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Showing posts from January, 2015

Another New Year

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You may still be hearing "Happy New Year" wishes, as it is still January. In two weeks, though, it really will be a new year for trees, on the 15th of Shvat.
This post was adapted from one written by Rabbi Chaim Brown  Tu B'Shevat is the day designated as the New Year for the trees. The first part of the name is made up of two hebrew letters:  "tes", which has the value of 9, and "vav", which has the value of six, to designate the number 15 for the date of the holiday. The new year for the trees marks the cutoff point for the tithes of fruit; it is rather like a fiscal year, which is not necessarily synonymous with a calendar year.  One does not take the tithe from the actual tree, but from the fruits that grow on the tree. So why is Tu B'Shevat not called Rosh HaShana l'Peiors-- the new year for fruit -- not Rosh HaShana l'Ilanos, the new year for trees? Anyone who has gone apple picking out on Long Island or in upstate NY in the early fall…

The king who didn't know Yosef

I meant to share this observation that I had after a recent visit to the Brooklyn Museum in which I had a tour guide. If you're familiar with that museum, you'll know that it has a very extensive collection of objects from Egypt. The guide showed a particular panel representing the king of Egypt who instituted what was considered a monothestic religion for the place: the worship of the sun. This was not so much about a religious awakening as a political power grab. In this setup (a bit like the Church of England) the monarch was the direct link to the deity. That increased the king's power. With the same goal in mind, the kings regularly destroyed all other temples and records connected with previous regimes and their religious orders.

It occurred to me that if that was the regular practice in Egypt, the king who enslaved the children of Israel really may not have known Yosef. It was a matter of political expediency as well as literal erasure, as the records assoicted with…

Want your marriage to stick? Invest in it rather than in the wedding

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This does not bode well for the typical Orthodox Jewish wedding. Though I don't have any real hard figures, generally Orthodox Jewish weddings entail parties of a couple of a hundred people and can easily top $35K for a modest affair and go far above $50K for a more "balabatish" one.   From IIn Sickness and in Health ... but Not in Debt | Acumen | OZY Francis and Mialon surveyed more than 3,000 people — all of whom have been married just once — and found that across income levels the more you dish out on the Big Day, the shorter the marriage. Now, that’s a raw deal.  Guys, investing between $2,000 and $4,000 on an engagement ring means you’re 1.3 times more likely to get divorced compared with the more frugal fellows who only allocate between $500 and $2,000.
For both sexes, spending more than $20,000 on the wedding ups the odds of divorce by 3.5 times compared with couples who keep it between $5,000 and $10,000.
For the best odds, though, keep the festivities to less than…

The 10th of Teveth and updates to Wikipedia

Two years ago I put up a post about the siginficance of the fast day observed today, the 10th of Teveth. I put in a link to Wikipedia and observed some of the inaccuracies in its presentation. Someone who saw it then relayed it to somoen who is connected to Wikipedia, and there were some changes.  For example, instead of calling this day a "low fast," it is now described as a "minor fast." It also now includes the distinction this day has that is shared with Yom Kippur. But the editor failed to noticed the inconsistency of parts. Most give the dates in the form of BCE, but there is a paragraph that says BC.
Here's the essential part of the original post with an update for this year:

On this date, 2439 years ago, Nebuchadnetzar, King of Babylon, laid siege on Jerusalem. That is what marked the beginning of the loss of the first Temple, which occurred nearly 3 years later on the 9th of Av. Like, the 9th of Av, the 17th of Tammuz, andTzom Gedalia, this fast is, t…