31 March 2009

It's that time.

It's time to clean out the Chometz (cookies) from my computer lest I get outed by the Yeshivaleit who'll be monopolizing the computer any moment now.

And being that I desperately need a nice long break from this Blogging Meshugas, now's a good time as ever to take an extended vacation.

Andrea, what a voice.



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    28 March 2009


    It just came to me suddenly as I was contemplating the produce section in my local supermarket.

    How did Rabbinic Judaism, ever get off the ground on the first place?

    Imagine, if you will. Chaim Yankel comes home from the First Congregation Anshe Yavneh Shul around 10:30 Shabbos morning in the year 101 AD.

    "Shprintze, I'm home.."

    "You're so late!"

    "Well," he said, "we had a new Rav in shul today, and he made us repeat the shmoneh Esrai"

    "You're kidding. What for?"

    "He called it chazoras Hashatz".

    "Hmmm", she says as she re-arranges the table.

    "You can't do that"

    "Why not?"

    "That's Muktzeh!"

    "What's that?"

    "Err, never mind..."

    She rushes to kiss him.


    "What's the matter?"

    "You're a Niddah!"


    "You're a Niddah."

    "No I'm not. I'm a Zavah."

    "Not anymore you ain't. And we now have Harchakos."

    The next day, Chaim Yankel, whose kids were all married off, found himself signing up at the "Second Congregation Anshe Yavneh".

    The Reish Gelusah is not getting to first base with his mispalelim, no matter what kind of believers they are. It's my experience that even the believers are skeptics to new concepts, gezeiros, etc.

    But! The Resh Gelusa will have success in introducing this "stuff" to the kinderlach in yeshiva.

    It is the kinderlach who look at the bowl of fruit and refuse to eat the strawberries.

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    Birkas Hachama

    A shame it won't be this way in my shul.

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    21 March 2009

    No questions asked.

    Last week, a comment in a Letter to The Editor in the Jewish Press caught my eye. I doubt that comment would have passed muster (not Mustard!) in the Yaated Neeman. Check out the last Letter on the bottom entitled "Hearing Vs. Discerning".

    It seems that Dr. Yaakov Stern goes out of his way to make this astonishing admission:

    While we may not like to admit this, even to ourselves, the reality is that everyone to some degree is plagued by doubt as to the veracity of the Torah and the omnipotence of Hashem...........

    Now, that's quite a shocker. Until my skeptic years, I really can't say that I was consciously aware of such feelings. Sure, I may have had some issues with some Chazals and some Gemaras. But that's not quite the same as doubting the veracity of the Torah. I may even have had some questions about the Torah, but to claim everyone is plagued by doubt seems to speak more to Dr. Stern's frame of mind.

    [So please tell us Dr. Stern, what exactly about the Torah do you doubt? Maybe I can help out out there? Yuk Yuk.]

    And if you DO doubt it and if everyone doubts it, why is it so terrible to ask questions in public? If doubt is normal, then maybe there's a good reason for it! If doubt is commonplace, isn't it more than expected that some will act on their doubt? Why is it a given, in polite company, that Toras Hashem Temima?

    But the truth is that Dr. Stern is at least partially correct. Many people might have moderate levels of doubt. The numerous "train the teacher" Kiruv programs might be be nothing more than an excuse to allow the FFB adult to explore the forbidden in a controlled environment. When Rabbonim tell people about these programs in public, they often say as an unplanned afterthought, "and it will help your own Emunah". Books like Permission to Believe and Permission to Receive are not just meant for the borderline BT. I think it's on the Bookshelf of many Maaminim Bnei Maaminim.

    Yet, for all the doubt that does exist, it's still verboten to express your doubts in public. Honest questions of basic belief are not tolerated. Just try it. Just try the vaguest hint of questioning even today's rabbonim, let alone Chazal, and you'll get comments such as "you need to work on yourself" or "That's dangerous" or "I believe such and such because I believe in God". As if their Rav has Gilui Eliyahu.

    You'll get odd looks and many types of statements either putting you in your place or cavalierly dismissing the hint of questioning. You'll get any statement other than an open admission that there's a good reason to doubt or that it's OK to doubt.

    So my skeptic friend. Just nod your head at the assertion that there will be a Mechitsa in Olam Haboh when listening to Hashem's Shiurim (yes, that was a statement from an Adam Godol). Just keep your mouth shut.


    Because an elephant in the room is easier ignored than a buzzing bee.

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    19 March 2009

    He does it again.

    Rabbi Horowitz has a very important post about Chareidim in Israel.

    It was published in yesterday's Jerusalem Post but is no longer available in it's entirety on-line, so read it on Rabbi Horowitz's own site.

    In it he asks:

    ...and I respectfully call upon charedim worldwide to post a comment at the bottom of the column with your name and email address and the city where you live supporting the sentiments expressed here.

    Commenting there doesn't really accomplish much; except to give Rabbi Horowitz the chizuk that he truly deserves.

    Rabbi Horowitz is a great voice of reason in the Chareidi scene, so whether you're a skeptic, chareidi, or somewhere in between, I urge you to place a short there.

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    16 March 2009

    Honor Thy Father & Mother

    I can't tell you how many times I've participated in a conversation such as the following:

    BHB: So what does your son/son-in-law do?
    Other: He's a Rebbe/fund raiser/still
    BHB: Are you happy with that?
    Other: Not really/Not at all. I really wanted him to be a lawyer/accountant/doctor but this is what he wants to do.

    Notice the Bnei Torah have no compunction in ignoring their parents wishes.

    Now of course, I understand. Even from a secular perspective everyone can and should do what he or she pleases and a person shouldn't live their lives to fill their parents dreams or desires. And of course from a religious perspective there are a host of other reasons, such as Divrei Harav V'divrei Hatalmud, etc.

    But what I've noticed is the Bnei Torah don't seem to even care that they're letting their parent's down.

    But note the irony in this. I can't tell you how many times I've heard from Skeptics or about Skeptics, how difficult it is for them to break the news to their parents that they no longer believe. I don't recall the details clearly, but IIRC I've heard about one skeptic who plans on marrying a shiksa but intends to tell the girl he has no parents, just so that he won't bring her to his parents and they won't know he's marring outside the faith. Now, I happen to think that's a bit crazy. OK, even alot crazy. But Wow. THAT's what I call respect for and not desiring to hurt your parents. Even though it might be inevitable, almost every single skeptic who comes out of the closet has parental feelings as one of his primary concerns.

    So who has real Kibud Av V'em? The Bnei Torah or the Skeptics?

    And of course, that's just another manifestation of the problem with the Torah and even Torah Morality. It's really only lip-service to morality.

    Because, even in morality issues, the Torah doesn't mean what it says. It means what the Rabbis want it to mean.

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    11 March 2009

    Hashovas Aveidah - Not

    Hat Tip - You know who.

    No Mitzvah to Return Non-Kosher Cellular Telephone

    HaGaon Rav Nissim Karelitz Shlita has released a unique p’sak halacha pertaining to the mitzvah of ‘hashovas aveida’ and non-kosher cellular telephones, Ladaat.net reports.

    According to the report, if one discovers a non-kosher cell phone and knows who the owner is, and knows for a fact or has a reason to suspect the owner uses the phone for prohibited access, one is not compelled to fulfill the mitzvah of ‘hashovas aveida’.

    The p’sak in the Rav’s sefer also states if one does not know who the owner is and the cell phone is not the ‘kosher phone’ with rabbinical approval, one is not compelled to try to locate the owner.

    In other words, as my wife, said "*Mistameh, he wants you to keep and enjoy the phone yourself"!!

    I hope you had a Freilichen Purim.

    *OK, So my wife didn't use the word "Mistameh". Still, Mistameh, that's what she meant.

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    08 March 2009

    You Skeptics think you're so smart!

    Or some other variant thereof.

    Such as "And you know better than all the Gedolim??!"

    Rabbi Gil Student states here
    You think you're the smartest and most unbiased person on the planet. That may or may not be so, but I'm not going to set aside my judgment for yours.

    It happens to be that I did grow thinking I was smart. After all I overheard my mother telling a friend, "My little BHB must be brilliant, he got a 95 on his IQ Test!"

    Well, as it turns out for once the believers got it right. The Gedolim are way smarter than us skeptics.

    Michael Shermer tells us about Planck's Problem, after physicist Max Planck, who made this observation on what must happen for innovation to occur in science: "
    An important scientific innovation rarely makes its way by gradually winning over and converting its opponents: it rarely happens that Saul becomes Paul. What does happen is that its opponents gradually die out and that the growing generation is familiarized with the idea from the beginning"

    And he states further :

    Psychologist David Perkins conducted an interesting correlational study in which he found a strong positive correlation between intelligence (measured by a standard IQ test) and the ability to give reasons for taking a point of view and defending that position; he also found a strong negative correlation between intelligence and the ability to consider other alternatives. That is, the higher the IQ, the greater the potential for ideological immunity. Ideological immunity is built into the scientific enterprise, where it functions as a filter against potentially overwhelming novelty."

    It seems it's the smart ones who are able to cook up all sorts of tangled and intricate answers to defend their existing positions. It's the smart ones who are able to create Toras Lukshin to avoid confronting new truths

    So, Rabboisai, there you have it. I agree, I'm NOT so smart after all.

    A freilichen Purim.

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    03 March 2009

    Waiting for Godot


    א,א מאימתיי קורין את שמע בערבין: משעה שהכוהנים נכנסין לאכול בתרומתן, עד סוף האשמורת הראשונה, דברי רבי אליעזר. וחכמים אומרין, עד חצות. רבן גמליאל אומר, עד שיעלה עמוד השחר.


    When on board H.M.S. Beagle, as naturalist, I was much struck with certain
    facts in the distribution of the organic beings inhabiting South America,
    and in the geological relations of the present to the past inhabitants of
    that continent.....

    Either way, it's seems we're all just Waiting for Godot.

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