Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Interesting Posts and Articles #149

  1. At Mystical Paths, When All Else Fails:
    He said that he just didn’t fell like it. “Look, I just want to go to the Wall and talk to G-d.” He was getting a little fed up with me, so I figured that I had better back off.

    “Fine,” I said, “but if you talk to G-d with tefillin on, your prayers will be louder.”

    “Let me go talk to G-d!”
    I agree with the second commenter there, but possibly to a larger extent. We have our sets modes of religiosity, and despite the Rebbe's endorsing of getting people to put on tefillin, at some point, harassing people to reach out to God in your way is counterproductive. Consider the statement that one should not make one's tefillah keva. Here was a secular fellow intending to pray to Hashem in a heartfelt personal communication. Making it into a "outreach" opportunity, even where he said once or twice that he was interested, and chanelling it into a particular form, such that his prayers would be purportedly "louder" -- I do not know that this is a good approach.

  2. PaleoJudaica on a new theory on the introduction of megillat Esther into the canon. I dislike when they overstate their case about God's absence in the book. But it demonstrated to me that they simple are not careful readers. Thus:
    The Book of Esther is perhaps the oddest work included within the canon of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament: The story is set in Iranian Susa--far away from ancient Israel and Judah, and the biblical God is not mentioned even once in the text. Rather, we encounter a folkloristic narrative in which a murderous plot against the Jews of the Persian Empire is thwarted and turned back upon its originator without the aid of divine intervention, solely through the efforts of a virtuous, beautiful, and courageous woman.
    This is nonsense, on the level of peshat. God is not explicitly mentioned in the text, but the characters are aware of his presence. In Esther perek 4, why should everyone fast, at Esther's command? For their health?? Clearly the point is an appeal to God.

    And similarly, Mordechai tells Esther that "if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then will relief and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place, but thou and thy father's house will perish; and who knoweth whether thou art not come to royal estate for such a time as this?" How does Mordechai believe that relief and deliverance will arive from elsewhere? And why does he think that she came to the royal house for this purpose? Clearly because he believes that a Divine Hand is guiding these events.

    Once we realize this, we realize that all the "accidents" and "coincidences" in the book are intended by the Biblical author to be Divine guidance of events, though via hester panim. And then the entire book opens up with examples of this. So that claim is nonsense.

  3. On the Main Line on a description, rather than censure, of Hebrew music. Someone trying to be objective. Personally, I do not think much of chazzanus.

  4. Rationalist Judaism on the regularity of nature, a response to a shiur which was recently trumpeted as an answer to everything and a demonstration of the flaws in the scientific approach.

  5. It is not just some Jewish mystics who are going nuts about the apocalypse. "Witnesses" are apparently excited about the same. Meanwhile, check out my extensive apocalypse blogging:

    Rosh Chodesh Sivan: The day of the apocalypse?
    Apocalypse? Bring it on!
    You call this an apocalypse?!
    You mean you *still* call this an apocalypse?!

  6. Why does this sound so familiar? Zchus Avos:
    It says “ad mochoras haShabbos”, meaning that we have the whole sefira including the 50th day to [do] teshuva and purify ourselves (the word “sapir” can mean purify). And if one can’t purify himself, even on the last day, then he has no choice but to attach himself to theTzadik Emes, and he will lift him up and purify him. Through his attachment to the Tzadik Emes, he will be able to do teshuva. (Divrei Dovid)

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