כי לא מחשבותי מחשבותיכם

כִּי לֹא מַחְשְׁבוֹתַי מַחְשְׁבוֹתֵיכֶם, וְלֹא דַרְכֵיכֶם דְּרָכָי

Friday, April 30, 2010

Can’t Get Rabbi Nachman Out of my Head

An obviously nicked Rabbi Nachman song by Gad Elbaz:

The original:

But wait a minute, is that not kol isha? Oh oh, tikkun time! LOL.

PS Do you guys think for one moment Gad Elbaz asked Kylie Minogue for permission for using her music?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

King Yehoyakim had a Tattoo on his Penis

Translated from a Daat Emet article:

Yehoyakim's was THIS big!
The early sages (Tannaim) listed evil kings that have no share in the World to Come: Yerov'am ben Navat, Achav and Menasheh.

One sage (Rava), asked another sage (Rabbah bar Mari): Why did the early sages (Tannaim) not list king Yehoyakim as an evil king who has no share in the World to Come? Behold, scripture points out that he was evil: "Now the rest of the acts of Yehoyakim, and his abominations which he did, and that which was found upon him, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah; and Jehoiachin his son reigned in his stead." (2 Chronicles 36:8)

The sages explained the words "and that which was found upon him" to mean that he had a tattoo of idolatry on his penis, and there are sages that derive from the words above that they found a tattoo with the name of God on his penis in order to jeer at the God of Israel. We see from here that Yehoyakim was a very evil person. If so, why did they not list him with the evil kings of Judah and Israel? Answered the sage: I didn't hear it and I don't know the answer to it. (Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin, 103b)

In the language of the Talmud:
Raba said to Rabbah b. Mari: Why did they not count Yehoyakim [amongst those who have no portion in the world to come], seeing that it is written of him, "Now the rest of the acts of Yehoyakim, and his abominations which he did, and that which was found upon him, etc.?  (What is meant by that which was found upon him? — R. Yohanan and R. Eliezer differ: one maintained that he engraved the name of an idol upon his penis, and the other held that he engraved the name of Heaven thereon [as a gesture of contempt])? — He answered: I have heard no explanation concerning the kings [why Jehoiakim was not included]: but I have heard one concerning the commoners.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Proof for Techiyat Hameitim Min Hatorah

Translated from an article on the Daat Emet website:

Even though Scripture does not mention the World to Come or the Resurrection of the Dead, the sages interpreted the verses such that they would strengthen the belief in the Resurrection of the Dead and that this is not an invention of the sages rather grounded in Scripture. They did so to such extent that they said: "And those do not have a portion in the World to Come: Someone who says that the Resurrection of the Dead is not from the Torah" (Sanhedrin 90a).

The sages gave many interpretations in order to conclude that there is a source for the Resurrection of the Dead in the Torah; and this is one of them. In the book of Mishlei (Proverbs) it is written: "The grave; and the barren womb; the earth that is not satisfied with water; and the fire that saith not: 'Enough.'" (Proverbs 30:16).

One of the sages, Rabbi Tabi, explained as follows: Why did the scripture place sheol (death and burial) adjacent to womb (sexual procreation and birth)? To teach you about the Resurrection of the Dead through an a forteriori argument: if it is true for the womb that the ones that enter do so in silence during the sexual act yet the baby comes out with sounds of cries, how much more so is it true for death and burial which is done amidst the sound of cries, that the dead will come out with sounds of cries. This teaching constitutes a compelling answer to those who claim that the Revival of the Dead is not from the Torah. (Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 92a).

The quote from the Gemara itself, as translated by www.judentum.org:
R. Tabi said in R. Josia's name: What is meant by, The grave; and the barren womb; and the earth that is not filled by water (Prov. XXX, 16.): now, what connection has the grave with the womb? But it is to teach thee: just as the womb receives and brings forth, so does the grave too receive and bring forth. Now, does this not furnish us with an a fortiori argument? If the womb, which receives in silence, yet brings forth amid great cries [of jubilation]; then the grave, which receives the dead amid cries [of grief], will much more so bring them forth amid great cries [of joy]! This refutes those who maintain that resurrection is not intimated in the Torah.
In my dictionary, refuting means overthrowing someone else's arguments. I guess the fact that it is mentioned in the Gemara makes it true for OJ fundies, regardless of its logic.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Elisha and the bears: A Scary Story as a Scare Story?

Thought-provoking article by the Center for Inquiry.  Melachim Beth, Perek 2 (Kings II chapter 2) contains a most gory and disturbing story, featuring the mystical figure Elisha.

 Mechon Mamre translates it as follows:

23 And he (Elisha - ed) went up from thence unto Beth-el; and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him: 'Go up, thou baldhead; go up, thou baldhead.' 24 And he looked behind him and saw them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she-bears out of the wood, and tore forty and two children of them. 25 And he went from thence to mount Carmel, and from thence he returned to Samaria.

Some extracts from the CFI post:

“It is not that there is nothing for the poor preacher to say about the passage. As we will see momentarily, there is in fact much to say. It’s just that there’s nothing good , nothing edifying or uplifting, to say about it. It goes so far in the other direction that any moral lesson a preacher may try to hang on it will seem so preposterous, so far-fetched, that few will risk the embarrassment.”

Indeed, so why did they include this horrific story in the Bible?

As we now read it, the story of Elisha and the Bears is a prime example of a “cautionary tale,” a scare story told in order to keep the intimidated listeners in their place—as defined by their rulers. Other such biblical scare stories include that of the expulsion from Eden in Genesis chapter 3 (how dare mere mortals covet the knowledge that belongs to God—and his priests—alone?), the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11:1-9 (again, it discourages inventive autonomy), Uzzah (2 Samuel 6:6-11) getting zapped for steadying the Ark of the Covenant without ritual preparation (“Men, don’t let this happen to you!”)…

I think the author forgot the Korach story here, by the way.  It concludes:

 These are all religious boundary markers, warning people not to envy their betters lest God smite them, not to help themselves to the privileges inherited by the sacred aristocracy. ..

…Whenever the lower castes’ envy of the upper castes’ privileges threatens to boil over again, these cautionary tales will be trotted out to remind people (albeit in a somewhat disguised form) of the massive violence from which order once emerged and into which it could collapse again. Is it worth risking the return to Chaos and Old Night? Ah… maybe not.

I nevertheless wonder how the apologetic rationalized this story away…

Monday, April 12, 2010

Yom Hashoah Tribute: Marthe Cohn

Last Friday night, I finished reading an inspiring book, a book you will find hard to put down once you started reading it. The story is about a remarkable lady called Marthe Hoffnung, a most courageous woman, who was a spy for the French during WWII.

A synopsis as provided by Barnes & Noble):

Marthe Cohn was a beautiful young Jewish woman living just across the German border in France when Hitler rose to power. Her family sheltered Jews fleeing the Nazis, including Jewish children sent away by their terrified parents. But soon her homeland was also under Nazi rule. As the Nazi occupation escalated, Marthe’s sister was arrested and sent to Auschwitz. The rest of her family was forced to flee to the south of France. Always a fighter, Marthe joined the French Army.
As a member of the intelligence service of the French First Army, Marthe fought valiantly to retrieve needed inside information about Nazi troop movements by slipping behind enemy lines, utilizing her perfect German accent and blond hair to pose as a young German nurse who was desperately trying to obtain word of a fictional fiancé. By traveling throughout the countryside and approaching troops sympathetic to her plight, risking death every time she did so, she learned where they were going next and was able to alert Allied commanders.
When, at the age of eighty, Marthe Cohn was awarded France’s highest military honor, the Médaille Militaire, not even her children knew to what extent this modest woman had faced death daily while helping defeat the Nazi empire. At its heart, this remarkable memoir is the tale of an ordinary human being who, under extraordinary circumstances, became the hero her country needed her to be.
I can not imagine the horrors people had to go through in WWII. I can not imagine how evil people can become as soon as they dehumanized others. But I was provided a glimpse. This book does not get into unnecessary gory details of war, but nevertheless makes you feel like you are right in the story with her, so that you can feel her angsts.

Some side remarks:

  • Marthe comes from a religious family but did not live a frum life.
  • Her grandfather was a Rabbi. He did not approve of her lifestyle but let her do her thing and always walked out of the room at the time she should have made a brochah, not to cause any inconveniences.
  • She and some siblings dated non-Jews.
  • She was a person of high intelligence, courage and integrity, a real role model for the rest of humanity. And she managed to keep her past secret from her family for most of her life.