Thursday, March 01, 2012

Interesting Posts and Articles #365

1) Via Menachem Mendel, rather cool news, that the Artscroll Talmud is going digital. See also related at the Artscroll blog. Follow-up-up here.

2) Various articles and blogs opposing Deborah Feldman, as would be expected, whether or not the contents of her book were true. Here is a sample blogpost someone sent to me, with her uncle (purportedly) opposing her. Here is a post by Mekubal pointing out some problematic posts on her blog via the WayBack Machine. And an article in the Jewish Press by "A Female Member of the Satmar Community in Williamsburg".

3) Chabad opposes Rebbe stamps, because licking the back is disrespectful. It reminds me of the recycled (political, sports, lawyer, etc) joke:
When they have put Clinton's face on the United States stamps, all the stamps were returned to the post office, because people didn't know which side to spit on
I guess in Israel, they don't have self-adhesive stamps. (Though a comment there says they do have self-adhesive stamps.) And though one could use a wet tissue or napkin to moisten the stamp, the general populace would not be doing this. Even though I don't really agree with the objection, that is irrelevant. They are entitled to be bothered by it. In the comment section there:
According to an Admur the disrespect comes from the post office that cancels the stamp blotting out the portrait
4) At the Yeshiva World, a very strange segulah for a long life:
Stern told Chadrei Chareidim “It is known that if one is ‘niftar while still alive he is promised arichas yomim’. He explained that he heard a rav say that laying down in a kever is a segula towards achieving this longevity.
5) And also via the Yeshiva World, an OU Purim Safety alert, that intoxication is not a mitzvah. Or, to cite their actual words:
“Bodily harm through intoxication is not a mitzvah on Purim, and driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal, leads to impaired judgment, and chas ve’shalom, a possible catastrophe.”
That is a good way to put it. Speaking now for myself, to the hamon am in general, I would say to avoid getting intoxicated on Purim. Why? Because nishtaneh hateva from the time of Chazal. How so? There is yeridas hadoros and people back then were not idiots. Unfortunately, people nowadays are idiots. And they then drink to such an extent as to put themselves and others around them into danger.

Another change from the past is that there were no cars in the time of Chazal. Nowadays, someone might get drunk and walk into traffic, or get behind the wheel of a car. And even if person X won't do it, if we permit and encourage the practice across all of klal yisrael, there will be some unfortunate people, or idiots, who do so. There is a concept of shev ve'al taaseh, which might well apply here.

And if people are twisting sources to claim that it is not a mitzvah to get drunk -- well, they may be right. Or maybe, this is the necessary way to impose a new takkanah, so as to prevent a tragedy.

Matzav, meanwhile, has tips for those who drink on Purim.

From past parshablog posts, the Chiyuv, or Issur, of getting drunk on Purim. And the Aruch Hashulchan on getting drunk on Purim.

6) A miracle story -- a misnaged listens to the advice of the Rebbe. And as a result, a (unsuspecting?) diamond smuggler is freed.

7) Something in the spirit of Purim -- blood lemehadrin, for Jewish vampires. Of course, it should be possible. If Esav was a vampire, and was careful to tithe even straw and salt, then naturally he would insist on mehadrin blood.

8) At the Yeshiva World Coffee Room, a letter that has been circulating: A conversation with Hashem:
Me (in a tizzy) : Hashem, can I ask you something
Me: Promise you won't get mad?
HASHEM: I promise.
Me (frustrated): Why did you let so much stuff happen to me today?
HASHEM: What do you mean?
Me: Well I woke up late,
Me: My car took forever to start,
HASHEM: Okay....
Me (growling): At lunch, they made my sandwich wrong and I had to wait
HASHEM: Hmmmm..
Me: On the way home, my phone went dead, just as I picked up a call
HASHEM: All right
Me (loudly): And to top it all off, when I got home, I just wanted to soak
my feet in my foot massager and relax, but it wouldn't work. Nothing went
right today! Why did you do that?
HASHEM: Well let me see..... the death angel was at your bed this morning
and I had to send one of the other angels to battle him for your life. I
let you sleep through that.
Me (humbled): Oh...
HASHEM: I didn't let your car start because there was a drunk driver on
your route that might have hit you if you were on the road
Me (ashamed): ............
HASHEM: The first person who made your sandwich today was sick and I didn't
want you to catch what they have, I knew you couldn't afford to miss work
Me (embarrassed): Oh.....
HASHEM: Your phone went dead because the person that was calling was going
to give a false witness about what you said on that call, I didn't even let
you talk to them so you would be covered
Me (softly): I see Hashem
HASHEM: Oh and that foot massager, it had a short that was going to throw
out all of the power in your house tonight. I didn't think you wanted to be
in the dark.
Me: I'm sorry Hashem.
HASHEM: Don't be sorry, just learn to trust all things, the
good and the bad
Me: I WILL trust you Hashem
HASHEM: And don't doubt that my plan for your day is always better than
your plan
Me: I won't Hashem. And let me just tell you Hashem, thank you for
everything today.
HASHEM: You're welcome child. It was just another day being your Hashem and
I love looking after my children.
In the comment thread, questions about the theology expressed in here, and how it contradicts an explicit gemara, etcetera. This was drawn from a Christian composition, A Conversation With God. The ending, "being your Hashem", is clearly stilted.

9) Zecher vs. Zeicher. Or, with better illustration, here.

10) At Judaism.StackExchange, you can see how I answered this question:
Why is no mention made of the reaction of Balak’s officers who were accompanying Bilaam to the talking donkey or the revelation of the angel?
As well as this question:
Why is Moshe name not mentioned in this weeks Parsha, T'tzave?
11) Here on parshablog, Tetzaveh sources. And you can still compete in the Oh Nuts! competition.

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