Monday, September 27, 2004

Public Service Announcement (as a favor to those who have placed me on their blogroll)

I will be taking an extended leave of absence from blogging, beginning today. Check back monthly to see if the blog is reactivated.

In the meantime, I will always consider invitations to guestblog.

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Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Off to the forest

There will be a hiatus in my blogging as I prepare for the upcoming period of judgment. Off to a spiritual shack in the forest....

[Though, I may be blogging intermittently (to be determined as things proceed).]

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Friday, September 03, 2004

The Klalot & the Holocaust

While I was fulfilling the mitzvah of shnayim mikra ve-echad targum this week, it occurred to me, while reading the Klalot (curses), that the historic factual description of the Holocaust is must more terrible and horrific than the Torah's curses.

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Thursday, September 02, 2004

Orthodox Samizdat

I was thinking this past weekend how there is a intellectually & religiously interesting samizdat (underground literature, though Professor Jeffrey Woolf first used that term in this context) of Orthodox Jewish literature, including unpublished papers, unfinished papers, lectures & shiurim that were never transcribed, and classnotes. I have spent time over the years amassing a sizeable collection of this material. If people know where to look, they can find a vibrant intellectual life that goes under the radar screen of most people who pick up their knowledge from the internet, books, & Jewish periodicals.

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Yirah & Emunah/Bitachon

According to Rabbeinu Yonah's Igeret/s ha-Teshuvah, Bitachon (faith in God) & Yirah (fear of God) are intimately connected, though he does not explain how.
My explanation is that faith & a belief in God and that he runs the Universe results both is faith/Bitachon and a fear (Yirah) of doing something that against His Will. So they are flip sides of accepting the Jewish religious worldview.
For some reason, however, love of God (Ahavah), does not necessarily entail this acceptance of the Divine reality. Perhaps love of God can be based upon a more amorphous understand of God without the fear & trembling of the Divine.

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From my comments section...

On : 9/2/2004 8:43:08 AM Simcha (www) said:

"...Dr. Soloveitchik is not afraid of anyone."

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Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Hijacked! (Orthodox Feminism)

Once I have begun, let's continue on this thread of Orthodox Jewish Feminism. There is much to be said and (unfortunately) very little sane & astute comments. A couple of years ago Dr. Chaim Soloveitchik was rumored to be working on an article on the rise of feminism in Orthodoxy (using standard sociology of feminism data), but I haven't heard about that in years.

In recent years, the Orthodox Feminist movement has been hijacked by radical elements who would like to call into question basic issues about God, Halakha, most of Halakhic literature, and possibly most of the fundamentals upon which Orthodox Judaism is constructed. Now, they are largely immune from attack. Not that they are not attacked. But rather whenever anyone criticizes them, they are grouped with other "Rabbis & others who hate women and want to keep them down." This basic free pass allows them a pulpit to push the most radical agendas with impunity.

Most men who disagree with these positions are hesistant to criticize them publically, for fear of being branded a misogynist. What I would like is a normal, sane position voiced by a woman about the proper role of women in American Orthodox Judaism.

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Building a Spiritual House

I mentioned earlier my belief that halakha is a floor not a ceiling. Upon reflection this past weekend, I would like to clarify my position. Most halakhic matters are about learning to follow the rules and are akin to learning to ride a bicycle. Three notable exceptions are:
1) Learning Torah (skill in learning, focus while learning, & dedicating time to learn)
2) Personality & Chesed (correct traits that you deem need fixing)
3) Focus and attention during prayer (kavanah).

Can one build an entire spiritual house out of these three? (Another Elul question.)

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The Orthodox Response to Darfur

The Town Crier noted that the RCA, the largest and most prominent (and at this point, possible the most morally minded) Orthodox Rabbinic Organization has issued a press release about the tragic situation in Darfur.

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