Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Making a long story short

Last Thursday, my husband and I returned from roughly a week and a half in Niagara Falls, Toronto, the Thousand Islands, and Montreal.

Yesterday, I was selected to serve as a juror for a trial.

I'm still too tired to talk about the vacation, and I'm forbidden by law to talk about the trial, so that's the whole post.  Travel tales and photos to follow, once I'm awake.  :)  Goodnight.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

And now for something completely different

See the comments.

Monday, August 13, 2012

More Siyum HaShas 2nd thoughts from an Ortho rav

My An interesting juxtaposition shows the first round of second thoughts.  What follows below is round two.

Orthodox Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald has published A Radical Proposal for the Organizers of the Siyum HaShas.  His observation?   " . . . it seems that one element, perhaps the most important element, of the study of Torah is missing: that of “Velimadetem et b’neichem” – “And you shall teach your children.” Ironically, many men have little or no spare time to study with their children precisely because they are so deeply involved in the daily daf."  His "radical proposal"?  " . . . I would like to suggest that a new program be added to the Daf Yomi routine, perhaps to be known as Sha’ah Yomit, the daily hour. Those fathers (or grandfathers) who study the daf should make a commitment to study with their children or grandchildren one hour a day. In this way, they will properly fulfill the full mitzvah of studying Torah, the way it was originally intended."

"The Daf Yomi should not be used as an excuse not to study with one’s children. . . . Too many fathers, for too long, have abrogated their responsibility of educating their children directly."

This article reminds me of a 2004 complaint published by British Chassid "The Shaigetz."  In his post Ai Du, he discussed a similar problem:

"It seems that the Torah expects the couple to love and cherish each other in a way that is hardly possible within the rules and regulations we put out as law. The male of the species typically sits in kollel or goes to work for most of the day while the other half either works or looks after the king-size brood. In the evenings, most males will go back to shul after supper for Mincha Maariv (evening services) and are encouraged to learn some Torah then. When you remember that maariv in the summer can be as late as 11pm. it is clear that there is not much time left for cleaving." 

I honestly don't understand how a traditionally-observant man can make time for his wife and children when he's obligated to spend so much of (what might otherwise be) his free time praying and studying.  Perhaps some of my more traditional readers can shed some light on this issue.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Parshat Ekev: 5772/2012 thoughts

Basics here.

ח בָּעֵת הַהִוא, הִבְדִּיל יְהוָה אֶת-שֵׁבֶט הַלֵּוִי, לָשֵׂאת, אֶת-אֲרוֹן בְּרִית-יְהוָה--לַעֲמֹד לִפְנֵי יְהוָה לְשָׁרְתוֹ וּלְבָרֵךְ בִּשְׁמוֹ, עַד הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה. 8 At that time the LORD separated the tribe of Levi, to bear the ark of the covenant of the LORD, to stand before the LORD to minister unto Him, and to bless in His name, unto this day."

This text doesn't distinguish between the Kohanim/Priests, whose job was "to stand before the LORD to minister unto Him, and to bless in His name," and the rest of the tribe of Levi, whose job was "to bear the ark of the covenant of the LORD" by doing the literal heavy lifting--dismantling, moving, and reconstructing the Ohel Moed/Tent of Meeting whenever the Israelites moved.

Korach's complaint to the contrary notwithstanding, the more I read the parshiot (parshot, parashot?), the more I think that the clear and permanent distinction between the Kohanim and the (rest of the) Leviim developed over an extended period of time.  I would welcome information regarding this change in status from my more learned readers.

Here's a follow-up to my related post, Naturally,just because I don’t believe it literally . . .  (Thursday, August 04, 2011), regarding the second paragraph of the Sh'ma, found in Parshat Ekev:

טו וְנָתַתִּי עֵשֶׂב בְּשָׂדְךָ, לִבְהֶמְתֶּךָ; וְאָכַלְתָּ, וְשָׂבָעְתָּ. 15 And I will give grass in thy fields for thy cattle, and thou shalt eat and be satisfied.

Maybe we're supposed to eat pasture-raised grass-fed cattle and find it satisfying, rather than stuffing our confined cattle full of corn, which is not their natural diet.  Chana's recent posts on meat and (Jewish) ethics are well worth reading.

My previous write-ups:

Sunday, August 12, 2012 update--see D'varim/Deuteronomy, chapter 11:
ו  וַאֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה לְדָתָן וְלַאֲבִירָם, בְּנֵי אֱלִיאָב בֶּן-רְאוּבֵן, אֲשֶׁר פָּצְתָה הָאָרֶץ אֶת-פִּיהָ, וַתִּבְלָעֵם וְאֶת-בָּתֵּיהֶם וְאֶת-אָהֳלֵיהֶם--וְאֵת כָּל-הַיְקוּם אֲשֶׁר בְּרַגְלֵיהֶם, בְּקֶרֶב כָּל-יִשְׂרָאֵל. 6 and what He did unto Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, the son of Reuben; how the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their households, and their tents, and every living substance that followed them, in the midst of all Israel;
Note that any mention of Korach is missing from this quote.  See DovBear's post here.  And while you're clicking,  look at my own Parshat Korach, 5772/2012 second thoughts.  In my opinion, the above quote supports the conclusion that I published in that post:

"Long story short:  If Korach was at the entrance to the Ohel Moed/Tent of Meeting with his censer, as ordered, how could he have been swallowed up when the earth opened up near his tent?

My conclusion:  With due respect to my more traditional readers, I'm calling "scribal error" on this one.  Korach died with the other censer-carrying rebels at the entrance to the Ohel Moed; Datan and Aviram were swallowed up by the earth."

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Sheh-asani . . .

Attempting to take the sexism, etc., out of the Birkot HaShachar/Morning Blessings results in some interesting questions and choices.  For openers, many of us egalitarians invert the traditional order of the b'rachot/blessings.  And that's just the beginning of the fun.

So we start with the man's b'rachah/blessing, "Baruch . . .  sheh-lo asani ishah (Blessed [is the One who] who did not make me a woman," or the woman's b'rachah, "Baruch . . .  sheh-asani ki-r'tzono, (Blessed [is the One who] made me in accordance with His will)."  As far as I know, these are the generally-accepted substitutes:
  1. Baruch . . . sheh-asani b'tzalmo (Blessed . . . Who made me in His image
  2. Baruch . . . sheh-asani ish/ishah (Blessed . . . Who made me a man/woman)
Number 1 is used in the Conservative siddur/prayer book, and is what I say when leading Birkot HaShachar.  But I say Baruch . . . sheh-asani ishah (Blessed . . . Who made me a woman) when davvening bi-y'chidut/praying alone.

Next up is a troublemaker, "Baruch . . . sheh-lo asani aved (Blessed . . . Who has not made me a slave)."  (I've heard somwhere that some siddurim/prayer books use "sheh-lo asani shifchah" for females, but, interestingly enough, neither my good old Birnbaum Siddur nor my almost-new Koren-Sacks Siddur makes a distinction between men and women reciting this b'rachah.)  The problem?  There's no neuter in Hebrew.  If you're going to change that b'rachah, you have to say either "Baruch . . . sheh-asani ben chorin" or "Baruch . . . sheh-asani bat chorin."  You're either the son of a free person or the daughter of a free person.  Why one can't just say "chorin," I honestly don't know.  What I do know is that, when I'm leading and I say "Baruch . . . sheh-asani bat chorin," half the guys don't answer "Amen."  :(  That may be because there's an interesting question regarding whether I can fulfill a man's obligation to express gratitude for being free when I'm forced by Hebrew grammar to pray in the feminine.  Do the guy's have to say "Baruch . . . sheh-asani ben chorin" under their breaths when a woman is leading?

Final, there's another troublemaker, "Baruch . . . sheh-lo asani goy (Blessed . . . who has not made me a non-Jew)."  This time, the problem is not only Hebrew grammar, but also modern history.  It's easy for a guy, who can say "Baruch . . . sheh-asani Yisrael (Blessed . . . who has made me Israel/an Israelite/a Jew)."  But if a woman says "Baruch . . . sheh-asani Yisraelit," she's expressing gratitude not only only for being a Jewess, but also for being a female Israeli!  (In Hebrew, the masculine version of "Israeli" is "Yisraeli," not "Yisrael", so, in the masculine, there's a clear grammatical distinction between an Israeli and an "Israelite.") Well, I'm not Yisraelit, I'm Americait.  For lack of an alternative, I'm sticking with "sheh-asani Yisrael," which may be masculine but is also generic, which is what happens in a language that has no neuter.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

An interesting juxtaposition

  • A Magnificent Evening:  The Twelfth Siyum HaShas 2012  Rabbi Eliyahu Fink found this celebration of the completion of one cycle of the reading of the Gemara very inspiring.  Now, he's starting a Daf Yomi group in his own synagogue.
  • Overhauling Orthodox Education to Make Better Jews.  Rabbi Dov Lipman is of the opinion that the Orthodox yeshiva "system's" obsession with Gemara leaves Jews undereducated in the Hebrew language, the Written Torah (Bible), the Mishnah, and, perhaps worst of all, derech eretz (proper behavior), which is one of the goals of Jewish learning and practice, and that, therefore, yeshiva education needs a radical overhaul.  (Thanks to Rabbi Gil Student and/or his partners at Hirhurim/Torah Musings, for this link, which I couldn't find at The Jewish Press until after I found this link on Rav Student's blog.)

Rav Lipman's opinion piece was published only two days after the Siyum HaShas.  Hmmm.

Correction:  I read Rav Lipman's opinion piece in the printed Jewish Press two days after the Siyum HaShas--it was published in the online Jewish Press the same day as the Siyum HaShas.  Coincidence?  I think not.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Oh, nuts! :(

Every time the health-care professionals gave me an EKG, they told me that my heart was just fine.  So why did I keep having chest pains, especially overnight (when I was lying down)?

Maybe it was something I ate.

I just loved having a couple of Corn Thins or Rice Thins (same food producer) slathered with almond butter as part of my dinner, and, since I've been trying to avoid sugar on workdays (and save my snacking for weekends and holidays), I also loved noshing a Cherry Pie Larabar for dessert.  Could those eating habits have caused the problem?

Two nights ago, as an experiment, I reduced my almond-butter consumption to a thinner layer on only one Rice Thin.  Hmm, the chest pains didn't seem to be nearly as bad.  What would happen if I ate only half a Larabar?

I continued the experiment last night by eating only one almond-butter-covered Rice Thin and only half a Larabar.


The chest pains disappeared almost completely.

Sigh.  Acid reflux is a (literal) pain for nut-lovers.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Parshat Va-etchanan: 5772/2012 thoughts

Basics here.

Moshe Rabbeinu (Moses Our Teacher) is such a nag, and a pessimist, too.  "I know you're going to sin.  I know you're going to get kicked out of your country."  (See particularly D'varim/Deuteronomy 4:25-26.)  Nice positive reinforcement.  Not.

And there's this interesting statement (from D'varim Deuteronomy 4:2):

ב לֹא תֹסִפוּ, עַל-הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוֶּה אֶתְכֶם, וְלֹא תִגְרְעוּ, מִמֶּנּוּ--לִשְׁמֹר, אֶת-מִצְו‍ֹת יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם, אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי, מְצַוֶּה אֶתְכֶם. 2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.

Um, what are mitzvot d'Rabbanan--commandments from the Rabbis?  If we're not supposed to add, where did we get the idea that we need separate dishes, etc., one set for meat/poultry products and a separate set for dairy dishes, which is certainly nowhere in the (Written) Torah/Bible?  As a former rabbi of ours pointed out, I can't be a Karaite and still light candles before Shabbat (Sabbath) and Yom Tov (a major holiday), a Rabbanite idea, but still, I think the Karaites have a point.  But, of course, that point depends entirely on whether one truly believes that both Torah Sheh-Bi-Ch'tiv (the Written Torah/Bible/Law) and Torah Sheh-B'Al-Peh (the Oral Law, starting with the Talmud and continuing in rabbinical interpretations down to the present day and beyond) was given to Moshe Rabbeinu on Sinai or not.

Oops, looks like Woodrow/Conservadox beat me to it.

Another gem (from D'varim Deuteronomy 4:15--apparently, I have a thing for chapter 4 this year):

טו וְנִשְׁמַרְתֶּם מְאֹד, לְנַפְשֹׁתֵיכֶם: כִּי לֹא רְאִיתֶם, כָּל-תְּמוּנָה, בְּיוֹם דִּבֶּר יְהוָה אֲלֵיכֶם בְּחֹרֵב, מִתּוֹךְ הָאֵשׁ. 15 Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves--for ye saw no manner of form on the day that the LORD spoke unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire--

Don't other parts of the TaNaCh (Torah/Pentateuch+NaCh/N'viim/Prophets&C'tuvim/Writings) actually describe the appearance of G-d?  No wonder some say that D'varim/Deuteronomy was written as an addendum to the first four books of the Torah/Bible, and others say that the idea that G-d is invisible is a later development in Jewish tradition (which the Rambam/Maimonides taught)!

See my previous Va-etchanan posts.  The first two are among my earliest posts, from my first week of blogging.  I still think they're rather nicely written, if I do say so myself.
<< List
Jewish Bloggers
Join >>