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Showing posts from January, 2018

Thought for the Day: There is Nothing Fun About Sin

"I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints, the sinners are much more fun," goes the 70s pop hit. Let's talk.

Consider the former world renowned sports doctor who was recently sentenced to (up to) 175 years in prison.  His crime? Molesting -- over a span of more than two decades -- girls as young as eight years old. As hackneyed as the phrase may be, it breathes the only words that begin to convey our shock, dismay, and horror: There are no words to express our shock, dismay, and horror. Here's another hackneyed but distressingly appropriate phrase: death is too good for him. There is really only one punishment that might possibly fit the crime and thereby fulfill the demands of justice: for him to live and relive the shame and anguish he feels facing his victims turned accusers recounting his actions for the whole world; to feel and feel again the disgust the world feels for him; to deepen his own self-loathing for having used his abilities and …

Thought for the Day: Jewish Marriage is a Spiritual Re-Unification

I saw a quite distressing article entitled: "My husband’s Orthodox Jewish family pressured us to call off our wedding."; just to drive home the point, a subtitle was added: "I thought parental disapproval of marriage was a problem of the past. I was wrong."

Why are we so, so ...  well... orthodox and unbending in our refusal to allow the slightest change or breach in this ancient taboo?

Here's what's it's not.  It's not about similar culture, thus easing the integration of two people's lives -- including all their family and extended family.  It may not be easy for a Jew from Flushing, NY to integrate his life with a Jew from Irvine, CA; not a Jew from Sweden with a Jew from Egypt.  Surprise!  Marriage is not designed for nor meant to be easy.

It's also not about having a shared experience about customs.  A S'fardi (of Spanish/African/Turkish descent) Jew from Israel and a Chassidic (of eastern European descent) Jew from have customs as …

Thought for the Day: We Have Unlimited Potential for Greatness... and Therefore Great Potential for the Opposite

When I was going on job interviews while seeking my current job, I always told the recruiter to explain to the interviewers that I am an Orthodox Jew and we have an ancient custom that members of the opposite sex refrain from social physical contact -- even shaking hands.  They were mostly respectful, though at one site everyone refused to shake my hand; some sort of show of unity, I suppose.  Why are we such fanatics?

There has been much in the news recently about a physician who abused the trust of his position and abused scores of young women and girls.  He is being made to endure facing every victim who chooses to enter her story into the court record before his sentencing.  He complained in a written request to the court that the ordeal of listening to the their testimony is too difficult.  The court -- in, to my mind, a rare show of real justice -- threw out and even mocked his request.  He will endure every minute of every testimony that his victims choose to deliver.  In fact,…

Thought for the Day: Giving and Accepting Mussar/Corrections

I had a quite wonderful high school chemistry teacher.  So much so, in fact, that I was temporarily drawn to the dark side of noxious compounds, retorts, and bunsen burners before following the light to physics and eventually to Torah.  But I digress.

One of the things that makes high school chemistry so much fun, of course, is cool chemical reactions -- especially ones that involve whooshes of fire.  Lithium metal will burn in air, but not in acetone.  The instructor had a mixture of shaved lithium in acetone which he used to coat a piece of filter paper.  The acetone kept the lithium from reacting with the air, but would also evaporate, exposing the lithium shavings to air (shavings for more surface area; the better to react with you, my dear), and we would be treated to a small whoosh of flame.  As the acetone was evaporating, he went back to the board to explain what were about to see.  A female student with long, straight hair wandered up to the demo table and leaned over the lit…

Thought for the Day: Mining Holiness One Spark at a Time -- Our Sole Job In This World

I like good coffee; very good coffee.  I am willing to spend time getting a good cup of coffee.  As  part of that quest, I have purchased a hand coffee mill.  Not a grinder, a mill.  An electric home coffee grinder would be better named "coffee pulverizer"; it is simply a blade that whacks the tasty coffee beans into a heterogeneous pile of powdered and chunked coffee beans.  A coffee mill, on the other hand, uniformly grinds the beans between two stones.  I bought a hand mill because: (a) I am cheap; and (b) it's ever so satisfying to drink a cup of coffee made from coffee milled with your own two hands.  I also discovered two wonderful life lessons.  First, when the grinding gets harder, that's when your doing the most good.  When it gets too easy to turn the handle, either something is preventing the beans from entering  between the grinding stones, or the hopper is empty.  Second, turning the crank faster does not get the job done faster.  The beans must enter be…

Thought for the Day: Our Job Is השתדלות/Endeavor with All One’s Resources, Not Results

Forrest Gump is a sweet movie from the last century about a relatively clueless -- though quite loveable -- fellow who triggers several history changing/making events of the 20th century.  He also amasses a considerable fortune due to fortuitous stock purchases and business investments.  A model for success, no?

No.  In every event, every stock transaction, and every business investment... our relatively clueless -- though quite loveable -- protagonist is completely passive and simply the beneficiary of good/dumb luck/karma/being at the right place at the right time.  It is not that he is a bad role model, nor a role model for something bad.  He is just not a role model.  Like an ice cube in a glass.  When the glass is empty, the cube rests on the bottom.  When the glass is filled with water, the ice cube bobs to the top. The ice cube is neither good nor bad; it just is.

I recently saw an incredible back story about events leading up to the (long overdue and very much appreciated) rel…

Thought for the Day: When to Make a Bracha on Dessert

There is a lively discussion in the gemara and then later poskim about what kinds of jewelry may be worn in a public domain on Shabbos.  Among the topics is what is consider "worn" vs. "carried" and whether or not a person is likely to take it off to show her friends.  Very cool stuff; you ought to check it out.  One of the jewelry items that a woman may not wear (303:7) is a קטלא... which literally means a "killer"; it's kind of wide choker decorated in gold.  The point of this particular piece of jewelry was to create (or at least enhance) and then accentuate multiple chins.  Fat was beautiful because fat meant rich.

In modern day, of course, thin is beautiful.  Why?  Because we are all fabulously rich (we all have more than enough to eat) and so thin  bespeaks "self control".  Ah well... enough social commentary.  The point here is that we very often have dessert with our meals nowadays; and when we don't, it's because we are exer…