Friday, April 29, 2011


I have dubbed this Shabbos Parashas Kedoshim the "Lean Shabbos", because there was a dearth of reading material.

Over Pesach break, I have perused the Mishpacha, Ami, Binah, Zman, Hamodiah (Inyan) and Yated. I don't know how these publications keep finding new material each week with which to tantalize their readers.

The Pesach editions typically sport expanded coverage, many with additional inserts to tide one over the long Yom Tov. Also, I presume that part of the reason for the extra pages is to make up for the week after the holiday, when many publications do not publish due to the restrictions of working and preparing the new edition on Chol HaMoed.

So whereas Yated, Ami and Binah were not on newsstands this week, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Mishpacha (must have prepared in advance) and Hamodiah did publish. I imagine that this might be an outgrowth of the new competition in the Jewish Magazine industry.

Some of the articles that impressed me: An article in Inyan magazine about the history of Jewish newspaper publishing, Zman had an interesting article on the Three Mile Island nuclear fiasco, Mishpacha wrote about the rise and fall of MK Deri, Binah had a write-up on a person who spent 6 years in prison, and Ami had a really nice essay by R. Kamenetzky about Bedikas Chametz and baseball cards.

All in all, it was hundreds of pages of reading material which kept me out of the Beis Hamedrash for too long. Thank goodness for this LEAN Shabbos, where there was plenty of time to catch up on my LEArNing.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Emunah and Proofs

First we had the Orthoprax layman, then the Orthoprax Rabbi and now Ami has delivered to us the Orthoprax Posek. I remain unconvinced; It is possible that this fellow is pulling their leg or doesn't exist at all. There is also the possibility that someone is trying to create a "buzz" to sell more magazines.

Emunah is a very difficult topic. Faith is the very opposite of proof. If there would be a proof that Judaism is the one authentic religion, then why wouldn't it follow that everyone would be Jewish!

Elsewhere on the Jblogosphere the "proof" of the 4 species is being discussed. Some see this statement in Talmud Chulin 60B as proof of a divine authorship of the Torah:

אמר רב חנן בר רבא השסועה בריה בפני עצמה היא שיש לה שני גבין ושני שדראות וכי משה רבינו קניגי היה או בליסטרי היה מכאן תשובה לאומר אין תורה מן השמים

Yet if you analyze this statement, you might notice that it doesn't say that there is a proof. All it says is that there is a Teshuva; an answer. What the Talmud may be telling us here is this: Nobody has any proof that their religion is correct. Yet everyone needs, aside from the fact that they were born into it, an answer, a Teshuva, as to the logic of why they follow a particular religion. It needs to make sense.

As to whether this "proof" is actually referring to the Shesuah, the 4 single Simaned animals, or something else entirely, may be the topic of another post someday.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Man's Best Friends (Food and Dogs)

Competition in the Super Market for Kosher groceries has advanced to the next level. Full page glossy ads now adorn all the Jewish owned publications. Pesach time especially is a time for huge food purchases, especially nowadays when we can't go for eight days without our favorite foods.

Today's generation is not satisfied with borscht and potatoes, they must have imitation cereal and bagels to go with their Matzoh. And so I was Oleh LeRegel to one such store. Aside from the huge assortment of exotic Pesach foods, I was puzzled by their tasting tables that were available for their patrons. There was a cheese sampling table set up in one area, and a chulent tasting area in another.

I wondered whether there should have been a warning posted that one should not eat meat shortly after eating hard cheese, and certainly vice versa. Another thing that puzzled me was how eating in the store was altogether permissible. The Talmud in Kiddushin 40B states: ת"ר האוכל בשוק הרי זה דומה לכלב ויש אומרים פסול לעדות אמר רב אידי בר אבין הלכה כיש אומרים. It seems that after looking up the halachik sources, it does not seem to be such an issue...yet it is something to ask your LOR.

This reminded me of a famous story regarding a Mashgiach of yesteryear who encountered one of his students eating in the street. When the above saying was quoted verbatim to the student he countered that he was merely eating something small. The Mashgiach responded: Nu, so you are only a puppy!
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