Monday, September 05, 2011

Interesting Posts and Articles #236

Via xkcd
  1. Via Daat Torah, how a perush to Kohelet by Yonah Barda"ch was misprinted as a discovered commentary of the Malbim. You can see the entry for this perush on Koheles here and here. Also on Daat Torah, unique chareidi issues with child molestation. And a statement from Rav Zilberstein that only rabbis can decide about child sexual abuse.
    There is a brief segment of several minutes - starting at about 34 minutes into the recording - in which he responds to a question about reporting child abuse to the police. He responds very harshly regarding psychologists (despite the fact that he was speaking to an audience of frum mental health workers. He said only rabbis can decide these issues. He mentions the case of a frum yid who is serving 15 years in jail because what he claims are false charges brought against him by a child which a psychologist validated with drawings. He claims that the rabbonim know 100% that the man is innocent while the police were totally dependent on the fantasies of the psychologist. Bottom line he insists only rabbis know what to do with charges of child abuse.
    One can, of course, bring examples of rabbis mistaken about sexual abuse, in the opposite direction. This assumes that the rabbis are correct in their 100% knowledge and the psychologists are wrong. My take is that certainly, historically, psychologists are responsible for terrible errors in this sphere. For instance, the nonsense with recovered repressed memories, in which people were accused of molesting children, with the backup of psychologists. Or facilitated communication, in which autistics accused parents of sexual molestation, backed by psychologists -- until the whole thing was shown to be incorrect, and not the true communications from the children. Or the sex abuse witchhunts in which psychologists, as authority figures accidentally persuaded children that they had been abused -- the day care sex abuse hysteria of the 80's and early 90's. Dorothy Rabinowitz wrote a book about such witch hunts. A bit of caution and humility is appropriate, especially in instances of psychologists deducing that sexual abuse has occurred.
    Still, that does not mean that psychology, as a profession, has not learned from these errors. They have developed methodologies to prevent such mistakes. And rabbis have made some pretty egregious mistakes themselves. I don't know whether I believe him that the man in question was 100% innocent. I would need to know more details of the case. Recall that Rabbi Yizchok Zilberstein is the medical posek who approved a teenage girl's suggestion that she cut herself in order to be able to wear longer skirts. I am not certain that I would grant credence to his psychological insights. And he is the one who informed Rav Chaim Kanievsky, based on an urban legend about an anti-Semitic dentist, that Jews and gentiles have a different number of teeth. And it never occurred to him to ask a dentist whether this is true. So I am not certain that I would grant credence to his process of determining reality, the metzius. And I worry about such rabbis who are so confident in their ability to know the truth, over medical professionals. It seems that this is a recipe for disaster, just as it has been in the past.
  2. On Scribd, Ksav Yad Kodesh, containing a collection of letters to and from Rav Kook.
  3. One rabbi makes a statement that there is no justification for married men to abandon their families on Rosh HaShanah to go to Uman.
  4. On Bloomberg News, a review of two kosher restaurants. Heh.
  5. Mekubal on pied piper Chabad messianists.
  6. Rabbi Natan Slifkin is Bat Man, about a segulah for bats, based on Artscroll's identification of retzifi in Perek Shirah, based in turn on Rabbi Slifkin's innovative idea in Perek Shirah. But, he retracted! And actually let Artscroll know before they printed. In the comment section, he tells us what he wrote in the first vs. the second edition of the book.
    In the second edition:
    In the first edition of this book, rather than positively identify the retzifi, it was simply explained in reference to the bat, since the way in which several of the commentaries explained the verse in Perek Shirah matched the bat’s habits. It was also pointed out that Pi Eliyahu identifies the retzifi as the tinshames of Scripture, which is sometimes identified as a bat; however, Pi Eliyahu itself was explaining tinshames as a type of owl. The retzifi is clearly not the bat, which has its own name in Hebrew – atalef.
    It turns out that it is possible to identify the retzifi, at least broadly. Tuv Ta’am, cited by Yashir Moshe, and Perek B’Shir, state that retzifi is a type of dove. This identification is supported by early manuscripts of Perek Shirah, which state yutzfi or dayutzfi in place of retzifi. Since the letters resh and dales are often interchanged, we can understand how this name became corrupted to become retzifi. The datzifi is mentioned in the Talmud (Chullin 62a) as being similar to a turtledove. Furthermore, Rabbeinu Chananel to Shabbos 81a states that the tziltzela, a bird mentioned in Shabbos 80b, is a type of small dove also called ritzifi (although Otzar HaGeonim states that the tziltzela is a bird the size of a dove with small eggs). It is not possible to conclusively determine which species of dove it is, but we are tentatively identifying it as the laughing dove, which is similar to the turtledove but smaller, and to which we can match an interpretation of the verse that is attached to it.
    Read about the nature of the segulah there. Meanwhile, three new bat species are discovered. None of them lay eggs. Related, an old parshablog post about how the atalef of the Torah and Chazal is really a type of owl, rather than a bat.
  7. Zimbabwe's male MPs are to be circumcised.
  8. The calm between the storms.
  9. At Dreaming of Moshiach, Connect the Dots. At Shirat Devorah, reading between the lines (a guest post); and whether the self-destruction of comet Elenin was seen in the Torah Codes.
  10. Here on parshablog, whether Nir Ben Artzi predicted Irene.


Anonymous said...

The Letter re Rav Kook (posted on Scribd: Ksav Yad Kodesh) is being "discussed" by:

joshwaxman said...



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