Wednesday, February 26, 2014

BABY PICTURES YOU SELDOM SEE !!!!! and Harold Ramis passes away at 69

A man has joy in the utterance of his mouth, and a word at the right time, how good it is (Proverbs 15:23).

As a rule, silence is golden, and generally we do not regret having held our peace. But exceptions exist to every rule, and sometimes not saying the proper thing is wrong.
We often keep silent because we do not know what to say. Especially in cases where others have suffered great personal losses, what can we say? Every conceivable remark seems so inadequate.
Not only do we tend to remain silent, but the awkwardness of keeping silent may cause us to avoid the discomfort of such a situation. Suppose we hear that an acquaintance lost a child in a traffic accident or to a serious illness. What can we say? It is one thing to pay a condolence call to someone who has lost a parent and say, "Please accept my sympathies." It is the way of the world that parents die before their children. These words are so empty, however, to grieving parents who have lost a child. Since we do not know what to say, we may simply avoid the bereaved family and thereby add loneliness to their suffering.
May God spare us all from such experiences. But if, God forbid, we have heard of a tragedy, we should not stay away or keep silent. If we feel another's pain, we should not hesitate to say so. "I feel along with you" are simple words, and when said in sincerity, can support distressed spirits.
Words cannot restore anyone's loss, but there is truth in the adage that "A sorrow shared is halved."

Today I shall ...
try to be of help to people who are suffering, if only to let them know that I sincerely feel along with them.

Love Yehuda Lave

In a follow up of my post of yesterday about Rabbi Shmuel Botech, many people misquote what he says about gay marriage...He says is a violation of the torah like other mitzvahs, but I will add that we hate the sin, but love the sinner.
I have attached two pieces from the Internet about his positions. The attachments are under the baby pictures, so you will have to look for them
Harold Ramis’ Search for Meaning

Harold Ramis’ Search for Meaning

The writer and director of Groundhog Day passes away, leaving behind a legacy of funny, thoughtful films.

by Yvette Alt Miller

In some ways, Harold Ramis, the Jewish filmmaker who died on February 24, 2014 at age 69, was the quintessential Hollywood insider. His many hit movies – including such classics as Caddyshack, Meatballs, Stripes, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Groundhog Day, Analyze This, and Ghostbusters (which he starred in, playing the hilarious Dr. Egon Spengler, as well as directed) – defined a generation of comedy.
Yet Ramis rejected the trappings of conventional Hollywood success. He started his comedy career as an unknown with Chicago’s Second City comedy troupe. (He was a reporter with the Chicago Daily News at the time, which sent him to report on the comedy group. After watching them perform, Ramis knew he found his calling, and started writing comedy, eventually ending up back at Second City as a member.)
At the height of his fame, Ramis turned his back on Hollywood, returning to his hometown of Chicago to live in a Jewish suburb.
Years later, at the height of his fame, Ramis turned his back on Hollywood, returning to his hometown of Chicago and moving his production company from Los Angeles to the small, residential, Jewish suburb of Highland Park, Illinois.
“He’s the least changed by success of anyone I know in terms of sense of humor, humility, sense of self,” Second City co-founder Bernie Sahlins said of Ramis at the time. “He’s the same Harold he was 30 years ago.”
Ramis himself explained that while he enjoyed life in Hollywood, he found the environment harmful. “In L.A., you’re much more aware of an artificial pressure, just that you’re in a race of some kind. You know, if you’re not moving forward, you’re dead in the water, because everyone around you is scheming, planning and plotting to advance themselves, often at your expense,” he explained.
“I’ve compared it to high school: Am I popular? Am I cool? Am I in? Who’s the in crowd? How do I get into that party? These are not things I ever wanted to worry about. Here (in the Chicago suburbs) I’m so liberated from that.”
After his first marriage ended in divorce, Ramis married for a second time, and started asking himself questions about what he wanted to do differently in his marriage. He realized he wanted to move back to his hometown, to be closer to his parents. “I wanted them to know my second family,” he recalled. “I’d been married before and been away all those years and thought this was a chance to reunite my family.”

Groundhog Day

Getting the chance to do things differently a second time (and a third, and fourth, and fifth time, and more) is the subject Groundhog Day, my favorite of Ramis’ movies. (Stephen Sondheim said he wouldn’t attempt a musical adaptation of it because it was impossible to improve on perfection.)
Groundhog Day tells the story of Phil, a weatherman played by Bill Murray, who is sent to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to cover the annual Groundhog Day festivities there. Grumpy and unfulfilled in his personal and professional life, Phil can’t wait for the day to be over. But instead of waking up the following morning, Phil awakens on the same day, over and over and over.
At first, he’s horrified by this bizarre circumstance, then depressed. In time, he learns to make use of his endlessly repeating day: he learns French, memorizes poetry, and becomes a piano virtuoso. Only when Phil has finally changed himself – working on his character traits and becoming a better person – does his endlessly repeating day conclude, allowing him to move on with the rest of his life.
Ramis’ genius in this movie is in tapping into a fantasy many of us have: if only we could have another chance, we’d be able to perfect ourselves, to finally become the people we suspect we’re capable of being. This is a profoundly Jewish concept: we each have a mission in life, and we’re each given the tools we need to accomplish it; it’s up to us to use our skills to the best of our ability. And we have the power to do teshuva, regret our misdeeds and start over.
Groundhog Day came out three years before Ramis made sweeping changes in his own life, trading the glamour of Hollywood for a staid Chicago suburb, and making the decision to direct all his subsequent movies from his new base instead of Hollywood. Perhaps his own struggle informed the movie and gave it its sense of urgency.
Five years before Harold Ramis’ long final illness and death, a friend of mine, Cindy Sher, editor of the Chicago Jewish News, spoke with him about his life work. Cindy singled out Groundhog Day as a special film, too, telling Ramis that at least once a week, she heard someone mention its universal themes. Ramis responded that he considered it, along with two other films he made, to be “about what it really is to be a good person in general.”

Groundhog Day,” he explained, “is about how we use our time and priorities, losing our narcissism and vanity, taking a good look at others, and being in the moment.” His movie Multiplicity “is about the divided self, the things that pull us in different directions and how can we integrate ourselves and be one person.”
Finally, Ramis singled out his later movie Bedazzled as one of his more meaningful projects; it “is about the things we wish for that we think will make us happy, like money, fame, success, power, good looks – all those things that we think are the keys to happiness,” Ramis said, cautioning that “of course the film ends up saying that’s not where happiness comes from.”
When he thought of what he wanted to pass along to children, he said, it was “integrity.” Throughout his life, Harold Ramis searched for the things that make us happy. His movies showed us that the best things in life cannot be bought.

From Rabbi Slifkin:

Rationalist Judaism: The Ghostbusters Analogy

Posted: 25 Feb 2014 12:43 PM PST

Harold Ramis, a.k.a. Egon Spengler from the 1984 hit movie Ghostbusters, just passed away. That reminded me that I had drafted a post about Ghostbusters and mystical Judaism, which I never got around to posting. So here it is, l'iluy nishmas Harold Ramis.

Do you remember Ghostbusters? Most people loved it for its hilarity; some for its fantastical elements. I was intrigued by a different aspect of it, and it's something which will provide a useful analogy for understanding the difference between rationalist and mystical approaches to various Jewish concepts.

For those who didn't see it, Ghostbusters was about a group of eccentric geniuses/ dropouts who launched a career catching ghosts. The shtick of the Ghostbusters was that they discovered that it was possible to design technology that could detect ghosts, and ultimately to subdue and contain them. PKE meters, proton packs, muon traps - these were gadgets that used physics but could detect and interact with spiritual phenomena.

Behind the concept of Ghostbusters, then, lies four ideas:

1. Spiritual phenomena exist as entities;
2. They follow precise laws;
3. These laws are connected to the laws of the physical universe;
4. Physical objects can manipulate spiritual phenomena by way of these laws.

The rationalist stream of Jewish thought denied pretty much all of these four ideas. Menachem Kellner, in Maimonides' Confrontation With Mysticism, explains how according to Rambam, concepts such as kedushah and tum'ah are states of mind rather than metaphysical phenomena. The reward for mitzvos is the effect on one's mind rather than in some sort of spiritual world. There are many examples of this. Mezuzah creates a reminder rather than a force-field. Shiluach ha-kein teaches us compassion rather than engineering a celestial process. And so on, and so forth. Without the first idea in the list above, the latter three don't even begin.

The mystical stream of thought, on the other hand, posits the existence of all kinds of spiritual entities. These relate to, and can thus be influenced by, the physical universe, though not in exactly the same way as with Ghostbusters. The Ghostbusters used technology to create physical forces that directly interact with the spirit world. The mystical stream in Judaism, on the other hand, proposes that physical items create spiritual forces which in turn affect the spiritual and material world. However, there are still valuable points of analogy. Just like an improperly calibrated proton pack will not subdue Gozer the Gozerian, so too a mezuzah missing a letter will not create a protective force-field - even if the missing letter is a result of, say, termites attacking the parchment.

My point in this is not to mock the mystical stream of thought - just to note how very far apart it is from the rationalist stream of thought. I believe that appreciating that these are simply two very different worldviews, each the result of a rich heritage, helps avoid friction between people who adhere to different streams. Good fences make good neighbors, and all that. Don't cross the streams!




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