Friday, March 13, 2009

Notes and Rants to Readers

Dear Readers,

This posting is semi personal. I usually write about issues and talk little about myself. Although I mix politics and religion in generously, some people dislike anything even remotely chatty. Additionally, I put up a lot of secular music. Any reader who is an orthodox Jew knows by now that I hold by some of the more lenient opinions on secular music. One of these opinions concerns Women singing. Many hold that listening to even a recording is not allowed. I gratefully avail myself of the leniency that permits recordings of women singing. The text of any article accompanying such a recording will clearly note the name of the performer. This way, anyone who goes according to Jewish legal opinions other than mine can skip the parts of my site that they feel falls short of their halachic standards.

Since I write about people, it seems deficient to write in a manner that mutes half of the human race. In order to not exclude those who do not listen to women singing, I may start reprinting lyrics where appropriate. My personal attitude towards halachic (Jewish legal) strictness includes a number of factors. I feel that legal stringency should not be ostentatious or demeaning of others. Interpretation of Jewish law should not be a way of "keeping up with the Goldsteins."
Those who differ with each other on Jewish law should be respectful of each other. One of the reasons we still have a mosque on the Temple Mount is because of carelessness in this regard.

There are times I temporarily take on a strictness to achieve inner change. A relationship with G-d, like a marriage requires periodic fine tuning. I have on occasion given up reading newspapers for a period of time just to clear my head. The only one who knows is my wife, who would like me to make such changes permanent. Withdrawing from music during the times of mourning on the Jewish calendar is important to me. It also serves the purpose of withdrawing from music, which deepens my appreciation of it. All of this is personal. The only reason I mention this is because it is reflected in how I run this site and Magdeburgerjoe.com.

In general, I only mention personal matters if they have general implications. I try not to be chatty and certainly try not to be a purveyor of gossip.

This posting is some personal notes that to some extent reflect my belief that everything is political, everything is religious, we all breathe the same air and we all return to the same earth.

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My motorcycle broke down. By a fortuitous stroke of fortune, it broke down a block away from a repair shop. My regular mechanic told me that it would take a week for him to look for it. He lost a customer. I vote with my feet. For the next week , I 'll be walking more and reading more. With a trade like that, I won't mind trading the windy solitude of my motor cycle for more mental and physical exercise. As my children often say, "It's all good".

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Pushing a shopping cart is good. Getting exercise is good. Every time I do something for my health, it is a reminder that lengthening my life is worth the series of small sacrifices. Turning away from beer, pickled herring and honey dipped donuts is way of telling my family that more time on earth with them is worth the sacrifice of some earthly pleasures.

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I had to buy Shabbos candles. The ones I bought were made in Israel. I passed over candles made in China. My wife lights one candle for each of our children, according to our custom. The Chinese force women in China to abort every child after the first. (In some regions they are allowed two children) How can I support such cruelty in the course of performing a mitzva.

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In addition to the ubiquitous Chinese electronic goods, there are now an abundance of Chinese grocery items. Aside from candles, I passed over garlic and toilet paper. I am very concerned about political freedom and labour practices. Every time I shop is a chance to vote. I would rather spend extra money than support oppression.

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After I am satisfied that a product is kosher or of satisfactory quality, I have a list of questions.

1) Where was it made?
2) How does that country treat its citizens?
3) If I know that a company is good to its workers, I give them preferential treatment. Whether or not being kind pays is in good part up to consumers
4) How did a particular country treat Jews during World War Two ?
5)How are they treating Israel and Jews today?
6) Are there other issues that I should be concerned about? The Netherlands allows doctor assisted suicide. There have been instances in the Netherlands which doctors killed patients that they thought were wasting their time. The list of jurisdictions approving similar laws is increasing. I shop accordingly. Heineken beer does not pass through my front door.

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I do not think that there should be a Hechsher Tsedek. I am worried that the people who are getting involved in such matters have hidden agendas such as loyalty to non orthodox forms of Judaism and vegetarianism. I do think orthodox Jews should care about worker's rights and be informed about who scores well in this area I also think that there should be web sites that rate businesses on their treatment of workers, respect for the environment and whatever other issues might concern consumers such as supporting businesses that employ American workers. I give preferential treatment to Israeli goods as well. In the times of Jew hatred in which we live, I think that we should help Israel whenever possible.

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I was saddened and sickened to read about the guy dressed chassidic who was convicted of molesting his daughter over a nine year period starting when she was nine. He could have spared the Jewish people massive disgrace by shaving his beard and announcing his conversion to some other faith. The people who were quoted as impugning the victim as being non religious should hang their heads in shame. Molesters, whatever else they may be are moises u mediach transgressors who lead others astray. Wearing religious garb reduces their Judaism to nothing more than a costume party. We need to get beyond such nauseating hypocrisy. After reading the suicide note of the boy from Lakewood who wrote about molestation, we need to wake up. We are talking not only of saving souls but saving physical lives.

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On a parting note, I am signing off before Shabbos with a song from Zion Golan, who sings Yemenite Jewish music. I have always felt an affinity with the Jews of Arab countries that is not adequately explained by my mostly Ashkenazic ancestry. Maybe G-d reached into a different basket when he assigned me a soul. Have a good Shabbos



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