Sunday, July 31, 2005

And in England They Wear Horsehair

Court-appointed lawyer Antonietta Sonnessa arrives at Rome's Regina Coeli prison where British-Ethiopian citizen Osman Hussain is being held, Saturday, July 30, 2005. After investigators grilled Osman Hussain, a suspect accused of trying to attack the Shepherd's Bush station in west London on July 21, and captured in Rome on Friday, magistrates were holding an initial extradition hearing at the Rome prison for the suspect in the failed July 21 bombings in London, officials and lawyers said.(AP Photo/Dario Pignatelli)

While she is not exactly a beauty, she is certainly a departure from the local public defenders. The irony, of course, is that she would be stoned for walking like this in the new Muslim caliphate.

Morality v. Spirituality

Now that I have had some time to think about it, I am returning to Godol Hador's views on spirituality. In this post he said:
I think its obvious that the majority opinion in Orthodoxy has always been that one of the goals of the Halachik framework is to instill spirituality. Just read one of the many mussar books or Chovos Halvovos, or even Moreh Nevuchim. Likewise, there is a long standing tradition that one can be ‘Naval Birshut Hatorah’, i.e. keep all the Halachot but still be a low life. So the question is whether Halachah is successful in its goal, and also whether Reform and Conservative Jews have found equally or even more effective ways at achieving spirituality.
As I am not quite the theological expert GH is (although I am the proud owner of the Dover edition Guide for the Perplexed), I can not speak for the Chovos Halvovos or the Rambam, but it seems that GH is confusing morality with spirituality. One could observe all of halakha and still be a lowlife. However, I am not sure that Naval Birshut HaTorah refers to people who would rather wear shoes and rely on rational thought. It is true that the UO education system does not emphasize morals, since they cloak all imperatives in the formalism of halakha. I am not aware of any black hat Yeshiva that emphasizes community service (God forbid you would help out a homeless gentile- it's bitul torah!). As a result, Yeshiva youth are left with no feeling of moral imperative, since the source of their behavior is a legal, not moral code. The Yeshica bochur who does not understand why defrauding the federal government is wrong, or why it is incompatible with any sort of morality to hold any other person in lesser regard simply because they are of the wrong religion, is simply immoral. UO pedagogy resists any other moral code other than halakha since any extra-judaic source is treated as heresy. The problem here is morality, not spirituality.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Spirituality and Halakha

Godol Hador has a great discussion on whether Judaism requires one to be spiritual. Surprisingly, he cites the Rambam who is one of the most coldly rational Jewish scholars (he adopted Aristotelian philosophy). He hasn't convinced me yet but this post is worth reading. This one too.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Bachelor Cooking

As a bachelor, I seem to always have several dozen cans of tuna nearby. This is a problem because tuna, as chock full of protein as it is, tends to taste like slimy sewage. Especially if you purchase the low-mercury kind. So what exactly can you do with canned tuna other than mix it with mayo for a sandwich, hardly a hearty dinner, or put in a blender and make a fishy protein shake? For you enjoyment here is my recipe for Canned Tuna Fishcakes:

Two cans chunk light tuna
One cup matzo meal
Two large eggs
Olive oil
Crushed red pepper
White pepper

In medium sized bowl, mash the tuna around until it has a uniform goopy consistency. This might be what some epicureans refer to as "flaking." Add the two eggs and mix well. Add matzo meal and mix well. Add a teaspoon of olive oil. Now the critical part- the white pepper and the crushed red pepper are there to mask the awful tuna taste, use liberally.

Coat a large skillet with olive oil and place on low flame. Form patties roughly 2" in diameter and place in skillet. Cover and fry until brown on one side, then flip. Makes 6-8 patties.

This is my way of dealing with tuna, what's yours?

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

I Hate Treadmills

The immoderate weather we've been having has me running indoors. I'm going to ask these witch doctors to help me out.

The Vaad is Watching

Better be careful, boys and girls, the Vaad Hatznius is back in town and they are threatening to expose anonymous users of Craig's List. It's interesting how a certain segment of the Jewish blogosphere is dedicated to delusional fanatics.

Heshy Flips His Lid

Everyone's favorite internet vagabond has finally lost it:

Jews from Brooklyn to Jerusalem have been showering the Iranian government with much praise at their crackdown against homosexuals.Rabbis have applauded the Iranian government for standing up against immorality.Unfortunatly the secular government of Israel and it's supreme court have allowed homosexuals to hold their march in the holy city of Jerusalem.In fact the current prime minister Mr. Sharon personally met with leading homosexuals in his office.Hopefully in the near future as the religious population in Israel increases and becomes a majority we will consult the Iranian government on how best to curb the homosexual criminals.In the meantime may you the government of Iran blaze the path in fighting immorality.Greetings from the Jewish people in the name of G-d.

My reply:

Heshy, my first reaction is to use every 4 letter word known to man. Many of my friends fled Iran's murderous theocracy and for you to praise them is beyond the pale. Two possibilities exist:

1. You are a brilliant satirist. I've considered this for a while, but I find it hard to believe that you would post your address and phone number if you were only imitating an ignorant, bigoted Jew.

2. You are truly insane. Your vision of judiasim is exactly what the mullah's version of islam is- a vehicle of hate and oppression. You, the Ayatollah and Osama would find each other on the same wavelength. Maybe you can invite them all to your Friday night seudah.

If you are really insane I suppose I should feel bad for you, but the internet is not a place to coddle maniacs. May you have a refuah sh'leimah.

Saints and Soldiers

I saw this movie last night. I found it to be a solid WWII movie, with excellent battle sequences and a strong moral. Although the characters were very stereotypical (so a Southerner, a Jew from Brooklyn, and a religious dude get into a war...), the director used his medium skillfully. From what I understand the film had an incredibly low budget (something like $150k), yet it deserved the many Best Pictures it won.

After viewing the movie, I trolled around IMDB to see what others though about it. I found it strange that many reviewers made mention that the filmmakers are Mormon. Although there are hints that the hero is a Mormon, it is not central to the story. It is strange that an anti-Mormon bias still exists. You would think a few decades of persecution would have gotten rid of that. The Mormons I am privileged to know are the most moral and upstanding people I have met. They weathered initial persecution without any shtetl neuroses and crafted an excellent moral code. This movie is a credit to them and the beauty of Utah.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Frumlesbians is no more

Here is an entertaining deconstruction of the Frumlesbians blog.

A little backstory: Frumlesbians was a blog maintained by a dubious character, JewishBiFemmes. The blog alleged to sketch her life as a frum bisexual who is happily married to some hapless pushover comfortable with her lifestyle. The posts read exactly like a Penthouse Forum letter and were probably just as factual. JBF has since trashed the blog.

Eilu v'Eilu Meme

AddeRabbi posts a creative and hypothetical explanation as to why the rabbis struck out on cosmology:

So perhaps that’s what ‘nishtanu ha-teva’im’ means: scientific revolutions have determined that we occupy what’s actually a differently constructed world, with different rules and laws. Nature itself has ‘changed’ – it presents itself to us in an entirely different way, and can’t be called the same ‘nature’. Earlier paradigms, which have been replaced, were as real to their adherents as contemporary ones are to us. Our predecessors constructed worlds out of them. Their laws reflect not only their ‘understanding’ of the world, but their ACTUAL world.

The task falls to us, who essentially occupy a different world, to find a way to translate from their world into ours. We also must face the reality that a lot will be lost in translation. ‘Nishtanu Ha-Teva’im’ is an acknowledgement that we occupy a different world, but are not absolved from engaging theirs.

To which I have two critiques:

1. This immunizes the rabbi's from any criticism at all- hardly fair given the amount of critical thinking that goes into scientific explanations of the world- while putting the rabbis on the same footing as any other ontological theory, be it pagan or otherwise. This smacks of the "eilu v'eilu" meme which is a dangerous slippery slope and essentially an easy way out of an argument.

2. AddeRabbi would be thrown out of most Yeshivas for the breadth of his understanding. Oops, that's a criticism of Yeshivas.

Ariel Sharon in Paris

WanderingJew, respondingtojblogs operative in France, tells me that Areil Sharon is in Paris. Seems that they are working on smoothing over this unpleasantness.

Billing Hours Calculator

Here is a calculator that'll help you figure out if you can actually bill 2000 hours. It's not the 2000 hours that scares me, but the idea of trying to raise a family while doing it.


Counter added.

The Kippot Question

I was intending to ease up on the blogging, but AskShifra has tipped my hand.

She is guest blogging at DovBear and posted my question to her:

I first confronted my MO identity crisis when I posted a profile on Frumster. I put myself down as MO, but I am from a very Yeshivish background (through high school). I felt that there is no way I can justify calling myself Yeshivish. While the Frumster profile has gone away, my crisis as it is has not. I think I am MO by default although I don't subscribe to its dogma.
My question is- am I full of crap if I wonder if I should change my kippa type from Yeshivish velvet to the supercool MO crochet? Does that show that my transformation was for cosmetic purposes only?

While her initial reply threw in a few false assumpstions, namely that I have become less observant since splitting with Yeshiva , I look forward to her answer.


Monday, July 25, 2005

New Muslim Caliphate Welcomes Homosexual Singer As Spokesperson

Martin, whose hits include "She Bangs,""Shake Your Bon-Bon" and "Livin' La Vida Loca," posed for photos with fans, at one point draping over his shoulders a traditional Arab kaffiyeh headscarf with the slogan "Jerusalem Is Ours" written in Arabic on it.

I've heard of strange bedfellows, but Ricky Martin and Osama is just ridiculous.

Post Fast Run

Friday, July 22, 2005

Running to Meet the Shabbos Queen

WaPo Quick to Slander Settlers

I saw this on the metro yesterday:

NABLUS, West Bank -- Jewish settlers stabbed a Palestinian boy to death in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, witnesses said. They said the 12-year-old was ambushed by several settlers near his home in the village of Qaryot. Israel Radio said the attack followed a march by settlers into the village. The boy was stabbed 11 times, medics said. An Israeli police spokesman said the stabbing was under investigation.

I thought it was a strange story, both for its content and that so few inches were devoted to an explosive story. Today we learn that it was untrue:

Immediately after the incident, a Palestinian security official said witnesses had reported the boy had been stabbed by Jewish settlers who had marched into the village, south of the West Bank city of Nablus.

But senior Palestinian security officials investigating the incident said on Thursday there was no evidence that settlers had been behind the stabbing.

But Reuters cannot resist a cheap shot:

Settlers have often attacked and harassed Palestinian residents since a Palestinian uprising began almost five years ago. Settlers have also come under regular attack by Palestinian militants. the settlers have lauched hundreds of rockets at Palestinian civilians.

The Jolly Rabbi

Teacher Fired for Republican Activism

It's not every day my Brooklyn boys make it into the news (or at least court filings).

600 Protestors Enter Gaza

The struggle between the army and opponents of disengagement changed direction Thursday, following the end of the mass protest at Kfar Maimon, with the redeployment of the Israel Defense Forces and police units and the refocusing of their efforts on blockading the Gaza Strip itself.

However, military sources said Thursday that security forces were unable to hermetically seal off the Strip. The IDF believes that approximately 600 non-residents have entered the area to join anti-pullout forces since the the closure was imposed on July 13, and that a few dozen more activists managed to slip in Thursday. The army rejected a claim by the Yesha council of settlements that as many as 1,000 people slipped into the Strip on the night between Wednesday and Thursday.
IDF admits unable to seal off Gaza hermetically.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Joe Vialls is Dead.

There is justice in the world.

Tonight's Run.

Mincha in Kfar Maimon

This touching picture via Lamed.

Tzaddik bah l'iyr.

Godol Hador is a definite must read, whether you agree or disagree.

Gaza Pullout Date Changed

Roberts Filibuster Unlikely

Not with a bang but a whimper.

Armstrong Retains Lead

Haloscan installed

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog, so the comments got trashed. I am still new to this blogging thing so bear with me.

Update I:
Er, technical difficulties, it seems Haloscan uninstalled itself. Please stand by.

Update II:
Haloscan seems to be intermittent so please bear with me.

Tackling the Big One

Elf's DH kicks off a new blog and takes on the big questions:

In the end, though, if the concept of God is to have any meaning, He must be able to have some influence over the physical world. At one point, I (and, I assume others) posited that if God exists beyond space and time, He could know all possible outcomes of both seemingly random events and active decisions. Note that this position solves the predestination-free will problem. By knowing all possible futures, God knows the future, and free will is not challenged at all. But, that still leaves the question of how God influences events in the physical world. At the time, I answered that maybe a God who knows all possible futures could make small manipulations that sum up to the result He wanted. I no longer like my answer. It poses a testable (but very difficult to test!) hypothesis, and, may this degenerate into the “god of the gaps” position. According to our understandings of physics, even quantum events that are not deterministic should obey certain probability relations. If God manipulated the probabilities, then the understood physics would be contradicted by experiment.

I've also neglected to mention another possibility: that God does not influence events in the physical world, but that humans should serve Him in order to earn a place in a World To Come. This position begs the question of why we bother making requests that God influence the physical universe in the first place.

I can only make feeble attempts in answering what is essentially the question of the ages.

Op-ed Pages Cover Their Bets on Roberts

NY Times:
David Brooks sings of his love and a man, but Prof. Jeffrey Rosen is a little less enthusiastic.

Washington Post:
The editorial board bitches about the lack of a paper trail, but that's the way we do business nowadays. John Woo, the professor not the director, says everyone should play nice. E.J. Dionne is definitely not happy, but it's been a tough decade for him.

Tube Incidents in London

Something is happening on the Tube.

Police confirmed they had been called to Warren Street, Oval and Shepherd's Bush stations.

There have been reports of smoke coming from the stations and all three have been evacuated.

The whole of the Northern Line has been suspended, along with the Victoria Line and the Hammersmith and City. There are no reports of any casualties.

A spokesman for London Underground said the nature of the incidents was unknown.

One hospital, near Warren St station, has started its emergency plan.

Update I:
ABC News Radio reports an incident possibly involving a bus in East London. Local radio hosts talking about a nail bomb smaller than the 7/7 attack.

Update II:
ABC News Radio reports that the bombs may have only consisted of detonators, with no actual explosives. This jives with this report. They are also reporting gunshots at the Warren Street station. I remember on 9/11 rumors were abound of a car bomb at the State Dept. and the National Mall on fire.

Update III:
Thank God there are no reports of any injuries as of yet. With a bit of luck, at worst this will be a failed attack.

Update IV:
It's T+3 hours since initial post. Only one injury is reported, and that was probably one of the attackers and is minor. My bet is a failed attack although there is speculation otherwise.

Hard Reality in Gaza

Looks like folks are starting to realize the inevitable.

Settlers abandon protest.

DC Metro Security

I guess this means I will have to leave my blade at home, although the police may not be actually opening bags.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Frumster Singles Cruise

Has anyone ever been on on e of these things? It sounds like recipe for disaster.

Ortho Sex Ed

This is a fascinating idea, but doomed never to reach the audience that needs it the most as evinced by this guy.

(Hattip: Adderabbi)

Gush Katif

Dov Bear makes his views on Gush Katif known. While I disagree with his reasoning and conclusion, I do believe that a Palestinian state and disengagement are inevitible. Which makes this behavior disgusting. If Chareidim are to benefit from the state and to serve in its military, then military decisions are made by generals, not rabbis.

Inappropriate internet usage

Here is a guy who is freaking out at the fact that men look at pron on the internet. Shocker, I know, but he seems to be convinced that it is some sort of pathology instead of normal, if undisciplined behavior. Instead of trying to improve himself from the inside out he insists on the deus ex machina of tefillah. Honestly, I don't think you should bother God with what you do over your keyboard. Get a hobby, fercryingoutloud.

Still, it's hard to fault him for his sincerity.

Heshy's Poetry

In this post, we are treated to the poetry of Mr Heshy Friedman.

I myself am a huge fan of the heshymeter syllable spacing and "a,a,a,a" rhyming scheme. Somewhere a poet is burning his quill and chopping off his fingers.


This blog is dedicated to scouring the multitude of blogs that purport to portray Jewish ideals and life. This is not to say that there is a monolithic Jewish way. This blog will just provide me with a forum to make snarky remarks about other people.