Yearning for Messiah

August 31, 2007

I was talking to a friend of mine in the beis medrash and he mentioned that all the meforshim agreed that Moshiach had to come by 6000 and according to the Rambam we really are only 70 years or so from that date. My personal feeling is that there is a good reason to not try and figure out when Moshiach will come and publicize it, the fact that you will usually end up being wrong. Since he felt it was a 100% certainty he felt that there was no risk in teaching this fact to our children. Now I personally feel that there is a tremendous risk in teaching this at all, especially teaching that if he comes he must come by 6000. First it seems very strange to assume that G-d would assign special significance to 6000 a number which only has value in a decimal system. Secondly the shock that Shabbatai Tzvi’s lies caused to Judaism would seem like nothing compared to the number of people who would go off the derech immediately a number which could reach 50% (no exageration). Secondly even if all the calculations are right and the real Messiah comes in 6000 how will we know who he is, we’ll be drowning in false Messiahs every unscrupulous Jew born on tisha bav will be looking for his following and his chance at being the Moshiach the best possible outcome is unbelievable confusion and the worst is the end of Judaism as we know it.

Should Florida defy the DNC?

August 26, 2007

About 20 minutes ago I saw a fascinating story about the DNC’s punishment of Florida for moving its primary up to January 29th against the DNC’s policy. Basically Florida can either move back its primary or forfeit its delegates. Now I completely understand the DNC’s position and feel that it is probably the only logical response to such a step, but if you are Florida you probably are still better off giving up the delegates and making yourself a tremendous force in the primaries. As it is Florida is irrelevant because by the time it gets there one candidate is obviously going to be the nominee. In fact if Florida keeps its position it would probably cement its place at the front because the DNC would have to put stiffer penalties on other states to keep them from line jumping. Of course Florida is probably the state whjich should logically start becasue it represents some key Democratic demographics, but in politics what makes sense is irrelevant.

Aishet Yafat Toar

August 26, 2007

This is a question I had while learning the parsha on thursday. The first Rashi says that this rule only applied during a optional war, but not during a Mitzvah war. The second Rashi says that the Torah only teaches this because a man otherwise wouldn’t resist. Leaving aside whether this is true or not the question logically follows what do you expect the soldiers to do in a Mitzvah war acoording to Rashi’s explanation. Later on I’ll give a couple answers in the comments.

I finally have an internet connection

August 21, 2007

Gush is not to big on internet, but I finally have a connection so I can communicate about my life at the Yeshiva besides for phone calls. One thing I have learned already is that mussar is not only depressing it is also a bad way to live your life. For the first time I looked at the Mesillat Yesharim for a 15 minute mussar seder with my night seder Chavruta. The very first paragraph started talking about how life is pointless on this Earth and the only thing worthwhile is to do Mitzvot. It is quite depressing. In fact the basic thesis seems to be that if you are righteous right now and suicide wasn’t forbidden you should kill yourself rather than risk the next world. It’s that kind of depressing stuff which makes me dislike mussar even if it has a positive impact in general.

Studies like these make me angry

July 31, 2007

The LA Times has a story about the stress of going to war on the remaining spouse and showed that it led to a 60% increase in child neglect or abuse. Taking these numbers as a given, since I haven’t seen the study it seems pretty clear that the effect is simply what happens when you go from two parents to one parent in a household. Now the article mentions nothing about a control group used, but it sounds like some of the same old Gulf-War syndrome nonsense.

A Kinah for Tisha Bav

July 24, 2007

This Kinah is meant to be from the perspective of somebody angry at G-d not actually expressing anger towards G-d.

למה זה תשאל שמי והוא פאלי

For all of our troubles the blame goes to You
You set it in motion, they just picked up the cue
70, 1290, You know them all G-d
Don’t spoil the child, but for once spare the rod
למה זה תשאל שמי והוא פאלי
Which merciful attribute and which Heavenly trait
made you lose all control, just let your anger abate!
All the innocent children G-d forget all the rest,
did they have baseless hatred, did they fail any test?
למה זה תשאל שמי והוא פאלי

The Jews in the gas chamber, the Jews on the rack
Every light in the tunnel is another train on the track
The centuries have passed G-d and so have the years
We’ve lost all our anger, all that’s left are the tears.
למה זה תשאל שמי והוא פאלי

Somebody I know made DrudgeReport

July 20, 2007

When I went to a shiur in Northbrook last night I heard about someone from my class whose family received an early copy of the book. Apparently they weren’t interested in a free ride through college because they didn’t post the book on Craigslist. Now apparently the postman has taken the book back. It doesn’t seem legal, isn’t that interfering with the mail? I’m sure they have the right, but I know in their situation the book would be gone within the day.

The Natural Family

July 16, 2007

Michael Medved had on one of the authors of The Natural Family. That author made clear that he felt  that it was vitally important for  children to be raised with their natual biological parents and that any non-nuclear family does irreparable harm to the child. There are a few problems with this. The first is that this supposed natural family has never existed in history. Even in the past when children weren’t born out of wedlock as frequently (or at least it wasn’t known about, which might be equivalent) you still had a large percentage of children who were raised by a stepmother and not their natural parents. So to claim that our nuclear family is natural is far-fetched given history. (I mean is there any reason to believe that in primitive societies father’s contributed anything towards raising their children aside from protection and food) The other problem is that if he is right you would expect there to be a Golden Age in America approximately 20 years after the families were all so wonderful. In fact the 1970s are considered one of the bad decades yet these children were raised in the glory filled 50s. The children of the 50s were born in 20s and 30s families which lacked the moral fiber and the strong father figure. So in other words until there is some extremely strong evidence I think a natural family is pretty worthless.

Elitist Populists

July 10, 2007

    I was listening to talk radio as I wasted my day today. At around 10:00 I heard an interview with some Fox host. They were discussing the Chinese imports and the host, who has made a living attacking the elites for being out of touch with the common man, said that she thought were tired of trade with China for some cheap t-shirts. This attitude is normally expressed by wealthy people who avoid Chinese imports because of the low enviromental standards, the very people the host (Laura Ingraham) loves to lambaste for their support of anything she disagrees with.

These elitist arguments are typical of populist demagogues and oddly enough it strikes a chord even among the masses. For some reason people who buy large percentages of their goods from Asia agree wholeheartedly with massive tariffs and even patronize those hosts who criticize them as not knowing what’s best for themselves.

Unfortunately those demagogues who make enough to easily live without hypocrisy, are growing in influence. They managed to defeat the immigration bill which, though flawed, was somewhat better than the status quo.

Warrantless Wiretapping?

July 9, 2007

This term is technically correct as the NSA did not have a search warrant, but given the fact that there is such a strong double-entendre wouldn’t you think that the news reports would be more hesitant to use that phrasing, it might seem better to use the phrase “wiretaps without a warrant”, although it lacks snap it is much clearer.