Thursday, August 28, 2008

Social Kissing - Mutar or Assur?

Many people have the custom of social kissing as a form of greeting people of the opposite sex. Is this OK? What about Issurei Arayos... Halachos forbidding physical contact between the sexes.

Can we judge appropriate behavior by observing what people - including many Orthodox Rabbis - commonly do?

Someone suggested that they see the argument inheres in what the masses are doing, not in a she'eilah to the rav. But that said kissing and chibah (sexualy oriented contact) are not so separable. Sure, when it's your great aunt Sally. But what if it's her grandchild, your physically attractive second cousin?

Here is my response:

What the masses are doing is directly connected to the concept of Derch Chiba (sexually oriented behavior). In cultures where this is common practice, it is less likely that doing things like this are B'Derech Chiba.

Physical attraction is highly subjective. The concept of Derech Chiba is based on that. If someone is attracted to a member of the opposite sex then, IMHO it would be problematic to claim that a social kiss is not B'Derech chiba. I say problematic because even in such circumstances it might not be Derech Chiba if this is the standard practice in a given community.

But if one is not attracted and it is just a social norm, then it is highly unlikely that it is B'Derech Chiba at all. So in your example it doesn't matter how young or attractive she might be. It only matters how you perceive her.

I think this is what the Gemarah means by saying that it is Assur to derive pleasure by even looking at the little finger of a woman. It is about pleasure derived, not the actual looking at a little finger. It is about one's own subjective thought and/or purpose in looking at that finger and deriving some sort of sexual stimulus by looking at it. If the act of looking at a little finger alone were Assur, then certainly looking at a woman's face should be. And we know that is not Assur to look at a woman's face at all... unless we derive 'pleasure' from it - pleasure in the sexual sense.

This is how I understand the concept of Derech Chiba. It's all subjective and social norms play a big part in that.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Let it Be

I could never understand the Israeli government postion to bar the Beatles from performing in their coutry back in the sixties. Especially since David Ben Gurion’s expressed statement that Israel would not be a country unless it had brothels. The stated reason was that the Israeli government would corrupt the morals of the nation’s youth.

Are they kidding?

The immoral culture of sexual permissiveness that pervades Israeli armed services mandory of all citizens - towers over anything the Beatles sing about! I hardly think that John, Paul, George, and Ringo would have add anything more morally corrupting than that with their music.

I mean… really!

Well that wrong has been righted. Paul McCartney will be performing in Israel. Here is the story from JTA:

Ex-Beatle Paul McCartney will perform in Israel 43 years after government officials banned the Fab Four.

His Sept. 25 concert in Tel Aviv's HaYarkon Park is expected to be one of the largest in Israeli history.

The show is part of a world tour by McCartney comprised of more than 100 shows.
Earlier this year, Israeli Ambassador to Britain Ron Prosor invited McCartney and Ringo Starr to perform in Israel for the country's 60th birthday.

In 1965, Israeli government officials denied the Beatles a permit to perform out of fear their music would corrupt the morals of the nation's youth.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

J-Bloggers Post Script

I was suprised to see how few bloggers spoke about the j-bloggers conference held yesterday in Jerusalem. But one blogger - Dovbear - has a nice post about it.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Blogger Conference

The bloggers are in the air. I wish I could be with them. I hear that former Israeli Prime Minister will be addressing the conference. That's pretty cool.

Oh well. Maybe next year.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Retired Man

The other day I went downtown to run a few errands. I went into the local coffee shop for a snack. I was only there for about 5 minutes. When I came out, there was this cop writing out a parking ticket.

I said to him, 'Come on, man, how about giving a retired person a break?' He ignored me and continued writing the ticket.

His insensitivity annoyed me, so I called him a 'Nazi.' He glared at me and then wrote out another ticket for having worn tires.

So I proceeded to call him 'doughnut eating Gestapo.' He finished the second ticket and put it on the windshield with the first. Then he wrote a third ticket when I called him a moron in blue.

This went on for about 20 minutes. The more I talked back to him the more tickets he wrote.

Personally, I didn't really care. I came downtown on the bus. The car that he was putting the tickets on had one of those bumper stickers that said, 'Obama in '08'.

I try to have a little fun each day now that I'm retired. The doctor tells me that it's important to my health.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Endangered Species

Question: Does God want man to save an endangered species from extinction?

I don't see any Halachic imperative here. The way I see it – the survival of any species is up to nature. If the species can survive extant conditions it will. And then reproduce into the future. If not it will eventually become extinct.

To the extent that man has any part in the extinction of any species is irrelevant in my view. Man’s job is to perpetuate its own species. To that end we should do what's necessary to constantly improve our own chances for survival by increasing our possibilities for reproduction. If by doing that another species becomes extinct, that is simply nature taking its course.

Those who claim that we have some sort of moral imperative to make sure that other species survive because of some sort of ecological disaster or at least an imbalance in nature that would result, need to prove their case. In my view they have yet to do that convincingly. Since animals that once existed in great numbers and are now extinct it proves such thinking to be pure nonsense.

That said, I don't think we shouldn't try to preserve an endangered species if possible, but not at the expense of man’s own welfare.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Had a Bad Day

Where is the moment we needed the most
You kick up the leaves and the magic is lost
They tell me your blue skies fade to gray
They tell me your passion's gone away
And I don't need no carryin' on
You stand in the line just to hit a new low
You're faking a smile with the coffee you go
You tell me your life's been way off line
You're falling to pieces every time
And I don't need no carryin' on
Because you had a bad day
You're taking one down
You sing a sad song just to turn it around
You say you don't know
You tell me don't lie
You work at a smile and you go for a ride
You had a bad day
The camera don't lie
You're coming back down and you really don't mind
You had a bad dayYou had a bad day
Will you need a blue sky holiday?
The point is they laugh at what you say
And I don't need no carryin' on
You had a bad day
You're taking one down
You sing a sad song just to turn it around
You say you don't knowYou tell me don't lie
You work at a smile and you go for a ride
You had a bad day
The camera don't lie
You're coming back down and you really don't mind
You had a bad day(Oooh.. a holiday..)
Sometimes the system goes on the blink
And the whole thing turns out wrong
You might not make it back and you know
That you could be well oh that strong
And I'm not wrong(yeah...)
So where is the passion when you need it the most
Oh you and I
You kick up the leaves and the magic is lost
Cause you had a bad day
You're taking one down
You sing a sad song just to turn it around
You say you don't knowYou tell me don't lie
You work at a smile and you go for a ride
You had a bad dayYou've seen what you like
And how does it feel for one more time
You had a bad day
You had a bad day