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Archive for the ‘Blogs I read’ Category

Rafi G wrote a post yesterday about the latest haredim vs. everyone else fight in Beit Shemesh. The proposal has been made to create a shomrei shabbat section in the Beit Shemesh cemetery. This is something that exists in other places as a way for the Orthodox community to define the the line between “us” and “them” in burial and not allow “them” to be buried amongst “us”.

Here the action is opposite. They are the newcomers and they want to make sure that “they” won’t be subjected to being buried amongst “us”.

This has of course caused a small uproar in the local press, though I get the feeling that like most of these issues, it is going way over the heads of the majority of citizens. A columnist – David Louk – wrote an article attacking the proposal on the grounds of its divisiveness and that it is halakhically unnecessary (none of the distinguished rabanim of Beit Shemesh have ever seen the need for it till now). Last week the haredi extremist camp hit back with an equalkly long article explaining that unity is not the be-all and end-all and that the halakha does require it and that they will fight for truth and their rights, etc.

The whole issue is based on a gemara in Sanhedrin 46 that discusses where and how to bury people who have been executed (harugei beit din). They are not buried in their family plots and  the gemara raises the issue of not burying resha’im together with tzaddikim. Not only that but different levels of executed resha’im need to be buried separately. From here we get to the halakha in the Shulhan Arukh (Yoreh De-ah kuf-tzadi-tet) that:

אין קוברים רשע אצל צדיק, שנאמר אל תאסוף עם חטאים נפשי. ואפילו רשע חמור אצל רשע קל, אין קוברים. וכן אין קוברין צדיק ובל שכן בינוני וכשר אצל חסיד מופלג.

Incidentally, if this leaves you feeling uncomfortable the Arukh HaShulhan (Yoreh De’ah shin-samekh-bet) says:

ואין קוברין רשע אצל צדיק, אפילו רשע חמור אצל רשע קל. וכן אין קוברין צדיק, וכל שכן בינוני, אצל חסיד מופלג. אבל קוברים בעל תשובה אצל צדיק גמור.

Seeing as someone may have had hirhurei teshuva before he died and would therefore be considered a baal teshuva (Gemara Kidushin 49b) that solves that one (assuming you want to solve it).

And what of “ameich kulam tzaddikim“? and what of koneh olamo be-shaah achat, and what will be of the tzaddikim nistarim?

The problem is not one of unity but of hillul hashem. It is one of people coming with a message of uncompromising division, judgment and hatred in the name of God and his Torah.

When newcomers come along and start telling people what to do they resent it. When they come in the name of halakha and claim that the local respected rabonim don’t know the right thing to do, they resent it even more. When they come in the name of halakha (she-kol derakheiha darkei no’am) and claim that even their beinonim are too big tzadikim to be buried next to the locals, they get incensed.

And so do I.

Don’t they understand that lo ba-esh hashem? How long will it take for these sikrikim to understand that their way leads to more hurban?

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By coincidence Climate Progress had a post yesterday about environmental action by faith communuities in the US. I looked at one of the links – lo-Watt Shabbat. Not amazingly exciting. I’m looking for an halakhically acceptable solution for wasting less electricity keeping an urn of hot water and a hot-plate heated over Shabbat.

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Rafi G blogged today about an article on RabbiHorowitz.com – “Charedi Classic“.

Rabbi Horowitz seems to be a school principle and educational advisor and writer. The article in question describes how the education and values passed to him by the previous Haredi generation seem to him to be much more balanced and successful than those that he as part of the current Haredi generation are passing on to their children.

The Haredi Classic set of values were simple. “…be a mentch [an upstanding and honest person]. Learn and master our Torah. Farbreng nisht der tzeit [sic] — make the best use of every minute of every day. Make a kiddush Hashem [sanctification of God’s name by your good behavior] wherever you go – don’t ever forget that you are wearing a yarmulke. Get an education, be self-sufficient, and give something back to the community”.

The new Haredism is bogged down in stringencies, mixing custom with law and in superstition. It is frightened of the world around it and fraught with facades within.

I don’t want to gloat, but I think his Haredi Classic is called Modern Orthodox today. Unfortunately we don’t always know what we have going good and there are strong forces trying to send us in the Haredi direction. Let’s stick with Judaism Classic.

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A neighbor and scholar, Chuck Davidson has just started a new blog called “What Your Rabbi Didn’t Tell You“. A refreshing, scholarly yet down to earth blog on contemporary Halacha. So far he has posted on kashrut of raisins (“I reviewed Sefer VaYikra and could not for the life of me find raisins mentioned among the prohibited foods”) and “Mehadrin” buses (“fortunately for us, R. Moshe Feinstein, who was a frum Jew and knew a bit of Torah, wrote on a subject similar to ours”).

Worth a read. Worth subscribing. Keep it up Chuck.

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Clint Watson has written a piece on his blog:Interruption is the Enemy of Productivity. It takes time to get into “the zone” and you can’t be really productive if you keep getting interrupted.

This is why I only paint at night and why I hate Fridays. I can’t paint when I have small children running round the house and housework chores naggingly waiting to be done. Even if I have made a conscious decision to take an hour out for art, they keep nagging me to get back to work. This cuts down my work time, but I’m not going to get anything done then anyway.

Clint took this from a post by Kris Jordan on a presentation by Jason Fried of 37 signals where he is talking about writing software and running a start-up. Writing software is also an art.

Jason also mentions the fallacy of getting more work done by working longer hours and several other good practices for the software or visual artist. Worth a read and taking to heart.

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This was the title of a post on Seth Godin’s blog yesterday. Seth says forget the falling stock markets and get out there and create value.

In general I agree with him. Everyone, whether they be a creative type or not should be concentrating on creating real value for the World and the human race.

However, contrary to what Seth says, the direction of the economy and the fortunes of the people who play it out in the investment houses and stock exchanges of the world do make a difference to all of us. If only they were wiser and they too would search for value not wealth then maybe the World economy and the lives and fortunes of its inhabitants would be safer in their hands.

In Judaism its called tikun olam.

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I read Seth Godin today with a sense of deja-vu. If you don’t watch TV, or like me don’t even own one, all of a sudden you will see that you have loads of time for painting, programming or writing or whatever it is you do.

If you also ration the number of blogs you read and you don’t Twitter then you are really away!

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