Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Interesting Posts and Articles #146

  1. Chazal say hafoch bah, hafoch bah, dechulah bah. Of course, there is also the danger of misreading what you want into the text. For example, when Chizkuni engaged in Torah uMaddah, for incorrect science, and reads it into a pasuk in Shir Hashirim. In this interesting post, I Life World reads various sources about shedim as referring to aliens.

  2. Are strawberries kosher, despite possible infestation by thrips? Life in Israel notes a pesak by Rav Amar, permitting it, purportedly since one need not be concerned about bugs you can only see with a microscope. Yeranen Yaakov wonders about this, and how to make this fit with the video (also shown here on parshablog) with visible bugs. There might be a dispute as the metzius; or it might be that these bugs only look like specks of dust, where you can only see it is a bug by its movement, or under a microscope. This came into play by copepods. See the discussion in the comment section at Vos Iz Neias. FrumSatire is meanwhile in favor of it.

  3. At BeyondBT, someone asks a question to the public: should he start learning kabbalah?

  4. At A Simple Jew, Rabbi Tanchum Burton grapples with the place of segulos.

  5. Rabbi Lazer Brody posts some ancient Hebrew meditation, which is Tai Chi set to Native American music. The claim:

    People ask me if meditation is kosher; if it brings you to cling to Hashem, by all means. In case you don't know, meditation originated with our ancestors, the ancient Hebrews.

    Hebrew meditation is a form of "hitbodedut", or secluded personal prayer where a person yearns to cling to The Almighty with all his or her cognitive faculties, body, and soul. Nothing is so conducive to inner peace as merging with G-d, in the way that a small flame of a candle merges with and completely nullifies itself to a great flame.


    The music in this clip is Native American, composed by Grandmother White Eagle, esteemed elder of the Texas Cherokee nation and our very dear friend. Fiercely monotheistic, the Cherokee Nation has its roots in the ten lost tribes of Israel. The lovely native American melodies are therefore strikingly similar to the ancient Hebrew shepherds' flute, conveying a yearning to commune with God, as we see in this sea-side meditation based on the prayer "Nishmat" coupled with a Hebrew Tai-Chi style meditative exercise.

    I don't know that I buy the idea that the Cherokee Nation has its roots in the ten lost tribes. Has anybody done genetic testing to see the connection? Did they have the technology back then to cross the Atlantic? Did ancient Bavel and Ashur know about the new world? In there any similarity in language?

    Are they fiercely monotheistic? I think that many have adopted Christianity. But we have:

    According to Payne, the Cherokee believed the world to have been created by a number of beneficent beings from an upper world; a similar belief is found among the Sioux people in the form of Wakan Tanka. The Sun and the Moon, having been created by these beings, were left to finish and rule the world, and in turn, according to Payne, were both adored as the Creator (Payne, about 1835, quoted in Mooney:1995 pp.436, 440). Also, the word that Mooney translates as the "great Apportioner" in the origin of strawberries myth, and which he identifies with the Sun, has been said by the Cherokee scholars Jack and Anna Kilpatrick to be used most commonly to designate the "Supreme Being: The Provider"; the identity of the Supreme with the sun is said to be in error, which assertion is supported by Payne's account above which states that Sun and Moon were created.
    So maybe yes, and maybe no.

    Also, even if ancient Israelites engaged in meditation, that does not mean it originated with them. And noting there is a word which can be translated as that does not mean that practices are equal and equivalent to Tai Chi.

  6. A Reform rabbi agrees with R' Elya Svei that Rabbi Lamm is a Sonei Yisroel. But I don't know whether this analysis should be considered sinas chinam. Nor do I think that gemaras discussing appropriate behavior between rabbinic colleagues were even intended to be applied toward other sectarian movements of Judaism.

  7. Geulah Perspectives on Moshiach Now. An excerpt:
    You know, I don't think there is anyone who will say that we aren't in a very significant moment in history. As I have said in the past, I do not like to make predictions, and the main reason is because predictions for the near future look rather silly when they do not come true. I honestly think that what is currently going on is heading in a certain direction, and it doesn't take a genius to see. If I am right, it is truly the time for us to start doing more than just talk. It is rather easy to jump from one blog to another and find something to buzz the brain and be excited about. And while it is nice, and I'm sure Hashem is happy that we are looking forward to Moshiach, Hashem wants action. I'm sorry to say this, but it's not worth too much when we sit around for an hour and check every news source to see if Obama is going to be Gog. It's just not. What is worth something is actually doing something.
    To chime in, while I agree with some of what it written, I am willing to say that there is a strong possibility than we are not in a very significant moment in history. Of course, we are living in it, so we tend to inflate our own importance, and our own tragedies and successes. But the same type of analysis that leads to the conclusion that we are in a significant moment in history could be applied successfully to every decade in recorded time.

  8. Check out Wolfram Alpha, a computational knowledge engine.


Yosef Greenberg said...

It is interesting to note that the Rambam write in Iggeres Teiman that its impossible to know the true date of the Geula.

Indeed, he brings a few examples, even from Golus Mitzra'im, when the length (400 years) was known. Kal Vachomer today, when we don't know.

He then goes on saying that one shouldn't make (or believe) these calculation. (His example is from R' Sa'adia Gaon.)

However, most interesting is that the Rambam himself goes on to make his own prediction!

(That prediction was on the return of Nevua, which precedes Geula, and it did not come to pass.) The ma'atik write an altenative pshat, but that one still has a while.

Rafi G. said...

about the strawberries, a commenter on my post said he was present at the shiur of Rav Amar. Rav Amar said, according to this commenter, that bugs that can be seen as specks are also not a problem - you have to be able to see them completely with the naked eye - feet and legs.

That goes against the criticism many are levelling at Rav Amar that the issue is really that they can be seen as specks. He does not disagree with that, but says specks do not pose a problem.


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