Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The ’Avoth could not have kept the entire Torah

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Jewish date:  18 Kislew 5771 (evening) (Parashath Wayyeshev).

Today’s holidays:  Feast Day of Andrew Dung-Lac and companions (Roman Catholicism), Feast Day of St. Krisfaluchi (Church of the SubGenius), Eid al-Ghadeer (Islam).

I am alive and well, currently in Ra‘ananah, Israel.  I have been here for a week and am living under a name which transliterates as ’Aharon Shelomoh ’Edhelman.  And I have been very busy and very tired.  Making ‘aliyyah (moving to Israel) is a frightfully complicated processes.  Much of what I have done is doing things which need to get done as soon as possible:  getting an identity document, signing up with a health organization, getting a bank account, and telling the Ministry of Absorption so they deposit money in said account for the next few months.  There has also been a lot of looking for and buying various things necessary that were not taken in my suitcases, such as hangers, food, and kitchen utensils.  (Yet I still do not have a hotplate.  Or a cell phone.)  I have also started studying in ’ulpan (Hebrew classes); I tested as fairly advanced and have been bored by the grammar review and find exercises requiring impromptu acting much more interesting.

Given how tired I am, let us proceed to a video which discusses a controversial religious idea and saves me the trouble of analysis by doing a pretty good job itself:  “Yeshiva guy says over a vort”.  Yeshivah is a Hebrew term literally meaning “sitting” and used frequently to refer to institutions of Jewish learning.  Vort is Yiddish for “word” and often refers to a sermonette.  In this video a yeshivah guy reasons based on the assumption than the ’Avoth (Patriarchs, specifically ’Avraham (Abraham), Yiṣḥaq (Isaac), and Ya‘aqov (Jacob)) kept all the commandments of the Torah before it was given by YHWH.  Taken literally, this leads to severe logical difficulties which the yeshivah guy’s associate mercifully exposes.  And for those who are not fluent in Judeo-English, a vocabulary list is below the video.

  • pasuq = verse (of the Hebrew Bible)
  • Gemara’ = Talmudh (alternate term)
  • berakhah = blessing (including those made before eating)
  • shehakkol = a berakhah made before eating foods which do not have any specific berakhah assigned to them
  • mezonoth = a berakhah made before eating foods made of grain (except bread)
  • Massekheth Berakhoth = the name of a tractate in the Talmudh
  • kol hatTorah kullahh = the entire Torah
  • miṣwoth = commandments
  • lulav = palm branch
  • ’ethrogh = citron (a lemon-like fruit)
  • Sukkoth = a major Jewish holiday, the last one I celebrated in the United States
  • zekher or zekher in leining Parashath Zakhor = a controversy in how to pronounce a single vowel when reading the Torah which mystifies your humble blogger since he is unaware of one of the positions having any basis in manuscripts
  • sefer Torah = Torah scroll
  • gidh hannasheh = sciatic nerve
  • terumah = a portion of food required to be given to the Priests
  • YU = Yeshiva University, which leans rationalist
  • mesorah = tradition
  • kefirah = heresy

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