Sunday, May 31, 2009

Facts are stubborn. Hasids are stubborner.

You always gotta respect other people and their opinions. But when you're in your own bedroom, lying in your underwear, I think you can voice all your nasty thoughts about others. If some nut wants to listen in on your private conversation with yourself, that doesn't make you rude. I'm now talking to myself. If you folks want to listen in, that's your issue.

Every morning, we bless G-d for not making us a Goy, a slave, or a woman. Straightforward blessing. Yay God: He didn't make me a woman.

I have an issue with the phenomenon of clearly defined halachos getting pushed aside by minhagim which we do because "azoy firt men" ("that's how we do it") or because that's how the Rebbe did it. The prime example
is was davening shacharis right before sundown, after waking up at noon and kratzing around until six.

But yesterday I heard one the really took the cake. Get this: in beis harav the women say "shelo asani isha." I suppose I wouldn't want to posit that I know better than the ladies of beis harav. But this certainly looks like one of those beis-harav-only minhagim. Whatever.

Anyhow, this chassidisheh maidel who was telling me this, explained to me the reason: the beracha is for the extra mitzvos we get. That's why an eved ivri says "shelo asani eved." He's not free, but he has all the mitzvos of a freeman. (The "eved" mentioned in the beracha is an eved Kena'ani.) Now a woman could do all the man's mitzvos. Therefore she can thank G-d for giving her the opportunity to do said mitzvos, by reciting said beracha.

My first reaction was "PUUUUUULLLEEEEEEZZ." But I understand that that does not an intelligent response make. So I'll try to support and defend my initial gag.

1. A woman--even in beis harav--does not do all the mitzvos a man does. Did you, aidel maidel, ever put on tefillin? wear tzitizis? Do you say krias shema b'zmana? Do you eat in the sukkah religiously? Do you have your own seder plate at the seder? Do you light your own Chanukah menorah and make kiddush for yourself? Technically you could do all these things. But you don't. When Rashi's daughters want to say "shelo asani isha," then we'll talk.

2. Actually, we won't talk even then. Doing everything a man does will not make you obligated to do everything a man does. Sorry daughters of Rashi. It's "she'asani kirtzono" for you.

3. Suppose you'll say, "forget about obligations. Look at what the lady is actually doing." To this I say, the blessing is for G-d
making you the way you are. Even a ger, who is a full-fledged Jew, does not say "shelo asani goy" (according to the non-kabbalistic opinions mentioned in the Alter Rebbe's Shulchan Aruch 46:4) because he was indeed created a Goy. Certainly a woman, who was created a woman and always will be a woman (to quote the Alter Rebbe, "A woman cannot become obligated in all the mitzvows like a Goy who can convert and a slave whose master can free him" [ibid. 5]) can't thank G-d for not making her a woman.

By the way, in case you folks are wondering what "she'asani kirtzono" means, the Alter Rebbe says it is "k'mo shematzdik alav es hadin al hara'ah" (loosly translated as "like one who declares the justice of G-d's seemingly evil judgement.") The expression "tzidduk hadin" ("declaring the justice of God's judgement") is usually used in connection with someone's death. So you know what kind of "evil judgement" being a woman is.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sunday, May 24, 2009

I'm trying to be open-minded and non-judgmental.

But, these Muslims are making it awful hard.

Hat-tip to Crawling Axe for the polygamy post.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Mottel=the Bomb

So, I'm starving hungery, and Mottel offers to make me salad. As I type, he's puttering around the kitchen and dressing a heap of chopped up lettuce. Yay him!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Isn't this cute?

Why am I getting so into guy-girl issues? Maybe it's delayed adolescence.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Reinforcing the Old Scruples

Check out this mathematical proof that girls are evil

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Living Scruplessly

So, tonight I broke a bunch of scruples with which I was raised. I also learned that I really do speak with Yiddish syntax and intonation. I also learned that Smirnoff ice really does taste like Sprite. I also learned the Oholei Torah bochurim can be rather scrupless. I also learned that I don't know what. I'm actually a bit under the influence, so don't expect me to make sense. As we were embarking on our journey of scruplessness, we said that we would blog about it. So here I am, blogging as I have said. The end.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Do yourselves a favor and learn how to type!

I used to type while looking at the keyboard. I would tell people that I used all ten fingers. But when I started to think about it, I noticed that I used all the fingers on my left hand--almost in the way you're supposed to--while my right forefinger would hop around the right side of the keyboard like a woodpecker, and the rest of my right-hand fingers stood idly by.

Then one fine day I told myself, "If you (I?) are (am?) going to spend so much time in front of a computer, might as well learn how to type." So I did. I used And when I finished their lessons, I practiced at And the rest is history.

I consider the decision to learn how to type properly one of the few wise things I have done in my life. It made life so much easier. Among other things, it transformed my online chatting experience. In the pre-touch-typing days, I was always rushing to get my thought across before my chatting partner said something which would render my thought irrelevant. And as I typed, there was always this pressing question: what if he already wrote something? What if I'm too late?

Now I can read and write at the same time. Chatting is purely pleasurable.

Now, whenever I see people pecking at their keyboards one letter at a time, instead letting their fingers flow to the sound of graceful tapping, I feel like shouting at them, "Go to! Release yourselves from the bondage of staring at your keyboard, when the real action is on the screen!"

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Inspired by Mottel, I Riddle Y'all Some Riddles.

I met a man in the rain
He tipped his hat and drew his cane
In this poem I've mentioned his name.

What is it? (Don't google it, or you'll find out right away.)

Here's a question:
Ten people--five couples--(non-shomrei negiah) go to a party. One statistician among them asks everybody how many hands he or she shook. One person says he shook no hands. Another shook one hand. Another shook two, another three, another four, another five, another six, another seven, and another eight. The question is how many hands did the statistician shake?
Hint: you don't shake your own hand and you don't shake your spouse's hand.
Another hint: try to think who is married to whom.

Whoever answers these riddles gets thirty points. Ha! I'm outdoing mottel.

Here's a cute one, although not a riddle:
Translate into Yiddish, "The stars disturb Shtern's forehead."

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

An Inescapable Problem

So, I was using this Mac in the computer lab, and the "v" key was broken. "No problem," thought I, "I'll just copy a 'v' from elsewhere and paste it wherever I need a 'v'." (The punctuation and the end of the previous sentence is correct.)

Little problem: to paste you need to hit cntrl-v, which you can't do without a 'v' key. And I couldn't paste with the mouse, because I was on a Mac and had no right click.

I'm sure this can be used as a metaphor for life: there are some problems which have solutions. But sometimes, the problem affects the solution also. For example, disease is a problem. The immune system offers a solution. But what if the disease is that your immune system is shot? I'm sure y'all can think of other examples.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Punctuation matters!!

Compare these two statements:

Stupid cancer survivors rule!

Stupid cancer, survivors rule!

For more of these pithy pearls of wisdom, read the kids' version of Eats, Shoots, and Leaves.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

This is Beautiful

Maybe I'm I'm certainly being presumptuous by assuming that I know enough and am intellectual enough to find the trigonometric unit circle beautiful. But whatever. I'm also under the influence of Christopher Alexander's The Nature of Order, in which he argues that beauty is an essential and objective property of something, not merely an opinion. So even if I'm too ignorant to appreciate the unit circle's beauty, Alexander would assert that the circle is still beautiful.

My niece is so cute!

There's this song we used to sing when we were kids:
Red, orange, green, and blue
Shiny yellow, purple too
All the colors that we know
Live in the rainbow

So today my niece sang:
Red, orange, green and blue
Pink, purple, yellow too
All the colors that we know
Live in the puzzle.

After all, she has a puzzle with all different colored fish. But when was the last time she met a color living in the rainbow?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Language Shmanguage! You Shouldn't Know from it.

There are two languages: Yiddish, and Yiddish-in-English. Although they appear to be the same language, these two languages actually have completely different vocabularies and are spoken by completely different segments of the population. To lessen the miscommunication between the Yiddish speakers and the Yiddish-in-English speakers, I have prepared definitions of the most easily confused words.

Mamzer (noun)
Yiddish: a bastard. That mamzer salesman tried to rip me off!

Yiddish-in-English: a smart, shrewd individual. My genius nephew! Such a smart little mamzer!

Chutzpah (noun)
Yiddish: insolence, impudence, the least desirable of character traits. Then he has the chutzpah to tell me that I need to pay for shipping!

Yiddish-in-English: guts. My nephew has the chutzpah it takes to be a good salesman.

Oy Vey (interjection)
Yiddish: Oh no. His check bounced? Oy vey!

Yiddish-in-English: I'm Jewish! You also read Phillip Roth? Oy vey!

Goy (noun)
Yiddish: non-Jew. My neighbors are all Goyim.

Yiddish-in-English: a pejorative word for non-Jew. Speakers of Yiddish-in-English never use the word "Goy" themselves. They only refer to other people using the word "Goy." The Hasids act aloof around the "Goyim."

Shvartze (noun)
Yiddish: African-American. My Mexican cleaning lady was deported. But I found a new one, a shvartze.

Yiddish-in-English: Like "Goy" this word is only used when quoting a Yiddish speaker. And then my old senile mother started to scream, "Get that shvartze out of here!"

Meshuga (noun)
Yiddish: crazy. That guy is meshuga.

Yiddish-in-English: crazy, but not just crazy. It's like... ummmm. You can't explain it in English. It just what we call in Yiddish "meshuga." That guy is meshuga.

That's all folks!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A Simple Theorem

if Ax + b = 0, then x = -b/a

This is not a huge surprise. They probably teach this to high school kids.

But until today, when faced with an equation like the one above, I would do it step by step, like so:

2x + 3 = 0
2x = -3
x = -3/2

Of course I'm not a yukel. I noticed that the constant term always ended up being the numerator and that the coefficient ended up being the denominator. I just never thought about it long enough to start using a formula to solve equations instead of the step-by-step approach.

So I guess the point of this post is that today I thought of something which there's no excuse for me not thinking of before.