You shall not lie with man as with woman. It is a toh-eh-vah. – Leviticus 18:22
We read this verse in this week’s Torah portion, Acharei Mot. It is usually quoted and interpreted out of its context. When LGBTQ rights and same-sex marriage are in the news, we tend to hear it quoted often and unwisely.
The context was set in verse 3-4:
You will not do according to the doings of the land of Egypt, where you lived, and you will not do according to the doings of the land of Canaan, where I will bring you, nor shall you walk in their laws. You will do my doings, and you will keep my laws to walk in them. I am the Eternal your God.
Verses 6-19 then go through a long list of people whose nakedness should not be uncovered, some discussions of defiling (including land and beasts.) Something to note: the verb l’da-at, “to know,” does not appear…
A conversation I had too often as a congregational rabbi:
Mrs. Cohen: Rabbi, why didn’t you visit Abe Levi in the hospital?
Me: What? Abe Levi was in the hospital?
Mrs. Cohen: Yes, last month! He had a heart attack! EVERYONE knew. He and Helen say they are never going to forgive you and now they are looking for another synagogue. I don’t know what they teach you in rabbinical school these days!
Unfortunately, I am not making this up. Many people don’t realize that in the USA, hospitals and other medical institutions are prevented by law from informing clergy when congregants are admitted to the hospital. Also, clergy cannot read minds and hear surprisingly little from the “gossip mill” in the synagogue.
Alternatively, I’d find out that someone was in the hospital and “hadn’t wanted to bother” the rabbi. If my congregant was in the hospital, I wanted to be “bothered”! If you don’t…
It has been some time since I wrote a letter since we have all these new technologies. There is an app for everything under the Sun yet we rarely talk face to face. I prefer the conversations over a good cup of coffee to a line of text any day of the week.
As you know I remain disconnected from the fantasy world of television. I stopped by to see Anita and she had one of those devices playing. In two hours there were twenty-two violent deaths portrayed on two of the shows. Apparently the programs are in their 9th or 10th season due to people being big fans. I’ve often wondered what the relationship to watching so much death has to being happy about war.
Later I headed over to see Nash. You remember him from years ago. He keeps his children busy playing video games or watching television. I couldn’t help myself from making a comment about the 70 inch screen being plastered with blood from the video games. Nash shrugged and talked about how is doing much better after the third divorce. He and his new spouse are expecting a baby soon. They currently have five children between nine to eighteen years old. I thought it would be prying to ask if the children get confused about the parent thing. I’ve never believed the village has any control over the wishes of a family.
The Internet remains a great place to meet people and stop for a chat. After the Bush Jr. debacle it is difficult to believe an election could be so dramatic. I always thought the person with the most votes gets to be the President. That election proved me wrong.
I pulled a short story from my daily journals started when I was nine. As children we would spend our summers at the cottage. It was a log cabin deep in the wilderness without electricity. About twenty cottages built on the shores of McKenzie Lake made summer a wonderful experience. Great fishing, swimming, chopping wood along with many other chores gave it a lively time. Evenings sitting near a fire on the sandy beach is embedded deep in my consciousness. My friends and I would talk for hours under the starlit night sky. Everyone except big Tim, age fifteen, were between ten and twelve years old. There was a radar base operated by the U.S. military nearby. The young soldiers, 18 or 19 years old, would often visit for a home cooked meal or to let us kids know the events they planned for us.
One particular night in August one of the soldiers sat with us at the beach fire. They were always welcome to join us and tell stories. He appeared restless and asked us how fast we could get to the base. We told him it would take less than a ten minute run with Tim declaring he could run faster.
As he looked at each of us words slowly fell from his lips. “There are often problems when adults forget how to talk to one another. We have a situation where a few of them are getting angry with each other. Promise me, the next time you hear the air raid siren, you will run to the base and we will do our best to protect you.” We made a promise to him because he was cute too. Nature gave us a hot summer including her wind, rain, thunder and lightning.
When we were back in town I could hear his words as the sirens wailed daily, or more, during September and October. There was no safe place to run so Mom, my younger brother and I huddled under the basement steps. Even today I can hear the air raid sirens in my dreams. Those 13 days during October, 1962 were terrifying.
Despite all the rhetoric spread everywhere today we became friends with the people who played a major role in winning World War II. The cold war ended long ago and I am happy it did. I was re-united with family in Russia and Ukraine after the Berlin Wall came crashing down. For a brief moment I felt a very beautiful sense of peace.
I know you have an important day coming up to elect your next President. This I can promise you as a citizen of the world. I will always be your friend as will the people of Russia. We are counting on you to vote on November 6, 2016 and bring those adults into the room to talk.
I hope before I die those air raid sirens will stop messing with my dreams.
“For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.” President John F. Kennedy June 1963
Nikita Khrushchev and President Kennedy hold nuclear peace talks
“Havel havalim amar Kohelet; havel havalim hakol havel – Utter futility! Said Kohelet – Utter futility! All is futile! What real value is there in all the gains a person makes beneath the sun? One generation goes, another comes, but the earth remains the same forever…only that shall happen which has happened, only that occur which has occurred; Ein chadash tachat hashamesh – there is nothing new beneath the sun!”
Depressing, realistic, cynical – or all three?
In the mid-1990s, I taught a year-long weekly seminar at my synagogue on the book of Ecclesiastes and its rabbinic commentary in Kohelet Rabbah. I began with thirty-five students. After a year, five remained.
I was assured by a number of the students that the drop in enrollment wasn’t because I was a bad teacher, though I wondered.
The following year, I taught another year-long seminar on the thought and…
Slavery today is the abundant supply of human worker bee’s. Minimum wages, no benefits, no holidays, under 25 hrs a week and much more. However we are a proud capitalist society sharing it with the world. If they don’t like it we execute their leaders and turn their countries into rubble.
The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1865, reads as follows:
Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Contrary to popular opinion, the United States Civil War, Emancipation Proclamation and Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution did not end legalized slavery in this country. Convicted criminals are eligible to be subject to the condition as a part of punishment for their crimes. With the advent of prison privatization and the constant search for cheap labor, this glaring loophole in the 13th Amendment has been used to improve the bottom lines and profit margins of private businesses – not the least of which includes the private prison…
We can be thankful for the elected Parliamentary style government in the nation’s capital Ottawa. A parliamentary style government is the most common one used world wide.
Thankfully we do not have to put up with a circus even close to what is happening in the United States. (please bring back your Constitution and get rid of the Patriot Act)
Our Prime Minister is hand picked by fulling paid up members from a Party. Whichever party wins a majority the leader becomes the Prime Minister. The flaw in the system is having a government in office with less than 40% of the votes. We could rectify it by allowing proportional representation although I am doubtful it will happen. Canada also has a few elected members of Parliament who remain Independent. Most of it comprises of Liberals, New Democrats, Conservatives, Green Party and Bloc Québécois.
I see the unelected Senate in Canada as a deporable group of political party appointees having one thing in common. They paid into a political party and are handed a highly paid position with an elaborate pension. Many need to be flown into the country from their homes in Bermuda, or elsewhere, simply to cast a vote in the Senate.
India is a shining example of a nation who ridded itself of a Senate along with connections to the monarchy. (The United States did a beautiful job of sending the monarchy for a long walk off a short cliff). Every member of the two Houses in India are elected as it should be in any country calling itself democratic.
Canada’s government for reasons unknown to Canadians, continues to give its loyalty and Oath of Allegiance, to the Queen of England. Any person working for the Federal and Provincial governments must give thier oath to the same foreigner. Elected Provincial governments must also bow to monarchy when they give their Oath of Allegiance. The evidence is on Canadian currency and behind the judge in a court of law.
We hear the politicians talk about transperancy and openness every time they are front of a camera. In the truest sense of the word transperancy Canadians would know exactly what the government is doing. It would also mean the various governments would let the people know where every dollar is being spent. Cities would no longer spend federal and provincial funds on projects meant to satisfy their egos. Any association or company recieving funds from the Federal and Provincial governments would be accountable.
What’s the point of saying you are accountable when clear cut accounting is not available for Canadians to see? It’s all too easy for politicians to hide behind the Oath given to the Queen of England.
Scattered geniously into the mix is a myriad of appointees, paid up political hacks, sitting on 1000s of committees.
When Canada elects a true reformer the task will be to eliminate the governor general, lieutenant governors, senate and bring the Oath of Alligence up to date.
New Oath of Allegiance
I, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Canada, the Constitution and Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
For those who break and/or breech the Charter daily feel free to leave Canada permanently.
This past week, revelations were made public concerning Donald Trump’s attitudes towards women and sexual assault. To say that the recorded conversation the GOP nominee had back in 2005 on an Access Hollywood bus contained statements highly inappropriate for anyone, let alone a person aspiring to the highest elected office in the land, would be an understatement. To say that the existence of such a skeleton in the Trump closet is in anyway surprising to any politically aware person not awakening from a Rip Van Winkle nap is a bit far-fetched, however.
Donald Trump said nothing in that conversation that was in anyway out of character given the propensity he has demonstrated for outrageously offensive racist and misogynistic utterances since even before he announced his candidacy last year. That this is seen by many, particularly in GOP circles, as being the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back in derailing…
Was the first ever US strike against Syrian government forces an intentional hit by the Pentagon to block military cooperation with Russia?
The Russians had a powerful incentive to ensure that the ceasefire would hold, especially around Aleppo.
In the new ceasefire agreement, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had negotiated an unusually detailed set of requirements for both sides to withdraw their forces from the Castello Road, the main artery for entry into Aleppo from the north.
It was understood that the “demilitarization” north of Aleppo was aimed at allowing humanitarian aid to reach the city and was, therefore, the central political focus of the ceasefire.
That crucial shift in US diplomatic position was a direct result of the aggressive opposition of the Pentagon to Obama’s intention to enter into military cooperation with Russia in Syria.
The Pentagon was motivated by an overriding interest in heading off such high-profile US-Russian cooperation at a time when it is pushing for much greater US military efforts to counter what it portrays as Russian aggression in a new Cold War.