5/16/2008

Upcoming Posts

Please don’t take my lack of posts on the subject of the current conversion issue for lack of interest. I’m terribly interested. I don’t think that I have much to add, though, except for a few observations. I hope to address them in some upcoming posts, all somewhat related to this issue, including:

· Part 2 of my post on the differences between American and Israeli rabbis.

· The Date Leumi Rabbinate: Sleeping in the bed they helped make.

· What this means for the RCA.

· Reading between the lines of Rav Lichtenstein’s response.

Hopefully:

· A series on some of the major contemporary dilemmas in giyur.

It’s all just a question of having the time.

5/15/2008

Orioles Magic 2008

Sweeping the Sox? Are you kidding?
This is fun. It's not like the playoff teams from the mid-1990s which were basically hired guns. These guys are fun (as this great video demonstrates).

I came up with some nicknames for current players:
Freddy "One Ring To" Bynum
Dave "Fear And" Trembley
Jay "Make 'Em" Payton

I also had to add this other one, for the LA Angels' third base coach:
Dino "Evil Hear No" Ebel

5/09/2008

Jewish Commemorations on Specific Days of the Week

In my last post, I proposed that Yom Haatzmaut should always be celebrated (but not observed) on the first Thursday after 1 Iyar (I formulated it a bit differently, but BZ streamlined it). I mentioned that I don't know of other instances where a Jewish commemoration takes place on a particular day of the week, coordinated with a date. In fact, there are several examples, though some are pretty far-fetched:
  • The best example is the manner in which Purim was observed by villagers in Mishnaic times (see m Megillah 1:1-2). They would always hear Megillat Esther on a Monday or Thursday, either prior to or coinciding with 14 Adar. If I recall correctly, they would still hold the festive meal and deliver mishloach manot on the 14th. The reasons for this maneuvering were socioeconomic, though they found scriptural license ('zmaneihem'). This would be a perfect parallel if not for the fact that, in it, the liturgical components were shifted (except for al hanisim, if they said it; matanot le-evyonim were bound to the reading of the Megillah), whereas the celebratory components remained constant. Nevertheless, I see no reason why liturgy would be more flexible than a meal a priori.
  • According to Ashkenazic custom, we begin saying selihot on the last Saturday night before the last Wednesday before Rosh Hashana (think about that definition; it works).
  • The customary fast days of BeHa"B fall out on the first Monday-Thursday-Monday set after 1 Iyar (and often coincide with Yom Haatzmaut! I believe that at Mercaz HaRav, they say both Hallel and Selichot in the same service when that happens. Talk about an emotional roller-coaster!).
  • The "dalet parshiyot" are recited on Shabbatot which correlate to calender events (the beginning of the months of Adar and Nisan, and Purim).
  • Finally, going a bit further afield, the day of Hakravat Ha-omer was the first Sunday after the beginning of Pesach according to the Sadducees (I had to throw that in).

5/08/2008

More General Thoughts

  • I love it when Yom Haatzmaut is on Thursday, but it irks me a bit that we play with the dates of what ostensibly ought to be considered a Yom Tov. I think there should be a split between the "official" and "observed" holiday (like President's Day in the U. S., and, to a lesser degree, Purim Meshulash - as pointed out by BZ in this comment). 5 Iyar should remain the liturgical Yom Haatzmaut, even if it falls on Shabbat. Yom Hazikaron should always be observed on the first Wednesday after 1 Iyar, and Yom Haatzmaut should always be observed (in terms of public displays such as parades and fireworks, the International Bible quiz, stores and schools closed, etc.) on the following day - i.e., the first Thursday after the first Wednesday after 1 Iyar (like Labor Day in the U.S. is on the first Monday after the first Sunday of September; the difference here is that if 1 Iyar is a Wednesday, Yom Hazikaron would be on 8 Iyar and Yom Haatzmaut on 9 Iyar). Yom Haatzmaut would thus never be observed before 3 Iyar, and never after 9 Iyar. The advantage is that it gives Israelis a taste of the 'long weekend', such as Memorial, Labor and Thanksgiving weekends that Americans have come to love. If an MK reads this and wishes to sponsor a bill in the Knesset promoting this arrangement, please call if "Chok AddeRabbi". Thanks.
  • I'm beginning to learn that it's possible to make a decent living in this country, but you've got to want it badly. I'm hereby writing bifnei am va-edah that the first time I end the month in the black (i.e., out of 'meenoos'), I will sponsor a kiddush. Nedarai la-Shem ashalem negda na le-khol amo'.
  • Modiin was in the news recently as it became the home of the first ever state-funded Reform congregation in Israel. Good for them. I believe that the state should not be funding local religious institutions at all - not shuls, not mikvaot, not eruvin - but as long as they are, any constituted congregation of taxpaying citizens should be entitled to their piece of the pie. The ideal system, for me, would be a "social institution voucher system", whereby every citizen (including children, whose parents would be entitled to the vouchers until the child reaches the age of 18) would be allocated coupons worth X NIS that can be 'spent' on a wide variety of social and cultural institutions. People would be able to divide the coupons, allocating, for example, some to the shul, some to pay for public holiday entertainment, etc. Allocation of public lands would be a thornier issue, but this is a start.
  • Batel Levy didn't win the International Bible Quiz. I guess we Real Jews still know the TaNaCh better. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOp53vyXnRQ&feature=related

5/07/2008

Quick Roundup

  • I haven't discussed the current giyur issue because I've been trying to get a copy of R' Sherman's psak din. In the meantime, I can't help but think that maybe THIS will be the crisis that finally precipitates a Religious-Zionist austritt.
  • In honor of Yom Haatzma'ut, I taught a bit about R. Yehuda Halevi. I had to clarify certain things:
    • He was from Toledo, Spain. He was not a Mud Hens fan.
    • He made aliyah pre- Nefesh B'Nefesh
    • He dreamed his whole life of an idealized Land of Israel, but when he got here, he was steamrolled (or so the legend goes). Some things never change.
  • There was an event for the whole religious community of Modiin this evening. The way I see it, that's a guarantee of at least 5 speeches - Religious Deputy Mayor, 3 Chief Rabbis, and at least one of the following: religious boys' high school head, religious girls' high school head, Hesder Yeshiva head. I got there in time for Maariv, waited 15 minutes for an overtime speech to end, and left after Maariv before the next speech began. These people need to learn how to party.