Friday, April 01, 2016

Modern Faith in Sinai

"This nexus of faith and belief positions could quite easily serve as a bedrock for justifying the practice of treating the Pentateuch as Orthodox Judaism now treats it – as word-for-word the word of God, even if you have significant doubts that that attitude reflects the real historical genesis of the text.
This isn’t even a case of treating the text in a way that you know to be inaccurate. To have faith that a personal God foresaw that this religion would evolve from Sinai is to have faith that God gave it a stamp of approval. If that religion claims that God wrote a text word-for-word, then even if He didn’t, God’s giving that religion a stamp of approval is almost equivalent to His writing those words. It would be an act of appropriation of a text, and an act of appropriation can make a text your own, and give it new meaning."
Sam Lebens

I see this in Avot 'doing mitzvot' as well in the Divine Pedagogy, revelation of Himself; laws, practices, culture norms, beliefs, Doctrine were recast, given new meaning, etc - and in time the identity of Israel as well in accomodating Gerim and not just "sojourners in your midst", the ger toshav and beyond that in the fullness of Salvation History.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, ZTZL

"A couple of years after we moved to Yerushalyim, I was once walking with my family in the Beit Yisrael neighborhood, where R. Isser Zalman Meltzer used to live. For the most part, it consists of narrow alleys. We came to a corner, and found a merchant stuck there with his car. The question came up as to how to help him; it was a clear case of perika u-te’ina (helping one load or unload his burden). There were some youngsters there from the neighborhood, who judging by their looks were probably ten or eleven years old. They saw that this merchant was not wearing a kippa. So they began a whole pilpul, based on the gemara in Pesachim (113b), about whether they should help him or not. They said, ‘If he walks about bareheaded, presumably he doesn’t separate terumot u-ma’asrot, so he is suspect of eating and selling untithed produce…..’” I wrote R. Soloveitchik a letter at that time, and told him of the incident. I ended with the comment, ‘Children of the age from our camp would not have known the gemara, but they would have helped him.’ My feeling then was: Why, Ribbon shel Olam, must this be our choice? Can’t we find children who would have helped him and still know the gemara? Do we have to choose? I hope not; I believe not. If forced to choose, however, I would have no doubts where my loyalties lie: I prefer that they know less gemara but help him." (From the book Ohr Panecha)

Friday, August 23, 2013

[Headpost; always first]

My Lord God
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think
that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.

And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.

And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road

though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always
I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me
to face my perils alone.
Thomas Merton, "Thoughts in Solitude"

And that about covers it. I do know it's one prayer that I can say with all my heart, my soul and my mind. [Originally posted Erev Rosh Hashanah 5771]

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Friday, November 09, 2012

Mumford & Sons - Sigh No More (HQ Video)

Friday, August 24, 2012

WOW! Been forever since I did a post. I'm in another place. more to say later.

Monday, January 09, 2012


A challenge to suicidal student I remember from some really bad 90s TV show about a high school in California - "But if you did it, you miss out on all the wonderful struggle and tragedy that life is, don't you see? a really impressive, sad movie! Because...this is all there is!.." Ok, that's sick. That is a sad excuse for living, let alone not dying. So we cultivate an "objective" vantage point (that we know is only a pretense, a role-play), overlooking the only life you have, foster a quasi-Buddhist detachment from the very kishkas of the only life you have? serial victims of trauma describe as how they weathered their assault? In a self-saturated, technology-mediate world in increasing offering ever more dimensions to find "entertainment" by using a coping mechanism of trauma victims! (random example of recent news; high school kids engaging in ever-more impersonal sexual relationships and entanglements for fun, profit and acceptance). The capacity to "see" life from "the outside" - something materialists intuit can only be a delusion, is becoming the very, the only, privileged position offered in response to the only serious question left (as so many have pointed out) ; "Why stick around?".

About Mordechai Elon
From an email exchange with a former HaKotel student;

Understand how this looks from the outside; the rabbi is simply and clearly bisexual. End of story. BUT NO!...Insiders see someone torn by 'temptations', who just needs direction and time for reflection...which, understanding that people actually live normal lives outside, sounds almost comical in its denial (as TRUE as it might be spiritually) - since the outside world has a definition for such people - bisexual!- and a place for such people - anywhere!

From the outside, from general society, which increasingly has no parameters on sexuality aside from 'consent' and constructs of age when 'consent' is possible - Elon's situation is as simple as that; it is Orthodoxy where they complicate it all, until it is unrecognizable from the lived life of a human being, paints a life I doubt he actually lives. "Bisexual" would account only one facet of this multi-faceted person; outside of Judaism, he would simply be - and not be or have gotten into the trouble he is in. I completely understand the temptation to remove oneself from dimensional rubrics, to deny more than matter.
But does all reasoning to some degree obfuscate reality this way, is that why increasingly society claims it is impossible or pointless to quest after such higher abstractions? Of course that's a claim of Postmodernism, but an aspect of "without foundations" that's still around after post-Postmodernism is "Unthinking"; virtually anything is reasonable and justifiable by such secular, "pareve" ethics without foundations - but very few people actually think it through to that end or try - and that's just the point; you should not try to think that far - you do other things that far; feel, act, "intuit", whatever, but don't try to apply reason to something you are told is so big, anonymous, innert and impersonal as yourself and everything and everyone else...
there's nothing there to reason to - or I'd say you might risk realising how much you can realise, and then you've already dropped the red pill and there's no coming back un-tainted by redemption.

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