Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Regarding Azazel and Homosexuals in the Same Parasha (Acharei Mot)

Why Evangelicals still love Trump

Because sexist behavior supports the patriarchy.

"In an opinion piece written for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Rodney Hessinger, a history professor at John Carroll University, and Kristen Tobey, an assistant professor of religion and social sciences, explain that it is not revulsion towards adultery, but preservation of patriarchy, that underlies Evangelical “thought,” such that it is, and that’s why Trump will be given a pass by many evangelicals (predominately of the White and Southern variety) no matter what he does, . . . "
"For years, evangelical Christians stood firm on the front lines of the culture war, which they regarded as a fight against the agents of secularism, pluralism, political correctness and science. To paraphrase Michael Gove, Britain’s former justice secretary and staunch Brexit campaigner, evangelicals have long been saying: we have had enough of experts."
"At the very least, Trump’s alliances with white supremacy have not alienated him from a white evangelical support base. Trump’s Islamophobic rhetoric also appeals to a posture of victimization that the Christian right has assumed in the context of increasing religious freedoms for religious minorities in this country, but also in reaction to increasing federal rights for women and queer communities. Trump’s unpredictability, his intense patriarchalism, and even his anti-traditionalism all render him a charismatic leader in Weber’s[4] sense of the term. As such, Trump inhabits a culturally familiar role for some evangelicals who have acutely felt the loss of the culture wars.

Beginning under Reagan’s administration, the American political sphere became increasingly polarized over moral and cultural issues, including gay rights, abortion, and religion in schools."

Pick your poison.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Treppenwitz cries "tricksters!"

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Learning to Spot Fake News: Start With A Gut Check (NPR)

This National Public Radio article was published in October 2017, but better late than never.

  1. Check for previous work: Look around to see whether someone else has already fact-checked the claim or provided a synthesis of research. [Some places to look: WikipediaSnopesPolitifact and NPR's own Fact Checkwebsite.]
  2. Go upstream to the source: Most Web content is not original. Get to the original source to understand the trustworthiness of the information. Is it a reputable scientific journal? Is there an original news media account from a well-known outlet? If that is not immediately apparent, then move to step 3.
  3. Read laterally: Once you get to the source of a claim, read what other people say about the source (publication, author, etc.). The truth is in the network.
  4. Circle back: If you get lost or hit dead ends or find yourself going down a rabbit hole, back up and start over.
Finally, Caulfield argues in his book that one of the most important weapons of fact-checking comes from inside the reader: "When you feel strong emotion — happiness, anger, pride, vindication — and that emotion pushes you to share a 'fact' with others, STOP."
His reasoning: Anything that appeals directly to the "lizard brain" is designed to short-circuit our critical thinking. And these kinds of appeals are very often created by active agents of deception.

Sites For Spotting Lies

Fact-checking sites recommended by the book Web Literacy For Student Fact-Checkers, by Michael Caulfield

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Pesach’s Not Full Of Beans This Year (NY Jewish Week, re kitniyot)

Read the full article here.

"The change [allowing Conservative Ashkenazim to eat kitniyot during Passover] was based on a paper presented to the Rabbinical Assembly’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards by Rabbi David Golinkin. In it, he explained that because kitniyot were the food of mourners among different peoples, such as the Romans in antiquity, Ashkenazi Jews began refraining from eating it on Jewish festivals. Over time, the restriction was applied specifically to Passover.

But, he wrote, it is a “foolish custom” or a “mistaken custom” because it “contradicts the Babylonian Talmud and all the Talmudic sources, and because nearly all the Jews who observed this custom throughout the generations thought it was connected somehow or other to the prohibition against eating chametz [food made with a leavening agent].”

Rabbi Ain pointed out that for “all of the leniencies of the Conservative movement, this is an area they [her congregants] are not running to [embrace]. On the other hand, it took away much of the angst from those who are vegetarians or have other dietary concerns. They can still halachically keep kosher for Passover and eat in a way that is healthy.”"

You can read about my own approach to kitniyot here.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

"I am black *but* comely" ???

Yesterday in synagogue we read Shir HaShirim, the Song of Songs.  I've been puzzled for a good while by chapter 1, verse 5, or, to be precise, by the translation thereof:

ה  שְׁחוֹרָה אֲנִי וְנָאוָה, בְּנוֹת יְרוּשָׁלִָם; כְּאָהֳלֵי קֵדָר, כִּירִיעוֹת שְׁלֹמֹה.5 'I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon.

The Hebrew letter וְ  (vav), when at the beginning of a word, almost always means "and," to the best of my admittedly-limited knowledge.  Wouldn't a literal translation be "Black am I, and comely"?

So I have to ask the question, is "black, but comely" a racist translation?

I mentioned my concern at shul yesterday, and had an interesting discussion with someone who speaks Hebrew better than I, who recommended that I look at the quote in context:

ה  שְׁחוֹרָה אֲנִי וְנָאוָה, בְּנוֹת יְרוּשָׁלִָם; כְּאָהֳלֵי קֵדָר, כִּירִיעוֹת שְׁלֹמֹה.5 'I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon.
ו  אַל-תִּרְאוּנִי שֶׁאֲנִי שְׁחַרְחֹרֶת, שֶׁשְּׁזָפַתְנִי הַשָּׁמֶשׁ; בְּנֵי אִמִּי נִחֲרוּ-בִי, שָׂמֻנִי נֹטֵרָה אֶת-הַכְּרָמִים--כַּרְמִי שֶׁלִּי, לֹא נָטָרְתִּי.6 Look not upon me, that I am swarthy, that the sun hath tanned me; my mother's sons were incensed against me, they made me keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept.'

She suggested that this could be either an urban-rural issue, with city-dwellers being unaccustomed to seeing the skin of these who always work outdoors, or a class issue, with those able to pay others to do their outdoor work possibly looking down their noses at those who show signs of extensive exposure to the sun.

Interesting thoughts, both.

What's your opinion?

Monday, April 02, 2018

Where Does the Afikoman Come From?

See this article in Haaretz for some theories.  (Um, never mind--just do an internet search for "origin of afikoman.")

If I could remember where I read this, I'd be happy to link it, but one theory is that the Greek tradition of "afikoman," or after-dinner partying, while well-known to the rabbis of Palestine, was totally unknown to the rabbis of Babylonia, who misinterpreted "afikoman" as referring to a food.  This (from the Haaretz article) will do:

"The word afikoman has a number of possible origins, mostly from Greek. They have in common the prefix "epi-," Greek for over. What the koman part means is debated, though most scholars believe the root is komos, which has to do with revelry, festivals, and merry-making, and is also the source of our word comedy.
All kinds of revelry took place at the end of Greek festive meals, and sometimes the celebrants would go to other houses to continue the party; sometimes they would stay and sing. It seems that Judah was saying: After the seder, dont go crazy, just go to bed."
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