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Archive for July, 2007

Parasha Ekev – “If…then…”

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on July 31, 2007


Deu 7:12 If only you listen to these laws, safeguarding and keeping them, then God your Lord will keep the covenant and love with which He made an oath to your fathers.”

והיה עקב תשׁמעון את המשׁפטים האלה ושׁמרתם ועשׂיתם אתם ושׁמר יהוה אלהיך לך את־הברית ואת־החסד אשׁר נשׁבע לאבתיך׃

Vehayah ekev tishme’un et hamishpatim ha’eleh ushmartem va’asitem otam veshamar Adonay Eloheycha lecha et-habrit ve’et-hachesed asher nishba la’avoteycha.

The Covenant of The Land between G-d and Israel is a conditional covenant that is dependent on the People’s conduct. If the People keep their part of the bargain, then G-d will keep his part of the bargain.

If we look through history we will see that the borders of The Land have been directly connected to The People’s level of Torah Observance. The better People have been at Observing Torah, the more of The Land promised to Avraham Avinu they have been in possession of. G-d has NEVER specified the borders of The Land.

Edit Addition:

“The Historical Jewish people, despite all its contradictions and despite all the divisions that arose within it, never considered the state apparatus – that is, the force of organized power under which the people live – as one of the constitutive elements if its national essence. The same holds true with regard to the land. Contrary to what is claimed in our Declaration of Independence: “The Jewish people has emerged in the Land of Israel,” eighty or hundred generations have kept rooted in their consciousness, the memory of the fact that a people – which already existed – had invaded the land of Canaan and had made of it the Land of Israel…In its historical consciousness, the people existed outside all territorial attachments. It remembered – and was reminded – that it had been a stranger in Egypt…Later it was to become independent, not in a State, but in a desert, something without defined borders…The historical image is clear: it is the people who created the State, and not the State, not the land, which has created the people… It is thus quite clear, with respect to the Jewish people, that it was not a state apparatus, not a framework for the wielding of power, nor a given territory, not even a language that brought it into being and kept it in existence. Its national identity is incarnated in one specific, immanent element – Judaism.” (Leibowitz p 95-96)

 

The direct consequences of not Observing Torah has always been loss of The Land. Always. Loss of The Land and Exile. Why? Because Torah is directly imprinted on The Land. Remember the part in Devarim where G-d command The People to read the Curses and Blessing from Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal?

Deu 11:29-32 And it shall come to pass, when the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, that thou shalt set the blessing upon mount Gerizim, and the curse upon mount Ebal. Are they not beyond the Jordan, behind the way of the going down of the sun, in the land of the Canaanites that dwell in the Arabah, over against Gilgal, beside the terebinths of Moreh? For ye are to pass over the Jordan to go in to possess the land which the LORD your God giveth you, and ye shall possess it, and dwell therein. And ye shall observe to do all the statutes and the ordinances which I set before you this day.

Deu 27:1-7 And Moses and the elders of Israel commanded the people, saying: ‘Keep all the commandment which I command you this day. And it shall be on the day when ye shall pass over the Jordan unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, that thou shalt set thee up great stones, and plaster them with plaster. And thou shalt write upon them all the words of this law, when thou art passed over; that thou mayest go in unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, a land flowing with milk and honey, as the LORD, the God of thy fathers, hath promised thee. And it shall be when ye are passed over the Jordan, that ye shall set up these stones, which I command you this day, in mount Ebal, and thou shalt plaster them with plaster. And there shalt thou build an altar unto the LORD thy God, an altar of stones; thou shalt lift up no iron tool upon them. Thou shalt build the altar of the LORD thy God of unhewn stones; and thou shalt offer burnt-offerings thereon unto the LORD thy God.
And thou shalt sacrifice peace-offerings, and shalt eat there; and thou shalt rejoice before the LORD thy God.

There’s your imprint. The Land has its own Mezzuzot. The Land is Bound to Torah and its Observance – there really is no way around this.

So how to tie this to current events – to our modern historical reality?

I strongly believe that the Settlements in the West Bank are illegal, not only from a perspective of International Law, but from a Torah Perspective.

Let’s look at what has happened at other times when The People has been exiled and has lost The Land – Nebuchadnezzar overran Judah and brought The People into Exile in Babylon 2Ch 36:13. 70 years later Cyrus let The People return 2Ch 36:22-23. Someone, not of the People worked as G-d’s hands and brought The People back. Now let’s go forward – to 1947. Now to my mind the basic pattern of Possession-Exile is that for exile to end, someone not of The People has to intercept on the People’s behalf, and bring them back. Wasn’t that what happened 1947? Didn’t an International Community make it possible for The People to return? I think that’s what happened.

This would mean that The Land which G-d gives to The People, at this point in Time is the portion that was partitioned to the Jewish people as “Israel” in 1947. This would also mean that any expansion outside those borders are illegal, since The Land is bound to Torah, and its extension is directly connected to what G-d gives.

There’s another thing – that my Wife pointed out: “Why has the People been doing all those “Forth and Back”? Because G-d said so and someone listened.

The People was in peril – Yossef listened to G-d and brought the People into Egypt. Moshe listened to G-d and brought them out of Egypt. Nebuchadnezzar listened to G-d and brought the People into Exile – Cyrus listened to G-d and brought the People back.

The cycle of Possession-Exile have always been directed by “because G-d said so, and someone listened…”

So the possession of The Land is in this time limited by the borders determined at a time when someone listened to G-d.

306px-un_partition_plan_for_palestine_1947.png

The only way, according to Torah and Tanakh, the only way The People can come into possession of The Land as promised by G-d to Avraham Avinu, is by accepting the provisions of the Covenant – “Keep all the commandment which I command you this day.”

Now, that is hardly what the State of Israel is doing at the moment, and honestly it’s not what the Settlers, who claim religious rights The Land are doing either. The Settlers are occupying Land out-side the borders set up, ultimately by G-d, in 1947, and the only reason they can do that is because the secular State of Israel is helping them by deploying military force to keep them there.

“And thou shalt sacrifice peace-offerings…”

שׁלם

shelem
BDB Definition:
1) peace offering, requital, sacrifice for alliance or friendship
1a) voluntary sacrifice of thanks

Note that shelem could easily be written shalom…

The Sages stipulated that since the Temple is destroyed – in substitution of actual sacrifices, we are to offer up our prayers, and recitations of the Texts that directly deal with the different sacrifices stipulated in Torah. That is all well, but since the sacrifices in Torah is also connected to acts of contrition and thanks, i.e return to compliance with Torah, just reading them thrice a day is not enough – our actions have to reflect the inner content of the sacrifice.

How is accepting land that belongs to someone else, acting on a sense of wishing them peace? Fact is it’s not. In fact it’s a violation of Torah, because it means removing my neighbor’s landmarks:

Deu 19:14 Thou shalt not remove thy neighbour’s landmark, which they of old time have set, in thine inheritance which thou shalt inherit, in the land that the LORD thy God giveth thee to possess it.

Deu 27:17 Cursed be he that removeth his neighbour’s landmark. And all the people shall say: Amen.

Since the entire Earth belongs to G-d, any person living next to me is my neighbor – G-d is the one setting the boundaries, and since the boundaries for The Land is set by G-d according to how well the People Observe His Torah, Land adjacent to that of Israel must belong to the neighbor.

Neighbor:

ריע / רע

rêa‛ / rêya‛
BDB Definition:
1) friend, companion, fellow, another person
1a) friend, intimate
1b) fellow, fellow-citizen, another person (weaker sense)
1c) other, another (reciprocal phrase)

Can’t really get around that – any other person is my neighbor – whose landmark I may not remove.

Posted in Deuteronomy 11:29-32, Deuteronomy 27:1-7, Deutoronomy 7:12, Israel, Mount Ebal, Mount Gerizim, Parasha Ekev, Torah, Weekly Parasha | Leave a Comment »

Military and Truth

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on July 31, 2007


The guy in this video is a Xtian – but I can actually respect his message.

http://www.mcc.org/thermostat/videos/military_medium.html

Posted in Peace | Leave a Comment »

The Hitler Analogy – when is it acceptable?

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on July 30, 2007


The current president’s policies seem to be an extension of his grandfather’s thinking. Bush’s latest string of Executive Orders are so disconcertingly undemocratic and un-American that even the Right-wing is growing leery. Last week, Bush signed an order that would enable him to seize the financial assets of anti-war activists. And in his most troubling move to date, on May 9, Bush signed an order that states that in the event of another terror attack on U.S. soil, the legislative and judicial branches of government would become subservient to the executive. This move is precisely how Hitler concretized his power following the Reichstag fire.


The Blog – JewSchool – raised an interesting question: “When is it okay to call someone a Nazi.?”

It is interesting because the comparison to Hitler and Nazism is most often used when a debater has no arguments left for their position. It is considered bad form to use the comparison, and in most Discussion Forums it is a sure discussion killer. See Godwin’s Law.

It has also been used as a hyperbolic propagandist argument against f.i Israeli politics in regards to the Palestinians, especially by debaters on the Far Left, who somehow think they gain points by using it as an insult.

The interesting part appears when one is able to draw direct political lines between events today and those in the 1930’s and 1940’s Germany. Like the Blogger manages to do in the above quote.

The Question raises another Question – how are we to learn from history, if references to historical events cannot be made? If Hitler, the Third Reich and the Holocaust take on sacrosanct proportions in the minds of people, don’t we then loose an instrument that can and should be used for education and raising awareness of similar events taking place in our own times? What about historical, sociological and philosophical analysis – how can that be conducted if the books on certain parts of history are hermetically closed due to sensitivities of some of the victims? Isn’t that just another denial? It seems like the the slogan “Never again!” has come to mean, not that it must never happen again, but that we must never think or speak about it again. For sure, we must not point out that history is about to repeat itself in some variation.

It has been argued that the events leading up to and resulting in the Third Reich in the 1930’s were so unique that no events can be compared to them, not before and not after.

But were they? Really? The misuse of power, the political machinations, the targeting of political undesirables, followed by elimination any possible dissent – are they unique to the Rise of the Third Reich?

What about the Soviet Union? Or China? Uganda, Mozambique, Iran, Turkey, Iraq?

How about the Serbian Rise in Former Yugoslavia?

I know that Europe woke up to the plight of the Muslims in Serbia after images eerily resembling those from Bergen Belsen and Auschwitz were aired on TV – but that was long into the massacre, and for many the realization of what was happening came too late.

Could those events have been predicted and intercepted if we had been allowed to believe that this kind of evil is repeatable, because it is NOT unique, because human evil is in fact very predictable? Would we not then also have been allowed to analyze and draw parallels between events in the 1930’s and 40’s and events unfurling in our own times?

I believe that not only do we need to let go of the “sanctification” of the Holocaust and the events that led up to it as something unique, but we need to go of the permanent victimization, not just of the Jewish People and all other that perished then, but of our collective innocence. It cannot be repaired, so we might as well accept that it is gone, and live with it, learn from its demise and grow up.

Posted in Hitler, Philosophy, Third Reich | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Palestinian Indoctrination – Kindergarten Jihad

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on July 30, 2007


I picked this up from another Blogger:

 

This video is quite disturbing, however what is more sickening, is the lack of media attention. The liberal left does not want you to see this sort of thing because it undermines their position on the roots of terrorism and Israel being the evil killing machine.


 

I find this extremely disturbing – for several reasons.

 

 

 

  1. these kids have been trained for one thing – to be soldiers. Which is hardly what a Kindergarten is supposed to do to kids.
  2. these kids are being taught to hate “the enemy” and to seek death for Allah. That is not something any child should be taught.
  3. regardless of what the adults around these kids believe, imposing such believes on children is immoral, unethical and a violation those kids’ human rights.

I think it was Golda Meir who said: “There will be peace when the Palestinians love their children more than they hate us.”

 

No children should be told to hate, bear arms or seek death for a G-dhead they can barely comprehend. I don’t care if those kids are Palestinians, Israeli, Lebanese or American. To me they are children and as such they should be allowed to be kids.

 

No cause, religious or otherwise, is worth the damage done to those kids – nothing is worth killing a child’s soul for. Nothing.

Posted in Child abuse | Tagged: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

The finer points of Hypocrisy…

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on July 29, 2007


This poster really doesn’t see her own hypocritical approach – and it’s painful to watch.

I have noticed that some of my friends don’t capitalize God, instead they spell his name g-o-d. This offends me and it is very offensive to God, Himself. I believe some of you are getting confused between the mythological gods who-don’t capitalize the word god-and the “real thing.”

A member here has a disturbing page icon, at least it is to me, that reads “All Gods Are One God.” She/he is a good person-I’m sure-and has the right to express her/his oppinoin however they choose, but Christians-like myself-believe in ONLY ONE GOD.

Thank you XX, for allowing me this opportunity to express myself. I welcome all oppinions I’m sure to get.

Love & Light,


Don’t you just like it when people demand certain religious practices and forget to extend the same courtesy to others and their practices? It makes for such perfect noose curls.

Curl #1: “I have noticed that some of my friends don’t capitalize God, instead they spell his name g-o-d. This offends me and it is very offensive to God, Himself.”

Who died and made you G-d so you can read G-d’s mind and decide what offends Him/Her? Ok, so it offends YOU, but you are not G-d, so you cannot decide if G-d is offended.

Curl #2: “I believe some of you are getting confused between the mythological gods who-don’t capitalize the word god-and the “real thing.””

Again who died and made you the judge of what is the “Real Thing”? The G-d of the Greek Scriptures is a mythological creature to me – should I therefore spell Yeshu ben Miriam “yeshu ben miriam” to indicate that he is nothing but a mythological figure to me – on par with Zeus, Vishnu, Innana etc.?

Curl #3: “Just remember when it’s a character like Zeus god of lightning, it’s a small g but when it comes to The Creator of Life, it’s spelled with a capital G.”

How do you know Who is the Creator of Life? – For all we know it might just be Zeus, or Ganesha, or Shiva or Baal. You really cannot know that.

Curl #4: A member here has a disturbing page icon, at least it is to me, that reads “All Gods Are One God.” She/he is a good person-I’m sure-and has the right to express her/his oppinoin however they choose, but Christians-like myself-believe in ONLY ONE GOD.

Exactly – she has the right to believe and express that belief anyway she pleases. That you are a Xian and believe as you do should have no bearing on anyone else’s behavior – but yours, and you just managed to tie yourself a nice little intellectual noose made up of 4 curls – happy hanging!

Besides, being a Xian, you actually believe in three G-ds – you just roll them into one so they “fit” into scriptures you stole from the Jewish People.

A hypocrite and a thief…hm.

Posted in G-d | 2 Comments »

Sanctimonious Bullshit

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on July 29, 2007


Prayer For Muslims

This morning, as I was listening to my local Christian radio station, they were announcing the coming of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month. The Christian community was being encouraged to pray for the Muslim people during this time.

That struck me as being very interesting. I understand that many people believe Islam to be a religion of peace, but I do not agree. I think most Muslims want to live at peace with the world, but the growing radical movement wants the destruction of all other religious groups. So here’s a religion in which many of its followers are seeking to kill Christians, but Christians are being asked to pray for them.

Sounds like the upside-down kingdom Christ talked about while on earth. Let’s pray hard!

“But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44)!


*lol*What a load of sanctimonious bullshit! Coming from an adherent of one of the most murderous religions on earth. Next he will be saying that we cannot judge Xtianism by a “few bad eggs” during the last 2000 years – yet that is exactly what he is doing with Islam.He is judging an entire religion and all its adherents as “not peaceful” on account of a fraction of 300 million Muslims…How about reading about not judging instead of praying?“Mat 7:1 Judge not, that ye be not judged. ”

Posted in Islamophobia | Tagged: , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Fundamentalism Second Take

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on July 29, 2007


My first take is here: Fundamentalism

 

From Dale’s Blog

2000 years ago, J*sus warned his early followers: “Not everyone who calls to me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do my Father’s will may enter. On the Judgment Day many will say to me, ‘Lord, didn’t we prophesy, cast out demons, and do many miracles in your name?’ But I will say to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you that do evil!’ ” (Matthew 7:21-23)

I would suggest that the thing which will condemn someone to hell, even though they profess to believe in J*sus, will be the person’s placing the Bible above God Himself. Fundamentalists have claimed for over a century that the Bible is the Word of God and is therefore infallible. This claim has no support whatsoever. Attempts to support it by references to the Bible are circular reasoning. Only God Himself should ever be seen as infallible, and since we have no direct contact with Him, we have nothing that may be considered infallible. The Bible, the Q’uran, and other religious books may be inspired by faith in God, but they are still human products, and are thus prone to error like all other human products. The Q’uran itself condemns the tendency of man to make partners with Allah, so should it be acceptable for any Muslim to make the Quran a partner with Allah?

In this physical world, there is NOTHING and NO ONE that may rightfully be called infallible!”

To which Harry responded…:

  1. Posted July 24, 2007 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Soooo…..if the Bible is just a collection of men in past times idea of what God was trying to say, then – what? Surely without the acceptance that the Bible is handed by God to man through divine inspiration, as God’s infallible word to His creation, then any old oddball doctrine – say gold plates from Joseph Smith, Jim Jones Socialism or Reverend Moon oddballness can simply claim God tells me things and this is truth. We have to have a measure by which doctrine is measured, or else we have the mess which people such as yourself who preach atheistic materialism. You’ll be telling us next we’re all stardust, LSD is good and we should hug a tree for Gaia (because God tells you so).


I would like to commend Dale on his excellent exposition of Matthew 7:21-23! It has rarely been said so well :-).

I also agree with Dale on the rest. Only G-d is infallible and has the right to judge.

Let me respond to Harry point by point:

“Soooo…..if the Bible is just a collection of men in past times idea of what God was trying to say, then – what?”

Indeed then what? Only a person who needs the threat of hell over him to act ethically and righteously would have to ask. The rest of us have no trouble living by what Torah says, because it makes sense or because it’s a good idea in itself. To us it really doesn’t matter if Torah came down directly from G-d to Moshe, or if it is a collection of edited rules for good living – what matters to us is G-d.

“Surely without the acceptance that the Bible is handed by God to man through divine inspiration, as God’s infallible word to His creation, then any old oddball doctrine – say gold plates from Joseph Smith, Jim Jones Socialism or Reverend Moon oddballness can simply claim God tells me things and this is truth.”

Of course, and they have every right to do so – because G-d is merely interested in what you DO – not how you came about what to do. Torah doesn’t need to be “handed by God to man through divine inspiration, as God’s infallible word to His creation” – because in the end it’s all about what we believe it to be, and what we do with it.

“We have to have a measure by which doctrine is measured…,”

The bitch about any Holy Scripture – be it Xtian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist – is that the only measure we have by which to measure it is BELIEF/FAITH. All we can scientifically establish about religious scriptures is an approximate time period of when it was first put to paper, where it was put to paper, and some times also by whom – but the actual objective truth or values of it’s contents cannot be established by science.

“…or else we have the mess which people such as yourself who preach atheistic materialism.”

So by what measure are you measuring yourself after you violated Torah witnessing false against your neighbor? It sure isn’t Torah.

“(Exo 20:16) (20:13) Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

(Deu 5:20) (5:17) Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbour.”

I have known Dale for several years – and he does not preach atheistic materialism – nor has he ever done so as long as I have known him. He professes to be an agnostic – i.e he claims that the existence of G-d cannot be either proven or disproven. Rather than being a materialist he is very much an ethical/spiritual sceptic, which is far from being an atheist materialist.

You, Harry, on the other hand is a dreadful example for your badly hidden beliefs – actually proving Dale’s point right with every word you utter here.

—-

So far what’s happening on another Blog that I found interesting.

Posted in Q'uran, Religion, Religious Fundamentalism | 3 Comments »

Science – Can it dictate Ethics?

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on July 29, 2007


Three opponents, three different results

This entire discussion is a very good example of how a respectful, friendly and fruitful discussion on heated topics should be conducted. It also proves that Scientific-Religious matters can be discussed without all the over and undertones that so often enter into matters that touches on personal experiences and matters of beliefs.

This is a very interesting discussion – I have excluded the arguments that were simple ad hominems and thus had to exclude one of the debaters – nevertheless the arguments deserve consideration and additional rebuttals 🙂 I do hope you do not mind, Dale.

Dale Husband: “Religion was the ONLY basis for ethics in most ancient societies because there was no conception of science or scientific methods in them back then. So religion served a good purpose then. My argument is that we need to go beyond that now.”

It is true that religion was the basis for ethics in ancient times, but I am not sure it was the only one – the Ancient Greeks would probably disagree with that statement. Stating that there was no conception of science or scientific method back then, while it might be a correct assertion by subjective standards today, it would be, IMO, incorrect from an objective standard – we do not know what kind of empirical data religious Laws were based on in those times.

One such example could be the Biblical prohibition against mixing different species of garments – something that has later shown to be a not so good idea, as garments made of animal products (wool and silk) have shown to be less durable if they are sewn or mixed together with plant products (flax and cotton) – it is fully possible, and probable that the Ancients through observation determined this to be true. That they then gave this empirical data divine origin doesn’t detract from the scientific method by which they arrived at the conclusion. Same with breeding different species of animals – the observation that the off-spring did not breed in turn (like mules and sheep goats) would have in the same manner given them empirical data to support the prohibition against cross species breeding. Again that they gave this a divine origin does not detract from their empirical scientific conclusion.

That we decide that decisions, prohibitions, ethics etc in Ancient times were based in religion, without any scientific data to back them up can be asserted if we at the same time judge Ancient times to be less evolved than our times – but what is our basis for such judgment? Each time and culture has its needs, each time and culture has its sociological structure for which it attempts to provide the best solutions to issues challenging that specific time, culture and structure.

CheWorks: “Maybe you are mixing up religion with spirituality, Dale. Science proves there are ethical standards such as recycling. Would God tell us to recycle? No.”

In the beginning of this Blog entry it is determined that CheWorks is a Marxist Atheist, which explains his disparaging comments about religion and G-d.

He asks a question: “Would G-d tell us to recycle?” He then answers his own question: “No“. Whether G-d tells us to recycle or not is actually a matter of debate. The concept of Tikkun Olam – “healing the world” and the various commandments in regards to how to treat animals, fertile land, how to dispose of various waste products certainly indicate that the authors of Torah had a natural cycling and care for natural resources in mind. There are several passages where we are warned about what will happen if we do not care for the Earth and it’s natural resources, and the consequences of misusing are stated as harsh indeed. So stating that G-d does not tell us to recycle is at best ignorant, at worst it’s an Atheist propagandist statement made for the effect and nothing else.

CheWorks:“Nowhere more than in the Judeo-Christian tradition do I see a pathetic God trying to gain respect. This has nothing to do with ethics. Nowadays religion supports wealth at any cost, which means enslaving 99% of the human population. This is hardly ethical.” (sic)

It is interesting that this debater chooses to attack Judaic and Xtian Traditions, but excludes Islamic Tradition, which from his point of view should be just as unethical. Note how he makes a statement about religion and wealth attaching to religion values that cannot be asserted objectively, without any supportive argument of his, and then makes the assertion that what he just said is unethical – that is a straw man, and I am surprised that it wasn’t caught by by the initiator of the debate.

CheWorks:“Can you please explain how science can help homophobes? Is it by showing that they are of the same chromosomes as heterosexuals?”

Interwoven comment by Dale: Interesting that he accepts my premise as valid and moves the discussion forward by bringing in an issue for which it would be a good demonstration of the truth of my idea.

Not really surprising – because Dale is, to CheWorks’ mind, attacking religion, and Judaic and Xtian Traditions in particular, it is only logical that he would accept Dale’s premise and move the discussion on to a subject where he can further attack those “loathesome” traditions. The problem is that the discussion doesn’t take the desired turn – no-one comes in and gets all worked up over what he says – in fact no-one even addresses the low points of his contribution. So he silently crawls back to his hole.

Dale Husband: “Science is still investigating the causes of homosexuality, but if a physical cause was indeed found, it would blow away forever the notion that gays follow a lifestyle that is their free choice, and then there would be no legal basis for them to be punished for expressing their true nature. Homosexuality could no longer rightfully be called a “sin”. But since so many people do not accept evolution as true for religious reasons, they won’t accept those findings either.”

I didn’t catch this the first time around: “But since so many people do not accept evolution as true for religious reasons, they won’t accept those findings either.

I am not sure accepting evolution would automatically imply acceptance of scientific findings that indicate homosexuality is not a choice – I know plenty of people who accept the premise that being homosexual is not at choice, but acting homosexual is, and who as a result of this, IMO, rather strained split of people’s personalities, demand celibacy as the only way to be homosexual. Now one can certainly debate the moral and ethic values of splitting people into beings and actions, but it is a solution that indicate that the people doing so have accepted the idea that homosexuality might not be a choice.

Finally, my third opponent arrived. This one was known as Shadow Bear or Silly Old Bear. Unlike the first two, this one was a friend of mine. He is also Jewish.

To understand my comments below – we have to include the comments by Dale that I was responding to, it might have been excluded from the discussion in Dale’s Blog for whatever reason – in any case it needs repeating here, I hope Dale does not mind.

 

DH: “If you are referring to a criminal, that is a matter for testing as well, by comparing societies that have thedeath penalty with those that don’t. If you mean people like Terry Schivo, it was made clear after her death that she had no possibility of recovery. To keep her body alive would have been wasting resources that would have been better used on people that were more likely to recover.”

SOB:This has me a little concerned – because this reduces a person down to what he or she can produce in terms of what is beneficial to Society. It opens a whole lot of cans, I’d rather see kept closed. It raises the question “Who is to decide what is beneficial to Society?” That has been tried – it didn’t work from a Humane point of view – both the Nazis and the Fascists used this “touch stone” in their politics, and it destroyed a lot of knowledge, experience and human history. The idea that what is good for Society is what a human is worth only works if Society’s basic ethical and moral standards are such that they take into account that we do not always know what is good for Society. What then should be the scientific test to determine this? How do you scientifically measure that which cannot be measured?”

DH: “As I see it, the Nazis and fascists made a point of judging other races of people as inferior without any empirical justification. That was the opposite of scientific thinking and led to their downfall when they were proven wrong. It is true that we do not know the potential value of people and it cannot be measured empirically. But if we do not come up with an empirical reason to prohibit murder, what can we say to a person who rejects all religion and wants a reason to justify whatever he wishes to do, including murder? And keep in mind that many senseless killings have been done in the name of religion. There is the potential for corruption in all things, which is why free inquiry is so important. If we cannot question authority, it can destroy us.”

SOB: “That is not quite true – both the Fascists and the Nazis based their ideas about races of people, disabled – both mental and physical , homosexuals, political and religious beliefs on what they considered to be empirical evidence – such as homosexuals not being likely to reproduce, Jews being a genetic contamination, mental and physically disabled not being productive etc. All based on the science they had access to. Those empirical evidence might not be satisfactory to you and me, but that is only because you and I are measuring the evidence using another scale – based in what we consider ethical. Not because of the science as such.”

“Religion is not necessary for making sound ethical decisions or f.i not to murder. I have not always been a religious man – still I have always held the opinion that all people are equal with equal rights to life. This can be arrived at by simple logical deduction. Atheists and Secular Humanists are not unethical, murderous or amoral. It doesn’t exclude that there certainly do exist such atheists or secular humanists, just as there are unethical, murderous or amoral religious people. Let’s not make Science another religion, Dale – it is quite defendable without needing all the trimmings of religion. Simple logic is enough.”

I would like to here further address one of Dale’s Statements:

DH: “If we cannot question authority, it can destroy us”

As can be seen in many countries, democratic or not, where Freedom of Speech(as it was once created – to safeguard the People’s right to criticize their government without fear of reprisals) is in any way suppressed. Authority that goes unscrutinized will in the end lose all democratic resemblance and become the enemy of that which it was presumably once implemented to protect – the People.

Dale left out another portion, that to my mind is important:

DH: “No one individual should ever have that power[to decide what is beneficial to Society?], but a collective consensus can gradually be reached as a result of people performing observations and experimental tests repeatedly to establish a pattern of benefits among people as a result of following ethical codes.”

SOB: This assumes that

  1. all agree on what are the ethical codes that should be followed, and already you and I are disagreeing on whether science in itself holds ethical merit or not.

  2. scientific evolution always leads to a step higher than previously arrived at, and that is not always the case.

  3. the goals set for the scientific evolution are the same for all at all times. That is not always the case.

DH: “There are indeed limitations to what experimentation and empiricism can do, but the alternative is to do nothing and allow oppressive dogmas that people are so often made to follow to go unchallenged.”

SOB: I agree on the limitations, and that is where I choose to take a step beyond that which can be measured, and presuppose that with or without empirical data, the human mind is capable of creating ethical codes that do benefit the most people without putting a scientific “price-tag” on them. I agree on the oppressiveness of dogmas, if imposed on people without sound reasoning, and I do believe that such dogmas should be questioned. But that is a choice we make, not something that is necessarily scientific – it is still sound though.

Next comment is an example to illustrate the my point:

SOB: Example:“Scientifically it cannot be proven that Homosexuality is not a choice, so if all I had to go on was science I might be inclined to agree with the fundamentalists that homosexuality is indeed a sin according to Torah. There would be nothing to tell me otherwise. But because I do indeed choose what dogmas to incorporate in my ethics I have gone out of my way to find other ways to view homosexuality and Torah, so that the two do not contradict each other. Where there are no scientific data, we still have to make a choice as to how to act ethically.”

I truly enjoy discussing with Dale – he is fun, educated, well spoken and respectful of his opponents.

Posted in Debate, Religion, Science | Tagged: | 9 Comments »

Parasha Va’etchanan – Devarim 3:23-7:11

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on July 27, 2007


tzitziot.jpg

The Shema – What is it?

Devarim 6:4-9, 11:13-21, Bamidbar 15:37-41

Devarim 6:4-9

HEAR, O ISRAEL: THE Adonai OUR GOD, THE Adonai IS ONE.

And thou shalt love Adonai thy G-d with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be upon thy heart; and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thy house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thy hand, and they shall be for frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the door-posts of thy house, and upon thy gates.”

Devarim 11:13-21

“And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto My commandments which I command you this day, to love Adonai your G-d, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, that I will give the rain of your land in its season, the former rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil. And I will give grass in thy fields for thy cattle, and thou shalt eat and be satisfied. Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them; and the anger of Adonai be kindled against you, and He shut up the heaven, so that there shall be no rain, and the ground shall not yield her fruit; and ye perish quickly from off the good land which Adonai giveth you. Therefore shall ye lay up these My words in your heart and in your soul; and ye shall bind them for a sign upon your hand, and they shall be for frontlets between your eyes. And ye shall teach them your children, talking of them, when thou sittest in thy house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt write them upon the door-posts of thy house, and upon thy gates; that your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, upon the land which Adonai swore unto your fathers to give them, as the days of the heavens above the earth.”

Bamidbar 15:37-41

“And Adonai spoke unto Moses, saying: ‘Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them throughout their generations fringes in the corners of their garments, and that they put with the fringe of each corner a thread of blue. And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of Adonai, and do them; and that ye go not about after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go astray; that ye may remember and do all My commandments, and be holy unto your G-d. I am Adonai your G-d, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your G-d: I am Adonai your G-d.'”

What does it mean…

Thou shalt love Adonai thy G-d

“You shall love the Lord your God”: means that because of you the Name of Heaven will become beloved. That is, when a person studies Bible and Mishnah and ministers to the needs of the teachers of Torah, and speaks gently with other people, and deals properly with others in the marketplace, and conducts his business honestly, what do people say about him? “Happy is the one who studied Torah; happy is the teacher who taught this one Torah…”

Abaye, in the Babylonian Talmud, Yoma 86a.

Rashi: And you shall love [the Lord] Perform His commandments out of love. The one who acts out of love cannot be compared to the one who acts out of fear. If one serves his master out of fear, when the master sets a great burden upon him, this servant will leave him and go away [whereas if out of love he will serve him even under great burden] (Sifrei 6:5).

With all thy heart – my spiritual/emotional being

This is a command to love G-d with that which is innermost in me, my essence, my person, my passion, my driving force. I suspect this command is tied to the command to cleave to G-d. Devarim 10:20 Adonai, your G-d, shall you fear, Him shall you serve, to Him shall you cleave, and in His Name shall you swear. Devarim 11:22 For if you will observe this entire mitzvah that I command you, to perform it, to love Adonai, your G-d, to walk in His ways and to cleave to Him.

“The Sages explain that the way to cleave to G-d is by attaching oneself to Torah scholars (Rashi). By this injunction we are commanded to mix and associate with wise men, to be always in their company, and to join with them in every possible manner of fellowship: in eating, drinking, and business affairs, to the end that we may succeed in becoming like them in respect of their actions and in acquiring true opinions from their words. The wise man, or as he is called in Hebrew talmid chacham, ‘the disciple of a wise man’, interpreting and exemplifying as he does the word of G-d, is regarded in Jewish thought as being nearest to Him. To cleave to the wise man is thus to cleave to Adonai (Berachot 10b; Pesachim 22b)”

RaMBaN interprets “cleaving” as the duty to avoid the temptation of idol worship by always remembering G-d and inspiring oneself to love Him.

My spiritual being is that which connects with G-d on an immediate level. Loving G-d, and cleaving to Him through prayer and meditation – through spiritual exercise is what will keep me centered and grounded when all else fails. So my love for G-d, the command to love G-d with my innermost being is a command to stay connected to G-d.

With all thy soul – my mind/intellectual being

The human mind is very flighty – it’s easily distracted, so loving G-d with all my soul/mind/intellectual being might not be as easy as directing my spiritual being, because my mind will pick up this and that from what is around me. So in order to direct my mind towards loving G-d, I need to occupy my mind with things that keeps it focused on G-d. Here Torah Study is a very good Task Master. I need both my own thoughts and others to accomplish this. Asking questions, getting answers and exercising my mind around matters of Torah not only focuses my mind on G-d, it increases my knowledge, and my sense of clarity.

“She is more precious than rubies; and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her. Length of days is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honour. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her, and happy is every one that holdest her fast. HaShem by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding He established the heavens. By His knowledge the depths were broken up, and the skies drop down the dew. My son, let not them depart from thine eyes; keep sound wisdom and discretion; So shall they be life unto thy soul, and grace to thy neck.” (Mishlei/Prov. 3:15-22)

The Rabbis taught: Once the evil kingdom [of Rome] decreed that the Jews may not engage in Torah study. Pappus ben Yehudah found R. Akiva teaching Torah in public to large groups. He said to him, “Akiva, are you not afraid of the authorities?”… When the Romans took R. Akiva to execute him, it was time for the reading of the shema. They were tearing his flesh with iron combs, and he was reciting the shema. His students said to him, “Master, must one go so far?” He said to them, “All my life I was troubled by the verse ‘With all your soul,’ which I understood as ‘even if God takes your soul,’ and I wondered about when I would have the opportunity to fulfill it? Now that I have the opportunity, shall I not fulfill it?

(Babylonian Talmud, Berakhot 61b)

With all thy might – my physical/social being

How do I love G-d with my physical being? My immediate response is “through the rituals”. From washing hands in the morning to reciting the Evening Shema, the Jewish daily life is full of physical expressions. And then of course there is the ‘shockling’ while praying…

There is something profoundly comforting in wrapping oneself in Tallit Gadol every morning, but it is also a profound reminder of being a person who directs oneself towards G-d, seeking G-d’s Presence through both physical and spiritual means.

But it doesn’t stop at me. Loving G-d physically will eventually reflect a deeper level of commitment, in a sense ‘kavanah’ through how I conduct myself among my friends as well as among strangers – eating kosher, reciting Motzi before meals, saying grace after meals, is in a sense a pure physical way of worshipping and loving G-d, who commanded us to do those things.

Rashi: and with all your means Heb. וּבְכָל- מְאֹד‏ֶ, uvechol me’odecha, with all your possessions. There are people whose possessions are more precious to them than their own bodies. Therefore, it says,”and with all your means.” (Sifrei) Another explanation of וּבְכָל- מְאֹד‏ֶ is: You shall love God with whatever measure (מִדָּה, mi’dah) He metes out to you, whether it be the measure of good or the measure of retribution. Thus also did David say: “I will lift up the cup of salvations [and I will call upon the name of the Lord]” (Ps. 116:12-13); “I found trouble and grief [and I called out in the name of the Lord]” (Ps. 116:3-4).

This calls for loving G-d through my financial self and with what I own. To be willing to share what I have with those who have not – even if what I have is little.

“Justice, Justice, shall you pursue…” – “The double emphasis means: Justice (Tzedek) under any circumstances, whether to you profit or loss, whether in word or action, whether Jew or non-Jew. It also means: Do not use unjust means to secure justice(Bachya ben Asher’s Commentary on Parashas Shoftim 16:20)

“Tzedakah” is the Hebrew word for the acts that we call “charity” in English: giving aid, assistance, and money to the poor and needy or to other worthy causes. But the nature of tzedakah is very different from the idea of charity. The word “charity” suggests benevolence and generosity, a magnanimous act by the wealthy and powerful for the benefit of the poor and needy. The word “tzedakah” is derived from the Hebrew root Tzade-Dalet-Qof, meaning righteousness, justice, or fairness. In Judaism, giving to the poor is not viewed as a generous, magnanimous act; it is simply an act of justice and righteousness, the performance of a duty, giving the poor their due, achieving just distribution of what this world and G-d has to offer.

Bind them for a sign upon thy handAction.

Torah, G-d’s Commandments, all 613 of them are all opportunities to speak the language of Torah and G-d’s love in a physical manner. Every time I put a coin or a bill in my tzeddaka box, I am loving G-d with my physical resources, and if I have nothing to put in my tzedakah box, maybe I can pledge an hour of Torah study or kindness to a stranger in need? Through my actions I either show the presence of Torah or I don’t, which it is is completely up to me.

Which ever I choose – I am commanded by G-d to let my Actions be guided/controlled by Torah. But there is also the actual physical binding of Tefillin on my hand. Which in itself carries a commitment to G-d through the prayer said as the Tefillin shel yad is strapped around the middle finger and hand:

“I will betroth you to me forever, and I will betroth you to me with righteousness, justice, kindness, and mercy. I will betroth you to me with fidelity, and you shall know Hashem” (Hos 2:19)

And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine arm.

Rashi: And you shall bind them for a sign [ot] upon your hand These are the tefillin of the arm.

Devarim 10:19 – “Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt

Some times refraining from physical action is the fulfilment of this mitzvah – Devarim 24:19;

“When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hands.”

They shall be for frontlets between thine eyesMy Views/My Perceptions of the World

New Age speak of the ‘Third Eye’, as placed right in the middle of one’s forehead – it is that whith which we see that which cannot be seen, only sensed. I imagine G-d’s Torah as being placed right there, between my eyes, to let me ‘see’ the World through the eyes of G-d. This commandment also speaks of what is supposed to be at the foremost front of my mind. G-d’s Commandments. Every day I am commanded to let that which happens around me be ‘filtered’ through the Eye of Torah, so I can judge Right from Wrong and be aware of the world from a perspective of G-d’s Torah. I have some times wondered if the ‘mark’ G-d put on Kayin to protect him from those who would kill him for his murder of Hevel, in some way resembled the Tefillin shel rosh…

Rashi: and they shall be for ornaments between your eyes לְטֹטָפֹת. (le’totafot)These are the tefillin of the head, and because of the number of the Scriptural sections contained in them [namely four], they are טֹטָפֹתtotafoth, for טַטtat in Coptic means”two,” פַּתpat in Afriki (Phrygian) [also] means”two.” (San. 4b)

Then there is off course the actual putting on of Tefillin shel Rosh – to dedicate myself every morning to Torah and to G-d.

““You have a brain. It is in one world. Your heart is in another. And your hands often end up involved in something completely foreign to both of them. Three diverse machines.

“So you put on tefillin. First thing in the day, you connect your head, your heart and your hand with these leather cables — all to work as one with one intent. And then when you go out to meet the world, all your actions find harmony in a single coordinated purpose…”

How to lay tefillin

Therefore shall ye lay up these My words in your heart and in your soul;

Torah, as a cloak, enclosing my innermost person. Note however that this requires action on my part – I have to lay Torah in my heart and in my soul – Torah will not protect my spirit or my mind unless I actively put it there! Active continuos Torah study and practice of Mitzvot, both alone and with others will not only eventually saturate/permeate my inner being, it will also teach me more about what G-d requires and what G-d has promised me as His Child.

Here is the last paragraph of the Shema

“And Adonai spoke unto Moses, saying: ‘Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them throughout their generations fringes in the corners of their garments, and that they put with the fringe of each corner a thread of blue. And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of Adonai, and do them; and that ye go not about after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go astray; that ye may remember and do all My commandments, and be holy unto your G-d. I am Adonai your G-d, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your G-d: I am Adonai your G-d.'”

This is the command to don tzitzit – usually the tzitzit (the corner fringes) are carried on a Tallit Gadol (large prayer shawl) during morning prayers – but they can also be carried by a Tallit Katan (smaller tallit worn as an extra garment under regular clothes) all day.

Tradition has it that one of the various ways to tie the tzitzit makes up the number 613 – the number of Mitzvot commanded us by G-d in Torah.

To me, this is the Torah Cloak – I see the tzitzit and I am reminded of who I am, Who commanded me and why.

So each morning, I accept the Yoke of Heaven both physically, by actually putting on the Tallit and the Tefillin, and emotionally/spiritually by devoting myself to the practice of Torah.

Shabbat Shalom!

Posted in Bamidbar 15:37-41, Devarim 11:13-21, Devarim 3:23-7:11, Devarim 6:4-9, Parasha Va'etchanan, Tallit Gadol, Tallit Katan, Tefillin shel rosh, Tefillin shel yad, The Shema, Torah, Weekly Parasha | Leave a Comment »

If Dad Gives His Child a Bath …male-bashing par excellence

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on July 26, 2007


Virginia Department of Health AdBackground: In my recent blog post If You See a Father Holding His Child’s Hand, Call the Cops!, I called attention to the man-bashing Virginia Department of Health poster pictured above. I wrote:

“If dad goes for a walk with his daughter and holds her hand, apparently Virginia Department of Health officials wants you to pick up the phone and destroy his life by reporting him as a possible sexual abuser. I would’ve thought this article about this campaign was from The Onion or some satirical publication, but it’s for real. The picture above of a man holding a child’s hand–a touching little scene–is actually supposed to make us think he’s sexually abusing the child. Unbelievable.”

It is assumed that a man holding his daughter’s hand is also abusing her sexually. Can it really become any more misandrist than that?

The supposed aim of the campaign is to encourage people to report, seek help and stop child sexual abuse – and as such it is commendable – but the imagery and assumptions the ad carries is nothing but cementing the idea that ALL men are sexual predators, and that there are no healthy father-daughter relationships out there, or that they are at the very least very few.

The ad makers do not seem to have considered the implications for anyone falsely accused of sexual child abuse – the cost in human rights, privacy, family welfare or even child welfare for those children who are being hauled into Social Services Offices and pressured to testify – often through leading questions and “tests” that are then interpreted, by uneducated SSO workers who are more interested in getting a “conviction” to show off to their colleagues, than they are at actually hearing or seeing the truth.

Groups that have formed to help people falsely accused of abuse are opposed to the campaign. Dean Tong, who operates a Web site that offers help to people who are falsely accused of abuse, said the campaign has the potential to tarnish the reputation of innocent people and hurt children.

“For every case of genuine abuse, there are two or three that are unfounded witch hunts,” said Tong, a Florida forensic consultant who has written books on the topic of false accusations.

The false accusations, the night-mares for the children, the fathers, mothers and relatives while a false accusation is investigated, in a country where the mere suspicion of” sexual misconduct” will end you posted on the Internet “to warn parents”, are horrible enough, without this sort of hysterical and discriminating campaign.

Campaigns like this will only add fuel to an already, in regards to sexual matters “overheated public”, that crave such scandals and sleaze because their lives are boring and unimaginative as it is.

It’s McCarthy all over, “How do you know your neighbor is Commie?” but this is targeting not a politically undesirable group, which is bad enough – it’s targeting people because of their gender. Isn’t that what the Feminist have (justified or not) accused the Patriarchy of doing to women since time immemorial?

Why repeat the mistakes of Patriarchy?

Posted in Men, Sexual abuse | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

 
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