Saturday, January 7, 2017

"The Biggest Enemy of the Jewish Nation"

A few weeks ago, sixteen rabbis with a reputation for scholarship and sensibility issued a rare letter of criticism against Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi, due to his publicly issuing a variety of disgusting statements against handicapped children, secular IDF soldiers, Holocaust victims, and so on. Since he's giving a lecture in my neighborhood tomorrow night, I decided to follow up on something.

In a lecture that Rabbi Mizrachi posted on YouTube, entitled "The Biggest Enemy of the Jewish Nation," Rabbi Mizrachi begins by responding to the letter that was written against him. He first says that "we shouldn't care about this," but then spends the next half an hour trashing the sixteen rabbis. This includes some truly astonishing insults:
"The Satan is going crazy and sends all the liberals and all the fakers to make a lot of noise in the last few weeks... he finds these wicked people to make noise... These people call themselves rabbis... they went to the university, the university messed up their minds... Whatever is in the mind of these people... that they somehow want to ignore an ocean of knowledge that came from our holy rabbis... they want to re-invent Judaism to be a modern, rotten religion... [Referring to the letter written against him:] Only an evil, wicked person, a hater of Hashem is able to do such a thing. There's no other explanation for such people. They are mamash the erev rav that the Zohar speaks about... The Zohar says that before Mashiach come, all these erev rav wicked people, the first thing Hashem will do is clean them from the earth. That's what will be their end.... Mashiach will be a real chareidi guy. He won't be a rotten person from university. He won't be a liberal... Mashiach won't have sympathy for people that break Shabbat..."
But he saves his nastiest insults for Rabbi Joseph Dweck, whom he (mistakenly) believes to be the mastermind of the letter:
"...This Dweck that started all of this - שם רשעים ירקב... Reform is more righteous than him. I don't understand how in London they accept such a monster to be in their community... According to the halacha, a person like this, you are not allowed to stand within four amot of him... Someone like this, cannot be part of a minyan... Somebody like this should be in a ban for eternity... This is the biggest enemy of the Jewish nation... Someone like this must be stopped... This person is mamash the biggest enemy of the Jewish nation. I didn't find a wicked person like him in 23 years... What's the connection between him and Judaism? Can you find one positive thing that this person did for the Jewish nation, besides spreading lashon hara on the internet non stop? What did he do? ...How can he make a Jew Shomer Shabbat when he himself is not Shomer Shabbat? ...If this person has supporters among our nation, that means they are just as bad as him..."
I do not know Rabbi Dweck. I do know that people whom I respect, respect him greatly. I also know that he studied with, and received semicha from, Rav Ovadia Yosef, and also married his granddaughter, which is presumably not a shidduch that is offered to just anyone. Rabbi Dweck also led a community in New York which he expanded from 50 families to 350 families, headed a school, and is now senior rabbi of the prestigious Spanish and Portuguese synagogue in London. In light of all that, I find Rabbi Mizrachi's description of him as a "wicked monster with no connection to Judaism who has done nothing positive for the Jewish nation and is the biggest enemy of the Jewish nation" to say a lot more about Rabbi Mizrachi than it does about Rabbi Dweck.

When I mentioned this to an acquaintance of mine, a sensible person who is inexplicably a fan of Rabbi Mizrachi, he said to me, "Look, Rabbi Mizrachi was attacked, so he lashed out." It's true that Chazal say that you should never judge a person until you are in their place. However, I was in his place, so I can judge. I know what it's like to be publicly condemned, in far worse (and less justifiable) circumstances than with Rabbi Mizrachi. But I certain did not slander my opponents in the way that Rabbi Mizrachi did!

Anyway, I want to get to the main point here. Rabbi Mizrachi claims that the criticisms of his statements have no basis, because he wasn't saying anything new:
"I tell you the truth, twenty-three years I speak, I don't remember even one time that I said something that it doesn't have a source!"
Now, that is quite a staggering claim, in light of Rabbi Mizrachi having stated the following:
  • Down's syndrome and autism are punishment for the sins of a previous life
  • Mixed dancing and immodest women's clothes cause cancer
  • The Sassoon children died because of sins such as women wearing immodest sheitels
  • When children are born blind, it's because they watched pornography in their previous lives 
  • Going to college will turn you into a non-Jew and this is why the Holocaust happened to the Ashkenazim, not to the Sephardim
  • Children born to parents who were not observant of taharat ha-mishpachah have an uncontrollable desire for fornication
  • If an IDF soldier is mechalel Shabbat, he has no share in the World-to-Come
How can he claim that he is simply repeating earlier sources? In the video, Rabbi Mizrachi explains why he is simply a "vessel" for the Gemara. This is because the Gemara says that there is no suffering without sin. And we frequently find the concept that God works measure-for-measure. Hence, if, for example, children are born blind, it must be as punishment for sin in their previous lives. And since punishment is measure-for-measure, it must be that in their previous lives, they watched pornography.

In a previous post, Theodicy and Idiocy, I noted how making such statements, even if true, would be a transgression of ona'as devarim. In this post, I would like to explain why it is false for Rabbi Mizrachi to claim that he is simply repeating earlier sources.

Let's begin with this: Did you know that Rambam does not have a place in the World-to-Come? Also Yitzchak Meir Helfgot! And lots of other people you know! It's true, I have a source for it!
"Seven do not have a place in theWorld-to-Come: a clerk, a scribe, the best of physicians, a judge in his city, a magician, a chazzan, and a butcher" (Avot d'Rabbi Natan 36)
Was not Rambam the best of physicians? And is Helfgot not a chazzan? So you see that they have no place in the World-to-Come!

Of course, it would be absurd to state such a thing, and nobody does. Every serious student of the Talmud understands that the Sages made many terse statements which are often contradicted by statements elsewhere and which cannot simplistically be translated into the real world. If you do, then the responsibility lies with you, not with the Sages.

Let's take the concept that "there is no suffering without sin." As Rav Yitzchak Blau points out, the Gemara in Shabbat 55a-b clearly implies that some suffering bears no causal relationship with sin, and the Gemara in Berachot 5a and other Talmudic sources support this idea. In fact, it's an enormously complicated topic, debated by many Rishonim and Acharonim, and certainly not something that can be repeated as a simple truism.

The idea of God working "measure for measure" is even more fraught with complexity. Was Yitzchak blind because he looked at improper sights? Did Moshe Rabbeinu have a speech impediment because he spoke lashon hara? Was Rabbi Akiva tortured by the Romans because he tortured other people? Is Yosef Mizrachi being trashed because he trashes others? (Well, yes.) It's impossible to translate the concept of "middah keneged middah" into real-life events, unless you're a prophet.

Rabbi Mizrachi is certainly not simply a "vessel" for the Gemara. He is making his own claims of how to explain why bad things happen to good people - something that even Moshe Rabbeinu didn't understand. But Rabbi Mizrachi's arrogance knows no boundaries. In the past, he has boasted about being compared to Moshe Rabbeinu, but now he is even smarter than Moshe Rabbeinu! In this video, he also boasts of having allegedly made nearly 150,000 people religious! And he claims that those who oppose him are not just the enemies of Yosef Mizrachi - they are the biggest enemies of the entire Jewish nation!

As for Rabbi Mizrachi's explanations of why various bad things happen, they are extremely silly (mentioning sheitels in a lecture about the Sassoon tragedy?!) and highly offensive. He deserves every bit of criticism that he received. And his disgusting trashing of the rabbis that criticized him speaks volumes about his character. If you're an intelligent, decent person, you should be finding other rabbis from whom to draw inspiration.

81 comments:

  1. He still has a way to go to catch up to the Rebbe ... after all, according to chabadniks hes even higher than Moshe Rabbanu and has the title of King, Judge and Prophet over all the earth [Hus Vey Shalom].

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    1. Well at least the Rebbe wouldn't have made such a bad king of the earth. If Mizrachi ever got there the Mars One Way page would crash faster than Canada's immigration page after Trump's election.

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    2. What has this post got to do with the author's point? Nothing, just unadulterated hate and ignorance.

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  2. I cannot understand how anyone can listen to him - for years he has been making outrageous claims like those you mention here- I hope more read this! I plan to send it around.

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    1. If people listen to "Dr. Laura", they will listen to anybody...

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    2. What is that supposed to mean? You mean a woman who tries to help people by not letting them give themselves excuses for their destructive behaviors?

      And please don't respond by offering examples of horrific advice she's offered. Anyone who has tried helping people for 30 years is bound to have made mistakes, even terrible ones, over time.

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    3. Agree with Yehudah. Pound for pound, Dr. Laura has a lot of good stuff to say.

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    4. I will admit that my comments are somewhat unfair. I tried to listen to her back when she first gained a wide audience and found her so insufferable that I had to turn the radio off.

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  3. Here's another outrageously offensive statement to add to his resume-- that victims of rape should be executed. Re-read that... the victims!y
    https://youtu.be/bp_EJdvrRp8

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    1. I have no brief for Mizrachi and his argument there is stupid. However, he doesn't actually say what you claim he says.

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  4. Finding sins for sufferers is very easy. Everyone can do it according to his/her own personal Hashkafic perspective -- regarding the sins/suffering of the *other* groups. Even anti-religious Israelis do it, when they explain why the "occupation" is the root of all our trouble...

    After thinking about it for just a little a bit, one realizes that one can play this game in all directions, and therefore it is silly.

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    1. Even anti-religious Israelis do it, when they explain why the "occupation" is the root of all our trouble

      If they are Israelis, how is that explaining the problems of "other" groups. Also, are they claiming that God is punishing them, or are they explaining their view of geo-politics. This is not to say that their position is correct, but the argument that you present here is a false analogy.

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    2. No, David O, you very obviously are saying, without saying, that their position is correct, and you got triggered by the appropriate ridiculing of that mystical nonsense you seem to hold dear.

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    3. What I hold dear is the notion that you ought to argue directly for what you believe and not take a shortcut by trying to claim that you are right because your opponents are obviously dumb, evil, or emotional, so you win the argument by default. Gabriel was a doing that, and now you are trying the same thing with me.

      For full disclosure, I am not a supporter of the settlement project. I don't think that it is the root of all of Israel's problems, but I also don't think that it helps, nor religiously compelled. I'm also not "anti-religious".

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    4. Hi guys, I take David Ohsie's criticism.

      Anyway, that was not my main point. My main point is that this game of finding sins for suffering is very easy to play. A nasty national-religious guy could, for example, find every time some tragedy happens to some Charedi guy (G-d forbid) and start saying it's because he didn't go to the army and didn't work. And so on.

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    5. I did not claim you are dumb, evil, or emotional (is it wrong to be emotional? Don't all people have emotions?). I also did not accuse you of being antireligious. On the contrary, I think that those who insist the "occupation" and settlements over the imaginary green line are the reason for intractable war launched by Arabs against Israelis, adhere to a mystical religious belief by ignoring facts and rational thought. All evidence points to this NOT being the reason.

      What I did claim is that you were being disingenuous and not fully letting on to your clear anti-settlement beliefs. When you state that you don't think it's root of all Israel's problems I'm surprised to hear that from you. But you also "don't think it helps" - that's a rather vague statement. Does it hurt? What exactly does it not help (or hurt)?

      For disclosure of my own beliefs: Any increase in settlements make the future terrorist state smaller and/or more impossible to implement, and therefore weaken the enemy and strengthen the Jewish nation. Aside from the fact the land belongs to us, this practical concern rules the day for me. I wish to weaken my enemies not strengthen them. That should always have been the policy and Oslo was a major departure from common sense.

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  5. The middle part of your post is excellent as it what the other Rabbis should have done. Unfortunately, they can't because they would be skewering some of their own sacred cows.

    I would add to your evidence that the "no share in the world to come" lists are polemical:

    The Doreshe Reshumoth maintained: All of them will enter the world to come, as it is written, Gilead is mine, Manasseh is mine; Ephraim also is the strength of mine head; Judah is my lawgiver,' Moab is my washpot; over Edom will I cast out my shoe: Philistia, triumph thou because of me. [Thus:] 'Gilead is mine' this refers to Ahab, who fell at Ramoth-gilead; 'Manasseh' is literally meant; 'Ephraim also is the strength of mine head' — this alludes to Jeroboam, a descendant of Ephraim; 'Judah is my lawgiver' — this refers to Ahitophel, who is descended from Judah; 'Moab is my washpot,' to Gehazi, who was smitten on account of matters connected with bathing; 'over Edom will I cast out my shoe'1 — to Doeg the Edomite; 'Philistia, triumph thou because of me,' The ministering Angels exclaimed before the Holy One, blessed be He, 'Sovereign of the Universe! If David comes, who slew the Philistine and gave possession of Gath to thy children. [and complains at Thy giving a share in the world to come to Doeg and Ahitophel], what wilt thou do with him?' He replied, 'It is My duty to make them friends with each other.'

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    1. From "In this post, I would like to explain why it is false for Rabbi Mizrachi to claim that he is simply repeating earlier sources. " until the last two paragraphs.

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  6. The entire book of Job is a refutation of the simplistic notion that suffering means you are a sinner. Rabbi Mizrahi must know better then Hashem at the end of the sefer.

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    1. even though midrashim say he did sin when he served on pharoahs court

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    2. If you put together several Chazal statements, you can understand the book of Job as follows: Job's calamities were the result of his sin in Pharaoh's court (as Anonymous points out). In Job's discussion with his friends, he denied the resurrection of the dead, blasphemed G-d, and had the Chutzpah to compare himself to Avraham Avinu. Therefore, G-d gave him all his reward in this world (at the end of the book) in order to banish him from the world to come.

      I personally find this understanding of the book extremely jarring (as I find the books of "The Little Midrash says", etc).

      In contrast, according to the simple meaning (at least, as presented by Amos Chacham in Daat Mikra) nobody knows why Job deserved those calamities. Job's friends offered superficial justifications of G-d by claiming that Job must have sinned. [Hence, Rabbi Mizrahi would be like Job's friends.] Job complains to G-d about his fate (though the passages with the blasphemies and the denial of the resurrection can be understood differently). After G-d talks to Job from the storm, Job makes peace with the fact that he doesn't understand G-d's ways, and he retracts all his complaints. In G-d's eyes, Job's complaints against G-d were better than the friends' justifications of G-d, because Job was sincere while the friends were hypocritical. That's why the friens had to ask Job to pray for them.

      According to this understanding (the most reasonable one in my opinion), the book of Job is indeed a refutation of the simplistic notion that suffering means you are a sinner, as Zack613 says. And Rabbi Mizrahi would be like Job's friends, who owed Job an apology at the end of the story.

      However, if you ask Rabbi Mizrahi, he would probably counter that the above-mentioned Chazal understanding is the only valid one.

      [BTW, the Rambam in the Treatise on Resurrection addresses the question about the verse in Job that seemingly contradicts the resurrection of the dead. He *does not* answer that indeed Job denied the resurrection because he's wicked and therefore he has no share in the world to come. He gives a different answer. I wonder why...]

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  7. I wonder about some criticism of R' Mizrachi on this blog.
    It seems to be very one sided, that is concentrated on what people find objectionable with no balance as to what may be admirable.



    You properly point out "
    Was not Rambam the best of physicians? And is Helfgot not a chazzan? So you see that they have no place in the World-to-Come!


    Of course, it would be absurd to state such a thing, and nobody does. Every serious student of the Talmud understands that the Sages made many terse statements which are often contradicted by statements elsewhere and which cannot simplistically be translated into the real world. If you do, then the responsibility lies with you, not with the Sages.
    "


    Of course this can be restated as "
    Every serious student of R' Mizrachi understands that he makes terse statements which are often contradicted by statements he make elsewhere and which cannot simplistically be translated into the real world. If you do, then the responsibility lies with you, not with R' Mizrachi.
    "



    I listened to the lecture linked to above, and while the quotes accurate, when watching them being delivered in context I understood them differently. I recommend everyone watch it before judging it.



    Rabbi Mizrachi uses hyperbole to entertain and push his ideas on reincarnation, which I don't agree with, magic, which I don't agree with, and other things I don't agree with.
    However, he also uses this technique, which is very entertaining and convincing, to push a rationalist (that was not a typo, yes rationalist) view on many, many things.
    For example he is one of the very few or, only, rabbis I know that openly talks against kabbalists, rebbies, holy people, who ask for money to bring you segulos or yeshuos.
    He warns that anyone who asks for money to help you and pretends to be a holy man is not.
    Even though he believes in cabalistic magic and incantations, he is very clear that those only work for very holy people of prior generations and do not work today,
    or even if they possibly could work, they are more of danger to the person trying to use it than a help, and it is best to come stay completely away from them.



    I am not sure of how many lectures of Rabbi Mizrachi readers of this blog have listened to,
    but I have listened to scores and I find that it is fairly clear about when he is using hyperbole or not.
    He explains it during that lecture or either a lecture before or a lecture after.
    You just have to listen to enough lectures.
    (He has over 1,000 lectures, most over one hour long, on TorahAnyTime.)
    I think if you listen to a few of his lectures you will find that the vast majority of what he says is perfectly fine, inspiring, and in fact very useful for many, many people.



    So even if some of the things he says are problematic, on balance in my opinion he does much good.



    I strongly recommend watching or listening to a few full lectures before making up your mind on how to judge him.




    R' Mizrachie's TorahAnyTime page:
    TorahAnytime Rabbi Yossi Mizrachi


    A sample lecture:
    The Real, Original Judaism and the Fake One


    Another sample lecture:
    Desire, Jealousy, and Pride Destroy Us



    P.S. I asked in a previous post "Did anyone of the signatories speak to R' Mizrachi before signing". I still would like an answer.

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    1. You can't "balance" everything. Some things are so egregious that they taint the source and all that emanates from it. This is such a case. You're essentially saying that "Mussolini made the trains run on time" or "Hitler fixed the economy". There are limits and he long ago exceeded them. (And yes, I've watched hours of his lectures.)

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    2. I ran across R' Mizrachi's lectures years ago, before he became infamous. IIRC, the first of his videos that I found was one in which he claimed to prove that there's an afterlife. My reaction was that he didn't understand the things he was talking about. If he was just an unsophisticated bombastic preacher swaying casual listeners, that would be bad enough. But he's a man who regularly makes outrageously offensive statement which he makes up out of thin air. Worse, he's a man with a following.

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    3. Avraham's comment was very interesting. I have no interest in regurgitating the (US) election vitriol, but I wonder. The best capsule analysis to emerge after the election is that Donald Trump's supporters took him seriously but not literally, and opponents took him literally but not seriously. That very well known line explains a lot about the election.

      So I wonder if that analysis is true with regard to RY Mizrachi? Perhaps he says things that are distasteful to some, but to his supporters are mere rhetorical flourishes they know to ignore as part of the overall good message? I myself have never heard him or even of him (prior to these posts) but everything I'm reading suggests that this is the root of the divide.

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    4. I would add to DF by saying that Mizrachi appears to explicitly measure himself in part by the number of people he influences (or thinks that he influences) in a similar way to Trump's pointing out the size of crowds at his rallies and his poll numbers. In turn, this kind of "self-promotion" itself has a "trump-like" appeal to some and turns off others.

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  8. "If you're an intelligent, decent person, you should be finding other rabbis from whom to draw inspiration."

    Well, duh.

    However, the average IQ in Israel is 95. The average IQ of Mizrahi's target demographic is 91. 91 is flat-out dumb. Dumb people also need Rabbis. Actually, they need Rabbis a lot more than intelligent people. They need, moreover, Rabbis who are capable of engaging them on their intellectual level. When proper pastoral care is replaced with the "free market in ideas", you get Mizrahi.

    Now, the question is how to get rid of Mizrahi and replace him with someone decent. In a Jewish state the answer is obvious: the Sanhedrin orders him to stop saying certain things; if he continues to do so, he is ordered to desist from preaching entirely; if he refuses, then it's curtains. As always, once you are clear on how things should work then you patch together some sort of approximation: i.e. a Rabbinical ban. For once, the Haredi system is functioning semi-properly, though the ban should have more signatories and include more explicit instructions.

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    1. > However, the average IQ in Israel is 95.

      That's not possible. IQ tests are normed so that 100 is average.

      >9 1 is flat-out dumb.

      Depending on the test you use, 91 falls in the Average or Low Average range.

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    2. > However, the average IQ in Israel is 95.

      That's not possible. IQ tests are normed so that 100 is average.


      I think that he's referring to attempts to norm "IQ"'s across countries. In that case, you can have countries above or below the supposed worldwide average: https://iq-research.info/en/page/average-iq-by-country.

      Moreover, this is part of Gavriel M racial theory where Ashkenazim are above average in intelligence, and the 91 number is presumably drawn from the benighted Sefardim. One consequence of his theories is that he thinks that granting civil rights to African Americans was a terrible tragedy. You aren't going to get far with him.

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    3. In a Jewish state the answer is obvious: the Sanhedrin orders him to stop saying certain things; if he continues to do so, he is ordered to desist from preaching entirely; if he refuses, then it's curtains.

      Taking this to its logical conclusion, Gavriel M believes that, in the ideal system, Rabbi Slifkin should been offered the choice of retracting his views or being executed alongside Galileo. Sounds wonderful.

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    4. I wonder if matters of belief can be quantified by any kind of IQ test. There are brilliant people in many fields that believe things I personally consider absurd. It seems to me its more of a mindset than anything else. The basic divide of man into two camps on any given issue is determined by predisposition (as modified by upbringing, exposure, etc.) not by intelligence. I think so, anyway.

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    5. 1) IQ tests are normed to 100 for Britain, that does not mean that the average IQ in every country is 100, which is flabbergastingly unlikely upon even the slightest thought and in any case totally untrue. Here is list of IQ scores by country, take it with a pinch of salt since the data for certain countries is poor, but it gives you a general picture. You can, if you have some pressing reason to do so, believe that it is entirely a result of environmental factors. For the point under discussion it makes no difference.
      https://iq-research.info/en/page/average-iq-by-country

      2) David Ohsie continues to flaunt his fanatical opposition to well established scientific facts in defense of a completely loopy and baseless theory derived from certain extremist puritan sects. Apparently this is rationalist or something. Who knows, whatever.

      3) Mizrahi may or not be intelligent, he doesn't strike me as such, but perhaps he is faking. His message, however, is certainly explicitly tailored to unintelligent people. There are lots of them around, in particular among the population he targets. There are certainly absurd and preposterous beliefs that attract intelligent people; there are also absurd and preposterous beliefs that attract unintelligent people. There's no need to theorise too hard about which is which, you can just look around.

      4) It's a basic and obvious fact that one of the functions of a properly organised Jewish court system is to regulate bad behaviour on the part of preacher/holy men. One doesn't need to appeal to religious authority to justify this, since it the need for it is obvious and every well run society has had some equivalent. However, if needs be you can just look in the Rambam. Apparently in California "but, but, but GALILEO!!!" is considered some sort of refutation of the basic assumptions of the Torah. Again, OK, whatever.

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    6. > There are brilliant people in many fields that believe things I personally consider absurd.

      Actually, smart people are *more* likely to believe absurd things. Once we adopt a belief, we're reluctant to let it go. The smarter you are, the better able you are to defend your beliefs from criticism and counter-evidence, and the less likely you are to change your mind.

      > IQ tests are normed to 100 for Britain, that does not mean that the average IQ in every country is 100

      IQ tests are normed to 100 in every place they're used, because it makes the math easier. I don't know much about the tests used in other countries. The ones in the US are made by American companies and normed on Americans, and there are still significant cultural problems between populations within the US. For example, on a task asking children to find a missing component in a picture, it's likely that children from rural areas would more easily find the missing parts of a farm animal than would children from cities, giving the farm kids a higher score.

      It seems very unlikely that Israelis would use British IQ tests. The wording with which tests are administered must be precise. Translating a test would by itself require the test to be re-normed, and tests are normed at 100. I don't know how you would get a cross-culural estimate of IQ.

      And anyway, IQ is not really a test of intelligence, it's a test of the skills necessary to do well in school.

      The relative intelligence of Mizrachi and his followers has nothing to do with any of this, beyond it being the context in which you first brought up IQ. Though I do agree that Mizrachi does not come across as very bright.

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    7. It's a basic and obvious fact that one of the functions of a properly organised Jewish court system is to regulate bad behaviour on the part of preacher/holy men. One doesn't need to appeal to religious authority to justify this, since it the need for it is obvious and every well run society has had some equivalent.

      Shorter GM: My argument position is so obviously correct there is no need to justify it.

      However, if needs be you can just look in the Rambam. Apparently in California "but, but, but GALILEO!!!" is considered some sort of refutation of the basic assumptions of the Torah. Again, OK, whatever.

      Care to actually address the argument? Do you think that the religious authorities who banned R Slifkin's book should have offered him the choice of retracting his views or being executed?

      As an aside, under such a system, you and your claims of Bavliolatry (no matter how plausible or correct they are) would be have a place closer to the front of the execution line than R Slifkin and his ideas. Almost no extant Orthodox authorities can stomach any questioning of the authority of the Bavli.

      BTW, I'm in Baltimore, MD and Galileo is considered a pretty good exemplar of the reason not to decide intellectual questions by force and authority the world over. But if you don't like Galileo, you could pick Anaxagoras or a host of others.

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    8. David Ohsie continues to flaunt his fanatical opposition to well established scientific facts in defense of a completely loopy and baseless theory derived from certain extremist puritan sects. Apparently this is rationalist or something. Who knows, whatever.

      That blacks and whites should drink from different water fountains is an established scientific fact? Who knew?

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    9. What is intelligence. What Nobel Prize in Physics winner Phillipe Lenard had? The man who loved Hitler and wrote a paper entitled "The Racial Basis of Statistical Thermodynamics"? What about Linus Pauling and Frederic Joliot-Curie who won Nobel Prizes in Chemistry and who had love affairs with Joe Stalin?
      I am reminded of William F Buckley's comment (he was a pretty intelligent guy) which was to the effect that he would rather be governed by the first 100 names in the Boston phone book than by 100 Harvard Professors.

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    10. 1) (i)"It seems very unlikely that Israelis would use British IQ tests."

      Global norming is done, for historical reasons, so that Britain is 100. That's why America's average IQ is 98.

      (ii) "And anyway, IQ is not really a test of intelligence, it's a test of the skills necessary to do well in school."

      Like, err, intelligence. In reality, IQ is the single most important factor for predicting the wealth of a country (increasingly so with each year since the end of the Communist experiment). It is also the single most important factor for predicting the income of a given individual in a market economy. Conversely, it is not a perfect indicator of educational achievement. It predicts very strongly success in university in Physics and Maths, but apparently has no power in predicting success in Sociology. Go figure.

      (iii) "The relative intelligence of Mizrachi and his followers has nothing to do with any of this, beyond it being the context in which you first brought up IQ."

      It has everything to do with it, since R. Slifkin said the following. "If you're an intelligent, decent person, you should be finding other rabbis from whom to draw inspiration." The fact is that Mizrahi does not have intelligent followers and he is not targeting intelligent people. Now, metaphysically speaking, unintelligent people deserve ethical and spiritual guidance as much as anyone else. On a brute practical level, they need it more than anyone else, since they are far more likely, in its absence, to make bad decisions that mess up their life and have a negative impact on society. A good proportion of Mizrahi's or Y. Amnon's BTs would otherwise be occupying themselves contracting venereal diseases, siring unwanted children or smoking meth. The problem is what to do when a bombastic preacher starts targeting unintelligent people with unacceptable teachings. Obviously, writing a learned article about why his teachings are unacceptable is not going to work. You could hire an even more bombastic preacher to poach his followers, kind of like how the British introduced cats to Jerusalem to kill the mice. But the best approach, wherever possible, is just to stop him preaching, which brings us to GALILEO!

      Delete
    11. 3) First, it's pretty obvious that you could have a system to deal with errant religious preachers whilst letting scientists have free reign, so the whole argument is just irrelevant. However, since it's an interesting topic I'll run with it. Up until it destroyed itself through two world wars, the centre of science was Great Britain. Science was organised by the Royal Society which conferred money and prestige on researchers in a centralized, organised fashion. Analogous systems existed in other European countries which were centres of scientific research and advance. America made basically no contributions to science whatsoever until it conquered the world in 1945. Since then the Royal Society model has been replaced with the democratic "peer review" model. The impact on human biology was disastrous, with the entire discipline set back thirty years by timewasting Marxist fanatics like Lewontin and nutcase theories like the "gay uncle" hypothesis. Climate Science is a big joke, with garbage data going into garbage models. Physics is in the doldrums - many argue that string theory is a complete dead end - and only Chemistry has really preserved its pre-1945 trajectory. Of course, one has to control for the phenomenon of diminishing returns as each new discovery becomes harder to discover. All told, moving from an authoritarian model to a liberal one hasn't been a total disaster (compared to, say, the Soviet model), but it hasn't been a great success either.

      4) R. Slifkin was condemned by a group of unworldly geriatrics who had no idea what they were condemning and were manipulated by literal criminals; Mizrahi has been condemned by real-world Rabbinical leaders of good sense and judgment. There are numerous other differences, most notably in the prior behaviour and treatment of the accused. One is a system functioning, the other is a system malfunctioning. It's like equating a car that's running with a car that set itself alight because they are both "on fire". One of the central conceits of rationalism (when we use the term accurately and not simply to mean "not mysticism") is that rules can replace human judgement. In this respect, post-Cartesian rationalism is much worse than the medieval form, which is why the Rambam, despite his extreme rationalism, still favoured monarchy. The question of how to have rulers with good judgment and incentives to judge well is an engineering question.

      5) Racial disparities in IQ are established scientific fact. They are literally the best established fact in the human sciences, despite (or because of) decades of attempts to disprove them. You have this odd habit of flaunting your blank denialism whenever I write something that triggers you in some way. Then you change the subject can go on about WATER FOUNTAINS!!!

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    12. Very well put, Gavriel.

      It should also be blindingly obvious to those without an agenda that just because a person, or a group of people, has, say, a lower IQ than another doesn't mean they're entitled to any less civil rights. (Nor more, for that matter.) Abraham Lincoln believed that blacks (as a group, of course) simply couldn't measure up to whites (ditto) in some ways, and yet he was most eloquent in preaching equal rights. Gave his life up for it, in fact.

      Ah, here's a quote:

      "I think the authors of that notable instrument intended to include all men, but they did not mean to declare all men equal in all respects. They did not mean to say all men were equal in color, size, intellect, moral development, or social capacity. They defined with tolerable distinctness in what they did consider all men created equal — equal in 'certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.' This they said, and this they meant."

      If I assert the plain truth that John Doe is not as smart as Richard Roe, it does not follow that they should use different water fountains.

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    13. > Like, err, intelligence.

      Except that "intelligence" is not something we can look at and measure. IQ tests theoretically measure something called "g," which, as one wit put it, is whatever it is that IQ tests measure. IQ tests measure things like vocabulary size, spatial manipulation, general knowledge, the ability to sort objects into different sorts of categories, problem solving skills, and so on. Are any of those things "intelligence?" They pull for certain types of intelligence, but it's hard to pin down. And those are all things that correlate with academic success. IQ tests don't measure non-academic forms of intelligence, like music, or art, or social skills, or business acumen, or a hundred other things. They were originally developed to identify students in the French school system who would benefit from extra attention, and they're still pretty much designed to do that. They work pretty well for that, but they've been over-applied.

      > Racial disparities in IQ are established scientific fact.

      Have you ever seen an IQ test? Despite the best efforts of test designers in recent years, they're still heavily cultural. There's one question on the WPPSI that every Yeshivish and Chassidish kid gets wrong. There are things like "Find what's wrong with this picture" where what's "wrong" is culturally dependant. Is a couch on a porch something "wrong?" It depends on where you live. There's the fact that most questions are presented orally, which means that someone who is administered a test by a person who speaks a different dialect than himself (like a black southerner being administered a test by a white northerner) is going to do less well. There's the biases of the person administering the test, which can influence how they interpret answers.

      IQ tests are useful, when compared to achievement tests, for identifying areas in which students are doing less well than their abilities would allow and identifying the cause. And that's pretty much it.

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    14. First, it's pretty obvious that you could have a system to deal with errant religious preachers whilst letting scientists have free reign, so the whole argument is just irrelevant.

      Why is that obvious? There are lots of religious objections to science. On the contrary, it is obvious to most people that once you institute thought police with the power of life and death, there will be no limitations. You disagree with that? Off with your head.

      Your account of the history of science is made up out of whole cloth. In any case it is irrelevant because funders of basic science research have never had the power to kill dissenters.

      R. Slifkin was condemned by a group of unworldly geriatrics who had no idea what they were condemning and were manipulated by literal criminals; Mizrahi has been condemned by real-world Rabbinical leaders of good sense and judgment.

      This seems to be a variant of the "no true Scotsman" argument. It's no problem that the thought police make really stupid decisions because they aren't the true "Rabbinical Leaders". In my system, the authorities are sure to use sound judgement so letting them use violence to control thought will be no problem at all.

      Then you change the subject can go on about WATER FOUNTAINS!!!

      You have said that granting civil rights to American Blacks was a disaster or tragedy (I don't have your exact words). Others can judge how objective or reliable you are on this kind of subject matter.

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    15. It should also be blindingly obvious to those without an agenda that just because a person, or a group of people, has, say, a lower IQ than another doesn't mean they're entitled to any less civil rights.

      Nachum: this is not at all obvious to Gavriel M. He defends slavery for the inferior. He is opposed to the US civil rights movement. Here is one quotation: "The Civil Rights movement launched one of the biggest crime waves in recorded history." Here is another: "The modern viewpoint of slavery is to judge the system by its abuses, on which basis we could condemn any system that has ever existed or could exist; to compare the condition of a slave labourer in 1860 with a free labourer in 2016, when it would make far more sense to extrapolate from the improvement in the condition of the average free-labourer to the potential improvement in the lot of the average slave."

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    16. 1) I think less murder is preferable to more murder, less burglary is preferable to more burglary, less rape is preferable to more rape, less drug abuse is preferable to more drug abuse, less unemployment is preferable to more unemployment and less bastardy is preferable to more bastardy. I therefore conclude that the state of affairs in the US in 1960 was preferable to that of 1970. Not that I really care and not that it's really pertinent. Apparently, you expect me to swoon at the mere mention of SEPARATE WATER FOUNTAINS! Well, here's something for you to swoon about and if you want more, I've got it.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zebra_murders

      As for slavery, I have defended its place in a Torah-state, which is an impossible issue to ignore for anyone with even a cursory knowledge of Rabbinic literature, or even the Torah itself. I have further pointed out that irrational opposition to any discussion of slavery is a result of the victorious side in the US civil war imposing its views on the world about a pointless and avoidable conflict that caused 600,000 direct deaths and 100,000s of thousands more through starvation and plague.

      Which is all entirely irrelevant to the point at hand, which is that Mizrahi's target audience is not intelligent people, but unintelligent ones, of which there are plenty, and that effective responses to him will bear this in mind.

      2) @G3 Start by googling "Ravens Progressive Matrices" and you will instantly see the total irrelevance of your objections.
      Here is a video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62jZENi1ed8

      3) "On the contrary, it is obvious to most people that once you institute thought police with the power of life and death, there will be no limitations."

      Why is that obvious? If you simply take out the word "thought" from your sentence you have just become an anarchist with no change in logic whatsoever.

      "In my system, the authorities are sure to use sound judgement so letting them use violence to control thought will be no problem at all."

      Again, replace the word "thought" with "action" and suddenly you are a anarchist.

      The funniest thing about liberals is how obvious it is that they have never subjected any of their assumptions to even the slightest criticism.

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    17. @G*3: I think that you can see the pointlessness here. US crime was worse in 1970 than 1960. Since the civil rights act was passed in 1964, it is bad, and Blacks should have separate water fountains as a crime-fighting measure. QED.

      Gavriel M: Have you even thought for a moment about what you are saying? You don't take into account even the most elementary objections to your ranting.

      "On the contrary, it is obvious to most people that once you institute thought police with the power of life and death, there will be no limitations."

      Why is that obvious? If you simply take out the word "thought" from your sentence you have just become an anarchist with no change in logic whatsoever.

      1) I wasn't stating an argument. You claimed the opposite was "obvious" and needed no support. I'm merely pointing out that since most of humanity disagrees, it's probably not obvious.

      2) Of course the logic changes. If a citizen thinks that the authorities are wrong and that there should be a change in the laws regarding murder, he can't be executed for murder. If he think that the authorities are wrong and there ought be any change in anything, including the power of the though police, he can be executed by the thought police.

      "In my system, the authorities are sure to use sound judgement so letting them use violence to control thought will be no problem at all."

      Again, replace the word "thought" with "action" and suddenly you are a anarchist.

      You are not an anarchist. You are one of the 99% of the world that thinks that the government needs to be controlled by laws, by elections, and by constraints on what can be regulated. This is so the inevitable abuses of power can be restricted to a minimum consistent with preserving people's basic property rights and protecting them against the violence of others.

      The funniest thing about liberals is how obvious it is that they have never subjected any of their assumptions to even the slightest criticism.

      You consider yourself to be liberal?

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  9. A signatory of the letter told his community a little boy was born blind because of Internet pornography. He told them another little boy died because there was no Hareidi school. He told the community to flee America because of gay marriage. He told people they would become wealthy by being connected with him. His son told people that the world's debased nature was causing animals to become murderous. His grandson recently blamed the UN resolution on us not fighting Women of the Wall enough.

    And so on. Let's face it, many Rabbaim today suffer from "prophet delusion".

    Funny, I never here we're suffering from these ills because of baseless hatred.

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    1. @BreadFromTheLand: Can you provide some references for these?

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    2. References? If you're asking me to name the Rabbi, let me know if you're moving somewhere in the US and want to avoid the "moderation trap".

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    3. Yes, name the Rabbi and provide a written reference to one or more of his statements if possible. You point is very interesting, but unsubstantiated.

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  10. There are more than 16 Rabbis, also with reputations for scholarship and sensibility, and also respected by many, who said worse things about your books.

    In other words - say what you want about RY Mizrachi. You may be and probably are right. But please, don't approach it as an appeal to authority. That's for the other point of view, and you will lose on that issueany time you raise it. The mindset of the individual inclined to share your worldview is that of the man who can think for himself.

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    1. FWIW, I unreservedly agree with DF.

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    2. I wasn't appealing to their authority. I was just pointing out what kind of people he is trashing.

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    3. Appealing to authority is not so bad if it's appealing to people who have a certain amount of knowledge. For example, I'll take the word of the DIRECTOR OF NCSY as to what's good kiruv and what's not.

      Taking the word of people who, no disrespect, are halakhists and poskim regarding proper beliefs and hashkafa of ma'aseh breishit...not so much.

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  11. My fellow brothers and sisters G-D has given us lifeTorah the ability to do good please remember there members of our brethren in Israel and other places experiencing difficult lives .Please spend your energy not on this B.S. on good deeds and love for the Jewish people

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  12. Nowadays, we have people who strike the pose of a navi but have nothing real to back it up. This calls for better Jewish awareness in our communities. If it walks like a cult leader and talks like a cult leader...and insults all opponents like a cult leader...then...

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  13. "I know what it's like to be publicly condemned, in far worse (and less justifiable) circumstances than with Rabbi Mizrachi. But I certain did not slander my opponents in the way that Rabbi Mizrachi did!"

    With all due respect, haven't you kinda made it your lifelong mission to do just that, albeit in a much more sophisticated way?

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    1. Ha! Actually, no. I never slander my opponents. Just accurate criticisms of specific statements.

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    2. Says you :-)
      I'd bet RYM would describe what he's doing in a similar way
      I'm just kidding around with you on this one (mostly ;-) )

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  14. Is this being spoken about on any other blogs or news feeds? Anyone familiar with Rabbi Dweck is absolutely shocked to hear someone completely violating his sterling reputation the way Mizrachi does in that video. A leader of communities and schools, hundreds of students world-wide, committed with all of his heart to Torah -- to casually call him not Shomer Shabbat? To claim outright that he's never done a single good thing for the Jewish people? Who speaks like that! I haven't found any other blogs speaking about this Mizrachi video, and it shocks me to see Mizrachi getting away with this.

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  15. This so called rabbi is a wacko tottaly out of his mind.

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  16. Regarding the first statement about Down syndrome. Of course it is not referrring to that specific issue. However, Rabbi Yehoshua tells the Roman he debates that Hashem gives disabilities to the wicked. He then devises a whole plan with a blind man to prove his point. He states that Hashem made him blind so he would be less successful in his wickedness. I never thought of this as mainstresm Jewish beliefs and I certainly wouldnt fo around saying it but this statement certainly speaks to the statement that Mizrachi made.

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  17. While needing to be careful when making specific connections, it is important not to do away with, or to undermine in any way, the truthful concept of schar v'onesh. Lets assume that middah knegged middah is not as simple as it seems - say what you want - but the realities will never change. The great rationalist known as the Rambam, places schar v'eonish as one of the 13 cardinals beliefs for being part of the Jewish nation.

    So, was the holocaust a form of punishment from Hashem? Yes, if you are a believing Jew. What happened to the curses in the Torah? Should we ignore them? Before the war, European Jewry were assimilating. While being a rationalist has its upside, it does not mean that one can make fun of everything that they either don't understand or that goes against their belief system.

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    1. Please don't give us this canard. Many great scholars have shown this makes no sense. If it was because of assimilation, then the Torah centers would not have ended up as the main target which was the case. I know there are counter-intuitive arguments that said they were punished because of assimilation in the US. I am sorry, but that doesn't make any sense. If the Holocaust was meant to teach us something, we can only use our reason to figure out what the message was, and so if we have to resort to counter-intuitive arguments, then we have failed. One could just as soon say that the Holocaust teaches us that the Reform movement was right and that the traditional religious communities were punished because they didn't "see the light" as the Reformers saw it.
      We observe the Torah because it is Torat Emet, the Truth, and not because we cherry pick observations of what is going on in the world as related to observant and non-observant Jews. That is why so many who survived the horrors of the Holocaust were able to maintain their allegiance to Torah observance is spite of the temptation to abandon it all, which unfortunately many did.

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    2. סאוואראנערJanuary 9, 2017 at 1:32 PM

      If you were to remove the sentence starting with 'before the war', your comment would have been just perfect. The holocaust was in all likelihood a punishment. For what is mere conjecture. What I take out of the holocaust is that God really means it serious, all of it. If any transgression is worth that, we got to really start taking it as serious as that. What specific transgression is currently irrelevant.
      שאין אתה יודע מתן שכרן של מצוות

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    3. Even Germany, despite its reputation, had a strong traditional Orthodox sector. And of course most Germans made it out.

      I don't like playing this game, but if you do, it's kind of inescapable that if God was sending a message, it had something to do with modern Aliyah beginning about sixty years before the war.

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    4. Anonymous, while an argument can certainly be made that the Holocaust was evidence of divine displeasure that resulted in a concealment of providence, one should be very wary of making such arguments publically due to the pain of those victims. Naming an alleged cause of such an enormous disaster is surely counterproductive. While many of those who venture into such deep waters have focused on assimilation, one could easily counter that the basic issue confronting European Jewry was an inability to deal constructively with the modern world. Both assimilation and self-isolation are evidence of such inability.

      Y. Aharon

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    5. "If it was because of assimilation, then the Torah centers would not have ended up as the main target which was the case."

      Lots of Arab terror has targeted haredis, including non-zionist and many antizionist (their buses were always targeted. why?), in addition to the occasional attacks on settlements and the national religious community. All in all would it be accurate to say that Torah Jews have been the most attacked by Arab terror attacks since the Oslo wars began? And if so, why is that? The theodicy of a person like R. Mizrahi regarding Arab terror (assuming it's all about sheitles and sabbath observance) probably also wouldn't hold up to scrutiny.

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  19. Mizrachi is a simpleton in the mold of Donald Trump, labeling and insulting people (low energy Jeb) to advance himself. He, like Trump panders to masses with simple ideas to complicated issues. That is how Trump got elected, it certainly had nothing to do with his accomplishments (watch the debates).

    He needs an enemy (Rabbis) to distract from his lack of knowledge and for people to get emotionally invested to a cause. For example, he takes chazal sayings that are well known and taught to all in school and levels them onto his critics, nonreligious. He is working confirmation bias 101. Look at Donald Trump he knew people don't like Hilary but what do they know about Trump the politician - nothing so deflect, mention something negative about your opponent and you get people who can't vote for "Crooked Hilary". Use people's already formed bias to advance oneself. The people he speaks to are not very religious and probably have a agnostic opinion of Rabbis and when Mizrachi will state a chazal his audience are thinking "...hmm it does say such and such in chazal and I'm not so sure about these people so if he is saying it about them it must be true..." this is self serving and will advance his popularity.

    He is taking a page out of Donald Trump, entertaining in his stupidity with only better hair (not saying much) and less money.

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    1. Anyway, come 20 Jan 2017, you'll have a pro-Israel President, unlike the previous and unlike the 2016 loser.

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    2. That may be true, but George Bush was staunchly pro-Israel and he was one of the worst presidents by many metrics. In addition, by "pro-Israel" you're referring to Bibi's government, ask Isaac Herzog if he would characterize a hypothetical Hilary administration as anti-Israel. I would imagine she and Obama are pro-liberal Israel although I'll grant you that it may even be worse then being openly anti-Israel...

      My point is that one should want the smartest people with experience running the show. Bush didn't have the smarts, Obama didn't have experience and Trump has neither - although I hope he proves me wrong.

      To bring it back to Mizrachi, he is dangerous because he lacks anything worth sharing - the opposite of TED Talks (look up their moto) that's why it is important to shut him up.

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    3. Putting aside the bizarre half-idiom, I hardly see how R. Mizrachi he can be "taking a page out of Donald Trump" when he's been lecturing in this style for so many years.

      Those with weak analytical skills used to make sense of all current events by deciding which of three boxes they tic: Holocaust, Vietnam or Jim Crow. Now we have a fourth box.

      RM

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    4. Trump's style of debate, IE change the topic and throw around a lot of insults is hardly new, but he used it a lot. So does Mizrachi,

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    5. RM,
      Mizrachi hasn't been attacked until recently, his style of defense mimics that of Trump, although based on his lectures I am not surprised he went this rout.
      Regarding your ad hominem, I believe my comparison is spot on. You're accusing me of precisely the thing I am claiming Mizrachi does, simple answers to complex topics, interesting. If you can demonstrate how these two people differ I will gladly concede, just leave your obvious pro-Trump bias at the door.

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    6. Zach,

      True. this method was crystallized to me by Scott Adams, the creator of the comic strip Dilbert who predicted early on in the election that Trump would win in a landslide due to his style of personal attacks against his enemies...

      Delete
  20. I normally would not say anything here, but this one hits close to home.

    First of all I have met Rabbi Dweck and spent 6 months in London's S&P community at Bevis Marks, one of the great treasures of the Jewish world

    Secondly I am on the autism spectrum, as is my son. I want to say that it has its challenges but one can still accomplish many things. (type my name into amazon if you don't believe me)

    I would rant for longer but I have actual work to do today!

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  21. Rabbi Dweck is yayin yashan bekeli hadash. Anyone who is a Baal middot tovot and has a modicum of decent Torah learning skills and knows Hacham Dweck will agree. Mizrachi is hometz bekeli heres. He takes real sources and makes inappropriate comparisons and contrasts and draws erroneous inferences that any yodei'a sefer worth his salt could point out while half asleep. The ignorant are attracted to him because a. he's charismatic, b. he's self-assured, c. he presents a simplistic method of being considered righteous, allowing people to fool themselves into thinking they are moserei nefesh,and d. he provides a way for people to think they have arrived at the truth so they have no need to grapple with issues or interface with any reality that challenges that "truth." Of course, that truth is whatever Mizrachi says it is.

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  22. you left out the worst of this evil monsters comments,that only 1 million Jews were slaughtered during the holocaust because the other 5 million were not HALACHIK Jews,
    and the other obscenity this KAPO bastard vomited out, that when our holy mothers and sisters were marched naked into the gas chambers some of the Nazi monsters photographed them,the religious ones tried to look away and hide from the cameras but the non religious ones deliberately posed in front of the camera,could even the devil himself come up with such an obscenity ?,this criminally insane Jew hating KAPO bastard needs to be locked up in an insane asylum.

    CHAIM

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  23. Those who choose to find sin in their suffering fellow Jews rather than helping and comforting them are the friends of Eyov (Job).

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