July 29, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

The rabbi, the parrots, the journalist and the bloggers

I know I'm not breaking any ground here, but Rabbi Hershel Schachter has addressed the much-discussed topic of Jews, women, parrots and monkeys.

In the Jewish Week, Gary Rosenblatt quotes some anonymous defenders and detractors of Rabbi Schachter's views. (Note that noone is willing to go on the record defending him!)

First blogosphere notice was taken on hirhurim, where the pseudonymous blogger praises R' Schachter's remarks as "excellent material for public education." My take is in the commments. I also have some comments in the Protocols discussion.

But seriously, read today's earlier entries for a fuller perspective on Jews, rabbis and parrots.

(Reb Yudel)

July Surprise is no surprise!

From The New Republic Online:
This afternoon, Pakistan's interior minister, Faisal Saleh Hayyat, announced that Pakistani forces had captured Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, a Tanzanian Al Qaeda operative wanted in connection with the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

The timing of this announcement should be of particular interest to readers of The New Republic.

Earlier this month, John B. Judis, Spencer Ackerman, and Massoud Ansari broke the story of how the Bush administration was pressuring Pakistani officials to apprehend high-value targets (HVTs) in time for the November elections--and in particular, to coincide with the Democratic National Convention.

Although the capture took place in central Pakistan "a few days back," the announcement came just hours before John Kerry will give his acceptance speech in Boston.

How cyncical is the Bush-Cheney-Rove Administration? Read July Surprise? and find out!
(Reb Yudel)

Speaking of R' Schachter...

Was there ever any resolution on the copopods?

The last word I heard was, via Steven I's Fiddish blog, that R' Schachter had pronounced NYC water treif. I just ran across an article from the Young Israel of Kew Garden Hills that claims the opposite. Unlike blogs, though, shul newsletters aren't updated in real time, so I'm curious to hear the latest word.

{Update: Hirhurim has just posted a current OU statement. Briefly put, there are two opinions (kosher/treif) and currently no decision, so OU restaurants and caterers are instructed to be strict. There is no mention of the current opinions of specific individual poskim.)

Incidentally, the article quotes a teshuva from R' Moshe z'l that seems to take pretty clear sides in one of my debates with pseudonymous trio of Simcha, Y.Me and Gaon over in Fiddish. You'll have to read on to find out the winner and loser, but suffice it to say that it doesn't make me regret blogging under my own name....

From the Young Israel of Kew Garden Hills Torch, Troubled Waters:

Recently there have been a number of halachic issues which have been suddenly projected into the public arena. First there was the "Shebu" question pertaining to the kashruth of a certain species of cow found primarily in South America and an important source of meat for Israel and the United States. However, that was resolved in rather short order and the animal was determined to be kosher.

Next came the Indian hair tumult which affected women's wigs. Although most authorities agree it is not much of an issue in the United States in Israel the jury is still out.

Most recently here in good old New York we have our own "home grown" crisis, copopods! Tiny little creatures barely visible to the naked eye that are found in New York City's drinking water.

The problem is a potentially serious one. The Torah in Parshas Shemini (Vayikra 11:10) prohibits all living creatures that teem in the water. As the Sefer Chinuch explains (mitzvah 164) this includes even the most minute critters.

The fact is that New York water, famous for its high quality and clarity, is not filtered before it reaches our faucets. Ironically, the presence of copopods in the water is a sign that the water is healthy. In a bacteria laden environment these little creatures would not survive.

Here is the halachic issue. As stated, any teeming critter in the water is prohibited-dead or alive. However, it must be visible to the naked eye. In the case of these copopods they can be best described as looking like tiny specks of dandruff. It is upon closer inspection i.e by use of a microscope that they can be seen as a once living organism. Now there is no doubt that if an organism is only visible through use of a microscope then it is not prohibited to consume. (See Aruch Hashulchan Y.D. 84:36) However, in this case while it is true that the copopods cannot be determined without the use of a microscope or magnifying loop, they can be seen to the naked eye as tiny specks.

There are those who maintain that since they are visible as a speck, they are classified as visible creatures and are prohibited. It should also be noted that according to the DEP there are an average of four copopods per gallon of water.

On the other hand, Rav Herschel Schachter shlita maintains that since in the final analysis the copopods cannot be identified without the use of a microscope, an instrument not available to the generations of Chazal and beyond, they can not possibly be prohibited.

Rabbi Yisroel Belsky shlita feels that they are not prohibited for another reason. The Shulchan Aruch (Y.D. 84:1) states that critters found in still bodies of water are permissible. Since copopods originate in reservoirs which unlike flowing rivers are considered still waters, they would remain permissible. As of this writing the OU follows the ruling of Rabbis Belsky and Schachter.

It should be noted that Rav Moshe Feinstein zt'l in Igros Moshe (Y.D. II:146) in dealing with a related issue of using microscopes to inspect for insects writes "such implements were never discussed in the Gemora and we must assume that all the subsequent generations of pious people did not consume anything not permissible even unwittingly."; I believe the exact same holds true of our water issue.

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy and kosher summer.

Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld

(Reb Yudel)

President makes time for friends while on vacation

From Wednesday's press briefing in Crawford, Texas (via White House Gaggle by Trent Duffy - Talk Radio News Service)
I have one international call to read out to you. The President today spoke with Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia for roughly 10 minutes. The President thanked the Crown Prince for meeting with Secretary Powell today, and the two of them discussed the situation in Iraq and Saudi Arabia's efforts to fight terrorism on its own soil.
(Reb Yudel)

The Rabbi and the Parrots: A joke!

Courtesy of awordinyoureye.com which claims to be
probably the best site for Jewish jokes / Jewish humour available today. You will currently find here over 1,230 Jewish jokes, with the naughtier ones kept separate. You will also find the world’s first Kosher Lateral Thinking puzzles; Speeches (e.g. for best man / special birthday); Dating (Kosher humor) Tests; and Jokes for children.
Joke #451: The Rabbi and the Parrots
One day, Hette approaches her Rabbi after the service and says to him, "Rabbi, I have a problem. I have two female talking parrots, but they only know how to say one thing."

"What do they say?" the Rabbi asks.

"They only know how to say, 'Hello, we're prostitutes, want to have some fun?'"

"Why, that's terrible!" the Rabbi says, "but I have a solution to your problem. Bring your two female parrots over to my house tomorrow and I will put them with my two male talking parrots whom I taught to pray and read Hebrew. My parrots will teach your parrots to stop saying that terrible phrase and your female parrots will learn to praise and worship."

"Oh thank you, Rabbi," Hette replies.

The next day Hette brings her female parrots to the Rabbi's house. His two male parrots are wearing tiny yamulkes and praying in their cage. Hette puts her two female parrots in with the male parrots and the female parrots say, "Hello, we're prostitutes, want to have some fun?"

One male parrot looks over at the other male parrot and exclaims, "Put away the siddurs! Our prayers have been answered!"

(Reb Yudel)

The Koran made a monkey of Jews who weren't shomer shabbos!

From JEWS IN THE KORAN AND EARLY ISLAMIC TRADITIONS by Dr. Leah Kinberg we learn the true context of the allegedly Koranic statements equating Jews to monkeys:
The story is told in the 7 th chapter of the Koran, verses 163-166:

[163] Ask them concerning the town standing close by the sea. Behold! They transgressed in the matter of the Sabbath. For on the day of their Sabbath their fish did come to them, openly holding up their heads, but on the day they had no Sabbath, they came not. Thus did We make a trial of them, for they were given to transgression...

[165] When they disregarded the warnings that had been given them, We rescued those who forbade evil; but We visited the wrong-doers with a grievous punishment, because they were given to transgression.

[166] When in their insolence they transgressed (all) prohibitions, We said to them: 'Be ye apes, despised and rejected.'

(Reb Yudel)

Monkeys, parrots and the Jews of Sadgura

"Sadgura" ( Ukraine 48°21' / 25°58' ), from Volume II of History of the Jews in the Bukowina
The majority of the residents lived in bitter poverty.

They were fruit vendors in the market, street hawkers, or soda water vendors in the hottest time of year. The latter pulled a two-wheel hand cart through the streets and offered a cool drink.

These small businesses ranked high over those who had nothing and were forced to appeal to public welfare.

The professional beggars had their own guild. Among them were types who played upon sympathy. Often a beggar would borrow a baby from a poor family, and he and his wife would travel from village to village posing as ones whose home had burned down. [Footnote: As organ grinders, they invaded the weekly and annual markets, as well as the surrounding towns, with the sale of so-called lucky tickets, which were drawn by trained parrots and little monkeys.] Their cleverness paid off, because a good Jewish heart would never disappoint.

The Purim time was the high season for legal and illegal scrounging. Groups of costumed Huzuls received larger contributions for their mountain peasant dances. A Purim specialty was the so-called "Ameriker" [American]. They were fruit pickers by profession, who walked from house to house on Purim days as giants on 2-4 meter long stilts, covered for their entire length with trousers, and, resting on the balconies of the upper stories, they looked through the windows into the living quarters.

Though it brought them plenty of tips, this activity was not without danger, especially when it was icy, particularly as the horses tended to shy at this unfamiliar spectacle. Returnees from America were supposed to have brought this art back with them; hence the name. These people retained the nickname "Americans" all year long.

It should be noted that practically every poor person in Sadagura had a nickname; the family name was usually unknown and together with the first name was called the "German name." (The German names were forced upon the Jews towards the end of the 18th century by the German-speaking clerks of the Austrian administration.)

(Reb Yudel)

Progressive Judaism, monkeys and parrots

Rabbi David Goldberg of The European Region of the World Union for Progressive Judaism on Progressive Judaism in the Wider World

Progressive Judaism as an institution is no longer, in my opinion, at the cutting edge of religious innovation or radical social action. One hundred and fifty years ago Samuel David Luzzatto accused Reform Jews of being the monkeys of modern society, aping whatever was the latest fashion. Nowadays, we are the parrots of wider Jewish society, repeating �Me too, me too� at whatever pronouncement comes down from the World Jewish Congress, the Jewish Agency, the Anti-Defamation League, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, or a Likud government spokesman, as being in the best interests of the Jewish people. Being accepted for our usefulness when it suits the Establishment, and supping at top table, has made us complacent, as Abba Hillel Silver once accused Chaim Weizmann of being about his relationship with the British Mandate.

Apart from our knee-jerk support for Israel, whichever government is in power, and our obsession with real or alleged anti-Semitism � and if you don�t like my use of the word �obsession� just ask yourself this: in modern Europe, despite the spill over from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, despite the Left�s hostility to Zionism, is it easier and safer to be a Jew or a black, a Muslim, or an asylum seeker? � apart from those two examples, let me give a few more: after nearly two hundred years of existence, and with the exception of America, where Reform Jews are in the majority, Progressive Judaism in Europe and Israel still spends a disproportionate amount of its time claiming authenticity and seeking recognition from discredited, out-of-touch Orthodoxy.

It is pathetic that with a long history behind us, and so many achievements to our credit, we should still be so insecure about our validity.

Is that why most of my younger colleagues, male and female, regard wearing a kippah all the time as essential proof of their Jewishness? Is that why many of them want to make conversion to Judaism harder, not easier? Does it explain the proliferation in Progressive synagogues in recent years of what I would call �gesture rituals� � there is more davvening and shokelling and bowing and scraping going on than in your average Black Pentecostal church.

What has happened to Reason as the defining attribute we bring to analysis of our ancient heritage? Instead the new buzzword is �spirituality�. Leo Baeck College and Hebrew Union College and for all I know Abraham Geiger College students, love talking about �struggling with the text� and finding �new meanings and fresh insights� in Biblical chapters about animal sacrifice or menstruation and ritual purity which they select for the weekly Torah reading to set before congregants, but which the founders of Progressive Judaism had fastidiously and rightly rejected for being of their primitive time and morally backward place.

I mean, reading about the waters of jealousy ordeal doesn�t exactly yield rewarding insights like struggling with a difficult text from Shakespeare or Goethe, does it?

Ritual and spirituality are what happen when people no longer believe in God, but don�t quite have the courage to say so. As the English writer G K Chesterton once famously remarked, �When people cease to believe in God, they don�t believe in nothing, they believe in anything.�

(Reb Yudel)

Parrots, monkeys and christ

Christ-life Fellowship
Religious Christianity can never be reconciled to the true Gospel. It will always stand in opposition because to operate it needs the shadows and gray areas. It affords a refuge for the double-minded. The dear brethren involved in it are not motivated from who they are in Christ, but rather by the gospel of go and do, acting more like trained parrots and monkeys than as true sons of the Father who know who they are.

The flesh would have us divide up the world as saints and sinners. This is much like the old division of Jews and Gentiles. Our heavenly Father has provided reconciliation for all people in our present world through the death, burial and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. The only division that now exists is between those who have responded to the truth of this reconciliation (after the Holy Spirit has brought them to conviction of their need of salvation) and those who have not yet so responded.

(Reb Yudel)

Like loonies... (and parrots and monkeys)

From the Collected Poerms of Mordechai Geldmann
translated by Karen Alkalay-Gut
Spring attacked, we became as loonies
our strength to die was dying
bush-hunters turned blue for love
and monkeys and parrots screeched.
Spring attacked, we became as loonies
running out of strength to die
Spring attacked, we became as loonies
In the morning the sheets ain't hiding
the light vomits the awakened onto the streets
time seduces, warns

July 27, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

YU: Don't squash bloodsuckers!

From BBN News: Flick mosquitoes away say doctors
Doctors in the United States have warned people against swatting mosquitoes against their skin.

Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine, they said it could increase the risk of serious infection.

The case has prompted doctors at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York to warn against swatting mosquitoes against the skin.

"I think if a mosquito was in mid-bite, it would be wiser to flick the mosquito off rather than squashing it," said Christina Coyle, one of the authors of the article.

We trust Richard Joel will take this advice to heart.
(Reb Yudel)


An open thread dedicated to victims of Protocol's current comments' crash.

(Reb Yudel)

Present company excluded, of course

The latest from Jonathan Pollard
The one thing that hard-core criminals have in common is the uncanny ability to rationalize their crimes. They always have some excuse, some mitigating factor, which they feel justifies their having committed some of the most horrendous crimes - unjustifiable from any moral perspective.
Read the whole piece, where Pollard quite clearly aligns himself on the side of a higher law against Israel's democratic regime, and understand why the poor deluded man is not going to go free any time soon.

July 26, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

What if the NYTimes didn't cover Orthodox Jews as quaint curiosities?

Protocols and others are linking to the NYTimes' ombudsman's confession that as a "liberal" newspaper, the Times covers groups such as "Orthodox Jews" as "strange objects to be examined on a laboratory slide."

No doubt, Orthodox media maven Avi Shafran will make this the center of his next weekly piece.

The question is, what if Orthodox Judaism were to be taken seriously by the New York Times? I can guarantee you that Avi Shafran will find his tzitzis in a twist faster than you can say ombudsman.

Taking Orthodox Judaism seriously means accepting, at least in terms journalistic assignments, its claim to be the authentic and sole representative on earth -- or at least in the tri-state area -- of the creator of the universe. That means scrutiny, not hagiography.

Imagine if the New York Times were to start reviewing piskei halacha the way it reviews Supreme Court decisions. Heck, imagine a critical review of new ArtScroll books? How about full profiles of up-and-coming members of Moetzes Gedolei Torah, featuring frank analyses of their strengths and weaknesses?

Imagine if the New York Times treated Orthodox Judaism as seriously as it treats the pharmeceutical business. I think it would be good for the Jews. But I'm not so sure Avi Shafran would agree. Because when it comes down to it, Orthodoxy doesn't want to be treated seriously as a journalistic subject; it wants its claims of inerrancy to be treated unskeptically.

And that, as the Catholic Church can tell you, is not part of the New York Times business model.

(Reb Yudel)

The third John?

The Forward's Ami Eden adds his speculation to the Wilson/Plame affair:
Josh Marshall says he is beginning to consider as plausible the theories offered up by readers who "have written in to tell me that they thought the broadside of attacks against Joe Wilson might be timed to blunt, head off, or someway affect expected indictments in the Plame affair." Here's my theory, based on nothing but my own conspiratorial streak: President Bush is laying the groundwork for a pardon.

And let me add a wrinkle: The Bushies leaked the story about Sandy Berger in order to set up a trade of sorts -- the president will pardon Berger and the Plame leaker, while declaring himself a unifier in the spirit of the increasingly popular 9/11 commission.

Did someone mention "pardon"? Quick, place a call to Buttner, North Carolina! If the president really wants to propose a package pardon of security-unconscious American government officials, shouldn't Pollard be on the list?

Remember, you heard it here first!

(Reb Yudel)

Conservative movement head gets flak for Powell meeting

From the Washington Jewish Week, a story of the pitfalls of denominational leaders being involved in Israeli political activism. The defense of "I was acting in my personal capacity" is disengenous.

On the other hand, for the liberal movements to not speak up for liberal positions on Israel puts the entire "organized" community -- including all the synagogues -- in the pocket of the right-wing, costing them credibility among the younger generation who have assimilated notions concerning democracy and voting rights. Here again, the Reform movement has been generally courageous enough to stake an unapologetic position (criticism from Fackenheim, et al not withstanding); while Ismar Schorsch seems to have positioning himself as a voice of Jewish moderation on Israeli/Palestinian/Iraqi/American issues, and while the folks in the pews by and large agree with him, it will be interesting to see what happens if the DC revolt becomes a full-fledged, ZOA-hyped campaign....

July 22, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Good news for the (Teaneck) Jews!

North Jersey.com reports:
Barnes & Noble, after a four-year courtship with Riverside Square mall, made it official Tuesday. It's coming to Hackensack and it will be open Sundays.

The bookstore is slated to open next May, and will fill 32,000 square feet of a 130,000-square-foot redevelopment project at Riverside, said spokespersons for the book chain and mall's parent.

(Reb Yudel)

Washington Jewish Week sold

The Washington Jewish Week announces its sale:

HarborPoint Media, LLC, a newly formed newspaper company, has entered into an agreement to purchase certain newspaper assets from the Better Built Group, Inc. The transaction includes Washington Jewish Week, plus 13 print publications, among them the Daily Commercial, South Lake Press and Sebring News-Sun, all in Florida, and Hope Star and Daily Siftings-Herald in Arkansas. The acquisition is scheduled to close tomorrow.

July 21, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Debra Nussbaum Cohen on Jewish Journalism

Luke Ford interviews Debra Nussbaum Cohen, my colleague in my pre-internet days working on the telegraph:
"When I was at the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, one of the most important rabbis in the Jewish world lied about what he'd said because it had bit him in the ass politically. This was a moment of spiritual disappointment for me. This happened quickly, by the time I had gotten back to the office from the press conference where he'd spoken. He absolutely lied about it. Thankfully, Gary Rosenblatt was there with a tape recorder. What disappointed me was that my editor at JTA did not just trust what I was telling him was true but felt the need to verify it.

"When I subsequently saw this rabbi at conferences, I wanted to approach him about it for a long time. When I finally did, a year or two ago, he said he didn't remember. If true, that would make it even sadder. That would make it not extraordinary.

Read the whole piece....
(Reb Yudel)

Slate vs Smith's Sci Fi

From Slate: Isaac Asimov - How I, Robot gets the science-fiction grandmaster wrong.
Asimov's novel I, Robot-”which "suggested" the new movie of the same name--”is basically an evangelical work, an argument against man's superstitious fear of machines. By the end of the book, machines run the economy and most of the government. Their superior intelligence and cool rationality eliminate imperfections such as famine and unemployment. Asimov mocks unions for having shortsightedly "opposed robot competition for human jobs," and he derides religious objections to new technology as the work of "Fundamentalist radicals." Almost without exception, anytime robots in the book appear to be doing wrong or seeking to harm their human masters, it turns out that the suspicious humans are misguided; the robots, as programmed, are acting in man's best interest.

Asimov's faith in the rule of robots was genuine and based on his faith in the rule of reason. He viewed his now-canonical Rules of Robotics--”the code for robot behavior used in his books--”as a roadmap for human ethics. Just as Asimov's machines are better than people at calculating mathematics, they're superior at coming to moral judgments as well. Susan Calvin, the book's protagonist, calls robots a "cleaner better breed" than humans because they're "essentially decent." Superior logic produces superior ethics.

The movie takes the exact opposite approach and thereby betrays Asimov's vision. It elevates feeling and emotion over reason as a tool to determine the right moral decisions. Will Smith's character, Del Spooner, sneers at robots as "slaves to logic." When another character pleads, "Whatever you feel, just think," the audience is meant to take his preference for reason over sentiment as a sign of his villainy. And when the main antagonist outlines the Dastardly Plan unveiled during the film's climax, the villain defends the treachery by asserting, "My logic is undeniable."

July 20, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Leonard Cohen To Turn 70, Release New Album

From ChartAttack.com:
A week after his 70th birthday, the man who brought us timeless songs like "Bird On A Wire" and "I'm Your Man" will release a brand new album. The new disc, Dear Heather, will be due in stores on September 28. The album, will feature 12 new songs plus a live recording of the Pee Wee King/Redd Stewart country standard "Tennessee Waltz." The album is Cohen's first since 2001's Ten New Songs and was produced with Leanne Ungar.

July 11, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Now you see me, now you don't

I've been interviewed by Luke Ford about my life in Jewish journalism. Should you care? I'm not sure I should.

Then again, I learned some things about my old colleague and drinking buddy Yori Yanover in his Luke Ford interview, so maybe you'll have a good time.

In any event, I'm dropping off the Internet for a week or so. If you're desperate to know about my return, you can subscribe to my YudelLine Announcements mailing list.

Meanwhile, take good care, and be sure to enjoy the comment spam as it accumulates in my absence. Remember: Just because some spammer uses this website to advertise snake oil medicines doesn't mean that they work....

(Reb Yudel)

Abba, how come the new neighbors don't wear yarmulkes?

The New York Times reports that Gays in New Jersey Sign Up for Domestic Partner Law:

Steven Goldstein, chairman of Garden State Equality, a lesbian and gay organization, moved to Teaneck from Brooklyn a month ago with his partner, Daniel Gross, just to become eligible to register under the new law.

Finally! Some more non-Orthodox Jews in town. Welcome to the shtetl, guys.

July 9, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Get your girsot, guys!

Hebrew U. has updated its collection of online Talmud manuscripts.

It's Internet Explorer only, alas, but given the quality of the material, I'll forgive them.

July 8, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

More bug-eyed Orthodox

Over in Steven I.'s Fiddish comment section, I'm debating the questions of barely-visible crustaceans. For a change, I'm defending the gedolim who drank tap water (and am being blasted, fairly I suppose, as a charedi for my efforts).

Could the Rav perhaps have held, like R' Idle, that being dead, they were no longer crustaceans, but rather ex-copepods, and that having joined the choir invisible they weren't worth looking for?

July 7, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

You mean anyone can be a nudnik now?

What struck me in the Jewish Week's article The New Diarists: Inside the expanding universe of Jewish blogs was the question posed by the subhead:
Are they a challenge to the establishment or the rantings of eccentrics?
Anyone who has covered the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations knows that "establishment" and "rantings of eccentrics" are not an either/or pair. Someone at the Jewish Week needs to get out more.
(Reb Yudel)

Memories of the Ford Administration

You love Rummy and Cheney, but does Bush have another Ford-era skeleton lurking in his closet? Michael Kinsley recounts the fiscal legacy of Dubya:
The plan was: a $400 billion federal budget surplus this year and a national debt of $2.1 trillion heading rapidly to zero. That was the plan back in January 2001, when President Bush took office.

And not just the plan: That was the official prediction of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

Now we have a new plan. Instead of a $400 billion surplus, President Bush's budget calls for a $500 billion deficit. The national debt is $4.4 trillion and headed to more than $6 trillion over the next 10 years, according to the CBO.

Interest on that debt will cost $156 billion this year.

Bush says he'll cut the deficit in half in four years. The deficit, not the debt. It's a remarkably modest brag. And even so, almost nobody believes him.

So what to do? Well, if Bush wins in November, dust off your WIN buttons, because inflation is coming down the pike....

July 2, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Bug-eyed Monsters of Orthodoxy

If the OU is indeed about to recommend that New Yorkers filter their water, there are still a bunch of followup questions that need to be answered:
  • Is NYC water uniquely buggy? Will the OU put out a city-by-city guide to municipal water systems, or is it pashut assur to leave NYC? How about rural systems -- should we be taking filters wherever we travel?
  • Is it true that this was not a problem in previous generations because, like the birds flying over whats-his-name's head in the gemara, the little cructaceons (note: I can't bring myself to look up the spelling for such a vile, tamehdik word) crumbled before approaching the water pipes of gedolim such as the Rav, the Rebbe and Reb Moshe? And that it is only with the passing of their zechut, and their Mystic Torah Bug Smashing Aura (think be'er Miriam, only the converse), that this has become a problem?
  • If a non-crushed all-but-microsopic bug is considered a davar chashuv, are we not defining chashivus down? Could this be related to our defining "gadol" and "posek" down?
  • Is it fair to say that this psak, rather than the Mishna Brura's codification, is what has definitively closed the era of the aharonim, and launched that of the tachtonim?
  • July 1, 2004

    (Reb Yudel)

    The kabbala is taxable

    According to Haaretz, "the estimated value of gifts and contributions to kabbalist rabbis ranges between NIS 1-4 billion."

    Could this really be true? And is this a billion dollars annually, or over the past decade?

    When are graduates of JTS and YU going to sue their alma maters for educational malpractice for failing to give them an adequate grounding in the important -- and lucrative -- field of Kabbalah?

    Permanent link
    (Reb Yudel)

    In wake of Reagan fever, will Bush to dump Cheney?

    Vice President Cheney replaced on the ticket with Zombie Reagan!