An Open Letter to the Beit Shemesh Spitter!

A repost of the Aish HaTorah article, An Open Letter to the Beit Shemesh Spitter.

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An Open Letter to the Beit Shemesh Spitter

How dare you?

How dare you spit on an 8-year-old schoolgirl and terrorize her as she walks to school? I don’t care what she’s wearing; spitting, verbal abuse, and threats of violence cannot be tolerated.

How dare you call yourself a Hareidi, God-fearing Jew? Your despicable actions are diametrically opposed to Judaism. You are a thug and a hooligan whose conduct, in the words of the statement from Agudath Israel of America “is beyond the bounds of decent, moral – Jewish! – behavior.”

How dare you put us in a position where we need to state loud and clear that we condemn your loathsome actions. We do not share the same theology; we resent having any association with you that necessitates our stark denunciation.

How dare you wear the garb of a religious Jew and create a massive Chillul Hashem, a desecration of God’s name, where uninformed Jews and non-Jews around the world mistakenly believe media distortions that you somehow represent religious Jews in Israel. You are like the kippah-clad thief who dines on pork; he cannot call himself a ‘religious’ Jew. You refuse to listen to rabbinic leadership and your actions are causing irreparable harm to the Jewish people.

How dare you reject the Torah’s way of “love your fellow man” and instead erect barriers of hate and intolerance.

How dare you – through your reprehensible actions – turn off Jews who are curious to learn about their Jewish heritage.

How dare you reject the Torah’s way of “love your fellow man” and instead erect barriers of hate and intolerance.

Perhaps you should try following the example of a real Torah Jew, the great Mirrer Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel, of blessed memory.

A non-religious Israeli couple was married for 12 years and could not have children. They were distraught and decided to seek counsel from the renowned Rosh Yeshiva. It was a hot summer day and the couple knocked on the door. The woman was wearing her typical summer attire and was not modestly dressed.

Rebbetzin Finkel opened the door and greeted the couple. “How wonderful that you came to meet my husband!” Then she turned to the wife and warmly said, “You know, my husband is a great scholar – he learns all day. When I go in to speak with him, I wear a shawl out of respect. Why don’t you come with me and see if I have one for you, too. I think I even have a perfect piece of jewelry to match. And we’ll go in together to speak to him.”

They entered his study and told the rabbi why they had come. Rabbi Finkel had great difficulty talking due to the debilitating effects of Parkinson’s. He mustered his strength and said to the woman, “You and I have a lot in common. We both know what suffering is.” He began to sob, along with Rebbetzin Finkel. Then the couple started crying.

Rabbi Finkel spoke with the couple for a while, offering words of comfort. He then took their names, and vowed to pray for them.

No yelling, no threats, no spitting. Just love, respect and compassion of one Jew for another.

Maimonides writes (Laws of Character Development, 6:7) that the only way to draw people close is through love. That is how the Almighty relates to us, and that is how He wants us to relate to others.

Abandon your hate and choose the Torah’s path of warmth and understanding. I dare you.

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When I heard about this story, it made my blood boil! Luckily, Aish.com posted this article before I was able to put down my two cents.

I hate ending the year on a sour note… but hopefully, some good will come out of this sad affair.

Happy New Year… and may the coming year be filled with good things for all!

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Why I Hate Almost Everyone (Part 6): PHIs

It’s inevitable, I suppose, during the course of the holidays, when friends, family and loved ones gather round, that certain quirky personality types are heightened or at least noticed more.

Needless to say, I had a few run-ins over time. It reminded me of an event in the past that I would like to use as an example.

See if you recognize this type…

(No… not THAT kind of PHI!)

The PHI, aka Pig-Headed Individual, aka Pig-Headed Idiot, (e.g. ‘I’m right. You’re wrong. Admit it!)

These are the kind of people who simply cannot admit they are wrong regardless of the evidence heaped against them. The PHIs will make the most outrageous statements and then refuse to back down when what they present as facts turn out to be, at best, howling errors. In some cases, they will not stop at merely ‘sticking by their guns’ but will in fact not back down until they get you to admit that their outlandish statements are right.

(It’s kinda hard to reason with this person)

My dear friend RS [1] and I had the misfortune to be present a year or so ago when two formidable PHIs squared off at an up-to-that-time perfectly pleasant dinner party. At one point, one of the PHIs tried to schlepp a very uncomfortable RS into the argument. Fortunately, I sensed her discomfort and managed, gracefully, to extract my dear friend from the brawl. After the rescue, RS and I  spent a good amount of time talking together on the staircase trying to figure out just how best to deal with such troublesome social predicaments in the future.

RS ruled out – rather too hastily, I thought – taking the offending parties out back and thrashing them to within an inch of their loathsome little lives.

(I’m just not getting through to you, am I?)

She initially suggested a course of ‘active ignorage.’ While this sounds like a very practical solution, upon closer inspection it is not a solution at all. Avoiding a problem doesn’t solve it… nor is it truly ‘dealing’ with the situation. Besides, left unchecked, the PHI tiff could escalate into a Truly Unpleasant Incident. Such a result would not only have spoiled our otherwise good time but that of everyone else at the party/event. Also, depending on the size of the function, an ugly spat is sometimes hard to ignore.

More importantly, it would run the risk of extirpating [2] all the fun from a soirée that was carefully planned by a very dear mutual friend.

Luckily, things did not escalate between the two PHIs. Drastic Measures [3] were not needed, thank goodness. Some quick-minded socially adept individual came to them, apologized profusely and asked one of the PHIs for help in the kitchen. The intransigent combatants were separated without either of them admitting defeat.

I personally dislike unpleasantness and ill-feelings, even between others. RS is the same but we differ in our approach.

RS recommended that I have a word with our dear mutual friend about not inviting those two particularly obstinate PHIs together at the same event. I hinted that she perhaps over-estimated my influence with our friend. RS would have none of it. An intervention was what the doctor ordered, she felt, and, by gum, I was just the person to do it.

The next day I did manage to have a word with our friend but I’m not sure it accomplished much or at least not as much as RS had hoped. Our friend took the position that it was not up to her to ‘fix’ her guests, damaged as they may be. By that, I took it to mean that it was up to RS and me to take matters into our own hands and do as we saw fit. I planned to re-address the ‘thrash them in the backyard’ alternative with RS. I felt confident that, in time, I could win her over.

I wish I could say my attempt at an intervention was met with approval from RS.

(A facsimile of RS being unimpressed with me) [4]

RS was, to be kind, unimpressed with my encounter with our dear mutual friend and felt that I should have been more persuasive, more convincing, more adamant… in other words, a lot more like her and a lot less like me!

As RS put it in a rather curt text message to me after I broke the news to her, “Preemptive Etiquette FAIL!”

Some people have to be right no matter what!

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[1] Not to be confused with my SigOth, the lovely SG. RS is a close, very dear friend of ours and practically a member of our family.

[2] Extirpate [ek-ster-peyt, ik-stur-peyt] verb (used with object), -pat·ed, – pat·ing: to remove or destroy totally; do away with; exterminate. [RS and my ‘Word of the Day’ that day.]

[3] Drastic Measures can range from “accidentally” spilling something or knocking something over, diverting attention away from the brewing argument, to, in extreme circumstances, feigning some kind of attack or seizure. On one memorable occasion, RS faked intense labour pains! This was only slightly undermined by the fact that she was holding her 4-month-old daughter at the time.

[4] I do not have any actual photos of RS. She intensely dislikes being photographed. This was the closest I could come up with on short notice.

A Very Hello Kitty Hanukah!

OK, I must confess…

I am a sucker for just about anything Hello Kitty!

But this one really took my breath away when I saw it yesterday.

(Hello Kitty Hanukah Menorah)

Yes, boys and girls, geeks and nerdlings…

A Hello Kitty Hanukah Menorah!

Just when you thought you’d seen everything there is to see… they come out with this!

I love it. I have to have one! Or rather, a half-dozen because there is no way that I can have one without bestowing such gifts to my friends and loved ones!

Here’s another one…

(Another Hello Kitty Hanukah Menorah)

These are simply way too cute for words. And they really bring an element of fun to the holiday.

Tonight (Friday night, December 23, 2011) is the fourth day of Hanukah. For those lighting a menorah, we use 4 candles in addition to the shamash (the ‘lighter’ that is offset from the others). Remember… you have to light the menorah and say the blessings BEFORE lighting the Shabbes candles!

Have a blessed spirit-filled Hanukah, glowing with light and meaning!

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Vampyre Fangs is shutting down for the holidays!

We’ll be back in the first week of January.

Have a wonderful holiday season.

Happy Hanukah, Merry Xmas and a very Happy New Year!!

Sincerely, Vampyre Fangs

The Hobbit – Movie Trailer!!

(The Hobbit – Coming in December, 2012)

To see the movie trailer, click here!

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Season’s Eatings: A Very Zombie Xmas!

Well, boys and girls, geeks and nerdlings… It’s that time of year again.

Time to huddle ’round with our friends and loved ones. Time to sip the egg nog, roast chestnuts on an open fire and imprint as many of these festive holiday memories onto the old lobes and cortices before the stuff really hits the fan and we are all slogging knee-deep through The Upcoming Zombie Apocalypse.

During WWZ [1], eggnog may be in short supply, admittedly, but that’s no reason to be glum. Silver linings abound, folks. For example, pine trees will be popping up just about everywhere, I assure you. And imagine the warm and fuzzy feeling you’ll get knowing that just about every present you’ll be receiving will be hand-made!

And, after the initial months of ruckus and hullabaloo, it’s a pretty safe bet that every night will be a Silent Night.

Speaking of night-time, without all that annoying urban electrical glare and ‘light pollution’ muddying things up, just think of how bright and clear the heavenly host of celestial bodies will appear to our wondering post-apocalyptic eyes!

Hectic last minute Xmas shopping will be a thing of the past, quite literally. If you find a secure mall or store, you can browse and select items at your leisure. No fuss, no jostling through mobs of customers, no stress. Well, no additional stress, anyway.

So, as you’re nestled all snug in your bed while visions of sugar plums dance in your head, don’t give a second thought to Zombie-Yule. Everything’s going to be all right!

Scary Xmas to All… and to All a Good Fright!

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[1] WWZ = World War Z (aka The Zombie War, aka The Upcoming Zombie Apocalypse)

The Walking Dead… Halfway through Season Two

The other night, I watched the last episode of the first half of Season Two of The Walking Dead, including its dramatic and powerful final scene.

HALF-TIME SCORE…

You’re welcome! 🙂

The series will go on hiatus, and then return on February 12, 2012, when the final six episodes of Season Two will begin airing.

I SO can’t wait!!

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World’s Smallest Frogs!

I think Xmas is beginning to corrupt even the most die-hard herpetologists.

Cuteness is everywhere. Even the pages of this blog are not immune. [1]

So it was with a sick fascination that I caught this title in the otherwise non-cute-infected site, ScienceDaily.com…

World’s Smallest Frogs Discovered in New Guinea!

[Paedophryne dekot (A) and (B), and P. verrucosa (C), and (D), shown several times their actual size]

The article states, “Field work… has found the world’s smallest frogs in southeastern New Guinea. This also makes them the world’s smallest tetrapods (non-fish vertebrates). The frogs belong to the genus Paedophryne, all of whose species are extremely small, with adults of the two new species – named Paedophryne dekot andPaedophryne verrucosa – only 8-9 mm in length.”  The study was published in the open access journal ZooKeys.

By the way… 9 mm in length is a bit less than three-eighths of an inch to you pre-metric types out there.

The genus still represents the most miniaturized group of tetrapods in the world.

So, the question is… what’s the deal with the frogs being so tiny??

Researcher Fred Kraus from Bishop Museum, Honolulu, author of the study, explains it all for us.

“Miniaturization occurs in many frog genera around the world,” said the author, “but New Guinea seems particularly well represented, with species in seven genera exhibiting the phenomenon. Although most frog genera have only a few diminutive representatives mixed among larger relatives, Paedophryne is unique in that all species are minute.”

The four known species all inhabit small ranges in the mountains of southeastern New Guinea or adjacent, offshore islands. Their closest relatives remain unclear.

(Paedophryne dekot)

Another quirk of the puny Paedophryne is their more-than-usually tiny fingers and toes… so tiny, in fact, that it doesn’t really allow them to climb well. All miniature members of this genus inhabit leaf litter and the teensy tootsies could be a corollary of the reduced body size required to living in leaf litter and moss. Small frogs often inhabit this kind of environment and may reflect the frogs’ exploitation of novel food sources in that habitat.

Minuscule body size also has another side effect. Unlike regular frogs that lay entire strings and cords of eggs, these diminutive darlings carry only two eggs. It’s not yet known whether both eggs are laid simultaneously or at staged intervals.

Well, there you have it, my little geeks and nerdlings! Your semi-regular doze of cute!

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[1] Witness Monday’s article on cute orphan sloths!

Original source:
Kraus F (2011) At the lower size limit for tetrapods, two new species of the miniaturized frog genus Paedophryne (Anura, Microhylidae). ZooKeys 154: 71–88. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.154.1963

References:
Kraus, F. (2010) New genus of diminutive microhylid frogs from Papua New Guinea. ZooKeys 48 (2010) : 39-59. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.48.446