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Archive for August 2nd, 2007

Who deserves the Credit for the Good we get?

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on August 2, 2007


I get a lot of thinking and inspiration from the guys and gals over at De-Conversion – they have the most spiritual and human discussions I have come across in a very long time – somehow they strike me as very Jewish in their approach (sorry Guys, but you do…:-) ).

 

From De-Conversion:“Next time you have the opportunity to pray over a meal, thank those who deserve to be thanked. In fact, next time you have an opportunity, volunteer to pray.”

Funny, I did this very thing before eating supper earlier this evening. I sometimes get a little overwhelmed with gratitude when I consider my marraige. My wife has been a marvel of patience and understanding to me, especially during this sometimes very stressful time of leaving my Christian faith. She really is the best.

I sometimes get the overwhelming urge to show gratitude, to thank someone or something for my good blessings! As a Christian, I always thanked God for those many blessings, because i really have been most fortunate. This evening, I felt this vestigial urge, even as a non-Christian, to say a prayer of gratitude.

Instead of thanking God for the food, I turned to my wife and thanked her. I feel just as blessed as ever.

I think we can learn a lot from the discussions on de-conversion – because these people are right – why exclude the entire process involved in all we get in our lives? Most of us thank G-d by route, without really thinking that for things to be available to us, human hands have to be involved.

 

The surgeon competently completing a complicated operation is doing that based on skills, talents, inclinations, and hard work – from my point of view ultimately G-d is responsible for all of that – but it took the listening to his/her personality (G-d’s Voice?) to step up and get the education that made him/her the competent surgeon, and for this he/she deserves credit.

 

Torah Teaches us that G-d is the Ultimate Source of everything, so in the end it really doesn’t matter who we thank for our good – G-d or the people involved in the process of that good. But as the Blogger above that I quoted, HeIsSailing, says – some times gratitude can be overwhelming, and we need to express it – so let’s do that, which ever way we feel is appropriate. From where I am standing it gets to the right place in either case.

 

The Talmudic Sages teach that a Frum Jew should say at least 100 Blessings a day – perhaps they were trying to convey the spiritual (not religious) truth that gratitude begets gratitude:

 

“Rabbi Meir said, ‘A person is obligated to bless 100 blessing every day, as the Torah says: ‘Now Israel, what does God ask from you, but only to fear Hashem your God, to go in all His ways, and to love Him, and to serve Hashem your God, with all of your heart and with all of your soul. To guard the commands of Hashem and His statutes which I command you today, for your good.” (Deut. 10:12,13)

“Baruch ata adonai eloheinu, melech ha-olam hamotzi lechem haaretz… (Blessed are you, L-rd Our G-d, Who bring bread from the Earth.)” – the Jewish Blessing over Bread – can basically be used for any meal as long as there is bread (or any other grain product) present.

 

Funnily enough, the idea that it’s a process and that PEOPLE are involved – from the farmer to the baker and the cook – is implicit in Jewish Thought.

 

Acknowledging the efforts of a Woman in the Home is also a matter that is self-evident in Judaism. On Friday Night (Erev Shabbat) before the Shabbat Dinner a Jewish Husband is obligated to read Proverbs 31:10-31:

 

“A woman of valor, who can find? Far beyond pearls is her value.
Her husband’s heart trusts in her and he shall lack no fortune.
She repays his good, but never his harm, all the days of her life.
She seeks out wool and linen, and her hands work willingly,
She is like a merchant’s ships; from afar she brings her sustenance.
She rises while it is still nighttime, and gives food to her household and a ration to her maids.
She considers a field and buys it; from the fruit of her handiwork she plants a vineyard.
She girds her loins with might and strengthens her arms.
She senses that her enterprise is good, so her lamp is not extinguished at night.
She puts her hand to the distaff, and her palms support the spindle.
She spreads out her palm to the poor and extends her hands to the destitute.
She fears not snow for her household, for her entire household is clothed with scarlet wool.
Bedspreads she makes herself; linen and purple wool are her clothing.
Well-known at the gates is her husband as he sits with the elders of the land.
Garments she makes and sells, and she delivers a belt to the peddler.
Strength and splendor are her clothing, and smilingly she awaits her last day.
She opens her mouth with Wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She anticipates the needs of her household, and the bread of idleness, she does not eat.
Her children rise and celebrate her; and her husband, he praises her:
“Many daughters have attained valor, but you have surpassed them all.”
False is grace, and vain is beauty; a God-fearing woman, she should be praised.
Give her the fruit of her hands, and she will be praised at the gates by her very own deeds.”

Although it’s an obligation to give this thanks to one’s Wife on Shabbat Evening – no-one says one cannot say it every day, or when one wants to tell one’s Wife that what she does is appreciated.

 

So, thanking people doesn’t take away from either Gratitude or G-d. Perhaps it even deepens our understanding of the complicated processes that are behind of what we eat, what we wear, where we live etc?

 

“Oh and if you’re interested in taking up the tradition of reciting 100 Blessings a day, here’s a nifty little Reform resource to help get you started.”

Thank you TikkunGer.com for providing that little tool – I will use it as soon as my printer has ink in it…

Posted in 100 Blessings, Blessings, Informed Choice, Jewish Prayer, Jewish Spirituality, Judaism, Leaflet, Living Jewishly, On G-D, Prayer, Reform, Reform Resource | 4 Comments »

Condemning Antisemitism, applauding Islamophobia…

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on August 2, 2007


Islamophobia – unreasonable or completely justified?

Islamophobia is a fear or prejudice towards Muslims and the religion of Islam.

However, this fear or prejudice is completely and certainly justified.[…]

In Germany, the state of Baden-Württemberg openly discriminates against Muslim immigrants, making Muslims, and only Muslims, take a test of loyalty – answering questions about attitudes to Homosexuality, Dress sense, Domestic violence and religious issues. This has been referred to as Islamophobic and racist.

But this is necessary for this group and in fact should be similarly done in this country. When French Muslims try to burn half of Paris, when British-born Muslims bomb their own subways, when Spanish Muslims destroy their own railways, and NO OTHER GROUP or NATIONALITY does likewise, is it not only prudent but absolutely essential that we question Muslims on loyalty? As to domestic violence, is it not a requirement of their religion to murder their wives or daughters if there has been a perceived ding against their Honor? Aren’t most complaints of servant abuse against Muslim masters who have no respect or regard for women?

Now, compare that to this Blog entry – which the guy used to comment on my Page on Benjamin Freedman’s 1961 Speech: 13 things to blame on the Jews in which he derides people, organizations, Arabs and others for blaming things on the Jews that they are not responsible for.

I’d call this a serious case of hypocrisy and double standard.

This guy doesn’t realize that his reasoning around Muslims is exactly the same as the reasoning Antisemites start out with, BEFORE they start making up things to blame on the Jews.

One part of this Entry is especially chilling and enlightening:

“When French Muslims try to burn half of Paris, when British-born Muslims bomb their own subways, when Spanish Muslims destroy their own railways, and NO OTHER GROUP or NATIONALITY does likewise, is it not only prudent but absolutely essential that we question Muslims on loyalty? – compare to the reasoning in France before and during the Dreyfus-Affair:

Anti-Semitism was pervasive in France during the 1890s. With the formal inception of the French Third Republic in 1871, in the 1880s nationalist politicians such as Georges Boulanger, Edouard Drumont (founder of the Antisemitic League of France) and Paul Déroulède (founder of Ligue des Patriotes) sought to capitalize on the new fervor for a unified Catholic France. French Jews were described by the author George L. Mosse as a “nation within a nation

One of the most common and prevalent accusations against Jews in both Europe and the US, over the time of history, is that of “Dual Loyalty”:

“A classic example of political dual loyalty is a person who is a dual citizen or who is an immigrant living in one country, although the term is sometimes used in connection with people that have religious, cultural or political ties to a political interest other than the country of their primary residence. As opposed to ethical dual loyalty, which is often a self-described situation, political dual loyalty typically appears as an attack or a pejorative accusation designed to target and discredit a particular person or group, and to call into question the loyalty of that group to the country where they reside. As such, the accusation of “dual loyalty” is often used or co-opted by racist or xenophobic groups within a country, regardless of the original intent of the accusation.

What we have here is a guy who is presumably pointing to Antisemitic conspiracy theories and condemning them while at the same time suggesting that Muslims (note the generalization…) are guilty of something traditionally being pinned on the Jews…

Bernie – I am impressed at how you mange to put both your feet in your mouth while having your head up your own ass so far that you must be eating yesterday’s lunch.

Sweaty Feet with a side order of Yesterday’s Lunch.

Bon Appetite!

Posted in Double Standards, Islamophobia | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

BTs – two perspectives

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on August 2, 2007


This clip could easily be stood against another Clip about how Bnai Teshuvah are being discriminated against within the Frum Community.

clipped from www.beyondbt.com

At the Beyond BT Shabbaton in Passaic, Rabbi Yitz Greenman – Executive Director of Aish NY and Producer of Inspired Films gave a shiur on Integrating into the Frum Community.Rabbi Greenman started off by giving two scenarios which he thought were unhealthy:
1) Feeling that you always have to hide being a BT
2) Advertising you are a BT and associating only with other BTs.He felt that a person should find a community where (s)he would associate with people who weren’t BTs and at the same time the person shouldn’t feel that (s)he needed to hide being a BT.After presenting the above position, the floor was opened to questions and a lively discussion ensued.

 

Many people in attendance felt that the reason that people hid being a BT, was because people are judgmental about BTs. Rabbi Greenman was not sure that judgmentalism was the cause and thought that perhaps people felt judged, but really weren’t.

clipped from jewschool.com

This is a child born to a woman who had not immersed herself in the mikvah, or ritual bath, prior to sexual relations, as is commanded by Jewish law.Of course, the vast majority of liberal and secular Jewish women do not go to the mikvah prior to resuming sexual relations, and therefore most children of liberal and secular Jewish backgrounds are designated as “b’nai niddah.” In fact, the term BT (baal teshuvah) is today essentially synonymous with “ben niddah,” and this may be why the term baal teshuvah is employed more frequently in the haredi world for designating a newly observant member of the community than in the Modern Orthodox world. A BT does not just come from a different background as a haredi FFB (“frum,” or observant, from birth), but is also of a different status than an FFB. This is because there are negative personality characteristics associated with such a classification according to many ancient rabbinical commentaries.Bnai Niddah are “corrupt and sinners.” They have a genetic disposition to do evil. They are prone to brazenness and rebelliousness, and do not treat great rabbis with the proper respect they deserve. Baal teshuvahs are not properly deferential towards great rabbis just because they were brought up with and retain vestiges of a liberal democratic approach to life and society. It is because their mother did not immerse in the mikvah, or at least, the BT’s unfortunate world view is exacerbated by the unclean bloodstains of menstruation on their souls.

It might be slightly hard (you think?) to feel at home and feel that you are a part of the Community, if you are being looked at as something “ritually unclean” where ever you go. Especially if you are truly trying to do everything by the book, and are successful.

Add to this that this treatment of Bnai Teshuvah is actually a violation of Torah, which says that G-d takes great pleasure in each sinner who returns to Observance of Mitzvot.

Posted in Baal Teshuvah, Torah | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Zionist holocaust against the Palestinian people…

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on August 2, 2007


Hamas leader Khaled Mash’al seem to have an interesting understanding of reality and historical events. It is certainly true that the Palestinian People have on occasion been treated badly by the Secular State of Israel and Religious Settlers in the Occupied Territories. Somehow, however, one will have to question the mental faculties of a man who seriously claims that this in any way is comparable to what the Germans did to the Jewish people, or even worse.

clipped from yidwithlid.blogspot.com
“I want to make it clear to the West and to the German people, which is still being blackmailed because of what Nazism did to the Zionists, or to the Jews. I say that what Israel did to the Palestinian people is many times worse than what Nazism did to the Jews, and there is exaggeration, which has become obsolete, regarding the issue of the Holocaust. We do not deny the facts, but we will not give in to extortion by exaggeration. As for the Zionist holocaust against the Palestinian people, and against the peoples of the Arab and Islamic nation – this is a holocaust that is being perpetrated in broad daylight, with the coverage of the media of globalization. Nobody can deny it or claim that it is being exaggerated.”

blog it

It would seem that it is in fact the Palestinian Leadership, and in this case representatives for Hamas that is “blackmailing the entire world” by using hyperbole and distortions of historical facts. Hardly worthy of an elected official. But then what can be expected from a man who is clearly delusional in terms of truth and reality?

Posted in Antisemitism, Bigotry, Israel/Palestine | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Baal Teshuvahs – two perspectives

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on August 2, 2007


This clip could easily be stood against another Clip about how Baal Teshuvahs are being discriminated against within the Frum Community.

 

clipped from www.beyondbt.com

At the Beyond BT Shabbaton in Passaic, Rabbi Yitz Greenman – Executive Director of Aish NY and Producer of Inspired Films gave a shiur on Integrating into the Frum Community.Rabbi Greenman started off by giving two scenarios which he thought were unhealthy:
1) Feeling that you always have to hide being a BT
2) Advertising you are a BT and associating only with other BTs.He felt that a person should find a community where (s)he would associate with people who weren’t BTs and at the same time the person shouldn’t feel that (s)he needed to hide being a BT.After presenting the above position, the floor was opened to questions and a lively discussion ensued.

Many people in attendance felt that the reason that people hid being a BT, was because people are judgmental about BTs. Rabbi Greenman was not sure that judgmentalism was the cause and thought that perhaps people felt judged, but really weren’t.

clipped from jewschool.com

This is a child born to a woman who had not immersed herself in the mikvah, or ritual bath, prior to sexual relations, as is commanded by Jewish law.Of course, the vast majority of liberal and secular Jewish women do not go to the mikvah prior to resuming sexual relations, and therefore most children of liberal and secular Jewish backgrounds are designated as “b’nai niddah.” In fact, the term BT (baal teshuvah) is today essentially synonymous with “ben niddah,” and this may be why the term baal teshuvah is employed more frequently in the haredi world for designating a newly observant member of the community than in the Modern Orthodox world. A BT does not just come from a different background as a haredi FFB (“frum,” or observant, from birth), but is also of a different status than an FFB. This is because there are negative personality characteristics associated with such a classification according to many ancient rabbinical commentaries.Bnai Niddah are “corrupt and sinners.” They have a genetic disposition to do evil. They are prone to brazenness and rebelliousness, and do not treat great rabbis with the proper respect they deserve. Baal teshuvahs are not properly deferential towards great rabbis just because they were brought up with and retain vestiges of a liberal democratic approach to life and society. It is because their mother did not immerse in the mikvah, or at least, the BT’s unfortunate world view is exacerbated by the unclean bloodstains of menstruation on their souls.

It might be slightly hard (you think?) to feel at home and feel that you are a part of the Community, if you are being looked at as something “ritually unclean” where ever you go. Especially if you are truly trying to do everything by the book, and are successful.

 

Add to this that this treatment of Baal Teshuvahs is actually a violation of Torah, which says that G-d takes great pleasure in each sinner who returns to Observance of Mitzvot.

Posted in Baal Teshuvah, Bnai Niddah, haredi, Observance of Mitzvot, Torah | Leave a Comment »

Idolatrous Messianic Nationalism

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on August 2, 2007


Amazing how easy it is to substitute Israel for the US in this Clip…

clipped from content4.clipmarks.com
Religious language is always double edged. It is properly used as prophetic critique that calls for repentance. But it can be twisted into a self-sacralizing rhetoric that associates God with human projects of power. The United States has often fallen into this temptation to use religious language as idolatrous messianic nationalism. When this happens it is the duty of the churches to challenge such language and reveal its opposition to the authentic good news of the gospel. In 1934 the German theologians of the Confessing Church disassociated themselves from a German Christianity that identified Christianity with Aryan nationalism. I believe
the Americans churches must make a similar critique of American messianic
nationalism today.

blog it

Actually it’s not hard at all, after reading some Leibowitz and thinking about it. I wonder…where this puts me religiously…???

Posted in Idolatrous Messianic Nationalism | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

 
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