- Some nice sources on Eldad HaDani. A telling over of his story in a Gaon's correspondence, and a summary of some of the halachot found in Sefer Amar Yehoshua. (here, here, here)
- An article on CNN about how we are programmed to marry our parents. Not convincing to me. But I encountered this article shortly after discussing in the parshablog comment section the midrash (apparently found in Zohar) that Bisya bas Pharaoh and Tzipporah were abandoned Cushite infants (asufis), taken in by Pharaoh and Yisro respectively. Aside from any kabbalistic or parshanut intents at play, this is troubling in terms of the apparent Oedipus complex at play. For surely Bisya played the role of mother to him. Besides marrying his mother's twin, he would also be marrying his aunt - perhaps similar to Amram's actions, before matan Torah.
- At volokh.com, one of the "civilians" killed in Gaza shown posing holding a rocket-propelled grenade launcher and a Kalashnikov assault rifle that had been posted on a Hamas Web site. And at JPost, "World duped by Hamas death count."
- Supporting a Lamarckian view, it turns out that certain acquired characteristics may be inheritable. But this does not really support a Lamarckian view, as these are acquired traits in the mother mice (e.g. intelligence), and so it provides a different environment for the developing fetus and subsequent relating to the child; and environment affects how genetics manifests itself.
- The YU Commentator discusses how a new IBC course is bringing in MYP Roshei Yeshiva to address the students, once again. This is surely a good thing.
- Hallucinations caused by macular degeneration? Boing Boing discusses it, Omphalos suggests that perhaps Talmudic prescriptions for seeing shedim by putting ash in the eye were related, and PaleoJudaica considers it.
- Yeshiva World discusses an article by Rabbi Avi Billet, who is a mohel, about suggestions for sterile brisim. Because he suggests something relating to metziza be-feh (using a tube as has been suggested as a "be-feh" way of metzitza, or having the father do it), the reaction is strong. And of course, one of things they do is strip him of the title "Rabbi." I have spoken about this unfortunate tendency in the past, and how we should take care not to emulate the closed-minded in this regard, even where we feel strongly about other's positions or actions.
In terms of metzitza, there are several positions one can take, but it is hard to cover al regel achat as one paragraph in a blog roundup. The gemara clearly considers it something done for health purposes, where there is a danger if it is not done, rather than a part of the milah. (I believe I could explain this based on outdated Greek science.) And if now it turns out it is dangerous, not only is it not required, but perhaps should be eliminated. Others can reply which midrashim that have Biblical characters performing the metzitza, where they try to derive halacha from various aggadot, usually not a good idea. Even if we do metzitza, a further point of difference is if it need to be done be-feh, or if a piece of gauze will do. And if be-feh, whether there needs to be direct oral contact. A major posek, purportedly to protect mohalim from AIDS from American babies (but likely in reality in the other direction) already permitted use of a tube for metzitza. And now we have a rabbi with semicha and some knowledge of the situation suggesting use of this tube, or if directly, an act by the father, who is after all the primary person obligated in fullfilling this mitzvah rather than the mohel who is his agent, and he is blasted as an apikores.
A further note. Against what is suggested in the linked to page, proof that metzitza is medically necessary from the fact that gedolim allow metzitza on Shabbos nowadays is not a very strong proof, in my opinion. This is an explicit Mishna and gemara. Often, poskim, especially from a specific hashkafic background, do not reevaluate and argue against such sources in light of modern medical knowledge, either lekulah and lechumra.
- An article from the Iranian Press TV about the significance of the number 40, drawing from Jewish, Muslim, and Christian sources. See the reaction in the comment section.
- On the Main Line corrects the spelling of Peshitta in Hebrew letters. And he has some nice Valmadonna photos.
- Geulah Perspectives illustrates why it is often a waste of time speaking with Gedolim. You are just going to reinterpret their words to mean what you want, anyway! Perhaps Rav Kanievsky's point was that he had already fulfilled his obligation of Peru Urevu, such that of course he should keep trying to have children, but he should not be wasting his time running around to gedolim and mystics to get brachot, as if he and his wife were childless.
- Life In Israel about a purported chumra in Meah Shearim of not hanging men's clothing and women's clothing together to dry.
- Oh, and I picked up Rif blogging for a little bit. We are still somewhat behind daf Yomi...