31 May 2006

Walking Humbly With Your God, Part 1: An Initial Look

A few weeks ago, Ben gave a presentation at school that based itself off of the famous verse in Micah:
הִגִּיד לְךָ אָדָם, מַה-טּוֹב; וּמָה-יְהוָה דּוֹרֵשׁ מִמְּךָ, כִּי אִם-עֲשׂוֹת מִשְׁפָּט וְאַהֲבַת חֶסֶד, וְהַצְנֵעַ לֶכֶת, עִם-אֱלֹהֶיךָ.
He has told you, Man, what is good; and what does the Lord seek of you: That with doing justice and loving of kindness and walking humbly with your God. (6:8)
This got me to thinking about the verse. Now, although the understanding of the verse is enhanced by looking at the literary context of the preceeding few verses (and may be the subject of a future posting), I aim only on focusing on this verse itself. I realized there is a lot to be taken out of it and learned from it, especially in an inspirational fashion.
One intitial point is necessary: Micah is not pointing the Jewish nation in an antinomian direction (perhaps more on that later?) - he is not saying that there is really only three things people must do. These three important things are interesting as 1) the doing of justice, 2) the loving of kindness, and 3) the humbly walking with your God. The third one sticks out tremendously as God is brought in, whereas the former two were not explicitly related to God.
I will leave off here for now.
(another perspective)
-------------------------
Tags: , , , ,

Counting of the Omer: 49 or 50 Days?

As today we have reached the 48th day of the counting of the omer,
tomorrow will be the 49th day. However, what will be with Shavuos - will we count it as the fiftieth day?
According to the Torah (Lev. 23.16), the commandment seems to imply that we should count fifty days. Although one could then say, "Oh, that's just the Torah. The rabbis surely must have cut it down to counting only 49 days like we do nowadays." However, Rabbi Yose, son of Rabbi Yehudah said that we are supposed to specifically count 50 days! Furthermore, no one in the Talmud - either tanna or amora - disagrees with him.
So far, the score is Torah & rabbis both going for 50 days and no one for 49.
However, Tosafos in Menahos says that they count 49 days, so how come the Talmud says 50? What's trememendously interesting here is the primacy Tosafos gives ongoing practice over prescribed law. While Rosh tosses Tosafos two suggestions in favor of another possibility, it's still a befuddlement to me why we count only 49 and not 50 days. While I have prepared a sheet (in Word format) for a presentation on Shavuos night at shul on this topic, I was wondering how come in between late antiquity and the early medieval period people stopped counting the fiftieth day? Is it maybe because the fiftieth day is to be counted on the holiday of Shavuos and at some point the counting got dropped from the liturgy? Anybody?
----------------------------
Tags: , , , , , , ,

30 May 2006

Trying To Figure Out A Voice

In my continuing series of evaluating my blog (begun here and continued here), I have decided to briefly run down where my blog has gone and is going. In a sense, it is a continuation of the previous posting (albeit in a much different tone), but it is in somewhat abbreviated fashion.
Initially, I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do with my blog, but I mainly described events in my life. Then, I started blogging about girls and dating a bit more. Then I started getting more into the JBlogosphere around the time of the holidays last fall. At which point, I started getting more into the Jewish scene of blogging and post some Jewish articles. At some point, I spun off the YCT Chevre blog and then the short-lived Heights blog (hmmm, should I start it up again?), thus no longer putting any YCT stuff up on my blog and for a time not putting up stuff on the Heights on my blog. However, I realized that I liked more traffic to my site (I know that sounds selfish) and gave up on the Heights blog.
Although I eventually deleted my dating posts, up until early this year, it was somewhat of a prominent topic, as I thought this might be a good venue for discussing views and ideas on the subject matter, especially as it generates interest mainly for those fellow singles out there as well as those interested in the subject altogether. But, alas, perhaps it might (?) be best to keep such things not as much in the public sphere.
Next up is the Judaic content. As Judaism - and Jewish living, for that matter - is a huge focus of my life as an observant Jew, I've got things on my mind to discuss. As Drew, I've got my unique takes on things, and hoping to contribute to people's thoughts on the matter, as well as trying to demonstrate my thinking. As a rabbinical student, I am, on a daily basis, engaging with most of my time with Jewish topics. With these variables, it is easy to see why I would have quite a few things to discuss.
Next is the Heights' stuff. As a resident of Washington Heights, I have some things to say, as well. Unfortunately, however, this last category is a bit out of place. In any event, as such, I will let it be - I think that it's easier to keep the info here.
One last thing for this posting is that this blog is not meant, in any way, to be used for trying to promote my future career in the rabbinate. While I may post my resume, mention papers published or working on, or mention convention attendance, this is meant for people to see, especially for people who know me and are at least somewhat interested in my life (I don't mean that in any sort of haughty way - c'mon, you know people are interested in other people's lives. I know I'm not that important.), or maybe for other information related to it. One thing that I mentioned a lot in the fall and somewhat in the winter was that I felt more oriented as a rabbinical student rather than a future rabbi, per se. I think that holds true for my blog, but my thoughts were given an adjustment and I wisened up that it was probably more pragmatic that I look toward the future in terms of how I accorded myself - blog included. Nevertheless, in terms of utilizing my blog for future employment, I don't foresee that happening anytime soon.

28 May 2006

Enunciating My Frustrations with Blogging

I thought I might start off my series that I introduced in my pondering post with a sort of history of my blog - it's evolution and my attitudes, etc. However, I started realizing that I got frustrated by thinking about it. Let's see how it turns out....
I think I initially wanted to show different things going on with my life with my blog. This started turning into me talking about my dating (or, more accurately, my lack of it), and this got a fair amount of interest, even getting people to mention things in real life to me about dating that I mentioned on my blog. I thought this was neat, and a good idea. Around the same time (maybe a little later), I realized that I might speak on Jewish topics. This, too, yielded me even more visitors. I thought that I might be able to articulate ideas that would hopefully benefit, enlighten, or otherwise provide thoughtful discussion for people.
However, as time went on, I realized some people were not as nice (especially when they cloaked themselves anonymously) and would attack me and not the ideas. This is a MAJOR FRUSTRATION of mine - when people attack people's character and not the ideas at hand. I happen to particularly like Maimonides' famous phrase that we accept truth from whomever said it. What is great about it is that that statement shows that we ought to judge an idea on its own merit and not by who generated it. While there are times when this should not be applicable, in the world market of ideas, I believe that it should be a guiding principle. (see also the Rav's quote that Jewschool currently includes with every post: "I may attack a certain point of view which I consider false, but I will never attack a person who preaches it. I have always a high regard for the individual who is honest and moral, even when I am not in agreement with him. Such a relation is in accord with the concept of kavod habriyot, for beloved is man for he is created in the image of God.")
I get very frustrated when people criticize others, but it is rather upsetting when one has it done to oneself (henceforth, they shall be referred to as "The Haters" (cf.)(whereas ntGH refers to them as the kannoim). As a tangent to my overall post, I am announcing that, as of now, I am adding a "Jewish Bloggers For Responsible Speech Online" sign onto my blog (also found in this post). I hope that anybody who comments on this blog henceforth please engage in civil discourse and not attack others (nor me).
I am certainly

OKAY, IT'S TWO DAYS LATER (MONDAY NIGHT) AND I HAVEN'T YET FINISHED THIS POST, SO I'M POSTING IT NOW, EVEN THOUGH IT'S NOT COMPLETED. GOD-WILLING, I WILL COMPLETE THESE THOUGHTS IN SOME MANNER.

26 May 2006

Yom Yerushalayim

For Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day), I went to Jerusalem. Well, at least the Jerusalem in the Heights. Okay, so that sounds weird, but it's the only Jerusalem in Washington Heights - it's Casa Jerusalem, located at West 173rd street & Saint Nicholas Avenue. Yeah, it's not the real Jerusalem, but it's the closest one. Hopefully, the real Jerusalem won't be going out of business like it's Heights namesake.
It's tough considering what the meaning of Yom Yerushalayim is - what are we celebrating? Are we celebrating the victory of the Israeli army in 1967 over its Arab neighbors? Are we
celebrating the Israeli army's capturing of the rest of the city of Jerusalem that wasn't yet in Israel's hands prior to the war (couple others as well as this one (hat tip))? Are we celebrating having Jerusalem? Are we celebrating Jerusalem (like Mother's Day or Father's Day)? Are we celebrating the positive emotional impact that the victory had on Jewish people worldwide?
As to the last question, perhaps, but 39 years later, it's not very relevant to those who have no connection to then. As per celebrating Jerusalem, we can always just celebrate it. As to celebrating having it, same goes. As to having capturing it in 1967, perhaps that's the strongest answer to celebrate. As to winning the war, the day the war ended was not on the same day as Jerusalem was captured, so that seems a little inaccurate.
I think that, just like Mar Gavriel, I am a tad skeptical of the celebration of the day.
What seems weird to me is that we both celebrate today the regaining of Jerusalem, but we also fast in the summer for having lost it. Contradiction? I think so. But maybe I'm naive. Anyways, wouldn't it make sense to not have a contradiction? (I'm suspecting you might say we mourn in the summer for the loss of the Temple, but we're celebrating regaining Jerusalem today - which are two separate topics. This seems like an after-the-fact distinction to me, IMHO.)
-------------------------------
Tags: , ,

24 May 2006

Let The Series... About To Begin

Okay, so I keep trying to figure out what it is that I will say/type about my blog now that my blog has both been up for ten months now, has now received over 15,000 hits (thank you!), but more importantly, I get queried as to my blog - it's existence, it's point, my point, what I hope to accomplish (okay, so maybe that's a bit iterative), how I present myself, and other such questions. It gets kind of annoying sometimes being asked the same things over and over again, especially when I haven't organized a fully articulate or semi-articulate answer. As such, I realized that I should do something akin to a state of the blog post. However, I then realized over the past couple of days, that that would be a massive undertaking and probably better for both me to arrange my thoughts piecemeal in a topical fashion as well as for the readers (esp. the ADDers out there). (Don't worry, maybe at the end of July on my blog's anniversary, I'll do a State-of-the-Blog posting.)
As such, I hope to deal with some ontological blog issues (or would that be blogontological issues?? (or maybe the cooler sounding blogtological? (blogical anybody? (no, that sounds like magical)))), which should be good.

22 May 2006

Why Don't I Ever Talk About Music On My Blog?

(I've been brewing in my head a much longer post dealing with my blog on a much grander level, but for now, I am dealing with the subject of music within my blog, specifically. Hopefully, in the next couple of days, I will describe the nature of my blog, my thoughts on it and many further topics on the topic of my blog. Stay tuned....)
-----------------------------------------------
I have been thinking recently about the topic of writing about music on my blog - how come I don't? While I had discussed it in the earlier posting about the shuffle meme, I have now deleted the song titles and their composers/performers to them. It's not that I am either embarrassed or shy about my musical genre preferences, but rather it's probably better that, as a rabbinical student (with the idea that, at some future point in time, I will become a rabbi (not that that is to be taken for granted)), I not discuss such things. Although I am surprised that no one brought up my music preferences on the aforementioned posting, I was queried upon the subject on the posting where I mentioned having purchased two songs from iTunes (since deleted (the comment, not the posting)) and have since realized that it is better that my musical preferences be kept to myself and not shared, per se amongst the world.
This concern was sharpened with my realization of how I might be perceived via this medium, especially as a rabbinical student (oh yeah, that posting will definitely be referenced when I get to my subject at the top of this posting).
This goes also similarly to any TV or movies I see (with the lone (for now) exception of "Shalom in the Home"), as there are those who criticize for that, as well. So, I have taken up the policy of not discussing such things on the blog. Again, not because I am necessarily shy about them, but because I am scared and afraid of people criticizing me, my life, and my entertainment preferences it may not project the proper image of a rabbinical student.
I have come to realize that it's otherwise fine that I not discuss music, even though I enjoy it and it enters into daily life for me, as I'm sure there is no end to discussing music, whereas I seem to pick more finite (?) topics. Or maybe not. Who knows?

Bentsching Over A Cup

(I initially posted this in February elsewhere, but have transferred it to here.)

If one were to open the Shulhan Arukh on the topic of saying the ברכת המזון (grace after meals) with a cup (for instance, see Berakhos 51a), one would find that Rabbi Yosef Karo wrote the following (OH 182.1):

יש שאומרים שברכת המזון טעונה כוס אפילו ביחיד, וצריך לחזור עליו, ולא יאכל אם אין לו כוס לברך עליו אם הוא מצפה ואפשר שיהיה לו, אפילו אם צריך לעבור זמן אכילה אחת; ולפי זה אם שנים אוכלים יחד צריך לקחת כל אחד כוס לברכת המזון; וי"א שאינה טעונה כוס אלא בשלשה; ויש אומרים שאינה טעונה כוס כלל, אפילו בשלשה

There are some that say that the grace after meals requires a cup, even for an individual, and he needs to go over it, and he shouldn’t eat if he has no cup over which to bless upon it if he is looking and it is possible that it should be for him, even if he needs to go past one eating time. And according to this, if there are two eating together, each one needs to take a cup for the grace after meals.

There are some who say that a cup is required only for three.

There are some who say that there is no need for a cup at all, even with three.

Rabbi Moshe Isserles added the following to it:

הגה: ומ"מ מצוה (ד) מן המובחר לברך על הכוס

In any event, it’s a preferable way of performing the commandment to bless over a cup.

There’s a lot there, but how’d it get to this?

There is nothing explicit in tannaitic texts, but there are two of them that later sages saw that there was something implicit in them – a mishnah in the tenth chapter of Pesahim (found in the Bavli on 117b) and a tosefta in the fifth chapter of Berakhos (this tosefta is found three times within the text of the Bavli – in Berakhos 52a, Pesahim 102b & 105b):

The mishnah

מזגו לו כוס שלישי מברך על מזונו ….

They mix for him a third cup – he blesses over his food…

The tosefta

הנכנס לביתו במוצאי שבת - מברך על היין ועל המאור ועל הבשמים ואחר כך אומר הבדלה, ואם אין לו אלא כוס אחד - מניחו לאחר המזון ומשלשלן כולן לאחריו

One who enters into his house upon the sabbath’s departure – he should bless over the wine, and over the light, and over the spices, and after that, say the separation prayer. And if he only has one cup, he should place it for after the meal and include all of them afterwards.

From the mishnah, Rav Hanan (in the Vilna printed edition) said to Rava that one can infer that the grace after meals requires a cup, whereupon Rava replied to him that the four cups the rabbis instituted out of the way of freedom (Pesahim 117b).

On Pesahim 105b, one of the redactors said that from the Tosefta, one requires a cup over the grace after meals.

From these two aforementioned Talmudic texts, the medieval commentators then develop the issue.

Maimonides codified (Hil. Ber. 7.16) that there was no need for a cup over the grace after meals.

However, Tosafos (Pes. 105b, s.v. Shema’ minah berakhah t’eunah cos) suggests that the halakhah is that it does require a cup (while mentioning that there is a custom of three blessing over a cup), even for an individual(!). (The Rosh (on Pes 105b) while offering a suggestion that goes against Tosafos’ reading of the individual language of the tosefta, he ends up bringing Rabbi Yehiel from Paris suggesting that a cup is necessary.)

The Ran suggested from the words of the Rif that it is a preferable way of performing the commandment, as it seems it is not necessary, similar to the Rambam.

(Hopefully this brief survey helps.)
--------------------
Tags: , , ,

Mezumenet?

(I originally posted this elsewhere in February, but am transferring it to here.)
A few weeks back (or more, but that's not important), I remember hearing one girl at the end of a meal saying, "We have a mezumenet." I thought for a moment that it just didn't sound right somehow. I realized that the proper noun is zimmun (זימון) and that one cannot change the gender of the activity because of the participants; it's not the participants that it's describing, but rather the action. Thus, for women, it ought to be zimmun lenashim (זימון לנשים).
I inquired to one of my fellow students about this.
The response I got was that, yes, indeed, I was correct. However, in the colloquial usage, mezumen is what people use to describe when they will have such an action, therefore mezumenet is the feminine form of it. Properly, however, mezumen is really the verb that would be describing the leader's action, and similarly, mezeumenet would be describing the leader's (leaderess') action of a group of women.
-----------
The following are comments upon the original posting:
  • Unless one is speaking Ashkenazis (and "mezumenet" indicates otherwise), it should probably be "mezuman" (מְזֻמָּן) in the masculine, not "mezumen."

    In Berakhot 43a and 46b, the מְזֻמָּן is the מְזֻמָּן לברכה, (written in the Talmud as מזומן) "the one designated (by the host) to say grace" (Jastrow, page 404) - the leader himself. Thus, מְזֻמֶּנֶת would be correct for the female leader.

    If we'd like to justify the colloquial usage of "mezumen," I guess if we're in a situation where we're in a situation where we may/must perform זִמּוּן, then "we have [need for] a מְזֻמָּן," or "we [can] have a מְזֻמָּן," or "we have [already chosen] a מְזֻמָּן." Really, only once we choose the leader do we actually have a מְזֻמָּן.

    Nevertheless, it seems to me that no matter who leads, the action is still זִמּוּן.

    On the other hand, though, if one is going to mess up the meaning anyway, maybe it's better to use the pronunciation "mezumen" as an marker. :)

    On a more important note, I've enjoyed reading your posts off and on for a while. You write interesting and throughtful!

    I beg sliche for the pedantry. Perhaps Mar Gavriel has something to add.

    -DJR

    By DJR, at Monday, February 20, 2006 9:56:10 AM

  • It's really funny because when I initially typed it up, I had acctually been spelling it mezuman, but then changed it later to mezumen. However, this was done not on account of Hebrew grammar, but rather to be used in perhaps a Yiddish(?) sense, or at least a colloquial sense.
    I do understand that the mezuman is the leader, but, again, how people use it is another thing (they use it describe what's taking place).
    I also agree with you, that "the action is still זִמּוּן".
    Lastly, but not least of all, thank you for your comment, and enjoy the reading. :)

    By Drew_Kaplan, at Monday, February 20, 2006 6:20:51 PM

  • BTW, I forgot I was on the blog designated for bentsching. I enjoy your other blog too.

    I did a search for "a mezuman" and "a mezumen," which shows just how common the colloquial usage is.

    Instead of my speculative explanation of "mezumen" in the first comment (which is probably stretching too far to make usage in an English sentence fit into Hebrew grammar), Steg suggested that it might be part of a general Yiddish/Judeo-English tendency to use Hebrew participles, like "this dish needs toiveling."

    By DJR, at Tuesday, February 21, 2006 10:54:42 AM

----------------
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The Guest's Blessing

(I originally posted this elsewhere, but here it is on my blog.)
The Talmud (bBerakhot 46a) quotes Rabbi Yohanan, who says in the name of Rabbi Shim'on, son of Yohai, "A host breaks [bread] and a guest blesses. He breaks [bread] so that he will break with a great amount (lit. a pretty eye), and a guest blesses in order that he should bless the host."
It is then asked (presumably by Rabbi Yohanan): "What does he bless?"
The following line is provided:
יהי רצון שלא יבוש בעל הבית בעולם הזה ולא יכלם לעולם הבא
May it be [the] will [of God] that the host should not be embarrassed in this world, nor humiliated in the world to come.

And Rabbi (Yehudah, the Prince) added words into it:
ויצלח מאד בכל נכסיו ויהיו נכסיו ונכסינו מוצלחים וקרובים לעיר ואל ישלוט שטן לא במעשי ידיו ולא במעשי ידינו ואל יזדקר לא לפניו ולא לפנינו שום דבר הרהור חטא ועבירה ועון מעתה ועד עולם
And he should be very successful with all of his properties and may his properties and our properties be successful and close to the city. And may Satan neither rule over his handiwork nor over ours, and may there neither appear before him nor us any thought of sin, transgression, or iniquity from now and until ever.
Thus is the printed text as we have it in the printed Vilna edition.
In Dikdukei Soferim, some textual emendations from manuscripts are offered for the text of the blessing. For the first line, we have

יהי רצון מלפניך ה' אלהינו שלא יבוש בעל הבית הזה ולא יכלם לא בעולם הזה ולא בעולם הבא
May it be the will before you, God, our Lord, that this host should not be embarrassed, nor should he be humiliated in either this world or the next world.

And, for Rabbi's addition, we have
ויצלח מאד בכל נכסיו ויהיו נכסיו מוצלחים וקרובים לעיר ואל ישלוט שטן לא במעשי ידיו ולא במעשי ידינו ואל יזדקר לא לפניו ולא לפנינו שום דבר הרהור חטא ועון ועבירה מעתה ועד עולם
And he should be very successful with all of his properties and may his properties be successful and close to the city. And may Satan neither rule over his handiwork nor over ours, and may there neither appear before him nor us any thought of sin, inquity, or transgression from now and until ever.
Additionally, Mesorat haShas mentions that it instead of יזדקר, the Rif and the Rosh have יזדקק, and it's also found in the Shulhan Arukh that way, as well. I do not know why (speaking of said work) the Shulhan Arukh (O.H. 201.1) has a slightly different version of the blessing (which is the version of Artscroll, so that may invariably popularize the version of that found in the Shulhan Arukh versus that of that found in the Talmud):

יהי רצון שלא יבוש ולא יכלם בעל הבית הזה לא בעולם הזה ולא בעולם הבא, ויצליח בכל נכסיו, ויהיו נכסיו מוצלחים וקרובים לעיר, ולא ישלוט שטן במעשי ידיו, ואל יזדקק לפניו שום דבר חטא והרהור עון מעתה ועד עולם.
May it be [the] will [of God] that the host should be neither embarrassed nor humiliated, neither in this world, nor the next. And may all his properties be successful, and may his properties be successful and close to the city. And may Satan not rule over his handiwork. And may there not appear before him any sinful thing, not thought of sin, transgression, nor iniquity from now and until ever.
Questions, the answers to which I don't have, about this topic remain, and they are thus:
  • How did Rabbi Shim'on, son of Yohai, come up with such a formula?
  • How come Rabbi added on what he did?
  • Where in the ברכת המזון (Grace after Meal) is this blessing supposed to be made?
  • How come Rabbi Yohanan needed to quote in the name of Rabbi Shim'on, son of Yohai, as well as Rabbi - why wasn't it included within a formal tannaitic teaching? (However, I suspect that this question may be more generally asked of all such statements in the Talmud.)
-----------------
Tags: , , , , , ,

19 May 2006

Wiping Oneself in the Talmud

After having posted this initial posting on the topic of wiping with one’s left hand in Jewish law by briefly answering an anonymous query, I hadn’t thought it would generate much interest. However, since it has been brought up at the Canonist, I figured I should go through with the rest of this discussion, if at least on some sort of cursory level (albeit more in-depth than in the previous posting).

The discussion in the Talmud
There are two beraisos recorded (on Berakhos 62a) that start off the discussion of this topic of wiping with one’s left hand. The first one says that Rabbi ‘Akiva said that one time he went in after his teacher, Rabbi Eliezer, and he learned three things from him, one of which was that one wipes only with one’s left hand and not one’s right. Following that, there is a similar text where Ben ‘Azzai describes a similar thing with Rabbi ‘Akiva. After a short interlude, the Talmud anonymously inquires as to the reason behind this practice. Four amoraim (generation in parentheses) suggest answers as to why this is.

Rava (4) (DK - the greatest figure in the Babylonian Talmud) said, “Because the Torah was given with the right hand, as it is said, ‘from his right hand, a fire of religion’ (Deut. 33.2).”
Rabbah bar bar Hannah (3) said (in the Oxford MS: that Rav (1) said), “Because it’s closer to the mouth.”
Rabbi Shi
m’on ben Lakish (or Resh Lakish (same difference)) (2) said, “Because we*/he tie*/ties with it tefillin.” (*the plural is employed in MSS Oxford and Paris, though not in the printed editions)
Rav Nahman bar Yizhak (4) said, “Because he shows the trope of the Torah (lit., ‘tastes of the Torah’ (in the printed editions, although in MSS Oxford and Paris, it says ‘tastes of the halakhah’)).”
+in both printed editions, at this point, it moves on to a Tannaitic text, although in both MSS Oxford and Paris, there is an amoraic text: {It was said: Rav (1) said, “Because he eats with it.” (which is where MS Paris stops) And Shmuel (1) said, “Be
cause he writes with it.”}+
This discussion is like [an earlier] tannaitic (generation in parentheses) discussion:
Rabbi Eliezer (2-3) says, “Because he eats with it.”
Rabb
i Yehoshua (3) says, “Because he writes with it.”
Rabbi ‘Akiva (4) says, “Because he shows with it the trope of the Torah.”
(after going through this pericope, I found that MS Munich is online, though it’s hard to read)

A brief discussion of the selection

What seems evident is that it was certainly important that one should wipe with one’s left hand, rather than use one’s right hand. While Steven I. tries to figure out what the material realia was of the time such that it would distinguish such a practice, thus negating any necessity for it to matter with which one hand one ought to wipe oneself, the sages cited up above mostly saw it in a religious manner (with the exceptions of Rabbah bar bar Hannah, Rav, Rabbi Yehoshua, and Rabbi Eliezer) (no, I’m not saying Steven I. is wrong, I’m just not pursuing that path in this current context). I only plan on discussing in this posting and discussing the above Talmudical data, although as with anything else in halakhah, there is more to be seen, such as in the medieval halakhic literature and the subsequent “codes.” As I typed in the previous post, it seems that one should follow it. However, Steven I. does raise a good question: whether or not the hand, itself, wiped, or whether it wiped with something. Assuming that that’s a moot point for now, there are still other issues at hand (no pun intended).
For Rabbi Shim’on ben Lakish’s position, what about those who do not wear tefillin, such as most women? Would that not be a desideratum? Also, what about lefties, who, for them, it would be the opposite?
For Rabbi Yehoshua (and Shmuel in MS Oxford), what about a lefty? Would they do the opposite? We could also ask a similar question to those who discuss eating – what about lefties? I think for all these lefty questions, we could probably answer that a lefty’s right hand is like a righty’s left hand.

In any event, while Rava’s suggestion doesn’t matter for male or female or for righty or lefty, although it has no daily physical importance, but rather because of a special metaphysical occurrence, which is certainly distinct from all of the others. Furthermore, it would preclude any sort of physical issue of toilet paper, for instance. His suggestion is certainly quite an amazing חידוש (novel conception), differing from not only other amoraim, but also the tannaim.
Anyway, that’s a start on the idea and I hope it serves well.
----------------------------------------------------
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

18 May 2006

17 May 2006

No More Beard


Yay! No more beard! (See my earlier posting on the beard thing.) What a difference a shave makes!


------------------------
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Construction Equipment Begins To Arrive

Equipment begins work on the property of 1 Wadsworth Terrace. Although I'm not sure what's going on right now, I somehow think it might be connected to the cleaning away of the debris. Either that, or they are digging up dirt for some reason or another. Also, for anybody interested in the progress so far, I just threw up an archive page on it.
-----------------------------
Tags:
, , , , 1 Wadsworth Terrace, ,

16 May 2006

More on my Summer Plans

As I mentioned previously, I will be spending July and the first half of August in Boston at the Summer Beit Midrash, sharpening my textual skills and learning.
However, I have also figured out that I will be attending the three-day "Modern Orthodoxy 1940-1970" conference in Scranton, PA. This will not only be informative to me as a Jew, as a Modern Orthodox Jew, but also as a future Modern Orthodox rabbi. I look very forward to it as I hope to gain a lot of knowledge, information, and understanding. Additionally, I will not be the only blogger there (Menachem will be there (also hat tip to him on the Forward article)).
Lastly, the last week of June, I hope to attend YCT's Yemei Iyun on Bible and Jewish Thought in Teaneck, NJ - I attended it last year and was enriched, so hopefully will I be this year, as well.
As far as the rest of my time in June, I hope to finally spend some serious time churning out a few articles (out of some of these) as I keep pushing them off, but will finally have time to work on them (just in the Heights). Alternatively or additionally, the idea of working isn't totally out of my mind, but I don't have much in the way of ideas on this.
As far as the latter half of August - that remains to be seen. Maybe I'll work?
------------------------
Tags:
, , , ,

14 May 2006

Opposition to the Hudson Heights Eruv

Well, now there is some opposition to the newly operational Hudson Heights ערוב (eruv) (hat tip: LMOM). It's kind of funny that this opposition springs up only now, as it has been known about since the fall (I had already posted about the eruv previously in October and it certainly has been discussed, so this shouldn't be a sudden surprise). Mt. Sinai's website has more information, though what's certainly interesting is the following from the FAQ:

I got an anonymous email forward with a claim of a third-hand conversation with Rav Hershel Schachter claiming he says the eruv is not kosher. Is it true?

We don't pasken from spam. Members of the eruv committee tried to get Rav Schachter involved with the eruv, first as Rav Hamacshir, and later simply to give his opinions before plans were finalized. He repeatedly declined to get involved, and recently ignored any attempts on the part of the eruv committee to speak with him. We therefore have no knowledge of his opinion on the eruv. However, he is not the Rav Hamachshir, and the eruv follows the psak of Rav Wosner. There may be some differences of opinion between them; everyone is encouraged to decide whether to use any eruv based on a discussion with his or her personal posek.
Hopefully, there won't be too many problems. One thing that is an issue is that the "Breuer's" community has been in the Heights for a while, whereas the young MO community here has been on the come up for the last few years. While I know of no population figures, the young MO community (consisting of both singles and young couples, primarily) seems to have caught up with the "Breuer's" community here. What is certain, however, is that the young MO community is large enough now that it need not rely upon the other community here, such that it can make decisions on its own, with its own leaders. That, I think, is what is troubling the "Breuer's" community is that their geographical-social hegemony upon the area is waning.
If I have any of my information here incorrectly, please feel free to type.
(Jeremy at CitySpecific just posted on the Hudson Heights if you are interested...)
----------------------------
Tags:
, , , , , ,

Soloveitchik Shul almost ready

On Friday afternoon, I stopped by my building's basement to check on how the work was coming along on the building/constructing of the new Soloveitchik shul. As you can see from the pictures (three of them are from the new shul, the last picture is of the building facade of their previous location), it is pretty much ready to be operational. This will be great, as we won't have to traverse any hills or go very far. That, plus we can build a stronger sense of community in our building and with another building with Jewish units located nearby which are both between the two ערובים (eruvs) in the Heights.
I'll post about the shul's official opening once it happens, though that should be soon, as I sp
oke to our landlord and he said it should be ready soon.
-----------------------------------
Tags: , , , ,

12 May 2006

Cleaning Up at 1 Wadsworth Terrace

The cleaning up of debris from the site of the future 1 Wadsworth Terrace ("Wadsworth Condos") is now taking place. While I don't have much more to report than that, it is a nice development, as even when there were trees inhabiting the site, it was fairly littered, so it will be getting better, even if for only briefly before the proper construction begins. In both this earlier posting as well as this one, one can see the difference that the cleaning up has made.
Also, I wanted to thank Curbed for their linking me for taking note of the developments there.
---------------------
Tags:
, , , , 1 Wadsworth Terrace,

11 May 2006

Response

The following was anonymously commented on a previous posting (I have edited for grammar, etc.):
Hi, we have a question - kind of weird. My daughter's boyfriend said that he learned in high school (yeshiva) that you need to wipe (after using bathroom) with your left hand. Is this true? Not quite sure why he told us, but it was included in him telling us not to wear our shirts inside out because the mishna berurah says it is a ruah ra'ah (we are sephardic - does Rambam say this, too?). This is all too much for me. My kids are orthodox but I am traditional.
I'm trying to figure out how to answer this. My automatic instinct is to start spitting out halakhic sources, but I'm getting the sense that this is not the main topic at hand (don't worry, I'll touch on the halakhic topics further on in this post). There's definitely a feeling of being threatened by a sweeping change in lifestyle - and not just any - one that not only heads for restricting one's behavior, but the worst kind - illogical or irrational. Also there's probably some feeling of one's own values being encroached. And this is the point where I definitely need further pastoral counseling training [than just one year's worth] and cannot sufficiently answer this aspect of the question.
Now, on to the halakhic bit: Yes, one is supposed to wipe with one's left hand. I can post about this separately as it seems like an interesting topic with several different reasons offered in the Talmud. As to the not wearing shirts inside out, that's a trickier subject. I can first of all say that there is no ruah ra'ah concerns when it comes to wearing one's clothing inside out. As to the severity of this - it's really not that big of a deal, but it doesn't look that good, though (it initially is said with regards to a talmid hakham and not for people, in general - and certainly not in any sort of prohibitory fashion). In fact, the Mishnah Berurah (2.4) states that "if he is a talmid hakham (DK - although I don't see any reason why this would not also extend to a talmidat hakham as well), he needs to straighten it out and properly reorient it..., but for everybody else, there is not need." However, he does distinguish that prayer is special and, thus, "even everybody needs to straighten out his garment in an orderly fashion...."
As I noted above, the wearing one's shirt/garment normally is just more socially acceptable, but not a halakhic problem (for instance, if one goes jogging or to the gym, then wearing it inside out would probably not be a problem).
As to the wiping with one's left hand, it oughtn't be too much of a problem for them to follow. However, if your situation is not simply one of a halakhah there or a halakhah here, then it's definitely something to speak with your children and/or your rabbi about your situation. God bless.
-------------------------
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

10 May 2006

The Blogs "A Rabbi Must Follow" Listing

While R' Gil Student of Hirhurim posted an outline of his presentation that he was going to give (well, now has already given) on "What A Rabbi Needs To Know About Blogs", much interest was in which blogs were going to be mentioned in the "Which Blogs Must a Rabbi Follow?" section. However, he has uploaded his PowerPoint presentation to his Yashar website so people may view it there. For those without PowerPoint capabilities or whatever, I have provided the listing below of blogs he mentioned/mentions.
Inspirational
-Beyond BT
-Lazer Beams
-A Simple Jew
Current events
-Canonist
-The Town Crier
Commentary on current events
-Cross-Currents
-DovBear
-Emes Ve-Emunah
Torah content
-Torah Musings (okay, it's really Hirhurim...)
-Seforim
-Rabbi Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer
-On The Contrary!
Israel
-My Right Word
-Little Green Footballs
Prominent personality
-My Obiter Dicta
-Ben Chorin
Scandal
-Luke Ford
-Un-Orthodox Jew
-Failed Messiah
Hipster Judaism
-Jew School
-Jewlicious
-(Esther's) My Urban Kvetch
Skeptic
-[not the] Godol Hador
-Da'as Hedyot
-Jewish Atheist
-Ben Avuyah
Miscellaneous
-Renegade Rebbetzin
-AJHistory
-Drew Kaplan's blog (I'm not making this up, I swear (I posted about this a couple of days ago.))
Jewish Blog Aggregators
-JRants
-Jewish Blogging
-Technorati Judaism Blogs
-Sera and Ez
--------------------------
Tags: , , ,

09 May 2006

Shalom in the Home posting No. 2

After having posted last night my posting on Shalom in the Home, I realized that there were some addenda I should mention. First of all, for those who have never seen the show, the way it works is that Rabbi Shmuley Boteach visits a family who have been having problems and tries to do what he can in five days to help them. He does so from his base of his "Shalom mobile home" trailer, which has AV equipment that he uses in order to mainly review tapes of what occurs within the house/home of the respective family. He meets with the family, usually focusing on the parents, and tries to deal with the problems going on.
It is certainly ambitious, though he seems to do decently well. One of his general methodologies that strikes me is that he seems to go for the jugular in situations, which may be a more aggressive technique than may work for me, for instance, though it is interesting. Also, I realized, his level of interactions with these families are different than most family counselors, and certainly rabbis, as most will not have video tapes to show these families or be so actively involved on premises with the family, and especially not with earphones into which he makes suggestions remotely.
A couple of other things: someone has commented to me that Reb Shmuley only tells them what to do in certain cases (casuistics?), but doesn't give general principles all the time.
My mother has also suggested that he ought to have a box of tissues in his trailer as people are often crying.
If you want, there is a Shmuleyisms page.
-------------------------------
Tags: , , , , , , family therapy

Computer News in Drew

Three recent things:
1) My computer is back from its "vacation".
2) I started up a Yahoo! Groups for me to be a biweekly or perhaps even weekly update in my life. See below if you are interested in joining.
3) I signed up for myspace (at the suggestion of a high school classmate), though I don't, aside from connecting with high school classmates, for instance, see much of a point to joining. Who knows? Perhaps I will at some point remove myself from it.













Subscribe to WhatIsDrewDoing





Powered by groups.yahoo.com

08 May 2006

Mid-Season Review of "Shalom in the Home"

Now that Rabbi Shmuley Boteach's show "Shalom in the Home" has passed its halfway mark for its first season, I thought it would be appropriate for me to weigh in. My interest in this show is three-fold: 1) as a future family leader, 2) as someone who is interested in family dynamics in general, stemming initially from my senior year in high school, and even giving rise to thinking of becoming a family and marriage counselor whilst in college, and finally, 3) as a future rabbi.
My apprehension, however, before having watched any of the episodes, was that he would be emphasizing his conceptions of gender roles, which he described in an article in the WJD.
However, after watching the first episode (which someone noted the lessons gleamed therefrom), I was still slightly leary, but he hasn't really said much about being a man, etc. I have grown to like it quite a bit and found it enriching. One thing that is particularly interesting, which especially came through in this last episode, was his focus on the parents in order to effect change in the child(ren) (also previously noted by someone else).
A recent lecturer for our pastoral counseling class, Dr. Bruce A. Birnberg (I couldn't find a good link for him, but I did find a paper of his that he co-authored), who is a family medicine person, noted what makes Reb Shmuley interesting is that even though Reb Shmuley is working within a very small time-frame (whereas successful therapy usually involves longer periods of therapy), he utilizes a variety of theories/approaches - about three of them, roughly.
Anyways, it has been interesting and I'm excited for the second half of this first season. Oh yeah, and I think he's making a kiddush hashem (lit. sanctification of the Name, though more colloquially, something that makes Jews look good).
--------------------
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Blog Mentioned at RCA Convention

Ben reported to me today that my blog got mentioned at the RCA annual convention today in his presentation on What A Rabbi Needs To Know About Blogs (outline here) by R' Student. Yay!!! A big thanks to R' Student.
As an aside, I attended the Sunday sessions at last year's convention, but I didn't choose to go this year top the convention.

07 May 2006

On the Grammatical Question of WomenRabbis

Much discussion on the JBlogosphere has erupted on the topic of Orthodox women rabbis since the Jerusalem Post reported the ordination of a woman by an Orthodox rabbi a few days ago (for a runthrough of many blogs discussing this issue, scroll to the bottom of this post). As I really don't know what to make of the permissibility, necessity, or prohibition of such a thing, I would like to discuss a separate point. That point is a grammatical point.
The main term is rabbi, which means "my master". As Hebrew is a gendered language, the root is Rav, which is masculine. If one were to feminize it, the result would be rabbah, thus resulting in the equivalent of rabbati to rabbi.
While some would like to discount this pragmatic possibility, there are others who would also like to discount this semantic possibility, probably on grounds that it would distinguish the women, assuming that the women would be automatically placed in a second-rate category.
Nevertheless, I wanted to offer up this issue.
-------------------------------
JBlogosphere discussions: Not the Godol haDor, Hirhurim, Jewschool, Jewlicious, On the Fringe, Seth Chalmer, Harry Mayles, Jewish Adoption Blog, Purim Hero, Alexis (no, not my sister), InContext
-------------------------------
Tags: , , , , , , rabbati, , , ,