Sunday, June 14, 2009

Interesting Posts and Articles #158

  1. Shirat Devorah reports on a hubbub going about the Jewish mystical blogosphere about the apocalyptic predictions of Rav Levi Saadya Nachmani, zatza"l. In a speech delivered in January 1995, shortly before his death, he said, among other things:
    You know what will be? Rachmana litzlan.

    Korea? You know who is Korea? Seoul will come here. Not Syria, not Iran, not Iraq and not Qaddafi. Korea will come here!! Rachmana litzlan, Hashem should save us. Whoever pays attention to what is happening in Korea now -- understands it's a message for us! The atom! It will be very difficult if we don't do tshuva. Understand and realize this! It will be worse than a Holocaust!!!!

    "For a fire has been kindled by My anger, and it shall burn until the lowest She'ol (netherworld)." (Deut. 32:22)

    You know what She'ol is? It is the capital city of Korea. Seoul. It will reach here.
    Shirat Devorah has the text and video. My reaction: I am unimpressed, for a number of reasons. First, as Shirat Devorah notes, Seoul is the capital of South Korea, and (I would add) it is unclear that this rav knew enough about the world situation to know that there was a North and South Korea, why there were two, and the differences between them.

    Secondly, there are so many end-of-world scenarios which have been endorsed by mystically inclined rabbis, it is no impressive feat to find one to fit whatever situation arises. Yeranen Yaakov discovered predictions involving Russia when they thought the war in Georgia was going to be it. To find someone worried about North Korea back in 1995 is not surprising. As Shlomo Hamelech noted in the first perek of Kohelet:
    ט מַה-שֶּׁהָיָה, הוּא שֶׁיִּהְיֶה, וּמַה-שֶּׁנַּעֲשָׂה, הוּא שֶׁיֵּעָשֶׂה; וְאֵין כָּל-חָדָשׁ, תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ.9 That which hath been is that which shall be, and that which hath been done is that which shall be done; and there is nothing new under the sun.
    י יֵשׁ דָּבָר שֶׁיֹּאמַר רְאֵה-זֶה, חָדָשׁ הוּא: כְּבָר הָיָה לְעֹלָמִים, אֲשֶׁר הָיָה מִלְּפָנֵנוּ.10 Is there a thing whereof it is said: 'See, this is new'?--it hath been already, in the ages which were before us.
    North Korea was a bad actor in those days as well. Look at this summary, from 1994, which is the year leading up to January 1995. If I understand correctly, in December of '94, Israel had complained of North Korea shipping missiles (or components) to Syria which were capable of reaching Israel. And they were trying to develop nukes, with the U.S. stepping in to try to bribe them to stop.

    Rav Nachmani did not say that he was pulling this entirely out of his hat. He explicitly says that current events of those times would lead one to be worried about North Korea. Thus,
    Whoever pays attention to what is happening in Korea now -- understands it's a message for us! The atom!
    That is, there were things in the news at that time that made him fearful, things that other people could also see if they looked carefully.

    That does not mean that his earlier warning was somehow nevuah. It means that North Korea has continued to be led by evil leaders, who are still trying to do what they were doing back then. Now, of course, they are much closer.

  2. A cute "Lost and Found" comic. And from Bizarro, Pinocchio the politician.

  3. Vos Iz Neias has an interesting story about a couple in England facing off against a management company which installed lights activated by motion sensors, something that causes them difficulties on Shabbos.

  4. ADDeRabbi has an article on eruv on campus in the Jewish Action.

  5. An opinion piece on the new Jewish American Girl doll in the Jewish Week. Snort:
    And that is the real issue with this doll. It’s not clear how many Jewish children either need or want one. What’s clear is that their Jewish parents and grandparents would like them to want one and are eager to see them have this doll instead of one of the “gentile” ones. I wonder how this story would be covered if we found out that Christian Americans were less than thrilled if their kids wanted a little Jewish doll.
    As I said, snort. What is clear?! The rabbi who wrote this, from my own impressions of his past work, looks to see intolerance where there is none, and comment on it in public.

  6. Life In Israel posts an article from Jonathan Rosenblum refuting claims of rampant sex abuse in Ramat Bet Shemesh, from the Jerusalem Post.

  7. Swine flu vaccine in production.

  8. Check out today's Haveil Havalim, hosted at Ima on the Bimah.

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