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Archive for May, 2006

The Flu – the Curse of Relatives

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on May 31, 2006


I have been slacking on my blogging lately. Well, I have a ‘nice’ excuse – I was implanted with an ugly little bug, by my wife – who in turn had been implanted with it by her sisters, whom she visited a week ago. I hate being sick – it makes me feel like I am engulfed in wet cotton wool or lukewarm oatmeal porridge. Fortunate for us, I bought not one but three packs of ’10 packs’ Kleenex before we both went down with runny noses.

The Curse of Relatives…this is all my sister-in-laws fault. Had she told my wife that she was having this cold/flu prior to her going to visit with them, my wife would not have gone, as she is both asmathic and allergic, which means she is extra vulnerable to diseases that target the respiratory system…but – well, relatives are not always as considerate as one would like them to be.

The only one happy with this is Boris – who just loves to rip our used Kleenex’s apart – resulting in the apartment being strewn with particlerized Kleenex.:-)
This is an image of my brain right now

Shalom!

Posted in Love, Marriage | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

…truth, the truth of the truth, and peace…

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on May 29, 2006


Rebbe Nachman of Breslov said: there is truth, the truth of the truth, and peace. Truth is: a kid stole an apple. The truth of the truth is: the kid was hungry. Peace is: Nobody stole anything; give the kid an apple!” (Heard from Reb Shlomo Carlebach – picked up at Kolel)

What is the Truth? And why would we rather pursue the Truth than achieve Peace? And what is Rebbe Nachman trying to teach us here?

I think that we most often look for the truth without looking for the reason for the truth or for the peaceful way to solve human interaction is because we have been told that the Truth is somehow Sacred. Someone hurt us. Why? What lay behind the action or words that hurt – what was in the other’s heart? Perhaps they were having a bad day at work, and simply didn’t have enough emotional energy to keep it in when they interacted with us. Perhaps they are going through a really tough time at home. Or they might be just under a lot of stress in general. That is the Truth of the Truth. Perhaps we find it difficult to extend the benefit of a doubt, because to do so would mean admitting that not just the people around us are weak, but that we are?

I think he is trying to teach us that there are offenses and there are offenses, and before we judge whether a real offense has been committed, we need to weigh the circumstances and that in most cases, dismissing any allegations or thoughts that an offense has been committed is preferable, because it gives all involved Peace. I also think he is trying to convey a Principle about G-d.

G-d works from the angle of Peace. He looks at our offenses and because we turn to Him with our shortcomings He says: Nothing happened here – here, have a blessing!”. The biggest problem is that we don’t work from that angle, and therefore we have great trouble rrealizing that G-d does. We treat our fellow humans from the “the truth is the truth is the truth”, instead of looking beyond the Rock-Hard truth and see the Person.

G-d always sees the Person. May we learn to do so too.

Shalom!

Posted in Torah | 4 Comments »

Solution: Empower the Kids

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on May 27, 2006


“Until we dig our heads out of the sand and say “ENOUGH!!!” and start talking and taking back the power from the abusers, nothing will be accomplished, except for a lot more hand wringing, and a lot more potential from the young people (children) lost forever.” From Shari’s Blog

Oy! Yes! I agree. “Taking back the power from the abusers.” Yes, that’s it. That’s what we need to do! Question is how do we do that? EDUCATION. EMPOWERMENT through education. Teaching our children that abuse is not the normal way of relating to others, so when adults use violence, any kind of violence, they are WRONG. Teach children to be DISRESPECTFUL of adults in a helathy way. I and my wife love children who are sassy and question our actions and our values. It’s a sign of mental health – it shows that they do not fear. It is good and healthy to question authorities – it keeps the authorities honest.

Creating legislation that allows children to leave abusive parents the first time a parent hurts them – and it shouldn’t be just physical violence. A parent that speaks disrespectfully of and to their child will sooner or later reach the point where they use physical violence.

Create legislation that empowers other adults to take action. Make it profitable to step up and defend kids who are being verbally abused in public. Make it illegal as in “you go to jail for aiding and abetting” if you fail to step in and defend children that are being abused in any form, manner or way.

We also need to educate the general public about what children actually are.

1. Children are not property – this is the most prevalent misconception about being a parent. That as a parent you own your child. This is WRONG! Children are PEOPLE, just like any adult – the only difference between children and adults is EXPERIENCE. To look at other people like property, is just what the 18th and 19th centuries slave owners did.

2. Children are born good, perfect and healthy – unfortunately for kids, Xian teachings about Original Sin have resulted in kids being beaten, punished, hurt and killed from the day they were born as being ‘bad’ and ‘sinful’ simply because they are kids and human. Children will do anything to please, because they are dependent on the adult to care for them, and they CRAVE love and acceptance. I.e positive re-enforcement works like clockwork, because the love and acceptance the child recieves for following directions given is EXACTLY what he/she needs.

3. Parents are not beyond reproach – i.e parents do have to EARN their children’s respect and they are not entitled in any way to special privileges just because they are Parents. For an article on the matter of “Honoring one’s Parents” from a Biblical perspective read my other blog.

4. You learn all your values, ethics and basic life skills before the age of 5 – after that all you do is practice and perfect them. If we as adults have not taught our children functional life skills and values (through being examples, non-abusive guidance and positive re-enforcement) before they are 5, it really is no idea trying later, because it will simply be a waste of time. And it will be abusive, because we will be attempting to break something that has become ingrained in their nature. It is possible to divert negative life skills and so on, but it is no longer possible to un-learn what has been learned before the age of 5.

5. Children have the same rights as adults – children are included in the UDHR – they do also have a Charter of their own, which every adult should know by heart and do their damnnedest to make sure they fullfill in relation to ALL children.

Khalil Gibran said: “Children don’t come of you – they come through you.”

Shalom!

Posted in Parenting | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

First and Second Hand Assortment of Parents

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on May 27, 2006


“While I have proposed some sort of testing program to help not necessarily weed out the prospective parents who are found to be a high risk to abuse their children, but to find a solution before they and their children or spouse become another statistic, both Holly and ShadowBear have opposed that.” From Shari’s Blog

I honestly think that Mandatory Parenting School – including psych evaluations, does solve the problem, especially if those psych evaluations are being followed by f.i mandatory enrollment in Treatment of and Recovery from the effect of having been raised in abusive families themselves, when such is detected. And it would do so without raising the issues of ethics and “where do we draw the line” in terms of what can and cannot be tested, without us playing G-d. The right to have children (which is not a Human Right – not even a Civil Right) doesn’t come with the genitalia – exactly because children are not ‘things’, but living beings.

Raising awareness, presenting a way out and offering people a solution as to what they can do to earn the right to have children and DEMANDING that they do that, before having children is reasonable and in my mind a lot more productive and constructive than genetic tests to detect potential child abusers. By targeting ALL prospective Parents, and making it something ALL people have to do in order to become Parents, we don’t make the mistake of dividing people into classes – First and Second Hand Assorment of Parents. And we would raise the parenting skills level for ALL.

It really is no difference between this and what is already being done in regards to couples seeking artificial insemination or who want to adopt a child – the difference is that with genetic screening, you end up with no way out – “You are genetically unfit to be a parent.” And that might not be the case at all, it might simply be that there is a predisposition or a possibility that with the correct intervention can be ‘corrected’.

One of my favorite bloggers raised an interesting question in one of his blog entries about a week ago – “If you could go back in time and meet Hitler before WWII, and kill him – would you?” He then went on and told a story about one such Brittish soldier, who during the WWI actually had the chance, but chose, out of mercy not to kill a German soldier (who happened to be A.Hitler).

Would I? No. I would not. The end doesn’t justify the means. Murdering someone or depriving them of their Free Will can never be right, no matter what the motives are. That is to reduce them to something less than a Human Being.

Shalom!

Posted in Child abuse | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

The Letter of the Law vs. the Spirit of the Law…

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on May 27, 2006


Yesterday I recieved an email containing a link to an article that described appaling working conditions in a OU (Orthodox Union) run meat plant in Iowa. It had been posted to a Reconstructionist Torah study list, with intention spark discussion about what can and cannot be considered Kosher.The Question was: “Can we consider this food kosher? Is it fit to be served in our homes and synagogues?”

My answer is “No”.

It might be that the letter of the laws of Kashrut are being observed in terms of how the animals are being slaughtered and the meat treated after the animal has been killed, but in my mind there is more to Kashrut than just impeccably performed rituals. The Spirit of the Law must be observed as well or the letter of the Law is being violated. In fact the Letter of the Law has become quite useless if the Spirit is not there.

Written Torah (and in my book, written Torah does take precedence over Oral Torah/Talmud) teaches us that we are to treat all alike. That there is no difference between the Jew and the Gentile in terms of what is applicable.

“Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for the home-born; for I am the LORD your God.”(Vayikra/Leviticus 24:22)

“The stranger that sojourneth with you shall be unto you as the home-born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God” (Vayikra/Leviticus 19:34)

“And a stranger shalt thou not wrong, neither shalt thou oppress him; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Shemot/Exodus 22:21)

Now, one could argue that those Gentile workers are not ‘sojourning’ or ‘living with’ the People, but they do work within what would be considered Jewish territory, if they are working for Jews. So if we have one Law, it applies to all within Jewish Territory – at least.

One could also argue that since Israel is in Exile, the Gentiles are sojourning among us, as we among them, and therefore we should treat them exactly as we treat other Jews.

Then there is the matter of Chilul Hashem – Shaming G-d, i.e the opposite to Sanctifying G-d.

The Rambam (1135-1204) in his Sefer HaMitzvos (Negative Commandment #63) defines three components of the commandment regarding Sanctification and Desecration of G-d’s Name: “And you shall not profane my Holy Name” [Vayikra 22:32]. This sin is divided into three component parts. (1) Anyone who is forced to violate one of the commandments for which the requirement is ‘Be killed, rather than transgress’; (2) A person commits a sin for which they have no sensual passion and derive no benefit, but their intent is only to be (spiritually) rebellious and to throw off the Yoke of Heaven; (3) A person with a reputation for piety does an action which appears in the eyes of the masses to be a sin. Even if the act is intrinsically permitted, if such a person does this act – it could be a Desecration of G-d’s Name (Chilul HaShem).”

The way I see it point number three would apply here – The OU certification of the plant vouches for the piety of it. And it might be that, as I said in the beginning, that the letter of the Law is being observed, but this still throws a big shadow on not only this plant, the OU, but Judaism and therefore on G-d.

How can we claim to be a Holy Nation and a Nation Priests, a Light to the Nations, if we treat non-Jews as lesser beings? Whatever it is, it’s not Torah, in my mind.


Shalom!

Posted in Torah | 4 Comments »

Intentionally vague?

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on May 26, 2006


 

this image is dedicated to the most passionate and educated advocate of Human Rights I have ever met – My Wife.

Someone suggested that we petition the UN to have Article 16 of the UDHR amended to include wording about gender orientation.

I wrote a short reply, that I would like to elaborate on.

While most countries’ basic civil rights are covered by the UDHR or based on the UDHR, Human Rights are not the same as Civil Rights. Civil Rights are something that is the result of a democratic process within individual countries, that democratic process has to be allowed to take it’s time. There are other things to consider, that is also covered in the UDHR, such as f.i Freedom of Religion – while you and I have no patience for countries that are ruled by religious laws – and many of them has strict laws against f.i homosexuality – they have to be allowed to plod through the mud of realizing ‘their error’ at their own pace, or there will most likely be disaster. We see what happens when values are forced on people very clearly f.i in Iraq. Article 16 is clearly vague as to what is intended as ‘marriage’, and I think it’s intentional, FDR and Eleanor were no fools…By wording article 16 this vaguely it leaves room for interpretation in accordance with where each country is on the democratic ladder, thus allowing them to evolve naturally along necessary paths.

In our Western, and supposedly civilized Society, we very often assume that all countries on earth would be so much better off if they were all ‘democratic’, ‘capitalistic’, ‘Xian’, and run by the same rules that we apply in our countries – thus we look down on those countries that have not adopted ‘our ways’. Or we try and force ‘our ways’ on them, as can be witnessed in Iraq and other countries that have been invaded by a Western country during the later part of the 20th century. We seem to forget that UDHR actually covers also the right to adopt any kind of government, belief, justice system and political system is deemed most proper at any given time in a country’s history.

Sid Meyer’s Civilization IV, which I and my wife play often and are very fond of, gives an interresting hint to Humanity through a quote from Winston Churchill: “It has been said the Democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.”

No government is worse than any other, all provide benefits and drawbacks to those living in them, some benefits works better for some and some drawbacks are not as bad as they seem – it’s just a matter of where you are standing and what you want.

Building a working society takes time – and it has to, because a society is made up of individuals, and each of those individuals have to be given room, time and trust to move in directions he or she feels are most beneficial to them. It’s no use holding free and democratic elections in countries that up till five years ago were based on feudalism and theocracy – why? Because democracy requires a shift of understanding of authority both within the ruling classes and the ruled classes, and unless both Groups have arrived at an individual and from within flowing desire to accept that they are all The People, the rulers after an election will not have the co-operation of the ruled and vice versa. No matter how much we, the Westerners try to force them to adopt our ways – in the end political evolution is just that – EVOLUTION.

That is why the UDHR are strangely vague, in places and positions where, we in the Western Society would often wish for stronger and more direct language.

Shalom!

Posted in Human Rights, UDHR, UN | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Disliking Sports Commentators Equals Racism?

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on May 24, 2006


It is interesting how something so trivial as Sports so easily become a point where we don’t see eye to eye and even claim the most outrageous things about each other.This happens to me frequently, and it has of late taken some really weird turns. I was accused of being racist because I do not like the sports commentators of the country I live in (I am an immigrant) because they, in my mind take every opportunity to put down other countries whether they win or loose. The person calling me a racist seems to think that just because I live in ‘her country’ and recieve disability benefits (because I am disabled, and the laws of the land say that I have a right to those benefits) here I should be grateful and root for this country, and that I don’t makes me a racist.

Well, I have this to say to that: I moved here, not of my own choice, I was constantly bullied in school because of my immigrant status, my entire adult life, whenever I mentioned my own country to others, I was ridiculed and belittled; sportsmen from my country where spoken about in scornful and ridiculing words and tones on the news here during the bigger sports events. I then married another immigrant (from a different country) and realized that the same thing happened to her and the sportsmen from her country whenever they were mentioned in the news or on TV during those bigger events. On top of that this person chooses to take personal offense that I do not root for her country, in which I live, and counters with basically repeating the degrading comments I have heard all my life, all the while claiming that I hate her country and that I am a racist.

Now, tell me, who’s the racist – the sports commentators, the National TV here and this woman or me?

Shalom!

Posted in Sports | Tagged: , , | 7 Comments »

Mandatory Parenting School…

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on May 24, 2006


“I guess what I am trying to say is this, there are no reasons on earth for people who wish to become parents as long as the few who may inadvertently tar and feather that group are helped and given the life skills they need to stop the cycle of abuse, once and for all.” (From the blog The Slush and Mush Pile)

Oh, I am all for Mandatory Parenting School, I am just not very keen on ‘genetic screening’. Genetic screening for any other reason than hereditary debiltating illnesses sooner or later leads to screening out because of gender, sexual orientation, intelligence, hair-color, physical skills etc… Genetic screening will only harm the Human Race.We already gene-modify plants and animals, and that has resulted in our vegetables being less nutritious and our animals being unable to procreate normally as well as in some cases carry their own weight.

But Mandatory Parenting School would take care of the problem fine, I think.

I have seen enough ‘out-of-line-parents’, to think that demanding all 18 year olds go through 2-3 years of Parenting School with psych-evaluations along the way, and an age limit for getting kids. No-one under the age of 25 should be allowed to become parents, in fact I am not sure anyone should be allowed to marry before the age of 23, so that when they are finally, certificate in hand, old enough to become parents, they have already been married for a couple of years and have established a working relationship. And as a final exam they should have to care for one of those life-like baby dolls for at least a year. If they manage to do that without as much as a forgotten diaper, they might be up to the task.

Shalom!

Posted in Child abuse, Parenting | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Shooting Craps and Time Travel

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on May 24, 2006


Einstein said the G-d doesn’t play dice with the Universe – well that might be, but some times I think He plays dice with single human beings… A friend of mine just lost her husband to an act of violence – put on top of that that she lost her father just two months ago, and her mother three years ago to a freak accident – she’s been battling breast-cancer, anxiety, depression and her remaining family is a bunch of fucked up people she is having trouble relating to, and you have a nice stack of cards that shouldn’t be on anyone’s hand.

If I could, I would Time Travel – go faster than the speed of light, so much faster that I could go back and make a few adjustments for this friend. I would load the dice in her favor, tilt the playing table and deal her som Aces from a new deck. She doesn’t need all this grief, pain and sorrow – she needs a break, she needs not to be responsible for fixing everything now that her husband has been taken from her by a psychopathic maniac. She needs rest and time to heal all her old wounds, before she needs to deal with new ones.

So why? Why does G-d play dice with single people? And why are the dice always loaded to their disadvantage? I don’t get it. I really don’t. Do you?

Shalom!

Posted in General | Leave a Comment »

Self-Will, Devotion and Strange Fire…

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on May 22, 2006


Parasha “Bamidbar” Bamidbar 1:1-4:20

“And Nadav and Avihu died before the LORD, when they offered strange fire before the LORD, in the wilderness of Sinai, and they had no children; and Eleazar and Ithamar ministered in the priest’s office in the presence of Aaron their father.” (Bamidbar/Numbers 3:4)
“And Nadav and Avihu, the sons of Aaron, took each of them his censer, and put fire therein, and laid incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them. And there came forth fire from before the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.”(Vayikra/Leviticus 10:1-2)

This is a really interesting text. Two of Aharon’s son’s are killed when they go to do service in the Mishkan(Tent of Meeting) – but for what are they killed? The text in Bamidbar is not very forthcoming with an explanation, so we have to look at the parallell text in Vayikra for an answer – they offered fire before the L-RD about which they had not been commanded – it not being commanded by G-d, but coming from their own intense devotion, their own desire, rather than the inspiration of G-d, made it foreign to the House of G-d.

Some Sages suggest that they were drunk, and brought the incense offering as a result of being intoxicated – this is indicated through the fact that in Vayikra 10:9 “‘Drink no wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tent of meeting, that ye die not; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations.” Torah doesn’t prohibit something unless there is a reason, a practical example of behaviour that is unwanted or inappropriate.

Other Sages suggest that Nadav and Avihu were so intensly devoted to serving the Eternal One that they misused the privilege in an attempt to draw even closer to G-d than even their Father, Aharon, and that they were killed for that attempt, for wanting more of G-d than the rest of the Priest and the People. This would be indicated by the words “which He had not commanded them.”

The nature of a command is that it is spoken from G-d to us – i.e it is G-d who approaches us through His Mitzvot. Nadav and Avihu turned that order on it’s head and decided to approach G-d, basically without being invited and therefore without being properly prepared. They went individually, not in concert with each other, nor in concert with the other Priests, which in a sense made them vulnerable.

Rav Kook suggests that they failed to see the dynamic between the Sacred and the Mundane, the Spiritual and the Physical, that they lacked the understanding that if you “go up the mountain” you have to “come down the mountain”.

“The noble sons of the High Priest, Nadav and Avihu, drew their inspiration from the wellspring of Bina. They sought the spiritual pleasantness that characterizes this elevated realm, the limited grandeur that is accessible to our world. Due to their profound awareness of personal greatness, however, they mistakenly saw in the holy realm of Bina the ultimate source of reality. They placed all of their goals in this spiritual world.”

They forgot that they were serving the People before G-d as well as G-d before the People, and wanted to remain within the Spirtual/Sacred Realm, keeping the Insight and Beauty of Torah and G-d to themselves. Basically, they went for themselves, and not for G-d or for the people. The Strange Fire were their own strong but misguided desire to learn about the Mystery of G-d without sharing the knowledge with the rest of us as leaders and teachers.

Drawing near to G-d is all good – and we are supposed to, we are commanded to walk with G-d and to offer up our supplications and our gratitude – we are supposewd to have a relationship with G-d, but we are not supposed to stay “on the mountain” – we need to tend to the Mundane, we need to pay attention to the people around us, because ultimately, they the one’s we serve.

Shalom!

Sources: Parasha in Depth, Parasha Shemeni
The Error of Nadav and Avihu

Posted in Torah, Weekly Parasha | 8 Comments »

 
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