Monday, October 30, 2017

My latest health adventures

I'm keeping my mouth shut, literally
Due to a few relatively-minor health problems, there are now so many foods I can't eat that there's not a single snack I can buy from a subway newsstand to nosh on the way home.  That's wonderful news for both my waistline and my wallet--I joked with my husband that I'm going to save us a small fortune.  :)

A hole in, er, two
The poor nurses were just trying to insert an intravenous line into my arm, but weren't having much luck--the right arm wouldn't cooperate.  And so, with many apologies, they poked a hole in my left arm, too, in almost exactly the same place.  So I'm now walking around with nearly-identical wads of gauze pads bound tightly to each arm by self-sticking bandages wrapped all the way around like tefillin straps.  I'm so well-coordinated, I'm practically fashionable.  :)

On a serious note, I'm well acquainted with a number of people who are in much worse health than I, and some of them are startlingly close to my own age, or even considerably younger.  So I've very grateful, indeed, that my health problems are relatively minor.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Writings of interest from the Jewish Week

'Free Speech' Comes at High Cost for Jewish Students.  Bad news.  :(

Thank you Rabbi Shafran--Noam Stadlan thanks a Chareidi (right-wing Orthodox) rabbi for proving that Chareidi arguments against women's ordination are not based on halacha (Jewish religious law).  (Full disclosure:  Noam Stadler used to be one of the Orthodox voices of reason commenting on my blog [under a pseudonym], so, of course, I just had to read this.  In my opinion, the good doctor continues to be an Orthodox voice of reason.)

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Odd woman out

A relative newcomer to our congregation has been driving me nuts--she keeps citing midrashim as if they were the words of the Torah itself.  When we read Parshat B'reshit two weeks ago, she spouted some far-fetched midrash about Kain having killed Havel (Abel) because they were fighting over a woman.  What woman?  According to the text itself, there weren't any women other than Chava (Eve) at the time.

Finally, I'd had enough.  Describing my own surprise when I discovered that the story of Avraham Avinu (Abraham Our Father) breaking the idols was nowhere to be found in the actual written Torah, I challenged this midrash-lover to read the weekly Torah reading (parshat hashvuah) every week, explaining that she'd never know what was written in the Torah and what was rabbinic interpretation unless she actually read the Torah.  I even referred her to the list of weekly readings in Wikipedia and to a website displaying the entire written TaNaCh so that she could read the weekly Torah reading (translated into her native language) on her smartphone.

I was quite taken aback by her response--she looked at me as if I had four heads.  Apparently, her idea of studying Torah is to jump from video to video.  Reading?  What's that?

And my favorite Seudah Shlishit study-session sparring partner undermined my point, thereby shooting me in the foot, when he expressed surprise that the story of Avraham breaking the idols was nowhere to be found in the written Torah.  @#$%^&*!!!

It didn't occur to me until much later that my sparring partner had also shot himself in the foot.  Here's a guy who insists that one can't understand the Torah without reading rabbinic commentary and/or midrashim and accepting them as true, which is one of the main reasons why we're always sparring.  And he's just proven the truth of a recent realization of mine:  One of the few advantages that I have in not being so well acquainted with rabbinic commentary and/or midrashim is that I almost never lose sight of the written text.  Seriously, he's probably been studying Torah for much longer than I, so how could he not know that the story of Abraham breaking the idols is not in the written Torah?

In other news, a funny thing happened to me on the way to a meeting.  My supervisor's newest staff member is both younger and, due to his higher level of education and the nature of his position, higher in rank than the rest of us.  I didn't realize how much higher until I noticed that, while a couple of us were setting up for a meeting (bringing in documents and food), he was taking a seat at the conference table to participate in the meeting.  Seeing him take a seat at the table reminded me of my realization that Senator Elizabeth Warren, who's probably going to run for President, is the same age as I.  My unavoidable conclusion:  If I'm not rich and/or famous by now, I never will be. 

Courtesy of Genesis Rabbah 38.13 R. Hiyya via Wikipedia, here's the midrash (rabbinic interpretative story) about Avraham Avinu (Abraham Our Father) breaking the idols.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The U.S. is becoming an extraction economy

The rest of the United States is headed in the same economic direction as Puerto Rico, says David Akadjian, of Daily Kos--and that's very bad news, indeed.

The proposed tax cuts are "primarily targeted at America’s wealthiest:
  • The top rate for America’s wealthiest will drop from 39.6 percent to 35 percent
  • Elimination of the estate tax (which only affects estates over $5.49 million, $11 million for married couples)
  • A drop for “pass-through entities” from 39.6 percent  to 25 percent  (this is primarily a gift to small, very wealth firms like hedge funds and law firms) 
  • Getting rid of the alternative minimum tax (AMT) which primarily affect people making more than $500,000 per year
  • A super low rate on repatriating money overseas (This helps the Microsofts and Apples of the world who tend to buy back stock when this money comes home—again, boosting the stock market) 
  • Leaving the carried interest loophole in place (Again, largely benefits billionaire hedge fund managers) 
We’re told that we have to do all of this to “free” markets.
What we’re really doing is shifting more wealth to the narrow Wall Street interests that control our country. The more we do this, the more we look like an extraction economy.
If we wanted broad prosperity, instead of extracting, we’d be investing in our country as we grew and as we do well. We’d be paying people more. We’d be investing in education and infrastructure and research.
The reason we’re not is because our country has fallen under the control of a narrow interest. If we want an inclusion economy that works for the people of our country, we’re going to have to remember the importance of politics and democracy.
If we really want a stronger economy, we need to restore our democratic institutions."

Monday, October 09, 2017

High Holiday (and beyond) highs and lows

First, my husband finds out, the day before Rosh HaShanah, that our High Holiday rabbi is sick, which means that my husband has to give "sermons" on the Yamim Noraim for the first time in his 75 years.  I thought he did pretty well, though I'll admit to being biased.  :)  I also have a feeling that a High Holiday rabbi for our congregation is now a thing of the past.  :(

Then we go to a friend's house for lunch on Rosh HaShanah, and I get the lecture of my life about my stomach ulcer.  "Diet won't cure this, and if it becomes a bleeding ulcer, you'll be in really bad shape."  Point taken.  I reverse my decision--I'll let my gastroenterologist cure me first, then I'll see a dietitian/nutritionist about trying to prevent a recurrence.  My appointment with the gastro is next week.

Next, I get tired of my heart playing games with me--speeding up, thumping, and giving me tightness across the chest--so I end up at my cardiologist getting wired with a portable ECG machine two days before Yom Kippur.  It certainly feels weird walking into synagogue on the Sabbath of Sabbaths with wires hanging off of me.  What I have is probably just acid reflux, but I'm not taking chances.

The beginning of Sukkot was delightful, with dry, warm weather.  We went to Gantry State Park yesterday afternoon to do tashlich.  A fine time was had by all, even the East River's fish.  :)

Moed Tov!
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