Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Back to basics, late-April update

I suggest that you start here and follow the links to earlier posts in this series.

But I'll give you the Hillel (standing-on-one-foot version), in case you'd prefer to skip all that clicking around:

"I cured my chest pains by reducing my consumption of nuts [acid reflux is a (literal) pain for nut-lovers], my skin problem by switching to all-natural, 100%-vegetarian-ingredients glycerine-based soaps, and my leg cramps by cutting back on sugar.  Would that all my ailments were that easy to cure.  I'll bring on the big pharmaceutical guns when I need them, but not before.  In the meantime, I'm sticking to the basics, thank you."

Here's my latest recommendation, which I'm sorry I didn't think to share sooner:  Xlear nasal spray.  I was reminded of how much I like this stuff when I used it this past weekend to cure an ear infection, which I've done several times before.  (Since the nose and ears are connected physically, what clears germs out of one will often clear germs out of, or prevent them from entering, the other.)  Xylitol, the main ingredient, is all-natural, and so are all the other ingredients.  The spray is non-addictive and safe for kids.  What more could you ask?

I just love sharing ideas for helping people stay healthy naturally.  If you have any all-natural health tips that you'd like to share, the comments section is open.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

"Gingi,"* the red-headed kitchen

This is the color that we chose for our kitchen cabinets:
 It's a nice beige with warm reddish undertones.

This is the color that we got:
Day-glow orange.

What did they use as the wood stain:  carrot juice?!

*"Gingi" is the contemporary Israeli Hebrew word for "red-head."

Friday, April 26, 2013

A lazy blogger's pre-Lag B'Omer post

Yep, this is just a link to the results of a search for Lag B'Omer on DovBear's blog.  He has too many good posts for me to link individually.  (I just checked that DovBear link, and it turns out that one of those posts was published today.)

The Jewish Daily Forward asks, Do We Have Lag B'Omer All Wrong?  Probably (and DovBear seems to agree).  But those observing Sefirat HaOmer would be well advised to get a haircut this Sunday (which is when Lag B'Omer falls this year), anyway.

Just found a link to another DovBear goody right here on my blog.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Parshat Emor, 5773/2013 thoughts

Basics here.

My oldies:

Conservadox reports on the Torah's attitude regarding the treatment of animals, not to mention the timing of Sukkot.

My new thought:  Yechezkel/Ezekiel is an old "chumrah-nik"/believer in stringent interpretation.  In Haftarat Emor (Yechezkel/Ezekiel 44:15-31), he says,

כב וְאַלְמָנָה, וּגְרוּשָׁה, לֹא-יִקְחוּ לָהֶם, לְנָשִׁים: כִּי אִם-בְּתוּלֹת, מִזֶּרַע בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל, וְהָאַלְמָנָה אֲשֶׁר תִּהְיֶה אַלְמָנָה, מִכֹּהֵן יִקָּחוּ. 22 Neither shall they take for their wives a widow, nor her that is put away; but they shall take virgins of the seed of the house of Israel, or a widow that is the widow of a priest.

But the ruling from the Torah, narrowly described (Breishit/Genesis through Devarim/Deuteronomy, also known as the Five Books of Moses), is that the law against marrying a widow applies to the Kohen Gadol/High Priest only, not to all Kohanim/Priests.  That is the rule currently observed--a Kohen is not permitted to marry a divorcee or a convert, but is permitted to marry any widow, in addition to any never-married born-Jewish woman.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

In other news (mostly not good) . . .

Yes, the world continues to turn while our kitchen gets turned inside out.

Boston Marathon bombing

I'm more than a little late linking to this post, but Trep has some unnerving words to say about the Boston Marathon bombing--he strongly advises us to fear the primitive weapons made by primitive people.

"At a certain point, someone – either the American public or the media – is going to twig to the fact that, far from being good news, the primitive construction and deliberately barbarous scattergun nature of the bombs used in the Boston attack are, in fact, extremely bad news.

You see, modern military weapons are designed to attack specific targets with a high degree of accuracy.

Neither the current conventions of warfare nor the news-reading public will tolerate the use of weaponry that kills or maims indiscriminately. Surgical strikes and precision laser-guided weapons are de rigueur, and any state that cuts too wide a swath of collateral damage in persuit of an enemy is likely to find itself in the dock of the International Criminal Court at The Hague.

But that's not what happened in Boston.

The terrifying thing about being attacked by non-state actors (i.e. terrorists), whether of the domestic or international variety (and nobody knows it better than we Israelis), is that when primitive bombs packed with nails and ball bearings start blowing up in public places, everyone and anyone is the target… making it nearly impossible to mount a meaningful defense."

Reform rabbinical school controversy

In more recent news, the Jewish Daily Forward reports that "There’s a new controversy roiling the Reform movement: Can an applicant to rabbinic school be married to a non-Jewish partner?"  Oy.  Been there, blogged that--and it wasn't any fun talking about it then, either.  :(

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Pesach Sheini,* of sorts

We're currently in the process of removing everything--and I mean everything--from the kitchen:  The cabinets are being ripped out tomorrow.  Okay, everything movable, to be precise--the refrigerator and the table aren't going anywhere.  As for the rest, don't ask.  :(  Even Pesach prep isn't this bad--this time, we don't have the option of leaving anything in the taped-shut cabinets.  Speaking of our Pesach-prepped kitchen, here's a last look--most of the right side should be replaced within a few weeks.   Note the progression, Miami Al--sink followed by dish drainboard following by cutting board followed by stove.  Um, where were we supposed to fit that double-sink and second dishwasher that you recommended in the comments to the "kosher kitchen construction" post?

Discussion continues in the comments to the aforementioned post.  I hope to hear from you.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm in the middle of cooking the last supper, so to speak.  :)

*Pesach sheni.

Monday, April 22, 2013 update:  There will be a short delay . . .
. . . while our co-op management office gets the elevator repaired.  The rip-off, er, rip-out, will take place tomorrow, if all goes well.  How we're going to make Shabbos amid this chaos--we certainly won't have time to put everything into the new cabinets before next Sunday--we have no idea.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Calling all kosher kitchen construction experts

[Originally published 1:00 PM, Thursday, April 11, 2013I'm keeping this post on top for a while, in the hope of getting further responses.  Thanks in advance.  Newer posts are below.]

We're in the process of planning a kitchen renovation, and could certainly use ideas and advice.

For instance, I gather that granite has kashrut advantages, but I don't know exactly why.  How does one kasher granite countertops for Pesach/Passover, for example?  Some of my readers may have experience with this procedure, and/or other information about granite and kashrut.  I've love to hear it.

Any recommendations for appliances?  We'll need a new stove and dishwasher.  Star-K Certified Appliances is pretty dry reading.  :)  I'd certainly appreciate it if those of you who have more direct experience with Shabbat (Sabbath) and Yom Tov (major holiday) usage of "Sabbath-mode" appliances would chime in.  Please keep in mind that we talking about a small apartment kitchen being operated by two "kitchen klutzes," so skip the huge stoves and fancy gourmet or restaurant-appropriate gear, please.

Rav todot--many thanks!

Acharei Mot-Kedoshim thoughts for 5733/2013

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Quick Yom HaAtzmaut links, before sundown

Okay, it's a bit late in the day for a Hallel debate, but here's an old one of mine, complete with links to, among other posts, one showing Hirhurim's list of assorted rabbinic opinions.

And yes, this is actually a Yom Yerushalayim/Jerusalem Reunification Day post, but it has a link (courtesy of Miami Al--rav todot/many thanks!) to an Al HaNissim for Yom HaAtzmaut/Israel Independence Day (as well as one for Yom Yerushalayim), in case you want to sneak in a quick Birkat HaMazon/Grace after Meals before sundown today.  I think the Conservative siddur/prayer book also published an Al HaNissim.

Way too late for this year:  Maariv for Yom HaAtzmaut.

Wherever large numbers of potential victims are likely to be . . .

. . . that's where terrorists and/or other would-be mass murderers will go.  The toll at yesterday's Boston Marathon double-bomb attack, thus far:  three dead (including one eight-year-old), over 100 injured [update:  170].

Celebrating Yom HaAtzmaut (Israel Independence Day) under these circumstances feels pretty strange for me as an American living within a two-day drive from Boston.  "This is the day that G-d made, let us rejoice and be happy on it"?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Double-Parsha Tazria-Metzora, 5773/2013 thoughts

Slightly-belated notes re yesterday's Torah reading (for which you can read Parshat Tazria's basics here and Parshat Metzora's basics here:
  • I object on principle to the rabbinic notion that "leprosy" (or whatever skin condition the Torah was discussing) was a punishment for lashon ha-ra (very roughly translation:  malicious gossip)--in my opinion, that interpretation is a classic case of blaming the victim.  It reminds me far too much of the "taboo" manner with which people viewed cancer when I was a young child in the fifties, discussing "cases" in hushed tones as if the victim of that often-fatal disease had been stricken because of some moral failing on his or her part.
  • Speaking of "leprosy" being considered a punishment for lashon ha-ra, check out Rabbi Jill Hammer's interpretation of the positive side of Miriam's affliction with "leprosy" here.  (My discussion of her session on Miriam is about halfway through that post--look for the blue Rabbi Jill Hammer link.)

You can find links to my previous Tazria-Metzora posts here.

Conservadox discusses one opinion regarding the diagnosis of "leprosy" in Parshat Tazria.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A reminder, as if I needed one :(

As a child of the 1950's who grew up watching the Mickey Mouse Club, I was a big fan of Annette Funicello, and was saddened by her death yesterday at the age of 70.  I was also reminded that not only am I not getting any younger, neither is my husband, who's a year older than Annette was.  He's also only a few years younger than the colleague who recently spent over a week in the hospital.  I'm grateful every day that he's in pretty good health, and will continue to nag him to eat more fruit in the hope that he'll stay that way for many years to come.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Back to basics, continued

Here's the original.

But maybe you should start here.

I've been having severe thigh cramps at night for years.  They're even worse than good old-fashioned so-called "Charley-horse" cramps, because a "charley-horse," as painful as it is, can usually be cured within a few minutes simply by bending over and stretching the leg muscles.  These are different--absolutely nothing cures them.  I used to get out of bed and walk around when I had one of these cramps, but I stopped doing that because no amount of walking or stretching made any difference.  The last time I had a severe thigh cramp, I decided to time it, just out of curiosity (not to mention to distract myself from the pain).  I didn't even start at the beginning of the cramp, but I can tell you this--I got bored and stopped counting after around seven minutes, and the cramp didn't dissipate for probably at least a minute more.

So I decided to try to see whether there was any pattern to the cramps.  The first thing I noticed was that, particularly in recent months, they always seemed to take place on Friday nights.  Following my previous hunch to check my diet (see the second linked post), I asked myself whether anything that I was eating on Friday nights might be problematic.  Hmm.  Well, since I try to behave myself on weekdays, I tend to pig out on Erev Shabbat.  Could sugar be the culprit?


The minute I threw out my jelly beans and cut back to no more than two or three cookies, the cramps magically disappeared.  I haven't had a severe night-time thigh cramp in months.

Years ago, I went to a doctor looking for a cure, and he put me on some stupid prescription medication that didn't do a thing.  More recently, a friend who's a health-care professional recommended tonic water for the quinine therein, but all that did was speed up my heartbeat and scare me half to death.  What I'd like to know is this:  Why don't medical professionals try the basics first?  Why don't they start by looking at diet and/or other environmental factors, rather than going straight to the pharmacological approach?

I cured my chest pains by reducing my consumption of nuts, my skin problem by switching to all-natural, 100%-vegetarian-ingredients glycerine-based soaps, and my leg cramps by cutting back on sugar.  Would that all my ailments were that easy to cure.  I'll bring on the big pharmaceutical guns when I need them, but not before.  In the meantime, I'm sticking to the basics, thank you.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Seder ideas for next year

Too bad I just saw this post.

A free sample (from the linked post on Rabbi Elli Fischer's blog):

"This is how we roll at our Seder.

For karpas, a vegetable appetizer in a dip, we use different kinds of vegetables and different kinds of dips. Each dip has some sort of educational of symbolic value. This year it's:

Strawberries and bananas dipped in chocolate. These are generally considered fruits, but in fact their berakha is "ha-adama. " Great teachable moment (I've heard that R. Teitz of Elizabeth, NJ used to do this, for that very reason).

Artichoke - same reason, and also because we're having Seder with my gourmet sister-in-law.

Potato latkes in applesause - that's just becuase it's fun and yummy." [Better yet, since white potatoes aggravate my gout, I'd go for sweet-potato latkes, which we found kasher l'Pesach this year.]

Don't forget to count the Omer!!!

I'm more likely to forget during Chol HaMoed than at any other time, and barely remembered this morning that we hadn't counted last night.  If you haven't already signed up for a daily reminder, now's a good time!

This post was actually published on Thursday, April 28, 2013.  I've changed the publication day for this post in order to keep it on the top of my blog until two days after Pesach/Passover.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Sneaking in a quick "Happy Maimouna!" while it's still pre-sunset in NYC

How do Moroccan Jews manage this feat?  Beats me, but bless them!

I hope my Moroccan and/or Israeli readers enjoyed their celebration.

Adventures in Seniorland

My husband's standing on the bimah leading P'sukei D'Zimrah when an elderly man hobbles up the aisle on a cane and starts asking about his tax return.  My husband assures him that he'll contact him shortly about the return.  The man apologizes for interrupting, and walks out without even staying to help make a minyan.  You can't make this stuff up, folks.

Next, one of our local wandering Jews, an occasional visitor, wanders in, and proceeds to wander around the sanctuary looking for a victim to pester with his constant and loud conversation.  (Half of our attendees have hearing aids, and the other half need them.)  He finally gives up, and goes out to the lobby to bother our Shabbos Goy, who, being Christian, can be described without apology as having the patience of a saint.  :)

Now, it's time for hagbah.  A few weeks ago, one of our younger--meaning 40-ish--members nearly dropped a sefer Torah/Pentateuch scroll.  Sadly, the other one is currently down for the count with a leg injury serious enough to have left him limping for several weeks.  So the honors go to the only other two guys present who are under the age of eighty and haven't been hospitalized recently--the smaller scroll is lifted by a 70-something-year-old with a heart condition, and the larger one by my spring-chicken of a husband, who's a mere 71.

Then comes the Musaf service, which is interrupted by a panicked senior who can't find her cane.  The fellow who finds it returns with both the cane and the comment that maybe the shul should hire a security guard just to look for lost canes.  Ironically, this joking suggestion almost makes sense.  Half of our members (myself often included) use canes, the other half use walkers, and the third half, if you'll pardon the expression, use wheelchairs.  The fourth half, just to continue the fun, hook a cane to their walkers or wheelchairs.

It gets better, folks.  Remember the guy who interrupted P'sukei D'Zimrah and then left instead of  staying to help make a minyan?  I fume about his chutzpah (nerve, gall) while walking home with my husband.  Boy, am I about to be surprised.

"He's not Jewish."

"WHAT??!!!  If he's not Jewish, what was he doing there?

"He's figured out that, when I don't answer my phone, I'm often at synagogue."

"He's your tax client.  Can't you give him a polite piece of your mind about interrupting a religious service?"

"I'm not sure it would do any good.  He's about 90 years old."

Um, never mind.
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