Wednesday, January 23, 2008

"Baruch Hashem" Usage at Epidemic Levels, Baruch Hashem

(forwarded to me by someone else)

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK - [] Pyschologists and rabbinic leaders are warning about the prevalence of Honorifics and Frum Idiom Confusion Syndrome in the Jewish community, bli ayin hara.

Over the past several years the number of honorifics and superstitous idioms added to the frum vocabulary has been increasing exponentially, k'niyna hara. This has caused some confusion to occur, baruch Hashem, especially to those with more simple minds, kein yirbu.

Typically the syndrome starts with overuse of the terms, b'chasdei Hashem, then quickly turns to usage of the terms in the completely wrong place, shlita. In more advanced cases, nisht auf Shabbos geret, idioms foreign to the frum world, l'havdil elef havdalos, are used as well, praise the L-rd.

In addition to the number of such terms, zy gezunt, the prevalence of usage of such terms has increased exponentially as well, yasher koach. For example, 20 years ago, mamesh, the term "baruch Hashem", was limited to a portion of Maariv that most people did not say, gezundheit. Today it constitutes 23% of a typical frum male's spoken word and 27% of a typical frum female's, im yirtzeh Hashem by you. It has been added to most kosher menus, thank you - come again, and has replaced "all of the above" on standardized tests given to yeshiva bochrim, lo aleinu.

Family and friends of those afflicted with this disease, chas v'shalom, are advised to use caution when asking simple questions such as "How are you?" This may cause the afflicted person, zt"l, to reply with a stream of unrelated frum idioms that usually have nothing to do with how they are doing, may Allah strike you down with the strength of 1000 elephants. The best option, in the opinion of the professionals, Hashem yinakem damam, is to stick a tehillim in front of them, ad meah v'esrim. This should keep their mouths busy until such time as a permanent cure is found. (David Friedman)

[David Friedman used to play with the margins to make his articles longer. This is more fun.]

© 2007 All rights reserved. This material may be published, broadcast or redistributed as long as all the content remain intact, including this paragraph.

(as requested in the final note, all typos in the above humorous article are the original author's/website's)

A few times I've responded to someone's having answered the question "how are you?" with barukh Hashem by saying ...le‘olam, amein ve’amein, I know — but how are you?

Some more popular responses, attributed to R' Elie Silverberg, R' Dr. Chaim Brovender, and/or R' Yehuda Parnes, are variations on I didn't ask how frum you are, I asked how you're doing!

Friday, January 18, 2008

No Touchee

A question from my college days:

Why, when you identify as shomer negi‘a, do people think they can't sit within 5 feet of you — and when you identify as not shomer negi‘a they think you're a whore?

Just wondering.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Kevod Rabo Komplications Return

I recently learned in masekhet Sanhedrin, in the last chapter — Pereq "Hheileq", with all the theological/philosophical statements and crazy aggadas — that according to Rav Nahhman, one definition of an epiqoros who 'has no share in the Coming World' is one who calls his rav by his name, even when just referring to him in third person, as the proof-text from the Prophet Elisha‘'s unworthy assistant, Geihhazi, indicates.

Various Jewish legal texts (in .doc format), including the ‘Arukh Hashulhhan, delineate the obligations and prohibitions that one has to their rav. Most, but not all, are the same for your parents, including the prohibition on using their name [instead of title] to refer to them (name+title is fine for non-parents).

So it's asur to call your rav by their name, even when refering to them in talking to other people. And not only that, but if you do such a disrespectful act, you can lose your share in the Coming World!?

This is quite a dilemma when your rav is a friend of yours, who you had sort of already met in purely social situations once or thrice back before the world fell apart. If I hadn't suddenly needed a rabbi to get me through all this aveilut (mourning) stuff, we probably would have just ended up hanging out more with all our mutual friends and getting to know each other anyway, as did actually happen, except it would have been on a purely peer level instead of on an awkward mix of the peer paradigm and the pseudocongregant/rabbi or inquirer/decisor paradigm.

Luckily, all the laws about respecting one's rav only really apply to a rav muvhaq from whom you've learned most of your Torah knowledge — and not to just any teacher, poseiq or communal rabbi you may have. So that at least deals with the strictly legal and eschatological problems, if not the awkward relational issues.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

End of Kaddish

Why do some people think it's appropriate to say "mazal tov" when you finish saying kaddish? This isn't some kind of happy occasion or proud achievement. This is one step further away from my father.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

11 Months of Kaddish

וְ עַ תָּ֕ ה   יִ גְֿ דַּ ל ־ נָ ֖א   כֹּ ֣חַ   Δ׳֑
כַּ אֲ שֶׁ ֥ר   דִּ בַּ ֖רְ תָּ   לֵ א מֹֽ ר ׃

זְ כֹֿ ר ־ רַ חֲ מֶ י֣ ךָֿ   Ƶ֭׳   וַ חֲ סָ דֶֿ י֑ ךָֿ
כִּ ֖י   מֵ ע וֹ לָ ֣ם   הֵ ֽמָּ ה ׃

And now, let Lord's power grow great,
as you said...

(Bemidbar 14:17)

Remember your compassion, God, and your kindness,
for they have always been.

(Tehillim 25:6)

God is Great.
God is Transcendent.
God is Beyond.

There is no mention of death in Kaddish.
No mention of the dead.

It's all about God.

God is Greater Than All Songs.
God is Greater Than All Praise.
God is Greater Than All Words.

Why do mourners say Kaddish?

God is Greater Than All Consolations.

Kaddish is an act of faith.
Kaddish is a declaration of hope.

Even when life sucks, God is Great.
Even when life sucks, God is Greater.

When life sucks,
עִמּוֹ אָנֹכִֿי בְֿצָרָה.

יִתְֿגַּדַּל וְיִתְֿקַדַּשׁ שְׁמֵהּ רַבָּא...

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

א׳ לחדש שבט

Happy Hug a Tree for Beit Shammai Day !

Although, considering Shammai's reputation, maybe it's actually
Smack a Tree with a Yardstick for Beit Shammai Day.

(why this is supposed to be funny)
(why this is supposed to be funny enough to shake a stick at)
(multiple sticks at, to be precise)

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Glatt Yosher!

K'hal Adath Jeshurun
is removing their hashgahha
from Agriprocessors!

I guess the big question is: Why?

Some rabbis feel that the way Agriprocessors's flipping pens dump the animals out after shehhita is halakhically problematic, in that it may dislodge signs of sickness that would render the animal not kosher. But KAJ doesn't seem to be worried about that, since they say that their removal of hashgocho is not due to kashrus concerns, and "no inference to the contrary regarding the kashrus of the products should be made." Could it be because of fears of Chabadian Mishichism? Or just not wanting to be associated with such a sketchy company that's constantly getting into scandals for how it treats its animals, its workers, and its governmental obligations?

(gray hat tip: an apartmentmate)

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Imitating Other Peoples

Babylonian Talmud, masekhet Sanhedrin 39b

Ribbí Yehoshua‘ ben Leivi threw two verses against each other:




In these two quotes, God's message through the prophet Yehhezqeil is a message of rebuke and sentencing. The Israelite People has committed too many horrific breaches of its contract with God, and therefore punishment is on its way.

The only problem is, these two entries on our national 'rap sheet' contradict each other. What's the problem? Did we copy the practices, social mores, laws, or culture of the surrounding nations? Or did we not do that, and that's the problem?! For those of us raised on a steady (or even intermittent) diet of חוקות הגויים, the question is shocking — did the First Israelite/Judean Commonwealth fall apart, was the First Temple destroyed, was ‘Am Yisra’eil cast into exile... because we didn't imitate foreign ways of doing things? And what about the more expected pasuq, the one that says that punishment comes for doing the imitation itself?

Ribbí Yehoshua‘ ben Leivi answers the contradiction:

כמתוקנים שבהם לא עשיתם
כמקולקלין שבהם עשיתם


RYB"L is representing a worldly integrationist Judaism. One that goes outside, like Ribbí Mei’ir learning from Elisha‘ ben Avuya — eating the fruit and discarding the peel. We go out into the world and make choices. We delineate holy from mundane, pure from taboo, permitted from forbidden. There's so much out there — so many people, cultures, sciences and histories — to learn from, and we aren't going to hide our heads in the sand, living in an self-isolated world and hoping that everything else would just disappear and leave us alone. We need to be experiencing and evaluating — this we can learn from; this we can't — seeing God's world and God's children through God-colored lenses, instead of seeing everything that comes from Outside through a lens of suspicion.

And God will consider us liable if we don't...

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Not My Pictures

In case you were wondering, these are not my pictures:

steg the dinosaur's photos

It doesn't even look like a stegosaurus!

Cute idea, though.

(gray hat tip to mar gavriel)