Monday, April 30, 2012

11 months for kaddish, then a funeral :(

The call came Saturday night after Shabbat/Sabbath--an old friend had lost her mother.

It was an odd sensation, to find myself teary-eyed at the graveside of a woman whom I'd barely known and hadn't seen in years.  I suppose that happened because I didn't have an opportunity to shovel earth onto my own mother's coffin.

The eleven months of saying kaddish for my father are now ended.  But I don't feel the same sense of having fulfilled my obligation that I felt after saying kaddish for my mother for eleven months.  Unfortunately, due to my somewhat-worse health since my father's death, I probably missed as many minyanim as I made, and didn't say kaddish nearly as often as I would have liked.  Following Larry's advice to study in lieu of reciting kaddish when I couldn't get to minyan certainly helped.   In a rare moment of intelligence, I even actually later thought to check the copy of Rabbi Maurice Lamm's The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning that Rabbi Gil Student had been kind enough to send me, and got rabbinical confirmation that study is an acceptable substitute for saying kaddish when one is unable to get to a minyan.  So I made it a point to do a bit of studying at between assignments at the office.  When major projects began to interfere, I switched to good old Mechon Mamre, and made sure to recite under my breath, at the beginning of each workday, at least one random psalm not among those found in any morning or evening services.  After some clicking around, I found Psalm 54, which became my favorite--it's short, the Hebrew is not too difficult, and it contains my father's Hebrew name, Ozer.

But my parents had no tradition of praying outside of synagogue, other than faithfully reciting those blessings said around the Erev Shabbat/Sabbath Eve or Erev Yom Tov/Holiday Eve dinner table, and as for studying, I honestly don't remember whether my parents even owned a chumash. So memorializing my father in a place other than synagogue and through studying as a substitute for kaddish didn't feel quite the same as saying kaddish.

Sorry, Dad.  I tried.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Yom HaZikaron & Yom HaAtzmaut (a delayed post)

There was too much craziness going on in the office and after work for me to post anything yesterday or the day before, so I'll try to catch up a bit.

I decided not to return to the synagogue at which I'd observed Yom HaZikaron (Israeli Memorial Day) and Yom HaAtzmaut (Israeli Independence Day) last year because the trip home takes way too long and I've been a bit under the weather for months.  (I just got back on iron pills last week--thus far, they don't seem to be having any effect.)  So I had a few choices.  I could go to one synagogue where they were having a zimriyah/kumsitz/sing-along, but I went there a few Yom HaAtzmauts ago and found that I prefer my singing accompanied by dancing (or vice versa :) )--I was actually bored.  Or I could go to another synagogue where they were having their regular evening activities followed by a festive Maariv/Evening Service and wine and falafel.  I found both shuls' plans a bit lacking--neither seemed to be observing Yom HaZikaron.  And the second one didn't offer the proper "bribe"--I can't drink wine, and I don't like falafel.  (What, a Zionist who doesn't like falafel?!)  Sorry, but I prefer to take my chickpeas/garbanzos/nahit straight up and drown them in tahina without benefit of frying.

Fortunately, I got an e-mail from Mechon Hadar, saying that they were having a transition ceremony marking the end of Yom HaZikaron (I can't remember the Hebrew term [Tekes?], and they've already removed the announcement from their website), followed by a festive Maariv.  That sounded like what I had in mind (minus the mangal).  So there I went.

The transition ceremony consisted of some readings and some recollections.  One woman spoke about the uncle she'd never met who'd died in battle as a soldier in the Israel Defense Forces/IDF/Tzahal.  Another spoke of the project in which she'd participated during her service in the IDF Radio, in which she'd helped collect the poems of chayalim/chayalot/soldiers killed in the wars and persuade Israeli singers to record them for free for broadcast.  Then a young man leined (yes, leined) the Israeli Declaration of Independence (which I think had been described on the program as Megillat HaAtzmaut).  I had no idea that it had been set to trope/cantillation.

The Maariv service used some of the same prayers that I remembered from the previous year and later found in the Koren Sacks Siddur/Prayerbook. I was very glad that I'd gone to Mechon Hadar's observances, even though I was probably the oldest person in the room by 20 years or so.

Naturally, I realized after the service that I'd forgotten to add the Yom HaAtzmaut Al HaNissim prayer, or maybe I should say one of the Yom HaAtzmaut Al HaNissim prayers--the version distributed by Mechon Hadar is not the same one to which someone (probably a commenter here) had referred me last year.  Unfortunately for me, given my dubious Hebrew comprehension skills, both versions that I now have are in Hebrew only, which made it difficult for me to choose one the next day for Shacharit/Morning Service and Mincha/Afternoon Service.  I chose the one that didn't describe Israel's attackers as r'shaim/wicked.  I would prefer to describe those who attacked the fledging Medinat Yisrael/State of Israel in 1948 as angry.  (Those who've attacked Israel from Gaza since Israel withdrew from there are another story.)

I also noticed--after the fact, of course--that the Koren Sacks Siddur has a Shacharit for Yom HaZikaron.  I'll remember that for next year.  I'm glad that that service is clearly marked.  I had quite a time of it trying to find the Shacharit for Yom HaAtzmaut, until it finally dawned on me that Koren Sacks considers Yom HaAtzmaut a Yom Tov/Festival, and that I should check the Shacharit for Yom Tov.  Basically, the Koren Sacks Siddur treats Yom HaAtzmaut like some interesting combination of Hoshana Rabbah and Chanukah, with (a) the P'Sukei D'Zimrah of a Shabbat (Sabbath) or Yom Tov (Festival) morning up to but not including Nishmat Coll Chai (as on Hoshana Rabbah) (b) full Hallel, as on Chanukah, and (c) no Musaf, as is also the case for Chanukah.

I see that DovBear once recommended that, if one chooses to say Hallel on Yom HaAtzmaut, one should say Half Hallel :

"Finally, I think a full hallel (with a brocha anyway) is a tremendous error. “God is not happy at the downfall of the wicked. ... When the angels tried to sing songs of praise to God at the Red Sea, God silenced them: ‘My handiwork, my human creatures, are drowning in the sea and you want to sing a song of praise?’” (T.B. Megillah 10b) For this reason, we say a half-Hallel on the last six days of Pesach. And how many Arabs died on Yom Haatzmaut related events? It seems to me that if we can temper our Pesach celebrations out of respect for the people who enslaved us for 210 years, we can, likewise, recognize the humanity of the Arabs on Yom Haatzmaut, as well."

I might consider that approach for next year.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Parshat Tazria-Metzora, 5772/2012 thoughts

For the basics regarding these two combined parshiot, see Tazria here and Metzora here.

Sorry, I got nothin'.  Parshiot about skin disease and natural bodily emissions just don't do anything for me.  Either that, or I've run out of original ideas. . . 

Speaking of which, see my previous posts:

Monday, April 23, 2012

A conflict between two walking contradictions

He believes in G-d, the divine origin of the Torah, the authority of the rabbis, and the importance of respecting the midrashic (interpretative) tradition, and loves to give divrei Torah/Torah discussions at the Seudah Shlishit .  He doesn't believe in getting to synagogue on time, and arrives almost invariably an hour late to Shabbat/Sabbath and Yom Tov/Festival morning services, often completely missing Mincha/Afternoon Service on Shabbat and arriving just in time for Seudah Shlishit, carrying with him, despite the fact that there's no eruv in our neighborhood, the printed materials to which he refers in his divrei Torah.  Though probably more fluent in Hebrew than almost any other member of the synagogue, he no longer chants any haftarot, and will no longer lein/read from the Torah when the chazzan/cantor is on vacation. 

By contrast, I'm "Conservaprax," less of a believer and more of an observer.  I try to davven/pray three times a day, though I don't always succeed.  I try not to eat in non-kosher restaurants in places where kosher restaurants are available.  I may not be the most observant Jew, but I'm almost as likely to try to follow the tradition (by, for example no longer traveling on Shabbat and Yom Tov [except for sedarim], though I honestly don't think that I'll be able to sustain that decision once there's no synagogue within walking distance) as to fight against it.

Frequent commenter JDub had the good sense to suggest "You would be a lot happier if you just focused on yourself and your own observance . . . "  That's good advice, but I find it easier said than done, especially when the non-observance or inconsistent observance of others has a direct or indirect impact on my own observance.  When the president says that he has to hire a leiner to read the Torah during the cantor's vacation, should I not be upset, knowing that our synagogue has to pay extra money that we don't have, just because a congregant who could lein can't be bothered?  When a congregant comes to shul so late that my husband doesn't know whether he'll have enough men for a Torah reading, should I not be upset?  When a congregant's disinterest in reading haftarot means that my husband reads a haftarah at least twice a month in addition to leading P'sukei D'Zimrah and giving a d'var Torah, should I not be annoyed?  When a person's indifference to attending Mincha means that we don't get a minyan and I can't say kaddish for my father, how can I not be upset?  The longer I know this guy, the less tolerance I have for him.  Bless my husband for being able to roll with the punches and ignore all this nonsense, but this guy just makes me mad.  Then he gets mad because I'm not nice to him.  Tough.  He deserves it.  I have no patience with people who shirk their communal responsibilities.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

"halakhic consultation subscription service"

See this post of mine. I'm hoping that more people will join the conversation, so I'm going to try to keep this on the top of my blog for a while.

The Leaning Towers of Pesach :), + more Sun. fun

Sunday, April 22, 2012
Shira's Shots
The Leaning Towers of Pesach :)

Since my poor husband the Certified Public Accountant is invariably too busy working on tax returns (from which his earnings help pay for the Pesach shopping!) to help much with the early stages of Pesach/Passover preparations, much of the prep-Pesach prep falls on me and the cleaning person.  Therefore, since I do most of the storing (stashing chametz kitchen equipment [pots, pans, appliances, etc.] and kitniyot), and much of the Pesach kitchen equipment unpacking and arranging, before Pesach, he gets the honor of repacking the Pesach storage boxes after Pesach.  Here's a shot of our bedroom floor about an hour ago.  (Thank goodness we're not Moroccan--if we had to put everything away within a few hours after the end of Pesach in order to celebrate Mimouna, I have no clue how we manage!)

Gifts and gorgeous things

Here's a close-up (click on the photo for a "closer-up" :), and double-click for an even closer view) of some of our favorite Pesach items.  On the left is our Pesach kiddush cup/kos kiddush), which was a wedding present from a group of friends of ours from our previous synagogue.  (They intended it to be Kos Eliyahu/Elijah's Cup, but since we haven't had a seder in our home in years [long story], we use it as a kiddush cup, lest such a fine gift go to waste.)  In the middle is a trivet that was made, if memory serves me correctly, by potter Joan Mezmik.  And at the top right is a matzah cover hand-made by one of our oldest and dearest friends.

Other Sunday, April 22, 2012 posts:

Hakarat ha-tov on Rosh Chodesh Iyar

The beginning of the Jewish month of Iyar is a good time for me to express my hakarat ha-tov (recognition of, and appreciation for, my good fortune and the good that others have done for me).  All last week, we were replenishing our stock of chametzdikeh food.  How lucky I am, that I can afford not only to buy all the food that I need, but also all the food that I want--many of our favorite foods, in addition to being kosher, are organic, gourmet, and/or otherwise not the cheapest items on the market, and I'm grateful that we were able to pay for them without using a credit card even once.  I can only hope that we won't have to cut back too much once we're both retired and living on fixed incomes.  In the meantime, I'm enjoying myself.


  • Kasher l'Pesach/Kosher for Passover:  Bite Wise Passover Pistachio Pastry.  Ingredients:  Pistachios, sugar, eggs.  Period.  Not only are these delicious, they are also, to the best of my recollection, the only commercially-produced all-natural kasher-l'Pesach baked goods that I've seen in years.  I also consider them possibly the only commercially-produced "real" nut macaroons--they're made with actual nuts, not "macaroon paste," whatever that is.  I consider this a gourmet item, as it's both relatively rare and a bit expensive, at almost $1 per cookie.  If you can both afford them and find them--they're made in Brooklyn, NY, but even in New York City, they were not available in every kosher store--buy them! A box or two would also make a wonderful seder gift for a non-gebrochts host or a host with celiac disease or gluten-intolerance.  (Certified Kasher l'Pesach, Parve/B'li Chalav o'Basar (containing neither dairy products nor meat/poultry products), and Apayit [Pat?] Yisrael by the OK.)
  • Chametz:   Organic Made in Nature Pineapple, Dried and Unsulphured.  This gluten-free and nut-allergen-free treat, made with no added sweetener of any kind, is so delicious that you'll have to be careful not to eat too much (lest you end up spending too much time in the, um, "library").  Made in Nature has figured how to dry and package this fruit in such a way that it comes out succulent, not leathery, without any preservatives.  As of this past Friday, this yummy and healthy snack cost $3.26 per 6-ounce package in our neighborhood.  Open the re-closeable package before Shabbat/Sabbath or Yom Tov/Festival, since one must tear through writing to get to the fruit.  (Certified kosher by the OU.)
Ess undt gesundteh heit--eat and be well!  Enjoy!  And Chodesh Tov--have a good month of Iyar!

Parshat Sh'mini, 5772/2012 thoughts (a tad belated)

You can read the basics of Parshat Sh'mini ( Leviticus 9:1–11:47) here.

  • The deaths of Nadav and Avihu
A long-ago former rabbi of ours once told the tragic true story of some congregants memorialized on a plague in the sanctuary--trying to save her two sons from a fire, the mother had flung open the door to their bedroom, and the room had exploded, killing the mother and both sons instantaneously.  He thought that the same thing had happened with Nadav and Avihu--a sudden influx of oxygen near a fire had caused an explosion that had pulled all the air out of their lungs, with death cause by suffocation rather than burning.   His proof was that, as had happened with the deceased congregants, Nadav and Avihu had died while still fully clothed--as it's written in Sh'mini/Leviticus, chapter 10, verse 5, their cousins carried them out "in their tunics."  See dust explosion, and remember that the Ohel Moed was made not only of flammable curtains that might have allowed a sudden influx of oxygen, but also, that much wood-carving for the support beams could have left wood dust in the air.

  • My husband's d'var Torah/words of Torah, Hillel-style (standing on one foot)
Why are there both sacrifice readings and laws of kashrut included in this parshah?  His theory is that the Jewish sacrificial laws distinguished Jews from pagans in the days of the Bet HaMikdash/Holy Temple, with human sacrifice being forbidden for Jews but a frequent occurrence among pagans, and that since the destruction of the Bet HaMikdash, it's the laws of kashrut that have distinguished Jews from non-Jews.

See also my Parshat Shemini:  You don't mess with Moses (Saturday, March 26, 2011).

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A *real* Bat (or Bar) Mitzvah celebration

I'm so delighted to read about a Bat (or Bar) Mitzvah celebration in which no one says a word about the color scheme or the theme. Theme? She's/he's becoming a Bat/Bar Mitzvah--that's the theme!

Speaking of the current over-the-top Bar and Bat Mitzvah "scene," mystery solved?

". . . there is no religious significance in lighting candles at a bnei mitzvah celebration.

How candle-lighting ceremonies grew into an integral ritual in many communities is speculated upon. Enterprising caterers are said to have originated the custom in the 1950’s as a mix between the birthday cake candle and aliyah-like feel of calling people up to light."

An integral ritual? Sorry, but my idea of an integral ritual for a Bar or Bat Mitzvah is reading Torah and/or chanting a haftarah and/or leading all or part of a service and/or giving a d'var Torah/Torah discussion and/or doing a tzedakah/charity or chesed/community-service project. In my opinion, it's poor role-modeling for the parents to waste money on a "theme" when those funds could be put to far better use.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Post-Pesach post, 5772/2012

Please note that I may be unable to comment from the office, and I may have to add more links later, from my home computer, due to a malfunction in my blog as it appears on my office computer. Since I can't scroll down more than about twice the length of my screen, I probably won't be able to see the comments, and I'll have no access to previous posts for purposes of copying hyperlinks. Hmm, on second thought, maybe I can copy some links from my Word archives, if I have a minute. Stay tuned.

12:26 PM update--It appears that the problem is not with my blog as a whole, but with my accumulated info post, which I can't see in full even in the Edit Post window(!).

1:04 PM: I have deleted and re-published that post, maintaining the original date and time of publication but almost none of the formatting. That post looks like heck now, but the problem is solved.

Okay, enough with rudely interrupting myself--it's time to get this show, er, post, on the road.

The holiday of gluten-free glee--or sometimes, oh, gee

We bought two boxes of gluten-free oat hand-made shmurah matzah thinking that we might be taking it to one of the sedarim to which we were invited, but, unfortunately, that seder was not to be. So we've been eating it ourselves. Personally, we don't care much for the taste. Gee, you really have to eat that stuff at the sedarim? Oh, well.

On the plus side, that same gluten-intolerant host absolutely loves the fact that such a large contingent of the right-wing Orthodox community insists on eating only non-gebrochts during Pesach/Passover. Since a huge proportion of Pesach baked goods are made with potato starch and/or ground nuts to appeal to the non-gebrochts market, this is one time of the year when it's easy for a gluten-intolerant person or an individual with celiac disease to indulge in cakes and cookies.

The first two days

I'm happy to report that the rabbi of the local Orthodox synagogue at which we attended both sedarim did a very nice job leading and explaining the seder. The food was pretty decent, too.

The rabbi being a "kol Bo" does have his limits, though. (The translation of "kol bo" is "everything is in him," meaning that such a person can do a little of everything.) While he's a good speaker and Torah reader, his knowledge of nusach is not necessarily as good as that of a trained chazzan/cantor. My husband and I were a bit startled to hear him use some Nusach Yamim Noraim (tunes traditionally sung on the High Holidays) for the b'rachah/blessing Ha-poress sukkat shalom aleinu (who spreads over us His shelter of peace . . .) during the Maariv/Arvit/Evening Service, not to mention the tune to Chanukah's Maoz Tzur for the Hallel HaGadol prayer during the sedarim.

I, myself, had a couple of minor quibbles specific to gender. On the first night, I noticed that all of the women (except little old me) sat in the last four rows of the women's section. I couldn't help feeling that I'd somehow stumbled onto a mehadrin bus, even though the choice of seats seemed to have been entirely voluntary. On the second night, I was the only woman in the women's section, which I found rather odd, since I was one of several Jewish women in the building at the time, and not all of them were caring for dependent children. Go figure.

All in all, though, we enjoyed the services and the sedarim, and would happily go back if in need of a seder in the future.

I'm also happy to report that the services in our basement chapel (aka "The Dungeon") on the morning of the second day of Pesach were much more pleasant than I'd expected. The room had been fixed up especially for the holiday. And the hot kiddush after service was a welcome change.

Chol HaMoed

  • Mistaken in the morning
No matter how carefully I looked, I couldn't find any mention of a korban/sacrifice reading in the Musaf Amidah prayer for the mornings of Chol HaMoed Pesach. Naturally, after Chol HaMoed, I looked again, and noticed that there was a korban reading marked "Last six days of Pesach." Boy, did I feel dumb. I've updated my notes so that I won't make that mistake again.
  • A mirror
We shared a dinner or two with an old friend during Chol HaMoed. Afterward, I asked my husband whether I ever completely monopolized a conversation the way our friend did. Being an honest guy, he answered "Yes." Oy.

But our old friend deserves much credit for being far more tolerant than I. Where I describe an individual as an annoyance, she describes the same person as "sweet." Where I see a rude person who listens to a sporting event on a pocket-sized radio while sitting at our friend's dinner table, she sees someone who's always helped and taken good care of elderly family members and younger friends. I'm far too judgmental (and getting worse with age), and would do well to emulate our friend's talent for seeing the good in people.

The last two days

  • The good news--the president found the Shir HaShirim/Song of Songs books
That was not a foregone conclusion, given his past history. But he found enough books that everyone had a copy.
  • The bad news--I'm beginning to think that I'm seen as a usurper
One of our long-time members did something stupid during the Torah reading, probably because he doesn't attend synagogue often enough to know how we do things, and I tried to correct him in order to help someone else involved in the same ritual. I got yelled at for correcting him in such a public and not-particularly-nice manner, and apologized. But what I found the most interesting about the incident was the audible griping of the president's wife.

This is not the first time that she's said nasty things about me in a audible undertone, and I'd already decided, on a previous occasion, to take a "v'limkal'lai, nafshi tidom/to those who curse me, let my soul be silent" approach. But it occurred to me, this time, that she may see me as having usurped the role that she'd expected to inherit from her late parents, who were both very active in the synagogue. In a way, we're in similar positions, she riding the coattails of her shul-president husband, and I riding the coattails of my "acting-rabbi" husband. Unfortunately, she no longer attends synagogue on a regular basis, whereas I'm there just about every Shabbat/Sabbath and holiday morning, so I'm quite literally a much more visible presence, and I suspect that she resents it. I assume that the only reason why the president tolerates me--or my husband, for that matter--is that he can't run the shul without my husband, because he can neither lead Mincha/Afternoon Service nor do the shul's accounting (albeit unofficially--see here, especially the second link and the comments).

Post-Pesach problem

During Pesach, I noticed that my husband was taking a prescription medication, and asked him what it was for. He responded that his back was hurting more than usual, but he didn't know why, and was just happy that the medicine was helping. "Nu, didn't you just take a bunch of boxes full of pots, utensils, and other kitchen stuff for Pesach off the tops of the bookshelves? Why should you be surprised that your back is hurting?"

Yep, the inevitable has finally occurred--the time has come for us to find another place to stash our Pesach stash. Between my husband's back problems and my weak wrists and balance problems, neither of us is in any condition to hop up on a stepladder and haul down our Pesach kitchen equipment and put it back up every April. Methinks we've just lost a large chunk of space on our bedroom floor. Oh, well.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Broken blog :(

I can't scroll down any further than roughly the length of two screens (8 1/2 inches, or 21.59 cm.). :( I hope your view is better than mine. There's not much point in me publishing my post-Pesach post if no one can see it. :(

Evening update from home: The problem seems to be limited to my office computer. I hope it's temporary, as I'd like to be able to see all of my blog at the office.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012, 9:55 AM update: No such luck--I may no longer be able to respond to comments from the office, because I won't be able to scroll down far enough to see them. :(

I'm going to try publishing that post-Pesach post, and hope for the best. If worse comes to worse, I'll have to respond to comments from my home computer.

Unnerving weather

The current temporature in New York City is 83 degrees Fahrenheit/28.33 degrees Celsius. If it's this warm on the 16th of April, I don't even want to think about how hot it's likely to be on the 16th of August. :(

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Since this post seems to have become corrupted, I'm re-copying it from the Word original, and will keep my editing and my attempts to improve appearance to a minimum. I hope that some of my readers will find the information helpful (albeit not so beautifully reformatted).

Services on Yamim Noraim and Shalosh R’galim (and other information re rituals)
• April 14, 2012 (post-havdalah) update: Remember to light the yahrzeit candles before you light the Yom Kippur or Shabbat Acharon shel (last day of) Yom Tov candles, because one is not permitted to light them afterward--it's asur/forbidden to light a candle, even using a pre-existing flame (such as an already-turned-on stove burner), on Shabbat or Shabbat Shabbaton/Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement).

• 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, but also a Chazarat HaShaTz (repetition of the Amidah by the ShaTz/Shaliach Tzibbur). 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.
From the comments to this post:
Larry Lennhoff said...
I believe (without a source to back me up) that the 5 amidot of Yom Kippur correspond to the 5 immersions of the Kohain Gadol that day. An immersion happened every time he changed vestments, and IIRC each of those changes were related to something sacrificial - whether clearing ashes from the alter, perfoming the two daily sacrifices, the special sacrifices for YK, the ritual of the two goats (which involved sacrificing one of them, etc.).

Again all this is form memory, so I may have some details wrong.
TUE OCT 18, 01:21:00 PM 2011

• Amidah for Rosh Chodesh and Chol HaMoed
o Shacharit, Mincha, and Maariv/Arvit (Nov. 2, 2011 update)—regular weekday or Shabbat version, to which one adds Yaaleh V’Yavo.
o Musaf—Rosh Chodesh or Shalosh R’galim version (each of which includes Shabbat additions). April 14, 2012 (post-havdalah) update: During Chol HaMoed Pesach, if you can't find any korbanot/sacrifice readings labeled " Chol HaMoed Pesach," look for "Last six days of Pesach" instead.
o During the Amidah prayer of the Maariv/Arvit/Evening Services that mark the end of the first day(s) of Yom Tov and the beginning of Chol HaMoed, one recites Atah Chonantanu, after which one is permitted to do necessary work during Chol HaMoed.
• October 22, 2008 update: On Chanukah and Sukkot, including Chol HaMoed Sukkot, Hallel 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
o Shabbat:
 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.
o Weekdays:
 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: I think I overhead [my husband] confirming with Cantor _____ that the Hoshanot of Sukkot and Hoshana Rabbah can only be recited if one has a minyan. (Is this true?)
• October 19, 2011 update: 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.

• April 8, 2012 (post-havdalah) correction:
o For the 1st 2 days of the Shalosh R'galim Sukkot, the reading from the 1st Torah scroll is Leviticus 22:26-23:44, from Parshat Emor (leave the corners of the field for the poor; commandments re lulav and etrog, sukkah, etc.).
o For Shabbat Chol HaMoed Sukkot, the reading from the 1st Torah scroll is Sh'mot/Exodus 33:12-34:26, from Parshat Ki Tisa.
o For Hoshana Rabbah, the reading is B'midbar/Numbers 29:26-34, from Parshat Pinchas (the source of all maftir readings for Shalosh R'galim and the Yamim Noraim).
o For Sh'mini Atzeret, the reading from the 1st Torah scroll is D'varim/Deuteronomy 14:22-16:17, from Parshat R’eh (same reading as on 8th/last day of Pesach and 2nd/last day of Shavuot, if they fall on Shabbat). (“V’samachta b’chagecha…”).
o For Simchat Torah (the 2nd day of Sh'mini Atzeret in Galut/the Diaspora), the reading from the 1st Torah scroll is D'varim/Deuteronomy 33-34, which is the entire Parshat V'Zot HaTorah; the reading from the 2nd Torah scroll is B'reshit/Genesis 1-2:3, the beginning of Parshat B'reshit.
o For the 1st day of Pesach, the reading from the 1st Torah scroll is Sh'mot/Exodus 12:21-51, from Parshat Bo.
o For the 2nd day of Pesach, the reading from the 1st Torah scroll is Vayikra/Leviticus 22:26-23:44, from Parshat Emor (same reading as on the 1st 2 days of Sukkot).
o For Shabbat Chol HaMoed Pesach, the reading from the 1st Torah scroll is Sh'mot/Exodus 33:12-34:26, from Parshat Ki Tisa (same reading as on Chol HaMoed Sukkot).
o For the 7th day of Pesach, the reading from the 1st Torah scroll is Sh'mot/Exodus 13:17-15:26, from Parshat B'shalach.
o For the 8th/last day of Pesach, the reading from the 1st Torah scroll is, if it’s also Shabbat, D'varim/Deuteronomy 14:22-16:17, or, if it’s on a non-Shabbat, 15:19-16:-17, from Parshat R’eh (same reading as on 2nd/last day of Shavuot—see also Sh’mini Atzeret).
o For the 1st day of Shavuot, the reading from the 1st Torah scroll is Sh’mot/Exodus, 19, 20, from Parshat Yitro.
o For the 2nd/last day of Shavuot, the reading from the 1st Torah scroll is the reading from the 1st Torah scroll is, if it’s also Shabbat, D'varim/Deuteronomy 14:22-16:17, or, if it’s on a non-Shabbat, 15:19-16:-17, from Parshat R’eh (same reading as on 8th/last day of Pesach—see also Sh’mini Atzeret).

• April 8, 2012 (post-havdalah): Note also that one does NOT use a havdalah candle during Pesach.

• April 12, 2012: Before Pesach, be sure to sign up for the OU’s Sefirat HaOmer reminder e-mails. In addition, print Chabad’s entire Omer calendar and leave it where you can find it on Erev Yom Tov Pesach and every Erev Shabbat (Sabbath Eve) during *Sefirah, so that you won't miss *Sefirat HaOmer/the counting of the Omer on those days

• 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. [My husband] tells me that one of his frummer colleagues from his [job from which he retired] 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 ____ 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…”).

• October 22, 2008 update: The order of the end of the weekday Shacharit/Morning Service from Rosh Chodesh Elul through Hoshana Rabbah is
o Aleinu
o Kaddish Yatom/Mourner’s Kaddish
o Shir shel Yom/Psalm of the Day
o Kaddish Yatom/Mourner’s Kaddish
o L’David, HaShem Ori v’Yish’i
o Kaddish Yatom/Mourner’s Kaddish

• October 18, 2011 update: When reciting Birkat HaMazon/Grace after Meals on Chol HaMoed, one does *not* recite the HaRachaman for Yom Tov.
• November 2, 2011 update re Birkat HaMazon from the comments to this post:
Larry Lennhoff said...
Also we say 'Sukkah David HaNofelet' both during YT and Chol Hamoed Sukkot, even if we aren't eating in the sukkah because of rain or other factors.
WED OCT 19, 01:43:00 PM 2011

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. October 18, 2011 update (thanks to Larry Lennhoff’s comment here: We do say Mizmor L’Todah, which we usually don’t say on Shabbat or Yom Tov, but we don’t say the Shabbat and Yom Tov section starting with Nishmat Kol Chai and concluding with U-v’makalot—we continue the service again at Yishtabach.
Larry Lennhoff said...
Re Hoshana Rabba: We actually do a synthesis of the weekday and Yom Tov pesukei d'zimra. In particular, we say Mizmor L'Todah, which we don't say on Yom Tov.

Hoshanna Rabba is a last chance Yom Kippur which is why the baal Musaf wears a kittle and we say kadosh v'norah shemo as we do on YK. We also use the nusach of YK in various places.
TUE OCT 18, 01:25:00 PM 2011
• 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.
• October 18, 2011 update: I think I overhead [my husband] confirming with Cantor ____ that the Hoshanot of Sukkot and Hoshana Rabbah can only be recited if one has a minyan.
• October 19, 2011 update: 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.

I have heard people wish one another a “good kvittle.” Even Rabbi ____ 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 fund 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.)
October 18, 2011 update, quoting JDub’s comment here:
jdub said...
. . . Nope, nothing to do with it. A kvitl is a piece of writing. So, a good kvittel means the same as "may you be inscribed in the book of life". And, technically, it would be a gut kvittel since it's a yiddish expression.
TUE OCT 18, 01:56:00 PM 2011

From: [deleted]
To: [deleted]
Subject: Halachic head-scratcher (as in, "Huh?!")
Date: Friday, October 17, 2003 3:00 PM

According to one of my co-workers, it's assur (prohibited) for Jews (in her community, this probably refers to men only) to eat any foods requiring a blessing "fancier" (higher in halachic status?) than "shehakol" during Sukkot unless they're eating in a sukkah, which would pretty much limit me to tuna and chocolate for lunch. (Any excuse for chocolate will do :).) [My husband] tells me that one of his frummer colleagues from his [job from which he retired] days would simply not eat at all if there were no sukkah available. Talk about conflicting halachot,

a.. how on earth can you possible "rejoice in your festival" ("v'samachta b'chagecha") when you're fasting,
b.. and isn't it assur/forbidden to fast on a Yom Tov?
(My perception is that Yom Kippur is the exception that confirms both rules.)

Omer calendar for 5772/2012

Count on good old Chabad for posting this helpful reminder. I suggest that you print the entire Omer calendar and leave it where you can find it tonight (Erev Yom Tov/Festival Eve) and every Erev Shabbat (Sabbath Eve) during Sefirah*, so that you won't miss *Sefirat HaOmer/the counting of the Omer on those days, when one is not supposed to turn on a computer or print anything. On other days, the Sefirah reminder e-mail from the Orthodox Union is very helpful.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Trep's "Passover Traditions"

I recommend this touching post by David Bogner/Treppenwitz.

A cautionary note re shampooing on Yom Tov

Rabbi Yehuda Hausman's posted opinion (p'sak?) allowing hot-water showering and shampooing on a Yom Tov (Festival) that doesn't also fall on Shabbat (Sabbath) does raise one interesting question--does shampooing on Yom Tov work for "long-hairs?" I believe that the answer is "no," for a purely practical reason. According to Rav Hausman, halachah/Jewish religious law would permit one to pat down one's hair, but my impression is that halachah would not permit one to give one's hair the usual vigorous toweling. While patting one's hair with a towel might keep one's hair from dripping, it wouldn't get hair truly dry--the hair would have to "air dry," essentially. This might work for someone with short-to-medium-length hair, but a person with hair that's roughly shoulder-length or longer would have to wait an awfully long time for her/his hair to "air dry"--and one does have to leave the house sooner or later. :)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The war on women/milchamah al nashim

When it comes to issues regarding women, I’ve seen some of the headlines, both in Israel and in the United States in recent months.

In the old days, we would have called it a backlash. I believe the current term is "pushback."

We uppity women have the unmitigated gall to demand equal legal rights, equal education, equal opportunity, equal pay, and, apparently worst of all, the right to control our own bodies. In response, a war is being waged against women, both in the United States and in Israel. The only distinction between one country's war and the other's is that the weapons are different.

In the U.S., the weapon of choice is, well, the war against choice. More and more restrictions are being put on women's ability to have an abortion, and, ironically, even on women's access to birth control--it doesn't seem to have occurred to any of the rampaging politicians and their supporters that restricting access to birth control will only increase the number of abortions. I dare anyone to tell me that this isn't sexism at its worst. Has there ever been a time in the history of the United States when men's access to birth control was restricted? Even in the bad old days, when a man had to go directly to a pharmacist and embarrass himself by asking for condoms, no man ever needed a prescription for condoms, nor did he have to get permission from his parents. In my opinion, this has nothing to do with children, and everything to do with punishing woman for wanting to have sex without consequences, a right claimed by men since time immemorial. (The Torah/Bible nonchalantly recounts Yehudah's/Judah's visit to [a woman posing as] a prostitute [Tamar] as if such behavior were taken for granted--see Parshat Vayeshev/Genesis chapter 38, verse 12-26.)

In Israel, the weapon of choice is tzniut, modesty, in ever-increasingly extreme forms. In recent months, photos of even modestly-dressed women have been disappearing from advertisements, news articles, and even campaign posters for female candidates (over their protests). Male Orthodox soldiers have walked out on female soldiers who were singing (due to the rule, variously interpreted and observed, against a man listening to a woman sing), though this did not happen in the past. And modestly-dressed Dati Leumi (Religious Zionist) elementary-school girls, way too young to be b'not mitzvah, much less of, um, visual interest to heterosexual men, have been spat upon because their modest clothing was not modest enough for some extremists.

It appears that there's no such thing as permanent progress for women--every time we try to merge into a faster lane, we get kicked back to the curb. :(

It’s Z’man Heiruteinu, the Season of Our Liberation. HaShem didn’t redeem Beit Yaakov/Jewish women from slavery to Pharaoh in Egypt just so that we could serve yet other human masters.

On making Chol HaMoed different

Long-time readers may remember that I switched my minhag/custom while saying kaddish for my mother when I walked into my "kaddish minyan" on Chol HaMoed Sukkot and discovered that not even the rabbi was wearing tefillin. I used to follow my husband's minhag and lay tefillin on Chol HaMoed, but since I didn't wish to "out-frum" the rabbi . . .

I find that I really like not wearing tefillin on Chol HaMoed because it really does make the "Intermediate Days" feel more like part of the festival and less like a regular weekday, which is important to me since I have to work during Chol HaMoed. Of course, davvening/praying the Chol HaMoed Morning Service, which includes not only the Yaaleh v'Yavo, Hallel, and Musaf prayers, but also the piyutim/hymns Ein Kelokeinu and Adon Olam (and takes Ms. Slow Davvener practically the entire morning :) ), should accomplish the same thing, but a little extra can't hurt. :) [Wednesday, April 11, 2012 correction: I misread the instructions in my siddur/prayer book--one does not say Ein Kelokeinu or Adon Olam on Chol HaMoed.]

What do you like to do to differentiate Chol HaMoed from a regular weekday?

P.S. In case I forget later, I'm posting a link to some links re rabbinic opinions about showering on (a non-Shabbat) Yom Tov, a Festival that doesn't also fall on the Sabbath.

Monday, April 09, 2012

R. Fink writes about opening the door for Eliyahu

Rabbi Eliyahu Fink asks another question beyond the four that are currently part of the Seder--"Is Elijah the Prophet a Jewish Version of Santa Claus?"

Time for the annual count-up

Strongly recommended: Sign up for the OU Sefirah reminder email. If not for this daily reminder, I'd never get through the entire counting of the Omer.

For those who davven/pray at home, I strongly recommend that you print the reminder before Shabbat/Sabbath, so that you'll remember to do Sefirat HaOmer/count the Omer during Maariv/Arvit/Evening Service. In addition, those of you living with friends or family members who work late and davven after coming home might want to do them a favor (if they're amenable) by leaving a print-out of the reminder in a place where they're likely to see it.

Friday, April 06, 2012

It's crunch time, literally :)

Starting about halfway through tonight's seder, we'll be crunching and munching our way through eight nights and days of matzah. A zeesen Pesach--have a sweet Passover. I wish you all a chag kasher v'sameach--a kosher and happy holiday.

Adventures in alternate arrangements

Unfortunately, the would-be hosts of both sedarim that we expected to attend ran into some unavoidable difficulties and had to cancel. I certainly hope that matters improve in both households soon.

My husband and I will be strolling over to a local Orthodox synagogue for both sedarim. Given the average age of the shul-goers in our neighborhood, we wouldn't be surprised to find ourselves, at 70 and 63 respectively, among the youngest people in attendance. Mah Nishtanah, anyone? :)

Our local Conservative synagogue also finds itself between a rock and a hard place. As luck would have it, our Sunday-morning renters cannot be asked to find a place other than our sanctuary in which to pray on the second day of Pesach/Passover because it also happens to be Easter, and our Christian neighbors need a place to "davven" on their holiest day of the year. So, even though the synagogue owns the building, our congregation will be banished to the basement. To be honest, I'd rather shlep to our "seder synagogue" than davven in the "Dungeon" on a Yom Tov/Holiday morning, but I'm afraid that, if I don't show up, we may not get a minyan. Oh, well. If this is my worst problem, I can count myself lucky indeed.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

"Open, sesame!"* Or not. A Pesach question

I have a distinct recollection that one of the few candies that we ate during Pesach/Passover as children were sesame candies. It was probably only two or three years ago that I first learned that certain seeds are considered kitniyot.

So, did my parents, both Ashkenazim, not know that sesame seeds are considered kitniyot, did the Conservative Movement rule differently regarding their permissibility during Pesach (as they did regarding green beans), or is the permissibility of sesame seeds for Ashkenazi Jews during Pesach a matter of dispute even among the Orthodox?

*Open, sesame!"

Monday, April 02, 2012

All heck breaks loose :(

See comments.

Olah Tamid u'Minchah

So let me get this straight: Am I correct in my understanding that the Olah Tamid, also known as the Olat Ha-Tamid (Daily Offering), and the Minchah (Daily Twilight Offering) were offered to HaShem completely and were not eaten, even in part, by anyone?

In a world in which not everyone had (or has) enough to eat, this was a huge waste of food. Did this wastefulness bother the ancient and/or later sages? Was the bal tashchit (wastefulness) prohibition (greatly expanded from D'varim/Deuteronomy 19:20 [Parshat Shoftim]'s prohibition against cutting down fruit trees when conducting a siege) their response?
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