Thursday, April 26, 2012

Its been a really long time

Since Facebook came around, I feel the joy of blogging sort of died as you can post a status message on Facebook and get the same comments you could with a whole post.  Should I start posting on this blog again or should i continue to leave it idle?

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Practical joke or Sabatoge?

One of my co-workers pointing this out to me and I think it is pretty funny. If you type in the following address on the internet look what pops up. Is this a practical joke or did someone seriously do this? Whats your opinion? Will Aish sue the person responsible for this and try to get the domain name or will they let it slide? Who knows. Like i said I think it is funny since we are all Jews and the joke is on us.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Answer to my friends post about violence in the Torah

This is copied and pasted from a weekly email from Rabbi Aaron Moss in Australia.

Question of the Week:

There is a lot of talk today about the dangers of Islamic violence. But from my reading of the Torah, it is just as violent as the Koran, and maybe more. Can you say that Judaism is a religion of peace if its holy text promotes war?


No one has ever been attacked by a book. Texts are not threatening. Otherwise libraries would be considered high risk areas. If you want to know whether an ideology is dangerous or not, don't look at its texts, but rather look at the people reading the texts.

Holy texts are like joke books. Possessing a joke book doesn't make you a comedian. A joke that is funny on paper may fall flat when said out loud, and a joke that seems corny when you read it can get big laughs when said right. It's all in the way you tell it. Similarly, a holy text that speaks of war does not necessarily make its readers violent, and a religion of peace can also produce people of war.

Anyone who knows anything about religion knows that it's all in the interpretation. While the Torah does describe many wars, these have been understood as historical events rather than an eternal call to fight infidels. The modern application of these wars is a personal one - that we each must wage an internal war against our own inner enemy, we must battle the forces within that prevent us from living a moral and holy life. Selfishness, arrogance, cynicism, laziness, indifference - these are the only infidels that Jews seek to slaughter. This is why the violence in the Torah has not translated into violence by Jews - the interpretations don't allow it. We simply don't read our texts that way.

It was the Koran that described the Jews as the People of the Book. If you want to know what the book is about, look at the people that read it.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Membership Decline of Non-Orthodox shuls in Long Island

I want to thank Jewish Blogmeister who posted about this article here about Conservative and Reform shuls in Long Island merging with each other in order to survive. I am going to take a few pieces from this article and comment on them based on my experience with many of these shuls as a former USYer and what i see as really going on.

"Primarily, we've had a course of financial issues which can be directly traced back to our shrinking demographics and membership ..." What are these financial issues? If you pay your Rabbi, Cantor, and Hebrew School Principal or Education director 6 figures as a salary you have to make sure you have the membership to afford it. With shrinking membership and high salaries that makes a higher membership fee. There are some synagogues in these movements that ask to see your tax returns and your membership fee is based on that. There are some shuls that continue to raise membership to prices no one can afford. When this happens most of the time the family does not show up to shul anymore since they are not welcome and if Chabad does not get a hold of them these people might not ever show up in shul again.

"The temples find themselves hurt by the exodus of young people from Long Island, whatever their religion. High taxes and high housing costs are blamed" I don't think that this is a valid excuse. Look at certain towns such as Woodmere, Cedarhurst, Hewlitt, Plainview as well as many more that have plenty of young people moving in. They are all going to orthodox synagogues not the Conservative or Reform shuls. I don't see people moving out of any of the communities with a heavy Orthodox population. I don't see this Exodus. What i see is that people are leaving the Reform and Conservative shuls and they are looking to blame outside sources for the membership decline rather then looking at themselves.

"Right now, we are seeing a flurry of new congregations in the Pacific Northwest. Similarly, five years ago, there were several new congregations in Florida. What's happening on the Island is really a demographic issue." Here is another person blaming it on demographics again. I wonder if this person has ever visited any of these new congregations in Florida. From what I have seen is that many Northeast snowbirds and retirees built these Reform and Conservative shuls, the same way they built them 50 years ago in the Northeast. Young people that live in these areas are not becoming members and if they are its the same thing that it is only for Bar and Bat mitzvahs and once they are finished with that they drop membership. In the article they even quote someone saying, "The Reform movement, with the most members nationally and locally, has also had troubles. Reform synagogues have long struggled with being seen and used as no more than "bat and bar mitzvah mills," as Bloom called them. Many families belong to their local temple only until their children's religious education is completed, Bloom said. Synagogue affiliation rates among Reform Jews are also the lowest among the three major denominations, and Rabbi Stark said they are even lower than normal in New York" In the areas in Florida, Chabad as well as Chofetz Chaim and other Kiruv groups have been very successfull down there because the Jews down there are not affiliating themselves to any shul. So yes there might be a flurry of new congregations but do a census of the average age of the people in these "new" congregations.
With these mergers the whole idea of Egalitarianism has taken center with some of these shuls. In my opinion, the whole Egalitarian thing is a joke and has no place in traditional Judaism. The joke is that the people try to claim "halacha" permits them to do things like this. I stated in my previous posts here and here my opinion on the Conservative movements ideas on how they come up with there rules.
The only way these shuls can actually save themselves is to do something none of them will do. Look within yourselves to see why people are leaving instead of blaming external things. Ask former members why they left instead of trying to figure out yourselves why people are leaving. Realize that the whole reason you are Jewish is because of the Torah, and if the Torah starts to be studied and followed in a proper way it will lead you in the right direction. In Queens many of the Conservative and Reform shuls have merged and closed when Orthodox shuls next door are expanding. Why don't these shuls ask themselves, why are those shuls growing especially if they are in the same neighborhood yet our shul is losing members? Look into yourselves and you will find the answer. Don't blame other things.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Interesting Question from friend who needs answers

I received the following email from a friend. I have tried to answer his as best as I can. He has also spoken to numerous Rabbis who have not been able to give him an answer that satisfies him. He asked me to post this to see if anyone out there can help him out.

would like to post the following on your blog:
I was recently reading Sefer Yoshua, the Book of Joshua. In chapter six it explains how the Jews took over Jericho and then killed EVERY SINGLE person in the city. They intentionally murdered not only men but innocent and defenseless women and children.My question is this: Was that not a genocide? And how is that any different from what Muslims do when they kill today? They kill because they say "God commanded us so." How is that any different from what the Jews did? And don't just tell me its because in that case that's what God really commanded. Also, for the sake of argument lets say God really did command this. If God did command such a thing, what kind of a God is that? Why should one worship such a murderous, violent and unjust God?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Can you wear a Borsalino Black hat on Shabbos? Part 1

Before I go into detail with attempting to aswer this question, I want to direct people to a post by Rabbi Gil Student on his blog regarding this topic here. Once that is read I want to add and question a few things that were not brought up in his post or any of the comments that I was able to read. First thing that I want to point out is that the Gemara here in Eruvin is one that is never or rarely mentioned regarding hats on shabbos. The Gemara always quoted is the one that is in Meseches Shabbos about wearing a hat. I attended an interesting shiur on Shavous on this issue but the Maagid Shiur used the hat issue for an introduction as to whether or not you can use an umbrella on Shabbos.
Getting back to the Gemara in Eruvin, Rashi comments that the hat should be tight fitting so it should not blow off. If the brim is a tefach or larger it is easy for the wind to blow it off of someones head. In one of the popular commentaries for Meseches Eruvin, Perush Chai, the author draws out a decriptive picture of the hats in question and how to wear them properly. In the picture, the brim of the hat is tied down with string around the guys chin as per Rashis explanation. This makes sense to me but apparantly people do not hold by this. In one of the comments on Hirhurim someone mentions the button and elastic string that goes around the black hat. This was originally used to attach to a jacket (hence the slit on the collar of suit jackets) to prevent them from falling off or blowing away. I was told but i have not seen this personally that Rav Shachter Shlita from YU does have a type of string attached to his hat to follow according to what Rashi says explaining the Gemara.
I will continue on my next post on this issue regarding what the Shulchan Aruch says with Mishna Berura's explanation and quoting of the Magen Avraham

Saturday, June 09, 2007

How many Rabbits does it take to make a black hat?

Even thought the title of this post sounds a little bit crazy, this is a real question that i want to know the answer to. Over Shabbos while looking at the nice fancy black borsalino that i have, i noticed that the tag says made from 100 percent Rabbit Fur. Do you think most people who wear these hats know that they are wearing a dead rabbit on their head? Then i remember seeing the following commercial on TV about reattaching those rabbit feet that are dyed and considered good luck charms to Rabbits. With this in mind, I ask is this appropriate for a frum Jew to kill rabbits just so they can have a nice looking hat?
Chassidus teaches the essence in a brocha is taking something that is not holy and raising its kedusha by making a brocha on it. Does someone make a brocha on a hat? If we wear a leather belt or leather shoes, the leather comes from an animal that the meat and the rest of it were used in a holy way. You have meat from a kosher animal, the skin for STAM and other things that make use for you Avodas Hashem and things that brochas can be made on for elevating the kedusha. What kedusha does a rabbit have? You cannot eat the meat from a rabbit since it is not kosher so are you permitted to kill a rabbit for the feet or the fur? Chassidim who wear streimels might have the same issue but i am assuming the fur used on a streimel comes from an animal whose meat has been used for a brocha. If i am wrong someone can comment and correct me since i am not exactly sure what animal they do come from. The same applies to leather watch bands and some belts which are made from pig skin. Is it appropriate for a Frum jew to wear these things. If not, does it fall into the same category as shatnez? These are some things that i was thinking about and would love to hear any answers anyone might have.