Monday, August 3, 2009

Interesting Bit About Conversion

Rabbi Marc Angel is a rabbi whose beliefs on conversion have no doubt been comforting in this time when many are increasingly confused and afraid after the continuing increase in strictness in the Orthodox world. A reply to an article of his on the subject is now in the current issue of Hakirah as is his reply to that.

I recommend them highly.

This quote in Rabbi Angel's reply is something that stuck out for me.

Rambam states (Issurei Biah 13:17): “A proselyte who was not examined [as to his motives] or who was not informed of the mitzvoth and their punishments, and he was circumcised and immersed in the presence of three laymen—is a proselyte. Even if it is known that he converted for some ulterior motive, once he has been circumcised and immersed he has left the status of being a non-Jew and we suspect him until his righteousness is clarified. Even if he recanted and worshipped idols, he is [considered] a Jewish apostate; if he betroths a Jewish woman according to halakha, they are betrothed; and an article he lost must be returned to him as to any other Jew. Having immersed, he is a Jew.” Rambam is quite clear that a conversion is valid even under very imperfect conditions: the convert wasn’t informed of the mitzvoth; had an ulterior motive; later recanted and worshipped idols. Even in such circumstances, the convert is deemed to be a Jew, as long as he was circumcised and immersed in the mikvah.

Yes, Rambam.

However, the important point that is danced around is this: it is a chilul HaShem to turn Judaism into a lottery win of birth ethnicity instead of faith in G-d by being blatantly openly hypocritical in turning a blind eye to the widespread purposeful defiance of mitzvot, the near deification by cult of personality of many rabbis over the centuries which tresspasses on idolatry, and the selective lowering of various halachot nearly to the status of minhagim and the converse, the raising of various minhagim to the level of halacha.

This is the 800 pound gorilla in the room that we are all pretending doesn't exist.

It's the thing that makes charedism seem clownish more than anything else.

It's the nagging stabbing pain in Modern Orthodoxy's back.

It's the silently ignored stain on the carpet in Conservative Judaism.

This "you're a Jew no matter how you act just because your mother was" attitude has allowed people who are less Jewish than a Catholic and believe in G-d less than an atheist be taken in the vast group photo of Judaism and thence to be taken as at least in part equally representative of it. That same attitude would deny gerim who love G-d, worry about His world, and seek to do right by Him a place in that photo.

G-d may forgive that, but collectively, deep down, man won't because man can't. If man is honest then man must acknowledge that discrepancy, that hypocrisy, and then to apologize and then to repair it or if the man is dishonest, only such dishonesty as the hypocrisy does not exist in his world, is so alien to it as for him to be an alien to the world, only that may allow otherwise.

A man who is so alien can be no Jew or anything else of value to the veneration of G-d's legacy for such a man cannot fathom G-d.

Yet just such men are held to more a Jew than people who've come on their knees begging to serve G-d, and turned away for not being able to promise one hundred percent observance of mitzvot.

They were in their admission more honest than the men who turned them away, were they not?

I'm sure Rambam would agree.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

What am I doing online on Passover?

Well as you know, for me keeping arrangements agreed to supersedes tradition. That is, if the agreement is not in violation or was made before you became obliged to the tradition, law, etc. I agreed to work any hours, any days, before conversion. So I keep my first obligation. It would be selfish to demand slack to be cut to me now as they didn't know at the time I'd be moving towards religiosity and neither did I.

Rest assured my next job will be availability of Sunday through Thursday except for religious days.

Of course, I don't view my job as work so much as torture and G-d never said you can get out of that for observances. If so, then the fiction of sale of chametz would have a matching sort of fiction with regard to marriage and you don't see anyone willing to take your wife please, which explains Henny Youngman's joke.

I wasn't paying attention and fasted on the Taanit Bechorot completely by accident. Then got dizzy and fell down and it became clear for the sake of continuing to draw breath I'd have to eat something.

And stop walking around.

So I drank some fluids, had something light, and tried to remember what we were doing for dinner. My wife suggested shrimp wrapped in bacon dipped in cheese sauce, her mother suggest an On-Cor frozen dinner of ribs. I gave them both an icy stare and did the shopping myself.

So now I'm munching on marshmallows and trying not to smack my head on the desk over the fact that our haggadah had coupons, coming free from the supermarket as it did.

No, I didn't mistakenly read the sales to my family.

Well, I better get back to the suffering. I hope all are doing well.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

It's been an interesting day...

Well, my day has been very different.

For starters, my car died last night. The garage looked at it this morning and it was hopeless without an engine rebuild. The block and head are fine. It's everything else that is more or less fubar.

My other car being off the road already due to its own set of fixable albeit very expensive problems, I am left without wheels.

The say you have to look at what you still have. I have my home. I have my wife. I have her mother. I have our dogs and cats. I have my health, what there is at my age. My job is only the next town over and I can walk the distance in under two hours easily.

Then you have to look on the bright side. The money I was prepared to spend had the engine not been a loss was far more than the couple hundred I spent on a really nice mountain bike which will get me to work in under one hour. I save money on gas for a few weeks to two months which is what I estimate it will be before we can arrange a trade-in for a cheap used vehicle.

I will lose some weight which was of growing importance to me recently as it happened anyhow.

All through this, G-d was at my side, behind me, right in front of me, you name it, wherever He needed to be, wherever I needed Him, before I needed Him, he was there. Every time I wanted to cry, G-d told me it was fine. Every time I wanted to scream, G-d made me laugh and shrug. Every time I felt like I didn't know where all this was going, G-d said go with it.

Somehow some way I know that G-d will be with me. I've been given another chance to get my house in order after falling asleep at the switch on a few things I took little notice of. I can't say that will never happen again, but I can say I hear His voice a little louder now, and it's not frightening. It's warm and wonderful in a way I cannot possibly do justice to.

I'm riding the fate train again, getting back on the rails, and taking the track He needs me on. For so long, I've missed that. It's good to be back.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The credit you do yourself

It does one credit to wish the situation at hand were better.

It does one more credit to recognize the situation at hand as it actually is.

It does one the most credit to reconcile the two, accept the difference, and work cogently, rationally, logically, morally, and all other ways men find in their heart of hearts proper and best to make the latter move towards the former.

My apologies on lack of posting here... I've been having my best ideas as I turn in for bed and been somewhat preoccupied with politics of late. I hope to force myself to sit down and write something spiritual really soon. In the meantime if you're looking for generic morality in real world action check out Tr1v14l Pursuits.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Rabbi Shlomo Brady on head coverings for men...

Ask the Rabbi: The way you wear your hat | Judaism | Jerusalem Post

For me, it's a silent visual method of identifying your affiliation, like Christians wearing crosses. Important more for cultural commonality than keeping G-d from seeing your scalp, and I think that's the reason G-d would say to do it. Strengthen the community with commonality in action.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Repeat after me...

My life is not everything I dreamed of or wanted it to be, but it is mine.