Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"It Gets Better" and Euthenasia/'RTD'
Moishe's words at 6:22 -6:36 were profound and powerful, regardless of what ones personal struggle or resignations are. And so much hizzukh I get for just sticking LIFE out again, regardless of what ones torment is - "It gets better".

At the same time, I can't help but know that these guys likely do not traffic with the views of other non-religious/non-Orthodox homosexuals who share the gammet of liberal convictions and in an unusual twist, haven't put thought into "It gets better".

Many people, predominantly political liberals, support "Right to Die" legislation, euthenasia, support access to those who would like to end their lives - not simply the terminally "ill" either - and I think many of them do not make the connection when they support "It gets better" encouragements; what realistic evidence can you offer that, for a given person, it does get better? for many, it just gets...different! Many people's lives royally suck! And many resign to it sucking, and would prefer to not BE rather than continue. But "society" doesn't condone that option, unless the Hemlock Society et al have their way. There is no law of the universe that "It gets better", no principle by which "Misfit Toys" find their island, let alone the children who would want them. Which is to say that when it comes down to life and death - the supporters of "It gets better" WOULD NOT want people at risk to have to option of ending IT. Why? IT GETS BETTER! Which again, can't be proven. I'm glad it can't be proven! I support everyone sticking around to at least give themselves a chance for things to get better, to change for the better - I do! But I just noticed a weird twist in "shared politics" here; they would maybe support "Right to die" for everyone except closeted, tormented homosexuals? I'm not making a statement by asking, but it's interesting to think about.

Monday, November 29, 2010

"Never before in Jewish history had we such large groups of people who are so in but also so out."

From Avakesh;

Our children now grow up in a pradigm in which the supreme value is making rational, efficient and value free choices. There are many possible choices and one makes them based on what one wants and desires and not based on overarching conisderations. One can have a mitzva or a a cell phoen adn this choice is on teh same order of reality as teh choice between two items in a restaurant. It is not that one choice is moral and the other immoral. Post-modern child or adult does not think in those terms. Is it then a surprise to us that religious considerations fall by wayside? It is not that our children and young adults choose one way of life over another, they think and function in a different sphere, only a sphere of rational and efficient choices. Religion is not a part of such choices and they see and experience no conflict in making choices without reference to religion. They are not in the "parsha".

How then do we get past this? Panelists in various discussions argued that children must be taught Yiras Shomayim as an antidote to materialism. I don't agree because I do not believe that these children and adults can even rgrasp these concepts or relate to them. Instead, in a prior essay I argued that he language of post-modernism is not logical and conceptual but image and sound-bite based. Religion will only succeed is it can touch our kids on a level below the rational. We lost their minds to the accursed culture but their hearts are still open, perhaps more open than every before. More years in Kollel will not do it. We must use music, story, and film as the way to penetrate below the level of the mind and world-view upon which Religion lies as a dead letter sacrificed to efficiency. Groups that do this, which appeal to emotion and not the mind, Breslav and Chabad are actually succeeding. Activist religion is where need to go to save our children. More zemiros and farbrengens, more vodka, more peer-group activities and more public action is where we need to go.

Went a very different direction very much from what I would have - seemingly away from Maalei, observant Jews in the arts, Mimamaakim, et al, towards particular established darchei in Torah - appeals to pre-modernism, from long before even the uncomprehending "modern" parents generation - as if modernism and it's aftermath never happened!

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Beast With Two Fronts/Two Fronts & Two Backs

I'd heard the midrashim about Adam and Eve originally being joined at the side or back, and that, aside from implying that couples are in some deep sense truly mono-gamous - beginning archetypally as one, that this is also prevented them from initially coming to know each other as raw bodies and then as persons but first as a self-knowledge. They came to know each other first as oneself, and only then as two separate persons, souls - and only afterward as bodies. Ironically the slang term "beast with two backs" to describe intercourse gets a slap in the face, or back if you will. Right now for many reasons that's just very, very beautiful to me, setting aside how smooshy it is.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Shomayah Tefillah
Reading through "Katif; Nine Days in Av" over this past Shabbat really just took the heart right out of me, really dragged my trust out into the streets and gave it over to the violent, lustful mob. Tuesday at work I watched this video.
Orange Tears of Gush Katif At The Very End

Hundreds of girls gathered from around the country and from Gush Katif itself - such unity so lauded by Tanakh, Talmud, Chazzal!!!...davening and davening...R. Shlomo Aviner leading prayer, footage after footage of tears after tears, prayers after prayers of these girls pouring their contrite hearts out in profound unison as *one voice*, melding with the prayers and tears of so many others at the time...one voice so lauded as the very voice God is most open to - and of course "SHOMAYAH TEFILLAH!" came to heart first, then mind. These comparably pure, recalcitrant hearts with scarcely a substantive sin to speak of due to lives of Torah, gemillat chasadim and avodah and love enmeshed with the Jewish People constitute at such young ages blessings far beyond anything I will ever achieve, who by all scales mortal should be just the anguished souls God God dains to tip an ear to - were cast out.

Chutzpah! WAS I THERE?!?! Was this MY experience?!? who am I to be challenged by Gush Katif - 5 years after! Anymore than post-Shoah atheists who were not survivors are furiously lambasted by atheist Survivors; I was not there, the post-Shoah atheists were not there, I have no right to say it was a challenge for me, they share in no such right.

But no - I went on to do the devil's arithmetic of adding it to so many other such outpourings in response to other circumstances, of so many of Israel lost and torn by the challenges to faith, to life with God's Torah, begging, pleading to man, to rabbis and scholars and peers with no salve, all the while before the very throne of God, pouring their hearts out, begging for release...and ultimately leaving - or festering in their makomim, rotten from the inside, as happens in too many individual lives and so much so in the Dati Leumi community in Israel after Gush Katif. The next calculation; of Jewish persecutions over the globe, over the millenia, of exiles, of famines and plagues and pogroms, of the even more vast world of persecutions of other peoples, mass murders, rape camps, wars, and human suffering. So many prayers, so much sincere repentance. Dead.

And then I swung back to self-absorption, my suffering. Ooverwhelming anguish and solitude and loneliness moved me to share my name with others to pray for me - refuah, refuah, yeshuah, simcha, a less-stressful parnasa - just ONE shidduch (it does not take "just one"; it takes the RIGHT one...). One rabbi then shared my name with someone bound for Israel who would then add it to a list of names schoolchildren had in mind as they read tehillim.

My God, how beautiful.

A scale then forms in my mind; on one the tefillot of these schoolchildren, these friends...as yet unanswered. The other side the other prayers and beseeching, repentance - and ensuing, unspeakable tragedy - unanswered by God, but baruch ata zman, shomayah tefillah - answers prayer with defilement, death, such epic annihilation.*

How tehillim in my name from the cute, saintly little voices of Israeli schoolchildren is supposed to accomplish...anything...I don't know. I don't know. Tikvah l'vad. I'm almost prayed out. Ironically, spellcheck actually accepts the Hebrew transliteration "Shomayah" above!! - but did not accept "tefillah"...I could almost laugh! - until I cry my last tear. Informed hope - is all I can have, so I guess that means I'm going to start trying to be informed again.

Maybe the parsha's a start.


And yet there is no concept of "time" in classical Hebrew thought. We can't say that things "take time", we can't say such a blessing as above about time, that time does things - we haven't even a concept of time. Times, zmanim, a particular time among other times - zman. But not time as such. this takes a bit of the sting out - and yet.. Oh God would it really hurt that much to answer my prayers among so many denied!? Before we're too old to enjoy the fruits of our sincerity, or sacrifices, or spent lives on attempting to do Your Will? Really?! Is it that hard on You, are the "lessons" we're to learn by living and dying alone, so many of us, so tortuously, is learning them of such importance that we don't survive (or at least not as observant Jews), to practice what we were taught?!?

If we then say CLEARLY these nisayonot are of such caliber that we're obviously in the worst of days!!!...

What is to be said of the "challenges" of virtually global Jewish affluence, of global Jewish safety -
in vast absence of obedience to Torah, just the circumstances lack of security and safety supposedly occur in Prophetic literature! - and what of Israel no longer being a land of "refuge", now a land of mere opportunity - its own country among the nations, with its own problems - averaging only 4000 olim from prosperous, assimilated and happy America in any given year?...

what about the drumbeats of Iran and the bomb? Of Islamicism? Of growing, spreading threats the media tells us that seem to end up more localized by the end of the broadcast?..I haven't the foggiest.

The devil's arithmetic leads to the devil's advocate asking; what lessons are supposedly Taught, and what lessons learned when millions of Jews - the vast majority, are so content with failing a test in a language of "nisayonot" no one speaks anymore, if they ever did? What, you think I mean Hebrew? Look again at Israel!! Twenty years past is the last throws of the "Baal Teshuvah Revolution" of "seekers for truth", of generations of Jews who care about truth. Oh God.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

New Look At An Old Post
[very messy, hope to expand a lot on it over the next week] from 2007, on the relation of science 'truth' and religion/ethics 'truth':
There is value in imprecision, of reckoning in coming to know in the world - where perhaps many maxims(?) are not systematically written up as a whole map because we live in lieu of Nevuah, the means of certainty in meta-matters. Or at least not taking as Revelation the attempts to do so (historical and present)... Restraining ourselves from doing so prevents binding the maxims themselves to transient meanings, interpretations of that time by (keeping a loose grip on them as it were).

Which would be all well and good if not for Rambam - whose view of the development of knowledge of the world was wed to his non-Jewish contemporaries - that proper knowledge means acquaintance with accumulated, revealed "facts" - religious and empirical where both accounted in Mishneh Torah for this reason, as was the view of his neighbors and their theology. His was not a science that would survive a year in our day and age, where previously-tested presuppositions are retested, older information considered suspect after 5 years. For him, religious and scientific facts were set and stone, and we need only grasp them in a cumulative fashion. For Rambam, it would seem impossible to be ethical or empirically accurate without a measure of mesorah-confidence that has not been shared by the scientific community in the very time it has made so many advances.

Yet another indication that though "Biblical presuppositions" are indeed behind modern science - they're not necessarily from the Jewish Bible, nor via the milieu of Judaism - but more accurately the Christian Bible (Septuagint largely), and Christian Europe. I could of course raise my "fruitful errors" analogy - but would only matter for the Judaism most compatible with (now no longer considered responsible for?..) science, the rationalism of Rambam - who would also seem not apt to accept science of today for lacking in theological grasp! Except as he "accepts" Christianity and islam as setting a stage for proper "true religion" - which considers heretical, if not Avodah Zarah! Would he amend his views on science? Why assume so? May we and still not be "in error" by the Rambam?...

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Old Email to Myself @ The Time
Oh the ways I've changed and the ways I havent...

[2005]Not long ago in a life-induced stupor, I decided the best way to forestall my (I"H) children's assimilation to Goyishe olam was by giving them weird 'english' names that would do the segregating for them.

but the minute I found some weird names, I realized they were too cool, and my imagination took it from there;

Unna (like "Loona", with no "L"), who is a Soccer girl from a very young age, does well in school, but invariably grows to be 5,10"+, with thick 'dirty blonde' hair, is distressingly beautiful. And with it's arrival goes the emphasis placed on her education - at least by young men and Bubbes who are out to get her married. She has a pentient for wearing jeans and tshirts, to her parents disconsternation. However, she (thankfully), intimidates most men, who are incapable of earning her hand, let alone attention. She decides to go to college - in Europe.

Yaako (like Wacko), who starts out feisty, messy, friendly and loud, and pretty much stays that way. Becomes a very physical kid with little interest in things he can't do for himself - right now. Of wiry frame and darker than his sister, He takes to daredevil 'impress the girls' behavior like nobody's business, always seems to have an overgrown mop on his head (which is black and brown), hanging down to his eyes. Completely hyper beyond control. Sandals and shorts is how I see him. He is utterly lacking in self-control or - thankfully - anger or meanness; girls love him and his friends (AKA his supporters), are many and loyal. He goes through all the 'special' yeshivahs like a tornado, ends up homeschooled most of the time, he finally finishes yeshivah high school, but never finishes yeshivah gedolah or college (we're a little unclear if he even started), but always seems to get those neato summer jobs - all year round. He climbs, bikes, etc.

From Eric Reitan; Moral Atheists,
Ethics Without [Explicit] Foundations
From Eric Reitan;

Often, the issue of morality is invoked by religious fundamentalists to villify atheists: There can be no morality without God, they argue; and hence, atheists must be amoral. The reasoning here is terrible, of course. Even if you think that the existence of objective moral truths in some fashion or another depends on the existence of a God, it hardly follows that atheists can't be deeply moral. Suppose there is ongoing uncertainty about the underlying physics that explains the force of gravity--and suppose that in a debate about this underlying physics, one side in the debate has the right answer. It doesn't follow that those on the other side of the debate don't believe in gravity (let alone that they behave as if it doesn't apply to them).

Somewhere, can't say where - actually several times! - I've seen Orthodox Jewish exponents propose that one can behave morally, but not be a moral Atheist. there seems to be an essentialism here that demands acts are good when, and because, they are Commanded - only Commandments can be considered good or moral, though they may in part be made up of worthy or productive behaviors, thoughts or beliefs, and only one who abides behavioral, ethical or ritual commandments as Commanded - can be considered moral.
A world of Jewish literature contradicts this position, though it does have a place there, and among other Divine Command approaches, not-so-ironically shared in the greater expanses of philosophy. An exception is often alluded to regarding most often that Jews may be considered abiders of Commandments even though their 'fulfillment' is not conscious; they may be doing a "good deed", acting ethically or abiding some other philosophical rubric - but if they actually do the act/belief, they are considered having fulfilled the given mitzvah as a mitzvah. More later.

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