30 November 2006

Beans on the table - Part I

In my prior post "Guess What?" , Happywithhislot was right on the money.

The beans are on the table, and I spilled them. After eight years of secrecy, I unburdened myself and came clean with my wife. I had thought I would take this secret to the grave with me. Just a mere few months ago, I wrote why I did not want to tell my wife. Those reasons still apply, but God has a way of making you eat your words.

For many years, my skepticism was locked away into a little chamber in my brain. Having no one to discuss this with, it was all repressed. My own little secret. There was nothing to obsess about. It was compartmentalized and controlled. I thought I was the only frum person in the world in my situation. "Baal Habos, you're crazy, just forget about, just keep it to yourself. The Baal Habuste would flip if you told her."

If God appeared to me in a dream and told me to sacrifice my son, I'd keep that to myself too. My skepticism about Orthodox Judaism was just too irrational to be valid. I carefully looked around me at my relatives & friends and I saw a disturbing trend; almost everyone without exception was getting Frummer. More observance, more shiurim. There was more conspicuous consumption too, but that has long ago been rationalized into frumkeit. It's simply called Baale Battish and I fit in like a glove. But without question, it was not a show, society really is frummer than a mere 25 years ago. Yeshiva boys are more ehrlich, people are more tsniusdig, many have tossed their TV. Their weekly Saturday night at the movies had turned into Rabbi Reisman's Novi shiur. I was all alone in the world; Me and my heresy. So I simply went along with the flow.

Around six months ago, I accidentally stumbled into a new world - Blogs and Yahoo TFSG. It was wonderful. It validated my beliefs that it's possible and even OK to not believe. It's ok to deny. It's even ok to question God. I made some wonderful friends in the process, people from Blogs, people from Forums, some who I've spoken with and some who I have met anonymously at a Makor event.

But like everything in life, these blogs and contact with other skeptics had a serious side affect, a cost, a penalty. It brought my skepticism to the forefront of my daily life. I was obsessed. I had let the genie out of the bottle.

And I felt this was beginning to impact my relationship with my wife.

To be continued....

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    26 November 2006

    A Gut Vort

    Sometimes you hear such a good Vort that it makes even a skeptic like me wonder. I just heard this last week. First, I'll tell you the vort and then I'll give my rebuttal.

    א"ר חייא בר אבא אמר רבי יוחנן: בשעה שאמר לו פרעה ליוסף (בראשית מא,מד) [ויאמר פרעה אל יוסף: אני פרעה] ובלעדיך לא ירים איש את ידו וגו' [ואת רגלו בכל ארץ מצרים] אמרו איצטגניני (אצטגנינות: חכמים וחוזים בכוכבים ויודעים בחכמת המזלות) פרעה: עבד שלקחו רבו בעשרים כסף תמשילהו עלינו? אמר להן: גנוני מלכות אני רואה בו (גנוני מלכות: גווני מלכות בחכמה, גבורה ויופי). אמרו לו: א"כ יהא יודע בשבעים לשון? בא גבריאל ולימדו שבעים לשון; לא הוה קגמר - הוסיף לו אות אחת משמו של הקב"ה ולמד, שנאמר (תהלים פא,ו) עדות ביהוסף שמו בצאתו על ארץ מצרים (סיפיה דקרא: 'שפת לא ידעתי אשמע');

    The Gemara in Sotah 36:b states that when Pharaoh wanted to appoint Yosef as viceroy over Egypt, his astrologers objected that it would be a disgrace to have Yosef rule over Egypt.... does Yosef know all seventy languages (as required of royalty)? So the angel Gabriel came down and attempted to teach Yosef all 70 languages. But Yosef could not grasp it. So the angel added a "Heh" from God's name and then Yosef grasped the new languages. This is alluded to in Tehilim.... "He imposed it as a testimony for Joseph when he went forth over the land of Egypt - I understood a language I never knew".

    In this Passuk we see that Joseph, is spelled with an extra "heh", Yehosef.

    In addition to the regular meaning, I read in the word Beehosef the concept of "addition". The words "I understood a language I never knew" is in parenthesis in the Gemara as if it's an afterthought. It would have sufficed to simply prove that the spelling of Jeseph is altered, but instead the Gemara bring proof that in addition to Yosef learning Egyptian he also learned other languages. But why was it necessary to add this little piece, the gemara's intent was simply to show that Joseph receieved an extra "Heh".

    And the punchline is (I don't remember who said it though), that the Gemara wanted the complete passuk, because a keen observer will note that both the First letter and the Last letter in the Passuk is an Ayin and all numerologists are aware that Ayin=70 which represents the languages Yosef learned!

    Geshmack, no?

    What a great vort! How many pesukim are there in the Torah that begin AND end with an Eyin? I might be wrong but I'd venture to say this is the only such passuk in Tannach.

    Now, please don't read the end of this right away. Think about it and come up with your own rational explanation.

    The point in these vorts is to show that the gemara and or pesukim have some predictive power.

    So here's my take on this and I think it's obvious when you think about it. The gemara is putting the cart before the horse. There already existed a tradition about Yosef and the Heh. This tradition dated way back to Tehillim times. The author of Psalms created that Possuk as a brilliant play on the tradition and thus composed the sentence to reflect that tradition. My proof or support of this, is that the sentence is so awkwardly constructed because the author tried to force the Eyin.

    Your thoughts?

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    25 November 2006

    Shehecheeunu V'kieemunu V'heegiyunu Lazman Hazeh!

    Guess what?

    I'll tell you all AFTER my NEXT post about a "gut vort", so maybe by the end of the week. Please don't guess if I told you privately.

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    21 November 2006

    Oy vey, another invitation.

    Here's the top 10 reasons I don't like weddings anymore.

    10 - Weddings are no longer the special event they used to be. I get an invitation every other day; It must be because I'm so popular, or is it my wife they're inviting and I'm just the chauffeur? Hmmmm.

    9) When did we go from weddings to chassunehs. They used to be so more classy.

    8)Am I the only one that has to get up before 9 AM? Doesn't anyone else work for a living? Why do all the weddings run so late? Fire the photographers to fix this one!

    7) Notice how the elegance and class is gone? Every wedding is exactly the same. It's my understanding that people used to wear a Tux to go to a wedding. Now, it's a sea of black. And it's become the same by the women. Of course I can't see the women because I can't be caught peeking behind the Mechitza, but that's what my Eishes Chayil tells me!

    6) It's so jam packed. The whole world is there and there's no room to sit, let alone dance. Ever try to find a seat at the Smorg?

    I guess everyone else is just as popular as me, err, I mean my wife!

    5) It's mamesh a shanda. It's the most important day of many people's lives and the chupah is so noisy. People milling around in the back, talking on cell phones, people entering during the procession, etc. A real lack of Middos.

    4) We should all should start a class action suit against the Bands & Orchestras, because "ITS TOO DAMN LOUD". What'd you say? Speak up! I can't hear you!

    3) Hey! Whatever happened to dessert? They serve it during the last dance and by the time you get back to your seat it's gone :(

    2) I always meet my old high school friends who have more hair than me, never the ones with less hair. Hey, is my old classmate wearing a toupe?

    1) And the number one reason why I hate weddings:

    In circle dancing, that big fat shzlub behind me thinks my back is a great place to rest his belly.

    So, what's YOUR favorite frum wedding peeve?

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