Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Interesting Posts and Articles #258

  1. They had to mess it up! The Yeshiva World News reports on how luckily no one in a Chabad house was hurt in an explosion; and then, we find out how they check their mezuzot and write to the Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach.
  2. At Vos Iz Neias, Rabbi Shmuel Kaminesky about how it is an aveira to get drunk on Purim:

    “Chas v’shalom (Heaven forbid) that our Torah would consider getting drunk to be a mitzvah!” said Reb Shmuel. He explained that the word l’besumei is derived from the root word which means to sniff something – and said that this means that one should have only “a whiff” of drinking (wine only; he was clear to state).
    The Rosh Yeshiva also shed light on the words “ad deloi yoda bein arur Haman l’baruch Mordechai” and said that when one sings verses of a song when he is in a heightened state of simcha (joy) he occasionally will sing the verses in incorrect order – meaning that he will sing the verse of Arur Haman in the place of the verse of Baruch Mordechai. It is inconceivable, he stated, that this is to be taken to condone drunkenness – which is in direct contrast to the teachings of our Torah.
    As you might expect, this phrasing upset some of the commenters there. Rabbi Twersky, with a followup:

    After the early poskim there were the later ones, and because they were in the position to weigh all the earlier opinions, we follow their psak, which is essentially in the Shulchan Aruch. There were great poskim after the Shulchan Aruch, and for all intents and purposes, klal Yisrael has accepted the Mishna Berurah by the Chafetz Chaim as our halachah today.
    In regard to the mitzvah to drink on Purim, Ramah says that one need not get drunk, but to drink just a bit more than one usually does, and take a nap. The Mishnah Berurah (695), says “This is the proper thing to do.” This is the halachah we must live by today. Getting drunk is improper. That is the halachah.
  3. According to Matzav, despite reports that Rav Batzri was going to try again to remove the dybbuk, he will not.

    The dybbuk, which claims it is from the time of Bayis Sheini, apparently refuses to leave, but Rav Batzri will not make any further attempts to get it out.
    According to reports, following consultation with other mukabalim, it was decided not to try to get the dybbuk out any further in the manner that has been tried for fear opf causing damage to others and perhaps to the avreich himself.

    As for those who claim that the avreich is mentally ill, Rav Yitzchak Batzri stated, that is false. “Hundreds of people have already met him. He is a mentally healthy person,” he said.
    That hundreds of people have met him does not mean that he is not mentally ill! I guess he means that they would have detected it. But is it not possible that thousands of people are fools, or at least not experts in psychology and/or detecting fake dybbuk symptoms.

    Also, Rav Kanievsky met with him. And according to Mishpacha, Rav Kanievsky now maintains that the man is mentally ill. What now?

    For a while, I was actually of two minds. Of course this is all nonsense, but nonsense that people believe has power. If the man could be "cured" of  his dybbuk, via the placebo effect, then it would be great. But now, see what damage has been caused. Will he ever seek mental help, if he is convinced that this is not a mental illness. What of his wife, who threatened to leave him because she was afraid of the dybbuk.

    Also, the dybbuk "claims it is from the time of Bayis Sheini". So where did it learn Yiddish or German?! (Maybe the dybbuk is plagued by its own dybbuk? Maybe it used Rosetta Stone software?) More than that, the Jews in the time of Bayis Sheni pronounced Hebrew very differently than anyone pronounces it today, and different from your typical Brazilian. Does he pronounce it Rabbi or Ribbi? Does he distinguish his kuf from kaf? Does he pronounce his phehs as bilabial fricatives, or as we do, as labio-dentals? This should be readily determinable!
  4. I mentioned earlier the purported pesak from Rav Elyashiv, that braces are a chatzitza in terms of mikveh.

    The latest psak to be making the rounds in the name of Rav Elyashiv is that a woman cannot dunk in the mikvah if she is wearing braces (for anybody from England or other countries where this word might have alternate meanings, it here means the train tracks wired to someone's teeth in an effort to straighten them out, and not to suspenders). The braces would be a chatzitzah and dipping in the mikvah would be futile, as dipping with a chatzitza is not really doing anything.
    Some interesting comments at Vos Iz Neias. First, from chaim cohen:
    I was at Rav Elyashiv just three months ago and he told me braces are not a problem of chatzitzah since you want them on and stay on. The Rav even told me that efsher even nail polish that is neat and clean shouldnt be a chatzitzah since the woman wants it there and it stays.
    But someone else (Just a Thought) writes:
    It’s Sha’arei Tevilla from R’ YM Stern Siman 35. In it he writes that if having the braces is “only” to straighten the teeth (i.e. not for refuah, just to improve appearance), then one needs to be machmir. He continues, that Rav Eliyaahav agrees with him (to be machmir).
    There is a plausible difference, of course, between being machmir for oneself and declaring large swaths of klal Yisrael to be Benei Niddah. I'd have to see it inside.
  5. Related to the above, at Vos Iz Neias, about how rich donors can get access to the Gedolim, but poskim get five minutes, in which they cannot accurately describe the complexities of the issue.
  6. And a kabbalist investigated for running a con, promising children in exchange for $100,000.
    "This man is hurting people," said Borough Park businessman Menachem Ellowich, 53, who signed over a check for $100,000 -- shown to The Post -- in exchange for a guarantee that his barren daughter would be able to conceive a child.
    She never did.
    "He ruined my life. He ruined my finances by making these promises."
    Anyone can claim to be a miracle worker. Indeed, there are people who come every few years from Eretz Yisrael to Kew Gardens Hills, and in exchange for donations that often the people cannot afford, remove made-up problems like ayin harahs and the like. And some of the Rabbonim in Kew Gardens Hills know this, but are afraid to act, and label these people as frauds, because when they tried to do this, they received threats of physical harm from these "tzaddikim". I don't know that this is the case for the kabbalist in question in the article, but this is just a warning that not everyone who labels themselves a tzaddik and miracle worker is one -- even if the rabbis of a community stand by and let it happen.
  7. As evidence that no amount of evidence will convince a true believer, apparently video was released in the scandal regarding Rabbi Tropper. See how, at the Daat Torah blog, some commenters still insist it is a fake -- and their reasoning in such insistence. There is no point in wasting time arguing.
  8. At Eruv Online, contending with the implications of a statement by Rav Dovid Feinstein regarding the Flatbush eruv.
  9. At Life In Israel, peshkevils against the mehadrin bus lines. See here.
  10. At Rationalist Judaism, Rabbi Slifkin writes that he is planning on translating Rabbi Moshe Taku's Kesav Tamim. And links to Rabbi Sedley's article about Rabbi Moshe Taku.
  11. Here on parshablog, a post about a plausible spelling of teiaseh in the Samaritan Torah.


Devorah said...

re: the dybbuk: You said "For a while, I was actually of two minds."

re: the miracle workers
any rabbi who asks for a specific (and outrageous) sum of money to give a blessing.... is not kosher.
Real tzadikim will accept a donation, whatever the person can afford, and if they can only afford 5 cents, that's fine too.

Devorah said...

re: Puna Chabad
the Meshichist comments have upset the AJNwatch again too:

Balashon said...

In my post last year on "mozeg":

I discuss the intoxicating effects of the spices they would add to wine. So I think that the besamim of "l’besumei" does not mean only a "whiff" (and of course the story in the gemara indicates some serious intoxication.)

Akiva said...

"There is a plausible difference, of course, between being machmir for oneself and declaring large swaths of klal Yisrael to be Benei Niddah." It would clearly seem that there NO LONGER is any difference. Any psak handed to anyone, even if written and labeled across the top "PRIVATE PSAK" is publicized as halacha l'masa and a psak for klal yisroel.

No one even bothers to note if it's targeted at a specific community, such as Rav Ovadia Yosef's take on sheitels for the Israeli sephardi community which morphed into a universal psak that sheitels are bad for everyone.

Your statement of "I'd have to see inside" must be taken even farther...we need a psak verification service that takes the supposed daas torah or kol koreh to the gadol and video's him stating to whom it is intended, how wide, how long, for what communities, and exactly what parameters.

Even the statement of "consult your local rabbi" no longer helps, as what kehillah rav is going to stand against a 'publicized' kol koreh of a gadol?

This is exactly the "no wedding on chanukah due to war" situation (that wasn't said that way) with Rav Kaminesky a year ago.

thanbo said...

Re the Chabad stuff: The moshiach stuff, well, it's old hat, we're not going to be able to do much about it.

What bugged me more, was the reliance on Hashem and "natural forces" for protection, rather than real security. Whatever happened to "ein somchin al haneis", e.g. not using one's Torah learning to protect oneself from bandits? It will work, but it also deducts from your credits for the afterlife. Surely Chabadskers, if anybody, must understand shtadlonus - they're always preparing both for Moshiach's advent and their own paychecks.


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