Friday, December 01, 2006

We read JBlogs so you don't have to - Vayetze edition

Proof from this week's parsha that what goes around comes around


A nice vort on self-hatred from this week's parsha


A nice vort on disgreement and harmonious growth.


The Midrash says: G-d loves rebels


A kinder look at Eisav, based on the midrash of salt and straw


The concept of semichas ge’uloh l’tefilloh, connecting redemption to prayer, alludes to redeeming prayer itself from the exile of being recited again and again without the degree of emunah that would awaken the mind and heart of the one reciting it.


Some brilliant limericks based on Masekhet Sukkah

Should R Zera's Chumra conceerning nida be abolished?

The 44th yahrzeit of HaRav HaGaon Aharon Kotler. More stories about him here.

A classic story, well told.


The new improved edition of Rav Nosson Kaminetsky's "The Making of a Gadol" - find the differences. Also, another banned book - Rav Eliakh's "The Gaon"

An account of an ascent to Har Habayit, with a nice vort on Benny Sela and Ben Drusai

A nice exposition on how to approach questions raised by classical commentators. Required reading for Judaica academics.

The sighting last week wasn't the Lubavitcher Rebbe - it was a dead ringer (pun intended)


A new market for matzot - communion wafers.


"The Yarmulke Ruse" in the Ethicist column of the Times Magazine


Best advice for raising frum kids - raise them in a non-frum environment.


A look at wearing tefillin from the point of view of ..... accupuncture.


Just in time for Chanuka - Homer Simpson kipot


Teaneck Rabbi: YU = Torah + Idolatry

Monday, November 27, 2006

My Dvar Torah for Toledot

Delivered last Shabbat at Bet Boyer, Talpiot, Jerusalem


השאלה שלי היא: יצחק – מה כל כך מצחיק? לפי השם שלו – מהשורש 'צחוק' – היינו מצפים שיהיה משהוא שמח, מצחיק, וזורם באופיו. אבל במציאות החיים שלו היו לכאורה עצובים ופסיביים – כנער הוא כמעט נהרג על ידי אביו, בזיקנתו אישתו ובנו מרמים אותו, ובין לבין הוא בעיקר חוזר על מעשים שאברהם אבינו כבר חידש.

אם נשווה את יצחק לשאר האבות, אפשר בהחלט להבין למה הוא זכה לכינוי
The Accidental Patriarch
אבי האומה המזדמן.
לדוגמא, יצחק זכה בחייו לשתי התגלויות מהקב"ה, לעומת 8 התגלויות של אברהם ו-5 התגלויות של יעקב.
או, הנה פסוק מסוף ספר מיכה :"תתן אמת ליעקב חסד לאברהם אשר נשבעת לאבותינו מימי קדם" – את מי לא הזכירו? איפה יצחק?


לכל תופעה כזאת שנראית לכאורה כנחיתות של יצחק – יש הסבר ותשובה. אבל אם נמשיך בהשוואה בין יצחק לשאר האבות, נראה שבכמה עניינים מהותיים, יצחק עולה על שאר האבות וזוכה ליחס מועדף מהקב"ה.

לדוגמא, כל האבות מקבלים הבטחה מה' של "והרביתי את זרעיך". אלא שאברם ויעקב מקבלים את הנבואה הזאת בחלום ובתוך משל – ככוכבי השמים או כחול הים. רק אצל יצחק הקב"ה מתגלה בלי חלומות ובלי דוגמאות.
"וברכתיך והרביתי את זרעיך בעבור אברהם עבדי"
יצחק כנראה לא צריך הסברים וויזואליים והוא לא צריך שזה יתרחש בחלום.
לפי הרמב"ם, זו המדריגה הכי גבוהה של נבואה – שהקב"ה מדבר אל הנביא ישירות, ללא אמצאים או תיווך. ומי זוכה למדרגה הזאת – לא אברהם ולא יעקב – רק יצחק.

עוד דוגמא לקדושתו המיוחדת של יצחק:
שאר האבות זוכים לשם נוסף מה' – אברם נהיה אברהם, ויעקב מקבל שם נוסף – ישראל. רק יצחק נולד יצחק ונשאר יצחק. אבל, שלא כמו שאר האבות, יצחק מקבל את שמו המקורית לא מהוריו אלא ישירות מהקב"ה: "אבל שרה אשתך ילדת לך בן וקראת את שמו יצחק"
יצחק אינו מקבל שם נוסף מה' כמו שאר האבות, כי הוא לא צריך – הוא כבר מתחיל את חייו עם השם האלוקי שלו.

דוגמא נוספת – שאר האבות זוכים שהקב"ה קורא להם בשם פעמיים – "אברהם אברהם", "יעקב יעקב". רק יצחק אינו זוכה לקריאה כפולה – כאשר ה' קורא לו, הוא אומר רק "יצחק" פעם אחת. הזוהר מסביר את זה ככה: (עם פירוש של הרב מוטי אלון):
למה נח נח תרי זמני? (למה מופיע פעמיים?)?
אית ליה רוחין (בכל צדיק וצדיק בעולם ישנם שתי רוחות, שני צדיקים)
רוחא חד בעלמא דין, ורוחא חד בעלמא דאתי (הוא חי פה והוא חי כל הזמן באמביוולנטיות מאוד קשה בין הצדיק שבעולם הזה והצדיק שבעולם הבא, בין הצדיק שנמצא כאן והצדיק שנמצא שם)
והכי תשכח בכלהו צדיקי (וכך תמצא בכל הצדיקים)
משה משה, יעקב יעקב, אברהם אברהם
שמואל שמואל, שם שם (ועכשיו העיקר)
בר מיצחק דלא כתיב ביה, כמה דכתיב בהו (לא כתוב בו כמו
שכתוב בהם, מדוע?)
בגין דיצחק בשעתא דאתקרב על גבי מדבחא (כיוון שיצחק בשעה שקרב על גבי המזבח בעקדת יצחק)
נפקת נשמתיה דהות ביה בהאי עלמא (יצאה ממנו נשמתו שהייתה כאן)
וכיון דאתמר ביה באברהם ברוך מחיה המתים (כשאברם בירך 'מחיה המתים')
תבת ביה נשמתיה דעלמא דאתי (נכנסה בו הנשמה לא של העולם הזה אלא של "עלמא דאתי" ומרגע זה הוא מת חי. מרגע זה הוא חי כאן אבל הוא בכלל לא חי כאן)
בגין דא תשכח ( בגלל זה תמצא)
דלא ייחד קב"ה שמיה אלא על יצחק (למה רק עליו הוא ייחד את שמו, למה רק לו הוא קרא כך?)
בגין דאתחשב כמת
אז הזוהר מסביר את המידה המיוחדת של יצחק אבינו. הרי בספר בראשית ישנם בעצם שני סיפורים שונים, משולבים זה בזה. מצד אחד, יש את סיפורו של ההבטחה של הקב"ה לאברהם ולצאציו, שהם יהיו לעם גדול ורב, ושיירשו את ארץ ישראל. זה הסיפור של רוחא דעלמא דאתית, של העולם העליון. במקביל, יש בבראשית את סיפורו של משפחת אברהם, סיפור מלא הווי של עלמא דין (העולם הזה), עם סיפורים עסיסיים של שנאת אחים, קנאה, רמייה, נקמה וכו'. אנו נשאבים לתוך סיפורים כאלו, סיפורים של העולם הזה, ושוכחים שיש בכלל פרספקטיבה אחרת, נקודת מבט שבו המזימות והרצונות של אנשים בני תמותה בעצם משרתים את סדר היום של ה'.

אם לחזור לשאלה שבה פתחתי – מה כל כך מצחיק ביצחק? לפי הזוהר, יצחק מסתובב בעולם הזה עם נשמה של העולם העליון - הוא רואה את העולם הזה מהבפרספקטיבה של העולם העליון, וזה מצחיק. מנקודת ראות כזאת, יצחק רואה איך נזיד עדשים שיעקב מבשל מקדמים את רצון ה', איך עור גדיים וצמר שיעקב לובש בכדי לרמות את אביו גורמים לברכת ה' להגיע לאן שצריך להגיע. החיכוך בין תוכניותיו של ה' והמזימות והתחבולות הפרוזייות של העולם הזה – זה האבסורד שמצחיק את יצחק.

לסיום, לא בכדי יש לנו 3 אבות, וכל אחד מלמד אותנו מידה אחרת. לפי הזוהר, לפחות, המידה שעלינו ללמוד מיצחק זו מידת הפרספקטיבה, היכולת לראות מעבר ל"כאן ועכשו", מעבר לבעיות היום-יומיות של עם ישראל, ולהבין שיש פרספקטיבה אחרת, של עולם העליון, שבה אנחנו משרתים את רצון ה', עד ביאת המשיח במהרה בימינו אמן.

שבת שלום!

Monday, November 20, 2006

We read Jblogs, so you don't have to - Toledot edition


Blogging the Bible: A secular Jew with a sharp literary mind reads the Bible. I like his description of Isaac as "the accidental patriarch".

A fascinating discussion of the custom to say Az Yashir in the morning prayers.

The halachic status of ghosts, demons and golems.

Leave it to the Jews to come up with a Haggadda for Thanksgiving. While we're at it, why is turkey kosher?

The fascinating history of tefillin wearing. I was surprised to discover that in Gaonic and early Ashkenazic times, hardly anyone wore tefillin.

Some lovely Hasidic stories translated by Yaacov Dovid Shulman. "The Rebbe and the Opera Singer" in Volume 2 p. 62 is very moving.

Why a career in management is not recommended

An overlooked aspect of the tension beetween BT's and FFB's: BT's ask: where is the FFBs' derekh eretz?

Some action at Chabad this week: A sighting of the Rebbe on film, and a riot in the bet midrash.

A great example of bad translation.

A site that finds gematrias. I had no idea that the gematria of my name equals קופת צדקה המשטרה בדרך, זכור ושמור and לכל סיר יש מכסה

Celebrating the yahrtzeit of Reb Hersh the Attendant, one of the more fascinating Hasidic rebbes.

A nice story about divine providence.

A shomer shabbat hockey player with a future in the NHL.

An online exhibit of Jerusalem pashkevils (broadsides)

A very nice lecture on Parashat Toledot given by R Mordechai Elon: What's so funny about Yitzchak?

Why the patriarchs were such bad parents

We read Jblogs, so you don't have to

Thanks to Bloglines, I skim through a lot of Jewish blogs every morning. My goal: to find interesting articles, stories and ideas that I can discuss with my family over the Shabbat table. To paraphrase the old StarKist Tuna commercial, only the best blog entries get to be discussed with my kids. To bring a little life to this dormant blog, I'll share links to blog entries that qualify.

Here's the list of JBlog entries I'll be quoting:
****** Cosmic X in Jerusalem ****** (0) (0)
:anglosaxy: (0) (0)
A Bas Torah's Point of View (0) (0)
A Crisp Elul Morning (0) (0)
A Hassid and a Heretic (0) (0)
A Reform Kabbalist (0) (0)
A Simple Jew (0) (0)
A Whispering Soul (0) (0)
AidelMaidel (0) (0)
AJHistory by Menachem Butler (0) (0)
Also A chussid (0) (0)
Am Echad - - עם אחד: הרבה קולות (0) (0)
AMSHINOV- no quarter asked,no quarter given (0) (0)
An Unsealed Room (0) (0)
AngrySoul (0) (0)
The Apikorsus Companion v2.0 (0) (0)
Ask Shifra (0) (0)
Ask The Rabbi (0) (0)
BAKA DIARY (0) (0)
Balashon - Hebrew Language Detective (0) (0)
Baraita (0) (0)
Barefoot Jewess (0) (0)
Bari VeShema (0) (0)
Batel Beshishim (0) (0)
Because I'm In My Twenties and It's What You Do (0) (0)
Ben Avuyah (0) (0)
Ben Chorin (0) (0)
Ben-Yehudah (0) (0)
Beyond BT (0) (0)
Biur Chametz (0) (0)
Blissful Knowledge (0) (0)
Blog Hamincha (0) (0)
BlogBlond (0) (0)
Bookkeeper (0) (0)
Canonist (0) (0)
Cara's World: The World According to Me (0) (0)
CharediWannabe (0) (0)
Chayyei Sarah (0) (0)
Choshvei Shemo - חשבי שמו (0) (0)
CIRCUS TENT - צירק געצעלט (0) (0)
ConservaJew (0) (0)
Conservative Orthos (0) (0)
Creedmoorer Chassidus (0) (0)
Cross-Currents (0) (0)
cruisin-mom (0) (0)
The Curious Jew (0) (0)
Cyberhedrin (0) (0)
D'yo Ilu Yamey (0) (0)
Da'as Hedyot (0) (0)
Daf Am Haaretz (0) (0)
Danya Ruttenberg (0) (0)
Dating Mistress, Jerusalem (0) (0)
DatingMasterJerusalem (0) (0)
Deep Thoughts of the Bat-Taz (0) (0)
Der Alter (0) (0)
Der Tefillen-Leyger (0) (0)
devarim (0) (0)
different derech (0) (0)
Dot Co Dot Il (0) (0)
DovBear (0) (0)
Dreaming of Moshiach (0) (0)
Drew Kaplan's Blog (0) (0)
Eli's Aliyah Blog (0) (0)
Emes Ve-Emunah (0) (0)
End of Days (0) (0)
English Hebraica (0) (0)
Eshes Chayil (0) (0)
Ethan's Lovely Life (0) (0)
Experiencing Israel (0) (0)
Faces of Israel (0) (0)
FailedMessiah.com (0) (0)
The FreeThinking Hasid (0) (0)
Frum Idealism (0) (0)
Frumactress (0) (0)
Frummer????? (0) (0)
Galilee This (0) (0)
the grain of truth (0) (0)
Growing Pains, and other thoughts (0) (0)
Hagahot (0) (0)
The Hall of the Goblin King (0) (0)
Hashmonean.com Israel vs The Global Jihad (0) (0)
Hatikvah - A Blog About Life in Jerusalem (0) (0)
HAYOM (0) (0)
Heichal HaNegina (0) (0)
Hirhurim - Musings (0) (0)
Hitzei Yehonatan (0) (0)
HULA - HOOP (0) (0)
In lieu of a phone call (0) (0)
In My Humble Jewish Opinion... (0) (0)
Israelity (0) (0)
Jen Taylor Friedman (0) (0)
Jerusalem Diaries:In Tense Times (0) (0)
jerusalem is the place to be (0) (0)
Jerusalem revealed (0) (0)
jerusalem wanderings (0) (0)
Jew 2.0 (0) (0)
Jew*School (0) (0)
Jewbiquitous (0) (0)
Jewish Survivors of Sexual Violence Speak Out (0) (0)
The Jewish Worker (0) (0)
Jewlicious (0) (0)
Jewtastic (0) (0)
Journey To O (0) (0)
Keter Shem Tov (0) (0)
The Kiddushin Variations (0) (0)
Kishkushim خربطات קישקושים (0) (0)
Knowledge Problems (0) (0)
Krum as a Bagel (0) (0)
The Lab Rabbi (0) (0)
Latest entries from emet.blog-city.com (0) (0)
Lazer Beams (0) (0)
Life in Israel (0) (0)
Lonely Man of Mechqar (1.5) (0) (0)
Lulei Demistafina (0) (0)
The Maggid of Bergenfield (0) (0)
Mah Rabu (0) (0)
Maven Yavin (0) (0)
Mayim Rabim (0) (0)
Menachem Mendel (0) (0)
mentalblog.com (0) (0)
Midianite Manna (0) (0)
Mishkaneer (0) (0)
Mishmar (0) (0)
MOChassid (0) (0)
Modern Uberdox (0) (0)
Moving on up... (0) (0)
The Muqata جميل في المقاطعة (0) (0)
My Obiter Dicta (0) (0)
My Share of Sun in Israel (0) (0)
Mystical Paths (0) (0)
Nafka Mina (0) (0)
Netivat Sofrut: diary of a Soferet (0) (0)
Nice Jewish Girl (0) (0)
NOT THE GODOL HADOR (0) (0)
NY's Funniest Rabbi (0) (0)
On The Contrary.........................(הפוך (בה (0) (0)
On the Face (0) (0)
ON THE FRINGE—AL TZITZIT (0) (0)
On the Main Line (0) (0)
Orthodox Anarchist (0) (0)
orthomom (0) (0)
Orthonomics (0) (0)
Out of Step Jew (0) (0)
Perspectives of a Nomad (0) (0)
Presence (0) (0)
The Protocols of the Yuppies of Zion (0) (0)
Psycho Toddler (0) (0)
Rabbi Shael Speaks... (0) (0)
Radical Torah (0) (0)
Rantings of a Sandmonkey (0) (0)
Reb Blog (0) (0)
Reb Chaim HaQoton (0) (0)
Reclaiming the Daf (0) (0)
Religious Freaks (0) (0)
Renegade Rebbetzin (0) (0)
Rishon Rishon (0) (0)
rushkoff.blog (0) (0)
Sabra at heart (0) (0)
Sefer Ha-Hayim Blog (0) (0)
Seforim (0) (0)
SerandEz (0) (0)
Seraphic Secret (0) (0)
The Shaigetz - Doing it maai vey (0) (0)
Shebrew Magazine (0) (0)
Shiloh Musings (0) (0)
shmuzings (0) (0)
something something (0) (0)
Still Wonderin' (0) (0)
StoneFlower Kabbalah (0) (0)
Stubborn and Rebellious (0) (0)
Tales of a Tour Guide (0) (0)
ThanBook (0) (0)
Thinking Outside the OrthoBox (0) (0)
This Normal Life (0) (0)
Tiz'ku L'mitzvot (0) (0)
toratmoshe (0) (0)
THE TOWN CRIER (0) (0)
Treifalicious (0) (0)
treppenwitz (0) (0)
Tzarich Iyun: Yeshiva Life in the Non-Yeshivishe World (0) (0)
Tzvee.blogspot.com (0) (0)
Un-Orthodox Jew (0) (0)
Unenlightenment (0) (0)
Velveteen Rabbi (0) (0)
the view from here (0) (0)
Voices in My Head (0) (0)
VOS IZ NEIAS (0) (0)
Walking On Fire (0) (0)
What's Bothering Artscroll? (0) (0)
Why Josh Can't Be Left Alone (0) (0)
Yehuda (0) (0)
Yeranen Yaakov (0) (0)
YESHIVA WORLD NEWS (0) (0)
yudel's Rest of the Story (0) (0)
YUTOPIA (0) (0)
The Zionist Conspiracy (0) (0)
zlotnicksalmostaliyah (0) (0)
שלום בשערך - Peace in Your Gates (0) (0)

Enjoy!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

What Daddy Did in the War

Worry about my soldier son, that's what...

He wanted to join the military engineer corps because he "thought it would be cool to blow things up". When the war started, he was stationed in Ramalla, doing Intifada duty. Last week, he started giving my wife and me vague answers about his whereabouts, then he stopped answering his cell phone altogether for two days. At that point, we knew he was in Lebanon, and we spent most of the time glued to the news, unable to concentrate on anything. On Friday morning, he finally answered his cell phone, and confessed that he had been in Lebanon. "I didn't tell you because I didn't want you to worry. Wasn't it better that you didn't know?"

I'm not sure. In any case, he was released to start a medics' course today. He may be upset that he's not at the Litani with his friends, but I'm pleased to have him close to home for the next few months. After that - well, may there be no more wars. But, if there are, I'll be proud to have a son fighting for Jewish survival.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A Siyum for Gemara? Hadran Alecha!

...Gemara Williams, that is. According to today's Boston Globe:
"The Patriots waived defensive back Gemara Williams. Williams, 23, was signed by the May 8 as a non-drafted rookie free agent from the University of Buffalo."

What a great name for a football player! You can see more information about him here.

Too bad Gemara didn't make the team. We could have been treated all season long to headlines like:

"Gemara Gets Burned Again"
"All Eyes on Gemara"
"Gemara Turns the Page"
"Gemara Gets Off to a Slow Start"

Any other suggestions? Let the contest begin!


August 13, 2006 - News flash from the Boston Globe: "The Patriots announced they re-signed rookie defensive back Gemara Williams, an undrafted free agent they released just before camp began."

We may yet get to see all these Gemara headlines for real:

"Gemara Covers Ground"
"Gemara Better the Second Time Around"

Friday, June 23, 2006

Scenes from a life – the Sbarro Restaurant bombing, Jerusalem, August 9, 2001

Mordechai Schijveschuurder. Tzira Schijveschuurder. Tehilla Maoz. To you, these are probably just names, the names of people killed in the Sbarro terrorist attack in Jerusalem 5 years ago. I met these people during their final days on this earth, and I’d like to honor their memory by telling you something about them.


My family and I had just returned to Jerusalem from a year in America, and we were still living in a hotel until the tenants left our home. On our first Shabbat back in Israel, we traveled to the ultra-Orthodox town of Kiryat Sefer, to celebrate the Bar Mitzva of my nephew Yehuda. A childhood illness had left Yehuda totally deaf at age 3, and, for many years he had lived the solitary life of a deaf child, totally cut off from his parents and siblings. At age 9 Yehuda underwent a cochlear implant operation, and began the long process of learning how to hear electronically. Now, at age 13, the turnaround was remarkable. Instead of the angry, frustrated, non-communicative child I remembered, Yehuda was now a charming Bar Mitzva boy who could converse with relatives and say the prayers. He truly had received a “new soul” for his Bar Mitzva.

The Bar Mitzva celebration was an intimate affair, a Shabbat together with close family. I immediately noticed the only non-relatives who had been invited to spend Shabbat – Yehuda’s hearing therapist, Tzira Schijveschuurder, her husband Mordechai, and their small children. I quickly discovered that Mordechai and I had something in common – our older sons both studied in the same school, and we were both dissatisfied with the quality of education they were receiving. But, Mordechai had done more than just complain. He had decided that nothing was more important to him than his children’s education. So, he had left a profitable job in engineering to start a career in education. He was now running a school in his settlement, Talmon, to create an educational environment where his children would receive a Jewish education that would make them proud, knowledgeable Jews. I was amazed by his crystal-clear sense of priorities, and by his commitment to act on those priorities, even if it meant personal sacrifice. Looking at how he interacted with his small children, Avraham and Chemda, I could see that education was this man’s life.

I didn’t talk with Tzira very much – that’s not done in the ultra-Orthodox world. But, as speaker after speaker got up to talk about Yehuda, they all stressed the key role that Tzira had played in Yehuda’s re-entry into the world of the hearing. Her devotion, her patience, her kindness – without these, Yehuda would have been lost. When my turn came to give a sermon, I didn’t have any deep Jewish sources to quote – my library was packed away on a ship somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. So, I spoke in general terms about the parallels between Yehuda’s life and the book of Bamidbar. Like the Children of Israel, Yehuda had spent years wandering in a desert, a wasteland without sound. Like the Children of Israel, he had been blessed with a guide, Tzira, who helped him find the courage to cross the desert and arrive at the edge of the Promised Land. And, one day, perhaps, he would be able to look back at his years in the desert and understand how it had contributed to his character and helped purify him.


Shabbat ended, and we went back to our hotel. Over the next few days, our family children dined at many of Jerusalem’s family restaurants, since we had no way to cook meals. For Wednesday lunch, I agreed to take the family downtown to the Sbarro restaurant. I remember the long line – it took us 20 minutes to get to the counter where we could order. I remember that when I called out my daughter’s name, “Tehilla”, to ask her to speed up her selection, the cashier looked up. I saw that her name tag also said “Tehilla” and we smiled at each other. The scene was chaotic, my children changed their orders enough times to totally confuse the staff, and we ended up having to make several trips back and forth from our table to the counter to straighten things out. I remember that, all through this circus, the restaurant staff, including Tehilla, was courteous and helpful.

The next afternoon, the family was lounging around the hotel pool when we heard a boom. We went upstairs to our room, and watched as the television cameras focused on the Sbarro restaurant we had eaten at just the day before. Outside the window we could hear the sirens of ambulances and police cars heading downtown. We stayed there, the entire family, watching the television report for hours. At some point, one mf my children said, “Abba, you need to go to shul for mincha.” I was saying Kaddish for my father at the time, and I hadn’t missed a minyan yet. By the time I pulled myself away from the television, it was too late to find a minyan, and I davened alone, without the catharsis that comes from saying Kaddish for a departed relative.

The next day, the newspapers announced the names of the dead. Among the casualties: Mordechai and Tzira Schijveschuurder, along with 3 of their children, and Tehilla Maoz, the cashier at the restaurant. Mordechai was an educator to the end - according to eyewitness reports, Mordechai’s final action on this earth was to teach his son Avraham how to say the Sh’ma prayer before dying. Just as Moshe brought the Jews to the Promised Land but could not enter himself, Tzira brought Yehuda to the land of the hearing and then was taken away.


Five years have passed since then. My family moved back into our home and we have successfully re-integrated into Jerusalem life. Tehilla Maoz’s story has been co-opted by Breslav into a miracle story of rescue thanks to the teachings of Rabbi Nachman. The Schijveschuurder family is shattered – the remaining children couldn’t stand being in Israel anymore and moved to Holland. Yehuda’s brother tells me one of the older Schuyveschurder boys recently moved back to Israel and is searching for himself.

And I am left asking myself: Why did I meet these people so close to their end? Why them and not (G@d forbid) my family? What am I meant to do with these memories? I feel this places some responsibility on me, and I hope that by sharing their memory with you, I've discharged some small part of that responsibility.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Chabad Messianism: "We Need the Eggs"

When I read anti-Chabad articles, I'm reminded of the Woody Allen joke about the man who tells the psychiatrist, "My brother thinks he's a chicken." The psychiatrist responds, "Bring him in and I'm sure I can cure him." To which the man responds, "I would, but we need the eggs."


1. Does Judaism include the possibility of a dead Messiah? Looking at Chabad's sources (Gemara Perek Chelek, Abarbanel, S'de Chemed), I'd have to say yes, there is such a possibility, although it is extremely marginal within Judaism. (This proves that, thanks to the computer, it is now possible to find almost anything in Jewish sources)


2. Could such a view be harmful to Judaism in the long run? Yes, because it opens the door for Christian missionaries to sell their favorite candidate for dead Messiah to uninformed Jews.


3. In the meanwhile, Chabad is a tremendously vital force in promoting and preserving Judaism, e.g., Chabad houses in the furthest corners of the earth. And, let's face it, such an operation could only be caried out by people who believe they serve in the army of a Rebbe who is the leading candidate to be Mashiach. Otherwise, most of them would pack up and move back to the comforts of Crown Heights.


So, if there were another, non-Messianic Jewish group that was willing to step up to the plate and do what Chabad does for Judaism - I'd endorse them wholeheartedly, and send Chabad to the shrink for treatment. But, there isn't such an alternative, and "we need the eggs", we need what Chabad does for Jews around the world.