Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Divrei Torah for Rosh HaShanah

Here are some words of Torah for the Jewish New Year:

~ From Rav Shai Held and Rav Avi Killip of Mechon Hadar

Rav Held:  " . . . HaShanah liturgy makes a startling claim: Rupture at the heart of the Jewish people is not just an ethical or communal problem, it’s also a theological one. If we hate one another, we
cannot serve God. As we search ourselves over these days, let us also ask: How can I love Jewish people (not just the Jewish people, but actual Jewish persons, even ones with whom I vehemently disagree) even as I strive to love God? I cannot bypass the former to get to the latter. We cannot serve God without loving each other."

~ From Rav Shlomo Riskin of Ohr Torah Stone

"We must live so that we may remain God’s witnesses and “a light unto the nations of the world” (Isaiah 42:6)."

~  Al HaAchdut (on  Jewish unity), from Rachelle Fraenkel, mother of murdered teenaged terrorist victim Naftali Fraenkel

"We are one family, and I am my brother's keeper. . . .   Let's all choose an act, large or small, to keep the spirit of those days alive.  It was said, 'We went out searching for the boys, and we discovered ourselves.'"

~ From Rav Dov Linzer of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

"This Kingship teshuvah calls on us to see differently, to envision a more perfect world, to refuse to accept all the problems of the world, all the problems in our communities, all the problems in our personal lives, as unfixable and as givens. It demands that we “remove the obstructions from our eyes,” that we see new horizons, that we see the world not as it is but as it can be.

This teshuvah is self-directed as well. It asks us to look at our own self-focused work in a different light than that to which we have been accustomed. Do not start by asking what you have done wrong and how you can stop yourself from repeating those actions. Start, rather, by closing your eyes and by envisioning what the ideal you looks like."

~  From  Rav Asher Lopatin and rabbinical student Avram Schwartz, Yeshivat Chovevei Torah


Monday, September 22, 2014

What to say when: Accumulated information

Shanah Tovah to one and all.  May all of us be blessed with good health, a decent income, happiness, and peace.

Here's some information concerning prayers and other rituals that I've picked up, and written down, over the years in an attempt to allay my own confusion. Perhaps it'll help some of my readers, as well.  Yes, I've posted this before, but a rerun right before Rosh HaShanah never hurts.  And I'd love to see how the formatting will appear, now that I'm composing in Google Chrome, so here goes:

What to say when: Accumulated information

(^Copied straight from the original post--the formatting looks good, thus far.  Now, I'll copy the text, which is in Word and is newer than the original post--I updated it in 2012.  Wish me continued good luck with the formatting.  Note that many of the links go back to the original post's comments.)

Services on Yamim Noraim and Shalosh R’galim (and other information re rituals)
  • 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:
Blogger 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.
  • Amidah for Rosh Chodesh and Chol HaMoed
    • Shacharit, Mincha, and Maariv/Arvit (Nov. 2, 2011 update)—regular weekday or Shabbat version, to which one adds Yaaleh V’Yavo.
    • Musaf—Rosh Chodesh or Shalosh R’galim version (each of which includes Shabbat additions).
    • 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
    • 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.
    • Weekdays:
      • Rosh Chodesh and Chol HaMoed—4;
      • Shalosh R’galim and Rosh HaShanah—5;
      • Yom Kippur—6.
  • October 2, 2008 updateTashlich 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 [X] that the Hoshanot of Sukkot and Hoshana Rabbah can only be recited if one has a minyan.  (Is this true?  Today's [Sept 22, 2014] update:  It's probably true--I've since heard this from other reliable sources, including an Orthodox rabbi who works in the organization that employs me.)
  • 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:
    • 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.). 
    • For Shabbat Chol HaMoed Sukkot, the reading from the 1st Torah scroll is Sh'mot/Exodus 33:12-34:26, from Parshat Ki Tisa.
    • 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).
    • 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…”).
    • 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.
    • For the 1st day of Pesach, the reading from the 1st Torah scroll is Sh'mot/Exodus 12:21-51, from Parshat Bo.
    • 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).
    • 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).
    • 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.
    • 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). 
    • For the 1st day of Shavuot, the reading from the 1st Torah scroll is Sh’mot/Exodus, 19, 20, from Parshat Yitro.
    • 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 [X], 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 [government employment] days would simply not eat at all if there were no sukkah available.  Talk about 2 halachot canceling each other out, how on earth can you possible “rejoice in your festival” (see below) when you’re fasting, and isn’t it assur to fast on a Yom Tov?  October 22, 2008 update:  Rabbi [X] says that one is forbidden to eat only bread and mezonot (including rice, I’ve heard) outside of a sukkah during Sukkot.  That sounds reasonable to me.  (Note to self:  Stock up on corn (fresh or frozen), corn thins, corn chips/and/or mezonot-free corn tortillas, and on potatoes and/or potato chips.  September 23, 2014 update:  Kasha [roasted buckwheat] and quinoa, neither of which is "mezonot" and both of which are healthy grains, might be even better choices.)  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
    • Aleinu
    • Kaddish Yatom/Mourner’s Kaddish
    • Shir shel Yom/Psalm of the Day
    • Kaddish Yatom/Mourner’s Kaddish
    • L’David, HaShem Ori v’Yish’i
    • Kaddish Yatom/Mourner’s Kaddish
  • 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:
Blogger 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.

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 hereWe 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.
Blogger 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.
  • 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 Paul confirming with Cantor Schwartz 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 [X] doesn’t know what that means.  I guess I’ll just have to swallow the old pride—time to admit to ignorance and ask.  October 2, 2008 update:  I’ve heard that a kvittle is what some people call those little notes that one leaves in the cracks of the Kotel, or, for those who believe in doing such a thing, at the grave of a tzaddik—personally, I’m not 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:
Anonymous 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.

From: [me]
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 Federal gov't 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.)


Wow--the formatting copied perfectly!  May our new year also work out well.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Good news: Editing has been re-enabled

It wasn't my office computer that was preventing me from editing my posts, it was my outdated browser.  Browser now updated, editing re-enabled--yay!

[On second thought, the IT person also installed a new hard drive with more memory.  That probably didn't hurt, either.]

The formatting's weird, though--sorry, I can't edit the spacing.  Methinks I'd better skip my updated Internet Explorer and try posting in Google Chrome, which is also installed on my office computer, instead.

Parashat Nitzavim-Vayelech, 5774/2014 edition

Basics and oldies here.

Come on, folks, even Moshe (Moses) himself says that he's gettin' old and can't get around anymore.  Why does the text, both in earlier parashiot and here, insist that the only reason why he can't enter the promised land is that he sinned?  Does there have to be a theological explanation for everything?  What's wrong with a natural one?

Conservadox puts in a pitch for "the secret things" being a reference to moral and scientific progress.

~ Rav Shai Held says that the ancient hak'hel gathering reminds us of our debt to HaShem and our identity as a community of brothers and sisters in HaShem's covenant.

~ Rav Shlomo Riskin, himself a baal t'shuvah/"returnee" to Orthodox Judaism (a term that he disputes) is optimistic about the prospects for all Jews becoming baalei t'shuvah in "historic times."

~ Rav Dov Linzer insists that all Jews are responsible for embracing the covenant and transmitting Torah.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Today's inductee into my "Design Hall of Shame"

I had to cut this package, which is smaller than my hand, in four places to extract the earbuds, and was afraid I'd end up cutting myself in the process, since the packaging was made of the same plastic as the "weapon" in which Sonicare toothbrush-heads are packaged.

This post will be added to my "design" series.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Today is 9/11

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Son Trek #2, part 7

Part six here.

Our son gave me permission to reveal where he lives.  "River City" is . . .

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

(Since Pittsburgh, PA is home to six--count 'em, 6--universities, you'd be hard pressed to track the Sonster down.)

We drove there by way of the Southern Tier (the string of New York State counties along the Pennsylvania border), stopping at Allegany State Park, NY; Chautauqua Lake, NY; and Lake Erie, PA (one of the Great Lakes, so big that it actually has tides).   On the way home, we took a nice hike in Ricketts Glen State Park, PA, of which I had fond memories from having hiked there with my parents and siblings roughly 50 years ago.  (Yes, I really am that old.  :) )

A Conservative synagogue in Pittsburgh served as our shul away from home shul on Shabbat (Sabbath).  Between Shabbat services, we had lunch with our son for the first time in a couple of years.  Seeing him again after such a long "drought" made us a pair of very happy parents.

The three of us spent all of Sunday together.  We began our day with a tour of the famous Frank Lloyd Wright house Fallingwater, which is within driving distance of Pittsburgh.
Fallingwater, complete with scaffolding, 
so you'll know that the photo's not copied from a postcard  :)

[For closer views, click on the photos.]

It's quite fascinating, how Wright went out of his way to build nature into the house.

Our son, who's the real photographer in the family, took plenty of pictures, often shooting less conventional photos, such as shots of nature along the paths and on the grounds.  Maybe I can persuade him to let me post a few.

After returning to Pittsburgh, we schlepped the young man with us on the Monongahela Incline to get the city view from the top of Mt. Washington.
A double-arched bridge
(Actually, it's a quadruple-arched bridge--
there are two inverted arches in addition to the more usual variety.
It looks a bit like a figure eight
at the point at which the two sets of arches meet.)

Here's why the Mon Incline is not just a tourist trap, but is actually part of the Pittsburgh public transit system:
Mt. Washington is a long way up.
(Note to self:  This shot is from Monday.)

And here's a pre-sunset shot:
Glass Gothic

On Monday, when our son had to return to the lab, my husband and I went to Point State Park, among other places in Pittsburgh.

Point State Park, shot from Mt. Washington

I couldn't resist taking this photo, despite the lamp post--it isn't every day that one can get four bridges in one shot.  (Nor is it every city that paints its bridges yellow.)

City of Bridges
(or Mother Duck and Her Ducklings, er, Mother Bridge and her Bridgelings :) )

Heinz Field, from the Point State Park fountain

I'm not a sports fan, but I think this is a neat shot--it looks as if a section of the stadium is either about to go sailing or about to take flight.  :)

Hope you enjoyed the news and views.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Photos for Friday

I swiped this idea from Trep, who used to do Photo Fridays all the time, once upon a time.

Shira's Shots
Sept. 4, 2014

(Shot from the second-floor entrance to the TJ Maxx store at 
620 Sixth Avenue, aka Avenue of the Americas)

(light fixture, shot from below. same location)

(and an accidental TJ Maxx ad, if you look closely enough :) )

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Tip for the gluten-intolerant: Watch your language! :)

Let's face it, folks--aside from those in the restaurant business, who have to deal with enough of us that they may have developed gluten-free menus or options, most people who don't have problems digesting gluten have no idea what gluten is.  So there's often little point in telling people that one can't eat gluten, if my own relatively-short experience--I've been off of gluten for less than a year--is any indication.

I've found it more helpful to give people a verbal list, rather than to say that I'm gluten-intolerant.  I usually start with "I can't eat wheat."  When necessary, I proceed from there:  "I don't suppose you have any desserts that aren't made with flour," for example.  Many people don't think of wheat as being an ingredient in various foods, and/or don't think of wheat products as, well, wheat products, so specifying individual ingredients, such as flour, and/or wheat products, such as bread, breadcrumbs, croutons, pasta, pizza, bakery products, etc., can help.  For Pesach/Passover, the list changes to matzah, matzah farfel, matzah meal, matza cake meal, matzah balls/kneidlach, matzah brei, etc.

I should also mention that I wasn't being entirely facetious when I suggested that gluten-free folks watch their language.  Here's a conversation that actually took place a few days ago between me and a buddy of ours:

Me:  "You have to remember that gluten equals chametz:  the same foods--wheat, rye, oats, barley, and spelt--that have to be under rabbinic supervision for Pesach are the ones that contain gluten."

Bud:  "I don't have to remember anything--I have more important things to worry about."

Oops, sorry--I didn't mean to sound as if I were giving an order.

Bottom line:  Don't expect people to understand the term "gluten-intolerant" (or Celiac, for that matter), and don't annoy people by constantly trying to teach them that term.  Some will "get it" and remember--one of our co-congregants  has been kind enough to get into the habit of donating tortilla chips, popcorn, and fresh fruit to our shul (synagogue) for kiddush and seudah shlishit to make sure that there's something I can eat--and some just won't, so just give a quick verbal run-down of the list.

Last hurrah

My husband received his last-ever paycheck as a full-time employee yesterday--at 72, he's decided to make life easier for himself and teach college accounting as a part-timer only.  Adjusting our budget should prove interesting.  And this is only round one of our belt-tightening:  round 2 will occur when he retires from teaching, round 3 when he closes his tax and accounting practice, and round 4 will take place when I retire.  The good times, financially speaking, are over.  But we hope to have more free time to enjoy life.
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