Thursday, April 10, 2008

Soft News Musings

Controversy Over Yiddish Scholar

  • I have a guilty pleasure in seeing that my involvement in the Slifkin Torah-Science controversy does not make me the only person from my high school class who is involved in a controversy that outsiders consider somewhat silly. Meet the brilliant and entertaining Jeremy Dauber, a newly tenured professor of Yiddish at Columbia, who evidently is not "Yiddish enough" for some (Forward).

  • Hotels and Hedonism
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  • Interesting article about going to hotels for Pesach in history and the various reasons why it is more common today (Forward). On the same subject, Jonathan Rosenblum praisingly quotes a rabbi who said that spending Pesach in a hotel is the biggest threat facing Torah Judaism today (Mishpacha). R. Yaakov Horowitz responds in a letter to the editor (not yet available online) that this is not the greatest threat to Torah Judaism, and: "For each of the past eight years, I accepted invitations to join a total of four different Pesach hotel programs as a scholar-in-residence. Throughout that time, I never saw any of the exaggerated claims made by that Rav - guards at tea rooms, waiters almost trampled, on and on. And to imply that there is 'no ruchniyus' in a comfortable setting where mothers and grandmothers who toil all year long raising their children and volunteering for chesed activities can peacefully sit at the table and enjoy the Seder and their families is untrue and condescending."

  • Not Praying For Israel
  • Non-Orthodox Jews debate whether to recite the official prayer for the state of Israel (JTA). I don't object to tinkering with or omitting this recent prayer. It is definitely a political prayer, in that it represents a specific ideology within Religious Zionism.

  • Too Easy
  • A letter-writer to The Jewish Press writes regarding the ban on Lipa Schmeltzer's concerts "There are two possibilities: either our sages are absolutely mistaken and are idiots, or there is a real issue here that the leaders feel is important even though the laymen deem it insignificant, possibly because it is beyond their understanding entirely." (Jewish Press) In truth, there are positions in between those two that make a good deal of sense. Making it into a simple idiot/righteous decision is never a good idea.

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