Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Thank You

Wow.  Over 9K pageviews! 
When I started this blog and posted all that stuff, I was just practicing.
The goal was to put up the Beilis translation without making too many mistakes.
Then to move on to the Fact-Checking and Biblical Hebrew pages.
I hoped people would read them.
A year and a half and 9000 views later, I guess you've been reading them.

Yes, I'm slacking off. 
I guess you don't need basically a rehash of last year's outdoors and gardening posts.
I've shown you things I am doing DIY, or what I know about DIY.
Some of you are up and knitting now even though it's time-consuming.
I'm trying to rant only when I think it's serious; you can get rants all over the web.
I'll let you know if I lose enough weight to fit into my reference chinos.

There are still many more posts for the Fact-Checking page; we're near the end of the legal stuff and this year I hope to move on to archaeology.
There are still many more posts for the Biblical Hebrew page, and by next New Year I hope to be sharing with you something I first read about in 2014.

Here's hoping you can achieve something in 2015, but enjoy your year no matter what.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

DIY -- knitting

I love knitting.  I've been knitting tops and socks for years.
There are ups and downs.
One down is the time it takes.  It takes a couple of weeks to make a pair of socks.
That's if you have an active life.
The up side to socks is, commercial socks either cut off my circulation,
or they're "one size fits all" which means they're too long in the foot and give me sock wedgies.

Tops take even longer than socks, and that's one down side for those.
They're also expensive.
But I like classic clothes: cable sweaters, Fair Isle, argyle, that sort of thing.
Those are expensive to get from a store, too.
They might not come in colors I like.
And just try to find perfectly matching socks.

Handknit clothes should be washed by hand.
It can take them a couple of days to air-dry.
That means you wear them when you want to look nice, not do heavy work.

So buy the cheap tees and sweaters to wear to work in your garden or paint your house.
Those you can throw in the washer and dryer.
But when you want a terrific looking custom made top or a top with perfectly matching socks,
Take a month of free time and knit something for yourself.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Outdoors -- the surge begins

You know I love all the signs of spring.
The first one happened late last week: the starlings came back from vacation.
I could hear their breezy whistle and see them sailing around among the trees.
They tried to mob my bird-feeder; all I had to do was open my back door to stop that.
Oh, sure, they're in black-beak.
After all, they're only here to prospect for good nesting sites.
They won't have their bright yellow mating beaks for about a month.
But the male starlings are back and now I have to be careful.
If I don't keep my gardening closet door shut, there's a 100% chance some starling will stake it out for nesting.

The male robins are also gathering.
My robin is definitely back; I've seen him early in the mornings coming for chokeberries.
Last week he had a scuffle with another robin for control of my turf.
Since then I've seen him posting watch on my back fence.
This week the robins are challenging each other right and left.
Only one can win a given turf.
Then the rest mob up and take out their frustrations beating up on crows.
You go guys!

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Friday, December 26, 2014

Fact-Checking the Torah -- Leviticus 14

We’re talking about leprosy and the third great principle developed in its laws.  The Torah for this is Leviticus 14, especially verses 33 through 49.
The first principle was that leprosy is limited in how it conveys tumah, the condition of being tameh, because all situations that cause tumah have only a limited number of hops beyond which tumah is not conveyed.
The second is that tumah can be changed.  One way preserves the utility of whatever is tameh: a waiting period followed by a positive act.  The other requires damaging the tameh object until it is no longer useful for its normal purpose.  If the damage is ever repaired, so that you can use the item for its normal purpose, it returns to its condition of tumah.
The third great principle is illustrated by the laws of leprosy in a house.
If you think your house has leprosy, Torah tells you to go to the priest and have him come check it out.
This is the ultimate example that paskening for yourself is a bad idea.
Torah specifies that you tell the priest “it seems to me that there might be something like leprosy in my house.”  You DON’T tell the priest “my house has leprosy.”  If you do, you immediately sacrifice access to everything in the house at that time because a leprous house conveys uncleanness to whatever is in it.
If you don’t unconditionally tell the priest that there is leprosy in the house, then nobody has paskened yet. 
What you do next is run home, get everything and everybody out of the house, then wait outside for the priest to show up and make his ruling.
The same thing applies to a sin offering, with a twist.
If you pasken for yourself that you have sinned, then you might owe a sin offering or you might be subject to kares, watching all your descendants die before you die.
BUT if you seek advice about whether you sinned, an interesting thing falls out.  First, whoever you consult will ask if you have witnesses.  Your normal answer will be “no”, because if you had witnesses they should have stopped you and told you what you were doing was wrong.  If they didn’t, they can’t testify against you.
Second, the person you’re talking to should be somebody experienced in the law.  That person will immediately call in two other people.  Why?  Because telling somebody they owe a sin offering is a case of property, requiring a court of three to judge.  Nobody should have to bring a sin offering without a court of three.
Third, this court has to prove you owe a sin offering.  A few weeks ago I said that whoever wants to take something from somebody else has the burden of proof that the property should change hands.  Same thing with a sin offering.  At this point Leviticus 5:1 comes into effect; a summons goes out for witnesses.  If they refuse to show up, the property remains with its current owner.  No sin offering.  I don’t have a basis in Talmud for this, but it seems logical to me based on the sum total of the general principles of Jewish law.
This also speaks to why confessions are inadmissible evidence in a death penalty case.  The accused who confesses paskens for himself that he is guilty.  But he bears no burden of proof.  The court and the witnesses do.  They cannot deprive the accused of his life unless they meet the burden of proof.
And now the fourth great principle on the subject of tumah. 

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Bit at a Time Bible Hebrew -- Genesis 2:11

Genesis 2:11
יא שֵׁם הָאֶחָד פִּישׁוֹן הוּא הַסֹּבֵב אֵת כָּל־אֶרֶץ הַחֲוִילָה אֲשֶׁר־שָׁם הַזָּהָב:
Transliteration: V’-nahar yotse me-eden l’hashqot et ha-gan umi-sham yipared v’-hayah l-arbaah rashim.
Translation:     A river went out from Eden to water the garden and from there it separated and became for four heads.
Vocabulary in this lesson:
He, it
That surrounds
You have probably noticed that hu is the first pronoun you’ve seen so far that is a subject, AKA nominative.  That’s because the conjugations of verbs include indications of the person.  Here are all the subject pronouns.
You already saw the direct object pronouns or accusative case in Lesson 28.  The indirect object or dative uses l from lesson 13.  The “instrumental” uses b from lessons 3-5, although it’s not usual to say “by means of me.”  I’ll cover the versions of “with” when we get to that word.  The genitive/possessive also uses l from lesson 13 and I’ll go over that when we get to an example.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Outdoors -- one more day

Mother Nature is throwing a temper tantrum.
It's not what you think.
It's pouring down rain and temperatures will get close to 60.
We might even get some lightning and thunder.
Then it starts clearing and the sun will come back out at last.
Usually that comes with a whipping wind out of the northwest,
an Alberta Clipper or "the Hawk" as they call it in DC.
This time it's supposed to stay mild for a few days.
Time to start prepping the garden so the compost will lie flat
when I lay it down in the spring.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Sunday, December 21, 2014

DIY -- no non-stick?

Now that you're over the shock of me saying don't buy non-stick cookware, I'll repeat some info.
I said before that if you do it right, you can deal with food stuck to your stainless steel pots and pans.
Now I'll tell you how to prevent it.
FIRST, the stuff most likely to stick is starch from rice, potatoes, pasta.
When the food is almost done cooking, put the lid back on the pan and turn off the burner.
There will be a little moisture left in the pan.  Putting the lid on captures it.
Turning off the burner lets the food finish cooking, stay hot, and absorb the moisture.
But it will stop the process of burning the food onto the material.
You can also put your plate or plates on top instead of the lid and get hot plates to serve on.
SECOND most likely is probably tomato.  The same thing applies.
THIRD most likely is fried food, but as I said, frying is bad for you.
Stir-fry might stick, especially if you finish off the rice and the rest of the dish in the same pan.

Once you've used this technique, you also use a good metal spatula to scrape the pan.

And if all else fails, like I said, fill the pan with water, put it on a burner on high.
This will re-cook what's stuck to the pan.
When the water comes to the boil, turn the burner off.
When it's cool, scrape and wash.
Use steel-wool soap pads if necessary.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Friday, December 19, 2014

Fact-Checking the Torah -- Leviticus 13

Your assignment for this week was to read as much of Leviticus 13 as you could.
This is the law of leprosy, it affects men and women alike, and a person with leprosy is tameh.
What are people unsuitable for when they are tameh from leprosy?
From living with other people who do not have leprosy. 
There are four really important issues that come up due to this chapter.  One is that there are degrees of being tameh which define whether something you touch becomes tameh from that touch.
The chain is not infinite, it ends at four hops.  The more severe the source is considered, the more hops its tamut can take.  The person who is tameh with leprosy is called an av ha-tumah, a first degree of tameh; the same for a house that is declared leprous.  A person coming into that house possibly may be declared leprous under certain conditions; a leper coming into a house can make the house tameh under certain conditions.
Also, tumah is not eternal.  One way to end it is by prescribed procedures including a positive action and a waiting period.  The other is to change the object so that the specifications in Mishnah no longer consider it capable of being tameh.
This goes along with my definition of tameh as being unsuitable for a given purpose.  The specifications for changing an object render it unsuitable for its ordinary purpose.  If the object is ever returned to a specification suitable for that purpose, it once again returns to being tameh.
The best example is a story.  Queen Shalomtsiyon Alexandra (died 67 BCE) was getting ready for a party for one of her sons.  She had cleaned all her glassware, and it was rendered tameh.  She had it all broken into pieces so small it couldn’t be used for its usual purpose.  That was fine.  But she didn’t have the ability to buy all new glassware.  So she had it melted down and re-cast into new glassware.  That was not fine.  Immediately the glassware returned to its status as tameh.  Her own brother Shimon ben Shetach was a rabbi at the time.  Why she didn’t consult him first is not stated, but at one point he went into hiding due to persecution from her husband.
Situations in which something is no longer useful for its ordinary purpose include not just breakage; fabric ripped to a size of three palms long per side is not useful for clothing any more, and it’s only useful as a patch if you don’t care that the color doesn’t match the rest of the fabric (it would be from a different dyelot, or it might be old and faded).  You can take the positive action (immersion) to make it tahor and join it to other tahor pieces to make a quilt, according to the experts who have so patiently answered questions for me over the years.
Understand: defining tumah as not currently useable for its ordinary purpose leads directly to this result.  Once a utensil or piece of cloth is changed to something that is unuseable for its ordinary purpose, you no longer have to worry whether it’s tahor or tameh.  You’re not saying that it’s grime free or that it’s germ free.  You’re saying that you don’t care any more because its ordinary purpose has been voided out. 
You don’t get that result by considering tahor/tameh to be about hygiene.  In fact if the queen had boiled her glassware or treated it with chlorine to get rid of the germs, that still wouldn’t have made it tahor because the prescription for making it tahor was scouring and immersion in a mikveh.   She excused herself from doing that saying she didn’t have time – but she did have time to call in a glass maker and have a fire gotten hot enough to melt the glass down and so on.  She paskened for herself.
Now we’ll go to the third great principle on the subject of tumah and that’s for next week.  To prepare, read Leviticus 14, especially verses 33 through 49.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Bit at a Time Biblical Hebrew -- Genesis 2:10

Genesis 2:10
י וְנָהָר יֹצֵא מֵעֵדֶן לְהַשְׁקוֹת אֶת־הַגָּן וּמִשָּׁם יִפָּרֵד וְהָיָה לְאַרְבָּעָה רָאשִׁים:
Transliteration: V’-nahar yotse me-eden l’hashqot et ha-gan umi-sham yipared v’-hayah l-arbaah rashim.
Translation:    A river went out from Eden to water the garden and from there it separated and became for four heads.
Vocabulary in this lesson:
Goes out
To water
There (location, not “there is”)
Four (masculine)
“Go out”, yts’, is a very frequent verb and has two “weak” letters so here is the conjugation.
There’s a variant form of the feminine 2/3rd person plural, tsenah, which is part of a song from the early days of the State of Israel:
Tzena, tzena, tzena, tzena ha-banot u-r’ena ħayalim ba-mosheva
Al na, Al na, Al na, Al na, al na titħabena Mi ben ħayil, ish tzava
Go out, go out, go out girls and see soldiers in the moshava (farming community).
Do not, do not, do not hide yourself away from a virtuous man [a pun on the word for "soldier"], an army man.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

DIY -- Chanukah

Most people light candles for Chanukah, but the original way which some people still do, is burning oil.
You need eight little dishes to hold the oil.
You need wicks, which either lie in a spout of the dish or have a pre-fab holder that you drop into the dish before you add the oil.
You need olive oil.

You fill up the dish; it has to burn for at least half an hour which means about half an ounce.
You light the wick.
You say -- or rather you chant -- the blessings.
You do this after dark all days of the week except Friday.
On Friday you light the Chanukah lights and then the Shabbat lights.
Shabbat lights have to be lit before sunset, and the rule is they are lit 18 minutes before sunset.

There's  a video here and the comments are very useful.

Chanukah was the first time in history that a people stood up on its hind legs and demanded religious freedom from the ruling power. They got it, too.  It should have been a lesson to later tyrants. But tyrants wouldn't be tyrants if they were capable of learning the lessons of history.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Outdoors -- cancel the milk carton picture

"My" robin has been missing in action.
Until yesterday.
Actually, there were three robins sitting on my fence.
None of them were vocalizing -- "my" robin comes and calls at me when he wants food.
When I opened the door to throw out some chokeberries, they all flew away.
So either "my" robin has gone wild
or he was seeing them off and planning to sneak back alone so he got all the chokeberries.
Maybe hanging out with the crowd has protected him from our Cooper's hawk.
At any rate, the berries have been disappearing,
but the robin eating them has been doing so on the QT.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Monday, December 15, 2014

Garden -- and DIY

Here's some planning for how to water your garden next year.
This will only work if you plant in mulch.
It will only work if you hand-water or drip water.
It will NOT work if you use sprinklers or spray water into the air from a hose, which is a wasteful way to water anyway as I have already said.
And it will only work if you use soaps instead of detergents, which is where DIY comes in.

You see, first you have to replace your shampoos and body bars with soap, such as Castile soap.
Or you have to start using herbal cleansers, such as a yucca/amla/fenugreek hair cleansing mask from an online recipe or yucca cleaning bars (recipe also on line).
You also can't use clothes washer water if you use commercial detergents or have to soften your water with sodium or borax.
Sodium and the boron in borax are bad for your plants so cleansers that contain them will make it impossible to use greywater.
But if you were going to use clothes washer water, you would have to re-do your plumbing to get at it so I think it's safe to assume you're not going there.
The same thing is true with a dishwashing machine.

Anyway, you can put a bucket in your shower and catch both the water that rinses you and the water that doesn't, and use this to water your garden.
You can put a tub in the sink when you wash dishes and catch the rinse water, then put that on the garden.

You must use the greywater within 24 hours.  So do your dishes and showering at night so that you can water at the right time, which is morning as I have said before.
Actually, showering at night is a good thing.
It's relaxing and anything that helps you get to sleep is good.
It saves bed changes because you get into bed clean instead of dirty.
It leaves time in the morning for both watering the garden, and fixing breakfast.
And breakfast is the most important meal of the day, it will help you lose weight and hit the ground running at work or at school.
You see!
This is an example of what goes around comes around.
Doing the environment some good, and saving water, comes around to keep you healthy and wise.
And wealthy since you will cut your water bill.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Friday, December 12, 2014

Fact-Checking the Torah -- Leviticus 12

Your assignment for this week was to read Leviticus 12.  By the time we’re done with this subject you should have read Leviticus 13, 14, and 15 as well.
The word tameh is usually translated as “unclean,” while its opposite tahor is translated “clean.” 
Of course you realize that I wouldn’t bring this up if it wasn’t an urban legend.
I’m going to argue that tameh means “unsuitable for the normal purpose of the subject” and tahor means the opposite.
Leviticus 12 is about a woman who gives birth and it also refers to “her niddah.”
Niddah in most cases means a woman’s menstrual period.  In Jewish law she is tameh for 7 days, then goes to the mikveh and after sundown she is tahor.
If my definition is correct, what is a woman unsuitable for when she is tameh through niddah?  For enjoying onata, her conjugal rights that I discussed in a previous post. 
The urban legend is that she has to be put in seclusion and is considered dirty.  That’s because of the mistranslation.  That’s where we get the urban legend that women are second class citizens in Jewish culture.
The truth is, she has to refrain from intimacy with her husband, the classic example of which is handing him his goblet of wine at dinner.  She is not exiled from her home.
If a man has sex with a woman who is niddah, the man is liable to karet if he does it willfully with no witnesses to bring him into court; that is one of the big 36 in Keritot.  The man is liable for a sin offering if he transgressed mistakenly, ignorantly of the law or the fact, or in a fit of absent-mindedness.  He is liable to flogging, according to Talmud, if he transgressed willfully with witnesses and hatraah.  The woman is not liable either to karet or a sin offering, and also not to flogging – unless this was adultery and that’s a capital crime.
The man who had sex with the woman in niddah becomes tameh.  If there were witnesses who tried to stop that, as per due process, and he then enters the tabernacle or temple, he becomes liable to flogging.  It is prohibited to enter the tabernacle or temple while in a tameh condition, no matter what the cause. 
Any priest who is tameh from any source is also prohibited from entering the tabernacle or temple, as well as performing services there, and he can be liable to the death penalty.  All priests are men so this is one death penalty never inflicted on women, who cannot be priests.
The concept that a woman is tameh while in niddah only means that she has to sacrifice her conjugal rights.
The man who has sex with her may be subject to flogging, but the woman is not punished if niddah is the only thing involved.  The man is penalized more than the woman if he transgresses.  Get it?  Got it?  Good.
For next week, read Leviticus 13 or as much of it as you can get under your belt.  It will illustrate two principles in Jewish law.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Bit at a Time Biblical Hebrew -- Genesis 2:9

Genesis 2:9
ט וַיַּצְמַח יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהִים מִן־הָאֲדָמָה כָּל־עֵץ נֶחְמָד לְמַרְאֶה וְטוֹב לְמַאֲכָל וְעֵץ הַחַיִּים בְּתוֹךְ הַגָּן וְעֵץ הַדַּעַת טוֹב וָרָע:
Transliteration: Va-yitsmach **** elohim min-ha-adamah kal-ets nechmad l’mareh v-tov l’maakhal v-ets ha-chaim b’tokh ha-gan v-ets ha-daat tov vara.
Translation:    **** Gd made sprout from the earth every pleasant tree to look at and good for food and the tree of live in the midst of the garden and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
Vocabulary in this lesson:
To view, for looking at
For food
In the middle of
Evil, bad
Notice the difference between “to view” and “for food.”  This emphasizes that the prefix l can mean either “to” or “for.”  I could have said “for eating” and because the Bible uses lots of parallel phrases, that might be preferable.  But it sounds strange in English because you might think it meant eating the twigs and branches and all, when we would normally only eat the fruit.  OK cinnamon is different because then we use the bark but you get my point.
The only way you won’t know how to pronounce “life” right off the bat is if you’ve never seen Fiddler on the Roof.  L’chaim is a toast meaning “to life”. 
Notice that va-ra has a kamats under the vav and not a shva.  You can’t use a shva because of the resh and you can’t use a patach.  That’s just one of those pesky spelling rules in Hebrew.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Knitting -- meanwhile

Before starting on that argyle sweater, I tried an experiment with some new yarn.
5/2 yarn is like a heavy crochet thread.
The product I tried is Perly Perle, which is 100% mercerized cotton.
I thought it would make some nice sleeveless tees to wear out shopping and so on.
That means I wouldn't worry about my old sleeveless tees which have all kinds of dirt on them that won't wash out.
I can just wear them out gardening and what not.
And I didn't need to learn any new skills, YMMV if you haven't tried a Fair Isle pattern.
The pattern is:
Cast on 336 stitches for a 40 inch chest to a size zero circular with a 24 inch tether.  For other sizes, calculate about 7 stitches per inch.
Do k2/p2 rib for at least 4 rows.
Switch to a number 1 circular on same length tether, and do 160 rounds.

For armholes, put 7 stitches on a holder from the start of the next round.
Knit half way around and starting 7 stitches before the next armhole,
put 14 stitches on a holder. 
Knit around and put the last 7 stitches of the round on the first holder.
By the way, the holder can be a thicker piece of yarn pulled through the stitches with a crochet hook.
To keep the stitches on, double this yarn over and then run the free ends through the loop.

Keep knitting in the round, and when you finish knitting the steeking, knit the first two stitches of the body together.
When you get to the next armhole, stop two stitches before the steeking.
Slip the next to last stitch onto the needle, knit the last stitch, then pass the slipped stitch over, before you knit the steeking.

Do this for 7 rounds, then stop decreasing.
Knit a total of 90 rows from the bottom of the armhole.
Knit to the middle of the steeking on one side.
Turn inside out and use a third needle to knit off 35 stitches for one shoulder.
Turn right side out, knit to the middle of the opposite steeking, and then turn inside out and knit off those 35 stitches for the other shoulder.
Turn right side out and do k2/p2 rib for as deep a neck as you want, and bind off.
Now change to a #1 circular with a 16 inch tether.
Cut up the middle of the steeking.
Knit up the underarms off the holder, and pick up 181 stitches around the armhole.
The steeking will fold back as a facing.
Do k2/p2 rib around the armhole for as many rows as you want, probably 5-6 and bind off.
OR knit 45 rows in the round, decreasing at the underarm every other round for a short sleeve and finish it in rib so the bottom of the sleeve doesn't curl up.
I know that's a quick and dirty pattern, if you need any of it explained better, email me.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Monday, December 8, 2014

Outdoors -- not long now

I love this point in the year.  I can look at the Jewish calendar on the Chabad website
and I see that Shabbat starts the same time this week as it did last week.
Next week, it starts later.
The sun is about to turn around in the sky and start showing up earlier and leaving later.
There's a good time coming....

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Garden -- good for something

Most things are good for gardening.
We have had a lot of rain over the last week, and that's good for one thing.
Getting rid of ivy.
Whether it's poison ivy or English ivy, wet soil is good.
You buy those heavy black plastic trash bags.
You wrap your arms in them and be careful to keep your head back.
And you pull on the vines until the roots come out of the soil.
With the poison ivy, you then carefully wrap the bag around the vines.
And you throw it in normal trash. 
DON'T recycle it with your leaves.
The people who try to compost those leaves or use them for compost are going to get poison ivy if you do.
What's more, English ivy doesn't break down for compost.  It just dries up.

This is going to work off some of the desserts you've been eating.
And that's the other thing this rain is good for.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved