Sunday, June 07, 2009

Interesting Posts and Articles #154

  1. This week's Haveil Havalim is hosted at Esser Agaroth. And Life In Israel also has a short blog roundup.

  2. Avakesh cites a Targum Yonasan on Bereishit 49:11 (also here) which indicates that mashiach "cannot look upon what is unclean {J: גילוי עריות}, nor on the shedding of the blood of the innocent; and his teeth, purer than milk, cannot eat that which is stolen or torn; and therefore his mountains are red with wine, and his hills white with corn, and with the cotes of flocks." and thus concludes that mashiach cannot have a television of Internet connection.

    I wonder though if this is the meaning; based on context, the point is that this is a blessing to Yehuda, after praises for his actions in terms of Tamar and Yosef. Thus, 
    I will liken thee, my son Jehuda, to a whelp, the young of a lion; for from the killing of Joseph my son thou didst uplift thy soul, and from the judgment of Tamar thou wast free.
    Each of these items parallels Yehuda's actions. "Cannot look upon" does not mean that it is going on but he simply averts his eyes! Compare the peshat in the new Koren Siddur about "Naar Hayiti ... velo raiti tzadik neezav." It is that one does not stand on the side and see this without taking action. What did Yehuda, prototype of the melech hamashiach, do in each of these cases? 
    a) "He cannot look upon illicit relations": see his actions in judging Tamar and decreeing that his own daughter-in-law should be burnt, for illicit sex while bound to engage in a quasi-levirate marriage.
    b) "nor on the shedding of the blood of the innocent": this is a direct reference to his actions in saving his brother Yosef; he counseled that they sell him rather than shedding his innocent blood.
    c) "cannot eat that which is stolen or torn": could this be a reference to ever min hachai which was one of Yosef's allegations about some of the brothers? or possibly we simply need a matching statement regarding teeth, so this is put forth.

    It is more praise that he cannot stand these actions than that he lets it pass but does not look at it. And for what purpose is the mere looking at the shedding of the blood of the innocent?

  3. Check out Google Squared. Nice.

  4. At PaleoJudaica: are Samaritans keeping the Torah in accordance with their position even as they acquire mail-order brides?

  5. At Mystical Paths, Reb Gutman Locks considers the proper way to address God, in an exchange with an Israeli who wished to place a note in the kotel, rather than putting on tefillin. I believe my comments at the head of this previous news roundup are just as applicable.

  6. Stem cells used to restore sight.

  7. At Vos Iz Neias, marrying young and how English law effects certain shidduchim. While I am not against marrying this young, indeed nishtaneh hateva, in terms of psychology and sociology. As people live longer lives, different things are expected of them at different ages, and this, I would guess, impacts emotional maturity. 

  8. Kallah Magazine on a sefer collecting everyone's chumras. I am not sure that the Bet Hillel / Bet Shammai stringency adoption is applicable, since they are clearly mutually exclusive in many instances. But here is where I discuss that gemara. And I disagree with the approach of seeking out new chumras; if one continues one that is already minhag in his family or community, or if he/she is learned and considers the chumra to be based on something fairly convincing, that may be another story. But just seeking out chumras is not mechzei keyuhara, but is yuhara mamash! On the other hand, maybe that is not the purpose of the sefer, but rather as an interesting book on different Jewish practices.

  9. At RJC, they "bentched geymal" over the near-terrorist attack on the shul.
    Despite that outward dismissal, Rabbi Rosenblatt nevertheless had his congregation, on the first Shabbat after the arrests, rise and “bentch geymal,” a rare blessing of thanksgiving said only when an individual is convinced that he has emerged from a life-threatening situation.
    An interesting transliteration and pronunciation of hagomel. It must be a Yiddish term, which makes sense with the word bentch. I've heard it pronounced "bentch gomel." At any rate, I wonder whether this really warrants the blessing, given that the FBI was guiding it from a fairly early stage and therefore the explosives were even fake. Also, the following sounds like PC nonsense, and the article even presents arguments against it, and Rabbi Rosenblatt even agrees somewhat:
    The problem wasn’t imported jihad, agreed the rabbis of the two targeted shuls. No, Rabbi Rosenblatt told the The New York Times, “We can’t dry up any kind of homegrown terror without first drying up poverty.” 
    Sound like the root causes of terrorist excuse.

  10. Also, an Op Ed in the Jewish Week, "Washington Now an Obstacle to Peace."

  11. At the Mashiach is Coming blog, an excerpt from a triumphalist article about how science has proved "Torah" correct. In this case, Torah being the kabbalistic position of Rav Chaim Vital about dual neshamos. To cite:
    "People have "angel" and "devil" parts of the brain that are in constant battle over their self control, a study has shown. Researchers discovered the different parts of the brain become active when they are tempted by unhealthy food.
    The angel section leads a person to weigh abstract considerations such as "healthiness" against the basic desires of the devil part when craving rich food. 
    The "angel" area is strong in individuals with good self control but less pronounced in the weak-willed."
    Chai Magazine wrote about this:
     "Science discovers the truth of the Torah". 
    Chai today continues, "They excitedly announced a new scientific discovery which the Torah taught us thousands of years ago."
    The article goes on to quote from the writings of Rabbo Chayim Vital in Shaar Hakedushah.
    ..."every Jew, whether righteous or wicked, possesses two souls and life-forces.
    One soul...from which stems all the evil characteristics deriving from the four evil elements within it.... namely:anger and pride...the appetite for pleasures....scoffing, boasting and idle talk, and sloth and melancholy...
    And the second Jewish soul is truly "a part of G-d above."
    Now, I am admittedly not a kabbalist, and I did not read the Chai Today article; but I did read similar or identical ideas from Rav Chaim Vital cited in the beginning of Tanya about a week ago. And ignoring whether Chazal held the same as Rav Chaim Vital about multiple neshamot; and that Rav Chaim Vital did not live "thousands of years ago" (unless earlier they referred to Yetzer Tov vs. Yetzer HaRa); and ignoring whether this scientific discovery necessarily corresponds to the soul, and more that psychological theories of id, ego, and superego apply to it... after this that I am not mentioning, I will put forth my single question. Rav Chaim Vital seems to distinguish between the Jewish neshamot and the non-Jewish one. If this second "angel" soul purportedly only belongs to Jews, while this experiment was conducted on gentiles, how could any discovery of this phenomenon relate to Rav Chaim Vital's words?


Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

>An interesting transliteration and pronunciation of hagomel. It must be a Yiddish term, which makes sense with the word bentch. I've heard it pronounced "bentch gomel."

It's the classic Litvish pronunciation; cholam is a "cheylem." Many Chabadniks pronounce it this way as well, given that they are, in fact, descended from Litvaks themselves, geographically speaking. I have no idea why Rabbi Rosenblatt, or whoever said it, pronounced it this way, but there you go.

FWIW, one of my brother in laws is descended from Litvaks, and I notice that he says the first word of kiddush as "yeym," which I assume is a shout-out to his grandfather a"h.

Yosef Greenberg said...

On No. 2: I'm not sure that looking at a screen is considered looking at sex. For example, one watching pornographic content is not over on lo sosiru; there's another lav he is over, though.

On no. 7: What I see in my community, where marrying young is fairly common, the groups marrying younger actually mature earlier. I'm assuming that part of the reason is that their mosdos is set up that way.

On No 8: Its yahara? Stupidity or OCD issues would be more like it. I'm actually working on interviewing my grandparents on our proper minhag to root out recent "additions".

On No. 9: I thing proper Gomel Benching comes if someone survives a dangerous situation (ie. an actual explosion, C"V), as opposed to the situation never happening.

On No 11: My old belief: don't say such things before knowing more that a pithy quote. On your question: Meybe they ascribe to the "Kabballah Center's" position that non-Jews as well have the same soul. :) (Actually not so funny since that position can be backed up to an extent from other ba'allei Kabballa, although not from RCV.

joshwaxman said...

i agree as to the pronunciation; it was just surprised to see it not as a quote from R' Rosenblatt but as part of the news article, thus perhaps reflecting an editorial choice in how to describe the blessing.


joshwaxman said...

testing profile image...


Blog Widget by LinkWithin