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Lethargic Man (anag.)

Lethargic Man (anag.)
Date: 2016-02-05 13:17
Subject: A fruitless quest for glacé cherries
Security: Public
It's hard, as a kosher-keeping British ex-pat, continuing to eat the things I like here. I used to have fruit cake as part of my tea most weekdays. Here none of the kosher shops have fruit cake (I mean proper fruit cake; cake with fruit in it doesn't count!). So I decided to make my own (something I've already done with fruit flapjack). But fruit cake isn't worth making if you don't have glacé cherries; they're the best part! And in all the supermarkets here,* the glacé cherries are coloured with carmine, which, being made from crushed beetles,† is as non-kosher as you get. And the biggest kosher shop here, Daily Markt, didn't have any. Which means I'm going to have to make my own... only none of the supermarkets are stocking cherries at this time of year. So no fruitcake for me. *sniff* (But I'll hold onto the ingredients I've already got just in case...)

* REWE, Edeka and Kaufland; Netto didn't have. I've yet to try Kaisers.

† It's labelled "Echte Carmin", thus ruling out any possibility it might be synthetic.

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Lethargic Man (anag.)
Date: 2016-02-03 21:16
Subject: Notes from Limmud 2015: The Ethics of Circumcision
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Tags:limmud, meta-halacha
Snippety-snip (sorry, couldn"t resist it)Collapse )</p> </html> —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: 2016-02-02 21:31
Subject: Berlin
Security: Public

I have realised I never explicitly said here that I have emigrated from London to Berlin (though I mentioned it was coming up soon). Here's a picture of me on the balcony of my new flat. I blend in perfectly, don't you think? They'll never guess I'm not German, what what.

View piccyCollapse )

I tried out my new cycle route to work for the first time today. The old one involved going past a blue plaque that said Paul Robeson had lived there, and a building called the Pirate Castle; the new one involves going past Paul-Robeson-Straße and a building labelled "Pirates Berlin".

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Lethargic Man (anag.)
Date: 2016-01-19 17:46
Subject: Book of Jubilees, פַּרְשַׁת בְּשַׁלַח part 2 of 2
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Tags:jubilees, limmud

The Book of Jubilees concludes with the commandment of the Sabbath, which was given to Moses at this point. The Sabbath has been previously mentioned in Jubilees, in the account of Creation. Because there was a lot of information to convey at that point, I deferred that information to here; so here is it is:

Chapter 2 offers a rare glimpse into what constituted Sabbath observance in the pre-Talmudic period (i.e. a glimpse of how much of the Oral Law of the Talmudic period went back to (or further back than) the third century BCE):

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I strongly suspect that the rationale that is found in the Mishna, that because the commandment to keep the Sabbath is found in the Torah next to that to construct the Tabernacle, the principal activities forbidden on the day of rest are those which went into the construction of the Tabernacle, had not yet arisen at this point (i.e. the rationale is post-facto). Chapter 50 gives a similar list of forbidden activities:

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What stands out in this list is the prohibition of sex. Today sex between man and wife is regarded as an activity recommended for the Sabbath day. I have no idea whether this attitude towards it here represents a shift in views between then and the second century CE, or rather differences between the Pharisaic הַשְׁגָפָה and that of the sect (Saducees? Essenes?) which wrote the Book of Jubilees.

A word about the death penalty declared here for breaking the Sabbath. This is in line with the Torah, but the members of the Sanhedrin and later rabbis of the Talmud, as R. Jeremy Gordon puts it, though passionately in favour of the death penalty in theory, were passionately against its ever being carried out. They legislated impediments against it—the need for two witnesses and forewarning the perpetrator that what they are about to do carries a capital penalty—and ultimately legislated it out of existence, decreeing that only a Sanhedrin located on the Temple Mount had the authority to proclaim a death sentence, and then moving the Sanhedrin off the Temple Mount. Even beforehand, the Talmud says that any Sanhedrin which carried out the death penalty once in seven years, R. Eliezer b. Azariah says once in seventy was called a destructive Sanhedrin.

Unlike the Torah, Jubilees spells out that an exception to the Sabbath prohibitions is needed for the Temple worship to continue on the Sabbath:

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The book concludes with another list of proscribed activities on the Sabbath:

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Two interesting things stand out from this list: the prohibition on fasting: the two major fasts of Judaism today can both fall on Sabbath, but perhaps with the solar calendar used by the author of Jubilees that wasn't the case; presumably the book is rather talking about voluntary fasts.

The other interesting prohibition is that on making war. It would not be long after this book was written that the Hasmonean revolt broke out and put the Jews in the situation where if they refused to fight on the Sabbath, they would—and did—get slaughtered in battle, leading ultimately to the emergence of the principle of פִּקוּחַ נֶפֶשׁ, that the saving of human life overrides all commandments except for the prohibitions on idolatry, adultery and murder. But at the time that Jubilees was written, the Jews had been part of large empires for centuries, and had not needed to fight themselves.

Well, that's the end of my comments on the Book of Jubilees; I hope you found them interesting, Judith and ewx... is anyone else still reading this?

[Dead Sea Scroll of Jubilees] Jubilees posts                     Jewish learning notes index

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Lethargic Man (anag.)
Date: 2016-01-18 21:07
Subject: How long I've lived in various places
Security: Public

I made a graph of how long I've lived in all the places I've lived in in my life, on the eve of my move to Berlin. (It shows cumulative time, and I've counted all the places I was at for long enough for it to feel like living there rather than just visiting: even for my three and a half weeks in Jerusalem, I was paying rent on a flatshare and cooking my dinners at home like normal.)

Note the graph has a log scale: the bars all extend infinitely to the left, so the significance is in the position of their right hand ends, not their areas.

[graph]

FWIW, Hasolelim, Ashkelon and Ugmar 80 (an Israeli army base) were all on my year off; Jerusalem, however, was in the summer of 2007 when I was studying at the Conservative Yeshiva.

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Lethargic Man (anag.)
Date: 2016-01-18 09:47
Subject: Book of Jubilees, פַּרְשַׁת בְּשַׁלַח part 1 of 2
Security: Public
Tags:jubilees, limmud

Chapter 48

(Yes, we're going backwards; Jubilees does not tell the story in precisely the same order as the Torah here.)

The Hebrew Bible often has an implicit narrative of what you might call karmic retribution. Jacob deceives his father, for example, and is paid back by being deceived later on by Laban. Such examples are never pointed out; rather, they're for the reader to notice. Jubilees points out one example I've not noticed before myself, at the splitting of the Red Sea Sea of Reeds:

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Now the Egyptians have done their worst and, as per the Divine plan, been defeated, Mastema gets locked up to allow the Israelites to get as far as the Red Sea Sea of Reeds: Read more...Collapse )

Chapter 50

I told thee of the Sabbaths of the land on Mount Sinai, and I told thee of the jubilee years in the sabbaths of years: but the year thereof have I not told thee till ye enter the land which ye are to possess.

Presumably from Moses' perspective the Jubilee years are dated from the entry to the land, and since the Israelites have not entered the land, they are not to know when they start counting towards a jubilee year. (From the perspective of the Angel of the Presence, the jubilee years are dated from Creation, and the Israelites will presumably not be permitted to enter the land until the right point...?) Though that said, the angel then goes on to give Moses enough information to work it out:

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This is surprising, because it gives Moses access to knowledge of the future (i.e. that forty years will pass, not two, until the people enters the Land of Israel).

[Dead Sea Scroll of Jubilees] Jubilees posts                     Jewish learning notes index

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Lethargic Man (anag.)
Date: 2016-01-12 20:05
Subject: Notes from Limmud 2015: Herzl's secret—how did he change the course of history in under nine years?
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Tags:cool, jewish-history, limmud
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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Lethargic Man (anag.)
Date: 2016-01-10 11:50
Subject: Book of Jubilees, פַּרְשַׁת בֹּא בֹּא בֹּא (sorry, Blues Brothers reference)
Security: Public
Tags:jubilees, limmud

Chapter 49

The Tenth Plague, the slaying of the firstborn, being destructive of life, is attributed here to Mastema, not God:
For on this night—the beginning of the festival and the beginning of the joy—ye were eating the passover in Egypt, when all the powers of Mastema had been let loose to slay all the first-born in the land of Egypt, from the first-born of Pharaoh to the first-born of the captive maid-servant in the mill, and to the cattle.

Mastema had been helping the Egyptians in the previous chapter; the implication, presumably, is that Mastema is not against the Israelites but against humanity wherever he is allowed by God to be. Though actually in the previous chapter the Tenth Plague is attributed, along with the others, to God; this is either a continuity error, or an implication that God does not want to sully God's own hands, or those of the Angel of the Presence, with the dirty work, and outsources it to Mastema.

Like the author of Deuteronomy, that of Jubilees can't withstand the temptation to back-project the doctrine of the centrality of worship (in the author's own time at Jerusalem) into an earlier age:

When the children of Israel come into the land which they are to possess, into the land of Canaan, and set up the tabernacle of the Lord in the midst of the land in one of their tribes until the sanctuary of the Lord has been built in the land, let them come and celebrate the passover in the midst of the tabernacle of the Lord.

[Dead Sea Scroll of Jubilees] Jubilees posts                     Jewish learning notes index

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Lethargic Man (anag.)
Date: 2016-01-03 11:28
Subject: Notes from Limmud 2015: Judaism, Mediaeval Ireland, and how Moses received a Gaelic ten commandments
Security: Public
Tags:culture legend and myth, limmud, supercool
How the Irish helped the Jews to leave Egypt, by (who else could present a talk on such a subject at Limmud?) Sharonah FredrickCollapse )</p> —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: 2016-01-02 19:03
Subject: Book of Jubilees, פַּרְשַׁת וָאֵרָא
Security: Public
Tags:jubilees, limmud

A short entry this week: The Angel of the Presence doesn't spend much time telling Moses the events of what for him are just the last month, unless there's a halachic or theological point to make. (It's curious then that later on, the attack of Amalek and the commandment to blot out the memory of Amalek is missing; presumably this is because by the time Jubilees was written, this commandment was as theoretical as it is today.)

Last week we saw the blame shifted from God to Prince Mastema (Satan) for the attempt to kill Moses on his way back into Egypt. Here Mastema similarly gets the blame for helping the Egyptian sorcerers replicate the Ten Plagues, because who else could have the power to oppose God, I suppose?

The prince Mastema stood up against you, and sought to cast you into the hands of Pharaoh, and he helped the Egyptian sorcerers, and they stood up and wrought before you the evils indeed we permitted them to work, but the remedies we did not allow to be wrought by their hands. The Lord smote them with malignant ulcers, and they were not able to stand, for we destroyed them so that they could not perform a single sign. Notwithstanding all (these) signs and wonders the prince Mastema was not put to shame because he took courage and cried to the Egyptians to pursue after you with all the powers of the Egyptians, with their chariots, and with their horses, and with all the hosts of the peoples of Egypt.

Note the "the evils we permitted them to work": God's side is in charge here!

[Dead Sea Scroll of Jubilees] Jubilees posts                     Jewish learning notes index

—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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