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1 Slumbering Behemoth Stinks  Thu, Oct 28, 2010 5:02:51pm
"Wash yourselves purify yourselves, remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes. Learn to do good, seek justice, vindicate the victim, render justice to the orphan, take up the grievance of the widow."

We see part of this discussion quite clearly here. God is really angry at doing evil, and says to do good instead. He then defines some good things to do, that were not being done that rendered people evil. Specifically, being just and compassionate and sticking up for the victim, the widow and the orphan (the weakest members of society).

Conservapedia has warned me about evil, liberal interpreters of scripture like you!
/Just kidding

The only transgression that God can never forgive we claim, is taking his name in vain. It's actually, in a way, worse than murder. This does not mean cussing.

The unforgivable sin is doing evil in His name - like claiming that He doesn't want you striving for social justice while cloaking yourself as His representative. More on that point later, it is a recurring theme that religious hypocrites should be especially worried about - or would be, if they actually believed in the God of Jacob.

Excellent point, and one I've been trying to hammer home with some people for years. How is it that me, a non-religious person, can clearly understand this, yet so many faithful fail to see it?

Someone with a nic like "SpaceJesus" is not taking the lord's name in vain, but if you watch the 700 club, you can see Pat Robertson do it several times a day.

Anywho, still not done reading this yet. Great so far.

2 SpaceJesus  Thu, Oct 28, 2010 5:06:51pm

And there's also the minor fact that conservative elements in Europe always persecuted Jews, and those memories of conservative persecution were brought to America.

3 Almost Killed by Space Hookers  Thu, Oct 28, 2010 5:16:32pm

re: #2 SpaceJesus

And there's also the minor fact that conservative elements in Europe always persecuted Jews, and those memories of conservative persecution were brought to America.

Ya think?

4 Slumbering Behemoth Stinks  Thu, Oct 28, 2010 5:17:23pm

re: #2 SpaceJesus

Speak of the fucking devil! You spyin' on me, son?
/

5 SpaceJesus  Thu, Oct 28, 2010 5:20:42pm

re: #4 Slumbering Behemoth


SpaceJesus, special agent of the Mossad

6 Michael Orion Powell  Thu, Oct 28, 2010 5:45:17pm
Obviously, racism is evil, and the Jews, having been terrible victims of it, need no scriptural or rabbinic injunction against it, to know it is evil. Obviously, the GOP plays the race card in terrible ways, breeding and stoking endless fear that angry black Muslim communists and Hispanics are going to murder whites in their sleep, impose socialism and destroy Christianity.

That's exactly it. Jews tend to have a pretty good nose for smelling out ethno-nationalism when it rears its ugly face. That's why they don't vote Republican.

7 sffilk  Thu, Oct 28, 2010 6:42:15pm

This is fantastic. Thank you very much!

8 aagcobb  Thu, Oct 28, 2010 6:47:30pm

If I wasn't an atheist, I would convert to Judaism.

9 Almost Killed by Space Hookers  Thu, Oct 28, 2010 6:56:51pm

re: #7 sffilk

This is fantastic. Thank you very much!

Thank you so much!

10 Almost Killed by Space Hookers  Thu, Oct 28, 2010 6:57:08pm

re: #8 aagcobb

If I wasn't an atheist, I would convert to Judaism.

I know many former atheists who did.

11 CuriousLurker  Thu, Oct 28, 2010 7:15:42pm

I very much enjoy the way you explain your faith, Ludwig! For me, it speaks to the heart because it comes from the heart, and that makes it meaningful in a way it might not be otherwise (at least for me anyway).

The unforgivable sin is doing evil in His name

Like SB, I couldn't agree more. For us the wording is different, but the same principles fall under that umbrella.

But, I want to point to the second part of that tosefta about there being only one Adam.

So no man could claim he was descended from a more distinguished Adam than another.

All Adam's race are members of one frame;
Since all, at first, from the same essence came.
When by hard fortune one limb is oppressed,
The other members lose their wonted rest:
If thou feel'st not for others' misery,
A son of Adam is no name for thee.
—Saadi

12 Almost Killed by Space Hookers  Thu, Oct 28, 2010 7:23:43pm

re: #11 CuriousLurker

I very much enjoy the way you explain your faith, Ludwig! For me, it speaks to the heart because it comes from the heart, and that makes it meaningful in a way it might not be otherwise (at least for me anyway).

Like SB, I couldn't agree more. For us the wording is different, but the same principles fall under that umbrella.

All Adam's race are members of one frame;
Since all, at first, from the same essence came.
When by hard fortune one limb is oppressed,
The other members lose their wonted rest:
If thou feel'st not for others' misery,
A son of Adam is no name for thee.
—Saadi

Thank you CL. I adore your posts too, and I have learned much from you.

13 CuriousLurker  Thu, Oct 28, 2010 7:35:28pm

re: #12 LudwigVanQuixote

Thank you CL. I adore your posts too, and I have learned much from you.

You're very kind; thank you. {LVQ}

P.S. I also think it's wonderful that we can have these little "Cordoba" type gatherings in the pages where everyone can exchange thoughts without any scales flying. It helps me feel more hopeful.

14 Almost Killed by Space Hookers  Thu, Oct 28, 2010 7:45:37pm

re: #13 CuriousLurker

You're very kind; thank you. {LVQ}

P.S. I also think it's wonderful that we can have these little "Cordoba" type gatherings in the pages where everyone can exchange thoughts without any scales flying. It helps me feel more hopeful.

Good people can always get along. It's the insecure ones who hate are the problems (and that is true for all groups).

15 Bob Levin  Thu, Oct 28, 2010 10:52:23pm

I'd like to point out that all of the quotes used can also support a notion that there is more to reading and understanding the Torah than simply taking everything literally.

If someone wanted to take a literal reading, then that notion would have to be cross-referenced with some type of statement that breaking any one of the 613/620 commandments would constitute evil. There isn't any such statement. Rather, all elaborations of good and evil become more general, slightly varied from the previous statements. Ultimately, good boils itself down to a sensibility about the world that translates into actions, which add to the goodness of the world.

Evil, another sensibility most closely corresponding to the western notion of having a hard heart, eventually works itself into the world in the form of callousness, double-binds, and eventually slavery--living in slavery being the ultimate double-bind, being trapped by evil.

Goodness is not so easy to see, evil likes to disguise itself as good--hence the warnings against superficiality. Education and argument constitute important parts of the toolkit needed to fight evil.

That being said, I know of Jewish Republicans, I don't know of Jews aligned with the American Right Wing. There is, in Israel, a Jewish right wing, and one can see a literal-mindedness when observing them in action. Nevertheless, there are distinct and crucial differences between the Israeli Right Wing and the American Right Wing.

16 Almost Killed by Space Hookers  Thu, Oct 28, 2010 11:00:46pm

re: #15 Bob Levin

And yet, Torah clearly defines certain actions as evil and all mitzvot as good.

Your sophistry is both distracting and irrelevant.

17 Almost Killed by Space Hookers  Thu, Oct 28, 2010 11:07:09pm

I've updated the post a little.

18 Bob Levin  Thu, Oct 28, 2010 11:22:28pm

re: #16 LudwigVanQuixote

And yet, Torah clearly defines certain actions as evil and all mitzvot as good.

If you have goodness, you will do mitzvot. If you need to cultivate goodness, it helps to do mitzvot. That's what I said.

But simply doing mitzvot is not a simple indication of goodness, that's why there are exhortations against superficially performing commandments, and why it's necessary to send prophets warning us that we are being superficial.

Interpreting the Torah is not easy. It's complicated and complex. There is nothing wrong with pointing this out.

19 Almost Killed by Space Hookers  Thu, Oct 28, 2010 11:36:33pm

re: #18 Bob Levin

What you say is true. Of course, the interpretation is what the Oral Law and the Nach is all about, and the things I wrote about here are rather plainly spelled out. In fact they are so plainly spelled out and repeated throughout the Law in so many different ways and places, specifically so that no one would be confused about them.

20 Cheese Eating Victory Monkey  Fri, Oct 29, 2010 2:59:13am

Thank you for the comprehensive guide. I'm definitely not an expert on Judaism, I learned many things here, and I agree with you, but that doesn't address my understanding that such arguments depend on your stream of Judaism and politics. Essentially, one can cherry-pick pieces of the Torah and Oral Law and it seems that's what you did here (no offense intended).

I think the title of your post should have been "Why Most Jews Don't Vote Republican". In one poll, 48% of Jews considered voting for Bush in 2004.

Also, there seems to be a trend of Orthodox Jews voting for Republicans which is only expected to grow in the next few decades.

Looking at why Orthodox Jews have gone GOP

The Political Party for the (Orthodox) Jewish Vote

Bottom line: The Democratic party is out of touch with the needs of this growing segment of Jewish voters and that this block is willing to look past (or ignorant) of the Torah points you bring up.

21 Cheese Eating Victory Monkey  Fri, Oct 29, 2010 3:05:58am

Unfortunately, Israel is becoming a partisan issue in the US, and unless that changes, this may affect voting in favor of Republicans.

One last link:

Future of Orthodox Jewish Vote Has Implications for GOP

22 Almost Killed by Space Hookers  Fri, Oct 29, 2010 4:41:08am

re: #20 Cheese Eating Victory Monkey

Thank you for the comprehensive guide. I'm definitely not an expert on Judaism, I learned many things here, and I agree with you, but that doesn't address my understanding that such arguments depend on your stream of Judaism and politics. Essentially, one can cherry-pick pieces of the Torah and Oral Law and it seems that's what you did here (no offense intended).

I can appreciate how someone who is not familiar with Judaism can suspect me of "cherry picking" Torah to make my arguments. However, the same arguments are made in very many ways all across Torah Judaism.

Hillel famously said that the essence of the Law is do not do to others what is hateful to you. All else is commentary, now go and study.

And that brings me to why I chose these quotes in particular.

This is core Judaism. Those quoted are Moses - who if you are observant is actually quoting G-d Himself directly, Isaiah (one of the most major prophets) and the sages of the Talmud.

Specifically, I drew most of my quotes from Pirkei Avot, which is one of the most famous Talmudic texts. Pirkei Avot literally means Ethics of the Fathers. I could have chosen many sources, but sort of the point is, that there are no bigger Rabbis then men like Judah HaNassi, Hillel and Akiva. Further, the entire first chapter of Avot is dedicated to the chain of transmission of the Law and these ethical principles from Moses, through the prophets to those Rabbis.

No Jew who knows anything about Judaism will say otherwise.

So frankly, no, I did not cherry pick, and I invite you to look into our 3,000 year Tradition to see the many thousands of ways these principles have been enumerated on by others as well.

I think the title of your post should have been "Why Most Jews Don't Vote Republican". In one poll, 48% of Jews considered voting for Bush in 2004.

And yet much fewer than those did. The Jews vote around 75% Democratic since the twenties. It dipped down into the sixties during the Eisenhower years and against Carter in 1980.

Also, there seems to be a trend of Orthodox Jews voting for Republicans which is only expected to grow in the next few decades.

You mean Republican pundits expect that. It is true that there were some Jews who were taken in by the Fox anti-Obama scare tactics in the last election. They mostly got over it, and if you think that the teabags are ever going to make serious headway in the Jewish community, you are dreaming.

Looking at why Orthodox Jews have gone GOP

Yes there are some who were taken in by the propaganda. Most however got over it. There are also, in any group, those who are outwardly more "pious" than they are internally. If you really think Orthodox Jews are lining up to be perfected by a GOP that has swung fundamentalist Christian, you are again deluded, and so are the writers. In either case, there are far more secular Jews in America, and the GOP has made no inroads with them, because despite a lack of Torah learning, the cultural values are that come from Torah are still very strong.

Bottom line: The Democratic party is out of touch with the needs of this growing segment of Jewish voters

The Democratic party is out of touch on many things. Considering the GOP to be evil does not make the Dems good. Most Jews will tell you that the Dems are "good by default."

and that this block is willing to look past (or ignorant) of the Torah points you bring up.

Don't bet on that.

23 Almost Killed by Space Hookers  Fri, Oct 29, 2010 4:46:06am

re: #21 Cheese Eating Victory Monkey

As to Israel being a partisan issue in the US, I could not wish for any larger gift to American Jewry than the teabags no longer claiming to speak for us. It is a very sad fact that hatred of the American right has stoked left wing antisemitism by proxy because of W. and the Teabags.

As to your other article, again, you are dreaming.

24 Almost Killed by Space Hookers  Fri, Oct 29, 2010 4:47:31am

PIMF

Hillel famously said that "The essence of the Law is do not do to others what is hateful to you. All else is commentary, now go and study."

Just to be clear as to what is his quote.

25 Almost Killed by Space Hookers  Fri, Oct 29, 2010 5:44:38am

Just as some further examples of other large Rabbaim that I could have quoted to support what I was saying:

The Rambam, also known as Maimonides, who is perhaps the most famous of the Rishonim, because he was also a world famous, in his day, philosopher, scientist and physician, who is quoted frequently by Aquinas and all students of Western philosophy, wrote in great detail about everything I just have. Of course, he is infinitely greater than me in terms of Jewish learning.

For the record, even the Rambam quotes Pirkei Avot as something bigger than him!

"Along these lines did our Sages command us, 'All your acts should be for the sake of Heaven' (Pirkei Avos 2:17). And this is as Solomon in his wisdom stated, 'In all your ways know Him and He will direct your paths.' (Proverbs 3:6)."

On helping the poor and the weakest members of society:

"A person is obligated to be careful [in dealing] with orphans and widows since their souls are very lowly and their spirits are down -- even if they are wealthy. We are cautioned even regarding the widow and orphans of a king, as it is stated, 'Every widow and orphan you shall not afflict' (Exodus 22:21)."

“Anticipate charity by preventing poverty; assist the reduced fellow man, either by a considerable gift or a sum of money or by teaching him a trade or by putting him in the way of business so that he may earn an honest livelihood and not be forced to the dreadful alternative of holding out his hand for charity. This is the highest step and summit of charity's golden ladder.”

On not putting a stumbling block before the blind:

"Is is forbidden to fool others ('lignov da'as' -- to steal the mind), even of a Gentile. How is this? One should not sell a Gentile meat from an unslaughtered (and so non-kosher) animal with the assumption it was slaughtered, nor [sell him] a shoe [made from the hide] of a dead [animal] in place of a shoe from a slaughtered one. One should not press his fellow to eat at his house knowing he won't be able to. He should also not offer his fellow gifts knowing he will not accept them. Nor should one open barrels [of wine] for his fellow which he was going to open anyway (in order to market) in order to trick his fellow that he opened them specially in his honor. Likewise with anything similar. Even a single word of deception or trickery is forbidden. Rather, [one should have] honest lips, an upright spirit, and a heart pure of all vexation and mischief."

Now what do you think the Rambam (the most famous physician of his time!) would say about, lying that tobacco was really ok for you and that there is no evidence it causes cancer, or lying that AGW is not real and there is no reason to change things?

I could go on with quotes from him. But I hope people see from these posts that I am writing about core Judaism here.

A fantastic online resource for Rambam with great discussions is:

[Link: www.torah.org...]

26 Almost Killed by Space Hookers  Fri, Oct 29, 2010 5:52:04am

For those interested, here is an entire online class on Pirkei Avot.

[Link: www.torah.org...]

27 Almost Killed by Space Hookers  Fri, Oct 29, 2010 6:10:51am

Here is another bit of Jewish Law that pundits telling you about economics would really hate if they were put in front of a Beit Din.

[Link: www.torah.org...]

Liability For Bad Advice

Question:

A person was looking to purchase a used car. He approached a friend of his who has a reputation to have expertise in cars to ask advice regarding one specific car. The friend inspected the exterior of the car visually, and advised the potential buyer to buy it. Based on this advice, the car was purchased.
After driving the car for a few days, the buyer realized that there were severe problems with the engine of the car. Had there been a thorough evaluation of the car before purchase, these defects would have detected. He has tried to find the seller to demand a refund, but the seller is no where to be found.

Is the friend who advised the purchaser to acquire the car liable for the loss caused by his advice?

What is the Halacha?

Answer:

If the friend received payment for his advice, he is obligated to pay for any direct loss that resulted from his advice. This is true even if the purchaser did not tell the adviser that he is going to buy the car based solely on his advice.

If the adviser is not getting paid for his advice, we make the following distinction. If he really is an expert on cars but happened to make an unintentional mistake this once, he is not liable to pay for the loss. However, he must provide proof that he is an expert.

However, if he is not an expert on this subject, and offered his advice anyway without telling the buyer that he has no expertise, or without telling him not to rely solely on his advice, if it was clear that the buyer was going to solely rely on his advice, the adviser must pay for the loss caused by his advice. This is because this case goes into the classification of Garmi (see below), in which a person is held liable for causing damage.

28 Almost Killed by Space Hookers  Fri, Oct 29, 2010 6:19:37am

Re my 27,

A joke for any who read here who know some Torah...

"There goes my donkey!"

29 Cheese Eating Victory Monkey  Fri, Oct 29, 2010 7:42:18am

re: #22 LudwigVanQuixote

Thanks for the thorough replies. I need to do some more reading on this subject and I'll start with your links.

30 Almost Killed by Space Hookers  Fri, Oct 29, 2010 7:54:51am

re: #29 Cheese Eating Victory Monkey

Thanks for the thorough replies. I need to do some more reading on this subject and I'll start with your links.

You are very welcome.

31 Almost Killed by Space Hookers  Fri, Oct 29, 2010 10:48:13am

re: #1 Slumbering Behemoth

I up dinged you, but I forgot to thank you.

32 Bob Levin  Fri, Oct 29, 2010 11:16:53am

re: #19 LudwigVanQuixote

Now this point is just an aside, but I learned that when something is repeated, in actuality, the repetition is there to show another shade of meaning. So the repetition becomes further elaboration, even though it doesn't appear on the surface to be any change in meaning. On the one hand, there shouldn't be confusion, on the other hand, it takes a complex skill set to derive the other shade of meaning.

33 Almost Killed by Space Hookers  Fri, Oct 29, 2010 11:36:28am

re: #32 Bob Levin

Now this point is just an aside, but I learned that when something is repeated, in actuality, the repetition is there to show another shade of meaning. So the repetition becomes further elaboration, even though it doesn't appear on the surface to be any change in meaning. On the one hand, there shouldn't be confusion, on the other hand, it takes a complex skill set to derive the other shade of meaning.

This is an excellent point!

This is one of the main reasons all of these commandments to help the poor, clothe the naked, feed the hungry, uphold the rights of the widow and the orphan, judge fairly, pursue justice etc... are said over and over in so many different ways.

34 lostlakehiker  Sat, Oct 30, 2010 8:28:21pm

The general idea is clear and I quite agree with you about it. As to the particular case of Walmart, I think there's another side to it.

Walmart pays modest wages, true. But the other side of that is that Walmart charges low prices. Almost all of the economic upshot of those low wages consists of economic benefit to shoppers. Shoppers include the rich, but the bulk of the customers at Walmart are far from rich.

Walmart imports some goods from China. This costs some U.S. workers their jobs. But again, the moral calculus here is complicated. Are not Chinese also human? Do they not need jobs? Producing for the U.S. market has been part of an enormously successful strategy for China. Per capita income is roughly ten times what it was a couple of decades ago.

Walmart does not belong in the same category as BP. The GOP has much to answer for, but allowing the existence of Walmart is not oppression of the poor. The analysis is complicated, but with one weighting of the facts, it nets out as a positive good for the world.


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