כי לא מחשבותי מחשבותיכם

כִּי לֹא מַחְשְׁבוֹתַי מַחְשְׁבוֹתֵיכֶם, וְלֹא דַרְכֵיכֶם דְּרָכָי

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Daat Emet Post

The post, dated 20.01.2010, deals with the following 3 questions of a guy called Eli, obviously in a state of a post-kiruv syndrome:

  1. Isn't the fact that the Torah remained nearly unchained as opposed to other religious document a proof that Judaism is true?
  2. If the Torah is invented, why did people follow Moshe's chukim (inexplicable laws) if there is no benefit to it? Example is some people needing to divorce their wives after Matan Torah told them that relatives were forbidden.
  3. Why would prophets risk their credibility in writing prophecies that might not come true?
The answers, of course:
  1. The Torah did not remain unchanged, as proven in pamphlet 9 of Daat Emet.
  2. Who says that all laws were given at once? And, yes, there are other precedents such as female circumcision that were accepted despite the fact that they were damaging their adherents.
  3. The art of being a prophet is to produce prophecies that were vague enough to explain them as true (similar to horoscopes) and they were written down ipso facto. Besides, some of them did indeed not come true (like the Torah's own promise of abundance on the 6th year of a shemita cycle).
Note: Besides the fact that all premises were rubbish, it is sort of self-understood that Matan Torah really happened. In any case, the answers of Daat Emet are, as usual, highly recommended.

Read the original post here (English translation available by clicking the English button).

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Spotted a Spoddick?

As I was rushing towards the platform with a treif chocolate croissant in my hand, my heart skipped a beat when I saw this man from a distance. Actually, I only saw the spoddick from afar:


As I came closer, I saw his jeans and all:


My anxiety turned into another idea for a post!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Mayseh Shehoyoh

Someone I know told me last Shabbos that he was approached by his neighbor the other day. She is a masseuse and not of the reputable sort, may I add.

She asked him: “May I ask you a delicate question? I get some customers that also have these white strings hanging from their pants. What are these meant for?”

My acquaintance managed to blurt out that this was to prevent them from sinning. He only realized how ridiculous that sounded once he already said it!

If there is a God, he certainly has a funny sense of humor :)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Atheism Kills People – Or Not?

You surely must have heard the following argument over and over again: atheists have no morals and therefore tend to do more evil. Like killing innocent people. Think about Hitler, Stalin, Mao and others.
Now if people would only believe in the Riboinoy shel Oilom, people would be more moral and Auschwitz could’ve been avoided. Inshallah.
The post Atheism doesn’t kill people, fanaticism does from the Center for Inquiry brings some convincing points to the contrary:
We humans do deserve harsh judgment. Some religion can be used for evil, while nonbelievers can be evil too. Still, religion cannot show that god exists by complaining that nonbelievers tend to be more evil. Prisons are full of religious people.
No evidence of ordinary criminality rampant among nonbelievers can be found. In a desperation move, atheism gets blamed for modern warfare. You've heard the familiar tune -- Hitler, Stalin, and Mao were atheists, they all were responsible for terrible mass murder; therefore, atheism is responsible for terrible mass murder.
Let's see -- religion's defenders ignore 8,000 years of religious mayhem by many millions of believers, in order to pick out three recent non-Christians? It is just hypocrisy to think that such an argument over evil won't work both ways. Maybe fanaticism is just fanaticism and that's what gets people killed. No one excuses those recent psychopaths for their evil deeds, but atheism doesn't deserve to get blamed.
We need a moment of logical clarity here. Six points:
First, pointing to Hitler, Stalin, or Mao as consequences of nonbelief cannot help demonstrate the existence of God. If anything, such tragedy suffices as evidence against the existence of the Christian (or Jewish – ed) God (see the problem of evil).
Second, Hitler was religious, hated atheism, and most Nazis were Christians [see Steigmann-Gall, The Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of Christianity, 1919–1945 , 2003], while atheist Stalin and atheist Mao eradicated millions for totalitarian power, not for atheism. If Stalin and Mao had been religious, they would have murdered all the same (consider the Catholicism of France's Napoleon or Italy's Mussolini).
Read it all here.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Mystical McDonalds Experience

I took a walk today with a colleague after having a rather stressful performance review (I received a B which is ‘OK’ instead of B+, which would reflect the more than average performance I achieved). My manager said she agreed but was not allowed to have more than ‘less than a handful’ of people with a B+. (The higher management here really sucks.)
In any case, after having had a good chat, I sneaked into a nearby McDonalds and had some French fries with a dessert. As I looked at the paper placemat, I saw a picture of a student next to a bookcase saying that McDonalds helped him to finance his studies. As I had a closer look at the book titles, I could not help but notice that at least four out of perhaps 40 writers were Jewish: Philip Roth, Stefan Zweig, Isaac Bashevis Singer and Leon de Winter. How ironic to find them on a paper placemat in McDonalds!
In a former life, I would have thought that was al Min Hashamayim and therefore either a sign to stop eiting treife or as a consequence of ‘Aveirah Goreres Aveirah’.
Religion can really ferk up your mind.

Friday, January 8, 2010

How to Rein in Religious Extremism

Great post on body scanning and a way to reign in muslim (or OJ) extremism at the Center for Inquiry.

Spoiler: I think body scanners are too much of an invasion of one's privacy and think the approach is wrong (I prefer the Israeli tested system of personal contact, etc. I just found the idea of using them as a weapon against extremism quite amusing. Sex as a weapon against extremism, just like holding up porn magazines during the infamous Intel Shabbos protests.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Misplaced Displacement

In one of his latest posts called The Displacement Lesson, Gil Student from the Hirhurim Blog (a blog that I respect BTW!) asks a great question on Genesis 47:21 (“And as for the people, he moved them into the cities, from one end of the borders of Egypt to the other end.”):

“This displacement of vast numbers of people is perplexing. The Gemara (Chullin 60b) explains that he did it so the Egyptians could not call the Jewish people "exiles", since they were all displaced. “

Typical Gemora answer, what can you say. He continues:

“Rashi (Gen. 47:21) expands on this, that his intent was to remove shame from his brothers. He resettled the Egyptians in order to protect his brother's honors.

The Keli Yakar (ad loc.) asks a question whose importance is only eclipsed by the answer: How is that moral? How could Yosef force so many people to leave their homes just to protect his brothers? This seems quite morally problematic.

Great question, now see the answer given by the Keli Yakar:

The Keli Yakar reframes the earlier explanations as follows. Yosef was trying to teach the Egyptians an important lesson, to instill in them the need to empathize with strangers. It is part of human nature to fail to understand the plight of the outsider, the people who are lacking support structures and contacts within the system. Such people are easily oppressed, even unintentionally. Therefore, Yosef displaced the Egyptians so they all learn what it is like to be an outsider. This, he hoped, would prevent them from oppressing the recent immigrants. Sadly, it failed.”

As often seen in parshanut, the question is way better than the answer, nevertheless it is accepted as a valid answer!

What the Keli Yakar is really saying is that it is OK to go ahead with something as immoral as forcibly displacing entire families and communities (trample on their basic human rights!) just to instill in them the need to be more sensitive towards strangers. Can you feel the contradiction resonating in your bladder?!

If you ask me, Yosef was just trying to exercise control over his serfs after they had no more money to pay to him for food, so that he / Pharao had absolute power over their own people.

But then again, this explanation would have to be discarded, because after all, we are talking about Yoisif Hatzaddik…