Monday, October 19, 2015

Provide for the Common Defence...

Top of the evening to all...

With Jennifer in Israel, I clearly have more time to write, as this is my third entry in the last hour. 

Many of you have been keeping one eye on the news from Israel.  The Palestinians are yet again committing violence and mayhem in the hopes of getting a state from which to commit large-scale violence and mayhem.

Throughout this recent violence and mayhem, press secretaries everywhere have been quick to assert that Israel has the right to self-defense.

This is not correct.  Rights can be surrendered.  I have the right to free speech.  I may give up that right at any time.  I have the right to free assembly.  I have the choice to give up that right.

The title of this blog entry is from the preamble to the US Constitution.  In stating that one of the goals is to provide for the common defence (that is the spelling in the Constitution), the Constitution has removed the right of common defence.  The government has the responsibility of common defence.  It cannot just put that obligation aside.  It cannot choose whether or not to exercise that obligation. 

It is all sunshine and flowers to hear these press secretaries defend the right to self-defence.  I want to hear just one of them state the obligation.  Only then will it be clear that they truly understand a government's obligation to its citizenry.

Have a good night.


It Is Possible She Is Overreacting...(Very Tongue in Cheek)

Top of the evening to all...

Can someone please explain to me why my beloved bride has said that I have wrecked 22 years of marriage?  I am confused.  It all started with a joke I developed.

Anne Shirley, perhaps known better as Anne of Green Gables, has finally retired.  She still spends her summers in PEI.  Seeking a little winter warmth, she has purchased a condo in the Miami area.  In Florida, they call her Anne of Coral Gables.

I told our male friends.  They thought it was hilarious.  Our female friends agree with Jennifer.

Is this another one of those times when the difference between men and women is clear?  What am I missing?

Have a good evening.


Plus Ca Change....

Plus c'est la meme chose.

Top of the evening to all...

I do not know why that idiom exists primarily in the French.  The more things change, the more they remain the same.  It works just fine in English.

In January 2012, Jennifer had to go to Israel for about 10 days.  During that time, I wrote an entry to this blog entitled Defending This Caveman.  The entry was about the impending disaster Jennifer was expecting to find upon her return from Eretz HaKodesh - the Holy Land.

Jennifer is in Israel again (yes - I am bitter).  She is there for the WZO conference.  She read Torah this morning at the Kotel.  I had a conversation today during minyan.  One of our regulars asked me how I was holding up with her gone.  It is a lot of work when one must fill the role of both parents for a sustained period of time.  I appreciated the question and the concern.

She also asked if I was doing the cooking, the laundry, and keeping the house clean.  I said yes, but then I returned the question.  "Would you be asking a woman the same questions?"  She thought about it for a second, realized she would not, and told me I was right.

A couple of things: I came home a little early today to cook dinner.  We had fake crab sauteed with some peppers served with rice.  My laundry is done.  One kid's laundry is in the washing machine, and the other pile of laundry will meet the same destiny shortly.  On Sunday, I dusted and cleaned bathrooms.  There is some straightening to be done, but the house has definitely been in worse shape.

Gentlemen, on the off chance that you have doubts about your abilities to run a house and work full time while your spouse is away, know that you can do it.  Ladies, if you want your spouses to be able to cook, do laundry, and clean, then start with the expectation that this is something your spouse should be able to do.

Mothers and fathers are different.  I once tried to close a diaper with duct tape, because I had torn three tabs off, and diapers are expensive.  It did not work.  Jennifer thought it was hilarious.  The point here is that men think about things a little differently.  It is not better or worse.  It just is.  We are capable of handling a household.

When I am responsible for the grocery shopping, I do not buy Kix cereal.  The reason is the advertising catch phrase: kid tested, mother approved.  If we want fathers (mixed-gender couples, of course) to be involved in raising their children, we need to make conscious efforts to change the way we think about how we understand their roles.

Have a good evening.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Reflexive Property of Theology...

Top of the evening to all...

The math people who read this blog saw that title and expected to see a different word at the end.  They are used to the reflexive property of mathematics.  It is the first property we learn when we take algebra.  According to the reflexive property of mathematics, in all equations, A = A.  Essentially, this property allows us to balance an equation knowing that both sides of that equation share the same vocabulary.

I mention this in terms of theology because of a discussion I have with every one of my conversion students.  Invariably, one of those students uses the term 'Old Testament' in our discussions.  This only happens once.  After our discussion, they are usually quite aware that as future Jews, that term does not fit our theological construct.  Allow me to elaborate.

1.  To use the term "Old Testament" implies that there is a new testament.  While it is clear that such a document exists from a historical perspective, Jewish theological belief cannot hold that it exists as a religious document.

2.  There are books in Christian Testament that do not exist in our TaNaKh [an acronym, referring to Torah, Nevi'im (Prophets), and Ketuvim (Writings)].  For example, the Catholic canon has the book of Ben Sira.  It was a book known to the Rabbis, but not considered canonical.  In this equation, A does not equal A.

3.  The Christian should really be in the plural.  Catholic canon and Protestant canon differ as well.  The Christian Testaments are in a different order.  Some of the changes are logical.  For example, the Book of Ruth is placed prior to the Samuels, as Ruth is an ancestor of King David.  Beyond that, the Christian Testaments place the prophets last.  This makes a powerful theological statement.  At the culmination of Malakhi's prophecy, or perhaps as the culmination of Malakhi's prophecy, the messiah arrives.

4.  The Torah portion of Matot begins in Numbers 30:2.  If you were to look in a Torah, you would find that there is a clear paragraph break after 30:1.  Obviously, there are no chapters and verses written in the Torah itself.  30:1 belongs to the Torah portion before.  This paragraph break is important.  Following the Jewish change of portion at 30:2, 30:1 is thus attached to what came before - the schedule of holy days.  Knowing that Christianity broke with Judaism as concerns calendar issues, the Jewish breakdown connects Moses speaking as God spoke on the calendar and holiday observances, and not on the matter of oaths that will start in 30:2.

5.  The very last verse of the Tanakh is at the end of II Chronicles (36:23).  Again, this is different from concluding at the end of Malakhi's prophecy.  Take note of the last verse though:

כה אמר כורש מלך פרס 
כל ממלכות הארץ נתן לי ה' אלוקי השמים
 והוא פקד עלי לבנות לו בית בירושלם אשר ביהודה
 מי בכם מכל עמו ה' אלוקיו עמו ויעל

Thus spoke Cyrus the king of Persia:
all the kingdoms of the earth God has given me, 
 commanding me to build a Temple in Jerusalem, 
in the land of Yehudah (Judea); 
all amongst you from his people, 
God is with you and you should go up.

This verse actively encourages people to return to the Land of Israel and rebuild the Holy Temple.  At the time that the various canons are determined, the early Church Fathers are shifting their focus away from the Land of Israel towards Rome.  To have the last word of what they would call the Old Testament point in the opposite direction contradicts numerous theological tenets for the early Church.

As we can see, A does not equal A, not in the least.  To speak of the Old Testament is to speak of a different book, with a different layout, with a different set of books within, and with significant theology underlying it all.  The change in vocabulary has far deeper meaning than just a different title to the same (not!) book.

Have a good night.


Saturday, October 10, 2015

Reconsidering Reconsidering My Path

Hi all...

Back in May, I wrote a blog posting entitled Reconsidering My Path.  It was about the tension between personal safety and breaking the law.  I had only considered the issue from one viewpoint.

First, an amusing story.  Seven or eight years ago, I was riding my bicycle up Poplar Plains coming back from the downtown area.  Those people who ride in Toronto know this street.  It is a difficult uphill.  About halfway up the hill, huffing and puffing in the June heat, I was considering dismounting and walking it the rest of the way up.  At that moment, a woman blew past me.  Now many women are in better shape than I am.  In and of itself, this did not bother me.  She had a baby on the back of the bicycle.  That adds extra weight and drag.  I did not get off the bicycle.  I made it up that hill.

It occurred to me a few weeks ago that some people on a bicycle are just people on a bicycle.  Others have a passenger.  Such little passengers affect balance and speed.  An unsafe street is not right for them.  

The questions of road safety go well beyond lone riders getting to work.  Extra seats and even carts must also be part of the discussion.  The infrastructure must change to allow for this.

Have a good evening.