Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Gluten-free, dairy-free "bread and butter"

Taking a tip from the Italian custom of dipping bread in olive oil, I've begun spreading coconut oil on gluten-free crackers as a treat.  While olive oil has a stronger, savory flavor, coconut oil is mild-flavored and slightly sweet, which is why I prefer it for "dipping"--I think that coconut oil actually makes a cracker taste a tad like a lightly-sweetened cookie, which is why I recommend it for folks who are trying to limit their sugar consumption.  But feel free to use olive oil (and gluten-free bread, if yeast doesn't bother you).  Enjoy!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Parshat Lech L'cha, 5776/2015 thoughts, belated: Sarah's choice

I got into a real shouting match with one of the other folks at Seudah Shlishit over Sarah's offer of Hagar to her husband as a "surrogate mother"--we disagreed as to whether her choice showed initiative or lack of faith.  As a feminist, I resent the accusation.  On what grounds should Sarah have had faith?  Did HaShem ever speak to her?  Did she have any reason whatsoever to believe that she herself would have a baby after she'd already entered menopause and some 10 years after Hagar had born Yishmael?  I say she had every right to laugh in G-d's face, since the way G-d had treated/ignored her for literally decades was downright insulting.  And by the way, I don't notice anyone holding it against both Leah and Rachel for having gone the same "surrogacy" route--on the contrary, they're both praised for "building the house of Israel."

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Freezer fun

I'm trying to load up our freezer in advance of my two impending eye surgeries, as I expect to be useless around the house for probably at least two months.  So this morning, I made some almond-butter bars.  As you can imagine, given the ingredients, I got myself into a literally sticky situation. :)  There's a song for that:

A-mess Atah hu rishon


As for this afternoon's freezer fun, I'll be bringing my chicken home to, er, roast.  :)

Friday, October 16, 2015

The prisoner's slave: A hidden cost of disability

One spouse can barely walk at all, but neither their insurance nor any government agency will pay for an electric wheelchair or scooter, and the couple can't afford one on their own.  So both spouses spend most of the time at home, because the disabled spouse can't go anywhere without being pushed in a non-motorized wheelchair by the other spouse.  One is a prisoner of disability, while the other is the prisoner's slave.

I don't think we talk enough about the toll of illness and/or disability on the loved one of the disabled.  In many cases, a loved one gets little or no help in caring for the ill or disabled person.  My mother got little more than a few hours of freedom every week when my father, who had some form of dementia, went to a "day program"--other than that time, she could hardly leave the apartment.  Others have had to quit their jobs in order to care for loved ones, endangering their own financial security.  Still others have been sent home repeatedly with loved ones who were discharged from a hospital or institution despite being clearly too ill and/or disabled to be cared for outside of a hospital or institutional setting because, in the U.S., at least, many of the institutions that used to care for the severely disabled no longer exist.

Surely there must be a better way.  Why do these problems always seem to slip under the radar and go unnoticed when it comes time for policy-making?  Why do so many seem to think that it's perfectly acceptable, even laudable, for loved ones of the ill and/or disabled to become their unpaid 24/7 live-in health aides, with scarcely any time, or financial resources, for lives of their own?  I think this is a major challenge that the U.S. (and some other countries, as well) is unwilling to deal with, probably because that would cost money, as it does in the case of special education, and no one wants to pay.  But sweeping this problem under the rug won't help, because it will only get worse as the population ages and more and more of us need help.

Parshat Noach, 5776/2015 thoughts

Okay, this is really a rerun, but I (and DovBear) did write some interesting Noach posts, once upon a time.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The eyes have it :( *

. . . indeed, and what the eyes have are cataracts and a hole in the right macula
Current plans call for two eye surgeries within the next couple of months—first, I have to have the cataract in the right eye removed to give better access to the macula, then, after recovering for about two weeks, I’ll have a second round of surgery to repair the macula.  After the first week of November, I don’t think I’ll be doing much blogging—or anything else, other than listening to music and/or audio-books—for a good while.  Right now, everything looks foggy in the right eye with a dark spot in the middle (which is a great surprise to me—this problem first made itself known only three days ago), so I’ll be glad to see an improvement in my vision.

*“Aye" is an archaic term for “yes,” and “ayes” are “yes” votes—“The ayes have it” means that whoever voted “yes” has won.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Parshat B'reshit, 5776/2015 thoughts, slightly belated: This parshah has more holes than Swiss cheese :)

And that's one of reasons why it's so interesting to read and to write about.

I'm copying this from Word, so I make no promises regarding the formatting.  Here goes.

Genesis Chapter 1 בְּרֵאשִׁית

א  בְּרֵאשִׁית, בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים, אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם, וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ.
1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
ב  וְהָאָרֶץ, הָיְתָה תֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ, וְחֹשֶׁךְ, עַל-פְּנֵי תְהוֹם; וְרוּחַ אֱלֹהִים, מְרַחֶפֶת עַל-פְּנֵי הַמָּיִם.
2 Now the earth was unformed and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters.
ג  וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים, יְהִי אוֹר; וַיְהִי-אוֹר.
3 And God said: 'Let there be light.' And there was light.
ד  וַיַּרְא אֱלֹהִים אֶת-הָאוֹר, כִּי-טוֹב; וַיַּבְדֵּל אֱלֹהִים, בֵּין הָאוֹר וּבֵין הַחֹשֶׁךְ.
4 And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.
ה  וַיִּקְרָא אֱלֹהִים לָאוֹר יוֹם, וְלַחֹשֶׁךְ קָרָא לָיְלָה; וַיְהִי-עֶרֶב וַיְהִי-בֹקֶר, יוֹם אֶחָד.  {פ}
5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day. {P}

. . .

[Later addition below, which accounts for the change in formatting--sorry.]

ח  וַיִּקְרָא אֱלֹהִים לָרָקִיעַ, שָׁמָיִם; וַיְהִי-עֶרֶב וַיְהִי-בֹקֶר, יוֹם שֵׁנִי.  {פ}8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day. {P}

. . .

טז  וַיַּעַשׂ אֱלֹהִים, אֶת-שְׁנֵי הַמְּאֹרֹת הַגְּדֹלִים:  אֶת-הַמָּאוֹר הַגָּדֹל, לְמֶמְשֶׁלֶת הַיּוֹם, וְאֶת-הַמָּאוֹר הַקָּטֹן לְמֶמְשֶׁלֶת הַלַּיְלָה, וְאֵת הַכּוֹכָבִים.
16 And God made the two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; and the stars.
יז  וַיִּתֵּן אֹתָם אֱלֹהִים, בִּרְקִיעַ הַשָּׁמָיִם, לְהָאִיר, עַל-הָאָרֶץ.
17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,
יח  וְלִמְשֹׁל, בַּיּוֹם וּבַלַּיְלָה, וּלְהַבְדִּיל, בֵּין הָאוֹר וּבֵין הַחֹשֶׁךְ; וַיַּרְא אֱלֹהִים, כִּי-טוֹב.
18 and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good.
יט  וַיְהִי-עֶרֶב וַיְהִי-בֹקֶר, יוֹם רְבִיעִי.  {פ}
19 And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.

Given that Hashem created the Heaven "b'reshit" (in the beginning/first?), what was created on the second day, Heaven 2.0?

And given that the sun, moon, and stars weren’t created until the fourth day, what was the “light” that HaShem created on the first day?

כו  וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים, נַעֲשֶׂה אָדָם בְּצַלְמֵנוּ כִּדְמוּתֵנוּ; וְיִרְדּוּ בִדְגַת הַיָּם וּבְעוֹף הַשָּׁמַיִם, וּבַבְּהֵמָה וּבְכָל-הָאָרֶץ, וּבְכָל-הָרֶמֶשׂ, הָרֹמֵשׂ עַל-הָאָרֶץ.
26 And God said: 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.'
כז  וַיִּבְרָא אֱלֹהִים אֶת-הָאָדָם בְּצַלְמוֹ, בְּצֶלֶם אֱלֹהִים בָּרָא אֹתוֹ:  זָכָר וּנְקֵבָה, בָּרָא אֹתָם.
27 And God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.

“ . . . b’tzalmenu/in our image"?  Who was HaShem talking to and/or about?

Also noteworthy, in my opinion:  In Chapter 1, Adam means human.  See Chapter 2 for a completely different “translation.”  And, in Chapter 1, Adam is created last; in Chapter 2, well, see below

Genesis Chapter 2 בְּרֵאשִׁית
א  וַיְכֻלּוּ הַשָּׁמַיִם וְהָאָרֶץ, וְכָל-צְבָאָם.
1 And the heaven and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
ב  וַיְכַל אֱלֹהִים בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי, מְלַאכְתּוֹ אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה; וַיִּשְׁבֹּת בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי, מִכָּל-מְלַאכְתּוֹ אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה.
2 And on the seventh day God finished His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made.
ג  וַיְבָרֶךְ אֱלֹהִים אֶת-יוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי, וַיְקַדֵּשׁ אֹתוֹ:  כִּי בוֹ שָׁבַת מִכָּל-מְלַאכְתּוֹ, אֲשֶׁר-בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים לַעֲשׂוֹת.  {פ}
3 And God blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it; because that in it He rested from all His work which God in creating had made. {P}
ד  אֵלֶּה תוֹלְדוֹת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְהָאָרֶץ, בְּהִבָּרְאָם:  בְּיוֹם, עֲשׂוֹת יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים--אֶרֶץ וְשָׁמָיִם.
4 These are the generations of the heaven and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made earth and heaven.
ה  וְכֹל שִׂיחַ הַשָּׂדֶה, טֶרֶם יִהְיֶה בָאָרֶץ, וְכָל-עֵשֶׂב הַשָּׂדֶה, טֶרֶם יִצְמָח:  כִּי לֹא הִמְטִיר יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים, עַל-הָאָרֶץ, וְאָדָם אַיִן, לַעֲבֹד אֶת-הָאֲדָמָה.
5 No shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no herb of the field had yet sprung up; for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground;
ו  וְאֵד, יַעֲלֶה מִן-הָאָרֶץ, וְהִשְׁקָה, אֶת-כָּל-פְּנֵי הָאֲדָמָה.
6 but there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.
ז  וַיִּיצֶר יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים אֶת-הָאָדָם, עָפָר מִן-הָאֲדָמָה, וַיִּפַּח בְּאַפָּיו, נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים; וַיְהִי הָאָדָם, לְנֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה.
7 Then the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

Whoever divided the Bible into chapters and verses was not only a non-Jew (from what I’ve heard), he/she was also, er, “text-deaf”—why on earth is the end of the first story of creation not included in Chapter 1 when it’s obvious that what’s now Chapter 2, verse 4 is the beginning of a completely different version of the creation story?

כ  וַיִּקְרָא הָאָדָם שֵׁמוֹת, לְכָל-הַבְּהֵמָה וּלְעוֹף הַשָּׁמַיִם, וּלְכֹל, חַיַּת הַשָּׂדֶה; וּלְאָדָם, לֹא-מָצָא עֵזֶר כְּנֶגְדּוֹ.
20 And the man gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found a help meet for him.
כא  וַיַּפֵּל יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים תַּרְדֵּמָה עַל-הָאָדָם, וַיִּישָׁן; וַיִּקַּח, אַחַת מִצַּלְעֹתָיו, וַיִּסְגֹּר בָּשָׂר, תַּחְתֶּנָּה.
21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the place with flesh instead thereof.
כב  וַיִּבֶן יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים אֶת-הַצֵּלָע אֲשֶׁר-לָקַח מִן-הָאָדָם, לְאִשָּׁה; וַיְבִאֶהָ, אֶל-הָאָדָם.
22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from the man, made He a woman, and brought her unto the man.
כג  וַיֹּאמֶר, הָאָדָם, זֹאת הַפַּעַם עֶצֶם מֵעֲצָמַי, וּבָשָׂר מִבְּשָׂרִי; לְזֹאת יִקָּרֵא אִשָּׁה, כִּי מֵאִישׁ לֻקְחָה-זֹּאת.
23 And the man said: 'This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.'

In Chapter 1, Adam is a human being; in Chapter 2, Adam is clearly male, whereas the female is called Ishah.  So does Adam mean: “human” or “man?”

As for the “man’s missing rib” mystery, it’s really not so mysterious—according to this creation story, HaShem performed the world’s first surgery, and since no one inherits the results of surgery, it should come as no surprise that every subsequent male has had a full set of ribs.  ‘Scuse me, but I couldn’t resist giving the literalists a good ribbing.  J

Genesis Chapter 3 בְּרֵאשִׁית
א  וְהַנָּחָשׁ, הָיָה עָרוּם, מִכֹּל חַיַּת הַשָּׂדֶה, אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים; וַיֹּאמֶר, אֶל-הָאִשָּׁה, אַף כִּי-אָמַר אֱלֹהִים, לֹא תֹאכְלוּ מִכֹּל עֵץ הַגָּן.
1 Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman: 'Yea, hath God said: Ye shall not eat of any tree of the garden?'

So what if the serpent was clever?  What was the serpent’s motivation?  We know as little about that from the literal text (p’shat) as we know from the literal text (p’shat) why HaShem chose Avraham Avinu (Abraham Our Father) as the Founding Father of the Jewish People.

Genesis Chapter 4 בְּרֵאשִׁית

ח  וַיֹּאמֶר קַיִן, אֶל-הֶבֶל אָחִיו; וַיְהִי בִּהְיוֹתָם בַּשָּׂדֶה, וַיָּקָם קַיִן אֶל-הֶבֶל אָחִיו וַיַּהַרְגֵהוּ.
8 And Cain spoke unto Abel his brother. And it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.

Talk about holes in the text, what did Kayin actually say?!

יד  הֵן גֵּרַשְׁתָּ אֹתִי הַיּוֹם, מֵעַל פְּנֵי הָאֲדָמָה, וּמִפָּנֶיךָ, אֶסָּתֵר; וְהָיִיתִי נָע וָנָד, בָּאָרֶץ, וְהָיָה כָל-מֹצְאִי, יַהַרְגֵנִי.
14 Behold, Thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the land; and from Thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer in the earth; and it will come to pass, that whosoever findeth me will slay me.'

Who’s gonna find him, when there are no other humans on earth, according to the story?

כג  וַיֹּאמֶר לֶמֶךְ לְנָשָׁיו, עָדָה וְצִלָּה שְׁמַעַן קוֹלִי--נְשֵׁי לֶמֶךְ, הַאְזֵנָּה אִמְרָתִי:  כִּי אִישׁ הָרַגְתִּי לְפִצְעִי, וְיֶלֶד לְחַבֻּרָתִי.
23 And Lamech said unto his wives: Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech; for I have slain a man for wounding me, and a young man for bruising me;

See Chapter 5.

Genesis Chapter 5 בְּרֵאשִׁית
א  זֶה סֵפֶר, תּוֹלְדֹת אָדָם:  בְּיוֹם, בְּרֹא אֱלֹהִים אָדָם, בִּדְמוּת אֱלֹהִים, עָשָׂה אֹתוֹ.
1 This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made He him;
ב  זָכָר וּנְקֵבָה, בְּרָאָם; וַיְבָרֶךְ אֹתָם, וַיִּקְרָא אֶת-שְׁמָם אָדָם, בְּיוֹם, הִבָּרְאָם.
2 male and female created He them, and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.
ג  וַיְחִי אָדָם, שְׁלֹשִׁים וּמְאַת שָׁנָה, וַיּוֹלֶד בִּדְמוּתוֹ, כְּצַלְמוֹ; וַיִּקְרָא אֶת-שְׁמוֹ, שֵׁת.
3 And Adam lived a hundred and thirty years, and begot a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth.

As I wrote previously“An attempt is made at the end of the story that appears second to knit both stories together:  Shet/Seth is born and is described as a replacement for the murdered Hevel/Abel.  However, with the continuation, beginning with chapter 5, of the interrupted "evolution" story, the birth of Shet is mentioned again, but the story of Gan Eden (the Garden of Eden), the snake, and Kayin [Cain] and [Hevel [Abel] simply vanish from Parashat B'reshit, never to reappear.”

(The linked post isn't half bad, if I do say so myself--you might want to read the rest of it.)

כח  וַיְחִי-לֶמֶךְ, שְׁתַּיִם וּשְׁמֹנִים שָׁנָה וּמְאַת שָׁנָה; וַיּוֹלֶד, בֵּן.
28 And Lamech lived a hundred eighty and two years, and begot a son.
כט  וַיִּקְרָא אֶת-שְׁמוֹ נֹחַ, לֵאמֹר:  זֶה יְנַחֲמֵנוּ מִמַּעֲשֵׂנוּ, וּמֵעִצְּבוֹן יָדֵינוּ, מִן-הָאֲדָמָה, אֲשֶׁר אֵרְרָהּ יְהוָה.
29 And he called his name Noah, saying: 'This same shall comfort us in our work and in the toil of our hands, which cometh from the ground which the LORD hath cursed.'

Lemech appears in Chapter 4 as a bragging murderer, and again in Chapter 5 as a descendant of Shet (Seth) and the father of Noach.  Will the real Lemech please stand up?

For an ancient B’reshit (B'reishit, whatever) post of mine, complete with B’reshit links, see here.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Sh'mini Atzeret napkin ring :)

Recycling, Jewish style.  :)

Other examples of "Jewish recycling:"
~ hadassim (myrtle leaves) from the lulav placed in a vase for Sh'mini Atzeret/Simchat Torah

~ etrog marmalade
~ etrog liqueur
~ etrog studded with cloves, used for Havdalah
~ palms from the lulav used instead of a feather for b'dikat chametz
~ seeds from the "bukser/bokser" (dried carob pods) on which we used to crack our teeth as kids on Tu BiSh'vat put into an empty prescription bottle and used as a grogger/raashan/noisemaker on Purim

I'd love to learn about more examples of "Jewish recycling"--feel free to add them in the comments.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Parshat V'zot Ha-B'rachah: 5776/2015 thoughts

You can read the basics here.

Hmm, whatever happened to Shim'on (Shimon, Simeon, Simon)?  I noticed that the tribe of Shim'on got no blessing from Moshe (Moses) before he died.  Was the tribe of Shim'on already so small at the time of Moshe's death (or, alternatively, from a non-traditional perspective, at the time when the blessings were actually written) that they were just plain forgotten?

יח  וְלִזְבוּלֻן אָמַר, שְׂמַח זְבוּלֻן בְּצֵאתֶךָ; וְיִשָּׂשכָר, בְּאֹהָלֶיךָ. 18 And of Zebulun he said: Rejoice, Zebulun, in thy going out, and, Issachar, in thy tents.
יט  עַמִּים, הַר-יִקְרָאוּ--שָׁם, יִזְבְּחוּ זִבְחֵי-צֶדֶק:  כִּי שֶׁפַע יַמִּים יִינָקוּ, וּשְׂפֻנֵי טְמוּנֵי חוֹל.  {ס} 19 They shall call peoples unto the mountain; there shall they offer sacrifices of righteousness; for they shall suck the abundance of the seas, and the hidden treasures of the sand. {S}

[Stubborn post refuses to reformat back to normal margins--sorry.]

I've heard that the rabbis of old interpreted this to mean that  Z'vulun was a tribe of seafaring merchants that supported the tribe of Yissachar the scholars.  How the word "tents" came to be interpreted by the rabbis as "yeshivot" (schools for the study of Jewish sacred texts) is beyond my understanding, but that seems to be the case, from what I've heard and/or read.  Be that as it may, this Yissachar-Z'vulun "partnership" seems to be a basis for the kollel, a type of yeshiva in which Torah scholars are relieved of the responsibility of working for a living and are supported financially by the rest of the Jewish community.

Then, of course, there's the fun that the rabbis had with D'varim/Deuteronomy, 34: 5-12, which couldn't have been dictated by HaShem and written down by Moshe because Moshe had just died.  I've heard that these verses are said to have been written down by Y'hoshua (Joshua).  At least the text says nice things about the recently departed.

Moed Tov, Moadim l'Simchah! I wish you great simchah (joy) on Sh'mini Atzeret/Simchat Torah.

To help you remain pleasant enough to be around, after all that dancing on Erev Simchat Torah :), I'm linking to some rabbinic opinions regarding taking a shower on a Yom Tov (major holiday).  The short version:  a hot-water shower (some say with liquid soap only) and shampoo is permission (if you accept these opinions), but pat your hair dry instead of drying vigorously with the towel.
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