Monday, June 29, 2009

Interesting Posts and Articles #168

  1. Cross-Currents on A. Y. Karelitz, M.D. Would the world be better off has the Chazon Ish become a doctor? Well, the matzah industry would not be so well off... And my own take on a throwaway line that received some slight attention in the comment section -- is it unimportant how the Chazon Ish knew urology? I would say it is critically important.

  2. Rabbi Lazer Brody on how abortionists prevent the coming of mashiach, which is why the best of doctors go to heck:
    So, when for some reason the baby is not born, then the soul cannot leave "Body" (or 'Guf' in the original Hebrew), the heavenly warehouse for unborn souls. Until Guf is empty, Moshiach is delayed in arriving.
    Similarly, those who preach (even) abstinence to high-schoolers will have to answer for it after 120 years, since they are delaying mashiach's coming. And Rabbenu Gershom has a lot to answer for for not allowing men to take multiple wives.

    This is an interesting idea in general, in terms of how it may work with other conceptions of mashiach's coming. If we are working with the ketz, then this was destined to happen until that predetermined ketz, such that all this was calculated in advance. And if we are not working with the ketz, but with the massive teshuvah or the opposite of kelal yisrael, then is he saying that it cannot come? We daily await his coming, and in the gemara, Eliyahu said that he could come tomorrow if everyone did teshuva, presumably despite not all the souls having come down in those times.

    Leaving aside kabbalah, there are major halachic disputes about the propriety of abortion in certain cases, having to do with the mother's health and possibly even the mother's psychological health. Consult your posek and rebbe for such an important and painful life decision, and don't be guilted by thoughts that you are doing something terrible in delaying mashiach.

  3. At Daas Torah, a teshuva from Rav Reuven Feinstein on kiruv and intermarriage, and its implications. Check out the comment sections.

  4. Life In Israel on an interesting "machlokes" on prayers that don't work -- whether it is shaatnez or talking during davening, with the latter based on this Hebrew article. And see the translation and comments at Vos Iz Neias.

  5. Finally, an explanation for crop circles. Nope, not divine messages, or coming from UFOs. Not even drunk and/or bored farmers, this time. Rather, drugged wallabies. Reminds me slightly of the actions of Shimshon Hagibbor.

  6. Orthonomics on paying yeshiva tuition, and a plea not to charge it to a credit card.

  7. Brisk Yeshivish has been hoping for some attention for his blog. So here is a link to the Rebbe and Meshichism for Dummies.

  8. On a post of mine about transforming prayer for others into a segulah, an anonymous commenter noted that in the last five minutes of this shiur by Rabbi Shlomo Pearl, he goes off on the challah-baking segulah by 40 women. (Initially, you cannot skip to the end. The entire video has to load, but not play, before you can skip to where you want to skip.) However, note that he leaves the door open for challah baking as a supplement to more typical methods, such as teshuva, tefillah, and tzedaka. And note that part of the ritual that has evolved for this challah baking is to daven for the sick person and so give some tzedaka, IIRC to Rabbi Meir Baal HaNes to make it an even better segulah.

  9. Menachem Mendel on Ibn Gabirol meets Rock 'n Roll.

  10. E-man links to my post on Ralbag's position about the relative roles of Korach vs. Datan and Aviram, and portrays it as an extension of the midrashic occupation with making Datan and Aviram at the center of all sorts of negative events.

  11. Ishim veShittos on incantation bowls and how early the name Raziel appeared.

  12. Rationalist Judaism on "Tone" or Approach. I would say that the person he is responding to is being silly. It is not a matter of mere tone to refuse to come to a conclusion. And saying "I don't understand the gemara" is not the same as saying "I understand the gemara in accordance with the Rishonim that Chazal can err in science." This is no mere difference in "tone." It is unfortunate that "frumkeit" and false modesty make people believe that they are not allowed to think.

    And meanwhile, if one refuses to come to a conclusion out of piety, there is little to no chance of making use of a conclusion. And understanding that, and how, Chazal made use of contemporary science is potentially extremely useful in coming to understand the correct peshat in countless gemaras.

    Furthermore, so many of these non-rationalists are under the mistaken impression that saying Chazal relied on contemporary science and thus erred on occasion detracts from Chazal. In fact, it is just the opposite! I have greater respect for them for this. They did not close their minds to evidence and to knowledge from secular sources, thinking that scientific statements about the world from centuries past were Divinely given. Rather, we see from explicit examples and many implicit examples that they looked to contemporary science. They believed in Torah UMaddah on some level! Which we rationalists respect greatly, even as some non-rationalists do not. That occasionally, or frequently, this led to adopting mistaken positions is no reflection on the piety, or the intelligence of those who held these up-to-date scientific positions.


גילוי said...

Allow me to provide a bit of background logic from a Kabbalistic point on births having to do with the Keitz.

It says in Zohar VaYera 119a:

בשיתין ושית יתגלי מלכא משיחא בארעא דגליל. וחד כוכבא דבסטר מזרח יבלע שבע ככביא מסטר צפון, ושלהובא דאשא אוכמא תהא תליא ברקיעא שיתין יומין, וקרבין יתערון בעלמא לסטר צפון, ותרין מלכין יפלון באינון קרבין, ויזדווגון כלהון עממיא על ברתיה דיעקב, לאדחייא לה (לון) מעלמא, ועל ההוא זמנא כתיב, (והיתה) (ירמיה ל ז) ועת צרה היא ליעקב וממנה יושע. וכדין יסתיימון נפשין מגופא, ובעיין לאתחדשא

That is to say that there are a limited number of souls created, and at the time of Geulah, we will run out, and new souls will be made.

So more kids means running out sooner.

joshwaxman said...

how? from the perspective of the ketz, or not from the perspective of the ketz? isn't the ketz already set, despite any of our actions? and if before the ketz, doesn't teshuva set this in motion?

is this running out of souls a *cause*, or an *effect* of the Geula? perhaps Hashem knew the ketz is 5770, and also worked it out so that He would run out of souls by then. if so, then our actions in this regard are pointless...

and anyway, there are already more than 600,000 Jews. so many of them are reused -- that is, gilgulim. how do we know that having kids will hasten this, when the time is already set, and if God is reusing souls anyway, such that any new baby might be simply Hashem recycling?

(in case it is not clear, i am having a bit of fun here.)


גילוי said...

There are of course multiple ways to look at this. One could say that efforts to remove the polygamy ban failed because otherwise we did not have enough merit, so we could not thusly cause the keitz to move up.

There are ways to move up the Keitz. This would seem to be contradictory, as we either merit it now (whenever sufficient teshuvah occurs) or at the final moment. Nonetheless, there are other ideas of a middle path, where the end can be moved up.

joshwaxman said...

baruch hashem efforts to remove the polygamy ban failed, though. i think we've moved past that, to a time where love between husband and wife means something different and better.


joshwaxman said...

btw, i borrowed the gilgul objection from Shadal. see here:



Neshama said...

Consider it a "pandora's box" and when it is empty Moshiach will arrive!


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