Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Parashat P'kudei, 5774/2014 edition

Maybe it's just as well that I accidentally read and post about Parashat P'kudei/Pekudei (whatever) last week, 'cause I might not get around to re-reading that parashah until Erev Shabbat after dinner.  So I'll just link.

Update, Thursday, February 27, 2004

I'm sneaking in some links:

Conservadox considers some political and economic aspects of local-vs.-global questions.

Rav Shai Held writes about the connection between the creation of the world and the construction of the Mishkan (Wilderness Sanctuary).

Rav Shlomo Riskin on taking risks by entering into the unknown.

I snuck in a quick reading of the parashah, too, all while the boss was at yet another one of his gazillion meetings.

Exodus Chapter 40 שְׁמוֹת

לד וַיְכַס הֶעָנָן, אֶת-אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד; וּכְבוֹד יְהוָה, מָלֵא אֶת-הַמִּשְׁכָּן. 34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.

לה וְלֹא-יָכֹל מֹשֶׁה, לָבוֹא אֶל-אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד--כִּי-שָׁכַן עָלָיו, הֶעָנָן; וּכְבוֹד יְהוָה, מָלֵא אֶת-הַמִּשְׁכָּן. 35 And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of meeting, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.--

לו וּבְהֵעָלוֹת הֶעָנָן מֵעַל הַמִּשְׁכָּן, יִסְעוּ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, בְּכֹל, מַסְעֵיהֶם. 36 And whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward, throughout all their journeys.

לז וְאִם-לֹא יֵעָלֶה, הֶעָנָן--וְלֹא יִסְעוּ, עַד-יוֹם הֵעָלֹתוֹ. 37 But if the cloud was not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up.

לח כִּי עֲנַן יְהוָה עַל-הַמִּשְׁכָּן, יוֹמָם, וְאֵשׁ, תִּהְיֶה לַיְלָה בּוֹ--לְעֵינֵי כָל-בֵּית-יִשְׂרָאֵל, בְּכָל-מַסְעֵיהֶם. {ש} 38 For the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and there was fire therein by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.-- {P}

It still sounds like a description of a volcano to me.  Was the midbar/wilderness through which our ancestors wandered really the Sinai Peninsula?  There are no active or dormant volcanos in the Sinai.  I think I heard another theory about the 40-year travel route on a History Channel show.

Book review, as promised: "Like Dreamers, The Story of the Israeli Paratroopers Who Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation," by Yossi Klein Halevi

You can see a more thorough review here, but here's my Hillel (standing-on-one-foot) version, copied from my notes on the Goodreads site.

"Aside from the fact that I should have kept a record of each person's history, as I did have some difficulty remembering who was who, I found this quite a fascinating read. I particularly appreciated the way the different viewpoints seemed to be tempered over time, with the settlers realizing that they couldn't just pretend that there wasn't another people, the Palestinians, involved, & the peaceniks realizing that there wasn't going to be peace just because they wanted it."

This is probably all the blogging I'll have time for until late tomorrow, at least:  I'm currently working on a massive editing and reformatting project--the first file alone was over 80 pages long--and I'll be back on the job as soon as the boss returns from a meeting.  See you when I can come up for air.

Hmm, just took another quick look at the name of this post.  I daresay it's almost as long as the post.  :)

Monday, February 24, 2014

An update

Note to self: Pay more attention to the Jewish calendar

I didn't realize that last Thursday was Purim Katan and said Tachanun anyway.  Oops!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

My first 100% gluten-&-yeast free Shabbat at home

Here's the background to this post, Hillel-style (standing on one foot).

This was the first time in our over 36 years of marriage, other than when one of us was sick, that my husband and I haven't shared a Kiddush cup--I left the becher for my husband, and poured the required revi'it (roughly three ounces) of grape juice (some say wine is preferable, but it's bad for my acid reflux) into a plain wine goblet for myself.  I feel strange using a plain goblet for Kiddush in my own home, and can't wait until my new Kiddush cup* is delivered.

Weirder yet was watching my husband go into the kitchen alone to do netilat yadayim, the ritual hand-washing, then watching him hold up the two challah rolls and say the "ha-motzi" blessing (thanking HaShem for bread) by, and for, himself.  Since I can no longer eat bread, I can't "make a motzi" (which functions as a one-b'rachah-fits-all blessing), and  must now recite a separate b'rachah for each category of food even on Shabbat (Sabbath) and Yom Tov (major holidays).  Reciting separate b'rachot for different categories of food used to be my weekday-meals-only procedure.  This isn't the case for most people, as most do have bread and say ha-matzi on weekdays, but I had other health issues with wheat for many years before I became gluten-intolerant, and, therefore, tried to avoid eating wheat products on weekdays, which meant that bread was usually a Shabbat or Yom Tov treat for me.  So, for me personally, not being able to recite ha-motzi on Shabbat means that there's one less way for me l'havdil bein kodesh l'chol/to differentiate between the holy and the ordinary.  :(

I'll get used to this, eventually.

Addendum to the linked post:  I completely forgot that we'd asked our rabbi of several decades ago whether we could recite Birkat HaMazon/Grace After Meals if we hadn't eaten bread, and he'd said that we could, provided that we'd eaten a meal, not just a snack.  So I "bentched"/recited Birkat HaMazon with the rest of the gang after Seudah Shlishit, and I'll continue to do so.

That said, I posed a sh'elah (question on a point of halachah/Jewish religious law) to Rabbi Ethan Tucker (while we were at the Limmud Conference) regarding Seudah Shlishit specifically, as one cannot substitute Kiddush for Motzi at a meal for which there's no Kiddush, and he said that there's an opinion that one can fulfill one's obligation to eat a halachic meal at Seudah Shlishit by eating fruit.  It's a good thing I have a can of raisins in my personal gluten-free stash at our local synagogue.

But there's another sh'elah for which I'm currently seeking a t'shuvah/answer:  Can a person who didn't eat bread recite Birkat HaMazon on behalf of someone who did eat bread?  Stay tuned, as I've already e-mailed my "G-d Squad" of rabbis, and/or post your thoughts in the Comments section.

*I chose a glass Kiddush cup because (a) glass can be used for both chalavi/dairy and b'sari/meat (including poultry), and (b) I've noticed that our silver(?) Kiddush cups (meat and dairy) impart a metallic taste to grape juice.  I choose this particular style because I really want a Kiddush cup that's clearly a Kiddush cup, rather than just a goblet, however fancy.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Parashat Vayakhel, 5774/2014 edition

Basics here.

I didn’t have much to say in the only previous Vayahkel/Vayak’hel post of mine that I can find.

Since this is one of what I dubbed the “vocabulary parashiot,” I might as well add another one to the list:

עֹרֹת אֵילִם orot eilim= goat skins

Exodus Chapter 35  
כב  וַיָּבֹאוּ הָאֲנָשִׁים, עַל-הַנָּשִׁים; כֹּל נְדִיב לֵב, הֵבִיאוּ חָח וָנֶזֶם וְטַבַּעַת וְכוּמָז כָּל-כְּלִי זָהָב, וְכָל-אִישׁ, אֲשֶׁר הֵנִיף תְּנוּפַת זָהָב לַיהוָה.
22 And they came, both men and women, as many as were willing-hearted, and brought nose-rings, and ear-rings, and signet-rings, and girdles, all jewels of gold; even every man that brought an offering of gold unto the LORD.
Where’d they find all that gold, after they’d already donated gold for the making of the Egel HaZahav/Golden Calf?

כה  וְכָל-אִשָּׁה חַכְמַת-לֵב, בְּיָדֶיהָ טָווּ; וַיָּבִיאוּ מַטְוֶה, אֶת-הַתְּכֵלֶת וְאֶת-הָאַרְגָּמָן, אֶת-תּוֹלַעַת הַשָּׁנִי, וְאֶת-הַשֵּׁשׁ.
25 And all the women that were wise-hearted did spin with their hands, and brought that which they had spun, the blue, and the purple, the scarlet, and the fine linen.
Woman were among those who “prayed with their hands,” to paraphrase Heschel.  We, too, had a hand in the construction of the Mishkan/Wilderness Sanctuary.

More vocabulary:
סִּירֹת sirot = pots

יָּעִים yaim = shovels

מִּזְרָקֹת mizrakot = basins

מִּזְלָגֹת mizlakot = flesh-hooks (ugh!)

מַּחְתֹּת machtot = fire-pans—I think these will show up in a later reading, Parashat Korach.

כִּיּוֹר kiyor = laver (washbasin)

מַרְאֹת mar’ot = mirrors (comes from the same shoresh/root word as lir’ot, to see)

צֹּבְאֹת tsov’ot = “serving women”—who they were and what service they performed is not specified.

קְלָעִים k’laim = hangings

Okay, now that I’ve bored you, I should wake you up with links to more interesting divrei Torah/words of Torah:

Sorry--the original plan was to post those links here, but my office computer wouldn't cooperate, so I put 'em in the Comments section, and I don't have time to recreate them here before Shabbat.  Git Shabbos/Shabbat Shalom.

Gluten-free, yeast-free--& Pesachdikeh--cure for upset tummies?

I tried Absolutely Gluten-Free Flatbread, Original flavor--they're also yeast-free--and they helped calm my upset stomach.  They seem to be a gluten-free, yeast-free version of plain saltine crackers.  Maybe they'll work for you, too.  And, unlike saltines, they're kasher l'Pesach/kosher for Passover, which might be handy after a heavy Seder meal.  :)

IMPORTANT KASHRUT NOTICE, Wednesday, April 23, 2014 (post-Pesach) update:
It turns out that only some, not all, of the Absolutely Gluten Free flatbreads and crackers are kasher l'Pesach/kosher for Passover.  Please be sure to follow standard kosher operating procedure and check every food product on an individual basis, even if they're made by the same company.  This is especially important regarding kosher for Passover products, as some of them may lose their kasher l'Pesach status between one Pesach and the next.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Parashat P'kudei, 5774/2014 edition (oops--I'm 1 week ahead!)

As I said last year, "I can't make construction blueprints interesting," so just follow the link(s) to my previous P'kudei posts.

Conservadox protests against some wasteful Shabbat/Sabbath practices.

Update, evening of publication date:  I see from a comment that I accidentally skipped a parashah--the reading for this coming Shabbat/Sabbath is VaYakhel.  Oops!  I'm still bleary-eyed from Limmud, apparently--who gets any sleep at a Limmud Conference?  Don't know whether I'll have time to post again before Shabbat, so just save this one for next week.

At least Conservadox (see second link) and Rabbi Shai Held commented on the correct parashah.  Follow those links, er, follow those links!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

My Limmud NY 2014 report

I'm a bad blogger, or at least a lazy one--I didn't post, take notes, take photos, and/or shoot videos at this Limmud NY Conference.  This year, I just sat back and enjoyed.  (And that's not an entirely bad thing--more on that later.)  So I'll give you some verbal "snapshots" from this year's conference.

On Erev Shabbat/Sabbath Eve (Friday evening), my husband and I went to Blu Greenberg's and Yitz Greenberg's session, "Where There's a Rabbinic Will, There's a Halachic Way."  I'd heard Yitz speak before, and I'd read Blu's books, but I'd never heard her speak before, so I'll concentrate on her part of the presentation.  She'd come up with the title, which is a quote for which she's famous, out of conviction that it's true, based on her research.  As an example, she cited a decision by the very early (Talmudic?) rabbinate to accept the testimony of a woman who was the only witness to her husband's death, thereby granting her the status of a widow and, in so doing, freeing her to marry someone else.  In doing this, they broke two previously-established laws--they accepted the testimony of one witness instead of the mandatory minimum of two, and they accepted the testimony of a female despite the fact that women aren't accepted as witnesses in halachah/Jewish religious law.  I found this a very informative session.

On Shabbat morning, I got a pleasant surprise.  When I turned around to face the Torah scroll as it was being carried around the room at the Shabbat morning service, I was startled to see that the guy directly behind me was wearing a name tag that read "David Staum."  David Staum?!  "Are you the Evolving Jew?"  In true Jewish fashion, he answered the question with a question:  "Are you Shira Salamone?"  For him, it was much more of a guess, since my own name tag showed my real name, but he took a chance that the older woman wearing a tallit and with a cane hooked over her chair matched the way I'd described myself on my blog.  What fun!  It isn't every day that I meet a fellow J-blogger at shul.  :) 

After services, my husband and I went to listen to Israeli author Gidi Grinstein discuss "Why a Vibrant Diaspora is a Zionist Imperative."  Being old enough to remember the days when Zionists were trying to negate the Galut and persuade all Jews to move to Israel, we found this a somewhat startling idea to come from an Israeli.  The Hillel (standing on one foot) version:  Jews and Judaism have survived because we did/do not put all our eggs in one basket, as the old saying goes, and could rebuild elsewhere in the event of persecution and/or tragedy.  (The longer version can be found in his book, Flexigidity:  The Secret of Jewish Adaptability, which is now on my reading list.)  The key to the Jewish People's continuing existence is that we are a worldwide network of communities.

Naturally, I was too busy enjoying Shabbat lunch to get to the next session on time, and missed a good chunk of the panel discussion "A Search for Spirituality as Defined (or Not Defined) by Jewish Law."  The panelists were Kenneth Brander (an Orthodox rabbi, Dean of Yeshiva University's Center for the Jewish Future and a former pulpit rabbi), Mary Zamore (a Reform rabbi who's an activist in the Jewish Food Ethics movement), Ethan Tucker (an egalitarian non-denominational rabbi who's rosh yeshiva and chair in Jewish Law at Mechon Hadar), and Renana Ravitsky Pilzer (Orthodox, Head of the Beit Midrash at Israel's Hartman High School for Girls and a founder and leader of Kehilat Shira Hadasha in Jerusalem, which, to the best of my knowledge, is the "Mother Minyan" of all Partnership Minyanim).  I mention all their credentials because one of things that I enjoyed about listening to the panelists was the atmosphere of mutual respect.  This mutual respect  along the entire spectrum of Jewish observance has always been, for me, a defining and welcome characteristic of Limmud.  As to what was actually said, I was particularly struck by Mary Zamore's response to an audience question about musical instruments in the synagogue:  She wondered whether the use of musical instruments during services made the service less like praying and more like going to a concert, an interesting perspective, and, to be honest, one that I would not have expected from a Reform Jew.  Limmud can be full of surprises.

After Havdalah and dinner, I danced mein feesehlach off, naturally, at the back of the room at the Naomi Less concert, then at Israeli folk dancing.  Also naturally, there was a late-night jam session, with a bunch of people on guitar, one on banjo, and even, believe it or not, a full drum set borrowed from the "concert room" and put to excellent use.  Around midnight, I thought I'd turn in, but my husband had other ideas, and next thing you know, we were raising the average age at the dance party by at least thirty years.  :) 

On Sunday morning, I went to hear Ari Shavit talk about his book, My Promised Land, the Triumph and Tragedy of Israel, and current Israeli political and security issues.  He's more of an optimist about the Kerry talks than I am.  That said, I simply had to buy the book afterward, and it's sitting in my backpack as I type.  I'll have to get back in the habit of posting book reviews.  (Oops, I never posted a book review about Like Dreamers!  I reviewed it on Goodreads, instead.  That's what happens when I write in more than one place, which is one of the reasons why I'm not on Facebook.)

Ahem, what was I saying before I so rudely interrupted myself?

Oh, yes--I was talking about sessions!

Ellen Flax posed the intriguing question, "Is the Kindle Kosher?"  Not only are there halachic issues involving turned an e-reader on and/or off on Shabbat (if you accept the prohibition against turning electrical devices on or off on Shabbat), there's also the question of whether the print on the screen is a form of writing, also forbidden on Shabbat.  But beyond that, there's an ecological issue--what does one do with a discarded e-reader?  Apparently, not every component can be recycled, whereas trees are a renewable resource.  I'd never considered the possibility that printed books might be more earth-friendly.

Speaking of electronic devices, one of the reasons why I decided against taking photos or shooting videos was that I was disturbed, as I often am, nowadays, by the amount of time and number of locations--appropriate or not--that people use their smartphones or tablets.  Where is it written that one must answer a phone call immediately, whether the timing is good or not?  Nu, isn't that what Voice Mail is for?  As for checking one's smartphone, tweeting and/or texting during a talk or concert, call me old-fashioned, but I think that's rude.  Besides, if you spend too much time shooting videos at a concert, you kinda miss the concert, and might as well be watching it on tv.  I've given up shooting videos at concerts--I'd rather sing along and dance than shoot.  :) 

Ahem--more sessions, please!

David Suissa, an Israeli Jew from the Arabic-speaking Jewish community, called his session "The Great Train Robbery and the Peace Process," and asked, "How can you negotiate peace if the other side thinks you're a thief?"  First, the Arab world considered the State of Israel an interloper that was making the Arab world pay for the sins of Europe (i.e., the Shoah/Holocaust).  Then, Israel made the fatal mistake of not combatting the accusation that the land on which the State stands was stolen (hence the title and question.)  Why would the world give Israel credit for returning Gaza when it held the opinion that Israel had never legitimately "owned" Gaza in the first place?  And now, the Palestinian leadership is milking Palestinian victimhood for all it's worth--they get more international sympathy (and, presumably, more international funding) from the continuing "occupation" than they would get if they actually had a state.  This was certainly one of the more intriguing arguments I've heard for ending the occupation.

I honestly can't remember whether it was Ari Shavit or David Suissa who suggested that a good "holding position," in a era in which peace doesn't seem possible, would be that, since roughly 75% of Israeli settlers live west of the security barrier and 95% of the Palestinians live east of the security barrier, the 25% of settlers who live east of the security barrier should be unilaterally withdrawn (heaven help them).  Naturally, that didn't go over too well with some folks in the audience, as nothing seems to have been gained from the "hitnatkut"/unilateral withdrawal from Gaza.  I'm among the once-burned-twice-shy skeptics.

But enough serious talk--it was time for more music!  At Sunday night's Limmudapalooza, I enjoyed Jake Goodman's clowning around, danced to Naomi Less's singing and guitar-playing (not to mention the rest of her band), and was delighted by Scott Stein's very fine piano playing and singing.  Even the Jewish a capella group Six13 got in on the act--literally--bringing their spirited singing and beat-boxing to the onstage and in-the-house party.  I got a kick out of their demonstration showing how one creates percussion sounds with the voice alone.

Later, TavChe GravChe gave a delightful concert of Sefardi music.  I didn't have much luck trying to sing in Mizrachi-accented Hebrew, nor could I dance to a "Turkish nine" rhythm, but I did manage to sneak in quite a bit of dancing, along with half the audience.

On Monday morning, a couple of bloggers, ex-bloggers, would-be bloggers, and a curious person or two got together with David Staum to talk about Jewish blogging.  The names of good and/or controversial bloggers were tossed around to those interested in knowing whom to read and/or avoid reading.  It was nice meeting a sometime-commenter, in addition to having bumped into David at "shul."  I never did get around to asking for "how to read your stats" advice, though, so anyone who can explain how I can figure out how many people are reading an individual post is welcome to write some instructions as a comment (or two).

Last, but not least, the Pew Study of American Jews got analyzed.  Rabbi Leon Morris and sociologist and Pew consultant Steven M. Cohen had a few interesting comments on the matter, as you can imagine, particularly from a Reform angle, as that's their place on the "observance spectrum."  I got a kick out of Cohen's "naase v'nishma, we will hear and we will do" approach--get 'em to "do Jewish" by, for example, inviting them to Shabbat dinner in your home, taking them with you to do a service project, etc., and, after a year, they'll stop asking what's in Judaism for them because they'll already know.  :)  I was also amused by Cohen's statement that the Pew people had never met such a contentious bunch of consultants as the Jewish ones, and that they'd enjoyed all the arguing.

The final words of the Limmud NY 2014 Conference went to the Holy One--I'm happy to report that  we were able to get (considerably more than) a minyan for Minchah (Afternoon Service).  And since the hotel had jumped the gun a bit and had already removed all the chairs from Aspen I and II, the entire minyan stood and was counted for G-d.

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Monday, February 17, 2014

My Limmud NY 2014 report: a forshpeis/appetizer

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Parashat Ki Tisa, 5774/2014 edition

Basics here.

Links to last year’s Ki Tisa post and previous versions here.

Exodus Chapter 32 שְׁמוֹת

כו  וַיַּעֲמֹד מֹשֶׁה, בְּשַׁעַר הַמַּחֲנֶה, וַיֹּאמֶר, מִי לַיהוָה אֵלָי; וַיֵּאָסְפוּ אֵלָיו, כָּל-בְּנֵי לֵוִי.
26 then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said: 'Whoso is on the LORD'S side, let him come unto me.' And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him.

Call this nepotism or call it a loyalty test, but either way, I smell a rat—why did only Moshe’s tribe answer his call?  Or was this story just an excuse, given after the fact, to explain why all Kohanim/priests came from the tribe of Levi?

יד כִּי לֹא תִשְׁתַּחֲוֶה, לְאֵל אַחֵר: כִּי יְהוָה קַנָּא שְׁמוֹ, אֵל קַנָּא הוּא. 14 For thou shalt bow down to no other god; for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God;

טו פֶּן-תִּכְרֹת בְּרִית, לְיוֹשֵׁב הָאָרֶץ; וְזָנוּ אַחֲרֵי אֱלֹהֵיהֶם, וְזָבְחוּ לֵאלֹהֵיהֶם, וְקָרָא לְךָ, וְאָכַלְתָּ מִזִּבְחוֹ. 15 lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go astray after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and they call thee, and thou eat of their sacrifice;

טז וְלָקַחְתָּ מִבְּנֹתָיו, לְבָנֶיךָ; וְזָנוּ בְנֹתָיו, אַחֲרֵי אֱלֹהֵיהֶן, וְהִזְנוּ אֶת-בָּנֶיךָ, אַחֲרֵי אֱלֹהֵיהֶן. 16 and thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go astray after their gods, and make thy sons go astray after their gods.

Yep, even back in Bible times, our ancestors were worried about intermarriage.  :(  You’ll notice, though, that the concern was only that pagan women would lure away Israelite men—there’s no concern expressed regarding pagan men luring away Israelite women.  Just sayin’.

As for (Ashkenazi) Haftarat Ki Tisa (1 Kings 18:1–39), I don’t think that the liquid that Eliyahu HaNavi/Elijah the Prophet had his assistants pour on the altar was water, though I can’t remember what the television show that I saw on the subject said could have caused spontaneous combustion.  Apparently, Eliyahu HaNavi was a chemist.  :)

Conservadox presents the view of some commentators that the census was part of the preparation for a military draft.

Mechon Hadar’s Rav Shai Held discusses The Importance of Character, Or: Why Stubbornness is Worse Than Idolatry.

Monday, February 10, 2014

I've eaten my last-ever "Lechem Mishneh" :(

Due to yet another problem with my messed-up metabolism, I'm now yeast-free, in addition to being gluten-free and dairy-free.  This creates an interesting halachic challenge.

According to tradition, a Jew is supposed to recite the b'rachah/blessing "ha-motzi" ("Praised is [the One Who] brings forth bread from the earth") over two whole loaves of bread at every Erev Shabbat/Sabbath Eve dinner and every Shabbat lunch, as well as at dinner and lunch on the Shalosh R'galim/Pilgrimage Festivals (and, I believe, Rosh HaShanah/Jewish New Year).  I'm sorry to say that this is no longer possible for me, due to a combination of gluten-intolerance, yeast "intolerance," and logistics.  Yes, it's true that I can buy gluten-free oat matzah for Pesach/Passover and, since I'm Ashkenazit, and Ashkenazi Jews follow the opinion that matzah is always a form of bread--some non-Ashkenazi Jews follow the opinion that matzah is a cracker except on Pesach--I could use gluten-free oat matzah for lechem mishneh.  But I would need three sheets of matzah for every Shabbat and Yom Tov--and, for Shabbat alone, that would mean storing 156 sheets of matzah.  I live in an apartment, folks.  Where on earth could I possibly store well over 156 sheets of matzah?! 

Gluten-free oats rolls were a lot easier to work with, since I could buy them any old time, rather than having to stock up for an entire year all at once.  But they're rolls, folks, and rolls contain yeast.  Oh, well, they were nice while they lasted.  It's a good thing that I can fulfill my obligation to eat an "official halachic meal" by drinking three ounces of grape juice.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Gluten Intolerance, Wheat Allergies and Mitzvos (by Rav Asher Bush)

Important information for gluten-intolerant Jews who wish to observe food-based mitzvot.

" the Shulchan Aruch rules that drinking the Kiddush wine (or other wine afterwards) is considered the meal itself.24 

I'm pretty sure that this refers to drinking the kiddush wine or grape juice oneself, as opposed to saying "Amen" to someone else's kiddush.

I've also been told (by a layperson) that the intention to eat a meal, rather than a snack, makes one "eligible" to recite Birkat HaMazon, which, under most circumstances, is reserved for meals that include bread.

Sunday, February 9, 2014 update

Apparently, I missed this part:

'Accordingly, lacking bread, cake or cookies, the drinking of a reviis of wine (approximately 3 fluid oz.) is considered as a “meal” for this purpose. The generally accepted practice is to consider grape juice to be the same as wine.2

The good news is that grape juice "counts" as wine, which, considering the fact that alcoholic beverages just put me to sleep--the reason why I always drink four cups of grape juice at a Seder--is fortunate for me.

The bad news is that my husband and I have been sharing the contents of our Kiddush cups (one meat, one dairy) for years--and each holds only about four ounces, at most.  If I want to fulfill my obligation to eat a halachic meal without eating bread, I'll have to make sure to drink at least three ounces of grape juice at Kiddush on both Erev Shabbat/Sabbath Eve and at Shabbat lunch.  There goes our grape-juice bill.  (Sigh.)  Well, I've joked for years that we're helping to keep Kedem's grape-juice division in business.  :) 

[Please pardon any formatting weirdness--I'm having trouble controlling the font size.]

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Parashat Tetzaveh, 5774/2014 edition

Monday, February 03, 2014

I'm 65, and that's no jive

My sixty-fifth birthday was this past Shabbat/Sabbath (Saturday).  Fortunately, due to the vaguaries of the Jewish calendar, I was spared from chanting Haftarat T'rumah, which is my least favorite among the haftarot that I know, and had the privilege of chanting Haftarat Shabbat Rosh Chodesh--the haftarah that I learned the hard way--instead.  Not only that, but, since our local synagogue finally became egalitarian this past summer, I also had the privilege of leining (chanting directly from the Torah scroll) my own maftir reading, as well.  What an honor!

We also got a phone call yesterday from our son, wishing us both a happy birthday--my husband's birthday will be tomorrow--and serenading us with a rendition of "Happy Birthday to You" on his violin.  This, on top of the C Lanzbom/Noah Solomon concert we attended--and through which I danced :)--on Saturday night after Shabbat made for a delightful celebration for both of us.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014 update:
Wasting no time, I went down to the MTA Customer Service Center at 3 Stone Street in Manhattan today and got myself a Reduced-Fare MetroCard.  Yep, there are some advantages to getting older.  :)

Happy Birthday, Hubby!
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