Saturday, July 29, 2017

The joys, and oys, of being counted

I didn't go to shul today to davven--I was too busy coughing and wiping my nose to pray.

No, I went to synagogue to make a minyan.

As our congregation becomes both smaller and older, with the health and/or mobility problems that often accompany advancing age, getting a minyan requires all hands on deck.

So I dragged myself over to the shul to ensure that we'd have a minyan, which enables a prayer group to read the Torah from the scroll--without a minyan, we'd be forced to read it from a chumash.

It's a good thing I went---even with me there, we still had to wait another 10 minutes to get a minyan.

I didn't dare leave until there were 12 Jews present, not counting me--this leaves some "wiggle room" in case one or two people leave for the ladies' or men's room.  Believe me, I was very happy to be able to go home and back to bed.

Egalitarian Judaism equalizes not only the rights, but also the responsibilities.

Friday, July 28, 2017

"The women did the heavy lifting, the man got all the credit, or, how the Republican repeal failed"

Daily Kos nails it.  Even when female senators Collins and Murkowski are the main ones who saved the Affordable Healthcare Act, a man gets the lion's share of the credit.

Not to mention that Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, who has Stage Four kidney cancer — that means scarce chances of survival — is recovering from a second surgery to remove part of a rib, and made sure she got to her seat in the Senate Chamber to vote “no", but got little media attention.  ". . . you’ll only find out about it on social media.  Because she’s not a pale male, maybe?"

Let's hope that reasonable people can come up with improvements to healthcare.

But first, they'll have to convince unreasonable people not to sabotage Obamacare and ensure its failure.

This fight isn't over yet.  :(   Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

"The Metal Detectors of Islam"

Mosaic linked to this article on Flickr, which I found quite informative.  Honestly, I don't know how anyone could have expected that when some Palestinians shot and killed Israelis in Jerusalem and sought refuge afterward on the Temple Mount, Israel would not react by installing metal detectors and cameras there, but hey, who asked me?  :(

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Vanishing skills

A college math tutor complains that students not only don't know algebra, they don't know basic arithmetic--they can't add 2 + 2.

At stores, the cashiers can't always figure out how to make change (that is, how much change a customer should receive) if the cash register is not computerized and doesn't indicate how much change to give.

At an office, college students employed part-time as clerical staff mess up the filing system because they don't know how to alphabetize.

And spelling and proper grammar are rapidly becoming lost arts--everybody's too busy texting and tweeting to bother with such details.

Have we become so dependent on calculators, computers, or computerized equipment to do arithmetic, databases to alphabetize at the click of a key, and word-processing programs to correct our spelling and grammar (assuming that we care), that we no longer remember--or, if we're under 50, may never have learned--how to do these things without technological help?

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Matot-Masei 5777/2017: Cattle questions

Here are some oldies but goodies of mine.

B'midbar/Numbers, Chapter 32

1 Now the children of Reuben and the children of Gad had a very great multitude of cattle; and when they saw the land of Jazer, and the land of Gilead, that, behold, the place was a place for cattle,
ב  וַיָּבֹאוּ בְנֵי-גָד, וּבְנֵי רְאוּבֵן; וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֶל-מֹשֶׁה וְאֶל-אֶלְעָזָר הַכֹּהֵן, וְאֶל-נְשִׂיאֵי הָעֵדָה לֵאמֹר.2 the children of Gad and the children of Reuben came and spoke unto Moses, and to Eleazar the priest, and unto the princes of the congregation, saying:
ג  עֲטָרוֹת וְדִיבֹן וְיַעְזֵר וְנִמְרָה, וְחֶשְׁבּוֹן וְאֶלְעָלֵה, וּשְׂבָם וּנְבוֹ, וּבְעֹן.3 'Ataroth, and Dibon, and Jazer, and Nimrah, and Heshbon, and Elealeh, and Sebam, and Nebo, and Beon,
ד  הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר הִכָּה יְהוָה לִפְנֵי עֲדַת יִשְׂרָאֵל--אֶרֶץ מִקְנֶה, הִוא; וְלַעֲבָדֶיךָ, מִקְנֶה.  {ס}4 the land which the LORD smote before the congregation of Israel, is a land for cattle, and thy servants have cattle.' 


Question 1:   If the Israelites had cattle--and, apparently, they did, as they were called on to make a number of sacrificial offerings while still in the wilderness--how could they have been dependent on mahn/manna at the same time?

Question 2:  If, on the one hand, the Israelites have always had cattle, why do only the children of Gad and Reuven say that they have cattle?  If, on the other hand, the cattle was part of the spoils of war, how did only the children of Gad and Reuven end up with cattle?

Y. Bloch, in an old guest post on DovBear, posed questions about the text that may usually be overlooked because they're disturbing.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Politics, family-style

Net neutrality
I told our son that I thought the internet service providers see internet access as a commodity, but the customers see it as a service.

Our son agreed, but said that wasn't the crux of the problem.  He said the problem is that many people over about 50 may think of internet access as a luxury, since they managed without it for a good part of their lives, whereas those who grew up with it see it as a necessity.

My generation grew up hand-writing letters, doing research in printed books, and looking for jobs in printed newspapers.  All of those actions are now done largely online, and some can hardly be done any other way anymore--it's impossible to job-hunt without using the internet.

Our son said that, until the internet generation comes into political power, internet access won't be treated as what it has become--a utility just as necessary as electricity that must be regulated to allow, but limit, profit.

"Who Is a Rabbi?," round #, um, who remembers? :(
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