Sunday, November 27, 2005

Homosexuality and Judaism

UPDATE: See Steg's comments on the distinction between "being homosexual" and engaging in homosexual intercourse. I don't want the point of this post nor the questions I pose to be dismissed because of that distinction, so I changed the post to specifically address dealing with those who engage in homosexual intercourse. Thanks, Steg.

How are we supposed to treat Jewish homosexuals Jewish people who engage in homosexual intercourse?

I suppose the answer to this question will depend on one's view towards homosexuality in Judaism.

I'll leave analysis of the torah view of homosexuality to others like Gil (UPDATE: I didn't have to leave it for Gil because he already dsicussed the issue here, here, here, here and here; thanks, Gil) and the debate about homosexuality to other bloggers from the right and the left. What I want to discuss here is the practical results of the halachic analysis and debate: when all is said and done, what do we do now?

How are we to view those who willfully engage in such activity or alternatively, are genetically disposed towards such proclivities? Do we treat them disdainfully as sinful or do we view them compassionately as ill? Do we shun them and keep them out of our communities and synagogues or do we pity them and welcome them?

If we view homosexuals those who engage in homosexual intercourse as sinners, what is our obligation? Are they worse sinners than those who cheat on their taxes who seem to have carte blanche in Jewish communities when it comes to gaining forgiveness (especially in the Orthodox community where standards should be higher) or do we view homosexuality engaging in homosexual intercourse as a sin involving "moral turpitude" which carries with it a much higher price? We don't have a system in place in our time where we punish violators of halacha. We don't punish cheaters and embezzlers. So should it be our responsibility to "punish" homosexuals those who engage in homosexual intercourse by excluding them from our communities?

If we view them as "sick", do we not have an obligation to help these people? While I am the last person to suggest how to do so, exiling them from our shuls and families certainly can't be the way to go.

What about our children? How do we protect them from the influences of homosexuals those who engage in homosexual intercourse? I would imagine that most people would have some level of discomfort allowing homosexuals those who engage in homosexual intercourse to teach our children in schools. But how far does this go? Do we allow our children to speak to them? Do we invite them for Shabbos meals and have our children get to know them? And how do we explain to our children why it is that we don't allow them to be alone with these individuals?

If you are one who takes a harsher view towards these issues and the treatment of homosexuals those who engage in homosexual intercourse, what do you say to the families of these people? Are they to disown them?

These are tough questions. I don't have the answers but have been looking for some.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

He's Back!

It's the end of the world as we know it.........

It's the end of the world as we know it..........

But I feel fine!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Way To Go Hesdernik!

By now, I'm sure you've heard of the battle on the Lebanese border last night in which 4 Hezbullah TERRORISTS (not fighters; not militants) were killed.

Well, see here and here for the story behind the killings.

Baruch Hashem for Hesder yeshivos, their boys, and of course all brave warriors who fight the good fight for the IDF.

Wake Up Leftists!

The New York Times has an editorial in today's paper that just oozes praise and admiration for Ariel Sharon, Israel's new "Centrist". At the same time, the piece paints the Likud and Likud loyalists as practical terrorists, hell-bent on destroying any opportunity for peace that comes Israel's way.

Since when did being "right-wing" make one an enemy of peace? Since when did concern for the security of a nation and safety of its children turn one into a warmonger?

When is Sharon and all the other leftists finally going to realize that in the world's eyes, the more Israel gives away and the more it endangers its security and the more it jeopardizes its future, the more it will be loved in the world? The world never showed an Israeli leader so much respect like they did at the UN after Sharon's Gaza expulsion. When Sharon cedes the West Bank, and then half of Jerusalem the world will show him even more respect while snickering behind his back and wondering amongst themselves why they didn't realize much earlier that he was such a sucker. If Sharon agrees to fork over the entire country, I promise you, they will rename the UN General Assembly after him.

Wake up morons on the Left.

To Tuck or Not to Tuck

Gil has a post discussing tucking in Tzitzis.

Interesting post, but the real issue is as follows:


Jerry: Coming.

George walks to the door wearing a shower cap.

Lupe: Hello. I have more towels.

George: Oh good, good, come in. Come in, welcome. I'm George. And this is
Jerry, over there, on the phone, that's Jerry. And you are, um?

Lupe: Lupe.

George: Lupe. That's very nice, very nice. Listen, are you going to be making
up the bed in the morning?

Lupe: Yes.

George: Fine. Excellent. Could you do me a favor? Could you not tuck the
blankets in? 'Cause I can't sleep all tucked in.

Lupe: Oh, yes, yes.

George: Yes, I like to just be able to take the blankets and swish them and
swirl them, you know what I mean? You know, I don't like being all tucked in.
I like to have a lot of room, you know I like to have my toes pointed up in the
air. Just like to scrunch up the blankets.

Lupe: Yes, yes. It's too tight to sleep.

George: Exactly, you know what I'm talking about, right?

Lupe: It's too tight. (Gesturing towards Jerry) Him too?

George: Uh, Jerry, you want your blankets tucked in?

Jerry: Excuse me, what?

George: You want your blankets tucked in?

Jerry: What blankets?

George: When Lupe makes up the beds in the morning.

Jerry: I don't know, whatever they do.

Lupe: I tuck in? Yes?

Jerry: Tuck in, tuck in.

George: Alright, so that's one tuck and one no-tuck.

Lupe: Okay.

George: Yeah. One second sweetheart. Jerry, I really think it'd be easier if
you didn't tuck.

Jerry: Excuse me, fine, you don't want me to tuck, put me down for a no-tuck.

George (to Lupe): Two no-tucks.

Jerry: Uh, hang on a second, You know what? Changed my mind, make it a tuck.

George: You just said you weren't tucking.

Jerry: I'm tucking! Hello? Hello? They hung up on me. They don't know where
Kramer is anyway.

George: Alrighty, so. That's one tuck and one no-tuck. Got that?*

Jerry: Excuse me, um, did you see a piece of paper on the nightstand here
earlier today crumpled up like a napkin?

Lupe: Oh, yes, yes. I throw away when we clean the room.

Jerry: Oh, okay, thanks.

Lupe: Thank you.

George: Thank you.

Lupe: Bye-bye.

George: Alright, Lupe, bye-bye now.

Lupe: Bye.

George: Bye-bye.

Lupe exits.

* For the record, I like my blankets untucked.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Do Us a Favor

Look. You know we are hurt and vulnerable. We are going through a very rough time. GH says he is finished and not coming back. So please. If you are going to post a comment (which not too many of you seem interested in doing at the moment), please don't use GH's name in vain. GH says his comments come with a teudah (certificate) so you aren't fooling us. We know you aren't the real thing. So make up another name and use that. Or impersonate DovBear. His name is far from holy. Don't use GH. It's what he would've wanted.

Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Recognizing the need to enhance and expand the role of women in talmud Torah, the halakhic process, religious life and communal leadership within the bounds of halakha.

From Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Website

I wonder if that mushy, fem line helps them pick up chicks.

The Rebbe Harav Hagaon R' Gil Student Shlita?

It seems we have finally gotten Gil's attention. First a post about how to electronically sign up to be a Hasid. Followed closely by a post on The Gedolim and that facilitated communication garbage. (Sidebar: That was atrocious mental abuse perpetrated on those innocent folks who needless to say don't need any. I personally know people who work in the field of special education and Autism who were outraged by the stupidity of those spreading this plague on a desperate and therefore easily duped segment of our community. To dump that crap on any public is ludicrous but it was especially heinous to use "spirituality" and "emunah pshuta" endorsed by "Leading Gedolim". That is just sick. Why anyone would ever give the time of day let alone respect someone who endorses this fraud is beyond this Jewish observer.) It's obvious. Clear as day. He wants the title. He thinks he is GH material. Personally, I am torn. He seems to be overqualified in the Torah department and underqualified in the Humor department. Honestly, he is as dry as the Alter Rebbetzin's Mandelbrot after a three day Yontif. The olam needs a leader that fights fire with fire when necessary. Someone to rally the troops. Someone to shout out the glaring hypocrisy. Someone to take back OJ.

NBC executive: "But why will people watch?"
George (smugly): "Because it's on TV."
NBC exec: "Not yet."

Gadlus? Yes. The next Gadol Hador? Not yet.

Gil's Naiveté

Gil wonders whether the Gedolim have issued a retraction regarding an issue he discusses here.

LOL! A retraction by Gedolim! Yeah, right. LOL!!!

GH Sighting!

GH has posted. Oh, what a beautiful day!

Political Earthquake in Israel?

Now that it is official and Ariel Sharon has left the Likud to form a new "centrist" (read: Left) party, what will change? Can anyone describe for me any scenario where Ariel Sharon will not win in the next elections?

Please. I'm beggin ya!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Welcome, Muqata

The Muqata seems to be on the ball when it comes to Israel. Something tells me he isn't the biggest fan of Ariel Sharon. This man gets a link on our blog list!

I'm curious how The Muqata feels about the upcoming elections. How will those who feel betrayed by Sharon vote when it comes down to Sharon or the extreme-leftist Amir Peretz?

Is it a matter of practicality and Orange-camp voters will have to decide who is worse for their cause going forward or is it a matter of principle and those voters will simply cast their ballot for the candidate that runs opposite Sharon?

I'll discuss my views as we get closer to the election.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Which Way is Israel?

Jerry Seinfeld on ethnic sensitivity:

You know, I don't get it. Not allowed to ask a Chinese person where the Chinese restaurant is! I mean, aren't we all getting a little too sensitive? I mean, someone asks me which way's Israel, I don't fly off the handle.

The Rav on Ceremonialism in Prayer

Rav Soloveichik Z'T'L writes:

"An overflow of heartfulness and soulfulness, the sound of “out of distress I called”, “from the depths I have called you, Hashem”; this is the melodiousness of service of the heart, in which form drowns in content, prose in emotion, and outwardness in inwardness. Here the heart and truth react. I imagine to myself the awe of Yom Kippurim in the beit midrash of the Ba’al Shem Tov or the Ba’al haTanya, ob”m. There they certainly did not employ music, choirs and pomp. There were no platforms decorated with rugs, flowers and rabbis trained in linguistic expression and pleasant manners . . . Does a spring which gushes forth from the ground with mighty primordial power need any artificial form to grant it majesty and dignity? Does the lava which is spewn from a volcano need to flow according to the rules of hollow and empty decorum? Their beauty, the majesty of strength, is revealed precisely in their naturalness, originality and spontaneity. And is not man who supplicates his Creator a gushing spring or even a mountain spewing fire? It is clear that prayer is the antithesis of ceremony with regard to the relationship between content and form, heart and word. Thus all these aesthetic emendations in prayer, instead of deepening the experiences will rob it of its content and soul.

The other characteristics of ceremony are also exposed as [an inauthentic] hybrid with service of the heart. If genuine prayer is performed in the heart, there is no need for a master of ceremonies who will mediate between the congregation and the Creator . . . There is no need for the rabbi to stand on a platform, bedecked in “priestly vestments”, and conduct services. He and the simple Jew are of equal lineage before the Omnipresent and it is incumbent upon [both of] them to pray on the lower level of the synagogue without any distinction . . . "

“Tefillatam shel Yehudim,” Mayanot, vol. VIII, pp. 9-11.

Parsha: Rabbi Saks on Eliezer's Inner Conflict

Rabbi Saks, Chief Rabbi of England, offers an amazing insight into Avraham's servant's conflict and taamei hamikra.

"........The shalshelet is an unusual note. It goes up and down, up and down, as if unable to move forward to the next note. It was the 16th century commentator Rabbi Joseph Ibn Caspi (in his commentary to Bereishith 19:16) who best understood what it was meant to convey, namely a psychological state of uncertainty and indecision. The graphic notation of the shalshelet itself looks like a streak of lightning, a "zigzag movement" (tenuah me'uvetet), a mark that goes repeatedly backwards and forwards. It conveys frozen motion - what Hamlet called "the native hue of resolution sicklied o'er by the pale cast of thought" - in which the agent is torn by inner conflict. The shalshelet is the music of ambivalence.

One instance occurs in Genesis 24:12. Abraham has sent his servant (not identified in the text, but taken by the commentators to be Eliezer) to find a wife for his son Isaac. He goes to the city of Haran where Abraham's family remained while he went on to the land of Canaan. Arriving at the town's well, he proposes a test: the woman who comes to draw water, offers some to the traveller, and in addition gives water to his camels will be the one chosen by G-d for his master's son. Over the "and he said" introducing his request of G-d that this test should succeed, the masoretic tradition has placed a shalshelet.

The commentators identify multiple sources of ambivalence at this point. First, was the test permitted? Jewish law forbids relying on "omens" (Deut. 18: 10, Hullin 95b), and Eliezer may have felt that his test was dangerously close to pagan practice (Ran to Hullin 95b, however, states that Eliezer's conduct was legitimate; he sought not an omen but a sign of the woman's character).

Ibn Caspi himself suggests that Eliezer was unsure as to whether a single test like this was sufficient grounds on which to base so fateful a decision as the choice of a marriage partner for Isaac.

The midrash (Bereishith Rabbah 59: 9), however offers the most insightful explanation. Eliezer had mixed feelings not about the test but about the whole mission itself. Until that point, says the Midrash, he had been "sitting and weighing whether his own daughter was suitable for Isaac." He had hoped, in other words, that one way or another, Abraham's estate would pass to him.

There are two cues that led the midrash to this hypothesis. The first is that when Abraham first spoke to G-d about his childlessness, he said: "O Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus" (Ber. 15: 2). Eliezer, at that time, had reason to hope that he would be Abraham's heir.

The second is that when Abraham charges him with the mission to find a wife for his son, he replies, "What if [ulai] the woman is unwilling to come back with me to this land?" As Ibn Ezra notes (Commentary to Psalm 116: 16), the word ulai is not always neutral. Sometimes it signifies an eventuality one does not want to happen, but at others it indicates an event one does wish for. Eliezer's "what if" may have been an unconscious expression of the fact that, with half his mind, he wanted the mission to fail. That would once again place him or his daughter in a position to be Abraham's heir.

It was therefore with profoundly mixed feelings that he prayed for a woman to appear who would be G-d's choice of Isaac's wife......."

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Good Work

He's no GH.............

but I like The Jewish Worker a lot. Good posts on interesting topics. I only wish he would post more often.

Conversation with a Nutjob

Have you seen these "conversation" posts that Out of Step Jew shares with his readers? I think OOSJ needs to have a conversation with some of these people!

UPDATE: I actually enjoy reading OOSJ. I like many of his posts. See, for example, his recent posts on his Chasideshe's cousin's wedding. Very well done. It's just the "conversations" that freak me out a little.

DB Misses GH!

DovBear writes about his post-GH blogging melancholy. Not everyone who contributes to this blog sees the value that DB adds to the blogosphere but I think we agree that DB is right this time. It's not the same without GH.

The Ban-ner

Ok this not a post about the Gedolim and Rabbi Slifkin. Kudos to R' Gil and others for linking RNS's latest essay on "Elephants Can't Jump". Perhaps we have the making of a major motion picture. Including footage of Woody Harrelson's unfortunate demise (don't worry it's only a movie) when stomped into unrecognizable pulp by a flying Elephas Maximus on it's way to the hole finishing with a 360 tomahawk dunk. Hey!.....Could happen if only you believe.

Actually, what I wanted to say was:

"And we also like anything SEINFELD. Giddyup."

Just to clarify. I felt the "we" in the tag line sounded a bit gay. Which we are not. NOT that there is anything wrong with that.

A Gadol Remembered

As I, like many Hasidim of the Gadol worldwide rended their keyboards (the G and H keys are removed for the seven days of mourning referred to as Shiva) and sat low up against the CPU tower under my desk ( this initially engendered quizzical looks from co workers, but when explained as a religious custom akin to leaving early on Friday was actually encouraged ) I contemplated a future without our leader. So strong. So inspiring. So honest. All qualities I admire and hope to incorporate into my life. It's what he would have wanted. To be a link in the mesorah is an awesome task and he taught us how that doesn't mean accepting any and all information just because it came from someone who received semicha from Verizon. There is work to do. Things need to be changed. Many of the goals of Orthodox Judaism have been overshadowed by mindless ritual and dogma. The Gadol stood for taking back Orthodoxy. To live up to the ideal of being an Am Hanivchar and an Ohr Lagoyim. We must continue his work in his memory. To this end we will search for a suitable replacement. Despite the fact that the Gadol did so much good, we will avoid the temptation to declare him the Moshiach, post silly billboards on major highways and hold fake ceremonies as if his ghost is in the building. He's gone. We will accept our loss and search for a new leader. Join us in this important quest.


Well it looks like the Godol really has hung it up. It's been several days now. Nothing. Just a new picture and a tease caption. We were avid fans. Loyal readers. We even posted once in a while but we weren't part of the "click". Looking in from the outside was fine. GH kept us coming back. He kept us interested. He kept us laughing. His intellectual honesty and direct approach to what is wrong with Orthodoxy was a breath of fresh air. And not dry air like some other blogs.

We've been trying to find a suitable replacement. Checking out the popular blogs as well as some of the "heir apparents". So far, it is not looking promising.

With the goal in mind of trying to find someone to fill the void that GH left, we will be tracking, reviewing and critiquing other Jewish blogs in the hope of bringing back some of the blogging joy that the GH provided. The bloggers can ignore us or work with us. We are here to help. Constructive criticism is the idea although we're pretty sure the theme of the post will degenrate into just mean attacks.

And we're off...............