Sunday, August 30, 2009

שבתאי בן אברהם

As you can see, I've added a few Dylan songs to my playlist recently (unfortunately soon to be replaced, strangely enough, by Jack Black). The truth about the songs on my playlst by the way is that they're not music I've already heard, but songs that I find on that I feel might be "appropriate" for the blog.

One particular song (among others) that's caught my eye is "Blowing in the Wind". It is a very ironic, rebuking and preaching song that uses a pure and simple English. Dylan himself doesn't do it much justice (as he doesn't most of his songs), so I've also got "Peter Paul and Mary" singing it. In regards to what "the answer is blowing in the wind" is supposed to mean, Dylan once confided in an interview when he was 21 (most likely under the heavy influence of narcotics) that it basically means that the answers to those questions should be self-evident and don't require philosophical insights. The song itself ultimately became so popular that it was sung in the Vatican square. Pope John Paul II was forced to accept it, and even interpreted Dylan's words as meaning that the answer is in fact "in the wind", i.e. in the wind/spirit of G-d (the current Pope Benedict XVI also happened to be in attendance and later admitted that he didn't like the idea of Jews playing rock music on the Vatican grounds).

I myself always wondered why people liked his music so much, since to me it just seemed like the monotonous ramblings of a nerdy Jewish kid. Though the truth is that nobody ever contended that Dylan was a great singer, rather that his greatness lie in song-writing and poetry. His early songs especially convey great truths and political activism through the use of poetry; very far from what rock was back then (which were just simple songs about love). The more I looked into it the more I understood the meaning and even beauty in early Dylan lyrics.

Yet I always stress that we should not, like the American, worship the entertainer, the singer, the joker and the athlete, but rather more noble, less well-known heroes. A century ago entertainers had a much more reasonable, lower place in society. But what of song-writers with meaningful music? Surely it can't be said that they're the same as barber-shop singers? The songs of the political activists in the 60's were the fuel for social revolution in those trying times for America. It is for this reason, I think, that singers have adopted the title of "artists", for their music has gone up a level to become their art (as opposed to Classical music and the like, which has always been a form of art). This is true for the folk-singers of the 60's more than any others in that century. Yet today, singers still use that title, even though there is no more meaning in their songs. How can the likes of "Fidy-Cent" and "Solja-Boy" call themselves "artists"? That, I feel, is a term which has become outdated for singers. Today's singers are, as they were a century ago, just singers.

*Title: Dylans' Hebrew name.

Friday, August 28, 2009

To be Gotten

I'm not sure what inspired this, but I have recently been reflecting upon my previous dating experiences. Unlike all the unlikely dating horror stories that one might find on the "Bad for Shidduchim" blog, the girls I've dated, I feel, were for the most part very good people, and closely bordering on the type of person I would like to be married to.

One unfortunate aspect of my previous interactions though is what I considered to be a certain lack of true two-sided intellectual exchanges. What I mean to say is that while I consider myself a good listener who's curious about people, I've yet to see some of those traits in girls. I've recently attempted to tally how many of the young women I've come in contact with thus far have really "listened" to me, or actually "understood" me, and, unfortunately, the answer came out to none! There has never really been a girl who I felt honestly cared enough about my opinions on things. Yet, is that an accusation on them or myself? Perhaps I think too much of myself.

As I was walking in the street and reflecting on these things I passed a very self-absorbed child fiddling with some toy. I told myself that I am just as self-absorbed now as when I myself was five years old. Perhaps this absorption does not always take the form of fiddling with small objects, but can take the form of fiddling with a keyboard as well. The only person for whom finding-out about my thought-processes would make any sense is a psychologist.

Also, if any of you has been on a subway car in New York, you may have noticed that when couples speak, it is usually the man listening to his wife and not vice-versa. Women are generally more verbal. I myself am not very verbal, and even have slight speech-impediments. This also borders on the question of whether males and females are really meant to have a close social relationship, or whether they're intrinsically different and can never truly understand each other--which we shall not enter into.

Yet perhaps this entire concern is just another faulty product of my self-absorbed mind...

*The title is basically a reference to the 2002 Jennifer Aniston film "The Good Girl".

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

הערה בעניין הכריעות שבסוף התפילה

ראֹה ראיתי כי רוב הציבור, ובפרט בני אשכנז, מצליחים להעלים עין ממה שכותב מר"ן בפירוש בסימן שהקדיש בשולחנו הטהור על הכריעות ופסיעות שבסוף התפילה (אורח חיים קכ"ג). מבואר כי כשיסיים אדם תפילתו יכרע כאלו כריעות המשפיעות אימה ויראה על האדם מפני קונו, ואז יחזור שלוש פסיעות שלימות לאחוריו בהכנעה. ולא כמו שעושים ההמון שכורעים כריעות שאין בהם כריעה, ופוסעים פסיעות שאין בהם פסיעה, ואז מגביהים את עקביהם מעט שלוש פעמים—דבר שלא מוזכר בהלכה. וכי אפשר לומר על אדם שמלעיג ככה על צורת התפילה שיתקבל תפילתותיו ובקשותיו לרצון לפני הא"ל? ח

Monday, August 24, 2009

הערה בעניין לבישת טלית מצויצת

מברכנן על מצוות הציצית "להיתעטף בציצית" מפני שאמרו רבותינו שעיקר לבישת הטלית המצויצת היא "כעטיפת הישמעאלים". אם כן, הייתי תמיד שואל לעצמי, למה מנהגינו שוב להוריד את הטלית על הגוף? נכון שבאופן זה אנחנו "מסובבים במצוות" (וגם אפשר שזהו אופן קיום הפסוק "עַל אַרְבַּע כַּנְפוֹת כְּסוּתְךָ"), אבל אם עצם הברכה היא על העטיפה, משמע שכדאי הוא להשאיר אותו ככה לכל אורך לבישתו. ח
יותר נחוץ, אבל, השאלה מהיכן בעצם ידעו רבותינו שצורת לבישתה צריכה שיהיה כעטיפת הישמעאלים דווקא? אלא וודאי שמסורת היא בידם שאבותיהם ואבותינו עטופים כישמעאלים היו לפני שקיבלו את התורה. אבל האם יש איזשהו מסמך היסטורי שלבשו ישראל אי-פעם את טליתותם נופלים על גופם בצורה ששני כנפות הטלית נשארים לפניהם ושתיהם מאחוריהם? האמת שזה שאלה שקשה להסיר מהגדרת ה"צריך עיון", אבל יש רמזים היסטוריים שבתקופת הבית השני שלבשו ישראל ביגוד הדומה לאלו של היוונים והרומאים, ושבלבוש הזה הטילו ציצית, וצורת לבישת הציצית ע"פ התלמוד נמשכת אחרי העידן האחרון, ולא זאת של דור המדבר. עכ"פ רואים אנו שהוסרנו מן כוונה הראשונה שבאופן הלבשת הטלית. ח
הקדמות להערותי: ח
א: חכמי הספרדים מעולם לא ראו תוקף הלכתי בברכת "על מצוות ציצית" מפני שלדעתינו אין עיקר קיום המצווה אלא בעטיפה. עיקרון זה מופיע גם כשרוצה ספרדי לברך על טלית קטן, שצריך גם עליו לברך "להתעטף", וכנראה שצריך שיתעטף בו לפני שלובשו. ח
ב: חכמי המערב (מרוקו) לא ראו כ"כ חיוב בלבישת טלית קטן כל היום תחת הבגדים, כי הרי עצם חיוב הציצית היא אם כבר יש בגד של ד כנפות, להטיל בהם ציצית, אבל בתקופות שלא לובשים בין-כך בגדים של ד כנפות מקיימים את המצווה הזאת בלבישת טלית בת ארבע כנפות פעם אחת ביום דווקא לשם מצווה זו. ואם קִיים כבר את כוונת המצווה (כפי שאפשר לקיימה בחברה שאינו נוהג ללבוש בגדים של ד כנפות) לא צריך שיהיה לבוש טלית מצוייצת כל היום תחת בגדיו, כי לא לבגד כזה כִיוון הכתוב. ח
ג: לפי התלמוד, אחרי שמברכים עליו, יש להוריד את הטלית על הגוף באופן ששתי הציציות יורדות לפניו ושתיהם לאחוריו, לארבע פאותיו. ח

Monday, August 17, 2009

"דֶער גָלוּת אִיד"

To my chagrin, not much of great import has been occupying myself or my mind recently, friends. My sinking under the currents of my summer classes is at least partly responsible for this phenomenon. One article of slight interest that I considered mentioning is my attendance at one of Heshy Freid's ("Frum Satire") shows on Sunday (which, compounded with my having attended another of Dustin's ("Reality Addiction") concerts on Thursday is pretty social for a guy who's idea of a promiscuous time until recently was going to the supermarket). Unfortunately there weren't many "bloggers" there, though I did meet "Michal bat Avraham" (on my blogroll under "Modern Girls" for technical reasons). She was nice enogh to spot me out and say hi. She was there with another attractive young lady who she says she met through one of Heshy's statuses on Facebook, which to me seems an as-of-yet unexplored forntier for meeting people. I was hoping to see Ms. Manischewitz ("Material Maidel") to verify if she really looks like her profile picture (a Barbie doll who's hair changes color every other second) but according to Heshy she didn't show, and the world may never know.

The truth is there have been a few things I would have liked to write about that never made it to the blog. One subject that's been occupying my mind recently has been the relationship between G-d's people and G-d's land: what to do about the diaspora Jews who see no interest in "ascending" to the holy land. As you may well-know by now, I couldn't be more fervent a "Zionist" (even though I myself reside in Brooklyn at the moment), and view those Jews who who see nothing wrong with living in America with the same bafflement as those Jews who see nothing wrong with eating the flesh of the swine.

Yet I was thinking, as I have before, that even in our peoples' distant past there have been many great Jewish communities that have existed outside the land of Israel. Saul/Paul of Tarsus was a Jew who was living in a Grecian city in Turkey even while the Temple stood, and that community and others like it were probably centuries old. Hillel himself came to Israel from a great diaspora community which existed alongside the golden era of the Second Commonwealth—Babylon.

If, then, there were so many Jews during the Second Temple period who lived proudly as Jews among the gentiles, surely now that the Temple does not stand yet again in Jerusalem is it not permissible to live as a Jew among the nations? The answer to that question obviously varies depending on who you ask, but I just wish to mention here that the acts and histories of the Jews of Athens and Alexandria, Sura and Fum-Beditha(1) are not those mentioned in the Midrash or the Talmud. It was not the lives of the "Exile-Jews" that shaped the history and destiny of our people in that era. If all the Jews had stayed in Cilicia(2) and Babylonia the Temple would not have been built, the monarchy would not have been restored, and for all we know the Mishna and Talmud would not have been written (let alone the New Testament and the Quran). Something I like to mention to people is that the Mishna in Ketubot tells us that it was the lowliest of Jews that came from Bavel to Eetz Yisrael, and from them was made our religious histories, and not from the rabbis of good stock who remained in exile.

Unfortunately my level of alertness doesn't allow me to complete my thought at the moment (2 at night) but, I'd rather this be posted than nothing. Suffice it to say I wish to return to this subject in the future, since I wish to record my opinions about Israel on my blog already...

(1) A more correct pronounciation for "Pumpedisa".
(2) The Roman province in which Paul's Tarsus was capital.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Book Review: "Wasted Expectations"

As a result of my having finished reading Great Expectations on Shabbat—a great English classic—I wanted to write about it yesterday, though I ended up talking about sex instead (story of my life!).
Anyway, I didn't really want to write about this since this seems to be becoming too oft-repeated a theme on my blog, but either way: I must say, throughout the story, and especially towards the end, I was actually upset at Pip for running after the girl he could never get (Estella) instead of just settling down with Biddy. She would have been happy to have him. In the end he does want her, but she's already going and marrying Joe at that point. I'm mad at him because it's a mistake I'm mad at myself for having made in the past.

Yet the fact that his pursuing Estella is mistaken is not only evident by the ending chapters of the novel, but by the dual endings themselves:

It's evident from the last chapters since all of Pips' expectations ended up falling through. In fact the very title "Great Expectations" is actually a wry and ironic title for this tale, since in the end of it, all Pip accomplished after all his expectations was spending so much money on nonsense that he he had to be bailed out of debtors prison by Joe, and wasting his eligible bachelorhood on a prude (he ends up being some old bachelor living in Egypt with his friend and his wife, having reached an age that most girls are not that interested).

It's evident from the endings since in the "pre-Lytton" ending (which is obviously the "real" or "intended" ending) it is obvious that Pip would have been a pretty big "douche" if he still had a "crush" on Estella, who not only didn't consider him after she got divorced, but rarely even had time to say hi to him after eleven years. Yet even in the new ending it's not sure that Pip will ever get Estella; he tells her something along the lines of "But we be friends, right?", and she answers "Yeah. Apart." Then he says something along the lines of "Okay, friends. That's a good start!" I mean, G-d! You would think after 34 years he would get the picture that she doesn't like him, and is barely capable of liking anybody, even after her first marriage.

Rather, as the novel's commentators agree, this work is actually depicting the ills and weaknesses of it's protagonist. It's display of the hero and his story is a display of condemnation and not one of glorification. Pip, in effect, is unappreciative of his having been brought up "by hand". He totally ignores Joe the whole time he's in London. He squanders all his cash on suits even though he doesn't really know where it's coming from. He gives Biddy a bit of a cold shoulder, and he chases a girl who's never going to like him. It's almost a Greek tragedy. Usually I don't like reading stories where all you're saying to the characters while reading it is 'You moron!", but this is one of those stories, and the point is for the reader to contemplate on these mistakes (in essence though, this is actually a misstatement of Dickens' real agenda, which is showing the nobility of the lower classes through the usage of exaggerated characterizations).

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Soul Producer

(Don't ask how this thought entered my mind!, but) I've recently been considering the part the male plays in reproduction: I think the woman's prominent place is slightly overrated. I mean, what help is an egg if there is nothing to place within it? Anyway, the child is only held in the womb nine months. The real source of "life" is the male. It is the males constant responsibility to be the bearer of this life till it can safely be placed in an egg. Yet until that time, and forever after, it is solely the male who is the "factory of life". That is no small job. So, while the actual burden of birthing is far more difficult than the transfer of this life from the male to the female, it very much cannot be said that he has no part in the birthing responsibilities himself. ....why do I feel like a moron saying this...?

Monday, August 3, 2009


I wanted to take an opportunity to honorably introduce my current sixth blog follower. Now, I know I haven't formally introduced my previous followers on my blog, but that's because they're fairly "well known". Not so my current comrade, unless some of you are already familiar with Mr. Ilarijs.

For those of you who aren't: Ilarijs is actually a Latvian stuffed squirrel, who follows his two owners around everywhere they go, and blogs about it! The truth his he's probably pretty unique among stuffed squirrels (unless there are others with blogs that I'm unaware of). Ilarijs is actually quite popular, appearing in artwork and local magazines, as well having well over eighty followers. What he sees in my blog I don't know, but what I do know is I myself have been considering the purchasing of a stuffed "fuzzy bunny" to perhaps accompany me in all my travels...

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Things Di Lomo Loves

Well, I have to thank Hannah for tagging me with a "meme" (I'm not even sure how that's supposed to be pronounced). I'm very appreciative of it since I've never done a "meme" before and have always sort of hoped someone would tag me sooner or later! (I wouldn't do it out of my own volition obviously), so thank you!

This particular one is one I find a little hard to respond to: "Seven things you love". I find it difficult because I've been undergoing changes in my original opinions about the word "love"; first a reversion to my old opinion, and now I'm questioning that reversion! Originally I was influenced by those who say that the Hebrew word for love is representative of giving (אהבה, מלשון הב), unlike the Latin/Germanic word for love (love) which is representative of a self-centered lust (the word "love" emanating from a tongue-oriented sound). I later realized that I was trying to read far too much meaning into an English word that is used every day to mean very clear, and very unambiguous things. Very recently though I looked at the words' etymology in the dictionary, and it looks like even in Latin it comes from a word which means giving and and not lustful taking! (Lubēre: to be pleasing). So it could very-well be the majority of English-speakers are just misusing and misunderstanding this noble word! In attempting to answer this, therefore, I'll try to adhere as much as possible to the noble meaning of love (as opposed to saying things like, "I loooove love love Starbucks Frappuccinos!").

1) I should really say I love G-d, but who can really love an incorporeal being? We can only love the Deity through it's manifestations in this world and in our lives. So, I think the first thing I should love is being alive, since, had I not been alive, there would really be nothing to speak of in regards to what I love about life. In Judaic thought being alive is held in very high esteem. Not only are things like suicide and euthanasia prohibited, but if it's down to your life or that of another, you must pick your own! There are religions that downplay the importance of actually being alive since they espouse the belief that things can be accomplished after death as well, but in the Jewish view life has the utmost value because it is the only opportunity to accomplish anything in the spiritual realm. After physical death is spiritual death as well in a sense...

2) I think the most normal thing to love would be that upon which the word is usually attached: romantic love. Now, I obviously haven't yet found my significant other in a surefire sense, but I have had a few sparks of the blissful feeling of "loving" a female counterpart of some sort. Those emotions, I hope, were just hints of what married love could be. If and when that does materialize, then, that would be one of the main manifestations of my love I should think. ...well, that and the kids of course...

3) One thing I really love to see, and that I haven't seen in a while, is truly earnest people. I myself have fallen from that sort of status in recent years, and it's something I rarely ever see. But when you do see a truly honest-to-goodness person, it just fills your heart with a true love and appreciation of what heights human nature can reach. It's something to aspire towards.

4) Like Hannah I do of course harbor a "love" towards my religious consciousness. Though I'm not really sure "love" is the word. Perhaps more a happiness or contentedness in knowing there is some truth in my path. On the other hand this kind of religious knowledge comes with the kinds of responsibilities that are hard to live up to, which can, in turn, create a sort of "sadness"..

5) Another obvious thing to love, without being too specific, is this very world we live in. It could not be more diverse and enjoyable. It would be somewhat foolish to hunker down on one aspect of the world, since every part of it is enjoyable.

6) Israel, man. Love Israel. I've always seen Jews who are not interested in living in Israel as some of the biggest betrayers of the Jewish people; people who don't understand Jewish religion, Jewish history or Jewish destiny. In regards to an actual love, the Talmud tells us that it's important to actually "love" Israel (besides for actually being there). Maybe I'll speak of my views on the Jewish State and homeland some time...

7) And lastly, I really love fuzzy bunnies. There's just something about them that makes not loving them quite unfathomable... ...actually, I just couldn't think of a seventh one, so...