Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Some conferences have taken me to the U.S., including a rare (for me) foray below the Mason-Dixon line. After shabbos, I needed to get from City A to City B, a drive of about two hours. The most sensible means of transport seemed to be Greyhound bus. Oh my, what an experience that terminal is. Anything I say will sound snobbish at best, racist at worst, so I'll stick to the modest observation that the few people unqualified to work in airport security get jobs for Greyhound. Ultimately, my valiant attempt to once again integrate buses in the South failed (overbooking) and I ended up negotiating a deal with a taxi driver, a dead ringer for James Earl Jones but with a Nigerian accent, to drive all the way to my destination.

We set out at about 12:30 AM and as soon as we did, he set the music volume on infinity. Let's just say the lyrics revolved around a fellow named Jeeeeeeeeeezuuuusss. If this had taken place in Guantanamo, the Times would be all over the story by now. About an hour in, the inevitable began:
JEJ: May I ahsk you a puhsonal question? Have you accepted the spirit of God into yaw haht?
Me: Um, yeah, I guess.
JEJ: Have you accepted Jeeeezuuusss as the Messiah?
Me: No.
JEJ: Do you find that he lacks the qualifications of a Messiah?

And so on and so forth. I tried the "he abrogated mitzvos" approach. I tried the "where's the wolf and sheep living together?" approach. He had answers for everything, most of which were somewhat forced, but (if I may speak candidly among friends) not much worse than your average Toisfos. I was out of my element here. An honest answer probably would have been something like: I set the bar pretty high for people achieving divinity, so as far as I'm concerned the burden of proof sits pretty squarely on your shoulders (BTW, a not dissimilar argument works for Lubavich too, lehavdil etc). I resisted this path since I suspect he would have gladly accepted this burden and I'd have heard all about it, which might have turned even more tedious than a gemara shiur in Chofetz Chaim.

The upshot is that I'm hopelessly unprepared for religious disputations. May they be few and far between.


Blogger mnuez said...



(once we're on the subject though: How could you even possibly compare the lubavitcher rebbe shlita,zy"a, with lehavdil elef, alfei v'ribui, v'alfei...Also, how could you possibly chas veshalam compare the holy words of toisfes, shemipihem anu chayim, with lehavdil elef, alfei v'ribui, v'alfei... and... and... - - I want an answer! If you don't answer me it's because you have nothing to say, which means that I'm right, and you know I'm right... You know, you should really speak to a Rov before you say things like that....)

7:44 AM  
Blogger treppenwitz said...

I once had a simlar conversation/debate with one of my shipmates. He was also a man of color, and had used his nearly endless free time while we were floating around the North Arabian Sea to forge a personal relationship with Jeeeeezuz. When he started in on his shpiel with me, I sat him down and said, "Look. A few hundred years ago some very bad men walked into the jungle and yanked your ancestors out of their very happy life and brought them to America. These bad men had no respect for your ancestor's culture, religion or right to make personal choices. As a result, there is almost nothing left of your original cultural heritage... and that's a shame. Now you are trying to stroll into my jungle and strip me of my religion... of my cultural heritage... of my right to make free choices. You may be going about it in a much nicer way than the people who destroyed your ancestor's culture.. or the people who have tried for thousand's of years to destory mine. But putting a pretty face on the action doesn't change the end result. Please stay out of my jungle. I may seem misguided and primitive to you... but I'm very happy living in the trees."

He left me alone after that.

11:22 AM  
Blogger Oysvurf said...

to mnuez: see http://www.jewsformendel.com/
that's chabadniks comparing the rebbe [pick choice of abbreviation] to you know who.

we've all had an encounter like this once or twice. I suppose our own personality differences as well as demeanor of the "preacher" sort of dictate whether our response follows the response pattern set by Benchorin or that of Treppenwitz

12:00 PM  
Blogger Litvshe said...

I think Reb Chaim put it best...

He's dead.

10:10 AM  
Anonymous Ariel Sokolovsky said...

By the grace of G-d
Shalom uBrocha!
"Oysvurf said...
to mnuez: see http://www.jewsformendel.com
that's chabadniks comparing the rebbe [pick choice of abbreviation] to you know who."

This site is not made by Chabadniks it's made by Shmarya Rosenberg author of FailedMessiah.com blog.
As much as I like the fact that by making JewsforMendel.com and prommoting it thru Google ads and links he essentialy used his skills and even money to prommote Chabad sites and mine in particular this site was made to mock Chabad and the Rebbe King Moshiach Shlit"a just like his other site.

10:12 PM  

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