Yesterday I met this smug fuck from Nigeria. He is studying law in some fancy NY university. The conversation starts off innocently enough, he is studying law etc. We start talking about the instant opportunities in the current economic makeup, its more about whom you know than what you know.. blah blah. Then he mentions that he is from Nigeria, his uncle is a supreme court justice there (a position for life, and a very powerful one in African countries), his other relatives are all cabinet members.. the works. He says that he worked a bit at the U.N. just to meet people and so forth. Then he mentions his various business ventures, mostly dumb shit that shouldve been worthless to anyone, but this fucker was making hand over fist because of his (connections). i.e. that the Nigerian government was paying for shit product just because this dimwit was their bastard nephew, and this guy had no compunctions about telling this to a stranger he just met in NYC. I wanted to hop on the next flight to London, whip up some good ol' colonialist out of their graves, and sail straight on Lagos, and teach this pretentious savage about "opportunities" and "connections". Ive been to Africa, have relatives who worked with the Angolan government.. so I'm not surprised. but why should I have to meet this guy here.. so he could be making his connections...???????
We've come beyond the threshold of absurdity even for Charedi shenanigans. It seems that it has become Assuer to own any stocks, lest they be involved in Chillul Shabbos or other Halacha compromising activities. http://www.vosizneias.com/54954/2010/05/06/tel-aviv-badatz-new-ruling-forbids-charedim-to-invest-in-any-stocks But wait! This is not all. The Gedoilim always have a Refuah Kodem L'Makoh. So there are Hechsherim for ETFs and bonds etc. And so the contest is on! Who can correctly predict the next thing to be Assur. The winner gets to monopolize the Hechsher ensuing from that Issur.
Rabboisai! I've been idle for a long time, both here and blogging in general, but I've gotten the itch to scribble a little again, so let's see how far it goes...... My life has been sort of in flux lately.... Nisht Ahin Un Nisht Aher..... Still wishing I was ignorantly Frum...... but since when do fantastical dreams of this sort come true?
Anyway, what has prompted me to write, is that a friend of mine has kept on mentioning the infamous "Exodus Decoded". When someone else mentioned it to me, I decided to do some Chazara, and watch it again. I figured to do it B'Kibuth Chaveirim, so if you have the time to watch it, please do so. If you don't but have some thoughts on it, please leave your comments, whatever they may be. They're greatly appreciated. I'm going to put up some links here, and once I've done some of my own work, I hope to post soon with my conclusions.
A brief introduction to those who may not have heard or watched the "Exodus Decoded" before. The Exodues Decoded is a film created by a Jewish Canadian filmmaker by the name Simcha Jacobivici. It was aired on the History channel in 2006. Jacobivici's two main theses are: equating the Hyksos (Semitic invaders who ruled parts of Egypt for a few centuries, then were eventually expelled by the Pharaohs of the New Kingdom) with the Israelites of the Bible; and showing that a sequence of events initiated by the explosion of the Santorini volcano could account for the Ten Plagues. I do not hold out high hopes, as I remember watching it and researching Jacobivici's claims, and not one stood up to scrutiny. I'm not even alluding to the fantastic sequence of events which he purports to have occurred as a result of the Santorini volcano. Even the more modest claims about equating the Hyksos with the Hebrews, and interpreting some paintings and hieroglyphics as supporting a presence of what can be recognized as Israelites/Hebrews in Egypt don't hold water. But we shall try once more. Here is a link to the video "Exodus Decoded" http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-528811169418537170#
This is a link to a very thorough discussion, including posts by Jacobivici himself. I found this to be the best single site on the topic. Though haven't read it since researching this a year ago http://www.heardworld.com/higgaion/?page_id=119
I haven't even watched the video this second time around, so I will get to work on this, and will try to come up with any relevant information. Then I hope to discuss my impressions, especially if I am to come to any new conclusions.
I got this email from a woman by the name of Chana Etengoff, I actually think it's a very good idea, and although it may not have much effect on the insular Orthodox community, it's definitely an interesting sociological study. Ironically, I saw this first on Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein's blog before reading this email, I don't check this address much. Anyway here is a copy of the email I got from Ms. Etengoff:
I am writing to you in the hopes that you could perhaps assist me in my research of the Secular Jewish/Cultural Jewish population. I am currently a doctoral student at The CUNY Graduate Center and am in the process of researching the post high school developmental experience of the Jewish population (with the many subcategories) between the ages of 18-29. At the moment, I have had better luck recruiting the Modern Orthodox Jewish population and I am strongly committed to the idea of equal representation and unbiased reporting-and it would thus be a great help to me if you could perhaps circulate the below text to all whom you think it is relevant to.
Are you a Jew between the ages of 18-29? Would you like to take a couple of moments to discover more about yourself and your stage in life? Below is a link to an on-line research study survey which will present you with questions regarding your assessment of your values, beliefs, and current stage of life. All answers will be confidential and your identity can be anonymous if you so chose. It only takes 20-30 minutes to discover more about yourself, share your story, and contribute to psychological theory. Not bad, considering it can take years to write an auto-biography .
Listening to Eichah last night, I realized a simple thing, namely that of the first 4 chapters in which the Psukim are composed in alphabetical order, there is a discrepancy in the order used. Only the first chapter goes according to the order we're familiar with, chapters 2-4 have Peh before Ayin in all three chapters. Is this a mistake in transmission, or more likely, there were different orders used in different times? Has anyone noticed this, also any suggestions about literature on this topic. What disappointed me about this finding last night, was the following: I've read Eichah dozens of times already, and it took me to become an Apikores to realize something as simple as this? Were we really that blind? I know we were, but that blind! Another simple thing that came to my attention is that the meaning of the Posuk, רְאֵה יְהוָה וְהַבִּיטָה, לְמִי עוֹלַלְתָּ כֹּה: אִם-תֹּאכַלְנָה נָשִׁים פִּרְיָם עֹלְלֵי טִפֻּחִים, אִם-יֵהָרֵג בְּמִקְדַּשׁ אֲדֹנָי כֹּהֵן וְנָבִיא 'See, O LORD, and consider, to whom Thou hast done thus! Shall the women eat their fruit, the children that are dandled in the hands? Shall the priest and the prophet be slain in the sanctuary of the Lord? (Lamentations 2:20) has nothing to do with the Gemara's Pshat that says the latter half of the Psouk is a retort by God, referring to the slaying of Zecharyah by the Jews hundreds of years prior. This I kind of knew, but still the Drush which RSH"I brings down was always so vivid, I would automatically read it that way.
Nu, so what's the Mussar Haskel. Don't read TN"KH without Meforshim: you will become an Apikores. And conversely, the surest way to become an Apikores is to read the text of TN"KH by itself! But please boys and girls don't try this at home, it is dangerous.
I'm reading GershomScholem's autobiography, and the strongest impression that I got from it so far, was the intellectually stimulating environment he found himself in. The Apikorsus of all brands was there for the picking. There were groups, circles, clubs and organizations of all kinds based on this or that shared common belief. Today, there are a few of us here and there who have to go to great lengths to meet a like minded soul. When I read accounts of that time period, I feel like I'm in the wrong century. Granted, most of the intellectual fads of the time, were based on some sort of socialism, which is revolting to me, mostly due to it's naivete, and completely unfounded belief in humanity. Nonetheless, it was a time fertile for intellectual creativity, and Meshugaim like us, who cared or at least though they cared for the truth, were common enough to be a class for themselves, that can flourish as such. This bring me to my second point, the different manifestations of our Apikorsus. It seems like these guys had guts, something that I find lacking in many of us, myself including, to a degree. Certainly, much of this difference can be attributed to demographics. Most Jews at that time, especially in Eastern Europe, were religious, and that was the time when those that couldn't stay were leaving. It was a mass exodus, simply because it's time had come. In numbers there is power, and it seems like the established religious power holders, were on the defensive. We're now a century after this process, and the religious community has come back in a much smaller, compact and introverted form. It's also been setup (at least the ultra Orthodox) with the primary goal of keeping its members in the fold. This has created a very different dynamic, a sort of reversion to tribalism if I may use the term, which is very successful at keeping it's limited numbers in the fold. And still, I think there is something missing. Maybe it's living in America, the land of the cheeseburger and the SUV. I don't know, but why can't we be something more than just a couple of Meshugaim. We're definitely a product of the times, and times have changed, alas they've become more boring.