Mass Shootings, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and Tisha B’Av

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8 Responses

  1. Shmuel Gorenstein says:

    I had serious reservations before I started reading. “𝘞𝘩𝘺 𝘸𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 𝘸𝘦 𝘤𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘢𝘣𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘸𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘴𝘰𝘮𝘦 𝘴𝘤𝘪𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘪𝘴𝘵 𝘣𝘺 𝘢𝘧𝘧𝘪𝘳𝘮𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘷𝘦 𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘩𝘢𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘴𝘢𝘺??” I am glad that I read it. It turned out a very thoughtful essay. And not about DeJasmin at all.

    • Yehoshua Duker says:

      I am not sure why you are making the (on the surface) racist assumption that a black man can be an astro-physicist only due to affirmative action.

      • mycroft says:

        It certainly is a racist incorrect statement. To even understand what Prof Tyson can talk about requires a lot of brains. FWIW both of his parents were relatively successful , mother gerontologist, father Commissioner of a major department in NYC.
        BTW there is a congresswoman, who probably all readers disagree with her on many issues-but certainly is not dumb -She came in second in the Microbiology category of the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair….the MIT Lincoln Laboratory named a small asteroid after her.

  2. DF says:

    “So many young Jews in Orthodox circles want to feel that they are part of the general struggle for social justice, for creating a better world.” – I’m not sure this is true. Or perhaps better, it may actually be true, but the orthodox conception of “social justice” is so vastly different from the way those words are usually used, and in fact directly contrary to the way they are usually used, that it makes the sentence effectively untrue.

  3. dr. bill says:

    I agree, despite R. Akiva being comforted while others mourned, that everything must select a time and a place to be expressed more effectively.

    I also see the Messianic era in universal terms; ve’hayah haShem ehad u’Shemo ehad addresses all of mankind.

    That all said, Tisha b’av is fundamentally an internally focused day where Jews mourn what has befallen us collectively during more than 3000 years of our history, epitomized by the destruction of our central point of worship. Our kriah and piyyutim that day do not focus on the evils that have befallen others as much as those events deserve attention. I estimate that much less than 10% of the day is forward-looking and thus perhaps and partly universally focused. Particularly given current events only 75 years after the Shoah, a day /period focused on our history alone seems more than appropriate. We can leave disagreements of how much we have achieved halakhically and religiously for another day and concentrate on what we have lost in our collective lives.

  4. Steve Brizel says:

    Maybe as Rambam writes in Shemoneh Perakim we need to treat Cholei Hanefesh at the root cause of their ailments, rather than prescribing a pain killer Take a look at this article for some keen observations

  5. Nachum says:

    The notion of galut being the source of, and geulah the panacea to, all problems is certainly a popular one.

    (Indeed, it extends, unhealthily, to non-problems and even deserved problems. In one of his books, Rabbi Wein describes an encounter with a chassidish kid in a Monsey supermarket, who explains that the reason he couldn’t get the five cents back on a bottle that had no deposit was “galus.” Of course, that indicates a whole other unhealthy complex, that of believing that the rules don’t apply to unzerer and when “we’re” in charge we’ll be able to get away with that. But that’s for another day.)

    However, the rationalist- and Zionist- in me feels compelled to point out that this idea, which is strongly influenced by kabbalah, is not the position of Tanach, Chazal, or (most?) Rishonim. (This is not surprising, considering that kabbalah really only burst onto the scene after these eras.) In those sources, the geulah is a physical geulah, a return of Jews to their Land, Jewish sovereignity, a righteous king, a religious people, and of course a rebuilt Mikdash. “Ein bein yemot hamashiach ela shibud malchiot bilvad” means nothing supernatural. (Of course, all the above, as I once heard R’ Schiller point out, is hardly a small thing.) The navi makes clear that Mashiach himself will die one day, as will his son and successor. In the popular imagination, techiyat hameitim is linked to Mashiach, but that’s not necessarily the case. (And even those resurrected may, according to some, eventually die themselves.) As the Rambam famously points out, R’ Akiva didn’t ask Bar Kochba to do any miracles. (Claims that he should have done them sound like post-facto explanations for his failure.)

    I once read a quote attributed to Ben Gurion that the belief in the geulah in some ways may have delayed what eventually began to happen in the 1800’s- when your expectations are so great, you risk losing hope or at least becoming passive. It may not be a coincidence that many Zionists (although obviously not all) were secular. (Of course, without the belief, there may not have been a Jewish people to eventually act, and the belief of course can be said to have played a role in the actual action.) And once it *did* happen, the theories of what would eventually happen, which the Rambam has good reason for warning against making, not having matched the relatively prosaic reality of the new State, probably had a hand in keeping many from realizing the nature of what happened, and what is happening to this day.

    [Editor’s (YA) Comment]:
    “not the position of Tanach, Chazal, or (most?) Rishonim.” Debatable. Sotah 48b From the day the bais hamikdosh was destroyed,the shamir and nofes tzufim were lost. There is not day without a curse…Dew does not descend as a bracha…the flavor of produce has ceased…Rava says,”The curse of each day is worse than of the one that preceded it.” A lot more going on there than the important items you mentioned. Maharal (Netzach Yisrael, ch 22) explains that without the bais hamikdosh, all of existence is out of kilter, and one failure begets another. There is no question that Maharal saw himself as conveying pshat in Chazal, rather than using them as a springboard for his own creative mind. While kabbalah was of considerable influence on him (although to the best of my knowledge we have not convincingly determined whose system of kabbalah), it is only one of several important influences

    • Nachum says:

      Well, the one thing we know is that the Maharal did not use his kabbalah, or anything else, to make a golem. 🙂

      As the old joke goes, he *did* make the Tosfot Yom Tov, which is a lot more impressive. 🙂

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