A few odds and ends today from non-work life:
- Last night I posted my Rosh Hashana derasha which was a fun challenge to write and deliver. R. Schnaidman gave me a time range of 30-35 minutes which is normally beyond how long I can talk, so for the first time in many years I had written out most of it beforehand and spoke both from the sheets and extemporaneously. Feedback was positive, though one person asked if it was intentional that I didn’t cite any Zohar or Ba’al Shem Tov.
I said yes, and politely explained that I was following my mesorah. After all, it was Rosh Hashana…
- As certain individuals know, we had some now resolved issues with my landlord. Apparently, lots of other people had worse experiences: there’s a class action suit against them.
- I know this is late for Rosh Hashana, but this song seems relevant (music starts at 2:18) even if it doesn’t count as an official zemer.
- Speaking of simmanim, the line between what is an innocuous simman and outright avoda zara is somewhat complicated. I gave a shiur on it some time ago, and based on far too many conflicting sources, couldn’t reach a definitive conclusion. I did conjecture that the degree of seriousness which one takes these simmanim is likely proportional to the potential issur, with the litmus test being how one one would feel if the simman wouldn’t be performed. For example, R. Tendler once told us that a woman came to him Erev Yom Kippur looking for a chicken to do kapparot because if she didn’t, she would die that year. That, he said, was avoda zara.
Regarding the simmanim of Rosh Hashana, I’m beginning to think that most are fine given that most are simply puns – some even bilingual puns. In other words, they seem more for entertainment purposes rather than a magical act. For another R. Tendler example, I first heard from him the one “lettuce, half a raisin, celery” = let us have a raise in salary.
If you still take these seriously, then in addition to avoda zara problems, you likely have no sense of humor – which could pose problems when people start calling you an idol worshiper.
- In what should some as no surprise, I don’t do kapparot following Shulhan Aruch’s admonition that it’s darkhei emori. I also have never been a fan of tashlich especially since a former Hindu co-worker once asked me, “what was that thing where you pray to the river.”
However, for efficiency’s sake I suggest that next year we could work on combining the two practices during the asseret yemei teshuva by simply flinging chickens into the water – perhaps even feeding them bread first. I’m sure God would really appreciate that much more than doing them separately as it would double the mehillah power.
- And on a more serious note, through a great set of hashgachic circumstances (and the ubiquitous chords directory I will soon be teaching an Introduction to Jewish Guitar. Even with some nervousness, I’m really looking forward to the entire experience which I hope to recount afterwards.
If I don’t post before Yom Kippur, Gemar Tov to all. Looking back at what I last year I don’t think I can even hope for less erratic blogging given my new work schedule. Despite the infrequent or sporadic posting, we still had an eventful year with preliminary thoughts and detailed rebuttal of the Conservative Teshuva on Homosexuality and the aftermath, a conflict and conversation in Washington Heights, the RCA’s gerut policies, and of course, the Negiah.org fiasco. However, I can and still will ask forgiveness if I have inadvertently or unnecessarily offended people through carelessness or laziness. Although I do stand by what I write I freely admit everything could use more editing, not just for typos, but for tone or imprecise syntax.
Naturally I have no idea what the next year will bring, but I do hope to at least maintain the status quo of quality (if not quantity). Thanks again for reading, commenting, and reminding me why I’m still at this nearly five years later.1
Update: I will be sans computer for a few days while it’s being repaired, and as such may be slower in responding to e-mails or the like.
1. Yep, it’s been that long; the forthcoming retrospective should be fun.
There are those who hold by waving chickens, and those who hold by throwing bread – while you suggest throwing chickens in the water, allow me to make a suggestion:
use ducks – you get the additional pun of ducking the consequences of our sins…
G’mar Hatima Tova
The chicken thing was truly hilarious.
I’d suggest mice, but they aren’t kosher–but in any case, is kashrut an issue in this case, since you can do kapparot with money anyway and who knows what treif insects have crawled on the money (and if one says that money isn’t food, well neither are mice). Let’s liberate the poor chickens from drowning and feed some happy carnivores…
David – I like the idea of ducks, but I think that should only be a bedi’vad for poor communities who cannot afford individual chickens. Since ducks can sweim, they could also be recalled and reused by an entire shtetl. Otherwise you have Rambam’s problem of ehta v’ashuv.
Yvette – You could probably get more distance out of mice/rats, but I think the animal needs to be kosher. Also, the rats are more likely to mutate – especially in NYC – and have their revenge at some later date. Chicken are far too stupid so we’re likely safe.
Similarly, we could theoretically move to cow flinging but that’s not in the spirit of the day.
I was thinking lab mice (I’m breaking 2 necks today and am thinking of wearing a lab coat in honour of the kittel thing) which don’t mutate (because THEY DIE) and hence can’t take revenge. Can’t use NYC mice and rats–too much respect for the gutter thing.
Are you trying to create more venues for bitul zman by introducing cow flinging? Tsk. (by the way–I deleted all the games from my machine in the spirit of making teshuva for all the time wasted…). Try Moorhuhn–my undergrad chicken shooting distraction.
G’mar chatima tova, Josh, and good luck with the computer withdrawal!
this is also a good Rosh Hashana song, although a bit more serious.
This year i introduced one of my rebbeim to one few-years-old and two completely new simanim ?
Squash, so that God will SQUASH your enemies.
Tarragon, so that TERROR will be GONE.
Cashews… for financial security ;-) .
I love tashlikh; my family throws in metaphors from empty pockets, not bread or any other physical object. In proper context, it’s a ritual representing what the quote from Mikha is actually saying; we are asking God to “throw our sins into the ocean” by miming that action ourselves.
Kapparos should be done with money. Why?
tzedaqa tatzil [tarnegolim] mimavet!
My housemate suggested using a breaded chicken cutlet which is more humane, cost effective and a time saver by accomplishing both rituals simultaneously (she?s not Jewish so please excuse the lack of understanding behind the actions).
My thought is vegan faux-chicken nuggets- they are less expensive and more PETA friendly (if humane is the route you are going for.) Also, they are less oily when defrosted considering I am not sure it would be acceptable to fling a frozen bread coated chicken (whole or in pieces) in the water when you are in a pinch to find a live, bread fed one.
Is it my imagination, or is Yoma somewhat of a hematologist’s delight/nightmare? Sprinkling blood, stirring blood, and what about “hmm…can we add anticoagulants to the mix to make the poor cohen’s job easier when the beit hamikdash is restored…or if the poor animal has a clotting disorder and didn’t die for some reason, and the blood just doesn’t clot, is the sacrifice kosher? (this was purely hypothetical–the animal would have died if it was hemophiliac)”.
As a kid, I would always threaten to take the spare tire out of the trunk, put it on the table next to the fish head and say:
“yehi ratzon milifanecha shetashlim Michelin d’libai”
My mom never let me do it.
Re using ducks: if you’re going to get involved in witchcraft, you may want to stay away from ducks:
“tzedaqa tatzil [tarnegolim] mimavet!”
Nice to see a drasha in this town with some substance and depth, not to mention intelligence and torah.
A Far cry from the speeches given where i davened yom kippur on 185th and audubon.