Thursday, September 25, 2008

Interesting Posts and Articles #77

  1. At Mystical Paths, a conversation with some Japanese visitors to the kotel, with connections to the three Jewish boys arrested in Japan for accidental drug smuggling. As a side point, I wonder, though, whether non-Jewish male visitors to the kotel must really don a kippah. And whether there was any minyan going on many hours before sunrise, such that it was important that the non-Jewish female Japanese visitors go into the designated Ezrat Nashim portion.

  2. In Italy, a "miracle," in which Saint Gennaro's dried blood is said to liquify twice a year. And a possible explanation of how this happens. It is important to point these things out, because as Jews, we can understand that these purported miracles are just constructed fakery, whether or not those hailing it know it. And then we might be able to apply that realization to the fakers in our own midst -- and there are some.

  3. From The Little Mermaid, "Part of Your World" in Hebrew, with lyrics.

    Choose whether you want to watch this. Also, there is a lot more Hebrew Disney out there.

  4. Snopes explains what will happen if FDIC pays off when a bank fails, citing the FDIC's FAQ. This worry strikes me as part of the general hysteria, so this knowledge might be helpful. The misconceptions are written in bold:
    If a bank fails, the FDIC could take up to 99 years to pay depositors for their insured accounts.

    This is a completely false notion that many bank customers have told us they heard from someone attempting to sell them another kind of financial product.

    The truth is that federal law requires the FDIC to pay the insured deposits "as soon as possible" after an insured bank fails.

    Historically, the FDIC pays insured deposits within a few days after a bank closes, usually the next business day. In most cases, the FDIC will provide each depositor with a new account at another insured bank. Or, if arrangements cannot be made with another institution, the FDIC will issue a check to each depositor.

    The FDIC only pays failed-bank depositors a percentage of their insured funds.

    All too often we receive questions similar to this one: "Is it true that if my FDIC-insured bank fails, I would only get $1.31 for every $100 in my checking account?" As with misconception number 3, this misinformation appears to be spread by some financial advisors and sales people.

    Federal law requires the FDIC to pay 100 percent of the insured deposits up to the federal limit — including principal and interest. If your bank fails and you have deposits over the limit, you may be able to recover some or, in rare cases, all of your uninsured funds. However, the overwhelming majority of depositors at failed institutions are within the insurance limit, and insured funds are always paid in full.
  5. One of the recent Microsoft "I'm a PC" commercials:

  6. The New York Times on research that claims that grape juice provides much of red wine's heart benefits.

  7. Both DovBear and WolfishMusings are upset at the latest Jewish Press editorial about the "shabby treatment" Rabbi Bentzion Twersky received at the hands of askanim. The editorial:
    The Jewish Press joins our columnist Rabbi Yakov Horowitz and others in condemning the shabby treatment Rabbi Dr. Benzion Twerski received from some self-appointed guardians of the faith over his participation in an anti-abuse task force geared toward the Orthodox community.

    Dr. Twerski is a serious, thoughtful and highly talented individual and has much to offer in the way of dealing with child abuse in our community. Those truly committed to the interests of our community should be thinking of ways to get him to spend more time on our problems rather than less.

    Although there is no way to guarantee that the sort of thing to which Dr. Twerski was subjected will not recur, we do believe it is as important for Assemblyman Dov Hikind and the others involved in the new task force to spend time reaching out to the community for support and cooperation as it is to highlight the nature of the problem.

    There must be clarification of the centrality of halacha to the project, the primacy of due process protections, the involvement of a broad spectrum of people to evaluate complaints and, overall, the momentous contributions a project like this can make to the well-being of our community.
    "Shabby treatment" in describing threats of ostracism for him and his family is more than just an understatement. And it is a fairly light statement, apparently in reaction to a letter writing campaign by a bunch of bloggers. The idea that
    "There must be clarification of the centrality of halacha to the project, the primacy of due process protections, the involvement of a broad spectrum of people to evaluate complaints and, overall, the momentous contributions a project like this can make to the well-being of our community"
    seems at first like blaming Dov Hikind. And I am not sure that this is the appropriate place for it. However, if I might cast this suggestion in a different light, I would make a comparison to Dor Yesharim.

    Dor Yesharim tests for a couple of genetic diseases, but gives people numbers and they call up to find out if they are compatible. They only are told if they are both carriers for the genetic disease. Dor Yasharim will refuse to tell you, or anyone else, if you are a carrier otherwise. And even if both are carriers, they will refuse to tell you for which genetic disease. This is silly. Go get yourself tested, and find out if you are a carrier, and don't put your medical information in the hands of people who will conceal it from you.

    Why do they do this, and why is this in fact a good thing? Because in certain chassidic and chareidi communities, this is a stigma, even to be a carrier. And if they did not operate this way, people would just not test for these genetic diseases, and a lot more tragedies would occur. So they find something palatable to the community, and get rabbinic approval, etc.

    The fact that these types of threats against Rabbi Twersky could surface, and that there is a real possibility that they would have been carried out, demonstrates just how closed-minded the community is. Yet they are still our brothers, our fellow Jews, and we love them, despite the fact that they are backwards, closed-minded idiots. I would read this editorial in this light. In order to be effective, we need the cooperation of the members of the community. (Perhaps we do not, but this seems to be the underlying assumption.) Therefore, go through the proper chareidi channels to get rabbinic approval, and "clarify" the centrality of halacha to the project. That is, run an effective PR campaign to let people know that what you are doing is halachically justified, and then the outspoken idiots will not be able to suppress this, as they did by threatening Rabbi Twersky, with the clout of the community enforcing that thread by ostracizing him.

  8. Rabbi Dr. Shnayer Leiman on Rabbinic Epitaphs, pt i (at the Seforim blog). Such as the newly recovered tombstone of the Maharit.


moshe said...

The NYT link does not work...

joshwaxman said...

now fixed.


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