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Creation of Katz [02 Dec 2007|10:24am]
And on the 2,106,042nd day of Creashun, teh Intarwebs created Lolcats:

funny pictures
moar funny pictures
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Independence Day: Who We Are [04 Jul 2007|07:55pm]
Food for thought, on this 231st Anniversary of our Nation’s declaration of Independence from the British Empire

* * *

First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

John Wayne, an ultra-conservative, on hearing of JFK’s election in 1960:
“I didn’t vote for him but he’s my president, and I hope he does a good job.”

George Will, conservative pundit, 11 January 2001:
     Some presidents' names become adjectives--Lincolnian gravity, Rooseveltian reassurance, Kennedyesque charisma, Nixonian deviousness, Reaganesque leadership. To understand the meaning of "Clintonian," parse this from a 1997 news conference: "I don't believe you can find any evidence of the fact that I have changed government policy solely because of a contribution."
     It is reasonable to believe he was a rapist 15 years before becoming president, and that as president he launched cruise missiles against Afghanistan (a nearly empty terrorist camp), Sudan (a pharmaceutical factory) and Iraq to distract attention from problems arising from the glandular dimension of his general indiscipline. As president he was fined $90,000 for contempt of court, and there is no reasonable doubt that he committed and suborned perjury, tampered with witnesses and otherwise obstructed justice. In the words of Richard A. Posner, chief judge of the 7th Circuit, Clinton's illegalities "were felonious, numerous and nontechnical" and "constituted a kind of guerrilla warfare against the third branch of the federal government, the federal court system."
     Clinton is not the worst president the republic has had, but he is the worst person ever to have been president.

Keith Olbermann, liberal pundit, 3 July 2007:
This President decides that he, and not the law, must prevail.
  • I accuse you, Mr. Bush, of lying this country into war.
  • I accuse you of fabricating in the minds of your own people, a false implied link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11.
  • I accuse you of firing the generals who told you that the plans for Iraq were disastrously insufficient.
  • I accuse you of causing in Iraq the needless deaths of 3,586 of our brothers and sons, and sisters and daughters, and friends and neighbors.
  • I accuse you of subverting the Constitution, not in some misguided but sincerely-motivated struggle to combat terrorists, but instead to stifle dissent.
  • I accuse you of fomenting fear among your own people, of creating the very terror you claim to have fought.
  • I accuse you of exploiting that unreasoning fear, the natural fear of your own people who just want to live their lives in peace, as a political tool to slander your critics and libel your opponents.
  • I accuse you of handing part of this republic over to a Vice President who is without conscience, and letting him run roughshod over it.
Aaron Sorkin, movie writer/director, 1995, in the mouth of his fictional President, Andrew Shepherd:
     America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can't just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the "land of the free".

Francis Scott Key, "The Star-Spangled Banner":
Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation,
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n-rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our Trust"

And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

(also posted at ThanBook)
2 comments|post comment

A Purim Sicha from the Shluffener Rebbe [01 Mar 2007|08:01pm]
I've posted a sicha of the Shluffener Rebbe for Purim at my blog. It explores the concepts of avodas hanofesh, its connection to the Megillah, and our place in the Universe.
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Bible Quiz [26 Feb 2007|05:11pm]
You know the Bible 98%!

Wow! You are awesome! You are a true Biblical scholar, not just a hearer but a personal reader! The books, the characters, the events, the verses - you know it all! You are fantastic!

Ultimate Bible Quiz
Create MySpace Quizzes

Amazing. I even beat zsero, and with the same handicap (having to guess at most of the NT stuff). Probably by one question.
1 comment|post comment

My Angel is a Centerfold [27 Jan 2007|10:24pm]
Or at least, an exhibit at the Jewish Museum.

For all you fans of my sweetest MamaDeb, see here.
5 comments|post comment

LiveBlogging the Rav: Toronto Conference Notes [03 Dec 2006|10:51pm]
So a rav, a reverend and a father walk into a bar...

Milsa debedichusa over.

From the Torah in Motion conference on "The Legacy of the Rav", see

The Rav and the Problem of Evil
The Complexity of the Rav - Panel
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Necessary clarification [14 Sep 2006|02:39pm]
[ mood | chastened ]

See on my blog again.

1 comment|post comment

Obligatory 9/11 post [11 Sep 2006|06:56pm]
[ mood | dang cold ]

See on my blogspot blog.

6 comments|post comment

Lonely Man of Faith [13 Jul 2006|05:38pm]
Steg described himself in another blog as a "tree-hugging MO". He demonstrated this as follows:

«hugs a tree»
«reads to it a bedtime story from Lonely Man of Faith»

which inspired the following:

The Lonely Bear of Faith

Little JoeBear was looking for his God.

He looked in the toybin,

he looked in the closet,

he looked under the bed,

he even looked in his tatty's bes medresh,

but he couldn't find his God.

But he had faith that there was God.

So he went out for a walk.

* * *

He met a boy, who looked strangely familiar.

Do I know you? JoeBear asked.

I don't know, said the boy. Call me Adam.

OK, said JoeBear. Call me JoeBear. Have you seen God? I'm looking for Him.

No, said Adam. One can't see Him. But I know he exists.

So what does he want of us? asked JoeBear

To do good, to rule His world and build it up.

Wow, that sounds like a lot of work.

Yes it is, said Adam.

Can I help? asked JoeBear

Yes, but you have to find your own way, said Adam. My way works for me. It will not work for you, but you must find my way for yourself.

That's confusing, said JoeBear.

Yes it is, said Adam, but that's the way it has always been.

I'll have to think about that, said JoeBear.

Adam said, While you think, I have things to do, so see you around.

OK, see you later, said JoeBear, and continued walking.

* * *

Along came another boy, who also looked strangely familiar.

You look familiar, said JoeBear. Haven't we met somewhere?

Could be, said the boy. Call me Adam.

OK, said JoeBear, but I just met another Adam, so maybe I could call you Adam II?

That's fine, said the boy. What brings you out on this long lonely road?

I'm looking for God, said JoeBear.

Well you won't find him here, said Adam II. I've been looking for him too, and haven't found him yet.

So what keeps you going? asked JoeBear.

My faith that He exists, responded Adam II.

Can we look together, so I don't look everywhere you haven't found him?

That won't help. The quest is a lonely one. Each of us has to look for himself.

That sounds sad, said JoeBear.

Yes it is, replied Adam II, but I rest assured that all of us are engaged on the same journey. I know He exists, because God promised us so.

That makes me feel better, said JoeBear.

I've got to keep looking, said Adam II, but good luck on your quest.

I've got to think about these Adams, said JoeBear, and sat down on a quartered log.

* * *

After a while, JoeBear's Tatty came along.

JoeBear! You're all right! I've been worried about you, gone so long.

Yes, Tatty, said JoeBear, and told him of the Adams he had met.

I don't know which is right, the Adam who is out to conquer the world, or the Adam who shares our quest for God.

Tatty thought about it a while, and said, They're both right.

How can that be? cried JoeBear.

Tatty gave JoeBear an example. A funeral passes a bes medresh. Do we keep learning, or do we follow the funeral? The answer is yes - both have good reasons.

JoeBear thought about that a while.

Finally, JoeBear said, so you mean we have to follow both Adams? That both are trying to do God's will, and God's will is for both?

Yes, JoeBear, that's it. But it is a lonely quest, where you have to find your own way through the tension.

Hmm, said JoeBear. Those Adams looked strangely familiar. I wonder if they were me?

Could be, said Tatty. Could be.

And they went home to conquer a kugel.

The End
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The Donkey's Mouth: Miracles and the Natural Order [09 Jul 2006|10:24am]
I gave a d'var torah at seudah shlishit this week in memory of my great-uncle Joseph Ezra Wisan, the man whose initials proclaimed his religion. Actually, he wasn't religious, but he was a professor of American history and international relations at City College of New York duirng its heyday as the Poor Man's Harvard, chairing the History department for 20 years.

You can find the d'var torah on my website.

It's about miracles as part of the natural order, and how various philosophical commentators resolved that apparent contradiction.
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Chabad, the Rebbe, and God [27 Apr 2006|11:51pm]
I just posted an extended piece on how I understand the late Lubavitcher rebbe's assertion that "a rebbe is the Essence and Existence of God enclothed in a body". See here
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Me-me-me meme [26 Apr 2006|04:15pm]
[ mood | creative ]

If I post little else, I can always post memes:

A little survey thingie. Take the time to cut, paste, and fill out, if you are so inclined.

1. Name I Know You By:
2. Age:
3. Single or Taken:
4. Favorite Movie:
5. Favorite Song:
6. Favorite Band:
7. (there is no question number seven)
8. Tattoos and/or Piercings:
9. What do you do for a living?
10. Do you have another website?

HERE COMES THE FUN ... ... ... or maybe not ...

1. Do we know each other outside of LJ?
2. What song reminds you of me?
3. Would you have my back in a fight?
4. What is your favorite memory of us?
5. Have we ever been drunk together?
6. Tell me one odd/interesting fact about you?
7. Do you think I'm a good person?
8. Would you drive across country with me?
9. Would you come over for no reason just to hang out?
10. Will you repost this so I can fill it out for you?

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15 th Anniversary dvar torah [28 Mar 2006|05:08pm]
We recently celebrated 15 years of marriage (march 10th or adar 24th) with a small dinner party at a local dairy restaurant (called Bermuda; we honeymooned in Bermuda, although we didn't realize the name coincidence until the dinner was almost over).

I gave a little dvar Torah linking 15 yrs of marriage with the 15 stages in Dayeinu, which connect (as the Vilna Gaon points out) with the 15 stages in the Seder (count Motzi Matza as two), and with the Beis Hamiqdash (there are 15 steps from the courtyard to the Hall (Heichal), on which the Kohanim said the 15 psalms of Shir Hama'alot (Songs of Ascents); also the Haggadah is drawn from the Confession over First Fruits (Vidui Bikurim), which clearly indicates that the process beginning with the Exodus concludes when we bring our First Fruits to the holy Temple).

So Pesach is a process of growth from slaves towards total national identity as the People of God with the Beis Hamiqdash. So too, our 15 people at the 15th-anniv party weren't 15 without the two small children, so we shouldn't take our 15 as a resting place, rather as it needs growth to get there, so we should continue to grow, personally and communally, ad bias haGoel and the restoration of full national identity.

Debbie (mamadeb) posted about the party at greater length.
2 comments|post comment

Purim Pashkeville [19 Mar 2006|07:36pm]
This Purim Pashkeville was composed by a young Yeshiva Bochur, who prefers to remain anonymous. I typeset it and prettied it up.

What use is a Kol Korei (proclamation) without publicity?
6 comments|post comment

Happy Birthday!! [05 Nov 2005|07:33pm]
Happy birthday, beautiful Debbie! To 120!
1 comment|post comment

Memories meme [04 Nov 2005|02:39pm]
Why not?

If you read this, if your eyes are passing over this right now, even if we don't speak often, please post a comment with a memory of you and me. It can be anything you want, either good or bad. When you're finished, post this little paragraph on your blog and be surprised (or mortified) about what people remember about you.
4 comments|post comment

Machzorim and Piracy [06 Oct 2005|07:02pm]
see the entry on my blog, ThanBook. a bit of literary detective work.
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Live Shows [12 Apr 2005|10:15am]
* Reply to this message telling me which of these 20 artists you have also seen.
* Take the ones from my list that you have seen, and post them in your own LJ.
* Add more until you have 20.

Gacked from alisaek, although we only overlap in the first group.

They Might Be Giants
Boston Symphony Orchestra
I Musici
Jupiter Symphony
Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Bob Dylan
Grateful Dead
Max Creek
The Pogues
Greg Kihn
Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam
Sidney Beckerman
Margot Leverett
Andy Statman
Carla Ulbrich
Charles Neidich
The Goldman Band
Joseph Malovany

[not part of meme]
all right, they're not all pop/folk, but hey, I haven't seen a lot of them.
7 comments|post comment

The Theology of Rabbi Irving Greenberg [04 Apr 2005|05:10pm]
[ mood | awake ]

The theological meditations of Rabbi Irving "Yitz" Greenberg have become fodder for the Jewish blogosphere lately, so I thought I'd summarize what little I know about R' Greenberg's ideas.

R' Greenberg, in various articles and in a recent book, FOR THE SAKE OF HEAVEN AND EARTH:
The New Encounter Between Judaism and Christianity
, expresses a theology that seems close to Reconstructionism or to classical Epicureanism (from which the word Apikoros).

Each major destruction in our history has signaled a change, a distancing, in our relationship with God. The first Destruction, in which the Ark was lost/hidden, brought an end to God's revealed presence in the world. God had hitherto interacted with us directly, through prophecy, through the Divine fire that accepted the sacrifices, through open miracles. These came to an end during the first 70-year exile.

The second Destruction removed the Temple as the focus of Judaism, the sacrificial service as a Divinely-ordained means of achieving atonement. Divine worship, and receiving atonement for one's sins, become entirely an individual responsibility, as teshuvah and tefillah became the real paths towards personal salvation, and ultimately towards the communal salvation through the Moshiach.

The Destruction of European Jewry indicated a third distancing. If the first was removal of God's direct influence, and the second removed our direct Torah-mandated path of communication to God (the Temple service), the third Destruction indicated the end of the Covenant. In allowing the Holocaust to happen, God signaled that He had abrogated His covenant with us, and the mitzvot were no longer binding.

As reviewer Michael Kress states, "In trying to answer that fundamental theodicy question—how to reconcile the idea of a just God and the flames of Auschwitz—Greenberg concludes that we have passed from a stage in which Jews are commanded to one in which the covenant with God is voluntary. God has undergone a further tzimtzum, or self limitation, which God first undertook to enact Creation, giving humans full responsibility for perfecting the world, without any divine intervention." See the full review.

In light of this view, R' Greenberg is amazed and pleased that the Jews have voluntarily continued to observe the mitzvot, given that they can't expect God to respond to them.

This leads to some disturbing questions, though:

- is it true, as a Christian preacher claimed in the last century, that God no longer hears the prayers of the Jews?

- If God has restricted/constricted Himself away from the world, does he no longer care about what happens in the world?

That would seem to be R' Greenberg's point, most like Reconstructionism or like Maimonides' definition of Epicureanism: "[Laws of Repentance 3:8] 8) There are three types of heretic [Apikorsim]: One who says that there is no Prophecy at all and that there is no knowledge given by God to men; one who refutes the Prophecy of Moses; and one who says that God doesn't know the actions of men."

Note that expressing such sentiments need not separate one from Orthodoxy. R' Mordechai Kaplan, founder of Reconstructionism and shaper of much of Conservative Jewish theology in the last century, was employed by Orthodox synagogues, and spoke at Orthodox functions, for years after he began to publish his heterodox ideas. He begain to write articles on these ideas starting around 1909, but he was not forced out of his rabbinic position in an Orthodox synagogue until 1922.

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Purim. First Leining with Megillah [30 Mar 2005|07:21pm]
My megillah turns out to be kosher. I've never learned how to lein it, so I just read along with others. But a few years ago, I bought a nice old megillah, with some minor decorations between the columns, 11 lines, Ksav Ari, Hamelech. It's faded in spots, particularly the first panel, and was repaired with blue ink on a couple of letters, so I wasn't sure if 'twas still kosher. Sure, I've learned the relevant gemaras and codes, and know that once a megillah was kosher to begin with, it's very difficult to ruin it. Still, it was nice to have it confirmed.

A woman came in after davening, having missed the leining (we started at 7 AM), so everyone could get mitzvot out of the way before Shabbat prep began). Some people suggested neighborhood shuls with late reading, but it seemed she would not have been comfortable in those shuls. So R' Dr. Mark, who is a baal kriah, offered to lein if a megillah could be found. And I had the megillah. I offered it, with the caveat that I didn't know if it was kosher. He ran through it, pointed out a couple of potential trouble spots, and said it was fine. So he leined for her, and she rattled a gragger at appropriate times, and I said the appropriate verses out loud, and a fine time was had by all. Mark did the last verse to the theme of Magilla Gorilla, which he said he was sort of hesitant to do at a public reading, but for a private reading, why not. He also did the antepenultimate and penultimate verses to the tune of Gilligan's Island, for the "iyei hayam" (islands in the sea).
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