Friday, November 26, 2010

Why should anyone be opposed to people doing something good?


Jewish date:  Jewish date:  19 Kislew 5771 (Parashath Wayyeshev).

Today’s holidays:  Friday of the Thirty-Fourth Week of Ordinary Time (Roman Catholicism), Feast Day of St. Hugo Ball (Church of the SubGenius), Eid al-Ghadeer (Islam), Day of the Covenant (Bahá’í Faith).

Note:  Currently I am working with an unreliable Internet connection, so I plan on keeping my posts short for the moment to increase the chances that they actually get through.

If you are expecting me to post on religious oddities so soon after moving to Israel, you are going to be disappointed.  Ra‘ananah is not a major religious center, and so far what I have seen in what might be called “aberrations” have not been spectacular.

Given this situation, today’s topic is an article by Rav Shmuely Boteach, “The Morality of Gay Adoption”.  Just about anything concerning homosexuals is a controversial topic in the United States, as the practice of homosexuality is forbidden in many religions.  The immorality of homosexuality itself is not questioned or discussed in this article.  Rather there is an excellent point which merits attention:  doing one thing which is wrong does mean one should not do something else which is right.  Nothing about being a homosexual prevents one from being an upstanding moral person in all other matters.  And it is in the best interests of children to have loving homes.  One may not consider homosexuals to be the best role models for children, but let’s face it:  none of us is truly ideal.  We are all imperfect, even the most virtuous among us, yet no one suggests that people should not raise children due to being imperfect.  Why should we be opposed to people doing anything good in this world?

Peace and Shabbath shalom.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The ’Avoth could not have kept the entire Torah

Middle Eastern lentil soupImage of lentil soup via Wikipedia


Jewish date:  18 Kislew 5771 (evening) (Parashath Wayyeshev).

Today’s holidays:  Feast Day of Andrew Dung-Lac and companions (Roman Catholicism), Feast Day of St. Krisfaluchi (Church of the SubGenius), Eid al-Ghadeer (Islam).

I am alive and well, currently in Ra‘ananah, Israel.  I have been here for a week and am living under a name which transliterates as ’Aharon Shelomoh ’Edhelman.  And I have been very busy and very tired.  Making ‘aliyyah (moving to Israel) is a frightfully complicated processes.  Much of what I have done is doing things which need to get done as soon as possible:  getting an identity document, signing up with a health organization, getting a bank account, and telling the Ministry of Absorption so they deposit money in said account for the next few months.  There has also been a lot of looking for and buying various things necessary that were not taken in my suitcases, such as hangers, food, and kitchen utensils.  (Yet I still do not have a hotplate.  Or a cell phone.)  I have also started studying in ’ulpan (Hebrew classes); I tested as fairly advanced and have been bored by the grammar review and find exercises requiring impromptu acting much more interesting.

Given how tired I am, let us proceed to a video which discusses a controversial religious idea and saves me the trouble of analysis by doing a pretty good job itself:  “Yeshiva guy says over a vort”.  Yeshivah is a Hebrew term literally meaning “sitting” and used frequently to refer to institutions of Jewish learning.  Vort is Yiddish for “word” and often refers to a sermonette.  In this video a yeshivah guy reasons based on the assumption than the ’Avoth (Patriarchs, specifically ’Avraham (Abraham), Yiṣḥaq (Isaac), and Ya‘aqov (Jacob)) kept all the commandments of the Torah before it was given by YHWH.  Taken literally, this leads to severe logical difficulties which the yeshivah guy’s associate mercifully exposes.  And for those who are not fluent in Judeo-English, a vocabulary list is below the video.

  • pasuq = verse (of the Hebrew Bible)
  • Gemara’ = Talmudh (alternate term)
  • berakhah = blessing (including those made before eating)
  • shehakkol = a berakhah made before eating foods which do not have any specific berakhah assigned to them
  • mezonoth = a berakhah made before eating foods made of grain (except bread)
  • Massekheth Berakhoth = the name of a tractate in the Talmudh
  • kol hatTorah kullahh = the entire Torah
  • miṣwoth = commandments
  • lulav = palm branch
  • ’ethrogh = citron (a lemon-like fruit)
  • Sukkoth = a major Jewish holiday, the last one I celebrated in the United States
  • zekher or zekher in leining Parashath Zakhor = a controversy in how to pronounce a single vowel when reading the Torah which mystifies your humble blogger since he is unaware of one of the positions having any basis in manuscripts
  • sefer Torah = Torah scroll
  • gidh hannasheh = sciatic nerve
  • terumah = a portion of food required to be given to the Priests
  • YU = Yeshiva University, which leans rationalist
  • mesorah = tradition
  • kefirah = heresy

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Why did ‘Esaw reconcile with Ya‘aqov?


Jewish date:  2 Kislew 5771 (Parashath Wayyeṣe’).

Today’s holidays:  Dedication of St. John Lateran (Roman Catholicism), Feast Day of St. Harold “Doc” Edgerton (Church of the SubGenius), Feast Day of Saint Nectarios (Greek Orthodox Christianity).

Yes, I am not posting much these days.  My plans to move to Israel have advanced considerably.  I will be making the move on November 15-16, and getting everything ready takes a lot of time and effort.  Expect posts to be few and far between for a while.

I have begun reading The Golden Bough and am finding it considerably better than The White Goddess, but it will be some time before I finish the book.

Jerusalem, Bar Mitzvah at the Western WallImage via Wikipedia
Unfortunately, I do not really have time and energy for serious analysis of religious fallacies and misinformation in the news right now.  In lieu of that, I will leave you for the moment with a creative invitation for a bar miṣwah celebration which is roaming the Internet:

The creators of this invitation clearly know something of the events portrayed in Genesis 33, which will be read from the Torah at services that morning.


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