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January 24, 2017 / 26 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘table’

When A Goat Came To The Seder Table (Dayenu!)

Friday, April 22nd, 2016

By the time we sit down at the Seder table, many of us are bleary-eyed. But somehow, when it’s time to sing the traditional songs, we get a second wind and come back to life – which is perhaps why Dayenu, Chad Gadya and the other piyutim were added to the Haggadah shel Pesach many centuries ago.

A Work in Progress

Who knows 170? Or 860?

No, this isn’t a new version of Echad Mi Yodeya. But they are important dates along the way to creating the text of the haggadah that we’re familiar with today. While some scholars think the earliest text was created during the time of the Second Beis Hamikdash, others speculate it was written between the years 170 and 500, the time of the Tannaim and Amoraim. The earliest example of a still-existing text comes from the siddur of Rav Amram Gaon, who was a leader of the Jewish community of Sura, Babylonia, during the 9th century. The text fragment, which is thought to date to about 860, was found in the Cairo Geniza. Another fragment found in the Cairo Geniza was the haggadah included in the siddur of Rav Saadia Gaon, which was written several decades later.

It was only after the invention of the printing press in the 1480s that the text began to become standardized – a text that included the addition of several piyutim. When and why were certain songs included? That question is easier to ask than answer, as tracing the origins of the familiar piyutim found in our haggadot requires sleuthing skills similar to the ones needed to find the afikoman. But there are a few bread crumbs (or perhaps we should say matzah crumbs) to lead us back in time. And if they aren’t plentiful, there are enough – which leads us to Dayenu.



How many generations of Jewish children have enthusiastically sung out “Dayenu!” at the Seder table? All we can say for certain is, “A lot!”

Some scholars think the 15-stanza song of gratitude to Hashem dates back to before the Second Beis Hamikdash was destroyed because it ends on a triumphant note: the building of the Mikdash. If the poem had been penned soon after its destruction, surely it would have made note of that fact and looked forward to the time when the Beis Hamikdash would be rebuilt.

But there is no textual proof for such an early dating. So while the poem may have been written while the Temple still stood, the first time we find a written version of Dayenu is in Seder Rav Amram Gaon, another name for his siddur which was written in response to a request from a kehillah in Spain. Although the Rambam doesn’t mention Dayenu in his haggadah, Rashi does, and so we can assume the song was an integral part of the Seder in at least some communities by the 11th century.

What’s more, some kehillos have a special custom for Dayenu. If, for instance, you attend a Seder in Italy, you will likely find a green onion with a long stem placed by each person’s plate. When the chorus begins, each person picks up the onion and whips the wrist of the person sitting next to him or her. The Jews of Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq have a slightly different minhag: One person picks up a bunch of onions and whips his neighbor; the onions are then passed along until everyone at the table has had a chance to whip and be whipped.

What’s behind the ritual? Some say it’s to remind us of the miracle of being freed from the lash of oppression. Another explanation takes its cue from Bamidar 11:5, where the Israelites expressed a longing for the food they used to eat in Mitzrayim: fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, garlic and, of course, onions. Beating each other with onions reminds us not to yearn for Mitzrayim or forget that we were slaves there.

Libi Astaire

Beis Ya’kov Girls Get Passover Gift: Multiplication Table Printed on Cleaning Rags

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

The 3rd grade students at the Beis Ya’akov school for girls in Netanya, Israel, which is part of the Independent (Haredi) school system, on Wednesday received an unusual gift from their teacher on the last day before the Passover break: cleaning rags printed with the school’s name, the multiplication table (1 through 100) and the following ditty (translated from the Hebrew, where it also rhymes):

To the bright schoolgirl,
Who scrubs and brightens with the rag in her hand,
Learn and memorize the multiplication table,
And honor your parents multiple times.

The parents of said schoolgirls told Yedioth Aharonoth the gift is offensive to the girls as well as to their families. They said the message that emanates from it is that “a woman is not too bright and her role is to clean the house.” One of the mothers who’s kids attend the girls’ school, said that if it turns out the rag was actually handed out by the school principal and not as a prank by one of the teachers, she would consider looking for a different school for her girls after Passover. Another mother called the incident “serious” and said “it is inconceivable that a teacher in Israel would express herself in such a way that represses the student’s self-esteem.”

The Netanya municipality issued a statement saying that since the school is part of the Independent system, it is not part of the general public school system programs. However, the city spokesperson added, “the content is entirely contrary to the values being taught by the municipal education administration, which fosters openness, achievement and innovation.”

The spokesperson announced there would be an inquiry with the Beis Ya’akov school management.

The school principal was not available to comment. However, several Haredi sources told the ultra-Orthodox Kikar Hashabbat website that the entire thing is a tempest in a teapot, and there’s no problem with schoolgirls memorizing the multiplication table while scrubbing the house for Passover. In fact, those mothers, instead of being offended, should be proud of their industrious daughters.


Palestinians Accuse Peace Negotiators of Treason

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

At the request of the Palestinian Authority leadership, the first round of peace talks with Israel, which was launched in Jerusalem on August 14, was held away from the media spotlight.

The Palestinian Authority leadership requested that no journalist or photographer be permitted to cover the meeting between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators.

Even the location of the peace talks was kept a secret, again at the request of the Palestinian Authority leadership.

The Palestinian Authority’s request for secrecy in the peace talks does not stem from its desire to secure the success of the negotiations.

It is not as if the Palestinian Authority is saying: We care so much about the peace talks that we prefer to avoid media coverage in order to make sure that the peace process succeeds.

The main reason the Palestinian Authority does not want the media to cover the peace talks is related to its fear of the reactions of Palestinians and the Arab world.

Mahmoud Abbas is already facing widespread opposition among Palestinians to his controversial decision — which was taken under heavy pressure from US Secretary of State John Kerry — to return to the negotiating table with Israel.

When the heads of the Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams, Tzipi Livni and Saeb Erekat, met in Washington earlier this month to announce the launching of the peace talks, many Palestinians and Arabs seized the opportunity to ridicule Erekat and accuse the Palestinian Authority leadership of treason.

A photo of Erekat and Livni standing together in Washington has since been exploited by Facebook and Twitter activists to hurl insults and profanity at the chief Palestinian negotiator.

Palestinian sources in Ramallah said that Erekat felt so offended by the insults and obscene language directed against him that he decided that there was no need for “photo op” with Livni or any other Israeli.

Both Abbas and Erekat are fully aware of the growing opposition among Palestinians and Arabs to the resumption of the peace talks with Israel under the terms of the US Administration.

That is why the two men do not want to be seen sitting in a room with any Israeli representative. They know that any photo of Erekat and Livni shaking hands or sitting together would provide their enemies with additional ammunition.

Those who think that the opposition to the peace talks is coming only from Hamas and other radical groups are either ignorant or turning a blind eye to the reality.

When Abbas agreed to resume the peace talks with Israel, he went against the recommendation of the PLO leadership, whose members rejected Kerry’s attempts to force the Palestinian Authority president to abandon two of his pre-conditions — namely, that Israel accept the pre-1967 lines as the basis for negotiations and freeze all construction in settlements and east Jerusalem neighborhoods.

Last week, the PLO officials once again reminded Abbas of their opposition to the peace talks.

During an August 15 meeting in Ramallah, several PLO leaders told Abbas that they remained opposed “in principle” to the idea of resuming peace talks with Israel under the current circumstances.

The only Palestinian official who has come out in public to voice support for Abbas’s move is the powerless Prime Minister, Rami Hamdallah.

Abbas and Erekat know that Hamdallah’s public endorsement of the peace talks does not carry any weight. After all, Hamdallah is an unelected public servant with no grassroots support or political base.

To further complicate matters for Abbas and Erekat, several Palestinian factions are now in the process of forming a “national alliance” the main goal of which is to thwart any deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. This rejectionist front will consist of various PLO and other factions and organizations and could create many problems for the Palestinian Authority.

But there is another reason why the Palestinian Authority leadership does not want media coverage of the peace talks. For many years, the Palestinian Authority has been supporting boycott campaigns against Israel, as well as organizations combating “normalization” with Israelis.

If Palestinian children are condemned for playing football with Israelis, why should it be acceptable for Erekat to be talking with Livni?

Palestinian Authority leaders can only blame themselves for the growing opposition to the peace talks with Israel. Palestinian leaders have simply not prepared their people for peace. These leaders have, instead, delegitimized Israel to a point where it has become a “crime” for any Palestinian to be photographed talking to, or negotiating with, any Israeli.

Khaled Abu Toameh

The ‘Jewish Voice for Peace’ is Anti-Israel & Anti-Peace

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

The Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), classified as one of the ten worst anti-Israel organizations in the US by the Anti-Defemation League, partook in Harvard’s One State Conference, supports a Palestinian right of return, which remains the main obstacle to peace, and promotes the BDS Movement. According to a report published by NGO Monitor, they also seek to create a barrier between the American Jewish community and Israel with the goal of diminishing American support for the Jewish state. They work under the presumption that their Jewishness lends legitimacy to ideas that would otherwise not gain as much traction if uttered by a non-Jewish person.

As JVP Executive Director Rebecca Vilkomerson reiterated, “I think part of our job as the Jewish wing of the [Palestinian solidarity] movement, is to facilitate conversations inside the Jewish community… So, I think it’s very important to think sort of how we plan a wedge… So, I think that the more and more we can sort of put that wedge in, saying the Jewish community’s not agreeing on these issues, the more we’ll make progress.” Heike Schotten, an activist in Boston’s JVP Chapter, further explained, “Groups like Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) […] drive a wedge between Zionism and Judaism, demonstrating by their very existence that not all Jews are Zionists.

soda stream israel

One of the Jewish Voice for Peace’s recent initiatives is to urge Sur La Table to stop selling SodaStream, a product originating from an Israeli company operating out of Judea and Samaria. As United With Israel has previously reported, SodaStream builds bridges for peace by offering Palestinian Arabs high quality jobs that can provide them with a decent standard of living. Additionally, SodaStream produces an environmentally sustainable product that allows for soda to be produced inside ones home. Despite these facts, at a Jewish Voice for Peace demonstration, JVP activists chanted: “Occupation is not green! Stop selling SodaStream! Occupation is not green! Stop selling SodaStream!”

According the Anti Defamation League, “While JVP’s activists try to portray themselves as Jewish critics of Israel, their ideology is nothing but a complete rejection of Israel.”


Visit United with Israel.

Rachel Avraham

In Hebrew: ‘Clear the Table’

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

לְפַנּוֹת אֶת הַשֻּׁלְחָן לְפַנּוֹת means to clear off. For example, I might say, אֲנִי מְפַנֶּה לִי אֶת הַבֹּקֶר כְּדֵי לִנְסוֹעַ עִם דָּנִית לַיָּם (ah-NEE meh-fah-NEH lee et hah-BOH-kehr keh-DEH-ee leen-SOH-ah eem dah-NEET lah-YAHM) – I’m clearing (for myself) the morning in order to go (travel) to the beach (sea) with Danit.Likewise, one can clear off a table – לְפַנּוֹת שֻׁלְחָן (leh-fah-NOHT shool-KHAHN). When I was a child and we used to have Friday night dinner as a family, this was the part where I always had to go to the bathroom.

The word לפנות is an active-intensive פיעל verb of the root פ.נ.ה (p.n.h). Some related words are פִּנָּה (pee-NAH) – corner (a place sectioned off from the rest), פָּנוּי (pah-NOO-ee) – available and לְהִתְפַּנּוֹת (leh-heet-pah-NOHT) – to use the restroom(to relieve oneself).

Visit Ktzat Ivrit.

Ami Steinberger

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/ktzat-ivrit/in-hebrew-clear-the-table/2013/03/20/

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