New Article and Loose Ends

I have an article on aggadah up on JID:

A former student, Jordan Hirsch, reviews two books on imperialist gamesmanship in WWI-era Middle East, that tell a still-relevant cautionary tale about Western assumptions regarding Arab revolutions.

The new, improved Talmud blog is up and running. Good luck, Shai & co.

MK Amslaem's speech in Modiin was disappointing. His novelty is not that he's saying anything new, but that he's saying new things while wearing a black hat. I was hoping that perhaps he wasn't just another politician, but he's just another politician.

I spoke with R. Lichtenstein about the Half-Shabbos phenomenon, specifically about whether texting on Shabbat should be a de-orayta. He said that's a question for the Tzomet people, but that it's clear that it's a terrible violation of Shabbat, as it runs the risk of turning Shabbat into just another day of the week.

I've had some lively debates today about R. Zilberstein's approving that a girl cut herself to force her parents to let her wear a skirt. My take is that while the rabbi desrves the criticism he's getting, there's been no talk about the parents. You're talking about the secular parents of a girl, presumably in her late teens, who is enrolled in a Haredi kiruv seminary. Whatever the reason for this girl's dramatic lifestyle change - sincere conviction, a form of rebellion, evidence of mental health issues, or whatnot - why on earth would her parents drive her to self-mutilation by insisting that she dress a certain way? A person can pick or choose a rabbi; a parent is not chosen, and therefore parents have a much greater potential to really screw a kid up than any rabbi ever could.

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