Posts Tagged ‘jews’

Yom Kippur

September 13, 2013

This evening at sunset Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar began. Yom Kippur is observed on the tenth day of the seventh month, Tishrei, of the Jewish calendar. This year that corresponds to September 14, which is actually the earliest time in the Gregorian calendar that it can fall on.  On this day Jews ask for forgiveness for the sins they have committed against God and their fellow men over the past year.  They fast for 25 hours on this day, starting about 20 minutes before sundown the previous day and continuing until evening of the day. Jews also attend Synagogue services for much of the day and there are five services in contrast to the usual three prayers on most days and four on Sabbaths. After the last service, they recite they Shema, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One”, and blow the Shofar.

Here is the Biblical description of the Day of Atonement.

1 The LORD spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron who died when they approached the LORD. 2The LORD said to Moses: “Tell your brother Aaron that he is not to come whenever he chooses into the Most Holy Place behind the curtain in front of the atonement cover on the ark, or else he will die. For I will appear in the cloud over the atonement cover.

3 “This is how Aaron is to enter the Most Holy Place: He must first bring a young bull for a sin offering[a] and a ram for a burnt offering. 4 He is to put on the sacred linen tunic, with linen undergarments next to his body; he is to tie the linen sash around him and put on the linen turban. These are sacred garments; so he must bathe himself with water before he puts them on. 5 From the Israelite community he is to take two male goats for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering.

6 “Aaron is to offer the bull for his own sin offering to make atonement for himself and his household. 7 Then he is to take the two goats and present them before the LORD at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 8 He is to cast lots for the two goats—one lot for the LORD and the other for the scapegoat.[b]9 Aaron shall bring the goat whose lot falls to the LORD and sacrifice it for a sin offering. 10 But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the LORD to be used for making atonement by sending it into the wilderness as a scapegoat.

11 “Aaron shall bring the bull for his own sin offering to make atonement for himself and his household, and he is to slaughter the bull for his own sin offering. 12 He is to take a censer full of burning coals from the altar before the LORD and two handfuls of finely ground fragrant incense and take them behind the curtain. 13 He is to put the incense on the fire before the LORD, and the smoke of the incense will conceal the atonement cover above the tablets of the covenant law, so that he will not die. 14 He is to take some of the bull’s blood and with his finger sprinkle it on the front of the atonement cover; then he shall sprinkle some of it with his finger seven times before the atonement cover.

15 “He shall then slaughter the goat for the sin offering for the people and take its blood behind the curtain and do with it as he did with the bull’s blood: He shall sprinkle it on the atonement cover and in front of it. 16 In this way he will make atonement for the Most Holy Place because of the uncleanness and rebellion of the Israelites, whatever their sins have been. He is to do the same for the tent of meeting, which is among them in the midst of their uncleanness. 17 No one is to be in the tent of meeting from the time Aaron goes in to make atonement in the Most Holy Place until he comes out, having made atonement for himself, his household and the whole community of Israel.

18 “Then he shall come out to the altar that is before the LORD and make atonement for it. He shall take some of the bull’s blood and some of the goat’s blood and put it on all the horns of the altar. 19 He shall sprinkle some of the blood on it with his finger seven times to cleanse it and to consecrate it from the uncleanness of the Israelites.

20 “When Aaron has finished making atonement for the Most Holy Place, the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall bring forward the live goat. 21 He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites—all their sins—and put them on the goat’s head. He shall send the goat away into the wilderness in the care of someone appointed for the task. 22 The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a remote place; and the man shall release it in the wilderness.

23 “Then Aaron is to go into the tent of meeting and take off the linen garments he put on before he entered the Most Holy Place, and he is to leave them there. 24 He shall bathe himself with water in the sanctuary area and put on his regular garments. Then he shall come out and sacrifice the burnt offering for himself and the burnt offering for the people, to make atonement for himself and for the people. 25 He shall also burn the fat of the sin offering on the altar.

26 “The man who releases the goat as a scapegoat must wash his clothes and bathe himself with water; afterward he may come into the camp. 27 The bull and the goat for the sin offerings, whose blood was brought into the Most Holy Place to make atonement, must be taken outside the camp; their hides, flesh and intestines are to be burned up. 28 The man who burns them must wash his clothes and bathe himself with water; afterward he may come into the camp.

29 “This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: On the tenth day of the seventh month you must deny yourselvesand not do any work—whether native-born or a foreigner residing among you— 30 because on this day atonement will be made for you, to cleanse you. Then, before the LORD, you will be clean from all your sins. 31 It is a day of sabbath rest, and you must deny yourselves; it is a lasting ordinance. 32 The priest who is anointed and ordained to succeed his father as high priest is to make atonement. He is to put on the sacred linen garments 33 and make atonement for the Most Holy Place, for the tent of meeting and the altar, and for the priests and all the members of the community.

34 “This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: Atonement is to be made once a year for all the sins of the Israelites.”

And it was done, as the LORD commanded Moses. (Lev 16:1-34)

Since the Temple was destroyed in 70, the ceremonies pertaining to the Most Holy Place cannot now be performed. Instead Jews remember the Temple ceremonies in the Avodah service. Orthodox and most Conservative Synagogues have a detailed recitation of the Temple Ceremony.

Here is a detailed description of the Yom Kippur Services.

So, G’mar Hatimah Tovah.

 

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Rosh Hashanah

September 4, 2013

This evening at sunset Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year and the first of the High Holy Days begins. This holiday takes place on the first two days of the month of Tishrei in the Hebrew calender. Because the Hebrew calendar is a lunar calendar, the dates wander a bit in our Gregorian calendar. This year it takes place on  September 24-26. The New Year is celebrated for two days because of the difficulty of determining the precise day of the new moon.

Rosh Hashanah, which means “the head of the year”,  is not mentioned as such in the Bible. Instead the day is called “Zikaron Teru’ah” a memorial of the blowing of horns in Leviticus 23:24 and “Yom Teru’ah” the day of blowing the horn in Numbers 23:9.

 23 The LORD spoke to Moses: 24 “Tell the Israelites, ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you must have a complete rest, a memorial announced by loud horn blasts, a holy assembly. 25 You must not do any regular work, but you must present a gift to the LORD.’”  (Lev. 23:23-25)

1 “‘On the first day of the seventh month, you are to hold a holy assembly. You must not do your ordinary work, for it is a day of blowing trumpets for you. 2 You must offer a burnt offering as a sweet aroma to the LORD: one young bull, one ram, and seven lambs one year old without blemish.  3 “‘Their grain offering is to be of finely ground flour mixed with olive oil, three-tenths of an ephah for the bull, two-tenths of an ephah for the ram, 4 and one-tenth for each of the seven lambs,note 5 with one male goat for a purification offering to make an atonement for you; 6 this is in addition to the monthly burnt offering and its grain offering, and the daily burnt offering with its grain offering and their drink offerings as prescribed, as a sweet aroma, a sacrifice made by fire to the LORD. (Num 29:1-6)

I mentioned that the Hebrew calendar is a lunar calendar. That is not quite correct. A fully lunar calendar would be based solely on the phases of the moon would cycle through the year, as the Islamic Calender does. Instead, the Hebrew calendar is a lunisolar calendar. The twelve months add up to 354 days, so to keep up with the seasons extra, intercalary months are added in a nineteen year cycle. Seven intercalary months are added during the cycle so that a thirteenth month is added every two or three years. This means that the dates wander a bit compared to the Gregorian calendar but stay within the appropriate seasons.

Anyway, Shana Tova everyone.

 

Jacob and Esau

May 31, 2013

The Book of Genesis begins, as the name suggests, with the beginning of the universe. The story moves on to the creation of the human race, humanity’s fall from grace, the Flood of Noah, and the nations established by his sons. Starting with chapter twelve, the focus of the book narrows from the whole of humanity to a single family and three patriarchs who are to create the Jewish nation. These patriarchs were Abraham, his son Isaac, and his sons Jacob and Esau.

Jacob was the ancestor of the Jews and his sons were the ancestors of the twelve tribes of Israel. Esau was his twin brother and he was the ancestor of the Edomites, a nation related to Israel and was often an enemy to the Israelites. Jacob was, to be perfectly honest, scum. He was a clever and rather unscrupulous man who cheated his brother out of his birthright and his father’s blessing. Esau, quite understandably wanted to kill Jacob, so he was obliged to flee Canaan and return to their ancestral home in Mesopotamia to work for his uncle Laban. Laban was a bit of a con artist too and when Jacon agreed to work for Laban for seven years to marry his daughter Rachel, Laban had Rachel’s sister Leah take her place on the wedding night and made Jacob work an additional seven years for Rachel. Meanwhile, Jacob engaged in a selective breeding program that ensured that he ended up with the best of Laban’s flocks. The two got along famously.

I want to go back, however, to how Jacob aquired Esau’s birthright.

27 The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was content to stay at home among the tents. 28 Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

29 Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. 30 He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” (That is why he was also called Edom.)

English: Easu sells his birthright to Jacob

English: Easu sells his birthright to Jacob (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

31 Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.”

32 “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?”

33 But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob.

34 Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left.

So Esau despised his birthright. (Gen 25:27-34)

That red stew is often referred to as a mess of pottage, even though that particular phrase does not appear in any English translation of the Bible. A mess of pottage is any bargain in which something that gives a short term advantage is exchanged for something that may not mean much in the present, but in the long term is far more valuable.

Jacob cheated his brother Esau, but Esau must bear some part of the blame. Perhaps Esau did not believe that Jacob was really serious in suggesting the bargain, in which case, he was a fool. More likely though, Esau was simply the sort of man who saw only the advantage of something tangible, like a bowl of stew, while dismissing something as abstract as his birthright. Esau valued only what was right in front of him, and gave no thought to the future.

We can’t really condemn Esau, however. We Americans also have a birthright which many of us are all too willingly surrender for a mess of pottage. Our birthright is our tradition of  liberty and the mess of pottage is anything that we are ready to give up that birthright for, Obamacare, Obamaphones, a false sense of security, anything. Let us not make the same foolish choice Esau did.

Warsaw Uprising

April 19, 2013

Seventy years ago today the Jews trapped in the Warsaw ghetto rose up against their Nazi tormenters in a rebellion that they knew could only end in defeat. Since their knew they were bound for the death camps, they made the decision to die fighting rather than passively submit to torture and death. In a world in which evil, all too often has its way, it is good to remember great acts of heroism. I read about the commemoration ceremonies they are holding in Poland from Yahoo News.

Sirens wailed and church bells tolled in Warsaw as largely Roman Catholic Poland paid homage Friday to the Jewish fighters who rose up 70 years ago against German Nazi forces in the Warsaw ghetto uprising.

The mournful sounds marked the start of state ceremonies that were led by Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski at the iconic Monument to the Ghetto Heroes. The president was joined by officials from Poland, Israel and elsewhere as well as a survivor of the fighting, Simha Rotem, to honor the first large-scale rebellion against the Germans during World War II.

About 750 Jews with few arms and no military training made their opening attack on April 19, 1943, on a much larger and well-equipped German force. The attack came after most of the nearly half a million inhabitants of the ghetto had already been sent to die at Treblinka.

The insurgency came when it was clear the Nazis were about to send the remaining residents of the ghetto to die too. The revolt was crushed the following month, and the ghetto was razed to the ground, most of its residents killed.

“We knew that the end would be the same for everyone. The thought of waging an uprising was dictated by our determination. We wanted to choose the kind of death we would die,” said Rotem, an 88-year-old who is among a tiny number of surviving fighters and was the key figure at the ceremony. “But to this day I have doubts as to whether we had the right to carry out the uprising and shorten the lives of people by a day, a week, or two weeks. No one gave us that right and I have to live with my doubts.”

Rotem’s uncertainty is in stark contrast to how the world remembers the revolt. Though a clear military defeat, it is hailed as a moral victory for the Jewish fighters, who refused to go without a fight to the gas chambers. It is prominently commemorated in Israel, part of a never-again ethos that stresses the importance of self-defense.

“The Nazi Germans made a hell on earth of the ghetto,” Komorowski said in a speech. “Persecuting the Jews appealed to the lowest of human instincts.”

During the ceremonies, Komorowski bestowed one of the country’s highest honors on Rotem — the Grand Cross of the Order of the Rebirth of Poland. Later the two of them, along with Israeli Education Minister Shai Piron and Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, a Polish Auschwitz survivor who helped rescue Jews during the war, walked side-by-side to the monument and bowed before it as soldiers laid a wreath for them.

To a military drum, other dignitaries followed them in paying their respects at the dark memorial to suffering and struggle, including Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, members of Poland’s Jewish community and U.S. Ambassador Stephen Mull along with an American survivor of the Warsaw ghetto, Estelle Laughlin.

Poland’s chief rabbi and a cantor also recited mournful Hebrew prayers as they were joined by three Polish army chaplains, one Catholic, one Eastern Orthodox and one Protestant. Psalm 130, which starts, “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord! …” was recited in Hebrew and Polish.

Though the Warsaw ghetto uprising is well-known worldwide, it hasn’t received the same level of attention among Poles, for whom a separate city-wide revolt in 1944 plays a much more critical role in national memory.

Authorities, however, have been trying to change this and to convince Poles that the ghetto uprising is a key moment not just in Jewish but also in broader Polish history.

Newspaper articles in recent days have stressed the Polishness of the Jewish revolt, while officials have encouraged Warsaw residents to get involved in a month of commemorations that ends on May 16. That is the day in 1943 when the Nazis blew up the Great Synagogue, a jewel of 19th-century architecture, to symbolize their crushing of the revolt.

I don’t want to be too hard on the Poles since they suffered almost as much as the Jews at the hands of the Nazis, but I get the impression that exterminating the Jews was the one item on the Nazi agenda that many Poles would have agreed with. That makes the heroism of any Poles who helped the Jews all the more remarkable since they would have been dealing with the anti-Semitism of their neighbors as much as the Nazi authorities.

I suppose that the Ghetto uprising made little or no difference to the German war effort.  It did take the Germans a whole month to crush the revolt and maybe the units used to destroy the ghetto might have made some difference on the Russian front. We will never know. At least these Jews taught the world that the Jews could learn to fight and that oppressed peoples need not passively submit to tyranny.

 

 

Terror in School

December 2, 2012

I think this video, which I found on YouTube, courtesy of Moonbattery, does a fairly good job of explaining the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians in easy to understand terms.

I find the comments for this video illuminating, at least the anti-Israel ones.  The idea seems to be that since Israel doesn’t have a perfect record and may occasionally kill civilians used as human shields, than any atrocity committed by its enemies must be excused. There is also the idea that the Jews have no business being in the Middle East, that they stole the land from the Palestinians who are only fighting a just war for their own homes against a criminal state.

There are also the Muslim commentators who just think all the Jews everywhere should be killed because the Koran says so. There are also the usual anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about the Jews owning the media, although if they did why is so much of the world’s media anti-Israel?

Purim

March 8, 2012
Ahasuerus and Haman at the feast of Esther, by...

Image via Wikipedia

Today is the Jewish holiday of Purim. This holiday celebrates the deliverance of the Jews from an evil minister who would destroy them. The full story can be found in the book of Esther, but I will give a brief summary.

The Persian king Ahasuerus, known to the Greeks as Xerxes, gives a banquet and calls for his queen to show herself to his guests. She refuses so he puts her away and holds a sort of beauty contest to select his new queen. The winner of this contest is Esther, a young Jewish woman who is the cousin and adopted daughter of Mordecai, one of the king’s ministers. Ahauserus’s chief minister, the evil Agagite Haman, is enraged when Mordecai does not bow down to him and decides to kill not just Mordecai but every Jew in the Persian Empire. He gets Ahauserus to issue an edict to that effect.

Esther, who has not revealed her Jewish origins previously, now does so to the king and foils Haman’s plan. Ahauserus has him hanged on the same gallows he had planned to hang Mordecai. Unfortunately, no edict of the Persian king can be reversed, but Ahauserus issues another edict granting the Jews the right to defend themselves against any attackers and they slaughter their enemies.

Purim means “lots” in Hebrew. The origin of the name can be found towards the end of the book of Esther.

23 So the Jews agreed to continue the celebration they had begun, doing what Mordecai had written to them. 24 For Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them and had cast the pur (that is, the lot) for their ruin and destruction. 25 But when the plot came to the king’s attention,[a] he issued written orders that the evil scheme Haman had devised against the Jews should come back onto his own head, and that he and his sons should be impaled on poles. 26 (Therefore these days were called Purim, from the word pur.) Because of everything written in this letter and because of what they had seen and what had happened to them, 27 the Jews took it on themselves to establish the custom that they and their descendants and all who join them should without fail observe these two days every year, in the way prescribed and at the time appointed. 28 These days should be remembered and observed in every generation by every family, and in every province and in every city. And these days of Purim should never fail to be celebrated by the Jews—nor should the memory of these days die out among their descendants.(Esther 9:23-28)

The book of Esther, by the way, has not always been a popular book of the Bible. It is the only book that does not mention God at all. Martin Luther did not feel it really belonged in the Old Testament canon and would have included it among the apocrypha if it hadn’t been written in Hebrew. Many have felt the violent and nationalistic ending is not appropriate, though Joshua and Judges have more violence in them.

I think Purim celebrates a triumph over oppression though. The message seems more timely than ever. The nation of Israel is perhaps in a more precarious position than it has been since the 1967 war with a nuclear Iran becoming ever more likely and the international campaign to delegitimize Israel gathering force. With the rise of militant Islam and an increasingly anti-Semitic Left, Jews are in more danger all over the world than they have been since the 1930s. I suppose one could consider Iranian president Ahmadinejad to be a latter day Haman.

This happens to be my 500th post. I never thought this blog would make it so far.

March Against the Judaization of Jerusalem

November 21, 2011

I got this from Pamela Gellar.

The new Islamic supremacist rulers of Egypt have given their blessing to a “million man march” against the “Judaization” of Jerusalem.

This is particularly galling. Jerusalem is Jewish and is mentioned well over 700 times in the Bible. Jerusalem is our Jewish identity, which is why the Palestinian Muslims are so rabid in their pursuit to steal it.

Jerusalem is not mentioned in the quran.

A march against the “Judaization” of Jerusalem is a march against the Jewish people. They are inextricably tied.

Considering that Jerusalem has been the center of Jewish religion and culture since King David captured it from the Jebusites around 1000 BC, I would say that they are about 3000 years too late.

Reproduction of 17th century Indian (Mughal) m...

Image via Wikipedia

She is not quite correct in saying that Jerusalem is not mentioned in the Koran. The name never appears, but in sura 17, there is a description of Mohammad’s “Night Journey“, in which he has a vision, or really travels, up to Heaven. He is taken by Buraq, a winged horse (Pegasus?), first to the al-Aqsa Mosque or the Farthest Mosque and from there up to the seven Heavens where he meets various prophets and Allah. For whatever reason the al-Aqsa Mosque is considered to be in Jerusalem.

It is actually not too surprising that these people wouldn’t know too much about the actual history of Jerusalem. One of the features of the Koran which make it particularly difficult to read is the near complete absence of any historical context. Various prophets, such as Abraham, Moses, or Jesus are mentioned but without any clue as to who any of them actually are, when they lived, or their relationship to each other. Jews are mentioned but you would never know that they lived in Israel, or anywhere, or the Koran was your only source.

Occupy Wall Street Anti-Semitism

October 13, 2011

Remember how the Main Stream Media insisted that the TEA party movement was racist, despite all evidence to the contrary. They even imagined that anti-Obamacare protesters shouted racial slurs at members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Amazingly no one managed to capture these comments on video, in an age when everybody has a camera in their cell phone.

Well, Zombie has some pictures of the good people at Occupy Los Angeles over at Pajamas Media. Apparently some of the people at the Occupy protests are just a little well anti-Semitic.

I am not quite sure these people represent 99% of the American population. Maybe 99% of Egypt or Saudi Arabia.

There’s more, including videos at Pajamas Media.

 

 

 

Rosh Hashanah

September 29, 2011

Today is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year and the first of the High Holy Days. To be more precise, Rosh Hashanah actually began yesterday evening, since the Jews have traditionally begun a new day at sunset. This holiday takes place on the first two days of the month of Tishrei in the Hebrew calender. Because the Hebrew calendar is a lunar calendar, the dates wander a bit in our Gregorian calendar. This year it takes place on  September 28-30. The New Year is celebrated for two days because of the difficulty of determining the precise day of the new moon.

Rosh Hashanah, which means “the head of the year”,  is not mentioned as such in the Bible. Instead the day is called “Zikaron Teru’ah” a memorial of the blowing of horns in Leviticus 23:24 and “Yom Teru’ah” the day of blowing the horn in Numbers 23:9.

 23 The LORD spoke to Moses: 24 “Tell the Israelites, ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you must have a complete rest, a memorial announced by loud horn blasts, a holy assembly. 25 You must not do any regular work, but you must present a gift to the LORD.’”  (Lev. 23:23-25)

1 “‘On the first day of the seventh month, you are to hold a holy assembly. You must not do your ordinary work, for it is a day of blowing trumpets for you. 2 You must offer a burnt offering as a sweet aroma to the LORD: one young bull, one ram, and seven lambs one year old without blemish.  3 “‘Their grain offering is to be of finely ground flour mixed with olive oil, three-tenths of an ephah for the bull, two-tenths of an ephah for the ram, 4 and one-tenth for each of the seven lambs,note 5 with one male goat for a purification offering to make an atonement for you; 6 this is in addition to the monthly burnt offering and its grain offering, and the daily burnt offering with its grain offering and their drink offerings as prescribed, as a sweet aroma, a sacrifice made by fire to the LORD. (Num 29:1-6)

I mentioned that the Hebrew calendar is a lunar calendar. That is not quite correct. A fully lunar calendar would be based solely on the phases of the moon would cycle through the year, as the Islamic Calender does. Instead, the Hebrew calendar is a lunisolar calendar. The twelve months add up to 354 days, so to keep up with the seasons extra, intercalary months are added in a nineteen year cycle. Seven intercalary months are added during the cycle so that a thirteenth month is added every two or three years. This means that the dates wander a bit compared to the Gregorian calendar but stay within the appropriate seasons.

Anyway, Shana Tova everyone.

 

 

Mein Kampf

July 19, 2011

Walter Russel Mead commemorates the publication date of Hitler’s masterpiece with this essay on the continuing problem of anti-Semitism. Although Hitler made it unfashionable to openly hate Jews, at least outside the Moslem world, there are still plenty of supposedly enlightened people who hold the nation of Israel to a standard they would never think to hold any other country too, except perhaps America. But they are not anti-Semites, just anti-Zionist.

Mead says it better than I ever could. The only reason I bring it up is to mention that I have tried to read Mein Kampf, once or twice. I swear it really is unreadable. I don’t know if the English translation does the German justice. If so, I wonder if any Nazis ever got around to reading it all the way through.

If you want to try, Amazon.com does have it. Why spend money though? You can download it for free from all sorts of places since the Hitler family gave up the copyright after World War II.

Yes, the Hitler family is still around. I read an article about them a long time ago. One branch of the family emigrated to England before World War I and a cousin of Hitler’s even fought on the British side. They’ve changed their names, though.


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