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Showing posts from December, 2014

Zos Chanukah

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This year I observed that the 3 letters that make up the word for oil shemen also correspond to the root of the word shmone, the number 8. My husband then added that oil floats on top of water, just as the eighth level is lema'ala min hateva [transcends the natural order]. That's what Chanukah is all about, which is why we call tonight and the last day, Zos Chanukah -- this is Chanukah.

  This is the only single holiday that is celebrated for eight days.  While both Pesach and Sukkoth are celebrated for 8 days outside of Israel, they are, in essence, 7 day holidays with one day added on for those in exile.  Chanukah is eight days all over the world with no additional day added. Eight is a highly significant number in Jewish thought.  It represents a level of spirituality that rises above nature.  That is why a brith [circumcision] is performed on the eight day.  

The small jug of pure oil that should have sufficed only for one day burned for eight days to allow enought time for …

Chanukah and Rosh Chodesh

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Today is both the sixth day of Chanukah and the last day of the month of Kislev.   Tomorrow, the seventh day of Chanukah will also be the first day of the month of Teves. Both today and tomorrow are designated as Rosh Chodesh the celebration of the new month. Rosh Chodesh is always a semi-holiday.  The morning prayers include a recitation of "half" Hallel and the additional prayer called Musaf that recalls the additional offerings designated for that day at the time of the Temple.  On these days of Rosh Chodesh, we say full Hallel, for we do so all eight days of Chanukah in recognition of the miracle that lasted for eight days.

Chanukah is the only Jewish holiday that extend through two months and encompassing the days of Rosh Chodesh, so it extends from the moon's waning phase to its waxing phase, as each Jewish month begins with the "rebirth" of the moon.  The Jewish people are compared to the moon, which is always renewed and comes back into full glory even w…

Latke ditty

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A few years ago,  I posted some snatches of latke ditties on my blog and asked if someone had the full text.  I got a response from the grandson of the songwriter: The Bicycling Barrister said... Ben Aronin (my grandfather) wrote these and other wonderful latke ditties many decades ago (and the pesach "classic" ballad of the four sons / clementine)... Mrs. Maccabeus (by Ben Aronin, z"l, of Congregation Anshe Emet in Chicago) (to the tune of "O Chanukah")
Each Chanukah we glorify brave Judah Maccabeus
Who had the courage to defy Antiochus, and free us,
Yet it is not fair that we should forget
Mrs. Maccabeus, whom we owe a debt.
She mixed it, and fixed it
She poured it into a bowl
You may not guess, but it was the latkes
That gave brave Judah a soul.
You may not guess but it was the latkes
That gave brave Judah a soul. The Syrians said: "It cannot be that old Mattathias
Whose years are more than 83 will dare to defy us!"
But they didn't know his secret, you see

Marriage models: one type does not fit all

Is there a single ideal model for marriage? Consider that the Torah presents us with a variety of models in the interactions we see between the avos [patriarchs] and the immahos [matriarchs]. Rivka [Rebecca] does not relate to Yitzchak [Issac] in the same way as Sarah relates to Avraham, and the conversations between Rachel and Yaakov [Jacob] follow a third, distinctive relationship pattern. While you may prefer the model of, say, Avraham and Sarah for your own marriage, that does not mean that the other models would not work for couples with different character traits.
Dr. Gottman is well-known for his ability to predict with 95% accuracy whether the couple is fated to divorce or remain married to each other after observing them for as little as 5 minutes. This feat is not a parlor trick but a combination of accurate readings of facial expressions and body language combined with years of research into what triggers the failure or success of a marriage. What we feel about another perso…