Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Interesting Posts and Articles

My comments, if present, in red following the excerpt:

Media Myths About the Jena 6 (Christian Science Monitor)
By now, almost everyone in America has heard of Jena, La., because they've all heard the story of the "Jena 6." White students hanging nooses barely punished, a schoolyard fight, excessive punishment for the six black attackers, racist local officials, public outrage and protests – the outside media made sure everyone knew the basics. There's just one problem: The media got most of the basics wrong.
E-Lamdan On Birkat HaMapil
Basically, the Be'er Moshe holds (unlike the Mishna Berurah) that there is really no inyan to not make a hefsek between the bracha of Hamapil and sleeping. The only real reason to be quiet after Krias Shma Al Hamitah is in order to fall asleep "mitoch divrei torah". As far as Hamapil is concerned, it's not a bracha on the actual act of sleeping at all, but rather just a bracha on the "concept" of sleep. (He compares the bracha to HaNosen LaSechvi Binah.) Because the bracha is not on the act of sleeping, there is no worry of hefsek between the bracha and the act of falling asleep."
Rabbinate's Shemitta Decision Overturned (Jerusalem Post, Hat Tip: ADDeRabbi)
The court ruled that that it was illegal for the Chief Rabbinate to allow Yechiel Ya'acobovitz, Chief Rabbi of Herzliya, to deny kosher certificates to restaurants, hotels and other food-serving venues that sell vegetables that were grown in Jewish-owned soil inside the borders of the Land of Israel during the shmita year.

Instead, Ya'acobovitz, a haredi rabbi who adopted a stringent interpretation of Jewish laws governing shmita, must either provide kosher certificates himself or allow more lenient rabbis to do so.
My thoughts on the above -- it is an interesting conflict of church and state, but on the other hand, this occurs because of the existing cross-over, with official legal rabbinic positions. As I've said before, we should be glad that America is not a theocracy, and that Israel is to a large decree secular in terms of government. For otherwise, even frum Jews would not have freedom to practice their religion, for whose version of the religion is being imposed?

Munkatcher Shidduch Celebrated (My Machberes Column, Jewish Press)
On Motzaei Shabbos Parshas Lech Lecha, October 20, Frima Rivka Leah Rabinowitz was engaged to Yaakov Rubin, son of Rabbi Yitzchok Isaac Rubin, Ulinover Rav in Boro Park. The kallah is the daughter of Rabbi Chaim Elazar Rabinowitz, Munkatcher Rosh Yeshiva, and the granddaughter of Rabbi Moshe Leib Rabinowitz, Munkatcher Rebbe.

Thousands of chassidim gathered in the Munkatcher Beis Medrash in Boro Park to celebrate the event. At the same time, Munkatcher Chassidim around the globe gathered in local Munkatcher shuls and joined in the celebration.
Mazal Tov! And also, Kol haKavod. What is novel about this simcha report is that it includes the kallah's name. Every time I've seen this in the past, the kallah was not mentioned. Of course, it continues with the dizzying list of rabbinic names in their yichus. Perhaps this is a new trend, or perhaps this is the minhag in Munkatch, to release the name of the kallah.

But in the same article, we have:
The aufruf of Meshulem Zusia Twersky will take place at the main Skverer Beis Medrash in New Square this Shabbos, Parshas Va’yera, October 26-27. The chassan is the son of Rabbi Yitzchok (Itzikel) Twersky, son of Rabbi Dovid Twersky, Skverer Rebbe.
He will be marrying Sarah Roiza Bluma Meisels, daughter of Rabbi Moshe Meisels, Rodvaner Rav in London. The kallah is the granddaughter of Rabbi Yehoshua Zev Meisels, Liejsher Rav, and of the late Uheiler Rebbe, zt”l.
Excellent! This recognizes that there are two parties in the simcha, the chassan and kallah, and does not impose extreme levels of tznius.

A Defense of Lot's Daughters (Divrei Chaim)
The previous week was P’ Vayeira, and the man related how he had been speaking of the daughters of Lot and how foolish and wicked they were. That night two old women came to him in a dream and introduced themselves as Lot’s daughters. The man’s words had made such an impression in the olam ha’emes that they came to set the record straight. They explained that everyone knew they were saved miraculously from Sdom by G-d. Had they chosen to do so, they could have said that their children came miraculously from G-d as well – immaculate concption. This could have been the cause of a whole new religion of avodah zarah. But instead, explained Lot’s daughters, they chose to acknowledge that their children came from their father – they deliberately named them Mo-Av and Amon to indicate that yes, they mistakenly had these children through their father, but they were not immaculately conceived or a result of any miracle.
This story is not so surprising to me. It echoes the Talmudic story about criticism of Yeravam ben Navat with the dream response. And it certainly is plausible that a Russian Jew would have such a dream, even as the product of his own thoughts.


Anonymous said...
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joshwaxman said...

Note: I removed the above comment about the Jewish Press column because I thought it unnecessary and tangential to anything here.

Even if "thousands of chassidim" is an exaggeration, and is just the typical guzma used to breathlessly talk about Rebbishe events, who cares?

Adam Holland said...

I read with interest the Christian Science Monitor commentary on the Jena 6 story and listened to the audio interview with its author posted on their website. It should be stressed that the piece was a commentary -- an opinion, not a hard news story -- written by a white reporter from Jena's only newspaper. He's part of the white establishment in this small town, representing the official line. This side of the story has been undoubtedly been under-reported, but he isn't an objective source of information, and the CSM should have been clearer about who he is so readers might assess his potential bias.

My gut tells me that the true story of these incidents will never be fully known, but that there were bad acts by both sides. The CSM piece, insofar as it presents only one side, merely presents a different set of truths and untruths. I'm glad to have read it, and found some of it informative, but found some of it completely implausible. The supposedly benign nature of the original noose-hanging just doesn't ring true to me.

Anonymous said...

"The supposedly benign nature of the original noose-hanging just doesn't ring true to me."

Having rather recently gone to a public high school in a city that some consider part of the American South, I have to disagree. In my school, the white students at least didn't think there was any racial tension. On the other hand, there was plenty of willingness to do stupid and violent things against others, but without a racial basis. The noose seems to me like it could plausibly be in the latter category.

What may be more important is that, whatever the original intention, black students may have SEEN the nooses as a threat to them.


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