Thoughts on Judaism

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Rebel's dictionary II

A continuation

Emunas Chachamim - Faith that whatever is said by a particular sage who agrees with me is true

Emunas Tzadikim - Faith that agreement with me bestows on the person the level of a tzadik. It follows that a person with practices with which I disagree cannot be a tzadik.

Emunah - belief in the truth of the contents of certain books

Apikorsis - belief in the truth of the contents of certain books

Tzadik - 1) a saintly person to whom I look for inspiration. 2) Someone who has died recently. 3) A person who can perform magic.

Daas Toireh - Rationalization for not thinking independently

G-dliness - things I like or approve of.

Pure - not defiled by things I disapprove of.

Lakewood - NJ sister city to Kandahar, Afghanistan

Monsey - NY sister city to Lakewood, NJ

Christianity - a religion where adherents believe that, though the Messiah is dead, he continues to "live" and perform miracles. Many adherents believe that the Messiah is a god and bolster their opinion with spurious quoting of biblical verses. They believe that the only true path to G-d is through connection with their Messiah - god - savior. See Moshiachist and Elokist.

Moiser - Someone who reveals my criminal activity to the police. See RAT and DOITY RATFINK.

Tzedaka - Money given to a Jewish institution or Rabbi in exchange for respect

Poor people - People who must depend on Jewish institutions and Rabbis for basic needs and get no respect, and in some caes. (Hey, I just had an idea! Why don't we just cut out the ... Oh, never mind.)

Holiday Tree - a Christmas tree in a city with Jewish lawyers

Evolution - Only a theory, not a fact

Intelligent design - Neither a theory, nor a fact

Skepticism - Belief in the improbable but plausible situation that something of which someone wants to convince you may not be true

Carbon dating - a false art where science is used to confound Torah, based on silly principles (see Science) which, while they are observable repeatably in a laboratory, must be approached with the highest critical skepticism

Uranium dating - see carbon dating. Uranium dating is claimed to be valid to over 100,000 years, so it is silly and impossible. Feh!

4 element physics - Torah true science discussing the composition of all matter from air, water, fire, and earth, based on sound principles (see Medieval tradition) that the propogaters of silly principles (see Science) reject. Must be approached with minimum critical skepticism

Galgalim - Orbits of planets, moon and sun around the Earth, supposedly disproven by the silly principles (see Science), whose proponents claim to have sent spacecraft to these celestial bodies, based on their errant "scientific" calculations. Galgalim and Ptolemaic astronomy must be approached with minimum critical skepticism. Galgalim, mazalos and kochavim are not only spiritual and intelligent, but also a bit sensitive so don't say anything that might offend them.

Ptolemaic astronomy - A workable geocentric model of the universe that is Torah true, despite being neither workable nor geocentric

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Chicken Soup for the Blogger's Soul

I should be learning
I should be jogging
But I just sit here
unhealthily blogging

Tis I who wants it
Tis I who needs it
I often wonder
who even reads it

So I went to
the naturopath
he said to take
a nice warm bath

Next to the homeopath
with wisdom infinite
He gave me a pill
with nothing in it

After that
to The OMD,
for an herbal tea
with bubbling chi

The acupuncturist
was next to pass
He stuck a needle
in my elbow, near the first arm meridian

Next to go
was the wise po-wa
he scratched my back
with a grizzly's claw

Reiki, ayurveda
energy of asia
ginger root, ginseng
and echinacea

I tried
the chiropractors cracks
algae weed
with soaking flax

I still feel
slower than a dog
I might as well
just sit and blog.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

A Mother's dream

My Dream

At 6 AM the bell went off
calling me from my sleep
I fought and strove for half and hour
to keep my slumber deep

At 6:45 I was resolved
I gave up on my dream
I rolled myself right out of bed
To take one for the team

At 7 it was time to tell
the kiddies the bad news
The snow did not impress the school
put on your rubber shoes

"I can't find my shoes and socks!"
"I can't find my book!"
"I can't find my pants and shirt."
Did they ever think to LOOK?!

Feed 'em pack 'em pile em in
its minutes after 8
No telling what they'll do to those
who come 5 minutes late

I'm sick, I'll barf yells chayim'kl
If I must go in that car
Tell them to move the school to here
It's really much too far

Away we go, right through the snow
our tires spin and spray
We slip, we slide and sideways glide
at last we're under way.

"I forgot my bookbag"
yells Moishe from his seat
"Sara'le keeps touching me"
"There's nothing I can eat!"

We're stuck behind a snowplow.
We're stuck behind a wreck.
We're at the reddest stop light
That truck just covered us in dr***.

Pull in, park and pile out
and don't forget your lunch.
"And don't forget the baby!"
who just landed with a crunch

Go Moishe, Go Chayim'kl
go Sara'le and kayla
On Yossi, on Gavi
On Chana and Bayla

Now its back, the way I came
the slushy mushy street
Finally home, I see the goo
that's now stuck to the seat.

I jump, I yell, I'm free at last
They won't be back for hours
I'll learn to play the violin
I'll plant some indoor flowers.

I'll clean the house, I'll call my aunt
I'll take a writing class
I'll finally clean the shower
Why, I'll even do the glass!

As I enter my front door.
I hear the primal call
There it is enticing me
as it did all fall

I follow its alluring sound
its lovely siren song
Curses, its almost 9 AM
this day's been much too long.

I climb the stairs so slowly
A yawn consumes me whole
My sheets and blankets welcome me
My dream entraps my soul.

My dream is of tomorrow
The day I'll run and play
The day that I'll do all that stuff
That I didn't do today.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

What's Taking Him So Long?

Is the Moshiach coming?
What's taking him so long
We are crying,laughing, humming
We have tried to sing a song.

We have written mounds of drasha
We unfurled a yellow flag
We have punished every rasha
We've rejected every (insert epithet for homosexual)

We have eaten only yashan
We have shechted only chasidish
Chanukiyas like melech Bashan
Our kids learn only yiddish

We have danced around a bima
We have walked in a parade
We have called from here to Lima
Our music's only Jewish played

Our clothes are black as midnight
Our shirts as white as snow
We have studied shas by moonlight
Our hats are creased just so.

Our cholent's hot and steamy
Our kugel's very sweet
Our stories are long and dreamy
We've m'kareved the elite.

We've followed every hidur
We've carried all the bricks
We've davened slowly in the sidur
We've made kidush before six

We've prepared the rooms and hallways
We've yelled full heart and soul
Yechi HaMelech always
Unbelievers to She'ol

We wear the finest sheitel
We are extremely tznius
In our town, it might be fatal
To wear skirts above the knee'es.

Through our sefer we are thumbing
We are singing still the song
WE are ready for his coming.
What's taking HIM so long?

Monday, December 19, 2005

Treifos and Mystical Approach

MT, hilchos Sh'chita 10: 12-13 (unedited translation) Note: Some editions do not separate these two halachas, so they are designated halacha 12 in those editions.

12. One may not add to these Treifos at all, since everything that happens to a domesticated animal, undomesticated animal or bird other than these which the sages of the first generations designated and the courts agreed with them, it is possible that it will live, and even if it is known to us from medical practice that it will not live in the end.

13. So too these that they designated and said that they are Treif, even though that we see in medical practice that is available to us that some of them will not die, and it is possible that some of them will live, we have none other than what the sages designated, as it says "according to the Torah that they will teach you."

Rational interpretation:

When we are judging treifos, we must go by the standards set in place by the mesora, not by our observation. Thus, even if we can cure something or prolong its life, now or in the future, that does not change the halacha. Similarly, even if we know through experience that an animal cannot live under the condition, but the mesora is that it is kosher, then we must judge that, in the experience of the first generations, it is possible that the animal will live. Since, they would only need a small number of cases to establish possibility of life, halacha 12 seems reasonable. We have never known a case where one lived, but the sages had heard of it and judged accordingly.

Mystical interpretation:

When looking at treifos, if a condition is considered kosher by the first generations, but we now observe it to be treif, then the reality warps around the psak of the first generations and the batei din, and it is physically possible that the animal will live, regardless of the laws of biology. Similarly, if we observe that an animal can live in a certain condition, but the sages said that it was treif, then we must rely on our sages and not change the halacha.

Rebel's observation:

Obviously, the mystical interpretation can be read into halacha 12, but not so well into halacha 13. You cannot apply the principle that reality warps around halacha, because in halacha 13, you are observing the refutation of that. They said that the animal cannot live, but we observe that it can. That is why it does not follow the language from halacha 12 and say "it is impossible that it will live". Yet, halacha 13 begins "so, too", implying that the Rambam saw these two siyifim as extensions of each other. Rather it points out that we must pasken like the sages regardless of the quoted reasons behind the halacha. The quoted reason may only be PART OF THE REASON that the halacha came down as it did.

One might also conclude that, since the Rambam states this as a halacha in Treifos (Sh'chita), it is not a general principle of halacha that we follow the sages when the circumstances change, but it is specific to trefos. When the Rambam learns one halacha out as a general rule, he states so. Yet, the pasuk that he quotes does not have any specific connection to treifos. So why tuck it away here in hilchos shchita? Perhaps it is because shchita is completely defined by mesora, with only a remez in the written Torah. Therefore, the entire matter of shchita is dependent on the ability of the sages to define mesora, even if it will fly in the face of later discovery that they have not anticipated. In other words, whatever they will discover in the future (unknown to the chachamim), the mesora that they transmit in the name of "mesora" will still stand, since they have transmitted only part of the reason for the psak, in order to define and limit the halacha properly. In the introduction to mishna part IV the Rambam lay sout how we can tell what is mesora and what is not.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Chabad Rebbe and Spontaneous Generation

Follow the link and search spontaneous generation, and you will find an answer from Chabad apologists Ginsberg and Branover (two fo the most quoted on scientific issues) based on letters from the CR himself. It is a positive defense obfuscation. IOW, they argue that just because we see eggs and worms, does not mean that these worms came from those eggs. Ergo, there CAN BE spontaneous generation, and no one can disprove it. The Pasteurs would quickly counter that no such "spontaneous generation" occurred when outside access was denied. However, our brilliant apologists would say the often quoted axiom that "absence of evidence is not evidence of absense" and that cases that are "highly improbable" are nonetheless feasible.

Well, gentlemen, then there is no disproof of anything ever, and the Rambam's implication to the contrary is false. I challenge you to produce any positive evidence, a single observation, from anywhere, that spontaneous generation, the generation of life from the inanimate occurs. It should be easy enough given today's technology. (Note: the Talmud and early sources assume that it occurs in many species with regularity, not just that it is "highly improbable". Note the discussion about lice and lice eggs.) I hear only the chirping of spontaneously generated crickets.

Without examining this struggling apologetic line for line, shooting fish in a barrel, I offer the following defense of the position. (Did he say DEFENSE? My G-d I think he did!)

When one observes very small eggs, larval worms, and grown worms or insects, it is difficult to make the connection between each of these stages from the previous. The reproduceable effect will be that if one puts these eggs and / or larvae in proper environment, in a place unaccessible by an uncontrolled environment, the worms or insects will grow. If one were to put in only sterile spoiled fruit or sterile mud, no organisms would grow. However, halacha goes by observation, and the observer sees two or three separate entities, an egg (if it is microscopic, halacha might not even consider it existent), larvae, and mature organism. Thus, halacha must deal with them separately, because halacha is instructing the average OBSERVER in what must be done. Thus, the organisms ARE spontaneously generated from a halachic point of view, and the descriptions of that process are correct, from that point of view. The underlying apologetic argument emerges OK from this. We cannot say that the eggs, larvae, mature line is OBSERVED, not by a scientist in a lab, but by the OBSERVER in any particular case, trying to make a halachic determination. Hence, the "we cannot say that it never happens, even though we observe it in a lab" type proof is SUSTAINED, and all runners are safely on base.

1) Spontaneous generation proofs in science are sustained.
2) The halacha that some organisms are treated as spontaneously generated is sustained.
3) The defense premise of the apologetic is even sustained.

And most importantly, the only way to explain all of this is with the hashkafa that the Chazal were discussing halachic assumptions, rather than scientific reality, and the fundamentalists are REFUTED.

Update: Even more nauseating apologetic at Frumteens