Everyone's heard about the YU's "The Beacon" scandal story -- even the JPost reported on it. For a very thoughtful take on the story, even comparing it to the parashat hashavua, I recommend you read R' Pruzanky's take on it.
"How do we discuss sensitive, delicate, even prurient matters? In fourth grade, we just skipped over the story of Yehuda and Tamar; that’s one approach. It doesn’t work well. How can you transmit values when the subject matter, or the application of those values, are taboo, and unmentionable? Granted, despite the anonymous author’s best efforts, the average commercial on television is more risqué and suggestive than this short story; and granted, I can see why the “Yeshiva” side of the YU ledger was offended.R' Yitzchok Adlerstein over at Cross-Currents titles his post A Grand Theory of Halachic Everything. He reviews a fascinating article by Dr. Moshe Koppel, which I highly recommended, "Judaism as a First Language"
But there is, unfortunately, a seamy corner of the Jewish world that we would do well not pretending that it does not exist. It exists – it exists because the culture is that decadent, and because young people looking for love, attention and respect often seek it in the wrong places and in the wrong activities – and they wind up without love or respect, although they do capture the attention, temporarily at least, of the exploiters and predators."
Judaism, in a way, is not that different from English—or any other language, for that matter. In fact, Judaism is a language of sorts; its internal dynamics, the manner in which it evolves, and the powers through which it is fashioned are all startlingly similar to those of the linguistic process. Now, one can treat this comparison as a mere intellectual exercise, an interesting metaphor at most, but I believe its potential implications are great and far-reaching. It can shed light on some of the problems that keep many contemporary Jews—myself included—up at night: If Judaism, as it is currently practiced in certain circles, has gone off the rails, how would we know? Is there some Archimedean point from which we could decide the matter? And, if this is indeed the case, is the founding of a Jewish state likely to get us back on track? The answers to these questions, I will attempt to show here, are all inextricably connected, and the key to finding them may perhaps lie in understanding Judaism as language.And President Obama's Remarks at the 71st General Assembly of the Union for Reform Judaism. (White House transcript)
And if there’s one thing I’ve learned from her[President Obama's daughter, Malia] it’s that it never hurts to begin a speech by discussing the Torah portion. It doesn’t hurt.That was cute.
In fact, I am proud to say that no U.S. administration has done more in support of Israel’s security than ours. None. Don’t let anybody else tell you otherwise. It is a fact.And that is a fact, you may not let anyone tell you otherwise. It IS A FACT.
Last year, when raging fires threatened Haifa, we dispatched fire-fighting planes to help put out the blaze. (Applause.)Well, it wasn't dispatched by the US Government -- the Israeli government paid for the super tanker...whatever.
Thank you, God bless you, God bless the United States of America.Amen. Had this been said by an Israeli Prime Minister, the media would be in an uproar over the religious intolerance of Israel's growing anti-democratic character.
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Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד