Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Post-Rosh HaShanah Miscellany

1. I used the new Koren-Sacks machzor this Rosh HaShanah. It was fantastic! Aside from the unique layout of the Hebrew, which gives new feeling to the tefillos, Rabbi Sacks' commentary is outstanding. Even those who are cynical in their outlook ought to find it inspirational. And for an especially interesting contrast with the ArtScroll machzor (which, in its own way, is also an excellent work, and served me well for many years), compare the respective commentaries to u'nesaneh tokef. He doesn't need me to say it, but Rabbi Sacks is one of the most important, valuable, influential and successful rabbinic figures of our time.

2. Here are two extraordinary photos that came my way, the first from here and the second from here. Make of them what you will. I am a little confused by the reference to life on other planets in the first picture. In the second picture, aside from the absurdity of the product, the price seems rather high!




3. Apologies for the delay in posting this last week. I wish all my readers a belated shanah tovah and a gemar chasimah tovah. I have a lot of interesting material that I plan to post about this year, so keep checking this website, or subscribe via email or RSS feed!

4. I was fiddling around with the template for this blog. I don't like what I ended up with, but I can't figure out how to get it back to what it was before. If anyone can help, please do!

24 comments:

  1. What Reform group put together that anti-evolution display? (I figure it must be Reform since the poster lists only one day for Rosh Hashanah.)
    (Asked partly tongue-in-cheek.)

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  2. If my intuition serves me well, which it usually doesn't, the first photo is of a display at the front entrance to Dr. Issac Betech's home.

    Either way, I can only hope that the photo will serve as a humbling reminder that the Challenge Of Creation isn't the last word on the subject.

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  3. Not sure what's confusing. Frum folks generally don't believe in life on other planets (you know, we're the purpose of creation after all, so why would there be life on other planets? and there aren't traditional references to life on other planets. of course, when life on other planets is discovered, we'll find many references showing that chazal knew all along there was life on other planets)

    Interestingly, it's not true that people give birth only to people for those familiar with meseches nida.

    Also, certain species giving birth to other species can be used without heresy alarms going off only when explaining how millions of different species descend from a bunch of animals on a boat. Also, this recent evolution can be super-fast. It's only slow pre-deluvian evolution which makes no sense to our chieftans.

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  4. Rabbi Sack's translation is particularly good. What makes it so good in particular is his use of transitional phrases, or words, to connect one sentence to another. A simple translation does not show you how each verse of Psalms (= the bulk of the siddur) connects to each other. It looks like a bunch of disconnected sentences. Rabbi Sacks uses transitional words like "still", "yet", "but", while", etc, to connect the verses and make them flow. In the Hebrew these words are implied, and not stated expressly. But most translators, earnestly trying to adhere scrupulously to the text, fail to pick up on this. Rabbi Sacks "gets it", and the result makes his translation different in kind, not just in in degree, from the others.

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  5. I also used the Koren-Sacks machzor this R"H and found that it made a HUGE difference in my davening. Really loved the commentary and layout. I'm looking forward to there being a Yom Kippur one for 5773! (By the way, have you read his newest book, The Great Relationship? Aside from it being generally excellent, he cites your books under 'Further Reading'.)

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  6. *Correction: The book is called The Great Partnership.

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  7. RW-
    Are you saying that a stuffed giraffe and 5 lines on a poster are equal to a 300 page exposition?
    I would also like to know how he knows that there is no life on other planets. Has he visited them?

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  8. R.W, if Dr. Betech lives on the Upper West Side where this poster was found, I bet your intuition served you well. The group JPACNY (Jewish Political Action Committee of New York) allegedly made this poster. A Google search on JPACNY gives no hits that are unrelated to this story.

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  9. R Sacks introduction to the machzor was very good.

    BTW, the chief didn't translate the entire machzor himself. Piyutim and mishnayot RH were done by others.

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  10. I think the larger point of the person who made that poster was anti-homosexual marriage. There are other posters, not shown.

    What's in that eruv package? An egg and...what?

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  11. gee, I can't believe all the commentators here have such a short memory span. JPAC is the organizationrun by Heshy Friedman from Heshys House. See a mention of him and his organization in a 2005 blog post here. Simply search "Heshys house" in google and you can find mention of him all over the place. His blog is currently located here.

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  12. Here's my problem with all the new siddurim from Koren - NO SEFARD!
    What, we don't count? Or is it assumed that if you daven Sefard you don't need a commentary?

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  13. "Anonymous Avi said...

    Not sure what's confusing. Frum folks generally don't believe in life on other planets (you know, we're the purpose of creation after all, so why would there be life on other planets? and there aren't traditional references to life on other planets. of course, when life on other planets is discovered, we'll find many references showing that chazal knew all along there was life on other planets)"


    There is actually discussion of life on other planets in traditional Jewish sources from centuries past. If a distant star or galaxy still is a part of the plan of creation that God had to look into the Torah for, it doesn't preclude life on other worlds. Second there is discussion about prior human life on earth itself. Everything has its purpose and God can have multiple purposes and that's also something you'll find in traditional Jewish sources. Jewish skeptics can be so fundamentalist in their understanding of Judaism, unlike in the good old days.

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  14. I also used the Koren mahzor. I enjoyed it and also feel good supporting an alternative to Artscroll. I feel this plays a tiny role in helping "unfreeze" Judaism.

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  15. Phil said...
    What Reform group put together that anti-evolution display? (I figure it must be Reform since the poster lists only one day for Rosh Hashanah.)
    (Asked partly tongue-in-cheek.)


    Phil -

    I believe Reform congregations follow the Israeli minhag, so they observe 2 days for RH and 1 day for YK and the haggim.

    Oddly enough, there is something implicitly pro-gay marriage in the line "men give birth to men" (gay couples via surrogate mothers?!)

    Shana tova u'metuqah and gemar khatima tov (not tovah!)
    MS

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  16. Actually there is a Sefard sidur which I think just hit the shops in the last week or two (at least in Israel). I know because my sister helped edit.the translation of shir hashirim. They are just putting them out as they're ready.

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  17. Michael Singer wrote: "I believe Reform congregations follow the Israeli minhag, so they observe 2 days for RH and 1 day for YK and the haggim."

    (Apologies for answering this question twice. I did some Googling and found a different answer. I'll delete my original post if I can. If not, perhaps Rabbi Slifkin can delete it or just not approve it.)

    According to a Q&A page by the URJ (the Reform organization that organizes Reform synagogues), it appears that Reform only officially keeps one day of Rosh Hashana, but some congregations keep two days.

    Of course, this says nothing about the signboard in question. The board doesn't say Rosh Hashana is one day. It says that one particular day is the birthday of the world. This is not a disputed statement. The reason we observe two days is because of a historic inability to inform the population about the correct day, not because the world has a two-day birthday.

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  18. Mordechai Gordon, please tell me that the translation to Shir haShirim is faithful, not "interpretive" like Artscroll's.

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  19. I'm a somewhere between Reform and Conservative in by beliefs. Several decades ago, when I was in college, at the University of Michigan, I went to the local Chabad House for a while. As a science fiction fan, I once asked the Rabbi there about what Judaism said about the life on other planets.

    The Rabbi said "We don't know. When we get there, we'll see what there is, then look at Torah." Most of that is paraphrase, but I specifically remember -- because I was particularly impressed -- that he said, "When we get there," not even "If we get there." It went far towards me being comfortable with Hasedic thought, even though I am not terribly observant.

    I'm not saying that this is (or isn't) something done by the Lubatvitch ... But still, it is quite disappointing to see coming from any Jewish group.

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  20. "Men give birth to men"

    That's just the generic masculine, Michale Singer. It's a finer way of saying "Humans give birth to humans". It doesn't imply anything about homosexuals. Woe to anyone - from an english language perspective, let alone religious - who could even think that.
    Yid

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  21. "I can't believe all the commentators here have such a short memory span. JPAC is the organization run by Heshy Friedman from Heshys House."

    I looked at Heshy's website. It reminds me a lot of the "authenticjudaism" blog. I wonder if it's the same guy. Something farcical about both of these sites.

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  22. That sign is wrong in so many ways. First of all, the more popular talmudic position is that Adam's creation was on Rosh Hashana, not that of the universe. Second, the view of R' Yehoshua normally prevails against R' Eliezer (the originator of the Rosh Hashana attribution), and R' Yehoshua contends that the world was created in Nissan. The Tosafot attempt to reconcile our machzor with the view of R' Yehoshua by postulating that GOD conceived of creating the world in Tishrei but waited until Nissan to actually do it. They don't attempt to account for the time delay, however.

    The polemic against evolution is both simplistic and inaccurate. "As Jews", it starts the polemic and it signs off as "The Jewish Torah". I object to being included in the authors foolish contentions. Nor does the torah explicitly deny evolution. It's a matter of whether you read the verses hyper-literally, or not. I see no reason to assume that the various activities of the 6 'days' were launched by spoken commands, or that they followed those commands immediately. Rather, what is suggested by the verses is that GOD initiated a process that lead to the world as we know it. The details and mechanisms of how that process unfolded are not stated. It is, therefore, both presumptuous and foolish to tie the torah to an anti-evolutionary stance.

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  23. what? 2.89 for Eiruv Tavshilin? here in Monsey i paid $5.99 for the exact same idea.

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  24. Natan, if it is not broken, don't try and fix it! If I was seeing you over Sukkot I would help you fix the template. However we are going to Eilat so Chag Sameach and hope to see you soon.

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