6/28/12

Is Peter B. Madoff Jewish?

Yes, Peter B. Madoff, brother of Bernard L. Madoff is a Jew.

Madoff's grandparents were Jewish emigrants from Poland, Romania and Austria, according to Wikipedia. Peter is a member of the Old Westbury Hebrew Congregation.

The Times reports that he will plead guilty to crimes connected to the Madoff Ponzi scheme.
For nearly four decades, as the second-in-command at Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, Peter B. Madoff ran the family business alongside his older brother.

On Friday, Peter Madoff — more than three years after his brother, Bernard, confessed to running a vast Ponzi scheme that swindled investors out of billions of dollars — is expected to appear in Federal District Court in Manhattan and plead guilty to criminal charges, according to prosecutors. He would be the first relative of Mr. Madoff’s to admit to wrongdoing in connection with the fraud.

Peter Madoff has agreed to a prison term of 10 years, prosecutors said in a letter filed with the court on Wednesday. As part of his plea deal, he has agreed to forfeit $143 billion, a staggering penalty that he is not likely to be able to pay. But it is a government calculation based on the amount of money that passed through the firm and a clear indication that prosecutors will seize all of his assets....
44 New Talmudic Books for Kindle | The Amazing 36 Volume Kindle Talmud in English | Whence and Wherefore | God's Favorite Prayers

6/26/12

Where is the Fifth Avenue Synagogue?

Just where is that Fifth Avenue Synagogue, called by the New York Post shortly after the Madoff-Merkin scandals broke, the "Temple of Doom?"

Someone we know was invited to a life-cycle event at the Orthodox Fifth Avenue Synagogue but ended up at the Reform Temple Emanuel looking for the simcha.

How did that happen? Well Emanuel is actually on Fifth Avenue at 65th Street. And it really does look like a formidable synagogue. It is "the largest house of Jewish worship in the world." (See the picture.)

The Fifth Avenue Synagogue is not on 5th Avenue. It is on 62nd Street.

And the Fifth Avenue Synagogue does not look like a formidable house of worship. It looks like a modest row house with odd-shaped windows.

Now, there is nothing wrong with naming a place "Fifth Avenue" even if it is not actually on Fifth Avenue. Saks Fifth Avenue has its main store on Fifth Avenue. But its branches in New Jersey are still called Saks Fifth Avenue. That makes them sound fancy and upscale, and that is the point.

Saks also has an "Off Fifth" store in the Bergen Mall in Paramus where they sell discounted fancy and upscale merchandise.

So for the record, in case you are looking for it: The Fifth Avenue Synagogue is off Fifth Avenue at 62nd Street. But just because it is off Fifth, don't expect any discounts or bargains on anything classy there. (Repost from 1/2/09)

New Yorker's Talmudic Account of a Madoff Panel

From 1/19/09 we replay this (lightly) Talmudic analysis in the New Yorker of Madoff, starting with the premise that he was a goniff which is worse than a gazlan. With sex expert Ruth Westheimer quoting the sage Hillel. Also appearing Michael Steinhardt talking of the, "Banality of investing."

It was a clever current events report of a New York Jewish soiree that itself was an attempt to take a financial tragedy and try to kvetch it to death.
Reckoning: Thief or Crook?
by Lizzie Widdicombe

As anyone in New York can attest, there are multiple Bernie Madoff trials in the works, in addition to the bankruptcy case and the criminal one. “The Talmud makes a distinction between a thief and a crook,” Rabbi David Gaffney said last week, at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, on West Sixteenth Street, which was presenting a sold-out panel titled “Madoff: A Jewish Reckoning.” “A crook is somebody who comes in with a gun and holds people up. A thief is someone who comes in the night and steals his way into someone’s home. The thief is a more despicable person in the Jewish mentality, because he thinks he’s fooling God.”

6/25/12

J. Ezra Merkin settles Madoff-related lawsuit with New York | Reuters

Reuters, the Times and other sources report that J. Ezra Merkin settled his Madoff-related lawsuit with New York Attorney General. Merkin will make restitution. The Times reports, "Hedge Fund Manager to Pay $405 Million in Madoff Settlement," By DIANA B. HENRIQUES:
Clients of J. Ezra Merkin, a prominent Wall Street hedge fund manager who invested his clients’ money in Bernard L. Madoff’s epic Ponzi scheme, will recover more than $400 million under a civil settlement negotiated by the New York State attorney general’s office.
After shaking hands with him on Shabbat at the Jewish Center of Atlantic Beach, we had a distinct sense that after 3.5 years of litigation, Merkin was relieved.

6/21/12

Video: The Jewish Channel Exposes Anti-Zionist Work of Former Republican Spokesman Yossi Gestetner



Bravo. Solid journalism by TJC.

Slate: What is the Penalty for Eating a Non-Kosher Hot Dog?

Here we go. We knew this would not be pretty when we saw that ambulance chasing lawyers were suing Hebrew National. It is a desecration of the reputation of Judaism.

Now the whole premise of Kosher foods is coming under close scrutiny and it is not pretty. Because the secret is that today there is no earthly religious penalty for eating a non-kosher hot dog.

There is the danger that an Orthodox person who brazenly eats non-kosher will be criticized or ostracized in his family or community. But we guess that 90% of today's Jews don't keep kosher. In their eyes the practice is an irrelevant relic of the past. And nobody ostracizes them for that.

There are theological premises (theoretical and imagined) that it is wrong to eat treif and in some future world after one's death in some form or other, having eaten non-kosher things will not serve a person well. (Bestselling book Idea - Note to Self - "Heaven is for Real - Except for those who eat Hebrew National.")

Slate's explainer, explains some of this. Hebrew National lawsuit: What happens to Jews who eat non-kosher food? Oh yes, the larger fonted part of that Slate headline is "Swine and Punishment." Ha.

And next when the real comedians get hold of this affair, well it gets uglier.

6/20/12

AP: Blackwell Burke Law Firm has Sued ConAgra Foods Over Hebrew National Kosher Claims

The AP reports that the Blackwell Burke Law Firm in Minneapolis has sued ConAgra Foods, owners of Hebrew National Kosher brands.
...ConAgra Foods Inc. says a lawsuit that claims its products aren't really kosher is without merit. The suit claims that ConAgra, based in Omaha, Neb., charges premium prices for Hebrew National meats, which it says aren't really 100 percent kosher...
We do not believe that this suit will last long before being dismissed.

It's quite simple why this matter will go nowhere in the courts.

ConAgra has ordained rabbis or their delegates on the premises. They monitor the production and certify the food as kosher.

According to Jewish religious law, as long as a rabbi declares meat kosher, it is kosher. It is the rabbinic decision that renders the food kosher. There are no percentage analog kosher standards. The status is binary. A food is either kosher or treif as determined by the religious beliefs and practices of Jews according to the laws of the Torah and the rabbinic laws of the Talmud, Codes and Responsa. See our translation of Hullin for many of those Talmud laws, Kosher Talmud: Babylonian Talmud Hullin.

To the best of our knowledge and judgement, that is pure religious practice, based 100% on religious beliefs, a matter that cannot and will not be adjudicated in our government court systems.

We'd guess that the simple and obvious decision to dismiss this case will be one page or less.

6/19/12

Book Notice: Relics for the Present: Contemporary Reflections on the Talmud by Levi Cooper

Relics for the Present: Contemporary Reflections on the Talmud by Levi Cooper is a wonderful, learned book of comments and insights on the first five chapters of the Talmud Bavli Berakhot, the relic that the author brings into the present through his interpretations based on rabbinic authorities that he cites whose listing runs five plus pages.

The book is clearly written and deftly argued. The lessons that Rabbi Dr. Cooper extracts are sensitive and sensible.

We recommend this volume to anyone wanting to learn more about Jewish prayer through the prisms of great Talmudic and later rabbinic authorities.

By coincidence we have published an anthology of the texts of the first five chapters of Talmud Yerushalmi Berakhot in a Kindle ebook edition, Kosher Prayers: an Anthology from the Talmud Yerushalmi Berakhot. Like the Bavli, the Talmud of Land of Israel in Yerushalmi Tractate Berakhot presents many of the ancient rabbis’ discussions about Jewish prayers with particular attention to how to pray the major Jewish prayers, the Shema and the Amidah for the weekdays, Sabbaths and holidays.

Together the two volumes will enhance in different ways a person's understanding of the daily prayers of the Jewish liturgy.

Is David Yerushalmi Jewish?

Previously we wrote about anti-Shariah crusader David Yerushalmi. He is back in the news again at the National Review and Mother Jones, according to Sarah Posner at Religion Dispatches.

A strong objection at NR to Yerushalmi's crusade is that he proposes a preemptive solution to a problem that does not yet exist.

On 7/31/11 we wrote: The Times has a front page article on the lawyer, David Yerushalmi, "The Man Behind the Anti-Shariah Movement" by Andrea Elliot. It is quite negative in tone, critical of his anti-Shariah agenda, his campaign against Islamic law.

We are opposed to every facet of Yerushalmi's bigoted campaign. Let us make it as clear as possible. Attacking Sharia as an evil by association with terrorism is equivalent to attacking Nike shoes because terrorists wear them. Law, scripture, propaganda -- all those can be the clothing of evil and terror. Going after the garb to make it outlawed is a misdirection of gargantuan proportions that will accomplish nothing except to engender a backlash.

Finally, the Times is catching up and catching on. Nearly five months ago we criticized this agenda, based on what we read in a Mother Jones article. On 3/7/2011, we posted this about David Yerushalmi:

Yes, David Yerushalmi is a Jew. According to an email by him published in Mother Jones, he is an Orthodox, practicing Jew. He says, "My parents are Russian Jewish immigrants who came to this country ...in the 20th century." Yerushalmi is an attorney and a right wing political activist.

The article in Mother Jones is quite negative and accusatory from the title on through, "Meet the White Supremacist Leading the GOP's Anti-Sharia Crusade." Its author Tim Murphy summarizes his attack on Yerushalmi, "States across the country are considering far-right bills to ban Islamic law. For that, we have hate-group leader David Yerushalmi to thank."

SPIEGEL: A Tired and Withdrawn Pope Ignores the Vatican Power Struggle

A highly negative article in Der Spiegel reports on the status of the pope, a man who leads a church with a membership of 1.166 billion people that employs more than 400,000 Catholic priests.

In the article summary: "The mood at the Vatican is apocalyptic. Pope Benedict XVI seems tired, and both unable and unwilling to seize the reins amid fierce infighting and scandal. While Vatican insiders jockey for power and speculate on his successor, Joseph Ratzinger has withdrawn to focus on his still-ambiguous legacy."

Note that the description "apocalyptic" does not fit the story. Except that it implies end times, the term denotes, "predicting or presaging imminent disaster and total or universal destruction."

While the pope may be judged a failure as a leader in some respects, there are no signs presently of any imminent destruction of the Catholic Church (or of the world) described in the Spiegel article.

6/17/12

Happy Father's Day? Celebrate the Life of Your Dad

How can you be happy on Father's day when your dad just passed away a few weeks before?

I guess you celebrate his life and his achievements.

Here is an excerpt from the Kindle Edition which I published in honor of Zev Zahavy's recent sheloshim, thirty days after his passing. This book was originally published by my dad in 1978.

Whence and Wherefore by Zev Zahavy
The Cosmological Destiny of Man Scientifically and Philosophically Considered. An Analysis Relating to "In the Centre of Immensities" by Sir Bernard Lovell

Wherefore

1 A COURAGEOUS QUESTION

One wonders how many of the distinguished scholars who listened to the significant presidential address delivered by Sir Bernard Lovell on that singular summer day in August 1975 recognized immediately its extensive ramifications. The subject of the paper at the time of its presentation was pointedly designated, “In the Centre of Immensities.” Its title relates to the classic work Sartor Resartus, by Thomas Carlyle, which first appeared in Fraser’s Magazine in 1833-34, at about the time when England’s leading men of science were advancing the cause of their newly formed organization, the British Association for the Advancement of Science. Among others, Carlyle boldly addressed science and expressed his concern for man’s basic existentialist identity and destiny. He was prompted by a desire to develop meaningful relationships between man and the mysterious universe of extensive expanse.
It is my estimation that the purposeful selection of a quotation from Carlyle before a body representing the distinguished scientific establishment conveys more than merely a setting for cosmological analysis. I believe that it contains a hint of majestic proportions insofar as amending the current materialistic outlook and philosophy of science. It points the way for the assumption of a new posture by men of science in their encounter with problems of existentialist overtones, and this is somewhat implied by placing before them for serious consideration, Carlyle’s inquiry, wherein he says of man, “Stands he not thereby in the centre of Immensities, in the conflux of Eternities?”
The New York Times deserves a measure of credit for exhibiting an alertness to the full significance of Professor Lovell’s presentation. It was published with some slight revisions as the lead cover-article in the Sunday magazine section on November 16, 1975, where it was endowed with the simple, but extremely provocative title, “Whence,” to which was further appended a rather enigmatic, philosophical subtitle, “We Are What We Know About Where We Came From.”
Quite appropriately, then, “Whence” may portray a milestone in the maturing of modern scientific thought. The essence of “Whence” signals to the contemporary scientist the explicit fact that other questions besides the normal “how” of the laboratory should come to the awareness of the researching mind. Perhaps this may come as a surprise to the current scientific generation, who, for the most part, are steeped in a materialistic attitude toward life and toward the tasks in their demanding discipline. Most of them, since their early freshman years, were indoctrinated with a scientific spirit that stressed the virtue of committing all investigations to the arena of “how.” Now, thanks to the courage of a leading scientist in the British Association, the staid rank and file are suddenly confronted with the challenge “whence.”

6/16/12

Please Excuse My Son's Absence from Class. He will be Moose Hunting.

We used to ask our college students to inform us in advance if they knew they were going to miss a class. One Friday a young man came up to me after class and told me that he might miss class on Monday.

"Why?" I asked.

"I'm going moose hunting with my family," he explained.

"And why is that a valid excuse?" I pressed him.

"It is special because we have one of the few permits that are awarded by lottery in Minnesota each year for moose hunting."

"Can't argue with that," I agreed.

"If we kill a moose by Sunday I will be in class on Monday. Otherwise not," he explained.

"And exactly how does one find a moose to kill?" I probed, not having learned much about such things growing up on East 68th Street in Manhattan.

"If it snows, it's easy to track the moose. If not It's a bit harder," he said.

I nodded and made a note of his possible absence. Best excuse I ever heard.

Now twenty plus years later, The New York Times has caught on to how special a moose permit can be:
New Hampshire Holds Lottery for Moose Hunt 
In one of the few states with enough animals for a hunting season, an annual lottery drew 13,400 people who hoped to secure one of 275 permits to hunt moose...
By the way: Yes, Moose is kosher when slaughtered and prepared properly.

Teaneck's Moshe Butler pleads guilty to criminal bank and wire fraud

Forbes reports on the tangled web of crimes of a scamster from Teaneck, Moshe Butler, age 33, "Motel Art, Flat Screen TVs, Bad Trades, And Bouncing Checks Collide In Federal Case."
In 2009, Butler was charged in a criminal Information with running a $2.25 million scam, to which he was released on bail pending sentencing.

The final tally has Butler pleading guilty to two criminal Informations charging him with bank and wire fraud....

On June 13, 2012, he was sentenced to 63 months in prison and three years of supervised release; and ordered to pay restitution in the amounts of $2,259,311.35 for the television scheme and $207,375.25 for the check scheme; and ordered to forfeit $208,172.21....more

6/13/12

Are Mormons Jewish?

No, Mormons are not Jews, and according to some Mormons, they are not Christians either.

The Times has an op-ed by David V. Mason, "I’m a Mormon, Not a Christian," that proffers:
I want to be on record about this. I’m about as genuine a Mormon as you’ll find — a templegoer with a Utah pedigree and an administrative position in a congregation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am also emphatically not a Christian.

For the curious, the dispute can be reduced to Jesus. Mormons assert that because they believe Jesus is divine, they are Christians by default. Christians respond that because Mormons don’t believe — in accordance with the Nicene Creed promulgated in the fourth century — that Jesus is also the Father and the Holy Spirit, the Jesus that Mormons have in mind is someone else altogether. The Mormon reaction is incredulity. The Christian retort is exasperation. Rinse and repeat.

I am confident that I am not the only person — Mormon or Christian — who has had enough of the acrimonious niggling from both sides over the nature of the trinity, the authority of the creeds, the significance of grace and works, the union of Christ’s divinity and humanity, and the real color of God’s underwear. I’m perfectly happy not being a Christian. My Mormon fellows, most of whom will argue earnestly for their Christian legitimacy, will scream bloody murder that I don’t represent them. I don’t. They don’t represent me, either.
There is more. Read the article.


6/12/12

Are New Jersey Jews Jewish?

No, the Times reports that according to a new population study of the metropolitan area, the Jews of New Jersey do not count as Jews.

Jews in the metropolitan area counties of Bergen, Passaic, Essex and Union are not accounted for in the study.

In addition, the methodology of the study is random phone call model, right out of the 1950s. In this age of statistics and data, there are more accurate ways to determine actual population figures.

The Times' article, "Aided by Orthodox, City’s Jewish Population Is Growing Again," describes the study methodology, "To conduct the study, a team led by Steven M. Cohen, a leading sociologist of the Jewish community, and Dr. Ukeles randomly called tens of thousands of homes in New York City and in three suburban counties — Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester — last year. The surveyors asked if anyone in the household was Jewish; the researchers ultimately interviewed 5,993 adults for an average of 21 minutes each. The poll’s margin of sampling error is plus or minus two percentage points."

And minus all of the Jews of New Jersey.

6/11/12

The Astounding Koren Talmud Bavli has a little sister daf yomi edition

We just got the cuter little sister  (10.1 x 7.5 x 1.7 inches) black and white edition of the Koren Talmud Bavli Berakhot and it is labelled "Daf Yomi Edition."

Koren Talmud Bavli: Tractate Berakhot, Hebrew/English, Daf Yomi (B&W)

Currently on Amazon this edition is just $5 cheaper than the big sister, larger color edition (11.6 x 8.7 x 1.6 inches). Some people may prefer a more compact edition.

6/10/12

Is Philosophy Jewish?

No, philosophy is not Jewish. Philosophy originated in ancient pagan Greece. The practice of philosophy is not at all Jewish. In fact we believe philosophy is antithetical to both biblical and Talmudic modes of thought.

Yes, prominent Jews have written philosophical books, including Maimonides, Rav Soloveitchik and our dad. Rabbi Dr. Zev Zahavy wrote a wonderful book about cosmology and religious philosophy called Whence and WhereforeIf you haven't bought a copy yet, do so today.

An article by Jim Holt that our dad would have liked appeared today, "What Physics Learns From Philosophy" also titled "Physicists, Stop the Churlishness" on NYTimes.com.

It begins in a rather adversarial manner:
A KERFUFFLE has broken out between philosophy and physics. It began earlier this spring when a philosopher (David Albert) gave a sharply negative review in this paper to a book by a physicist (Lawrence Krauss) that purported to solve, by purely scientific means, the mystery of the universe’s existence. The physicist responded to the review by calling the philosopher who wrote it “moronic” and arguing that philosophy, unlike physics, makes no progress and is rather boring, if not totally useless. And then the kerfuffle was joined on both sides.

6/9/12

Is it Kosher? Rabbi Yona Metzger, Chief Rabbi of Israel, will bless the Fairway Market in Paramus

Please tell us what to make of this.

Chief Rabbi Of Israel To Bless Fairway Market’s Extensive Kosher Offerings With Store Tour, Mezuzah Hanging

Rabbi Yona Metzger, Chief Rabbi of Israel, will bestow his blessings on Fairway Market and its unparalleled selection of kosher food and grocery items by affixing a mezuzah to the doors of the kosher meat and poultry departments during visits to Fairway Market’s stores in Paramus, NJ (Rt. 17 and Ridgewood Ave.) on Tuesday, June 12 at 1 p.m. and in Plainview, Long Island (50 Manetto Hill Mall) on Wednesday, June 13 at 10 a.m.

Rabbi Metzger will be accompanied by executives of Fairway Market, which is one of the tri-state metropolitan area’s – and, indeed, the country’s – largest purveyors of kosher foodstuff. In fact, under the supervision of both KOF-K, one of the foremost kosher certification agencies in the U.S., and Rabbi Avrohom Marmorstein, director of Mehadrin Kashrus, a leading tri-state kosher certifier, Fairway Market offers thousands of kosher items, from meat, poultry, cheese and bakery items to coffees, teas and traditional packaged goods, as well as specialty products.

Who: Israel Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, executives of Fairway Market
What: Affix a mezuzah to doors of kosher meat and poultry departments
When/Where: Tuesday, June 12, 1 p.m.
Fairway Market
Route 17 and Ridgewood Aves. / Fashion Center Plaza
Paramus, NJ

Wednesday, June 13, 10 a.m.
Fairway Market
50 Manetto Hill Mall
Plainview, LI

Love at First Sight - the Koren Talmud Bavli Berakhot is Breathtaking

Forty five years ago in 1967 we first met the Steinsaltz edition of the Berakhot in Hebrew. Twenty one years ago in 1991, we met the first English edition of some volumes of the Steinsaltz Talmud from Random House. At some intervening points we met the actual Rabbi Steinsaltz. One time we had him visit the University of Minnesota and speak with our students. A very few attended. He was charming to them in his own way.

Now in 2012 we have been introduced to the stunning, dazzling, spectacular Koren Talmud Bavli Berakhot in English and Hebrew/Aramic with the Steinsaltz commentary, Koren Talmud Bavli, Vol. 1:Tractate Berakhot, Hebrew/English, Standard (Color) (English and Hebrew Edition)

First impression. This iteration for us is breathtaking. Well, that is because we are a Talmudic blogger and have spent many years with Talmudic editions. This one is downright beautiful, strikingly attractive. Okay, we confess that we fell love with it at first sight.

This clearly is a book of substance and depth. But first, it is so remarkable to behold and so amazing to hold. We've had the book for three days and still, when we look at it, when we embrace it, when we touch its pages, we gasp quietly for a short breath.

In our life yes, with many volumes, there are few about which we have had such an utterly romantic first attraction.

We will be caressing its folios now for the next few days and weeks. Eventually the initial attraction will subside and we will be in a better place to assess the real virtues and shortcomings of the book. Right now in the throes of this passion we cannot say anything at all critical or objective.

You know how that is.

Is Quentin Tarantino Jewish?

Quentin Tarantino's film, Inglorious Basterds, is a fantasy story - a comic book brought to the screen - about a a group of Jewish guerrilla U.S. soldiers in occupied France during World War II who seek revenge on the Nazis.

Reviews were generally positive -- one thoughtful discussion worth peeking at by Andrew O’Hehir at Salon, "Is Tarantino good for the Jews?"

Pundits were asking whether the subtitle of the movie should be, G. I. Jews, or Dirty Minyan?

And so, with such a theme, it is natural for us to ask, Is Quentin Tarantino Jewish?

No, he is not a Jew. Tarantino was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, the son of Connie Zastoupil (née McHugh) of Irish and Cherokee Native American ancestry, and Tony Tarantino, part Italian from Queens, New York.

His new movie this year will be Django Unchained and here is the trailer:


Note well also, Tarantino is also not a Bible scholar. In one of our favorite scenes, his character in Pulp Fiction played by Samuel L. Jackson recites this biblical sounding verse that actually is a fake,
The path of the righteous man and defender is beset on all sides by the iniquity of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper, and the finder of lost children. And I will execute great vengeance upon them with furious anger, those who poison and destroy my brothers; and they shall know that I am the Lord when I shall lay my vengeance upon thee.
Research has shown that Tarantino actually borrowed the pseudo-verse from a 1970s Japanese action film called Karate Kiba.
//repost//

6/7/12

Talmudic Sexual Practices and Menstruating Women - Kindle English Talmud Niddah

Daf Yomi is studying Niddah now. Today is folio page 17. In the tractate the Talmud deals primarily with sexual practices, mainly taboos, those sexual actions one should not perform. Here is an excerpt about what today we might call modesty practices in sexuality:
R. Simeon b. Yohai observed: There are four [types] which the Holy One, blessed be He, hates, and as for me, I do not love them: The man who enters his house suddenly and much more so [if he so enters] his friend’s house, the man who holds the membrum when he makes water, the man who when naked makes water in front of his bed, and the man who has intercourse in the presence of any living creature. ‘Even,’ said Rab Judah to Samuel, ‘in the presence of mice?’ ‘Shinena,’ the other replied, ‘no; but [the reference is to] a house like that of So and so where they have intercourse in the presence of their men-servants and maidservants. But what was the exposition they made? — Abide ye here with the ass, implies: peoples that are like an ass. Rabbah son of R. Huna used to chase away the wasps from his curtained bed. Abaye drove away the flies. Rabba chased away the mosquitoes...

R. Hisda ruled: A man is forbidden to perform his marital duty in the day-time, for it is said, But thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. But what is the proof? — Abaye replied: He might observe something repulsive in her and she would thereby become loathsome to him.

R. Huna said, Israel are holy and do not perform their marital duties in the day-time. Raba said, But in a dark house this is permitted; and a scholar may darken a room with his cloak and perform his marital duty...

Come and hear: And the people of the house of Monobaz did three things, and on account of these they were honorably mentioned: They performed their marital duties in the day-time, they examined their beds with cotton, and they observed the rules of uncleanness and cleanness in the case of snow.
Talmudic sex is real sex in the sense that it admits that some people do and some don't. In this example for instance some do have relations in the daytime and are praised. Others do not, based on a biblical verse and some commonplace advice.

6/5/12

WSJ Video Interview with Israeli-Iranian Singer Rita Yahan-Farouz (Jahanforuz)

Israeli Singer Rita Wins Iranian Fans With Album

Israeli singing sensation, Rita, has won an underground Iranian fan base after releasing an album in Persian. In an exclusive interview, WSJs Joshua Mitnick talks with the star about how shes become a goodwill ambassador for two countries that are sworn enemies.



Check out The Hebrew Scriptures in Judaism and Christianity


The iPad has an app with many course offerings from major universities.

Check out this free course from Harvard on iTunes U, Prof. Shaye Cohen.

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The Hebrew Scriptures in Judaism and Christianity

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6/4/12

Times: Vatican Cracks Down on What is Kosher Catholic Sex

How much should a religion have to say about what kind of sex is kosher? We think, the less, the better.

The Times reports that the Vatican has issued a denunciation of the book about sexual ethics by a Catholic woman scholar. "Vatican Scolds Nun for Book on Sexuality":
The Vatican’s doctrinal office on Monday denounced an American nun who taught Christian ethics at Yale Divinity School for a book that attempted to present a theological rationale for same-sex relationships, masturbation and remarriage after divorce.

The Vatican office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said that the book, "Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics," by Sister Margaret A. Farley, was “not consistent with authentic Catholic theology,” and should not be used by Roman Catholics.

Sister Farley, a past president of the Catholic Theological Society of America and an award-winning scholar, responded in a statement: “I can only clarify that the book was not intended to be an expression of current official Catholic teaching, nor was it aimed specifically against this teaching. It is of a different genre altogether.”

The book, she said, offers “contemporary interpretations” of justice and fairness in human sexual relations, moving away from a “taboo morality” and drawing on “present-day scientific, philosophical, theological, and biblical resources.”...

The statement quoted liberally from some of the racier passages in “Just Love,” including ones in which Sister Farley writes that female masturbation “usually does not raise any moral questions at all.” She adds that “many women” have found “great good in self-pleasuring — perhaps especially in the discovery of their own possibilities for pleasure — something many had not experienced or even known about in their ordinary sexual relations with husbands or lovers.”

The Vatican said this assessment contradicted church teaching that “the deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose.”

Teaneck Deputy Mayor Adam Gussen for Congress against U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett

Politicker NJ informs us that Teaneck Deputy Mayor Adam Gussen announced his decision to run for Congress against U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett.

Of course, we endorse Gussen.

Garrett is a far right extremist who is against progress and a tool of the wealthy republicans.

Gussen needs to articulate clearly what he stands for. Conventional knowledge about the district tells us that Garrett has a giant advantage.

Reports have it that, "Garrett, chairman of a subcommittee that regulates the financial markets and mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, has been raising funds aggressively over the past year. His last campaign report showed $1.6 million on hand on Sept. 30."

Good luck Adam. You will need it. /repost from 1-9-2012/

The Introduction to Zev Zahavy's book, "Whence and Wherefore: The Cosmological Destiny of Man Scientifically and Philosophically Considered"

Here is the introduction to the Kindle Edition in honor of Zev Zahavy's recent sheloshim, thirty days since his passing. This book was originally published by my dad in 1978.

Whence and Wherefore by Zev Zahavy
The Cosmological Destiny of Man Scientifically and Philosophically Considered. An Analysis Relating to "In the Centre of Immensities" by Sir Bernard Lovell
Now that man is a bona fide space traveler, it appears to be a propitious time to call for a new chapter in the enduring search for ultimate truths.

The technological record of human progress from the ancient period of a Sumerian bronze age to the current era of complex, multinational, computerized societies is a magnificent tribute to the impressive ingenuity of the human intellect. Man may justifiably take pride in his vast array of technological triumphs.

Certainly, the human specimen has traversed a long, rugged road since the early days of the ox-drawn plow and that prosaic lethargic era when simple mathematics were inscribed in fundamental ideograms upon cuneiform tablets. Today, man spans oceans and continents in a few short hours; communicates with the speed of light; harnesses the nuclear might of the unseen atom; prepares to visit neighboring planets; and charts the course of stellar phenomena at distant outposts of his universe.

6/3/12

Is Bar Refaeli Jewish?

Yes, Bar Refaeli, the Israeli model on the cover of the 2009 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, is a Jew.

She commendably is active in charity work - a supporter of the worthy organization, Project Sunshine, founded by the brilliant young financier Joseph Weilgus.
SI cover girl Refaeli nudges her swimsuit south
By SAMANTHA CRITCHELL, AP FASHION WRITER

NEW YORK -- The world knows a lot more about Bar Refaeli today than it did yesterday, including where her tiny tan line falls. Sports Illustrated Swimsuit unveiled the 23-year-old Israeli, who has been romantically linked to Leonardo DiCaprio, as a first-time cover girl on Tuesday.

This gig, more than top fashion or entertainment magazines, can be career-altering as it puts a model's face (not to mention, her fantastically toned body) in front of millions of eyeballs, appealing to both men and women, sports fans and fashionistas.

It's the cover that matters most, says SI group editor Terry McDonell, but each model - 19 for this issue - gets an equal shot at the cover. Refaeli wears a string bikini by Missoni - and the strings on the bikini bottom are being tugged south.

"The cover has to reflect the athleticism and sexiness of the culture. This photo is modern, her hair and swimsuit look natural. You see her freckles. Her body is amazing and she looks intelligent," McDonell said...more...

Sports Illustrated (Orthodox men should not click on this link.)

(repost from 8-14-09)