Thursday, August 20, 2009

Interesting Posts and Articles #198

  1. Wolfish Musings points to, and comments on, the latest Lakewood scoop -- anonymous flyers telling couples struggling with infertility that the reason they don't have kids is improper level of tznius, and promising that they would be more stringent, they would have kids.

    If this is so, we have an interesting setira. For we know that our matriarch Rachel was so tzanua that she covered herself with sheep! And yet she was childless for many years.

    Indeed, Yaakov's response of hatachas Elokim ani is quite relevant in this instance.

  2. Rav Amar against using Artscroll and Steinsaltz gemaras. Of course, he was addressing an Israeli audience, who know Hebrew as a first language.

  3. The Seforim blog returns to its previous blog address. With a broadly exciting article about whether kamatz or patach goes under various instances of the word dam.

  4. Frum Satire notes the latest in tznius: not drawing women as pregnant, because that conveys what they must have done to get that way.

  5. Avakesh on whether frummer means less middos.

  6. Divrei Chaim on why he is frustrating blogging divrei Torah on the Internet. Basically, it is like YU, and the admixture with Torah makes people think it is kosher.

  7. The Jewish Worker on the latest silly Kupat HaIr advertisement.

  8. I noted this on Hirhurim already, but the comment thread on Rabbi Ari Enkin's recent post has become the latest battleground in the rationalist / mystic debate. My latest contribution to the comment thread -- in response to:
    Josh,

    Let me ask you a question.

    Why is the notion of seperating klipos on shabbos from a tree being considered borer, utterly ridiculious, but the whole concept of borer in itself, being assur on shabbos not?

    Can you honestly tell me, that seperating one fruit from another or one bean from another does not sound "utterly ridiculios"?

    I wrote:
    this comes dangerously close to fideism:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fideism
    and Tertullian's statement of "Credo quia absurdum," that I believe because it is absurd.

    i do indeed draw such a distinction, as would Chasam Sofer who considered this (*metaphorically*) a violation of "lo tizra karmecha kilayim." and this was not because it involved concepts he didn't understand.

    without taking a position on the actual halacha of your bean case (it is not a mixture), I do have faith in the Rabbinic, halachic system. and i would not consider it ridiculous for one of two (or more) reasons:

    (a) it is gezerat haMelech, the decree of the king, so I do not need to grok its reasons, if there are even reasons.

    (b) it is in the power of our Sages to define what a melacha is on a Biblical level, and by identifying certain basic component actions and preventing us from doing them across the board, a mood of menucha, and shamor and zachor, is created.

    though again, i don't feel the need to grok everything before i accept it.

    in terms of the kabbalistic klipah case, it is not that i consider separating klipot to be a fiction which accrued to Judaism post-Chazal (though it may be so). rather, it is because this is tremendous overreach. when the kabbalists spoke of klipos, they meant it in a figurative sense, which roughly corresponded to what we would speak of as separating off shells. and because if separating off kabbalistic klipos on Shabbos is forbidden, we would not be able to eat!

    the problem is that it is taking *homonyms* and assuming that the halacha would be the same. now you be honest with me. let us say someone came up to you and told you the following four things:

    (1) if someone greeted a woman (thus being *shoel* in her shalom) and she was subsequently raped (*ones*) by another person, he have to pay the 50 shekel to her father, because a Shoel is chayav in Ones. But if he had his Baal idols with him when he greeted her, he would be exempt, because it is a case of Baalav Imo.

    (2) If one reads a brayta on Shabbos, he has to read it in full, until the end of the seifa, or else it would be a case of Pesik Reisha.

    (3) One is forbidden from sending his amputated leg-bone to the Soviet Union, because "Ain adam meisim atzmo Russia."

    (4) If two people are hiding inside a bull-costume made of an actual bull, one may not pull aside the costume to reveal their faces while they are not in the course of walking, because it is "megaleh panim batora shelo kehalacha."

    What would you say? Would you say he was an am ha'aretz who did not understand how the halachic process worked? would you say he was drunk? would you say that he must have been saying purim torah? or would you take it seriously, because all of halacha is after all ridiculous? would it matter if the person was already a major talmid chacham? what if you knew somewhat how to learn? what if you were not a talmid chacham, but other people who were talmidei chachamim thought it was ridiculous? would you cast aspersions on them for not accepting what they did not understand?
  9. I updated my Rav Kanievsky and heliocentrism post with images of the question posed to him and his handwritten response. And in the comment thread there, a brief discussion of the Rebbe's weak geocentrism and why it does not work out.

  10. At Rationalist Judaism, part two of his series critiquing Chaim BeEmunasam, in which a Rambam was manipulated and misinterpreted. And a comment thread at Hirhurim discussing his first two posts of the series.

6 comments:

BrooklynWolf said...

Thank you for the link and the first position! :)

The Wolf

Rabbi Joshua Maroof said...

With a broadly exciting article about whether kamatz or patach goes under various instances of the word dam.

I thought that was precisely the kind of article you like!

Basically, it is like YU, and the admixture with Torah makes people think it is kosher.

LOL

BTW, your comment to jaded topaz was harsh but I guess somebody needed to say it...

joshwaxman said...

wolf:
you're welcome. i try to position things in terms of interest, as well as the order i see things. this seemed like a fun thing to lead with.

rabbi maroof:
"I thought that was precisely the kind of article you like!"
it is, but i would imagine that it has a very narrow appeal, and that is mildly amusing. i was originally going to talk in shul this shabbos about some interesting yeter / chaser, but concluded that it would really only be interesting to me.

i am not sure i acted correctly in terms of my harsh comments, though.

kt,
josh

Shadesof said...

"Wolfish Musings points to, and comments on, the latest Lakewood scoop -- anonymous flyers telling couples struggling with infertility that the reason they don't have kids is improper level of tznius, and promising that they would be more stringent, they would have kids."

I think the increase in tzniyus focus comes because some frum women indeed are dressing inappropriately. Also, people attribute community misfortunes to a lack of tznyius.

In other words, there can be legitimate concerns driving the increased focus on modesty. On the other hand, I think that the frum community needs to be sure that it's raising healthy children.

At the same time that we are putting so much energy into controlling male desires by means of tzniyus, perhaps we should make a corresponding effort to make sure that our children have an opportunity to ask all questions and can develop a healthy attitude towards sexuality.

joshwaxman said...

i have rarely seen a frum woman dress inappropriately. but then, maybe i don't know where to look! the problem, to my mind, is that much of tznius is dependent upon societal norms, and where there is actual halachic dispute, each group is taught their tznius rules as absolute and without room for other groups to diverge. and so the sheitel-wearers think snood-wearers are non-tznius, and vice versa. and people i've encountered maintain with absolute conviction that nude stockings are pritzus. what happens when one group meets the other, and calls to mind all the inspirational fluff they have been taught over the years about tznius? well, this happens.

kt,
josh

Shadesof said...

"what happens when one group meets the other, and calls to mind all the inspirational fluff they have been taught over the years about tznius?"

I don't know how people relate to other groups; it's probably like any other issue, hopefully, people realize there are legitimate disputes in Halacha.

There is no doubt that genuine tzniyus is a beautiful thing; there are people in the secular world who think that as well(eg, people supporting Wendy Shalit).

My point is that it's ironic that we are intensely focused on tzniyus, yet, in some of the frum world, we can't find a way to address related topic. The Freudian in me sometimes says that we may be avoiding the elephant in the room.

For example, in the first link below, YU's Tzelem program did *not* engage in some new major tzniyus campaign, tzniyus clubs, tzniyus asifos-- they actually tried to deal with neglected educational issues("Additionally, even in the absence of a highly sexualized modern culture, the total void of any systematic education which addresses such a fundamental part of personal development within a Jewish context is problematic").

http://www.yu.edu/cjf/page.aspx?id=18096

http://www.yuobserver.com/home/index.cfm?event=displayArticlePrinterFriendly&uStory_id=1eaa93b8-7e8a-42d8-a9b1-28bd12aa634c

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