Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ban Updates

Our good friend, Rabbi Ephraim Luft goes 0-2 this week in Israel. (We reviewed his magnum opus "The Torah Is Not Hefker" here.)

Meanwhile, a riot broke out at Rabbi Amnon Yitzhak's speech in Emmanuel, after some opponents played Jewish music he's been campaigning against, whi;e he was speaking. We've mentioned his campaign against Shwekey in "Rabbi Amnon Yitzchak Makes Stuff Up!". Via FM.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Discussing The Unspeakable

Recent events have me pondering the following topic -- How to have a discussion when one side believes the other side should not ever be mentioned or when mentioning one side, in and of itself, has consequences.

Two examples:

1) The recent brouhaha over a Jewschool post about Debbie Friedman. You can read about this here. I thought about whether or not I should bring this subject up at all. The family's response -as well as the fact that this was common knowledge- make me think that there is no additional harm to the family in linking the discussion. That said, personally, I found the Jewschool post offensive. There are appropriate ways and more importantly times to raise these questions. Not during shiva and in clear ignorance of the facts. However, it illustrates the conundrum I'd like to address, which is that there is no way to have this kind of conversation without raising the issue in some way. If the Jewschool blogger's facts had been accurate (they weren't), his point would be much stronger, than if he hadn't used the name.

2) I received an email about a recent post of mine on bans. The email was critical of my position/presentation. It included a request not to post the email, or even portions of it, without permission. Since I make a point of posting critical emails, I emailed back asking permission to post the email and a response. When this writer expressed discomfort with the idea, I offered a right of response as well. Ultimately, my correspondent denied permission to publish on the grounds that since, from their perspective, their position was Torah, it would be impermissible and impossible for me to disagree with it. Go argue with that.

The question I'd like to put out there is this. How can one have discussion on important issues, when one side, for whatever reason, makes even the raising of the topic off-limits? Perhaps, as in a situation like my first example, it can be done while respecting the individual's privacy. However, in matters of public policy, is there really no way to raise questions about the actions of Rabbinic leadership? Personally, I can think of a number of recent examples in which rabbinic action was taken in response to public criticism. In quite a few of these cases, I am convinced that if not for the public nature of the criticism, no action would have been taken.

A short list:

1) The Lipa Schmeltzer concert ban
2) The recent RCA "brain death" paper brouhaha
3) Agudah et al on sexual abuse

So, for those like my respondent who apparently believe in papal rabbinic infallibility... Do you ever think there's an appropriate way to publicly raise questions? If not, why do you grant yourself the right to take a position, if you won't concede that right to your counterparts on the other side? More importantly, if that is your position, why should the folks on the other side even address your concerns?

Monday, January 17, 2011

1/17/11 Link Dump

Over at the Forward's Sisterhood blog... "Taking on the Rabbinate."

Tininitus? Reboot your brain.

I want a printer like this!

John Lennon vs. Van Halen.

The J-Post obit for Debbie Friedman... Beloved US Jewish songwriter, Debbie Friedman, dies

Rootless Cosmopolitan on " The Death of Yiddish?"

At Life in Israel..."nteresting Psak: Which Music Should Be Used To Introduce Shabbos."

Here's a great song for you! "Mean Old Jews Who Crucify My Lord" by Sister Albertha Harris Lewis. A real toe-tapper!

More Winter Peeps

"Rerun Guy"
This peep, speaking at a sheva brachos, announces that he's repeating a speech most of the guests heard at last night's wedding, because the panim chadashos missed it. He then proceeds to repeat the entire speech verbatim. At least, that's what he claims.

"The Starving Host"
This peep lines up a number of speakers at the sheva brachos he's hosting. He speaks last. All of the speeches are before dinner is served. He asserts: "Rather than letting you eat now and dreading my upcoming speech, I'd rather speak now and have you look forward to the food!"

"The Proud Mother"
Quote: "You play as good as my daughter!" We hope that's a compliment!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Winter Peeps

"In Your Face Video Guy"
This peep stalks the room with his personal video camera. Sizing up his prey, he stalks them, waiting until the precise moment they are least prepared. Then, just as his prey begins chewing their food, he strikes. "Say something for the video" he urges, as his cornered prey frantically tries to swallow. This peep has also been spotted lying in wait outside the mens room door. Beware!

"Principal Shlemiel"
This peep, the principal of a small school (menahel in yeshivish), gets the Bar Mitzvah boy's name wrong in his address at the Bar Mitzvah. Multiple times! A good rule of thumb. If you can't remember the Bar Mitzvah boy's name, you really ought to turn down the invitation to speak.

"The Rambler"
This peep begins his speech saying "I won't speak long..." 20 minutes later he's still talking!

"Learn Out Loud Rabbi"
This peep can be found at gigs in private homes. When the musicians start playing background music, before most guests have arrived, this peep begins learning loudly. Natch, he's sitting next to us, and wont consider moving into the study, or anywhere else in the mansion. Don't worry. We're not fooled. We see his foot tapping along on beat!

"The Spiritualist Bandleader"
This bandleader calls to inquire about our availability for a possible great paying out-of-town gig, he had in the works. Upon being told we're available, he gives the following instructions: "K'muvan, go to mikvah and daven Reb Nosson's tefilos for parnossah!" P.S. we booked the gig!

"Pop Music Now"
This peep comes running over at a yeshivish affair to demand a Top 40 tune NOW! Naturally, the prep sheet for this yeshivish affair not only has no secular music requests, but even requests the band avoid playing any line dances or Mizrachit music. Dude, it's just not going to happen unless the bride or groom personally come over to request it...

Sunday, January 09, 2011

BDE - Debbie Friedman Z"L

The great Jewish singer/songwriter Debbie Friedman has died. Baruch Dayan Emes!

"Lechi lach/on your journey I will bless you/and you shall be a blessing lechi lach."

Friday, January 07, 2011

Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetzky on the Ban Process

Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetzky 2008:
"Rabbi Kamenetzky confirmed that he had spoken to Friedman and said that he had understood that the request for the ban originally came “from rabbis in Eretz Yisroel. We didn’t want to differ with them. It was expressed that certain performers...upset some people.”

The Rosh Yeshiva was asked whether anybody had confirmed the origin of the request. “It seems that it was a request from mouth to ear and everyone went along with them,” he responded. “What they said was that it was a request from Rav Elyashiv and Rav Steinman. I didn’t confirm that.”

Asked if it is unusual for distinguished rabbonim to sign a kol korei on the say-so of one person, Rabbi Kamenetzky was candid: “Usually we meet together. This time, with time pressing, we did not get together. And maybe it was not the right thing.”

Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetzky 2011:
"Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky, who signed the ban, said he was not familiar with the site but was given the ban by Rabbi Malkiel Kotler, of Lakewood.

“I know very little about it, but I relied on the rabbanim that signed it and they said it’s terrible,” Rabbi Kamenetsky told The Jewish Star. “They said it has a lot of lashon hora,”"