Tuesday, December 18, 2007

CD-ROM shatters stereotype of haredi Holocaust silence | Jerusalem Post

A fine article that should be read

Avigdor also recounted the long discussions that took place in a rabbinic court in Drovitz, a town located in modern-day Ukraine, over whether it was permitted to pose as a Christian to save one's life. The rabbis debated whether Christianity was a form of idol worship, and therefore posing as a Christian was forbidden, even at the price of giving up one's life. The court ruled that not only was it permitted to pose as a Christian, it was also an act of bravery since the reason for doing so was to preserve the Jewish people.

Some will call it stupid but this is faith of heart in action. To sit there delaying escape asking seriously, which is the moral course without which living is bothersome and ridden with guilt?

In feudal Japan, this same sort of question would have been along the lines, "shall we dress as the samurai of our lord's enemies to survive to regroup and attack again and bring victory out of our defeat, or is the deception dishonorable and tainting any victory we might achieve after?"

For me, it's related to the morass of today's world. One blogger whose post I can't find at this moment but will post if I can said something along the lines that there are mitzvot due to G-d and mitzvot due to our fellow man and the latter are not as eye-catching and attention-getting. All the usual frum yardsticks are mitzvot to G-d. People see the length of your tzitzit, know you wear tallit katan underneath, they see the quality of your kippah, etc. No one sees what you put in the tzedakah tin. That's a mitzvah aimed by G-d at your fellow man. Not a showy one. Neither would the fifteenth mitzvah or the twenty-first be showy. Break them and you can see it. Maybe. Hold to them and no one notices.

Like working where I do and doing a good job. It's to wear dark pants and wet yourself. A warm feeling is had, but no one else notices and in the end you feel stupid.

These men weren't worried about Olam HaBa, they were worried about the morality and dignity of their lives if they did something that might be so seriously wrong. Could they hold their heads high later if they did the wrong thing? Would death be preferable?

Not everything in our ways makes a lot of sense or on deep reflection can ever be sensible, but neither did the samurai ways. On the other hand, much made sense.

So if you want something to help you with your faith and exemplification thereof, I suggest getting a copy of Hagakure by Yamamoto Tsunetomo. It's an excellent read and I find many parallels between two cultures who were each at their times very violent and warrior driven, yet more of it was in their minds than in their hands. Ancient Israel and feudal Japan... both born of tribal combat, but did far more war in the heart and mind than ever they did on any number of battlefields.

Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai
by Yamamoto Tsunetomo

Read more about this book...

Perhaps someday we will properly embrace what we find in this CD-ROM release and see the nobility in their survival.

(For me, you owe no honor to those who with all dishonor seek your death and destruction. Therefore, lying and pretending to be something else is not a bad thing for you lie to a liar and deceive a deceiver for the sake of outlasting them to a time when there will be no more need for either.)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Reform leader embraces Shabbat as antidote to 'microwave culture' | Jerusalem Post

Missed it by that much! (As the famous Maxwell Smart quote goes...)

Other issues addressed included the need to build an "unconditional, non-negotiable" connection to Israel, Jewish-Muslim dialogue and the need for universal health care.

First, what does that have to do with any movement of Judaism? As long as you insist on sticking political planks into theological propositions and positions, you're shooting yourself in the foot.

Second, if you even tried to follow a little of that culinary tznius called kashrut, you might notice it to be a lot healthier in the first place. It's not for nothing the majority of items in the health food section have kosher symbols on them.

Oh wait, universal health care... Okay, sell kosher eating to the masses then. I'm sure you can find a nice telegenic Reform man or woman for a Food Network show. Of course it will be done for other than religious reasons, but the health of us, physical and moral, is the reason for kashrut. So... half is better than nothing. It's a start.

Go for that. In the meantime, please stay out of the political arena and especially this nonsensical universal health care thing. It has nothing to do with making people healthy or caring for their health. It has everything to do with rationing care, and treating the glass as less than half empty, all for the sake of entrenching some people in power over others, shackling the masses to the choices of others. We need more government involved with our health like we need another Antiochus Epiphanes in our lives.

One on One: Debunking dastardly debate | Jerusalem Post

This is a very important article...

Here's a really good quote:

How do you explain what appear to be more and more cars with exhaust pipes emitting the kind of pollution your book deals with? And why is it being spread among the educated, self-proclaimed freethinking classes?

We live under the fallacy that educated people - or specialists in a certain field - have better judgment than the man in the street. One of the myths about the Nazis is that they were primitive - that the party had no intellectuals. I've even heard that said by the opening speaker at a major anti-Semitism conference. But if you ask people to name the leading philosopher in Europe in the second half of the 20th century, the dominant answer would be Martin Heidegger - a Nazi.

And if you ask them to rate the 10 most important thinkers of Europe, at that time you often find a second Nazi on that list: German law professor and political theorist Carl Schmitt.

I strongly suggest reading the interview. I intend to get his book myself.

Technion releases first ever nano-Bible | Jerusalem Post

Next up, how many angels can dance on the head of a pin...

You want small? You want portable? How does the size of a grain of sugar sound?