Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Interesting Post and Articles #251

1) Via Shirat Devorah and Life In Israel, the following story from Kikar:
A 30-year-old guy goes to Rav Chaim Kanievsky to receive a beracha [blessing] for a Shidduch [marriage partner]. Rav Chaim Shlit"a tells him, "Your Bashert [soul mate, intended partner] wasn't born yet. It should be with Beracha Vehatzlaha[blessing and success]"

The news hit the man hard and he left the house crying, asking himself why he has to wait so long for a Shidduch.

Two months later, he comes back to Rav Chaim Shlit"a and announces he's engaged to a Giyoret [female convert to Judaism] who had just converted a month earlier.

[Note: when a person converts to Judaism it is as if they are re-born.  They receive a new name , and even a new birthday - the day of the conversion]
A cool story. Yet people sometimes invent stories, or switch details and identities from other miracle stories. For instance, this pretty clearly recycled Rav Kanievsky story. In this case, we are not told the identity of the chasan and kallah, which might be the first step in being able to confirm it.

What strikes me as weird about the story is the pronouncement by Rav Kanievsky that the man's bashert was not yet born. I was under the impression that Rav Kanievsky gave advice on how to act, based on his Torah learning, and gave berachot. Does he also set himself up as a kabbalist with the ability to see and know about when people's basherts have been born?!

At Kikar, the comments are interesting as well. The most recent comment (#24) states the following:
זה סיפור על ר' יונתן אייבשיץ
מופיע בספרים רבים

כמו אבן השושן סיפורי רבני גרמניה ועוד
That is, this is a well-known story about the kabbalist Rabbi Yonasan Eibeshitz. I don't know whether we can confirm it for him, but it does seem to make more sense.

Of course, it is possible that this is just a coincidental repeat of the same historical circumstances. But absent other evidence, is seems more plausible to me that someone just forgot which great rabbi this happened to and so substituted Rav Chaim Kanievsky, turning Lithuanian rabbanim even further into Chassidishe Rebbes.

There was also this amusing comment, relating this to Rav [sic] Nir Ben Artzi:
מתלהבים? אצל בן ארצי יש מידי יום כאלו סיפורים.
כל אחד מכם מוזמן לשבת יום שלם מחוץ לחדרו של הרב ניר בן ארצי וישמע מידי יום כאלו סיפורים. אצל ר' חיים מתלהבים כי בדרך כלל הוא אומר "בהצלחה" ופתאום אמר משהו מעניין. ר' חיים ענק שבענקים אבל מעצבן שאצלו זו פתאום גדלות ואצל בן ארצי זה כלום ולא יכול להיות. נראה את הרב עמאר יוצא כעת נגד הרב קנייבסקי שאין סיפורים כאלו. על בן ארצי נוח לרדת... 
And there was also this rationistic explanation of the phenomenon:
אינני מזלזל חלילה בר חיים שליט״א ולהיפך אבל אניי חושב שבפרסום סיפורים כעין אלו אתם מזלזלים, 1) החור מבוגר שעוד לא התארס מסתבר שיש לזה סיבות ובמילא יציעו לו גם גיורת 2) כששמע הלה מהגר״ח שזיווגו לא נולד הלך ןחיפש גיורת ואין כאן מופת יש כאן הבנה של תלמיד את רבו 3) מופת שייך לומר על דבר שהוא תלוי רק בידי שמים ולצדיק יש השפעה על זה ולא בשידוך שגם האדם מצווה לחפש את זיווגו.הסיבה שאני טורח להעלות את תגובתי היא כי לדעתי הנוער והתלמידים מואסים בהתלהבות ממופתים וכיו״ב שאין בהם ממש ובמקום לחזקם בעבודת הבורא מגרדים מכאן ומשם פירורי רוח הקודש ובזה תולים את כל האמונה וחלילה מי שיזלזל באמונת צדיקים אמונת חכמים. לדידי אמונה בצדיק היא, כשרואים את האושר הסיפוק והשמחה שיש על פניו של הצדיק ועל פניהם שלהסובבים אותו זה החיזוק הכי גדול כמובן שכשיש מופת ״נורמלי״ של הבטחה לבן או לזיווג או לפרנסה מצדיק והדבר התקיים מצווה לפרסם, אבל רבותי קצת פורפורציות אל תעשו דרמה מכלום!
That is, that (a) an 'older' bachur who still hasn't married, there are probably reasons for this, and those same reasons would cause people to try to set him up with a giyores. (b) When he heard this from R' Kanievsky and then sought out a giyores (who was 'not yet born'), this isn't a miracle but rather a talmid understanding his rebbe. (c) One can more readily declare something a 'miracle' which is only dependent upon heaven, where the tzaddik also has an influence, but not so much regarding a shidduch, where there is also a mitzvah for a person to seek out his mate.

2) DovBear on a bonfire of cell phones.

3) BeyondBT on why kiruv sometimes fails:
1. Kiruv is generally one-sided, hashkafically. Recipients do not necessarily realize that other ‘brands’ are legitimate within Orthodoxy when what they are presented with is the ‘right’ way. Its not that other groups of Orthodoxy are ignored or put-down, so much as never mentioned. Someone says, “This is how you do this,” and a BT hears, “This is the way God wants us to do this.” Hearing, “This is one of the ways that Jews believe God wants us to do this,” would leave more paths open in a BT’s mind for questions of hashkafa...
This is probably accurate, but I don't think such kiruv would be so successful. People are seeking tp have confidence that their approach is the right one, and a wishy-washy message would not work, in many cases. Also, another interesting point:
3. The Judaism offered by kiruv is most often very shallow. It doesn’t address real difficulties in life, it doesn’t bend for different people. BT’s don’t know enough to realize that there are leniencies and ways around.
4) At the Seforim blog, Dr. Marc Shapiro with comments on this and that, parts one and two.

5) The Israeli Hula frog is actually still around, rather than being extinct. Demonstrating that absence of evidence is not always (solid) evidence of absence. I recall that back in 2010, there were scientists who were actively seeking to find this frog and other species believed to be extinct.

6) Rabbi Nosson Natan Slifkin on the "Wisdom of Artscroll". Where is the wisdom?
Brilliant! They manage to make it clear to more enlightened readers that the Gemara is actually referring to dolphins, while not offending traditionalists by explicitly pointing out that Rashi's explanation is not correct.
Also, at On the Main Line, Artscroll miscellanies.

7) At Hirhurim, a post on tights and the Mishna Brurah.

8) Here on parshablog, Ibn Caspi on the Avos keeping the entire Torah.


Rabbi Dr. Natan Slifkin said...

Who is Nosson Slifkin?

joshwaxman said...


Funnily enough, I mis-remembered it in the wrong direction. I originally wrote 'Natan' and then I thought, "Wait, he prefers the opposite spelling nowadays." But I didn't think through to match the reason to the particular spelling.

I'll correct it.


Joe in Australia said...

Who is Nosson Slifkin?

I don't know, but I heard he had an affair with a hyrax.

Devorah said...

Rabbi Slifkin: I bought a book by you from a secondhand dealer on the internet.
It is clearly signed by you - Rabbi Nosson Slifkin.....

So I'm guessing it's now a collector's item and I can probably sell it on Ebay for a massive amount....

[good book, by the way]


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