Thursday, December 29, 2005

A Little Bit of Light

Many defeated by the few
Yet the celebration is all about the oil. You might have even missed the war theme if you weren't the praying type. The oil seems to be all about the vindication. The unpopular stance - they would call you the unsophisticated, uncultured; barbaric, even (circumcision!)....a little jar of oil and it's all right again.

Ah freilichen Chanukah.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Middos

If you always had what you wanted, could you ever know that you're jealous?

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Tzedek and Tzedakah

Some translations courtesy of ArtScroll.
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I have been trying to make tefillah more meaningful by paying attention to what I'm saying (never a bad idea). In the middle of Hashivah Shofteinu one day, I found myself trying to understand how the phrase, "v'haser mimenu yagon va'anachah," (remove from us grief and sighing) fits into this paragraph that seems to be about justice. So I went on a little bit of a tangent, thinking about the relationship between tzedek (justice, or righteousness) and tzedakah (charity).

First, justice is a form of kindness. For example, in a just society, you know that a murderer will be brought to justice for violating the law. A person inclined to murder is perhaps deterred because of the inevitable retribution, and you can live more peacefully. This is kindness.

Next: There is a system of so-called justice which is actually cruel, e.g. the justice of Sodom. "Hak'tza'akasah" [Bereishis, 18:21]- If in accordance to her outcry - Rashi interprets this as a reference to that which occurred to one young girl. She gave food to a poor person, and they killed her through a grisly death. Where the law exists to prohibit all forms of kindness, justice is not served.

Finally, Turnus Rufus once asked Rabbi Akiva something to the effect of, Why do you seek to change G-d's decree by giving charity to poor people? To which Rabbi Akiva responded to the effect that G-d created the poor to give us opportunities to feed and clothe them. Thus the giving of charity is merely the just distribution of funds; the money being ours only to manage, not to own (as anyone who is dead might tell you). So charity is justice.

The removal of "grief and sighing" can be understood in the context of all three of the above: A dependable justice system, a legal system whose foundation is not cruel, and charity as justice.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Keeping it Real

But what is reality if not a mere consensus on perception? Perhaps more to follow, another day.

Maintenance Moment

Finally got around to updating my links bar. It's like hope (the good kind), nostalgia, and appreciation in one wicked brew.

This is for Aidel because I think she is awesome. Awesome and inspiring.
This is for Arye because some people are so good at writing they should be encouraged at every opportunity. Even if I don't understand a blessed thing he is saying half the time, I enjoy his stuff. That says something. Maybe something not so good about me, but let's not go there.
This is for Ben because few people get the frustration that is the Israeli political scene and communicate it so well (and so uninfuriatingly) as he. Also because he hates galleh.
This is for Cara because her blog exudes a rare sweetness.
This is for Mo-C because HE'S BACK! G-d bless, miracles do happen.
This is for Psycho because there is only so much psychosis I can come up with on my own.
This is for Robert because he has made me cry, and hug and kiss and appreciate my loved ones, so many times.
This is for She because she has made me laugh out loud so many times. And because I am optimit l'lo takanah.
This is for Shlomo because the masses are waiting.
This is for David because he has way too much talent for one individual. Like, couldn't I be a recovering trombone player who takes statement-making pictures and fought in Korea and writes an incredible blog? Well, no. So instead you get Trep.