These guys are like the Girls Gone Wild of Kabbalah. First they got a nude shot of Marla Maples . Now they have gotten Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher to pose in just a red string to promote those crazy, whacky books of the Kabbalah. Word is that Madonna is next.

The Grandmuffti is all for this campaign. Why should soft core porn be all in the hands of sleaze bags like Larry Flynt ? Isn’t it about time that ‘religion’ made a buck off of boobs? In fact, this Mardi Gras, as ck and I enjoy the hospitality of the Kosher Eucharist Pretty People, we plan to load up on red string rather than beads. Red String has been elevated from, well, crappy string to bulls&*t holy item and fashion accoutrement. Jewlicious would not want to be caught behind the times.

One might have thought this rather sacriligeous. Fortunately, the red string is a made up bit of nonsense. It’s thus fair game in the ‘worthless-objects-for-boobies’ zeitgeist of Mardi Gras and leaves us cool with the G-O-D. As Rabbi Yirmiyahu relates, “One man I know jokingly said he keeps the red thread on as a segula against having to give money to the people selling red threads.”

Thanks tons to Kenny for the story. Extra thanks to the Muffti approved blogger for pointing out that nude/red string pictures of celebs is eerily reminiscent of Leonard Nimoy’s Shekhina project, featuring some tasteful nudity of women in tefillin. Oy. All of this makes even the normally unperturbed GrandMuffti groan.

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  • Funniest part of that sheknina stupidity of nimoy’s is that the women don’t even have their teffilin tied on right… i mean if you’re gonna do that sort of thing, well… do it right, no?

    As for the wacky / whacky thing, I vote for WHACKY. Sounds classier, and since I am the boss of this blog, you will do as I say!

  • I’m willing to submit to the lexical tyrrany of CK. ‘Whacky’ it is. So long as we can pull in hot chicks with red string, I can’t see myself much caring either way.

  • My attitude is that if I wanted somebody to be my boss, I’d be in the army.

    Wacky it is.

  • Grandmuffti pretends he is a general in the Jewlicious army, an extension of ZOG (which should hurry up and achieve world domination so I can get that Island they’ve been promising me). Anyways, accepting lexical tyrrany is hardly the same as accepting a boss; it’s more like giving the baby his bottle so he stops bitching at you for bad spellingn and forgetting to write ‘new’ in the links when you post on his site…

  • The American Heritage Dictionary accepts both spellings. However the etymology suggests that “whacky” may be the truer spelling. In cases where a word has 2 correct spellings, it is acceptable for a person with some ostensible claim to authority to suggest one spelling over an other so as to maintain consistency within a publication.

    I stand by “whacky.” You can marry my butt.

  • I wish to point out that in the past two weeks you have misspelled bear (CK wrote bare) and insightful (CK wrote insiteful). More important, you did this while bantering with members (lovely, I’m sure) of the opposite sex. How does that make you a person with some ostensible claim to authority?

    Whacky, I tell you.

  • The person with authority is the one with the admin password. Nothing ostensible about that. Bantering with members of the opposite sex is not remotely germane. Finally you won’t hear me get all whiney and justify spelling errors. Boys, I suggest you stop swinging your dicks around – you’ll notice that neither Alli nor laya is kvetching about spelling preferences.


  • “It’s a damn poor mind who can only think of one way to spell a word”
    –Andrew Jackson

  • Et tu laya? I see it’s an open revolt over a stupid word. Doesn’t matter. Just as I have always gone in and deleted multiple spelling and grammatical errors in all your posts in the past, so will I continue to do so. Any instance of the word “wacky” in a post (you’re free to write as poorly as you like in your comments) will be replaced with the preferred “whacky.” Think of it as a style guide of sorts. I know you’re all eclectic and whatnot, but we need some teeny measure of consistency somewhere.

  • just happened to have that quote handy, thought it was appropriate.
    this is running into absurdity.
    can’t we all just get along?

  • Of concern to me is the whole “becoming like God” idea. Wasn’t that how Satan tempted Eve? Wasn’t that how Satan fell in the first place?

  • I’m a copy editor. I vote for wacky.

    Both Merriam-Webster and Webster’s New Collegiate (different companies, different editors) list “whacky” as a variant of wacky. So it depends on whether you want to use Chicago style (which uses M-W) or AP style (which uses Webster’s) for flogging ck.

    Now the red string thing, that’s just whacked.

  • Anne: This never ends. Keep in mind that I am Canadian. We consider our version of English more correct than the American variant with its penchant for the simplification of spelling – ie honor instead of honour – apparently Americans can’t handle Us. We do of course know the function served by the U and the subtle change in pronunciation that it requires. Same with “whacky” – the H causes a subtle change in the way the word is spoken. In Canada we can handle and even appreciate extra letters.

    And you never addressed the etymology issue….

  • I certainly sympathize, since My Fellow Americans are always trying to drop the “e” at the end of my name. The other day someone tried to drop an “n” too, which would’ve pared me down to “An”.

    However, YOU quoted the American Heritage dictionary. So pardon me for thinking dictionaries from our side of the border were okay. Silly me! I therefore consulted the OED online, where “whacky” referred me back to “wacky” and was once again listed as the variant. It’s not incorrect, just not as popular. You’re entitled to use it on this, your wonderful blog.

    Yes, it derives from “whacked” as in “out of whack” but usage determines style — and spelling. That’s true on both sides of the pond, and I suspect even up there in the chilly north.

    As for the pronunciation, I can see how this makes sense for “yoghurt” — which indeed loses its elegance with the harder “g” sound Americans use. But whacky? I guess it depends on how much hot air you’re blowing as you say it.

    Ah, ck, I’m so sorry. You got me started … am going away now. Whack on, or, er, whack off. It’s none of my business anyway.

  • Anne wrote:

    However, YOU quoted the American Heritage dictionary

    Last time I checked America was a continent…. just sayin’

    Anne added:

    usage determines style

    That’s not actually a grammatical rule. Look at any style guide and you will often see styles implemented that do not correlate to usage.

    So what we are left with is one spelling that is treated as a correct variant and another spelling that is more popular despite its variance from the underlying etymology.

    The truth is that I was asked for my preference and I stated it. That’s it. The fact that this discussion now ranks as one of the top five most commented stories is simply retarded beyond comprehension.

    Anne concluded:

    Ah, ck, I’m so sorry. You got me started … am going away now. Whack on, or, er, whack off. It’s none of my business anyway.

    Please – it’s a public forum. Say whatever you like, as long as it’s not totally unrelated and unsolicited comment spam.

  • Skylark… angels can’t “fall”, they don’t have freewill never mind the whole issue of human sahtans 😉

    Won’t get involved in grammar/spelling because I can be waaay to anal about that subject. 🙂

  • Oh come on D’vorah… your angel coment was germane, so why not chime in with an opinion on the all important wacky / whacky dichotomy?

  • Guess I read to much Milton in college. Blows my theological orientation

  • Guess I read to much Milton in college. Blows my theological orientation all to hell. Heh.

  • CK… well, we can’t let those whacky Americans ruin the spelling of yet another word. 😀

  • Skylark…

    A lot of it comes down to the Jewish concept of what an angel is and the Christian concept being completely different. In Judaism HaSahtan is not evil since no angels can be evil. Angels can’t rebel because they don’t have freewill, etc. I could go into more detail but somehow I don’t think this is the place. 🙂

  • No, no, intelligent and enlightening commentary is ALWAYS appreciated especially since we haven’t exactly been overwhelmed by it of late.

  • Aren’t angels in Judaism considered “part” of Yahweh? After all, in last week’s parsha when the 3 angels visit Abraham, the Torah explicates at some point and calls them God.

  • Thanks CK… be careful tho 😉

    First thing… yahweh is a Christian mistranslation of Tanach, that word means nothing to Jews.

    Angels aren’t a part of HaShem, they are one of His creations. One of the things that separates angels from humans is that humans have freewill, one of HaShem’s greatest gifts to us (some would argue this tho). Contrary to the Christian belief, people do not become angels after they die, neither can angels become human, at least according to Judaism and the Tanach.

    As for the angels who visited Avraham, they were respresentatives of HaShem, they weren’t HaShem Himself. This is a common misconception amongst Christian teachings. After all, HaShem repeatedly tells us He has no form in the Tanach.

    On the flip side (just to confuse you more), ALL of creation is a part of HaShem.

  • YHWH (transliteration of divine HB name) has nothing to do with the translation of Tanach which is an acronym for Torah, Neveeim and Ketuvim.

  • CK –

    Hmm. I guess I’m coming from a Christian perspective here, cuz I don’t know much else – although more of what I know about the religion does come more from Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ than the Bible. In truth, Milton did more to popularize the ‘idea of Satan’ than any religious strain, as the poet made him into an awfully interesting character.

    Back in the day, when I was closer to theological things, I remember being taught that humankind was created above the angels because of freewill, that God created humankind because God didn’t want the hosannas of creatures compelled to utter them. But I never really though about it enough to consider that the lack of freewill would necessarily prevent a Satanic rebellion.

    Nonetheless, ‘Paradise Lost’ is still a great deal of fun, with all its “better to reign in hell than serve in heaven,” drama.

    Thanks for giving me stuff to think about.

  • D’vorah, perhaps you are inadvertently confusing pronouning yahweh as Yehovah as the Christian version.

    Yahweh, however, is very Jewish. It is a transliteration of the Hebrew letters yud heh vav heh and its pronunciation comes from the vowels of Adonai in reverse. It is not a Christian pronunciation at all but originates from Rabbinic sources and is a Masoretic tradition.

    The name is what they call a tetragrammaton. In Biblical times they would have read and said this name out loud. The practice seemed to have ended around the 2nd Century BCE although it lasted for some until the destruction of the Second Temple. Subsequently, most Jews avoided saying Yahweh out loud and said Adonai instead. The actual pronounciation seems to have been lost. Anyway, when Jews came across the letters yhwh, the simply placed the vowels of Adonai, in reverse so as not to accidentally invoke the magic name of God and thus could pronounce the name. Please read more here:

    Now as for Vayera, last week’s parsha where the angels visit Abraham, please reread it carefully and you’ll see that at times Yahweh is mentioned as being in the presence of Abraham, while at times there are three “people” or angels. Angels are expressions of God’s presence. They are a concrete presence of the divine presence which cannot otherwise be seen. If you recall, Jacob fights an angel but then says that he has seen God face to face. His name, Israel, means that he has fought God, not an angel. An angel is merely an identifiable presence to humans of God.

    And yes, all of creation is part of God.

  • tlk, I wasn’t saying yahweh was a mistranslation of the acronym Tanach but rather a mistranslation of the tetragram representing HaShem’s true name found within Tanach. Sorry I wasn’t more clear.

    Skylark, as voracious a reader as I am I’ve never read Paradise Lost.

    /me hangs her head in shame.


    However, the literal translation of sahtan is ‘adversary’ and this can be applied to both angels and humans. There is HaSahtan (The Adversary), an angel who’s main reason for being is to place stumbling blocks before us. This isn’t to see us fail but rather to give us opportunity to choose to do good thereby bringing us closer to HaShem.

  • TM,

    The word the tetragam is in fact yud hei vav hei. The use of the letter w for vav is germanic as ‘w’ has the sound of a ‘v’ in that language. Christians later took that w and came up with yahweh, a word that could never be used by Jews as there is no equivalent sound in the hebrew language.

    Now, we have various names we use when the tetragam appears in Tanach, sometimes we use Ad-nai but never yahweh.

    As for that link you provided, that is a discussion from the Christian perspective. After all, even in that article it’s stated that the word yahweh came about in 19th century Europe mainly based on Greek translation of Tanach.

    Like I stated, yahweh is a word that means nothing to Jews.

  • D’vorah, I’m sorry to disappoint you but my sources on this discussion are all Jewish and are scholars. I provided the Wikipedia link to provide a source for you and others, but this has nothing to do with Christians. In fact, early Christians had a similar prohibition on the use of Yahweh and used the term Lord instead.

    Yahweh is a rabbinic creation.

    As for W being Germanic. Have you heard Arabic speakers any time recently? Now say the word Yahwah with an Arabic pronunciation and tell me whether that rings true. Of course it does.

    I will acknowledge that scholars rely upon Greek sources for some of the information we possess today. But then again, Greek translations of the Tanach and the Leningrad Codex are among the oldest sources we have for the tanach and are actually older than original Torahs or Tanachs we have in our possession. Scholars compare and contrast these sources to gain information. Ironically, there are Qumran texts that also descriptions of the name of God, and they all lean toward similar sounding names.

    Now, I am curious, since you seem to want to bat away any suggestion that Yahweh is something the rabbis created, what are your sources of information?

  • D’vorah-

    If by overcoming the stumbling blocks placed in our path we can draw closer to God, does our failure to choose good take us farther away from God? Or, if we trip over the stumbling block that HaSahtan places in front of us are their consequences for such a choice? What happens at the point of moral failure?

  • TM,

    The one source you provided was not Jewish in origin. I have yet to encounter one piece of Jewish liturature that uses the word yahweh. Nor have I ever heard that word used by any Rabbi or anyone else Jewish and I’ve had the luck of growing up around an incredibly diverse group of Rabbis.

    The documentation that I’ve read as to the etymology of the word yahweh is that it is a modern word of unknown origin. The arguement for the word is hypothetical.

    As for the arabic language, we’re discussing hebrew. Arabic is not native to the region and is a relatively “recent” addition. Example, I remember being in Tel Aviv and seeing a Wendy’s restaurant, all of the name was in hebrew except the letter ‘w’ which was written in english, we had a good laugh at that. The reason being, no equivalent to the letter ‘w’ in the hebrew language. Additionally, it’s not known whether the vav in the tetragam is even a consonant.

    You say that you have discussions by Jewish scholars regarding this issue, care to site some of those instead of a non-Jewish resource?

  • There is no equivalent of “w” in the Hebrew abjad, but there is a sound equivalent that comes from combining a “u” sound with another vowel. So, since it’s likely that the first part of the divine name is “yahu” (since “yahu” appears as a radical in Judahite names, and as “yeho” in Israelite names), and the “he” at the end of the tetragrammaton implies that it ends in a vowel sound (either “eh” or “ah”) some people have extrapolated to arrive at “yahu’eh” or “yahu’ah”. Say that fast and, voila, “Yahweh.” Given the number of Hebrew names that incorporate some element of the divine name, it doesn’t make sense to assume that the vav is anything other than a vowel, unless for some inexplicable reason when it was added to names it changed from a consonant to a vowel. So since we know the first yod + he indicates a y + vowel combination (“Call him by his name YAH” etc.), and have a strong indication that the vav is a vowel, there is at least some idea of a possible pronunciation of the word, and Yahweh is as good a guess as any other.

  • Skylark,

    Yes, when we fail to do good, either intentionally or unintentionally we do move further away from HaShem. However, HaShem doesn’t expect us to be perfect, if He did He wouldn’t have given us freewill. When we make mistakes we can always make ‘teshuvah’, when we atone for our mistakes we again move closer to HaShem.

    The key point is that we always have a choice to come back from previous poor choices.

    As for consequences, there are always consequences for our actions, both good and bad. We don’t necessarilly see them but they’re there. Also, without bad in life we don’t have nearly the incentive to improve what we already have.

    As for those who choose to only do bad in life… well… sometimes it bites them in the butt during their life. Judaism doesn’t delve to deeply into the whatifs of the next life but based on some concepts these ppl will either be in for one nasty soul cleansing or will cease to exist altogether.

  • Michael,

    Have you encountered the school of thought that the hei’s are silent?


  • Michael, thank you for that source. It’s funny that I didn’t look there first.

    D’vorah, my scholarly sources are friends so I can cite them by mentioning what they’ve taught me, but I am not inclined to mention any by name.

  • hey, you think this ‘yahu’ has anything to do with the other ‘yahoo’? do we perhaps have yet another Jewish conspiracy on our hands?

  • There’s nothing to indicate that Jews ever used Yahweh as the pronunciation of the 4 letter Name. To begin with, vocalizing one of God’s holy names outside of specific rituals was prohibited. Even today, during High Holiday meditations that mention other holy names specifically say to scan the name but don’t try to pronounce it.

    IIRC, the term Yahweh came out of the academic world, most likely the term was coined by an advocate of the so-called “documentary hypothesis” wherein the Torah is claimed to have four distinct authors. The hypothesis (most ably refuted by Zaccato) claimed that one of the authors was a “Yahwist” priest and that his writings can be identified because they use the four letter name in contradisctinction to El or Elohim.

    D’vorah’s correct. Some modern Jewish academics may use the term, but it’s use can’t be found in traditional Judaism.

  • Why is it that even when it’s pointed out that it’s masoretic, that is insufficient evidence for you? Yes, academics are writing about it. Why? Because that’s part of their job. Could they be wrong? Sure. Is it likely? Nope. They spend a lot of time researching this stuff because it’s their job and they enjoy it (god knows why).

    If you read the links provided, or do some googling, you’ll find that it’s understood that Yahweh is NOT the correct pronunciation of the name. In fact, it’s purposely mispronounced and is the correct order of letters, with the Hebrew vowels for adonai backwards (ianoda). Do you think that a bunch of non-Jews would have figured out that this is a good way to avoid reading the yhwh of the bible without inadvertently saying the proper name of god, or do you suppose some Jews figured this out? Doesn’t this sound like a very talmudic solution?

    What’s the big deal? This isn’t the correct pronunciation of the name of god. It likely wasn’t used in common conversation or when doing studies. However, there was obviously a need to come up with this pronunciation even if people were avoiding the use of the name and replacing it with “adonai.” The problem is that no matter how brainwashed you are to say adonai every time you see yhwh, your mind might still compel you to think yhwh and say the name of god by accident. So the same people who came up with not lighting a fire on shabbat and not mixing milk and meat because of a verse about not killing the young using their parents’ “products,” came up with another clever way not to offend god’s world.

    By the way, why do we say hashem instead of adonai?

    Anyway, as for the documentary hypothesis, it is still pretty convincing on many levels even if it’s not perfect. The biggest and most able disputations of this hypothesis come from a school of biblical scholarship that refutes the existence of the Israelite nation altogether (very convenient for the Palestinians when they claim, despite all evidence to the contrary, that there’s no relationship between the Jews and the Land of Israel). I would argue that in some places in the Torah, the documentary hypothesis as an explanation makes much more sense than any other reading. In fact, in parshat Vayera, the complexion of the section of the parsha that goes back and forth between Abraham having three guests and speaking directly to Yahweh makes far better sense if read as co-joined sources than as one source.

    Needless to say, one has to accept that the Torah is a book written by humans and not by god or guided by god in order to accept this hypothesis.

  • D´vorah,
    I always understood that Judaism believed in reencarnation, but iin some way at some point one reaches the L´Amaba. Can someone clear this out for me.

  • TM-
    There is a major difference between the prohibition mixing meat and dairy and that of lighting a fire on shabbat. While you either need faith in the oral tradition and/or the abilitty to see the spiritual logic in the former (meat has the qulity of death, milk has the quality of life, eating them together creates a spiritual contadiction within our bodies) the prohibition of lighting a fire on shabbat comes directly from the text in Parasha Vayakel (exodus 35:3).

    Also, acedemia is often wrong, as Academics (as well as everyone else) have a certain agenda, only academics are better suited for proving the points they already want to believe.

    as far as your Hashem/Adonai query, i think we say hashem when we are talking ABOUT God, because it’s non-personal, and Adonai when talking TO God, because we’re only supposed to say that one when we have kavana.

  • Laya, I was pulling laws out of a hat and didn’t mean to pull one that was from the Torah as you point out. I meant to choose rabbinical laws so thanks for the adjustment.

    Academics can be wrong, but why are we presuming that this Yahweh business is wrong? I am still waiting for a source from those who are opposed to the information provided about this pronunciation. I mean, if it’s because a rabbi in a yeshiva said so, how is that rabbi a better or worse source than academics? As for your contention that “academics are better suited for proving the points they already want to believe,” I’ll agree that they want theiy hypothesis to be correct and will attempt to find sources to back it, but to suggest that all academics forego truth and science in order to buttress their viewpoints is absolutely false. As an example, Stephen Hawking just publicly renounced his position about black holes and this was science he had put forth for decades.

    Hashem/adonai. Your claim may make some sense but my question relates to the sanctity of the word. Adonai is not yhwh and is not a holy name. If the rabinnical tradition is followed, the proper pronuncication of yahweh was said once a year by the Cohen Gadol (high priest) in the Holy of Holies. Adonai is a man-made name, as is hashem. How did we get to the point where we need a “lesser” name to protect us from improperly saying adonai or saying it at the wrong time?

  • Just making sure, I didn’t respond to it, cause i felt completly ignorant of what L´Amaba was.

    Nonetheless, I’m still completely ignorant- like, do we ever achieve a state of Jewish Nirvana?

    good question. anybody know something about this?

  • I thought there was no olam haba except for certain strands of Judaism. Isn’t that something we picked up from Christians? Isn’t heaven where good Christians go and sit and stare up at god for eternity? I don’t believe that used to exist in Judaism, but some really hard times in the diaspora elicited this philosophy.

  • So what- according to Judaism- happens? Is the Olam Haba linked to the coming of the Mashiach? So the concept of reencarnation is part of the Jewish philosophy?

  • There is no clear and consistent Jewish view of the afterlife. It’s varied widely over the years, starting with essentially no concept of an afterlife, much like the surrounding religious systems. The Sadducees, the priestly elite during post-exile and particularly post-Seleucid Israel (until the destruction of the second Temple) steadfastly denied the existence of an afterlife, except for Sheol, a netherworld shades went to before disappearing entirely, while the rival Pharisees, whose viewpoint came to dominate and lay the groundwork for rabbinic Judaism in the post-Temple era, tended to oscillate on the concept of an afterlife. There have been general periods of more or less Jewish interest in afterlife during the past 2000 years, with the general trend now seeming to be waning amounts of discussion of it. The average, although by no means universal, Orthodox consensus seems to be that the soul does not die, and goes to a sort of purgatory where it must contend with its life’s sins for a period of up to a year.

    As far as reincarnation goes, the Orthodox position is that every Jewish soul ever to exist was present at Sinai to agree to the covenant. The Olam Ha-Ba, specifically, refers to the Messianic age, when the dead will be resurrected. Reincarnation is somewhat implicit in this, then, but it’s completely different from the Buddhist/Hindu/Jainist concept of successive life cycles directed toward an ultimate cessation of being.

  • Kabbalists for the most part certainly believe in reincarnation. Reincarnation has always had its supporters as well as its detractors. As to what actually happens – well, I suggest doing a bit of reading because this reincarnation thing – keep in mind its also popular amongst Hassidic Jews. Visit this page for more info because I am no rabbi.

  • The Muffti is pleased to see that his stupid story on boobs, red string and the Kabbalah has made it number one most posted on story. Yikes.