Whatever happened to the “Real Men of Genius”
A few years ago, Bud Light (US beer company- and do I love beer) had a series of commercials. They were aimed at a male audience, often times playing for talk radio. They did manage to make some TV commercials. Showing an average men in humorous situations. From the stinky bad dancer to the unhealthy appetite bachelor. All typical men, who love beer.
One day, the time for the “Real Men of Genius” passed on- but the legacy remains…. in the archives of YouTube:
My Solution to the Ukraine-Russian crisis
My resolution of the Ukraine-Russian Crisis- I’ll be quick with my bullet points
Ukraine must recognize that its Russian speaking citizens will have some connection and bond to Russia and do not want to turn their back on their ethnic homeland- and who want to do business with Russia.
- Russian Ukrainians must recognize that the Ukrainian citizens want to be independent from Russian influence, particularly in Kyiv politics
- (note: Ukraine was independent for several years already- just heavily influenced by Moscow, but it was not “occupied” nor is having relations with Russia going to add to some “occupation” that is just hysteria).
- If the US wants Russia to stop supporting Ukraine-Russian separatists, the US has to do the same within Ukraine
- A warrant should put out for the capture of the ones responsible for bringing down the plane (pending the investigation)
- I propose a multistage plan where the Russian speaking areas of Russia (that want relations with Russia) would become autonomous TERRITORIES of Ukraine. (like Donetsk). In other words they would be a “Respublika” or Federal district of Ukraine. A self governing region that could choose to hold economic relations with Russia, but would remain a territory of Ukraine. Let us remember again that Ukraine was an independent country and has not been part of Russia for a few years. The issue was never one where Russian-Ukrainians want to be their own country or rejoin Russia. The issue is that they want to be in a relationship with Russia. Ukraine before the current revolution was independent but also friendly with Russia. You take that away from the parts where the majority are ethnic Russians and it created the conflict we see now.
- This would only work if these federated republics would be given the guarantee that they can have economic relations with Russia.
- If Ukraine guarantees their autonomous territories will have the right to do business with Russia for their regions, Russia should guarantee that they will recognize these regions as a foreign entity of Ukraine. (Just like they did with Ukraine when it was independent).
- As the steps towards a resolution progress, the sanctions would decrease in parts until they disappear.
However, I am still figuring out the issue with Crimea, since there is no return from the point Crimea has gotten to. With Crimea, either there would be a plan like the UK had with China over Hong Kong. Otherwise, there could be a compensation amount paid to Ukraine over the loss of Crimea throughout installments over a course of several years (like a pension). In other words, it would be as if making up for the taxes of the Crimean people that would partly go to Ukraine for a such and such period until a compensation is paid out (like rent to own). At the end of the payout, the claims would stop over Crimea and Ukraine. At this point, however, the only way Ukraine would get Crimea back is through an all out war with Russia, which would cause Russia to respond and create an international crisis. I do not believe the sanctions can go on forever. They won’t work and will backfire on the EU, who will slowly on their own start dropping the sanctions after a certain amount of passing time. Therefore, if the US cares about world affairs, they may suggest a monetary compensation to Ukraine over Crimea. Other than that, the reality is that Crimea is full of Russian people who want to be Russian and only a war would resolve it. So, with Crimea it’s either a war or a compensation.
-Personal rant about why the US “reset button with Russia failed”
First- a thought about why the west has failed to integrate Russia.
The US did not “win the cold war”, there were no winners, just a soviet system that ran it’s course and ended. It rotten from within and dissolved from the inside. Yeltsin and Putin are regarded in Russia to have “saved” Russia during the transition from Communism to Democracy. The issue is Putin’s third questionable term that created some conflict, just like if Obama were to force himself into a third term, it would create a lot of conflict.
How has the west failed to integrate Russia into the west. First, we must look at the history of Russia, all the way back during the time of the Kievan Rus. Russia was always apart. It was not until the Grand Muscovy prince unified Russia as an empire that it grew into a giant. Often times, a giant we in the west fail to accept as an equal partner in the world. Perhaps because Russia is so vast. From the corners of Yekaterinburg to Kavkaz to Siberia. Russia is basically it’s own world, they have different races and ethnicities more than any other country.
How the west has failed to integrate Russia is by simply ignoring Russia, until we could not ignore the Soviet Union. Suddenly now there was something we were afraid of…the iron curtain! The west developed a fear/paranoia of the “Soviets” picturing their bleak life as a black and white uniform purgatory. Suddenly, the Soviet Union dissolves over night and somehow the patriotic USA Americans act as if they marched into Moscow and deposed the government themselves.
Russians, however, are and have always been like every other person. The way what we all want- the same needs. Historically, life has been different, but in reality- what was there to “fear” and why is there still some “soviet fear”?
The problem is that the west has really taken the dissolution of the USSR as some victory and therefore, Russia was bumped down to a “a looser and irrelevant as a first rate country”. Russia, however, took this criticism by arming itself and reaching first rate country status. Russia’s attempts to be a first rate world country member has been met with dislike in the west. Whenever Russia tries to pull forward in the world, the west (specially the US) accuses them of trying to bring back the Soviet Union again. In essence, they really don’t want Russia to be one of the first rate member countries. And while the US polices the world, heaven forbid Russia should try to do the same because it’s “soviet tactics”.
President Obama boldly claimed that he was going to press the “Reset button with Russia” but immediately before his first meeting with President Putin, Obama was interviewed and already criticizing Russia and Putin. Calling Putin old fashioned in diplomacy and saying Russia does not know how to do democracy. Is this how one resets the button? By criticizing those we want to be friends with? Then you had Clinton talking about Putin and McCain. And we wonder what went wrong. If only there would be some way allies would get together without bringing out the verbal attacks.
Lastly, the US is being completely hypocritical in their handling of Ukraine. They side with separatist thugs that ransack Kyiv and depose the legally elected president and then support the questionable “elections”. On the other hand, they condemn Russia doing the same, aka: Russia sides with separatists who ransack Crimea and condemn the Crimean referendum to join Russia. But again, the US is allowed to do what they do- and if Russia does the same, it’s all soviet tyrannical tactics.
The US sided and instigated these separatists and now vow them money because they are investing in Ukraine to become a US style democracy (which is the gospel of the US to spread to the world) and an ally. However, the Ukrainian politicians will remain corrupt and their country will be like a third world” like state anyways, regardless of how much money the US throws at them. In fact, the US throws a lot of money to many countries, yet they all remain in permanent “third world like” state. But why does the the US automatically side with any country that is anti-Russian? Maybe they really just don’t get along. Maybe Russia not handling over Snowden was the last straw. Maybe the Russian spies that were caught in New York not so long ago. Yet, even allies spies on allies, the NSA would know plenty about that. The point is, the US accuses Russia of “thumbing it’s nose” at the US, so the US does the same thing back. In other words, the US and Russia have committed several faults.
One thing to mention is that I am SICK of the western media and western politicians of accusing Putin of wanting to bring back the “soviet union”. He himself said “Whoever does not miss the soviet union has no heart, whoever wants it back has no brain”. Putin is not trying to resuscitate the USSR. The issue is not bringing back communism, the issue is that they want to regain the same influence in the former Soviet Bloc countries, but within the realms of the Russian Style Democracy. That is what created the problem. People acting with paranoia that Russian relations will bring back the horrors of communism. It is simply not happening. On a side note, I was not offended by Putin telling the US in his oped that we are not special, maybe we needed to hear it. In fact, a big controversy in the US is that we tell out kids that they are special. But people like McCain took a great offense to this and ironically wrote an open response in the unpopular communist newspaper Pravda. Extremely comical because his whole open letter should have been written to Soviet citizens back in the 40s, not free Russians under the democracy of modern day Russia.
In my perfect world, Russia would integrate with Europe. And no, Russia trying to gain some worldly influence is not a way to bring back the Soviet Union.
I admit it, I am NO Bieber fan. Nor am I am Gaga fan. I know people just love them. I fancy a more retro taste, however. In my case, retro is in. Oldies are classics but they are only repeats of classics.
Retro-Music seems to always be in style. Perhaps it is because it’s always fun to reminisce about old times. We never got over The Doors and The Ramones. It could be 1980 or 2013 and “Let’s Go” is still playing while young people dance around. It may be 2013 and people are still going to do the hair/head shake while listening to the guitar riff in Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”. It just will never change. Some songs are just too classic.
But, how many bands make modern day music today, that sounds like it could belong in the radio station of the past? And I am not talking about remaking old songs into new songs. I am talking about original music made today, that sounds like it was written yesterday. And I am not talking about the current 80s revival music either . Make music that sound like The Beatles wrote it. Or the Stones.
Case in point, a new sound I heard and just had to share. I sat down next to my pc, hit “play” and relaxed while listening to the song. Suddenly I realized “this is Brilliant” Old music that is modern! What if…. modern day artists try something new for a change? Take the challenge and make modern day songs that sound like they belong in the past.
This composer did. Not only do I enjoy the songs but I find the tunes so catchy that they get stuck on my mind for a couple of hours, like a sweet aftertaste. I think is is quality music. Why can’t modern day music produce clean cut tunes like this:
The latest song just came out today. His second song was am homage to the classic sound of The Beach Boys. Believe me that song played in my head with an automatic replay button. And I was not complaining. I had to stick around for the next song and I heard a song that is classic, yet new. Old yet modern. Not only that, the lyrics are just real.
Fortunately, other artists also have the ability to make modern music with a “yesterday sound”. However, with the above artist I posted about, this is the first time I was transported to a time before I was even born. Picture this:
I am in a black and white movie and am walking alone in the early 1960s. In the distance I see and hear something down the Santa Monica Pier. All color of sounds appear and all sounds of joy. I then find myself in the middle of the crowd when a stampede of girls run to the stage to hear the latest bands play.
Well, this is only a dream, but it is what I feel when I hear that music. And how many times does this happen today? This is why I am both amazed and enamored by this sound!
While this composer is able to take us back to the 50s and early 60s. Other artists, such as Broadcast is able to transport us back to the 60s as well with the classic song “Come On Let’s Go”. MGMT takes us back to the time of The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and Syd Barrett/Pink Floyd with songs like “Weekend Wars” and “Siberian Breaks“. Or just plain Psychedelic 60s with “Flash Delirium”. The White Stripes take us back to the time of the Delta Blues with a modern twist. The Strokes took us to the time of The Ramones.
This is it, retro is not just about emulating and copying old things. It is about creating modern concepts that could easily fit today as in the past.
Rolling Stones in the 70s? No, it’s MGMT
Please suggest more artists…
As I sit here on a Wednesday night, drinking a dark beer- I suddenly had an urge to blog. Like the good old days. Suddenly, a warm feeling inside (memories of the past blogs) was replaced with an urge. The urge of what to write and when.
It has been months since I have written, the last blog was a bleak short metaphorical story. My most popular post is the “Kitchen Nightmares/Burger Kitchen” post. Which was a review of a TV reality show. Every time that show airs and re airs my stats rise up like fire. 800 vews, 1,000 views. Then, it all fades away like the dimming cinders of a bonfire. While the Kitchen Nightmares/Burger Kitchen post is the flagship “raison de etre” of my blog, I know nothing can ever compare to that post. The rest of my posts have been of trying to find my voice. Beer reviews, movie reviews, product reviews, name change. Whatever my place, I have not come up with a single theme.
Sure, some blogs do have a theme. From movie review blogs to religion blogs to political blogs. But what is my blog? I had a dream at some point, that my blog would be a fun place where I would share things that I would think about. That has been my problem, it is easy to loose track of a “theme” this way. What I want to do, is go back to my roots. This is investigations and hate lists. It’s what works for me. We all want to find out themes and I believe this is it for me.
Consequently, I have been reviewing my old blog topics and seriously, some past blogs have been so poorly written. I can really see how since I started writing in 2009- I have greatly improved. This could only mean that I can only keep improving. I want to thank each and every one of you for staying for the ride.
So, something I learned… no one really cares if I like the coffee I had in the morning, even I don’t care. Rather than write for me, I want to write for the art and passion that is putting words together to send out ideas.
So, I plan to redo my blog. Stay tuned, my friends.
Our Total Non-Affiliation with “Dor De`ah”
b’Shem HASHEM El `olam
To Whomever It May Concern:
The following statement is made with no intention to neither insult nor defame anyone, but purely in the defense of Torah truth. Moreover, we in no way infer any bad intentions on anyone’s part. Our protest is not against people, but against actions and statements made public.
Please be aware that, while we count Mr. Yosef Eliyah ben Avraham as a sincere, learned and well-intending friend and budding scholar, The Ohel Moshe Society (Beth Midrash Ohel Moshe) is in no way affiliated with the new organization “Dor De’ah”, which he has formed together with Mr. Asher Meza.
A SELF-DEFEATING NAME THAT INSTIGATES IRE
Calling an organization of so-called students of RaMBaM “Dor De`ah” reveals great ignorance. The term “Dor De`ah” was traditionally a negative term for the troublesome generation of Israelites who left Egypt, witnessed HaShem’s awesome miracles, and yet rejected the Land, only to die in the desert. “Dor De`ah” became a moniker used by kabbalistic zealots for those Yemenites who remained loyal to the original, ancient traditions of Yemenite Jewry before the works of the Ar”i came to Yemen.
It is a term that that has inspired bitter strife and division within the Yemenite community, even excommunication. In a generation when all Torah communities have so much to learn from one another, for many, this self-defeating name brings us back to a time that all Yemenite Jews have done their best to forget. For this reason, calling a RaMBaM-based Torah center “Dor De`ah” flies in the face of the path of our RaMBaM-Yemenite greats, namely HaRav HaGaon Mori Yosef Qapahh of blessed memory. It threatens to undo much of what his life work was about: “redifath shalom” – seeking peace, and through that, influencing the greater Torah world.
A MOCKERY OF AUTHENTIC HALAKHAH
While we thank and appreciate Mr. Yosef Eliyah for the zeal for Mishneh Torah and the other important Torah sources he shares with a wide and growing internet audience, we see it as a tragedy that he has joined a promoter and performer of mass conversions, one who routinely puts down normative Orthodoxy, insults the Noahide path –as if Noahides were no better than idolaters without conversion to Judaism– and shows ignorance in halakhah.
Mass Conversions… and by Converts
To promote and perform mass conversions, especially as a convert oneself (see below to “No Lack of Love for Converts Here”), even to officiate as a rabbi to begin with –all this in the name of the RaMBaM– is a cascade of halakhic error and a stumbling block:
1) Mishneh Torah forbids putting converts in any position of authority (M.T. Laws of Kings and Wars 1:5. Whoever imagines that “seraroth” (positions of authority) couldn’t apply to officiating over conversion, must not have read the law, which reads plainly, “…even over an irrigation channel”. Is commanding the transformation of the souls of righteous, God-fearing human beings less of a charge than an irrigation ditch?
2) To claim loyalty to the authentic halakhah of RaMBaM on one hand, and to encourage non-Jews who are unable to access a proper Beth Din to convert themselves –that such conversion is fully kosher– is disingenuous. RaMBaM states unequivocally: “One who immerses by himself and converts by himself or even before two [witnesses] is not a convert.” (Laws of Forbidden Sexual Relations 13:6) What part of this law is unclear?
3) Mass conversion makes careful investigation of converts nearly impossible. The tragic phenomenon mentioned by RaMBaM and true to this day, is that most converts end up returning to their formers ways (about 95% according to surveys by the Israeli Rabbanuth). Not for nothing did RaMBaM speak of the influx of insincere converts as being “like the plague of leprosy” for the Jewish People. (Laws of Forbidden Sexual Relations 13:15)
Due to this tragic phenomenon and the fact that conversion is irreversible, RaMBaM (restating authentic Talmudic Law) devotes a string of laws to warning against accepting converts without proper investigation (Laws of Forbidden Sexual Relations 13:14-15[17-18]). This brings in a Trojan horse of insincere Jews among our ranks. Moreover, it creates a disaster in which innocent non-Jews, who could have enjoyed the Life of the World to Come under the much simpler, lighter Noahide covenant, are now cut off from the eternal life of the soul – now being obligated to keep Shabboth and the other severe obligations of the Torah. (14:3) RaMBaM even relates how conversion was forbidden altogether in the days of King and David and Solomon. (13:12)
4) Aside from special, individual cases, efforts to convert non-Jews outside of Israel by a beth din hediototh (a non-official court of three observant Jewish men) –even with the converts’ full awareness that the conversion will not be recognized by the mainstream Orthodox world, much less by the Israeli rabbinate– are destined to create strife. If the effort succeeds, it can only give rise to a cult of that will remain cut off from the rest of the Torah world.
Disrespect for Torah Scholars
Despite the opinions we share with “Dor De`ah”, such as the importance of halakhah according to Mishneh Torah, we do not share nor condone their brazenly critical tone of ”Dor De`ah” against the greater Torah world. However we may protest the opinion of a Torah scholar, there is no permission to cast him as a “desecrator of Torah” We lament the blasting of such a critique to an audience overwhelmingly made up of non-Jews, converts and ba`ale teshuvah. If one wishes to express his private opinion as to how halakhah should be followed, he may do so. However, to tauntingly rebuke rabbis who hold even an errant opinion and to do so in public, inspires hhillul HaShem, hatred and cynicism of Torah scholars – one of the reasons for the destruction of the Holy Temple (Talmud Bavli tr. Shabboth 119b). In the end, we all lose: halakhic purists and followers of halakhic compromises alike.
Spreading Confusion and Derision at the Path of the Seven Laws
Based on Laws of Idolatry 10:9 and Laws of Kings and Wars 8:13, Mr. Meza understands that for RaMBaM, a Noahide is none other than a Ger Toshav (resident alien) – a status that will not exist again until the Jubilee (and Sanhedrin) is restored. Therefore, no option but conversion exists for a righteous non-Jew. He mocks rabbis who teach that we are to spread the Noahide Laws, showing an image of Pinnochio and his that keeps growing longer the more lies he tells. Besides stooping to such a disgraceful way to prove his point, Mr. Meza reveals himself to be terribly confused when elsewhere he speaks about “Bene Noahh” being permitted, if not obligated, to keep Shabboth. I thought there were no Noahides at this time in Mr. Meza’s universe?
If it were true that no option exists for non-Jews except conversion, this would mean that even the most sincere, God-centered Noahides are cut off from the Life of the World to Come (eternal life of the soul) until Geruth Toshav (resident alien status) can be restored, Heaven-forbid. While the sources quoted above refer to how Israel is to relate to non-Jews in the lands we conquer, nothing can take away from the simple fact that any non-Jew who accepts upon himself the Seven Laws is a “hhasid umoth ha`olam” –a pious one of the nations– with a place in the World to Come. (Laws of Kings and Wars 8:14)
Mishneh Torah was not meant to be studied in a bubble, but only after learning TaNaKh (M.T. Introduction point 42). Heaven forbid we should understand the halakhoth regarding non-Jews outside the context of Psalm 145 (verse 9), which Jews are bidden to recite thrice daily: “HaShem is good to all, and his compassion is over all his handiwork.” Are we to forget how Elisha` the prophet related to Na`aman, the heathen general of Aram, when he accepted the yoke of Heaven upon him as a righteous gentile without converting? Did he need to accept the 7 Laws before three Fellows * among the Sages of Israel – as required for a resident alien? Of course not: He remained in Aram, outside Israel’s jurisdiction.
Whoever would deny HaShem‘s love for Noahides even outside of Israelite sovereignty clearly speaks of a cruel God, not the God of the Torah.
NO LACK OF LOVE FOR CONVERTS HERE
Any claim that we are hereby committing the grave sin of hurting the righteous convert is disingenuous: First, the fact that Mr. Asher Meza and Mr. Yosef Eliyah are righteous converts is a publicized fact on the Internet, and therefore not rekhiluth (forbidden gossip). Moreover, none of what is written above is a personal attack on either one of them, but purely a response to widely-promoted work and false Torah teaching. One cannot accept or assume the position of rabbi, undertake to spew misleading Torah teachings that exhibit ignorance of halakhah, produce a growing number of converts and followers, and hide behind one’s rights as a convert.
Besides naturally-born Jews, Beth Midrash Ohel Moshe is home to a number of amazing converts, whose well-being and happiness we are continually preoccupied with. In all humility, it is safe to say that few, if any, Torah organizations have done more with their available resources and manpower to show love for the righteous convert.
Lastly, our own scholars are known for sharing the frustration with the current conversion crisis. Indeed, it is not uncommon to hear of amazingly sincere candidates being unfairly made to suffer through a dauntingly difficult path. Nonetheless, while a solution is yet to be found, mass conversions by novices in halakhah is not the answer. Meanwhile I continue to meet successful converts living happy lives in Israel, having been converted by normative rabbinical courts.
WHO WE ARE
While committed to RaMBaM’s Mishneh Torah, Beth Midrash Ohel Moshe is a normative, recognized Orthodox Torah community and outreach center, and an integral part of the local Yemenite community in Ramat Beit Shemesh. While we are dedicated to our pure halakhic path, we are equally dedicated to our role as members of the wider Torah community, and loyal citizens of Israel.
We wish our like-minded friends in Israel and abroad success in pursuing and growing in authentic Torah, and spreading its truth. Moreover, we pray that whoever accepts upon himself the great responsibility of spreading the poorly-known Torah of the RaMBaM in any official capacity, do so responsibly:
(1) Accurately, by inviting peer review and haskamot of noted hhakhamim (letters of approbation),
(2) with sensitivity, in a way that helps students to connect with the greater Torah world, and prepare him for life in Israel, our only true homeland,
(3) sagaciously and with love, with words that inspire unity with the greater Torah world, showing attachment to and sensitivity for the greater Torah world and our Land, and with great respect for the Torah giants of our generation.
We are a fractured and divided people. It takes no great skill to, through the verses of Mishneh Torah, pontificate to the ignorant about the ills of our society, to “increase mahhloqeth in Israel”, Heaven forbid. It is too easy to make quick judgments and spew barbs against poorly-understood policies of high-ranking Torah leaders (many of whom happen to know Mishneh Torah practically by heart), rather than undertaking to investigate what the rabbi truly said and why. It takes much greater skill to, through true Torah mastery and self mastery, humility and love, to emphasize the teachings that will strengthen the bonds that will unite us as a people.
With blessings from Beit Shemesh,
Michael Shelomo Bar-Ron, Beth Midrash Ohel Moshe
(This was originally posted on 1/10/13- but made private- so officially the last post)
There was a bid in the forest. A white and black speckled creature. With a majestic tail and strong wings. A bird that would soar above the flowers and the trees. Over lakes and mountains. A free bird.
She would perch herself on her nest in the highest part of her tree. She had the ambition to one day build a nest in the highest tree. Little by little, she would build her nest on taller trees. But she knew the highest tree in the forest was a little farther away. But she never gave hope- she knew she would make it.
One day, as she took a bath in a pond, washing her wings and taking a drink; a human approached. He silently hid in some bushes. As the bird bathes and rested, the man threw a net to trap her. The poor bird was startled! And unable to fly away, she was at the mercy of the man. He grabbed the bird, it was too late for her.
He took her to his cabin, the poor bird putting up a fight. But to no avail. The man grabbed her wings and clipped them and threw her in a cage.
How will the bird be able to fly to the highest tree if she is in a cage. Perhaps one day, the man will leave the door open and she will fly away.