Friday, March 28, 2008

Ethics, Rhetorics and Exponents

Within the damp, dusty and peeling walls there is a breath of the inspiring air:

Moishe F. is a source of inspiration for me. Moishe hereinbelow poses for a well-travelled, worn-out, and dropped into the dust of the Judean Desert point-and-shoot film camera, with fellow scions of Eastern Europe, Yuri, a dedicated high school teacher, and Itzik, a Toro genius and iluy, who belonged in the Mir or the Hebron Yeshiva.

And this is where many a boraissa and and holocho was scrutinized and expounded and glanced and glossed and unfathomed. Yoav, center, and Daniel Lev, behind him have succeeded in absorbing both the the learning and the ethics from Sinai, I must proudly say:

Sure, the Boraissa from Ketubos is correct, so is another statement that whoever takes 3 steps upon the Holy Land is a Tzaddik, and on and on. One simple thing is important to keep in mind is that we don't poskin by individual excerpts from Gemoro. We have the Great Gemoro Authority comprising of the 3 Torah greats (Rif, Ron, Rambam) that voiced their opinions in no uncertain terms, and the Great Codifier and that is who we go with. Shulkhan Oruch never issues a psak against anyone who seems to fall into an intuitively deduced wrong side with either of the dramatic passages from Gemoro.

Statmenets like these are used nowadays out of context, and, sadly, as a gruesome , or dramatic, at best, rhetoric. Rhetoric is an effective, persuasive form of speech, but most of the time it is incorrect, often intellectually dishonest. It persuades people to nod along.

Tha is, until someone come up with a question. The rhetorically dramatic passages from Gemoro rule over the silent and easily impressed, but they need to know the Ultimate Source of Facts, the Toro, which, significantly different from the arbitrarily judgmental thrust of the rhetorical passages, never uses the Holy Land as an atonement for a rapist, a murderer, an adulterer, a killer, a witch and a warlock, a false prophet, a practicing homosexual - they all are judged, in black and white, in easy-to-read verses, and the Holy Land is never even mildly mentioned as a saving atonement. On the contrary, Toro never recognizes or compromises with these sinners, and explicitly says that nothing of their sort should be found in the land, and in many cases, killed (suffocated), burned (fed molten lead), or stoned (pushed off a cliff unto jagged rocks).

As a silent countercharge to the users of the Boraissos, we would never issue a damning , iddol-worshiiping accusiastion against the Toro Gedoilim who lived outside the Holy Land and yet their decisions serve as the ultimate holocho - rabbis Moshe Feinstein, Chofetz Chaim, Ben Ish Hai, Rashash, Palazzi, Chido. The great posek that did live here, R. Shloimo Zalman Oyerbach, never issued a negative psak regarding of the Diaspora residents. R. Eliashiv, has never done that, either.

They issued psak that dealt with the practical side of Toro. That is what Toro is about. However, the Great Kiryat Moishe University of Rhetorical Hashkofos, whose proud graduates are you and I, seems to de-emphasize the essence of learning, of the relating to one of the hardest things to do - to relate to a fellow Jew on the street, at workplace, in the cafeteria of the University, and in many other small but very important scenarios. The University, though not alone in this, lets the everyday Israeli mentality influence the course of the arbitrary interpretation of the rhetorical hashkofo.

Ignoring my personal experiences that puzzled me there, where crude, arrogant, and even disdainful attitude towards search for better observance ("you don't need to study all that marriage mitzvo details all day long, that's for haredim"), where the beautiful, and equally important statement of utmost rhetorical strength - "Darkey Noam", Toro's Ways are pleasant (who can argue against this?)- are ignored, and the young men discovering themselves in Toro do not grow in pleasant ways, but deepen their scowling, glowering stares, and loud, pushing mannerisms. I would rather use, and always use the example and the experience of a fellow Israeli who was the only example a successful, total self-improvement work at the yeshiva, to the point where he had realized that he does not belong there, and now he lives near me, an exemplary Hassidishe man, a true, Gentle Man, or Mensch of a Jewish gentleman, who impresses me with his patience and common sense in relating to everyday curve balls that life throws at us. I do not have to prompt him to remind me how great it feels to learn Toro without quotes from Toro made of muddled rhetoric.

Sad it is, when the mantras of walking and living on the Holy Land go to the cerebellum of a hyper-idealistic man, and all other ethics go down the drain. No wonder Toro does not recommned women to wear Tzitsis, or men to wear tefillin all day. It is not for some magical reason, but to prevent yihuro. It is one thing for the Diaspora to behave unethically, but it is a glaring, screeching Hillul Hashem for a Holy Land Walking Yihuro specialist to badmouth, backstab and humiliate his fellow coworkers, cheat his employees, and exploit his yarmulko as a passport to get to even higher state of yihuro at his synagogue.

Right now the challenge is not the Jews in Diaspora, the challenge is being nice to them when they come to the Shuk and move slowly in the way of the locals. Remember, the Toiro is about NOT pushing and shoving and glowering and scowling. Gemoro brings another wide-ranging, powerful statement - whoever gets angry is as if worships idols. What other Boraissas do we need?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Ariel Ben Yakov and Jerusalem

I have had a picture of my friend's CD cover. In Jerusalem his name is Ariel Ben Yakov. I can't tell what it says - "Jew Lost in Exile" ? He learned at the Diaspora Yeshiva, had some rough time adjusting to the Jerusalem scene, and then I lost track of him. I hope he is married and doing great now.

I found some more pics on my PC. This one was taken right after Purim. The workers seems to be going up and down and getting into the top welding deck. No changes are visible though.

this is one is one of really mysterious sites in Jerusalem. Nobody has any info on this little cemetery right in front of the Egged headquarters, next to the former temporary bus station that is now a paid parking lot (see further below)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Mad Max, Kassam, Calatrava, and Purim

I this post:

CALATRAVA BRIDGE, not necessarily in that order.

I found a picture from the Machon Meir's Chanuka '97 or 98 trip to Mitzpeh Ramon. This guy stood out. I met Mad Max when Andrew Casden and I were exploring a small oasis in the middle of the arid desolation of the crater, or caldera, as some scientists call it, this guy on a motorcross bike barreled onto the scene and warned us not to break any vegetation or disturb rocks. I immediately counter-questioned him regarding the impact of his terrain-plowing bike. He was an open-minded type and soon we got into an amicable conversation. He is formelry from Lithuania, and now he is a park ranger. I told him is a pure Mad Max. He said, sure, he often gets mad at arrogant people tearing up vegetation, digging for rare rocks, scaring wildlife, endangering themselves with rattlesnakes, scorpions, and littering.

You remember Rabbi Uriel? I have just found out from Shalom (in the picture below) that the rabbi has died some time ago. I think his last name was Horowitz, and that is how it appears on the Halachoh Beruroh Talmud's list of editors. The rabbi learned with everyone, be it the basics of Judaism with complete beginners and converts, or high-level Gemoro studies with other rabbis. I started to learned Yoreh Deoh a month or two up to Pesach of the year 2000.

Anyway, this Purim I took my family to our friends in Sorotzkin neighborhood, and while trasnfering buses (NN. 23 to 2) surveyed the interestingly scary Calatrava bridge. The welding decks are still marking the joints of the pylon sections. Some wires still look sagging. They are still working on something as you can see in the 7 pictures below.

Purim joy:

And this is a jeep from Sderot. Towards the back of the roof note one of many Kassam rockets that have fallen on the town.

And the celebrations in Sorotzkin.

See you soon?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Adam's Waterfall, Bus Passes

This drawing was given to me by Adam Teitelbaum, from Texas, who came through Machon Meir. Soon I will post scans of group pictures from that era.

That was an interesting era. Amitai, Andrew Casden, Rabbi Kenny Cohen, Menachem Listman.
They are all in the pics to come.

Also that was the time I could not fathom the concept, or think of Jerusalem monthly bus passes. Eventually I got married and matured to start buying them. This was the period when I actually scanned them.

So many security features. So much money.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Art by Casden/Reason to Keep Chalav Israel

A lot has happened since the last post. The Calatrava bridge has had most of its strings strung. There was a terrorist attack on the Merkaz Harav Yeshiva. I have just remembered that I wanted to post some of my friends art. This one is by Leib (Andrew) Casden, given to me on the occasion of my wedding.

And these are the CAsden brothers, with the city of Shkhem in the background below.

And on a totally different subject: this is the reason to keep Chalav Israel(Cholov Isroel). The follwoing pictures are from an industrial milk farm where cows had a hatch installed leading into the last stomach, ino roder to speed up their digestion and produce more milk. The hatch also helps with cleaning the stomach to make digestion more efficient, see below.This renders a cow non-kosher with regards to both mill and meat.