Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Interesting Posts and Articles #242

1) Bat Aliyah (current publisher of Nir Ben Artzi's messages in English) fields a reader's question about an aliyah snag:
Earlier this week, I got an email from someone in America who has hit a snag in aliyah planning.  They are on track to get here soon, but their house hasn't sold and they are beginning to panic. In the somewhat rambling email, the writer wondered aloud if the lack of even one offer on their very desirable home was an indication that Hashem does not want them to leave.  The email asked for tefillot for their successful aliyah and that they get an offer on their house at a very good price very soon.
She gives her answer, which is basically to take a loss on the house, get out of America while you still can, and don't listen to any American rabbi, because their perspective on aliyah is off. Here is what I would say. Making aliyah is a mitzvah, like many other mitzvos in the Torah. And sometimes one hits a snag. A snag is not necessarily an indication that Hashem does not want them to leave. Sometimes one must overcome obstacles in the course of performing a mitzvah. And sometimes one must live with frustration until one succeeds. I don't know what this specific person should do. Perhaps consult with a financial advisor, to see if there is any way to make aliyah prior to selling the house. Maybe take a loss. Maybe, if it is not presently financially feasible, to push it off a few years. (I hope for a resurgence of the real estate market, but I cannot predict whether or when it will improve.) One can do mitzvos, learn Torah, and live a good Jewish life even in the States.

What I would not advise is to put oneself in dire financial straits, because the world is ending, and because the apocalypse is coming, at which point it will be too late to make aliyah. I understand that Bat Aliyah believes this, and that that is a good part of why she believes in the delusional tractor driver, Nir Ben Artzi -- he is saying what she believes is true, and thus precisely what she wants to believe.

But personally, I don't think that it is true. And too many times in the past, people put themselves into dire financial straits, and as a result their aliyah was not successful. And when the predicted mashiach or end of the world did not arrive at the time and in the way predicted, they felt like saps and idiots. This sort of hysterical impulsive action can leave to financial ruin, shalom bayis issues, chinuch issues, and so on. (Also see this post and the comments.)

2) The Daily Beast reprinted a Newsweek article from 1995. It is hilarious, in retrospect. An excerpt of the best part:
Then there's cyberbusiness. We're promised instant catalog shopping—just point and click for great deals. We'll order airline tickets over the network, make restaurant reservations and negotiate sales contracts. Stores will become obselete. So how come my local mall does more business in an afternoon than the entire Internet handles in a month? Even if there were a trustworthy way to send money over the Internet—which there isn't—the network is missing a most essential ingredient of capitalism: salespeople.
3)  Life In Israel with more OROT updates. A rabbi blasts the kanoim as remnants of Christian influence. And more pashkevils pro and con the kannoim.

4) Reactions to the Aish HaTorah Rosh HaShanah video. See at Blog In Dm, who has a roundup. Also see Frum Satire.

As per the discussion on various blogs, these are not actually Aish HaTorah students. They are from an agency in Tel Aviv, and are just dressing up as yeshiva students.

I don't think it is as bad as almost everyone seems to think. I think people are seeing the conversation in the beginning, where fellow #1 asks regarding Rosh Hashanah that it is just a bunch of people praying, and what is the fun in that. Fellow #2 (in yeshivah garb) says that it is the holiest time of the year, a time for introspection, etc. Fellow #1 snores. And then, fellow #1 says "let me explain it to you a little bit differently." And then this leads into the breakdancing.

But forget that framing. The point of the video was the song, the lyrics, the performance. It was a song about Rosh Hashanah, by Schlock Rock, which could be appreciated by baalei teshuvah or perhaps people soon to be baalei teshuvah.  It makes Rosh HaShanah 'cool'.

Here is the song and lyrics:

Perhaps the framing was ill-advised. But I would consider it only as a pretext to get into the song, and to establish its connection to Aish HaTorah.

Also, the answer is not that Rosh HaShanah is all about breakdancing in the streets. The answer is in the lyrics to the song. But the baal teshuvah was snoring, since he considered the presentation of what Rosh HaShanah was about to be boring. The breakdancing and the 'rock anthem' was a way of presenting the lyrics about Rosh HaShanah in a more engaging manner. Though I think it is hard to focus on the lyrics with all the busy-ness of the break dancing in the foreground.

See also Mekubal's take on it, in favor of it.

5) Little Green Footballs reacts negatively to Michele Bachmann's connection of vaccines and autism. See here and then here.

6) How to boost your wifi signal using only a beer can.

7) A guest post on Circus Tent about a woman visiting the Satmar Rebbe's kever on his yortzeit.

8) Emes veEmunah on Kol Isha, the IDF, on Frumkeit.

9) Jewish Worker about a feeling of entitlement to tzedakah.

10) Here on parshablog, Nitzavim sources. And Vayelech sources.


Anonymous said...

"Making aliyah is a mitzvah, like many other mitzvos in the Torah."

Very wrong. Living in Israel is the bedrock of all the mitvot of the Torah. Surely, I don't need to tell you what the Rambam says about it. And others, "living outside of Israel, is like worshipping idols", "it is better to live in a place of idol worship in Eretz Yisrael than in a Torah center outside of the land". And many more sayings from chazal.

Each person's circumstances are different, and if a Jew for whatever reason feels unable to make aliya, at the very least should be yearning to do so. Sometimes I think that the Arabs want the land more than the Jews do, which is why we have the conflict with them. It's not just that Jewish bodies are in exile, but even worse, our minds.

joshwaxman said...

as i write above the section about the place to leave a comment, "If you choose to comment anonymously, please choose a pseudonym."

"Very wrong..."
Yes, I am aware of various statements of Chazal. (Indeed, several posts this week on the parsha touch on it.) One must place them in their proper perspective, and view them in the quasi-homiletic spirit in which they were stated. Do you really think that Rav Sheshet, to choose a random Amora, was physically *unable* to move to Eretz Yisrael, when Amoraim were traveling back and forth? Why did Rav Kahana only flee to Eretz Yisrael when he was on the run for manslaughter in Bavel? Could it be that there are other spiritual and other miscellaneous considerations which one should take into account?

The purpose of Judaism is to **serve Hashem**. That is the true bedrock.


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