Friday, February 28, 2014

Fact-Checking the Torah -- Investigations

OK if you think you missed the Hebrew lesson THIS week, look at yesterday's post. 


You had no assignment this week because the rules for investigation are not in Torah.  They developed out of the requirement for witnesses, and out of the requirement for investigation.
The rules are in Mishnah Damages Sanhedrin.  The judges examine the witnesses according to seven set questions about the time, place, and surroundings of the crime to which these men are witnessing. 

The judges also ask whether the witness actually saw the crime: “maybe you heard it from rumor.”  The witness has to give details of the surroundings to prove he was at the place he claims he was, at the time he claims he was.  Hearsay is not admissible in a Jewish court.
After the initial seven questions, the judges are responsible for going into the details.  One famous rabbi, Jochanan ben Zakkai, supposedly was not the son of a man named Zakkai, but was a shrewd criminal investigator.  Once he questioned a witness about the surroundings so carefully that it was proven the witness didn’t know what he was talking about, and the accused was acquitted.  The Hebrew for “acquitted” is zakai, hence the name.

Witnesses who turn out not to know what they are talking about are called "impeached" in Western law.  What kind of evidence impeaches a witness?  Actually, it takes both of them.  “If one witness says it was at 3 hours and the other says it was at 7 hours,” they are talking about times on opposite sides of noon, and their testimony is no good.  The point isn't that one witness is wrong or lying, it's that their testimony doesn't allow that they saw the same incident.  Both witnesses have to be able to testify to the SAME incident.
If they give dates only one day off, that’s all right, because they might not realize that the month was intercalated; some months on the Jewish calendar are 29 days and some 30, because a lunar month is not exactly 29 days long.  If they give different phases of the moon, however, like one says a half moon and the other says a ¾ moon, their testimony is no good because those phases occur a week apart.

A bystander can also impeach a witness.  The classic statement is that if a bystander at court can say to one of the witnesses “You couldn’t possibly have seen this happen because you were with me at X,” and X is not within sight of the place of the crime, then BOTH witnesses could not see the same incident.
But one thing Jewish law never does is impeach testimony of the accused.  Remember, Jewish law absolutely rejects confessions by the accused.  The second issue is that none of the witnesses can give the accused an alibi.  The trial is not about the accused.  The trial is about whether the witness testimony is accurate and shows that community policing procedures were followed.  Therefore no bystander has to get up in court and say that the accused could not have committed the crime because the accused was with the bystander in another place than the one where the crime was committed.

Now what do the witnesses have to say to show that a murder is not manslaughter?  We’ll go back to Torah for this because it’s all laid out clearly in Numbers and Deuteronomy:  read Numbers 35:16-19 and23; Numbers 35:19-22, Deuteronomy 4:42 and 19:4,5,11; Exodus 21:13-14 andExodus 22:1.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Bit at a Time Bible Hebrew -- Genesis 1:8

Genesis 1:8
ח וַיִּקְרָא אֱלֹהִים לָרָקִיעַ שָׁמָיִם וַיְהִי־עֶרֶב וַיְהִי־בֹקֶר יוֹם שֵׁנִי:
Transliteration: Va-yiqra elohim la-raqia shamaim va-y’hi erev va-y’hi voqer yom sheni.
Translation:    Gd named the raqia heaven and there was evening and there was morning a second day.
Letters in this lesson:
Vocabulary in this lesson:
שֵׁנִי    second
The classic question on this verse is, why does it say “second”, an ordinal number, but previously it said “one,” a cardinal number.  In Midrash Rabbah on Parshah Naso (in Numbers) it says that the day the tabernacle was put up and  Gd’s glory came to rest on it, that was the same as the world being created over again.  In Midrash Rabbah on Parshah Breshit (in Genesis) chapter 3 section 8 says it’s because Gd was the only One in the world at the time; the angels weren’t created until the second day. 
And you thought you were the only one.
Now, here’s another question.  Verse 1 says “creation of heaven and earth,” but here it says that Gd gave the name “heaven” to the raqia.  Does that mean that heaven didn’t actually exist before this?  Judaism would say no.  There was a discussion about whether heaven or earth was created first, and one answer was that it doesn’t matter because they are equal partners in the world.  R. Shimon bar Yochai said they were created at the same time, like a pot and its lid.  Apparently makers of clay pots used to make sure the lid fitted tightly by building a large ball, then cutting the top off, scooping out the insides, and making a lip for the lid to sit on.  R. Shimon was known as one of the greatest explainers of Torah in his time, which was around the Hadrianic persecution, and he is credited as author of the Zohar, the fundamental work of Jewish mysticism.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Outdoors -- I'm spoiling them

Today it was my robin. 

I was just thinking about what to post when I realized he was calling.


He was sitting on my fence calling for his breakfast.
It wasn't the snow which was falling lightly.  Robins will sit out in the rain and snow -- like a Chinese poem I once read about a plum tree, bu pa yu, bu pa xue.

I laughed and shook my head, opened the door and threw out some chokeberries.

I was afraid to try and see him chow down because I might disturb him.  He's not THAT tame.

He also has a habit of sitting on my brick porch looking outward from the house, probably so he can detect and attack any other robins encroaching on his territory.

Two summers ago, this bird was sitting on the back porch keening after his parents made him understand it was time to leave the nest!

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Fair Isle Knitting -- Color shading

Now for some shading.  These are colors from Brown Sheep's Cotton Fine line of fingering/DK yarns, a bit heavier than 2-ply Shetland from Jamieson & Smith but much cheaper and one way to practice.
1. Reds: Pinkaboo, Tea Rose and Provincial Rose, plus Cotton Ball for a background
2.  Greens: Peridot, Wild Sage and Dusty Sage, with either Cotton Ball or Milk Chocolate for a background
3.  Purples: Prosperous Plum, Sugar Plum, and Alpine Lilac with either Cotton Ball or Slate Charcoal for a background
4.  Blues: Wolverine Blue, Robin Egg Blue, and New Age Teal with Cotton Ball or Merlot
5.  Yellows:  Banana, Buttercream, and Sunflower Gold with Cotton Ball or Cavern
6.  Oranges: Wild Orange, Milk Chocolate, and Buttercream with Cotton Ball.

There are two ways you can arrange the colors:  Outside rows and middle in either the darkest or lightest color, then rows numbered 2 below in the medium color, and the rows numbered 3 in the third color. 
Buy one skein of each color plus two skeins of the background and work samples of each.  Then work samples using other arrangements.  You'll see how each produces different effects.


Next week I'll give a motif to use in a scarf.
The scarf will also demonstrate something called "steeking" and how to use it.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Monday, February 24, 2014

OB It's coming

And now I'm really going to be the Old Bitch, a real meanie.

There is NO EXCUSE for not knowing that an emergency is coming.

There are emergencies every minute all over the world.

You have no excuse for thinking it won't happen to you.

You must be prepared.

Otherwise you'd better turn in your grownup card.

There are grade-school kids who are better prepared for an emergency than you are.

You MUST have a way of finding out when an emergency has happened, or when a storm is coming.

You can regularly tune in to a radio station that has regular and frequent weather announcements.

You can have NOAA send weather alerts to your mobile communications.  See this page.
Almost all the mobile comms companies are participating; there is a list on this second site.
The system was turned on last year (2013).

You have no excuses for not being prepared.


© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Outdoors -- Courting

Blue jays have two main calls.  One is a loud, annoying "YANK!"  The other sounds like a rusty gate swinging in a strong wind.

But at this time of the year, the second call changes.

It almost becomes musical, something like a piccolo.

That's how you know when blue jays are courting their mates.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Friday, February 21, 2014

Fact-Checking the Torah -- Deuteronomy 17 and 19

Yeah, I know, it looks as if I skipped the Hebrew lesson again but scroll down or use the link to the page at the right and you'll find it.

Your assignment for this week was the following verses Deuteronomy 17:4, 17:9, 19:18.
Jewish law avoids the excuse “ignorance of the law” by having the two or three witnesses perform community policing.  They stop the criminal, warn him that what he is doing is a crime, make him either go away, or say “I don’t care what the law is” and attempt to complete the crime.  Then what?
Deuteronomy 17:4:  and it is told to you, you shall listen and investigate well and if it’s true, the matter is real, this abomination was done in Israel…
Deuteronomy 17:9: You shall go to the priests, the Levites, and the judge that shall be in those days and investigate and they shall tell you the word of the judgment..
Deuteronomy 19:18: The judges shall investigate carefully…
Every crime has to be tried before judges.  I’ll talk about the makeup of a court later but for now, obviously there have to be judges, and it is their responsibility to get to the truth of a case.
Now I want you to notice that Deuteronomy 19:18 is next after a verse we already looked at, I think, verse 17, which says “The two men who have the quarrel shall stand before the Lord before the priests and the judges that shall be in those days.”
How do you know two men have a quarrel?  Because they were fighting.  So battery and attempted battery have to come before judges to award damages.  Under the principle “you shall have one law,” that also means the case of the pregnant woman, and the case of the woman who grabs the man’s nasty place. 
One of the urban legends about Torah is that the verses in Deuteronomy and Numbers in this lesson and the last one did not exist before about 630 BCE.  The Bible has information that disagrees, see Samuel II, 14:6-7.  When Yoav, David’s nephew, had had enough of David and Avshalom sulking after Avshalom had Amnon his half-brother murdered, Yoav sent a woman to David to complain that her community wanted to put her surviving son to death after he killed her other son.  Her complaint hinges on the phrase “nobody got between them to stop it.”  Since nobody stood up and did their job as witnesses, they had no right to condemn the surviving son to death.
This is a concept called “due process”.  It is in the American constitution in Amendments 5 and 14.  There’s more to it than that, however, and that’s where investigation comes in. 
The requirement for investigation includes Exodus 23:1 where it says “you shall not raise empty rumors.”  Investigation rules help prevent judging a case based on rumor, and I’ll discuss them next.  You have no assignment because this information is in Mishnah and Gemara.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Bit at a Time Bible Hebrew -- Dagesh

There, I did it again.  Man, these Monday holidays really throw me off track.

All right.  I’m going to put you out of your misery.


One thing you need to know is that although the vowel sounds are the same, some vowels are thought of as short and some as long:  qamats, chiriq gadol, zeire, shuruq, and cholem are long;

 patach, chiriq qatan, segol, and kubuts are short.


Genesis 1:1
B’reshit bara
B’reshit starts a new sentence. 
It ends in a consonant so the bet of bara takes dagesh.
the patach under the heh is short so the shin takes dagesh
Genesis 1:2
tohu va-vohu
the qamats under the vav is long so the bet does NOT use dagesh
Al ends in a consonant, so peh takes dagesh.
the patach under the heh is short so the mem takes dagesh
Genesis 1:4
the patach under the vav is short
ha-or ki-tov
Or ends in a consonant so ki with dagesh, not khi
elohim ben
Elohim ends with a consonant so ben not ven
Genesis 1:5
y’hi voqer
Y’hi ends with a long vowel, chiriq gadol so voqer, not boqer
Genesis 1:6
raqia b’tokh
Raqia ends in a vowel, not a consonant, and it’s a short vowel
the bet ends a syllable, plus it has shva under it, which is NOT pronounced.  So dalet takes dagesh
mavdil ben
mavdil ends in a consonant so ben takes dagesh
the lamed has qamats, a long vowel, so mem does NOT take dagesh
Genesis 1:7
va-yavdel ben
yavdel ends in a consonant and ben is a new word.
ben ha-maim
ha has patach so mem has dagesh
the mem has chiriq qatan, a short vowel, so the tav takes dagesh


And you were about to knock your brains out!  There are rules!
Also when we conjugate verbs it sometimes happens that the prefixes and suffixes create double letters; these are replaced by a single letter with a dagesh, EXCEPT for alef, heh, chet, ayin, and resh.  These five letters NEVER take dagesh.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Garden -- The End is Near!

The end of winter.  All that horrible snow and ice is almost gone.
It's almost time to start gardening.  I put things in the ground but if you are going to start plants indoors, it's time for you to get started too.
The forsythia should be blooming in a month, sooner if we get a warm spell.
So the first thing I need at the garden store is a bag of cornmeal gluten for the grass.  It suppresses weed seeds before they germinate and feeds the grass, including giving them nitrogen.
Plus my community has a no chemicals posture.  One of two in Maryland to have such regulations.
Maryland has also passed legislation to reduce the nitrogen flowing into the bay and killing the fauna and flora that support our famous crabs.
I consulted my garden guru, Mike McGrath about the amount of CMG to put down to stay within the law.
I checked the website for the product I use, and as of December 2013 they had not updated their product information to reflect Maryland law.
So you have to ignore the company product information and go by what Mike said in his posting.
Today I'm going to measure my lawn with an old-fashioned Stanley self-retracting tape measure, but I suspect I should put 4 pounds on the front lawn and 6 on the back.  Yeah, it's tiny.
That means that a 25 pound bag will do for both spring and autumn feeding/weeding and leave some over.  I'll let my neighbor use it and see how he likes the results.
He mows too short and gets Japanese beetle grubs but he doesn't know it.  Not a clue as to why the starlings are always out in his lawn in August.
So when you are prepping your lawnmower for the first mow of the spring, set the blade at 3 inches.  Not two, not two and a half, three.  That leaves the grass so long the mother beetles can't get to the soil to lay eggs, and keeps the soil so cool that the eggs in it can't develop.
It's a WHOLE lot cheaper than drugging your grass to get it to come out right, and making Maryland crabs way more expensive because way less of them survive to get big enough to eat.  And it doesn't kill pets or make children sick.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

DIY -- Bread

This recipe comes from a Smithsonian Folk Life Festival cookbook that I got as a premium for renewing my membership once many years ago.  My nieces would rather I make this for them than cookies.  It's great for sandwiches of all kinds, for open face toasted cheese, for plain old toast with butter and jelly, and at the end of the freshness, for French toast.

It takes about 3 hours to make so plan it for a morning or an afternoon when you are cleaning house.  You will have 2 one-hour stretches to work on the cleaning.

You need a 5 pound bag of flour; it will make 4 loaves all told.
You need at least a 1 pound box of sugar.  Do not plan to use an artificial sweetener.
You need vegetable oil, NOT olive oil or canola.  You cannot use mono-unsaturated fat to make "riz" bread like this.
You need yeast.  In all my decades of baking bread, I have never noticed a real advantage to Rapid Rise Yeast so buy the normal Active Dry Yeast.  It will come in a strip with 3 pre-measured packages.
You need your two hands.  If you buy a breadmaker, look through the included recipe book for "Italian" bread and use that.  This one is strictly manual.
You will need a wooden board at least 12 x 12 and better yet 15 x 18 for kneading.

DON'T FORGET THE SALT.  I've done that from time to time.  The bread was edible but not really good.

1 package of yeast
2 cups very warm water
2 TBSP sugar

Mix together so the yeast will dissolve and start breeding.

1 1/4 tsp salt
2 TBSP oil

Mix together in LARGE bowl.  People will tell you to use a wooden bowl and wooden utensils but my metal ones have worked just fine for decades and I can scour them with steel wool to keep them spic n span.

Turn your oven on to 150 or its lowest setting and turn off when it has preheated, leaving the door closed.
Mix yeast with salt and oil.  Add 2 cups flour and stir to mix well, but don't worry about getting rid of all the lumps. 
Add another cup flour.  At this point the dough may get too stiff to stir with a spoon, so use your hands to mix this flour in.
Put the dough on your kneading board, add a handful of flour, and start kneading.  To knead, you push the dough down and forward with one hand, fold it over, then do the same with the other hand.
After about 50 strokes you will probably find the dough sticking to your hands.  Add another handful of flour and keep kneading. 
Count strokes while you knead and add more flour every time you find the sticky parts of the dough.
I usually knead up to 200 strokes and sometimes as many as 300.
Put the dough back in the bowl, put a towel over it, and put it in the oven, which should still be warm.  Close the door.  This puts the dough in a warm environment with no drafts, making the yeast very happy.
After an hour, the dough will be puffy.  Set the oven to preheat to 150 again, then punch all the puff out of the dough, divide in two, and put them in loaf pans.  Turn the oven off even if it didn't get to 150.  Put the towel over the pans and put in the oven.
After an hour, take the towel off the pans, turn the oven on to 325, and close the door.
After 20 minutes check to see if the loaves are light brown on top.  If not, let them bake at least 10 minutes more, then turn the oven off.
When the oven has cooled down, take out the loaves and turn the pans over and tap the bottoms.  The loaves should drop out.  If you tap on the bottom, they will sound hollow.

Your house should now smell like a bakery.  Scrub your tools and reward yourself with a nice thick piece of bread, well-buttered, and sprinkled with sugar or cinnamon sugar.

This bread is crusty outside and tender inside.  If you wrap the loaves with plastic wrap while they are still warm, the crust will soften a bit.  You will need a bread knife to cut them.

You should be able to get one more batch of bread out of this bag of flour and then you will have a package of yeast left.  I'll show you what to do with that next time.  You will need a one gallon bottle of apple juice, a cup of sugar, a funnel, and two nice strong glass jugs that will hold 4 liters each.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Outdoors -- Step by Step

I heard the first song sparrow of the year yesterday morning.
In spite of the 4 inches of snow that fell last Thursday, and the ice on the top from Friday's melt.
We had another dusting of snow last night but it's supposed to be in the 50s today.
Now begins a tussle with the squirrels that slept through the snowfall.  They're hungry!
So I have to get up every 15 or 20 minutes from my writing or quilt piecing to check and make sure they're not sucking down bird food from the feeder tube.
You should see them scramble when I open the door!  They know there's a spray of water coming from my Nerf water gun.

The robin is getting his chokeberries.  I think the mockingbird is eating them too.
The cardinals and I are communicating well.  They know there will be sunflower seeds before sunrise and near sunset, and while the squirrels were nestbound they could get some during the day if they came and called.  Plus when they call and I open the door, they only hop a little way off -- it's instinctive, they can't help it -- and then come back when the seeds hit the snow.

I was outside yesterday and in the afternoon the sun was so beautifully warm!  It's as strong as in October.

It gets better from here!
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Monday, February 17, 2014

Fair Isle Knitting -- your very first motif

There are books with patterns for Fair Isle that you can use to make samplers.  Look for them on Amazon and then compete the price with Barnes & Noble.
This week I'm going to show you a chart for a motif that is pretty common in Fair Isle work and next week I'll show you how you can modify it to get the sort of shaded look Fair Isle often has.


Notice that this chart has runs of color no more than 7 stitches long which, as I said, one website says is true for all real Fair Isle motifs.
Notice that you will have to use all the techniques on the video because of the 4-stitch runs at top and bottom of the motif.
If you were going to make a band of these across a sweater, you would want to make sure that you cast on a number of stitches divisible by 9, and then you need to cast on one more stitch.  Plus you want to make sure the number of stitches is divisible by 2 so that the front and back of the sweater are the same width.
That number of stitches will let you join the band of motifs evenly.
I have a very simple sweater pattern from an old, out-of-print needlework book that I learned to knit from.  I cable on 280 stitches and then knit in the round, just like for Fair Isle.  The above motif would work on that pattern.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved