Rabbi Avi Weinstein

Archive for April 5th, 2009|Daily archive page

The Sefat Emet A Modern Chasidic Master Teaches Us How to Get Real with our Passover Seder

In Uncategorized on April 5, 2009 at 2:49 pm

For many who take Passover Seders seriously it is either an opportunity to have children to take over and display their knowledge, or an opportunity for lively discussions relating to the ritual at hand. Both of these approaches choose pedagogy and discourse over piety. The Sefat Emet Rabbi Yehudah Aryeh Leib Altar(1847-1905) challenges us to believe that there is more to Pesach than a ritualized reenactment, it is a connection that is meant to transcend time. The power of believing that can make a seder magical. Quoting the Maharal of Prague, Rabbi Yehudah Loew (1525-1609) he says:

…as a group everyone was actually present at the Exodus, but it as individuals everyone has to see himself “as if he went out”. (Maharal, Gevurot HaShem Chapter 61). It would also seem that the way one enters the group is through believing that he went out from Egypt. For certainly, the Exodus from Egypt was the original Israelite point from which life is drawn to every person in Israel, and this is something that we are obliged to believe.

We are to believe that our very lives as Jews not only depend on the Exodus in the past, but that through this reenactment we remain connected as if it is happening now, and in fact, there is always an Egypt that we are trying to leave, it is only the characters that change. For the Sefat Emet in translation and a scorchin commentary, click here.


The NYT Doesn’t Let Facts Get In the Way

In Uncategorized on April 5, 2009 at 2:15 am

Blinded by the “necessity” of equal airtime, the NYT has to give free space to a George Bisharat whose “heart is in the ‘right’ place, even though his mind is somewhere else. Noah Pollack has the goods on his post entitled “He forgot the poison wells”.

Bisharat continues by charging that Israel is violating Article 33 of the Geneva Conventions by imposing “collective punishment” on Gaza. This claim depends on every resident of Gaza being considered a “protected person” under the Geneva Conventions, which they are not, because Israel is not occupying Gaza. The blockade may be a bad policy, an ineffective policy, or an immoral policy — but it is not a violation of the Geneva Conventions. Side question: Why do people like Bisharat never condemn Egypt for its involvement in the blockade?

As more information comes out regarding the Gaza incursion–see my post a few weeks ago, Israel bashers under the guise of Professorial “authority” don’t let the facts get in the way. I also rushed to believe the worst stories being peddled by a recalcitrant anti-Gaza activist, because in any war, such instances are entirely plausible. But that’s the point, Israel is never worse than others who are engaged in mortal combat, and is probably marginally better.

The fact is once again Hamas is not responsible for targeting exclusively civilian populations across the green line because “why exactly” Mr. Bisharat?

Hat tip to Jonathan Cohen.