Jewish date: 18 ’Iyyar 5771 (Parashath BeMidhbar).
Today’s holidays: Day 33 of the ‘Omer/Lagh ba‘Omer (Judaism), Fifth Sunday of Easter (Roman Catholicism), Feast Day of St. Elphinstone (Church of the SubGenius).
Topic 1: This is a followup to the last post, in which your humble blogger noted that Saturday (21 May 2011) was supposed to be the Rapture according to Harold Camping. (This is actually the second time he has predicted the Rapture; the first was 1994.) As should be obvious to anyone, he was wrong—as everyone who has predicted the end of the world as we know it has been before. Other people have felt inclined to comment on this whole incident, both on when the Rapture was supposed to occur and the silence from Harold Camping afterwards (“Predictor of May 21 doomsday to watch it on TV”, “Broadcaster silent as "Judgment Day" hours tick by”, “The Rapture Is Not Saturday -- It's Tonight”, “As hours tick by, "Judgment Day" looks a dud”). At least one atheist has taken advantage of it for profit by agreeing to take care of people’s pets after the Rapture if paid in advance (“After The Rapture, Who Will Walk Your Dog?”). Some people downright made fun of it:
Personally I do not find the failure of the Rapture to appear so funny. Some people actually believed that Camping was right and spend their life savings. Now these people look like a bunch of idiots, are broke, and are going to have to deal with the social and economic consequences. Great going, Camping.
Topic 2: More on Pesaḥ (Passover) in Israel. Preparation for Pesaḥ was largely unremarkable, though made somewhat easier because I have a small apartment and thus not much to clean. Having a small apartment also makes it a lot easier to search for ḥameṣ (leavened grain products, which are forbidden on Pesaḥ), as there was less area to search.
Getting rid of ḥameṣ was accomplished by making sure I ate it all before Pesaḥ. The common practice of selling one’s ḥameṣ to a non-Jew before Pesaḥ was totally irrelevant to me. Some, such as the Ga’on of Vilna, have decried the practice as not being a real sale, at least as normally performed; in my case, if I had any ḥameṣ left, it was in the form of individual crumbs or grains hidden in inaccessible parts of my apartment. In practical terms, such ḥameṣ is worthless and unsellable. No one in their right mind is going to buy isolated crumbs, and if they really wanted to buy such crumbs (maybe due to insanity), one cannot really take possession of and exercise the authority of ownership on something one has no real access to. Such a sale would therefore be, to say the least, absurd. I therefore relied on disowning any such ḥameṣ, which is pretty easy since it was nothing anyone would want anyway.
There is a common practice of burning any ḥameṣ left over on the morning before Pesaḥ, and this was practiced very publicly over here. There is a field next to the local mall, and there were large piles of and barrels filled with ḥameṣ being burned.
non-Jews (no point in wasting edible food), but there are very few people who are visibly non-Jewish here in Giv‘ath Shemu’el.
Now somebody prod me to talk about the sedher, qiṭniyyoth, and yom ṭov sheni on Tuesday. If I pick up the pace, I may actually get caught up with discussing the Jewish holidays before Shavu‘oth…
Peace and enjoy burning stuff this Lagh ba‘Omer.