Friday, May 22, 2015

Pre-Shavuot rerun re showering on a Yom Tov, plus

Shower power
See here.

The short version:

Rabbi Ari Enkin states that it's permissible to take a hot-water shower on Yom Tov.  Note: "The melacha of sechita, squeezing, however remains prohibited and therefore one must ensure not to squeeze one's hair after showering, though a light towel drying would be permissible.[18] As is the case concerning Shabbat, only liquid soaps are permitted on Yom Tov."

Rabbi Yehuda Hausman's opinion is that shampooing on a Yom Tov that doesn't coincide with a Shabbat is permissible (but pat the hair dry rather than drying thoroughly).

Others disagree with one or both of these opinions.

The downside of being counted
Shavuot begins tomorrow night, on the heels of Shabbat.  Unfortunately for us congregants, our sanctuary is rented out every Sunday morning.  I hate the idea of davvening (praying) in the "dungeon" (the windowless basement chapel) and putting up with the commotion from upstairs so much that I'd rather go to the only other local shul, despite the mechitzah.  But I can't, because I'm needed to make a minyan.  Oh, well--I've always said that with rights come responsibilities.

Chag Sameach.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

"How & When the 7th Day Became Shabbat" (& what that has to do with Sefirat HaOmer)

I just discovered The  A Historical and Conceptual Approach last week (I think via another blogger’s link), so I haven't read much of yet, but I recommend How and When the Seventh Day Became Shabbat .  (Don't forget to read Part One.)

The short version:  The word “Shabbat” may originally have referred to a Full-Moon observance, counterbalancing Rosh Chodesh (New Moon).  

This series is particularly relevant to Sefirat HaOmer, which we complete every year on the night before Shavout (for 2015, that'll be this coming Friday night)—see footnote 1 directly below:

[1] After publishing the original essay, a friend (Albert Dov Friedberg) called my attention to a possible support for this thesis. Leviticus 23:15 states that the counting of the omer should begin ממחרת השבת (on the day after Shabbat.) This obscure phrase gave rise to various sectarian interpretations. The Qumran sect and the Sadducees interpreted this to mean literally the day after Shabbat, i.e. Sunday, and assumed it referred to either the Shabbat of Chag HaMatzot [Pesach] or the Shabbat afterwards (the Torah does not specify.) The rabbis interpreted it as the day after Yom Tov, but then why would it be called the day after Shabbat? If we assume that the Priestly author was using the older term, then Shabbat would refer to Full-Moon precisely when the first day of Passover fell ( the 15th of Nisan). The next day would then properly be called “the day after Shabbat”! Interestingly, this actually supports the rabbinic position, against those who began counting the Omer on Sunday. (The rabbinic position is also supported by the account of the first Pesach in the land in Joshua 5:11-12 – but a discussion of this would lead us too far afield.) See also the discussion, and the quote of Beer’s words, in Theophile James Meek, “The Sabbath in the Old Testament,” Journal of Biblical Literature 33 (1914): 201-12.

From Parshat Emor:

טו  וּסְפַרְתֶּם לָכֶם, מִמָּחֳרַת הַשַּׁבָּת, מִיּוֹם הֲבִיאֲכֶם, אֶת-עֹמֶר הַתְּנוּפָה:  שֶׁבַע שַׁבָּתוֹת, תְּמִימֹת תִּהְיֶינָה.
15 And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the day of rest [Hebrew:  "Shabbat"], from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the waving; seven weeks shall there be complete;
טז  עַד מִמָּחֳרַת הַשַּׁבָּת הַשְּׁבִיעִת, תִּסְפְּרוּ חֲמִשִּׁים יוֹם; וְהִקְרַבְתֶּם מִנְחָה חֲדָשָׁה, לַיהוָה.
16 even unto the morrow after the seventh week [*] shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall present a new meal-offering unto the LORD.

*The Hebrew word used is "Shabbat," not "shavuah (week). "

[Side note:  As a person with a BA in a foreign language, it annoys me when translators "cheat."  Keep your agenda to yourself, pal.]

From my perspective, this is a case of weaving together more than one received tradition and leaving what I call "visible seams," that is, making no attempt to reconcile the different traditions. (The classic case is, as stated in the linked post, Parshat B'reishit, which recounts two completely different creation stories.)  On one hand, Shabbat, according to this understanding, originated as a Full-Moon observance, and, in the case of Sefirat HaOmer, "mochorat haShabbat (the day after Shabbat/Full Moon)” would, indeed, fall the day after the full moon. On the other hand, the very same mitzvah (commandment) tells us to count seven "Shabbatot," and states quite clearly that the day after that count would be 50 days. If the only meaning of "Shabbat" were "Full Moon," seven Shabbatot would be seven months, not seven weeks!  No wonder there was a machloket (dispute) about when to begin Sefirat HaOmer--the ancients had to determine how to observe a mitzvah in which the word Shabbat had two completely different meanings!

Monday, May 18, 2015


In his rant here, Harry Maryles complains,"Are we going to see female rabbis preaching from behind the Mechitza . . . "

It doesn't seem ever to have occurred to him that, from an Orthodox woman's perspective, male rabbis have always preached from "behind the mechitza," in the sense that, in some Orthodox synagogues, it's just as difficult for a woman to see a man preach as it would be for a man to see a woman preach.

Besides, this wouldn't be the first time in Jewish history that a woman taught men, and not just in modern times, either--hasn't Harry ever heard of B'ruriah or the Maid of Ludmir?

Friday, May 15, 2015

Parshat Behar-Bechukotai 5775/2015

My best Behar-Bechukotai post and links (nothing interesting more recently) is my 2012 version, Behar-Bechukotai, 5772/2012 thoughts

This year's observation:  Apparently the undervaluing of women goes back (at least) as far as the Torah.  :(  (See point 3 in the post linked above.)

~ Conservadox accepts the Soncino Chumash's explanation that the repetition of the prohibition against worshipping idols was aimed at Hebrew slaves sold to pagans.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

"The perversion of conversion: Freundel as a symptom"

See Chuck Davidson's Times of Israel blog post.

I, too, have protested against the "new Jewish papacy," and have been writing about the conversion crisis since 2005--here's a link to several of my posts.

The Israeli Chief Rabbinate seems bound and determined to ensure that as few people convert to Judaism as possible.  :(

A temporary case of "too much stuff, not enough brains" :)

I walk down the hall to the staff kitchen with three containers, one full of egg shells (the remainder of my breakfast), one that formerly held some cut cantaloupe and needs to be rinsed (ditto), and one that still holds a kiwi to be placed in the refrigerator for lunch.  But instead of dumping the egg shells into the garbage can, I open the wrong container and nearly end up ditching the kiwi and putting the egg shells into the 'fridge!  Note to self:  In the future, take the kiwi to the kitchen on your second trip down the hall.  :)

My diary

Once upon a time, this blog hosted some interesting discussions.  (See here for an example.)  But that was then and this is now.  I was quite taken aback when I published a post announcing that our son had finally earned his PhD and got exactly one response.  Heck, another blogger got more responses than that upon announcing the adoption of a puppy.  A puppy trounces a PhD??  Are you serious??

I suppose that I've exhausted a good many of my topics of interest after blogging for over a decade.  Then, too, as my son has ever so, um, "kindly" pointed out, no one is interested in reading about my health challenges.  At this point, I have so few commenters that I'm basically blogging because I like to hear, er, see myself talk.  :)

Sorry I've become so boring.  Thanks to my 2 1/2 readers for your patience.  We now return you to our not-so-regularly-scheduled blog.  :)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Doing the "Countertop Shuffle" :)

I finally figured out how to keep our granite counter top from getting water-stained (or at least minimize the stains)--whenever I use cleanser or liquid dish detergent, I put the cleanser box or the detergent bottle down in a different place.  This gives the counter top a chance to dry.  (I keep the cleanser box in an ink-free plastic bag to prevent the metal bottom from leaving a mark.)  Also, when buying a cutting board or a dish drainer tray (or whatever one calls the thing that one puts under a dish drainer), I try to buy one with "feet" or other structures that hold most of the object above the counter top and allow air to flow underneath.  I recommend the "shuffle" and the air-dry procedure to anyone who has a granite counter top.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Culinary conundrums, & other kitchen adventures

Conflicting diets
Two of our friends are vegan.  I'm headed in the opposite direction--I've cut way back on beans, which we used to eat for dinner several nights a week, because I'm trying to, er, reduce my gas consumption, so to speak.  :)

I'm also having dietary disagreements with my sister.  She can't eat either herbs or spices, and cooks just about everything with fresh onion and garlic.  I, on the other hand, no longer cook with either onions or garlic--um, see above.  I like to make light of it by punning with my sister that, due to her problems with "particulates," she's now a whole-foods person.  :)

Homemade chicken soup
This all becomes very relevant now that we're trying to get back in the habit of cooking our own fleishigs (meat, which, in Jewish law, includes poultry), rather than throwing away our money on kosher take-out.  A couple of weeks ago, my husband did the honors.  His chicken soup was decent, but shvach (bland).  So I tried cooking it longer.  I don't think mine is any less bland.  This is what happens when you cook chicken soup to suit conflicting diets--all we used were carrots and celery, because those are the only soup ingredients I could think of that both my sister and I can eat.  But the longer cooking time made all the chicken fall off the bones, so we threw a good deal of it right back into the soup, and joked that maybe we should have some soup with our chicken.  :)

Sunday, May 10, 2015

An empty-nester's* Mother's Day

It's always felt a little odd to me to celebrate Mother's Day in the absence of the (no-longer-a) child  I mothered.  But I'm delighted that he finally earned his PhD and can now begin the rest of his life.  Three cheers!  And off to our favorite kosher restaurant--any excuse to eat someone else's cooking will do.  :)

We're working on our own cooking, though--stay tumed.


Monday, May 04, 2015

Mug shot :) :) :)

Here's the gift that our son received from his department on the day he graduated with a PhD.

This is the real meaning of "mug shot" (based on another definition of "mug").  But I've never been one to resist a pun, so why start now?  :)


Friday, May 01, 2015

Acharei Mot-Kedoshim, 5775/2015 thoughts

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