Sunday, May 22, 2011

052211 General Knowledge Bible Quiz

The answers follow the questions

1) How many books are there in the Hebrew Bible/Tanach?
2) What is the difference between the Torah & the Hebrew Bible/Tanach?
3) What are the 3 divisions of the Hebrew Bible/Tanach?
4) Name all the books of the Torah.
5) Who is the traditional author of the Torah?
6) In what book does Moshe first appear?
7) In what book does Moshe LAST appear?
8) Why is Moshe not allowed into Eretz Yisrael?
9) Who takes over from Moshe?
10) Name 4 Judges/Shoftim, other than Samson/Shimshon or Deborah.
11) Name the 3 major literary prophets.
12) Name 6 of the 12 minor prophets.
13) Other than the Psalms/Tehillim, name 4 books from the Writings/Ketuvim division of the Hebrew Bible/Tanach.
14) Name the 6 biblical books, other than the Torah, which are read in their entirety in the synagogue each year.
15) Which books of the Hebrew Bible/Tanach are usually divided into 2 sections?
16) How many books of the Hebrew Bible/Tanach are named after men?
17) How many books of the Hebrew Bible/Tanach are named after women?
18) Of what books is King Solomon/Shlomo haMelech the traditional author?
19) How many dreams are mentioned in the story of Joseph?
20) How many kings ruled over all 12 tribes of the people of Israel?
21) What is the latest event mentioned in the Hebrew Bible/Tanach?
22) What does the word "Torah" mean?
23) In what book does Saul appear?
24) In what book does David appear?
25) In what book does Solomon appear?
26) In what book does Elijah appear?
27) What was the largest tribe?
28) What was the smallest tribe?
29) To which tribe did Saul belong?
30) To which tribe did David belong?
31) Who was David's great grandmother?
32) What is the modern term for tirosh/"new" wine?
33) How were the Shvatim/Tribes camped around the Ohel Moed/Tent of Meeting?
34) Who built the first Miqdash/Temple?
35) Who built the second?
36) What distinguishes the Olah from any other sort of sacrifice?
37) What did Daniel, Nehemiah, & Joseph all have in common?
38) Who is the traditional author of the Primary Chronicle (Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings), & Lamentations?
39) Who is the traditional author of Tehillim/Psalms?
40) Who is the traditional author of Shir haShirim/Song of Songs, Mishlei/Proverbs, & Kohelet/Ecclesiastes?
1) 24 or 39. The minor prophets can be counted as 1 or 12, Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, & Ezra/Nehemiah as either 1 or 2 each.
2) The Torah comprises the first five books, the first major division, of the Tanach.
3) Torah, Nevi'im/Prophets, Ketuvim/Writings.
4) Genesis/Breishit, Exodus/Shmot, Leviticus/Vayikra, Numbers/Bamidbar, Deuteronomy/Devarim.
5) Moshe/Moses.
6) Exodus/Shmot.
7) Deuteronomy/Devarim.
8) He strikes a rock H" tells him to talk to to get water.
9) Yehoshua ben Nun.
10) Othniel ben Kenaz, Ehud ben Gera, Shamgar ben Anath, Gidon (Yerubaal) ben Joash the Abiezrite, Abimelech ben Jerubbaal, Tola ben Puah ben Dodo, Yair haGiladi, Yiftach haGileadi, Ibzan of Beth-lehem, Elon the Zebulunite, Abdon ben Hillel the Pirathonite, Samson ben Manoah haDani of Zorah.
11) Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel.
12) Amos, Habakkuk, Haggai, Hosea, Joel, Jonah, Malachi, Nahum, Micah, Obadiah, Zechariah, Zephaniah.
13) Proverbs/Mishlei, Job, 5 Megilot/Scrolls (Esther, Ruth, Ecclesiastes/Kohelet, Lamentations/Eichah, Song of songs/Shir haShirim), Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Chronicles/Divrei haYamim.
14) 5 Megilot/Scrolls (Esther, Ruth, Ecclesiastes/Kohelet, Lamentations/Eichah, Song of Songs/Shir haShirim), Jonah.
15) Samuel, Kings/Melachim, Chronicles/Divrei haYamim.
16) 22, counting Samuel Bet. Joshua, Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Amos, Habakkuk, Haggai, Hosea, Joel, Jonah, Malachi, Nahum, Micah, Obadiah, Zechariah, Zephaniah, Job, Ezra, Nehemiah, Daniel. 23, if you count Kohelet/Esslesiastes.
17) 2. Ruth & Esther.
18) Proverbs/Mishlei, Song of Songs/Shir haShirim, Ecclesiastes/Kohelet.
19) 6. 2 of his, 2 of Pharaoh's, the Baker's, & the Butler's.
20) 3. Saul, David, Solomon.
21) Permission by Cyrus of Persia for the Exiles to return to Israel from Babylonia.
22) Teaching or instruction.
23) 1 Samuel 9.
24) 1 Samuel 16.
25) 2 Samuel 12.
26) 1 Kings 17.
27) Judah
28) Benjamin
29) Benjamin
30) Judah
31) Ruth
32) Grape Juice
33) Three tribes to each cardinal direction, Numbers 2:10-31.
34) Solomon
35) The SECOND was actually built following the Shivat Tziyon/Return to Zion (Jerusalem) permitted under the Persians, c. 539 b.c.e., and was massively expanded by the Roman appointed, ethnically Edomite king Herod, early in the first century c.e.
36) It is burned entire, not eaten.
37) High level government jobs
38) Jeremiah &/or his disciple/secretary Baruch ben Nuriah
39) David
40) Solomon

Friday, May 20, 2011

052111 What 1967 borders?

The thing to say about the President's speech is, these are NOT the 1967 lines to which Mr. Obama is referring.  The 1967 borders include Retzuat Aza (the Gaza Strip), Yehudah, Shomron (the "West Bank"), Ramot haGolan (the Golan Heights, and the Sinai.  Yes, the Gaza and Sinai that are now Judenrein (except for a few tourist spots in Sinai, the Egyptians like free money as well as anyone), and the "West Bank" where the OTHER Palestinian Authority (the one that is NOT Hamas, as though Fatah was such a deal) has autonomy and heavily armed "police". 

He is referring to the 1949 armistice lines.  The 1948 war was precipitated by a concerted Arab refusal to accept a SECOND partition.  The first partition involved the British unilaterally amputating 80% of "Palestine", the League of Nations mandate for a Jewish homeland, to give to Abdullah, one of the fugitive princes of Hejaz ejected from the newly "Saudi" Arabia.  The same British created another country, Iraq, for his brother, Feisal.  When the Israelis inconveniently refused to die en masse, the Arabs refused to talk peace, but only agreed to an armistice:  an armistice which saw wholesale Jordanian sniping in Jerusalem, Egyptian generated "fedayeen" raids from the cesspools of Gaza, and Syrian shelling of farms and children from the Golan Heights for the next nineteen years.

Since territorial compromise is such a good idea, try asking the President how he feels about giving New Mexico back to Old Mexico.
No, Hilda, I mean peace is not achievable by giving.  It is not giving "back" at all, because there never WAS a "Palestine", nor was there ever an actual "Palestinian" people distinguishable from other south Syrian muslim Arabs, nor did most of the people from whom today's putative "Palestinians" descend live in the area of Israel before Jews started coming back in numbers big enough to have something worth stealing.Besides, giving hasn't worked real well.  In exchange for the Sinai, there has been a very cold "peace" with Egypt, but they have cut off diplomatic ties (and now natural gas, even though it screws Jordan as well as Israel) many times, and now the man who put Sadat's assassins in jail is in custody, but the assassins are free.  There is not peace in any sense anyone would recognize with Jordan, but the "West Bank" wasn't part of the 80% of the mandate the British stole for Abdullah's fief.  "Palestinians" have control of Gaza and autonomy in most of the "West Bank".  How peaceful are things in Sderot?  How many times can the same thing not work before intelligent people understand the Einstein quote about insanity being doing the same thing again and expecting different results?

Golda Meir said we would have peace when the Arabs loved their children more than they hated us.  It will take that kind of major cultural shift in the muslim world.

032611 Response to a Dvar Torah on Shmini

I highly recommend it.  He also delivers it as a video on the same page.

I was honored today to attend the bar mitzvah of one Jonathan, son of friends Marsha and Doug, a young man I've known literally from the womb.  He did a fine job leading elements of the services and reading his Torah portion and his Haftarah.  His parsha was Shmini, which means "eighth".

Following extensive instruction on the construction of the Mishkan, and the account of the actual construction, in Exodus, Leviticus opens with instructions on how to get the place up and running.  There are seven days of preparation and ritual, the same time it took to create the world, rest included, the same length of time a wedding was celebrated in the time of the patriarchs.  On the eighth day, as a boy is brought into the Abrahamic covenant, the Kohanim officiate for the first time as fully installed, fully consecrated priests.

Moses and Aaron, at the end of chapter 9, make a sacrifice, go into the tent, come out, bless the people, and Divine fire consumes the offering, to the delight of the crowd.  The very next thing that happens is that Aaron's sons, Nadav and Avihu, ignite strange fire, and Divine fire consumes them.  

The Chief Rabbi of England, Lord Sacks, another Jonathan, delivered a learned and fascinating Dvar Torah on this week's Parsha, in which he discusses the incident of Aharon's sons offering strange fire.  He compares the spontaneity of this incident with that of Moshe in shattering the first Luchot haBrit, the tablets containing the Ten Commandments.  He points out that the requirements of Kohanim, priests, and of Prophets, Nevi'im, are different.  Prophets deliver a different message each time the Divine Spirit flows through them.  Conversely, Priests are given explicit instructions, and are expected to follow them implicitly.  This, he says, is why Orthodox Judaism has prescribed prayer: it is the offering we make in place of the prescribed sacrifices, which are impossible in the absence of a functioning Mikdash, Temple, on Har haBayit in Jerusalem.  While what he says is true, it seems to me that he ignored the most important difference between the incidents:  motivation, in Hebrew Kavanah.

When Nadav and Avihu sinned, they offered strange, Zar in Hebrew, fire.  The fire is called Zar, strange, and this is clarified by the phrase "asher lo tzivah otam", "which He had not commanded them".  Strange, not in the sense of odd, which would be Meshuneh, but in the sense of foreign.  They acted, as newly installed priests inside the Mishkan, the portable Temple, out of personal, one might say selfish, motives.  They misused holy objects and holy materials in a holy place. Was it just to enjoy their role as priests, or did they offer fire to foreign G-ds?  I don't know.  Their INTENTION was not to fulfill their mandated function.  The fire they placed in their pans was not commanded.

Moshe descended the slopes of Sinai, and saw the people, very Nadav and Avihu like, cavorting and disporting and partying up a storm about an idol that, I suspect, was not an Egyptian deity, but the preJewish Semitic Bull Hadad (  Moshe saw his people reverting to preAbrahamic practices, and out of fury over their sin, expressing his own intense dedication to G-d, he smashed the tablets before them.  This is why Rashi praises the action in his last commentary on the Torah.

It is the intention of the act, dedication or disobedience, that determines its acceptability, not its spontaneity.

040511 Dear Jewish parents.

040511 Dear Jewish parents. Version 1

Dear Jewish parents:

We bring our children to school to have them learn things we consider valuable.

We entrust the public schools with their secular education, and in many ways, they do a creditable job.

Most of us bring our children to synagogue Hebrew schools, which come under many names, to have them learn about our culture.

Almost throughout the United States, the Hebrew school has been reduced to two days per week.

This can only be adequate for even the most basic acculturation if there is considerable support at home.  It is vital that there be an additional period of extended study, and at least two short periods of practice, per week.

I have taught in Hebrew school classrooms for two decades.  I must tell you, I have rarely seen this happen.

The reasons are various.  Professionals lead busy, stressful lives.  We wish the best, all the best, we can provide for our children.  This often includes music, dance, modern languages, advanced tutoring, athletics, etc.  These, activities compete, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say, our culture must compete with all of these other valuable, beneficial activities and opportunities.  There is of course the difficulty that many parents have not really made regular or rigorous study of Jewish topics a personal practice since their own b’nai mitzvah.

It often happens that students are absent from numerous class sessions because of an athletic season.  This is, of course, not only detrimental to the individual child, but to the whole class, as such children almost never make time to compensate for the missed work.  Rather, most such students require review and recapitulation during every class they do attend.

I have to tell you, the best you can hope for from the sort of program most synagogues offer, as hard as everyone involved works to maximize its quality, impact, and value, is a child with a tenuous grasp of a limitted number of prayers, who, with extensive coaching, will be able to do a creditable job at a bar or bat mitzvah.

If that is what you want, you are not alone.  A great many Jews over the last two and a half centuries have found this sufficient, preferring to think of themselves as citizens, or liberals, or professionals first, and Jews a fairly distant second, if that. 

If you would like your child to have any familiarity with the classic texts of our culture and our own, indigenous, organic language as more than a grinding exercise, to have the pride and strength of identification such knowledge affords, I beg you to consider this:

Graduating highschool in most places requires two years of mathematics, science, language, English, and American history and social science.  A year of one period in a public school is more than three times as many instructional periods as a Hebrew school year.  The year is longer, there are fewer holidays, and there are five, not two, not three, five periods per week.  The minimum highschool graduation requirement in any important (major) secular subject, which few of us would consider a full education, is the equivalent of more than six years of Hebrew school.

Hebrew school, from third to seventh grade, is thus the temporal equivalent of  a year and two-thirds in two subjects.  Additionally, due to the short year and required holidays, much time is lost in review and recapitulation.

I would honestly estimate the whole of Hebrew school to amount to about the equivalent of the morning portion of secular first grade.  Because it is spread over such a long period of time, it is dificult for the children to see or enjoy the satisfaction of any real progress, which also detracts from the value, impact, and enjoyment of the process.

If we want our children to have more, both parents and children need to invest more time.

This does not need to be burdensome, but it does need to be regular.

I suggest that those parents who want more go to their school administrators and request either additional or alternative programs with a minimum of three weekly sessions.  These programs should focus on the text of the Bible, especially the Chumash (Torah and Haftarot) and Tehillim (Psalms), because so much of both the Siddur (prayerbook), and modern Hebrew are derived from it, and modern Hebrew.  I think it would be a distinct improvement if, rather than dividing the class day in half, it was composed of three periods, two Hebrew (modern and Biblical), and one discussing holidays and history.  This, of course, would require a fair facility with the Hebrew language of every teacher.

The most critical element, though is that of the home.  The parents must actively indicate and model the importance of acculturation through some amount of study and practice.

These new programs could be family oriented, or the parents could have separate classes.  University trained intellectuals don’t require anywhere near as much instruction or support as elementary and middleschool students.  Either way, however, regular study at home with the children is crucial.

I would also like to say that cutting the school year so very short, leaving more than a quarter of the year until the next class sesson, is one of the worst ideas in education.  Almost none of us, I fancy, really requires our children to reap our fields, the original reason for a months long Summer vacation.  I am not being sarcastic.  The idea of sending all the children home for two months dates from the beginning of public education, when America was still largely an agrarian economy.

There are numerous options for Summer education.  It could be a continuation of the regular year.  It could be a separate program.  It could be several short programs.  The last appeals to me because many people take vacations, but few are gone all Summer, and many children go to camp, but again, few go for the entire Summer.  A class or two a week in June, July, or August reading a book of the Bible not studied during the regular program (such as Ruth, or Esther, or Song of Songs) or modern Hebrew literature, or listening to Hebrew folk songs and then studying the lyrics, would greatly decrease the negative effect of the exceedingly long break.


Israel shoots at terrorists.  They shoot an antitank missile at a school bus.  Israel targets the shooters.  This is what the world means by a "cycle" of violence.  The basis is the Muslim idea that if they are attacked, or even if they attack and a successful defense is mounted, they have to "avenge" the "insult" to their "honor".  So every Israeli strike DOES bring more violence.  But Israeli inaction is interpreted as weakness, and brings more violence.  In Muslim terms, the only option is to strike them so hard they decide they CAN'T fight, right now.  The best that can be hoped for is a stalemate, with their response postponed until they think they can get away with it again. Every 7-9 years, there has to be a war, massive destruction, mounds of dead Arabs.  It's horrible, but it's the truth.  The alternative, as all groups say "Palestine" will be Judenrein, is to either accept another 6,000,000, or forcibly move every Jew in Israel to England, France, the U.S., Australia, and a few other countries.  You can guess how well that would go over, both in Israel, and in the countries that refused Jewish refugees before, during, and in some cases even after the Holocaust. Also, such a "victory" would, much as I dislike the term, massively embolden the new rulers of the former Tel Aviv, not discourage further outrages.  If they don't have the Jews to shoot at any more, who's next?  Those Saudi "Princes" we depend on?  Or the West directly?

Monday, May 9, 2011

050911 Yom haZikaron

Yesterday was Yom haZikaron, Israeli Memorial Day. 42,000+ soldiers/sailors/airmen/etc. have died in the struggle to establish the state & since then. 164 since last Yom haZikaron, not including the victims of Arab terror, almost 1,500 during the "peace process", nor Gilad Shalit, may he remain alive & be returned.

Tonight is Yom haAtzmaut, celebrating the founding of the modern State of Israel, which our ancestors prayed would come "speedily & in our days" for 1,800 years. What good fortune it is to live in days in which we have Israeli politicians about whom to complain! A happy holiday to everyone!

הערב יתחיל יום העצמאות, חג הקמת המדינה היהודית, על מה שהתפללו עמנו ’בקרוב ובימינו’ כל כך הרבה שנים. 
 חג שמח לכולנו, ולכל חברינו. גיבור גדול אמר שטוב למות בעד ארצנו, אבל יותר טוב לחיות בימים במה שיש מקום אחד בעולם המשוגע הזה במה שאחינו (ואחיותינו) עומדים על רגליכם על ארצכם, ובמה שיש מדינאים יהודים על מה להתלונן

Sunday, May 1, 2011

050111 Stupid Israelis.

So, I wake up and check my mail and faceschnook, and "I Love Hebrew" has posted that today is International Workers' Day.  This is what is wrong with Israel and Israelis. Today is Yom haShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. From "I love Hebrew", THAT is the important commemoration. And Thursday is the Second Day of Rosh Chodesh Iyyar, not Cinco de Mayo, because you aren't getting much support from the U.S. Chicano population, are you? If you don't respect your OWN culture and history, noone else will. If you don't have one, there's no reason to keep the language alive. And let us remember how much respect the Workers' State had for the actual workers: The May Day parade of 1986 took place in Kiev RIGHT UNDER THE PLUME.