- All the mezuzos stolen off apartment doors. It could well not be a bias crime, but just someone seeing that these expensive religious articles are available for the taking and reselling. On a separate note, remember the midrash in which Avraham argues with the idolator, and asks: "If they cannot defend themselves, how can they defend you?" If mezuzos are to provide shmirah, how can they do so if they cannot even defend against their getting stolen themselves. There may be a valid answer to this.
- The influence of non-Jewish maids, at Daas Torah. Though it is from "Jersey Girl," who is generally a bit over the top: par
I have repeated similar incidents many times over the years. When I meet frum children who I know have been cared for by maids, I converse with them in Spanish (in front of and with the permission of their parents). More often than not, when the young child is spoken to in Spanish, he will repeat parts of the Catechism etc.
- Saudi women not revealing their faces even to their husbands. This might not be particularly Muslim practice, but might be a Bedouin custom among some Bedouins.
- JewishAnswers discusses how we don't believe in a Divine messiah:
If you read Isaiah 9:5-6 in the Hebrew text, you get a distinctly different understanding than when you read an English translation in a Christian bible. Read correctly, the text is as follows:
For a child has been born to us, a son has been given to us; and the government is upon his shoulder; and his name is called, “A wonderful counselor is the mighty God,” “The everlasting father,” “The ruler of peace,” that the government may be increased, and of peace there be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it through justice and through righteousness from henceforth, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts does perform this.The implication of this statement is that this particular king is going to bring glory to God. Without writing an entire book on the subject, Rabbinic authorities and historians alike have said that this passage was about king Hezekiah.
- Rabbi Dr. Aryeh Frimer reviews Rabbi Dr. Daniel Sperber's book. I did not read Sperber's book, so I cannot really intelligently comment. But to my mind, an important excerpt:
One was penned by R. Mendel Shapiro who argues that kevod ha-tsibbur is a social concept – and a woman’s general standing in society was lower than men’s. Nowadays when this is no longer true, a community can be mohel on its kavod – voluntarily set aside its honor. He errs, however, since the vast majority of rishonim and aharonim disagree with his analysis.How does the fact that the vast majority of rishonim and acharonim disagree with his analysis mean that "he errs?" The question is what Chazal meant when they used the term in the gemara? How does Rabbi Dr. Frimer know that it is not Rabbi Mendel Shapiro who is correct in his assessment, and the "vast majority" who are in error?
The answer is that precedent, and specifically precedent of interpretation, indeed has an important role in the determining of the halacha (particularly in choshen mishpat). But there is still place for chiddush within the determination of any individual rabbi. Indeed, the only thing which is really binding are the words of the Mishna and Gemara. Anything past Ravina and Rav Ashi is fair game, including interpretations of rishonim. People often do not argue, but that they argue does not automatically put them into a place where they are in error. The sefer Maaneh LeIgros criticized Rav Moshe Feinstein's Igros Moshe for repeatedly deviating from understandings of gemaras as given by various rishonim and acharonim, but the truth is that such chiddush is valid.
Along these exact lines, Sperber makes a point about the way Chazal make use of a particular phrase:
Indeed, ke-darko ba-kodesh, Prof. Sperber surveys all the places where it states אבל אמרו חכמים and shows that some cases are merely expressions of the ideal, while others refer to things that are actually assur.And Frimer argues that that is not the way Meiri understands it, the way Semag and Rambam understand it, and the way various acharonim understand it. Great! But the question is perhaps a methodological one -- should we care? Perhaps this is a dispute, and we should hold like Sperber because of his demonstration of Chazal's use of this phrase.
It is possible that Sperber has a line of defense even within this methodology, and can appeal to other Rishonim and acharonim, or reinterpret the ones cited. But this was just one point that struck me.