Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Monday, January 28, 2008
Anyway, to make things short, Rebecca is a sweet girl in her pre-20's, somewhere in America, looking (partially through 'online profiles') for her soul mate.
OK, now this is the first picture I personally received from Rebecca through email:
When I first saw it I said; yo man! This girl ain't for me, she looks like some kid who just stepped out of a rodeo or something, and I don't really dig southern things...
So that's what I did; told her nicely I wasn't interested..
Now, here's an example of the picture she has up today on a website (I think it's publicly posted..if it isn't, then may I be forgiven). Here too, she looks a little better, but personally, I wouldn't even start up with such a girl.
And finally; specimen C; the picture I found on 'the other site':
Is not all the lust and beauty of her youth greatly more evident here than in the first ones?! To me it would be no surprise if she got all her dates with the second site, and wonders why!
(Yet even this is not how she plainly appears in real life (she always wears glasses. This picture makes her look much more wild than her intellectual, reserved, cool and composed self. It also makes her seem a bit younger than she actually is, which adds to her a certain amount of silliness.)
So, what of this? What am I trying to prove? Well, two things; first of all to any of us who have, or check out internet dating profiles, with the hopes of running into someone pleasant- beware! You're picture is all people judge you by (well, if you're a girl!). So make sure the picture you have of yourself is a reasonable representation.
(Personally; I've only been out twice through internet dating, this here was the first girl, who looked better, and..different than her picture (which isn't here), and the second time the girl actually looked a lot worse than the picture..).
Second point; we are obviously way too superficial, and play too much importance into looks. We should be ashamed at ourselves! After thousands of years of development, only because of capitalism and commercialism still have the same tendencies, and glorify the same things as a caveman! At least we, G-d's people, we should be at the forefront of this counterculture we attempt to run against the western world in which we reside. Overindulgence in the things of the media, and approaching them without a heavy head, and a 'grain of salt', but mindlessness, and subconscious acceptance are the main things we should refrain from totally. At least us; the nation of priests, should see people for who they are, and not how f-'d up their faces might look.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
I knew he was Buharian, but I guess I kind of forgot he's actually from Uzbeckistan. The place had a much more Uzbeck flavor than I thought it might. They even had a Buharian band with the singer seemingy singing love songs about Samerkand (capitol, Uzbeckistan). My friend though, knew the Uzbeck dances better than anyone there. Though it's sort of weird doing that dance with only guys (some of the dances are sort of sexually seggestive), but, it was alright...
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Sunday, January 13, 2008
The Talmud (Ketuboth 72a) comments; "then he should uncover the woman’s hair"- and "if so", it states, "then we see it once was covered- if it once was covered, then it should always be covered. From here we can infer" says the Talmud, "that G-d would want a woman to have her hair always covered".
The author of the ‘Bad Rabbi’ blog had difficulty in understanding the logic of this talmudic derivation; “Let us review the logic:
But he adds “…does it follow that just because a woman’s hair was uncovered in that act of judgment then all women’s hair must from then on be covered? Maybe the fashion of the time three thousand years ago was to keep hair covered. Does this mean that we must keep with that fashion even now? Should we wear exactly what they were wearing too? Thank goodness the story does not describe the color and the dress this woman was wearing, or else, the rabbis would have required women to wear that dress as well!A more respectable argument for covering of hair could have been made on grounds of modesty. The rabbis could have said that modesty in dress includes covering hair. Certainly those women who wear hats or otherwise cover their hair tend to be less flamboyant then those who flaunt their hair. An argument could have been made that a dignified woman should cover her hair out of modesty. Unfortunately, when asked, Rabbis always point to ‘The Sotah’ story for justification for this law, and only add the modesty issue as an afterthought.”
I pondered his argument against the logic of the Talmud on and off for a few days. Initially I thought- that his whole understanding of the halachic process was faulty; the Talmud here is not trying to prove that it is a biblical imperative for a woman to cover her hair, it cannot be suggesting that- for we know such a thing is not one of the 613 Divine Laws. Rather this form of proof in the Talmud is called an "אסמכתא" ("a leaning"). The point of bringing an asmachta is not to prove something biblically, but just to provide a verse that somewhat assists our idea. But that is not THE proof for woman’s head covering.
It is known to all reading this, that most observant Muslim women cover their hair. It would seem to us that this would be based on the Koran, or perhaps only in the Hadith. When one searches through the Koran though, to one’s surprise, he finds no such verse instructing women to cover their hair!
Why is it then that all observant Muslim women have their hair covered? From the simple understanding that the Koran felt it was understood (in that time and place, at least- I.e. seventh century Saudi Arabia) that women cover their hair. This was understood by all. The Koran does state though, that women should generally be modest. The prophet (Mica 4:8) also bequeaths man to ‘walk modestly with g-d’.
So if the argument can be made that woman should cover their hair, because she had it covered, the argument can also be made that if Moses was wearing shoes, we all should be wearing shoes. True, but who among us is not wearing shoes? It is understood.
That is what I thought at the time. But still that argument is slightly (I stress- slightly faulty) because times and norms change. There is a famous Hassidic dictum that "how do we know that Moses wore a ‘shtreimel’ (the fur hat that Hassidim wear)? For it says “ and Moses came out"!...would Moses come out without a shtriemel?!”. Rabbi Dr. Josef Breuer (1842 –1925) in his book ‘The Jewish Marriage’ brings up this problem. He writes “you might say that the practice of covering the hair does not seem to be a custom followed by Jews only; it is the common heritage of the orient, and thus it brings to mind the inferior position of woman in the east and the degradations that were associated with the harem”. After convincing the Jewish woman that this is a practice of Jews, he adds “And even if upon superficial examination there might be some truth in this argument- might it not be possible that two persons might engage in the same practice, but each for quite different reasons that the other? Does not the oriental also pray…, does not he have temples priests and prophets- and still, would you be so thoughtless as to consider identical certain phenomena and concepts which, while seemingly alike, actually represent ideas diametrically opposed to each other by virtue of the spirit in which each is performed?”
Though the original problem still lingers; but then it hit me- the Bad Rabbis whole premise is off. It does not say that anyone ever uncovered anyone else’s hair. It says ‘this is what you should do in this situation’. In fact there is a wording of our prestated Talmudic derivation on this verse in the Midrash. The Midrash Sifri (ibid.) formulates “this is to teach you that a woman’s hair should be covered”, not “it was covered”, but “should be covered”! In other words the Torah is telling us “this is what you should do in this situation…then uncover her hair”, i.e. I expect her hair to be covered then.
Ah but the eyes of those who do not wish to see will always be blind! For all time, those who have discarded and mocked the commandments which we understand to be of Divine origin, did so out of ignorance and an unwillingness to learn!
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
In my mind I pondered many things I could have done to stop that ‘evil decree’. But after a while I realized that my main problem was that she was just ‘out my league’ (i.e. in many ways, she was objectively ‘better’ than me). And it dawned on me that that was obviously why I was so interested in her; mainly because of her greater ‘class’ (so to speak). In other words; let’s say it worked out between us and we got married, what would she be thinking of me her whole life? “You know, honestly, I could really have done a lot better than that, I should have got rid of him while I was still able to”, and forget about what her mother would be saying to her for the rest of her life…
All I could think is “how was I deserving of her interest in me?”, and how ‘lucky’ I was to end up with this person. So my whole interest in her was in essence an interest in myself, in bettering my situation. As far as I was concerned, I would be the main person benefiting from the relationship. Is that not just egotistical self-love? The ideal relationship, in a way, is one where ‘they’ are the one who is interested in ‘you’; where they are the one who feels lucky to be with you.
The Talmud itself in Tractate Yebamot (63a) teaches us this great principle; נחית דרגא ונסב איתתא (“go down a step (a rung in the social ladder) and then marry”) are it’s ever famous words of practical relationship advice. And what definition of social class is there by men if not the attractiveness of their spouse. If so then, “going down a level” would to a large extent be defined as being less superficial, and more open to romantic interest in someone who doesn’t fit today’s subjective mold of what’s considered attractive. And anyone of a male orientation knows that to a man, says “don’t be so interested in looks”, is like telling a nine month pregnant woman who’s water broke to “put off childbirth for a few months”! Then how much more important is it in that case, to engrain in our minds that which king Solomon told us in the conclusion of his book of Proverbs “שקר החן והבל היופי, אשה יראת ה היא תתהלל”!
By the way...trust Jimmy Soul on this one, he knows what he's talking about!
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
First I want to say though, that I harbor no strife towards any Jew; all our ideals (though they be many) are legitimate. I just state my opinions.
So when the average Sefaradi thinks of an Ashkenazi shul, he thinks of this room packed with sweaty people dressed in black mumbling these inaudible words. Even for someone well trained in even their form of Jewish prayer it is impossible to know what part of the prayer they're up to (because they, again, don't know what it means, don't say it in a way that sounds like any language, and say it at a speed which would make it very difficult to understand if it were a language). They shake while praying. They scream. They sleep in their sanctuaries. There are millions of people going around asking for 'tzedaka' at one time. ...you get the picture
Yet isn't this a pitiful form of prayer, especially when we are constantly being showcased to outsiders? We, Jews who come from Muslim countries, either personally or ancestrally, by and large didn't live as segregated from the non-Jews as they did in the 'shtetl'. We saw with what respect the Muslim approached his prayer. All the more so us, from whom those prayers somewhat originate, how much more so should our sanctuaries be ‘sanctvm’?
Sefaradi Jews (especially those from Muslim Spain) always prided themselves on prayers that sounded beautiful (the richer sefaradi congregations here in Brooklyn for example pay absolutely TONS of money to get 'hazzanim' who are experts in the makamat; the Arab 'modes' or 'tunes' from singing and holy liturgy...which differs greatly between north Africa and the middle east by the way). On beautiful architecture, clean, open spaces for praying (which is what Ashkenazim also had before the Hasidim, and after, by non-Hasidim. The thing is by them (Ashkenazim) it seems like the more liberal they are, the more respectful their prayers and the places where they are done are). A Sefaradi is proud to be able to say the holy words of our beautiful and ever-meaningful prayers. Not to have them on himself, as the Ashkenazi, as a constant burden..
Anyway; the argument can always be made- we are in essence a Semitic people without a clearly defined culture, so if anything, our culture is steeped deep in the ground of the Middle East. Syrian culture, Lebanese culture, Palestinian culture, is ‘Jewish culture’ to some extent (though there is no such thing, just as there is no Jewish ‘race’). And that, by the way, is again, part of the complaint of the Palestinians; the Western domination. We only seem so Western because the first Ashkenazim who came insisted on a strictly Western or ‘European’ culture dominating the country. Which is all fine and dandy, but it does to a large extent not only minimize, but negate the fact that the collective culture of the Jew is Semitic at heart. Not only by the Sefaradim who were culturally Arab for all intents and purposes, but the Ashkenazi himself was always ridiculed at in Europe for being Semitic (which, even after so many years in Europe is evidenced by the fact that so many of them have Semitic type noses, and other characteristics). Which also minimizes therefore the ‘cultural similarity’ between Jews and Muslims, which was responsible in part for the fact that after all is said and done, we (the Sefaradim) lived with the Arabs in relative peace and harmony for Millennia, before the Ashkenazim came.
[Bonus: Listen to actual Moroccan Jewish payer, recorded in a synagogue in Morocco in the 50's].
Monday, January 7, 2008
Sunday, January 6, 2008
Well, guess what? I went to ‘shul’ this past Shabbat morning! And the funniest thing is I REALLY enjoy going, but the closest Moroccan Synagogue is pretty far from my house, and walking back I would stall the meal. But that’s only a secondary reason, the main reason is that I’m usually way too busy sleeping, which is why I barely ever go, which is why when I do go I really enjoy it.
I happened to wake up early on Shabbat, which happens to me so rarely I can count all the times it’s happened. It took me around an hour to get there, and surprise; no one was there. So I went in and waited. Some old guy sat next to me who was sort of crazy…but he gave candies to every kid, so, in a way he’s a lot more caring than me, because I wouldn’t even fathom doing that, so who’s crazy?
You know, it’s funny; I’ve been to many different Moroccan synagogues in many different countries, and I think it’s safe to say that the one here in Brooklyn is one of the best. Some of the best architecture I’ve seen in a synagogue. One of the best Hazzanim I’ve ever heard. The congregants are also very participating, understand the tunes, and sound nice.
Well, after a while we got started, and there was just a lovely tune for everything. I thanked G-d I’m not a Eurpean Jew (the Lor”d knows what they have to endure in their places of worship!). I kept noticing the architechture, and how similar it was to the great synagogue in Madrid (Spain) though a lot smaller. I thought how one day people would come here and say “there were once Jews who prayed here”; Hopefully soon.
One thing I want to say about the prayers is that I’m a 'pesukei d’zimra' addict! Pesukei d’zimra are the verses of psalms read before the recitation of 'shm’a' and the actual prayer, to get everyone ‘warmed up’. And warm up it does, and where else as in a Moroccan synagogue! For me there’s always this absolutely sublime feeling that I get when the sequence that starts from 'hodu' and ends by 'yishtabach' is done. Now I see why atheists need a place to go pray! It’s a lot of fun; the Muslims (especially Arab-Muslims) from Morocco to Iraq (and beyond) also have a great time praying, as do they in Churches world wide. Again, I sometimes wonder about European Jews, but I suppose it’s their issue, not mine..
Anyway, after a great prayer session the Torah was read very nicely (I mean, I myself barely ever hear it read that nice), but it was a really long parasha, and something was a’ cookin’ downstairs, so I felt a little sick and had to leave early.
Well, all I can conclude with is that I hope to make it to prayers all three times on Shabbat from now on!
Friday, January 4, 2008
"Who Controls Your Mind?
by Remez Sasson
Few people are aware of the thoughts that pass through their minds. Thinking is performed like a habit, in an automatic manner. If the thoughts are positive, then it is all right, but if they are negative, they may cause trouble.
The mind is like small child, who accepts and takes for granted whatever it sees or hears, without judgment and without considering the consequences. If you let your mind behave as it likes and give it complete freedom, you lose your freedom.
We are constantly flooded with thoughts, ideas and information coming through the five senses, other people, the newspapers and TV. These thoughts, ideas and information penetrate the mind whether we are aware of this process or not.
This outside flow influences our behavior and reactions. It influences the way we think, our preferences, likes and dislikes. This means that we let outside powers shape our lives. So where is freedom?
Most people think and believe that their thoughts originate from them, but have they ever stopped and considered whether their thoughts, desires, likes and dislikes are really theirs? Maybe they have come from the outside, and they have unconsciously accepted them as their own?
If there is no filter to process the thoughts that enter the mind, there is no freedom. Then all actions are like the actions of a puppet on a string, though no one will admit it.
You may object and say that the thoughts that pass through your mind are yours, but are they? Have you deliberately and attentively created every thought that entered your mind?
Why let outside influences control your mind and life? Why let other people's thoughts control your life and mind? Do you want to make your mind free or do you prefer to enslave it to other people's opinions and thoughts? If you leave your mind open to every thought that passes by, you put our life in other people's hands, and without realizing it, you accept their thoughts and act in accordance with them.
Each person is more susceptible to certain kind of thoughts than others. Certain thoughts and ideas we ignore, and others spur us to immediate action. Thoughts concerning subjects we love have more power on us than other thoughts, but even thoughts and ideas that we don't care about, if we are frequently exposed to them, eventually sink into the subconscious mind and influence us.
Everyone has desires, ambitions and dreams that he or she may foster from childhood. They may be the thoughts of parents, teachers and friends, and which have lodged into our minds, and are carried around throughout our lives. Are they necessary? Do we need all this excessive baggage?
In order to reduce the power of outside influences and thoughts on your life, you need to be aware of the thoughts and desires that enter your mind, and ask yourself whether you really like them, and are willing to accept them into your life. Analyze your motives and actions, and you will be surprised to find out that many of them were triggered by outside influences.
You do not have to accept each and every thought, idea or information. Think and find out whether you entertain certain thoughts because you decided to do so, or because they just popped into your head due to outside influences.
Learn not to accept every thought that you encounter. Find first whether it is for your own good to follow it. It may not be so easy at the start, because the mind will revolt against this control. If you want to be the master of your mind and life, you should not let other people's thoughts, desires and motives rule your life, unless you consciously choose so."
Thursday, January 3, 2008
It's true; the plight of the Arab refugees is great. But why are they refugees in Jordan and Syria and Egypt? Is it perhaps because their own coreligionists of the same persuasion do not want to accept them? The Muslim Arab in Israel is by and large richer and more well to do than Arabs in any other Middle Eastern country.
Now, again, I'm not saying that we don't mistreat the Palestinians, I'm not saying we don't alienate them, and preach anti-Arabism and anti Muslimism to our children. I am not suggesting we don’t humiliate them in their own land with roadblock checking and restrictions. I am not suggesting that we are not bringing all the worst aspects of Westernism into one of the last bastions of Muslim purity in the world- to taint its youth. I am not suggesting that we have not become a demoralized people bent on leaving our own homeland for the West (especially America). I’m not saying our leaders are not so corrupt that it’s hard to look them in the face and not vomit. I am only suggesting that they have no right to their own state, and barely a right to live in their own land until they humanize, and learn to be peaceful people like they were before we came, and before Arafat came.
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
"If I could tell the world just one thing, It would be that "we're all ok". And "not to worry, because worry is wasteful, and useless in times like these". I will not be made useless! I won't be idled with despair! I will gather myself around my faith for light does the darkness most fear! My hands are small, I know, but they're not yours they are my own, and I am never broken!
Poverty stole your golden shoes, but it didn't steal your laughter. And heartache came to visit me, but I knew it wasn't ever after. We will fight, not out of spite. For someone must stand up for what's right, 'cause where there's a man who has no voice, there ours shall go singing!
In the end only kindness matters.
I will get down on my knees and I will pray.
My hands are small, I know, but they're not yours they are my own, and I am never broken! We are never broken!
We are God's eyes, God's hands, God's mind.
We are God's eyes, God's hands, God's mind.
We are God's eyes, God's hands, God's heart.
We are God's hands. We are God's hands!"