Sunday, March 26, 2023

Another kind of cost-benefit analysis

Decades ago, when I was in college, I guzzled gallons of tea—I’ve never cared for coffee—to try to stay awake while doing homework, writing term papers, and/or studying for exams.  It never worked.

Fast forward at least forty years.  I finally realized that eating chocolate, instead of energizing me, actually made me a bit sleepy and off-balance.  Am I the only one who gets put to sleep by caffeine?

In recent months, I realized that eating large quantities of seeds had roughly the same effect on my brain as eating chocolate.  So I gave up my beloved sunflower seeds. 

But last week, I went to a dermatologist because the skin between my fingers was so dry that I thought I might have a fungal infection.  (Is there such a thing as Athlete’s Hand?)  She assured me that all I had was extremely dry skin, and recommended that I switch from hand lotion to ointment.  That did seem to help, but I wondered whether she was treating the symptom while ignoring the cause.

I can’t eat a lot of nuts because they’re loaded with oxalates and cause kidney stones (for those whose stones are oxalate-based).  Eliminating most seeds from my diet, as well, meant that I had very little vitamin E in my diet.

So I decided to start eating sunflower seeds again, but I have to eat them when I’m at home, and preferably in the evening, so that I can go to bed (or at least nap) if they make me tired.  But I can’t eat them after 8:30 PM, lest they give me acid reflux.

The bottom line is that, since some foods give me digestive issues, some can give me kidney stones, some can aggravate my arthritis, and some do odd things to my brain, I have to do a cost-benefit analysis with just about everything I eat.  Sorry, hubby, but accountants don’t have a monopoly.  😊

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Randy Rainbow is at it again :) ["Adult language" alert.]

Some thoughts re Parashat Vayakhel-Pekudei (slightly belated)

Whatever happened to Yitro's/Jethro's suggestion that Moshe/Moses delegate labor? Why did HaShem command Moshe himself to do everything to set up the Ohel Moed? See for yourself--every single command in Exodus, chapter 40, verses 1-15 is in the masculine singular in the Hebrew. I thought the Superman role was restricted to HaShem.😀 Besides, would it even have been physically possible to set up the Mishkan with just one pair of hands?!

Also, I'd love to know how our ancestors (allegedly) got hold of all the luxury items (gold, silver, copper, previous stones, etc.) with which to build the Mishkan/Sanctuary in the Wilderness and sew the priestly garments despite being former slaves and despite being in the middle of nowhere.
On a related note, our ancestors found dolphin skins in the middle of the wilderness?! I don't think so, and neither do the Bible scholars at, who may have solved the mystery by identifying what "tachash" was.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Right name/wrong name

One of my brothers reminded me of something that I knew as a child but forgot--our late mother's English name was Esther, but her Hebrew name was Hadassah.  I've been calling myself by the wrong Hebrew name for probably more than 50 years!

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

This error is so common that I find it a bit difficult to find American Jews who *don’t* make it

I tried to find this piyyot/liturgical poem on the internet and was a bit taken aback not only to hear American Jewish singers sing it incorrectly, but also to find that even some of the *transliterations* were incorrect! 😮 Wikipedia seems to have gotten “Shalom Aleichem” right.
שָׁלוֹם עֲלֵיכֶם מַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁרֵת מַלְאֲכֵי עֶלְיוֹן
מִמֶּלֶךְ מַלְכֵי הַמְּלָכִים הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא
Shalom aleichem mal'achei ha-sharet mal'achei Elyon,
mi-melech malchei ha-milachim ha-kadosh Baruch Hu.
Peace upon you, ministering angels, messengers of the Most High,
sent by the King of Kings, the Holy One, Blessed be He.
[This translation is typical, but slightly off. I’ve heard that there was an ancient ruler who described himself as the King of Kings, which is why the Hebrew actually means “the King of the King of Kings.”😊 ]
‎Notice that the word “angels,” “mal’achei,” is spelled in Hebrew *with* an aleph, whereas the term “King of,” “mal’chei” is spelled *without* an aleph. Yet many American Jews pronounce both terms “mal’achei”, or perhaps “mal’chei”, or perhaps mix the two pronunciations at random.
Maybe it takes an Israeli to sing Shalom Aleichem correctly, so here’s Daphna Rosenberg, of Jerusalem’s Nava Tehila Community, singing this piyyut to a melody that she wrote (and which I had the privilege of hearing her singing in person a few months ago). A word to the wise: Keep your eyes on your siddur (prayer-book) when you're singing "Shalom Aleichem"!

Sunday, March 12, 2023

A response to one of my Megillah-reading questions

A few days ago, I posted question this question on Facebook:  I was once told that the entire Megillat Esther must be read by one person only, and that it's forbidden to give explanations between chapters.  Is this true? If so, kindly explain.  As far as I know, every aliyah of a Torah reading can be read by a different leiner (chanter), and rabbis and others have been known to comment between aliyot. So why should a book from Ketuvim ("Writings") be treated as if it's even more sacred than the Torah ("Five Books of Moses")?
I was looking through old emails when I found this.
"From this, we can conclude that educational comments are permitted, especially if they are done between the various chapters of the megillah. While this may not be appropriate for every community, those who might benefit from it should not see it as halachically inappropriate. If it is to be done, it is a good idea to tell all those listening to the megillah that they should not speak while it is read and must be careful to hear every word."

To Republicans, Decency is "Woke"

Read John Pavlovitz's article here.

Wednesday, March 08, 2023

Haman's Fingers plus Esther's Ėclairs. :)

See the links.  I'll say no more.  😁

Haman's Fingers.

Esther's Ėclairs.

For further explanation, see here.

!@#$%^&*()_+!!! It's officially my 2nd round of COVID

I didn't even have to wait 15 minutes to check my COVID test--the bleeping thing lit up like the top of the Empire State Building almost as soon as I started the timer.  My husband is very unhappy, since this will be his fourth time in quarantine since January.  But the person I *really* feel bad about is our cleaning person, who was here today for hours making this place spotless while my nose was running like a faucet.  😢  I just left a Voice Message on her phone.  I hope that the mask she was wearing all day (at our insistence) and the masks that *we* were wearing all day kept her healthy. 

The good news is that I don't have a fever (at the moment). The bad news is that this round is probably too late to be a "Paxlovid rebound"--I might have a different strain of the virus than I had the first time. 😢

Esther's Ėclairs


That's what I renamed them, and I'm sticking to it!  😀 Why should we name a Purim goody after Purim's baddie?

These are from my gluten-free stash, so you can't have any! 😀

Megillat Esther review on Shushan Purim

What can I say about the Book of Esther?  Plenty!

Haman:  This story needs an anti-Jewish villain, and here he is.  I may be wrong, but I think this is the only place in the Tanach (Bible) where Jews are called Yehudim (Jews), instead of B'nei Yisrael (The Children of Israel) or B'nei Yaakov (The Children of Jacob).

Charvonah:  This story needs an ally, and here he is.  Charvonah plays pretty much the same role in Megillat Esther (see Megillat Esther, 7:9) that Yael plays in Haftarat Beshallah (see Judges 4:17-22).  Never mind that both of them were probably also trying to curry favor with the winning side. 😀

Esther:  This story needs a hero, and here she is.  I may be wrong, but I think that Esther is the only woman in the Tanach (Bible) to lead a group of Jews to victory other than Devorah (see Judges 4-5).

Achashverosh:  This story needs a drunken fool who can be led around by the nose, and here he is.  The only decision that this gullible king makes on his own is to schedule a drinking party.

Unfortunately, Achashverosh is no joke--he's also a serial rapist, and Esther is one of his many victims.  See Esther 2:14.  The concept of consent doesn't even exist in this book.  😡

Mordechai:  Some have said that Mordechai didn't bow to Haman because he was angry that Haman's position hadn't been given to *him.*  That makes more sense to me than any of the midrashim  (Rabbinic explanations) that I've heard about him.  So Mordechai got the king's favorite ticked off enough to scheme to wipe out all of Mordechai's kin in the entire kingdom, and his poor first cousin was left to clean up the mess that he'd created and save all the Jews of the Persian Empire.  Nice job.  Not.  😡

Nevertheless, Mordechai ends up robed in royal purple, while Esther gets stuck with her rapist for the rest of her life.  (See Megillat Esther Is Not A Hollywood Production).  Yet again, a man gets the credit, when it was a woman--Shoshanat Yaakov--who risked her life to save the Jews of Persia.

Some skeptics think that this entire tale is fictitious.  Frankly, I'm not sure that it really matters whether this story is true or not--we can still learn from it, and that's the point.  What we can learn is that Jewish life in Galut/The Diaspora can be hazardous, and we have to live by our wits.  

On a lighter note:


I didn't think to save all the posts about these goodies that I read on Facebook, but here's what I remember.  The original name of these pastries was mohn-taschen, German for poppy-seed pockets.  They got renamed partly because of the similarity to the villain's name.

But that's not the only reason.  "Haman's Hat?"  Good luck finding any mention of a hat in Megillat Esther, much less a three-cornered one!  "Oznei Haman/Haman's Ears," as Israelis call them?  Since when do humans have triangular ears?  Some folks posted that the rabbis simply couldn't deal with the obvious, which is that Esther, a Persian name, is derived from Ishtar, the Persia goddess of fertility.  Come on, folks, we all know what part of the female body a triangle represents!  Why should we name our Purim goodies after the villain?  "Esther's 'Pockets,'" anyone?  Let's have a renaming contest!  The only rule is that the new name has to be "clean" enough for kids!

2:56 PM update

By Georgia, I've got it:  Esther's Eclairs! 

Shushan Purim thoughts (better late than never)

Maybe it's partly because I've now been living in New York City for about 50 years, but, frankly, I'm absolutely scandalized by the idea that it's *ever* a good thing to get so drunk that you can't tell your friends from your enemies. 😡 In NYC, that's a great way to wake up flat on the floor of a subway station platform with a concussion and a missing wallet. 😢

In addition, a person who fulfills the dubious tradition that one is supposed to get drunk on Purim sets a terrible example for young people and makes life even tougher than usual for recovering Jewish alcoholics. 😢 

Okay, rant over. We now return you to your regularly-scheduled scrolling. 😀 I hope you had a happy--and sober--Purim!

Sunday, March 05, 2023

Ouch :(

This just hasn't been our year, thus far. First, my husband got COVID. Then, just when I thought I'd dodged the bullet, our son got COVID, and I caught it from him. And now, just when we thought it was safe to get back in the water and go to synagogue in person for the first time in over a month, my husband woke up with a kidney-stone attack. (He grows 'em like grapes, even though he hasn't eaten spinach in years. [Sorry, Popeye. 😀 ].) So, instead of praying at our local synagogue for the first time in ages, we ended up davvening at a delightful place call NewYork-Presbyterian Queens. Since that's the hospital where my husband's urologist has admitting privileges, I've been there so many times that I can find the Bikkur Cholim (Visiting the Sick) Room in my sleep. I got to munch gefilte fish while they put my husband through the "donut" (CAT Scan machine). This was, of course, after he'd spent about 10 hours on a gurney in an Emergency Room hallway, lined up against the wall with maybe a dozen other patients. He came home with a prescription that will help him "pass" the kidney stone. All's well that ends well. It would be nice if we could all stay healthy at least through Pesach (Passover).

P.S. Many thanks to our son, who called our pharmacy while we were still in the hospital and ran over to pick up his father's prescription just before the pharmacy closed. Since our pharmacy is not open on Sundays, my poor husband would have had to wait for his prescription until Monday if our son hadn't helped out.
<< List
Jewish Bloggers
Join >>