Monday, December 29, 2008
1. Avigdor Miller was a student of Isaac Sher,
2. Issac Sherr was a student of Natan Tzvi Finkel,
3. Natan Tzvi Finkel was a student of Simcha Zissel Ziv,
4. Simcha Zissel Ziv was a student of Yisrael "Salanter".
5. Yisrael "Salanter" was a student of Zundel "Salant",
6. Zundel "Salant" was a student of Chaim "Volozhin",
7. Chaim "Volozhin" was a student of the "Vilna Gaon"!
So any student of Rabbi Miller's is therefore (obviosly) able to trace back that tradition of teaching to the famed "Gaon" of Vilnius.
[It's said that Rabbi Yisrael Lipkin (of Salantai) was approached by a man who had only half an hour a day to study (Torah), and wanted to know what subject to delve into. Rabbi Yisrael answered that he should study "מוסר", for it will inspire him to make more time for himself to study other things.]
Thursday, December 25, 2008
(He wouldn’t be the first musically inclined individual I’ve known though; I roomed once with a fellow named Spitz who also runs a band, and my friend Yosef Chaim Shweky (brother of Yaakov) is producing an album of his own)...
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
1. הִגִּיד לְךָ אָדָם מַה טּוֹב; וּמָה ה' דּוֹרֵשׁ מִמְּךָ, כִּי אִם-עֲשׂוֹת מִשְׁפָּט וְאַהֲבַת חֶסֶד וְהַצְנֵעַ לֶכֶת עִם אֱלֹהֶיךָ
2. בָּא-זָדוֹן וַיָּבֹא קָלוֹן; וְאֶת צְנוּעִים חָכְמָה
In both places it means to be secretive about ones good deeds, and not to be overly flamboyant. That meaning has lasted through to the Talmudic usage - much as the meaning of "modest" in English connotes the opposite of “proud”.
There has been somewhat of a change in the usage of the word in Midrashic, and later in Talmudic literature to mean modesty in an erotic sense. For example אלעזר בר צדוק is quoted as saying (in Sukkah 49b) that this verse (1.) explains three of the most important facets of Judaism, and in regards to “הצנע לכת עם אל-היך” says this part of the verse is really discussing the need to accompany the dead, and accompany a bride. He adds though “if the Torah tells us to act modestly for things which people usually do publicly, how much more so should we be ‘modest’ in regards to things that are done in private”.
It’s also important to remember though, that 1. Halakhah as we know it is somewhat of a "created" thing, being that the Halakhic codifiers had to sift through the entirety of the Tanach and Talmud and piece together little statements, and many times just inferences, and many times what we called in my yeshiva “unnecessary inferences” (inferences that aren’t the only possible thing that can be inferred). And 2. There’s no ‘מצווה’ of 'צניעות'. It’s something that’s (like I said about hair-covering for a woman) expected of women, and especially of a Jewish woman.
In Iraq, in the era in which the Talmud was written, there was honestly not much of a problem in regards to tzniut; the norms there were obviously much more "conservative" then they are now. So all you’re going to find in the Talmud are statements like “one should not pass by when women are washing clothes in the lake” or “one should not watch a woman weaving” etc. Most of what we 'know’ about the halakhot of tzniut come from statements like that.
2. Modesty in Dress
In regards to wearing a skirt instead of pants: 1. Some see it as a transgression of "No male article shall be on a woman, and a man shall not wear a woman's garment", 2. The Talmud says it's better for a woman not to ride a horse (seemingly because it will cause the shape of her legs to become more evident when separated), so that could also translate to not wearing tight pants. Though in that case a tight skirt/dress is just as bad, and either way; it's unusual for a woman not to wear pants in most parts today. Either way; women who wear pants should obviously not be treated as if they're not part of the Jewish (or Orthodox) Community.
[I think the clearest example of learned and pious Jews who are somewhat lax in these areas (where the husband doesn't wear a head covering and the wife doesn't have a hair covering and wears pants) is Sefaradim in South American countries; I've met a lot of them, and many of them are just as 'pious' as any New York Kolel couple.. ]
About the covering of the upper legs and arms: Like I said, one of the major logical sources is that the Talmud says that washing clothing and weaving (by a woman) are seen as things which should be done in as private a setting as possible, being that parts of the upper arms and legs might become exposed in the process.
About head covering: There has always been somewhat of a difference of opinion about "פריעת הראש"; does it mean ‘untying’ or ‘uncovering’. For example it says "even an unmarried girl shouldn’t have her head ‘פרוע’ "; some strict opinions say this means even an unmarried girl should cover her hair, and some say it means her hair should usually be tied. (See Rambam source).
It’s important to note that according to these standards there’s nothing better about wearing a blouse and long skirt to a jeans skirt and tee-shirt (for example). There’s no source, therefore, for Orthodox girls to just dress really "fancy" or however one would term current ultra-orthodox dress. If anything there have been contemporary national-religious rabbis in Israel who say that sometimes “too much tzniut can lead to a lack of tzniut", something I see as very true. Not to mention concentrating on such things too much (instead of Torah and mitzvot) can lead to too great a concern for sexually oriented matters.
It should be mentioned that men must also practice modesty in clothing, and women must also not ‘gaze upon immodest men’, etc..
3. Other Interpretations
4. True Modesty
Much of what "צניעות" should (still) be about is doing all actions in a refined, restrained, chaste and modest manner- even things like speaking and putting on ones shoes, and definitely things like how one walks, laughs or bends over (when necessary) in a public place (among a myriad of other examples).
Another example is is ישעיהו's rebuking Judean women for walking in 'too arousing' a manner (Isaiah 3): "Moreover the LOR"D saith, because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet; therefore the LOR"D will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the LOR"D will discover their secret parts. In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls, and their round tires like the moon, the chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers, the bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings, the rings, and nose jewels, the changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins,the glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the vails. and it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty." (Some even use the examples given in this verse to represent what shouldn't be worn by a woman).
It also says in the Talmud, for example, that a Roman soldier once took interest in a Judean girl because of her elegant manner of walking (so we see that one should refrain from such a mannerism).
To conclude, I should mention that רש"י on the first page of מסכת סוטה explains the גמרא as saying “The modest woman ends up with the ‘righteous’ husband, while the immodest woman ends up with the ‘wicked’ man as a husband”.
5. Rabbinic Sources
ואלו הן הדברים שאם עשת אחד מהן עברה על דת משה--יוצאה בשוק ושיער ראשה גלוי, או שנודרת או נשבעת ואינה מקיימת, או ששימשה מיטתה והיא נידה, או שאינה קוצה לה חלה; או שהאכילה את בעלה דברים אסורים...ואיזו היא דת יהודית הוא מנהג הצניעות שנהגו בנות ישראל ואלו הן הדברים שאם עשת אחד מהן עברה על דת יהודית: יוצאה לשוק או למבוי מפולש וראשה פרוע ואין עליה רדיד ככל הנשים אע"פ ששערה מכוסה במטפחת או שהייתה טווה בשוק וורד וכיוצא בו כנגד פניה על פדחתה או על לחיה, כדרך שעושות הגויות הפרוצות, או שטווה בשוק ומראה זרועותיה לבני אדם או שהייתה משחקת עם הבחורים או שהייתה תובעת התשמיש מבעלה בקול רם עד ששכנותיה שומעות אותה מדברת על עסקי תשמיש או שהייתה מקללת אבי בעלה בפני בעלה.
2. Ritva (kiddushin 81b):
דהכל כפי מה שאדם מכיר בעצמו אם ראוי לו לעשות הרחקה ליצרו עושה ואפילו להסתכל בבגדי צבעונין של אשה אסור. ואם מכיר בעצמו שיצרו נכנע וכפוף לו ואין מעלה טינא כלל, מותר לו להסתכל ולדבר עם הערוה ולשאול בשלום אשת איש…
3. Yichiel Mich’l Epstein (ערוך השולחן):
"מותר להתפלל ולברך נגד ראשיהן המגולות, [= של נשים נשואות] כיון שעתה רובן הולכות כך, והוה כמקומות המגולים בגופה"
4. Yichiel Yaakov Weinberg (שרידי אש):
"מ"מ הסכמנו כולנו, שבחירת הנשים היא נגד מנהג ישראל ונגד המוסר הישראלי בחיי הציבור, שהשתדלו תמיד לשמור על כבודה בת מלך פנימה, שהאשה הישראלית תשמור את ביתה ואת חינוך ילדי' ואל תהי' קולנית ויוצאנית, לפזר כוחה ולהרוס צניעותה, ולאבוד את חינה וטעמה על ידי ריב ומדנים פוליטיים וציבוריים"
5. Yoel Sirkish (ב"ח):
"אבל אם לובשין כדי להגן מפני החמה בימות החמה ובימות הגשמים מפני הגשמים אין שם איסור"
Monday, December 22, 2008
We Jews celebrate a holiday which in essence is a celebration of Jewish reconquest of Palestine from people who's ideologies were pretty much the opposite of the monotheistic ethic, as well as the rededication of our Temple upon the removal of Zeus-worship from within it.
European Christians celebrate a holiday which is supposedely commemorating the greatest manifestation of the Divine in our world, which was to become a beacon of light to Mankind hencefourth. In essence though the holiday is just 1. nordic winter celebrations, and 2. a late Christianisation of the Roman solstice holiday, which is obviously a form of worship to Jupiter, which in essence is just Latin for Zeus, who again, was the god who's removal from the Temple we're celebrating!
What I ffind to be a very difficult subject, is: what aspects of "Greek" culture are objectivly positive, and what aspects are utterly rejected by the principles of Judaism? I mean, I know that public nudity, body-worshiping and infanticide are 'not cool', but the Greeks also brought almost every aspect of knowledge and science into the world, so...
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Sorry, my internet wasn't working for a few days, though there were a few things I wanted up here..another time perhaps. ...what was it I was supposed to write about? ..Oh yes, Hannukah.
These two commemorations are obviously for either the great victories the Judeans wrought on the Seleucid Greek armies, and the subsequent liberation of Judea and of Judaic ethical monotheism from their hands, as well as the ritual and political purification of the Temple from foreign control, or the miracle of the oil for the Temple’s perpetual lamp (lighting more than physically possible) which ensued (huge run-on, I know). The Baraith’a, which primarily quotes the "oil miracle" is somewhat representative of the more Religious spectrum , while the Book of Maccabees, the "The Scroll of Antiochus" as well as the more well known prayer (“A’l Hanisim”) which all commemorate the military victory are usually the aspect more commemorated by the more ‘Nationalistic’ elements among us.
To me it is unquestionable that both extremes are somewhat erroneous; the significance of the ‘miracle of the oil’ aspect, and what it should mean to us should not be under-emphasized, yet the military/political victory should certainly not be understated.
If so, a very brief restatement:
‘Oil miracle’- I do not feel that stating something like “the menorah was nothing more than the Jewish nationalistic symbol” is unfounded, but for what reason was it our symbol if not for the elements of light and ritual purity inherent in it? I do not feel that anybody is of the opinion that the Priests felt it so overbearingly important to reconstruct and rekindle the Menorah with specifically ritually pure oil (which was not a halakhic necessity) only to replace some symbol of National unity. There is no question that to them the speedy relighting of the Menorah was representative of the ethical and cultural victory they had won against the Greeks. That could and should be a lesson to us today- for even those among us with the longest and blackest of coats, and the furriest of hats has the most despicable of Western/American ideals in their hearts (myself, obviously, very much among them). The lesson of the purpose of the Divine radiance shown to our ancestors at the Temple should serve to bring well needed ‘mind over matter’ ideals to our spiritually-starved souls.
The ‘War miracle’ as well, though, cannot be overlooked; yet for what did those agrarian Judean ancestors of ours fight, if not to cleanse our land –G-d’s land— from the most objectionable of Greek ideologies and practices being shipped into Judea. This victory created a situation the Judeans had not known in their recent past, and have not known since—full autonomy in their own land.
This is going on too long, is it not? ..not my style…it is not without need of editing though..
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
First of all, the Dutch and British had no "legitimate" reason to be in South Africa, and therefore had no right to conquer the land and greatly mistreat the natives. They weren't "persecuted" in Europe, they were just colonizers. The Americans say their Puritan founders came to the New World as a result of English persecution, but the reality is that few Puritans came. The majority were just money hungry Northern Europeans (around 60% of American "Whites" are of German decent by the way).
The Israelis are not colonizers, but rather were actually the victims of real persecution, who were just returning to their home they were unjustly evicted from. It could be in the long run the logic behind that can be found to be a bit faulty, but it is a much better excuse than any other colonizing nations have. (If anything America has stood far more guilty than any other colonizing nation; the only reason they aren't criticized is because they are THE power at hand (and because most of their native victims are far too dead to criticise American policies).
This, I feel, is analogous to the plight of the bastard; he has no legitimate place in the world because he was created by an action that had no "right" being performed. So too situations created as a result of unjust activities cause turmoil. The Judeans should never have been exiled from Judea, and the Jews should never have been forced out of the (European) Diaspora by the nations. But both injustices have occurred, and that creates the unanswerable situation of us and the Native Arab people living in the same place (though honestly, such conflicts arise anyway between borders of rival states, but not to this degree).
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Thursday, December 4, 2008
ועוד בא לו יצה"ר לאדם בטענה שמעשים אשר יועילו לאדם לשמור על גופו באופן תקין וסביר לאורך זמן מומלצים, אבל אינם בגדר "מעשה טוב" או "מצוה". כנגדו בא הלל ואומר לגבי הליכתו למרחץ "הולך אני לגמול חסד לגופי". י
[I should mention, by the way, that my mother has an opinion about 'decade movements' in America during the past century which I have adopted; it is her opinion that the movements we associate with certain decades really started during the second half of the decade. For example 'the 60's' as we know them, 'really' started in the late 60's. Therefore 'Islamic awareness' as well really started already by the late 90's.]
It has always been my opinion that people are far too accustomed to the way the universe and the world seem to have been constructed, that they do not usually ponder the fact that in the G-d-model our souls could have been placed in any number of situations to surround us. And one aspect of the one that was chosen is one which reflects an emphasis in education for the sake of action, and an ethic that we see G-d considers as important in His saying in the first chapter of the Bible "אשר ברא אלו"הים לעשות".
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
אלא שדבר זה נצרך לעיון
Here's something from Rav Menahem Mendel Schneerson I found discussing this (for the meantime).
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
(There's a better version, but it involves (female) dancers, so I wouldn't use it!)
For babysitter: The English Version of the song!
Thank G-d, at least the Mexican bunnies are still industrious! ; )
One thing that's been trodding about in my mind in various forms now and then the past few days is something which takes up a great place in my mind, but very little in my speech or actions- and that is the nature of the relationship between males and females in our society..
One thing that originally came to my mind was the ..lack of logic entailed in the enchantment men have for women, and the ..interest women have in men. ..I recall Avigdor Miller once mentioning "to a male rat there's nothing more beautiful than a female rat". ..what I mean to say is that we give such a large amount of our strength and energy seeking the favor of members of the opposite sex, while in the meantime they're no different from ourselves, and the only reason we find any attraction in them is solely because of a few chemicals that flow through our bodies. ..we all know that.. and yet we perch these people (of the 'other gender') in such a pedestal in our minds that we let our minds and actions be affected by them. ..I say this with a bit of wonder because I myself used to care much less about peoples opinions abut myself, and now there's a part of my mind that always thinks "what will [whoever] think". ...*sigh*
(It's been a few days since I actually thought this, and the message I'm trying to convey might be a bit vague)...
Another idea I aprehended while crossing my mind was that any possible notion of 'romance' that we might have is a creation of our minds (and yet, again, much thought and emotion are sacrificed to this creation of ours. But, like a malevolent god, it is never quite appeased). I once quoted here psychological research to prove the opposite, but I don't believe it.. ..the whole concept is obviously just an extension of our imaginations, mimicking what we've seen from the American Film and Television industries.. ....is it not?
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Man, this stuff is the sh-t! I know there've been many 'ביצועים' of this song, but you gotta' admit ain't nobody do 'שחרחורת' like Shlomo Bar! (..he looks really young in that video, no?)
I personally grew up with this stuff, but haven't heard this particular song in quite a while..I looked it up in Green Bay, but it seemed like at the time nobody downloaded that particular video to 'YouTube', but it seems like someone added it recently, ...and anyway I a) have nothing to post, and b) haven't posted a video in a while, so...
About the song: It turns out it's actually a Hebrew translation (same tune though) of an old Ladino folk 'Romance'. It was translated by משה אלימלך, and I suppose became part of Israeli Music in the 60's and 70's because of people like Esther Ofarim, and because there was somewhat of a Ashkenazi movement to 'beautify middle easternism'.
שחרחורת - לדינו עממי
שחרחורת יקראוני צח היה עורי
ומלהט שמש קיץ בא לי שחורי
שחרחורת יפיפית כל כך
בעינייך אש בוערת ליבי כולו שלך
שחרחורת יקראוני כל יורדי הים
אם עוד פעם יקראוני שוב אלך איתם
שחרחורת יקראני בן לאב מוֹלך
אם עוד פעם יקראני אחריו אלך
For the Babysitter!:
Sunday, November 9, 2008
First off is a new book by Joel Kraemer about the Rambam; "Maimonides: The Life and World of One of Civilization's Greatest Minds ". I looked through some of it and find it much more readable than, say, some of the books that were written about Maimonides early in the previous century. I mean first of all, that style is a bit stale, second of all a good book about Maimonides hasn't really come out in a little while. Not to mention this book is a lot better than the others because the author brings in a lot of the information about the rivalry and peer-environment that one of the greatest thinkers of Judaism lived in and around (..I obviously should like getting around to reading the whole thing).
The Rambam is one of the main people whom my thought pattern of Judaism is based on. That being so, it would be a good idea to find out as much about him and his motives as I can. For example, it seems like there were a few Spanish Jews in his time who converted to Islam, and even authored philosophical works about why Judaism became obsolete with the coming of Islam. ..reading those, and understanding what the Rambam wrote with that sort of backdrop in mind might prove interesting...
All about the Beat: Why Hip-Hop Can't Save Black America
His new book "All about the Beat: Why Hip-Hop Can't Save Black America", has somewhat to do with what I see as the potential for an "Obama phenomenon" in Black America. The phenomenon I'm envisioning is African Americans looking at Barack Obama, and at his success, and how he earned it, and see a new potential in 'normative' ways of gaining wealth and prestige, as opposed to the 'gangster oriented' way that's being preached so much in Black media today.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Sunday, November 2, 2008
57-תפילת ה"עמידה" שלוש פעמים ביום
2-ברכת טלית ותפילין
7-ברכות ק"ש שחרית וערבית
1-ק"ש שעל המיטה
1-ברוך מקדש שמו
2-ברכת "אשר יצר" לפחות פעמיים ליום
5-ולפחות שלוש ברכות ראשונות ושתי ברכות אחרונות על מיני אוכלים
So we see if one just actually says the minimum prayers that must be said, and a few of the regular blessings throughout the day it usually comes to a hundred anyway. But still, it's good to be at least somewhat conscious of it.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Take the "פני יהושוע" for example (Jacob Joshua Falk), one of the most popular Talmudic commentators of the early acharonim period, and someone very suspect for being perceived as living in some sort of vacum, was a contemporary, for example, of (Gottfried) Leibniz (I know, not the most shocking thing in the world, but not often thought of). In fact, it turns out that "the pne yehoshua" was kicked out of a Rabbinical post in Berlin (during only his third year there) because he displeased 'Veitel-Heine Ephraim' by making a judgment against him. And this Ephraim guy is the same dude who was in charge of depreciating the Prussian currency during the Seven Years' War.
The same time Yisrael Meir Kagan ("the חפץ חיים") was putting together a yeshiva in Raduń, Linclon was "freeing the slaves" in America. When he died things like the Hindenburg were flying around Germany (there's actually a brand new 'Zeppelin' blimp starting flights in California right now- the height of innovation!).
And the "שונה הלכות", or the "דרך אמונה" (works by Chaim Kanievsky that might one day be named after him) and the "יחוה דעת" (Ovadia Yosef) are living not far from Shiri Maimon(!), and in the same world as Paris Hilton! ..I don't know why, I just think that's a little funny!
There are obviously infinitely more examples than these, but you get the picture...
(By the way, the links are in case someone doesn't know what the hell I'm talking about.)
And while I'm already mentioning European conlficts of the last couple of centuries I want to mention that I think it's ironic that the Western Europeans and their descendants make light of the struggle over the future of "دار الإسلام " ('dar al-Islam') taking place on many fronts today, by asking "how anyone in todays' modern world could act so barbaric?". While in the meantime their own ('enlightened', European) conflicts of the past few centuries were only about money and power- and the only reason they're not fighting now is because they've lost all they had!
Monday, October 27, 2008
It seems his positions were challanged by "Wolfish Musings" and "Frum Heretic" (citing the book "Before the Flood: The Biblical Flood as a Real Event and How It Changed the Course of Civilization" as being the most logical approach to things. I gotta look into that).
Sunday, October 26, 2008
This thought came to me as I was involved in reading Mishna, Tractate Kilayim (though the same is true for any other tractate, and definitely for the Talmud); one must have a firm grounding in botony if one is to ever fully comprehend the underlying principles of that tractate, as well as for parts of Tractate Berakhot and other tractates. But then again, one must be proficient in the realities of real estate interactions to fully comprehend the principles behind Tractate Bava Batra (of Nezikin). One too must have a firm grip on mathematics and geometry for one to understand the more technical discussions in parts of the Talmud.
Even today; one cannot come to a decision about whether pasteurized grape juice if fitting for the blessing recited upon wine if one does not comprehend the physical and chemical reality of pasteurization. And so on and so fourth, with all the laws. The 'artist' must know what is going on on 'Wall street'. The 'banker' has to know what is happening in the 'art world'.
Therefore one must have a great storehouse of many different branches of wisdom in order to understand 'The Torah'. But for these studies the knowledge one gains in the process is not mundane- for it being a means to understand G-d's word sanctifies it to a level of purpose and import that it otherwise would not have had.
And in my mind, it is this 'worldliness' that the Mishna and Talmud (not to mention The Tanakh) afford the Jew that has made him intellectually a step above the rest, and has given him prominence in the countries he has travelled.
(Sorry about having so many pictures- I just couldn't part with them!)
[לאפוקי מדעת המתנגדים לעיון ב"ספרים חיצונים", וסוברים דכל מה שאפשר לדעת כבר נמצא בתורה]
Friday, October 24, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008
My father has a very ..different..way to say things in English than most people. ..in fact not only have I never heard the type of pronunciation of English he has anywhere else, I've never heard a lexicon like his, or word-usages such as his elsewhere. ..for example(!): For some reason(?) every time he has to use the restroom he tells everyone "I have to go see George Bush" (well, that's what he's been saying the past eight years anyway..). When looking for reading material to take in he says "I can't go in without my files"(!) etc...
I happened to be passing the Waldorf hotel tonight just when I was frantically looking for a restroom, and I saw all the Television film crews, so in passing I asked them what was going on. They informed me that presidential nominees John McCain and Barack Obama were attending a dinner there (they were just leaving actually. I saw McCain!). But I was in such a hurry I told him "who cares about McCain or Obama, I have to see George Bush!
..I didn't really tell them, but, ; )
(Cardinal Edward Egan was also there, ..he asked me if I was doing anything tonight, but he lost interest when I told him I'm not Catholic..).
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
Well, we got our Succah up (wasn't too difficult, being that it's principles of engineering were the same as those of Lego(!)), and what is perhaps my most beloved holiday begins tonight. I always liked Succot more than others holidays because there are just so many interesting actions and thoughts to ponder, and in my opinion the main purpose for the commandment of these actions is to cause one to ponder.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
"As a mother raises her child, she usually teaches him how to act. She lavishes him with care and in return demands/expects gratitude. All people need appreciation, usually more than “thank-you” but a genuine empathy and appreciation. Of course it is impossible to re-raise a grown person.
But a good exercise in learning to think this way could be to get in the habit of thinking about and vocalizing one nice thing about each person you meet.
At first it might seem forced or artificial but soon it will become a permanent habit in life.
Tell the bagboy at the grocery that you appreciate what a nice job he his doing for you.
Another important character trait is empathy. When you see another human being, think about what it is like to be them. What is it like to be the Janitor cleaning the bathrooms?
How can you improve his day?
What could you do to help make his job easier? after all, without the proper circumstances in life, you could spend YOUR life cleaning toilets. How would you like to be treated as you were cleaning toilets?
...So much so that we as Jews who were created in and should behave in a manner that is in accordance with Hashem’s image, should lavish kindness upon every person we meet, Jew, Gentile, brilliant or retarded. And as we treat others, Hashem judges and treats us. This is just basic Judaism.
...Observing that someone is serving you and getting up to help is along the same vein. Not just in a home, but even in a restaurant."
Another thing that came to my mind was that when I worked in a restaurant there were obviously people who said things that made me happier than others. I personally enjoyed when people were playful, but it's hard to say everyone enjoys that. One thing I think most people enjoy is (like I said) to seem very appreciative of the service being done. Now, of course there's no need to be gay about it (I use "gay" to mean "overly nice", or unusually friendly), but I was thinking you can say something like "oh man! You're a lifesaver!", or "ahh, this is really good! You da man!", or something along those lines (of course the exact wording would have to change based on apparent "cultural preferences"/gender of the person serving you).
So I still don't think it's a set science how you should act or what you should tell 'service providers', but as long as one sticks to the guidelines initially laid out, it would be well-alright.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
...why am I mentioning this here again..? Oh yes, because I can! ; )
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Ultimately my insurance just has to pay the lady and I'm hoping I can get some money out of the girls insurance company for causing my crash. But I should also be very thankful that not only did the police there not put me in jail for driving without a license, they even drove me into the city. Once there I ordered a taxi, and the one I found was very interesting; some attractive young 'black' woman who covered her hair and closely affiliated herself and her kids with some form of Judaism. In fact her name was 'Yocheved', her son was 'misha-el', daughter- 'yerusha-ya', son- 'el-hanan'. Very cool. But she did say the recently she has been attracted to a form of religion that feels that the main objective is to keep true at least to what seems proper for us according what is manifest in nature (I told her she might find some form of theological backing in the works of Spinoza...I don't know if that's true! ..but..whatever).
So it was too bad losing the car I just got..but I'm very happy to be OK coming out of such a forceful collision, and happy I have wi-fi Internet connection here in the Dayton airport!
Thursday, July 10, 2008
..I don't know, I guess it's so easy for me to go be alone in strange places for long periods of time 1. Because I'm naturally a loner! 2. Because I haven't really got anything keeping me in Brooklyn, and 3. Because I'm a travel addict...
..to be honest I always tried to use travel as a way of recharging my "spiritual batteries", and of starting things anew, from a new perspective. ..to be honest, many a time it did work pretty well(!), but I should have definitely have come back to New York and got settled down quite a while ago...I was just always afraid of lowering my spirituality by leaving "the yeshiva".. Well, too late now..
As an aside: I went to Ari Nestlebaums wedding tonight! Yay! We haven't really 'chilled' in quite a while though...
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
ספקות אלו וכיוצא בהם, לא שבאמת תלויים בלא תשובה, אלא שצריכים עיון חדש, מבחינת ראייה חדשה. י
ספק ראשון(1)- כתוב באבות "עשה לך רב והסתלק מן הספק", אבל איך אפשר לסמוך במילי דארעא על בשר ודם, אשר איננו יכולים ליבחן מה הולך בין שבילי רעיוניו ודרכיו, או לוודא שכנים דעותיו (בפרט ש"כשם שפרצופיהם אינם דומים, כך דעותיהם אינם דומים")? י
ספק שני(2)- כתוב בסוף מיכה "והצנע לכת עם אלו-הך", אבל מובן שמוסב על האישיות והתנהגות המעשית של האדם, אם כן איך היינו מתרגמים את הפסוק הזה לענין צניעות בביגוד- ובפרט ביומנו, שהשתנו המזגים בענינים האלו. י
(1) הספק הראשון נתעוררה אצלי כתגובה אל מה שכתבה הצברית (שאגב אינה צברית באמת) בבלוג שלה על ספר חדש על הרבי מחב"ד שהיה לפני האחרון, והתרשמותו עליה. בין היתר כתבה שקצת היה מוזר בעיניה ש"הרבי הרגיש פחד", אבל בסופו של דבר עשתה שלום עם תשתעבדותה אל ה"רבי" בכותבה ש"לא ניתנה התורה למלאכי השרת", ושזה מוכיח על היות הרבי "בר-נש" כמונו. בעוברי בין שוריה לא יכולתי בקלות לכסות על אי-נוחותי עם אמונתם התמים-תמימה של חסידי חב"ד אל רבם. י
(2) הספק השני נתעורר אצלי כי בכלל ימי הקיץ באים עלינו,ואיתם כל מחלוקות ה"אורתודוקסיים" וה"מסורתיים" וכיוצא בהם בסוגיא של הצניעות אצל קהילתינו הקדושה מתפרץ עוד הפעם. הייתי מסכים שדברים כמו פריסת רגלים באשה, וכיסוי שערה יסודם בהררי קודש בתלמוד, אבל איך אפשר לבסס את ההגדרות הכלליות של הצניעות ככיסוי חלקים העליונים של הזרועות והרגלים בפסוק הזה לחוד? י
Also: comments about whether the pictures spoil or enhance the effect would be appreciated.
Monday, July 7, 2008
Well, it's mostly over now- the festivities of the marriage of my brother...as for some of my personal experiences of it (as I see them now, a few days later) that will be the topic of my writing:
Well, the wedding was a nice wedding, there were though a few flaws; like the fact that me and my half sister, as well as the brides brothers weren't really sure when or in what way to 'walk down the aisle', partially because not only was there no preparation of it beforehand, there was no talk of it. Another thing that is unfortunately spoken of little, not only by the wedding of my brother, but by any wedding for that matter is 1. hilkhot kiddushin before doing it, 2. hilkhot k'tubot and the requirements of the spouses to one another (among other things), hopefully I'll have more time to read that kind of stuff if and when I get married. Another flaw would have been that my brothers wife seemed to have filled all her tables with friends quite nicely, while my brother left a good few tables totally unoccupied (and my brother is quite liked by people...in that case I think, it would be a struggle to fill but one table at my own wedding!
My (religious- mostly young) cousins came in from Cincinnati (though my (irreligious- mostly older) cousins from New York did not). I was happy there were able to attend this religious event as opposed to the last time they came to New York, where they had to attend a wedding of said irreligious cousins. I got to speak to them a bit by the meals on Shabbat, though not all that much- I feel bad because I always seem to be a bit deprived of socialization with them before they have to go again. A short summation of them:
[David- Five years of age. Quite the agreeable lad. Quite intelligent too..
Yonatan- Of nine years. Was a wild little one the last time I saw him (as well as the times before that), though now he seems much more 'tamed', and much brighter than last I saw him.
Naomi- Of eleven (almost twelve) years of age. To me one of the more interesting ones, being that she is in the middle between two boys younger than her, and two girls older than her, who in all likeliness probably tries to socialize with the girls more but always ends up with the boys, due to her unusually petite size for her age (she's shorter than her nine year old brother). ..though in essence her siblings would be considered 'large' for their age, in comparison with the average Ashkenazi Jewish Americans..
Adina- Fourteen years old. Second to oldest, though much more extroverted than the oldest one (the opposite situation existed with me and my older brother). I noticed on Shabbat that she really does have quite a stereotypical old-time Moroccan girl appearance. Her personality makes her presence fun and exiting for those around her.
Michelle- Sixteen(?). Oldest. I suppose that makes her very responsible, but not necessarily overly outgoing...but not introverted either..we were lucky to have her because she seems to being going on an NCSY trip to Israel quite soon.]
We all had the sheva brachot in Queens (the place where my brothers wife has lived for many years, and the place of their new apartment). There were many people, but no doubt 90% of them were from her side of the social spectrum. One thing I felt bad about was that I was meant to give a 'dvar torah' by seudah shlishit but my brother never showed (I stayed up all afternoon preparing it- I wasn't expecting to speak any time, so I had nothing prepared from beforehand...and I had to stay up with my cousins for the first half of the afternoon). I ended up giving it by a brunch the next day, but I partly forgot it, it was unexpected, and there were many more people who were more spread out which created a great challenge for my naturally quite weak voice (I was actually taken aback a bit when my brothers wife spoke after me, and her voice is 50 times louder than mine, with 50 times less effort from her).
[Just the basic idea of what I was trying to say, in Hebrew:]
וכה תורף דברי: חזינן בכמה דוכתי בתורה איסורי ביאה עם ישראלית כגון "לא יבוא עמוני ומואבי בקהל ה" ו"לא יבוא ממזר בקהל ה", ופירש"י "לא יבוא בקהל ה" היינו "לא ישא ישראלית". אז ראינו שהנושא ישראלית נקרא "בא בקהל ה". ובדברי קבלה כתוב "נאום ה אהיה להם לאלו"הים לכל משפחות ישראל","לאיש ישראל" לא נאמר, אלא לכל "משפחות" ישראל. ופירוש "משפחה" הוא לכל הפחות איש ואישתו". י
אם כן פשוט הוא ששכינה שורה אצל הנשוי, לסיבה זאת מצווים אנו לשמח חתן וכלה, כי הרי כתיב "אין השכינה שורה אלא מתוך שמחה". גם ידעינן דשמו של הקב"ה שלום. אם כן חובה על הנשוי אשה להרבות בשלום, שיהיו שניהם כגוף אחד, שלם, ולא להיחלק ע"י המחלוקת כלל וכלל. י
אבל הרי איפה כתוב בשלהי פרשת השבוע "על כן יאמר בספר מלחמות ה, את והב בסופה, ואת הנחלים ארנון", ופירשו רבותינו בקידושין (לא:) "אפילו האב ובנו והרב ותלמידו שרבים על דברי תורה, אינם זזים משם עד שנעשו אוהבים זה לזה דכתיב את והב בסופה- אל תקרי בסופה אלא בסופה". אם כן ראינו שהמחלוקת לא רק שהיא אינה נאסרת לגמרי, אלא שיש בידה לחזק הדידידות- אז השאלה פשוטה: איזה מין מחלוקת מביאה לידי אהבה? י
הוי אומר מחלוקת רבי יוחנן וריש לקיש, דכתיב בהו דכד הוה נח נפשיה דריש לקיש התאבל רבי יוחנן ואמר בכולא זמנא דאמרנן שמעתתא קמיה דריש לקיש הוה מקשיה עלי כ"ד קושיות. למה אהב רבי יוחנן את קושיותיו של ריש לקיש? שעל ידם זכה לראות את הדברים בפנים חדשות. י
שלום בא כששני בני הזוג יכולים לראות את הדברים כמו שנראים לצד השני ממש. אני בעניי הייתי מפרש "שלום" לאופן מעשי- "לסבול בעין יפה מה שמובן כאי-צדק". כי הרי אנשי צדק אנו בטבענו, ומצטערים רבות על חסרונה. אבל לא כולנו רואים את העולם בסאספקלריה אחת: לפעמים אחד מבני הזוג רוצה או מבקש דבר הנראה לשני כאי-צדק מוחלט, אבל החכמה הוא לראות תמיד את הדברים כפי שנראים בעיני השני. והדברים כה פשוטים שאין צורך באמירתם- אבל הלוואי שנזכה לזה- אמן. י
I found I got sort of inwardly depressed after a while. I think the reason was that 1. That's partly just what happens to me after a while of viewing so much merriment, 2. The 'dvar torah' incident, 3. The fact that all those people I liked being with left so abruptly, and 4. 'Big issues' at the job I'm at..
ועוד חזון למועד
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
....I see one thing that has pissed people off about me in general has always been that I tend to respond to criticisms while smiling...I don't know why...probably some 'deep psychological thing'...but, I can't help it...
Is anyone else following 'Hell's Kitchen' by the way? They're down to the last two, so exiting! ..It's honestly the first TV series I've followed since I was fourteen! ....some things I did find a bit unbelievable though...mostly that they kicked out Ben and Bobby and kept Matt and Rosanne for so long...especially Matt!..
...watching it actually reminds me of my time in Orlando; the 'quiet-build up-climax-anticlimax' sequence; the stress, the rush, the pleasure of having a proper dinner service...not too many other jobs are so fulfilling and so much fun...I also had pretty good relationships with the people there..(except the bosses of course..but they left a lot, so..). I can honestly say that the relationship I had with the waitress was by far the best I've had with any female (though she was Catholic and from Honduras..). After spending the days with her I looked at the 'JAP' ("Jewish American Princess") type girls who showed up there sometimes and thought "I have to end up marrying a girl like one of these snobby, whiny, pampered Jewish girls?!"...but Jewish girls are obviously far from all the same...
Man, I've gone on a lot about myself here! A little unlike me....
Sunday, June 22, 2008
By April Masini- Featured on the 'Yahoo' homepage:
"Have you suffered from hearing the words, "You're a really nice guy, but I only like you as a friend," from a woman who you would do (or may, in fact, have already done) just about anything and everything for -- only to turn around and watch her date (or even chase) a guy who treats her like she's nothing special?...
First, "nice" equates with boring and predictable. Look up "nice" in the dictionary and you find: pleasant; agreeable; satisfactory. In other words, average -- not exceptional, not exciting, and not sexy....
To illustrate what I mean: The answer to the question, "Why does the guy who doesn't appear to care as much about the girl get the girl?" is simple: The nice guy cares too much, too soon. He has made the woman too important and too valuable and it shows in everything he says and does. He is too available, too eager to please, too accommodating, and he gives too much -- all without getting anything in return. By doing so, he has made himself appear desperate, insecure, needy of this woman's attention, affection, and approval -- and he has stripped himself of any value in her eyes...
It works like this: Once you need something, or you want it too badly, you forfeit your strength and lose all power of negotiation. You are in a position of weakness and you are perceived as weak..
הנני מצרף דברים אלו פה למען ישמעו החסרים במידות אלו- ויקחו מוסר...י
Friday, June 20, 2008
Actually, once I'm talking about night, I wanted to print here the פויוט of one of the greatest Spanish פייטנים to share my name (רבי שלמה אבן גבירול) about something which I also feel passionately at times; night!
בעת ליל והשחק נקי כף--- והסהר טהור לבב וברו
נהגני עלי ארחי תבונות---והורני באור הגו והרו
וחמלתי בפחדי מתלאות---עלי אורו כאב על בן בכורו
ורוח שלחה בי מפרשי עב---תפרש על פני סהר אפרו
כאלו אותה זרם גשמים---ותשען לעב עד כי תקירו
ושחק העטה קדרות וסהר---כאלו מת והענן קברו
ובל אוחיל ידידי ואקוה---לאור סהר אשון חשך המירו
ואשקיף עת יגל פניו ואגיל---כגיל עבד אשר אדון זכרו
Thursday, June 19, 2008
- Torah Commentary for Our Times by Harvey J. Fields (and Giora Carmi).
- Understanding Genesis (The Heritage of Biblical Israel) by Nahum M. Sarna (...as well as the other books by Sarna).
[I also found Judaism And the Environment by Jeremy Benstein to seem in surprizing sync with Orthodox modes of thought, and found the books of (Lawrence) Schiffman on second temple times to be pretty extensive and worth looking into.]
I saw two books about Sefaradim, one called "Sephardi Jewry: A History of the Judeo-Spanish Community, 14th-20th Centuries by Esther Benbassa (the same lady who wrote "The Jews of France"). I don't see why she titled it 'Sephardi' Jewry- the whole thing concentrates on these somewhat obscure communities in the Balkans (and Turkey).
And then I checked out "Foundations of Sephardic Spirituality by Marc D. Angel (the Rav from the Spanish/Portuguese shul on 70th street). It was also just about Turkish Jews...and mostly from his own recollection, so...
One book I think is really good (which I took out from the library) and I'd recommend to anyone is "Ashkenazim and Sephardim: Their Relations, Differences, and Problems As Reflected in the Rabbinical Responsa by H. J. Zimmels. Very Rabbinically oriented. Very clear and concise. ..I mean like, you can use that as a 'מפתח' or 'מורה דרך' for תשובות הראשונים.
About Sefardim actually (in that case) I wanted to lay out that I personally was never really so keen on the term Sefaradim- being that there is such a large amount of diversity in the group, it's very imprecise to give us all one homogeneous title. To me there are five very different and distinct groups divided by time and geography.
1. The first (ideological) group was obviously the Jews in Muslim Spain and the Morocco/Algeria/Tunisia area. 'תור הזהב בספרד'. i
2. The Jews who were expelled from Spain and went to other countries with Jewish communities on the Mediterranean. 'מגורשי ספרד בארצות האסלם'. i
3. The Jews who were in those Muslim counties the entire time (the Jews of Morocco, Alegia, Tunisia, Lybia, Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Greece, and Turkey) which pretty much culturally 'swallowed' the Spanish Jews after a while, though they (Spanish Jews) did leave a lot of their legacy. 'קהילות התושבים'. i
4. The Jews of the countries of the 'eastern block' of Muslim counties; Yemen, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Azerbaijan- who were never really racially or culturally influenced by Spanish Jews first hand. 'יהודי המזרח'. i
5. The Spanish Jews who ended up in Western or Christian states (like the Balkans Italy, England, Germany and the Americas).
And today all Sefaradim associate themselves with at least one one of these groups. For instance I personally take pride in the spiritual and literary accomplishments my ancestors made in Muslim Spain, but also feel much more at home among the Jews from Morocco than Jews from, say; Bulgaria...
..But yet we are all called Sefaradim! Example: Once in a camp I was teaching in, there were only two Sefaradim; me, and a guy who's father was from Afghanistan. Am I of the same cultural heritage of people from Afghanistan?!
Between each of these groups there were great halakhic and ideological differences (for example between the Spanish Jews and the Jews native the Muslim countries). Even within the groups there were differences (like the difference between the Spanish 'Kabalists' and 'Philosophists'). So....I'm personally fond of the term 'יהודים מארצות האסלם' for example.