Friday, October 30, 2009
Every female mammal has organs which produce milk – a fluid perfectly suited for the nourishment of that particular species’ offspring for several months after birth. The newborn mammal is given a huge boost to his growth and to his immune system through milk.
It would seem that milk feeding increases the likelihood of survival of each offspring, making it possible for mammals to have fewer offspring while still remaining a viable, continuing species. The vast majority of mammal species seem to produce one or two babies per year. This in turn makes it possible for the mother to invest more time training and teaching her offspring. Mammals are of higher intelligence than other species and therefore this nurturing and educating is of greater importance. Mammal parents may spend a year or so mentoring their young. Humans spend about a decade doing so, as is appropriate to our higher intelligence. The human period of child rearing is apparently the longest found in nature.
In summary, the mammary glands make family life possible, something vital for highly intelligent species.When we pick up a glass of milk, we are seeing the foundation of parenting, motherhood and tradition.
More amazing is how the milk of each species is precisely formulated for the benefit of that species. The healthiest milk for human infants is human milk. Even the most high quality infant formulas made artificially are inferior to breast milk. Science cannot yet create a substitute, let alone a superior replacement, for this miraculous liquid. In fact, when a woman gives birth permaturely, her breast milk is specially formulated for a premature baby. How amazing is that?
Poetically, nursing reminds us of the total trust we have in someone else, a trust which we can later have in God “For Thou art He that took me out of the womb; Thou madest me trust when I was upon my mother's breasts. Upon Thee I have been cast from my birth; Thou art my God from my mother's womb.” Psalms 22:10-11
Posted by jewish philosopher at 9:01 AM
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
[1947 Partition of Palestine]
Recently there has been a great deal of discussion about the Israeli settlements in the West Bank. In fact, President Obama has committed himself to creating a Palestinian state. This Palestinian state would presumably include the West Bank more or less up to the 1949 armistice line also known as the Green Line. That would put the Palestinian state to within 14 miles of downtown Tel Aviv, within easy range of the type of 122 mm Katyusha rockets used by the Hezbollah against northern Israel in 2006. In other words, President Obama has committed himself to forcing Israel to accept indefensible borders.
The truth is that according to international law, the president seems to be correct. The State of Israel was in effect created in 1947 by UN Resolution 181. This resolution did not grant Israel the territory now known as the West Bank or Jerusalem. Following the Six Day War, the United Nations passed Resolution 242 requesting the “withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict”. Therefore, by law, Israel must evacuate the West Bank and Jerusalem.
By international law, Israel was created with indefensible borders and by law it must remain within those borders. Apparently, if this will lead sooner or later to the destruction of Israel, Israelis must simply accept this. This is international law according to the United Nations.
What occurred to me recently is: What exactly did the United Nations intend by creating Israel in the first place? Did the member nations sincerely believe that, like two peas in a pod, the Islamic state of Palestine and the Jewish state of Israel would co-exist peacefully now and forever? The 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine, which cost about 5,600 lives, and was organized in protest against Jewish immigration, should have indicated that this would be impossible. Furthermore, Muslim reaction to Resolution 181 was uniformly negative. There does not seem to be any precedent for separating two belligerents with such a convoluted border. So what was the United Nations thinking?
I hate to ascribe malevolent motives to people unfairly, however it would almost seem as if the United Nations decided to resolve the problem of Holocaust survivors, who were in 1947 mainly residing in displaced persons camps in Germany and Austria, by herding them into a death trap in Palestine and then letting the Muslims finish them off. In reality, as we know, this horrendous outcome did not come to pass, however the United Nations remains committed to its original program, of locking as many Jews as possible into a situation where they will ultimately be killed off.
For the past 60 years, Israelis have hung onto survival by their fingernails, mostly by ignoring the United Nations. When and if the United States fully commits to implementing international law, it would seem that Israel will be in dire jeopardy.
As an aside, it was terribly irresponsible of the majority of Jewish leadership in 1948 to have accepted the partition plan. The wisest course would have been to embrace the UN trusteeship of Palestine as proposed by the United States. Anyone responsible for the partition, whether directly or indirectly, was guilty of criminal negligence at best, genocide at worst. Unfortunately, Zionist leaders, hungry for power, opposed the trusteeship. Blood is on their hands.
Today, we can only repent and pray fervently for a peaceful resolution and the speedy coming of the Messiah.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 4:07 PM
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
[Jews reciting Shema]
Every morning and every evening, every Orthodox Jew recites the verse “Hear, O Israel: the Lord is our God, the Lord is One” (Deut. 6:4). The Talmud states that reading this verse constitutes “accepting upon himself the yoke of the kingdom of Heaven". This means that one is willing to do anything that God asks of him without hesitation.
The Binding of Isaac (Genesis 22) is one of the great spiritual triumphs of all time. Abraham is commanded to offer his beloved son Isaac as a sacrifice. Abraham obeys without question or hesitation. God then declares (verse 12) “now I know that thou art a God-fearing man”. God does not praise people too often. The Binding was an epic accomplishment in human history which we must all attempt to emulate.
Pirkei Avos 4:1 states “Who is wise? He who learns from all people”. The discipline and sacrifice exemplified by elite military organizations such as the United States Marines can be a model of the devotion we must have to God.
Alfred Tennyson famously wrote in The Charge Of The Light Brigade “Theirs not to make reply, Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do & die” .
I personally have found that making vows can be a very powerful tool. Each week I can read a list of vows along the lines of:
The following fast days will be obligatory only if I definitely and knowingly require myself to observe them, and I am aware that I am required to observe them an hour after having fulfilled the conditions needed to require the fast.
I hereby accept upon myself that if later this week or next week I knowingly unblock any webpage from ContentProtect software I will be required to fast 1 day during this month of --------- or next month of -----------.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 10:45 AM
Thursday, October 01, 2009
Many will recall the classic science fiction movie “2001: A Space Odyssey” released in 1968. The movie predicted a manned mission to Jupiter in 2001.
In reality, it is now 2009 and no man has travelled past the moon. In fact, the last manned flight beyond low Earth orbit was in 1972. At this point it seems questionable whether manned space flight will even continue at all. The pace of scientific progress is obviously considerably slower than what had been expected forty years ago.
This is making me wonder if the era of scientific advancement, which began perhaps with the publication in 1687 of Newton’s Principia Mathematica, is slowing to a halt.
The most recent great scientific “miracles” I am aware of are the development of the polio vaccine and the silicon transistor, both about 1955. (The most important scientific discovery of the past 50 years has probably been the discovery of cosmic microwave background radiation in 1964.)
The average American home of 2009 is not that much different from the average home of 1959. The average life expectancy has increased from 70 to 78 in the US during that period.
During the sixty years prior to 1959, however, there was a huge change. Conditions in 1900 were very primitive by modern standards and the average life expectancy was under 50. In other words, my grandparents apparently saw a far greater leap forward in their lifetimes than I have in mine. I am not sure if my children will see much change at all, or if they may even witness a decline in the level of technology.
I think this makes even more questionable the belief of some atheists that science will inevitably “replace religion”. It raises the question of whether science is actually hitting a wall which represents the limits of the human ability to understand nature.
Einstein in 1936 said "The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible". Frankly, this seems like silly arrogance. I see no reason to assume that the world is entirely comprehensible to the human mind any more than it is to the mind of a clam or a house fly.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 5:17 PM