Friday, June 12, 2009

Interesting Posts and Articles #157

  1. Life In Israel hosts another guest post, a defense of David Morris of Lemaan Achai, in the matter of sex abuse in Ramat Bet Shemesh.

  2. Divrei Chaim asks a nice question: why prefer a contradiction between a gemara and science, when the pnimiyus haTorah response eliminates any such contradiction? I give my own answer in the comment section, and more in this parshablog post.

    Another two posts from Divrei Chaim: First, reading texts as a historian or as a halachist, in which he argues that original intent of Chazal does not matter, but rather the systems which have developed on top of it. I don't agree with this take on the halachic system, and I think Rav Schachter and others would disagree as well.

    Second, he asks why be a rationalist or reject rationalism, from the approach of what speaks to you and what one gains or loses from the different perspectives.

    In each of these cases, my take on this is that he is framing the question as a non-rationalist. These are not approaches a rationalist would necessarily take, and often involve unstated assumptions which a rationalist would not agree to. E.g. we don't decide truth on the basis of how convenient it is, so the last question seems to me to be a non sequitur, no matter how interesting the answer may be. (E.g. Torah UMaddah is well within the rationalist camp, and those subscribing to such views are less likely to arrive at obvious falsehoods such as the geocentric model of the universe and declare in the 21st century that anyone who disagrees is a heretic; those adopting the anti-rationalist position seem more likely in general to declare analyses and approaches as out-of-bounds and come up with farfetched rationalizations rather than admitting the obvious, which makes it seem less true and open to truth. And more.) And there is no such thing as preferring one approach to the gemara over another because of the convenient result, or because it brings you in line with what you are purportedly supposed to be thinking, that is the opinion of the Gra.

    So long as this framing continues, people will just continue talking past one another, because the questions are not the right questions, and any answers, if on the spot, are likely not going to be taken within the appropriate framework.

  3. Vos Iz Neias takes note of a rabbi taking heat for his halachic position on cheating on taxes. While I do not know that he is halachically correct; or that even if so, we should not have a value system on top of halacha which would override any theoretical issue; or that if the only legitimate concern is chillul Hashem, then promulgating this in a speech effectively makes it into a chillul Hashem issue almost as much, if not more, than actually cheating on taxes -- despite all this, if this is his reasoned halachic position, then he has the right to maintain it, and I very much disapprove of any attempt to quash such "politically-incorrect" statements because of how they make us feel.

  4. Vos is Neias also reports of an interesting pesak, not to give money to beggars at intersections, because it encourages the practice and thereby endangers life.

  5. Bizarro -- Newton's Five Second Rule of Gravity.

  6. Lion of Zion has a beautiful story of acceptance when seeking a baal korei in shul.

  7. Kallah Magazine reviews Seams and Souls: A Dressing, Altering, and Sewing Guide for the Modest Woman, noting a certain trend; I haven't read the book, though this might just be a mode of speaking.

  8. Two posts on the Vilna Gaon's apparent position that the world was flat, first from Gilyonei HaShas and then from Aliyat Eliyahu. The orginal source is somewhere in the Gra's commentary on Tikkunei Zohar, available here at JNUL, but I am not sure where. The Hebrew is in a nice block font. Maybe someone wants to run OCR on it and then provide me with the text, or else do a search to find the page. That is a lot to do, of course, and so for the moment, the text remains hidden in a whole bunch of other text.

  9. Rabbi Slifkin posts about opposition to Rav Gedaliah Nadel's works. From the looks of it, it seems like a typical non-confrontational way of dismissing a work. Claim the person and his hashkafos were fine, but people might be presenting it incorrectly. In a new post today, he notes that, probably due to such opposition (couched as talmid toeh vechaser bedaas) the sefer, recently put up on, has been taken down. You can write to them at oldhebrewbooks {at} aol [dut] com ask them about it, and ask them to put it back. Indeed, you can do this even if your own personal hashkafos are solidly in the non-rationalist camp. Update: Actually removed due to copyright issues.

  10. On the Main Line has an entertaining post on a Jewish person flubbing an oath in an English court, and another on different ways of wearing a tallis in 1843.

  11. Rabbi Sachs, facilitated communicator and quasi-yidoni, is now supporting the purported words of autistic Binyamin Golden with the crazy conspiracy movie of a 9/11 Truther, who apparently believes that 9/11 was a plot by the US Government. Besides posting the entire conspiracy movie, The Obama Deception, he posts some text about how Obama, like Bush, is being controlled by the bankers and is part of a conspiracy to impose a New World Order.
    Obama works for the same elite as Bush did. They serve the interests of the bankers who created the financial collapse, and now are in the Obama administration to “fix” it. Dictatorial World Government is their plan [see the message from Binyamin Golden below!].
    That's a whole lot of crazy. It is amazing how crazies cite other crazies, thinking it somehow lends them support. It doesn't. And if "Binyamin" is having such thoughts, it is almost certainly because Rabbi Sachs finds such ideas from conspiracy theorists credible, and is communicating his own nonsensical thoughts.

    Here is a three-part analysis of the documentary, and why it is nonsense. Part i, part ii, part iii. Some nice excerpts from part one:
    Then comes Joe Rogan. I mean seriously. So far we've had a rapper, a wrestler, a country and western singer, a LaRouche cult member and now we get the former host of Fear Factor? Oh, but he's got so much credibility because he's a mixed martial arts announcer! One of the usual faults of conspiracy theories is the "Appeal to Authority," but in this case Alex seems to be going with "Appeal to Celebrity."


    But any conservative that wants to know what I think of the Obama Deception should know that it's a piece of crap, and relying on it for anything is likely to make you look like a fool to anyone with Google. Let me give a simple example. In the movie, we are presented with the following quote from Abraham Lincoln:

    I see in the near future a crisis approaching. It unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. The money power preys upon the nation in times of peace and conspires against it in times of adversity. It is more despotic than a monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, more selfish than bureaucracy. It denounces, as public enemies, all who question its methods or throw light upon its crimes. I have two great enemies, the Southern Army in front of me & the financial institutions at the rear, the latter is my greatest foe. Corporations have been enthroned, and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until the wealth is aggregated in the hands of a few, and the Republic is destroyed. I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before, even in the midst of war. God grant that my suspicions may prove groundless.

    In fact, this is an old fraudulent quote. How old? It was debunked inan 1896 letter to the editor of the New York Times.
    Read it all, if you want.

  12. On parshat Shelach (the current parsha in Israel), Sedra Shorts notes the parallel between Rachav's words and Shirat Hayam, and how Rachav's words are poetry. He suggests that this is a paraphrase, with the words from the Shirah inserted to invoke the parallel in the reader's mind.


Ariella's blog said...

just to clarify: I don't really review the book; I just offer a comment on the existence of such a book. I only write reviews on books I have really read. This one, I only thumbed through in the book store. It's not something I would buy. The only reason I have R' Falk book on tznius in my possession is because a neighbor gave it to me. Her husband had bought it for her (probably on his Lakewood sister's advice). She found it irrelevant to herself and so bestowed it on me.

Yosef Greenberg said...

Not really remove because of copyright. Rather, they don't want to get involved with the dispute with the Nadel family regarding the book.

Rabbi Slifkin put the book up for download though.

Anonymous said...

hi josh love your blog..
quick do i get access to an original print of malbims pirush on tanach...JNUL? (i would like to look up his pirush on Iyov but most tanach with his pirush cut out his intro)



joshwaxman said...

i looked quickly and couldn't find it in either place. last week i asked if they could put up mikraos gedolos on iyov, so once/if that is up you could see if they have malbim there...

sorry i can't be of much help here.


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