כי לא מחשבותי מחשבותיכם

כִּי לֹא מַחְשְׁבוֹתַי מַחְשְׁבוֹתֵיכֶם, וְלֹא דַרְכֵיכֶם דְּרָכָי

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Ostrich Politics

Two friends that I have come out to carefully avoid the subject like a plague and act as if nothing happened.

One is a longtime friend of mine who is modern orthodox but knows in his heart that he only keeps what he feels like (shabbos, kashrus, etc.). He is very self-righteous about kashrus, possibly because he once was a mashgiach and may have to again once he loses his managerial position that he mostly owes to his father-in-law.

He is the one who invites me to davven for the chagim in his institution and has asked me again to davven for the yamim noraim (and noraim they are!). Now am I crazy here or do you only ask deeply religious people that are fitting (‘hagun’) for this job? The only conclusion that I can draw is that he doesn’t really care, as long as I am not too open about my kofer thoughts so that he would be forced to turn his back on me.

Another friend is currently getting out of a depression. He’s got the right meds and he seems to be faring well: he cuts his hear, grooms his beard and wants to lose weight. He seems to be acting as everything is fine and, who knows, may join the shidduchim scene soon again.

One small caveat: he confided in me that he does not feel at home anymore in the frum world.

Now I don’t think you can wish these things away like that. I expect him to have a real breakdown soon and I hope it is just not as bad as last time where I had  to bring him to hospital for an overdose on sleeping pills.

Sticking your head in the sand apparently is more comfortable than embracing the inevitable….

Friday, May 21, 2010

Erev Shabbos Tznius Update

Shoes can be dangerous. Just imagine: your wife is wearing black, closed, medieval grandma shoes in combination with thick brown stockings and then you come across one of these yummy, photoshopped legs with open shoes? Don’t you just vant to shqueeze them?!?

For more Taliban-inspired gezeilah pictures, click here. And, if you are zealous enough, feel free to join the Tznius Police Facebook group!

Hat tip: Life in Israel

Shavuot Post-Mortem

So I survived this Shavuot feeling like a wreck. But then again, who doesn’t?

Erev Yom Tov, we had fleishigs and after my late ‘lunch’ (sandwich and a bag of roasted peanuts – needless to say that they had forgotten to put a hechsher on the products, those damned ammaratzim!), I was already cracking. Due to my heartburn and my wife’s pre-yomtov burnout, we decided to only make kiddush and have some cake with it. No washing, no bentching, yaye!

I stayed up late for the first night, learnt a bit (prepared some Daat Emet ‘maamarim’) and then decided Facebook chat was a worthier way to bide my time and went to bed at 2:30 AM. Thank God for cell phones and SG for the great chat. Now I know why the yidden at Matan Toire overslept! ;)

The next morning, davvening was at 10 AM, thanks to Chabad®. I was a chazan for Mussaf (which I like doing and I tried my best not to think about Facebook chats, clipping finger nails and polishing my shoes on Yom Tov) and then we had guests for lunch until 3:30 PM. By then, I was really, really exhausted and bursting from all the milchigs.

After the traditional nap, we ate again with the kids before the second night since our kids can’t stay up that long. I then walked to Chabad again for minchah with my neighbor and walked back for a maariv in the area. Which, of course, started after nightfall (10 PM!) and then some person who never comes to davven with us had a ‘chiyuv’ (read: his wife had Yahrzeit!). Now if only he had a decent voice and knew the nussach well enough…

The second day we were invited and I tried to restrain myself (no seconds and not too much challah). I was getting quite proud of myself…that is, until I surrendered when dessert was served: 3 diferent types of cheesecake, a chocolate cake and a pudding cake. I was filled to the brim of my black hat! Can you feel the spirituality come out of my ears?

In the afternoon, I did not manage to sleep (but I was able to read some kofer literature from Isaac Bashevis Singer’s ‘The Magician of Lublin’), then another Chanad mincha-maariv (forewent the meal with bagels and salads and instead read in one of Rabbi Wein’s history aka propaganda books).

I came home exhausted. Luckily, the end was near and we made havdalah, followed by hours of dishwashing, laundry and preparing for Shabbos (we are having guests sleeping over).

I am floored. I feel disgusted. I experienced Shavuos.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Holy Sages' Opinion on Breasts of Twelve Year Old Girls

Another great 'Daily Pilpul' by Daat Emet. Feel free to donate to them on their website for all the wonderful work they are doing by exposing the falsehood of Orthodox Judaism.

The post is called "What size breasts are required for a girl to be an adult?":
According to Halacha a female has three legal stages to her life, based on age: girl, youth, and adult. The legal status is determined by two parameters: age and physical maturity. In terms of age: a female is a girl until the age of twelve, a youth from twelve to twelve and a half years of age, and adult after the age of twelve and a half years. In terms of physical maturity: a female is a girl as long as her breast are immature, a youth when her breasts are as a fruit in the process of ripening, and an adult when her breasts have grown.
The sages were divided on the size of an adults breasts. One said that her breasts were large enough that a sort of crease was formed beneath her breasts, and Rabbi Akiva said that her breasts had grown enough that they incline. Another sage said that the aureole around the nipple begins to darken. A different sage said that her breasts are large enough that if one flattens the nipple is takes time to rise again.
One of the scholars, Samuel, clarified the opinion of the sage who said that a sort of wrinkle is seen beneath the breast. This does not mean that the breasts are very large and so a wrinkle is seen, but that if the girl puts her hands behind her back, a wrinkle is noticeable beneath her breasts. 
To authenticate his idea, Samuel examined the breasts of his 12 and a half year old maid. After he examined her he paid her 400 zuz for having caused her embarrassment by forcing her to expose her breasts to him. Samuel was extremely careful about causing embarrassment to his slaves and maids, so he did not give his maid for strangers to sleep with, only his own slaves. In contrast, Rav Nachman was not careful about causing embarrassment to his maids and would give them to others' workers for sex. Rav Sheshet would even give them to gentiles for sex.
Other sages defined the adult woman's physical maturity needed to determined her legal standing. The sage Rabbi Elazar son of Tzadok ruled that her breasts must be large enough that she could sway them. Another sage, Rabbi Yochanan son of Baroka, said that she is mature when her breasts take on a silver tinge. The scholars asked: Is this not a sign of old age and not newly-gained maturity? Therefore he explained his words as meaning "When the top of her nipple splits" (an unclear definition). Another sage, Rabbi Yossi, said that her breasts must sprout a thick nipple with an aureole around it. Another sage, Rabbi Simeon, gave a clue about the adult woman's physical maturity based on her sexual organ: when the flesh of her sexual organ swells and can be noticeably bent, as though it were a spoon.
(Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Niddah 47a-b)
Two observations from someone living in the 21st century:
  1. What business did Shmuel have to examine a 12 year old's breasts and what do the sages spend time discussing little girls' breasts in such detail?
  2. Why did these kedoishei elyoin give their underage shiksah maid to other men for sexual enjoyment?
My conclusion: Pedophilia and underaged sexual exploitation is not only condoned in halachah. The 'infallible' Amoraim even had their underaged maidservants exploited. So why is everyone so surprised when frum people are into sex with minors?!

Loshon of the Gemorah itself:

‎"מתני'. משל משלו חכמים באשה: פגה, בוחל, וצמל. פגה - עודה תנוקת, בוחל - אלו ימי נעוריה. בזו ובזו אמרו: אביה זכאי במציאתה, ובמעשה ידיה, ובהפרת נדריה. צמל - כיון שבגרה, שוב אין לאביה רשות בה. איזהו סימנין? ר' יוסי הגלילי אומר: משיעלה הקמט תחת הדד, ר"ע אומר: משיטו הדדים, בן עזאי אומר: משישחיר הפיטומת, רבי יוסי אומר: כדי שיהא נותן ידו על העוקץ והוא שוקע ושוהא לחזור. 

‎גמ'. פגה עודה תנוקת כדכתיב (שיר השירים ב') התאנה חנטה פגיה. בוחל אלו ימי הנעורים, כדתנן - התאנים משיבחלו, ואמר רבה בר בר חנה אמר רב: משילבין ראשיהן. ואיבעית אימא מהכא: (זכריה י"א) ותקצר נפשי בהם וגם נפשם בחלה בי. צמל כמ"ד - יצתה מלאה. 

‎ואיזהו סימנים? ר' יוסי הגלילי אומר: משיעלה הקמט. אמר שמואל: לא משיעלה הקמט ממש, אלא כדי שתחזיר ידיה לאחוריה, ונראית כמי שיעלה הקמט תחת הדד. שמואל בדק באמתיה, ויהב לה ד' זוזי דמי בושתה. שמואל לטעמיה, דאמר שמואל: (ויקרא כ"ה) לעולם בהם תעבודו - לעבודה נתתים ולא לבושה. שמואל מייחד להן, רב נחמן מחליף להן, רב ששת מסר להן לערבי, ואמר להן: אזדהרו מישראל. 

‎רבי יוסי אומר כו'. מאי עוקץ? אמר שמואל: עוקצו של דד. ת"ר, אלו הן סימני בגרות? ר"א בר' צדוק אומר: משיתקשקשו הדדין, ר' יוחנן בן ברוקה אומר: משיכסיף ראש החוטם. משיכסיף? אזקונה לה! אלא א"ר אשי: משיפציל ראש החוטם. ר' יוסי אומר: משתקיף העטרה, ר"ש אומר: משנתמעך 

‎הכף. וכן היה רבי שמעון (בן יוחי) אומר: שלשה סימנין נתנו חכמים באשה מלמטה, וכנגדן מלמעלה. פגה מלמעלה - בידוע שלא הביאה שתי שערות, בוחל מלמעלה - בידוע שהביאה שתי שערות, צמל מלמעלה - בידוע שנתמעך הכף. מאי כף? אמר רב הונא: מקום תפוח יש למעלה מאותו מקום, כיון שמגדלת מתמעך והולך".

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Follow-up on Coming out to my Wife

I have already wanted to write this post for quite a while, but never found an ‘auspicious’ time for it. However, some of you have been asking me about this issue and I think it is only fair to post some more on the topic of coming out to my wife.

For many weeks after my first coming out, there was radio silence on my wife’s side on this topic which made me uncomfortable. Why was she not mentioning me unfrumming anymore, what is going on in her head?

A little while ago, I finally was able to discuss with my wife, in a quiet moment before the end of Shabbos when our kids were already sleeping, what went on in my head, what my thoughts were on Orthodox Judaism and what she feels about me kofering out.

She asked me what my ‘doubts’ were about and I explained her a few things: How I believe that the creation story is not plausible, about the documentary hypothesis, about the mabul, the stuff in the Gemorah that is clearly wrong, etc.

What amazed me is that my wife did not seem to be bothered in the least about the fact that the Torah could have been written by a human being. Or that some parts were just plain impossible.

Another astonishing fact was that she somehow believes that people in their religion should follow in the footsteps of their ancestors by following their religion, be it Judaism, Christianity, Islam, etc. My attempts to explain that they are sometimes mutually exclusive and that this had nothing to do with truth or not fell on deaf ears. Or perhaps I just did not understand her correctly.

What is clear to her is that there is a God and that ‘he looks after us’ (I wisely skipped the Holocaust topic). She is also very determined about sticking to kashrus, Shabbos and Taharas Hamishpochah.

Perhaps one day, we will find a way for me to respect what is important to her while at the same time giving me the freedom I need.

Some big wins:

  • My wife understands that my critical examination of Judaism lead me to disbelief the Divine nature of the Torah and that the words of Chazal were not infallible. I think this would make it more acceptable for my wife to accept my ‘kfirah’ some day.
  • We both agreed that we both feel that Haredi Judaism is not for us and it pretty much means that our kids will either go to a more MO or a non-Jewish school (with extracurricular Jewish classes since we both don’t want our children to be am haaratzos).

Our talk did bring us closer together and an open approach is definitely the way to go. I still had no courage to tell her about me eating non-kosher stuff and breaking Shabbos, though

(Of course there is a lot more to say on this matter, but I will keep that for another post. Until then, I would be happy to hear your opinion in the comments.)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Good Step in the Right Direction?

This whole business about one Jew being better than the other one is definitely something that has to stop.

Project ‘Ani Yehudi’, sponsored by Professor Linda Allen and started by Lenny Solomon of Shlock Rock, tries to unite religious and ‘hiloni’ Jews by sharing a unified message in We Are The World style:

When I ask myself, who am I?
I’m a little Sephardi, a little Ashkenazi
a little Israeli, a tiny drop galuti (exiled)
Maybe religious, maybe secular, but between you and me

The result is something that will appeal to many Jews, regardless of how religious we may be (or not):

Having said that, do you also feel that something is still awkward about this project? This is what I think spoils the broth somewhat:

  • There are no female soloists on the project.
  • Is anyone there haredi?
  • The lyrics are overtly religious:
  • Nothing will succeed to break me my brother
    my soul,  is a part of a high external light
    to fix the world that is my motto
    I was born like this, I am a Jew.

    Simply a Jew - like in other religions
    we have; festivals, Shabbat, customs and mitzvot.
    To say that everyone is sure in his righteousness
    at the end we're all Jewish, before the chair of His Holiness.

Still, I think it is a step in the right direction, erasing that righteous smirk of those who believe they are on the side of God.

(On a side note, Aish has used this campaign for their kiruv purposes, but you can bet they do not play this mixed music on their campuses!)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Powerful piece by new, talented writer

From "If I Forget Thee" on Scribbler on the Roof, by Rebecca M. Ross (a fellow OTDer and contributor to Unpious.com):

The rabbi’s house. Cold white stone with thousands of years of history, waiting for the imprints of the present to smooth it into the sand that blows in the windows with the five o’clock gusts. Cold stones to cool daytime skin hot from the relentless sun. Hostility is this place. It remains God’s center and yet it is godless at its core.

Every thought creases her face and overwhelming loneliness crowds out her smile. Each day they come to her, asking for tzedaka. “You have so much and I have nothing.” And she knows they’re all charlatans, begging the foreigners who aren’t yet immune to their ruses and ultimately bringing home hundreds to families who are morally poor. She doesn’t give and they curse her, sending her imaginary ailments, harsh pregnancies, destructive children, poverty, cruelty of loss and the violent horrors of brutality. She holds her ears when she hears these words because even knowing they hold no power, they still make her shudder.

Read further...