Drew Kaplan's Tumblr Page
"…it is important to distinguish between legal codes…and legal commentaries…"

“…it is important to distinguish between legal codes…and legal commentaries…”

…it is important to distinguish between legal codes, which intend to summarize the halachah in a concise and resolute manner, and legal commentaries, which intend to discuss the law and elaborate upon it. A legal code, by its very nature, will tend to use equivocal and irresolute formulations like the soft stringency much less than will a legal commentary.

Benjamin Brown, “‘Soft Stringency’ in…

View On WordPress

"In hindsight, it seems clear that officials in Jerusalem should never have tolerated hostile rockets fired years ago…"

"…it seems clear that officials in Jerusalem should never have tolerated hostile rockets fired years ago…" -@GREditor

In hindsight, it seems clear that officials in Jerusalem should never have tolerated hostile rockets fired years ago, and consistently over time, into Sderot and other communities in the south. It signaled that citizens of Israel there, rather than in cities like Tel Aviv or Haifa or Jerusalem, warranted less protection. The refusal to take an immediate and more aggressive stand against forces…

View On WordPress

Jewish Prostitutes in 15th Century Spain?

Isaac Arama, writing in fifteenth-century Spain, tells us that not only did the Jewish community leaders (שופטי ישראל) not take prostitution seriously, but in a few (קצת) communities Jewish prostitutes were welcomed and even supported with Jewish communal funds (!). This was done as the prostitutes were thought to be performing a public service, since without them it was thought that men would be…

View On WordPress

"…the people who are the most likely to become discouraged and not vote are those who most need the help of government to make things right"

The truth is that the people who are the most likely to become discouraged and not vote are those who most need the help of government to make things right. Like the disenfranchised African-Americans in Ferguson, or the young people who are telling pollsters that they are extremelyunlikely to vote in November’s midterm elections, they drift away. The 2010 midterm elections added a new wrinkle, as…

View On WordPress

"Even in mundane regions of everyday life, endings are more problematic than beginnings"

"Even in mundane regions of everyday life, endings are more problematic than beginnings" -@TomVanderbilt

Even in mundane regions of everyday life, endings are more problematic than beginnings. The sociologists Harvey Sacks and Emanuel Schegloff, in an exhaustive study of telephone conversations called “Opening Up Closings,” pay great attention to the thorny “components of terminal exchanges.” As with Brautigan’s novel, there is typically not just one ending but a stream of “preclosings” and…

View On WordPress

Musical verisimilitude is part of what Yankovic provides - it’s a form of comfort that’s slightly different from comedy”

Musical verisimilitude is part of what Yankovic provides - it’s a form of comfort that’s slightly different from comedy” #WeirdAl

Musical verisimilitude is part of what Yankovic provides—it’s a form of comfort that’s slightly different from comedy. With his producers and musicians, Yankovic comes up with songs that can function, in a pinch, as stand-ins for the original. He was as good at re-creating Jackson and Quincy Jones’s dance-rock production (itself a slightly out-of-touch reading of the rock music of the era) as he…

View On WordPress

"Minimalism….has become the most potent language of the elegiac and the evocative"

“Minimalism….has become the most potent language of the elegiac and the evocative”

Minimalism, which began as the model of an inexpressive style, a rejection of symbol for pure structure, has become the most potent language of the elegiac and the evocative, the one common basis with which to build a memorial.

Adam Gopnik, “Stones and Bones”, The New Yorker (7 & 14 July 2014), 44.

View On WordPress

Some Wacky Results about Orthodox Jews in the Pew Forum Report on Jewish Americans

Some Wacky Results about Orthodox Jews in the Pew Forum Report on Jewish Americans

…the survey informs us that 1% of Ultra-Orthodox Jews had a Christmas tree last year. I would be willing to bet that in the entire world there isn’t even one Ultra-Orthodox Jew with a Christmas tree, and 1% means at least a few thousand Ultra Orthodox households have Christmas trees. After adding in the Modern Orthodox, we are told that 4% of Orthodox Jews have Christmas trees. Being that the…

View On WordPress

"…the fifth generation of American Jews…is so far removed from the world of ‘Fiddler’ as to inhabit a different universe"

“…the fifth generation of American Jews…is so far removed from the world of ‘Fiddler’ as to inhabit a different universe”

Our society has changed so dramatically in the last century, including in attitudes toward marriage and sexuality, that the fifth generation of American Jews, including my own kids, is so far removed from the world of “Fiddler” as to inhabit a different universe. Is it any wonder that “Fiddler,” as it settles into middle age, is losing its edge?

Ted Merwin, “‘Fiddler’ for Millenials”, The Jewish…

View On WordPress

Whence Might the Myth Derive that Jews Have Sex Through a Hole in a Sheet?

Whence Might the Myth Derive that Jews Have Sex Through a Hole in a Sheet? #sex #Judaism

I have no idea if there is anyone today who uses a sheet for sexual intercourse. There is certainly no community that insists on this (not even the Gur Hasidim, whose sexual behavior is extremely ascetic). However, it is simply incorrect to say that this action is not advocated in any text. Usually, when you have a widespread rumor like this, there is some basis for it, even if the original…

View On WordPress