Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Interesting Posts and Articles #380

1. A post about the difficulties of being poor in Israel.
If you’re planning to be poor, seriously consider staying in the US; in my opinion, it’s much harder to be poor in Israel.  Making aliyah is a wonderful thing, but dreams come crashing hard and fast when there’s not enough money to live.   Making aliyah takes a lot of money.  There are a extensive costs in setting up a home from scratch in a new country.  It can take a very long time to find employment, and you need to be able to get through until you have an income.  And there aren’t the financial safety nets that exist in the US and make it possible for the poor to live a tolerable life (eg food stamps, housing assistance).  If you’re going to be poor, stay where you have friends and family who can emotionally support you.  Stay where you speak the language, where you have connections and you know how to navigate the culture.
2. In one of my best parshablog posts ever, I discussed the true significance of Nachamu. Read that post first.

Now, Hezbos in YOUR Backyard analyzes that same Yerushalmi. He points out a major difficulty. That story and derasha in Yerushalmi establishes that Mashiach is born on Tisha B'Av. But that simply cannot be, because we know that the Rebbe, Melech Hamashiach, shlita, was NOT born on Tisha BeAv. Something has gotta give, and obviously, it must be the Yerushalmi.

He decides that "born" must not mean "born", but "conceived". And then he calculates back from the Rebbe's birthdate to determine that the Rebbe was conceived on Tisha B'av.

I am reminded of a story, perhaps about Rav Soloveitchik. The general halachic principle is that if asked by your mother and father for something (say, a glass of water), you get for your father first, because while you have an equal chiyuv of kibud for father and mother, your mother in turn has a chiyuv of kibud for her husband. He was asked that perhaps he should get for his mother first, since his mother was bevaday his mother, since she clearly gave birth to him, while it was only a shema that his father was his father. His response was that if you try to say that his father was only shema his father, ach and vey on his mother's kavod!

Here, this fellow is well-meaning, and is trying to bring honor to the Rebbe by showing how the Rebbe was conceived on Tisha B'Av, in accordance with the (kvetched interpretation of) the Yerushalmi. But if you say that the Rebbe was conceived on Tisha B'Av, a day when tashmish hamita is forbidden as one of the five inuyim, than ach and vey on the Rebbe's kavod!

Of course, conception can happen some time after the actual act of intercourse, so it is not really so bad to say it. It does do damage to the clear peshat in the Yerushalmi. (See also here about whether one can really assert the length of gestation with such precision.)

I don't think that the Rebbe is, or could be, mashiach. But I don't think you need to kvetch Yerushalmis to show this. Shabtai Tzvi was born on Tisha B'Av. I don't know that every messianic candidate (e.g. Bar Kochba, Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, Rav Yaakov Emden, and so on) was born on Tisha B'Av.

We could simply say that we don't pasken like that derasha in the Yerushalmi. Or, what seems more plausible to me, even without this "difficulty", is that we should take this in an allegorical manner. The idea of mashiach rising from the ashes of the Bet Hamikdash like a phoenix, on the literal day (rather than the anniversary of the date) of its destruction clearly has some deeper significance.

3. Now this I find disturbing. In describing the greatness of Rabbi Shalom Arush, his student relates the following inspirational story:
There was a man living here in Israel. He was a non-religious Jew whose wife divorced him. The man was given a terrible judgment in court. He had to pay almost his whole salary to his ex-wife every month. As time went on, he became more and more depressed.  It was bad enough to lose his family, but to work like a dog for the rest of his life and have nothing for himself - that was too much to bear. He decided he would end his life. 

He took his car out on the highway. He put his foot all the way down on the accelerator and thought that eventually he would crash into something - then his suffering would be over. 

The car raced up to 90mph...then 100mph...then 115mph - When all of a sudden, the young man saw one of Rabbi Shalom Arush's CD's sitting next to him.  One of Rabbi Shalom Arush's students had given it to him at an intersection. He had never listened to it. 

Seconds away from disaster, his hand inexplicably reached for the CD. He thought that if he listened to it as he was leaving this world at least he would go out listening to something holy. He was hoping that this would help him in the next world. He shoved the disk into the player and hit the button a few times. By now he was flying at 120 mph. He didn't care about listening to the disk from the beginning. It started someone in the middle. 

The very first words that he heard Rabbi Shalom say were: "WHY ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL YOURSELF?" 

He immediately slowed his car down and pulled over. He played the whole disk from beginning to end; went and met Rabbi Shalom; told him his story; didteshuva (repentance) and has been a human flame for Hashem since that day. 

When  I heard this story, I felt so proud to be a student of Rav Arush. I immediately told the story to my wife and later that day to my son. 
Etcetera, etcetera, and so forth. And then:
A person might mistakenly believe that what that young man heard was simply a voice on a CD.  Nothing could be farther from the truth. 

First of all, Rav Arush made sure that one of his students would be at that particular intersection on the right day, at the right time. The student was walking back and forth in the  blazing Israeli sun all day. He had been breathing in exhaust fumes for hours when that young man arrived. He smiled widely when he saw him and handing him the CD, completed his mission. 

Then, at the precise moment that was determined from the beginning of creation, Rav Arush rushed personally to that speeding car...spoke to that young man...and saved his eternal soul.  If you've read this far, you can be sure - Rabbi Shalom is watching over you too. 
Whoa! I think this is edging just a bit too close to idolatry for my taste. Rabbi Shalom is not omniscient, and did not plan this out. If you want a religious take on this with a bit less rebbe-worship and avodah zarah, you should say that hakol biydei Shamayim, and Hashem has many agents, from the smallest gnat, to the Breslover chassid, to the waves of the sea. Hashem was the one who directed the course of events, such that in the end, a CD from Rabbi Arush was in the car and playing that particular sentence at that particular time.

This does not require careful planning and knowledge by a man who is, at the end of the day, basar vasam.

4. Dov Bear on the diaper deception. I was thinking the same thing. But they probably use cheaper diapers, and so don't know about this great innovation of velcro diapers, which has been around since at least 1995.

5. Rav Aviner with SMS teshuvot. A sample:
Q: Did the Lubavitcher Rebbe possess prophecy?

A: There has been no prophecy since the destruction of the Temple.  Baba Batra 12.
6. A textbook asserting that the Loch Ness monster is real and a plesiosaur, as an argument against evolution.

7. Rabbi Joshua Maroof has started "Doing the Daf". Check it out. A sample here:

8. A review of a sefer, Chodesh leShanah, and a discussion in the comment section.

9. Yesterday was Rav Avraham Yitzchok HaKohen Kook's Yahrtzeit. This link includes the eulogies given by Rav Elyashiv's Father-in-law [Rav Levin], and Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer on Rav Kook.

10. Here on parshablog, check out Rabbi Yochanan and Maternal Impression.


Rabbi Joshua Maroof said...

Thanks for highlighting my Daf Yomi blog - I appreciate it!

I dropped out of teaching the Daf around Masekhet Shabbat of the previous cycle (I had started in Horayot and went through Seder Qodashim and Niddah, Berakhot and the first few chapters of Shabbat), shortly after assuming my current pulpit. It is exciting and refreshing to be back in the saddle, so to speak.

Jr said...

The Ramban's famous and controversial line in the ויכוח about him not believing in every midrash, was referring to this midrash about mashiach being born on tisha b'av.

What do you mean by rav Yaakov Emdin being mashiach?

Scholem is not 100% sure if shabtai Tzvi was really born on tisha b'av. He might have altered the date to fit into the " theologically desirable date". It's on pages 103- 105 in his book.


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