A group of Jews endeavors towards total domination of the blogosphere.

Saturday, August 30, 2003  

But the real kicker in this week's issue is Avrum Burg's powerful (it's even better in Hebrew, if you can track it down in last week's Yediot) and compelling op-ed.

Essentially, Burg (who no doubt will be savagely excoriated by the increasingly right wing American Israel letter writing gnomes - not to mention the shrill and little Jewish politicos (don't worry, Pinky, I didn't mean you...) for this courageous essay) clearly sums up the choice confronting the Israeli public - a stark choice between Israeli Democracy and settlements. Since most of the Israeli public (not to mention the residents of Teaneck and the 5 towns - brave and courageous in their own right) seems to be choosing the latter, even as it makes more pious proclamations of the former, I fear that Burg's pleas will fall on deaf or hostile ears.
But mark this day well - it is the first time the Israeli opposition has so much as breathed in the last year. Burg's piece sums up what some of us (I dont know how many, since we've been inexcusably quiet for too long) have been feeling deep down - an inchoate nausea at the thought that Yeshayahu Leibowitz's nightmares of Judeo-Nazis have come to pass in some form or other. Other than a few voices in the wilderness that have addressed whether the security wall (at least in its current landgrabbing version) should be reconsidered (or at least its plans redrawn), or how the lunatics among the settlers who have increasingly sounded the call to initiate terror attacks of our own (way to cede the moral high ground guys! That should make all the killing stop) should be neutralized, few voices of late have been heard from the left.
But perhaps Burg's article can serve as a bit of a wakeup call for us. Yes, like it that I'm saying it or not, what's going on in Israel is a noxious mix of apartheid and military repression on a large scale. And if we sit on our hands or drag our feet for another fifteen years - which is clearly the best option that anyone on the right or in the government can come up with - we'll be in the minority, living in a de facto binational state where one of the nations has few rights to speak of - can anyone say hutus and tutsis?

The bell has been sounded for the left once again. Like a punch-drunk, but resilient fighter, the rational among us need to pull ourselves up off the canvas of this debate and stand up for the next round. If we stay down, we won't be able to look at ourselves in the mirror tomorrow, and it won't just be due to cuts and bruises.

posted by Sam | 11:46 PM |

Lotsa fun stuff in the Forward this weekend.

For starters, an Egyptian Law Prof at Cairo's "Zagazig University" (that can't be a real name, can it????) is sueing the Jews worldwide for trillions of dollars - over the gold allegedly stolen by the Jews when they fled Egypt during the Exodus. The article reports that:

"Hilmy said that while the defendants would not be able to repay the debt in full, Jews around the world — particularly Israelis — should pay their fair share: "There may be a compromise solution. The debt can be rescheduled over 1,000 years, with the addition of the cumulative interest during that period.""

Wow. This can't be serious. Can people really be THAT stupid?

Typically diplomatically, Alan Dershowitz was reported to have remarked:

""There's no court that would be open to a lawsuit like that," he said. "Maybe an Islamic court with an elbow, a foot and an ass on the scale.""

On the bright side, though, if they're accepting the historicity of the relationship between Modern Jews and the Jews of the Exodus in the Bible, they're admitting the legitimacy of our claim to Israel. Somehow, I doubt anyone's gonna see it that way, though.

I wonder if when the laughter dies down, the Hague will choose to hear the suit. Now that would be typical.

posted by Sam | 11:22 PM |

Kaus writes regarding Bustamante's refusal to denounce Mecha,

(Many American Jewish groups fight against assimilation too, but I haven't seen any with a slogan equivalent to "For the Race, everything. For those outside the race, nothing.")

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 11:17 PM |

On Friday, DirecTV will launch the nation's first channel aimed exclusively at gays and lesbians, which I assumed was Bravo, but apparently not. But it means a satellite can now beam homosexuality into your home, which may explain why today on the "700 Club" Pat Robertson did all his praying in a tin foil helmet.
-- Bill Maher

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 9:34 PM |

In the department of Schadenfreude:

This weekend's Jerusalem Post has a savage piece ripping into the French. While my posts this week (here, here, and here) suggest that I'm not a huge fan of pleasure in other peoples' troubles, I must admit to a certain amount of smirking while going through this article. As the writer notes, it couldn't have happened to nicer people.
But the ethical humanist inside me demands redress - time to go do elul tshuva....

posted by Sam | 9:15 PM |

Friday, August 29, 2003  

From the wild and wooly world of lost in translation:

The Times' article on Jews visiting the Temple Mount has bizarro quote from the Haredi Mayor of Jerusalem, Uri Lopoliansky. I hope this doesn't qualify as relfexive haredi-bashing, but I have NO clue what this is supposed to mean....

"In an interview with an Israeli paper, Jerusalem's mayor, a devoutly religious Jew, compared visiting the Temple Mount to urinating outside a department store."

Huh? Is there some halacha I'm unaware of that prescribes kares for public peepee? Is making IN a department store the only option for the hat and beard chevra?
Someone, help me out here....

posted by Sam | 6:06 PM | has what I think is a new sidebar at its candle-lighting times page.

A Special Request From the OU.ORG Staff:
As we light our candles and bring upon our homes the holiness of Shabbat or Yom Tov, let us not forget that there are still those who cannot share this joyous day with us, the family of Israel.

Let us take that extra moment to say a special tfila, a special prayer of hope, that this will be the last week that will see Jewish mothers lighting candles without knowledge of their son's well being, and may this be the last shabbat in which brother turns against brother, in word or in deed.

Shabbat Shalom to All!!

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 4:47 PM |

"Put it Back" the Alabama Ten Commandments music video. (via Treacher via Spiers)

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 3:32 PM | - Radio station rapped for mocking Holocaust:

The episode of the 'Loveline' show featured a call from a telephone sex operator who wanted advice on how to make her clients stay on the phone longer. Adam Carolla, one of the show's hosts, suggested she use words like 'Holocaust,' 'Vietnam' and 'cancer' to dampen her clients' ardor.
The sex operator then speculated she might tell a client 'Well I'm wearing a nice black garter. Mmm, just thinking about the Holocaust right now.'
Carolla laughed in response and said: 'Yeah, yeah, burn those Jews. Gas 'em in the shower, baby. Yeah, yeah ... send 'em on the train to Krakow.'

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 2:05 PM |

According to Bravenet, we've just recorded our 50,000th page view. Wow.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 1:57 PM |

From Drudge
IAEA conference to discuss Israeli nukes for first time

The conference has been planned from Sept. 15 to Sept. 19, Middle East Newsline reported. They said the subject was placed at the behest of Arab and Islamic states.
The proposal to discuss Israel's nuclear programs came from the Arab League, the diplomats said. Oman was said to have submitted the request.
The IAEA has reserved the conference to also discuss Iran's nuclear program and U.S. charges that Teheran is developing nuclear weapons. In response, Iran and Arab states have criticized the agency for failing to address Israel's purported nuclear arsenal.
In other news, Inside the Ring has:
Israel has ready a plan to bomb Iran's Bushehr nuclear-power plant should the Persian Gulf coast facility, now under construction, begin producing weapons-grade material, an insider tells us.
All I can say is, its good that Israel and Iran don't directly fight about borders with each other, a la India and Pakistan. Still, somewhat worrying...

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 1:25 PM |

For the record, the Elders are just as good as Rav Moshe Feinstein.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 8:21 AM |

Yahoo search referral of the moment: "scientific reason of asian gay"

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 1:18 AM |

This could be the latest in the week that I've ever first looked at the Jewish Press Letters Section. And, lo and behold, there is material to digest. A letter from Ed Koch, who seems about to change his party affiliation and desperately trying to sound relevent. A letter from a real Kahanist, living in San Francisco of all places. The Stupid Letter Of the Week, though, is none of these. Its actually Sol Zeller's response to Rachel Weiss, last weeks SLOW winner for her own response to Sol Zeller's response to her original letter. In case you lost track, Weiss is against saying "Good Shabbas" to people and Zeller is for it. Weiss claims that by being polite, a female might come to say "Good Shabbas" to her husband, causing untold spiritual damage, while Zeller marshalled a story to his side where Rav Moshe Feinstein once asking Zeller's mother how she was doing, noting that neither R. Moshe nor his mother suffered any spiritual damage as a result. Weiss rejected the story as proof, since Zeller is not on the level of R. Moshe and thus should be unable to apply this story to other contexts, like saying "Good Shabbas" to her husband. Zeller responds this week. The letter is interrupted from time to time with my running commentary -- there's so much here:

When I wrote a letter to the editor two weeks ago trying to promote shalom among Jews, which I illustrated with a true story about Harav Hagaon Moshe Feinstein, the last thing I expected in response was a personal attack upon myself.
Yeah, right? Allow me to quote from his original response letter:
"After reading Rachel Weiss`s letter, I can see why our sages in their wisdom never allowed women to become rabbis."
Seems like exactly the language someone interested in promoting shalom would use, dontcha think?
Of all things, I was accused by reader Rachel Weiss of comparing myself to Rav Moshe — something no living Jew in his right mind would ever have the audacity to do. I hereby challenge Ms. Weiss to show me exactly where in my letter such a comparison was made, or even hinted at. I am prepared to write out a check for $1,000 to her favorite tzedaka if she can successfully show me where I committed such an aveirah. On the other hand, if she cannot meet my challenge, I would like her to write out her check for $1,000 to my favorite tzedaka.
Obviously, we're dealing with a very mature person here. Also, since when is it an aveira to compare oneself to Rav Moshe? Granted, it may not be the most intelligent thing to do, but to call it an aveira is something else entirely. Also, I think the Protocols Elders should be the ones to evaluate the letters involved here. Only we can be impartial, unless someone offers me $1000 for my favorite charity (its YU -- they build monuments in your honor)
She claims that Rav Moshe spoke to my mother only because he was performing the mitzvah of bikur cholim. The fact is, Rav Moshe did not know I was sick until after he spoke with her. He could have sent his wife over to inquire about me. The fact that he chose to do it himself, in a public place, clearly demonstrates what his p’sak halacha would have been. I cannot understand the baal gaiva mentality of those who think they are so pure and holy, that a mere Gut Shabbos greeting to another Jew will soil their neshama. This is a moral disease that permeates our society today. The cure as prescribed by the Chofetz Chayim and others is a massive dose of humility.
How many of you are hoping that Weiss writes back? You gotta love it when national newspapers let two people yell at each other from week to week in their letters pages.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 12:41 AM |

Thursday, August 28, 2003  

Who says the era of legitimate social protest is over?

Vicki Knafo's back camping in front of the Knesset on behalf of single mothers. Go Vicki, Go Vicki.

Anyway, my favorite part of the article is far and away this one:

Knafo said she was not surprised by the violent
protests which erupted while she was away.

Ilana Sabag, a member of the self-proclaimed
radical Jerusalem single mothers
, was arrested
Thursday and questioned on a protest she
organized at the government complex last week
during which tires were burned. Sabag was
brought before a judge who ordered her to stay
away from the Finance Ministry for one week.
She was then released on bail.

Oooook. Radical violent single JERUSALEMITE mothers. Someone get me to Israel, I'm turned on.
Also, if she's in jail, and Daddy's who knows where, who's minding the kids?

posted by Sam | 6:38 PM |

According to In Other Magazines, the NYTMag this weekend will contain an article that discusses

Why does much of the world think Israel shapes America's foreign policy? Ian Buruma offers a historical perspective

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 5:20 PM |

In the I Luv NY department:

So I got an email from a yeshivish guy I know from England (he was in Kol Torah with me, and is currently in 3rd year med school in London) who was in town the night of the blackout and who got mugged and beaten. Here's the story. Judge for yourselves what to make of it. Excuse the spelling, though. He's yeshivish AND in med school - that's a double literacy whammy.

Day after the chasunoh, I was on the metro under the stretch of water between brooklyn and manhatten, when the power went. the train came screeching to a halt. Nobody knew what was going on, but being used to the london underground, i thought nothing of it. It turned out that we were stuck there for 2.5 hours in the sweltering heat with no air conditioning with only emergency lighting. We were eventualy evacuated along the pitch black tunnel and were lifted up by policemen to an escape chute with vertical ladders. I don't know how some people managed. Amazingly I was the only person with a camera and so I had world exclusive pictures of the rescue. When we surfaced, I had no clue where I was or how to get back to where I was staying. The brooklyn bridge was a sea of people also trying to get home. I eventualy made my way home asking loads of people for directions and that took me three hours fast walking. I was about to turn into the driveway when I noticed two shadowy figures behind me. I didn't like it so I turned towards them to pretend that this wasn't the house I was going in too. They mugged me. They took the money in my pocket, ripped my camera from my neck, and destroyed my headphones in the process. When they were satisfyed that they had everything, they started punching me in the head, and I fell to the ground quickly and pretended that I was unconscious so that they would leave me alone. Fortunatly my ruse worked and they got into a car and drove off. I wasn't too badly damaged and was left with a nasty bruise on my forehead, a nose full of blood and a cut tongue (I imagine that I must have bitten it at some point). When I reported it to the police a few days later, things got worse. The lady at the front desk gave me a form to fill, but I didn't have a pen. I asked her for one and she refused. What the heck?! Eventualy another police officer gave me one. Then she asked me where I was punched so I said once on the left maxilla and once on the frontal bone, to which she replied "they teach you that in medical school?" Nutts! Then she sent me to go with a detective. He leads me to an interogation cell with an iron door with RIP written on it and a one way mirror. I sit down on a chair, when he comes in and makes me get off and sit on a long wooden bench. Along the wall is an iron bar where I presume they handcuff prisoners. He makes me sit with my back against it, and I'm wondering whats going on here. Another detective comes in and joins him and together they they nitpick my statements and attempt to pick holes in my story. By this point I'm wondering if I am the criminal. Eventually they tell me that they think that I am a liar and an insurance fraudster. I had this abusive treatment for a full hour from these two detectives. Eventualy they confirm my story with my host and then they believe me. It was worse than being mugged. Not going back there in a hurry. Have emailed the mayor, will see what happens. I went to lakewood with the Kurlands, as I was staying with them. And I brought the wrong suit trousers, so I didn't want to look a nebbech so I went for the mizrachi look with short sleeve shirt and trousers. I had a lot of people stare at me. One guy even came up to me and said "I heard you were mugged and they ripped your jacket" so I said 'no' to which he replied "well thats what you should be saying". Nuts! Anyway, by the sheva brochos they asked me to do some chazonus which they seemed to enjoy. So turned out being the mad english mizrachnik chazzen.

posted by Sam | 5:14 PM |

David Bernstein is blogging from Israel, and has initial observations here, thoughts about Hebrew vowels here and here, as well as a list of "things you probably didn't know about Israel."

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 4:49 PM | has a writeup about Justice Moore and the 10 Commandments, secondhand from Alan Keyes:

For purposes of context: Connie Hair was the former producer of "Making Sense", Alan Keyes' talk show which was cancelled last year. She is also a good friend to Alan and myself. I wrote to Alan Keyes with my thoughts on the Moore controversy. Connie was nice enough to write me back, paraphrasing Alan's thoughts on how this issue in Alabam may impact Israel..."If we lose this argument and allow this untruth to be perpetuated, the future of Israel as a Jewish State is undermined especially when down the road issues like 'right of return' come to the fore. This 'separation of church and state' garbage needs a stake put through its heart, or it will be used to undermine Israel in the not so distant future...Getting the Jewish community active on this 'separation' issue is vital to the future survival of Israel as a Jewish State. These are my words, not Alan's directly, he just wanted me to cover the issue with you.'
That's a side to this I haven't heard anywhere else. Its not like the ACLU is going to sue Israel or anything, so that's not the issue. Interesting...

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 12:23 PM |

Canadian Jews start their latest anti-missionary campaign, but this time with a twist:

Dr. Charles McVety, president of Canada Christian College and a leader in Canada's evangelical Christian community, spoke as well.
'As a committed Christian I support the idea of preaching Christianity, but preaching Christianity under the guise of Judaism to those who are in fact seeking Judaism, is plainly wrong,' said McVety.
'We unequivocally denounce any and all deceptive tactics.'
They should talk to the Southern Baptists in this country...

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 12:18 PM |

Yuter sends in a link to a Canadian radio station getting a slap on the wrist for airing a "Loveline" episode that imagined using the Holocaust in a phone-sex context.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 11:11 AM |

Arnold Shwarzenegger is for prayer in school and thinks that "gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman." (audio, via Jarvis)

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 10:58 AM |

I don't know who set this up, but basically they've copied the Iatribe template and pasted it at an oddly-named URL. Very weird.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 10:20 AM |

USAT: 77% of Americans oppose the court order mandating removal of the Ten Commandments. All along, we've said it's hard to quantify just how influential those radical, extremist religious groups are, and this quantifies it in some way, with the results being quite scary.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 8:51 AM |

From the annals of pediatric medicine (in a whole different sense):

Apparently, if you beleive MSNBC, I'm NOT the youngest looking med student in America.

My favorite lines:

"Still, pathology professor Tony Montag says he sometimes forgets that Sho is younger than his classmates.
'Of course, to me, they’re all kids. So he doesn’t seem particularly different than any of the students,' says Montag, who teaches Sho and other first-year students about microscopic tissues in their histology class."

Now I find that depressing.


" The response from the public — and some of his undergraduate classmates — has not always been positive. Recently, Sho did an Internet search of his name and was surprised to find many people commenting about his life in blogs (or Web logs).
"One person said, ’Look at this miserable child with a pushy mother,”’ Sho says. “Another said, ’Look at this miracle of God with his supportive parents.”’"

Wow, being frum, I can empathize with the whole pushy/nonpushy parents of future doctors debate.

Also, I've decided that "follicle" is a funny word, as well as one that could be yiddish if it tried hard enough.

(I'm indebted to fellow Einsteinian (and hopefully future protocols reader) Jules for the heads up on this article. Props, Jules, it's good to see someone else aside from me is wasting time reading non-med school stuff. I'm comforted.)

posted by Sam | 1:17 AM |

Wednesday, August 27, 2003  

Tal G fisks the ISM. He's also started a blog devoted exclusively to dealing with the ISM: ISM Central.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 10:03 PM |

Larisa, who's really becoming something of a standout blogger at IvyJews, rips into Derbyshire for claiming Jews are anti-Christian.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 9:58 PM |

Finally, just in case you're wondering whom I'm in school with: my class profile.

Some observations:

If the guy/girl ratio is so favorable, why am I here posting on a blog and not on a date?
Is there really a group called "The Flying Samaritans" or did the applicant make it up?
Finally, I confess. I am the Poongmul drummer. And don't laugh, since I'm also the pistol shooter.

Back to the books....
[Flying Samaritans -- SIW]

posted by Sam | 9:23 PM |

And from the department of Academic Integrity (Actually, from the Harper's Index this month, though by all rights, I shoudnt have cited this, since it's about cheating, no?):

Number of Wisconsin accounting students given take-home tests to accommodate an Enron whistle-blower's April speech : 78

Number later found to have cheated : 40

posted by Sam | 9:08 PM |

In the department of shamless (though hysterical) icon-prostitution:

I guess I'm not the only person who's into Einstein....

posted by Sam | 9:00 PM |

Inside knowledge: apparently, the current issue of the Observer was laid-out in the Commentator office and edited by Commentator editors. Hilarious.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 8:45 PM |

Hitchens on the immorality of the Ten Commandments...only problem being that no one, Roy Moore included, argues that they're a basis for contemporary morality -- they're a legal text.
Hitchens is getting close to building more straw men than he can knock down.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 8:38 PM |

Engagement of Jason Cyrulnik (Hillcrest, NY) & Rachel Horn (Twin Rivers, NJ) (Thanks, Ephraim)
So, our former E-i-C at the Commentator is to wed the current E-i-C at the Observer. Y'know, usually all of us hate separate-seating weddings, but for this one that just might be a good idea.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 4:37 PM |

Daniel Pipes, "On Being Borked". (via Solomonia)

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 4:10 PM |

Wow. Given the absolute stupidity of this protest, I'm giving all the info:

5 p.m. -- Members of Jews Against the Occupation protest Mayor Bloomberg's visit to Israel; Broadway outside City Hall.
--Contact: Emmaia Gelman, 917-517-3627.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 4:05 PM |

Ian Kahn, of Papa Iggy's fame, is engaged.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 3:22 PM |

Hmm... Hikind on Gibson Film... Anyone check the AP Day Book for his PC?

posted by Pinchas | 3:04 PM |

The new issue of the Commentator is up on the site, but -- whoa, you've gotta register! There's no better way to ensure that nobody sees your work -- congratulations.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 2:58 PM |

More pics. Reader Nechama points out this one of YU President Richard Joel "pushing one of those moving in carts loaded with some Stern girl’s stuff," most likely his daughter's (and, boy, she sure can pack, eh?). Anyone know what that big button he's wearing might say?
Also, there's this pic of Joel that bears the caption "Student gets helpful advice fromYU president." Somehow, I imagine Joel would rather that caption imply the reverse.
And, of course, Zelda Braun forces food on Stern girls; presumably, if they refuse, she'll kick them out just like she does to all Stern girls with eating disorders.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 2:49 PM |

This is the top photo on AOL News, except cropped so that it only shows the top-center portion, which makes it look almost like the guy's putting a sword or somesuch through the center of it. I heard Jerry Falwell on TV yesterday opining that it'd be hard to take the monument away, since no one wants to be seen "taking a jackhammer to the Ten Commandments." Cute, but it only really had to be lifted and towed. One more way in which a false politics has developed over this issue.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 2:43 PM |

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 2:34 PM |

Rushkoffianism spreads in the blogosphere. Idiotarian

On a final note, if you really believe that "God" spoke the 10 commandments through a burning bush to Moses, then you are arguably a delusional fool that should not be in a position to make critical social decisions. God is a construct of man. An awesome and often positive invention of MAN. If only man kind could take responsibility for its own successes, what a wonderful world this could be.
I think I really would be willing to give ten bucks to him if he can point to someone who believes that.
In another post, he defends the usage of "cycle of violence" to describe the Israel/Palestinian conflict, saying that the term in no way indicates that the cycle is perpetuated by both sides -- I think he just invalidated several million e-mails to newspaper editors.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 2:02 PM |

On Jewish musicians frum-i-tizing their names.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 1:54 PM |

The Head Heeb has moved.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 1:52 PM |

Josh Waxman's parsha blog has been (finally) added to the blogroll. Check it out, its well worth it.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 12:58 PM |

WorldNetDaily: Decalogue dismantled:

While many demonstrators knelt on the ground and prayed, others began chanting, 'Put it back!'
'Get your hands off our God!' one man shouted as fellow protesters urged him to stay calm.
Well, so much for Commandment #2, at any rate:
Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor any manner of likeness, of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; thou shalt not bow down unto them, nor serve them; for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me; and showing mercy unto the thousandth generation of them that love Me and keep My commandments.
The irony is (again) almost staggering.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 12:51 PM |

As Profs. Davila and Chana note, the new academic year is upon us. As such, I'll be spending most of my time now poring over ancient texts with medieval (and the occasional modern) commentaries. Blogging time is therfore reduced to lunchtime (like now), and evenings, assuming I have nothing important to do.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 12:45 PM |

Richard Land points out a new issue in the 10 commandments judge case (via

However, we are a government committed to the rule of law. That is the second issue in the Ten Commandments-Judge Moore controversy. Do evangelical Christians really want to say that this United States government is no longer a legitimate government and that we are no longer obligated to obey its courts when we disagree with their rulings? If so, let us understand it for what it is. It is insurrection.
Well, the question is, is this any different than civil disobedience in the MLK mold? Meaning, if Moore thinks the law is unjust, MLK would tell him to keep it up, pay the fine (can you say "nationwide collection"?), and protest that way. That doesn't necessarily mean you consider the US government to be illegitimate, does it? What do you think?

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 12:36 PM |

An orthodox rabbi in Brooklyn was charged with stealing about $700,000 in federal grant money that was supposed to go toward building a school for disabled children.
He also reportedly kicked an old lady on the way to the courthouse.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 7:10 AM |

Tuesday, August 26, 2003  

"My Turn" to assert that I'm still a marriageable Jewish woman at 42. (via EphShap) And what's she looking for?

It’s my fondest desire in life to prove them all wrong. I have a fantasy in which I meet a younger man who’s wealthier than Bill Gates, sweeter than Mr. Rogers and better looking than the late JFK Jr. Then, I wonder, will the Jews accept me again? More to the point, will I want them back?
Really, she's pursuing an ideal that's so hard to'd have to snare an Elder to get someone that perfect. Really, I wonder, though -- is what she's describing all that unique to the Jewish community? More broadly, it seems that the "shidduch crisis" simply coheres with a general trend. No one's pressuring me to have kids, and with good reason -- but if someone were, I really don't think I'd care.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 10:34 PM |

Reader Ephraim writes in:

since part of the sssb web class (wish i could hae taught 6 years ago) makes the students create a website-most usually their own blogs, the new user interface of ie for students this year includes a shortcut that enables you automatically turn the url you are browsing into a blogger link

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 9:06 PM |

Diana From Gotham just realized that her aunt was married by a shochet, not a rabbi. Her reaction:

Initially that puzzled me but after a moment's reflection the logic asserted itself. What could be more important to Orthodox Jews than the person who slaughtered your meat? By comparison a rabbi really isn't important.
So true. So, so true...

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 8:50 PM |

"Witnesses said two men dressed in traditional Hasidic clothing pulled the artwork and banners down after arriving at the building at 1:45 a.m. accompanied by a convoy of police vehicles."

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 7:34 PM |

It has occurred to me that I have been WAY too serious of late. So, to rectify that, from the department of Snapple Caps:

Check out this piece in the Onion. I'm still giggling....

posted by Sam | 3:41 PM |

Wow, I feel like the Rav, I'm being horribly misinterpreted by the masses (See my last post and all the strident comments passim).

Yes, yes, I'm very proud of all of you. I too say Al Nahaot Bavel before I bench, I go to shul on shabbos, I have learned Masechet Megila, and I was studying Tanach before (or at least concurrently with) the Acharonim. Remarkably - all of you sages seem to have left out numerous prominent ones - how about shfoch chamatcha in the hagada, for example? How about most of kinot?

But, in your haste to answer the mi lashem aylay call, each of you seems to have missed what I thought was my very clear point: Rosenblum's MO in this piece - which is his usual one - was to take the snotty attitude that "well, you liberal naifs are entitled to you silly and wicked views, but I and the Haredi torah world know the unequivocal and indisputable truth - and this is it."
My point, and my gripe against Rosenblum, is that as a propagandist, he always adopts a morally and intelectually superior tone, when often what he writes is inaccurate or even disingenuous, and generally particularist if not bigoted. And truth be told, despite the allegations to the contrary, I have no sinat chinam towards my once and current fellow haredim (those of you who dont know me, do some research). Avi Shafran often writes well-reasoned and reasonable pieces (with some whopping exceptions), as do other Haredi writers. But Rosenblum's audacious and emetic air of superiority (don't go to college, I did and it was bad) is troubling and not worthy of Haredim as a whole.
I think that from the sources I cited (and I could cite many more, but this is a blog, not a research paper - ok, ok, one more, see the first Derasha of the Ran), it is clear that there is no "OFFICIAL" Jewish position on the issue of schadenfreude vis a vis the wicked.
In fact, for those scholarly minded folks among you, read Yisrael Yaakov Yuval's controversial (the part that is uncontroversial is really the germane stuff - parts 1 and 2) paper "Hanekom Vehaklala, Hadam Vehalilah" in Zion 58 (Hebrew) - there he clearly distinguishes between the idea of nasty eschatological vengeance on the goyim put forth by the Jews of ashkenaz, and the loving "they'll ALL (even the hated persecutors) see the light and convert to worship of God" held in speharad.

Once again, from this data, and from the fact that halachic authorities no less than the Taz and Kaf Hachayyim seem to suggest that we MAY NOT rejoice in suffering of evildoers, we can see that contra Rosenblum, it is not the "torah true view" (ugh, I'm quivering in disgust at the haughty use of the tone) that we must "kick up our heels" at Uday and Qusay's deaths. It is not merely silly moral relativism that causes people to apply standards of mercy and decency even to the most vile and sadistic sinners. It is a well-grounded jewish position, and, I daresay, one that Judaism has moved towards (except for those of you still living in Medieval Germany or Texas) progressively (oops, I said the p word) in modern times.

At stake, ultimately, is the issue of Rosenblum's continued strident assertions. I attack him somewhat viciously because I think he - smug, complacent, arrogant, and just plain dishonest - acts as a lightning rod for criticism for the Haredim. Do we really want a spokesman who engenders such visceral and justified responses from people, and whose arguments are so riddled with inaccuracies that they are laughable? I vote no, but then again, Haredim don't beleive in Democracy (relax guys, that was a joke).

posted by Sam | 3:16 PM |

Dr. James Davila got his PhD from Harvard in 1988. His thesis was "Unpublished Pentateuchal Manuscripts from Cave IV, Qumran: 4QGenExa, Genb-h, Genj-k", which received a grade of distinction. He is currently a lecturer in the University of St. Andrews, Scotland. He's kept up Paleojudaica.

Enter protocols. Within months, he's using words like "snarky". There's not much more to say, is there?

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 12:36 PM |

Church 'never persecuted Galileo Galilei':

The belief that the Catholic Church persecuted Galileo Galilei for pointing out that the earth goes round the sun was quite wrong, the new secretary of the Vatican's Doctrinal Congregation, Archbishop Angelo Amato, has claimed..."He even had great success among the Roman cardinals," he said. "All of them wanted to look at the sky through his famous telescope..."
Here's some basic Galileo v. Inquisition information. Can anyone spell a-p-o-l-o-g-e-t-i-c?

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 12:10 PM |

Speaking of YU, we all just got the first "hi there" email from Hillel Davis, the new VP for University life. Said email began with the words "welcome home". Excuse me? Welcome home? A simple "welcome back" would have been sufficient. YU As Home is not going to put me into a good frame of mind for the year, I'm sorry.
Also, I want to officially note my displeasure with the digging up part of the Quadrangle to build a sculpture honoring the Wilfs, for whom the campus is named ($10,000,000) (read all about it). I mean, the irony of taking the $10M donated for "Campus Beautification" and using it to destroy the only piece of grass on the entire YU side of Washington Heights to build a monument to the people who paid for the beautification in the first place is nothing short of breathtaking. Besides, now there's no place for the MTAers to play football...

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 8:58 AM |

Elder Pinky seems not to be able to post, but he wanted to make sure we all knew about this: "Teen dies when fish jumps in his throat". This apparently happened in Cambodia:

"This is an accident, but it shows we must all be careful," concluded the Khmer-language Rasmei Kampuchea (Light of Cambodia) newspaper. "Accidents can happen at any time."
Sage advice, especially as YU kicks back into gear.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 8:47 AM |

Well, I figured, before I receive any more questions like this one, I should point out that even halachically, there is certainly room to argue that Judaism does NOT rejoice in the suffering of sinners.
First off, there is the issue in the acharonim of hallel on the 7th day of Pesach - while the Talmud gives the reason for only half hallel's being recited as the lack of new korbanot, the acharonim (most notably, the Taz in OC 490, citing the Beit yosef who cites a Midrash to this effect) argue that because the angels were prevented from singing praises while the Egyptians were drowning, we also do not recite full hallel on the 7th day of pesach, since we also should not rejoice in the destruction of sinners. Further (and I'm indebted to a footnote in a nice article in Jewish Action of Spring 2000 for this point), the Kaf HaChayyim in OC 685:29 cites the midrash of the angels' being forbidden to sing hallel as proof to the fact that we do not recite a blessing upon the suffering of the wicked - and hence do not make a blessing before parshat zakhor.
Clearly, then, the issue of rejoicing (and dreaming up novel tortures - is croc pits really the best Rosenblum could do?) over the death of evildoers is far from the clear-cut, white and black distinction between "Jewish moralaity" and "Liberal postmodern ethical fuzziness" that Rosenblum makes it out to be. In fact, there is significant material that suggests that the Jewish position does not in any way put an emphasis on vengeance or punishment for the wicked. This view assumes that it is a sad fact of life that peoples' actions have deleterious consequences, and is certainly nothing to gloat and smirk about.

In short, once again, Rosenblum appears to be both a bigot and a sadist, and attempts to hide these facts behind a figleaf of nauseatingly condescending religiosity.

There, I simultaneously did my blogging and learning for the week. Can I study now, or am I doomed to fail out of Einstein and become a propaganda writer for the Jerusalem Post?

posted by Sam | 1:31 AM |

Monday, August 25, 2003  

In the self-made straw man department:

When I vicariously dissed Jonathan Rosenblum last, I felt I was justified - demagoguery requires refutation, after all.

But this op ed in the Jerusalem Post is too much - I feel like critcizing him is easier than shooting fish in a barrel.

If I'm reading right, it seems he argues that vengeance is a very Jewish concept - to the extent that not only should we have rejoiced at the death of Idi Amin and the Hussein Brothers (ok, an arguable point I won't dispute here...), but we should have hoped for them to suffer the same violent and horrible death that they inflicted on thousands of others. He implies that croc pits and meat grinders would have been the appropriate method of punishment for these miscreants, and laments the fact that they died too gently.
Meat grinders? Croc pits? OOOK. Johnny Boy, you need to work out that latent aggression....

My personal favorite of his, though, is his selective use of Hazal to make his disturbing points. How about this one:

"As the Midrash puts it, the Divine throne only became firmly established in the world when the Jewish people sang God's praises at the Sea. Their joyous song was a consequence of watching the precision with which the suffering of each drowning Egyptian was meted out: The Egyptians either died instantaneously or slowly and painfully, according to the degree of suffering they had inflicted on the Jews in Egypt. "

I see. So is he suggesting that the gemara of "maasei yadai tavu beyam veatem omrim shirah??" (God, accusingly, to the rejoicing angels during kriat yam suf - my handiwork is drowning in the sea, and you are singing praises???) is a late stammaitic intervention, or perhaps a pseudepigraphic sentiment inserted by the liberal geonim like Rav Michael Lerner Gaon or Rav Yossi Sarid Gaon?

More to the point - is he really suggesting that we have no right to take our own revenge, but have the right to transpose our own desire for vengeance of a violent and horrible sort onto God? And further, we have the right to act as the US military did in Iraq (and don't get me wrong, I'm not shedding a tear for Uday and Qusay, I'm just remembering what Golda said about the Palestinians - I hate them b/c they made our sons killers) and then call it divine retribution? I think there's a logical flaw here somewhere, but I can't be sure....

Anyway, I'm glad that Jonathan Rosenblum understands the ways of the Lord. Blessed be the Agudah, since it shows us the truth....

posted by Sam | 11:19 PM |

Bangitout blackout pickup lines.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 7:11 PM |

Eric Boehlert on "The Passion" (Salon). He claims that the film will divide evangelicals and Jews.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 6:39 PM |

Fresh Samantha writes, "While I deeply oppose the airing of one's political views..." Is this a frummie thing, the ultimate in chumra technology?

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 3:37 PM |

Gawker finds Frumster.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 3:21 PM |

Of course, France isn't the only place you'll find people who refuse to call Hamas a terrorist organization. Jarvis posts an ombudsman's dithering on the subject, and I commented with references to Protocols posts here and here. Bill Maher wrote about terrorist groups vs. charities for the Boston Globe earlier this month.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 3:12 PM |

Reuven Weiser, previously known for his notes pages that got many of us through college, has started a blog: idealogian. Everyone should check it out.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 2:04 PM |

Not quite sure what to make of this: (via Yuter)

France voices objections to placing Hamas and Islamic Jihad on the European Union's list of terror organizations, ynet reported Monday.
Diplomatic advisor to President Chirac, Maurice Gourdault-Montagne, is quoted to have said to the Israeli ambassador in France, Nissim Zvilli, that there is no proof that these two organizations are terror groups. 'If we find that Hamas and Islamic Jihad are indeed terror groups opposed to peace, we may have to change the EU's stand,' said Gourdault-Montagne. 'However, we mustn't limit ourselves to one, clear cut, position.'
What about taking Hamas and IJ at their word? Its not like they deny the fact that they're terror groups opposed to peace, is it? The only thing I can think of is that we're taking relativism to a new level here. In other words, even if they themselves might think they're terrorists, our wider perspective let us understand that they really aren't, despite their best intentions to the contrary.
UPDATE: it seems that France also opposed the listing of Columbia's FARC (not to be confused with FARK), a marxist enterprise, as a terrorist group. It seems that the French take the distinction between "terrorist" and "freedom fighter" extremely seriously.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 10:33 AM |

Jesus Endorsing Ahnuld?:

According to a spiritualist in Fargo, North Dakota, Jesus Christ himself is personally endorsing 'Ahnuld' for governor.
The Reverend Speaker Gerald Polley says he recently channeled a message from Jesus suggesting Californians put the Terminator in office.
Polley says Jesus wants someone with Schwarzenegger's 'incredible character to serve Californians' and that the almighty spent hours pouring over the credentials of the other 134 candidates before making his decision.
Not to knock Jesus' political credentials too much here, but I'd bet he endorsed Reagan, too...

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 9:21 AM |

From the Not Really That Surprising Dept.:

More students from Israel learn in the United States than from any other Middle Eastern country, according to a new study by the Princeton Review, the world's largest company specializing in preparing students for academic admission exams
You mean there are more Israelis than, say, Iranians in Columbia? Surely you jest...

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 9:16 AM |

The Bible makes the NYT Language section. Remember people, the book is called "Revelation", NOT "Revelations".

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 9:11 AM |

Good piece over at IvyJews by Zev savagely reviewing (panning?) Eitan Gorlin's movie (the darling of film festivals worldwide - I hear they especially liked it at the Riyadh film festival) The Holy Land , which, its press release cum synopsis breathlessly declares, is "A story of doomed, passionate love and coming of age in troubled times --set in a world-famous place not unlike Rick's Cafe American or the Cantina in "Star Wars" ". It seems to depict yet another repressed Haredi youth as he discovers the en sof of his libido, and Zev justifiably greets this tired (hey, Naomi Ragen's been doing it for years...) plot line with the right amount of ennui.
For supplemental research, check out Gorlin's masterpiece of an interview on Fresh Air on NPR. Someone contact the Israeli government - this guy's a natural at hasbara!

On a personal note, I seem to be procrastinating my histology lab reading. Does anyone have mesora for Einstein? I'm gonna need it....

Also, don't ever let anyone say I don't make nice to Ivyjews....

posted by Sam | 1:38 AM |

Sunday, August 24, 2003  

Well, the Freshpersons are moving in today at Yeshiva University, but neither paper has posted a new issue on its/their websites, though both are sporting their nifty redesigns.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 6:47 PM |

Cronaca: Louvre accused of buying looted antiquities from Iran:

The Tehran Times is reporting that an Iranian archeologist has accused the Louvre of purchasing ancient artifacts illegally excavated from Jiroft and smuggled out of Iran. The extensive sites around Jiroft have been heavily looted recently despite military and police interventions.
It really hasn't been a good summer for the French, has it now?

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 5:07 PM |

Volokh posts what appears to be the definitive wrap-up of the Berkeley/Protocols situation, and it seems that Professor Kadhim didn't express his views on the Protocols in class -- a good thing for him, since they're clearly off.
Volokh also weighs in on the Egyptian utensils suit we blogged earlier, and notices that the Dean is anti-Semitic.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 4:05 PM |

It's interesting to note how all the print media are referring to Geoghan as an "ex-priest" or as a "defrocked priest." The TV I was watching last night and this morning at my parents' house didn't put that emphasis on his no longer being a part of the Church.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 3:51 PM |

Dave Barry, of course, has the most on-target commentary on the Gray Davis recall.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 3:01 PM |

One more thing before I get back to molecular biology:

Yeah, speaking of secular conciliators and Haredim, this good piece by Gideon Levy in today's Haaretz suggests that Israel's secular society learn from the Haredi idea of teshuva in the face of tragedy, and apply it - albeit in a secular way - to Israeli social ills as a whole. I hear Elul JUST around the corner....

posted by Sam | 11:55 AM |

Ephraim Zuroff more or less disembowels Jonathan Rosenblum and rips Haredi Historiography to shreds in an op-ed in last week's Jerusalem Post.
It's great fun when the preachy and idiotic Rosenblum gets comeuppance from anyone employing even the most rudimentary logic, but Zuroff's point raises the greater issue of whether the Haredi society's particularism extends to its offer of social services and relief work. Both conciliatory secularists and haredi apologists often refer to Israeli haredi-run charitable organizations like zichron menachem and yad sarah as evidence that the Haredim are not mere parasites. These and other organizations offer services to irreligious people as freely as they do to haredi ones.
Speaking personally, I actually participated in part of a Zichron Menachem yeshiva bachur dancing troupe that went to entertain patients in the pediatric oncology ward in haddassah ein kerem a few times a month, and none of us ever focused more heavily on the frum kids than on the secular ones, or, for that matter, on the Jewish kids than on the Arab ones.
But in a pinch, with limited resources - as in the case of the vaad hatzala furing WWII - would these groups focus on torah scholars before secular Russian immigrants? How about funding torah study in Shanghai before saving Jews in Poland? I'm not sure, but I suspect that at least a portion (some past rebbes of mine, for example) would advocate the "toiradik yidden"-first approach, certainly in a question of survival. I'm less certain that they'd openly advocate supporting torah study before basic lifesaving, though.
Nevertheless, the Haredi POV has changed considerably in the last 60 years, to the point that the idea of social services offered to the larger population has become acceptable, and these organizations offer some proof of that.

However, he tone of Zuroff's article seems to implicitly criticize Haredim for their failure to learn from history - and thus buttresses the basic notion of Haredi ultra-particularism. Zuroff subtly offers Rosenblum up as proof that Haredi society is no different today than it was 60 years ago, but by doing so, he overlooks major social changes that have been effected in the Haredi world.

posted by Sam | 11:51 AM |

Decently written article on The Bible as History:

"The author of the Book of Exodus, who does not bother to identify or locate them, makes it clear that Pharaoh, Reed Sea, and Sinai are symbols of profound ideas and concepts far more important than their identity or their exact location because the story of the Exodus is not designed to satisfy our modern thirst to learn facts: who? what? when? where? how? The biblical construct is far simpler. The God of the Exodus is the God of Sinai. The deity who delivers has earned the right to make moral demands upon the delivered. What does not follow is the conclusion that because the biblical narrative of the Exodus is not “historical” in a way to satisfy us, this means that no Moses ever existed and nothing really happened. The biblical narrative is not the kind of historical evidence we would use to prove OR disprove such things"

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 9:28 AM |
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