Sunday, August 31, 2014

Orthodoxy and Bible Critcism

Summary:  In what follows, I argue that the Rambam's 8th ikkar unnecessarily and unfortunately became a litmus test of Orthodox Judaism and that the time has come to abandon this idea and let the chips fall where they may. While I believe the Torah developed historically, I also believe in God and in an initial revelation on Har Sinai. Therefore, I don't think abandoning the 8th -- an idea that itself developed contingently and was not accepted by many great Rabbis - can harm anything legitimately and authentically necessary to our religion.

Great moments in marketing: Zara's shirt

Zara, a Spanish retailer is actually selling this monstrosity

UPDATE: Zara is appeasing the Jews and other people with taste who protested. The shirt is no longer being offered.

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Friday, August 29, 2014

A West Bank Freedom Summer?

In Haaretz, Peter Beinart is urging American Jews to stage a Freedom Summer in the West Bank in opposition to the settlement program.

Here is what he says: [Screw you Haaretz paywall]
"It’s time for American Jews who support Israel but oppose the occupation to commit to large-scale, direct action of our own. And the most important place to do so is in the West Bank. Palestinians in villages like Bil’in and Nabi Saleh have been protesting, unarmed, for years against the theft of their land. But their efforts receive little attention in American Jewish circles or in the American press. Few American Jews have any idea that under the military law that governs Palestinians in the West Bank, Israel routinely criminalizes freedom of speech and assembly. Or that peaceful protesters can be held in detention for years without trial.
But if thousands of American Jews joined those protests, American Jews would know. Protesters would return home with videos to show their synagogues; hawkish parents would be appalled by the treatment meted out to their children. And the American media, which covers Jews far more intensively than it covers Palestinians, would follow. The model would be Freedom Summer, Robert Moses’ campaign to bring white college students to help register voters in Mississippi in 1964, and thus draw the nation’s eyes to oppression that garnered little media attention when practiced only against blacks."

-- Direct, peaceful action #FTW!  Its sexy and it works.

-- American Jews need to be woken up to the fact that West Bank Arabs are being denied basic rights because of their religion/ethnicity. I like anything that threatens to do this.


-- I'm not going to march alongside BDSers or Hamasniks. No Common Cause with them, period.

-- There's zero chance that such a West Bank demonstration will remain peaceful. I don't know why it worked in the American South, during the Freedom Rides and Freedom Summer, because had I been a Southern black living under Jim Crow you damn well better believe I would have thrown stones - or worse. But for some reason when blacks marched and protested in the 60s they (when it mattered) responded to the worst provocations with love. The Arabs simply won't do that - which kills Beinart's idea in its crib.

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Do we who whine about anti-Semitism experience anything like this?

Today's bad news:
Scholars have found that blacks and Hispanics treated by doctors for a broken leg received pain medication significantly less often than white patients with the same injury. School administrators suspend black students at more than three times the rate of white students. Police arrest blacks at 3.7 times the rate of whites for marijuana possession, even though surveys find that both use marijuana at roughly similar rates. 
Two scholars sent out nearly 5,000 résumés in response to help-wanted ads, randomly alternating between stereotypically white-sounding names and black-sounding names. They found that it took 50 percent more mailings to get a callback for a black name. A white name yielded as much benefit as eight years of experience, according to the study, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research. 
Joshua Correll of the University of Colorado at Boulder has used an online shooter video game to try to measure these unconscious attitudes (you can play the game yourself). The player takes on the role of a police officer who is confronted with a series of images of white or black men variously holding guns or innocent objects such as wallets or cellphones. The aim is to shoot anyone with a gun while holstering your weapon in other cases.

Ordinary players (often university undergraduates) routinely shoot more quickly at black men than at white men, and are more likely to mistakenly shoot an unarmed black man than an unarmed white man.

Do we who whine about anti-Semitism experience anything like this?
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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Our European Summer

While they are certainly an outrage ,I can not decide if the events in Europe this summer are cause for worry. And this NYT oped by a bright woman from Georgia does nothing to help me clarify my thoughts.

PS For those inclined to worry about European Jews let me state that all of this seems foretold by the commentators on Parshas Reeh who warned that bad behavior by Jews living in Israel spells danger. Not that I put extra super faith in such predictions, of course.

NYT:Why Jews Are Worried
Europe isn’t on the cusp of another Holocaust. But the situation is still pretty bad.
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Furgeson Jews

The stupid things Jewish racists say about Ferguson continue to grate on my nerves. So two quick announcements:

:: Jews riot, too, when they believe the police have mistreated one of their own. It's happened in Boro Park and Meah Shearim. And the fact that some riots are more or less violent than other riots does not erase the fact that Jews riot, too.

:: It's only possible to say blacks are "prone to rioting" if you forget the daily injustices the black community puts up with at the hands of the police. Stop and frisk. Driving while black. Choke holds."Resisting arrest" as an excuse to knock someone's head in. As professional and competent as most policemen are, such injustices are committed against blacks at a frequency Jews would never tolerate. If hasidim were subjected to even an eighth of the crap the black community endures, the hasidim would riot and their far more competent leaders would work behind the scenes to ensure the police department reformed itself.

(I'm aware that there is far more criminal behavior in the black community and in general I am not criticizing cops. All the same it can't be denied that police misconduct affects the black community more than it affects any other; moreover if such misconduct were to be directed at, say, Satmar hasidim, you'd have riots and behind the scenes "askonus" carried out by lobbyists and negotiators who are far more competent than Al Sharpton)

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Let the Tanaaim be Tannaim!

Rashi and Ramban discuss, in parshas Eikev, the midrash which claims "the clouds of the divine glory brushed their garments and pressed them so they looked like freshly ironed articles" while the Jews were marching through the desert.

My object, when I read midrash and rishonim, isn't to discover what "really happened" but to see, as best possible, what the writer is attempting to convey. I think all parties under discussion here - Ramban, Rashi and most crucially the original midrash - are of the view that the clouds of glory literally kept everyone's clothing looking sharp as that's where their reading of the verse takes them.

Here, the verse says שִׂמְלָתְךָ לֹא בָלְתָה and the midrash, followed by Rashi and Ramban, take that to mean what it says it means just as they take ואש מתלקחת בתוך הברד to mean what it says it means.

I argue that if a verse says something supernatural happened, the Sages believed it happened. Many of the so-called supernatural midrashim are just alternative readings of the verse. In such cases what apart from our own squeamishness stops us from concluding that the Sages though that what the verse says happened actually happened? (and please note the distinction between what the sages thought happened, and what actually happened as there aren't necessarily one and the same)

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See how 5TJ gets it wrong on Furgeson vs Miami

Like father, like son?

Larry Gordon of the infamous 5TJ believes the only difference between the Jews of Miami and the blacks of Furgeson is that Jews don't riot.

He seems to have forgotten that the Jew in Miami was killed by a criminal,and that the Jews in Miami can rely on the police to investigate the case correctly while, for the moment at least, the blacks of Furgeson have no such confidence in their own local law enforcement.

More to the point, under identical circumstances Jews have behaved identically. The Jews of Boro Park and Mea Shearim have, on multiple occasions, rioted when they believed the police treated them unfairly.

Slaughtering "as I have commanded you"

I love Rashi and can go on for days about his brilliance but I have to say that, l'ad, he gets it wrong on Deuteronomy 12:21:
"When the place which Hashem, your God, has chosen to place His name there, is distant from you and you will slaughter from your cattle and your herd which Hashem has given you, as I have commanded you, and you shall eat in your gates as all your soul desires." 
And you will slaughter etc. as I have commanded you - RASHI: This teaches us that there is a command regarding slaughtering [animals to be eaten], how one should slaughter, and these must be the laws of slaughtering which were told to Moses at Sinai.
My point of disagreement is this: God has mentioned slaughtering earlier in the book. Perhaps our verse is not pointing to " laws of slaughtering which were told to Moses at Sinai.", ie,  the oral Torah, but to one of those instances. For example,  a mere five verses earlier we find a wider discussion of slaughtering.

And if you will say that the specific rules and details of slaughtering are not mentioned there either  I will reply that the written Torah never mentions such details. Our case - slaughtering - is merely another one of several cases of the Torah omitting to mention such rules details. If none of those other cases point to the existence of a second Torah neither does this one.

[Let me preempt your expected argument from consequences, please: I'm not looking to do anything other than understand the verse correctly; moreover my suggestion does nothing at all to "disprove" the existence of the Oral  Law. From the fact that this particular verse does not point at the Oral Torah, it does not follow that that there is no oral Torah. ]

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Monday, August 18, 2014

How is #furgeson unlike the West Bank

How is #furgeson unlike the West Bank? Three big differences:
  1. The Ferguson police have used military grade equipment to disperse violently-minded rioters who have come armed with guns and Molotov cocktails - yet, to date, have not killed a single one of them. (The IDF often ends up killing rioters) 
  2. Ultimately the people of Ferguson will be able to settle their grievances in the courts or at the polls. (Palestinians have no such luck) 
  3. There is no genocide-minded terrorist organization in Ferguson coordinating the riots or attempting to recruit and train the rioters for more violent work (perhaps because none of the rioters have been shot and because ultimately they can turn to the legal system or the ballot box for a remedy)

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Its all Netanyahu's Fault

Op-ed: Though he markets himself as an expert on US, prime minister responsible for deterioration in ties to Israel's closest ally.

Money quote:
After slandering the president, trying to humiliate him in front of the cameras in the White House, callously supporting his rival Mitt Romney in the 2012 elections, allowing his ministers – especially Defense Minister Ya'alon – to vilify and sully US Secretary of State John Kerry, expressessing "doubts" over the appointment of US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, and threatening every Monday and Thursday to "go to Congress," Netanyahu should not wonder why he is not popular in Washington, D.C.
Opinion: Op-ed: Though he markets himself as an expert on US, prime minister responsible for deterioration in ties to Israel's closest ally.

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Hebrew has been banned!

A Satamr synagogue in Kiryas Joel has forbidden the use of Hebrew on its grounds. 

I guess this means they won't be learning mishnayos, reciting prayers, or studying SHUT. Hell, even Vayoel Moshe is written in Hebrew -- or do the gabbaim intend to start policing dialects?
  • Ari Mandel Did these monkeys not notice that the sign banning Hebrew, is written in Hebrew?

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

B v O on I

What's going to happen when a real anti-Israel president like Rand Paul, a Republican, takes office? You think he'll just chuckle and, like Obama, reach for his checkbook every time Netanyahu mistreats him or one of his deputies?

And while we're discussing GOP Jewish delusions, perhaps someone can help me with this chronic question.

I, honestly, don't see any real difference between Obama and Bush when it comes to Israel-- except Obama provides more money and more weapons. Both provided Israel with  massive amounts of funding, but both called for settlement freezes and urged Israel to demonstrate restraint. (Bush also was first to call for a two state solution, and championed the Road Map.)

Yet, the GOP Jews remain convinced that Obama is destroying Israel while Bush was Israel's best friend. What's the reason for this inconsistency?

-- I don't have very high hopes for this dialog. I bet 10 dollars the GOP Jewish answer will consist entirely of hyperbole, nonsense about tone or the "way he talks" or what he "really means" and the endless stream of false facts.

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Bibi should be on thin ice - but isn't

Today's WSJ tells me the Bibi Netanyahu continue to have difficulty remembering who is the lord and who is the vassal. 
We learn that Israel went around Pentagon procurement procedures to the embarrassment of US policy-makers, and that Netanyahu leaked a draft US proposal solely for the purpose of humiliating John Kerry.

I'd certainly toss Bibi under the nearest bus if he treated me the way he perpetually treats the Obama administration. 

The fact that our president continues not just to tolerate him, but to support and to protect and to fund him, proves that the president is a great philo-Semite or that, truly, "the king's heart in the hands of the Lord"

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Things the Menk-man gets wrong in his supercilious anti-tribute to Robin Willaims:

The whole horror show is on his blog, of course. Choice tidbits follow:

Happiness is not a casual thing, it doesn’t just happen, it is something that one can pursue and develop. This is why Chazal say “it is a great Mitzvah to always be happy” — it’s something we can cultivate.

It was Rav Nachman of Breslov, not Chazal, who told us “it is a great Mitzvah to always be happy”

This statement also teaches us that happiness is not a state of laughing delight. Rav Alexander Mandelbaum, in his “V’hayisa Ach Samayach” (“and you shall only be happy”), speaks about two types of happiness considered by Chazal — happiness with one’s lot, and happiness in performance of Mitzvos. Happiness with one’s lot is developed by considering that G-d gives each individual precisely what that person needs — so he or she, even in a difficult situation, should be happy with the understanding that HaShem saw that the difficult situation would prove to be of ultimate benefit. That sort of happiness doesn’t “just happen.”

While it might be true that healthy people can "cultivate happiness", you can't wish away a serious illness like depression. Taking to heart these words, as Menken suggests,  and recognizing that God runs the world, distributing blessings that precisely match each person's needs, would not have cured Robin Williams's illness.

Depression is not sadness. Robin Williams was not sad. He was sick with a serious mood disorder.

One does not always feel Sasson, joy. But it is a Mitzvah to always be happy — even on Tisha B’Av, even during Shivah. How can this be? We can comprehend this by understanding Simchah as a feeling of moving happily in the right direction, pursuing a goal. That is something that can remain with a person even during times of grief and pain.

That is real happiness. Unfortunately, the purveyors of what the modern world calls “happiness” — the entertainers — realize within themselves, either consciously or subconsciously, that they have not found and are not providing true happiness.

As Robin Williams never said: "If only someone had told me that happiness is when you're moving happily toward a goal. Wow. If someone had told me that, as I worked for years, laboriously honing my craft and building my career as a world class entertainer, my mood disorder would have cleared right up."

In short, let's redefine the word simcha and use that redefinition to pass judgment on a dead man, his entire industry and the modern world. Robin Williams was desperately sick, but that was not because he didn't have handy Menken's redefinition of the word Simcha. He was sick because something went bad in his brain chemistry. And most irritating of all is Menken's cheap, unfalsifiable assertion that Williams was unhappy - again depression isn't unhappiness - because he "knew" all of this "either consciously or subconsciously."

To people like Menken people don't hate your guts because you're a churlish moron, but because "deep down inside" they know the chulish moron is right.

As a mental health professional, I think I am most offended and concerned by his insistence that William's struggle with depression had a cause, and that the cause was his choice of profession. This seems to blame William's for courting his own mental illness. Which, in turn, suggests that having mental health struggles is a choice, and that the truly pious would never experience such struggles because they are "happily" engaged in mitzvot. 

Opinion pieces like Menken's are dangerous. Although in his responses to comments, he alludes to being more familiar with research on depression, he doesn't reference actual fact or research about depression in his post. By glossing over the complexities of what clinical depression actually is, and trying to fit Robin William's death into a neat, little "vort" package, he is actually perpetuating the stigma against mental health that pervades the Orthodox community.

Some of his post is breathtaking:

I don’t believe that Williams simply had a mental illness
How fortunate for R. Menken, since he seems to have no interest in talking about mental illness but instead promoting his own "happiness is always a choice" agenda. [DB: And how many hours did Dr. Menken sit with the patient prior to the diagnosis?]

Few are discussing how common depression seems to be among the leading entertainers
A Google search will refute this, but it's important to claim there's no discussion in order to promote the relevance of your own discussion. The faint whiff of a conspiracy of silence never hurt ratings, either.

I did a little research.
Yes, but he should really remove the "a."

I’m not aware of any other industry whose top practitioners are so
likely to have trouble with drugs, alcohol, broken marriages, other
self-destructive behaviors, and of course suicide.

See preceding bullet.

That is real happiness. Unfortunately, the purveyors of what the modern
world calls “happiness” — the entertainers — realize within themselves,
either consciously or subconsciously, that they have not found and are
not providing true happiness.

Here's what the post is really all about, and DB nailed it when he wrote, "In short, let's redefine the word simcha and use that redefinition to pass judgment on a dead man, his entire industry and the modern world."

B'tachles, this "vort" isn't about Robin Williams, suicide, or even about happiness as such; the tragedy of Robin Williams death is just a convenient platform from which R. Menken can launch another salvo at modernity.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What Jews talk about

During my brief and recent involvement with the Abraham's Tent Interfaith Facebook Group, I have learned that Jews are far more concerned about petty details than Muslims - or at least the Jews who are inclined to participate in the interfaith discussions hosted by this particular group are far more concerned about petty details than their Muslim counterparts.

Ask a question about Muslim observances, and you'll generally get one answer, or perhaps a brief discussion about regional differences. Ask about a Jewish observance and you can expect hundreds of comments discussing every possible in and every possible out.

The other day, two group members met and posted a double selfie. The Jew was wearing Jewish clothing: a Breslaver kippa, white shirt and visible arba kanfot. The Muslim was in a tunic of some kind and a Bukharin cap. We asked for explanations, but none of the Muslim members seemed able or willing to discuss what the tunic or cap signaled - if anything - or what scriptural verses or interpretations made them necessary, or how the garments developed historically. But we Jews went to work on what our guy was wearing. For two days we hammered away about varieties of techayles, the different things different styles of kippa say about the wearer, the types of knots people put in their tzitzis and more. Is it because Judaism is so much older than Islam?

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Monday, August 11, 2014

Out praying the Arabs

We Jews have believed in praying for military victories since the time of the Bible. In days of yore, there was a certain logic to this. Our enemies were pagans, who worshiped the false, graven gods, while our prayers were directed to the One True King. 

But now? Now, our enemies also address their prayers to the One True King. What's worse, our enemies outnumber us, and they pray more frequently, and with greater fervor, too, if YouTube can be trusted.  If the videos can be believed, they don't chat during prayers, and they seem to stay perfectly focused on the words and their meaning from beginning to end. 

According to our Rabbis, we need to raise up a great sound of prayer, but the great sound of prayer raised by the Muslims drowns us out. If we believe that prayer works, i.e. if we believe prayer spurs God to action, and that they work best when they are said fervently and in great numbers. Doesn't it follow  that their prayers are more powerful?

Possible solutions

God won't answer the prayers of the Muslims because then it will seem like the Jews aren't really his special guys. So for the sake of the glory of his own name He ignores Muslims prayers when they beseech him to harm the Jews. FLAW: If God is just going to impose His own calculations on the process and ignore prayers when it suits Him what's the point of praying in the first place

God takes into account the character of the person who is offering the prayers. We don't have to worry about the power of Muslim prayers, because they're being offered by morally corrupt people. FLAW: Says who? The Muslims will be happy to explain to you why they are morally exquisite and we are morally corrupt. And even if we can agree that God will ignore the prayers of terrorist murderers, what about the billion or so Muslims who pray 5 x per day and aren't terrorist murderers? And again if you say God focuses His attention on the person doing the praying, the actual prayer itself ceases to matter. 

In reality prayers don't spur God to action. In reality, we pray to improve ourselves with the expectation that God will deal more favorably with us after we've been improved. FLAW: If so, wouldn't Muslims be improved by their prayers - especially if they say them more often and with more fervor? So we're back where we started.

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Friday, August 08, 2014

The Arab plane ride

How strange. The last time I was on a plane all the Arabs were talking about how annoyed they are that long skirts and kosher wigs are keeping us safe.

Photo: If you don't have a good story, make up a great one.

How strange. The last time I was on a plane all the Arabs were talking about how annoyed they are that long skirts and kosher wigs are keeping us safe.
If you don't have a good story, make up a great one.

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Thursday, August 07, 2014

Don't ask the Eskimos about snow

If you want to know about the sociology of Hasidut, i.e. Chassidic life, the last person you should speak to is a Hassid. Ask a Princeton educated Bal Teshuva who frequently confuses Neocon punditry with Torah instead.

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Wednesday, August 06, 2014

It doesn't have to make sense

This question is for OTD people who have dropped rituals because they don't make sense, and also for non-OTD people who invest effort and energy into showing how much sense our rituals make.

Aren't you guys both sort of missing the point?

Our observance of secular rituals doesn't depend exclusively on whether or not they make sense. Why should our observance of religious rituals depend on that, and that alone? As the #1 comment said, it only has to make sense if we don't enjoy it, or it isn't causing some kind of tangible harm.

Agudas Yisroel springs into action!!!

Agudas Yisroel springs into action!!! This timely and important email message hit last Friday, just as the cease fire went into effect. Kol hakovod to those who made those "numerous inquiries" as otherwise we can assume that even this would not have been done. As the email explains:

  1. Why should we daven more? Because the Gedolim said so!
  2. Why should we attend the prayer event? Because the Gedolim said so!
  3. Why has Agudah started collecting money for "to provide support and assistance to our brethren in the Holy Land in their hour of dire need?" Because we got lots of annoying inquiries.
  1. Who is getting the money? The letter doesn't say. Will it go to widows and orphans or to kollelniks?
  2. Not for now, but perhaps someday one of you can help me understand why we're certain that our prayers to the One True God are superior to the prayers being offered by the Muslims. There are more of them, praying more frequently, and with greater fervor, too, if YouTube can be trusted.
  3. I confess to not remembering, but does the Talmud say that tehillim and sermons are the proper response to national calamities? My memory is fuzzy and I don't feel like looking it up, but I seem to recall that a different set of rituals is prescribed.

To friends of Agudath Israel of America:

A guten Erev Shabbos.

We are all aware of the urgency of the "matzav" in Eretz Yisroel. These are obviously extraordinary times. I'd like to share with you some of the things on our plate as we at Agudath Israel seek to do what we can to fulfill our responsibilities at this historic moment.

First, the Gedolei Yisroel who stand at the helm of Agudath Israel are calling upon us to strengthen our tefillos on behalf of our beleaguered brethren in Eretz Yisroel and across the world, and to have in mind the soldiers who are on the front lines fighting the enemy that seeks to destroy us. ............

Second, the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah has issued a Kol Korei (copy below) calling for a special Kinnus Tefila V'hisorirus for men and women this coming Wednesday, August 6 (the day after Tisha B'Av), to be held at The Palace, 780 McDonald Avenue, with the program starting with Mincha at 6:30 PM, followed by divrei hisorirus, Tehillim and special tefillos. The Kol Korei goes on to point out the importance of recognizing the seriousness of the current situation, and the special obligation we have not to let down our guard during these vacation weeks, and to conduct ourselves in a manner befitting the urgency of the moment.

Third, in response to numerous inquiries, we will be setting up a special Eretz Yisroel Emergency Fund, the proceeds of which will be used to provide support and assistance to our brethren in the Holy Land in their hour of dire need. Details will be forthcoming be'H next week.

May Hashem have mercy on His chosen people, and may the frightening cacophony of war be replaced by the joyous footsteps of Moshiach Tzidkeinu!

Chaim Dovid Zwiebel

David Zwiebel, Esq.
Executive Vice President
Agudath Israel of America

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Smoking and sports are similar how?

Several weeks after Frimet Goldberger's piece about the glories of Satmar girl camp appeared in the Forward, the New York Times has an article on the majesty and wonder of Satmar boy camp.
In case you're curious, the majesty and wonder of Satmar boy camp consists mainly of hours of Torah study with a few breaks for swimming and some Frisbee on weed-covered lawns.

Why don't they play sports at Satmar boy camp? Easy. Because sports are like smoking:

“It’s like smoking, you get more and more addicted,” Yoel Landau, the camp manager, explained of the power of sporting activities.
Only to the best of my knowledge, Satmar has not done much of anything to stamp out smoking. Their war on sports has been far more successful.

HT: Azi Graeber

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Yochanan Gordon is famous

Hamas knows Yochanan Gordon's name! Hear it mispronounced at 4:47.

Nice work pro genocide maniacs! Way to give the real enemy some extra PR ammunition.

(By the way folks, this is another great argument in favor of following my example and doing all your lunatic spouting under a pseudonym.)

Monday, August 04, 2014

Why one and not the other

The answer to the question I am about to ask is not "Antisemitism" That's too simple, too facile an explanation. But here's what happened.

On Friday, a Jewish genius published an article claiming that genocide might be OK if military experts thought that was the best way to bring stability to Gaza. His poorly written, poorly reasoned piece was picked up by several mega sites.

Meanwhile, on the same day a Muslim cleric in Italy made an open call for genocide (video below) and none of the mega sites noticed

Why do you think this is?

Again, "antisemitism" is the wrong answer, I think.

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Five Towns Jewish Genocide: What happened and why

Last Friday, a Five Towns Jewish newspaper and the Times of Israel simultaneously published an article by Yochanan Gordon arguing that genocide was something worth considering if the military were to conclude that murdering all Gaza citizens was the only way to bring stability and peace to the region. Money quote:
If political leaders and military experts determine that the only way to achieve its goal of sustaining quiet is through genocide is it then permissible to achieve those responsible goals
The original story received 300 likes and over 3000 tweets and was picked up by Slate, Gawker, Mediate and other mega-sites. You can see the full column here (English nit-pickers are advised to skip it. The diction and grammar will put you in cardiac arrest.)

The Times of Israel was first to realize that it had inadvertently done something horribly damaging to not only its own reputation but to the safety and security of Jews all over the world. But after TOI pulled the piece, Gordon's first instinct was to fight back:

UPDATE I am told this is a FAKE account

UPDATE I am told this is a FAKE account

Later in the day, the Five Towns newspaper also took down the article and posted an explanation:
An article that was posted earlier today on our website dealt with the question of genocide in a most irresponsible fashion. We reject any such notion or discussion associated with even entertaining the possibility of such an unacceptable idea.
The piece should have been rejected out of hand by editors but escaped their proper attention. We reject such a suggestion unequivocally and apologize for the error.
Gordon's own apology appeared next:
I wish to express deep regret and beg forgiveness for an article I authored which was posted on, Times of Israel and was tweeted and shared the world over. 
I never intended to call to harm any people although my words may have conveyed that message.
With that said I pray and hope for a quick peaceful end to the hostilities and that all people learn to coexist with each other in creating a better world for us all.
But some people were not buying it. A fellow named Reuven Bell posted the following spot-on parody of the apology on my Facebook page, where it was seen by a writer from Frum Satire who immediately posted it on that site
I wish to apologize for an article I published which was the product of views and statements commonly held and spewed in my sheltered community. While, on reflection, I doubt anyone would seriously call for the mass extermination of millions, I'm not a very deep thinker, and parroting offensive ideas without considering the ramifications of their literal content is fairly common in my religio/social circles.
Mostly, though, I'm sorry for forgetting that there's a world outside the echo chamber in which I usually live, and for forgetting that the Internet is a platform where people who might believe that which I consider obvious to be truly abhorrent might read my words and be duly shocked by them. While I still believe that the only good Arab is a dead one, I am deeply sorry that all those who do not agree, and may not view my genius as my daddy does, have the ability to humiliate me publicly when I broadcast my hateful views on a world wide forum. I deeply regret the stir I've caused, and that it's reflected poorly on me, and hereby promise to keep my genocidal views to smaller, more local fora, until the next time I forget.
So what actually happened? I think Bell nails it. Gordon lives in a community where people tend to spout off about Arabs and because he's not the sharpest knife in the drawer, and he simply didn't realize that his arguments were dumb, and that posting then for the world to see was dangerous and stupid. He thought he was presenting a legitimate opinion, in a learned and professional way.

Meanwhile, this happened in an Italian mosque on the same day Gordon's article was published.

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Belgian doctor denies help to old Jewish lady

I'd like to know if the Belgian doctor discussed in this article applies the same logic when he has elderly Arab patients.

Wouldn't consistency demand that he refuse to treat Arab patients in reaction to the ultra-violent behavior of Hamas?
A doctor in Belgium has refused medical help to a 90-year-old Jewish woman with a fractured rib, saying that she needs to be sent to Gaza to “get rid of” the sharp pain she is suffering.

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Obama goes on the record yet again, and gets lots of Bibi love

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And here's Bibi agreeing with me and disagreeing with all the dumb Obama bashers

“Well, first, let me make a general statement about our relationship with the United States. I think the United States has been terrific. I think it’s offered terrific support for Israel from the level of Ambassador Dan Shapiro.
“I’ve always said he’s a great ambassador, I say it again today. The just untiring efforts of Secretary [John] Kerry with whom I speak several times a day in trying to help Israel and the efforts of President [Barack] Obama who has made, I think, consistent statements about Israel’s right to defend itself, his statement yesterday against Hamas, his unequivocal stand with Israel on our right to defend ourselves against tunnels, against rockets and all the other terror instruments that Hamas is leveling at us.
“The United States has given us tremendous support, material support with Iron Dome, not only the one that we received, but now both houses of Congress with the support of the Administration have agreed to the request that I made for an additional $225 million for additional Iron Dome protection. That is a lot of support and we deeply appreciate it, and that is the substance of our relationship.
“That’s the tone of our relationship, which gets to the question of these reports that are not only of my conversation with Ambassador Shapiro but also with the President that are full of incorrections, (sic) full of distortions and are wrong both in tone and in substance.
“The right tone, the right substance is the support that we are getting as we speak from the United States of America, and I appreciate it deeply.”

How do we know that the Destruction of the Second Temple occurred on 9 Av?

How do we know that the Destruction of the Second Temple occurred on 9 Av?

** Here's what we know:**
The Books of Jeremiah gives one date (10 Av) for the destruction of the First Temple, while the Book of Kings gives another. (7 Av)
Josephus, in his book, says that Second Temple was destroyed on 10 AV
The Mishna says both buildings were destroyed on 9 Av.
The Talmud (Tannit 29) reconciles the discrepancy between Jeremiah and Kings with and justifies the Mishna's date for the First destruction with a sevarah
The Talmud (Tannit 29) justifies the Mishna's date for the Second destruction with a second sevarah

(1) We cant establish a historical fact via sevarah. A legal fiction, however can be established via severah.
(2) It seems rather unlikely that any of the Tannaim who were alive in 70 CE would have known exactly when the Second destruction occurred. Most Tannaim were already stationed in Yavna, and they got their news via messenger. It seems unlikely that establishing the precise date of the destruction would have been their first order of business once the messenger arrived.The precise position of the sun when the Temple was set on fire would likely not have mattered to them, and the messenger himself may not have known.
(3) Even before the destruction of the Second Temple, the ninth of Av was considered a "bad date" because simple math demonstrated that several biblical tragedies occurred on that date.
(4) After the destruction, the tragedy was commemorated and gradually, over time, the date for that commemoration settled on 9 Av.

**Tentative conclusions**
(4) When the Mishna was written, no one really knew exactly when either Temple was destroyed. However, they knew 9 Av was a bad date and they knew people were commemorating the destruction on 9 av, so they codified it.
(5) The debate the Gemarah records provide the post-facto justification for the date the Mishna codified, which itself is based on the date of a pre-existing grass roots commemoration

I expect #2 to generate the most disagreement. You might find it hard to believe that knowing the exact date of the destruction would have been unimportant to the Rabbis of Yavnah. But I think they they were probably more worried about friends and relatives, property that was left behind and the Roman army's next move. The fact that the destruction was such a huge event is precisely why I am arguing that something unknowable and unverifiable like the date wouldn't have captured too much of their brain space. And even if they did care, it doesn't follow from this that they knew the correct date or that the later commemorations were based on their date.

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