28 September 2008

How to spend the Yamim Noraim

A guest post by Al Knight.

Sometimes you come across a concept that takes your breath away in it's power and simplicity and such was the case this last week when a friend of mine told me about a friend of their's (I am not zochah to know such people directly) that is going on a Rosh Hashanah/Yom Kippur cruise. That's correct, read it again and roll it around your head for a while. A Rosh Hashanah/Yom Kippur cruise.

Here we are worrying what kind of cover we can put on our copy of The God Delusion so we can have it in our talis bags to while away the hours while these people are worried what to wear at the swim break between shachris and mussaf.

I probed for a few details on the background of the people going and it seems they would be found in that "sweet spot" of Judiasm. Right of Conservadox and left of LW MO and they seem to be going in some official capacity (i.e. hired by the organization running the cruise).

This morning I Googled and sure enough:

"Princess Cruises provides clergy for several religious holidays, including a midnight Christmas service, Passover, Easter, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Hanukkah. For those of the Jewish faith, the Rabbi requests special foods for a formal dinner gala, separate from the regular dining room. Formal evening wear is requested."


"Californians Geri and Al Margolin cruised on the Crystal Symphony during Yom Kippur. They were delighted when a Rabbi conducted services, and an elaborate break the fast was served after the 24-hour fast observing the day of atonement. The couple were pleased that they could take advantage of the special fare for this cruise and still fulfill the covenants of their religion. "


Religious Services:

Princess provides Catholic, Jewish and Protestant services on the following religious holidays: Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, Easter, Christmas, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Passover and Chanukah. In addition, interdenominational services are conducted every Sunday usually by an officer of the ship.

So may you have a good year and an easy fast while you imagine what you would do on a Yamim Noraim cruise.

Al Knight

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    No no no!

    No no!

    I'm not talking about THIS party. He'll be back. Or someone else like him. It does ebb and flow.

    I was reacting to the WAMU failure.

    I'm talking about the Chareidi party and those that think that God selected them to sit and learn and "Der Aibeshter Vet Helfen". I'm talking about the financial party in the united states with easy money for those who dabble in debt, hedge funds, etc. The party is over for easy money and I see it already. Institutions are hurting big time. The appeals for funds are heartbreaking. There is suddenly this sense of urgency and doom wafting over the communities. It's not just select individuals, there seem to be many, even employed people, are finding it hard to make ends meet. (I blame that on large family size and the requirement to live a Baalle Baatish life such as people wearing starched monogrammed shirts when going to the gym. There is going to be big time competition for the charity money now.

    Kolel will once more become the luxury it should be.

    As far as this party? Stay Tuned.

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    25 September 2008

    Could it be


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    24 September 2008


    In a comment about my prior post, in which I discuss fictitious meetings between accomplished secular meetings and their Frum counterparts, Baal Devarim says

    Funny stuff. How long you think before some of these show up in Gedolim

    It occurred to me this might be exactly what Gemorah is all about. The Gemora is a collection of people's private notes and is the fifth century equivalent of someone creating a collage of today's blogs. Divinely inspired, of course.

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    23 September 2008

    Feivel Gump

    Recently, on some blog that I can't for the life of me remember, I read where it is claimed that the philosopher Plato (anachronistically) met Yirmiyahu Hanavi. A brief web search indeed shows this to be the case. Of course Plato was very impressed by Yirmiyahu. Similarly, we know from the gemara in Yoma (69A) that Alexander the great bowed down to Shimon Hatzadik.

    And recently, I read in the great Yeshiva World how Georgian Premier Vladimir Gurgenidze called upon Rav Shteinman for a Brocha for his country.

    So I wondered if, with my Ruach Hakokosh (Nevuah), I had what it takes to divine heretofore undisclosed meetings between the great personalities of the Jewish people with the not so greats of the 70 nations that seek to usurp our glory. But alas, my synapses came up short.

    Thankfully, a search through Yeshivaworld Internet archives got me the info I was looking for.

    Here are the news headlines that I found!

    Leonardo da Vinci meets with Rabbi Doctor Azariah ben Moses dei Rossi (Meor Einayim). Rabbi Rossi gives Leonardo da Vinci tips for his studies in the science of anatomy. (YeshivaShtetl.Com May 1515)

    Recording studio of Elvis Presley discovered. Previously unheard recordings of Lipa Shmeltzer scattered in the Elvis archives, including "Love Me Shtender, love me Jew" . (Yeshivahock.Com - Jan 8, 2010)

    Robert Frost attends poetry reading and book signing tours of Elazar Hakalir. When questioned about it, Robert says, "Without him, I'd have taken the road". (YeshivaOlam.COM - Feb 32, 1492)

    Albert Einstein is caught snooping around the Apartment of Rabbi Avrohom Yeshaya Karelitz (Chazon Ish) . Shortly thereafter Einstein publishes his work on the General Theory of Relativity. The Chazon Ish states due to the gravity of the situation, Charges will be pressed. (Yeshiva-City.com - Sept. 1909)

    Sir Issac Newton clandestinely visits Eliyahu ben Shlomo Zalman, the Vinla Gaon. A year after conducting a week-long closed door session the Rabbi, Newton publishes his famous Philosophica Naturalis Principia Mathematica. When interviewed, Rabbi Elija cryptically smiled and said Borei Pri Haeitz. (Anachronistically-Yeshiva-bigapple.com - May 1705) .

    Amnon Yitzhak meets Mis-nagid* and convinces him to to suspend blogging and attend Yeshiva in Israel (Theyeshivadreams.com - August 2008)

    I'm sure there are many more undocumented events. Perhaps you know of some.

    * If this doesn't get Mis-nagid back in the game then I give up!

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    22 September 2008


    A guest post from Mark pertaining to Dr. Twerski's resignation from the Hikind task force as reported in the Jewish Week.

    Now, what really got me thinking is the following: What do the leaders and Rabbis in these communities see as the reaction of the populace to their opposition to aiding the government in uncovering child molesters. Forget about all the minutia of Halacha and all the rest, but aren't they afraid of people leaving the fold because of this. In the times of the Gemarah or even later, there was much more common sense. We find the concept of "Es La'asos LaHashem Heferu Torosecha" so that even if something is not Halachically perfect, other common sense considerations were taken into account. Now, as far as I understand Halacha, there is no problem in aiding the state's efforts here. But even if we assume that it is Halachically problematic, doesn't common sense and the community's welfare dictate that the government's cause must be taken as our own?

    Not only because of the importance of this issue alone, but even if these thugs (excuse my french) don't care for the kids per se, they should have enough Sechel to realize the repercussions this position will have. If this goes the right way, this can become a real scandal, and open the eyes of many.

    In the community where I live, especially amongst the Chassidim, the popular feeling runs very much in favor of Hikind and the government's cause. The protectionism practiced by the Rabbonim is viewed as self preservation and political maneuvering. Hopefully this sentiment grows.

    To conclude, although for the sake of past, present, and future victims, the idiotic stand the Frumakes have taken is a defeat, I think that in the grand scheme of things, maybe oh maybe, some of the people will start taking notice of what these "leaders" are made of.


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    17 September 2008

    Ode to XGH

    In his final post XGH said:

    'Maybe I can turn back the clock, maybe not'

    I think not.

    The finest voices on Broadway describing the Skeptic's condition.

    The first 55 seconds are so-so. But after that? Wow.

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    15 September 2008

    A breath of fresh air

    In a recent post, I came out strongly against Chareidi-ism.

    I don't exactly what Rabbi Horowitz is, but he's a breath of fresh air as compared to the typical Chareidi scene. MK wrote Rachmana Litzlan to send your kids to an MO yeshiva.

    Then might I recommend someplace like this?

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    Evanston Jew said that disgruntled Kolel men would eventually come to resent their Roshei Yeshiva. Perhaps. But I bet that most would not.

    Watch and pay close attention from 1:15 thru 1:35.

    Do not scroll down to the bottom of this post until after you've viewed the video and formulated your own opinion

    Can you spell C-o-g-n-i-t-i-v-e D-i-s-s-o-n-a-n-c-e?

    (This is not an endorsement for McCain, Obama nor any Rosh Yeshiva).

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    12 September 2008


    I just finished reading The Crisis of Islam by Bernard Lewis. It was quite a different take from the other two books I've read about Islam, most notably by Robert Spencer (Sorry, I don't recall the titles). The way I see it, the difference in perspective is that while Spencer slams Islam as being inherently violent, Lewis takes a more Charitable view. While not claiming that Islam is a religion of peace, Lewis states that Islam's current crisis is due to extremist fundamentalism; the terrorism currently deployed by these groups, would never have been acceptable to the general Muslim populations a mere two hundred years ago.

    Islam, like all religions, constantly evolves and branches into different forms, and of course, depending on the environment and circumstances, some branches are more successful than others.

    The roots of today's Islamic crisis, which threatens not just Islam, but all of civilization, is due to the juxtaposition of two important events, the development of the Wahhabist fundamentalist movement and the sudden financial affluence of Saudi Arabia, which ended up controlling the funding of, and shaping the nature of, Islamic education the world over.

    Education, Education, Education.

    I'm not putting Judaism in the same category as Islam, but any skeptic, and perhaps even non-skeptic will realize that Judaism also evolves due to the external pressures of history. And Chareidi Judaism of today, is an example.

    Rabbosai, I don't want to sound melodramatic, but I think anyone with his eyes open can sense a crisis looming in the OJ Chareidi world. I'm not going into the issues and causes, because there's no need to; you can read all those in blogs such as Emes Ve'emuna, Vos is Neis and Failed Messiah. I am deeply pained by what I see happening in my society, but more so, I am anguished by what I see is a coming Tsunami in the Chareidi world. It is already an acknowledged crisis in Israel and it's coming soon to a neighborhood here near you - in America.

    The triple cocktail of withdrawal from society at large, high birthrate and low level of secular education, while may be good for creating Lomdus machines and even excellent social organizations such as Tomchei Shabbos and Hatzalah, is destroying any semblance of normalcy for adherents of Chareidi OJ. I experience this not just at the communal level but also personally. I see members of my family slipping past the point or no return.

    Here's the point of my post.

    We must begin to view Chareidi Jewry as an extremist movement.

    For those of you outside my world, either Modern Orthodox or non-orthodox, the above is absurd. As a hardened Skeptic it's absurd even to me. Why? Because all of Orthodoxy is extremism. Yet, everything is relative and from where I live, I don't consider the Judaism that I grew up with as that bad. Your mileage may vary.

    But if you're on the same page as me, the question becomes "So, what do I do?".

    Well firstly, move your children to as leftmost yeshiva (and camps) as possible. (You see, I'm not proposing total removal from your community, because I know I couldn't do it, so I don't expect you to, If you can, then, errr, Kul Hakvod, I can't say I blame you .) This is really crucial.

    It's that yeshiva experience that will determine whether your children will end getting sucked into that never ending Kolel Vortex where you need a Heter to earn a Parnossah. It is that yeshiva experience that will determine whether your retirement money will be siphoned off to pay for your grandchildren's yeshiva tuition. It's that experience that will determine whether your children become intolerant of others. It's that experience that will determine whether your children are more concerned with Lashon Hora and Kavod Hatorah or exposing child molesters and those who protect them.

    I am serious.

    And watch out for those years spent after High School in Eretz Yisroel. That's probably where the real damage is done. I don't have any answers for that. Even the Centrist communities have concerns about Flipping out.

    Secondly, try to be as open as possible with other people about your opinions about Chareidism. I get funny looks all the time, but so be it. I find it amusing that I've even been called a koifer. Imagine that, me a Koifer?

    Well, I could be called worse. I could be called a Chareidi.

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    07 September 2008

    Can Alice find God?

    This is serious stuff.

    Please, watch at least 45 seconds before judging for yourself.

    Or see here for a writeup.

    Too bad Rabban Gamliel stopped following, I think he'd really appreciate it. Maybe I'll send hin an Email, asking him to check it out.

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