. (please)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Will the Dem's control themselves?

A guest post by JS:

The Dem's always complain about the bum rap Gore got in claiming he "invented the Internet."

In fact, DB just complained about this the other day. See here.

Now it seems an aide has claimed McCain invented the BlackBerry.

Same exact claim that has a similar truth value but can be made to look ridiculous when given the right slant.

So, will the Dem's be able to control themselves? Or, will they resort to the same tactics they claim to abhor?
Buy DB's book. (please)

Slobbering over Sarah

John Stewart, a great American, plants a wet one on Sarah's cheek, while delivering a devastating parody of the GOP's crush on her. [Bonus: Includes the clip in which you can actually see the light in her eyes going out when Gibson asked her about the Bush doctrine.]

Defense of Others (Part 2)

A guest post by JS:
Compare the verse in last week's parsha (see my previous post), to this almost identical verse in the book of Samuel 2.

The story involves Yoav trying to teach King David a lesson in a similar fashion to how the Prophet Natan does concerning David's taking of BatSheva. He has a woman pose a halachic question to him and ask for a ruling. David is then exposed as a hypocrite for not following his own advice. In this case, for sending Avshalom away.

Perek 14:
ו וּלְשִׁפְחָתְךָ, שְׁנֵי בָנִים, וַיִּנָּצוּ שְׁנֵיהֶם בַּשָּׂדֶה, וְאֵין מַצִּיל בֵּינֵיהֶם; וַיַּכּוֹ הָאֶחָד אֶת-הָאֶחָד, וַיָּמֶת אֹתוֹ.
יא וַתֹּאמֶר יִזְכָּר-נָא הַמֶּלֶךְ אֶת-יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, מהרבית (מֵהַרְבַּת) גֹּאֵל הַדָּם לְשַׁחֵת, וְלֹא יַשְׁמִידוּ, אֶת-בְּנִי; וַיֹּאמֶר, חַי-יְהוָה, אִם-יִפֹּל מִשַּׂעֲרַת בְּנֵךְ, אָרְצָה.

6. Your maid-servant had two sons and they struggled against one another in a field. And there was no one to save either of them such that one struck the other and killed him.
11. And she said "May the king remember the Lord, his God, to prevent the blood-avenger from further seeking to destroy, so that my son should not be killed." And King David responded, "As God lives, not a hair from your son's head shall be harmed."

So, again, here we have an almost identical verse (This comes across more in the Hebrew, the verses read almost identically). In the first case, one of men's wives interferes and grabs the attacker's private parts to save her husband. The Torah prescribes a punishment to cut off her hand - or to pay a monetary compensation as the Rabbis have taught. And yet here, King David says the Halacha is that no harm shall come to the man who killed his attacker.

Why the difference? The maid-servant's story seems to indicate that she wishes a woman (or someone else) was there to interfere, she says the death resulted because "there was no one to save either of them." Furthermore, from the nearly identical language and the stated result in the maid-servant's story, it seems that in the Torah case if the wife did not interfere, her husband would have been killed. Is it better to allow one person to kill the other than to have someone be embarrassed by having a woman grab his privates?
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How dare you!

I'm not a resident of ColbertNation and I often find The Word tedious and dull, but last night the evil, arch-conservative hit it out of the park...

the Green Line

A Guest Post by Rafi G.
(originally posted at LII)

If you thought that dispute the Palestinian people (and their sympathizers) have with Israel is only regarding land over the "Green Line", somebody out there thinks otherwise.

The sign below, in Bet Shemesh which is well within the "Green Line" and supposedly undisputed territory, was defaced with graffiti declaring it Palestinian territory....

I don't get the connection. An anti-Lerner slogan would be understandable. An anti-Dati Leumi would be understandable, and anti-Zionist statement would even be understandable, a pro-different candidate would be understandable. But a declaration that this is Palestinian territory makes no sense. Unless the person who sprayed it was an agent of Hamas...

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Defense of Others

A guest post by JS:

Last week's parsha, Ki Tetzei, has the following interesting law:
יא כִּי-יִנָּצוּ אֲנָשִׁים יַחְדָּו, אִישׁ וְאָחִיו, וְקָרְבָה אֵשֶׁת הָאֶחָד, לְהַצִּיל אֶת-אִישָׁהּ מִיַּד מַכֵּהוּ; וְשָׁלְחָה יָדָהּ, וְהֶחֱזִיקָה בִּמְבֻשָׁיו.
יב וְקַצֹּתָה, אֶת-כַּפָּהּ: לֹא תָחוֹס, עֵינֶךָ.

11. If two men are struggling with each other, a man and one of his brethren, and the wife of one of the men approaches in order to save her husband from the one striking him, if she reaches out her hand and grabs the man's private parts
12. Then you shall cut off her hand - she shall not find pity in your eye.

Chazal make the following comments:

1) The reason for the law is that we are concerned for the attacker's dignity. We learn this from the Hebrew words for "private parts" which are literally "his embarrassments." Thus, this law seems to come into affect even if the man suffers no physical injury.
2) We do not literally cut off her hand. Rather, the damages due are equal to the value of her hand - similar to "an eye for an eye."
3) The law only comes into affect if the woman had other options to defend her husband, but instead chose this route.

Yet, a number of questions pop out:
1) Do we really value the dignity of an attacker over a woman's right to defend her husband?
2) If the Torah wanted us to take the "value of her hand", why use the specific language of "cut off her hand?" Why even leave it open for a question that we mean money here? And why say "she shall not find pity in your eyes?"
3) And shouldn't the penalty be related to the injury? If I am blinded by another, the compensation is the value of my eye, not my attacker's hand (if he poked my eye out)
4) This penalty "cut off her hand" is not found anywhere else in the Torah to the best of my knowledge. Why here?
5) Aren't women taught in self-defense classes to specifically attack a man in this manner?

Lastly, how does this law stack up against our modern sensibilities?

In the US, there exists a right of "defense of others" as an affirmative defense to liability for damages in a tort. In other words, even if all the elements of battery could be proven, the defendant is not liable.

One is allowed to use force to defend a third party in the same manner as that third party could use force in self-defense. In self-defense, reasonable force may be used in defense against a threatened battery. Reasonable force is the amount of force that a reasonable person would believe necessary for protection against the threatened battery - for example, a weaker person may use more force in defending against a stronger person than vice versa. However, there is no special privilege to use extra force in defending a family member. Courts are also split on liability if one attacks the wrong party in a fight (the innocent party and not the aggressor).

From the "fact pattern" in the Torah it seems that the woman is defending the correct party (she is saving her husband from his attacker). Most likely a court would find that the woman used "reasonable force" in defending against a stronger man. Also, the fact that women's self-defense courses teach such an approach would be favorable to her as well.

So in Torah law: "cut off her hand" - make her pay. In US law: probably no liability.

Are we now a more fair and just society? Or are our values somehow misplaced?

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Monday, September 15, 2008

The "new" McSame ad

I'm proud of myself. I wanted to pretend to be a brain dead GOP ditto head and write about how this ad is EVIL and ANTI-SEMITIC because, of all the firms on Wall Street, McCain chose the very Jewish Lehman Brothers to represent the ongoing debacle... but I'm pleased to discover I can't even pretend to be that crazy. Ah well.

Don't miss the end of the ad, though; and if the closing words sound familiar its because Johnny McLame is now openly stealing Obama's lines.

Ultra-Orthodox vigilantes spread fear in Jerusalem

Ultra-Orthodox vigilantes spread fear in Jerusalem: "Shaking as she recalled her brutal beating at the hands of Jewish ultra-Orthodox vigilantes, a 28-year-old Jerusalem woman who would only identify herself as M. said she feared for her life."

I'm running out of pithy ways to denounce these creeps, and their enablers.

Dear Sarah Palin...

Stop lying please

See, this is why the Democrats can't win a national election: They are too damn nice, unlike the puppy-eating Republicans. When Al Gore TOLD THE TRUTH about his role in the development of the Internet, but phrased in badly, the GOP and the media turned him into a walking joke. The same thing happened when John Kerry TOLD THE TRUTH about how his position on the Iraq war changed over time, as new facts emerged.

But this woman is traveling across the country repeating the same discredited lie, over and over again, and the Dummycrats aren't doing a thing. It's time to get mean Obama. It's time to get in the mud, where, alas, presidential elections are always won. There will be enough time for pretty words after you win. For now, fight fire with fire.

DovBear on the Parsha is "...a look at the weekly Torah portion like none you've ever had before." Buy it now. (please)

A guest post by David Foster Wallace

Just Asking: The Future of the American Idea
A guest post by David Foster Wallace [not really]

Are some things still worth dying for? Is the American idea* one such thing? Are you up for a thought experiment? What if we chose to regard the 2,973 innocents killed in the atrocities of 9/11 not as victims but as democratic martyrs, “sacrifices on the altar of freedom”?* In other words, what if we decided that a certain baseline vulnerability to terrorism is part of the price of the American idea? And, thus, that ours is a generation of Americans called to make great sacrifices in order to preserve our democratic way of life—sacrifices not just of our soldiers and money but of our personal safety and comfort?

In still other words, what if we chose to accept the fact that every few years, despite all reasonable precautions, some hundreds or thousands of us may die in the sort of ghastly terrorist attack that a democratic republic cannot 100-percent protect itself from without subverting the very principles that make it worth protecting?

Is this thought experiment monstrous? Would it be monstrous to refer to the 40,000-plus domestic highway deaths we accept each year because the mobility and autonomy of the car are evidently worth that high price? Is monstrousness why no serious public figure now will speak of the delusory trade-off of liberty for safety that Ben Franklin warned about more than 200 years ago? What exactly has changed between Franklin’s time and ours? Why now can we not have a serious national conversation about sacrifice, the inevitability of sacrifice—either of (a) some portion of safety or (b) some portion of the rights and protections that make the American idea so incalculably precious?

In the absence of such a conversation, can we trust our elected leaders to value and protect the American idea as they act to secure the homeland? What are the effects on the American idea of Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib, Patriot Acts I and II, warrantless surveillance, Executive Order 13233, corporate contractors performing military functions, the Military Commissions Act, NSPD 51, etc., etc.? Assume for a moment that some of these measures really have helped make our persons and property safer—are they worth it? Where and when was the public debate on whether they’re worth it? Was there no such debate because we’re not capable of having or demanding one? Why not? Have we actually become so selfish and scared that we don’t even want to consider whether some things trump safety? What kind of future does that augur?

1. Given the strict Gramm-Rudmanewque space limit here, let's just please all agree that we generally know what this term connotes—an open society, consent of the governed, enumerated powers, Federalist 10, pluralism, due process, transparency ... the whole democratic roil.

2. (This phrase is Lincoln's, more or less)

DovBear on the Parsha is "...a look at the weekly Torah portion like none you've ever had before." Buy it now. (please)

Jewish Music

Not much to say about this other than the fact that dozens of you thought I should see it..

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Agudah Flip Flops, behaves despicably

Agudas Yisroel was strongly against criminal background checks for school employees before they for were totaly for it.


Though I'm glad Agudas Yisroel saw the light, and changed its position, I object to the Stalin-like game the organization is playing with the facts. As TTC has pointed out to me, the Agudah is trying to deny history by employing useful dolts like the YeshivaWorldEditor to discredit anyone who remembers the truth about the past. Here's what happened (all via TTC):

April 2007 - Agudath Israel goes on the record opposing a plan to require permits for religious schools. The measures would have required the schools to "meet certain education standards among teachers, and conduct criminal background checks on their employees for the first time."

September 12, 2008 - As part of its coverage of the Twerski debacle, the Jewish Week reports that "Agudath Israel, an umbrella group of ultra-traditional Orthodox organizations, is opposed to both the mandated reporting and finger printing, and background check legislation."

September 14, 2008 - Avi Shafran (who famously punted on Kolko) enlists YeshivaWorldNews to issue a strident denial. (Of course, the lunatics who read that rag are pleased to hop on board with a chorus of insults for the Jewish Week.)

More important moments in the timeline can be found in the comments.

What did the Times do now?

I've been wracking my brains all weekend trying to figure out how this sticky-sweet essay about how a BT and her Shabbat-observant boyfriend walked to a wedding one Saturday afternoon fits into the Times' Jew-hating agenda.


Oh My

David Foster Wallace is dead

He was a genius and after finding him again in 2005 he became one of my most favorite writers ever.

The world's a little harder to like today.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Last week's parsha

Suppose we went 400-odd years without wearing tefillin, and then when we went to the godol hador for advice on how to wear tefillin, he replied with an terrifically angry speech about how tefillin are inconvenient and uncomfortable. Could never happen? Well, something similar is believed to have happened in the days of Samuel.

After 400-odd years of living happily with no king, the people suddenly seem willing to accept the Biblical Commandment revealed in Parshas Shoftim:

שום תשים עליך מלך אשר יבחר יהוה אלהיך
you shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses.

So they went to Samuel and said: Give us a king! Instead of responding with a hearty Boruch Hashem the prophet answered with a dread (but prescient) warning: The king will tax you. He will abuse you. He will take your sons for soldiers and your daughters for concubines. Don't do it.

What kind of Godol wants the people to remain in sin? What kind of Godol turns people down when they approach him for advice on how to perform a mitzvah?

So much for straight talk

Now, John McSame is lying on the TV

WALTERS: What is she going to reform specifically, senator?

MCCAIN: Well, first of all, earmark spending, which she vetoed a half a billion dollars worth
in the state of Alaska.

WALTERS: She also took some earmarks there.

BEHAR: A lot.

MCCAIN: No, not as governor she didn’t, she vetoed…

WALTERS: As Mayor.

MCCAIN: Well, look, the fact is that she was a reform governor.
Seems, the old Arizonian doesn't quite understand that that everything he says can be fact checked in seconds thanks to the magic of the internet.

And why didn't uber liberal Barbara Walters string him up? Why is she playing footsie? Why didn't she say: "With all due respect, Senator, that's just not true. She did seek earmarks as a governor, specifically for projects X, Y and Z." This could have been Walters moment. It was her change to regain some relevance and some credibility as a journalist, but with the way our so-called liberal media is trending, I suppose being McCain's towel girl is a better career option.

Obama will lose the debates

You heard it here first. Obama is going to get creamed in the debates. Why? Because for 10 months all we've heard is how Obama is the most gifted speaker of his generation. All McCain has to do is build up those expectations. Then, if he shows up and doesn't trip over his tongue, the ever-idiotic media will write story after story about how McCain "did better than expected."

And if he does trip on his tongue, and turn in a James Stockdale like performance he still wins. All he has to do is cock his head in a folksy manner and say, "Well sure Obama beat me up pretty good. What do you expect from someone who has lots of pretty words, but not much else?"

This is the same trick Bush played on Gore and Kerry. As the economy collapses around us, and the war goes on, aren't you glad you elected the less intelligent man?

Palin > Biden

It can't be denied that the better VP pick was made by McCain. I say this not because I think Palin is a better person or a better candidate than Biden, nor do I think she'll necessarily make a better president. Those aren't the ways a VP pick is evaluated.

Palin was the better pick, because her presence on the ticket help McCain more than Biden helps Obama. The reasons why this is true speak to the stupidity and simplicity of the American voter, but the reasons are true, all the same: Because Palin is a newcomer on the national scene there's no record or pre-existing public image that need to be qualified or re-explained.

What we were told first about Palin became the Truth About Palin, and every subsequent discovery is viewed as nitpicking, half-truths. Our first impression of the woman is that she was a typical suburban mom, with executive experience who made her name as a reformer. None of that is true - she is, in fact, a lunatic Christian, with no experience, who was for the Bridge to Nowhere before she was against it - but people are lazy and re-evaluating first impressions is difficult. Its so much easier to cling to the original, mistaken idea. Changing the public's mind is work, and in a soundbite era, dominated by lowbrow idiots like Hannity, YeshivaWorld, and Coulter, this is nearly impossible to achieve. McCain had to have understood this when he anointed the unknown Palin, had to have known he'd have the opportunity to define her, and that the Democrats would find it nearly impossible to undermine that initial definition.

This, ironically, is precisely why Biden was such an appallingly bad pick. He's no blank slate. Biden has been in the Sentate for 30 years, and owns an entirely undeserved reputation for uber liberalism. He represents the very definition of politics as usual, and he's easy to tar as an insider, or Washington elite. Most people know just two other things about him: a long time ago he stole some lines from a British politician, and a few months ago he said, on camera, the Obama was unfit to lead.

Before Biden can be seriously considered as a VP candidate all of that baggage has to be addressed, and because most people are too lazy to go to the trouble, the baggage is never addressed. In the public mind the false images of Biden remain, side-by-side with the false images of Palin. Unfortunately for the Democrats, the Palin lies are far more appealing than the lies about Biden.

Palin Interview

Unfortunately for the McCain/Palin ticket, I think this speaks for itself. Despite her bst efforts, Palin comes across as inexperienced, unsure, and too extreme as she tries to assert herself and prove she's ready to be in the spotlight and ready to lead this nation as its future vice president.

Some highlights:

1) Didn't hesitate or


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Thursday, September 11, 2008


Nu, so how do you like the new me?

Open new template thread below.

Riddle me this

I see from my friend TTC that the OU Has Inaugurated A Safe Schools Yeshiva Network Policy. Fabulous. Unfortunately, the news hasn't yet been announced to the wise and gentle readers of the Yeshiva World News.

Riddle me this. Has this task been omitted because YWN, as a matter of policy, won't ever congratulate the Modern Orthodox of anything, anytime? Or, is it because YWN denies the existence of the pedophilia problem?

Irony slits her wrists

The editor of the Yated(!) complains about biased, no-integrity, fact-massaging newspapers. Hello Pot!

Next, perhaps, Sarah Palin will complain about nasty, elbow-throwing politicians. Oh wait. That's happened, too.

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Experience does not matter

Some researcher has done some researching and briefly this is what he found: For presidents, experience and achievement do not correlate.

Documenting the atrocities

The story of Rabbi Twerski's resignation, which first appeared on VIN and the JewishWeek, is covered today in the Post, the News, JTA, and even Chaptzem. Guess who's silent?

Yup, the two most despicable blogs in creation, blogs that pretend to represent our community and to provide news and discussion about timely events, are absolutely quiet. And of course, the great Avi Shafran, who always has a nasty word for any sect but his own, is without comment today as well.

Republican Dirty Tricks Watch

Now this sounds like a plan.

Remembering 9/11

A guest post by TikunOlam

Just wanted to take a moment to thank the heros of 9/11/01, the firefighters, police, EMS workers, Port Authority workers, volunteers and countless others who sacrificed their lives, or put their lives in danger on 9/11 to save others and for their tireless efforts to recover the bodies of the vicitms of that day.

Thank you to our soldiers who are protecting and fighting on behalf of this country in the name of keeping our way of life safe and secure.

You can see a tribute to some of the Jewish heros that were taken on 9/11 on

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Hate Speech

By the Bray of Fundie

A. How do you define it?

B. Does Parshas Zakhor meet your definition?

If you are already a Qofer then, by all means, Buy Dov's book. (please)


I don't know why I, of all people, should have to teach a great and respected rabbi some Tanach, but apparently even the greatest amongst us lose their way occasionally. Anyone in a position to do so, please pass this on to Rav Twerski:

יב וַיַּגִּידוּ לְמָרְדֳּכָי, אֵת דִּבְרֵי אֶסְתֵּר.
יג וַיֹּאמֶר מָרְדֳּכַי, לְהָשִׁיב אֶל-אֶסְתֵּר: אַל-תְּדַמִּי בְנַפְשֵׁךְ, לְהִמָּלֵט בֵּית-הַמֶּלֶךְ מִכָּל-הַיְּהוּדִים.
יד כִּי אִם-הַחֲרֵשׁ תַּחֲרִישִׁי, בָּעֵת הַזֹּאת--רֶוַח וְהַצָּלָה יַעֲמוֹד לַיְּהוּדִים מִמָּקוֹם אַחֵר, וְאַתְּ וּבֵית-אָבִיךְ תֹּאבֵדוּ; וּמִי יוֹדֵעַ--אִם-לְעֵת כָּזֹאת, הִגַּעַתְּ לַמַּלְכוּת.
טו וַתֹּאמֶר אֶסְתֵּר, לְהָשִׁיב אֶל-מָרְדֳּכָי.
טז לֵךְ כְּנוֹס אֶת-כָּל-הַיְּהוּדִים הַנִּמְצְאִים בְּשׁוּשָׁן, וְצוּמוּ עָלַי וְאַל-תֹּאכְלוּ וְאַל-תִּשְׁתּוּ שְׁלֹשֶׁת יָמִים לַיְלָה וָיוֹם--גַּם-אֲנִי וְנַעֲרֹתַי, אָצוּם כֵּן; וּבְכֵן אָבוֹא אֶל-הַמֶּלֶךְ, אֲשֶׁר לֹא-כַדָּת, וְכַאֲשֶׁר אָבַדְתִּי, אָבָדְתִּי.

Translation with some liberties:
12. And Ester's servants told Mordechai [that Ester was reluctant to carry out her dangerous mission]
13. So Mordechai told the servants to respond to Ester, "Do not remain silent! Do not think that [by shirking your duties] you will remain safe while only other Jews are harmed.
14. Because if you are silent at this time [when you can be of greatest help] salvation and relief will come from another source. Furthermore, you and your whole family will be destroyed! For who knows? Maybe you rose to this position of power specifically to be of help in this very circumstance!"
15. So Ester replied to Mordechai saying,
16. "Go, gather all of the Jews and have them fast and repent for my well-being. Tell them to not eat or drink, day or night, for three days. I too will fast and repent. Afterwards, I will [perform this dangerous duty]. And if great harm should come to me [or my family], so be it!

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Okay, now I'm mad

Rabbi Twerski, I am trying not to judge you, but I think your decision to cave into the pressure of hoodlums and barbarians was a mistake. Today the molesters won, and you are the reason why. You've empowered them today, and by handing them this victory more children have been endangered.

Like anyone with sense, I'm enraged, and I am prepared to act. Give me their names. Tell me who threatened you. Tell me who said they would make your children suffer if you tried to help other children, and I will publish their names here.

Name them, Rabbi Twerksi, name them. Let those bastards explain why they chose to support and protect child rapists. Let them tell us the names of the devil they serve. Tell us who they are, so the community of people who care about children can properly respond and rain an unforgiving wrath on these fiends and their friends.

Tell us who they are or you've become part of the problem.

You can reach me at

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Mee K'Amcha Yisroel!

Thugs and barbarians intimidate prominent Hasidic psychologist into resigning from Dov Hikind's pedophilia task force.

'Atticus - ' said Jem bleakly.

'How could they do it, how could they?'

'I don't know, but they did it. They've done it before and they did it tonight and they'll do it again and when they do it - seems that only children weep. Good night.'

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Stop Whining You Big Republican Babies

How the World Works

Your liberal media:

MATTHEWS: Now, it'll die, as we said, it'll jump the shark. Two days ago, no, we're all talking about -- you're waving the tabloids around, come on. Two days from now -- I want to ask you, what will we talk about two days from now?

SCARBOROUGH: Whatever the McCain campaign wants us to talk about, because the McCain campaign is assertive.
I can't say I'm surprised. In this vein, perhaps one of you can tell me why the negative things Republicans say about Hillary and her personality don't apply equally well to Sarah Palin.

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Jameel has a post this morning about how the Israeli Rabbinate is cracking down on men who won't grant their wives religious divorces.

(It pains me to post the following, but we were left with no alternative*. The Rabbinate's aggressive new approach hasn not been mentioned yet on Cross(Loving)Currents or YWNoodleheads. This is because Mencken, Safrin, and the Pecksniffian YWE prefer bashing other Jewish sects (and, in the case of Cross Currents, propping up discredited Christian ministers, and defending child molesters) to helping Jewish women.)

Though I support the Rabbinate, I think they are ignoring the elephant in the room.

Per the Torah, a man has the right to withhold a divorce from his wife. It's a right often abused, but there's no question that it exists in halacha, and without qualification. If you accept the divine wisdom of the Torah, you must also accept that men have been divinely granted this power. To recognize that there is an aguna crises in Orthodox Judaism is to recognize that the Torah's law is inappropriate to current circumstances. To recognize the aguna crises is to recognize a mismatch between the Torah's law and modern practices and sensibilities.

We all see the problem, but we say we can't solve it. Why? Because the law is divine, and therefore inalterable. But if the law is divine why do we have an aguna crises? Why don't we pat the women on the head and say, "Sorry darlings, we can't help you. This is Judaism. God wants your husband to be able to control you this way. Instead of fighting it, we advise you to submit to the heavenly wisdom." We don't say this because we recognize the law is absurd, and that the power it gives men is unjust. Shouldn't it follow from this recognition that the law can't be divine? And if it isn't divine, why are we reluctant to fix it?

Jewish divorce laws were established with a different society in mind. Society has changed. As a result the divorce laws no longer work. When this sort of thing happens, the solution is not more aggressive policing. The solution is to change the law.

*Sarcasm. Click the link if you don't understand.

Your news roundup

Introducing what we hope becomes a new and permanent DovBear feature, written by our crack reporter, the Alter Blogger.

In the world of Torah True News (TTN), we are happy to report that the has changed to a new site format – a very elegant new look for an already comprehensive forum for Habotzas Torah; in audio, text and beyond. The wealth of topics and subjects covered, the large number of lecturers and magidei shiur, the formats and types of forums and audience appeal surely make it the greatest site for Limud Hatorah online. Anyone who feels differently is free to argue ad nauseum.

While we're on the subject, YU is also happy to announce the establishment of the Lamm Heritage, in honor of University Chancellor, Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm, shlita. The Yadin Yadin Kollel which has produced some of the Jewish World's most brilliant minds will now be renamed for Rav Lamm.

So how does Sarah Palin's Moral Majority really feel about a woman vice president? See what everyone had to say the last time a woman was to be nominated.

In the world according to Sarah Palin, there would probably be a population overcrowding crisis in the United States since as a member of "Feminists for Life" Palin is indeed against all forms of contraception -including oral contraception- which means an upsurge in the occurrence of "Chupas Niddah" given that Orthodox Jewish women almost universally take birth control pills to prevent menstruation on their wedding days.

But seriously, what should anyone expect from tough small town Mayor who made rape victims foot the bill for their own forensic examinations?

Must be easy for a Governor who misuses state funds.

Then again, what should America expect from a blatant, that's blatant liar? I remember a president who got impeached for being liar, not too long ago. (That's blatant liar)

Only in New York can Metzitz B'Peh be the topic of desperate last minute election day Robo-Call campaigns

One Rabbi, Two Students: People at Stern College speak to CBS News about Professor Ladin

Teaching them young: Another College Republicans head resigns over his cocky racism

Read this: Murphy Brown , Dan Quayle, and Juno in Juneau

Did she "legitimize a former terrorist" or just merely have a "diplomatic meeting with an evil doer?" Huh? Inquiring minds want to know what anyone thinks of the recent historic meeting between United State secretary of state Condi Rice and his royal wackiness, Muammar al-Qaddafi. She even had an Iftar banquet with him. President Bush (the first American president ever to annually observe the Ramadan dinner) will be having his Iftar feast next week. Weren't you invited?

For another tree that fell in the forest which nobody heard, was the recent block by the US (aka the Bush administration) of an Israeli attempt at purchasing aircrafts which may have been able to be used in an attack against Iran. Hmm. Ironically this occurred during the same week that people came down hard on Joe Biden for suggesting that Israel might have to concede to getting used to the idea that Iran would be nuclear. What?

Speaking of Rice, we already knew she was a fake conservative – but not this much that she can't give an overwhelming endorsement to Sarah Palin? Perhaps Condi feels Sarah's presence might stifle her own futile chances to run in 2012 or 2016.

Meanwhile back on the warfront, not only did Bush not forget Poland, but in another "surge"attempt he actually didn't forget Afghanistan either, apparently.

And finally in entertainment, Senator John McCain unable to fight his delusions now claims that he is none other than Jack Bauer.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Dance Dance Revolution

Israeli security forces black man with muslim name to dance to prove his identity.

Biggest irony? The guy is married to a Jewish woman with Israeli relatives.
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What was this man's sin?

One of the frum neighborhoods is buzzing about a man recently stricken with a serious cancer. He lives in Arizona, with his second wife, where he moved after his divorce. The first wife and his five kids are back home in the frum neighborhood. Its a matter of common knowledge, that this man cheated on his first wife with the (non Jewish) woman who became his second wife. The divorce was halachic, and the get was given with no argument or difficulties.

After the man became ill, some friends from the frum neighborhood traveled to Arizona to visit him in the hospital. They came back saying the man had declared that his cancer was a divine punishment for his sins, specifically they sins he committed against his wife.

No doubt, the man was speaking emotionally, and its clear he behaved like a cad, but (presuming the story I've summarized above is the whole story) what was his sin? From the perspective of the Jewish religion, he didn't commit adultery, and his marriage to the non-Jew is meaningless per Jewish law. The only thing he may have done wrong in the eyes of the Torah is sleep with a woman who was neither Jewish nor married, but I'm not sure that such behavior is even forbidden. (Is it?) Certainly, its not a capital offence, so the idea that the cancer is a divine retribution seems fanciful.

I understand that the man is contrite about offending the values of his community and culture, and perhaps this is what he meant, but did he offend Torah values, too?
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Biden is better for Israel

Some Jewish blogs, which I won't name because they suck, are currently attempting to create some enthusiasm for the idea that Joe Biden is Weak on Israel. They do this by ignoring facts, and by applying a double standard, and, of course, the whole attack is dressed in a veneer of objectivity. "Really," they seem to say, "We'd LOVE to vote Democrat, but we can't because their VP candidate is insufficiently pro-Israel."

This approach is typical of GOP-bloggers and it makes a mockery of intellectual honesty. The bloggers playing this game wouldn't vote for Moshiach ben Dovid if he ran Democrat. They aren't objectively weighing Biden's record and credentials, and trying to make an honest choice. They are l'chatchila looking for ways to discredit him.

It's hard to understand how any one-issue voter who seriously cares about Israel's well-being could prefer Palin to Biden. One is a supporter of Pat "Congress is Israeli Occupied Territory" Buchanan, with no record on Israel. The other frequently says things like this. Therefore, the only possible explanation for the behavior of these Jewish-bloggers is that they care more about electing a Republican than they do about helping Israel.

These bloggers should be condemned for their dishonesty. If they prefer the Republican side, they should do what I do, and come out swinging, instead of playing make believe.

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