Thursday, January 29, 2009

Converts and Souls

I think most of us have heard the idea that those who converted to Judaism always had Jewish souls. Izgad has a post on converts where he mentions the opposite concept, one which I have never heard before - Jewish apostates who converted to other religions had non-Jewish souls. This on the surface seems contrary to what I've always heard, which is no matter what happens, a Jew always retains a spark of the Jewish soul inside, a 'pintele Yid'

Orthodox judge refuses to recuse himself from sorcery lawsuit

The case involves a suit brought by Eti Cohen, who is demanding her money back from Sana Koma, whom Cohen paid to lift a curse.

Koma said Klein should recuse himself because Orthodox Judaism, which he follows, prohibits the act of sorcery.

In his decision, Klein wrote that people could not "shop" for another judge just because the judge assigned has a different way of life.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Pope and the Bishop

The story is here for those who have not heard.

Here is my take on this situation: The issue of the the original excommunication and subsequent rehabilitation is a question of Catholic dogma. Being a Holocaust denier does not qualify or disqualify the bishop from being a Catholic. So, it would be irresponsible for Jews to oppose the rehabilitation of the bishop on these grounds.

However, I think that the Pope could have done much more than just issue a statement about the Holocaust. For one thing, he could have demoted the bishop. Being a bishop in the Catholic Church is a pretty big deal. By removing the man from a position of leadership and spiritual authority, the Pope could have transformed his words into concrete actions. Choosing not to do so is indeed troubling...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Boycott Israel Properly!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Music Monday - Debussy Arabesque #1

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Erich Kästner vs H.A. Rey

In 1928, Erich Kästner published a children's book called Emil und die Detektive. The book was illustrated by Walter Trier (a Czech born Jew). The book was very popular in the German speaking world, as well as in Europe in general.

I wonder how much influence it had on the illustration style of H.A. Rey and his Curious George books?

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Sign of the Cross

"In all undertakings -- when we enter a place or leave it; before we dress; before we bathe; when we take our meals; when we light the lamps in the evening; before we retire at night; when we sit down to read; before each task -- we trace the sign of the cross on our foreheads."

I've always been envious of how the Christians cross themselves. There is just something so poignant about this gesture. When I was a kid, I used to try to Mogen David myself in analogous situations.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sefer Torat Moshe

There has long been a discussion between people who believe that the Mosaic authorship of the Torah is proven by the Torah itself when it refers to "Torat Moshe", the Torah of Moses. Their opponents argue that this is a generic term which implies some "teaching" or "instruction" and does not mean the notion of the Pentateuch as we know it.

It seems to me that the latter argument is strengthened by the contents of the Book of Joshua. Chapter 8, verse 30 states:
אָז יִבְנֶה יְהוֹשֻׁעַ מִזְבֵּחַ, לַיהוָה אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, בְּהַר, עֵיבָל.
30 Then Joshua built an altar unto the LORD, the God of Israel, in mount Ebal,
לא כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה מֹשֶׁה עֶבֶד-יְהוָה אֶת-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, כַּכָּתוּב בְּסֵפֶר תּוֹרַת מֹשֶׁה--מִזְבַּח אֲבָנִים שְׁלֵמוֹת, אֲשֶׁר לֹא-הֵנִיף עֲלֵיהֶן בַּרְזֶל; וַיַּעֲלוּ עָלָיו עֹלוֹת לַיהוָה, וַיִּזְבְּחוּ שְׁלָמִים. 31 as Moses the servant of the LORD commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of unhewn stones, upon which no man had lifted up any iron; and they offered thereon burnt-offerings unto the LORD, and sacrificed peace-offerings.
לב וַיִּכְתָּב-שָׁם, עַל-הָאֲבָנִים--אֵת, מִשְׁנֵה תּוֹרַת מֹשֶׁה, אֲשֶׁר כָּתַב, לִפְנֵי בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל. 32 And he wrote there upon the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he wrote before the children of Israel.
לג וְכָל-יִשְׂרָאֵל וּזְקֵנָיו וְשֹׁטְרִים וְשֹׁפְטָיו עֹמְדִים מִזֶּה וּמִזֶּה לָאָרוֹן נֶגֶד הַכֹּהֲנִים הַלְוִיִּם נֹשְׂאֵי אֲרוֹן בְּרִית-יְהוָה, כַּגֵּר כָּאֶזְרָח--חֶצְיוֹ אֶל-מוּל הַר-גְּרִזִים, וְהַחֶצְיוֹ אֶל-מוּל הַר-עֵיבָל: כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה מֹשֶׁה עֶבֶד-יְהוָה, לְבָרֵךְ אֶת-הָעָם יִשְׂרָאֵל--בָּרִאשֹׁנָה. 33 And all Israel, and their elders and officers, and their judges, stood on this side the ark and on that side before the priests the Levites, that bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, as well the stranger as the home-born; half of them in front of mount Gerizim and half of them in front of mount Ebal; as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded at the first, that they should bless the people of Israel.
לד וְאַחֲרֵי-כֵן, קָרָא אֶת-כָּל-דִּבְרֵי הַתּוֹרָה, הַבְּרָכָה, וְהַקְּלָלָה--כְּכָל-הַכָּתוּב, בְּסֵפֶר הַתּוֹרָה. 34 And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessing and the curse, according to all that is written in the book of the law.
לה לֹא-הָיָה דָבָר, מִכֹּל אֲשֶׁר-צִוָּה מֹשֶׁה--אֲשֶׁר לֹא-קָרָא יְהוֹשֻׁעַ, נֶגֶד כָּל-קְהַל יִשְׂרָאֵל וְהַנָּשִׁים וְהַטַּף, וְהַגֵּר, הַהֹלֵךְ בְּקִרְבָּם. 35 There was not a word of all that Moses commanded, which Joshua read not before all the assembly of Israel, and the women, and the little ones, and the strangers that walked among them.

It takes a scribe about a year to write a Torah using ink and scroll. It is not clear from the text whether the writing was engraved into the stones or written on it, but it is clear from the text that this effort did not take very long. Furthermore, the reading of the entire "Torah of Moses" implies that this is not the same Torah that we know today.

Comments, questions, concerns?

Taking the Plunge

A fitting picture?

Monday, January 19, 2009

In honor of MLK day

An old Chris Rock bit about Arizona voting against MLK Day:

Now there's a lot of talk about the people of Arizona being racist. ... Now if you don't like black people, that's one thing, but what I can't understand is why people in a hot-ass desert town like Tucson, Arizona wouldn't want a day off work.

It's not like you have to do something black on that day. You don't have to ready Ebony magazine, you don't have to watch Soul Train, all you have to do is not work. Now if this was an Elvis holiday, they'd take that off. It would be like another Christmas. With big fat white guys coming down chimneys with Elvis jumpsuits on, giving out qualudes. Now, everybody doesn't get Martin Luther King's birthday off, even the states that celebrate, some people still have to work.

Now one group that never have to work are prisoners. Criminals. Every criminal in every jail gets the day off work, which means even James Earl Ray, the man who killed Martin Luther King gets the day off. He's so crazy, he's probably walking around prison saying, "Everybody gets the day off today and nobody even bothered to thank me. " Now what Arizona needs to do is give Dr. King somebody else's holiday. There are so many holidays we celebrate every year that mean nothing. Like Columbus Day. Nobody celebrates Columbus Day, nobody puts three ships in their front yard. First of all, Columbus discovered the West Indies. Second of all, the land he discovered had occupants on it. That's like discovering someone's back yard. All Columbus did was discover a West Indian back yard. He got his little flag and said "I claim this land for Spain." And the West Indians are like, "Hey, Mon, get your darn flag off me lawn now. Move it now!" So Arizona, get your act together and hail the King! Thank you very much.

The Parent Paradox Part 2

A while back I wrote a post trying to figure out what duty, if any, a child has to his parents. In some ways, this is a post examining the reverse...

What happens when a parent realizes at some point in their life that they do not have a bond or a relationship with their child? I am not talking about physical abandonment, nor am I talking about a child who is a toddler or a kindergartner. I can see two types of situations - one is that the parent and child are simply incompatible types - they do not share any interests, they do not think alike or perhaps they view things from completely opposite perspectives. If they were not related by blood, these people would never want to associate with one another. Is it fair to say that just because their is a parent and child relationship, these two people need to "love" one another. It is reasonable to expect these feelings on the part of the parent?

The other situation is a little different. What if the parent realizes that they had never wanted to be a parent? Once again, it is not an issue of abandonment. Let's say that this happens when the child is an adult. You could argue and say, well, if you didn't want to be a parent, you should not have had children. But it is not always the case that you know these things before you have children. Perhaps it took years for a parent to realize this. What is his responsibility to his offspring?

PS In case my family reads this some day, this is a purely hypothetical situation...

Music Monday - Elder Curry & his congregation

This was recorded on Dec 16, 1930:

Hard Times - example of classic American gospel:

Thursday, January 15, 2009

PETA Wants To Rename Fish "Sea Kittens"

Since XGH won't do a post on sheitels, I will post something to lighten the mood:

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has launched a marketing campaign to rebrand fish as "sea kittens," a name the organization hopes will increase awareness and make the vertebrates more endearing to those who would eat them.

"A lot of people don't realize that fish are capable of feeling fear and pain, that they develop relationships with each other, and even show affection by gently rubbing against one another," says Ashley Byrne, PETA's sea kitten campaign co-ordinator. "Knowing that the fish sticks in the school cafeteria are really made out of tortured sea kittens makes most kids want to lose their lunch." (source)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Don't feel like it today...

Sorry guys, no music today.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Limey bastards

Client from London kept talking about a "Heath Robinson" design. I had not freakin clue what he was talking about. Turns out it is their version of Rube Goldberg...

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Prostration of the Prince of Denmark

by Reuben Pyatigorsky
(translated from Russian by e-kvetcher)

A Feuilleton

You have probably heard the shocking statements of various European foreign ministers on the topic of the Palestinians. I will not repeat them, but I will tell you about my encounter with the Danish Minister Mogens Lykketoft.
We met in an airport in Israel – our luggage was being checked for bombs by security. Standing next to each other we started talking. And this is where I asked him:
-Why don’t you, Mr. Lykketoft, take these Palestinians yourself?
-I don’t understand, take them where?
-To Denmark. All of Europe loves and defends them, you louder than the rest… We’ll put them on ships. Danish tankers are the best in the world. A million and a half people – we can do in three trips if you mobilize the whole fleet. Once there, we’ll distribute them among the hostels and shelters. Arafat will live in Elsinore and command the militants from there. Like Prince Hamlet.
The Minister was surprised:
-Which militants, what Hamlet?! We don’t have enough territory.
- You have four times our territory, I checked the map. And good infrastructure. Palestinians love good infrastructure: windmills, farms, various discos. A terrorist walks up to a windmill, presses a button on his stomach – and twenty millers are flying through the air. You have to agree, Mogens: the whole town covered in flour, it will be like Christmas.
The Danish Minister was having trouble getting this. But he was starting to understand what I was getting at:
-We can’t! we are a small country with quiet, peace loving people. There are only five million of us.
-Don’t worry, in a couple of months there will be five million of them, and after half a year – ten. So they will catch up very quickly. If I were you, I would not be so stubborn. And your neighbors will begin to respect you. Picture this: a young Palestinian Dane standing on the side of the German Autobahn, pantyhose over his head, a shirt full of rocks, roaring ‘Allahu Akbar’ across all of Europe. A real Viking! This is the way to regain past glory.
-In our country you cannot throw rocks at cars. It counts as a terrorist act, the police shoot without warning.
-You’ll have to get rid of these medieval rules. If you start shooting without warning, Israel will be the first to protest. Freedom for the Danish Palestinians!
-But we don’t oppress them – said the Minister in amazement, - what freedom?
-Regular freedom. They want to establish their country on the west bank of the Orisund Strait and in the Jutland strip. Otherwise, a stone throwing intifada, or how do you say that in Danish?
For some reason he answered in a whisper:
-We don’t have rocks. Only meadows with cows and pigs.
I parried energetically:
-Forget the pigs and the meadows. Arabs don’t like that. And get rid of your ‘Mermaid’. Ship her at dawn, on a boat, to neutral Sweden. Otherwise, Fatah will screw her head off.
Fear turned the Minister’s eyes round, like a Danish krona:
-For what?
- She is out there naked – I explained. – It is an insult to the Palestinian Woman. By the way, speaking of heads, Mogens, do you have small children?
-Yes. I have a five year old grandson, Svend, with a cute button nose.
- Well, when you arrive, run to say goodbye to him. In a week, they will crack his skull with a rock.
- Oh, what horror!! What are you saying?! Such a tiny thing – with a rock? He is my little sunshine, my little Svend. He likes to play with trains.
- No reason for little Svend to play with trains. Arafat’s right to self determination is more important than little trains. And besides, you best get used to this new lifestyle, Mr. Lykketoft. The Palestinians will be now a part of your country. This way is much more interesting. You’ll have to free them from taxes, however Arabic will become a second national language. On top it says “Welcome to Copenhagen” and on the bottom in Arabic script “El Bekaa province. Sacred to Muslims” All day Arabian blues on the radio. Don’t let the cats hear, they will die from envy. And every midnight, across the whole country – stereo muezzin, 500 decibels. Better shut your windows. Also, I don’t recommend straying too far from your house. If you wind up in the Arab neighborhood – you’re guaranteed an express lynching. The cities will be shelled with mortars, the outskirts with machine guns, but not an night, in the morning, when the suburbanites are having coffee with éclairs. So you best convert to hummus.
- We cannot go without coffee and éclairs – said the Minister of Foreign Affairs and began to cry quietly.
-Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it – I tried to console him and even gave him a hug, but no use! A terrible scene – hands covering the face, shaking, says through the tears:
- But why us?
I patted his head and answered conspiratorially, as if revealing a great mystery:
-Because you are their true friend! Right, Mogens?
And Mogens starts weeping even harder.
There we stood drowning in his tears until it was time for him to fly to Denmark. His bodyguards barely managed to take him away. And at the exit door, a Palestinian walked by in his keffiyeh. You should have seen how the Minister yelped with fear. Not used to it yet. I just shook my head. No wonder it is said “Denmark’s a prison!”

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Origin of name "Cast Lead"

is this poem by Chaim Nachman Bialik:

מורי הביא כרכר לי,
בן- עופרת יצוקה -
יודעים אתם לכבוד מה?
לכבוד החנוכה!


My teacher gave me a top
made from cast lead
Do you know the reason why?
In honor of Chanukah!

(Operation Cast Lead began on the last day of Chanukah)

Dark Star

Der tunkel sterne, der birget sich.
Als tuo du, frouwe schoene, so du sehest mich.
So la du diniu ougen gen an einen andern man.
Son weiz doch luetzel iemen, wiez under uns zwein ist getan.
The Dark Star hides itself.
Do likewise, beautiful lady, when you see me.
Let your eyes glance at another man,
And no one will know what goes on between us.

-Der von Kürenberg

Monday, January 05, 2009

Johnny Cash Music Monday - A boy named Sue

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Kassam Show and Tell