Friday, January 31, 2014

Fact-Checking -- Murder or not?

OK here we are, back to your normal Friday Fact-Checking post.  Your assignment for this week was the following verses.
The 10 Commandments are in Exodus 20:2-14 and Deuteronomy 5:6-18; “Thou shalt not commit murder” is in Exodus 20:13 and Deuteronomy 5:17.
Judicial execution includes Exodus 21:12, 15-17, and Leviticus 20:8-20.
When you can use judicial execution is Numbers 35:30 and Deuteronomy 17:6.
I said in the last lesson that the issue is a faulty translation.  Exodus 20:13 and Deuteronomy 5:17 use rtsch which means willful murder, not just killing. 
The second set of verses requires judicial execution in a specific set of cases.
But Jewish law requires a procedure before judicial execution can take place.  It starts with the verses in Numbers and Deuteronomy, and what do they say?
Numbers: Everybody who strikes a person in front of witnesses, they may declare him a murderer but one witness shall not answer to put anybody to death.
Deuteronomy: At the word of two witnesses or three witnesses the dead person shall die, he shall not die at the word of one witness.
Who is a witness?  Torah doesn’t say.  Mishnah records the definition that developed by 2000 years ago in the “Damages” collection (Sedra), in tractate Bava Kamma which deals with court procedures, in chapter 1, Mishnah 3:  Witnesses have to be bney chorin (not bonded out) and bney brit (circumcised Jews).  In business dealings, women can give testimony.
Other witness requirements include that in a case with a risk of judicial execution, they can’t be relatives to the accused or each other (Mishnah Damages Sanhedrin 3:1), including the rule that the accused is his own relative and can’t give testimony against himself.  Confessions don’t count in Jewish law.
It took the US 200 years of history to create the principle that a confession is not valid evidence unless the accused’s due process rights have been protected, the famous Miranda ruling.  Jewish law never had to go there.  For over 2000 years, plus the prior history during which the rule developed, Jewish courts have rejected confessions by the accused as evidence. 
Why?  It partly has to do with the job a witness has to do.  It includes things no person can do for himself (or herself).  These are in the next lesson.
It also partly has to do with a concept that developed in Jewish law that says no wicked person is a valid witness.  Witnesses can’t be dodgers of the commandments.  Examples include people who make money off the produce that grows in the shemitta year when all such produce is free to everybody.  Or people who make a living from pigeon racing and dicing, instead of a useful trade – people with money on a race will cheat and lie so as to not lose their money and that is unacceptable in a witness.
A person who confesses to a crime that carries the death penalty by definition is a wicked person, if we take their word for it, and since a court won’t accept testimony from a wicked person, the confession doesn’t count.  But if we reject their claim of committing the crime, so that we don’t have to define them as a wicked person, then we can’t try them for the crime based on their testimony.  And around and around.
So Jewish law refuses to accept confessions from the accused as evidence against them in law.
Your assignment for next week is to study Leviticus 19:17.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved 

Bit at a time Bible Hebrew -- Genesis 1:6

I apologize, I should have posted this yesterday but I didn't want to leave you hanging as far as how to prep for emergencies when you drive.

Genesis 1:6
ו וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים יְהִי רָקִיעַ בְּתוֹךְ הַמָּיִם וִיהִי מַבְדִּיל בֵּין מַיִם לָמָיִם:
Transliteration: Va-yomer elohim y’hi raqia b’tokh ha-maim v’yhi mavdil ben maim la-maim.
Translation:    Gd said Let there be a raqia in the midst of the water and let it divide water from water.
Letters in this lesson:
Vocabulary in this lesson:
in the midst of, among
You should recognize the roots of the last word in the vocabulary; you’ve seen it before.  This is the present tense of the verb you saw as yavdel before, which was the aorist.  This is the hifil form and is causative. 
Notice that I didn’t translate raqia.  The usual translation is “firmament” which is wrong.  Raqia has the root resh qof ayin and the same root is in Exodus 39:3 which describes hammering pure gold very thin and then cutting thin strips from it, which are woven with colored thread to make the efod.  It is also in Numbers 17:4; Elazar hammers flat the copper censers that were not consumed with their owners, and uses it as a covering for the ark.
“Firmament” comes from the Septuagint which uses the Greek stereoma for raqia.  Stereoma means a hard body.  It suits the Aristotelian concept that above earth is a tightly fitted hollow ball which is the sphere of the moon, the sphere of the sun being outside of that, and then five more spheres for the ancient visible planets.
The raqia is not a hollow sphere.  It is discussed in Babylonian Talmud, Passover 94a, as being 1000 parasangs thick (1277 kilometers), and below that Passover 94b says earth is 182,500 parasangs or 233 thousand kilometers below it.  What’s more, Chagigah 13a (also in Babylonian Talmud) says that there are seven raqias, all the same thickness (1000 parasangs) and there is a distance of 1000 parasangs between each raqia.  The raqia is a relatively thin covering over whatever is beneath it.What is in that 1000 parasangs of distance between each raqia, nobody discusses. 
That is probably due to Mishnah Chagigah 2:1 (Babylonian Talmud Chagigah 11b) which says “There are four things that if a man thinks about them, it would be better if he had never been born: what is above; what is below; what is before; and what is after.”  Look: Judaism has 613 commandments.  It’s hard to obey them all.  If you haven’t done that, it doesn’t matter what you think about esoteric things like the seven heavens, or what holds the world up (pre-Newton), how the universe began (pre-Einstein), or how it will end. 
And if you do spend time on those things, you always get to a point where you run out of answers.  Then you either stop talking, or you start making things up.  You’re not Gd.  Only Gd knows the truth about those things.  People will either ignore you because they know you don’t know, or they’ll believe you.  At that point you become  “somebody putting a stumbling block before the blind” because you have them believing you know what you’re talking about when you don’t.  And that right there violates one of the 613 commandments.
That’s not anti-science.  Science admits it doesn’t know everything.  That’s why scientists still have work to do.  Judaism is not anti-science.  It says that to be a Jew you have to fulfill the 613 commandments.  You can do that and still be a scientist.  But if you’re not a scientist and you don’t study science so that you know where science ends and the unknown begins, you should be going and fulfilling commandments.
Why didn’t Septuagint use a better word?  I don’t know.  I’m working on a verse by verse comparison of  Septuagint with the Hebrew and I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that Septuagint is the work of a bunch of careless idiots, one step above those monkeys that accidentally reproduced Shakespeare in the joke.  There probably isn’t a Greek word with all the connotations of raqia.  That’s common to all languages; no two languages have words for all the same concepts, and you have to approximate or use multiple words to explain what you mean.
That’s why it’s a good thing you’re learning Hebrew.  I get a chance to tell you about the connections and connotations of Torah with other Jewish classics so you can see what it really means.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, January 30, 2014

OB -- What's in YOUR car?

I know, roads everywhere are different.  Here a lot of the roads run to and from DC and some of the ones most heavily traveled have exits only every 5 miles or so.  What do you do then if it's blocked?

Not much.  Especially if it's a tractor-trailer wreck, as it so often is, plus load spillage, and sometimes plus fuel spillage which requires a hazmat crew.

What do you do while you wait for the police to help you turn around?  Freeze?  Starve?  Hold it until you explode?

Well, here is where emergency preparedness comes in.

Did you know that a Mylar emergency blanket will hold up to 80% of your body warmth and when folded up is no bigger than my palm?  And my hands aren't all that big.  In 2013 I bought a 3 pack, one for the house, one for the car, and one in case I thought it would be a good idea to insulate myself from the floor as well as put one over my head.

Add to that a few of those hand and foot warmers you can get for camping.  When my hands are cold they hurt and then they become unuseable.  So I bought a couple at REI.  Haven't used them so far.

For years now emergency experts have been telling us to have bottled water in our cars.  Same goes for food.  A pack of tree nuts, soy nuts, and sunflower seeds.  Separately packaged, some dried berries. 

Sanitary needs -- there are numbers of portable products for this.  Use "emergency toilet in traffic jam" in your search engine.  Ignore reviews by "A Customer".

That's aside from not causing the jam yourself.  NO TEXTING OR PHONING WHILE IN THE ROADBED.   Second, keep your car in good repair.  Saving money there can mean you're the one whose car breaks down causing the jam.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Outdoors -- IT HAS BEGUN!

The great invasion has begun.
The starlings and robins are mobbing up, getting ready to establish their territories, choose nesting sites, and advertise for mates!
There are dozens of robins in the trees and dozens of starlings with the bright yellow bills that mean spring is coming all over my lawn. 
The starlings must think I have Japanese beetle grubs under my yellow grass, but it's just a warm-weather grass that always goes yellow in the winter.
OTOH, the mass of brown grass means that three years of cornmeal gluten has pretty much rubbed out the crabgrass.
At any rate it's a noisy crew taking advantage of the sun and ignoring the shreds of last night's snow.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

OB -- Do we have your attention now?

Some time back I said that emergency preparedness would be a future post and maybe now is the time, with 2/3 of the country having extreme winter weather.

What you have to prepare for:
1.  Precipitation you're not used to.
2.  Temperatures you're not used to.
3.  Power outages.
4.  Water mains breaking.
5.  Road closures.

Let's take the last one first.  My brother once said one reason for the massive traffic jams in the DC metro area was that people learn only one way to get to work.  They don't know anything about other roads in the area and if  -- what am I saying, WHEN!!!  -- their normal route gets shut down, they have nowhere else to go even if they're near an exit.

Now, I know 21st century cars tend to have GPS, but I also know of cases where GPS got people lost and they had to call me, tell me where they were, and then follow my personal turn by turn instructions to get where they were going.

And I know that everybody but me has a cell phone with Siri or something, but the law against distracted driving as written in my state says IF YOU ARE IN THE ROADBED you are not allowed to be texting or talking on that cell phone.  You have to pull onto the shoulder or exit the road where you are and find a parking space before you can use Siri or whatever.

And typically in the DC metro area, there's a traffic jam when there's been a wreck and the emergency equipment needs the shoulder to get to the wreck and save lives, so you do not want to pull onto the shoulder.

SO.  When you have days off, get on your computer with some map software, find those alternate routes, and drive them so you know what they look like.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Fair Isle Knitting -- Alternating colors

The key to Fair Isle Knitting, as one site says, is that each row uses no more than two colors and no color is used for more than 7 stitches in a row.  Anything with more colors is more like Bohus; anything with longer runs of color is a pattern intended to look like Fair Isle.

This week, or whenever you feel comfortable working rib, you will join in thread of a different color from the background you've been using.

See Ann's video for how to work an X-O-X-O pattern.

Basically you will knit only, no purling.
Put your background yarn on one side of you and the contrast yarn on the other side to keep them from tangling.
Do a normal knit stitch with the background color.
Do a normal left-handed stitch with the contrast color.
Keep this up until you get back to the start of the round.
Now you can work a checkerboard pattern by using the contrast color above the first stitch in the background color at the start of the next round.  Do an extra stitch in the background color if necessary.

Work three rounds and examine them.  The stitches should all look the same size.  It may take practice to get there.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Monday, January 27, 2014

Outdoors -- more signs

Yesterday I heard a bunch of phoebes.
They have a characteristic tail movement, and they are greenish.
I know I've never seen them, but I've heard plenty of them.
Also I think the Carolina chickadees are starting to establish their summer territory.
They start calling about first light and you sometimes hear two of them for a while.
Then one will get fainter and fainter as he backs off.
When the two of them feel the other's call is faint enough, they stop calling for a while, but they'll start up again in spring to let the females know they have a turf for bug-hunting and nesting.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Sunday, January 26, 2014

DIY -- Basic Cooking IV Fried Rice

For fried rice, you have to have leftover cooked rice.

Or you can cook it ahead of time on purpose for the fried rice, then you have to chill it completely.

Make sure you have 1/4 to 1/3 cup rice per person.

Make sure you have 1/3 to 1/2 cup vegetables per person.  These should be peas and diced or shredded carrots.

You want 1/4 pound tofu or meat per person.

You also want at least one egg, or one per two people.

Use any seasonings you want: white pepper, crushed red pepper, ginger and garlic, black pepper and ground mustard, etc.

Get 1 tablespoon of oil per person hot in the frying pan.

Throw in everything except the egg. Beat the egg up in a small dish.

Stir fry the rice, vegetables and meat until they start to brown, then pour on 1-2 tablespoons of soy sauce, mix thoroughly, and push to one side of the pan.

Put a little oil on the clear spot in the pan, pour in the egg and scramble-fry it. When it starts to get solid, chop it up with the edge of your spatula.

Mix the egg in with the rest of the food, put the lid on the pan, wait at least a minute, and turn the burner off. Let rest 5 minutes and eat.

The main thing about making your own fried rice is if you have problems with MSG.  There are Chinese restaurants that say they don't use it, but they do.  I don't know if it sometimes gets hidden in their supplies without being on the label, but you know which ones they are because you get that familiar headache.

1. I've said it before, turning the burner off keeps the starch from sticking to the pan and makes cleanup easier.
2. The reason it has to be cold cooked rice has to do with the starch in the rice. The same issue makes cold cooked potatoes the best basis for home fries and cold cooked spaghetti best for frittata. Which are whole other postings.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Friday, January 24, 2014

Fact Checking -- "Thou shalt not kill"?

If you still have questions on “eye for an eye”, please post in comments or twitter me or email me. 
Next urban legend.  A lot of people now base their objections to war and the death penalty on the Ten Commandments, citing “thou shalt not kill.”  The 10 Commandments are in Exodus 20:2-14 and Deuteronomy 5:6-18.  “Thou shalt not commit murder” is in Exodus 20:13 and Deuteronomy 5:17.
Reading the commandment as “thou shalt not kill” is a massive case of quoting out of context.  Remember, the Torah is a law book, at least, starting from Exodus 12 it is, and the first copy of the Ten Commandments is in Exodus 20.  BUT what people are ignoring are all the “thou shalts”, Jewish laws, that say “he must die,” or something like that.
You can’t reconcile those verses with “thou shalt not kill.”
Unless you know Hebrew.
Because the Ten Commandments don’t say “thou shalt not kill,” they say “thou shalt not commit murder.” 
There are 3 words in Hebrew for killing.  The one used in the Ten Commandments is rtsch (rtsch represents the root of a Hebrew verb; see the Hebrew lessons).  Rtsch has to do with willful murder.  The verb in “he must die” is mot – the actual phrase is mot yumat, a phrase you have run across in the Hebrew lessons if you ran on ahead to the Gan Eden story.  This is judicial execution, and Torah requires judicial execution in certain specific cases. 
The third word is hrg and you will see it in the Hebrew lessons when you see the story of Qain and Hevel.  Hrg means “kill,” in the sense of involuntary manslaughter or accidental manslaughter, as we phrase it in American law. 
And just like American law, a person not guilty of willful murder cannot be subject to the death penalty.  This includes officials of the court who perform executions, and before much longer I will go into another class of court officials who cannot be subject to the death penalty.
You can either just accept this and go on to the next topic, which I will link to when I get there, or you can go on to the next lesson.  For that, look up the following verses.
Judicial execution includes Exodus 21:12, 15-17, and Leviticus 20:8-20.
When you can use judicial execution is Numbers 35:30 and Deuteronomy 17:6.
Read these verses for next week.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Bit at a time Bible Hebrew -- Genesis 1:5

Genesis 1:5
ה וַיִּקְרָא אֱלֹהִים לָאוֹר יוֹם וְלַחֹשֶׁךְ קָרָא לָיְלָה וַיְהִי־עֶרֶב וַיְהִי־בֹקֶר יוֹם אֶחָד:
Transliteration: Va-yiqra elohim la-or yom v’la-choshekh qara lailah va-y’hi-erev va-y’hi-voqer yom echad.
Translation:    Gd named the light day and the darkness He named night and there was evening and there was morning one day.
Letters in this lesson: ק
Vocabulary in this lesson:
call (to), call by name, name
Indirect object preposition, genitive preposition, possessive
Notice that in the first word, after va with the patach, the yod takes dagesh.  Also notice that toward the end of the verse, after y’hi, it’s not boqer, it’s voqer.  But notice after the other y’hi, there’s no dagesh in the ayin.  Ayin is a letter that never takes dagesh.  Also notice that after voqer, the yod in yom does NOT take dagesh.  The word before the yod ended in a resh, not a vowel as at the start of the verse.  Are you starting to see a pattern?
Notice that yiqra has the root qof resh alef.  That is just like bara which was the second word in Torah.  It also happens to be true that yiqra is the paal binyan like bara, but the difference between them is that bara is in the past and yiqra is in the aorist.  So what impression does it give?  That bara happened so long ago but yiqra is part of a rapid sequence or happened relatively recently.  In this case it’s the rapid sequence.  Remember the guy who said that from Gd’s point of view it all happened in a blink?  That’s what’s going on with creation.
Memorize the lamed for two VERY IMPORTANT things.
“to X” as in “give to X” is lamed plus X.
“of X” as in possession also uses lamed plus X, especially in phrases like “X has a hat” or “the hat which is X’s.” 
In this verse, however, the lamed is part of an idiom: “call the name of”.  You’ll see this again soon, if I remember correctly.
The other VERY IMPORTANT thing to notice is that there’s a qamats under the lamed.  That means it’s “the light”, not just “light”.  In the following word, it’s a patach.  All prepositions in Hebrew can take a qamats or patach to indicate that the word they are attached to is “the” whatever.   Also notice that the qamats is with alef and the patach is with chet.  Are you sensing a pattern?
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Fair Isle Knitting -- which color?

What better to talk about on a day with below freezing wind chill and snow on the ground, but something warm like a Fair Isle sweater?

Keitelson's book, which I have, brings up a good point.  When you're going to knit the rib in two colors, which color do you cast on with?
It only matters if you are going to do vertical stripes in the rib.
If you are going to do horizontal stripes, you only care about joining in the yarn in the other color.
So how do you do that?

One site says the traditional method is to SPLICE them.  It warns that you should only do this with all-wool yarns, like real Shetland wool.  The reason is that splicing starts with unweaving the yarn a bit and that makes it weaker.  Why it works with Shetland or other all-wool yarns is that the hairs of the yarn hook onto each other and counteract the weakness.

IF you are using a two-ply yarn
unravel the yarn of your background color for about 2 inches and watch carefully to see which way the threads were wound together into the yarn.
You will have two thinner threads.  Cut one of them by half.
Unravel the yarn of your contrast color for about 2 inches and cut one of those.
Now wind the long end of the background color with the short end of the contrast color in the same direction as they were originally wound.  Clockwise or counterclockwise, wind them the same way.
Now do the same with the long end of the CONTRAST color and the short end of the background color.
Now spit on the ends, put the palms of your hands over them, and rub them to hackle the threads together.  (This is actually a mild felting.)

Here's the website that gives these instructions, and an alternate method.

The key with Fair Isle is that you will have no more than two colors in the row, if it's a REAL Fair Isle pattern.  So you can do this splicing at one side and then use a weaving technique I am going to show you soon to make sure that you don't have long loops on the inside of the pattern.  Because it's only two yarns, you won't end up with a bump on that side. Also you won't end up with little lumps like you would if you knotted the threads together.

Splicing is not discussed in Keitelson's book.  That's why I had to find a website that discussed it.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Garden -- not today, Mother Nature is throwing a tantrum

We're expecting at least 4 inches of snow, whipping winds, and temperatures falling so low the windchill will be minus 15. 

Unlike the last time we had temps this low, they will stay low into the weekend.

I can't stay out in temps like this, so I won't do anything in the garden.

I'll work on future posts for other pages (Fact-Checking the Torah and Bit at a Time Hebrew), and a quilt I started years ago (I think this is like the 12th quilt I've made lifetime), Chinese, and some indoor exercise because like I said, I will be losing the same amount of weight this year as last year.

At this point I have put out bird food and sealed up a draft with plastic trash bags and duct tape. 

Waiting.  Watching. 

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Monday, January 20, 2014

Outdoors -- Another Harbinger

Yesterday I heard another harbinger of spring.

I heard a white-throated sparrow sing for the first time this year.  It's a high, very sweet, quiet song that just thrills me.

You can hear the song here:

The Keller recording sounds more like my bird.

Now for the down side.  These birds normally call between first light and actual dawn.  Plus you have to have bushes near the house and a reliable feeder.  When they get used to having a feeder, these birds will call as they approach it through the bushes.  That's what I heard yesterday right about 7 a.m.

I'm a morning person so it was no big deal being up that early, but it's also an attraction for getting up that early.  Start feeding birds and then try listening at the end of January through mid-summer when you don't have to go to work.  See if the sweetness of the song rewards you for the effort.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Sunday, January 19, 2014

DIY -- No Wok Needed

I'm sure a bunch of people just fainted because they can't imagine making stir-fry without a wok.

I've not only made stir-fry, I've made chao mian from somebody's Beijing granny's recipe, without using a wok.

Those of you renting those micro-efficiency apartments will love this because you don't have room to store both a wok and a frying pan.

So.  Get out your frying pan and put 1 tablespoon of oil per serving in it, set the burner on 3, and start chopping your veggies.  By the time you are done, the oil will be hot enough to fry them right.

You only need to fry them 5 minutes, then add 1/4 cup water and put the lid on the pan.  In 10 minutes the vegetables will be perfect.

That's all there is to stir-fry.

Now, if you want a sauce, you can find recipes online for Szechwan sauces, hoisin sauce, and so on.  The basic recipe for a brown sauce for stir-fry veggies is:

1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon COLD water
1 teaspoon cornstarch

Mix thoroughly and pour into the pan, then stir once, before putting on the lid.  If it's still pretty liquid after 10 minutes, take the lid off, leave it off, and stir while some of the liquid cooks off.

If this sounds like making cornstarch gravy, that's exactly what it is!

Next: fried rice

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Friday, January 17, 2014

Fact-Checking -- the Fourth Answer

In fact there’s also a fourth answer to your question.  Judaism did develop subject-organized compendia of the law, and it didn’t help one little bit.
Review:  For 35 centuries, Jews who practiced in Jewish courts had to learn the entire Torah to do it, and for the last 22 centuries they have learned the entire Mishnah, and they learn the entire Gemara, and they learn all the halakhot in Mishneh Torah and Shulchan Arukh, which exists in three versions.  And they learn all the legal decisions since 1600 CE.
Some terminology.  Mishnah is a collection of legal enactments from 1000 BCE to 600 CE.  Gemara is a commentary on Mishnah which records discussions about Mishnah up to about 600 CE.  There are two collections of Gemara, the Jerusalem, and the Babylonian.  The combination of the Mishnah, with one set or the other of Gemara, is the Talmud.  So there is a Jerusalem Talmud, and a Babylonian Talmud.
Halakhah (plural halakhot) is “Jewish law.”  The halakhah is the final decision of Jewish law in a specific case.
Mishneh Torah is a collection of halakhot from the 1100s CE written by Rabbi Moshe Maimonides.  Shulchan Arukh is a collection of halakhot from the 1200s CE written by Rabbi Yosef Caro.  It mostly records the practices of R. Caro’s community, the Sephardic community that lived around the Mediterranean Ocean.  The other great Jewish community was the Ashkenazic community of Northern and Eastern Europe; they have their own specific Kitzur Shulchan Arukh.  The Chassidic communities, especially the Lubavitcher “Chabad” Chassidic community, have Shulchan Arukh HaRav composed by the founder of Chabad Chassidism, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Lyady in the early 1800s CE.
Mishneh Torah and Shulchan Arukh are organized by subject.  These two collections are useful only when the facts of the case are identical to the ones in the collections.  As soon as they came out, rabbis all over Europe and wherever else it was important said, if the facts of the case are different from the facts that Maimonides and Caro documented, it is prohibited to argue on the basis of their work.  The new case has to be argued on the basis of Gemara.
Why?  Because there’s a rationale to how you argue a case in court.  You have gezerah shavah, you have “if two verses seem to contradict each other a third verse can reconcile them,” and 11 other principles for Jewish legal arguments.  They are documented in a collection called Midrash Halakhah, at the start of a commentary on Leviticus.  Maimonides and Caro wrote nothing about how to use these principles.  You can only learn that from Gemara.
The same is true today in American law.  I already talked about writing a brief using gezerah shavah to encourage a judge to agree with my argument.  Judaism and American law both use a principle called qal vachomer, chomer vaqal in Hebrew and a fortiori, “all the more so” in American law.  You don’t learn these arguments in statutes.  You learn them from cases and you learn them from practice. 
And the 13 principles of Jewish forensic argument come out of the contents and the sequence of the verses in Torah.  So slicing and dicing it into subject order doesn’t get you anything.  But I’m not preparing you to argue in a Jewish court. 
I’m saying that you’ve been taught an urban legend that Torah is a religious work when it’s a law book, especially from Exodus 12 on, and it has been used to run the Jewish culture for 35 centuries, longer than any culture except perhaps the Hindu culture (try reading the Mahabharata sometime). 
I’m also busting the urban legend you’ve been taught that Jewish law is alien, foreign, incomprehensible, or whatever other adjectives you’ve heard.  It is not identical to modern American law, but it used similar arguments in court and arrived at similar conclusions about how a culture ought to run, almost 3 millennia before the U.S. came to those same conclusions.  After all, the Equal Protection Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is less than 200 years old as of this writing.

We'll start a new topic next week.  If you still have questions on battery, email me or post a comment.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Bit at a time Bible Hebrew -- Genesis 1:4

Genesis 1:4 

ד וַיַּרְא אֱלֹהִים אֶת־הָאוֹר כִּי־טוֹב וַיַּבְדֵּל אֱלֹהִים בֵּין הָאוֹר וּבֵין הַחֹשֶׁךְ:

Transliteration: Va-yar elohim et-ha-or ki tov vayavdel elohim ben ha-or u-ven ha-choshekh.
Translation:     Gd manifested the light for it was good and Gd separated the light and the darkness.
Letters in this lesson: ט, ד, ח
Vocabulary in this lesson:

because, for, if, when
divide, separate
between, from

We have two words from the same binyan in this lesson.  They are from the hifil binyan which is called the causative. 

We also run into another trick of Biblical Hebrew.  The word va-yar is based on the root resh alef heh which means “see”.  It is in the hifil, and to cause to see is “show” or “make manifest.”  But what happened to the heh?  In Biblical Hebrew, sometimes the final heh disappears in an aorist, which is what yar is, an aorist.  Another example you will see fairly soon is va-yaas.

Most translations say “Gd saw the light,” but as you can see, the real translation is more like what I have.  Or even “Gd showed that the light was good.”  Now, let me point out that this is kind of a loose translation because there’s no “is” in that clause before the “and”.

A famous commentator said that the word ki has four meanings: “but”; “that” or “which”; “lest”; and “if”.  If I remember them correctly.

The root of yavdel is bet dalet lamed.  The basic meaning is separate, so “caused to be separate.”

The idiom ben…uven… sometimes gets translated literally, so “between… and between…”.  That’s too much precision.  Just learn it as “between X and Y.”

Jewish tradition says that when Gd created the universe, He created somewhere where imperfection was possible.  Before that, Gd’s perfection was manifest everywhere.  In that perfection, there was no need for Torah (which includes Talmud) because they assume that things can go wrong and they tell how to fix it.  But Gd creates nothing without purpose, so it was necessary that there be the possibility of things going wrong.  That’s the universe we live in.  To prove that it is imperfect, but not evil, the creation story keeps repeating the word “good” about things that Gd created.
In the last lesson you may  have noticed that yod had dagesh plus a cholam chaser.  The dagesh is a spelling issue, not a pronunciation issue.  The same issue is in this verse twice.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

DIY -- jerky

I'm sure you can find a ton of jerky recipes online.

Mine is biltong, a South African recipe.  It's spicy and good for cooking as well as eating straight.

It takes at least 10 hours in the oven so you need to pick a day when you can be home.  Like, say, do all your housecleaning on this one day.

I freeze mine; if you want to buy a vacuum packer you can, but the reviews on various models, the last time I looked, said they only last about a year and then you have to spend another $100 on a new one.

Why make your own?

Well, like lots of fake food, there are tons of chemicals and salt in manufactured jerky, as well as the costs in oil for transportation, processing, and packaging.

From my perspective, I can use prime rib to make jerky and still come out ahead, because kosher jerky is 4 times as expensive.

Yes, I know I skipped around, but I just made a batch and had it on my mind.  Next week we'll move on to stir-frying.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Language junkie

Yes, besides being a Trekker, I'm a language junkie.

I took both French and Spanish in high school, Russian (my bachelor's degree) and German at Penn State with Hebrew on the side.  I've spent years wrestling with Chinese and so on.

You can learn languages for free at this site:
The State Department developed some of these courses for their personnel.  Audio-Forum (now out of business) sold some of them on tape and later on CD.  You can now get them for free.

You can find books on some very unusual languages at
They specialize in making public-domain books available for free and have a lot of books from the 1800s on languages from the far-flung regions of the British Empire, written by people there who wrote the books from personal experience. 

This site has links to a lot of material.
Highlight and read the links before you use them.  Links to ERIC usually lead to catalog entries, not to material.

If you want to study Classics, use this link.  The learning material is free.

The only link I have for Biblical Hebrew is my own page but there are grammars and dictionaries by Harkavy on and they also host an Aramaic grammar by Margolies, the professor of archaeologist Cyrus Gordon, and an Aramaic Talmud dictionary by Jastrow.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Monday, January 13, 2014

Fair Isle Knitting -- the purl

You have two reasons for needing to purl when you make a sweater.
First, every knitted edge will curl up, even after blocking, without a ribbing or something else to keep it straight.  When I use up waste yarn I will sometimes single-crochet the edge, but for clothing, you want to use ribbing.
Second, unless you are knitting in the round, knitting every row produces something called garter stitch.  It's fine when you want a specially thick piece of clothing; I have a coat pattern that uses garter stitch.  But for sweaters, tees, and polos, you want to use stockinette stitch on some parts and that means knitting one row and purling the next.

THE KEY TO PURLING is that the yarn comes in front of the needles before you make the new stitch. 
Put the point of the right hand needle through the stitch on the left hand needle from right to left, top to bottom.
Now use your left index finger to wrap the yarn under the point of the right hand needle and around it toward you.
Now with the yarn loop around the needle point, move the point right and behind the lefthand needle point carrying the yarn loop with the right needle point making a new stitch.  This video shows what I'm talking about.
Push the right needle point slightly to the left, then tilt it down to catch the yarn and pull it in a loop to the right and back through the old stitch.
IF you are holding the yarn close up to the needles as Ann showed you in the video last week, the second technique will work.

Now work several rows of ribbing: knit two stitches as Ann showed you, then purl two.  It may be difficult to tell what you're doing on the first row if you chose a dark yarn to practice with, but stick to it.  A number of Fair Isle designs use a dark background yarn and it starts the ribbing.  Eventually you will be able to tell by the look of the stitches which are knitted and which are purled.

I know your sample will look odd with rows of curled up knitting and then rows of flat ribbing.  The practice bag will look much better.
We're getting ready to use our second color so learn how to join it in next week.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Outdoors -- first signs

Yes, I hate winter and I grasp at every sign of spring coming.

Friday I saw two.  First was that sunset came after 5 p.m.  I mean, that's the first sign that I thought of.

The second was the one I observed during the day; a large flight of blackbirds or starlings moving over my neighborhood.  They're starting to collect so they can divvy up the turf.  Then the males will select attractive nesting sites and call for the ladies to come look.  The ladies will look things over and stay if they like the prospects.  Then they'll start raising their first family of the year.

I know all the bird books talk about how many eggs in a typical clutch for a given species of bird but I'm not convinced that they raise more than one chick from each clutch.

However, they will lay two or three clutches a year and if they raise only one chick from each clutch, that's two or three replacement birds a year.  Then since birds live five to twelve years, a mating pair has a chance to replace themselves three to eight times over. 

Mockingbirds lay their first clutch some time in February and raise up to three chicks a year.  You can tell because when the chick is ready to get out of the nest, the male makes great raucous demonstrations against squirrels and even pets in the area.  Although they won't attack people except for strangers.  Anyway mockingbirds generally get very tough two or three times a year.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Friday, January 10, 2014

Fact-Checking -- Why not?

I know what you’re thinking.  You have another question.
Why didn’t they just put all the laws in subject order so you don’t have to jump all over the book to find everything that applies.  I have two answers.  No, actually, I have three. 
First, I don’t really know why things are in the exact order they are in.  I would need a time machine to go back and watch what happened to find out why the commandments ended up in the order they did. 
The second answer is based on an email somebody sent me citing Deuteronomy 10:5 where it says that Moshe put the tablets in the ark, meaning that the law was written down.  (There’s a Jewish tradition that the two tablets had all 613 commandments on them.)  This goes with Exodus 34:28, where it says that Moshe wrote Gd’s words on the two tablets, but it never says what he did with them.  (This is after the golden calf incident and the breaking of the first two tablets.)  The question was whether I denied that these tablets had been written down.
So I asked back what did happen to those tablets?  Is there anything in Torah or other Jewish classics that says what happened to them?
The answer is that they were always in the ark.  They were never taken out.  Even if all the laws Gd wanted the Jews to follow were on those tablets, the people never saw them.  
How did the people know what the laws were?  See Exodus 34:32; Moshe taught it to them. 
So Gd didn’t teach Moshe the laws in subject order? 
After Moshe, the people had to remember the law the best they could.  Much later in these lessons I’ll show you that it’s nearly impossible for people to remember things precisely in their original wording.  Not unless they have a written format to study from.   And even then – how many times did you go over your notes and still flunk a test?  Human memory is a tricky thing. 
The third answer is that American law still does it this way.  No, seriously. The statutes may be in subject order, but an attorney doesn’t go into court and argue on the basis of statutes, she argues on the basis of the previously decided cases that went her way.  Those aren’t organized by subject.  They are organized chronologically into “reporters” which are keynoted by subject or phrase to make it easier to find the case you want.  Doing it “by hand” in the hardcopy is excruciatingly difficult.
There are online databases now that make things MUCH easier on the modern American attorney.  There are also online copies of Torah and Talmud, BUT to use them properly you have to know Hebrew and Aramaic.  There is software that lets you search Torah and Talmud and has copies of most of the relevant texts, but once again, you have to know Hebrew and Aramaic to use them. 
And to some extent you have to know Jewish law.   But you only care about that if you’re going to try to practice in a Jewish court, and we are so far from not there yet that we can’t even see there from here.  But the point is, through the ages right down to the Internet age, it has been necessary for people practicing the law to deal with non-subject-organized compendia to argue their cases in court.  Courts don’t accept cases for trial in subject order; that would mean putting off every single murder case until all the drunk driving cases have been dealt with.  Is that any way to run a society?

Next =>   
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Bit at a Time Bible Hebrew -- Vocabulary Review 1

and, or, continuation particle
direct object particle
he said
on, in, at, by (swear by), with (by means of), against
הַ, הָ
was (f.s.)
on, over, above
at the beginning
dark, darkness
earth, land, world
face, construct state, masculine plural
Let X exist
spirit, wind
waft, 3rd f. s., piel form (repetitive)


You have to memorize the words above the line.  You will see them over and over and you need to recognize them quickly when you see them.


Now a vowel I didn’t talk about before.  It’s under the alef of elohim, “Gd.”  Part of it looks like a shva and the other part like a segol.  There are three vowels like this; ignore the shva part and go by the other part when you pronounce it.  So that’s why you say this word elohim. 

Next week: Genesis 1:4


Dagesh review.  In the Hebrew for “face,” which letter has dagesh and what difference does it make, if any?


 © Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved