Societal Shock and Awe

 

Guest post by R. Baruch Pesach Mendelson

Rabbi Baruch Pesah Mendelson is the rabbi of Khilah Marine Park and a rebbe at the Yeshiva University High School for Boys. Please note that I lightly edited this essay and added the title and subtitle without R. Mendelson’s specific approval, due to time constraints.

I. Seeing and Recognizing

In last week’s Torah portion, Yosef accused his brothers of being spies since they entered Egypt through ten different gates (see Rashi, Gen. 42:12). They responded that they were searching the city for our lost brother. Apparently, they recognized that they had done something wrong to Yosef and now, having done teshuvah, wanted to find him and buy him out of slavery. They were looking for him!

They arrived in front of Yosef but did not recognize him because he grew a beard (Rashi, Gen. 42:8). I don’t get it. When you are looking for someone whom you have not seen in over 20 years, you expect that he will look a bit different. The brothers know that Yosef is no longer a seventeen year old child anymore. Wouldn’t they have tried to picture him in their mind’s eye with a beard? Why could they not “see” him?

They were so many other hints, as well. Yosef favored Binyamin, asked repeatedly about their father, seated them according to age order, incarcerated Shimon rather than Reuven, the oldest and natural leader. Why didn’t they realize that Yosef was right in front of them?

ולא יכלו אחיו לענות אתו כי נבהלו מפניו
But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed in his presence. (Gen. 45:3)

אבא כהן ברדלא אמר אוי לנו מיום הדין אוי לנו מיום התוכחה… יוסף קטנן של שבטים היה ולא היו יכולים לעמוד בתוכחתו… לכשיבא הקב”ה ויוכיח כל אחד ואחד לפי מה שהוא… על אחת כמה וכמה
Abba Cohen Bardela said: Woe unto us for the day of judgment, woe unto us for the day of admonition… Yosef was the youngest of the brothers and they could not stand before him. When Hashem comes and rebukes each person according to what he is, even more so! (Bereishis Rabbah 93:10)

This “Ani Yosef, I am Yosef” moment is the paradigm of religious rebuke, and it left the brothers in shock. But why were they in shock? All the hints were there and they were looking for him! True, they did not expect to find him Viceroy of Egypt but at least they should have been happy to find him. After all, their plan had been to find him. Why were they frightened to find him?

II. Crashing Principles

Chazal say that the brothers were very bothered by the predicament in which they found themselves. They made a cheshbon ha-nefesh, spiritual self-reckoning. These righteous men had not sinned in over two decades. The only flaw they could find to which to attribute their troubles was “for we saw the anguish of his soul when he pleaded with us, and we would not hear” (Gen. 42:21), which Seforno explains means that while they felt they were justified in trying to kill Yosef, they should not have acted so hard-heatedly in doing so. For his sins, for his attempts to convince Ya’akov to disown the other brothers and his manufacturing dreams to justify his plans and intimidate his brothers, he deserved to die.

Even after seeing Ya’akov’s 22-year reaction, they still believed that their actions were proper. However, they should have felt Yosef’s pain more. The brothers probably thought hat they were right, Yosef deserved to be sold as a slave. But perhaps, like with Jonathan Pollard, twenty two years is enough. It was time to bring him home.

They could never have imagined that the Viceroy who had accused them and played them like puppets was Yosef. That possibility ran counter to their entire worldview, the justification by which they explained their prior actions and their silence to Ya’akov in his misery and mourning all these years. True, they were looking for Yosef. But not in the viceroy.

But now, they were confronted with the truth. They had just bowed down to Yosef! The dreams were real; Yosef was right and they were wrong. Their whole life was wrong. Their worldview, by which they had lived comfortably, had just fallen apart like a house of cards. The Beis Ha-Levi explains that Yosef’s statement “I am Yosef, is my father still alive” (Gen. 45:3) was an accusation of hypocrisy. The brothers were so worried about Ya’akov’s reaction to losing Binyamin but what about his reaction to losing Yosef? Yosef declared their entire worldview false. In one swift moment, the principles by which the brothers lived came crashing down.

What can you say at such a moment? “But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed in his presence.”

III. Fixing America

This country underwent a national tragedy last week in Connecticut. Children… teachers… murdered. And we’re speechless, we don’t know what to say. Why? Is it because of the magnitude of the horror, the death of innocents?

The President says we have to do something. Do something to whom? “We need to change,” he says. Who needs to change? Someone else! Change the gun laws, so “they” don’t have guns. Have institutions lock up people with serious mental illnesses so “they” won’t cause problems. These may be worthy proposals but they miss the point. They are about changing someone else.

We believe in doing teshuvah. We believe that we are the problem and we need to fix ourselves–collectively, as a society.

I have a sociological theory. I cannot prove it but I believe that when you have an aberration, one person in extreme circumstances far beyond the norm, it is a reflection of society’s problems. They only manifest themselves at the extremes but the core of the problem, its essence, is within all of us. We are all to blame. Blame for what?

IV. Violence in America

We live in a society that glorifies death, destruction, hurt, competition, even good guys shooting bad guys. This is a society where “action” rules. It’s in the movies, TV, YouTube, books and especially the news media. The news is all about murder and promiscuity. Violence is part of the fabric of our world.

And we accept this as normal. Shooting guns in violent video games is normal; shooting aliens in a movie is normal. In parts of the country, hunting animals is normal. That is our world: violent. “It’s a dog eat dog world” — even our language reflects this worldview. “My wife is going to kill me.” “That test was murder.”

Soldiers and police are glorified, not just necessary to maintain local and world order but because we all want to shoot people. People play paintball and laser tag, which they justify as harmless fun. And cartoons are bastions of violence. Studies were performed on children and found that watching a certain number of hours of cartoons correlated over thirty years with higher incarceration rates. This is all normal in our society!

A lunatic comes along and murders twenty children and we’re all in shock. Our whole world falls apart. We are all–to some degree all–wrong. We’re all in shock. Like Yosef’s brothers, our worldview has crumbled and we have nothing to say.

Except… that I have to change. I have to do something.

 

Share this Post

 

Related Posts

About the author

 
The opinions and facts here are presented solely by the author. Torah Musings assumes no responsibility for them. Please address religious questions to your rabbi.
 

57 Responses

  1. HAGTBG says:

    We live in a society that glorifies death, destruction, hurt, competition, even good guys shooting bad guys.

    Listen, I agree with your overall sentiment that we shouldn’t predispose that the problem is with the “other guy” but this is a gross distortion of American society. I could make the exact same case about the Jewish community, both historically and now. Whether we are talking about the bris, eating meat, wearing leather, selling animals, owning slaves, offering sacrifices, etc., I can distort all these things to make Jewish society, including under its supposed “ideal” circumstances appear coarse and degenerate.

    In parts of the country, hunting animals is normal.

    I have never gone shooting but I believe this point is not something a non-vegan can make to much of. I eat meat, slaughtered in a factory designed to disembowel animals in a precise and economical way and turn body parts into foodstuff. And fish from boats with vast nets that strip the oceans. I wear items and own objects made out of the skins of animals. I bet most of your readers (and likely, you yourself) do these things to. Hunting at least puts you face to face with what you are killing and its not some item disassociated with the creature it once was. I’d respect a hunter who killed his game more than I respect myself for the meat I purchase.

    Judaism often extols the eating of meat in celebratory circumstances. It even, at times, makes meat an offering to G-d. Is that not a form of glorifying death?

    Personally I think this background death is every bit as callous and off-putting as hunting.

  2. Mr. Cohen says:

    I suggest that we start by refusing to listen to
    Lashone HaRa and refusing to believe
    Lashone HaRa, which is the verbal equivalent
    of murdering our fellow Jews and ourselves.

  3. IH says:

    No wonder so many daven in minyanim that avoid having to listen to a Rabbi’s sermon. Is this really what passes for homiletics these days?

    —–

    Is wrestling with teenage boys different than paintball and laser tag?

  4. Hirhurim says:

    It was actually an awesome derashah. I think you might be rusty on your homiletics appreciation, perhaps from too much Robert Alter.

  5. IH says:

    While I’m not a big fan of sermons, my benchmark is R. JJ Schacter who delivered consistently good, and often superb, d’rashot week after week when he was the Rabbi of the JC. This one, sorry, was lame.

  6. Hirhurim says:

    Very different style and different audience

  7. IH says:

    Fair enough, but please elaborate. I grew up in a shtiebel. The Rabbi‘s drash was about Torah, not current affairs. JJ, like other Rabbis of mainstream MO shuls before him, spoke in a more Western manner, integrating Torah with current affairs. This was נישט אהין נישט אהער from my perspective.

  8. Reuven Spolter says:

    1. IH – I don’t see the need to criticize the drash – it seems like an unnecessary personal attack. You can take it or leave it – but the message seems relevant, if not critical.
    2. I applaud Rav Mendelson for not just speaking about “Torah”, as if the Torah forms its own closed world, without anything to teach us about our lives. Rabbanim throughout the ages have been speaking about “Current affairs”, and the fact that some see this as lacking speaks volumes about the current state of Orthodoxy.
    3. Finally, Rabbi Mendelson’s message really is critical. Violence is really an epidemic in not only American, but Western society, and I feel that Jewish leaders can and must speak out together about this issue. In fact, it might be an issue where rabbis from across the political and religous spectrums can join together, and work to educate parents about the effects of gratuitous violence.
    We need many, many more drashot like this one.

  9. mycroft says:

    “IH on December 24, 2012 at 12:03 am

    While I’m not a big fan of sermons, my benchmark is R. JJ Schacter who delivered consistently good, and often superb, d’rashot week after week when he was the Rabbi of the JC. ”

    When I heard RJJS I would often enjoy him and certainly went special to his lectures after davening about R Emden-it is not clear to me judging by internal JC politics in the mid 80s that he was the benchmark for all.
    RJJS is probably most famous for his lectures on topics eg R Emdem. Mordecai Kaplan and SAJ and the JC etc. He revolutionized the idea of giving texts out for lectures eg those between mincha and maariv shabbos afternoon.

  10. Joseph Kaplan says:

    RBPM criticizes the president for suggesting changes, as he puts it, to “them.” Exactly what does RBPM think that HE needs to change? Does he play video games? Does he hunt? Isn’t he doing exactly what he’s criticizing — blaming others, albeit with a broader sweep? And other than a sociological observation, what does he PROPOSE, if anything, to do about the problem? Changing societal norms is not only difficult, it takes a long time. Does he mean we can do nothing, or should do nothing, or propose no changes, until we can change those norms? I don’t mind rabbis giving these types of sermons every once in a while, and this event, IMO, could justify such a sermon. I just don’t think this one was nearly as good as Gil does.

  11. joel rich says:

    it’s all well and good to speak of societal change (though be careful because there is always the law of unintended consequences) but most rabbis won’t impact society as a whole. such drashot are fine but i suggest they be coupled with local action steps.
    KT

  12. IH says:

    Reuven – Can you point me to any substantiation for your assertion that “Violence is really an epidemic in not only American, but Western society”? The statistics I have seen do not support that, despite the conservative meme. In fact, over lunch on Shabbat a bunch of us were discussing how street savvy one needed to be on the Upper West Side when we were growing up – with drugs being openly sold, and violent crime that happened daily within a block or two of where we lived. There is also the question of why non-American Western societies who watch the same movies and play the same video games do not have a trendline of mass-murder incidents.

    I’ve never met, or even heard of R. Mendelson, so my admittedly negative comment was not personal in any way. I felt the need to same something because the d’rash, as Joseph Kaplan observes, adds nothing constructive and by the end does not meet the standard he establishes at the beginning (which is just bad homiletics).

    That said, I will own up to being particularly irked that he is a Rebbe at MTA. If he’s going to lecture on violence…

    —–

    Mycroft – I was focusing on his oratory delivery in the weekly “mandatory” drash. They always had a beginning, a middle and an end. They always has a line that one could draw connecting the 3 pieces and always wove together Torah with pertinent current affairs. No source sheets were needed for those, because they told a story – a story one could then summarize orally for others that day or the next.

  13. Joseph Kaplan says:

    RJJS has, for the past few years, given one of the RH drashot in my shul (where he also davens). They are always first class and, for many, a highlight of the yomim nora’im.

  14. ruvie says:

    “It was actually an awesome derashah” – can you please point out the awesomeness? the insight? for the am haretzim. maybe a post on derashot awesome and not so awesome would be helpful. one can access rabbi norman lamm’s jc derashot for example or the standard of great homiletics (any other suggestions?).

  15. Hirhurim says:

    Joseph: RBPM criticizes the president for suggesting changes, as he puts it, to “them.” Exactly what does RBPM think that HE needs to change?

    This is a fair criticism. My understanding is that RBPM was not necessarily criticizing the President but using him as an example. Personally, I would criticize the President because he could have, in addition to proposing legislation, used his famous oratory skills to call for introspection. Can you imagine how amazing it would have been had he called on the nation to think more carefully about our relationship to violence in our daily lives? Legislation is fine and good but it only addresses symptoms. The President can use his pulpit to inspire.

    Joseph: RJJS has, for the past few years, given one of the RH drashot in my shul (where he also davens). They are always first class and, for many, a highlight of the yomim nora’im.

    Ruvie: can you please point out the awesomeness? the insight?

    I tend to pay attention to sermon styles and this one is actually atypical for RBPM. He usually follows a Slabodka style of explaining a midrash literally based on a mussar concept but with a little Brisker lomdus added as well. Those are amazing.

    This derashah was awesome (and my father, who is atypical for the audience, was there and agreed) because it sent a direct message to the audience about what values they need to incorporate into their daily lives without lecturing them on details, with which people will inevitably quibble.

    And, as an additional point, rabbis tend to work all summer on their Yamim Nora’im sermons. You can’t compare an average Shabbos derashah with a Rosh Hashanah derashah.

    Joel Rich: it’s all well and good to speak of societal change (though be careful because there is always the law of unintended consequences) but most rabbis won’t impact society as a whole

    You know the drill: I wanted to change the world… at least I can change myself.

  16. IH says:

    Are you sure this drash isn’t triumphalism masquerading as mussar? What a missed opportunity to address the violence that exists within the frum community, to help people out of denial and address the issues!

  17. Joseph Kaplan says:

    “Can you imagine how amazing it would have been had he called on the nation to think more carefully about our relationship to violence in our daily lives? Legislation is fine and good but it only addresses symptoms. The President can use his pulpit to inspire.”

    I agree.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I thinkt hat this drasha is way off. This is not gang violence or politicaly/racialy motivated violence.I dont see anything in american culture that in anyway encourages the slaughter of innocents like this. What America does promote, like no other civilized society is the ability to aquire and own weapons which have no other purpose but mass killing.

  19. Abba's Rantings says:

    anon:

    “weapons which have no other purpose but mass killing.”

    self defense?

  20. Shlomo says:

    Apparently, they recognized that they had done something wrong to Yosef and now, having done teshuvah, wanted to find him and buy him out of slavery.

    I don’t know about “them”. But in pshat, it is quite elegant that Yehudah, who initiated the sale of Yosef as a slave, gets Yosef to break down (and thus reunites the brothers) right at the moment that he offers *himself* as a slave in Egypt (in place of Binyamin). Mida keneged midah.

    Why didn’t they realize that Yosef was right in front of them?

    One reason may come from the Rashbam’s interpretation of Breishit 37. There, it says that Yehudah proposed selling Yosef, and the brothers agreed. Then a group of Medanites took Yosef out of the pit and sold him. Then Reuven went to the pit (the brothers were apparently sitting far from the pit), but he had report to the brothers that Yosef had disappeared. So was it the brothers who sold Yosef into slavery, or the Medanites who found Yosef alone and independently came up with the same idea? If the latter, then the brothers had no part in the sale, and never knew Yosef was a slave, or in Egypt, or alive or dead! Which would make it much harder for them to identify Yosef with the Egyptian they happened to meet decades later.

    (This approach adds a level of sophistication to the story. Every person has incomplete information, and in each interaction, you have to keep track of who knows what. The brothers know Yosef is missing and something bad has likely happened to him. Yosef assumes that the Medanites cooperated with the brothers, so the brothers are responsible for the sale. Yaakov as we all know had his doubts about the supposed death…)

  21. Shlomo says:

    As an essay, this reads very badly.
    When I vocalize it and imagine it as a speech, it reads very well.

    Different media, I guess.

  22. moshe shoshan says:

    anon was me
    assault rifles are.not for.self.defence neither are 30 round clips

  23. Abba's Rantings says:

    MOSHE SHOSHAN:

    define self defense

  24. Joseph Kaplan says:

    Abba, I’m not Moshe but you were the one who first raised “self defense” so you really should be the one to define it.

  25. Abba's Rantings says:

    JOSEPH (MOSHE):

    i’m not lawyer and can’t give a precise legal definition of self defense. but i guess it would encompass situations in which one (or those around him) is or will be in immediate danger of a physical attack.

    my point to moshe is that there are situations where an assault-style weapon is necessary. not all incidents that require self defense occur during a home invasion (in which case an assault weapon is either not necessary or would even be a poor choice)

  26. Moshe Shoshan says:

    Abba,
    Tell me one scenario that is of real concern to any significant population in the US in which an assault rifle is the weapon of choice for self defense and/or the ability to fire more than say, 10 rounds without reloading is important.

    I have no prob;em with special licenses for individuals who can show legitimate need and requisite responsibility for acquiring military grade firearms if such people exist in the US. But that does not mean that they should be generally be available.

  27. Abba's Rantings says:

    IH:

    in general, i think we would agree on the elements that make a good sermon, and in specific i agree with the various critiques of the sermon that were raised above. but you didn’t have to call it lame.

    wrt your comment about proper organization and follow through in a sermon, in my experience the rabbis who’ve mastered this element are those with advanced degrees (or a rigorous undergrad degree).

    in general i’m not a fan of sermons. the sermons in most shul i’ve davened in have been terrible. in one shul i davened for a short while the rabbi delivered good (but not great) sermons. the rabbi of the shul i davened in most recently gives by far the best sermons. it’s the only time in my life i looked forward to sermons and i occasionally make the trek back to this shul, in large part to hear this rabbi.

    but i guess to a certain extent, what makes a good sermon is subjective.

  28. MOSHE:

    i’ll give you 2 scenarios.
    1) people who live along those parts of the texas-mexico border and are at risk from smugglers and drug trafficers. (this is distinct from the separate controversy over the militias there; i’m just referring to private individuals)
    2) during situations of civil unrest. one image that remains in my memory from the LA riots is 2 merchants with automatic weapons on the roof of a strip mall as a mob tried to break through the gates of their store. similary in new orleans after katrina. i believe there are situations where the police are unable (or in some cases unwilling for political reasons) to reign in this type of violence.

    i personally believe there should be very strict background checks, registrations, etc., as well as required safety training*, etc. i think these are more important than outright bans.

    (*my experience: where i live one may not even touch a handgun (literally) without a license. the process to get a license is long, cumbersome and expenseive, and clearly designed to disuade applicants from proceeding. then once the license is granted you have 30 days to purchase one (and only one) handgun, otherwise the license is revoked and you have to start over again. so basically they make you go through the ringer to get a license, while forbidding you to learn how to use it safely, and then rush you to buy one before you can get properly trained.

  29. mycroft says:

    “And, as an additional point, rabbis tend to work all summer on their Yamim Nora’im sermons”

    Really?

  30. Hirhurim says:

    I believe IH is simply being rude by criticizing the sermon’s quality. But re structure, good speakers do not follow formulas. I believe Dr. Shatz notes in his intro to R. Lamm’s Festivals of Faith how R. Lamm violates just about every “rule” of sermons but still pulls it off.

  31. Hirhurim says:

    But if you are interested in this sermon’s structure, you will notice that it has two parts. The first relates to the parashah and has a beginning, middle and end. It then has a thematic bridge to the second section, about contemporary events, which also has a beginning, middle and end, with the end connecting directly to the first section. Solid structure, in my opinion. The ending might be criticized as weak but that’s a matter of delivery.

  32. Steve Brizel says:

    IH-if you want to read or hear a drasha from a Charedi rav on contemporary issues, try the Dhort Vort of R R Y Eisenman in Passaic-R Eisenman’s short vorts more often than not tackle issues that the Charedi world pretends don’t exist.R Mendelson’s drasha, IMO, was an attempt to focus on the issues arising from Newtown, and IMO, was devoid of an attempt at triumphalism.

  33. Nachum says:

    It would be really nice if anyone discussing this matter learned the actual meaning of words like “automatic” (no, Abba, private citizens don’t own automatic weapons) or “semiautomatic” or “assault weapon” (Moshe, there simply is no such thing). From what I’ve seen of coverage in the last week, the most “informed” people simply have no clue.

    I don’t know if I agree 100% with this sermon, but here’s a prime example of violence: Slasher movies. I’ve seen few if any horror movies, but I’ve seen what’s come out in the last few years, and it’s horrific. I’m reminded of something the New York Times reviewer wrote in describing the “R” rating of “Saving Private Ryan” (very realistic and gory battle scenes): “Teens who would not think twice about seeing a horror movie should see this, and may think again.”

    IH, drashot are a classic example of subjective taste. Agree or disagree, but you have no right to criticize style. I am personally put off by the speaker you love, particularly his constant peppering of Yiddish and verbal tropes, while I recognize that some people may really go for that stuff.

  34. Steve Brizel says:

    While we are on the subject of what is the definition of a good drasha, shiur or lecture, IMO, a great drasha, hesped, shiur and/or lecture must have a beginning , a middle and end , so that the reader and listener understands the issue , the approaches utilized and discussed by the speaker and a summation of the same. Having heard my share of the same, RIETS musmachim are known for such an approach. Unfortunately, many musmachim from other yeshivos tend to wax too much in yeshivishe expressions with pretensions of lomdus without giving the listener a concrete message.

  35. Steve Brizel says:

    The following struck me as the heart of this drasha:

    “We live in a society that glorifies death, destruction, hurt, competition, even good guys shooting bad guys. This is a society where “action” rules. It’s in the movies, TV, YouTube, books and especially the news media. The news is all about murder and promiscuity. Violence is part of the fabric of our world.

    And we accept this as normal. Shooting guns in violent video games is normal; shooting aliens in a movie is normal. In parts of the country, hunting animals is normal. That is our world: violent. “It’s a dog eat dog world” — even our language reflects this worldview. “My wife is going to kill me.” “That test was murder.”

    Obviously, liberals who view gun control or more correctly restrictions on assault rifles as a typically quick fix statist response, have issues which a drasha that looked at the issue from a macro perspective as to what ails American society, which requires a strong look at the media , what it is projecting as various means of acceptable entertainment, advertising and values, with no shortage of providers of instantaneous gratification in the technological and entertainment sectors ( i.e. the rush for the latest app for whatever) as well as the very old adage that blood ,violence, and scandals generally are the lead stories of all local news coverage. One looks in vein for any serious discussion of these issues, which require a lot more analysis and thinking about than merely banning assault weapons.

  36. Steve Brizel says:

    HAGTBG wrote in part:

    ” I could make the exact same case about the Jewish community, both historically and now. Whether we are talking about the bris, eating meat, wearing leather, selling animals, owning slaves, offering sacrifices, etc., I can distort all these things to make Jewish society, including under its supposed “ideal” circumstances appear coarse and degenerate. ”

    This IMO is real logical stretch, and appear IMO to be driven by the logic that since man is just another member of the animal world, he has no write to exploit the same for his own needs. Yet, man , because he is created in the Divine Image, is told to rule over the animal world and to elevate its produce for his own use. All of the above relate in some way to how man is to elevate what appears to be the natural and normal course of events as a means of redeeming man.

  37. Steve Brizel says:

    This year, Senator Joseph Lieberman is retiring from the Senate. The above drasha is very similar in theme to a speech that Senator Lieberman gave during the height of the Clinton impeachment proceedings re the necessity for adherence to moral values.

  38. NACHUM:

    “It would be really nice if anyone discussing this matter learned the actual meaning of words like “automatic” (no, Abba, private citizens don’t own automatic weapons)”

    an automatic weapon is one that continuously chambers and ejects bullets with a single trigger pull. automatic weapons are most certainly legal in the US (depending on jurisdiction) and private citizens most certainly do own them.

    perhaps you should learn the meaning of these words (as well as the pertinent laws)?

  39. Nachum says:

    Abba, please. Facts are facts. Apart from some grandfathered cases, maybe, private citizens don’t own automatic weapons. In any event, people aren’t using them to commit crimes.

    But I’ll grant that you’re way ahead of most here. :-)

    “Unfortunately, many musmachim from other yeshivos”

    Including IH’s idol. :-)

    One of my rebbeim in YU was R’ Moshe Gorelick, then RCA president. I remember our surprise when he explained to us that, yes, there are people in this world who actually like to hear drashot and even come to shul mostly for that reason. We, being Generation X/Y kids, much prefered (prefer, in my case) no drasha at all.

  40. mycroft says:

    “One of my rebbeim in YU was R’ Moshe Gorelick, then RCA president”

    Nachum-I believe you both live in Jerusalem now-not that far apart.

    “I remember our surprise when he explained to us that, yes, there are people in this world who actually like to hear drashot and even come to shul mostly for that reason”
    Not a rarity-certainly when we lived in the UWS-when we went to different schuls in Manhattan it was primarily to hear different Rabbis drashot.
    Even today-I would much rather hear any drasha than the torture of a Carlebach kabbalas shabbos.
    I know of people who when they found out that a Rav spoke different drashas for hashkama and regular minyanim were masochist enough to after finishing hashkama minyan to go to main minyan and hear Ravs other drasha.

  41. mycroft says:

    “But re structure, good speakers do not follow formulas.”
    AGREED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  42. Joseph Kaplan says:

    “or “semiautomatic” or “assault weapon” (Moshe, there simply is no such thing).”

    Nachum, you really should know better. “In the United States, there is a variety of statutory definitions of assault weapons in local, state, and federal laws that define them by a set of characteristics they possess, sometimes described as military-style features useful in combat.” In fact, “the term, assault weapon, when used in the context of assault weapon laws refers primarily (but not exclusively) to semi-automatic firearms that possess the cosmetic features of an assault rifle (which are fully-automatic).” You might not like it and you might think that these are recent definitions — and maybe that’s so — but to say that there are no such thing as an assault weapon when there was a law defining and banning such weapons is simply not true. And it doesn’t make it true. Your ideology is getting the better of your legal knowledge and common sense.

  43. Nachum says:

    Joseph, you might as well say that “marriage” can mean something other than a man marrying a woman. :-) Just because the government decides to randomly assign meaning to a word (for explicitly political reasons) doesn’t mean it’s true. Ask the average Israeli what the proper word for “internet” is.

    Mycroft:

    “Nachum-I believe you both live in Jerusalem now-not that far apart.”

    Yes, I see him in shul every now and then.

    “a Rav spoke different drashas for hashkama and regular minyanim”

    Now there’s an honest, committed rav. (Did you mean *the* Rav?) Of course, many people go to hashkama minyanim because no one speaks…

  44. S. Beck says:

    The drash, and many of the comments, both irritated and saddened me. What got me is the unstated assumption that everyone lives in a big city where meat comes wrapped in plastic and there is a steady police presence. News flash!–many Americans live ‘out of town’! Way out of town!! Life can be very different ‘out there’. You can’t talk to people about changing their lives without some basic understanding of what their lives ARE. For one thing, police response time is measured in hours. For another, hunting animals is not just ‘normal’, as it has been for b’nei noach for the whole of human history, it is a sincerely respected and honorable tradition, a significant factor in the food supply, and useful pest control. (I say that although I have myself been a vegetarian for 30 years).

    Personal disclosure: I grew up way ‘out of town’–in the South–and I have lived in the Intermontane West, and I know many people who hunt and keep rifles in their trucks and have very good, thoughtful reasons for doing so. Whatever is wrong with the world, it is not them.

    –s.

  45. mycroft says:

    ““a Rav spoke different drashas for hashkama and regular minyanim”

    Now there’s an honest, committed rav. (Did you mean *the* Rav?”

    No-I should have written a Rabbi.

  46. Anonymous says:

    Nahum
    I am very sorry, but weapons of the class of M-16′s and AK-47′s a commonly called “assault rifles”. This is just plain English.

    Abba:
    I dont know anything about the circumstances along the US border border, but I tend to doubt that common people are risk for attack by groups of heavily armed drug dealers. But I could be wrong about this.

    As for cases of rioters and looters, I dont believe that that anyone would honestly make the case that businesses or home owner really need the capacities of an assault rifle rather than say a shotgun to defend themselves. I would presume that a shotgun would be a more practical weapon in these circumstances. Furthermore these are once in a lifetime events for most people and we can hardly structure public policy around them.

  47. Nachum says:

    1. There is no real practical difference between a scary-looking (which is, in fact, most of the legal definition) “assault weapon” such as the AR-15 (M-16′s, which are based on the same design, are military and illegal for private use) and any other semi-automatic rifle, like, say, the M-1 of World War II. The term is not “plain English,” it’s legalese as invented by a bunch of Democratic congressman and their staffs, mostly lawyers, who either don’t own guns or pretend not to. (Of course, they get all the armed protection they want.)

    2. Yes, it is pretty bad in parts of, say, Arizona. I have cousins there who are armed out of simple need.

    3. In a free country, you can’t (and really shouldn’t want to) start making laws on what you determine (or “believe” or “presume”) people need. Maybe one day you’ll decide that they don’t really “need” twenty-ounce sodas…oh, wait.

  48. abba's rantings says:

    ANON:

    “Furthermore these are once in a lifetime events for most people and we can hardly structure public policy around them.”

    do you know what percentage of crimes involve the use of assault rifles? and more specifically the use of registered assault rifles?
    so i agree with you, we can hardly structure public policy around such rare events.

  49. Joseph Kaplan says:

    Although it’s a free country we have speeding laws and require people who drive to have licenses. We also require doctors to have licenses, free country or not. And we prohibit the selling of alleged medications that are, in fact, harmful. And even you wouldn’t, I assume, let violent felons, who have finished serving their sentence, have guns, even in this free country. So I hope free country isn’t your best argument. And while I’m sure it’s not, it’s not even good enough as a throw away line.

  50. Hirhurim says:

    S Beck: Hunting animals *for sport* may be a tradition but it is not honorable. As the Noda Bi-Yehudah put it, it is Esav’s activity.

  51. mycroft says:

    “Hirhurim on December 25, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    S Beck: Hunting animals *for sport* may be a tradition but it is not honorable. As the Noda Bi-Yehudah put it, it is Esav’s activity”

    Esau and Nimrod I believe both enjoyed hunting-company that I don’t believe is exactly our role models.

  52. S. Beck says:

    Mycroft: Thank you for an excellent illustration of my point!!

    Also: read for comprehension, please. I explicitly said, b’nei noach. I was not talking about Jews, for whom hunting (IHAL*) is forbidden. To be shocked that b’nei noach hunt is like being shocked that they eat shrimps. –s.

    (* “i have always learned”.)

  53. Nachum says:

    Well, Joseph, we should always err on the side of freedom. Andrew Cuomo mouthing off about confiscating all guns is not erring on the side of freedom.

    Jews can hunt, and have. They just have to keep the animal alive so it can be schechted.

    Yitzchak seemed to have no problem with Esav hunting for food. :-)

  54. Nachum:

    CuOmo would like legislation that confiscates assault weapOns, not all weapons (though he might wish that too, that it wasn’t he said)

  55. Hirhurim says:

    Nachum: Good luck hunting an animal with a gun that remains kosher.

    S Beck: This isn’t about what is assur or not but what is respectable. Hunting animals (for sport) may be permissible to Bnei Noach but that does not make it respectable. It is cruel and violent.

  56. S. Beck says:

    Nahum probably used ‘hunt’ to mean ‘trap’or ‘snare’, so you can then run up with the schecting knife.

    Rabbi Gil: I despise trophy hunters, but the vast majority of the American b’nei noach who hunt are meat hunters. Competent hunting is no crueler than any other means of slaughter and is kinder than many. I argue that the deer killed instantly with a skillful shot has had a better end than most cows shoved into a slaughterhouse chute. If you eat meat–which we are permitted, no argument, I am not preaching vegetarianism–have you honestly considered how much ‘cruelty and violence” may have been involved in your food?

    It’s pretty weird when a long-term vegetarian ends up defending hunting. I did’nt set out to defend hunting. I am trying to show the almost-entirely-northeastern-urban readership of this fine board that there are many other people in the USA, there are life-styles about which you may not have a clue, and it is not good to pass judgement on others until you’ve at least tried to enter into their circumstances.

  57. Joseph Kaplan says:

    Nachum, Most of the talk I’ve seen has been about regulation and not confiscation.

 
 

Submit a Response

 

You must be logged in to submit a response.