Friday, January 30, 2015

Fact-Checking the Torah -- Deuteronomy 22:13-29

For this week you were supposed to read Deuteronomy 22:13-29.  We’re going to discuss another urban legend about women in Jewish culture and punishment for illicit sex.
The bonded girl who has been designated a wife is betrothed.  Betrothal in Jewish law was a status which ended only with death or divorce.  To end a betrothal required a formal divorce document.
While a girl was betrothed, sex with other men besides the betrothed was prohibited.
The situations in the Deuteronomy reading include that the marriage actually takes place and the groom says the next morning that his bride was not a virgin.
Understand, there are no Las Vegas weddings in Judaism.  First, a legal contract has to exist and this contract exists to ensure that in a no-fault or his-fault divorce, the divorcee has half a chance of being able to support herself.  The contract specifies that she gets at least 200 zuz, which is enough to buy a mixed herd of sheep and goats.  She can then sell the goat milk and cheese, and the wool fabric from the sheep.  At 5 pounds of cheese a day and 4 garments a year, she can probably afford to buy other food and pay rent.
Then there’s negotiation about her dowry.  She could have several kinds of dowry: K’naani bondsmen or more likely bondswomen; land; moveable property; buildings sheltering lodgers or industry.
The contract would specify which of these things were melog property or tson barzel.  In case of a divorce, the dowry returned to the family.  If it was tson barzel property, then while the marriage lasted, the husband got the income in produce, rents, the work of animals and bondswomen, etc.  If a divorce was issued, the husband had to pay to bring the property back into the same condition as when the marriage took place.  That’s the basis of the name, which means “iron sheep,” in other words, something that cannot be allowed to deteriorate.  This requirement did not apply to melog property.  You can guess at the negotiations over this issue.
The girl’s family could also provide a bride gift, something valuable representative of the family that the new couple kept only as long as they were together.
When the marriage goes to completion and the husband says his wife was not a virgin, that is called mekher taut, a purchase made in error.  The value of the marriage contract for a woman who is not a virgin, is 100 zuz.  If she was a widow or divorcee when the marriage occurred, the groom could NOT claim mekher taut because the presumption was that her prior marriage(s) had been consummated.  So the rules in Deuteronomy only apply, as it says, to a girl married from her father’s house as a virgin.
The claim can end with mekher taut or it can get worse and that is next week’s lesson.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Bit at a Time Bible Hebrew -- Genesis 2:16

Genesis 2:16
טז וַיְצַו יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהִים עַל־הָאָדָם לֵאמֹר מִכֹּל עֵץ־הַגָּן אָכֹל תֹּאכֵל:
Transliteration: va-yitsav **** elohim al-ha-adam lemor mikol its-ha-gan akhol tochel.
Translation:    **** Gd commanded the man saying you will definitely eat from every tree in the garden.
Vocabulary in this lesson:
Here we have a verb structure you will see over and over so get familiar with it.  The same verb root is used twice, first in a form called the “infinitive absolute”, then in the future/aorist. 
I translate this structure in various ways depending on the context.  “Definitely,” “absolutely,” “actually,” apply in some cases.  There is one exception which you will soon see.
This is the declension of the phrase, “in me.”  It can also mean “against me,” and “with me” in the sense of “by means of me.”  It does NOT mean “with me” as in “accompanied by me.”  I’ll show that later.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Outdoors -- how bad can it be?

Yesterday we had nasty weather -- raw, a bit of snow falling.
But the sparrows were sitting in the euonymus growing against my fence, near the bird feeder.
And they were gossiping just as happily as if it was 70 and sunny.
This is the part of winter where I just grit my teeth and try to stay comfortable.
The shadow of the house at noon is starting to pull back to the south.
When there is sun, the birdbath is in full sun at noon.
Soon the north end of the planter will be in the sun.
But first we gotta get through this stinky stuff.
The cheery sparrows help.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Monday, January 26, 2015

Garden -- got poison?

My town is one of two in my state which prohibits pesticides.
But we are also garden proud.
We have a yearly competition for the best gardens.
They get their pictures in the city garden website.
One of my neighbors wins regularly for his trees and flowers.
The yard is all natural.
Everything is planted in compost.
Pests are dealt with by the birds who nest in his plantings and nearby trees.
Except for bunnies; he uses natural things that they hate the smell of, to discourage them.
We use cornmeal gluten or shredded leaves to feed our grass out of season.
We use grass clippings in season.

You don't need to poison the bees, butterflies, birds, bunnies, pets and kids to have a nice yard.
Dispose of the poison safely and plan to do less work and have globally better results.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Sunday, January 25, 2015

DIY -- croissants

Do not fear the croissant.
For it is simply bread dough rolled with butter
until you wind up with lots of layers.
And bread dough is one of the most forgiving things you can make except for soup.
If you want croissants by 8 a.m. Sunday, you have to start Saturday, and get up at 5 on Sunday for proofing and baking.
That's because lots of things with butter that you bake, have to age in a cold place, overnight in the case of croissants.
There must be a chemical reason but I don't know what it is.
All I know is, shortbread is like that, madeleines are like that, puff pastry is like that.

So you make the yeast dough.
You let the dough rest in the fridge.
You roll butter into a sheet (it has to be somewhat warm for this, of course).
You layer the butter on the dough.
You fold the dough over in thirds,
You roll and fold and roll and fold and chill.  Repeat at least twice more.
After the overnight aging, you cut triangles, roll them up, let them rise, brush with egg-and-water,
and bake only 15 minutes.

Look, if you're fussy about your coffee, you should be fussy about your croissants.
No preservatives, no dough conditioners, no emulsifiers, and so on.
$3 of materials for 10 croissants.
Fresh from the oven.
The only other way to get them this fresh is to buy an airline ticket and a hotel room in France.
Or camp out at a local bakery -- and we all have local croissant bakeries (that was sarcasm) -- like you would for a new smart phone.
You wouldn't camp out for a new smart phone?
Don't camp out for your croissants.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Friday, January 23, 2015

Fact-Checking the Torah -- Leviticus 5

For this week you were supposed to read Leviticus 5, and also Numbers 5:5-7 and 14:12.
I showed that tumah is not a permanent condition and the transition back to being tahor requires a waiting period and a positive act, immersion; anything that can’t survive immersion or for which immersion is impractical, cannot change from tameh to tahor.
The analog of this is the sin offering, also the whole offering and something usually translated as “guilt offering,” the asham.
I already discussed the sin offering to death. 
If a person believes he sinned, but can’t get anybody to agree that he owes a sin offering, he can bring a suspensive guilt offering.  I already mentioned that.
The asham is different.  First, there are six specific transgressions that require an asham and they all involve a court case: a nazir who becomes tameh; an unconscious error involving an oath; non-religious use of sacred things (meilah); theft; completing the quarantine for leprosy; and having sex with a bonded girl who has been designated a bride.  Whatever leads to an asham is the fourth kind of sin.
The issue of meilah is the standout indicator that an asham requires a court case.  If somebody is convicted of meilah, he owes a fine in the amount of the value of the object used, plus 25%.  This is the “added fifth”.  You and I would normally think that an “added fifth” meant payment of 120% but it’s actually 125%.  The original amount is conceived of as divided into four equal parts, and the “added fifth” is the same size.  So it’s 125%, not 120%.  This money goes to the temple.
I already said that the burden of proof lies with A when he is trying to take property from B, and burden of proof necessarily means proof in court.  Somebody who commits meilah or theft doesn’t have to pay restitution until he has been convicted in court. 
And obviously, for a court case, there have to be witnesses.  But that doesn’t mean that priests walk around trying to catch people committing meilah any more than they walk around handing out sin offerings.
The issue about the bonded girl and the requirement for a trial falls out of other commandments.  Read Deuteronomy 22:13-29 for next week.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Bit at a Time Bible Hebrew -- Genesis 2:15

Genesis 2:15
טו וַיִּקַּח יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהִים אֶת־הָאָדָם וַיַּנִּחֵהוּ בְגַן־עֵדֶן לְעָבְדָהּ וּלְשָׁמְרָהּ:
Transliteration: va-yiqach **** elohim et-ha-adam va-yanichhehu v-gan eden l’avdah ul’shamrah.
Translation:     **** Gd took the man and set him in Gan Eden to work it and guard it.
Vocabulary in this lesson:
He took
Set him
Guard it
All right, I have to eat my words.  The verb yiqach in this lesson is irregular.  The root is lamed qof chet and this is the only verb I know of where the lamed disappears in any part of the conjugation.  The verb “learn” is lomed and it keeps the lamed; the verb “dress” is lovesh and it keeps the lamed.  But I’m going to give you the conjugation for “guard, keep” instead.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Sunday, January 18, 2015

DIY -- Basic Cooking Potatoes

Now, don't scrunch your face up and say "Carbs."
Do some real research on Carbs and you'll see that they are unjustly maligned.
So are potatoes.
This post is not about that, it's about which potatoes to use for what.

Types and uses
White potatoes -- usually large and bumpy with a dull brown skin.  Soups, stews, French fries.
Russet potatoes -- long and slightly bumpy.  Baked potatoes, latkes, starch for laundry, and Boardwalk Fries.
Red potatoes -- usually small with a distinctly red skin.  The little ones are perfect for potato salad and home fries.  The large ones are perfect for mashed potatoes.
Golden potatoes -- these are usually more expensive than the other kinds so I avoid them.  YMMV.

You can mix and match the type of potato and what you're cooking.  But red potatoes mush in soup and russet potatoes are floury and will dissolve.  That's why they make good starch: they dissolve in water.

How to treat potatoes right.

Try to get potatoes with no green patches on the skin.
NEVER buy the russets that are pre-plastic wrapped.  You can pop these straight in the microwave, but they're 2-3 times more expensive per weight than large bags of russets or loose unbagged russets.  These are another thing that people only buy when they are spending their way into the poorhouse.
NEVER put potatoes in the fridge; store them in a dry place, preferably cool, but not cold.
ALWAYS open the plastic bag.  If you don't, the potatoes will give off moisture and are prone to rot.  There's hardly anything that smells worse than a rotting potato.  Potatoes are also more likely to rot in hot humid summer weather, so don't buy plastic bags full unless you feed a lot of people.  Buy a few loose potatoes at a time.
Make sure and dig out the eyes and the little sprouts that are sometimes in them before cooking.
And those are the basics about potatoes.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Friday, January 16, 2015

Fact-Checking the Torah -- becoming tahor

We’re talking about tumah and your assignment was to read Leviticus 11, Leviticus 17:15, Numbers 19 and Deuteronomy 14.
We’re at the point where I can discuss how to turn something tameh into something that is tahor.
This only applies to people and utensils.  There is no way to turn tameh animals into tahor animals, or tameh food into tahor food.  Food has to be thrown away.  The animals designated as tameh in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 can never be credited as tahor.  I have already suggested why.  See if you can remember, and email me your guess.
When people are tameh, they must undergo a waiting period and then perform a positive act.  That act is immersion in a mikveh, a natural self-renewing body of water of a minimum volume.
When utensils are tameh, they undergo a scouring procedure if they can survive it.  Then they undergo a positive act; things that can survive fire are heated red-hot.  Things that won’t survive fire are immersed in a mikveh.
To us, the scouring procedure is used to clean the item before immersion, and we interpret that as cleansing in our modern sense as rendering the object hygienically clean.
That’s not true.  The scouring procedure removes whatever would get between the person and the water, the utensil and the fire or water.  Then the immersion is the positive act that renders the person or utensil tahor.
This is similar to the Red Heifer procedure.  When somebody on a battlefield comes in contact with a corpse, that person undergoes a waiting period and then is sprinkled with water containing the ashes of a red heifer.  See Numbers 19.  A single heifer that meets the specifications cannot provide enough of this water to completely immerse an entire army, let alone have water left for the next time.  The commandment is simply to sprinkle some of the water on the affected people.  It is a positive act to mark the end of the period of tumah, a closure ritual.
The same thing for immersion in the mikveh; it is a closure ritual.  At that point the person or utensil is no longer considered as excluded from its ordinary usage.  And it should be obvious now why food has to be thrown away; it would not survive the fire and it is not amenable to scouring, so it cannot be prepared for immersion in the mikveh.  The same is true for the tameh animals although there is another reason why they can never be tahor. 
All of this is connected to what I said before on another topic.  And there’s a contrary illustration on a topic I haven’t discussed yet.  For that, read Leviticus 5 thoroughly, and also Numbers 5:5-7 and 14:12.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Bit at a Time Bible Hebrew -- Vocabulary Review VI

Vocabulary review
There are a lot of words in this review but remember, it’s the ones above the line that you need to know really well because you will see them a lot of times in future.
Goes, walks
Not yet
To work
Went up
He, it
Caused to rain
There was none
Water (v)
Caused to rain
There was none
Blew (aorist)
His nostrils
To the east
Placed, positioned
Had formed
To view, for looking at
For food
In the middle of
Evil, bad
Goes out
To water
Four (masculine)
That surrounds
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved