Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Jesus' New Look!

You are all quite aware I'm sure, faithful readers, that it not within my interests nor intentions to continue with these mindless little follow up posts, but as a result of the fact that....I feel like it, I suppose they will have to continue!

I mentioned briefly in the previous post that at times it's difficult for me do disassociate a western image with the idea of the personality written about in the New Christian Testament. Well, I saw one site in which a pastor (probably a while ago) was upset about youths who grow their hair long, and excuse themselves by saying "Jesus had long hair". He goes on to bring historical and archaeological evidence that a person the likes of יש"ו during that time would probably have been clean-shaven and short-haired; a much more Hellenistic-looking Jesus than that we might imagine (not that I care, I just consider it wryly amusing to consider).

This site shows that Jesus took every possible form in the history of Christian art.

..the guy in the picture is obviously Josephus..

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

(Κατά Ματθαίον) עיונים בספר הבשורה על פי מתי

Ever since I put up that YouTube post, I've been doing more and more research during my spare time on early Judean Christianity (partly as a result of my thinking about the scene from the "Passion of the Christ" film I linked to, and how anti-Semitic it is. I thought; if a movie about it in 21st century Hollywood could be so anti-Semitic, I wonder how bad the Gospels themselves are!).

Well, after reading through "The Gospel according to Matthew" (the very first book in the "New Testament", for the first time! ..the tardiness of which I'm somewhat ashamed of..), I must say, it definitely seems like the author did not advocate or believe in the divinity of Jesus (nor does he represent Jesus as advocating or believing such. Though it does imply he did not have a father, and makes a reference to the "father son and holy spirit", both which do not necessarily represent his belief in the divinity of Jesus), and in regards to "the law" as well, he makes it quite clear that in his opinion Jesus came only to put greater stress on commandments dealing with social justice, and although he represents Jesus as having a great distaste for over-ritualism, he stresses that Jesus himself followed all the "Mosaic laws".

What I think is really funny though, is that so little study has been done on early Jewish-Christianity based on these assumptions, although almost every opinion today agrees with these conclusions about Mathew which seemed clear to me upon a first, basic reading!

Obviously, in this scenario, a very different early Jewish-Christianity emerges compared to what was once thought; it is a very slight break away from Talmudism and "Essenism", and is rivaled with "Ebionism" and "Nazarenism" for right of "orthodoxy" in Christianity. It is a religion that puts much less emphasis on the man Jesus himself, but rather on his teachings of social justice, and it of course, is just one of many slight break-offs from "ritual-observing" Judaism.

Something I wanted to mention in the beginning is that for me it's very hard to disassociate the very western images that come to my mind when I see the word "Jesus" from the obvious reality of how a person of that nature might have appeared at that time. ..I mean, even the Syrian-orthodox clergy which I've lived in such close proximity to in Jerusalem had a Christianity that looked far different than even Mediterranean Catholicism, and unrecognizably different from western European Christianity. Yet the Syrian-orthodox church itself is very far removed from those times, which is why the portrait of Jesus I've had in my mind since my youth is so important to discard when reading these texts!

קנאה אלימה

בזמנים האחרונים אני מוצא את עצמי אחוז בחבלי קנאה עזה וכמעט אלימה נגד כל מי שהשיג אפילו קב של הצלחה בעולם הזה. י

Monday, January 26, 2009


In the previous post I mentioned that there is perhaps little reason to pay attention to attacks on the Talmud such as these, and that propaganda of this sort probably originated with the Nazis. Today though, partly as a result of my reading ספר העיקרים (written in fifteenth century Spain by רבי יוסף אלבו) with an English translation from the twenties, I started looking through ספר מגן אבות, which is a book that undoubtedly had an effect on Albo, written by רבי שמעון בן צמח (enigmatically otherwise known as "the תשב"ץ", which, strangely enough, also means "crossword puzzle" in modern usages of Hebrew). Philosophically the book is very similar to the עיקרים, and is obviously a basis for it. One thing that caught my eye immediately in the book though, is an appendix in the end entitled "מלחמת מצוה", in which the author defends many Talmudic passages from Christian clerical criticisms. We see therefore, that such attacks, and defences from them are much older than twentieth century Germany.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

YouTube Video (Like I Promised!)

I previously mentioned a YouTube video I had commented on a while back, and intended to post. Here it is now. The only parts I want to mention are basically from 6:00 till the end.

Obviously this is a video made and put onto YouTube by individuals who harbor a bit of animosity and dislike towards Jews and Judaism. The content is almost undoubtedly from some seemingly pre-war Nazi propagandists who might have seemed somewhat well-learned to the average German. One might say that there is no reason to pay much attention to Anti-Semitic banter, as it is quite so prevalent in this country, yet still, I feel it important for people who do adhere to the Talmudic law to be aware enough about it's content not be confused by falsifiers.

The Talmudic quotations are obviously waaay out of context. Here is a concise explanation:

1. Sanhedrin 77a: "One who binds is not liable to execution":

First of all, one important aspect about the Talmud which would be important for any "outsider" too keep in mind is that the Talmud is obviously only an honest attempt at explaining the Torah itself. It is impossible for the Torah itself to have detailed the punishment for every possible crime that might be committed. If any case seems to be excluded from what the verse discusses then we cannot administer the punishment the Torah prescribes, i.e. the perpetrator is not "liable" for that punishment. The word "liable" is very important. In many other parts of the Talmud it is explained that one who committed a cardinal transgression, with a slight diversion from described in the Torah, even though they may not be liable for the capital punishment prescribed in the Torah they must still endure "Lashes of Rebelliousness" (which did not kill the person, but left them like the Christian savior in the end of "The Passion" film!). Such a person obviously would ultimately be liable to some form of Divine retribution as well...

So too in this case, as in any case in the Mishna or Talmud using the terms "liable" or "exempt", one who murdered in this fashion must still endure lashes.

2. Sanhedrin 52b: Again, The punishment prescribed in the Torah is just for "regular" adulterers, the biblicaly prescribed punishment of Strangling does not apply, therefore, to any other unusual case of adultery (where the perpetrators are "only" given lashes).

3. Kerihoth 11a: Again, in the verse about violating one's handmaid it is only discussing the most generic of situations, any variable, and instead of death by burning the criminal would be flogged.

4. Yebamoth 60b: This passage is discussing whether a girl who was converted to Judaism under the age of three should be allowed to marry into the priestly families upon her becoming of age (i.e. older proselytes cannot marry into the priestly families).

5. Kethuboth 11b: *sigh*, This passage is discussing whether a woman who had, in any way, lost her virginity can still receive the dowry usually allotted to a virgin only. One opinion states that if a girl had once been violated as a minor she is still eligible to receive the dowry because she has since physically returned to her virgin state.

"The intercourse of a small boy is not regarded as a sexual act" if a minor had intercourse with him, i.e. she does not lose the dowry as a result (although she would be otherwise punished for such an act, if it was not against her will).

It should be noted that these cases may not have happened in reality, but are only for the judges to know how to act if cases like these occur.

Another thing I feel is important to point out though is the hateful statements of "the Prince of Peace" (if he did in fact live, and if the gospels are, in fact, his words) against the religious leaders of his time. I would say that he who supposedly "loved everyone" was perhaps the main person to sow the seeds of anti-Semitism and religious hatred among Christians and other non-Jews that led to the opinions of the Nazis who created this sort of propaganda.


The Talmudic passages as they are (with links):

סנהדרין עז:א

אמר רבא כפתו ומת ברעב פטור

ואמר רבא כפתו בחמה ומת, בצינה ומת, חייב- סוף חמה לבא. סוף צינה לבא- פטור

ואמר רבא כפתו לפני ארי, פטור. לפני יתושין, חייב

סנהדרין נב:ב

תנו רבנן (ויקרא כ) "איש" פרט לקטן (ויקרא כ) "אשר ינאף את אשת איש" פרט לאשת קטן (ויקרא יט) "אשת רעהו" פרט לאשת אחרים (ויקרא כ) "מות יומת" בחנק

כריתות יא:א

א"ר יהודה אמר רב הכי קתני... כדרכה נמי: כדרכה בשפחה חרופה מיחייב, ושלא כדרכה לא מיחייב. מאי טעמא (ויקרא יט) שכבת זרע כתיב

יבמות ס:ב

תניא ר' שמעון בן יוחי אומר גיורת פחותה מבת שלש שנים ויום אחד כשירה לכהונה שנאמר (במדבר לא) וכל הטף בנשים אשר לא ידעו משכב זכר החיו לכם

כתובות יא:ב

מתיב רב אושעיא גדול שבא על הקטנה וקטן הבא על הגדולה ומוכת עץ כתובתן מאתים דברי ר"מ

וחכמים אומרים מוכת עץ כתובתה מנה

אמר רבא הכי קאמר גדול הבא על הקטנה ולא כלום דפחות מכאן כנותן אצבע בעין דמי

Friday, January 23, 2009

Death of Electric Cars

And while I'm speaking of the Roosevelts(!):

A hundred years ago, Teddy Roosevelt was president of our great American Empire, and was known for constantly "complaining" about the "big bosses" and corporations (back then, before the glory days of the automotive industry, in the form of railroad companies), and today (under the somewhat similar presidency of Obama) the situation has not only failed to improve, but has, in fact, worsened..

It has always been my feeling though, that that is the nature of the sort of Capitalism our government and economy are formed in; it is inevitable under this system that big business will decide government policy on every issue, especially those relating to anything automotive or energy related. That is to suggest though, that government is in capable and moral hands, and would better things if it was within their power, both presumptions known to be fallacious. Seemingly that is the direction free markets must take, which is why I've always seen this economic and governmental standard little better (if not worse) than the failed form of Communism practiced in Russia during the last century..

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A survey of the romantic life of Eleanor Roosevelt

Well, like I promised; I finally pulled this out of "my documents":

There is one slight thing I have in common with this woman; the fact that I was born in 1984 and she in 1884 (and both grew up in New York). But here I wish to point out that politics and power don't change the fact that people have social existences and make poor as well as wise decisions.

To me it is clear that former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt made an unwise decision when agreeing to take Franklin (Roosevelt)’s proposal to marry. Although from a political standpoint she could have found no better way to elevate her stature than to marry a man who would become the future president, in essence, I feel, they were not really “made for each other”.

Franklin was naturally quite different than her. First of all she was much less attractive and socially adept than him; he liked to go to parties and was not very contemplative, or even interested in one-on-one companionship at all. She was a much more introverted and intellectual individual, who, due to her having spent most her time with books and school, was socially awkward (for she found "small talk" pointless).

After marriage it seemed that he became disillusioned by any initial romantic interest in her, and later became emotionally attached to a secretary she had hired, who was living with the Roosevelts. She too severed any emotional ties with him soon after marriage, and found solace thereafter only in her female friends, and with a certain young man during her old age who had a similar personality to her.

In essence though she had almost no choice in saying yes to such a dashing and politically successful life (and it was really Franklin who should not have suggested it in the first place!), but if her emotional life was more important to her than political success, I say she should have declined and looked elsewhere...

[A similar problem seems to exist with former president William Jefferson Clinton, and former first lady Hilary!]

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

English "R"

I've been trying for over a week to properly pronounce the rolling English "r"! seems like not long ago even American presidents spoke using it. McKinley for example ("reciprocity", "foreign"). As I understand it, many people of stature in America attempted to mimic the British way of speaking in that era...

Monday, January 19, 2009

'dis blasted 'ouse

*sigh*, having to be "at home" (in Brooklyn) for me is quite the chore...or punishment more like.. ...I've been living here "full time" for well over a year now...and I know I must stay for the meanwhile....but it so difficult...there is so very little that is admirable about Brooklyn.. ....though to a large extent I suppose I've learnt to overlook the aspects of this place that do not find favor with me..and basically just ignore it.. ..still, every once in a while pangs come to me like the pangs of birth, reproving me for every day I continue to reside here.. my mind at times it's actually quite the subject...though something I rarely if ever verbalize... .."where is it that I must go?" you may ask.. ..honestly; anywhere else.. ...even a few miles out is basically enough for me.. ...I mean, there are still so many things even in this --the American north east-- that I've yet to see...

..very well then....

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


I always become semi-nauseous before final exams at my University (where they're obviously done a bit later than usual) because I know I must pass all the exams with at least a reasonable mark (which is no simple task for me!), since you can't take that bloody CPA exam without having a certain grade point average. I also started college quite late, and I wouldn't be able to bear the prospect of having to take an entire class over and stay even longer because of a few hours that should have been spent studying...

As an aside; I recently recalled that there were a number of posts I had intended to have up here a long while ago that were left in eternal limbo in draft form, since at the times they were meant to be posted they (for different reasons) seemed to be discourses that somewhat did not suit the time. One, strangely enough, was meant to be about the romantic life of Elinor Roosevelt(!), another about art...and the third about a YouTube video (if I correctly recall). G-d willing they shall find their place here in the not too distant future.

(By the way, I've seen people write "G_d" as so, recently. To me it seems to make a bit more visual sense in English than the dash; as if to say a letter is missing, as opposed to the somewhat meaningless "G-d").

Monday, January 12, 2009

Only to copy Rachel's rally-post!

Seriously, I just went to the rally to have similar pictures on my blog! Incorrigible, aren't I?(!) ...the NY Police made it very hard to join the group of marchers by the way.

I photographed this man's message partly because it is a point that I feel gives one a bit of perspective on the "Israeli-Arab Conflict". I think it's wrong to use the word "Arabs", but the leaders of the long-time Muslim African state of Sudan have been committing acts towards it's non-Muslim citizens that can only be characterized as "genocide" -most likely in order to move them from land that is sitting atop valuable oil-reserves, but under the excuse and cover-up of "religious intolerance". Yet America is not very concerned with them, because of the two obvious reasons that 1. they are a "darker skinned people", and therefore unimportant, and 2. in the meanwhile America has decided to sacrifice it's military and democratic power for the more profitable and newer oil-reserves in the middle-east, therefore necessitating much more concern when conflicts with allied democracies in the region stand to endanger any of those oil-supply-relations with neighboring countries.

Like Ehav Ever commented on Rachel's rally-post, this is, in my opinion as well, at least, a media-war. Since the 1980's we've been fighting this media-war with the Palestinians and foreign reporters. It was because of the media that we had to stop the Lebanon offensive in 2007. Besides the fact that some Jewish "solidarity" is not a bad thing, but there needs to be something else on the television besides images of angry people protesting Israel's military actions.
Like I said, the objective truth and justice are far from anyone's agenda. It has never been America's agenda. I was just reading a book over Shabbat by Howard Zinn called "A people's History of American Empire" (this printing was in comic-book style), in it he proves beyond a doubt that from the beginning America had Imperialistic designs, just as any other world empire in the past, and every war or action it engaged in were to further that goal. we're obviously not waiting for anyone to "see things our way".

There was actually also a small counter-rally around the corner it seems. This Jewish man entered into a bitter discussion with them, unfortunately I didn't think about photographing until it was all but over.

These were part of the counter-rally, though I didn't understand their agenda till I looked at the bottom of their signs on my computer. It leads to "". It's a very interesting site; Muslim articles about the Tanach, and Jewish articles about the Quran... ...the girl is actually kind of hot by the way, no? I should have started talking with these dudes, they seem to harbor little enmity..
Also: I approve of the article on Israel in the current "Time" magazine (which I can't seem to find online). I suppose I kind of side with a "three-state-solution" if the Palestinians would agree. ..though that's a pretty long shot..

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


I must admit, I have become very concerned about my hair, which has visibly been shedding over time (freaky, I know). I read about different "treatments" but they are all more than a bit "iffy". I read that drinking Green Tea could have some hair-oriented benefits, but then again drinking tea 24/7 could lead to kidney stones, so...

There are other aspects of my physical self which warrant some concern though. For one I have developed somewhat of a pot belly- me who has always been thin. Also in this climate and environment I receive little physical exercise. That scar on my forehead also never fully disappeared..

It is these and other things which make me worried about how becoming I may seem to "the ladies" (bald fat people who do little exercise are not the most coveted of men among dating-age women)...

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Another thing that I would have liked to have mentioned earlier that was of worry to me

This Gaza-Struggle started during "Chanukah"; the time when the Jews repelled the invaded, G-dless Greeks from their land- thus proving the strength of the G-d who was on their side. The Palestinians today have a very similar idea about themselves today; they see themselves as working towards their G-dly duty to evict unG-dly usurpers from their land (the same land). The similarity of statements is uncanny. And the problem is; to a large extent their right!

..but like, they're not "really" know that!

Arab Conspiracy!

Old news, I know, but: I personally think there is a great similarity between America's situation in Vietnam and "Palestine" today. For today too, it's not just about Israel and Palestine, but Israel is backed by America, and the Arab countries are backed by Russia (and the Arab and other Muslim countries (Iran, Egypt, Syria and Saudi Arabia for example) back Palestine and Iraq obviously).

But it's more than that- I was just wondering; if all the land of Gaza was given back to the Gazans -the same land on which the Israelis found more than enough room to build farms and villas on- why haven't the Arabs returned there to become workers of the land like their West-Bank brothers, and lower the rates of unemployment and resentment in Gaza? Many people think this kind of stuff about the Jews or America, but something tells me that this is part of some "conspiracy" of the Arab governments to use the people of Gaza for their own political means by forcing them into poverty, and therefore hatred towards Israel, while their poverty makes them the obvious underdogs in the worlds' eyes, thus lowering the strength of America, the West, and it's ally in the region. Again, I mentioned oil before, and this is far from unassociated with that issue, because unlike in Southern Asia, the Americans need the Middle East for their oil, and yet officially "switch teems" to the totalitarian side.

משא עזה

Not that I'm not without my own (pro-Israel) opinions about the conflicts that erupt between the Jews and their neighbors in the Middle East, but due to some current events I decided to read a bit of literature on the subject over Shabbat. I picked up "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid" (Carter), "Myths and Facts: A guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict" (Bard) and "What Went Wrong: Clash Between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East" (Lewis). I was kind of looking for more pro-Palestinian books to ponder about (being that I'm, for the most part, already aware of the arguments of the Israeli side...but you can't raise your standards too high in a Boro Park library on Friday afternoon!).

Carter's famous book, in short, was basically a reflection of his own experiences with Middle East leaders, and his opinions of past events and what should be done on the future (largely having to due with the defence wall erected separating Israel and the West Bank), based heavily, again, on his experiences and his Christian faith. The second book I mentioned turned out to basically be a full explanation of the Israeli standpoint (which I picked up a few things from). The third book, I feel, was a little poorly advertised; it's much more about "the fall of the Ottoman Empire from a military point of view" than a "clash between Islam ad modernity" (I considered it interesting from a historical perspective, but it obviously had nothing to do with anything remotely about Palestine). All in all I didn't feel I got all that much out of these books. One thing I was able to take home, though, was a firmer grounding on all the hard legal documentation of all the peace accords, verbal promises and UN resolutions instead opinions (be they logical or theological).

One thing I can comment on the current issue is that 1. Most people don't really seem to notice that this was the largest bombing campaign Israel launched against the Palestinians, mainly because to most people it seems like Israel is bombing them every day and nothing has changed (and they're tired of protesting), which essentially is beneficial to us. 2. If anything the "official" reason Israel is launching this attack is pretty straightforward (which can be seen in this video- I actually thought the first 30 seconds are pretty funny), unlike some of the settlement building (in the world's eyes) and things like the 1980's Lebanon War (which was kind of complicated). 3. Even the staunchest "Anti-Arabs" should realize that many of the youths launching rockets into Israel do so on their own accord, and do not represent the Hamas government, and there's only so much the Government could do in their positions. Yet most of the people in the Gaza area are just bystanders to these events who are caught between Hamas, Fatah and Israel, to no fault of their own.

..oh yes, one more thing; I used to think that "education" was the best answer to the situation of the Gazans (which is highly exacerbated compared to their Wes Bank brothers). Yet I was reading an article in the (get this!) Jewish Press which made a pretty convincing argument that most of the violence comes from the more educated Islamist now I'm stumped!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Good New Years Tidings!

I saw a documentary tonight (I know, I know, I should be doing school work around finals time. And if not finals I should at least be talking about the events unfolding in and around Gaza City..but my mother gets movies from "Netflix", so it's, like, my "chance" to see some stuff I wouldn't otherwise watch). Anyway, it was probably one of the most important documentaries I've seen; not so much for myself, but for the grandchildren I might have.

The Documentary was "A Crude Awakening". There is, in my opinion, one great difference between the Drama of the ancient Greeks and the modern Americans. In Greece one of the most beloved genres of theatre, if not the most beloved, was the "tragedy"; the story of the sorrow that can ensue from human frailty, even when consumed by motions of self-invincibility. The Americans, though, love the "happy ending"; there is nary an American film without one. Even critical Documentaries in America always end with some kind of notion of hope, and grass-roots change. Not so this documentary. For there is no viable solution to the predicament posed; the world has either already reached, or will soon reach peak oil production.

I must say, I see the "peak oil theory" as much more logical than the theories proposed by its opponents; now, they didn't spell this out, but I was looking at some charts on Wikipedia, and it seems like oil production peaked around the beginning of the century (and our whole history of oil-production at this level only started a little more than a hundred years ago). On the other hand the population (due to current oil availability) has been growing exponentially since the 50's.

The reason there is no happy ending is that all this "alternative energy" which is spoken so much of cannot even start to replace the amounts of crude oil we use (especially considering developing countries are just starting to drastically raise their demand). Even nuclear energy wouldn't suffice, being that there isn't all that much uranium in the world either. At that rate by the time our grandchildren will be our age, gasoline reserves will almost be completely emptied, and will therefore will rise drastically in value and price.

There is no end to the technological luxuries that we've been able to take advantage of in our generation which our fathers did not know, and which our children may not either: electric lights, refrigerators, air-conditioning, Internet, mass book production, computers, cars, air plains, space shuttles, paved roads, electric toothbrushes. I myself never owned a personal-transportation vehicle till this past summer, and I'll be honest with you, the transportation capabilities of such a vehicle are mind-blowing. The only reason most Americans don't see it as that is because they have always had it, just as I have always had the other electricity-powered devices I mentioned. By around 2050-2100 though (perhaps a little later) they will all be a thing of the past for the average man, reserved only for the very wealthy.
Personally I actually consider it to be a bit sad though; that "my grandchildren" will probably never fly in an airplane, never drive a car and perhaps even never use the Internet! I don't me it's a bit shocking that after all this innovation the world might just have to go back to how things were before "free energy".
The same is true for suburbia -American cities the past hundred years were foolishly built taking the fact that individual automotive transport will always be available. Without their automobiles to transport them large distances to and from their places of employment though, today's upper-class might revert back to living in city-center areas, while the today's suburbs revert to being where the poor reside.

Also, the past couple of days I was pondering the lost possibilities of space travel, and of our possible future ability, upon further investment in research and innovation, to colonize outside of our planet. The truth is, though, that those notions are based on ill-founded, oil-based twentieth century fantasies, which supposed that the new outpouring of American oil production would be eternal. American production itself has all but ended, as has that of many other reserves. The truth therefore, is that our futures might-well look like "Mad-Max". We will, almost undoubtedly, be much less technologically advanced than we are to-day. The "Jetsons" is only the product of oil-intoxicated dreamers.
There was never really a situation quite like this in worlds history, though something slightly similar which comes to mind is the prohibition of using slave labor in the South under Lincoln’s abolitionist laws. The only thing is when there were less workers the industrial revolution kicked in and produced more than the plantations ever did with free labor.
Not to sound too doomsday-like, but there is another nonrenewable liquid which is being depleted too quickly- water. It too is diminishing faster than can be sustained by our resources. With these two liquids becoming scarcer I believe that some sort of violent social uprisings might be caused when they become reduced well below the demand level, probably within the next 100-150 years.
To me, though, the only happy ending to this bi-centennial oil story is that the way we use oil and water, and the population booms which ensue as a result, are extremely tolling to the planet. If worldwide violence does become the product of an oil-lack, it (and a new found poverty) would at least stop population growth, and perhaps even decrease it to a level which is more sustainable, which would, therefore, give the earth and the atmosphere time to replenish their resources.