Monday, February 22, 2016

this and that

1. While I wasn't feeling well I reread an old Nero Wolfe, The Second Confession, that involves a certain character being ruined by being exposed as a communist. Ahh, the good ol’ days when being a member of the communist party was considered a bad thing. These days you can be a communist and still have a pretty good chance of being nominated for president and winning a good percentage of the vote. (I know -- communist and socialist are different. Save that for a poli sci class.)
2. The Rishonim in Nedarim (28) distinguish between dina d’malchusa, fair laws that are necessary for good governance, and dina d’malka, arbitrary laws decreed by whim of the ruler. Halacha demands that we respect the former, but shows no recognition of the latter. A theoretical question: when the President withholds necessary anti-terror funds from a city, endangering the entire population, as an act of retribution against a Senator from his own party who dared cross him, are we dealing with dina d'malka or dina d'malchusa?  Or when the Attorney General threatens to prosecute those who engage in "anti-Muslim speech" but  makes no move to bring charges against a Secretary of State who kept top secret data on an unsecure mail server in a bathroom, are the laws of the land being enforced dina d’malka or dina d’malchusa? I can give plenty more examples, but you get the idea.  Just wondering at what point we've crossed the line.
3. I guess I should maybe salvage this post with a real point.  Moshe is told to instruct the “chachmei lev” to make the bigdei kehunah, “v’heim yikchu es ha’zahav… (28:5),” they will gather the raw materials and do the job. Of course the chachmei lev would have to gather materials -– why mention it?  Seforno: just like they will have kavanah when doing the work, so too, they should have kavanah when taking the goods. The earliest steps of preparation, even acquiring the raw materials, need to be done with the right motivation and intention. (This is reminiscent of the gemara (B”M 85) that R’ Chiya planted flax from which he made nets that he used to catch deer whose hides he turned into parchment that he then used to teach children Torah. R’ Chiya devoted himself not just to teaching the Torah, but he also took care of every step of preparation as well so ensure it was all done, beginning to end, with the right motivation.)



  1. In general, I agree with the concepts in item 2, but a withholding of funds seems to be perfectly legitimate. The funds never belonged to NY in the first place. Unless of course you have a somewhat socialistic attitude.

    1. Too bad the gvt never seems to see it that way when you want to withhold more of your own hard earned $ from them. It seems like the assumption is you should be grateful that they allow you to keep any of it. (Chaim)

  2. In the words of Jan Schakowsky, Representative north chicago, evanston, skokie area,"The money belongs to the government, and we decide how much to give you."

    Jewish, of course. Gets along well with Bernie the Purple Dinosaur.