Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Mystery of My Half-Missing Blog :(

The bad news: As many of the folks on my e-mail Contacts list already know, I haven't been able to access my blog from my office computer since sometime this afternoon.

The good news: I can still access it from my home computer.

The interesting timing: Friday, August 2 will be my seventh blogoversary. I certainly hope that I have something more pleasant to post about by then.

Thanks to those who offered to help. I'll try to get in touch with you tomorrow night. I had a long day at the office, and am too tired to do anything intelligent.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Mystery of the AWOL Amen

I didn't get it. Why did the chazzan/cantor of our local Conservative synagogue insist that one is not supposed to say "Amen" after the b'rachah/blessing that precedes the Sh'ma? Isn't a Jew always supposed to say "Amen" after hearing another Jew recite a b'rachah?

So I went on the trusty Internet and looked for an answer.

Much to my surprise, I saw that the ADDeRabbi addressed this very question all the way back in 2005, and even got a response from Jewish Worker.

Assuming that I understood correctly, the Hillel (standing on one foot) version, per the ADDeRabbi, seems to be that one should, indeed, always respond "Amen" to another Jew's b'rachah, but one shouldn't say "Amen" after reciting a b'rachah oneself (except after "boneh b'rachamav Yerushalayim/who rebuilds Jerusalem in His compassion)" in Birkat HaMazon/Grace After Meals). So if you don't finish the b'rachah before the baal(at) tefillah/prayer leader, a.k.a. shaliach(sh'lichah?) tzibbur/representative of the community, does, you're saying the b'rachah on your own and shouldn't respond "Amen," but if you do complete the b'rachah before the baal(at) tefillah does, then you should say "Amen." I hope I got that right.

Now, if only I could figure out why our chazzan doesn't leave time for us to say "Amen" after the b'rachah "oseh shalom u'vorei et ha-kol/Maker of peace and Creator of everything."

*AWOL, a U.S. Military acronym, stands for "Absent Without Official Leave."

Monday, August 29, 2011

BWolf:Whatever happened to polite disagreement?

Good question, unfortunately. Why does disagreement seem to lead so frequently to insults, or even demonization, these days? Whatever happened to civil discourse? Aren't common courtesy/derech eretz and respect for another individual/kavod habriyot considered virtues anymore? To say that a person is incorrect is one thing, but to call him/her evil simply because she/he holds a different opinion is character assassination/motzi shem ra.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Battening down the hatches for Hurricane Irene

I've been told, by someone who went there looking for them, that the hardware and houseware store nearest my office is already completely sold out of batteries. So I guess we'll just have to manage with what we have, plus candles. (I've also been advised not to use candles during the hurricane itself, because a strong gust of wind might break a window, knock over the candles, and start a fire.)

Fortunately, we had better luck at our local supermarket--my husband was able to stock up on water bottles and canned goods. I advised him not to buy anything that was unlikely to survive if the electricity went off and took the refrigerator and freezer with it.

Afternoon update:
Well, folks, it's official: Governor Cuomo has announced that all components of the New-York-City-area's Metropolitan Transportation Authority will be shut down beginning at noon tomorrow, and Mayor Bloomberg ordered mandatory evacuation of low-lying areas of the city by 5 PM tomorrow. I've already checked--we're fortunate enough not to live in Zone A, so we'll just stay home and ride out the storm. As for work, a decision will be made and disseminated Sunday night via phone blast, e-mail blast, and/or website informing us whether our organization will be open for business on Monday or not.

For all of us in the hurricane's path, and especially those expecting the worst of it, my prayers.

Saturday, August 27, 2011, 11:08 PM update
As mentioned in the comments, we took the advice of our Friday phone-caller and checked the Internet on Shabbat/Sabbath for the purpose of pikuach nefesh (life preservation). We were not evacuated, and will sit out the storm in our apartment. But we've heard that we are under a tornado watch, and have been warned about possible electricity outages. I've already recharged my cell phone, just in case, but whether we'll still have cell-phone service remains to be seen. We do have two things in our favor--we have a good old-fashioned land-line telephone (one that's plugged into a wall jack and doesn't depend on electricity), and our apartment is in a low-rise building of fewer than 10 floors, so we don't have to take shelter on a lower floor.

The worst of the storm is expected to strike the NYC area around 8 AM, along with high tide, unfortunately. Heavy flooding is expected in low-lying areas. My sister's old neighborhood, Battery Park City, which was built on landfill in the Hudson River, was under a mandatory evacuation order, and, being not far above the normal water level, is expected to be under about 6 1/2-7 feet of water by tomorrow morning. Likewise with other sections of NYC that are in low-lying areas (such as Brighton Beach and Coney Island, Brooklyn, which are directly on the Atlantic Ocean, Broad Channel and The Rockaways in Queens, Staten Island, City Island, Roosevelt Island, etc.), as well as the Long Island section of New York State (which is adjacent to the NYC boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens), and the coastal states of Connecticut and Rhode Island.

I was sad to hear that there have already been nine deaths caused by the onslaught of Irene. I pray for the safely of my blogger buddies, commenters and readers who are in the path of the storm. Be careful!

Sunday, August 28, 2011, 5:14 PM update
Now-Tropical-Storm Irene has passed through New York City (and State?), leaving in its wake lots of flooding, fallen trees, and electrical outages, but much less damage than expected, and, fortunately, no deaths in NYC (to the best of my knowledge at this time). The water did flood quite a number of buildings in the outer boroughs (which means any borough other than Manhattan), but Manhattan got much less flooding than anticipated, and so did even some of the low-lying areas elsewhere in NYC, though some Staten Island residents had to be evacuated at the last minute and quite unexpectedly when a lake overflowed. There was flooding farther upstate, and--their luck :(--an earthquake yesterday near Albany, but we in the NYC metropolitan area seem to have "dodged the bullet" (avoided [the worst of] a difficult situation), for the most part. My husband and I, and our neighborhood, seem to have escaped unscathed. I expect to be informed tonight whether or not I'll be going to work tomorrow.

I welcome reports from my readers in Irene's path. I hope all of you are safe.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Parshat Re'eh, R'eih, Reeh, er, whatever

"Re'eh, Reeh, R'eih, or Ree (רְאֵהHebrew for "see", the first word in the parshah) . . ."

You can read the (rest of the) basics here.

The quote-hunter strikes again--This one appears in the Amidah prayer of Musaf (Additional Service) for the Shalosh R’galim/Three Pilgrimage Festivals:

טז שָׁלוֹשׁ פְּעָמִים בַּשָּׁנָה יֵרָאֶה כָל-זְכוּרְךָ אֶת-פְּנֵי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, בַּמָּקוֹם אֲשֶׁר יִבְחָר--בְּחַג הַמַּצּוֹת וּבְחַג הַשָּׁבֻעוֹת, וּבְחַג הַסֻּכּוֹת; וְלֹא יֵרָאֶה אֶת-פְּנֵי יְהוָה, רֵיקָם.

16 Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which He shall choose; on the feast of unleavened bread, and on the feast of weeks, and on the feast of tabernacles; and they shall not appear before the LORD empty;

יז אִישׁ, כְּמַתְּנַת יָדוֹ, כְּבִרְכַּת יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, אֲשֶׁר נָתַן-לָךְ. {ס}

17 every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which He hath given thee. {S}

To be honest, getting up 45 minutes earlier than usual in order to commute to my "kaddish minyan" before commuting in the opposite direction to go to work is really wearing me out. I'm too tired to go back and re-read the parshah, which I read yesterday. One of the biggest drawbacks to moving out of our current neighborhood and into a Jewish one, second only to the increase in our housing expense, would be the increase in the length of my commute.

Blog as diary

When I first started blogging, I thought I'd be posting mostly about the weekly Torah reading/parshat ha-shavuah. So it's come as something of a surprise to me that I often post on my blog things that I don't want to forget. Those who read my Vacation observations shortly after I published it this past Monday may wish to take another look--I've since added an entire paragraph about reciting Tehillim/Psalms on the trail.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Speed has its advantages and its disadvantages

Cantor Speedy KoloNaim led the Matbeiah (from the Yishtabach prayer through the final Kaddish Yatom/Mourner's Kaddish) at minyan this morning. So help me, I think we got out at least five minutes earlier than usual, which helps us working stiffs get to the office on time. :) Of course, I hadn't even finished the second Ashrei when he got to the Kaddish Shalem/Full Kaddish "Titkabel." :(

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

" . . . time and chance happen to them all"*--health div.

An old friend's husband has recently developed the rather unnerving (not to mention hazardous) habit of falling on his face, literally. When last we visited them, a couple of weeks ago, he'd fallen twice in the previous week, and, having been patched up by the doctor(s), had more stitches in him than Frankenstein's monster. :(

Upon our return from vacation, it occurred to us that, with his wife scheduled to return to teaching in a few weeks, it might be a good idea for them to obtain one of those "summon help in an emergency" buttons (example here) for him in case he fell in the apartment while she was in class. So I called to make the suggestion. Imagine my surprise and dismay when our "falling friend" informed me that it was his wife who was in the hospital this time, the victim of a medication mix-up by her physician(s) and/or pharmacist(s).

They've been married for less than five years, and each has undergone two rounds of major surgery since their wedding. Her husband is roughly the same age as mine, and she's only a year older than I. Not for nothin' my husband and I are taking turns worrying about eating a healthier diet. We've been relatively lucky, health-wise, and are trying to stay that way. But ". . . time and chance . . . " It's no wonder our old friend says that there's such a thing as planning too far in advance (though having money in the bank never hurts)--one never knows what life will throw one's way.

*Kohelet/Ecclesiates, chapter 9, verse 11

Parshat Ekev (a vacation-delayed post)

You can read the basics here.

I'm under the impression, possibly incorrect, that the relatively-recent innovation known as the Tu BiSh'vat seder (of which there are many versions) is based on Deuteronomy, chapter 8, verses 7-10. The far-more-ancient Birkat HaMazon/Grace after Meals is based on 8:10, which is included as the chatimah/"seal"/closing of the second b'rachah/blessing therein.

Some modest guy Moshe/Moses was, exaggerating his "suffering-prophet" status by claiming to have spent 40 days and nights with neither bread nor water--twice--while on Har Sinai getting the commandments. (See Deuteronomy 9:9-18.) On the plus side, this is the first time he mentions that HaShem was angry at the "teflon priest," his brother Aharon/Aaron, for having crafted the Egel HaZahav/Golden Calf, and that he prayed for forgiveness for his brother (verse 20).

The quote-hunter strikes again: Our ancient rabbis (CHAZAL?), when they were choosing wording for the "Avot/Ancestors" paragraph that begins "The Tefillah"/"The Prayer", now more usually known as the Amidah (Standing Prayer, recited while standing), used Deuteronomy 10:17, "haKel, hagadol, hagibbor, v'hanora, the G-d, great, might, and awesome."

The second paragraph of the Sh'ma is found in Deuteronomy 11:13-21. (Apparently, I posted about this paragraph a couple of weeks too soon.)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Vacation observations

Here's a photo of the exterior of the beautiful Old State House in Boston that I wasn't able to shoot in the pouring rain.

Good luck rolling a wheeled suitcase across a carpeted floor :(
Even the spinner suitcases complained. I also noticed that it's still easier to turn a spinner (four-wheeled) suitcase backwards, into the traditional two-wheeled-suitcase position, to haul it over the curb or up one step.

Maybe next time, I'll take a small siddur/prayer book with me
The views were so inspiring that I was quoting Tehillim/Psalms to my husband all over the place, but I had to quote from memory (as I'm doing right now, 'til I have an opportunity to look in a siddur). "Heharim v'chol g'vaot, etz pri v'chol arazim. Hachayah v'chol b'heimah, remess v'tzipor kanaf. Mountains and all hills, fruit tree and all cedars. Wild animals and all cattle, creeping things and winged birds." Not to mention "s'laim la-shfanim/rocks for the gophers (badgers?) (Shir shel Yom/Song of the Day for Rosh Chodesh/New Month)--I wish I'd had that one with me, because it's all about nature. And then, upon gazing at one of the higher, noisier waterfalls, there was "Mikolot mayim rabim, adirim mishb'rei yam, adir bamarom HaShem/Above many waters, mightier than ? sea, might above all is HaShem." Hmm, I probably missed a few b'rachot/blessings that one is supposed to say on seeing the beauties of nature. Yep, I need to bring a siddur.

I'm macro, he's micro
While I was enjoying the waterfalls and the views up the towering stone walls of the gorges, my husband was focused on the moss and lichen and on trees growing at odd angles out of boulders. Somewhere on my camera are photos that I took for his benefit showing tiny green plants, as well as small and large trees growing at right angles to their roots.

I'm lucky he's such a kind-hearted guy
Between the rainy weather during the first two days of our vacation and the fact that we were usually in a rush, my husband did all the driving, poor soul. Beyond that, though, was the fact that, once (a) I'd suggested that we go to Boston, (b) he'd suggested we follow up with a trip to New Hampshire, (c) I'd checked online for places in NH that were heavy on my beloved waterfalls, my husband not only remembered the name "Franconia Notch State Park" and got us motel reservations nearby, but basically planned the entire vacation, even making our on-the-way-home motel reservations near Old Sturbridge Village so that we could pay a quick visit, and went out of his way to ensure that I enjoyed myself. Methinks I married a good one.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Observing the "Black Hat" observant

Click on the photograph for a closer look.

He came to take a three-hour hike in the mountains wearing exactly the same black suit and white dress shirt that he'd wear to shul on Shabbos, to the Beit Midrash/Study House, and/or, apparently, everywhere. In fact, when first I spotted this couple, this guy was actually still wearing his usual black hat. Most of the Chareidi/fervently Orthodox men whom I spotted on the trail had the seichel/common sense to ditch the jacket, at least, and to remove the black hat that they often wear on top of their yarmulke/kippah/skullcap, but almost all of the adult men were wearing their usual white dress shirts and black suit pants. Do Chareidi men consider it literally beneath their dignity to dress for the less formal occasion?

She came to take a three-hour hike in the mountains dressed in a trip-yourself "sidewalk-sweeper" skirt--and she was carrying a baby in her arms. It goes without saying that all of the Chareidi females beyond toddler age whom I saw on the trail were wearing skirts. What makes Chareidi women think that (a) it's safe to wear a skirt even in locations and/or circumstances in which a skirt could create a safety hazard, and (b) that it's more modest to wear a skirt than pants in locations and/or situations in which they're likely to have parts of their bodies exposed that should not be exposed. (See the article "Olive Skirts, Khaki Pants and Rifles: The Dress of Religious Women in the Israeli Army" on page 40 here. The following is a quote from page 42: "They further spoke of functional (rather than legal) modesty – the tzniut associated with a pair of loose pants that would enable them to engage in more tasks while exposing much less of their body shape and skin to the outside world than a skirt would.").

See also A "habit" best avoided, in my opinion.

"The Flume,"a gorge in Franconia Notch St.Pk., NH

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Lost River Gorge today, Franconia Notch tomorrow

The Gorge was a gorgeous walk along a wood-planked path through a forest full of falls--did I happen to mention that I love waterfalls?--and small, low caves in which my husband could play amateur spelunker. (I'm chicken.) We also took in plenty of picture-worthy views in the White Mountain National Forest, and even managed to get up to the entrance to the Mount Washington Cog-Wheel train ride just in time to catch a stunning sunset. What a delightful day!

Monday, August 15, 2011

What I did on my summer vacation :)

Charles Street sign with bilingual pun (my favorite kind)
I also appreciate the nice architectural details.
Shira's Shot, Tuesday, August 16, 2011
(I'm unable to move this shot below the older photo.)

Inside the Massachusetts State House
Shira's Shot, Monday, August 15, 2011

For the benefit of my younger readers, which is probably most of you :), the title of this post was the name of a typical first writing assignment given at the beginning of the school year in my youth in the dinosaur era. :) So here we go:

The trip there
The poor Punster, my long-suffering husband, got the honor of driving us from New York City to Waltham, Massachusetts, because (1) I'm a much less experienced driver (since he owned a car early in his single years and I never did) (2) I have no sense of direction, being perfectly capable of getting out of the NYC subway and walking two blocks in the wrong direction before I realize it (3) my formerly-broken wrists can only tolerate my death-grip on the steering wheel--see "much less experienced driver"--for about an hour before complaining, and (4) I've lately enlivened my days by having foot and leg cramps then, too, rather than just overnight--if I can go a whole 24 hours without muscle cramps, I'll be happy to give the hubster a short reprieve. In the interim, he managed to drive us all the way to the hotel without incident despite the fact that it was pouring rain throughout almost the entire trip. Bless him. I'm a very lucky gal.

Kashrut kaput, kinda
My resolve to stick to cold food when eating in non-kosher restaurants lasted all of one meal. :( I'm not disciplined enough to accept a vacation full of boring food, and have returned to type, following the typical, though not officially sanctioned, Conversative practice of simply avoiding ordering meat in non-kosher restaurants.

We finally located the one and only kosher restaurant in Boston itself that we could find online, the Milk Street Cafe, but got there an hour after closing--they're only open for lunch, until 3 PM. On the way back to the hotel, though, much to our pleasant surprise, we not only found ourselves in Brookline, apparently the local kosher-food center, but even stumbled upon Harvard Street/Avenue(?) where all the local kosher restaurants seem to be located, per the Internet, and had a delightful kebab dinner at Rami's Middle Eastern.

Maariv kaput, Minchah sometimes forgotten, but doing pretty well with Shacharit
Honestly, I'm usually too tired to do anything other than cook, eat, and prep for the following day when I get home from work. I'd rather use that 10-15 minutes to pack my gazillion nutritional supplements, floss my teeth, and set out the next day's clothes. As for Mincha, I sometimes forget it when I don't say it during my lunch hour at work. But this is the first time that I've taken my tallit, tefillin and siddur along during a vacation and actually used them.

Nu, the vacation, already?
The Massachusetts State House is gorgeous! I took a gazillion photos of that landmark and several others, and will upload when awake. I couldn't take many exterior shots of just about anything due to the aforementioned pouring raining, not to mention the wind, which literally disassembled my umbrella, leaving a heap of disconnected spokes dangling from the fabric, but I hope we'll have somewhat better weather for tomorrow's trip to the stops on the Freedom Trail that we didn't see today.

And now, "To sleep, perchance to dream . . . " ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 update
The Internet refused to cooperate until today--I couldn't publish from Internet Explorer, so the hubster was kind enough to get me unto Google Chrome. Will try to post more this evening, if awake--we're now in New Hampshire, getting ready to go hiking in Franconia Notch State Park. I grew up camping in the North Jersey mountains with my parents and siblings, so I've always been a mountain gal. Give me a walk with a waterfall and I'm happy. And talk about a room with a view, our motel room overlooks a river! Lovely.

Friday, August 12, 2011

I have a little dreidl . . . (or two) :)

Fortunately, my husband didn't need much convincing to invest in a couple of "spinner" suitcases while he still had the income from his tax practice. I simply pointed out that, with my formerly-broken wrists, I'd be better able to help with luggage lugging if so much of the weight of the suitcases didn't fall on my hands, and that neither of us was getting any younger. (Spinner suitcases are easier to handle not only because the wheels swivel, but also because most of the weight of the suitcase rests on the four wheels, not on one's hands.) I'm happy to report that wheeling our two new suitcases from the store to the subway, then from the subway to our apartment, was reasonably easy, though no number of wheels will help with carrying a suitcase down and/or up a flight of stairs.

Safety tips:

  • I learned the hard way that one should never push a suitcase, however easy to handle, directly in front of one, lest one fall over the suitcase when a wheel gets caught. (That was a close call--I've broken my wrists more than enough times already, thank-you-very-much.) Always keep the suitcase at least partially to one side.

  • Also, don't be as stupid as I was and try hauling the suitcase down the same side of the stairs as the handrail--switch hands, and hold the handrail, for stability's sake, lest the weight of the suitcase cause you to fall down the stairs.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Parshat Vaetchanan

Here are the basics.

Since I'm an inveterate quote-hunter, Vaetchanan is one of my favorite parshiot, as you can see.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

" . . . time and chance happen to them all"*

On Mondays and Thursdays, when Shacharit/Morning Service is longer because there's a Torah reading, I find it particularly challenging to get to work at a decent hour.

One day, I was lucky enough to get a bus and an express** train, and got to work at 9:06 AM.

Another day, I was not so lucky and, not seeing see a bus, I walked to the subway, then got a local, and arrived at work at 9:27 AM.

Yet another day, I got a bus, then a local, and got to work at 9:18. This is despite the fact that I left for work at the same time each day.

It's not fair. :)

*Kohelet/Ecclesiates, chapter 9, verse 11

**For the uninitiated, a local subway train stops at every station, whereas an express skips many of them.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Tisha B'Av confusion

I'm writing this while waiting for the beginning of the Orthodox Union's annual Tisha B'Av broadcast of Kinnot (dirges). (You may still be able to register to watch the webcast, I hope.)

Questions that we never remember to ask prior to Tisha B'Av:
  1. Since one is not supposed to study Torah, except for the sad stuff (Eicha/Book of Lamentations and other similar texts), is one supposed to say the Birkot HaTorah/Blessings before Torah Study and their accompanying texts on Tisha B'Av? We can't find any mention of this in our Kitzur Shulchan Aruch/condensed book of Jewish religious law. We've decided that we probably shouldn't, but would love to have something official, such as a text or rabbinic opinion, pointed out to us. See comments: We were wrong--one is supposed to recite Birkot HaTorah, etc.
  2. I skipped Rabbi Yishmael for the same reason. Should I have done so? No.
  3. I skipped Mizmor, Shir Chanukat HaBayit, l'David/Psalm 30 because it seemed not quite right to recite "a song for the dedication of the House (Temple)" on the day commemorating its destruction. Should I have done so? No.
  4. I should mention that, since I got stuck on a local subway train behind another local (for the uninitiated, a local stops at every station, whereas an express skips quite a few), I didn't get to my "kaddish minyan" until they were already praying the P'sukei D'Zimrah section, so I don't know what they skipped or said. But speaking of P. D'Z., why on earth do we say Mizmor l'Todah/A Psalm of Thanksgiving, Psalm 100, on Tisha B'Av? It seems to me appropriate to skip most of P. D'Z. on Tisha B'Av. The only psalm I said this morning was Ashrei. One says all of P'sukei D'Zimrah, odd as that may seem. Thanks to RivkaYael and Rav Steg for all this information.
  5. Why did we skip Avinu Malkenu? My husband says they skipped it at our local synagogue, too.
Good thing I just checked Minchah in our OU/Koren-Lookstein/Soloveitchik Kinnot--I see that the Shir shel Yom/Psalm of the Day gets moved from the end of Shacharit to the beginning of Minchah/Afternoon Service, after one puts on tallit and tefillin (which are also moved to Minchah). And don't forget the following changes in the Amidah prayer of Minchah:
  • add the Nachem paragraph to the V'liY'rushalayim brachah/blessing in the Amidah at Minchah, and say the Tisha B'Av version of the chatimah (closing) of that brachah.
  • add Aneinu to the Sh'ma Koleinu brachah.

See also my Pre-Nine-Days Prep.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Naturally,just because I don’t believe it literally . . .

. . . the second paragraph of the Sh’ma is roughly twice as long as either the first or third paragraph. :(

A former rabbi of ours once told us that he thought one difference between Reconstructionist and Conservative Jews was that “Reconstructionists don’t believe in reward and punishment.” I thought he had a valid point, and I still do. And having spent roughly 20 years as a member of a dual-affiliated Conservative/Reconstructionist congregation before landing where I am now, I still don’t believe in reward and punishment.

So what am I to do with this paragraph, other than recite it because it’s a mitzvah/commandment to do so? As a traditional egalitarian, I’m stuck—I’m too traditional to skip it, and too egalitarian to follow the “women-are-exempt” practice.

Some have put an ecological spin on this text, arguing that ruining the environment is a sin against HaShem and will turn the earth against us as surely as worshipping idols would. It’s a good try, and better than anything that I can come with, but has about as much basis in the actual biblical text as the practice of maintaining separate meat and dairy pots in a kosher kitchen has. (Kosher folks should still keep the separate pots—it’s a rabbinic ordinance.)

Does anyone have a reasonable alternative interpretation for random-universe rationalists like me?

Speed warning

For background, start here.

The Gabbai/Shamash/Sexton of the synagogue where I pray on weekday mornings doesn’t discriminate—he gives the baal(at) tefillah/prayer leader honors to both laypersons and clergy. The other day, he gave the the honor of leading the Birkot HaShachar (Morning Blessings) section and the P’sukei D’Zimrah (Verses of Song) section to a layperson, and the honor of leading the prayers starting from Yishtabach to the cantor. The good news is that the cantor of my “kaddish-minyan” synagogue has a much better voice than the cantor at our local synagogue, and his enunciation is much better, too. The bad news is that he was partway through U’va L’Tzion Goel before I’d even finished the Amidah prayer. Bottom line: I’d better make it my business to get to Shacharit/Morning Service on time every day during the month of Nissan, so that I can say the Kaddish D’Rabbanan (Rabbis’ Kaddish) and the first Kaddish Yatom (Mourner’s Kaddish), because the odds are that I’ll still be davenning/praying the Amidah when the baal(at) tefillah gets to the Kaddishes at the end of the service.

I'll also have to make the same request to the Shamash that I made when I was saying Kaddish for my mother: Please don't give me any aliyot during Nissan, because I won't be "there" yet.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Parshat D'varim

. . . or Parshat Devarim, if you prefer.

The first thing I noticed was that all mention of the role of Yitro/Jethro in suggesting to Moshe/Moses that he set up a judicial system rather than judging all cases himself (see Exodus, chapter 18, verses 13-26) is absent from the narrative in Deuteronomy chapter 1, verses 9-18. So much for acknowledging and expressing gratitude for a good deed (hakarat hatov?).

The second thing I noticed, largely due to a D'var Torah (Word of Torah/Torah discussion) given by one of the Mechon Hadar faculty members last night--I didn't catch her name, unfortunately--is that the story of the Incident of the Spies as told here (Deuteronomy 1:22-1:45) doesn't bear much resemblance to the story as told in Parshat Shlach L'cha (Numbers 13:1-14:24).

As for Haftarat D'varim (Yishayah/Isaiah 1:1-27), this Third Haftarah of Rebuke is about as condemnatory as you would expect of the haftarah for the Shabbat/Sabbath before Tisha B'Av.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

MechonHadar:OpenBetMidrash tonight;TishaB'AvShiurim+

See here.
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