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Ask Shifra

Something Different... Answering questions and making curious observations (online) since 2005.

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Thursday, September 29, 2005

Skepticism and Coincidences

My oldest (Bas-Shifra) had a rough day in school yesterday. In the morning she got into some kind of fight with another girl (who we'll call "the tattletale" for the sake of convieniance) and the tattletale rammed her desk into Bas-Shifra's desk causing her some injury. Knowing that this girl is quite a tattletale (and also a liar according to Bas-Shifra) she decided to let it go thinking that if they went to the office the tattletale would turn things around and get her into trouble instead (this happened once last year.)

Bas-Shifra continued to stew over the argument and at lunch the tattletale decided to continue bating my daughter. Not one to be able to resist baiting Bas-Shifra raised up her friend's soft sided lunch box as if to hit the tattletale with it (she claims there was no contact, I am unsure on this point, it was a soft lunchbox though, and Bas-Shifra is no George Foreman.)

A big panic insued and the tattletale immediately told the teacher (natch) and the two of them got sent to the office of the Jr. High Disiplinarian. The tattletale got to bring a friend to confirm that Bas-Shifa indeed hit her, and went on and on listing her injuries "I couldn't breathe" said the tattletale "it still hurts when I cough..." Bas-Shifra was not allowed to bring her witness to confirm she did not actually hit the tattletale.
As the tattletale smirked, Bas-Shifra was told that if she ever raised a hand to another child she would be suspended. This is a first major offense (although not much really happend) in all her 6 years at this school, and she was pretty distraught over it. "I didn't even hit her.." she repeated over and over

Moving on to later that evening...
I came downstairs to find Bas-Shifra with her head down on her Chumash.
She was reading the Rashi about Bnei Yisroel crying out to Hashem when their babies were being drowned in the river by the Egyptions. "What kind of a God is this!?" said Bas-Shifra "He knows babies are being killed why did he wait for the Jewish people to cry out to Him, that's sick!" (Bas-Shifra minces no words) After some apologetics, haskafa, commentaries, etc... etc... we moved on to the next Rashi on the list.

Guess which it was?!
The one about the Mitzri (Egyption) being killed by Moshe after merely raising his hand to strike a Jew! I thought that was a crazy coincidence, Bas-Shifra was less impressed.
"Look!" I said "it's just like what happened to you today, and here was are learning this rashi on the very same day!"

"Well, we started the Rashi yesterday..." said Bas-Shifra "Its not that big a deal."

It's not easy raising a skeptic.


At 10:55 AM, Anonymous big fan said...

You accidently divulged the name of bas-shifra

At 10:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's hard enough being skeptical oneself. I don't think I would have the patience to deal with skeptical kids! On the other hand, kids always rebel against their parents anyway, so maybe if I am super skeptical they will end up frumming out.

At 10:58 AM, Blogger Shifra said...

Big fan, you are very quick! You must really be a big fan.

Thanks for noticing, I've since corrected it. If you'd keep that big of information under your hat I'd surely appreciate it.


At 11:18 AM, Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Godol Hador; Wouldn't it kill you if your kids started acting like the Clownofskys, and believed the world was created in 6 days?!

At 11:29 AM, Blogger Air Time said...

Shouldn't she be Bat-Shifra?

At 11:33 AM, Blogger Shifra said...

She'd probably call herself bat-shifra... I was kind of on the fence about that myself.

Perhaps I will go back and forth using both accents even within the same paragraphs like I do in real life!

Some day I'll have to blog about the ashkenas/sefard mivtah-multiple-personality-disorders that seem to plague people our age...

At 11:45 AM, Anonymous chuck said...

Ya know that moshe did save one child from certain death kid named micha.
Now i'm not sure of all the details, but, after saving this kid, (who g-d said i know what i'm doin, and moshe took him out from between the bricks anyway)this kid follows moshe around like a lap dog. he sees when yosef's aron is raised from the nile, moshe used a gold plate inscribed ali shor, which discards after use. micha takes the 'Souvenir'. Later in the midbar moshe goes up to har Sinai leaving the jews alone they try and create an a new leader. Micha throws the gold plate in the fire and lo and behold an idol! Living and breathing as it were. In a nut shell g-d was right: kill the kid. As humans we’re too shortsighted, narrow minded and just generally un-understanding to grasp g-d ways.

There’s another story, something more recent. Remember reading ‘bout the cantonist kids? The Russian czar’s army used to grab little kid for soldiers. Well just about that time frame, there was a rabbi, now known as the Noam Elemelech. It seems he was old and dying, so he promises that when gets to the next world, he’ll stop that particular decree. He dies and the gezara continues. Hummm. After a while the next rov or talmud
Of liszensk sees reb Elimelech and asks nu what happened? Says reb Elimelech up here in heaven we see it a good thing! End of story
So there are current gedolim who point out, that g-d needed to counter other prosecutors of the jews, such as nowadays the suicide bombers (kids sometimes) who think that they are killing themselves l’shem a-llah (R. Avigdor Miller wrote A-llah that way).
So G-d needs to counter yishmoel saying yes its nice but wrong my kids did it just for me and no extra baggage. But try explaining this to a mom 200 years ago.
Hundreds of parents in agony about their children, knowing he may never come back, little 5 and 6 year old crying huddled in the cold tears freezing on their little faces. Anyone moves the wrong way gets horsewhipped.

Need more?
Didn’t think so.
You gotta trust he knows the big picture.

At 11:46 AM, Blogger Air Time said...

I go through the same thing. I grew up with Ashkenzic pronunciation, but a lot of times I switch to Sefardic/Israeli style because my kids go to an Ivrit B'Ivrit school, so I try to use their pronunciation when they hear me reading hebrew. In the end, it probably sounds all mixed up.

May your daughter put a beat down on Tattle tale, in the right time.

At 11:52 AM, Blogger Shifra said...

Well Chuck that was depressing, and yes the story of Pesel Micha is quite well known.

Somehow I didn't think that regaling my daughter with tales of the deaths of hundreds of innocents was the right thing to do at that time.

I did try to explain to her that there is a lot we don't understand, and that god has his reasons etc... She seemed satisfied at least for now.

At 11:52 AM, Blogger Shifra said...

"May your daughter put a beat down on Tattle tale, in the right time."

That might be the best (evil)bracha I've ever heard!

At 11:54 AM, Blogger Shifra said...

Also Chuck: I'd hardly use a story which "occurred in heaven" as a rational proof of God's omniscience.

At 12:00 PM, Anonymous chuck said...

I'm just saying heaven has clearer overall pic than us puny humans

At 3:12 PM, Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

I had the mivta problem between the time I studied in Israel and the time I made aliya. (All the time in the US). In Israel its not an issue...but its totally annoying to my wife when I visit the US on business and come back with Ashkenaz for a day or so...

At 3:27 PM, Blogger Elie said...

The question of why God allows evil in the world is about as fundamental as they come. One can give very simple answers that satisfy many, yet the question has confounded philosophers throught the ages.

What I try to tell my kids (and myself) is that there is a Plan that we can and will never understand, and that senseless death and other evils for some Reason, need to be a part of that Plan. This answer can satisfy intellectually but cannot truly comfort.

I hope to write more about this in my blog over the next few weeks.

At 4:15 AM, Blogger Ben Avuyah said...

>>>What I try to tell my kids (and myself) is that there is a Plan that we can and will never understand, and that senseless death and other evils for some Reason, need to be a part of that Plan. This answer can satisfy intellectually but cannot truly comfort.

That satisfies you intellectually ??

Here's another intellectualy satisfying answer: because !

At 4:24 AM, Blogger Ben Avuyah said...

I think I would like sceptical children, maybe I should take godol's advice and frum out.

expect my next post to reconcile bereshis and science.

At 7:57 AM, Blogger Shifra said...

Ben A -
You make a good point but to assume that you can understand EVERYTHING in this world is the ultimate human conceit. There is so much we don't understand in the visible physical world, why do you think we understand that which we cannot see?
Gallileo was punished in a similar way although for the opposite reasons.

At 7:05 PM, Blogger Ben Avuyah said...

I don't claim to understand everything, or claim that everything is understandable. But when we hit a brick wall and cannot ascertain information our response should be an honest, "I don't know", rather than creating gods and mermaids to explain the inexplicable. That way lies folly.

I don't understand your referance to Galileo....


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