Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Interesting Posts and Articles #221

  1. Life in Israel hosts a guest-post about not shaking a lulav in Israel when the first day of Sukkot falls out on Shabbos. Read it and see why such an article is necessary.

  2. The New York Times on the family history of Michelle Obama. Starting from גנות and ending with שבח. Avadim Hayinu...

  3. At DovBear, a Sukkos tale by Rabbi E. Fink, about a guy who sells the tefillin of his wife's great-grandfather, the Baal Shem Tov, in order to buy an esrog. And when she breaks the esrog in anger at his having done, him saying
    "I lost my Esrog, I lost my wife's grandfather's tefillin, I will not lose my Shalom Bayis too."
    I agree that whether or not the story occurred, there are elements of this famous tale, and others, that I think reflect a value system other than my own. Thus I agree that he was likely an idiot and an insensitive jerk for selling this heirloom which his wife brought into the marriage, especially without consulting her, in the pursuit of a mitzvah bein adam lamakom that he even likely could have fulfilled in another manner. (And even if not, there are halachic guidelines as to how much of one money one should spend.) But given this worldview I personally disagree with, I think the message of the story, which was the concluding statement, is one I can agree with. Getting angry and yelling at another human being over a lost mitzvah, and thus committing an aveirah bein adam lachaveiro is not the answer, and is in fact a trap that is easy for many to fall into nowadays.

    During this past Simchas Torah, someone was honored with being the Shliach Tzibbur for Mussaf. And he was waiting, I suppose, for something to occur (like the rav of the shul to finish? I am not sure). He was being "encouraged" to start chazaras hashatz and at some point said "start me up," or "start up." He meant something like that they should begin musical accompaniment, but one fellow misunderstood and from the middle of the shul began Chazzaras HaShatz. And once he started, the fellow started. And after kedushah, the original designated Baal Tefillah said that once the other started, he should finish. While clearly somewhat upset at the "stolen" Chazarat HaShatz, he conducted himself well and did not get into a big argument about this. So this could be an alternative story, with a similar lesson. And harping too much on the details of a story one disagrees with carries with it the possible consequence of not being able to appreciate even the positive lesson of a story.

  4. Avakesh has a lengthy post, part of a series, on justifying the kabbalah of Ramak, Rabbi Moshe Cordevero, a leading 16th century mystic. To cite:
    It should be clear by now that one of the main defenses of Ramak in the Lurianic era is that the Ramak's system it describes a more limited, an earlier stage of the unfolding of the "olamos", the "World of Tohu". While it limits the relevance of Ramak's work, it preserves the validity of Ramak's kabbala from within a Lurianic perspective.
    But of course the easiest defense it that it is a machlokes. The Arizal was contemporary with Ramak, and in fact the Arizal's Lurianic kabbalah was a major upheaval. If there is conflict, one can just as readily say that it is Ramak who is right and the Arizal incorrect. Was Ramak consistent with earlier kabbalah? Most likely. Of course, this is not really an option for modern followers of kabbalah, since they all follow the Ari. In which case Ramak is either wrong, or else one has to invent a subsystem in which Ramak's system holds true. Those, he was describing the world of Tohu.

  5. At Hirhurim, considering why Rabbi Chanina took a bite of his esrog before shaking it.

  6. Balashon considers the word budke.

  7. Rabbi Slifkin of Rationalist Judaism on whether one can argue with the Gadol HaDor. In response to a post at Rabbi Tropper's blog (of EJF) claiming that one cannot challenge the halachic ruling of a "posek hador" who is alive, or at least that it takes tremendous gaavah to do so.

    I say that pesak halacha demands tremendous gaavah at times. As the pasuk states, ולא תהדר פני גדול בצדק תשפט עמיתך.

  8. Here at parshablog, my review of the Absolut Genesis, 2009 edition. And Bereishit sources, to prepare this week's parsha with over 100 mefarshim available online.

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