Thursday, August 19, 2010

Interesting Posts and Articles #279

  1. When given the choice of slichos at night and waking the neighbors, or rescheduling slichot for morning, Rav Ovadia Yosef opts for the latter.
  2. The New York Times reports on a case of hasagas gevul.
  3. Vos Iz Neias rereports from the New York Post about special kosher meals (over that of the standard kosher fare) for a convicted molester. I think this is correct. From the government's perspective, they should not be deciding whether inmates may freely practice their religion. And while this fellow sinned, either out or evil or of sickness, this does not mean that he must abandon all ritual restrictions going forward. As the gemara in Shabbos 31b states:

    R. 'Ulla expounded: Why Is it written, Be not much wicked?  must one not be much wicked, yet he may be a little wicked! But if one has eaten garlic and his breath smells, shall he eat some more garlic that his breath may [continue to] smell?
  4. The Israeli chief rabbi makes the point I've made in the past about academic freedom and investigating rabbis for giving a haskamah to the book of Torat Hamelech. He says:

    “Israeli professors traveling abroad openly criticize Israel and the IDF and are protected by freedom of expression, so why are rabbis in Israel not protected by the same freedom of expression as well?”
    The difference, of course, is the investigation and prosecution specifically of incitement in the wake of the Rabin assassination, which could conceivably apply to this case but not to these Israeli professors traveling abroad. As an American, I think this is misguided and quashes freedom of speech too much, but I don't think his particular comparison was apt.
  5. Haveil Havalim, hosted at Soccer Dad.
  6. Just in time for parashat Ki Teitzei, Rabbi Natan Slifkin put out an article about shiluach hakan, the dichotomy between the mystical approach and the rationalist approach towards this mitzvah. I've read the article and it is a good one. Rabbi Gil Student responds to a point of it in a review at Hirhurim, and Rabbi Slifkin responds in turn.

    This particular article is available for purchase -- he is asking for a donation of $5, though the amount you decide to donate is up to you. As he writes:

    Shiluach HaKein: The Transformation of the Mitzvah is a comprehensive study of this important topic. You can download the document after making a donation; the recommended amount is $5. But if you want to take this opportunity to express your support of the RationalistJudaism website, and you have appreciated learning about kezayis, shofars, kidneys, the goal of Torah study, anisakis worms, the philosophy of Rambam, and so on, it would certainly be appropriate and appreciated to give a larger donation!
    It is a good way to try to monetize content, but we will see if it works. He has been trying to figure out some way of doing this. And it is a good way of encouraging him to make more material available, and perhaps of supporting the cause of rationalist Judaism, in general.

    Some of us bloggers try doing this via advertisements, like the ones at the top and the sidebar. Some bloggers use tip jars, or appeal to readers on occasion to donate. As DovBear used to put it in the sidebar, by his tip jar -- You tip your waiter. Why not tip your blogger? Speaking of which -- On the Main Line recently made another appeal for donations.
  7. Also at On the Main Line, noting and analyzing decades of the YU Masmid (the undergraduate yearbook) now available at
  8. DovBear on a yeshiva in Brooklyn insisting that parents install WebChaver on their computers (here, here, here.) And Life In Israel's thoughts on it.
  9. Maharal et al. on the shrinking brain and yeridas hadoros.
  10. Life In Israel about attempts to extend the mechitzos at the kosel. And about why Ahrele Yaktar is resigning from leading the fight against digging up of graves in Yaffo:
  11. Here on parshablog, harnessing the power of Rabbi Meir Baal Hanes to find a shidduch. Snort.

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