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August 31, 2015 / 16 Elul, 5775
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JBlog Roundup: The Lessons of Nude Unicycling


Unicyclist Joseph Glynn Farley taken for (serious) questioning. I had images of him on the unicycle, but, hey, family website and all.

Unicyclist Joseph Glynn Farley taken for (serious) questioning. I had images of him on the unicycle, but, hey, family website and all.
Photo Credit: Police Car dashboard camera

Seven Reasons Why Jews Eat Dairy on Shavuot, Courtesy of Aish.com

7. When the Jews received the Torah on Shavuot, they didn’t have enough time to learn how to slaughter meat in a kosher way, so until they did, they went for cheesecake. Everybody knows that one.

6. Torah is likened to milk, as the verse says, “Like honey and milk [the Torah] lies under your tongue” (Song of Songs 4:11). OK, but the verse really says: “Your lips drop sweetness as the honeycomb, my bride; milk and honey are under your tongue. The fragrance of your garments is like that of Lebanon.” Following that logic, we could just as easily been stuffing ourselves with honey as with blintzes on Shavuot. Or with tongue.

5. The gematria (numerical value) of the Hebrew word for milk, chalav, is 40. We eat dairy foods on Shavuot in memory of the 40 days that Moses spent on Mount Sinai receiving the Torah. No comment, but do go check out all the other Hebrew words with a 40 value.

4. Of the 365 negative mitzvot (the thou shalt not’s), according to the Zohar, the one about not cooking a kid in its mommy’s milk corresponds to Shavuot.

3. This one is a stretch: one alternative name for Mount Sinai is Har Gav’nunim, the mountain of peaks, and Gvina is Hebrew for cheese.

2. Moses was born on Adar 7, and was concealed in his mother’s house for three months until she had to let him go. That’s when the Pharaoh’s daughter found him in the Nile and had to get him a nurse maid – his biological mother. Count three months from Adar 7 and you’ll get Sivan 6 – Shavuot. But instead of mother’s milk, we go for more conventional options.

1. There’s a prohibition on eating part of a live animal, which predates the Torah. The milk can be considered part of a live animal and thus prohibited. Only when they receive the Torah did the Jews realize they could have dairy products. Although, to use the logic of reason 7, they should have all eaten a schnitzel, just to be safe.

Check out Aish.com for the full version of each reason, and try the rest of their content, it’s awesome.

THOSE JEWS AND THEIR ARTSCROLLS

Lawrence Grossman, in “Jewish Ideas Daily,” reviews the book “Torah from Heaven: The Reconstruction of Faith” by Norman Solomon.

He writes, in wonderful style:

“Norman Solomon is a distinguished British academician, recently retired from the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, who whimsically claims to belong to the “skeptical Orthodox.” His latest book, Torah from Heaven, certainly exudes skepticism. It argues that the central assumption of classical Judaism—the divine origin of Torah—has become so clearly unbelievable in its literal sense that the only way to keep intellectually honest Jews from abandoning Orthodoxy is to reinterpret the doctrine not as fact but as foundational myth. Solomon, tongue firmly in cheek, tries to reassure the faithful by pointing out that myths are not necessarily false. But he clearly thinks this one is.”

But I take issue with this paragraph:

“Solomon deftly catalogs the strategies that Orthodox thinkers have adopted to fend off these threats to tradition. Some—the currently popular ArtScroll publishing project, for example—simply close their eyes to any view that veers from the regnant Orthodox line, even if antecedents for it can be found in rabbinic literature.”

I hope Norman Solomon examines the lengths to which the ArtScroll works go to tote an imagined party line, often at the expense of fact and the Hebrew language.

However, to be fair, I recommend this article, “The Wisdom of ArtScroll,” by Natan Slifkin, which is the kindest piece I’ve read to date about the often clumsy efforts of ArtScroll to manage the tight rope that separates Haredi culture from rationalism.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF HEIGHT

Daniel Greenfield, Sultan Knish, is dejected—I think—over the trimming of the new substitute they got going up there in place of the Vessey Street Towers. I think they should have rebuilt the damned things just as they used to be. Let those Saudis peer up from the bowls of Hades and see that their sacrifice was for naught and the great USA put everything back where it belongs.

So, I, too, am dejected, but not over the height of the thing, like Greenfield, but for the spirit of an America that probably isn’t here any more.

The Sultan writes:

About the Author: Tibbi Singer is a veteran contributor to publications such as Israel Shelanu and the US supplement of Yedioth, and Jewish Business News.

The author's opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Jewish Press.

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