Monday, October 31, 2011

Parshat Noach: "Clean" and "unclean" animals?!

Here's my latest thought regarding this question that I posed in Parshat Noach: Another fine mess:

"B'reishit/Genesis, chapter 7, verse 2: HaShem--yes, HaShem, not Elokim--tells Noach [Noah] to take seven of every clean beast (male and female), and two, male and female, of every unclean beast. Nu, exactly how is Noach supposed to know which animals are "clean" and which are "unclean" when that list isn't mentioned in the Torah for at least another book and a half?"

My theory: The concept of "clean" and "unclean" animals was widespread in ancient times, and preceded the laws of kashrut (Jewish dietary laws).

The concept of "clean" and "unclean" animals is widespread in contemporary times, as well. Not only do Muslims follow some of the laws of kashrut by not eating pig meat, but Hindus avoid cow meat and are vegetarian, and Seventh Day Adventists are also vegetarian.

My favorite "kashrut" story, though, involves my stay in France while I was studying for a B.A. in French. I always thought that the hamburgers in the university's cafeterias tasted odd, but I could never figure out why. It didn't occur to me until long after I'd returned to the U.S. that the hamburgers had probably been made of horse meat. Noch besser (better yet), the reason why that bothered me was not that Jews don't eat horse meat, which isn't kosher--I wasn't keeping even a remote semblance of kosher at the time--but because Americans don't eat horse meat! (We also don't eat dog meat, and generally don't eat snake or alligator meat, either.) Food traditions persist to this day, and they don't always have anything to do with religion.

Links to my Parshat B'reishit&ParshatNoach posts

Sorry I forgot to link to my previous posts. It's not as if I've never written about these parshiot before. :)

Two for the price of one: For a connection between Parshat B'reishit and Parshat Noach, see Uppity Humans.

Parshat B'reishit

Parshat Noach

They had a blast

Indeed, everyone had a smashing good time pulverizing my husband's latest kidney stone with shock waves. Let's hope it worked.

My husband himself seems not too much the worse for the pummeling, I'm happy to say. He's just upset that he can't go Israeli folk dancing for a week.

I'm next--I have an appointment with my urologist later this week.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Best explanation of BabelTower sin I've ever heard

Have you ever wondered what was so sinful about all the people speaking the same language? Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks explains here:

"The reference seems to be to the imperial practice of the neo-Assyrians, of imposing their own language on the peoples they conquered. One inscription of the time records that Ashurbanipal II “made the totality of all peoples speak one speech.” A cylinder inscription of Sargon II says, “Populations of the four quarters of the world with strange tongues and incompatible speech . . . whom I had taken as booty at the command of Ashur my lord by the might of my sceptre, I caused to accept a single voice.” The neo-Assyrians asserted their supremacy by insisting that their language was the only one to be used by the nations and populations they had defeated. On this reading, Babel is a critique of imperialism.

There is even a hint of this in the parallelism of language between the builders of Babel and the Egyptian Pharaoh who enslaved the Israelites. In Babel they said, “Come, [hava] let us build ourselves a city and a tower . . . lest [pen] we be scattered over the face of the earth” (Gen. 11: 4). In Egypt Pharaoh said, “Come, [hava] let us deal wisely with them, lest [pen] they increase so much . . .” (Ex. 1: 10). The repeated “Come, let us ... lest” is too pronounced to be accidental. Babel, like Egypt, represents an empire that subjugates entire populations, riding roughshod over their identities and freedoms.

If this is so, we will have to re-read the entire Babel story in a way that makes it much more convincing. The sequence is this: Genesis 10 describes the division of humanity into seventy nations and seventy languages. Genesis 11 tells of how one imperial power conquered smaller nations and imposed their language and culture on them, thus directly contravening God’s wish that humans should respect the integrity of each nation and each individual. When at the end of the Babel story God “confuses the language” of the builders, He is not creating a new state of affairs but restoring the old.

Interpreted thus, the story of Babel is a critique of the power of the collective when it crushes individuality – the individuality of the seventy cultures described in Genesis 10."

For my lighthearted discussion of a connection I just noticed this year between Parshat B'reishit and Parshat Noach, see Uppity Humans.

For a more thorough look at Parshat Noach, complete with links, see my Parshat Noach: Another fine mess.

Friday, October 28, 2011

A mite chilly for Rosh Chodesh Marcheshvan

It was 39 degrees Fahrenheit (3.89 Celsius)when I left for morning minyan, and it's going to snow tomorrow. This is New York City--we're not used to getting sub-40 days and/or snow before mid-November. I'm not looking forward to this coming winter. But I'd better used to this weather--if it looks like global warming, and it acts like global warming . . . Sigh. As I said, we just live here.

In case you missed it, here's my parsha post for Parshat B'reishit and Parshat Noach.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Singing for Women's Dignity (by A. Kaplan Sommers)

"Good news--Israeli women are fighting back against those who would hide and silence them."

Fighting back without bullets. I like this.

For further background, see Damned if we do and damned if we don't: My conclusion.*

*If you'd like to read the whole series, the first four posts of which are not related to the article linked about, here's
the link to the links. Re posts #1 and 2, I no longer watch television on Shabbat.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Uppity humans

First, they decide that they want to know the difference between good and evil.* Then, they decide that they’re going to build a stairway to heaven.**

Sigh. Well, I made them that way, and I guess I can’t just keep wiping them out in floods. So I suppose I’ll simply have to put up with them. But really, how arrogant of them, to think that they can defy Me and encroach on My turf with impunity.

*See Parshat B’reishit here.
**See Parshat Noach here and an explanation of the ziggurat theory here.

See also my post Parshat B'reishit: Fun with the DH :) (and more)

"Personhood" for embryos:Unborn=person,woman=0

See Push for 'Personhood' Amendment Represents New Tack in Abortion Fight. This is appalling. Declaring a fertilized egg a person would "limit contraceptives, make doctors afraid to save women with life-threatening pregnancies . . ." In other words, it would render worthless the life of a fertile female if her life interfered with the survival of a clump of cells.

A little good news

My drilled tooth is not infected, and the surrounding gum is not infected, either. I forgot, though, that my dentist always puts a crown in with temporary cement and lets his patient chew on it for a week, literally, to make sure that it fits as well as possible before he cements it into the gum permanently. He's quite a sculptor with dentist's drills, drilling the tiniest bits off of a crown to try to get the best fit possible. He's also extremely skilled with an anethesia needle--his injections are as painless as a needle in the gum can be. Did I mention that I love my dentist? Much as I wish him all the best, I'm not looking forward to his retirement, may it not come soon.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


A couple of weeks ago, I took an ambulance ride to the hospital in honor of my first kidney-stone attack.

The following week, I cracked a tooth, and started the process of having it repaired with a crown.

The bills for the "privilege" of taking an ambulance ride and having my tooth crowned total roughly $2,500. And those are my medical bills for just the past two weeks alone.

Much as I love my native United States of America, it's downright scary living in a country with no national health-care plan. You might say, in a manner of speaking, that only the dead can afford to live here. :(

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pre- and post-Yom Tov round-up

Here are links to my Wednesday, October 19-Sunday, October 23, 2011 posts:

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A view from the opposite perspective

I have long lamented my inability to keep up with the pace of prayer in synagogue. (See, for example, Near tears at morning minyan.)

So it was an interesting experience to find myself on the other side of the equation.

A new person has recently begun joining us for Minchah (Afternoon Service) and Maariv/Arvit (Evening Service) on Shabbat (Sabbath) and Yom Tov (holidays). Much to my surprise, the newcomer actually takes several minutes longer than I do to complete the Amidah prayer. I'm happy to say that we slow-pokes among the long-time "regulars" have trained our congregation well--the baal tefillah (prayer leader) always waits until the newbie finishes the Amidah. This is actually not a problem for non-High Holiday Minchah/Maariv Services, since we rarely get a minyan and aren't delaying more than a few people, though it would be a problem on the High Holidays.

What's equally interesting is that I now find myself facing a both-ends-against-the-middle situation. At one end are the speed-davvening yeshiva graduates, who are very accustomed to praying not only at top speed, but also loudly enough to distract Ms. ADD. At the other end is the newcomer, who, while clearly trying to whisper, doesn't seem capable of praying quietly enough not to be audible from one end of the sanctuary to the other. (My best guess is that the newcomer has a partial hearing loss.) I've lost track of how many times I've lost my place in the siddur (prayer book) over the past few evenings. I suppose it's good practice in forcing me to focus.

Sore on Simchat Torah, but not from dancing

It all started after I'd participated in the hakafot at my favorite egalitarian Conservation synagogue in Manhattan. As I was leaving, I began to feel not so well.

At first, I thought it was just gas. But by the time I'd been home for about an hour, it was clear that I was having another kidney-stone attack. Apparently, I hadn't "passed" that stone, after all. :( My husband said that, from what he understood, a kidney stone can't be seen on a sonogram after it leaves the kidney and starts making its way south because there's too much in the way. Now you tell me?! :(

On the plus side, this attack wasn't as bad as the first one. I didn't have to go to the hospital. In fact, I even managed to get by without taking a Percocet.

But the story gets better: I was awakened quite early in the morning by soreness in my gum from my dentist's recent attempt to drill for oil. So I broke Yom Tov by calling him before going to synagogue, just to make sure that I shouldn't be going to the Emergency Room instead--after all, I'm not usually still sore four days after having a tooth drilled. He determined, judging by my description of my discomfort, that I wasn't facing an immediate emergency, but told me in no uncertain terms to call him on Monday at 7:30 AM so that he could check out my tooth as early as possible. He also informed me that the simple replacement of a broken tooth with a crown might have to be upgraded to a root canal procedure.

Between one bit of excitement and the other, I thought better of returning to Manhattan for the morning's hakafot, and ended up spending Simchat Torah morning at our local traditional Conservative synagogue for the first time in several years. Not for nothin' I usually davven/pray in a synagogue that's both egalitarian and more balanced, age-wise, on Simchat Torah--despite having had a kidney-stone attack the night before, I was still the only woman dancing. Sigh.

Oh, well. I hope I'll have better luck next Simchat Torah.

P.S. Much to my surprise, I got a call from my dentist shortly after I'd published this post. After hearing me describe how my tooth and/or gum felt, he concluded that I wasn't really facing an emergency and didn't have to see him tomorrow. However, when I see him on Wednesday to have the crown "installed," he'll take the precaution of using temporary cement and waiting a week before deciding whether it's safe to install the crown permanently or whether I need root canal.

Okay, enough of that boring news. We now return you to your regularly-scheduled blog.

No, it's not your imagination--

--like a chulent left to cook overnight, my posts very often look better the next day.

See here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Hoshana Rabbah, done right (forgiveness requested)

Normally, the Shamash/Gabbai of my "kaddish minyan" assigns different volunteers to lead different parts of the service, only leading the whole service himself if he can't find another volunteer. This morning, however, the service was led from start to finish by my kaddish-minyan synagogue's cantor. I was very glad, because, given the complexity of the Hoshana Rabbah morning services, with the constant changes of which prayers are said and which melodies used (see this post and comments), it's likely that he was the only person present (with the possible exception of the rabbi) who had sufficient knowledge to lead the services correctly.

Among other traditions regarding Hoshana Rabbah, one is that this is our absolutely final opportunity during this holiday season to be forgiven for our sins. And so, speaking of Hoshana Rabbah done right, I ask your mechilah/forgiveness for having posted an inside joke without explaining it to those of my readers who are not yet well acquainted with Jewish prayer. This past August, I introduced the cantor of my kaddish-minyan synagogue as Cantor Speedy KoloNaim. I should have put a note at the bottom of that post explaining that I'd swiped that name--"kolo naim" means "his voice is pleasant"--directly from the Hineni prayer chanted by a cantor before the repetition (Chazarat HaShaTz) of the Musaf Amidah prayer on Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. I hope you will forgive me for this sin.

G'mar Chatimah Tovah--may we all be sealed in the Book of Life.

Chag Sameiach!

P.S. While I was looking for a link to explain Hineni, I found this gem regarding Hoshana Rabbah on the same blog. (Thanks, Ellison!) Enjoy!

Adventures rabbah on Hoshana Rabbah

Taking a lulav, cane, and umbrella into the subway without injuring anyone was certainly a great (rabba) adventure. I need more hands! :)

Then, when my "kaddish minyan" went outside to the sukkah to knock the leaves off our aravot (willow) bundles, someone commented, "This is getting really strange." So I threw in my two cents: "Of course it's strange--this is Hoshana Rabbah!" :) Hoshana Rabbah is certainly one of our more unusual Chol HaMoed days, as you can see from the details toward the end of this post.

For the record, I've officially given up trying to follow one of those "Hoshanot road-maps" that explain the order in which you're supposed to recite the Hoshanot ("If Thursday is the first day of Sukkot, the order is: Aleph, Bet, Chet, Hay, Vav, Daled"). I always lose my place (assuming that I'd ever found it), thereby confirming my reputation as someone with no sense of direction(s). :) I just make the seven circles while carrying my lulav and etrog, chiming in "Hoshana Na" at the appropriate times.

Eventually, I'll have to have a transliteration-correction party--Hoshana ends with the letter Aleph, while Rabbah ends with the letter Hay, so, according to the rules of transliteration (such as they are), Hoshana should not be written with an H at the end, but Rabbah should be written with an H at the end.

Chag Sameiach, everyone!

The latest trend in NYC-kosher-restaurant sukkot

  1. Rent a really long flatbed truck.
  2. Park it directly in front of your kosher restaurant, or as close to it as you can get.
  3. Have someone build at least one temporary flight of stairs leading from the sidewalk or street to the top of the flatbed.
  4. Construct a sukkah on top of the flatbed. Installing an electric light or two in the sukkah would be considerate.
  5. Place tables and chairs in the sukkah, and, if there's no other lighting, a candle in a wind-resistant holder on each table.
  6. Enjoy the temporary increase in your profits, as seemingly every apartment-dweller in New York City squeezes into your sukkah for a meal. :) (Been there, done that. Yum!)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Baby-food blues

I've got a sore gum (and jaw) where my dentist drilled to within an inch of striking oil :) to prepare a spot for a new crown--it'll replace a 30-year-old patch-up job that my dentist's late father, also a dentist, had put together. (I can't say that I didn't get my money's worth!) I really didn't think that there would be enough actual tooth left to put back together, and I was right. So Ms. Glamour Queen has been walking around with an aluminum temporary tooth since yesterday. That new crown is going to cost me royally, but I can think of worse things, health wise.

Moed Tov, and Chag Sameach!

What to say when: Accumulated information

Here's some information concerning prayers and other rituals that I've picked up, and written down, over the years in an attempt to allay my own confusion. Perhaps it'll help some of my readers, as well, particularly the notes (toward the end) about Hoshannah Rabbah, which is tomorrow. Please pardon my usual formatting problems, probably caused by the fact that this entire post was copied from a Word file.

Service, Yamim Noraim, Shalosh Regalim, etc. information

  • Yaaleh V'Yavo is for all major holidays, including Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur in addition to the Shalosh R’galim (Yom Tov and Chol HaMoed) and Rosh Chodesh. October 2, 2008 update: Yaaleh v’Yavo is said during the Amidah of not only Shacharit, but also of Minchah and Arvit/Maariv.
  • October 2, 2008 update: The Malchuyot, Zichronot, and Shofarot sections of the Musaf Amidah are recited on Rosh HaShanah only (not on Yom Kippur). Mnemonic device for remembering the correct order: HaMelech Zocher et haShofar (The King Remembers the Shofar).
  • October 18, 2011 update: Yom Kippur’s “Long” Vidui/Confessional (“Ah Chet”) is recited for the last time during Minchah. Only the “Short” Vidui/Confessional (“Ashamnu”) is recited during Neilah.
  • October 18, 2011 update: The Neilah Service includes not only a full Amidah prayer, but also a Chazarat HaShaTz (repetition of the Amidah by the ShaTz/Shaliach Tzibbur/Representative of the Congregation/Prayer Leader). I can’t think of any logical halachic reason for even reciting the Amidah at Neilah, much less repeating it, since there was no sacrifice at that time of day, but I can think of a good logistical one—it’s a great time-killer, which is necessary in order to delay end of the service until well after sunset, when one is permitted to blow the shofar. [Larry Lennhoff has a better explanation--see his first comment.]
  • Amidah for Rosh Chodesh and Chol HaMoed:
    Shacharit (and Mincha)—regular weekday or Shabbat version, to which one adds Yaaleh V’Yavo.
    Musaf—Rosh Chodesh or Shalosh R’galim version (each of which includes Shabbat additions).
  • October 22, 2008 update: Hallel for Chanukah and Sukkot, including Chol HaMoed Sukkot, is always Full Hallel—there’s never a Half-Hallel during Sukkot or Chanukah. September 18, 2009 update: Hallel is not recited on the Yamim Noraim.
  • Aliyot
    If Rosh Chodesh, any of the Yamim Noraim, or any of the Shalosh R’galim, including Chol HaMoed, fall on Shabbat, they always have the 7 aliyot that are standard on Shabbat.
    Rosh Chodesh and Chol HaMoed—4;
    Shalosh R’galim and Rosh HaShanah—5;
    Yom Kippur—6.
  • October 2, 2008 update: Tashlich is recited on the first day of Rosh HaShanah (if possible), unless the first day falls on Shabbat (in which case it’s delayed until the second day).
  • October 18, 2011 update: I think I overhead Punster [my husband] confirming with Cantor X that the Hoshanot of Sukkot and Hoshana Rabbah can only be recited if one has a minyan.
  • The 1st reading for the 1st 2 days of the Shalosh R'galim is from Emor (leave the corners of the field for the poor; commandments re lulav and etrog, sukkah, etc.)
  • According to a co-worker, it’s assur/prohited for a Jew (in her community, this probably refers to men only) to eat anything other than “shehakol” outside of a sukkah during Sukkot. Punster tells me that one of his frummer colleagues from his job-of-30-years days would simply not eat at all if there were no sukkah available. Talk about 2 halachot canceling each other out, how on earth can you possible “rejoice in your festival” (see below) when you’re fasting, and isn’t it assur to fast on a Yom Tov? October 22, 2008 update: Rabbi X says that one is forbidden to eat only bread and mezonot (including rice, I’ve heard) outside of a sukkah during Sukkot. That sounds reasonable to me. (Note to self: Stock up on corn (fresh or frozen), corn thins, corn chips/and/or mezonot-free corn tortillas, and on potatoes and/or potato chips.) He also says that one is permitted to eat outside of a sukkah if one’s health would be harmed by eating therein. This is of particular relevance for seniors during cold weather. I think he said that one may eat indoors in rainy weather.
  • The 1st reading for Sh’mini Atzeret is from R’eh (“V’samachta b’chagecha…/rejoice in your festival . . .”).
  • October 22, 2008 update: The order of the end of the weekday Shacharit/Morning Service from Rosh Chodesh Elul through Hoshanah Rabbah is
    Kaddish Yatom/Mourner’s Kaddish
    Shir shel Yom/Psalm of the Day
    Kaddish Yatom/Mourner’s Kaddish
    L’David, HaShem Ori v’Yish’i
    Kaddish Yatom/Mourner’s Kaddish
And now for something completely different: HOSHANA RABBAH
In addition to doing seven Hoshanot, as opposed to the usual one Hoshana, and beating the aravot/willows:
  • We use the the Shabbat and Yom Tov version of P’suké D’zimra, rather than the weekday (Chol) version.
  • We use the Shabbat and Yom Tov version of Seder Hotzaat HaTorah, rather than the weekday (Chol) version.
  • We recite “Adoshem, adoshem kél rachum v’chanun” as we do on Yom Tov, rather than omitting it as we would usually do during Chol HaMoed. October 2, 2008 update: I think this prayer is only recited if there’s a minyan.
  • During Seder Hotzaat haTorah, we recite “kadosh V’NORAH sh’mo.”
  • The baal tefillah wears a kittel during Musaf.
  • We recite the Musaf K’dushah for Yom Tov, not the one for Chol haMoed.
  • We sing Ein Kelokénu and Adon Olam. (Is this an optional minhag?)
  • Some have the minhag to recite HaShem Ori V’Yishi for the last time of that Yamim Noraim season at the Shacharit of Hoshana Rabbah. I don’t know what the alternate custom is. October 2, 2008 update: I think the alternative custom is to recite HaShem Ori V’Yishi for the last time of that Yamim Noraim season at the Shacharit of Shemini Atzeret.
I have heard people wish one another a “good kvittle.” Even Rabbi X doesn’t know what that means. I guess I’ll just have to swallow the old pride—time to admit to ignorance and ask. October 2, 2008 update: I’ve heard that a kvittle is what some people call those little notes that one leaves in the cracks of the Kotel, or, for those who believe in doing such a thing, at the grave of a tzaddik—personally, I’m not fond of the custom of asking the dead to intervene for me in heaven, since I think that praying through the dead, as it were, is a bit pagan.)

Gilad Shalit is alive, free, and home!

Baruch shehecheyanu! See photos of his release here. This Sukkot has become a double Z'man Simchateinu/Season of Our Rejoicing.

An experience unique to Sukkot--

--riding the subway with a lulav. It was an interesting challenge to davven/pray the basics (Baruch Sheh-Amar, Ashrei, and Yishtabach) of the P'sukei D'Zimrah section while carefully positioning the lulav so that it wouldn't poke either seat-mate in the eye. And I was relieved to see that there was enough room in the subway car on the way home from minyan, at the height of the morning rush hour and headed toward Manhattan, for both me and my three-foot-long leafy green companion.

But enough of this subway silliness--we have far more important things to celebrate.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Sukkah sittin'

I once complained, in a post that I can't find but probably published more than a year ago, that our local synagogue made it logistically challenging for us to eat in their sukkah whenever they rented out the sanctuary and lobby during Sukkot because our sukkah space is located in the lobby under an openable skylight. The response surprised me considerably, though I suppose that it should not have done so--a commenter politely reminded me that the mitzvah (commandment) of eating in a sukkah during Sukkot is an individual, not a communal, one, and therefore, responsibility for finding a sukkah in which to eat devolves upon each individual Jew--a synagogue is not obligated to provide a sukkah for daily use.

Fortunately, we've had a delightful Sukkot, thus far. We had three lovely kiddush lunches in the synagogue sukkah, and enjoyed bring-your-own dinners there on the first three nights of Sukkot. (We were too stuffed from eating kiddush leftovers at Seudah Shlishit to bother eating dinner on Saturday night. :) ). And we spent yesterday with old friends, some of whom we haven't seen in years. As for the next few days, the need to find a sukkah in which to eat dinner gives us an excuse to spend more time in ye friendly not-so-local kosher restaurants than usual. :)

I hope you're enjoying Sukkot, also. Moed Tov!

Here's a blast from the past. Enjoy!

Pick a mitzvah

We had a choice--either we could eat in a sukkah, or we could pay a bikur cholim visit to some sick friends who were in no condition to eat outdoors. So we cleaned out the glatt kosher stores and restaurants in their neighborhood and arrived at their apartment with half of dinner. And a Moed Tov was had by all.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Adventures in observance,Tishrei YomTov edition

First, my husband set the Shabbos clock for Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) and then forgot to turn it on. So we didn't dare take a nap during the break, lest we miss Minchah (Afternoon Service).

Then, he set the Shabbos lamp (see post linked above for photo and description) for Sukkot, but forgot to indicate what the time was when he set it. So, for three days straight, that darned lamp turned itself off before we got home from eating in the synagogue sukkah and turned itself on every morning at 4 AM.

Then it was my turn. First, I carefully remembered to turn off my computer speakers, but completely forgot to turn off my monitor, so I had to stare at that light for three days. Between that and having to leave the living room light on because of a broken timer, we're going to have an electricity bill the size of the national debt. Note to self: Buy new timer before Wednesday!

On top of that, I stupidly made tzimmes to eat in the synagogue sukkah. It spilled on the table, the floor, and my shoes. Next year, kugelach/kugels (savory "puddings")! I'll probably buy potato, lukshen/noodle, and butternut squash.

And, to boot, I noticed something rattling in my pocket. It turned out that I'd forgotten to remove the change from my trip to the office candy machine to buy peanuts earlier that afternoon. Oy. I left the change on the counter in the synagogue ladies' room.

Last, but not least, we couldn't find the Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) books yesterday (for the second year in a row, according to someone who's been a synagogue member for probably over 30 years and obviously has a better memory than I). What a surprise. Not.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Re-posting "Showering on Yom Tov" rules

Here are a few links regarding the rules for taking a shower on a Yom Tov (major holiday) that doesn't occur on Shabbat (Sabbath). I'm sorry that I forget to re-post this before Rosh HaShanah.

Hmm, maybe I'll take Rabbi Hausman up on his interpretation--his opinion is that shampooing on a Yom Tov that doesn't coincide with Shabbat is permissible. Now, if only I could figure which opinion to follow regarding the comb-vs.-brush question--some rabbis say that using a soft brush is permissible but using a comb is not (see 34. Shearing), whereas others say that using a comb is permissible, but using a brush is not. Alternatively, I could just decide that, since my purpose in using either one is to look good, not to remove hairs, I'll just ignore the fact that hairs get removed by accident and use both.

Chag Sameach (Happy Holiday)! Here's hoping that we don't get soaked in our sukkot during Sukkot.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011, AM update:
I tried just combing my hair after shampooing this morning, without using my round brush at all. Much to my pleasant surprise, I was able to make my hair look almost as presentable without the brush as with it. So I'll stick to Rabbi Hausman's p'sak (ruling concerning halachah/Jewish religious law) and use only a comb for tomorrow and Friday. I still can't figure out whose p'sak to follow for Shabbat, though.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Stoned for my sins, so to speak :(

Given my preference of ways to repent, having a kidney-stone attack would not have been my first choice. :( But there I was on Thursday night and well into Friday morning, having a not-so-romantic evening in the ER with my husband. Fortunately, I seem to have "passed" that stone (meaning that it came out during a trip to the ladies' room), but the doctor who poked me with a "sonar" (ultrasound?) wand told me that, having cleared a stone from the left kidney, I still have two in the right kidney. The irony is that I had planned to see my urologist after Simchat Torah to arrange for that surgery that they can sometimes do to break up kidney stones in the hope of preventing an attack. Oh, well, too late now. But I certainly hope that the surgery breaks up whatever stones are still left, so that I don't have to sing "Breaking up is hard to do." Alternatively, I hope that these two will pass. :)

Shutting up now, before the Pun Police come after me. :)

P.S. Just in case, I'm now carrying, in a prescription bottle in my purse, proof of membership in the Perky Set. :) [Shira runs from Pun Patrol.]

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

On being the cause of a tirchah d’tzibbur :(

Normally, I would complain that, given the slow speed at which I read Hebrew, it’s either kavannah or kehillah—I have no focus (kavannah) when davvening/praying with a kehillah (congregation) because I’m always in such a rush to keep up. In recent weeks, however, as a result of conversations with friends, I’ve become more aware of the effect that my words and/or deeds have on others. This put me in a rather unusual position during Rosh HaShanah: I became acutely aware that I was creating a tirchah d’tzibbur, a burden on the congregation, because the folks up front were delaying the Reader’s Repetition/Chazarat HaShaTz of the Amidah prayer of the Musaf service until I and the few other “stragglers” finished the "silent" (recited by each individual in an undertone) Amidah. Sadly, this doesn’t seem to be a problem with a solution.

Monday, October 03, 2011

RH highlight: A conversation with our HH rabbi

Fortunately for us, we had the pleasure of hosting our local synagogue's High Holiday rabbi for dinner on Erev Shabbat Shuvah. What a discussion we got into regarding Akeidat Yitzchak/the Binding of Isaac (which we read on the second day of Rosh HaShanah)! My husband tried to justify the actions of Avraham Avinu/Abraham our Father by saying that Molech worship, typical of that time and place, demanded child sacrifice, so Avraham simply assumed that HaShem expected him to prove his faith in the same fashion. But the rabbi disputed this assertion, insisting that, up until then, HaShem had expected Avraham to believe and behave differently from the surrounding pagans. So I piped in that not only was Avraham's behavior out of character, in that he'd previously argued with HaShem to spare Tz'dom and Amora (Sodom and Gemorrah), but HaShem's behaviour was out of character as well. Why on earth (or in heaven) would HaShem want to stoop to the level of a pagan god and demand child sacrifice?

It's really too bad that our congregation can't afford to hire a rabbi on a regular basis. I think that our High Holiday rabbi is really an excellent speaker and thinker, not only in front of a congregation, but around a Shabbos table, as well. I'm looking forward to hearing him speak on Yom Kippur.

For another interesting discussion regarding the Akeidah, I recommend this d'var Torah by Rabbi Shlomo Riskin.
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