Postscript: Rav Sternbach “Excommunicates” Rabbi Batzri’s Dybbuk

Aristotle and the great Greek writers like Euripides, Sophocles, and Aristophanes regarded irony (from the ancient Greek noun  εἰρωνεία  [eirōneía] meaning hypocrisy, deception, or feigned ignorance) as a situation where an observer sees an incongruous circumstance that evokes paradox and laughter. Irony suggests that there is a profound polar difference between appearance and reality, between expectation and fulfillment. The Bible also has many stories about irony; perhaps its most famous story about irony is the birth of Isaac–a tale that evokes laughter and paradox.

Quite typically, truth invariably triumphs over the players who are involved within its web of intrigue. With theatrical performances, the  irony is always obvious to the audience, but never to the characters in the play. In terms of my own personal theology, I believe that God speaks to us through the ironic. What man proposes, God disposes–it is God, Who has the last “laugh.” God is the ultimate comic. Our following story is an excellent example as to how the ironic sometimes functions in our spiritual lives.

Who needs Hollywood, when you have Skype and Youtube?

Rav Batzri trying to  talk to Dibuk via Skype connection in Brazil

(Rav Batzri trying to converse with Mr. Dybbuk via Skype connection in Brazil)

See our previous post on Kabbalist David Batzri, Exorcist Extraordinaire

Welcome back to the world of 14th century Judaism.

Well, Rav Batzri may require the help of the Ghostbusters or a Catholic priest, or even Jack Bauer to get rid of this troublesome spirit. By all accounts, the dybbuk [1] proved to be too much of a match for the famous Israeli Kabbalist, who built a reputation on defeating the evil spirits that threaten Israel and the world. At the ceremony, Rav Batrzi urged the demented spirit to leave the body via the mouth, but evidently such an extraction was considered to be too dangerous and dangerous it was. Reports say that the dybbuk started coming up through the throat, as his voice changed and he started choking, when Rav Batzri screamed at it to go back down and not come out that way, but only through his big toe.

What a strange way to exit the human body!

Well, the dybbuk had other plans, and so he decided to take up residence elsewhere in the body–to parts unknown. Perhaps Rav Batzri should have mapquested the directions to the confused dybbuk so that he might leave his host’s body in the most expeditious manner.  Fearing the dybbuk’s revenge, Rav Batzri decided to go to the Haredi Beth Din of Jerusalem, and seek help from Rav Moshe Sternbach, who is better known as a Talmudic and Halachic scholar than he is an exorcist. Continue reading “Postscript: Rav Sternbach “Excommunicates” Rabbi Batzri’s Dybbuk”

Chess Gem

Amazing, this game was a total crush! Bear in mind the program is about 2650.

[Date “28/2/2010”]

[White “MS”]

[Black “LCHESS”]

[Result “1-0”]

[Opening “A13 English Opening”]

1. c4 e6 2. Nc3 Bb4 3. e4 Nc6 4. g3 Nf6 5. Bg2 Ne5 6. d3 Bxc3+ 7. bxc3 O-O 8. Ne2 d6 9. h3

c5 10. f4 Ng6 11. O-O Ne7 12. Kh2 Nd7 13. Be3 e5 14. f5 Nf6 15. g4 Nc6 16. Qe1 Bd7 17. Qh4

h6 18. Bf3 Rc8 19. Rg1 Re8 20. Rg2 Ra8 21. Rag1 Rf8 22. g5 Nh7 23. Qh5 Nxg5 24. Bxg5 Qxg5

25. Rxg5 hxg5 26. Qxg5 g6 27. fxg6 Kg7 28. Ng3 Rh8 29. Nh5+ Rxh5 30. Qxh5 Kf8 31. g7+

Ke7 32. Qh8 Rxh8 33. gxh8Q Be6 34. Bg4 Bxg4 35. Rxg4 Nd8 36. h4 Ne6 37. h5 a6 38. h6 Nf8

39. Qxf8+ Kxf8 40. h7 Ke7 41. h8Q Kd7 42. Qf8 Kc6 43. Qxf7 Kb6 44. Rg6 a5 45. Rxd6+ Ka7

46. Qc7 a4 47. Rb6 Ka8 48. Qxb7# 1-0

Guarding Our Humanity–Even In a Time of War

In his classical work on masculine spirituality, Iron John, Robert Bly notes how our contemporary society no longer provides the necessary rituals to help reintegrate warriors after a war. Unlike the ancient societies, which presented a series of complex rituals to help their soldiers make a transition to their former lives, today’s warriors have no means of making such a psychological transition to a normal life.[1]

In some cultures, a group of women would bare their breasts at the soldier to awaken their sense of compassion. Ritual washings in a pool of warm water often served to symbolize the renewal of the person; it helped the soldier get in touch with his essential humanity.  But for today’s soldiers, there are no parades honoring the soldiers’ return from the battlefront. Nor do beautiful maidens throw golden applies to the soldiers as they celebrate their return.

Is it any wonder, argues Bly, why so many Vietnam war veterans committed suicide after they arrived home? Is it any wonder why so many veterans became homeless? Bly’s arguments speak with a great deal of force. I have personally worked with the traumatized soldiers who return, who often complain about the inner demons they face.

When we study the rituals of war in the Torah, we also discover the purification rites that enabled individuals who became spiritually and ceremonially defiled in battle, and how they eventually became purified and spiritually renewed (cf. Num. 19 ff.). Interestingly, even before going to the battlefield, soldiers had to donate half shekel. The biblical writer notes, “When you take a census of the Israelites who are to be registered, each one, as he is enrolled, shall give the LORD a forfeit for his life, so that no plague may come upon them for being registered” (Exod. 30:12).

The verse suggests that a soul needs atonement whenever one goes out to war. Every enemy soldier has a family and wears many hats other than that of a soldier. The ritual of the half shekel reminded soldiers that killing a human being is wrong unless one is doing so in self-defense. Reasons for such a rite are obvious. War brutalizes a people. Once one sees an enemy soldier as an enemy, killing becomes permitted.

But how can the act of killing not brutalize a soul–especially a sensitive soul? Even the Nazis realized that they could not command their soldiers to kill Jews as fellow human beings; but they could command them to kill the Jews “because they were not human–but were like vermin.” Continue reading “Guarding Our Humanity–Even In a Time of War”