Monday, February 26, 2007

Reimagining Purim

One of the most mentchlidik and torahdik characters sitting at the King's gate was Shushan boy.

"I just cut an onion in half with a milk knife but I want to cook the onion with meat. What do I do, Shusan boy?"

"Cut off a klipah from the cut sides of the onion with a pareve knife and you're fine".

"Thanks, Shushan. You're metchlidik and torahdik."

"Bless you, sir".

Little did anyone know that whenever there was a call for help....


Shushan boy became in real life that member of the Beis Din Hagadol, Mordechai!.

Guest Post - Encoding Jewish Internet Debate

A Modest Proposal for Encoding Jewish Internet Debate

by Steven Weintraub (stevenw at

With well over a 2 and a half decades of experience in the Jewish Internet I have noticed the problems that were discussed back in 1981 and those of today are either similar or the same. In fact, I notice the arguments used are the same as in 1981 and that the arguments used in one issue and the arguments used in another are often the same. As a result I thought I would aid in efficiency and number the most common arguments, and save much Internet bandwidth.

In doing so, I discovered a remarkable phenomenon. That like elementary particles, each basic argument has an equally compelling anti-argument. One does not arise without the opposite arising in the same argument.

Moreover I have discovered that true net Rabbis are adept at using both sides of a pair - depending upon which flavor supports the desired outcome of a particular issue.

Here are the pairs I have so far discovered and are immediately obvious to me. I am currently researching and developing more. If you know or discover any, please add them to the list as an aid for the whole community. I hope to have a fairly complete list by the 14th of Adar II.

I present these in hope that their use will aid in shortening our argumentation here.


1+ These are the halacha on which I base my opinions.
1- These are the opinions on which I base my halacha.

2+ Current practice is wrong, the halahca I cite is right
2- Current practice is right, the halacha you cite is wrong

3+ Rabbi X does it this way
3- Rabbi X's practice is irrelevant

4+ Rabbi X says this is the halacha
4- Rabbi X's opinion is not to be trusted.

5+ This newest issue/scandal/ruling proves the moral bankruptcy of Orthodoxy
5- One incident/person/ruling shouldn't tar the whole movement, there are
bad apples in every movement

6+ This newest issue/scandal/ruling proves the moral bankruptcy of Conservatism
6- One incident/person/ruling shouldn't tar the whole movement, there are
bad apples in every movement

7+ This newest issue/scandal/ruling proves the moral bankruptcy of Reform
7- One incident/person/ruling shouldn't tar the whole movement, there are
bad apples in every movement

8+ The liberal movements of Judaism are the main cause of assimilation
8- The liberal movements of Judaism are rescuing those who have assimilated
and are bringing them back to Judaism.

9+ The Jewish people would not follow such a ruling
9+ The Jewish people need to be educated about such a ruling

10+ Current practice is mixed in this area
10- There is only one obvious way this should be, regardless of current practice

11+ We must put up fences to protect the Torah
11- Its a needless Chumra that detracts and cheapens halacha

12+ You're stretching the halachic envelope to meaninglessness
12- Its necessary to understand the bounds of halacha to know what is actually

13+ This is a social/economic/political argument, has no religious relevance
and thus does not belong on the list.
13- Torah encompasses all aspects of life, so this is fair game.

14+ This is the sort of criticism you would expect from a self-hating Jew.
14- This is a heart felt response from someone who truly is trying to see
a flaw in a traditional Jewish view.

15+ Criticism of Israel is antisemitic or self-hating.
15- Israel is a Jewish state which we are responsible to bring to the highest
moral ground.

16+ This halacha is just plain wrong and immoral.
16- Halacha is THE definition of right and wrong and morality.

17+ This is the right way and we must change halacha to match.
17- Until a way is found in halacha, we can not do that.

18+ The halacha in this area is X. (often found in combination with
argument 4+)
18- That is one valid practice, there are many others (often found in
combination with argument 4-)

19+ To participate in that would imply the validity of less halachic movements
19- To participate in that would lead to greater Jewish unity.

20+ To do this would imply the suzerainty of more halachic movements
20- To do this would lead to greater Jewish unity by allowing halachic
movements to participate.
------------- Here start Larry's additions ------------------------------------
21+: It is best to be stringent so as to satisfy all opinions
21- "Greater is he who can rule leniently than he who can rule stringently"

22+ We cannot hope to approach the authority of the earlier generations
22- Halacha follows the most recent opinion

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Maryland Aguna Law

From Religon Clause comes some new of progress on a proposed Maryland Get Law which featured testimony by the OU and a letter from Maryland's attorney general giving his opinion that the law does not violate the Establishment clause.
Jewish Group testify in favor of Maryland Get Law. It is interesting that there were apprarently representives of the Agudah present as well.

Ger Tsedek: Defining frum

Ger Tsedek: was nice enough to take a comment of mine and give it an extensive analysis in Defining frum.

Take a look and join the conversation.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Field Trip?

A number of people are meeting at the YU book sale on Thursday night, probably between 6 and 6:30. We'll do a short shopping trip there and then go out to eat and socialize. Anyone who might be interested please contact me. The email address is larry at lennhoff dot com.