Thursday, June 30, 2005
Now that I'm thinking about it, I can see where someone who was not brought up religious has a need to seperate the two concepts. The main difference is the reason why you are not doing something and how you would have to rationalize in order to determine that it was ok.
Honor Your Parents:
While this idea makes sense to the majority of people, I have heard the opinion that parents must earn the respect of their children. If you accept this as a divine commandment, then it does not matter if your parents are horrible people. You must respect them in any case. That does not mean you should line up for a beating - the rules for respecting your parents are outlined in detail in the Talmud, the written version of the oral tradition.
People often quote this commandment as a reason why religious people should not go to war. However, they ignore the rest of the Torah throughout which God tells the people to go out and kill man, woman and child. Capital Punishment is also espoused in the Torah. Yet, we see there is a divine differentiation between one killing and the next.
If you feel that not killing is a moral, yet not religious rule, then it becomes a lot harder to make that differentiation. If you believe it is immoral to kill, what if someone is trying to hurt you or your family? What if someone really upset you? When is it ok? when is it not? what is the basis of your decision? Is this a decision that everyone should make on their on? that should be voted on by society? what if you disagree with the vote? Does that mean that rules that you don't agree with are being forced on you?
Something to think about.
Today while coming into work I ripped my pants. I sat down on the train and my pocket got caught on the armrest and they tore right on the seam about 3 inches. No problem, I thought, the train stop is at the mall and on Thursday it is shuk day so there are tons of vendors who start early and the stuff is on display. Unfortunately, today they did not start early. There was only one vendor open and she was selling jewelery. Which I didn't want to buy. So I kept my bag in front of the gaping hole and went to work where I was sure I'd be able to figure out what to do. Sure enough, I found little binder clippies and secured the seam from the inside. Of course, they keep coming out. But it will work until the end of work and then I will have to figure out where to buy new pants. Lev Hamifratz or Kiryon.
One of the benefits of the kiryon is I can meet my family there for dinner. And my eldest can get her ears pierced. It was only about a week ago that we discussed piercings here on the rock, our topics are relevant. Well she came home with a report card that said she improved on everything. Except maybe handasa (engineering). ??WTF?? 1st graders learning engineering!!??! This does not raise my opinion of them very much, because not even the girl in her class who got a mitzsooyan in engineering knows how to build a bridge. So the fact that my daughter got an "Almost Very Good" doesn't really bother me at all. And since she fulfilled her end of the deal, which was being more organized in school, she'll get holes in her ear. It's interesting because it used to be that parents would say they'll hurt their children if they do badly in school. Now we offer it as a reward.
Swimming lessons are going great. Both kids can swim in the water without a banana, or any other fruit, I would imagine, but they specified that they could swim without a banana. I think the Israeli culture is getting to them.
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
A commonly heard question when espousing the virtues of a country based on the laws of God rather then those devised by man, is "It would end up like Iran/Afghanistan/..."
I would like to look at this from a Muslim perspective, which I really don't have, so I will look at this from a Jewishly perceived perspective of a Musilm.
These are the best governments possible.
The main problem with them is that they support terrorism. But that is part of their religion. So while we may think they are lousy places to live that is because we do not accept their rule of law. We don't accept their rules as being from God. But if we had our own country with our own rules that we believe come from God, how great would that be.
I would like to hear some comments, if possible, on what is wrong with a government similar to Iran. It seems that people believe that would be horrible. I'll bet the Iranians don't feel that way. They look at the US, a country that doesn't care if you violate Gods law with disdain at the obvious lack of morality.
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
"When he says he isn’t thinking about anything, it’s the truth. Sure, we change our agenda every few hours, in an extreme manner, and are intensely aware of our feelings at any given second. And unlike women, who can flirt with several extreme thoughts for years and not act on them, they don’t even consider such issues"
Definitely worth the read.
The United States is a pluralistic society. Anyone can live there and enjoy equal rights irrespective of Race, Religion, Gender... On the other hand, Spain of the late 1400s required all citizens to be Christians and more recently Saudi Arabia and Iran require that citizens be Muslims if they want to be considered first class citizens. One of the stated goals of the RockofGalilee is to help bring about a theocracy in the State of Israel, does that mean that other religions will not be able to freely practice their religions? That sounds awfully immoral and unpluralistic, forcing your belief system on someone else.
From a moral standpoint, which is more correct, the pluralistic United States or a non-pluralistic theocracy?
From an atheistic, God is not involved, and paganistic point of view, pluralism is perfect. I do what I want and you do what you want and don't bother me and I won't bother you.
But if you believe that God is very involved in our lives and any violation of his commandment is a corruption of the world which directly impacts you, then how can you stand there and not say anything? If a Christian believes that the world cannot reach perfection until everyone professes belief in their saviour, then if he accepts a Jewish person's behavior without acting in any way to influence it, then he is accepting a world that can never be fixed.
At my job in Detroit before I made aliyah, I worked with a guy from India. I asked him once how his vacation was and he told me it was great he went to the biggest temple in North America and prayed to the idols there and showed his son some of their culture and religion. (He used the word idol. I thought that was our derogatory term for them.) I smiled and continued the conversation in our regular pleasant manner. If I believed that he was destroying the world, how could I have a friendly relationship with him? If I believe that God wants me to kill him and that I have an obligation to do so, do I have the right to not take the first opportunity and end his life. Should I ambush him at first opportunity? Or should I smile and think well we have different lifestyles, but to each their own?
It is generally accepted that religious Jews do not go out and kill people who it seems the Torah requires us to. Maybe these rules only apply when the Jews are in charge or receive a direct commandment to start fulfilling those sections of the law. I don't know.
Sitting on an interfaith committee is a very interesting concept. It is meant to be pluralistic so that each religion learns about the other one and accepts it. Now for a Jew, in order to accept a non-Jew as a valid contributing member of society the non-Jew must follow the 7 Noahide laws. But for a Christian, anyone who doesn't accept their Saviour is an impediment to the world. The Crusades weren't started by idiots. These were firm believers of a religious doctrine. So for the Christian to sit with the Jew, his goal must be to convert the Jew. Why would a Jew want to sit with someone who either must disavow his religious beliefs or try to convert him in a forum that is specifically geared towards accepting each others beliefs as valid? The Muslim believes that anyone who does not accept Mohammad as the prophet is an infidel and should be killed. His goal is the same as the Christian's goal. If they are truly trying to accept the other religion as valid, that means that they are disavowing their own religion which does not have a place for another religion.
On the other hand, if you take into account the current reality - Jews, Christians and Muslims live in seeming peace together. Therefore, understanding the other religion can be very beneficial, but only in the context of know thine enemy.
The concept of intrafaith councils are very similar. A Reform Jew would conceptually have no problem sitting with an Orthodox Jew. He believes that there are a number of ways to be a religious Jew, orthodox is one and reform is another. However, an Orthodox Jew considers the Reform movement to be invalid. Therefore sitting in a council with a Reform Jew would be very hard for him, unless his goal is to convince the other that his way of life is wrong. For an Orthodox Jew to accept that Reform Judaism is a valid stream is to say that, "I do all these extra things because I want to. Not because there is a divine commandment to do them."
If the goal of an intra/inter faith committee is to convince the other guys that you are right and they are wrong, then that violates the very essence of the council. If the goal is to accept the other group, then that may just violate the essence of your religion.
Monday, June 27, 2005
WTF???!!?? It's hard for me to talk about israeli politics without using that phrase.
I am on the board of our Galilean shul and the membership is pretty much 98% or so right wing settler fanatics. There is a small minority that is either more left wing or believe that politics don't belong in shul. There was a sign posted that there would be an anti-withdrawal donation meeting with an MK speaker. Someone else posted on top of that sign that a number of years ago the membership voted not to allow politics into the shul. Someone posted on top of that, "how can you use the filthy word politics to describe a meeting that is full of Torah and ahavas yisrael."
In the end, the meeting took place somewhere else.
This week we had a big poster on the shul gates publicizing a big protest this coming week. A known leftist, (who is actually a secret rightist, but still believes that shul should be apolitical so he comes out against right wing initiatives and so his wife will talk to him) approached me and said that if our shul was going to turn into a branch of the anti-disengagement forces then he wasn't going to daven there anymore. I explained to him that there were no signs in shul and these were on the outside gate. He said he didn't care, he didn't think it was appropriate that every person who walked by the shul thought that this was a bastion of political propoganda instead of a place of worship. I explained to him that the shul was a bastion of political propoganda, 98% of the membership believe in it and everyone who walks by knows it whether there is a sign outside or not.
In the end, he did not ask for his pro-rated membership dues back and I considered that a success. (Part of it had to do with the fact that he went to 2 other shuls and they also had signs up so he gave up)
It begs the question, when are politics appropriate for a shul and when are they not? If this is an anti-Torah decision, as the national religious have painted it, then it does belong in shul. Our shul is a national religious shul. We say hallel on Israeli Independence Day. It would be similar to a situation where the state was allowing the sale of pork in Jewish stores. That may be politics, but it has deep religious connotations. For many of us, the shul is a community center. If I didn't see the sign in shul, i would have never known there was a protest. Shul is the only connection that I have with my community.
The problem is that just about everything has religious connotations. Does that mean that all politics should be allowed in shul? Absolutely Not. However, it is difficult to figure out where to draw the line.
A couple of my readers pointed out some serious flaws in my analogy between hockey and religion. They are 100% correct in the framework of the analogy I gave. This is true, because it actually makes no difference at all, in the grand scheme of things, how you play hockey or any other sport. Any change is ok because this is something invented by humans and whose changes, while they may sadden die hard fans of the original game, do not have any real effects.
If we feel that our religion is not rooted in divine instruction, then the analogy rings true about Judaism as well. Make changes that will make it easier and more popular. The die hard religionists will obviously be opposed in the same way that I was when I bought a tee-shirt opposing the destruction of Tiger Stadium and that friends of mine protested against putting up lights in Wrigley Field.
However, once you add God to the picture and see the Torah as a divine instruction book, then changing any detail causes you not to do what God asked you to. This brings us to what Judaism is and why God cares about what we do and why he created the world to begin with. To tell you the truth, I don't really know the answer to that. Everything that I have learned in this regard ends up be circular logic. That being said, we are here and I, at least, can't see it being a mistake. We have a tradition that says that God cares about what we do and gave us an instruction book detailing the way to live our lives. Why? The only answer that I can live with is that I am not on the level of understanding that God is at and therefore it is possible that I don't understand his motives. There are certain things that I can hear people disagreeing about because it seems more rabbinical then God sent. For example, someone can say, "I don't believe God cares whether we drive our car on shabbos. There were no cars then, an engine is not like lighting a fire and it doesn't violate any other prohibitions." I would disagree with them because the rabbis who have spent their lives studying and trying to understand what God wants from us say that is incorrect. But I can accept that the individual saying this is not purposefully violating the Torah commandment. However, if it says in the Torah, "Do Not Eat Pork" and someone says the Torah is not relevant that is a completely different story.
If you take God out of the picture, then what is Judaism? If God does not care whether or not we eat pork, then who does? Why light a menora on Chanuka? What is Jewish identity and culture? Do you see Jewish people as being special? What is the connection between the State of Israel and the Jewish people? There are so many questions and contradictions if you remove God from the Torah.
But if God said don't eat that pork and you do anyways, then you are in a lot of trouble.
Sunday, June 26, 2005
Sometimes you try because you feel you can succeed.
Sometimes you try because it means a lot to you.
Sometimes you try because you hope you can convince the other side.
Sometimes you try to make the best of the current situation.
Sometimes you try because it will make other people feel good.
Sometimes you go the extra mile as a confidence-building measure.
Now I understand the Israeli need to try and make peace.
But after each rejection, the will to try diminishes until it completely goes away.
When you shoot a suicide bomber with an explosive belt wrapped around her waist and the other side says you violated the agreement. This is the time to give up until a new reality appears.
I can understand the reform movement. It said, we love being Jewish, but we find it a bit restrictive. Why can't we be Jewish and enjoy the strong relationship to God without having to worry about the Torah. The Torah is a bit outdated anyways, so we will modernize it and apply the new rules for today. At least their adjective describes them correctly. It says, we are Jews that advocate change in Judaism.
Sounds like your average teenager. The rules might fit everyone else, but not me because I am different and nobody understands me so I'll make up my own rules, which I expect everyone to respect. They don't have an appreciation for the macro and tend to obsess on the micro. If you haven't heard spoken to teenagers before, read Brianna's blog .
I once told a relative who associated herself with the reform movement that I didn't think reform jews really believe in God and she started to cry. She told me that her temple was one of the biggest contributors to the State of Israel in Michigan. I still don't understand the connection between belief and God and contributions to the State of Israel, but that is a different blog topic on a different day. I am planning on writing about the State of Israel and its importance to the Jewish People and the connection to our religion.
From my point of view there is a fundamental problem with this. An Example:
There's a game we call hockey that everyone loves. A group of NHL hockey players decide that hockey is a great game, but it can be better. First of all, who really cares if the player goes over the blue line first or the puck. Also, why does everyone have to have the same type of stick? There are people who aren't good at skating, so it should be optional. Instead of 2 teams, why fight, everyone will be on the same team. Blocking the goal means that not everyone can score so we won't allow goaltenders.
We'll call it Reform Hockey. And we will demand from the NHL to recognize our version of the game as a valid version. Why not, are you going to say that they are not hockey players? It was started by NHL players, the very definition of pro-hockey. Are you going to say this is not a game they are playing? Why shouldn't the NHL recognize it as a valid version of the game.
The answer is you may be hockey players, and you may be playing, but you're not playing hockey. And someone who is not an original hockey player and just learns this new game could not be called a hockey player.
On the other hand there is Canadian Football.
Now just to touch on the Conservative Movement for a moment -
They saw what the Reform Hockey players had done and said, we agree that traditional Judaism is too restrictive, but you guys are playing a different game. So they threw back in a number of the old rules, made some things optional, took out a couple things and you have Floor Hockey. It looks a lot more like hockey then Reform Hockey, and it is easier to play. But it is not "authentic" hockey and it is missing a lot of the flavor and the excitement of the real thing.
Thursday, June 23, 2005
While I am specifically picking on male homosexuals in this post, I think the same concepts apply to anyone who takes pride in doing something that their religion strictly forbids.
You want to tell me that there were no cars when the torah was given, so it doesn't expressly forbid driving and that is rabbinical, then we have something to disagree about. But it is written very clearly. "Do not lie with a man as you would with a woman, it is an abomination, you should be killed and your blood is on your own head."
This gets back to the very basics of what exactly is a Jew. From my perspective someone is Jewish if their mothers were Jewish or if they converted properly. From their perspective, they publicly announce that they don't care about the basis of the religion, calling it irrelevant and dated. Would a proudly gay Jew please post a comment as to what they consider to be Jewish about themselves? If they are going to sin that is one thing, but does that have to be the adjective to their Judaism? Shouldn't that kind of thing stay in the bedroom? It would be like calling yourself an "anti-environment liberal" or a "people-hating humanitarian" or a "meat-eating vegetarian" they are adjectives that do not describe the noun.
We all sin, should take on those titles: We can have the "Lashon Hara Jews", "Bacon Eating Jews", "Cheating and Stealing Jews" ...
Ask me not if I see you as a Jew, tell me the basis for your own Judaism. We have a relative who has said repeatedly that he is not Jewish. From my perspective, he is an errant Jew and we will gladly welcome him back when he returns. From his perspective he does not accept the basis of the religion. I can understand that much better then someone who says I am Jewish, I just don't believe that God, if he exists, cares what we do. What does Jewish mean to him? Bagels with Lox?
NOTE: LEAVING A COMMENT IS NOT AN INDICATON OF HOMOSEXUALITY. COMMENTS FROM STRAIGHT PEOPLE ARE WELCOME AS WELL.
Apparantly this is normal in my kids school.
The girls started swimming lessons and they are doing very well, from what I hear. My oldest can swim without a banana and number two is doing excellent with the banana. No, I don't understand the whole banana thing either.
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
As usual this is my opinion, and while my opinion and fact generally are one and the same, other people feel differently yet at the same time feel strangely intimidated and therefore won't disagree. This note is meant to encourage disagreement, and I have been known to modify strong opinion if given a fairly persuasive reason.
I'm going to start this one off by talking about how modern non-religious Jews are officially considered under the flag of religious Judaism. Non-religious Jews, even some Jews who were once religious and then stopped being religious, have an official status of babies that were kidnapped. As such, they are considered to be compelled to sin and are not held completely respoonsible for it. I say completely responsible because as an intelligent adult everyone has the ability to overcome the biases that they were raised with and the various "life truths" that they have been ingrained with. For example, someone who was raised in a mafia lifestyle might see killing someone who pissed you off as an appropriate way to deal with it. He would be less culpable for murder then someone who grew up in a house of people who always discussed their problems and worked out a compromise. On the other hand, the mafia kid should be able to realize, as he is growing up, that there is something wrong with the way he was raised and work on himself to better follow the rules of society.
Why would an ex-religious Jew fall into the same category? I was talking to a friend of mine who had stopped being religious. This was after a full yeshiva high school and 1 year learning in a yeshiva in Israel afterwards. He had gone to his girlfriends reform temple and told me he was laughing at the women who wanted to put on a talis. He said, "why would women want to put on tzitzis? Men only have to because we are being punished for the sin of the golden calf which they didn't do." ????WTF???? The commandment of tzitzis is not a punishment for anything! However, if I grew up my whole life thinking everythng that I did in the name of religion was a punishment, I would hate religion and everything that I had done in its name. My friend got a bad education which completely turned him off.
The question I ask to the non-religious Jew is what is Judaism? Does God care what we do or who we are? Is Judaism an ethnicity or a religion? The world has rejected the concept of Judaism as an ethnicity and relates to us as a religion. If it is a religion, that means being Jewish means you belive that God wants you to behave in a certain way. If we have a tradition that has been passed down for generations, who has the right to decide that God wants somethng else from us. The question of why and for what purpose is certainly valid, but it should not be used as an excuse to not be religious, it must be asked seriously to people who have spent their lives trying to understand what God wants from us. To say it is too hard to do what God wants is very difficult to swallow, that is saying that God does not understand our capabilities. You can say that the rabbis created it all and that it is not authentic Judaism, but how can you know that if you never studied the sources. On one level, in order to be acceptably non-religious you would have to spend 10-15 years studying before having the ability to decide that the religion aspect is nonsense. At that point there is no reason to call yourself Jewish anymore because you have decided that Judaism is a crock. No one will shoot you if you eat a bagel with herring.
Getting back to reality, a Jew who accepts his Jewishness without knowing what it is is still considered a very holy person. On of the great things about Avraham Avinu is that he stood up and declared I am different then the rest of the world. I would argue that the seemingly minor level of commitment of putting a title on your head is 50% of Judaism. That is saying that no matter what happens, even if someone says he is going to kill us for no reason other then that title, I am part of the group. 50% isn't everything, they are missing the beauty of authentic Judaism, but they have gained for themselves a share in the world to come.
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
Will it be like reading the "bible stories" that really have no basis in tradition, and are made for children who have no background in religion? Will there be a lack of tznius in the actual attractions, such as showing Shlomo's wives scantily clad?
Or will it have more taste and keep in mind the sensitivities of a large segment of the population?
What is the issue? The issue is how Jewish history and culture will be portrayed in the still forming minds of children. A visual will stay with children and when they learn about something in school, they will see it through the visual they wre given. If it was disney land, i don't think it would bother me that much, but don't show me or my kids the matriarchs in bikinis.
That would definitely color the children's future understanding and relationship with the concepts we push as role models.
This is all food for thought for now. I'm going to try and answer some of it, at least from my perspective, over the next couple days. Feel free to leave your comments.
Monday, June 20, 2005
Is it worthwhile to go the extra mile and maybe behave a little irrational in your pursuit of peace in every situation? What about the current political situation in Israel? Is the government correct, according to Hillel that they are actively chasing after peace?
Hillel is talking about a case where the 2 sides are both interested in peace. Aharon was the great diplomat. He said to both sides, the other guy wants to make peace, and therefore neither side felt they were losing face by going and apologizing. In the case of the Palestinians, there is one side that is saying, we will be happy to take the pieces, and then we will have a war that we can win. Aharon would never have attempted peace in that situation.
So what we have here is a case of Jews who feel the need to do good. They don't know what good is, because they do not understand the beauty of Torah. So they want to do things that make them feel good, such as helping the whales, being kind to animals, and trying to make the Palestinian lives better. The gemara discusses this and says, "He who is kind to the cruel will end up being cruel to the kind" And so we have it, with the liberal masses feeling the need to do good are being cruel to those that pioneered and protected the borders for so long.
In other words, it is very important to go the extra mile when there are 2 sides that are genuinely interested in bettering their situation. On the other hand, it is just as important to retain the upper hand in a conflict where at least one of the sides, if not both, have no real desire to live in harmony.
My unscheduled trip to Jerusalem was very productive. I got a new backpack from Steve and davened at the kotel. Golda got a new CD and a cute little dooby for her second hole and a cornbeef sandwich. (a dooby is a bear for those non heebers)
I got together with my brother and sister-in-law for drinks, didn't see my sister, she was busy with the crocodile knife, got to see a friend and got a cute wall-hanging present for his new baby.
Most importantly of all, I had a delicious Aish Tanor from Masov.
Friday, June 17, 2005
One, I am ready to move back into my own home. The place we are looking at is gorgeous, well built, has built in closets (not something you often find in Israel) with a huge lawn, not huge compared to a large American lawn, but compared to most of the places around here and filled with fruit trees. We will restart our vegetable garden as well and probably plant a couple new trees. I want a cheery tree. My girls want a tree house, though I don't know if I can plant a tree that size for her. We'll see.
Two, we are becoming more permanently settled in Israel with this move. We're pretty much settled now, we found a great community, have friends, the kids are fully adjusted and I have a good job with a future. Owning land in Israel is a dream come true, keeping all the mitzvos that you can only keep here will be much more actualized when we pick fruits off our trees.
Last week, friday afternoon, we went to a U Pick orchard about 20 minutes away and picked mostly raspberries, and some avacodo and a couple cheeries. We got home and my wife, God Bless Her, immediately made a fresh raspberry pie covered in chocolate. We also bought raspberry liquor that they made there to try. Shabbos came and we realized that we had not taken truma or maaser from the raspberries, so the pie just sat there until the end of shabbos when we took off the truma and maaser, and decided to save it for shavuos, which was the next day.
It was a delicious pie.
Thursday, June 16, 2005
My eldest daughter is 7 and she would like her ears pierced. So I made
a deal with her that if she is more organized in school for the last
month then she could get them pierced during the summer break.
The odds are that she'll get them pierced even if she does not finish
off the school year in an organized fashion, but I figured it would be
educational to tell her that it was a reward for doing well in school.
My wife, God Bless Her, has 2 holes in 1 ear and 1 hole in the 2nd
ear. But she thinks nose rings are disgusting. Forget about a belly
button, tongue, nipple or any other pierce.
I'm not sure what the big deal is. Obviously, I didn't want to punch
holes in my daughter's ears until I felt she was old enough to realize
what they were. But other then that and the cost involved, which is
generally minor, who cares how a girl chooses to decorate her body.
It's not a religious issue - all the biblical women had nose rings and
who knows what else. Is it more of an anti-anti-establishment issue?
If a teenager wants to pierce something "weird" (read other then the
ears) she must be doing it for anti-establishmentary reasons, and we
must stop that?? I think that's silly.
Now I am not about to suggest to my daughter that she puts holes in
the rest of her body, but if that's what she wants to do with her
baby sitting money when she gets older, I don't see why I should have a
problem with it. I think I'm paying for the ears only because my wife
thinks it's appropriate.
Do any of my readers feel there is any reason not to allow a child to
get anything pierced, ears included?
I don't know what goes through these people's heads when they open a
large restaurant in places like Ein Yaakov or Moshav Limon, but they
do it. Last night we headed over to the Argentinan Steakhouse,
Morgenfelds, in Moshav Liman, which is about 5 minutes from Rosh
HaNikra. It was a large place, capable of seating about 200 people. We
were the only customers there when we arrived and by the time we left
6 other couples had showed up.
But it was delicious.
Then we went and sat on the beach for a little bit and argued about
whether a particular light that seemed lower then the clouds could be
a star. I didn't think so, but it stayed in the same place for a long
time without moving. I guess we'll never know.
In today's Maariv they reported that the Shin Bet promised the rabbis
that they would not be arresting all the disengagement opponents and
putting them in administrative detention. Believe that.
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
the what to do is usually not so bad, because we generally don't just go out. We usually have plans before we call the babysitter.
We could just go to a restaurant, i guess.
i have about 5 hours before the decision has to be made.
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
First of all, shout out to mrs. rock, may God bless her, for the essig
fleish. Essig fleish is yiddish word that means, "Eat The Meat." While
we generally prefer not to use any words with yiddish connotations, we
figured that if you have to use it once in a while, Eat The Meat is
the best one to use. Apparantly, as I mentioned in a previous post, we
have a custom to eat non-meat food items on shavuos. And while the
sooflay and cheesy squares were very good, I just don't see how they
constitute a yom tov meal. There is nothing wrong with disagreeing
with your wife, and this is just one example where we disagreed in a
very friendly disagreeable sort of manner. In this case, as she is the
master chef, she did what she wanted and I ate it and enjoyed it. And
that was it.
Erev Shavuos we stayed close to home and went on a nice 4 hour hike in
nachal kziv. This is classic Galileeing, get up go for a nice long
walk and jump in the natural spring waters to cool off. Unfortunately,
there were a lot of people at the spring and some of the women were
not very tznius. We had 2 practical choices at that point. Obviously
the best choice would be to throw stones at them and yell insults. My
wife, God Bless her, doesn't feel that we should teach that approach
to our children, so I took the second approach. We played in a smaller
stream until the less then clad ladies left the pool area and then I
went in without my glasses on. This is why God created so many people
in our generation near-sighted. We can feel comfortable going out into
the prus society with our wives and just take off our glasses and the
women do not get upset at us for looking at what . What a concept. And
the kids had a great time. A friend of mine, a rabbi in an Israeli
yeshiva, uses that method to go to the public beach with his family.
Shavuos was nice, though very tiring. I ended up staying up all night
and learning. My old chavrussa, who I stopped learning with to take a
job, accepted my offer of a chavrussaship and though he said he only
had an hour for me, we ended up going at the makos for about 3 hours.
I also looked at the shav shmaytsa and didn't really understand a lot
of it, except that he said that safek daoraysa lichumra is only
dirabonim and daoraysa the safek is lkoola. Which is the basis for a
safek sfayka being lkoola, because if it is a safek on whether it is a
safek, then that lowers the whole issue to a dirabonim and safek
dirabonim lkoola which means we look at the daoraysa aspect of the
matter which says if there is a safek, enjoy.
Friday, June 10, 2005
Thursday, June 09, 2005
The word disgusting has come up recently, and I didn't think
disgusting was necessarily the right word.
According to Babylon the definition of disgusting is:
repulsive, nauseating, loathsome
My understanding of that definition is that disgustingness is very
objective. Such that something may be repulsive, nauseating or
loathsome to one person, but wouldn't be that way to another person.
Just to qualify this, a person who didn't find something to be
disgusting does not mean that they would enjoy it. Rather, they may
feel it is something they are not interested in doing, but it doesn't
repulse them or bother them in any way. An example of this is two
people making out in public. One person might feel that this is
disgusting and is truly utterly repulsed by the scene in front of
them. Another person might feel that this is not something he would
like to do, but it does not bother him that other people are doing it.
Obviously the couple who was into each other did not feel it was
disgusting or even wrong for that matter.
I had a discussion on a similar topic a couple months ago and the
other converser said that certain people felt that when you say
something objective it should be qualified, by "To me that seems..." Or "I
feel..." to make it known that you are not stating facts, but
opinions. However, in a conversation a few minutes after it was heard
stated by someone that "they would never..." and not "in my opinion
they would never..." so it seemed like a double standard was attempted
to be applied.
I personally feel that if you are going to say something that you
believe to be true, or at least is true to you, then you can say it
without any other qualifiers. If someone disagrees, they know that
they disagree and if they have to wait for something to be stated as
an opinion to disagree, then they need help in learning how to express
In summation, if you feel something is disgusting, you should say so.
Or not. You don't have to talk about disgusting things if you don't
Wait, but lets say a person uses the word disgusting and you don't
think it is repulsive or loathing to them, you think they used the
wrong word. Then you should let them know that they actually meant to
say something else. Such as unappealing. A much better word for
something that you have no desire for, but you don't really find it
repulsive and nauseating.
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
Yesterday after reading airtimedaily (I don't know how to link when
posting from email yet), my wife, god bless her, wanted to know what
the story was with Slifkin. So I took her to the zootorah website and
showed her the entire controversy.
Obviously her next question was "why would they do that to him? They
just ruined his life" So I explained to her about the monday night
council of torah sages poker game, where they decide who to ban. They
don't necessarily need a good reason, and if someone writes a book
that is often reason enough. My wife thought this was rather silly,
because she doesn't get it. She went to a bnei akiva school in toronto
and isn't yeshivish that way. She also thought that this would ruin
his life. At this point I started laughing and pointed out the Rabbi
Steinsaltz, who has been banned for a long time was just made the head
of the Sanhedrin (see Arutz 7 for details).
The fact is that getting banned by the yeshivish community is the
fastest way to stardom and fame. Boteach went on the night show
circuit. They didn't even have to ban him, his books were so far
rejected. Steinsaltz is the most read version of gemara in existence.
That certainly wouldn't have happened without a good ban. Slifkin is
now in good position to really make a difference. More copies of those
books were probably sold in the 2 weeks after the ban then he could
have expected in 2 lifetimes. The fact is that most non black hat
people think the black hat establishment is rather wacked out.
( I think they could solve the problem if they read shlomy's blog,
http://chossid.blogspot.com/, Then they'll be able to lose all that
pent up frustration.)
The fact that the establishment can ban someone without hearing his
point of view, or even reading his book is not at all odd. This is
normal. Like throwing a guy out of yeshiva because they heard a rumor
that possibly something may have occurred. And that can't happen in
Slifkin should thank god every day that he got banned. There are tons
of other people who have been trying for years and just can't seem to
piss off the right people.
There is a large number of disenfranchised former yeshiva boys walking
around who don't really feel they have a religious identity. I suppose
this probably happens to girls as well, though I don't know if it
applies to them as much. Going through a yeshiva, you are told certain
disdainful things about the non-yeshivish world and when you get there
it is sometimes difficult to attach yourself to that "lower realm."
For example, yeshivas often talk disparagingly about "balei batim,"
such as "that is a balei batisha question", or "daf yomi is for balei
batim." The inference is that balei batim are people who aren't really
frum, can't learn and have no depth. A boy now leaves yeshiva, goes to
college gets a degree and gets a job. He has stopped
wearing his black hat, because he is not part of the yeshiva world
anymore and does not associate with that crowd. On the same token,
the yeshiva prefers not to associate with him, as he went off the
derech, in their view and they do not want their boys seeing this as a
The boy now does not feel comfortable walking into the yeshiva,
because he knows that he will be scorned, if not publicly then
privately as a Balabus, the worst kind of Jew.
He is also not part of the Modern Orthodox world, as he is a learned
individual who wants to be shomer torah and mitzvos. His wife will
cover her hair and dress in a tznius fashion. He would not send his
kids to the mixed modern orthodox school, except he doesn't really
feel part of the yeshiva world anymore, so he is in a quandary there.
He has an hour to learn a day, but he can't go to a daf yomi shiur,
because that isn't even learning. So he doesn't learn at all.
His yeshiva training has taught him that Modern Orthodox isn't frum,
so he would never join that crowd - if he isn't going to be frum, why
The boy is lost at sea.
However, there is a vibrant community of non-yeshivish, yet very frum
balei batim who are just like this boy. The boy has to forget the
stereotype that was pounded into him during his yeshiva days. It is
common to be frum and not yeshivish. Yeshivishness and religion are
not connected at the hip. It is a tough concept to overcome, but once
over the hill a world of opportunity opens up.
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
Blogging would be great if it could be done completely by e-mail.
Right now I can send a blog to my site and it gets automatically
posted, I can also get all the comments sent to my email. But the
functionality stops there. I would like the ability to respond to a
comment by email as well. And why stop there. I would like to receive
other blogs that I read by email, and then I want to be able to email
a comment to that blog. I want to receive all the comments in the
email so I'll know when to respond. That way all I have to do is
define who I want to read and I have all the power to play inside my
email box. No web surfing required.
While this software would be most easily written by the blogging
company, I believe that I could develop it as well. Would anybody be
interested in this functionality? Would you accept a small text ad in
each email instead of having to pay for the service? Would anybody
prefer to pay for the service and not have the ad?
I don't know that I will do this yet, this is kind of market research.
If you like the idea, post it on your blog and link to me so I can see
what kind of positive or negative responses are out there.
Why some customs are kept around, I really don't know. There are some
customs that make people feel spiritual or into it, and there are
others, such as the one we are discussing, that are simply ridiculous.
Eating dairy on Shavuot???!!!!?!?!?!?!? Hello. Is anybody out there.
God does not want us to milk the cow, he wants us to eat it. When we
went to my in-laws for Pesach and my mother-in-law suggested that she
was going to make dairy, I reacted, obviously, with horror. So she
made meat, because what kind of yom tov is it if you eat quiche. or
whatever. My wife, God bless her, thought she was compromising when
she suggested maybe for dinner we would have meat. Can you believe
that the thought even occurred to have 2 dairy meals? on a holiday!
We had some seminary girls over for shabbos a couple weeks ago, 2 of
them were vegetarians. We did what we do for vegetarians, so they had
what to eat, without lessening the joy of the others. Netanya said she
was a vegetarian for environmental reasons. Because cows eat grass.
She was against killing the cows so they wouldn't eat grass because
then they would raise more of them. I said, "Netanya, for you they
came up with a perfect idea. They take baby cows and lock them up and
then force feed them until they are ready to be eaten. So there is no
environmental issue. What a perfect solution to your environmental
problem." At that point, Becka, the other vegetarian threw up. well,
she turned green. it was funny.
The point being that man was made to eat meat and it is customized to
each person so that no matter what your philosophy there is a dead cow
with your name on it.
Monday, June 06, 2005
<a href="http://www.debka.com">Debka</a>, 06-Jun-2005,
...The officials acknowledge Hamas election successes pose dilemmas in
defining terrorism and decisions on US aid projects for towns run by
elected Hamas officials.
We do not acquiesce, we do not deal with terrorists. But, asked the
officials, how do you pursue this without limiting democratic
What happens when the people in a democracy vote to be racist? What
happens when the people in the democracy vote to sustain terrorism?
What if, in Germany, the people had voted to open concentration camps
and kill Jews? Would that have been ok?
The problem with using democracy as a defining term for a quality
government is that it is based on the assumption that people are
inherently good and want the same thing that the people in the US
want. Do all the people of a bad democracy need to be removed or
reeducated in the same way that a non-democratic government today has
to be removed?
The important question is, "Can the majority determine what is
This is relevant to the upcoming gazan withdrawal. Anybody who says
the Ariel Sharon acted in an undemocratic manner is wrong. He followed
all the rules. He may have bribed and threatened and got backup
support from unnatural partners, but he accomplished what he wanted to
in a very democratic way. In the end, the majority of people who
needed to vote for his program did. The problem isn't that it was
undemocratic. The problem is that democracy is not correct. To throw
people out of their homes should require an ethical decision, not a
democratic one. What would happen if the majority of a city decided
that one house, that was there for a long time, was not up to the new
standards. Can they vote to remove the person because it is bad for
the city's image? Democracy is only the answer for non-ethical
considerations. Any ethical quandary must have an ethical answer.
Who can help make ethical decisions? As Jews, we believe that ethics
come from God. Therefore, the only people qualified to make ethical
decisions are people who have spent their lives studying what God
wants from us. Is there any room for a democracy in today's world?
Yes. But only with a strong moral constitution that cannot be
violated. Check out my Feb. 2003 article on a <a
It is so much easier to blog when you can send it as an email and it
automatically gets entered for you.
I was speaking with Mark this morning on the train, as I always do,
and he mentioned that he got a call yesterday that a shipment of sheep
on their way to Turkey were dying in greece and they wanted to ship
them to Israel. I told him that Jews don't eat animals that were
killed in grease, but that after they are killed the greasier the
better. He explained that it was the country greece, not the oil
and fat and they were dying so he thought it was an emergency. I
explained to him that unless they were going to be slaughtered
correctly when they got here it did not matter to me how they died
because I could not eat them, so it was not a real emergency.
Apparantly Mark was more concerned with keeping them alive, though
he did understand that eventually they were going to be eaten in any
case. As they say, "An animal that dies of old age is a waste of an
I received a resume from NBN in reply to a job description I sent out
for basically a hardware programming job. The resume was a generic, "I
can do everything" resume, which in his 3 years of experience as a
help desk administrator included programming in 15 languages including
Assembly Language at the very hardware oriented end and HTML at the
other end of the spectrum. Organizations such as NBN often have more
generic resumes so they can bulk send them to every company that might
have a position open. I sent him an email asking him to send me a
revised resume specifically for this position. He replied that these
were all of his qualifications and didn't I think it all belonged on
the resume. Below is my response.
His response to my original email:
> I have worked in a Help Desk, and have wotked as a Desktop Support Analyst,
> Programmer, System Admininistrator. As for the computer languages, I have
> worked and programmed with each of them. If I worked with and know all
> these languages, should I not have them on my resume?
> As for the hardware, I have trouble shooted/installed the list of difrrent
> pieces of hardware as a Desktop Analyst. I can revise the resume, but I
> feel that it portrays all what I worked with and know.
How much professional experience do you have with Assembly and C++,
and in what capacity? How comfortable are you with hardware concepts
and PC Architecture?
Questions that are asked on the interview often include things like:
Can you tell me what the FSB does, how does that different from the
old way of doing it and what benefit does the new way have to the old
way of doing it.
Friendly Advice (Other people may disagree with this):
I am not trying to put you down, or tell you that you are not
qualified for this job. You will probably never get a reply like this
from anyone who receives your resume again. I made aliyah two years
ago and I am interested in helping other Americans find jobs. What I
am writing here is based on almost 10 years of experience, including
being involved in the hiring process. If you don't like what I am
saying, that is fine, but it is the actual process. I personally have
over 45 customized resumes, each one slightly modified specifically
for the job I was sending it in for.
For example, in my last job in America my title was officially development team
leader. On some resumes, that position said DBA, which has an element
of truth in it because I was responsible for database development. On
another resume, it said System Administrator because I had some sys
admin responsibilities. On a third resume it said Programmer, because
the job I sent it in for was a programmer and I didn't want to look
overly qualified. The languages I used in each position were
emphasized differently as well. On a DBA job, I implied that my main
tasks were SQL and I had a little bit of VB coding as well. For a
programming job I implied that most of my experience was in VB and
Delphi, and that I used SQL along with it.
I am not involved in the hiring process here. However,I know if I handed in
this resume they would probably not consider you. In general, when I
see a list of 15 languages on a resume like this, I assume they were
all learned in college and not used professionally.
If you are applying to a software engineering position,
you would include languages that were possibly relevant to the job
description. Languages such as Assembler and HTML are polar opposites,
and most people are not looking for a job using both. If you are
looking for a hardware programming job, putting HTML on your resume is
of no real benefit. If you are looking for a web design job, putting
Assembler on your resume is of no benefit whatsoever. The harm that it
does is that it gives the feeling that you are a generalist and
everyone is looking for a specialist, except for help desk/system or
network admin positions.
Your resume gives a feeling of, "I can do a lot of things but I don't
have any real preference, if any of my countless qualifications fit
any job requirement that you have, I would like to be considered."
Evaluate that resume against one that says, you are
looking for a software engineer, I am a software engineer. My
education is geared towards being a software engineer. My experience
can be considered kind of software engineering. HTML might be put on
as a hobby, but not as a serious programming language because software
engineers don't consider HTML to be programming.
Your experience should emphasize the programming you did, and minimize
the help desk aspect.
If you don't have any direct experience in a sector, but would like to
try something completely new, such as hardware programming. You would
write an objective stating that you are looking for an entry level
software engineering position. In your experience you would list some
hardware projects you did in college. Your help desk experience would
be minimized, such as Help Desk job, programmed scripts using PERL and
performed system admin tasks. Detailing the experience means that you
want them to use that as a considering factor
Sunday, June 05, 2005
Debka, the source of truthful news, reports that the Euro is going to crash pretty soon. Time to get out of the Euro market or base your mortgage on the Euro. I believe if it crashes, the house is basically free.
Friday's hike was a lot of fun. We went to Gush Chalav, also know as Jish, with another family and found the river. The family we went with isn't real outdoorsy and they kind of thought we were going to a park. We hiked down into an unmarked wadi and found the ancient home of an angry bear. Thank God it was dead. We then followed the river till we found a nice place for the kids to play and then turned around. Next time we're going to have to figure out exactly what the map says before we go. There was a very nice arab boy who helped us out of the wadi and showed us how to get back to our car. He also showed us his sheep and cows. One interesting thing to note is they have a single Jigalo bull that is supposed to satisfy all the cows. Apparantly cows who haven't gotten any are very hard to deal with. (don't even go there...)
Shabbos was enjoyable as well, we were invited out for lunch and spoke with an old guy who made aliyah in 1933. He was very interesting. I learned Torah, played with my children and had a general all around nice time.
Apparantly, all the racket was not only worms, not only a yeast infection, but also a major not-normal diaper rash. That's my excuse for not running this morning.
Thursday, June 02, 2005
Gerard Araud, the french ambassador to Israel, said in this article:
"We, the French, are always blamed for arrogance within the EU, but when I listen to my colleague Oded Eran, I believe that if we let Israel join the EU, it will only help France's reputation."
“They said I was so anti-Israel. Why? Because, as European diplomat, I said that there has to be a Palestinian state and one must talk with the PLO. Today that’s the expressed policy of the State of Israel. Maybe the problem was that we were right too early.”
Can't be more Jewish then the Jews? Maybe if the frogs would have suggested removing the cancer instead of propping them up, the expressed policy of Jewish Israel would be, "what problem?" instead of, "Let's throw a piece of meat to a pack of dogs and see if they go away."
Yet, strange as it may seem, I agree with Gerard that Israelis/Jews are arrogant and therein lies the problem. (My wife thinks it is just me, but I am throwing the blame on my heritage). First of all, maybe we have a right to arrogance, certainly more then the French have. Think France and you think sex and wine. That is what they have a culture of the senses. Think Jewish and you think (aside from stupid kikes) you think influential and educated. In all secular fields there has been major Jewish contribution. You cannot mention scientists without including Jews...
This arrogance, no matter how earned, continues to get us in trouble. A comment in the current political framework such as "if they attack us, we'll defeat them in the next war" only enables us to put ourselves in a bad diplomatic and military position. The midset that believes that Israel's military supremecy is accepted by the entire world and therefore no other country would dare to attack them is the only possible ratianle for putting armed Egyptians on our borders.
"The armed build up of arab nations on our borders is not a real threat" Can anyone say Yom Kippur War?
Israelis need to take a pill and realize that their military might be powerful, but having thousands of our boys killed in the next war only proves how stupidly arrogant we were and not how powerful our military is.
In other news, I took the missus out for dinner last night in Ein Yaakov. Mostly pleasant atmosphere, the other people in the restaurant left shortly after we got there, so we had the whole place to ourselves as usual. I found the ribs to be overly fatty, but we left there stuffed to the gills.
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
Thankfully, I noticed this one day when my pants seemed to be getting a little tight. I decided instead of giving in to corporate malfeasance I would have a go at fixing the situation. So I started to run in the morning. at 5. because i don't have any other time. My day right now is completely packed from beginning to end.
This is my second day doing the galillean hop and I am feeling very sore. But also very good. I didn't fall asleep at work today for a short period of time as I have been doing. Even though i got less sleep then i had gotten before.
The big problem now is the stretching. Apparantly before you run you are supposed to stretch and before you stretch you are supposed to run. I find that ridiculous, so i didn't stretch. Now my lower back hurts and I am majorly charley horsed in both legs. But I'll figure out the stretching thing and get used to it within a week or so and then I'm good.
Anyways, our brochure has actually started looking decent, so hopefully in the next couple weeks I'll be able to give some more details of our upcoming business to my reading audience.