5/29/17

Can you be both Secular and a Zaddiq?

You do not have to be a Hassidic Jew to be a Zaddiq.

You do not have to be traditionally religious to be pious.

Piety means that you live day-to-day and physically act with a connection to Judaism. It means that you maintain vivid moods and motivations in accord with a faith in the Torah.

Piety means that you transform everyday activities, decisions, and attitudes. It means that you give them special significance. And where does that come from? It can come from the historical, mystical, and redemptive beliefs of Judaism. When you live with piety, you create and perform new practices based on your faith.
  • Your motives and goals as a pious person are to enhance every day of your life.
  • To bring you sanctification, qedushah.
  • To bring you more awe, love, or fear of God.
  • To allow you to submit to a higher power and create a sense of creatureliness.
  • To guarantee you an entry to paradise in the "World to Come" (for those who believe in the afterlife or heaven).
  • To bring for all in your world some form of redemption.
  • And, on a most basic level, you may believe that piety also brings you some material gain.
We usually call piety mitzvah when it is an obligation and commandment within Judaism binding on an entire community of faith.

We call piety custom or minhag when it is more limited in time and place and less authoritative. Most often this distinction goes unrecognized in your life as a pious Jew.

The ultimate yardstick of piety is the Zaddiq -- the righteous saint. He or she adheres most closely to the norms of ultimate piety. The righteous saints are those who we would call purely ethical, those who flourish as proper humans, and those who achieve true virtue.

Not many of us reach the ultimate in any part of our lives. We play golf, never expecting to become a Tiger Woods. We paint, do business, make love, for the fulfillment of each element of our lives. Yet we sometimes forsake religion because we think piety is out of our reach.

Piety is there for all of us.

5/28/17

Summer at the Teaneck Swim Club, the Tenafly JCC Outdoor Swimming Pool + 10 more world class dramatic pools to think about

The start of summer swim season is nigh.

Today was cool at the TSC - about 70 in and out of the lap pool. A few of us braved the waters this weekend to inaugurate the outdoor lap season in Teaneck.

With nice weather ahead, I look forward to swimming outdoors every day in Tenafly or Teaneck at the JCC or the TSC.

And here are some of the other pools that I'd like to swim in...I've been to some of them...[reposted from 08].

Cool pools: 10 favorite hotel swimming spots By Gary Warner
The Orange County Register

Some like it hot. I do not. After a steamy day of going from museum to shop to cafe to hotel, I am in dire need of something big, cold and relaxing. No, not a beer. Well, OK, a beer would be nice, too.

I'm talking about a pool. A hotel swimming pool. A beckoning oasis of deep, crisp blue.

Over 10 years, I've dived and dipped into hundreds of Olympics, kidneys, minerals and infinities, from Bali to Baltimore. Most are fine but forgettable, so I cling to fond memories of laps gone by on my short list of classic dips. Come dive into the deep end of my list of favorite pools. You don't even have to shower before entering.

5/27/17

A Muslim man files a $100M lawsuit against a Dearborn Little Caesars over Pizza Labeled Halal - and his lawyer is not Jewish

From Detroit: A Muslim man files $100M lawsuit against Dearborn Little Caesars over pizza labeled 'halal' and here -

The complaint says Mohamad Bazzi ordered halal pizza twice from the Dearborn, Mich., shop. The boxes were labeled "halal," but the pies inside were topped with regular pepperoni.

Majed Moughni, Bazzi's attorney, said he rushed to file the lawsuit Thursday, the eve of Ramadan, so no other Muslims would accidentally eat pork from the pizza shop during the holiday.

"It's really upsetting," Moughni said. "My clients want the public to know. Especially during Ramadan, it would be a travesty if Muslims ... in Dearborn bought pizza from Little Caesars and discovered they were eating pork."

He added that for a Muslim, consuming pork is "one of the worst sins you can do."

Jill Proctor, a spokeswoman for Little Caesars said in a statement that the company believes the claim "is without merit."


5/20/17

Was Benoît Mandelbrot Jewish?

Yes, Benoît Mandelbrot was a Jew. The Times obituary says he, "was born on Nov. 20, 1924, to a Lithuanian Jewish family in Warsaw. In 1936 his family fled the Nazis, first to Paris and then to the south of France..."  Wikipedia says that in France, "He was helped by Rabbi David Feuerwerker, the Rabbi of Brive-la-Gaillarde, to continue his studies." Mandelbrot is the Yiddish word for almond bread, the Jewish biscotti.

The Times says, "Dr. Mandelbrot coined the term 'fractal' to refer to a new class of mathematical shapes whose uneven contours could mimic the irregularities found in nature." Mandelbrot's discoveries profoundly influenced mathematics and the sciences and numerous disciplines beyond.

5/11/17

Is Stephen Colbert Jewish?

No Stephen Colbert is not a Jew.

The Deseret News reported 4-10-2014:
Stephen Colbert, the political comedian made popular on "Comedy Central," will be taking over for David Letterman as the host of CBS’ "The Late Show" once Letterman retires.

But Colbert is no ordinary host.

The late night comedian built himself up as a satirical political opinion character who rarely shows a normal side. The New York Times published an article in January 2012 that looked at the many sides of Colbert, including his connection to God through what his mother taught him.

“She taught me to be grateful for my life regardless of what that entailed, and that’s directly related to the image of Christ on the cross and the example of sacrifice that he gave us,” Colbert said to The Times. “What she taught me is that the deliverance God offers you from pain is not no pain — it’s that the pain is actually a gift. What’s the option? God doesn’t really give you another choice.”

Later in 2012, Colbert’s faith was brought up again by Splitsider, a news blog. Writer Marisa Carroll said Colbert is a devout Catholic, and when he spoke to 3,000 Fordham University students, it wasn’t the political commentator. Instead, it was a more religiously connected man.

"Instead of his pompous 'Report' character, the man on stage Friday night was Colbert the Sunday school teacher, bringing to life a bit of personal history previously reserved for magazine profiles,” Carroll wrote.

In more recent years, Colbert has let his religious side show through his jokes, according to The Los Angeles Times. No matter how side-splitting the jokes may be, or how in-character Colbert remains, the comedy host is still devoted to his religion and continues to follow his faith.

“The man, in reality and character, is a devout and out Catholic, observer of Lent and teacher of Sunday school,” wrote Mary McNamara for The Los Angeles Times. “Unlike other comedians of his persuasion — liberal though disguised as conservative — Colbert does not hide, ignore, downplay or make light of his faith.”  //reposted//

5/10/17

Is the Hullin Scroll the Oldest Talmud Manuscript Ever Found?

What is the oldest known Talmud scroll?
Scroll of tractate Hullin, Babylonian Talmud (CUL T–S MISC. 26.53.17), acknowledgment to Dr. S.C. Reif, Director of the Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit at the Cambridge University Library, and the Syndics of the Library.

I was delighted in December, 2009 to hear Professor Shamma Friedman speak at a Talmud department seminar at JTS. He spoke about a controversial scholarly issue: whether Maimonides intended his Mishneh Torah to replace the Talmud.

This event reminded me of a Talmudic fact that Professor Friedman brought to light several years ago, i.e., that the Talmud was at an early time circulated in scroll form. He discussed this in his paper,  “An Ancient Scroll Fragment (Bavli Hullin 101a-105a) and the Rediscovery of the Babylonian Branch of Tannaitic Hebrew,” JQR 86:1 (1995), pp. 9–50.

5/7/17

My Great Grandfather was Harris Epstein the Great Inventor of a Patented Folding Umbrella, Extension Ladder and more


I am named after my great-grandfather, Harris (Tzvee) Epstein, aka, Epstein the Inventor, who lived in New York City and Spring Valley. I probably inherited my technical curiosity from him.

He was the inventor and patent holder of many practical items, a folding umbrella, an extension ladder, a double sided toothbrush, a vegetable grater and more.

Here are of his patents with their links from Google Patent search: FOLDING UMBRELLA Patent number: 1666692 Filing date: Jan 29, 1927 Issue date: Apr 17, 1928

SIGNALING APPARATUS US Pat. 1060898 - H. EPSTEIN. SIGNALING APPARATUS, APPLICATION PILED JAN. 26, 19.11. Patented May 6,1913.

EXTENSION LADDER US Pat. 949529 - Filed Feb 10, 1909

VEGETABLE GRATER US Pat. 1799963 - Filed Apr 4, 1930... UNITED STATES PATENT OFFICE HARRIS EPSTEIN, OF ROCKAWAY BEACH, NEW YORK VEGETABLE GRATER

GAS-CONTROLLING DEVICE US Pat. 968457 - Filed Jan 11, 1910

TOOTH BRUSH Patent number: 1111144 Filing date: Oct 4, 1913 Issue date: Sep 22, 1914

Papa Epstein, as he was called by his grandchildren, sure would have liked the age of the personal computer and the Internet, especially the iPad and smart phone.

[Augmented repost from 12/17/06]

5/6/17

Rabbi Dr. Zev Zahavy - Yahrzeit Number 5

Photos

Rabbi Dr. Zev Zahavy
New York City 
September 8, 1918 - May 1, 2012

Nine Minute ZZ Slideshow
edited by Barak

200+ ZZ Sermons cited in the NYT - View Online
Sermons - Download PDF
Buy the Book
edited by Tzvee

5/6/2017: 
With my brother and sister in Atlantic Beach 
and at the JCAB to commemorate 
my father's 5th Yahrzeit.
He loved Atlantic Beach.
We miss him.

5/4/17

My Jewish Standard Dear Rabbi Zahavy Talmudic Advice Column for May 2017: Peeved Over Pews - Stressed Over Seats

My Jewish Standard Dear Rabbi Zahavy Talmudic Advice Column for May 2017: 
Peeved Over Pews - Stressed Over Seats

Dear Rabbi Zahavy,

My shul is like a multiplex theater. On Shabbat morning we have multiple minyans that start at different times in several locations throughout our building. This accommodates our diverse community of various ages and praying styles.

Now, after a couple of years, a relatively new minyan of younger people got approval to move from its initial social hall location to one of the main sanctuaries. Ostensibly this move will be a trade. The minyan that now occupies the main space, mostly older people, will be relocated to our less desirable location. However, there is ambiguity in the move. Current occupants may opt to stay where they are, making this more of a merger than a trade.

Here is my question. In preparing for the move, a spokesman at the younger minyan gave the timetable for the switch a few weeks before it was to take place. He added that all seating in the main location will become open and up for grabs. The older people will have no claim to a regular spot in the pews, he said.

Among the uncertainties raised by this move, I was taken aback particularly by the insensitivity, perhaps the rudeness, of this declaration. Should we not absolutely respect the established seats of others? Am I right about this? What can I say or do to smooth all of this over?

Peeved over pews in Teaneck

Dear Peeved,

Wow, these seating and space issues sure do touch on a nerve. And yes, the younger spokesman missed picking up on the potential pitfalls because of the sensitivity people have about their accustomed seats in shul. Let’s consider why that is the case, why most people care about this topic, and why some people just do not get it.

5/3/17

Is the Zahav Modern Israeli Cuisine Restaurant in Philly Kosher?

No, the Zahav Israeli restaurant  in Philadelphia is a great restaurant, according to the world's best chefs - but it is not kosher.

The place is recognized as special. And I found this in the chef's book's Amazon preview. Interesting.