Archive for August, 2023

NFL 2023: Pre-season Raiders Recap

Sunday, August 27th, 2023

The GOP Debate: Clear Foreign Policy Contrasts

Friday, August 25th, 2023

The GOP Debate: Clear Foreign Policy Contrasts


The first GOP presidential debate of the 2024 election cycle was a truly substantive affair. While there was some bombast, it was mostly a very sober discussion of policy differences. Naturally, all eight candidates on the stage agreed that President Joe Biden should be fired. On abortion, the differences were mostly confined to tactics. The real major divergence came on key foreign policy issues. Divisions that came about with the emergence of Ron Paul in 2008 have not fully healed.


Fairly or not, former President George W. Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney left office with the Neoconservative brand tarnished. The Ron Paul Paleocons lost the ideological battle but won the war with Donald Trump’s election in 2016. Trump’s foreign policy was basically Ron Paul’s, but with sanity. Trump favored muscular non-interventionism, while Paul despite the denials of his supporters had a strong isolationist strain. With Trump’s ascendancy in 2016, Neocons like Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush were left in the dust. The 2023 Fox News debate in Milwaukee brought the Neocons back with a vengeance. Their conflict with the Paleocons reached a boiling point.


The Paleocon wing was represented by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and businessman Vivek Ramswamy. DeSeantis served in the military and favors the muscular non-interventionist Trump approach to foreign policy. Ramaswamy claims to be a Trump disciple, but his comments at the debate were Ron Paul isolationist.


The Neocon side was represented most forcefully by former South Carolina Governor and United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley. Despite being Trump’s Vice President, this debate saw Mike Pence return unapologetically to his Neocon roots.


On two particular foreign policy issues, the differences could not have been more stark.


On Israel, Ramaswamy reiterated cutting off aid to Israel in 2028. He tried to explain this as an act of tough love that will benefit America’s friend Israel in the long run. Haley was having none of this. She torched his position as wrong for America, Israel and the world. She pointed out that America needs Israel as a bulwark against hostile Middle East actors. Pence and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott are proud overt evangelical Christians and supporters of Israel. On this issue, Ramaswamy stood alone as DeSantis stayed quiet. DeSantis has expressed a desire to cut foreign aid to many nations but is also a staunch Israel supporter.


Ukraine saw the sharpest differences that separated the adults from the unserious individuals. Ramaswamy actually claimed that the United States has no national interest in Russia’s conflict with Ukraine. Pence upbraided Ramaswamy during the debate as a “rookie.”


Pence was right. For decades, the Republican Party and Democrats beyond the anti-war crowd understood the rights of sovereign nations. One nation cannot simply gobble up another nation with impunity. When Iraq invaded Kuwait, former President George Herbert Walker Bush declared that “This will not stand.” Russia’s Vladimir Putin exposed the weakness of former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden by seizing Crimea without consequences.


As Pence, Haley and North Dakota Doug Burgum pointed out, Russia conquering Ukraine would have catastrophic global consequences. China would be emboldened to seize Taiwan. The dreaded World War III would be a plausible scenario.


Burgum was not asked about Israel, and North Dakota has one Chabad House in Fargo that sometimes gets a Minyan. Yet on China, Burgum showed himself to be as serious as Ramaswamy was glib. Ramaswamy’s boldness in seeking to gut the administrative state is overshadowed by a foreign policy approach that is naïve and dangerous.


The big winner of the debate was the Bush-Cheney foreign policy approach. At the very least, the Ron Paul approach is being rejected as the GOP returns to its adulthood roots. The world is globally connected. Burrowing our heads in the sand is no longer an option. For those who still need a clear reminder, the September 11th attacks are the consequences of believing that overseas problems stay overseas. Taking the fight to bad actors everywhere is the only way to keep them from spilling American blood on American soil.

8/23/23 GOP Debate

Thursday, August 24th, 2023

8/23/23 GOP Debate

Rich men North of Richmond question.

Ron DeSantis: Reverse Bidenomics

Chris Christie: I was a conservative Republican in a blue state. Truth and accountability. 

Tim Scott: I vote against spending packages in the Senate. Biden caused inflation.

Vivek Ramaswamy: I’m not a politician. I’m an entrepreneur. Politicians run from something. I’m running to something. 

Nikki Haley: Biden didn’t ’t do this to us. Our Republicans did this to us too. They passed trillions in spending. Trump added 8 trillion to the debt. I think it’s time for an accountant in the White House.

Mike Pence: I’m very proud of the Trump-Pence record. I’m the best prepared, most tested, most qualified proven conservative in this race. 

Ramaswamy: Declare war on the federal administrative state. 

Pence: I balanced budgets and cut taxes. Now is not the time for on the job training. 

DeSantis: We were wrong to lock down the country during Covid. Fauci should have been fired. 

Ramaswamy: Do you want a Super Pac puppet or a patriot who speaks the truth?

Doug Burgum: The economy, energy and national security are all tied together. 1.2 trillion dollars of green new deal spending in the IRA is subsidizing China. Solar panels are produced in China in a factory run by coal.

Asa Hutchinson: I’m a pro-life governor. We shrunk the size of government. 

MAUI and climate change:

DeSantis: I’ve handled real crises as Governor.

Ramaswamy: The climate change agenda is a hoax. More people are dying of bad climate change policies than climate change.

Christie: Ramaswamy sounds like Chat GPT. 

Haley: Invoked Margaret Thatcher. Climate change is real. China and India have to lower their emissions. 

Scott: This is childish. America can do for anyone what she has done for me. Bring jobs home from China.


Haley: A federal ban would require the House and 60 Senate votes. We need consensus.

DeSantis: We had the biggest election landslide in Florida history. Abortion didn’t hurt us. Democrats favor abortion up until birth. Different states have different approaches. 

Pence: I’ve been a champion for life. Consensus is the opposite of leadership. A ban after 15 weeks is appropriate. 

Burgum: No federal abortion ban. 10th Amendment. Get the feds out of our lives. 

Hutchinson: It’s ok to address abortion at the federal level. 

Scott: We cannot let California, New York and Illinois have abortion on demand until birth. That’s immoral. A 15 week abortion ban at the federal level is appropriate. Our creator gave us inalienable rights including life.

Haley: Ask Biden and Harris if they favor 38, 39 or 40 weeks.


Pence: Blame Democrats and the defund the police movement. The Trump-Pence tax cuts expire in 2025 if we don’t elect a GOP president. Shut down the Department of Education. 

Christie: I ran a US Attorney’s office. Woke prosecutors are refusing to do their jobs. I’d hire an AG who would have the 93 US Attorneys prosecute violent crime at the federal level. Joe Biden sponsored the 10 year mandatory minimum for gun felonies that Hunter committed.

Ramaswamy: More cops. We have a mental health epidemic. More mental health institutions. People are hungry for purpose and meaning. We will stand for the rule of law. 

Pence: We are not looking for a new national identity. We need government as good as its people. 

Ramaswamy: We are in a dark time. 

DeSantis: Crime is at a 50 year low in Florida. George Soros funds radical leftist DAs. I fired Soros DAs. 

Burgum: In small towns, neighbors help neighbors. I understand small town values. 

Hutchinson: Enforce the law. More addiction counseling. Trump has undermined the law by attacking judges. 


if Trump is convicted, would you still support him as the nominee? Hutchinson and Christie said no.

Christie: Trump’s conduct is beneath the dignity of the USA. 

Ramaswamy: Trump was the best president of the 21st century. Christie’s campaign is based on vengeance against Trump. 

Christie: Trump disrespected the Constitution. 

Scott: Pence did the right thing by certifying the 2020 election. Fire Merrick Garland and Christopher Wray. Only 17% of Republicans have confidence in our DoJ. 

DeSantis: This election is not about January 6, 2021. It’s about January 20, 2025. My military service taught me to focus on the mission at hand. 

Pence: I kept my oath to the Constitution that day. There is no higher importance. 

DeSantis: Mike did his duty, but let’s move on. 

Hutchinson: Trump is morally disqualified from the White House again due to January 6th. Hutchinson referenced the “insurrection” and invoked the 14th Amendment argument (which has been debunked). 

Christie: Mike Pence stood for the Constitution. He deserves our thanks for putting the USA above his personal ambition and pressure. 

Haley: Pence did the right thing. The American people should decide if Trump is fit to be in charge again. We need a new generational leader. We can’t win a general election with the most disliked politician in American.

Burgum: Pence was right. Talking about Trump takes time away from talking about China.

Ramaswamy: I’d pardon Trump. 

Pence: I put the Constitution first and I always will. Kamala Harris will have no right to overturn the election in 2024 when we win. 


DeSantis: Europe is not pulling their weight.

Ramaswamy: An invasion of another nation nowhere near us is not our problem. Stop worshiping Pope Zelensky. 

Christie: Trump called Putin brilliant. We must stand up against an autocratic killer. 

Pence: The leader of the free world must lead. The Reagan Doctrine said we fight Communism on their soil. If we give up Ukraine, Putin will advance on a NATO nation. Putin is a dictator and a murderer. 

Ramaswamy: The real threat we face is Communist China. Ukraine is not a priority for the USA. 

Haley: The world needs to know the difference between right and wrong. Only 3% of our budget has gone to Ukraine. A win for Russia is a win for China. Vivek wants to hand Taiwan to China. He wants to stop funding Israel. 

Ramaswamy: Nikki is on the board of Lockheed and Raytheon. 

Haley: Ramaswamy has no foreign policy experience and it shows. 

Ramaswamy: I love Israel’s border and tough on crime policies. 

Haley: America needs Israel. They are a middle East Bulwark.

DeSantis: No troops to Ukraine. 


Burgum: Russia is China’s gas station. China imports 10 million barrels of gas per day. Biden’s disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal emboldened China. 

Scott: Our most pressing safety issue is the Southern border because of Fentanyl. Finish the border wall. 

Burgum: Losing 300 people per day due to overdoses.


Hutchinson: Border patrol can use lethal force if necessary. Bring in Mexico as a partner. Use economic pressure. After 9/11, we launched the Global war on Terror and protected the Southern border.

DeSantis: I’ll send the military and special forces into Mexico to kill the cartels. 

Pence: We secured the Southern border and reduced illegal immigration by 90%. Biden let everyone in. I negotiated the wall funding and the Remain in Mexico policy. We got the Mexicans to deploy their National Guard to their Southern border. 

Christie: We have to have law and order in this country. We can’t reward people who came illegally. Those who came illegally must be sent back. 


DeSantis: We need education and not indoctrination. Lockdowns hurt our kids. I brought back civics in Florida. 

Ramaswamy: This is the civil rights issue of our time. Stop paying single women to have children. Eliminate the Department of Education.

Burgum: Not every school is indoctrinating kids. II go to the schools and sit in and personally observe. Give states block grants for education. 

Haley: We have to get kids reading. We need reading remediation. Parents should have school choice. Put vocational lasses back in high school. Biological boys don’t belong in girls locker rooms. 


Pence: We don’t need a president who is too old or too young. We need someone who knows how the government works. School choice for all parents. 

Ramaswamy: The people can separate a thinking person from an automaton. 

Hutchinson: We need more computer science education. Every school must offer this. This is how we compete with China. 


Scott: America is founded on Judeo-Christian values. Break the backs of the teachers unions. 


DeSantis: I served, but service should be voluntary. Being president is about the mission, not the individual.


Christie: Joked that Marsha MacCallum is from New Jersey, which is why he got the UFO question. The president has to always level with the American people always. I went after the teachers unions, they are the biggest threat to kids, not UFOs. 


Burgum: Biden’s inflation is choking us. Our cities are less safe. Our economy is being crushed by Biden. I’ll secure the border and get this economy sprinting. Innovation, not regulation. We win the cold war with China by growing our economy. 

Hutchinson: Our nation is in trouble because of failed leadership. The solution is not Biden or Trump. A president’s number one responsibility is to bring out the best of our people. 

Scott: The American dream is alive, well and healthy. If you take out a loan, you pay it back. If you commit a violent crime, you go to jail. If you’re born a man, you play sports with men. 

Christie: I’m the only one on this stage who beat a Democrat incumbent in an election. The truth and accountability matter. 

Haley: My  husband is in Afghanistan there. We must protect America here. We will put transparency in classrooms, secure the border, and back our law enforcement. 

Pence: Biden has weakened America at home and abroad. The Afghanistan withdrawal, the war on energy, the border, etc. Proven leadership at the national level. God is not done with America. 

Ramswamy: We were taught to celebrate diversity rather than Americans bound by a common set of ideals. God is real, 2 genders, fossil fuels are a requirement for human prosperity, parents determine the education of their children, the nuclear family is great, 3 branches of government not 4, the Constitution is supreme. 

Desantis: We will send Biden back to his basement and reverse the decline. 

Missouri bathroom encounter

Tuesday, August 15th, 2023

My recent encounter with a random individual in a Missouri bathroom will last in my memory bank forever. The person has most likely already forgotten me, but they will never be forgotten. In the 15 to 30 seconds we interacted, life lessons were taught and learned. Memories came flooding back. My own biases were as clear as my reflection staring back at me from that bathroom mirror.


After washing my hands and preparing to exit the restroom, the other person walked in. To my horror, a woman had just entered the men’s bathroom. My first reaction was panic. Was this the women’s bathroom? Admitting error was out of the question. My words were defiant, telling this young female that “This is the men’s room!” The conversation quickly deteriorated when the equally defiant teenage woman said “I’m a man.”


This had all the makings of a nightmarish transgender conversation. Whatever one feels about transgender issues, a public restaurant washroom is not going to be the place where every divisive social issue gets solved. However one feels about gender pronouns, a bathroom is a place to engage in unmentionable activities, wash your hands, and leave. Arguing about gender was not going to solve the problem. My one-word perplexed question to this individual was a simple “What?” This brought a response that left me dumbfounded at myself.


“I am a man. I have long hair.”


Color me gobsmacked. This had nothing to do with transgenderism, pronouns, or other terms that barely existed before 2015. This was an issue as old as time itself. I mistook a boy for a girl simply because the teenage boy had long hair.


After apologizing to the boy twice and even thrice, all I could meekly muster to say was that, “When I was 21, my hair was longer than yours.” Who was I kidding? My hair was longer several months ago.


Kids do sometimes turn into their parents, but I had just turned into my late grandfather. All I needed was a Yiddish accent and a rolled-up newspaper to chase hooligans away.


My grandfather was an old-school Eastern European immigrant who fled the Holocaust and spoke broken English. He never accepted that boys could have long hair. In the 1980s and early 1990s, he would introduce me to his friends with the sarcastic taunt of, “This is Eric. He’s my new granddaughter.”


When my hair went from shoulder length to mid-back, he told me that I looked like a “Calderone.” The man spoke five languages, but Italian was not one of them. Calderone sounded Italian. My father intervened and spoke to my grandfather in Yiddish. My father explained to his father that a Calderone was a person, not a thing. After impatiently inquiring who this Calderone guy was, my father replied, “Your grandfather says you look like the drug dealer on Miami Vice.” At least that drug dealer was male.


Eventually I explained to my grandfather that “The hair does not make you sell the drugs. I have long hair. I don’t do drugs.” While he never accepted my long hair, he did eventually accept that my Y chromosome existed. My gender was male, without ambiguity.


In the 1980s, guys with long hair were either in a rock band or they were transients. A young stoned teenager on the Santa Monica Third Street Promenade once remarked to me that my “third album sucked.” My anger quickly subsided when my friends reminded me that I was never in a band. At least this guy who hated my non-existent music understood that cool guys had long hair.


Misgendering has existed ever since society decided that men had to have short hair and women had to have long hair.


Beyond that, not every conflict is due to raging political issues of the day. Occam’s Razor is still valid. The simplest explanation is often the truthful one.


To anyone who has ever been misgendered, join my club. It happens to the best of us.


Now to flout society’s conventions and grow my hair long again, because I can. At age 51, I’m old enough to remember when that truly was an act of rebellion.


I hope the Missouri kid keeps his hair long for as long as he wants without further hassles.


Whether you believe there are two genders or two hundred of them, one thing is as clear as the Cowsills: I’m a guy, and “There ain’t no words for the beauty and the splendor, the wonder of my hair!”

JLI Retreat 2023: Why isn’t Jerusalem mentioned in the Torah? Rabbi Dovid Eliezre

Sunday, August 13th, 2023

Why isn’t Jerusalem mentioned in the Torah? Rabbi Dovid Eliezre

Jerusalem is alluded to throughout the Torah but not mentioned by name. A land mass is described that could only be Jerusalem. The Torah kept the actual name secret to prevent everyone including non-Jews from wanting to flock there in droves. Only a few hundred people lived in Jerusalem in the 1920s. Jews have been there for over 3,000 years. We should create our own Jerusalem by praying wherever we are and facing Jerusalem.

JLI Retreat 2023: What’s on your bucket list? Rabbi Moshe Bryski

Saturday, August 12th, 2023

What’s on your bucket list? Rabbi Moshe Bryski

The story of 1,090 people who ignored the famous violinist. Where were they going? Why were they rushing? Why do they need to do those things? 

Is everything we do preparation for something else?

Sam Walton built Walmart, the greatest company in the world but didn’t have time for his family. On his deathbed, he said, “I blew it. Looking back, I blew it. I blew life.” 

“I intend to live forever, and so far, so good.” — Steven Wright 

“My luck is so bad that if I bought a cemetery, people would stop dying.” — Rodney Dangerfield

If all we do is rush from one thing to another, it becomes very difficult to imagine any existence beyond the physical. 

How do you know you have a soul? “I don’t have a soul. I am a soul. I have a body. My soul is who I am. My body is housing the soul in this iteration of existence.” — Rabbi Avrohom Twersky 

Souls don’t die. We will know more about this when we get there. For now, make every day count. 

Death closes the curtain on our free will and ability to do good deeds. 

Compile our own bucket list, but change the term. Call it a life list, things we want to accomplish in life. Put the exotic stuff aside, unless it is truly a part of you.

Establish a weekly ritual to call your parents once a week. Read the 5 books of Moses, then the Prophets. Go to shul at least once per month, or more. Pick one year to experience every Jewish holiday. Put on Tefillin more often. Mentor someone. Make a difference in another human being’s life. Make a Jewish shidduch. Visit lonely seniors. 

Make your goals have lasting and enduring value. Acts of goodness and kindness. Answer the questions to the “why” of life. 

Never miss an opportunity to attend a family simcha.  As long as we pass on traditions to our children, Judaism will continue to thrive. That should be our legacy. Judaism is not just a religion. Judaism is the hope, guarantee and promise for the Jewish people and all of humanity. 

JLI Retreat 2023: Great debates in Judaism in medicine with Rabbi Edward Reichman MD

Saturday, August 12th, 2023

Great debates in Judaism in medicine with Rabbi Edward Reichman MD


Rabbi Moshe Feinstein: Abortion is akin to homicide. Not equivalent, but akin. It’s the taking of a life. The only permitted abortion is if the mother’s life is at risk. Tay-Sachs is not a justification for abortion.  Even an amniocentesis is not permitted since it could lead to an abortion. Catholicism takes the opposite view, that the mother must be sacrificed to save the fetus. 

Rabbi Eliezer Waldenberg believes abortion is not akin to homicide. It can be performed to save the health of the mother, including mental health issues. Aborions up to 7th month are permitted. Theoretically postpartum depression could be a mental health issue, but now there is treatment for postpartum depression. Therefore a rabbi would be less likely to permit an abortion for that.

Donor artificial insemination: How to procure reproductive seed.

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein: A married woman who goes to a sperm bank because her husband is infertile is not an adulteress. The child is not a momser. This is because there is no physical illicit relationship between the woman and the donor. The donor is the Halachic father. If the donor is a Kohan, the child is a Kohan.

Nevertheless, Jewish law prohibits being a sperm donor. New issues crop up with sperm donors. What if stem cells are taken from the sperm? This has not been adjudicated yet.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe said that a person should be willing to give up everything including his own life to have children.

There is no US legislation limiting the number of children produced by one sperm donor. The serious risk is siblings marrying each other. 

If a Jewish woman has a child with a non-Jewish man, the child is Jewish but the child has no Halachic father. The child has a genetic father, not a Halachic one. With no Halachic father, it is impossible to marry a paternal sibling. 

There are 60 cases being prosecuted for reproductive specialists providing their own sperm.

3 Day Burial Controversy: Way back when, doctors would misdiagnose your time of death, which affected the entire Western world for burial purposes. “Saved by the bell” is people who would ring a bell when they were buried underground when they were still alive. People who died had to be kept above ground for a few days until it was 100% proven that death had occurred. This conflicts with Jewish law, which demands immediate burial. In israel, burial must occur within 24 hours. There is a clear prohibition on delaying burial. 

Yet modern technology has ethicists and others arguing when death occurs. Nevertheless, technology also allows the exact time of death to be precisely pinpointed. 

Superstition is part of Christian tradition, not Jewish tradition.

A new physiological definition of death: The invention of the respirator allowed for people to artificially be give oxygen. This meant the stopping of the brain diverged from the stopping of the heart. In the 1950s, a new condition called brain death occurred but cardiac death did not. Legal brain death allowed other organs to be transplanted because those organs were properly functioning. 

If you misdiagnose someone as dead when they are not legally dead, and your misdiagnosis causes death, you have Halachically committed homicide. 

JLI Retreat 2023: Crossfire with Rabbis Manis Friedman, Yosef Schusterman, YY Schochet

Friday, August 11th, 2023

Crossfire with Rabbis Manis Friedman, Yosef Schusterman, YY Schochet

Hating Israel is the new form of hating Jews. Do not accept the narrative of the NYT and CNN.

You can never have too many Sefer Torahs since everything comes from the Torah.

Successful marriage: Never ask why. Woman must be able to trust her husband, the man is the giver who must feel he is bringing something to the marriage. You can’t fool mother nature. 

Doctors tell the rabbis what the medical situation is, then the rabbis consult the Torah to see what is medically permissible. 

God has no grandchildren. Every child is his, irrespective of the child’s relationship with the parent. 

The concept of a Minyan is biblical. 10 men is mandatory. 

Friedman: Prayer can be done by praying on the meaning of the words (Kavanah), or just by the words themselves. Those words are holy themselves.

Shochet: AI: The Jewish perspective is to buy the stocks. ChatGPT can’t give you a hug, show sensitivity, or work on Shabbos. Rabbis are can. 

Schusterman: Humility doesn’t mean going around thinking I’m a nobody. That’s idiotic. Humility is knowing myself, but recognizing everything I have is God-given. Humility is about being better.

Friedman: A man’s wife takes priority before the children and his parents. 

Schusterman: God doesn’t kill or steal. God takes people back because their mission was accomplished. He’s not killing them. Purpose of creation is to advance to the next level. Plant to become animal, animal to become human, human to reach higher. God doesn’t steal because everything is his anyway.

Shochet: You are allowed to destroy if it’s for later reconstruction. That’s how we know God will eventually build the 3rd Beis Hamikdash.

Shochet: The rest of the world will respect Jews who know how to respect themselves.

Friedman: We don’t discuss transgender with our children. We discuss gender. Transgender is for people suffering from dysphoria. It is inappropriate to discuss at the dinner table. To make it a national conversation is really bad.

Schusterman: Righteous non-Jews have a share in the world to come, whether it is a Jewish or non-Jew0sh world to come. Non-Jews should keep the 7 Noahyde laws. Those laws are to civilize the world. You can’t function in a jungle. Jews are to take the civilized world and bring Godliness into the world through Torah and Mitzvahs. We have a different mission from non-Jews, but in both cases our job is to complete our mission.

Friedman: Affection is meant to be personal and intimate and should only happen in private. 

Friedman: No middle ground on transgenderism. You can’t reason with desperation. His program used to make teenage girls to be proud Jews. Now we teach them first to be proud girls. 

Schusterman: If children say they are transgender, something is wrong. You can’t let children do whatever they want and then wonder what happened. Raise healthy children.

What were they thinking? with Rabbi Chaim Block, Chabad South Texas

Moses rarely got angry, but every time he did, there were negative consequences. Nothing good ever comes from anger. 

God gives us opportunities to fail. That doesn’t mean we have to fail. Our obligation is to do our very best to do the right thing. 

The snake is in every one of us. It’s our Yatza Hora. 

JLI Retreat 2023: What the Torah demands of science

Friday, August 11th, 2023

What the Torah demands of science

The Torah is not in conflict with science. 

The people who pray the best are people who have jobs. To appreciate that God created the entire world, you have to experience this outside world, from business to medicine to other forms of employment. 

Torah and science usually agree, but sometimes Torah and science disagree. 

Talmudic scholars were not scientists. 

People claim the Torah is non-literal when the literal interpretation makes people uncomfortable. If anything, that makes the Torah itself more likely to be literal. 

Some twist the Torah. Others twist the science. Others smash the whole science-Torah debate with Kabbalah. 

Torah is the blueprint of the world, which is described by science. Science is evidence. Torah is truth.

Ignore the bumper stickers that say “trust science.” No scientist trusts science. Trusting evidence is fine, but rarely is hard evidence offered. Statistics does not offer 100% proof. 

Math has proofs. Science has a preponderance of evidence and reducing the probability of error to near 0.

There is no uncertainty in the Torah. What it says, is. 100% accuracy. Science is collecting evidence. God is a definitive answer. Evidence is only useful if you don’t already know the answer. When evidence contradicts a fundamental principle, throw out the evidence. Jews have a fundamental principle called the Torah.

Science cannot contradict Torah. When it does, the science is wrong. 

Authentic Judaism never compartmentalizes. It does not separate science at work and religion at home. It does not kowtow to nature. 

God is supernatural. We are not bound by nature. God can break the rules and mess with the scientific evidence. God split the sea. 

Theory is less important than practice. Do mitzvahs.

JLI Retreat 2023: From Sinai to Cyberspace with Rabbi Yosef Shusterman, Chabad North Beverly Hills

Thursday, August 10th, 2023

From Sinai to Cyberspace with Rabbi Yosef Shusterman, Chabad North Beverly Hills

The Torah is absolute truth. So the Torah does apply to events today even though it was written thousands of years ago.

God gave Moses generalizations, general rules.                                                                                                                  

Rabbis don’t always answer the question. They answer the person asking the question. 

Torah says you cannot have  minyan or do a Megillah Reading through Zoom. Yet there is a law in the Talmud that says a Shofar cannot be blown in a pit because it creates an echo. You have to hear the original voice, not the echo. So even though the Talmud has no idea what Zoom is, the law still applies.

Abortion and heart transplants?

Torah talks about when life begins and ends. Life begins at conception. Abortion is allowed to save the life of the mother. 

Heart transplants? When does life end? Is it brain death or respiratory death? If respiratory death, then the transplant would be impermissible. If the brain death is the criteria, then the transplant would be allowed since the heart is being removed from a dead person. 

You cannot take a prayerbook into the bathroom, but you can take your cellphone there. 

Surrogate motherhood: If Sarah gives the egg but Rebecca carries the baby, who is the mother? 

Laws of inheritance matter. Who would you say Shiva for? Does Shomer Nagiyah apply? What if the donor mother is Jewish and the carrier of the baby is not Jewish? Or vice versa. 

In general, if either woman is not Jewish, Judaism prefers they convert to Judaism. 

Life does begin at conception, but there are various stages of Halachic life. The true viability of a baby is 30 days after birth.