Jewish date: 14 Shevaṭ 5770 (Parashath BeShallaḥ).
Today’s holidays: Friday of the Third Week of Ordinary Time (Roman Catholicism), Freethinker’s Day/Thomas Paine Day (probably as close to a genuine atheist holiday as I will ever find).
Worthy cause of the day: “iPad DRM endangers our rights | DefectiveByDesign.org”.
Topic 1: Tomorrow’s Jewish holiday will be 15 Shevaṭ (Ṭu biShvaṭ). It is often called the New Year for Trees. Jewish agricultural laws (ma‘aser (tithing), terumah (the priestly portion), shemiṭṭah (the seventh, fallow year), yovel (the jubilee year)) may require different actions depending on in which year produce is grown. 15 Shevaṭ is the legal dividing line between years for produce. See “Tu B’Shevat - New Year for the Trees” for more information. See also the Dry Bones cartoons “Plant a Tree (2010)” and “Tu B'shvat (1998)”.
Topic 2: Reviews I have written relevant to this week’s Torah portion: “There can be miracles when you disbelieve: a review of The Prince of Egypt” and “You cut up the Bible, you bloody baboon!: A review of The Ten Commandments and The Ten Commandments: The Musical”. Note that the story in these movies and musical stretches over several Torah portions, so expect to hear mention of these again.
Topic 3: “Real men find Church too girly”. There are good reasons to not believe or practice certain religions, but feeling one’s male ego is offended is not one of them. Religion is supposed to be about what is true and right, not what is comfortable. The group discussed, Christian Vision for Men, seeks to make church more palatable for men, but what they are trying to do is largely skin-deep. The message that should be delivered: real men are secure enough in their maleness to do what is right even if is a bit uncomfortable.
Topic 4: For today’s religious humor: “I need a new minion…”:
Peace and Shabbath shalom.