Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Interesting Posts and Articles #369

1. Mi Yodea, that is,, is now out of beta. Congratulations! Here are some recent questions that I answered over there.
a) Why didn't they call her Mara?
b) Why does Moshe have a shalshelet?
c) Why does Vayikra 25:3 repeat “שש שנים”?

I recall a college professor I know telling me that "there is no such thing as a stupid question... only a stupid student." What makes for a "valid" question? There are some nice questions there, and there are others I don't even bother addressing. Sometimes, there is no real question, just an assumption on the part of the questioner.

For instance, the first of the above questions, Why didn't they call her Mara? The content of the query was:
Naomi returns to Israel and tells people to call her Mara cause God has embittered her life (Ruth 1:20). But no one actually ends up calling her Mara.
  1. Is a person allowed to change her name for non-health (refuah) related reasons?
  2. Does anyone else in Tanach ever do this i.e. as to have his or her name changed?
  3. Why doesn't anyone actually call her Mara?

An obvious answer would be that this was not what the pasuk, and Naami, meant by this statement. Someone suggests in a tongue-in-cheek, rhetorical comment:
Yeshayahu tells people to call Shabbat "Oneg". How come nobody refers to the seventh day of the week as Oneg? – ه ه May 20 at 3:38
and someone else responds with a link for him to post that very question at Mi Yodea. Yet it is a good question, despite it having a possibly flawed assumption. Challenging that assumption makes for a good answer. And the last of the listed question, about the repetition of shesh shanim:
In Vayikra 25:3 it says:
שש שנים תזרע שדך ושש שנים תזמור כרמך
Why does it say twice שש שנים ?
The obvious place to look for an analysis of this sort of repetition is the Sifra (Toras Kohanim), because they darshen features such as this left and right. And indeed, that is what one answerer does: cites the Sifra and explains it. But is this question really bothering the asker? Maybe, in the sense of "what was bothering Rashi?" Did he not know of the consistent midrash halacha in the Sifra, to look for such an answer? Are we going to find every single repetition in Tanach asked on Mi Yodea? (Related, are we going to take every one of the infinite facts about Judaism, Torah, etc., and make it into a question?) My answer there instead spoke to the midrashic assumptions underlying this question, and attempted to explain the repetition from a stylistic, Biblical-poetry, perspective.

2. At Rationalist Judaism, That Bothersome Bardelas.

3. At Emes veEmunah, against hesder soldiers making use of earplugs to avoid kol isha.
Earplugs are a bad idea. Can you imagine how a singer might feel when they begin singing and some members of the audience take out their earplugs and start listening to their MP3s?

I know the standard response to this is that the singers will know that it is for religious reasons and not be insulted. Maybe that’s true in most cases. Maybe. But I can easily see a scenario where a singer not so knowledgeable about Kol Isha will see it and be insulted.

While it is true as stated above that Kol Isha is a Halachic issue - this has never been a problem in the past, despite the fact that there have been seriously religious soldiers in Hesder units since the earliest days of the State - many of whom I'm sure had challenges like this along the way. 
I disagree. Of course, it is up to the army to set policy. But this seems like a good compromise.

4. At the Seforim blog, Halakhah and Haggadah - Manuscript Illustrations and their Halakhic and Customary SignificanceHere is a fun one:
Setting aside the issue of what marror is, another custom related to marror can be found in both printed and manuscript haggadot. In the Prague, 1526, the first illustrated printed haggadah, there is a picture of a man pointing at his wife with the legend, “there is a custom that a man points to his wife when mentioning marror based upon the verse Ecclesiastes 7:26 “Now I find woman more bitter than death.”
And most recently, Kalir, False Accusations, and More.

5. Mississippi Fred MacDowell of On the Main Line attended the Internet Asifa, and discusses it. Also mentioned at Gizmodo and Betabeat.

6. The most recent Haveil Havolim.

7. Life in Israel and Rationalist Judaism about Rabbi Shteinman's speech.

8. Here at parshablog, check out my Bemidbar sources, 2012 edition.

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