Friday, July 30, 2004

A Shabbos Nachamu Interlude
IS 40
Comfort, comfort my people!          
Speak to the heart of Jerusalem, and cry out to her
Gone is her term of punishment.
Gone is the guilt that was hers

Ok, most of that is Safam, not the official Art Scroll translation, but I don't care. I get chills down my spine - actual jolts of electricity - every time I think about this verse. It's fresh snow. Clean laundry. A second chance. And sure we Jews are on our third and our fourth and our fifth chances and sure we've squandered our chances again and again but if the prophets have taught us anything it is this: God isn't a once-bitten twice-shy kind of guy.

That's your Nachamu in a nutshell, baby.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Ninth grade. Our teacher is furious. On and on, he rages about our bad behavior, our disrepect, our attitude. We deserve to be punished, to receive the full measure of his wrath.

However, he says, I will forgive you, because I, Rabbi Velvel Seigelman, am a pitiful person!

Ah, yeshiva memories.  With medication, I can control them.

Mincha at the Shteeble has been moved and revised. It has a point now. The big pediatrician thinks that "We see the donuts" belongs on a T-shirt. He also thinks I should stop calling him the "big pediatrician." I think he should stick to jabbing kids with needles.

Take that  Yutopia!! And that!!

Wonking, huge, double snort

Discussion questions:
  1. Does Renee think Jews are too dumb to update the calendar to take into account the Gregorian switch?
  2. Did Jews "walk" from Spain to North Africa?
  3. Would it have killed Renee to name even one scholar?
  4. Why can't Martin see that his own post proves that the expulsion didn't occur on 9 Av? (if Columbus wrote in his diary on August 3/10 Av doesn't that mean July 30, the date of the expulsion, was NOT Tisha Ba'av?
  5. Why are Renee and Martin so reluctant to accept that sometimes, as Yuter said, Jewish history is about lessons, and not facts?
  6. Would Renee or Martin be more comfortable in the shul, or the shteeble? As usual, I could argue both sides of this.

I am sure Yuter's post, though it is a year old, will come up this Shabbas. But that's still so much better than talking about Rabbi Schechter and the Monkeys, hey, hey, hey.

Tip and a smile to Cookie for the monkey story.

"...a good number of people imagine that by making yiddishkeit look absurd, and thus serving notice that we march to a different drummer, they are forging a link with their zeides and bubbes from the alte heim. But in fact they achieve the exact opposite: they prove that they suffer from boredom"

I could not have said it better, though I sort of wish I had. The author? MoChassid's most recent discovery: Ben Chorin

Hey now, we're coming up on a weekend of 5 times, 5 shabbas lunch invitations that is. Three from RNs, 2 from OMJs.

Happy thought: This can only mean that none of my neighbors have seen the blog yet.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Housekeeping Interlude revised

Thank you chayyeisarah and mochassid for the welcome, the kind words, and the haskomah. How do I send flowers via the net? You're both class acts, and such great bloggers. My cup seriously runneth over.

Quick explanation: Sarah was slightly off the mark when she suggested my RNs are "yeshivish." Some of them are, but many of them aren't. I guess it depends what "yeshivish" is. Among my RNs are graduates (if you can call them that) of the best yeshivot, but also yeshiva drop-outs, people who bopped around between yeshivot, and a handful of hasidim and psudeo-hasidim, which is what I call people who self-identify as hasidic, but still wouldn't be able to get a date in Williamsburg or Boro Park.  Are all these phylums and sub-phylums "yeshivish?" Maybe.  What do you think?

They certainly aren't OMJs, which is my name for the folks on the other side of the ideological tracks. They grew up in big shuls, and went to day schools - Haftr, Ramaz, Frisch - or public school. Some of the OMJs have black-hat yeshivot in their background, others went to KBY or Sha'alavim, many more are YU alums.  Why OMJs though? Because I want to emphasize the orthodox. To my ears, "modern-orthodox" is almost an insult.  Agree?

All this diversity in one very small neighborhood is exciting, of couse, but also a source of tension, a tension I hope to explore as the blog proceeds.

[Note to irreligious Jews and non-Jews. I know you may find these distinctions tiresome. The ants all look alike, I know. But not to the ants.] 

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

This just in:

Hasidim refuse inoculations during the 9 days. I know this through my neighbor, the big pediatrician, who broke the fast with us tonight. "They think it's risky to try anything out of the ordinary during the 9 days," he said through a mouthful of lecho. "I tell them that Whooping Cough is out of the ordinary, too. Makes no difference."

I asked about that Torah verse, you know ushemartem es nafshosaychem?

The big pediatrician shrugged. "Most of this crowd doesn't even know what an inoculation does. They think its magic if they beleive it works at all."

I was appaled. I was offended. How could the big pediatrician be so condescending? Jews are many things, but ignorant?

"Most don't have even a basic secular education you know." the big pediatrician finished.

I did know. I swallowed my lecho. My indignation gone.

The big pediatrician continued. "So many of these people [these people?] are on natural kicks. They refuse all medication. They want natural, natural only. I tell them marijuana is natural, too. Know what they say? What's marijuana??

And so, dear readers, as I cleared away the empty plates, I found myself struggling with a new variation of the same old question... In the long run, who is better off? The man who knows what an inoculation does? Or the man who has never heard of marijuana?

I could argue this either way, and perhaps, in the fullness of time, I will.

I don't mean to pick, but...

Note to last night's Eicha Reader: That word in 2:11 is Kvaydi (my liver) not Kvodi (my glory.)

A poetic interlude for Tisha Ba'av (today)

My heart is in the east, and I am in the furthermost west-- 
    How can I enjoy food? Can it be sweet to me?

How shall I render my vows and my bonds, while yet 
    Zion is held by Edom, and I by Arab chains?

Shouldn't it be easy for me to leave all the good things of Spain -- 
    Seeing how precious it is to behold the dust of the desolate sanctuary.

- Yehuda Halevi

When it isn't Tisha Ba'av perhaps we'll post one or two of his love poems and speculate irresponsibly on the man who wrote the Kuzari, mourned the temple, and enjoyed a rich life in Spain.

Monday, July 26, 2004

I have a friend who imagines himself an RN but is, in fact, an absolute fraud. This is probably why we get on so well.

L also likes to give me a hard time.

You really shouldn't go to work on Tisha Ba'av if you don't have to, he says.

You really shouldn't watch R-rated movies starring Nicole Kidman via your illegal cable box, I reply.

He shrugs. L has thick skin, and it's not often I get the better of him.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

The grand and exalted poobahs at the shteeble have taken NASCAR as their design muse. The whole place will soon be covered with thin, gold plaques, each inscribed with a message offensive to Hebrew, English, Jewish womanhood or, in rare cases, all three.

Some Examples:

1:  Zot nidvat Moshe Pupik v'sugo Shprintza  (Translation: This is a gift of Moshe Pupick and his mate Shprintza)
Was Shprintza consulted? How come her name isn't on the top line? Why sugo/mate and not ishto/wife? 

2:  Yosel Shpornstein and his whole family heartily congratulate and commend the esteemed Rav on his leadership and building of the community.
Your gut says I made that up? Care to bet on it?

3: Dedicated to the everlasting memory of my dear mother, Beryl Basya bas Rivka Rina.
No complaints about the grammar here, but the message appears in quarter-inch letters, on a plaque suspended from the Ner Tamid, 15 feet off the ground. Who aside from Og and, perhaps, Sichon could see this tribute to poor old Mrs. Beryl Basya?

Some 31st century archeologist will fill his doctorate with conclusions drawn from the plaques he finds in the unearthed ruins of our shul. On the evidence, Mr. Archeologist will conclude that we were fifteen-feet tall, misogynistic, and functionally illiterate. But the joke will be on him. We aren't that tall.

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