Wednesday, November 30, 2005

A Christian laments: So, Jews, you'll let the goyim win after all?

By Stan Goodenough -- November 29, 2005

According to the newspapers here in Israel, Jews are rejoicing because the International Federation of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent Societies (IFRCRC) has finally agreed to open its doors to the Red Shield (or Star) of David (Magen David Adom), the Israeli organization that offers services equivalent to the Red Cross and Red Crescent.

Ok, so there's a small catch: The Israelis cannot actually use their Red Star of David in this new arrangement, but must agree to a new symbol, a Red Crystal, inside which, for advertising purposes alone, they may now and then insert a small Star of David.

But hey, what's the big deal? I mean, the Israeli organization has been fighting for decades, almost pleading, to be recognized in the same way the Muslim world's Red Crescent Society been. And now, at last, it will be.

The fact that the Jews have to drop the symbol that represents their nation, their people, their history and their land, because the Red Cross and Red Crescent so demand it, well, that's really a small price to pay.

There's not much point in quibbling over a symbol, after all.

And what difference will it make if injured people are taken to hospital in an ambulance with a Red Crystal instead of a Magen David Adom emblazoned on its side?

Watching it speeding by, the Jews can be proud of the fact that once more they fulfilled their calling to be "a light to the nations" by giving in to those nations' demands and not insisting on what is justly, and rightfully, theirs.

Also, these days, the papers here in Israel are full of reports about Jews rejoicing for other, not dissimilar reasons. The majority of Israelis are apparently thrilled at the political revolution that is taking place before their eyes.

Finally they have a new party, a new leader, a new way to vote for. Hope is in the air, a strong leader is soon going to disengage them from the Palestinian Arabs, draw Israel's final borders and so, at long last, win for Israel a place of recognition and acceptance, and perhaps even some praise, in the world.

Ok, so again there's a small catch: To achieve this peace, this acceptance, the Jews cannot actually have the most important and cherished parts of their homeland. They have to let go the cradle of their nationhood, the burial places of their national patriarchs and heroes --Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Rachel, David -- they have to relinquish, for all time, their claims to Hebron and Shechem and Bethel and Bethlehem; the mountains of Samaria, the Judean hills and half of Jerusalem, "the eternal capital of the Jewish people."

But hey, for the sake of peace, this is surely a small price to pay. After all, Hebron, Shechem, the eastern part of Jerusalem -- all these places have many more Arabs than Jews living in them. Most the Jewish population of Israel actually already lives in the coastal plain between Jaffa and Haifa. Most of Israel's industries are located there too.

Surely, for the sake of peace, and in order that the Jews may enjoy the warm embrace of the Gentiles, severing those ancient roots and laying down those ancient claims is a really small price to pay?

And every time the Jews stop to gaze across the new border into Palestine, and remember with fondness, and perhaps even a few tears, the land to which they returned 39 years ago, with such delight and ecstasy after 20 centuries of longing and praying to be back, they will be able to console themselves that, once again, they fulfilled their calling to be or legoyim (a light to the gentiles) by appeasing their enemies and making unprecedented sacrifices to prove to all the world that they are -- and always have been -- serious about making peace.

But do you know what, Jews of Israel -- and those Jews still in exile who so fervently support this way? You may think that in so acquiescing, you are setting a glowing example to the nations of the world.

But as far as these nations are concerned, the last thing they will want to do is emulate you. All you are doing is proving them right in their long-held belief that you are illegitimate, land grabbing, not-to-be-trusted Yids.And, as far as the Muslim world is concerned, your actions only confirm their view of you as a dhimmi nation, fit only to be ruled over by, and subdued under, Islam.

Thus, with the creation of that new Arab state, the Muslims will have tightened the noose around Israel's then scrawny throat at Netanya, between Haifa and Tel Aviv. And, in their openly proclaimed and publicly published declaration of intent, this Muslim world spells out that this Palestinian state will be the most effective weapon and channel the Arabs have ever had to ensure the destruction of Israel.

If you, Jewish people, are so determined to race towards the precipice, ignoring, belittling, even shouting down the warning cries from those few who see the peril and -- with all the history of Jewish-Gentile relations to fuel our fears -- care enough to plead with you to halt this headlong dash towards your destruction, there is very little that we can do but cry out to your God to intervene as drastically as He may need to, to open your eyes and so save you.
Beauty Not in the Eye of the Beholder?

This maxim is a popular one, embraced by most well-to-do people who just want to live and let live. But, I have a problem with it, so I'm going to pick it apart until I can express what that problem is to the best of my ability.

Firstly, we have to understand that the underlying message of this quip is that there can be no label on beauty; nobody can say or decide for others what is beautiful and what is not. For the most part, this is true, because clearly the wide variety of human beings in this planet have different notions of what beauty is, in various countries and even within one country, heck, within families, within one individual!

But that's besides the point. Despite all of the variation within humanity as to the concept of beauty, we find that we are amazingly similar in many respects, perhaps more than the lover of the philosophy that is questioned in the title of this post would like to concede.

Take for example that the overwhelming majority of humanity finds beauty in somebody that loves them. Humans have a deep-seated need, expressed as a powerful desire, to connect with someone and to enjoin their lives together. Now, you can say that some people do not have this need, or seem not to have it, but nevertheless they still engage in forming relationships, usually relationships that last. You can love your parents, your family, your friends, etc, but there is a certain type of love that is only reserved for one type of person, the person who will know you more accurately than any other person in your life, and that person is your spouse; your wife or husband. Putting aside the many social problems that are leading marriage to become a more and more obsolete institution, in this country at least but in others as well, this deeply grounded human urge to connect in such a manner with one individual for the rest of their life, day in and day out, is hard to condition out of us.

This post is not particularly about marriage, but rather, I'm trying to show that beauty is not so much a relative concept as our modernized society tends to portray that it is. Beauty is not just relative, but definitely has an absolute aspect to it.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Ephron ben Zohar -- Ephron son of Zohar

About three thousand years ago, a Hittite man sold a cave in Israel to man named Abraham, which Abraham wanted to own in order to bury his recently-passed wife, Sarah, the matriarch and model for behavior of the Jewish people. The name of the Hittite that sold the cave to Avraham is "Ephron ben Zohar," and he wanted to give it to him for free, but Avraham insisted on paying for it, so Ephron sold it to him for 400 silver shekels. The reason for his insistence on paying for it was so that the people living around him would not contest that it didn't pass into his hands fair and square; Avraham was a known man in his time and place, and he was also quite wealthy. I remember standing in Israel a few years ago in an area, in a Jewish area, in contrast to a "Palestinian area," overlooking the area containing the Cave of Machpela (the previously mentioned cave)and imagined what the Cave actually looked like. Tourists can visit the Cave today in the Palestinian-run area of Chevron (or Hevron).

The patriarch of the Jewish people, Abraham, is also revered as a patriarch by the Muslim people, who value his sincerity and belief in (the One) G-d just as much as Jews do. Palestinians, and perhaps Muslims in general, who emphasize the importance of having total access to sites holy to them (and that nobody else, unless submitting to Muslim rule), see the town of Chevron as a Muslim, but particularly as a Palestinian town. This in part, is due to the fact that the religion of Islam defines all of the patriarchs and matriarchs, and prophets, in the Tanakh ("Old Testament," or "Jewish Bible") as "Muslims." This definition makes partial sense only because the Arabic language defines the word "Muslim" as a "submitter," one that completely submits his or her life to G-d. This submission, or totally putting yourself under G-d's rule, is as well a revered character trait in Judaism as well; the only difference is that Jews are aware that submitting to G-d does not make one a Muslim, otherwise, all the great Jews that I know, rabbi's and their wives and good people in general, are Muslims.

It would be interesting to trace the ideological transition of the site of Machpela from a place of religious significance for Jews to being considered an extremist Jewish outpost in the area of the future Palestinian state. Without doing alot of research on this, or writing a doctorate, I will attempt to trace this transition in very general and brief terms.

Israel itself, during the rule of King Saul, David, and subsequent kings, went through several border changes. In the 7th century Before Common Era, the Assyrians (to the north) invaded the Southern Kingdom. During the 5th century Before Common Era, the Babylonians invaded, and let's just say that the "demographics" of Israel changed; many of the Jews went into exile in Babylon, which geographically, is modern-day Iraq. The monarchy split into the Northern and Southern monarchies and became ruled by different sets of Jewish kings. The North was called "Judah" and the South was called "Israel," respectively named so after the tribes of Israel residing within those areas. The period of the monarchies of Israel was the last time that the Jews had a measure of autonomy in their own land, which is Israel.

As a quick aside, in the cultural sense, why do Jews even believe that Israel is their land? Are there not Jews that live in other countries? The answer is "yes," there are. However, neither Christianity or Islam, for example, believe in a land of origin, and the land is not essentially tied into the focal point of the religion. In other words, both Christianity and Islam revere certain sites, Nazareth and Bethlehem and Mecca and Medina respectively, but Christians do not see Israel as their homeland, and Muslims do not see Saudi Arabia as such. This is related to the fact that both Christianity and Islam believe that the world should adopt those respective religions, which means that its concentration to one place goes against the precepts of those religions. With Judaism, however, the belief is not that all the world needs to accept Judaism, but only a belief in the One G-d, which has certain necessary doctrines, such as His Oneness, but can be adopted and adapted to individual peoples' in their own ways. The focal point of Judaism is the return to Jewish autonomy in their land, where the Temple can be built and Jews' religious duties can be fulfilled. Christianity's doctrines especially, and not Islam's, seem to be rooted in the very destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, which is why Christianity acts as an opposing force to the religion of Judaism, trying to negate nearly every central concept about it. It's as if, in Islam's mind, Christianity was the hammer that broke the covenant between the Jews and G-d, and Islam stepped into to takes its place.

Lots of things happened in the next 656 years or so (586 BCE - 70 CE, Roman invasion), and Israel fell under foreign rule once again. Again, lots of land-changing happened under Roman Christian rule as well, with several political forces attempting to gain and regain control of the land. During the 7th century of the Common Era (about 1,300 years ago), some 700 years later, Islam formed as a religion, gained power, and removed the Byzantines (who themselves replaced the Romans). By now, the land and its various sites took on significance for Christians as well, partially who took over sites that were previously Jewish. When the Muslims got there, they had the pleasure of taking over sites that were once Jewish and then became Christian, which in their own minds, these conquests completed the status of these areas and coverted them to Muslim sites. This had deep religious signficance for the Muslims because they viewed their religion as the completed form of both Judaism and Christianity. If we criticize the Iraq war for having ill designs, we are not free from criticizing Islam's political behaviors during that specific time. Sure, it was a long time ago, but history is a continuing continuum, and the fact that it was a long time ago does not detach us from those events. In other words, the very events themselves are locked in time, but their effects are not, and we feel them today; Iraq wasn't Muslim before the spread of Islam, and Jews lived in modern-day Iraq nearly 1,300 years before both Christianity and Islam existed. So if time is of the essence, as it is in Arab culture, or in other words, that time can bound people to a land, Babylon/Iraq is Jewish.

Just an aside; people who hold the anti-war opinion sometimes say that to attack Iraq is to attack the place where civilization began, but for some strange reason it seems that they attach "dawn of civilization" with Islam. One our problems as Americas is that we associate "exotic" with "ancient" and "ancient" with "truth," and while "ancient" and "truth" have a certain correlation, something's exotic status does not make it ancient, and therefore exotic things are not necessarily representative of truth. Just because Muslim culture is older than ours does not make it the dawn of civilization and it does not make it truth. Jewish culture, for one, is far older than Muslim culture (and the basis of it), yet many of the same people that oppose the war believe that Israel should make room for the Palestinians to create their own state; isn't this an example of an older culture having to make room for a newer culture? How is this consistent? It is morally and logically wrong to venerate the exotic and strange just because it is exotic and strange. If Iraq is the dawn of civilization, it's because Abraham, the first Jew, was born in the city of Ur, in Iraq, and he brought monotheism to the world, and monotheism is the dawn of civilization as far as the West is concerned.

In 1948 of the Common Era, Israel was established as a state in the Middle East, some 1,200 years after Muslims arrived on the scene. The Muslims are grounded in a strong tradition of revering their patriarchs and matriarchs, which they have in common with Jews, but as I stated before, they are also grounded in a strong tradition of defining Jewish history as Muslim history, and therefore, the religion of Judaism was essentially doesn't exist, indicating in the Muslim mentality that all lands "previously" belonging to Jews and Judaism were no longer Jewish. They declared that this was the very will of G-d Himself. I will add more later, but Israeli, and then Palestinian nationalism, is essentially how the Cave of Machpela became considered to be a Palestinian site that restricts Jews from visiting or living in. Basically, Machpela, in Chevron, is treated the same way that Muslims treat all areas under their rule in Muslim and Arab countries; outsiders are not really welcome.

The patronizing factoid here is that Islam, as a religious force, places a high importance on its religious sites and demands total freedom in having access to them; anything less is an affront and direct insult to their religious, social, and political sensibilities. This however, especially in the last century or so, and arguably at other times, is not granted to Jews (or Christians), primarily in respects to Palestinian nationalism. In the "Palestinian territories," where bastions of almost complete lack of political order makes room for terrorism that kills Israeli's, Palestinians and poisons everyone involved, where many religious Jewish sites are located, these sites are seen as Muslim sites. This is made possible because the Muslim religion claims a monopoly on Biblical Jewish history, defining every figure in the Jewish narrative as "Muslim" and therefore allowing them to define Jewish holy sites as Muslim holy sites. For this reason, the Cave of Machpela, where Abraham, the first Jew, buried his wife Sarah and then was buried himself by his sons Isaac and Ishmael, is considered a Muslim holy site. Nazareth and Bethlehem, aside from being Jewish sites, are also Christian, but since Jesus was supposedly a Muslim, those sites are considered Muslim and are part of the Umma, which is the worldwide Muslim population.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

G-d and Evolution

When most people, at least in America, think about the G-d and evolution debate, if that's what you wanna call it, their mind automatically conjures up this image of a particular religious institution, in America's case, the (Catholic) Church going up against the scientific theories of the theory of evolution. And just like two pit bulls going at each other in a cage, people like to sit back and watch the fight, every once in a while throwing in a wager or a shout. The truth is, however, because it doesn't just involve the Church versus the institution of science. The Church vs. Evolution match doesn't really explain what's going on here, but in reality, humanity is at another one of those junctures in civilization, and the divergent paths are represented by theism (belief in G-d) and atheism.

The November 28th, 2005 issue of Newsweek featured an interesting article about Darwin and "his private views on science and G-d;" it turns out that before delving into the science of biology on his famous trip to the Galapagos Islands, Darwin "planned to enter the ministry."

In this post, I just wanted to point out some interesting things and to share my thoughts on them. The first thing I want to point out is that Darwin, who to some people serves as a guru of sorts, was not the ardent atheist that some point out him out to be. In fact, he went on his expeditions with a Bible at his side, and according to the article, "His own life exemplifies the painful journey from moral certainty to existential doubt that is the defining experience of modernity." The point that I'm trying to make is that the people that see Darwin as an ideologue and enemy of religion miss the fact that his works and research were in large part the works of a man who transitioned from belief in G-d to disbelief, and not that he received some sort of atheistic revelation upon his birth that opened his eyes to the truth. In a similar way, Karl Marx is revered by his modern-day "disciples" as being the sworn enemy of classist power conflict and capitalism, but at the same time ignore that his ideologies were shaped by his being a Jew in Europe, subject to mistreatment and sporadic poverty, and as well as being influenced by the very ideals of Judaism, which desire to see a world where the poor are taken care of by society. Those two are a poignant combination in the creation of Marx's ideology, and it is incredibly ironic that those who claim to know him most have no idea as to his origins or context, and interestingly enough, as a side note, dislike Jews. We must see historical figures in context.

"To a society accustomed to searching for the truth in the pages of the Bible, Darwin introduced the notion of evolution: that the lineages of living things change, diverge and go extinct over time, rather than appear suddenly in immutable form, as Genesis would have it," the article summarizes. Yet Darwin himself is quoted as saying, "One might really fancy that from an original paucity of birds in this archipelago, one species had been taken and modified for different ends." Here Darwin is giving plausibility to the notion that the abundance of slightly varied species that exist in our world today might have come from "one species" of bird, meaning that birds as such were created and from them came a widely varied form of birds. When referring to the different species of tortoises found on the Galapagos Archipelago, which would indicate that their differences could be explained by their adaptations to the varied environments, the article poses the question, "Did G-d, the supreme intelligence, deign to design distinctive shell patterns for the tortoises of each island?" The answer would be a resounding "yes."

And of course, we can't really get past the notion that although Darwin was eventually dissuaded from belief in G-d, that evolution itself posits the existence of a force of creation, be it morally neutral and disinterested. Could it be that Darwin's theory of evolution was a part and parcel of the struggle of a formerly religious man finding himself with a belief in G-d, yet unable to get a tight grasp on why suffering is so prevalent in this world? Could it be that the theory of evolution, as Darwin explains it, is the "disinterested G-d?" The article says, "To a world taught to see the hand of G-d in every part of Nature, Darwin suggested a different creative force altogether."

"William Howarth, an environmental historian who teaches a course at Princeton called 'Darwin in Our Time,' dates Darwin's doubts about Christianity to his encounters with slave-owning Christians - some of them no doubt citing Scripture as justification - which deeply offended Darwin, an ardent abolitionist." I would add, on my own, that not only would he have been offended as an "ardent abolitionist," but very likely due to his belief in that Scripture, much like a Muslim who ardently opposes the suicide bomber's claim that the Q'uran allows the killing of political opponents.

For instance, "Darwin was troubled by theodicy, the problem of evil; how could a benevolent and omnipotent G-d permit so much suffering in the world h(H)e created?" The truth is that many believers are troubled by the same issue. We are free beings, and if a morally neutral, yet creative, force makes more sense to us in a world of pain, suffering, and strife than a G-d who knows and cares, then we are free to invent one. While not undermining Darwin's pain, much of which was caused by his ten-year old daughter, Annie, who died from tuberculosis in 1851, we can create that god.

Interestingly, "In mainstream Christian seminaries the dominant view according to Holmes Rolston III, a philosopher at Colorado State University and author of 'Genes, Genesis, and G-d,' is that the Biblical creation story is a poetic version of the scientific account, with vegetation and creatures of the sea and land emerging in the same basic order. In this interpretation, G-d gives h(H)is creation a degree of autonomy to develop on its own." Rolston points to Genesis 1:11, where G-d, after creating the heavens and the Earth, says, 'Let the Earth put forth vegetation..." "[But] the account describes a G-d who opens up possibilities in which creatures are generated in an Earth that has these rich capacities."

Furthermore, the writer of the article, Jerry Adler, submits the opinion that human perception of G-d could be a by-product related to a certain point in the development
of the human brain, which biologically speaking, was only made possible at that certain point. If we think about this a bit further, we can come to the empirical standpoint that simpler organisms, such as bacteria, do not have a concept of self, and can say that as an organism becomes more developed and intricate, it eventually forms this perception of self. Once that occurs, the creature can then try to focus on this state of existence, which then allows it to focus on its relationship with beings external to it, those who surround it. Finally, it is able to perceive a pervasive existence that lingers externally to both it and to the other beings; this is G-d.

We know that before Judaism became a religion, people practiced various forms of polytheism. The Talmud (Jewish Oral Law) derives that before this, however, that these people actually perceived and believed in one Being that was defined by complete oneness, but eventually "broke It down" into several. For example, the first generation believed that the One existed, the second believed that they could honor It by honoring its creations, and the third believed that they could cease to direct honor towards It, and began to worship Its creations. Thinking about this, we can conclude that this is precisely the way in which the belief in several deities began; each deity marked and represented a variant force of nature, be it fire, fertility, or death. The traditionally-used analogy is that of light, which appears to the human eye as white light, and when broken by water, for example, appears a wide array of colors, which are pleasing to the eye. Continuing the analogy, each varying color then, is a deity, and the white light, of course, is G-d. This is why deities are so "colorful" and animated, interesting, and alluring; they are more pleasing to the eye than a mere white. Their downfall, however, is that they are a mere representation of the truth, a figment.

The point is that, once humanity was able to perceive this externality, it understood its oneness, but eventually, due to the overwhelming varying nature of nature itself, made the honest mistake of believing that there was an abundance of spiritual existences (or deities) paralleling the abundant existences of nature. Judaism, to compare and contrast, believes that all of the Earth's elements are not separate entities, but invisibly connected, ultimately indicating the oneness of spiritual existence; the One G-d. All, then, is a by-product of this Oneness; Heaven and Earth, and all humanity. Some of these people even believed that there was a father or mother deity whom created all the rest, which is consistent with the belief of the perception of One. According to this view, our biological development itself led to our belief in G-d, and if the theory of evolution that a species survives or dies out according to the usefulness or uselessness of characteristics that it possesses is correct, then the human ablility to perceive G-d is a sign of our evolved state.

*** There is an excellent book about this very topic written by a Jew named "Gerard Schroeder," and it is titled "The Science of G-d." Don't take my word for it, but it is amazing and incredibly rich in acclaimed scientific discoveries and traditional Jewish texts, such as Genesis and the Sage, Nachman(ides), or the "Ramban."

Thursday, November 17, 2005

"Yes" to Noah, "No" to Jesus... --

Today I visted my old place of work to buy some food to put into my digestive tract. There I ran into my old manager, a devout Christian, while she was loading some ice cream into the fridge in the aisle nearest the wall in the back. I said "howdy" she said "hi." As usual, the conversation led to religion, I'm not exactly sure how this time. She told me that the Gentiles were grafted into the Covenant and that it wasn't just us anymore. If I wasn't polite, and if she would listen, I would have said that the Gentiles weren't grafted into the Covenant, but rather that they smacked the living daylights out of us with the backside of a shovel and yanked it from us, hehe! All they had to do was ask, I mean, maybe we would have said, "yes." Afterall, the Jews spoke about G-d for thousands of years sending "golden invitations" before some Gentiles finally decided to get themselves some G-d. And seriously, there's enough of Him to go around!

The truth is that Christians don't need Jesus anymore than they need Christina Aguilera; who they really need is Noah.

If you don't already know, long before the television show "Survivor," G-d chose Noah and his family to be the only survivors on Earth after the flood; and from them, the entire world was repopulated. This was a Covenant that G-d established with Noah and his family, who guess what, are the forefathers and foremothers of every single nation in the world. This includes, guess who, Jews and Gentiles alike.

Now Noah, the modest and righteous fellow that he was, despite some short-comings, had three pretty good sons; Shem, Ham, and Yafet. As it turns out, from Shem descended Abraham, with whom G-d also made a Covenant. But before this Covenant was made, G-d made a Covenant with every single nation of the world and with every single individual from those nations; only later was the Covenant with honest Abe made. Putting this into context, Jesus is also a descendant of Abraham, and therefore of Shem, making himself a recipient of that Covenant that G-d made with the Jews at Mt. Sinai. Christians like to say that they were grafted into the Covenant of the Jews through Jesus (I think that Paul coined this notion, not even Jesus), but in reality, they were "grafted" into the Covenant before it was even made with the Jews; chew on that one! If we wanted to, we might even be able to say that it was the Jews who were grafted onto the original covenant that G-d made with Noah; chew on that one a bit too! Maybe we are the branch and the Gentiles are the trunk? Hmmm, keep chewing and you'll eventually blow a bubble. Wait, does that actually make sense? Yes, it does.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Sent to me by my Cousin Adam, Hahaha... --
Contact author at

Left-wing Judeo-Christians, also known more commonly as messianic-Jews, or recently dubbed, Yids for Yashka, have taken monumental steps in their authentic piety. Straight from the heart of the bible-belt, in the capital of Oklahoma, a group of kippah donning, mezuzah kissing, Hebrew hollering Christians have written a new book of dietary laws. Of their interesting revelations, they argue that if a kosher animal such as a cow, could be made unkosher when butchered or later in the process of elaboration, that an unkosher animal, such as a pig, could surely be made kosher.

The logic behind this seemingly superficial argument lies at the depths of another current scientific debate; genetically modified organisms. Scientists in the Netherlands, some of which participated in the creation of the infamous Dolly, have stated that they could create a swine that indeed "Chews its Cud."

These Midwest fanatics, who are outcasts of both Judaism and Christianity, interpret passages from the Torah (The Old Testament), in a way that would not prohibit the ingestion of this hybrid marvel of modern science, due to its possession of split hooves and its knack for cud grubbing.

Despite what sounds like a happy ending for Hasidim who can now chow down on bacon-covered latkes this year at Hanukkah, one small obstacle has smashed all their hopes for the time being. Although this wacky sect of Christians, acting like Jews, spend countless hours learning Hebrew, studying Halacha (Jewish law), and observing daily rituals, they have failed to produce a qualified kosher butcher.

The following ad was sent to Chabad headquarters in Brooklyn, NY: Observant Jews in Oklahoma City searching for shochet. (yada yada yada)
Contact Information: Yehuda Christiansen
Spiritual Leader of Meshichistic community

Needless to say, no self-respecting Rabbi would preform the bloody sin of slaughtering a pig, leaving the Yids for Yashka swineless and mindless. As a plea to all the readers out there: If you or anyone you know is a certified Shochet, either by a recognized Jewish institution or by the Vatican, please help these hungry souls find some real pork lovin'.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Abuse of Nature

Oh marijuana, 'tis so stupid, sayeth it with me.

I was watching the news the other day and saw that a guy and his father here in Tucson were busted for basically turning their house in a marijuana factory. Seriously, they showed a diagram from a bird's eye view of the house and it was like watching a Cheech and Chong movie and I began to chuckle as I watched it.

As I saw the picture of the man and his father on the screen, I realized that marijuana, like many other chemical substances, appeals to the basest primal urge in man, to alter his state of consciousness through chemical intervention.
The appeal is broad, obvious, and universal; there is a strong human desire to escape this world, even if just for a short while -- enter marijuana. When I saw their pictures on the screen, I got an image in my mind of two erratic homo-erecti jumping around and screaming while under the influence of a chemical that they extracted from a plant, which could have been used for a series of other things, or perhaps was not intended to be used for anything. The only is that these two monkeys were human beings; let THEM serve as a testament to our true nature as animals, I won't take any part in it. Does it occur to anyone that the influence that a drug has on the mind is a result of the nervous systems losing control, freaking out, and trying to get a grasp on what just happened? If you introduced an electrical equivalent of a drug into a computer, it would shut down temporarily; hardly an indication of enhancement.

The point is this; pot, for some odd reason, has become a pillar of the pseudo-free- thinkers association, the people that advocate for marijuana.

I just don't get it, what can be so positive about marijuana that it needs a fan base?

Some people say that marijuana is good for cataracts, but unless you are eighthy years old and are living the last years of your life, doctors won't be rolling prescription doobies (spelling?) for you while listening to Bob Marley. So scratch that one.

Then there's the brilliant argument that since the Declaration of Independence was written on hemp, somehow smoking marijuana is an inherent part of being a free American. There is no connection. News to you chaps, had the framers of the Constitution been alive today, they probably would have differed with you on many points considering marijuana. I don't care what Phish says, you can't get high smoking hemp. Scratch that one.

Peter Tosh in "Legalize It" mentions that birds eat it. I guess this somehow implies that smoking marijuana is natural; the only problem is that birds eat it, they eat it as part of their diet to survive. If you were stuck on an island that only had marijuana plants, then yes, I would advocate eating it. Isn't it funny, you'd get the munchies and what would you eat? MORE MARIJUANA! Oh, that Peter Tosh has made a pot-head out of me! Scratch that one.

He also mentions that doctors and lawyers smoke it. I recall my mom asking me when I was younger if all my friends jumped off a cliff, would I? Listen to Mom, unless she tells you smoke pot. Scratch that one (thanks Mom).

It also reminds me of the ethics professor that was caught having an affair with a student. When asked how he could do such a thing, being an ethics professor, he responded, "I only teach it, I don't need to practice it." This is just a paraphrase. Some doctors and lawyers also cheat on their wives or husbands or get busted for child-porn, so we should do that too? Scratch that one, I don't care what doctors or lawyers do, unless they provide me with needed organs or defend my a55.

Then you have the Bob Marley argument, which comes with the reggae culture. In reality, the reggae culture is pretty socially conscious, but the Marley afficionados who get all kinds of high on the ganja while relaxing to "Rastaman Vibration" can't be socially conscious because they aren't even conscious half the time! I myself am a real Marley fan, especially in high school, but was never into the pot. Try getting into what Bob Marley was saying without filling your lungs with cannabis particles. Do you get all wigged out on heroin because the lead-singer of Stone Temple Pilots did?

The argument that makes alot of sense, and I am shocked by this one because it actaully relates to justice, is that in the early 1900's, the American government outlawed marijuana on the basis that it was associated as being a Mexican trade. This led to a culture of "marijuana demonization," which was really racially motivated, and led to movies such as "Reefer Madness" and other media explaining the overt dangers of the drug. Clearly, it was wrong on the count of racism, but those that bring it up think that somehow their desire for social consciousness for Mexican-Americans in the early 1900's will justify their desire to get high. If you wanna get high, get high, just admit that it makes you feel good, and don't beat around the bush (or the plant). How many Mexican-Americans oppose the usage of marijuana and its legalization?

And hey, I'm an Orthodox Jew, so I can't leave out the G-d argument. This is actually an argument against it. A human can exist in a state closer to G-d by keeping their mind pure. In reality, mind-altering drugs are just one form of obstruction, or "klippah," which means "shell." Of course, it's not limited to drugs; some other obstructions are anger and violence, over-indulgence, misuse of sexual intimacy, disorder, and any form of addiction.

The spiritual argument FOR marijuana, and yes, there is one, is quite unfounded; it states that the Cohanim (the Priestly caste of the Levites) burned marijuana in the Holy of Holies to increase their spiritual communion with G-d. This however, is a bizarre notion because the Torah, with its separation between pure and impure things, is the source of this truth. Furthermore, the Talmud identifies the types of spices that were burned during this ceremony, which were present for a good smell (one of them was honey). So scratch that one.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Tohu va'Vohu

This blog is dedicated to a comical depiction of the silly forms of manipulation that are a part of the realm of conversion tactics.

OK, the first ones that I need to talk about are about those missionaries and "Jews for Jesus" that try to get Jews to come over to the "light side." In the past couple of years, maybe even the last decade, Christian missionaries have adopted Jewish terminology, some religious, some cultural, to pull Jews over into the vortex of Christianity, like sheep to the water. However, it turns out like sheep to the slaughter, but in the spiritual sense - because the water is Torah.

One of the main tactics is to try to make alienated Jews, and those with limited Jewish educational backgrounds, feel comfortable in the realm of Christianity by using Jewish and Hebrew words, such as “Brit Chadasha,” (New Covenant) and the Hebrew versions of the names of the Gospels; “Matityahu” for "Matthew" and “Yochanan” for "John," for example, and my personal favorite, “Yeshua” for “Jesus.” I wonder when they will start using my inventions; “Aveirah Rishonah” (Original Sin), “Nolad be'Teshuva” (Born Again), the "Lo-Meshiach" (anti-Christ) and “Esh Tamid” (Eternal Hell).

One that I find particularly funny is the use of “Yiddishisms,” Judaic slang usually associated with Hebraic culture, such as the notorious bagels and lox, which will accompany one well in a place where the soul will have an eternal fire by which to bake them; time to stock up on kosher marshmallows. The Israelites that eat Islamic foods are safe from these missionaries because they don't understand Yiddishisms. Therefore, I propose that a group of Christian Arabs disband into the Levant armed with Britot Chadashot in Judeo-Arabic and Judeo-Arabicisms, the Islamic version of Yiddishisms.

And who says that only those who believe in the Triune god be limited to missionari'ism? After the "New Israelites" put down the cross and carried the sword, they eventually put down the sword and picked up the pen, and I believe that our Mohammedan friends are ripe for the picking as well.

For example, I want to introduce some new terms into the conversion lexicon. For example, Muslims can try to convince Christians as to the truth of Islam by presenting themselves as “Christians for Muhammad,” or “Infidels for Islam,” which can apply to Jews, Sabians, polytheists, and other kuffar, or infidels. Christians can use some of these ideas for new terms, such as “Kuffar for Christ,” a Christian counter-missionary group targeting Muslim missionaries to see the truth of Christian missionary work, and in turn, counter-counter missionary Muslim groups operating under the name “Kuffar for Christ, the Muslim,” which will try to get Muslims that were originally trying to get converts, became Christian missionaries, and to re-accept the yoke of Islam. Their work can be found in the pamphlet, “Jesus, the Hebrew Christian Israelite Jew Messiah who believed in the Final Prophet, Muhammad,” and entails, with fiery conviction as to the truth of Islam, their journeys.

I must say that my personally favorite group is "Goyim for G-d," ironically started by a Noachide named Noach in Newport Beach, California.

There are also the Eastern movements, with groups such as "Hindu's for Hashem," and "Buddhists for 'Baruch Ata'."

I personally have stopped calling myself an Orthodox Jew and have joined the Jewish missionary group that I consider to be the term that defines me the best, “Muslimun ila Musa,” (Muslims for Moses) which was started by Yussuf al-Qutb, the Chassidic Jew that converted to Islam, denounced Israel, supported Chamas, and then one day saw a Passover Seder held by “Jews for Jesus” and was inspired by the truth of Judaism, causing him to return to a Torah-observant lifestyle.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

"Go and Show the Zionists..." --


Iranian state television has broadcast a cartoon that glorifies suicide bombings against Israelis, depicting a young boy blowing himself up after being told, "go and show the Zionists how brave and heroic are the children of Palestine," the London-based Telegraph reported.

According to the report, the cartoon, one of a series shown by the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting on "Jerusalem Day" nine days ago, presents the actions of a boy who commits suicide to strike back against Israelis as a noble example for children to follow.

The Telegraph says the cartoon appears to be professionally produced and more graphic than previous Iranian propaganda aimed at children, adding that the cartoon appears to be part of a campaign led by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to elevate the issue of Israel's annihilation.

At the start of the 10-minute animated film, translated into English by the Middle East Media Research Institute (Memri), Abd al-Rahman, a Palestinian youth, watches as Israeli soldiers murder his family.

They are depicted laughing as they strike his mother in the face with a rifle and then shoot his father, whose blood splashes the oranges on the trees he cultivated.

Abd consoles his sister and weeps, declaring: "Oh God, I must take revenge upon these bloodthirsty aggressors, who murdered my father, mother and brother." His cousin Karim introduces him to a neighbor's son, Jassem, who is a member of a "resistance group."

Jassem instructs the boys to take part in an attack against Israeli
soldiers, applauding their "deep faith" and telling them that they "may become martyrs".

Abd's aunt bids the boys a tearful farewell. "God willing, you'll be
successful," she says. "Go, my children. Go and show the Zionists how brave and heroic are the children of Palestine."

As he lies in wait, Abd ties a string of grenades around his waist.
The convoy approaches and the cartoon shows satanic-faced Israeli soldiers sitting in a lorry around an ammunition box decorated with a Star of David.

Abd shouts, "I place my trust in God. Allah Akbar," pulls the
grenade pins and leaps onto the lorry. When the smoke clears, the
bodies of Abd, the Israeli troops and the attackers are strewn
around the road.

A young Palestinian boy then walks over to Abd's body, takes his
bloodstained keffiyeh head-dress, drapes it over his own shoulders
and walks off into the sunset.

'Gory stuff'

The Telegraph quoted Dan Shaham, a spokesman for the Israeli embassy
in London, as saying "the phenomenon of inciting children to commit suicide attacks is revolting. It corrupts young minds and makes sure conflict continues. President Ahmadinejad is not only dangerous in the here-and-now but the Iranian extremist ideology is affecting future generations. Something needs to be done today."

Ali Ansari, an Iranian analyst at St Andrew's University, told the
Telegraph that the cartoon was "gory stuff" and different from previous anti-Israeli propaganda.

"It's interesting they've gone to these lengths to develop a cartoon like this that is obviously directed towards kids.

"Anti-Zionism is one of the ideological pillars of the Islamic
republic. But Ahmadinejad's comments went beyond the standard ideological diet, because by implication they applauded suicide bombers and condemned anyone who makes peace with Israel."

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Wonders of Tzitzit

If you're going to read this, don't expect anything from on par with Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan's short essay on tzitzit, although I do recommend that you read anything by him, specifically his anthologies. Instead, I intend to list the many wonders of tzitzit and why it is absolutely magnificient to wear them.

1) You can always bust out in an impression of Tevya in Fiddler on the Roof, and if your impression is less than good, at least you are wearing tzitzit.

2) They look good.

3) My friend Danny said that I look like the reincarnation of Matisyahu, which is funny because he's alive.

4) They remind you of your obligation to G-d.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Fallacies --

Let’s talk about fallacies, a word that I learned in a logic class that I took a while back. The class was very good, we learned how to think. Fallacies are statements that are logically sound but not necessarily true. For example, I can say that “The 6-Day War is the cause of Palestinian suffering.” If one were to hear this statement and then be shown pictures of places where Palestinians live, they might come to the conclusion that this is true without a doubt. This statement is a good example of a fallacy because it can be shown that Palestinian suffering occurred due to the 6-Day War, i.e., the War occurred and then suffering occurred. However, it can also be shown that Jordan, Egypt, and Syria started the War, and when they did, they did not have the fate of the Palestinians in mind and therefore they are also implicated in the suffering of the Palestinians. In other words, the 6-Day War led to Palestinian suffering, but the Arab attack on Israel led to the 6-Day War. The original statement cannot be said to be false, but it can be said to be omitting an important piece of information, which is just one type of fallacy out of many.

The fallacies that I want to discuss in this post are those that I have noticed in my life pertaining to Christian attitudes towards Judaism. I wouldn’t say much about them if it wasn’t for the fact that many of these attitudes completely contradict what I know to be true about Judaism through my experience living as one. As we can see from the original example, fallacies can be very damaging because they shape perceptions into the desired form, and much of the time, people whose perceptions are already (mis)shaped advance those same fallacies. Many of them are made and advanced not because they are necessarily true, but because many of them, if they were true, would necessitate and justify Christianity, and since Christianity stands on many of the fallacies that it has produced about Judaism, it must treat them as the G-d – given truth.

Before I go on, it must be said that one type of fallacy is stating a statement as if it were purely true and not stopping to consider or attempt to demonstrate if that statement truly is true. For example, I said that “Christianity stands on many of the fallacies that it has produced about Judaism,” which is a fallacy itself. Of course, this doesn’t mean that it’s not true. It’s a fallacy because I’m assuming that those specific pillars of Christianity are misrepresentative of Judaism, but it might be that some of them are accurate depictions. To show that it’s not a fallacy, I’ll have to show that those statements are not entirely true.

My friend Arielle has a text book for one of her religion classes, in which I found several fallacies about Judaism. The title of the book, authored by Gustavo Gutierrez, is “On Job; G-d – talk and the Suffering of the Innocent.” The introduction, to put it kindly, is chock full of fallacies; none new, but persistent. In the introduction, with the subtitle “Revelation and Theological Method,” Gutierrez writes, “The point I have just made leads me to discuss two connections as I begin these pages on talk about G-d. 1) The first is the relationship between revelation and gratuitousness. Christ reveals that the Father who sent him on a universal mission of G-d is love.” This statement is saying two things. The word “gratuitousness” also means “grace,” which is the primary Divine characteristic that Christianity, accredited to their belief in Jesus’ teachings, attribute to G-d. The first thing, therefore, is that “revelation and gratuitousness” refers to Jesus’ revelation of
G-d’s grace, of course, which he revealed through himself. In a matter of speaking, it was G-d then that revealed grace. This is the way it can be viewed portraying the relationship of revelation and grace within the scope of Christianity.

The relationship that Gutierrez speaks about can also be as having another meaning, and that is that “revelation” refers to G-d’s revelation of His instruction, the Torah, in what Christian’s call “Old Testament,” and “gratuitousness” referring to His grace, takes the place of revelation; and this is the New Testament. The “relationship” that he refers to, and not so very subtly, is of replacement, also known as “supersessionism,” in which one religion replaces another. “The revelation assigns a privileged place to the simple and the despised, as Jesus made clear; ‘I thank thee, Father, L-rd of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will’ (Matt. 11:25-26).” (Gutierrez) The fallacy exists due to the belief that G-d possesses unconditional love for all humanity, which Christianity goes to great lengths to prove by contrasting Judaism’s supposed belief that G-d only loves and cares about the Jews. Therefore, if G-d is a kind and unconditionally loving G-d and chooses all, then Gutierrez’s statement that “The revelation assigns a privileged place to the simple and the despised, as Jesus made clear…” goes against the very nature that Christians try to emphasize about Christianity, the teaching that they attribute to Jesus himself, which was G-d’s “gracious will.”