Thursday, February 16, 2012

Interesting Posts and Articles #359

1) Here is a YouTube video that was recently making the rounds, including on certain Jewish mystical websites:

It is pretty clearly a hoax, for reasons you can Google. Someone got props from the '80s and filmed this quite recently.

Abraham Lincoln famously said:
You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.
In terms of the first part of the statement, "You can fool some of the people all of the time," I would note that there are two ways of parsing it. (a) That for a given attempt at fooling people, some subset of people will be fooled, and that in a different given attempt at fooling people, a different subset of people will be fooled. (b) There are some people that will be fooled all of the time, since they are too willing to believe nonsense.

Aside from this, there are some twisted people who take joy in foolish that subset of people.

2) Hirhurim on words that kill, about a story about the Shaagas Aryeh:
[R. Ginsburg] died in Metz at the age of 97 as a result of an accident that took place when a bookcase fell down on top of him. He remained buried for a half an hour until relatives found him. When he was unburied and restored to his regular position he said in Hebrew that all of the authors attacked him for ignoring their writings and arguing with their positions. For a half an hour he appeased them all, save for one: “the bad tempered Levush” (Rabbi Mordechai Yaffe), who did not forgive him. Because of this, he knew he would soon die.
See more at the Jewish Review of Books.

3) On the Main Line about a mock wedding: "You b****es, you all belong to me." And a get misafek.

4) At Life Israel, how former chareidim are suing the state for lack of education.

5) Rabbi Berel Wein in an article in the Jerusalem Post, The Frier Complex:
The most dreaded status in Israeli society is to be considered afrier            - a sucker, a boob, stupid and unable to withstand being taken advantage of. The current backlash in Israeli society against Charedim is not merely a matter of theology or of vastly different societal values, different dress and customs.
6) At YU Torah, Dr. Shnayer Leiman: Torah Min Hashamayim: Recent Perspectives on the Divine Origin of Torah.

7) A Mother In Israel on Home Birth Hesitations.

8) Avakesh on the esrog pollen in Chizkiyahu's palace. In the comment section, he beat me to the following observation:
I wondered about another dogma, that Koheles was written during the Persian period because we find the Persian word "Pardes" used there. This discovery shows that gardens were built by kings in Judea, may be even by Shlomo. Perhaps they modeled such gardens after Persian gardens and that is why they are called "pardes".
S. points out in the comment section that this is from the plastering, which is dated not to the time of Chizkiyahu but to the Persian period, which is later.

9) For Tu Bishvat, Shirat Devorah reposted a nice excerpt from Nature's Wealth, about the seven species of Eretz Yisrael. I analyze some of the claims made in the book in this parshablog post. Some of them don't pan out. And certainly one should not be trying to follow the Rambam's medieval medicine today, if that is indeed the point of the book.

As someone commented to me privately,
Re: your Nature's Wealth post, have you seen Yoel Finkelstein's "Strictly Kosher Reading" where he discusses health books allegedly based on Rambam? Very much worth reading.
I hadn't, but I did a Google Search to get a sense, and it seems to me a valid point. I'll include an referral link to the book, in case anyone wants to check it out. Clicking on the link and then buying the book (or, if I understand correctly, even buying anything else on Amazon within a specific time frame) gets me a referral commission of a specific percentage. And it does not cost you anything. So why not?

To cite a book review of Strictly Kosher Reading from Unpious:
One of the major concepts he points out, is that while the frum community preaches a strict adherence to “us versus them” realities, in actuality, the frum community has become significantly acculturated into the scorned secular world. 
For one example of this, Finkelman cites The Jewish Guide to Natural Nutrition, a book that frames its arguments with words from Maimonides to validate that author’s work but whose content is almost exclusively based on contemporary science.
Intuitively, this seems correct to me. That is, that a number of Jewish writers simply color their words with citations from the Rambam's medicine to validate their own work, but they are not really presenting the Rambam. They would need to be much better scholars of medical history in order to have really appreciated what the Rambam was saying.

It does not have to be contemporary science, though, in the sense of what the modern mainstream medical establishment is preaching. It can be whatever medical beliefs the particular author maintains. I analyzed this back in 2008, when someone claimed a basis for homeopathy in the words of the Ramban. That is Nachmanides, rather than Maimonides. And if you actually examined the Ramban, you would discover that he was really saying the exact opposite, that like hurts like, rather than like cures like.

My gut tells me that the same is at work in this blog here (HT. Shirat Devorah): Traditional Jewish Medicine.

10) The most recent Haveil Havalim.

11) And here on parshablog, check out posts so far for parashat Mishpatim.

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