Happy birthday to Simcha Willig on his birthday.
"Fraud, I mean, Freud, did more for English literature than he did for psychology. And he was German."
Fiddle, n. An instrument to tickle human ears by friction of a horse's tail on the entrails of a cat.
As most of you know, I got married on Monday. I’m writing this from Ottawa, and I don’t have any books with me, so I hope everyone will bear with me, and not criticize me if I make any mistakes.
Fib, n. A lie that has not cut its teeth. An habitual liar's nearest approach to the truth: the perigee of his eccentric orbit.
In a slalom race, the skier must pass through about 20 "gates" in the fastest time. Well, it happened that a very Orthodox yeshiva in Montreal had an exceptional skier among its students. So fast that in practice, with tzitzis streaming out behind, he had beaten the world record several times. After first checking to make sure none of the men's slalom races would be on the Sabbath, he tried out for and made the Canadian Winter Olympic team. With his times in the trial heats, he was the favorite for an Olympic gold medal.
"There wasn't too much of a delay. We only had to change a spark plug and thirty pairs of shorts."
"I don't play like a forty-year-old, and I don't think like a forty-year-old. I guess that's because I'm forty-one."
You know what annoys me about this blog? Every time you load a page, or even reload a page that you've already seen and hasn't changed since then (such as when you press the Back button), the computer insists on reloading all the images from the Internet. I'm talking about all the little icons on the screen that are the same on every blog page, but the blog programmers don't let you recycle them. I resent the fact that so many website designers, including apparently the designers of this blog site, have no respect for those of use who still use dial-up Internet connections. It takes forever to load any blog page, and if I'm trying to download something else in the background at the same time, it gets delayed even more.
I just thought readers would want to know about a blog produced by our friend and fellow OTI graduate, featuring thoughts about the weekly parasha. Check it out:
Female, n. One of the opposing, or unfair, sex.
Feast, n. A festival. A religious celebration usually signalized by gluttony and drunkenness, frequently in honor of some holy person distinguished for abstemiousness. In the Roman Catholic Church feasts are "movable" and "immovable," but the celebrants are uniformly immovable until they are full. In their earliest development these entertainments took the form of feasts for the dead; such were held by the Greeks, under the name of Nemeseia, by the Aztecs and Peruvians, as in modern times they are popular with the Chinese; though it is believed that the ancient dead, like the modern, were light eaters. Among the many feasts of the Romans was the Novemdiale, which was held, according to Livy, whenever stones fell from heaven.
P’ Sh’qalim can follow any of a number of different weekly Torah portions. In non-leap years, it can come out in either Mishpatim or T’ruma. In leap years, it will usually occur in P’ Vayakhel, though on rare occasions, such as this year, it falls out in P’ P’kudei.
As some of you may know (and if you don't, all the better), I published yesterday my correspondence with Mr. Dan Gardner of The Ottawa Citizen - one email of mine, and one of his - regarding his column of one week ago today entitled "The trouble with all religions." My email to him, which I would now like to make into an open letter, was as follows, in italics:
See QUOTI OF THE DAY post of Feb. 17, 2006. Same system, different code. This one is not as off-colour, but I will bow, hesitantly, to the sensibilities I divine among our female readership. והמפענח יבין.
I wrote the attached essay last year as a Grade 10 Jewish History assignment for my sister-in-law. We only got an eighty-something, but I happen to think it's a pretty good little piece. I recently found that R' Herschel Shachter makes a similar argument in one of the footnotes of his Nefesh Ha-rav, though he doesn't really develop the idea very much. Incidentally, as today is my anniversary, one can use the idea developed in the essay to prove why I can never win any arguments with my wife :)
Ari Brodsky’s “How is this Year Different from all other Years?” has created quite a stir in Toronto, and has been met with warm approval in many quarters. Thanks to it, many of you are no doubt aware that this year  contains no double parshiyos. In this email, I intend to show that in some regards, this is simply not the case.
"I don't know how old I am because the goat ate the Bible that had my birth certificate in it. The goat lived to be twenty-seven."
"Try to put it back in an orderly fashion, that it will not look like after the French Revolution."
For those of you who are not familiar with the case, see my previous post.
Today's news item concerns murder (oh and I found the article here).
Fairy, n. A creature, variously fashioned and endowed, that formerly inhabited the meadows and forests. It was nocturnal in its habits, and somewhat addicted to dancing and the theft of children. The fairies are now believed by naturalists to be extinct, though a clergyman of the Church of England saw three near Colchester as lately as 1855, while passing through a park after dining with the lord of the manor. The sight greatly staggered him, and he was so affected that his account of it was incoherent. In the year 1807 a troop of fairies visited a wood near Aix and carried off the daughter of a peasant, who had been seen to enter it with a bundle of clothing. The son of a wealthy bourgeois disappeared about the same time, but afterward returned. He had seen the abduction and been in pursuit of the fairies. Justinian Gaux, a writer of the fourteenth century, avers that so great is the fairies' power of transformation that he saw one change itself into two opposing armies and fight a battle with great slaughter, and that the next day, after it had resumed its original shape and gone away, there were seven hundred bodies of the slain which the villagers had to bury. He does not say if any of the wounded recovered. In the time of Henry III, of England, a law was made which prescribed the death penalty for "Kyllinge, wowndynge, or mamynge" a fairy, and it was universally respected.
Okay, some of you should be able to come up with some good ones of these, but I won't count my chickens before they come home to roost.
Female Orthodox Rabbis
Please note that a friend of ours has relatively recently added comments to several of the Orthodoxy Test articles that have been posted here through January and February.
Experience, n. The wisdom that enables us to recognize as an undesirable old acquaintance the folly that we have already embraced.
Here's a new word list I think might be interesting. What follow are words that are spelled the same but change meaning depending on their pronunciation, emphasis being a common variable in pronunciation. For example, "pervert" is a noun, whereas "pervert" is a verb.
Neighbourhood, n. Formerly, the area in which one resided, and with whose inhabitants one was generally acquainted. More recently, the area in which one resides, and with whose inhabitants' cars one's car is acquainted.
Islam, n. A religion whose adherents were, a millenium ago, incited and humiliated until they had no choice but to attack and conquer all of North Africa, the Middle East and south-central Asia.
Value, n. A principle or moral standard. Western democracies condemn governmental imposition of values as being in contravention of the values their governments impose.
"Aaron's activities range from napping to wildly impractical ideas to studied indifference to occasional participation."
Exile, n. One who serves his country by residing abroad, yet is not an ambassador.
"Girls used to come up to me and say, 'My sister loves you.' Now they say, 'My mother loves you.'"
Poster's Note: This one is exciting 'cause there's a secret reference to me! See if you can find it.
Date: The Day Before International Tree-Huggers Day
In this week's parasha, we are notified of a pair of commandments regarding the three festivals of Pesach, Shavuos and Succos. The Torah tells us that on these three occasions, we are obligated to go to the Temple to be seen before Hashem (Sh'mos 23:17), and we are commanded not to show up empty-handed; rather, we must bring olah offerings (24:14). The Minchas Chinuch (Mitzvah 489) poses the question of whether these two commandments are linked. He wonders whether someone who was exempt from the commandment of going up to the Temple, but who nonetheless did so, is thereby obligated not to show up without bringing a sacrifice. Based on a proof from the Jerusalem Talmud, which states that women are exempt from the commandment to bring a sacrifice, but are nonetheless obligated to appear in the Temple in the presence of Hashem (see Yerushalmi Chaggigah 1:1, and Tosafos on 2a in the Bavli). Thus, he concludes, if someone who is obligated in the positive commandment of showing up is nonetheless exempt from the negative commandment of showing up sans an offering, then, a fortiori, someone who was exempt from even showing up would also be exempt from bringing a sacrifice. While there is certainly room to disagree with this opinion, such a discussion would be of no use to anyone unfamiliar with the Talmudic sources. But this Minchas Chinuch does provide us with an entry into the more general discussion of the linkages between these two commandments. (I should note that the S'fas Emes, in his novellae on Chaggigah 2a, seems to argue with the Minchas Chinuch, stating that if one showed up in the Temple without a sacrifice, even if one did not have to show up, this would constitute a violation of the negative commandment.)
Exhort, v.t. In religious affairs, to put the conscience of another upon the spit and roast it to a nut-brown discomfort.
Executive, n. An officer of the Government, whose duty it is to enforce the wishes of the legislative power until such time as the judicial department shall be pleased to pronounce them invalid and of no effect. Following is an extract from an old book entitled, The Lunarian Astonished - Pfeiffer & Co., Boston, 1803:
Halakha is, on a certain level, highly stylistic; different rabbis adopt different approaches in considering the halakhic queries sent their way. While such an assertion will no doubt seem banal to anyone who has ever studied rabbinic literature to any degree, perhaps a concrete example of this phenomenon will nonetheless be of benefit not only the uninitiated, but also those more seasoned scholars who (it is hoped!) at least periodically find occasion to read these dispatches.
Today's QUOTI is so off-colour that I will publish it only in code. This is the standard simple code where each code-letter (A, B, C, ... , Z) represents consistently a certain letter in the original text (the QUOTI). So for example, the first word of the QUOTI begins and ends with the same letter, but that letter is not necessarily R. The entire QUOTI has been capitalized for codification purposes, but the original punctuation has been preserved. I have omitted the initials of the QUOTIee, but as anyone can comment on this post, that individual may take credit for his or her contribution in a comment if he or she so desires.
Exception, n. A thing which takes the liberty to differ from other things of its class, as an honest man, a truthful woman, etc. "The exception proves the rule" is an expression constantly upon the lips of the ignorant, who parrot it from one another with never a thought of its absurdity. In the Latin, "Exceptio probat regulam" means that the exception tests the rule, puts it to the proof, not confirms it. The malefactor who drew the meaning from this excellent dictum and substituted a contrary one of his own exerted an evil power which appears to be immortal.
Not too much is known about Yisro. When he came to live with the Jews, when he left, and what he did after that are subjects about which much has been written, and I don’t propose to write about them now. Instead, I shall focus on another aspect of Yisro’s biography, namely his career before he encountered Moshe.
Eulogy, n. Praise of a person who has either the advantages of wealth and power, or the consideration to be dead.
"Carol Burnett described what labour pains feel like. She said, 'Take your bottom lip, and pull it over your head.'"
Almost everyday you'll hear or read about a strange story in the news. In fact not so long ago, fellow blogger Rabbi Rotes reported a story here about a man who broke into someone's house in the middle of the night and started to eat leftovers out of their fridge. Well, after I hear one of these news items I often start asking questions about the story and wonder what the heck is going on. I feel it is my duty to start asking these questions out loud, so I do and people look at me strange and hide their children from me when I pass them in the street. I've decided that instead of wandering the streets asking questions, it may be more effective to just write them down here on the blog. Our first news item is the following (my insight into the article appears after the article, oh and I took the article from this site, to avoid the whole plagarism dealio. Is that how you spell "dealio"?):
In this week’s parasha, we are introduced to the two sons of Moshe: Gershom and Eliezer (Sh’mos 18:3-4). The eldest was dubbed Gershom, for, as Moshe noted, “I was a sojourner in a strange land”, while the younger son was named Eliezer, “for the God of my father helped me, and He saved me from the sword of Pharaoh.” These two figures are never really heard from again in the rest of the Torah, however, and thus remain somewhat enigmatic. So let’s see what we can figure out about them.
"Hello, is the General there? It's Cap'n Crunch."
Esoteric, adj. Very particularly abstruse and consummately occult. The ancient philosophies were of two kinds, - exoteric, those that the philosophers themselves could partly understand, and esoteric, those that nobody could understand. It is the latter that have most profoundly affected modern thought and found greatest acceptance in our time.
Maxiebaby sure has developed a taste for endangered species. Maxiebaby is pictured below, preparing to feast on three of the world’s rarest animals, the Ethiopian Wolf, the Visayan Spotted Deer, and the Hirola (Hunter’s Hartebeest).
"What I would like you to do now is to go to Beis Midrash and review the piece we have just seen from Mishna to Mishna to Mishna with all the Rashi, the Tosfot that we have seen, and the piece of Rosh and Maharsha we saw in the back. Let's go."
Envelope, n. The coffin of a document; the scabbard of a bill; the husk of a remittance; the bed-gown of a love-letter.
Politics, n. The art of the possible.
Is, v. Is is. Many English speakers now automatically delete one is, but the proper usage has been preserved by many in such sentences as "The problem is, is that we don't have enough time."
"The Houston Astros are the youngest team in the National League if you judge by age."
Not sure if you guys heard the news that Alan Shalleck, a collaborator on the Curious George books, was found murdered outside his home (news article can be read here).
"I wish I could remember everything I told him."
Tommy, Eli, Ilana, and I went to go see the new Pink Panther movie last night and I figured I’d share that experience with you here today, or some other day, depending upon when you read this post, that is if you’ll read this post. Hope all’s clear. Ok run, run. All right, everybody safe? Enough of this dawdling and on to the post.