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Lethargic Man (anag.)

Lethargic Man (anag.)
Date: 2016-12-07 12:44
Subject: Kaddish in the absence of a minyan
Security: Public
Jewish communal prayer is traditionally recited in the presence of a minyan, a quorum of ten adults. When a minyan is not available, certain prayers—Kaddish, Bār’chu and Kedusha (along with reading from the Torah with blessings)—cannot be recited. Today’s custom is not to say anything here when there is no minyan present, but I was fascinated to discover the first ever siddur, the ninth-century Seder Rav Amrām, gives versions of each of these (with no explanation) for the solo davener. And the first one, at least, is fascinating, with an extended quotation from the literature of Merkavah mysticism.

I thought it might be nice (having previously googled for a translation of the first of these texts, and only been able to find bits of it) to make these texts available for small prayer groups, where not having a minyan is a real possibility; so they can use them as a study resource to fill the slightly awkward gap not being able to recite Kaddish or Bār’chu can leave, or to recite them in part or entirety.

So here's the first one for you; watch this space for further contributions. And please do let me now if you have found any mistakes, or would like to collaborate on this project.

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Lethargic Man (anag.)
Date: 2016-11-06 21:50
Subject: Handbag
Security: Public
My brain is strange.

HAMLET: "I am but mad north-north-west. When the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handbag."
LADY BRACKNELL: "A handbag!?"

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Lethargic Man (anag.)
Date: 2016-10-21 12:36
Subject: "Lay on"
Security: Public
Tags:linguistics geekery
The German for to pick an argument with someone is sich anlegen. This is not the sense in which we use "lay on" in English today, but I wonder whether it once was: "Lay on, Macduff!" —Originally posted on Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments. Please comment there using OpenID or a DreamWidth account (which you no longer need an invite code to create). Though I am leaving comments enabled on LiveJournal for a bit, please don't comment here if you can do so there instead.
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Lethargic Man (anag.)
Date: 2016-10-06 12:31
Subject: Notes from a NNLS/ZF talk: Yitzhak Navon on the Story of Israel's Creation
Security: Public
Tags:cool, israel, limmud

Notes from the NNLS/ZF Israel 60th Anniversary celebrations

The Story of Israel's Creation

Yitzhak Navon (former president of the State of Israel)

BiographyCollapse ) Talk transcript; contains reminiscing about Ben GurionCollapse ) —Originally posted on Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments. Please comment there using OpenID or a DreamWidth account (which you no longer need an invite code to create). Though I am leaving comments enabled on LiveJournal for a bit, please don't comment here if you can do so there instead.
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Lethargic Man (anag.)
Date: 2016-09-26 19:18
Subject: Of oxen and fords
Security: Public
On the train across Germany the other day, I looked up and saw we were pulling into Herford, and for a moment almost thought I was back in the UK.

Speaking of which, did you know the Bosporus translates into English as "Oxford"? (They must have impressive cattle in Turkey, from what I know of it!)

—Originally posted on Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments. Please comment there using OpenID or a DreamWidth account (which you no longer need an invite code to create). Though I am leaving comments enabled on LiveJournal for a bit, please don't comment here if you can do so there instead.
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Lethargic Man (anag.)
Date: 2016-09-20 12:45
Subject: How Litvak (and Yekkish and Poylish) I am
Security: Public

The other week, I was asked to lead bentshing in shul after lunch. We were using the shul's shiny new own bentshers, and I saw they lacked the four lines beginning תהילת ה׳ ידבר פי after the introductory psalm; but I launched into them cheerfully anyway. "It's not the German custom to say these," said the rabbi. "So sue me," I riposted; "I'm a Litvak!"

Well, I got the laugh I was after out of that, but afterwards it occurred to me I'd never sat down and worked out how much of my ancestry came from where; so I did, and here's the result, as far as I can trace my family back, with each concentric ring out from the centre representing one generation back in my ancestry from myself at the centre, and an alternation of males and females among my ancestors clockwise from the top.

(Some of the outermost rings are a bit tentative; and in places I've interpreted a vague "Russia" as probably meaning the Pale of Settlement—the part of historical Poland that came under Russian sovereignity following the eighteenth-century partition of Poland, and to which Catherine the Great, who had suddenly acquired a large Jewish population, and didn't want them dispersing into the rest of her empire, legally confined the Jews.)

View pie chartCollapse ) —Originally posted on Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments. Please comment there using OpenID or a DreamWidth account (which you no longer need an invite code to create). Though I am leaving comments enabled on LiveJournal for a bit, please don't comment here if you can do so there instead.
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Lethargic Man (anag.)
Date: 2016-09-19 20:15
Subject: Computer woes
Security: Public

My Windows laptop has managed to render itself almost completely useless, with very little help from me.* :-(

So now I've got the question of what I do about it. Either I can spend probably a long time googling for solutions, with no guarantee of success; or I can pay through the nose to get the thing fixed at a computer shop (which I've not done or had to do before—and I have no idea how much thigs would cost; how much have such repairs cost you?). Or, alternatively, I can write off the ability to use Windows programs like Word for good, erase Windows and install Xubuntu instead. (I'd still have access to Word, etc, on aviva_m's machine, on request.)

Atm, I'm leaning towards the third of these, because atm Linux is annoying me less than Windows (or MacOS, which seems as unstable for me on my work machine as Windows was fifteen year ago); but it would be annoying to lose ready access (meaning: at in my lunch break at work, or any time aviva_m is using her machine) to Windows. Also, I've yet to find a music player on Linux that can play tracks without a momentary silence between (the one advantage Windows Media Player has over VLC)—anyone recommend anything?

* What happened is that in February Windows updates stopped downloading (progress downloading would stick at 0%). The laptop has spent most of the intervening time offline anyway (I took it to work, to listen to music on, because work won't allow me to plug a foreign device into my work laptop, meaning I can't get my music onto it, and I (still) don't have an MP3 player; and it doesn't recognise the guest wifi at work). But recently I did a bit of googling to try and solve the prolem, which suggested that I should use MSConfig to turn off non-Microsoft services and reboot. Lo and behold, when I did that, the large batch of updates pending already in February (it hadn't yet retrieved the ones from since then) downloaded as far as 68%, and then it put up a message about an invalid certificate. Unfortunately, after I noticed and dealt with this, it refused to download any further; and nor did it when I cancelled the update and tried again. But when I tried rebooting the machine, the moment I touched a key or the trackpad when the user selection menu was displayed to logon, the screen went blank and stayed that way; and this has happened every time I've rebooted since, except when I reboot into Safe Mode. But (a) I can't play music in Safe Mode (or I could live with the problem), (b) reverting to a previous state is broken, and (c) reinstalling Windows doesn't work in Safe Mode. And I can't do a clean install from DVD because I don't have a Windows DVD; I got the laptop secondhand with Windows preinstalled on it.

—Originally posted on Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments. Please comment there using OpenID or a DreamWidth account (which you no longer need an invite code to create). Though I am leaving comments enabled on LiveJournal for a bit, please don't comment here if you can do so there instead.
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Lethargic Man (anag.)
Date: 2016-09-07 13:20
Subject: Notes from Limmud 2005: Who is G-d anyway and how can I believe in Him/Her/It?
Security: Public
Tags:limmud, meta-halacha
Being: an introduction to ReconstructionismCollapse ) —Originally posted on Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments. Please comment there using OpenID or a DreamWidth account (which you no longer need an invite code to create). Though I am leaving comments enabled on LiveJournal for a bit, please don't comment here if you can do so there instead.
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Lethargic Man (anag.)
Date: 2016-09-05 22:34
Subject: Book review: The Sign and the Seal, by Graham Hancock
Security: Public
I am posting my entry for this book in my not-usually-blogged reading log to preemptively head off any comments from ewx following my reference to it (this book) in my last blog post. :o)

The author's quest for the Ark of the Covenant. Knowing Hancock's reputation, I approached the book with an air of scepticism, but found most of his arguments convincing—though a few the opposite.

Amongst the former: that Ethiopia has a long tradition that it had the Ark of the Covenant, that there has been a connection between there and Jerusalem for two thousand years, that although the Ark of the Covenant disappears from the Bible after the time of Solomon, if you read between the lines, there's evidence that it was still present in the time of Hezekiah (Isaiah referring to God dwelling between the cherubim) but absent by the time of Josiah (I'm not entirely convinced by his "the lady doth protest too much" argument, more so by Josiah telling the Levites (2 Chron. 35:3) to put the Ark in the Temple when you'd have thought it was already there, and no reference to the Levites complying, as opposed to the ceremony when Solomon first installed it there), implying the Levites had removed it during the reign of Menashe when the latter put pagan idols in the Temple.

Based on Ethiopian traditions that the Ark arrived in Ethiopia a few centuries later via the Nile, he then claims that it spent the intervening time in the temple at Elephantine, which nicely explains why the temple even existed.

I'm prepared to buy his argument that the first Templars were searching for the Ark, and that (given that there was always an Ethiopian Christian presence in Jerusalem) there may even have been Templars in Ethiopia, but I'm more sceptical of his claims that the Holy Grail was just a cipher for the Ark, and that the Templars gained architectural expertise from documents they found on the Temple site, and left coded messages in the layout of Chartres Cathedral; and whilst it's possible that the shape of the Ark was influenced by Egyptian culture, his claims that Priests and Levites retained knowledge of that Egyptian past in Temple times, or that the Ark was a high-tech artefact, left me cringing and wanting the chapter to end.

He also frequently used midrashic or aggadic evidence in support of the Bible, despite the intervening centuries; the fact he points this out for another source near the end as evidence against that source suggests poor scholarship to me.

The book then concludes with the hair-raising story of his journey back to Axum when it was in rebel hands, and his attempt to see the Ark taken out of its chapel on the one time in the year when that allegedly happened (though he ends up proving it was only a replica that was taken out). The book was also fascinating for its insight into Ethiopian Christianity, which appears to be overlaid on an earlier Judaism (and for a now dying sect which practised Hebraic worship that looked like it dated from the patriarchal (IIRC) period).

—Originally posted on Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments. Please comment there using OpenID or a DreamWidth account (which you no longer need an invite code to create). Though I am leaving comments enabled on LiveJournal for a bit, please don't comment here if you can do so there instead.
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Lethargic Man (anag.)
Date: 2016-09-05 13:15
Subject: Notes from Limmud 2009: The Origins of the Beta Israel of Ethiopia
Security: Public
Tags:cool, limmud, the jewish world
Read more...Collapse ) —Originally posted on Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments. Please comment there using OpenID or a DreamWidth account (which you no longer need an invite code to create). Though I am leaving comments enabled on LiveJournal for a bit, please don't comment here if you can do so there instead.
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