Tuesday, April 05, 2005

News Roundup

Arutz-7 email news yesterday led off with a story which, interestingly, does not appear on their website. In all likelihood, they got the story from here, explaining the delay. In any event, I wanted to take the opportunity to debunk a bunch of tired cliches used by the distinguished rabbonim here:

1. "Elevating the Land into an Avodah Zara" is a despicable argument, akin to Godwin's Law. I won't bother with it.

2. "There's no mitzvah to risk one's life for the Land" is just stupid. Even if we accept the bloodless fantasies of various midrashim, war, by definition, involves risk to life. And war is commanded to conquer the Land. (One can argue if it applied pre-1948, but with five million Jews in Israel, it's academic.) If this argument was true, there'd be no justification for any of the wars of Moshe, Yehoshua, the Shoftim, the Kings, Nechemiah, the Maccabim, Bat Kochba...or the IDF, to this day. After all, we can just leave. While Yehoshua is the most obvious example, I find Yiftach even more compelling, as he's dealing with another nation that has a semi-legitimate claim on land that's not even Biblical Israel and is offering true peace for it. He rejects the offer. (Don't say I can't quote Nakh. R. Lamm does.) Finally, all of this happens to have implications for practical halakha, in the Shulchan Aruch.

3. "Yishuv HaAretz isn't a yehareg v'al ya'avor." This is the most tired cliche of all, and the stupidest. After all, it's comparing apples and oranges (leaving aside the argument above). (For starters: One is Aseh, the other refers, by definition, to Lo Ta'aseh.) The concept of yehareg v'al ya'avor means, "Don't do this even under threat of death." The question here is so far removed from that, I don't know how to begin to respond.

4. "The Rav said..." Uh-huh. The Rav assumed rationality and lack of conflict of interest or other factors in decision-making. Ha. A true Brisker.

5. A new one, "Dina d'malchuta dina." Sure, that's good if you think Israel is just another [non-Jewish] country. And, of course, if you assume this isn't anti-halakha. (And as has been pointed out, when making claims of elevating things to avoda zara...)

6. "What's your alternative?" Well, this is a good one, inasmuch as the opposition, much to my frustration, can't muster up a good answer to it. I can: Kahanism. Learn it, love it, live it.

Moving along, I can't stand the phrase "fervently Orthodox." Not that it's not more accurate than "ultra-Orthodox," but it's a complete creation of Agudah lobbying of secular Jewish newspapers. I don't like artificial labels. Stick with what people use.

Moving along again, you know what's weird here? If I had to guess, "Rabbi Gruber" isn't involved at all, and just relies on the OU. But people want a "heimishe hashgacha" or it's a no-go. I doubt such people even know who he is. I do know the OU actually has a "heimish-style" symbol they sometimes use.

In the follow-up to the Slifkin controversy, people wondered about Leo Levi's new book. I took a look at it over the weekend, and was quite underwhelmed. He basically posits far-out, but quite modern, scientific theories- which would have been completely alien to chazal anyway- to explain "scientific" ideas of the latter. Eh. It's apologetics, not at all "brave." And then I saw his credentials...huh? It confirms what I've long thought of the AOJS, who they pay homage to, and what kind of "scientists" they are.

Like clockwork, every year the New York Times runs a series of articles that clearly and shamelessly screams "OUR PULITZER PIECE." And every year, like clockwork, they win. And every year, the Times proudly (and, once again, shamelessly) promotes the "victory."

Speaking of the Times, there's this. Kills two birds with one stone for them- "No Social Security crises!" and "Illegal aliens good!" To which I reply, even if true, who cares? Illegal is illegal, as Sonny Bono would say. Isn't it?

As to Social Security, I'm not saying Bush wants to eliminate it, but having just mailed my taxes, which included 100% of my payment to the "Trust Fund," I wish he did.

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