Saturday, May 31, 2003

Going Back

We're on our way... leaving the hotel at 2:15am to make a 6:15am flight - designed to make nobody happy with this. More when we get back to the states. Thanks to the Groners for a wonderful Shabbat send-off replete with good food and cute babies.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Book Store Alert!!

Attention Mr. & Mrs. Israel and all the ships at sea.

A crazy ol' coot in a twilight zonish bookshop gave me the heads-up of the best bookshop in Jerusalem. It's 6 Shatz Street. I was there last Thursday but the store was closed and the only place open was a cruddy little outhouse of a bookshop that I remembered from years ago. The new shop, opened 5 years ago (after I had already left) but expanded only one year ago, is immense. I purchased books I had only dreamt about. Shatz street is near Pomerantz, but don't confuse the two.
The Book Gallery
6 Shatz Street (26 King George), Jerusalem 94267
tel: 02-623-1087, fax: 02-625-5513

Monday, May 26, 2003

Israel Diary, Day 2 - Part 2

Our main tasks on this trip are:

(a) to enjoy two weeks away from the daily, minute-to-minute pressures of the synagogue and the City as well as the brutal commute my wife enjoys for most the week to sunny New Haven,

(b) revisit all the nostalgic wonder of my years in Israel [note, most of that wonder is in the Sniper Zones and we may not get to that right now],

(c) eat shwarma, and other delicacies of the Holy Land,

(d) buy books, a whole mess of books,

and (e) shop for thangs that only Israel provides (like tzanua women's clothing and affordable hats).

We also need to (f) visit and see all of our friends in the country. This turns out to be a very heavy agenda.

Every day we set out to a new neighborhood to explore, eat, and shop. On Day 2, we explored Emek Refaiim. I'd never really spent time in the neighborhood and I see why - no book stores. Plenty of restaurants... we had lunch in Kapit with a good friend and dinner at Norman's with about a dozen yeshiva boys who should have been at night seder.

That night we heard the comedic-monologue of Israel Campbell at the Hartman Institute sitting in a room with the student bodies of Pardes and HUC. This guy was very good and I'm going to try to bring him to my shul.

As for the book buying, we started a three-day excavation of Stein's Book Store. Both the Emek Refaiim restaurants and Stein's Books are distinguished by being the closest to our hotel (not "Close" as nothing is close to our hotel except other hotels and the stupid Windmill thing). More on the Stein's adventure later.

Sunday, May 25, 2003

Israel Diary, Day 2

[Note: All the fulminous bloggin' that I was able to do erev Shabbat was courtesy of the our Shabbas hosts' yummy computer. I am now in the Panorama and this is bound to futz up, here's hopin']

I was able to share a minyan with the school-trip in the morning (the rest of the time I've been on my own, I'm not sure where the school went... rumors say the Negev) and we enjoyed the hotel's complimentary breakfast bar. So far, this hotel has been way better than the King David. I have no idea why the KD has appeal. I think its because of the hotel's history, or the wealth of the average occupant. But it's a poor hotel.

Example: this hotel has internet access, a useful gift shop, a decent breakfast, and complimentary newspaper every day. The KD had no internet (18 months ago when I stayed there) no gift shop, a slightly bigger breakfast and NO PAPER. That steamed me: what self-respecting hotel doesn't give you at least the cruddiest paper in the morning. If it weren't for hotels, the USAtoday would probably have folded (just as rental cars keep the "Probe" and "Sebring" on the lots and cabs & cops keep the big American cars on the market).

Anyhoo, the breakfast. As you probably can tell, I find food fascinating. Yummy too. And breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. I guess its because every culture recognizes that you have been "fasting" all night and that break-fast is the most important meal of the day. This gives you, the literal consumer, license to eat whatever you want. Meat? go ahead! Pizza & coke? Strange, but acceptable. And traditional breakfast food is so filling and, dare I say, yummy, that you have permission to eat it all day. As any bachelor knows, breakfast foods - cold or pre-packaged n'frozen - are the staple of the lazy man's diet.

As I said, every culture knows this about break-fast... except Israel. Israeli breakfast, at least how I learned about them in yeshiva, are pathetic. How Israel manages to safeguard a county on morning diet of cucumbers, watery white yogurt, and brown ditch-water coffee is beyond my ken. Must by a God thing.

Hotel breakfasts try to be at least Continental in style, with an occasional nod to the American fascination with cereal. So, no matter the hotel, the breakfast is the same. A big pile of vegetables, many of them already, conveniently, smothered in white creamy paste; an extraordinary collection of high fat cheeses, cut fruit, and random pastry. The Panorama does a decent job of keeping me fat and happy - but even the vaunted King David, with their 50% larger buffet, is bigger because they put out a greater variety of things I wouldn't eat even if you paid me.

Friday, May 23, 2003

Israel Diary, Day 1 - Part 3

The first day the hotel was filled with a "God TV" convention. As far as we can tell, these were television evangelists from Manchester, England. Philosophically, were such creatures to exist, then they *would* exist in the Dan Panorama hotel.

We didn't have much time that night to do anything big except attempt dinner. We set out from the hotel - which is near bloody nothing except the other hotels - in search of my favorite restaurant: The Blues Brothers, on Ben-Yehuda.

I like the place because of the cheap food, the good food, and the name. Alas, the store... she is dead. I guess bad business (although it could be bad meat). That was very sad. Instead we had a mediocre Italian experience at Luigi's on Yoel Solomon. Good cappuccino. Good bread. The soup tasted like Osem's finest and I find that all Israeli tomato sauce is too sweet. Israeli tomatoes are too dignified and yummy on their own to be whomped into paste. That ol' Israeli spirit.

We returned to the hotel to khopp Maariv with the school trip. Oh, did I say that on our two week "get away from everything" vacation we happened to choose the same hotel that the eighth grade school trip was also using. Hee hee. I can't complain, though; got good minyan out of it.

More anon, till then, Shabbat Shalom.

Israel Diary, Day 1 - Part 2

In Geneva, all the rest of we frummies, possibly totaling over 10 men but nobody was weird enough to try anything, davened shacharit on our own at different times and different places. This was not good for Rashbi who arrived 40 minutes late to the switch-off and demanded to the bewildered Swiss and bored Israelis that he needed to herd us together for a minyan. He succeeded in doing so on the plane, before it took off. The first leg of the trip was on Swiss(air), the second leg was El-Al -- who're used to having the crazy Hat People take over the galley with their mumbling.

For the most part, things were smooth and we landed in Israel with aplomb, saw no real trouble getting to our hotel, the Dan Panorama. Like many things in Israel, the hotel has been renamed from the popular earlier name to an obscure nonsense name (cf. Inbal). The Panorama is the old Moriah hotel whose only distinction before this, in my book, was that it was across the street from the last 161 stop in Jerusalem (back in 1991 when I was in 'Hamivtar). My wife is still bemused by my habit of pointing out both 161 bus stops in Jerusalem and when the buses pass by. Old Psychotic habits die hard.

The hotel is full. Yay. Filled with weird Europeans, true, but its great to see so many people in one hotel. The neighboring hotels look deserted (esp. the King Solomon which is right next door). Alas, my compassion is tempered by my dyed-inna-wool capitalism. Originally, we had arranged to stay in the Solomon but they refused to give us a reduced rate. The Panorama is $10 cheaper than all comparable hotels (and that's significant over 12 days!). Score one for capitalism.

Israel Diary, Day 1 (Retry)

We arrived Tuesday evening, Lag B'Omer after an artificially extended Swiss (nee Swissair) flight. The plane was scheduled to leave JFK at 7:30. Like good little travelers, my wife and I wanted to be there 3 hours beforehand. To get to JFK, like good little Newyorkers, my wife and I wanted to leave 90 minutes before we wanted to arrive. As a trained posek, I determined that it would be trei-derabanan (aka "sayag l'sayag," aka "a fence around a fence") to leave at 3 so we decided to leave at 4.

We met some of the craziest, snarliest, traffic ever seen on a non-holiday, good-weather, Monday afternoon. Our driver, a pleasant hyperactive middle-aged South-Asian, was ideologically opposed to traffic and called Queens his home. Whenever we met traffic, we'd sharply veer off onto a side-street or wadi, getting us to the airport in 90 minutes. We may have gotten there at the same time had we stayed in the original traffic but I adhere to the driver's orthodoxy of "Keep Moving."

I was expecting heavy security at the airport. The last time I took an international flight was in November 2001 - so soon after 9-11 (and before Crazy Shoe-Bomb Guy) - that the security dudes didn't know the drill. As it was, I was positively profiled as a friendly "Good Ol Boy" with a hair-covered wife. Yet another time in my life when I was glad to be a lily-white black-hatter.

Behind us on the Swiss(air) line was a man who was to be that trip's requisite wacko. We've nicknamed him Rashbi, the acronym of Rav Shimon Bar Yochi. This dude, 6 foot tall, penguin-dressed Chassid, with long salt-n-pepa beard, no jacket, and blue-crystal cell-phone. We knew there was trouble from the start when he was having one of these cellphone conversations: "Hi Shmuely, I just got cut off" (babble for a minute, pause) "Hi Shumely, got cut off again" (rinse, lather, repeat).

When he finally finished his phone call, he turned his sights on us and asked if we were going to Switzerland or Israel. Note, I was wearing The Hat - which is recognized in most countries and all restaurants as the sign of RELIGIOUS JEW. When we said "Israel" he said that we could still make it to Meron, the hometown of Rashbi, in time for the last of the Lag B'Omer celebrations. I took control of the conversation by using Weirdo Countermeasure #2 - blunt and uninteresting. It worked for a moment, until we saw him again in Geneva for the plane-switch.

Shabbas in Hashmonaim

We are spending Shabbas in Hashmonaim with good friends of my wife from college. For all the time I've lived in Israel (totaling close to 3 years, on and off, since '82), I have never spent that much time in this area of the Aretz. Moreover, I had always heard about the big town of Modi'in (and I got a small driving tour of it today) but I don't remember it *existing* when I was here in Gush back in '96. Fast place, this Israel.

Addendum: According to the Modiin History Website, the town really got underway basically in 1996, and more established in 1998. This makes me feel old and slow.


As usual, I had a honking big blog to send to the Styx but the computer ate it. I've got to find a better system. Any of you veteran bloggers out there who wanna help, I'm hip.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Honeymoon in Israel

My wife and I arrived safely in Israel. I'll try to contact you Israel people when I have the strength. We are in the Dan Panorama, though, and they have some internet access in the basement. In checking my email, I have already used up 25 minutes of my pre-purchased time (this is sobering news for me).

Anecdotes about our trip so far will be forthcoming. But we're here at last!

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

The Hammer

The hammer has been coming down these past few days. 4 Brises, 3 shiva minyans. Monday I was awakened (awoken? awooked?) at 6 am by a death which required a funeral that day at 1:30 pm. The only thing which keeps me going are my loving family and the visions of shwarma dancing in my head. Mmmmmmm, shwaaarma.

Saturday, May 10, 2003

Post Shabbas

We survived the baby-ful Shabbas. Right now I need some quiet time to rebuild my brain. Sermon and shiur details anon.

Friday, May 09, 2003

Shabbat Boom

The Rabbi is away for Shabbas (hence why I'm giving the sermon) but the toughest part of Shabbas ain't the sermon (which is no picnic - actually, maybe it is, I hate picnics) but the announcements. We have 1000+ families in the shul, and a few hundred in the sanctuary on a good day. This week, in an unprecedented baby boom, we have 6 new parents. Two babies born Monday, two babies Tuesday, one Wednesday, one Thursday. There could even be some today but I have thrown my phone out the window. We have two shivas (one in Chicago, one here) and stuff they'll spring on me tomorrow morning as I sit there, hapless in my top-hat, trying to think of something to say for my sermon. Come by tomorrow morning if you want to see a red-head sweat.

Thursday, May 08, 2003

Movie Review: Reign of Fire (2002)

INFO: Directed by Robert Bowman, Touchstone, PG-13, 101 min.

ABSTRACT: Dragons exist; they are awakened in England and destroy the world; in the post-apocolypse, the remaining humans fight back.

STYX RATING: 2 stars, 2 FFWD

This could have been a good movie. Maybe even great. As it is, there's one "huckleberry" (a performance so good that it merits seeing the film) - Matthew McConaughey as a psycho-biker-dragon hunter. The rest of the movie is undone by B-movie idiocy.

The merits:

(1) Decent acting (no joke) by the leads, McConaughey and Christian Bale.

(2) The director (of X-Files fame) was able to depict a sci-fi world of devestation and scope - not carried off easily by even the greatest of directors. Tim Burton failed miserably at this in the Planet of the Apes (2001), -- Burton's ape world felt so much like a movie-set that we wonder if the nerve disease that forced him to make the movie in the first place addled the remainder of his abilities.

(3) Decent special effects integration and quality - the dragons felt realistic even though the whole movie was covered with that pale-gray Saran Wrap sheen that's the hallmark of digital necessity.

What went wrong? This is not an idle question because mucho dinero was poured into this dog-turkey and every wasted dollar in Hollywood is passed onto the consumer. Better movies and/or less wasted money - that's all we ask. I wish they had given me a call before they OKed the script (three scriptwriters: Gregg Chabot, Kevin Peterka, and Matt Greenberg - the first feature for the first two and Greenberg is responsble for low-grade horror writing here and there). There were just stupid narrative issues. No complaints about logical inconstistancies here - that ain't worth it. But *narrative* problems drive me buggy.

Example of narrative problem: the writers couldn't decide about how to kill a dragon. The beginning of the film claimed that nuclear weapons didn't work on them. Then it seems liquid nitrogen works. Then the American Wackos are introduced and they kill dragons by having people jump from helicopters on top of a dragon and ensnare them in a net. When that doesn't work, they find they can kill 'em with a rocket shot to the heart. Then a crossbow. AUUUGH! Keep one answer, OK! Because the writers set up a whole system within the story - and then reject it as being extraneous - they declare half of their movie disconnected from the other half.

And, during the narrative waste, they kill a lot of innocent people on screen. That's just wrong. I'm willing to witness executions and murder on screen but make them relavent! Make them worth the pychic scar! There's a value in seeing violence and other dramatic depictions (don't believe me? ask Aristotle, he's older, wiser, and Greeker) - but only if they are cathartic. And catharsis requires narrative! Without logical/story coherence, then violence on screen is just depravity and degradation.

Why I even care? I happen to like vampire-hunting movies. Not vampire films - those are either pure grotesqueries (Coppola's "Bram Stoker") or fey romanticism ("Interview with a Blahblah"). I mean, who wants to watch the hero eat someone else? I don't identify with monsters nor do I glorify them. I want to see some bad@$$ with a gun beat vampires up - I identify with that quite a lot! So movies like Blade, Blade 2, Blade Pi, et al. are my preferred entertainment.

A dragon movie of this sort falls under the Vampire Hunter genre. Instead of blood they use fire, same difference. So my ire about this movie was the vast loss in potential. We end as we started, this could have been a good movie. Maybe even great.

Rating explanations:
0 star = gong. I stopped watching this due to disgust
1 star = Stopped watching because I was bored out of my skull
2 stars = A tragedy.
3 stars = Average. Kept me entertained.
4 stars = Me like.
5 stars = Anthem movie. Defines my consciousness.
FFWD = how many times I fast-forwarded through a scene.
PAUS = how many times I paused the movie due to discomfort

Song Update

"The Joker" by the Steve Miller Band

I Got the Memo

Acquired Office Space (1999) yesterday and watched it with the woman. The Styx claims that the first half of the movie, like the first half of Mesilat Yesharim, is perfect. Uh... lehavdil (but which way?)

Song Update

"Edge of Seventeen (Like a White-Winged Dove)" by Stevie Nicks.

Wednesday, May 07, 2003


People make fun of comic books because they depict a world where everyone wears spandex and have stoopid nicknames. Take the X-Men (the sequel is out and is as yet unseen by me). The bad-guys are called "Deathstrike," "Mystique" and "Whippoorwill." Well, as a former cartoonist, I'll tell you that the spandex thing just makes 'em easier to draw. And the nicknames? I dunno... just compare it to a real-life organization of super-villians: the mob. Does "deathstrike" sound any more idiotic than Vincent "The Chin" or Sammy "The Bull"?

Song Update

"Standing in the Shadows of Love" by the Four Tops

Bill Bennett

I guess one reason I gave the sermon title is that I'm debating what to do and think about the fate of William "Bill" Bennett. Newsweek (and by now every other news source) has reported that he has a major gambling problem. He lost millions of dollars in gambling - quite often too (he loses it in slot machines, egads!). The story - and its fallout - which, in this news feeding frenzy age makes another parallel story - is still breaking.

What I find fascinating about it is to read the statements of Bennett about his gambling. He sounds like a textbook addict (ask anyone who knows the literature and/or actual addicts to confirm this). For instance, in the Newsweek piece (by By Jonathan Alter and Joshua Green):

Asked by Newsweek columnist and Washington Monthly contributing editor Jonathan Alter to comment on the reports, Bennett admitted that he gambles but not that he has ended up behind. "I play fairly high stakes. I adhere to the law. I don't play the 'milk money.' I don't put my family at risk, and I don't owe anyone anything." The documents offer no reason to contradict Bennett on these points. Bennett claims he's beaten the odds: "Over 10 years, I'd say I've come out pretty close to even." "You can roll up and down a lot in one day, as we have on many occasions," Bennett explains. "You may cycle several hundred thousand dollars in an evening and net out only a few thousand."

This is an addict, folks.

Expect that in a few days -- after he denies some more and calls in favors from high profile Bushies to excoriate anyone who criticizes him -- that the firestorm will get too great and Bennett will admit his addiction.

Which is fine. Really.

Addictions are medical issues, for the most part, and must be treated that way. Since there is an overlap with morals and "voluntary" behavior, people can get confused. Yet because the 90s popularized the concept that compelled behavior is blameless, people denigrate addiction as a moral cop-out.

Let's put it simply. An addict is someone who has a physical anomaly that causes compelled behavior. Morally, we are not held responsible for forced actions or behavior. In halakha its the category of anoos. Being compelled by a third party - mind control, hypnosis, even some blackmail/extortion - is considered a moral release valve. What happens if an inner "demon" compels you? Considering that these "demons" are clinically and scientifically valid makes them real enough to be considered moral agents.

A person is thus not held responsible for making a choice to commit a criminal or depraved act if they are under compulsion from an addiction. But. But. But. But, a person is still responsible for what happens as a result of their behavior! Specifically, they are held responsible to know that they have a compulsion and they must seek treatment. The knowledge that every time they "black out" and come to they have done something they hate should make a sane man run to the psychiatrist/police/both.

The nature of the compelled behavior will determine the severity of the moral lapse for not seeking treatment.

For example, if a person is compelled to gamble then a refusal to seek treatment is immoral only as much as gambling itself is immoral.

If a man is compelled to wear women's make-up, then his refusal to seek treatment is immoral only as much as mild transvestism is immoral (in America, it is generally not considered immoral... weird, maybe, but it's not the halakhic standard).

However, if a man is compelled to molest children then his refusal to seek treatment is pretty severe.

If a person is unable to comprehend their problem then they are often in denial and need a wake-up call/slap. If the slaps don't work - especially if the problem is severe (e.g. molestation) then the person can be considered insane and too dangerous to be in public.

Is gambling a moral problem? Yup. In itself, in small doses, we generally allow it. A person who gambles away significant sums is asking for trouble. It's as bad as drugs in that sense. Self-damage, of a high enough level, ultimately hurts another person and often leads to desperate behavior. Major crime is often the result of paying off gambling debts. There's a reason why the Mob calls gamblers "degenerate gamblers" (this is in the Soprano's, sure, but I also read it in Sammy "The Bull" Gravano's book "Underboss" - evidently the Mob considers gamblers degenerate. And this is from a pack of murderers and thieves!!)

In any case, I hope Bennett seeks treatment.

I also hope that he will become a better moralist. The reason for so much firestorm is because Bennett has struck many people (especially his victims) as self-righteous and cruel.

Moreover, consider that he has not criticized about gambling in all of his literature. That omission is patently disgusting. How dare he?! How dare he knowingly criticize others while allowing his own - equally problematic - vice? It means that when he criticizes others, he is doing so to put them down and not to raise them up. Every good, decent, moralist must realize that they are their first - and even only - audience. That they are to identify with the "sinner" in order to help them. Reprimand (tochecha in halakha) must be given in love not in scorn.

Bennett is being kicked on the way down because he kicked people on the way up. He made people feel bad about themselves without the accompanying feeling that he wanted only the best for you.

That is why he is suffering the same fate as Martha Stewart, his spiritual partner in crime.

Too Many Morals?

That's the title of my sermon for Shabbat. I have no idea what I'm going to talk about yet. Any good ideas?

Email Sent to Ya'll

It took a bunch of time but I managed to get all of the Original Styxen email addresses together and sent off a message telling ya'll of this blog's existence. Answering the age-old question, if someone blogs... and there's no-one there to read it... has it been blogged?

For the answer, turn your computer over and look under the housing.

Song Update

"What You See, Is What you Get" by the Dramatics.

SARS - Terrorism & Totalitarianism

As my brother, the smarter twin, explained to me when the news broke out about SARS back during the Bush War Sequel, that China is to blame for the breakout and danger. When I gave a sermon over Pesach I touched on how we live in a world of terrorism and that every public catastrophe is assumed lichatchila to be terrorism. I brought as examples SARS and Michael Jordan's retirement.

However, the real reason SARS has spread is not terrorism but totalitarianism. China, being very very way oh man evil, suppressed information about the outbreak and denied help to its citizenry. Why? Because of the sicko psychology and sociology of totalitarian leadership. Somehow having a contagion roaming loose in your country is an embarrassing fact. We in the West will see China as a bunch of backward losers if they have a respiratory illness. Well, news to the Chinese: we already think you're losers because you are communists and you look like bigger losers when you do something this stupid.

It proves, yet again, that the worst scourge on humanity is low self-esteem. It led to Hitler. It led to SARS.

7th Century Talmud & Israeli Targets

The irony is delicious. Because US soldiers were searching for an artifact, a 7th Century Talmud, they found a trove of documents and mockups that detail potential targets in Israel, the targets from the 1991 gulf war and other incriminating evidence. Incriminating, however, if you think that attacking Israel is a bad thing - which most of the world has mixed feelings about. See the NYT story.

Check this paragraph out:

Of even greater interest to MET Alpha was a "top secret" intelligence memo found in a room on another floor. Written in Arabic and dated May 20, 2001, the memo from the Iraqi intelligence station chief in an African country described an offer by a "holy warrior" to sell uranium and other nuclear material. The bid was rejected, the memo states, because of the United Nations "sanctions situation." But the station chief wrote that the source was eager to provide similar help at a more convenient time

Hey, I guess sanctions do work, kinda.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Yom Ha'Atzmaut

Chag Sameach, everyone.

And Happy Birthday Israel!

You Be 55 and ready for AARP, some bran, and a nap.

Funny Word of the Day


Reporter: Part Two

Well, this was a very good reporter. Maya Kremen, writing for the Herald-Tribune (which is either a North Jersey newspaper or a 1930s Hearst time-travelers nightmare). Here's a recent article.

I may have done a bad thing. Ya see, I was in the middle of writing Bloggy things and she caught me in this kind of mood, and well, and well, augh. I violated a Styx Rule and talked to a reporter. She just kept asking what I knew about "Chamsa" and I explained that I knew nothing of that kind of music; moreover I was in the middle of listening to Aretha Franklin (her version of Eleanor Rigby) and wanted to get back. She asked why I didn't listen to their music and I said that they were "pop" and I don't like "pop" in any form. She claimed that "Chamsa" had critics on religious grounds, etc. All of her questions made me realize that there is a much better and bigger article/piece there. If it gets published, I'll link it here.

Reporter: Part One

I just got called by a reporter, asking me about what I know about the Jewish boy-band "Chamsa" (which had a concert here the other month). Boy, did *she* get the wrong person to talk to.

The Rav's 10th Yahrzeit

Around the YU-affiliated world, there have been a number of lectures, classes, shiurim, and othersuch related to the 10th yahrzeit of the Rav (who died on the 18th Nisan, 5753). They also trumpet the fact that it would have been the 100th birthday of the Rav - like that number matters in some way. I usually hear of the "how old they would have been" connected to celebrities and rock-stars who were cut short by tragedy (e.g. Elvis, Gandhi) and not to anyone who died at 90. Quick, how old would Rav Moshe Feinstein have been this year? Who knows?!

The 100th Birthday stuff is indicative of a larger googley-eyed hero worship of the Rav which I would find disturbing had I not seen it all the time when I was in RIETS. Its related to the old Hamaveser joke: "Modern Orthodox Rebbe Cards... collect both!"

[Historical note, I am now listening to Tenacious D's "Wonderboy"]

On the plus side, all this Googy-Eyed-Hero-Worship (GEHW) has produced many good works on the Rav, a bona-fide genius whose work *does* merit study and analysis. However, I don't see the open-ended historical and intellectual analysis that is indicative of a healthy idea system. For instance, will we see a biography that is critical of the Rav, especially as it relates to his personality? From what I can tell, I don't think I would have liked being in the Rav's shiur. (Although being there would have injected me with enough cognitive dissonance that I would have ultimately appreciated the experience.)

Will we see an intellectual review of the Rav's work that points out his rigid 19th Century German idea structure (2 concept dialectics as far as the eye can see!) or his turgid writing style? Not likely. We *will* see articles that emulate both lacunae; that recapitulate the "chakiras" and the over-adjectived multi-polysyllabic Tetris like sentences. And these articles won't necessarily be about the Rav! Rather, they will be GEHW mimic pieces that think that if you dress and sound like Elvis you'll be considered one of the King's subjects.

I guess this is standard for disciples of a guru. If I recall correctly, the students of Freud acted this way. [Quick, somebody, write a dissertation comparing Freud and the Rav!]. Another indicator of the Guru-Disciple syndrome is that books and articles are judged by their author's merit - i.e. how close was this author to the Rav. Some of his relatives have tried to cash in on this - making absurd claims in the name of the Rav because they happen to share some similar neucleotides.

What has sparked this recent Styx Screed is a book I bought on Sunday. The Religious Zionistist of America convention was at [my shul] this Sunday and I saw some feller hawking books in our lobby. Naturally, I was drawn to the books like a smack-addict but when I saw that it was a book on the Rav, I was immediately skeptical. However, it is the first book published by the famed Soloveitchik Institute. This should not be confused by the "MeOtzar HoRav" Foundation which has published three Rav books. Yeah, this all reminds me of the death of Alexander.

Anyhoo, the book is a collection of eulogies of the Rav. Memories of a Giant, ed. by Michael A. Bierman. (ISBN 965-7108-50-0, Urim Publications). Which just proves the point, no? The *first* book is about being googy-eyed about the man. More later.


Gah! Just lost another big post! GAAH!

Current Song

Current song in head: "Give a Little Bit" by Supertramp.

Have confirmed earlier hypothesis that Supertramp, the Doobie Brothers, and Three Dog Night are actually the same band on different amounts of drugs and/or helium. Look for my forthcoming "Science" journal report on the similar "Journey - Foreigner" phenomenon.

1 Killed, 2 wounded in Israel

Data from Israel's Ministry of Public Affairs:

Monday, May 5, 2003 - Gideon Lichterman, 27, of Ahiya, was killed and two others, his six-year-old daughter Moriah and a reserve soldier, were seriously wounded when terrorists fired shots at their vehicle near Shvut Rachel, in Samaria.

At 10 P.M., Gideon Lichterman went to pick up a neighbor, a reserve soldier who called to ask for a lift home from a nearby intersection. Not wanting to leave his six-year-old daughter alone, he took her along. Shots were fired at the car from an ambush, and all three were hit. The father, mortally wounded, apparently got out of the vehicle trying to reach nearby Shvut Rachel on foot to summon assistance. He was found in the brush nearby. Resuscitation efforts on the scene were unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead.

Gideon, originally from Haifa, studied at the yeshiva in Ma'aleh Ephraim. He and his wife Liat had just moved from Beit El to Ahiya last summer. A neighbor, Haya Rabinovitch, related that Gideon enjoyed helping others and dreamed of developing the small agricultural settlement established six years ago as part of the Shilo bloc. The residents had planted an olive grove and built an olive press.

Gideon Lichterman will be buried in Haifa.

Another Lost Post

Lost my post again. The technical issues are growly.

Israel Travel

My wife and I are finally getting a honeymoon/vacation. We're going to Israel! Yay. This is because of the deep need for moral support, financial and psychological, of the Israeli shwarma industry. There has been a shwarma glut in my life and I plan on being a shwarma glutton.

Monday, May 05, 2003

Wireless Headphones

My newest, and mind-droolingly awesome, toy is/are wireless headphones. Of course, there still are wires. They lie. But it is *mostly* wire free. Normally, when I lived in the wireful headphone era, I would roll around on my wheely chair and crush the cords - hampering my access to tunes and occasionally leading to electrocution. No more! This has freed my life! I can now stroll around my office, filing files and filing books, free to hear my multi-gigs of MP3s (current song: Three Dog Night's "Shambala"). You are reading the words of a newly free man. And by extension, you are freer (more free). Whee.

Headline of the Hour

Headline of the hour from the AP: "Israel, Palestinians Argue Over Violence"

And who said irony was dead?

Saturday, May 03, 2003

Shavua Tov, Styxen

All hail new technology! Because the sensitive multi-task, Java powered, blog Matrix is too sophisticated for my home computer, all my beautiful writin’ was wiped clean when Internet Explorer crashed. Now I need to write (and rewrite) things on Word and then post to the blogathinger. This will slow productivity.

Friday, May 02, 2003

Greetings to all those in the Styx!!

It was only yesterday that I realized that the Styx was in fact a "blog" before them things were even invented. Every day, many times a day, I read blogs (especially that belonging to my hero, Dave Barry) and it all just gelled. THE STYX MUST LIVE AGAIN. I think. We'll see if I can keep this up in the same way that I was able to before.