- On the Torah and Science front, at ladaat.net, some fellow counted the number of seeds in a pomegranate and found it to be about 800, not 613! This is understandably disturbing since Malbim and Chatam Sofer say that there are 613 seeds in a pomegranate, and people reacted in different ways. One suggested that it is kefirah to question this, because כל המהרהר אחרי רבנן... is like he is meharher acharei haShechina. And someone suggested it was simply the average, comparing it to Zohar who says that the shoshana has 13 petals, when he counted and often found more or less.
To justify the "average", they cited from and linked to the hoax study from aquaphoenix. Someone linked to my debunking of the cute yet silly hoax, though it seems to me that they were likely bringing it as evidence for the average justification.
Rabbi Dr. Avi Zivitofsky already discussed this misconception.
- Thanbook wonders where the 'Snag kabbalah is. He details how it was taken out of the curriculum, and wonders whether it is time to introduce it in a controlled way. Of course, from my perspective, it is good we don't know or follow kabbalah, and the sequestering of it is just an easy way to place it in geniza, which is good because it is not, theologically speaking, the authentic Judaism of Chazal.
- Life In Israel wonders whether the lulav shortages are deliberately manufactured in order to allow for easier importation, and wonders whether importing from Gaza and the like is positive, in the overall picture.
I remember on one kibbutz they showed us date palms, and how only lulavim from the center are not spread out and are good for lulav, which leads to the shortage.
- Hirhurim about whitewashing history.
- Vos Iz Neais covers the Yosef coin story, and there are some interesting comments in the comment section about Jewish sources regarding the institution of coinage.
And another story, about Rav Elyashiv's answer to someone who asked him about wearing crocs on Yom Kippur. Of course, he is not the posek for everyone. See the comment section, also.
- Environmentalists seek to wipe out plush toilet paper.
- Avakesh posted a clip of this, and I liked it. From David Zasloff. Hatikva on the Shofar:
and Jumpin' In Jerusalem:
- An African village believes that evil powers created a half-man, half-goat creature. Of course, this is because they lack medical knowledge.
- The Muqata discusses Rav Elyashiv et al. forbidding all Shabbos elevators, and Tzomet's reaction blasting the ruling without having at the very least contacted them. (See also at the Yeshiva World.)
They make a point which should resonate, and which is all too familiar:
In addition, Rabbi Rosen questions those in the “court of the rabbonim”, explaining gedolim are obviously called upon to affix their signatures by rabbis who have access to them deciding to bring this specific issue to their attention. He asked how such a decision can be reached, quoting experts in the field, when Zomet, which is one of two institutes in the field working to find technological advances that can be incorporated into permitted shabbos use, was not contacted by any of the rabbonim who brought this to the attention of gedolei yisrael shlita. He stated, “I am not a ‘bal plugta’ with any of the gedolim” but question how such a ruling can be issued without even conferring with rabbinical experts such as those at Zomet.
Rabbi Rosen added that it is difficult for him to comment since the p’sak circulating in chareidi circles is not detailed.
Rabbi Rosen told Kol Chai Radio that he feels the gedolim at times are led by those who have access to them, pushing certain issues before them and in this case, opting to ignore the experts who address the issues for the past years, relying on torah giants such as Reb Shlomo Zalman.
- Here at parshablog, on mermaids and Yosef coins.