Saturday, March 14, 2009

Let the Arabs into Israel but keep out the Jews?

I'm scratching my head on this one. One of my rabbis said today in shul that they are voting to allow non-Israeli Arabs to marry into Israel. Since their countries suck compared to Israel they are all going to do it. Meanwhile, it's next to impossible for Jews to make aliyah, even though the rabbis in America tell us to. Chas v'Shalom is what they say in Israel. They think we're all coming for the "great" welfare benefits, despite the good benefits we can get in the United States.

On Thursday night, not having heard this "fantastic" news about the Arabs permission to marry their third cousin and move to Israel, I was speaking with a friend about this. When I told her that it's very difficult for converts to make aliyah because they think we convert for Israel's benefits (so silly, I never heard of Israel before I was converting). Anyhow, this friend said, "everyone comes to NY for THEIR benefits."

Something here is wrong. I don't like to say this often, as I fear sounding like a Chabadnick, but, I think it's time for moshiach to come and take care of all this nonsense.


The gist of these two parshot is the building of the Communion Tent according to the instructions from previous parshot, Terumah and Tetzaveh. I could go through and state every detail of what was done, however, every detail given was previously mentioned and thus, is merely reiteration. Instead, I’m going free style based on the parshot.

I notice that in speaking of the Sabbath laws the phrase, “no matter where you may live,” was included. Could this be a foreshadowing of the future exile from Israel? Perhaps, that was important because they were traveling and thus, once they made it to “the land of milk and honey,” they might be tempted to drop the Sabbath? Here, also, the Torah states not to ignite fire on Shabbos, but says nothing of any other type of work. Although, the Shabbos prohibitions that come to my mind stem from the prohibition against fire lighting.

When I read about how there was too much in the way of materials, this seems to warrant discussion to me. How come we don’t have this problem anymore? Are the Jewish People becoming superficial and thus, like the rest of the world? Also, let me note that the items brought to the building site were probably items borrowed without intention of return from the Egyptians. Because of that, the people would have been keenly aware that these items come from G-d. Unfortunately, in modern times, recognition that all comes from G-d is really only given lip service. If people really believed that, then why are they keeping up with the Cohens while synagogues and Jewish charities need money?

I would also like to use this opportunity to speak about the two menorahs. In Terumah, the purple Torah (Kaplan translation) has commentary that there is actually dispute as to what the original menorah really looked like. There’s the traditional menorah that even the gentiles know. Then there’s the Maimonides menorah. This menorah has straight branches instead of curved ones. I noticed one day walking down 108th Street that one of the Sephardic shuls had that menorah on their building and I processed this. While Maimonides is studied by both Orthodox and Sephardic Jews, I read somewhere that his teachings are more predominant within Sephardim. So I noticed that they put his interpretation, rather than the mainstream interpretation on their building. If you want my opinion, I’m going to bet they’re both wrong based on the fact that there’s differing opinions. Besides which, without the Temple, does it really matter?

I noticed that the incense altar is made in gold and the sacrificial altar made in copper. Being that the incense offering is regarded more highly than offerings, it makes sense that they use the more precious metal for this altar. There are fireplace tools and a screen for the sacrificial altar but not the incense altar. I suppose the incense altar wouldn’t get as messy as the sacrificial altar, as well.

I noticed when they made Aaron’s belt; it was made of wool and linen. I have heard and read amongst Jewish law, that you can’t mix the two for clothing. Is the mixture prohibited because it is a consecrated combination? Or could Aaron’s belt been scandalous?

In the last paragraph of Exodus, it speaks of how the Cloud of G-d would rise from the Tabernacle to indicate when the people were to move on. The Tabernacle was a tent, a temporary place. Earth is a temporary home for people before they go to the world to come. Any given Jewish neighborhood in America is a temporary home away from Israel. G-d is constantly effecting changing in our lives. The temporary should not be frowned upon as it is. Anything temporary is awaiting change, hopefully improvement rather than a downgrade.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Ki Thisa (2007)

The parshah starts off with the tax for census purposes, the monies from which were used for the building of the Communion Tent. Each man over 20, regardless of financial status, was expected to give a half shekel-no more, no less.

There was a washstand made of copper between the Communion Tent and altar. Aaron and his descendants would was their hands and feet there. They are presenting an offering to G-d, thus they must wash.

A formula was given for the holy anointing oil. The contents included: distilled myrrh, cinnamon, fragrant cane, cassia and olive oil. They would use this to anoint many of the items used for worship, as well as the kohanium. No one was to use this formula outside of this prescribed usage. If they did, they would be cut off. Then a formula for incense was given. This had the same type of restrictions to worship usage.

Then G-d picks out a group of Israelites to be the skilled laborers and their assistants. He lists again all the items he just spoke of and states that they will make all of these items, as prescribed.

There are two whole paragraphs devoted, at this point, to the importance of keeping the Sabbath. We are to do our work the other six days of the week, but not on Shabbat. This is indicative of the creation of the world in six days, followed by a day of rest.

Since Moses was gone so long, the men [as per the pro-female midrash] gathered up gold jewelry, melted it down and created a golden calf. They decided, on their own, that this was the Jewish god. We know that because the said it was Israel, and that god that brought you out of Egypt. They even sacrificed offerings to this man-made creation. I’m sorry but, what were they thinking? They create a golden calf and then decide that not only is it worthy to make offerings to, but, that it is in fact the Creator. How can man creator the being that being that created man? I think I’m liking that midrash that says us women had nothing to do with this.

G-d was beyond ticked, miffed or perturbed. He was infuriated. However, Moses was able to convince Him not to unleash His wrath on the people of Israel. After all, they Egypt would get to gloat. So, Moses comes down the mountain to see this golden calf celebration. He takes the tablets he has just brought from G-d and throws them down. Then he throws the calf into the fire and has a little chat with Aaron. Aaron blames it on the people and their bad tendencies. Moishe asks for the people that are with G-d and the Levite respond. They are given the task of killing the remaining Israelites (the ones who were involved in the golden calf incident.) For those that remained (of the golden calf incident), their punishment was a plague.

So the news came that the people were on their way to land flowing with milk and honey. However, G-d would not go with them. Instead, an angel would lead before them. This made them take off their jewelry and mourn. Moses set up a Meeting Tent where those who sought G-d would go. Moses had the privilege of speaking to G-d, as people speak to each other, one on one. Also, his aid, Joshua son of Nun, stayed in the tent, even when Moishe left it.

At this point, Moses argues to G-d that since they will go to the Promised Land via an angel and not G-d, Himself, how can Moishe really believe that he is pleasing to G-d?

G-d allows Moses to see His afterglow, that is, He passes by Moses and after He Himself has past there will still be a vision of what follows. I translate that into afterglow.

So, G-d instructs Moses to carve out another two tablets. G-d re-gives him the same words as before since he broke the first two tablets (with good cause, I might add.) As the afterglow is passing, Moses calls out to G-d speaking of His Just and merciful nature. Moishe prostrates himself and begs again that He will go with them. G-d makes a covenant to do unseen miracles for the people. G-d warns him to be careful. He will drive out the other nations but, the people must not make any treaties with these people or have anything to do with their gods.

G-d made me laugh. He tells Moses. “Do not make any cast metal idols.” It’s like... just in case they didn’t learn their lesson, let me REITERATE.

He goes on to state some other redundancies. It’s like, “I meant what I said about the Feast of Matzahs being for all time...” There’s a reminder that the first born gets redeemed. You must not appear before G-d empty handed. Again, Shabbos, keep it. Also, we shouldn’t forget Shavuoth or the Harvest Festival. Three times a year, the males should present themselves before G-d. Also, for pesach, no leaven in one’s possession when they slaughtered the lamb or leaving the sacrifice overnight. We must bring the first fruits of our land to the Temple. Do not cook meat in milk.

Moses came down the mountain with the tablets that had the Ten Commandments on them. When he came down, his face was all aglow. So, Moses would go speak with G-d, bring word down the mountain and then cover his face with a hood. As it’s written it looks like this was an ongoing thing that Moses would always wear this hood except for when he spoke with G-d and brought the words to the people.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

beef on American shallowness

This started as a post I was putting in the Yeshivah World News coffee room about Purim costumes and if they are tznius or not, it morphed into more and I decided to put it here.

The goyim use their holiday in October for the women to dress inappropiately and just say it was a costume. I don't see the big deal if it's low key. Last year I was a ketchup bottle. I'm sure the people who object to costumes, would flip out because I was wearing red. However that's really the only issue. I only wore it at the shul and really I took the hat off because it kept falling off. The "hat" was an upside down funnel, painted red and had a "Heintz 57" label on it. It was pointy so it was really Purim-ish.

As for one other thing about tznius, I'm sick of hearing about how it's hard for men to handle looking at women. They need to get self-control.

That's a major issue in America today. NO ONE seems to value self-control or hard work. It's all instant, plastic, McNOW and "What do you do? Do you have a good enough job?" Everybody is so shallow. I wish I could say observant Jews were above this. Unfortunately, I don't think that's accurate...

25 Random Things About Me...

This was going around Facebook, here is mine.

1) I used to love spinach as a child... I wanted to be all strong like Popeye... I was NOT the typical girl.
2) I went through a basketball phase in high school. I watched it, collected cards and shot hoops in the yard.
3) I’m supposed to be related to Betsy Ross on my father’s side.
4) Last year for Pesach, I ate steak, carrots and mashed potatos for every single meal of the intermediate days. I plan to make this my personal minhag (custom-for the non-Jews reading this)
5) My father forgot and left me at my sister’s wedding.
6) I love dance. I have taken: tap, jazz, ballet, Irish folk dancing and Hip Hop. I dance around my apartment and I watch dance videos on you tube.
7) I have named all four cars I’ve ever owned, 1) Baby (a baby blue, actually was still mom’s car and sister named it. 2)Midnight Manual, “Manny” (a dark midnight blue) 3) Cranberry Craig 4) Peppermint Patrick, named after my mom, sort of.
8) Peppermint Patrick was stolen and burnt up in a field. That was a very sad day of my life.
9) I don’t drink coffee. I drink tea with lots of sugar.
10) I was in the US Army for nine months, sixteen days. I got out because of a shoulder injury.
11) I used to go to the gym and run on the treadmill. I stopped when I became more modest. I really miss it, though. I wish the women’s gyms weren’t so expensive.
12) I once was on a treadmill and I tripped on my shoelaces and fell flat on my face. Ow! I was sore for like a week.
13) I am really good at languages. In college, at one point I was a double major French and Spanish.
14) In the summer of 1995, I did a mini internship in Philadelphia for a week with a translator.
15) I lived in San Antonio for a year.
16) When driving the rental truck and towing Peppermint Patrick (see #7) back, I don’t know how, but I was able to, but I double parked it at a rest stop. I suppose that would endorse that “necessity is the mother of invention” phrase.
17) My mom died the day before my eighteenth birthday and I will always miss her.
18) In the summer of 1996, I went to Mexico on a missions trip.
19) My great-grandfather on my mother’s side was a concert organist.
20) When I was in 10th grade, I won first place for reading poetry in Spanish at the Buffalo Regional Foreign Language Fair.
21) I still have a ceramic bowl from kindergarten or first grade. I have safety pins in it.
22) I was born right around noon on a Friday.
23) I have always loved Cheez-its and still do. I was SO relieved they are kosher.
24) When I came back from the Army, I gave people time on the 24 hour clock and continued to say utilize the latrine for a while knowing full well they would comment.
25) I converted to Orthodox Judaism and I feel like I’ve come home.