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

Friday, September 24, 2004  

Rabbi David Wolpe writes: In order to answer why Shawn Green should not play, I have to go back to Leroy Kelley.

As some may remember, Leroy Kelley was an outstanding running back for the Cleveland Browns, and is deservedly in the hall of fame. I am not sure he is well remembered today. He was not as great as the running back he replaced, the legendary Jim Brown. But for me, he was greater than almost any athlete in the world.

In grade school I was obsessed by sports. Like many young men I pasted pictures of players up on my wall (in those primitive days, pages ripped from sports magazines affixed by scotch tape). I wrote to teams for autographed pictures. I received scores of autographed pictures. Most had simple signatures. Some carried gnomic utterances, such as Roman Gabriel's picture which read "Always 110%, Roman Gabriel" which was either an exhortation to effort, or an astonishing egotism. But only one wrote a letter worth reading.

Leroy Kelley, number 44, wrote a letter that I remember. It was not fancy, a mimeograph on yellow paper. It said that as happy as he was to provide the autograph, I should remember that football was not as important as studying and making something of oneself. Here was a player preaching values beyond football. I never forgot it.

Now we come to Shawn Green and the manic interest in his decision to play one of two games on Yom Kippur. It is hard not to feel sorry for him as he contemplates this decision, made awesome by the intense focus. There is a lot of blather about his obligation to his team and his promise to be part of the sport, and the amount of money he is being played. Although Mr. Green is not himself in a society which would educate him to this decision, I regret that he did not say no.

"Of course not!" should have been his first, final and simple answer. "There are values above baseball, above money, above work. What self-respecting Jew would play on Yom Kippur?" Oh, what he might have done with that simple declaration.

First he would have honored the Giver above the gift. God gave him great gifts, but they do not override reverence. His ability has been honed, but it has not been earned. None of us earns his or her natural endowments. "I am grateful to God for my strong arm and my keen eye. I think I will take this day to express my thanks."

Now Mr. Green has said that he is not a religious man, so perhaps this is too extravagant an expectation. Fair enough. If we cannot appeal in terms of gratitude, then let us appeal in terms of self-respect.

Shawn Green was a Jew before he was a baseball player. He was a Jew before he was a public figure. To take who you are seriously means to honor it even when others think that it is less important, or unimportant. Koufax's decision not to pitch on Yom Kippur in the world series is honored not because he was a religious man but because he paid tribute to who he was.

Koufax has been quoted as saying that Green's decision is tougher because he, Koufax, could be shifted in the rotation whereas Green is an everyday player. But honoring who you are is not a piecemeal decision. Twenty years from now, Green's decision might have stood as a signal example of principle among people who will never remember who won the pennant in 2004.

Finally, to those who say he must play because he is being so well paid: that is another, powerful reason why he should not play. Is there no room in this society to make a statement that says "money does not override everything?" In an age when athletes shift cities the way they change socks, and fans 'know' it is all about money, wouldn't it be great if someone said, in clear, ringing tones, it is actually not about money? It is not even about my teammates expectations? It is about the expectations of a tradition that is about 3,000 years older than the Dodgers and a
community that was here long before, and will be here long after, the game of baseball.

Does anyone remember the story of Eli Herring, offensive tackle for Brigham Young? He is a devout Mormon who turned down a multi-million dollar deal with a professional football team because he won't play on his holy day, Sunday. Instead he teaches high school math for $25,000 a year. A reporter questioned his decision; wouldn't he be a role model to more kids as a famous football player?

I wish someone has mentioned to Shawn Green what this faithful Mormon said to the reporter. Quoting the old hymn, Eli Herring answered "You can't be a beacon if your light don't shine." It was a lesson I heard from Leroy Kelley when I was a child. I wish the children of America had heard that lesson from Shawn Green today.

posted by LukeFord | 2:11 PM |

A joke passed along by the WSJ: A Jewish Red Sox fan realizes his team will be in town and playing on Yom Kippur. So he asks his rabbi: "Rabbi, the Sox are playing tomorrow night AND it's the holiest night of the year. What should I do?" The rabbi quickly answers, "I think you know the answer. After all, that's why God invented VCRs." The man responds, "Great idea, Rabbi. I just didn't realize that Yom Kippur services were on cable."

posted by LukeFord | 1:52 PM |

It has been about five years since I've gone to somebody in the days before Yom Kippur and sought forgiveness for my specific sins against them. I've never experienced the healing and reconciliation this can bring.

I'm skeptical of seeking of forgiveness unless it meets these criteria:

* It is for something specific where one can take practical steps to mitigate the harm one has caused.

* The seeking of forgiveness can do some good and lead to a reconciliation.

Most of the relationships that have ruptured in my life have been irreparable, not so much because of the hugeness of the sin, but because we've gone in different directions, and our differences in direction are irreconcilable.

My best friend in Los Angeles had bad credit. I gave him a credit card in my name (I was responsible for paying for it). He was usually late paying me. Finally, I cut off his card. He refused to pay me the approximately $400 he owed me. We've never been able to discuss the matter. I've tried a few times (pushed by my therapist) but he would never talk about it. He has no money. I can't forgive him because he hasn't asked for forgiveness. Every time I hear his voice on the phone (I decided to keep him as a friend because I can't afford to keep chucking people out of my life), I remember how he didn't repay me. Our friendship limps along.

I remember once (in 1990) I sought the advice of a rabbi on the day before Yom Kippur about my long distance telephone-and-letter relationship with a non-Jewish ex-girlfriend. He told me to cut it off. I knew he was right. I did. It caused pointless misery for both of us. She'd already moved on to another relationship and she just wanted to stay in touch with me because I was so sick, lonely, and isolated.

Most every time I pushed myself to act extra-moral, I only increase my isolation. Plenty of my immoral acts have also furthered my isolation. On balance, my immorality has hurt me more than my putatively moral acts.

Cathy Seipp and I have exchanged numerous barbs over the length of our friendship, many of which have hurt the other. But it would feel pro-forma to me to go to her and ask for general forgiveness. If I ask it for specific wrongs, that would only increase the hurt. So forget it.

I've often done the pro-forma 'please forgive me for anything I've done against you in the past year,' which, without specifics, feels pro-forma to me (but I always reciprocate it if somebody offers it to me). I normally try to apologize as soon as I realize I have done wrong against somebody (when I think the apology will do some good).

In my experience, most apologizing is pro-forma and rarely does any good. Not apologizing for needlessly hurting somebody, however, is a horrible thing.

Most of my sins over the past year have been careless remarks which have wounded feelings and tasteless writing. So, dear reader, please forgive me for the awkwardness, shock, horror and disgust your reading of me has brought you, your family and your community (I know you can not forgive on behalf of others).

posted by LukeFord | 1:34 PM |

Chakira writes: "I am going to be in Israel for the beginning of Succos. I am only staying for ten days. Given the short amount of time I will be there, and the expense of schlepping to Israel, I think it would be legitimate for me to only keep one day of Succos."

posted by LukeFord | 11:42 AM |

Shmarya writes: Experts are condemning as “frauds” and “rank forgeries” two stone tablets purportedly found last week in a mound of rubble on the Haram al-Sharif, or “Temple Mount,” in Jerusalem. The tablets, containing ten sayings or “commandments,” exhort humans to follow a set of “moral laws” or suggestions including a “prohibition” against “adultery” and a “command” to honor one’s parents.

posted by LukeFord | 11:22 AM |

Yossi Klein Halevi, writing on autopilot, disects Madonna and the Kabbalah Centre. Nothing new here though it is a pleasure just to read his clear thinking.

posted by LukeFord | 11:12 AM |

Immanuel Kant died a virgin. But I won't. I am his better in this respect.

Who was the greatest philosopher of the 20th Century? I say Eric Hoffer.

posted by LukeFord | 1:39 AM |

Vicki Pollin writes: I want to thank all of those in here who think I'm "Me."

I wish I was as articulate and as intellegent as he/she is. I am not orthodox. I do not read or write Hebrew, and am practically Torah illiterate. Until recently my Jewish education comes from a JCC Nursery school many years ago.

It's just by chance that I had time to read this blog. You all made my day.

Please feel free to read the information on The Awareness Center's web page that describes how and why the organization got started. You can find it at:

You can also find more information regarding the Gafni case at:

posted by LukeFord | 1:34 AM |

G. writes: Luke, Heard that Malcolm Hoenlein went into a meeting today with a European minister in New York for the UN GA and tried to explain to the minister why the Sharon plan for disengagement was bad for Israel.

Is this proper? Do you know if that is the policy of the Conference of Presidents? Why is he criticizing the Israeli government to other governments?

Luke says: I wonder if Malcolm told the European minister that if he didn't go along with what he was saying, Mr. Hoenlein would ---- him for the rest of his life.

posted by LukeFord | 1:30 AM |

I've been wanting to penetrate the keen taut mind of Alana Newhouse, Arts & Culture editor of the Forward, for some months now. So I started reading one of her favorite books and am falling in love with it - The Mind Body Problem by Rebecca Goldstein. It's about an Orthodox woman's sexual awakening at college.

I wonder what about it speaks so powerfully to Alana the HAFTR (yeshiva) girl? She told me in our interview: "I grew up in a Modern Orthodox home and I went to Orthodox day schools. I went to Hebrew Academy of Five Towns in Rockaways. I'm a Long Island JAP. When I went to Barnard, the whole world opened up for me."

Here's an excerpt of Goldstein's book that spoke to me: "There's been so much serious discussion devoted to the profound question of the vaginal vs. the clitoral orgasm. Why doesn't anyone speak about the mental orgasm? It's what's going on in your head that can make the difference, not which and how many of your nerve endings are being rubbed."

Nothing impure or smutty should be imputed to my writing of this post. My interests here are of the mind. They float on an airy intellectual plane far above the baser interests of lesser mortals in dear Alana.

My intentions, by contrast, are rigorous, professional, journalistic, mathematical, philosophical, and, most of all, Jewish. They are imbued with my deep passion for releasing women from the bondage of secularistic feminism and setting them free to become the halakhic princesses they most want to be.

Err, excuse me. I'll be right back. I have to take my meds.

posted by LukeFord | 1:17 AM |

Thursday, September 23, 2004  

JPost: Women told to leave shul early

posted by LukeFord | 11:31 PM |

Yom Kippur: The fast track to love and forgiveness By Rabbi David Aaron

A Yom Kippur cartoon.

‘Palestinian’ penchant for prevarication By Joel Mowbray

Yom Kippur and the war on terrorism

posted by LukeFord | 11:26 PM |

Has everybody seen Borat sing his song about throwing the Jew down the well?

You must download the file as a JPG and then rename it to a WMV file for it to work. (Note: Right click on the link. "Save target as". Once downloaded rename the jpg to a wmv file.)

Though I only saw Ali G for the first time Sunday night on DVD, I've become a huge fan. It would've been tempting to use some of his techniques in my interviews.

posted by LukeFord | 10:49 PM |

How does Ali G keep conning famous guests?

posted by LukeFord | 9:50 PM |

WHEN Ron Jeremy made his decision three years ago, it was only half as difficult as the one he has to make now.

In 2001, Jeremy opted not to ---- on Yom Kippur in the movie G--- B--- In The Fat Lane. Due to its low budget status, the decision only cost Filmco a few dollars to reschedule.

Now Ron Jeremy is slated to star in the epic Barnacle Bill the Sailor. The movie's key scene takes place on Yom Kippur and tens of thousands of dollars are riding on its success.

Ron says he might ---- on Friday night, the beginning of Yom Kippur, but he will only do girl-girl on Saturday, Judaism's most solemn day. In observance of the Jewish fast, he will limit himself to two meals and no more than 3,000 calories worth of the most strictly kosher offerings.

"It's something I feel is an important thing to do," Jeremy says, "partly as a representative of the Jewish community and as far as my being a role model for Jewish kids, to basically say that work, or anything, isn't bigger than your religion and your roots."

In 2001, when Jeremy walked into shul on Yom Kippur morning in the middle of prayers, the entire synagogue rose and applauded.

"It was the proudest moment of my life," a sheepish Ron recalled months later. "That and when I first performed -------- on myself."

Jewish actors not ----ing on Yom Kippur has a rich and proud history. Though they are not generally religious people, folks such as Nina Hartley, Raylene, Traci Lords and Jamie Gillis have often chosen to continue the traditions of their ancestors rather than earn a quick paycheck performing meaningless sex on the holiest day of the year.

The Good Samaritan writes: "Where does Ron Jeremy daven? If word gets out, all manner of Jewish chicks will show up for services, and I want a shot at the crumbs that fall off his table."

posted by LukeFord | 7:13 PM |

Here's the great Jewess Natalie Portman meeting with New York's great senator Hillary Clinton.

If Natalie wanted to marry me, I'd council her that the difference in our ages was too great. And I would not be moved by her tears or her other attributes.

posted by LukeFord | 6:26 PM |

A Muslim friend invited me to an ecumenical Bible study Wednesday night in Studio City with believers from all three of the monotheistic religions.

Imagine my surprise when I found it was being held at a nightclub and there were a lot of scantily clad, not particularly religious, young women.

posted by LukeFord | 6:24 PM |

Therese Daniels, of the 6600 block of South Washtenaw Avenue, admitted she was paid $350 a week for her help in the scam. According to the plea agreement, Daniels did tax preparation work in 1999 and 2000 for Marvin Berkowitz, a former Chicago rabbi now a fugitive believed to be living in Israel.

posted by LukeFord | 10:26 AM |

Haaretz: A surprising development occurred a few months ago behind the scenes in the world of Israel's premilitary religious preparatory centers. Several preparatory center heads met with Rabbi Zvi Tau, head of the Har Hamor yeshiva in Jerusalem, to hear his views on the issue of refusing to obey the order to evacuate a Jewish settlement. The directors of two major centers, Rabbi Eli Sadan of the community of Eli and Rabbi Rafi Peretz of Atzmona, are among Tau's staunchest disciples and operate in accordance with his directives. Their prominence has influenced the heads of other centers and, because of that prominence, Tau's position on the above issue has great bearing on all the centers.

posted by LukeFord | 4:45 AM |

Gary Rosenblatt writes on the troubling story of Rabbi Mordecai Gafni:

Born as Marc Winiarz, he came to New York from the Midwest for high school and college, became a youth leader and rabbi, was accused of sexual abuses and misconduct, and started life anew in Israel 13 years ago with an Israeli name. He has left several rabbinic and educational posts, here and in Israel, amid a swirl of rumors and allegations spanning two decades.

Over time Rabbi Gafni has assumed an increasingly high profile as a charismatic teacher, promoting what he calls a new, post-Orthodox stream of Judaism. He has been featured on Israeli television; written several books, including "Soul Prints: Your Path to Fulfillment," which was made into a PBS special; lectured extensively in the United States and Israel; served on the spiritual advisory council of Aleph: Alliance for Jewish Renewal, a national organization based in Philadelphia; led retreats at Elat Chayyim, a Jewish Renewal center in the Catskills; preached frequently at the Stephen S. Wise Temple in Los Angeles; and founded Bayit Chadash ("new home"), a New Age Jewish community in Israel that he said strives "to restore the spark of holy paganism."


Der Nister writes: Gary doesn't substantiate a single charge, nor does anyone with a name come forward to make such charges, nor is there any indication of law enforcement or other investigatory bodies getting involved at any point. (Compare that with the Forward's report on Tendler, which had named complainants and an acknowledged investigation by a rabbinical body.) Sure, Gafni's quotes make him sound suspicious, but that's not the same as presenting a credible case against him.

Luke says: These are good points. It is not fair to allow anonymity to people who make charges (that have not led to criminal convictions) but to not name the accused. On the other hand, Gafni admits to having sex with a minor and other sins that seem to make him inappropriate to practice rabbinics. On the other hand, if we kicked every rabbi who'd had sex with a kid out of the pulpit, how many empty pulpits would we have? How about we compromise on these matters? Six strikes, six kids, and you're fired, no matter the extenuating circumstances, such as the little slut was asking for it.

ME writes: Luke, with these kinds of allegations convictions criminal complaints today are difficult. Decades ago they were impossible to deal with. This isn't an issue of whether Gafni should be sent to jail. That will not happen. The question is whether he is suitable to work as a spiritual leader. The answer based on his admission and the information being supplied by other alleged victims and people involved with there cases indicates that:

1) he commited a criminal act with a minor

2) he fled to Israel and changed his name

3) all this gives his victims and others involved with this situation and their allegations more credibility

posted by LukeFord | 2:46 AM |

Wednesday, September 22, 2004  

Dude. Jay Leno is funny:

1) The NYTimes reports that Saddam Hussein is depressed and defiant. It seems, he's still claiming that he's the constitutionally elected president of Iraq. He's kind of like the Iraqi Al Gore.

2) Today, the first organized baseball game ever was played in Iraq. Luckily, the game went smoothly. No Iraqi player threw a chair in the stands - which actually happened at a Texas Rangers game last week. And it's a good thing, too. The last thing anyone wants to see is the Shiite hit the fan.

Ow, god. that's awesome. the shiite hit the fan.

posted by Deranged GOT Fan | 11:44 PM |

I too was disgusted by the amount of trash I saw in Israel. Why are secular countries from a Protestant heritage, such as Switzerland and Sweden and Finland and Denmark so much cleaner and more polite than the Jewish state?

posted by LukeFord | 2:37 PM |

Shmarya of writes: My site has been hacked. All the content has been removed. My home address is up in its place. Because of the constant threats and then this, I've had to contact the police. Blogger seems to have given out my personal information.

My Alzheimer's blog (for caregivers) is also gone, as is my book blog. It took them 6 months, but they finally got me. It appears to me to be an inside job. They might have gotten to someone at Blogger.

posted by LukeFord | 2:30 PM |

In the Margins: Imagining a ‘Book of Lives’ By ESTHER D. KUSTANOWITZ

By Jonathan Tobin: Dennis Ross wants yet another chance to repeat dead-end policies

posted by LukeFord | 10:51 AM |

"He didn't understand the mentality of yeshiva boys who were educated on elitism. There was no chance they would get their hands dirty."

posted by LukeFord | 10:32 AM |

An algorithm for determining frum pregnancies

posted by LukeFord | 1:18 AM |

Tuesday, September 21, 2004  

Chakira writes: In his introduction to Humash, Ibn Ezra (IE) writes that “the intercessor (malach) between a man and his God is the intellect.”

A Chasidic Rebbe from Borough Park, Brooklyn, says he's beginning to feel Bill Clinton's pain.

Hebrew: Graffati In a Habad in Ramat Aviv: Go Back to Brooklyn

Chakira interprets: The slogans say Habad Gizanim=Habad are Rascist!
Thazeru LeBrooklyn=Go back to Brooklyn.

The ramat aviv story is amazing. It's like a big thing for secular Israelis to vadalize shuls.

posted by LukeFord | 10:52 PM |

Reuters Asks a Chain to Remove Its Bylines

The dispute centers on a policy adopted earlier this year by CanWest Global Communications - the publisher of 13 daily newspapers including The National Post in Toronto and The Calgary Herald, which both use Reuters dispatches - to substitute the word "terrorist" in articles for terms like "insurgents" and "rebels."

posted by LukeFord | 9:35 PM |

Tzemach Atlas inquires: What is the ultimate post? Yesterday Luke Ford posted a spot on observation and a challenge to his readers. The response was dismal. Luke presented one of the burning questions in today's Jewish life, The result - it can't even master a semblance of interests. The post is overwhelmed on the same page by Luke's own links to mundane drivel. Which brings us to the question. What is a blog post? What is an ultimate post? Perhaps this is it?

posted by LukeFord | 8:41 PM |

Do you wonder how you, as a white person, contribute to maintaining a white-dominated world?

posted by LukeFord | 7:20 PM |

A middling NYT review for Philip Roth's new novel.

posted by LukeFord | 6:54 PM |

Dr Janice offers the top ten questions to offer a potential life partner.

posted by LukeFord | 5:31 PM | is down. Jewlicious steps up.

posted by LukeFord | 5:30 PM |

My JetBlue Minyan. A trip to the Holy Land became a spiritual experience even before we took off. By Rabbi Zvi Konikov

Chakira writes: It is forbidden, and a chilul Hashem, to Daven on an airplane. This is made clearest by R Shlomo Zalman Auerbach in his teshuvot. You should daven in your seat, if only to increase kavvanah, according to Rabbi Moshe Feinstein.

Shmarya writes: The rabbi in this story is a Chabadnik and was Ilan Ramon's rabbi in the US. Chabad has lately developed a strange minhag. Say a father passes away (r'l) and leaves behind 5 adult sons. All 5 sons will say kaddish. Each will always have his own minyan even if they all live in one community and daven in the same shul. They will also make extra Torah readings on Shabbat and Yom Tov so each son can get maftir and the Haftorah. If other members have yartzeits, extra minyans must be made to accomodate them. I have been in Chabad-controlled shuls where a congregation of 24 people have made 4 seperate Mincha minyans, often one after the other, often finishing 45 minutes or more after shkia, with the process repeated immediately for Ma'ariv. i have also been in Chabad-controlled shuls where two people needed to say kaddish. Both demanded to lead services. 11 men were present but a 12th was not found. The Chabad shaliach ordered the 9 other congregants not to daven, and made us wait until almost an hour past shkia when the 12th man arrived. Then, the first 'minyan' of 6 daveners davened Mincha, with Hazorat haShatz and an extra Kaddish d'Rabbannan at the conclusion of Mincha. After that the second minyan of 6 daveners did the same. We finished more than an hour and fifteen minutes after shkia.

The Chabad rabbi in the Jewsweek story has a brother who also said Kaddish every day for their mother, including the day of the flight. If things had worked out differently, that rabbi would have made the minyan during the flight, in the air, disregarding the safety and comfort of the other passengers and the crew. If that had been the case, Chakira would have been absolutely correct in his criticism.

posted by LukeFord | 1:35 PM |

Joe Schick writes on Sharon, The Jewish Press and Right-Wing Fanatics

posted by LukeFord | 1:30 PM |

Dennis Prager said on his radio show that lowlifes are more likely to vote Democrat. He claimed that most voter fraud over the past 50 years has been done by Democrats. He says Democrats are less likely to believe they are morally accountable for their behavior. Democrats are more likely to believe that the good they would do in voting twice outweighs the wrong of violating the law.

DP said Democrats opposed the requirement that one bring an ID to vote. Because they know that those who are more likely to vote fraudulently are more likely to vote Democrat.

posted by LukeFord | 1:13 PM |

Andrew Silow-Carroll praises Jonathan Kirsch's new book, God against the Gods.

"Kirsch is a writer of gently iconoclastic religious books, including studies of biblical sex and a biography of King David."

I have read all of Kirsch’s (who is the Jewish Journal’s pro bono lawyer for defamation) books but this one.

Kirsch's iconoclasm is only "gentle" if you do not believe in the Bible as the word of God.

Kirsch's iconoclasticism only runs in one direction - towards debunking Orthodox Judaism and fundamentalist Christianity. Kirsch popularizes current academic research and shapes it into making his arguments against religion which believes in itself. Kirsch has a fundamental hatred of Western religion as it has historically understood itself.

I enjoy his writings but I understand his clear polemical position (something that seems to completely escape Andy, who most likely shares Kirsch's views).

I understand why the Jonathan Kirsches of the world want to deny belief in the one true God who holds people accountable for their actions. This way, the Kirsches of the world can do what they like. There is no universal moral code, no objective system of right and wrong, in Kirsch's worldview. He, and those who view the world as he does, are free to do whatever they can get away with. I don't trust them.

posted by LukeFord | 1:09 PM |

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach writes: Is America the new chosen people?

Rabbi Boteach is an easy target for mockery, but I find he almost always has something profound to say.

posted by LukeFord | 11:57 AM |

Once an infamous mobster, now an observant Jew, Henry Hill talks to Jewsweek about life on the run, finding God, and the keys to repentance.

My sense is that in general Jews don't celebrate the penitence of great sinners as much as Christians do.

posted by LukeFord | 11:54 AM |

I was reading and came across this: "Benyamin Cohen is the editor of Jewsweek Magazine and is currently authoring a book tentatively titled How to Find a Wife in 100 Dates."

Doesn't the word "authoring" strike you as pretentious? I think it should be "writing."

When people ask me what I do for a living, I say I'm a freelance journalist or writer. I would never say "I'm an author." Perhaps, "I'm a self-published author, on the web and in print." That should impress them!

Anon writes: Benyamin Cohen has been "writing" this book for years now. It must take that long to get 100 dates.

I know you could do better, Luke. Perhaps "How to Get Married in 99 Dates" - which is a snappier title anyway. Or how about a book on J-Dating or online dating in general as your next book? In depth, of course.

Luke says: I've done way too much dating. I've also done much of it while being stone broke. In other words, I've lived off women. I had one who would do my housework so I could work on my autobiography. I've been a big of a gigalo. I should write about that, only it is so humiliating and non-Torahdic.

posted by LukeFord | 11:52 AM |

Does the rise of New-Age in Israel reflects a crisis in the secular Israeli way of life?

posted by LukeFord | 11:40 AM |

Rabbi Avi Shafran writes: "Security is not a function of fortresses; it is a gift granted from above."

posted by LukeFord | 11:33 AM |

David Hazony writes in Azure about Biblical archeology.

For me, the only question is what is true (using scholarly, historical, "scientific" tools). If one's beliefs prevent one from accepting certain scholarly truths, then one should not claim to be primarily seeking truth.

If you apply historical and literary and archeological tools to the Torah and the world of the Bible, and accept their findings without fear or favor, you can not accept the Orthodox version of history. You can't be both authentic to Orthodoxy and authentic to the profession of archeology and Bible scholarship given current findings. Those findings may change tomorrow and be completely in alignment with Orthodoxy, though I doubt it.

The fundamental truth is that one can not be true to Modernity and true to Orthodox Judaism. That is fine by me. There is much about Modernity I want to reject on moral grounds.

Anyway, the strength of Orthodox Judaism and other forms of fundamentalism is that they do not change on fundamentals.

posted by LukeFord | 11:14 AM |

Simcha sees a chick in shul dressed like a slut in a sleeveless blouse. How does a Torah Jew react?

I saw this beautiful young woman in my shul on Thursday, Friday and Saturday morning directly across the mehitza from me. She was dressed modestly and davened seriously (more seriously than I who was gazing at her dreamily for hours). But I didn't have the strength to approach her. I was too worn out by the many hours of davening.

Also, I am scared to approach any woman I meet in an Orthodox environment in case they Google "Luke Ford," become horrified, and create trouble for me in my community.

Simcha writes: "There is a blog that looks very Jewish - even frum - but is, in fact, run by a Karaite who is disseminating his heretical views in the appearance of a disenfranchised, anti-establishment Modern Orthodox Jew. He is a self-proclaimed Am Ha'aretz (ignoramus, in late rabbinic terminology). It pains me when other Jewish blogs link to this heresy. Remember that R. Saadia Gaon, the Rambam, Ibn Ezra and many others spent years of their lives countering this deviant sect. It behooves us not to add to this Karaite's readership or to give him any credibility."

I believe he's talking about

posted by LukeFord | 11:02 AM |

Civil rights before safety By Daniel Pipes

Dennis Prager writes: The Left thinks legally, the Right thinks morally

posted by LukeFord | 8:51 AM |

I had this fantasy in my early days of exploring Judaism that rabbis would be so much more commonsensical and grounded in reality with their sermons than the theology-obsessed Christian clergy I grew up listening to. Boy, was I wrong.

I hear so many dvrei Torah of limited value. Imagine you have the opportunity to address 300 flawed people in a shul. So what do you talk about? I heard one prominent rabbi go on and on about how we try to trick the satan on Rosh Hashanah.

Another favorite useless topic is how is Purim like Yom Kippur. Then there are the drashot on how the different lulavim reflect the different types of Jews. Some don't smell so good but...

Please list in comments the most useless and cliched drashot you hear.

If you have the opportunity to speak to people on sacred things, you should not waste your time on anything that is not designed to lead to immediate behaviorial changes in your listeners. (Room should be allowed for intellectual pursuits, but still, the bottom line has to be the improvement of character.)

posted by LukeFord | 2:34 AM |

Haaretz: The police and state prosecution were drawing up a case Tuesday against former religious affairs minister Aharon Abuhatzeira on charges that include defrauding the Interior Ministry in hiring a maid whom he allegedly treated like a personal slave.

posted by LukeFord | 1:48 AM |

The halakhic basis for men wearing hats by Rabbi Abbadis.

posted by LukeFord | 1:30 AM |

Rabbi Shlomo Polachek: The Unassuming Iluy of Maichat

posted by LukeFord | 1:24 AM |

Chakira writes: Koshertoday reports that PM has stopped its Zalman’s line of Kosher Meat.

posted by LukeFord | 1:22 AM |

Tzemach Atlas writes: Ok, figure Madonna in Israel wants to visit Rachel's tomb in Bethlehem. What's more inappropriate than Madonna in Bethlehem, heh? So now figure a group of Jewish women gets all worked up. Take a look at the marvelous statement sign on the left of the pic.

posted by LukeFord | 1:20 AM |

Monday, September 20, 2004  

I've got a children's book coming out aimed at the offspring of converts to Judaism: "Mommy and Daddy Don't Love Jesus Anymore."

posted by LukeFord | 11:59 PM |

Shmarya writes: Yad Vashem blasted the leader of Women in Green on Monday for comparing the letter sent by the head of the disengagement administration to the Gaza settlers with the letter sent by the Judenrat in Berlin telling the Jews in Germany to prepare for their evacuation from Germany.

posted by LukeFord | 11:07 PM |

KRL writes: Jesus Christ, I can't stop laughing. The Catholic Church in Tucson AZ went belly up today. This has to be the funniest CH 11 letter ever written.

posted by LukeFord | 10:06 PM |

Cecile du Bois, Cathy Seipp's 15 yo daughter, writes: As Editor in Chief of my school newspaper, it is my responsibility to whip my staff into shape. A writer’s foe is his editor, and I shall assure myself that the staff will learn real journalism in the classroom, not tame journalism, where missed deadlines are always extended, and grammar mistakes are abundant, and the critique of authority (administration) is greatly discouraged.

posted by LukeFord | 9:47 PM |

Esther of MyUrbanKvetch reflects on the past year:

I landed a monthly singles column at the Jewish Week, which I'd been wanting for some time. Then the monthly column became biweekly--I interviewed reality television stars, HBO comedy writers and dating industry entrepreneurs. I've worked for vastly various companies and organizations...MTV and Yeshiva University, to name an unlikely pair. I started two blogs, met new friends and began receiving rave reviews. I've given lectures at my synagogue and summer camp reunion, and emceed a phenomenally well-attended karaoke event at the JCC. Even Madonna was jealous, showing her envy by her adoption of my name and elements of Judaism. The icing on the cake was my appearance on Good Day NY this morning, where Teresa Strasser quizzed me about the customs surrounding this holiday.

posted by LukeFord | 9:37 PM |

Memories of Radauti from Tzemach Atlas

In Memory of Isaac de Castro

posted by LukeFord | 9:15 PM |

Adam Ragil deconstructs this famous story: The boy whistled, and the gates of heaven swung open.

posted by LukeFord | 8:01 PM |

Ramah girls are easy

Esther says this wasn't her experience.

OU says no to kosher thong.

posted by LukeFord | 7:14 PM |

Email: Has Los Angeles Dodger Shawn Green ever joined a local shul or has a special rabbi? Know any bookies who might be taking bets as to whether he plays Friday or not?

posted by LukeFord | 5:30 PM |

I know a lot of Happy Minyan people in Los Angeles who give credence to this conspiracy theorist Barry Chamish.

From Yudelline: Barry Chamish was kind enough to send me his latest article, alleging that Ofra Haza was murdered in a conspiracy that centers around... Shimon Peres, who else?

posted by LukeFord | 4:27 PM |

Do you want to get rich this year? I do. My messianist friend Ariel from told me: "Based on what it says in Isaiah 65 it makes sense to me (and i got a positive reply from Moshiach that my hunch is correct) to invest in real estate in Eretz Yisroel and in Yerushalaim in particular (easiest way would be thru buying shares of REITs that invest there) and also in companies like and Givat Oilam oil company."

I want ten percent of whatever you make off the top.

Ariel adds: "I asked the Rebbe King Moshiach Shlita about The reply thru English volume of Igrot was to "not to be embarased in front of the mockers" this were the words i saw when i opened the letter but the beggining of the letter talks about the message of the miracle of Hanukah which now just made sense to me."

Luke says: Whatever you think of Ariel's beliefs, you have to admire his courage and join me in crying out - we want moshiach now!

posted by LukeFord | 3:41 PM |

Britney's wedding: no sign of Kabbalicious ritual.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 1:16 PM |

2:30 p.m. -- Westchester District Attorney Jeanine Pirro holds news conference to announce arrest of a man who allegedly recruited minors to post anti-Semitic and pro-Hitler material at various locations in Westchester; 111 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., White plains.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 11:45 AM |


posted by LukeFord | 11:21 AM |

By Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo: On Rosh Hashanah Jews reach the zenith of spirituality. Realizing this, Judaism prepares them for what will inevitably come next.

By Yossi Klein Halevi & Michael B. Oren: How Sharon beat the intifada — and what the United States can learn.

By Jonathan Tobin: Time to take the 5765 Jewish pundit quiz on next year's news.

posted by LukeFord | 11:10 AM |

Sunday, September 19, 2004  

Today's Bible Lesson

I've decided to begin augmenting my income by teaching Torah to all who wish to learn. (The monies that I receive shall be for my time.) Today's lesson begins with the axiom that a Jew must accept ALL of the Torah to be authentically Jewish, no matter how morally problematic a particular section might appear to the average goy.

I am no goy, but a full Jew; therefore, I accept all of the Torah. And now we begin with the first Book of Samuel.

15:1 Samuel also said unto Saul, The LORD sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the LORD.

15:2 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt.

15:3 Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.

[NOTE: This would appear to be a commandment by God to the Jews that they commit genocide against Amalek. Appearances can be deceiving, but not in this case. It says what it says, and I, as a Torah-true Jew, accept this totally.]

15:4 And Saul gathered the people together, and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand footmen, and ten thousand men of Judah.

15:5 And Saul came to a city of Amalek, and laid wait in the valley.

15:6 And Saul said unto the Kenites, Go, depart, get you down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them: for ye shewed kindness to all the children of Israel, when they came up out of Egypt. So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites.

15:7 And Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah until thou comest to Shur, that is over against Egypt.

15:8 And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.

15:9 But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.

15:10 Then came the word of the LORD unto Samuel, saying,

15:11 It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night.

15:12 And when Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning, it was told Samuel, saying, Saul came to Carmel, and, behold, he set him up a place, and is gone about, and passed on, and gone down to Gilgal.

15:13 And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the LORD: I have performed the commandment of the LORD.

15:14 And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear? 15:15 And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.

15:16 Then Samuel said unto Saul, Stay, and I will tell thee what the LORD hath said to me this night. And he said unto him, Say on.

15:17 And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed thee king over Israel? 15:18 And the LORD sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed.

15:19 Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the LORD, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the LORD? 15:20 And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the LORD, and have gone the way which the LORD sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.

15:21 But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God in Gilgal.

15:22 And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

15:23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.

15:24 And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice.

15:25 Now therefore, I pray thee, pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD.

15:26 And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee: for thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD hath rejected thee from being king over Israel.

15:27 And as Samuel turned about to go away, he laid hold upon the skirt of his mantle, and it rent.

15:28 And Samuel said unto him, The LORD hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou.

15:29 And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent.

15:30 Then he said, I have sinned: yet honour me now, I pray thee, before the elders of my people, and before Israel, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD thy God.

15:31 So Samuel turned again after Saul; and Saul worshipped the LORD.

15:32 Then said Samuel, Bring ye hither to me Agag the king of the Amalekites. And Agag came unto him delicately. And Agag said, Surely the bitterness of death is past.

15:33 And Samuel said, As the sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women. And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal.

15:34 Then Samuel went to Ramah; and Saul went up to his house to Gibeah of Saul.

So God was very upset with Saul for having spared an Amalekite. The moral of this story is that when Jews are commanded by God to exterminate a people, they must not leave ANY survivors behind.

If you are a real Jew like me, you accept this totally, and hold your head high when telling your gentile friends and neighbors that although the Nazi Holocaust against the Jews was pretty bad, we Jews had and continue to have every right to do likewise against Amalek. Only we've got to be more thorough about it.

Next week: I discuss the theoretical basis for Jewish prohibitions against wearing linen and wool.

15:35 And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul: and the LORD repented that he had made Saul king over Israel.

posted by LukeFord | 8:23 PM |

Luke's Heart of Darkness Spoils His Rosh Hashanah

posted by LukeFord | 4:34 PM |

Desperate Times

My commentary on today's NYT editorial spread - "What should Kerry Do?"

posted by Deranged GOT Fan | 2:18 PM |

So the NYJWeek has two Ains on its front page in the current issue: the regular Stewart and the special Dan. The latter has written a few previous articles [1, 2, 3, 4]. Can any readers enlighten us as to who Dan Ain is?

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 11:44 AM |

The Story Behind 'The Plot Against America' By PHILIP ROTH

posted by LukeFord | 11:26 AM |

Extremism in Israel Is Fueled by a Growing Ultra-Orthodox Movement in the U.S.
By Allan C. Brownfeld, Washington Report, Jan-Feb 2001

Mirror-Image Jewish and Islamic Religious Extremists Threaten Israel’s Movement Toward Peace

posted by LukeFord | 2:19 AM |

My book reviews:

God in All Moments: B
Jews & Gentiles: A Historical Sociology of Their Relations: F
The Divine Symphony: The Bible's Many Voice, by Israel Knohl: B+
Rape: A Love Story, by Joyce Carol Oates: B+
Textual Reasonings: Jewish Philosophy and Text Study at the End of the Twentieth Century: F
An Introduction to Jewish Ethics by Louis E. Newman: B+
Heschel, Hasidism and Halakha by Samuel H. Dresner: A
This is Burning Man by Brian Doherty: B
The Anti-Chomsky Reader: B+
Sam Spiegel: D
Manic Power by Jeffrey Meyers: A

posted by LukeFord | 2:17 AM |
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