Friday, July 31, 2015

Fact -Checking the Torah -- Genesis 4:1-15

Your assignment for this week was to read Genesis 4:1-15.
The second urban legend is whether Qain was a sinner from the beginning.
In fact he was a conformist.  He did what his daddy did.  He was satisfied with that.
Hevel was the rule-breaker, the innovator.  He started herding sheep.  Now, who ever heard of a thing like that?
So when Hevel got immediate respect from Gd for his offering and Qain didn’t, no wonder Qain was mad.  Gd was not just dissing Qain, He was dissing the job he explicitly assigned to Adam, Qain’s daddy.  Why would Gd do such a thing?
But who was Qain mad at?
Not Hevel.  Hevel didn’t do anything to Qain. 
Qain was mad at Gd, and Gd said to him that his fate was in his own hands: if he did right, he would be fine, but if he did wrong, “one sin drags another after it.”
Actually, the Jewish proverb is “one mitzvah brings another in its wake,” but Gd was dealing with somebody who was mad and a mad man doesn’t generally have mitsvot on his mind.
We know what happened next, so we’re faced with the question, why didn’t Gd just command Qain not to kill Hevel?
There’s an ancient story about a mother who had to walk to market and she had to leave her kids alone in the house.  Before she left, she gave them a list of things not to do and the last thing she said was “and don’t put any beans up your nose.”  She came home to find all the kids had wondered why she gave that order and tried it out.  The doctor had to come.
Gd was too smart to tell Qain “and don’t put any beans up your nose.”  He had tried issuing one prohibition and it hadn’t worked.  Now He tried to give Qain the big picture without any commandments at all.
And it still didn’t work. 
Now, there’s an urban legend that killers deserve execution.  All of them.  So Qain should have been executed, right?
The Torah text involved in the answer to that question is Numbers 35:9-30.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Bit at a Time Bible Hebrew -- Genesis 4:5-8

Genesis 4:5-8
ה וְאֶל־קַיִן וְאֶל־מִנְחָתוֹ לֹא שָׁעָה וַיִּחַר לְקַיִן מְאֹד וַיִּפְּלוּ פָּנָיו:
ו וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָֹה אֶל־קָיִן לָמָּה חָרָה לָךְ וְלָמָּה נָפְלוּ פָנֶיךָ:
ז הֲלוֹא אִם־תֵּיטִיב שְׂאֵת וְאִם לֹא תֵיטִיב לַפֶּתַח חַטָּאת רֹבֵץ וְאֵלֶיךָ תְּשׁוּקָתוֹ וְאַתָּה תִּמְשָׁל־בּוֹ:
ח וַיֹּאמֶר קַיִן אֶל־הֶבֶל אָחִיו וַיְהִי בִּהְיוֹתָם בַּשָּׂדֶה וַיָּקָם קַיִן אֶל־הֶבֶל אָחִיו וַיַּהַרְגֵהוּ:
Translation:  To Qain and his minchah He did not turn and Qain became very angry and downcast.
**** said to Qain, why are you angry and why are you downcast.
Is it not [true] that if you cause good set and if you don’t cause good, sin lies before door desiring you; but you can control it.
Qain said to Hevel his brother…it turned out that when they were in the field Qain arose at Hevel his brother and killed him.
Notice that Gd doesn’t issue a commandment against killing Hevel.  He tries to teach Qain a general principle, that one’s life isn’t what happens at any given point in time but the sum of one’s life and the actions one takes.  And if one gives in to impulses of not doing right one time, it becomes easier to do what isn’t right the next time.
The word set is related to the swelling that allows a suspicion of leprosy.  The idea may be that one elevates oneself by doing right.
The word “lies” is rovets, related to an over-burdened ass lying down under its load.
The words “you can control it” often are translated as a commandment, but they aren’t.  They are the origin of the concept of free will.  Qain can control his impulses, the point is whether he does so or not. 
And finally, Qain does not “murder” Hevel, it uses harag not ratsach.  Qain kills Hevel but has no motive for it because Qain is angry with Gd, not Hevel.  Qain also has not demonstrated intent; “it turned out” suggests that this is the only incident when Qain attacked Hevel.  In the Fact-Checking posts I showed that there have to be multiple attacks in a relatively short period of time before anybody can be convicted of murder.  Using harag satisfies an audience used to that law that Qain is not a murderer.  Something happened that resulted in Hevel’s death, but it wasn’t willful murder.
                                                                                                         Get angry
Rise, bear with
Door, opening
Sin [offering]
Killed him
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Knitting -- skein count

How much yarn do you need?
Depends on lots of things, I have just one concrete example.
For Wool of the Andes or any other worsted, if you buy 16 skeins, 50 grams (2 ounces) per skein, you should be able to make:
1 boatneck pullover.  200 stitches around (40 inch chest), 25 inch length; 22 inch sleeves plus 8 rounds of ribbed cuff.  Size 7 circular needles on the body and sleeves, size 5 on the ribbing.
1 pair matching gloves for size 7 1/2 hands.  Size 3 double point needles.
1 pair matching crew socks for size 7 1/2 feet.  Size 5 double point needles.
A simple ribbed cap on size 7 circular needles for a head that wears a 7 1/2 hat.

About all those 7 1/2s.
They are the size of my high school class ring and the inches around my wrist, the size of shoe I wear (this is U.S. sizing, I don't know from European), and the size of English style horseback riding hard hat that I wore back in the day.

So how much  do you  need?
Children's to pre-teens socks, gloves & hat; one skein per sock, glove, and hat.
Teen's to adult's socks, 1 to 2 skeins each sock or glove.  The hat will depend on how fancy your pattern is.
Children's pullover probably less than 10 skeins.
Teen's to adult's pullover, 11 up to 20 depending on chest size and length. 

I think I said you should buy all the skeins together to as to get them all in one dyelot.
You might want to specify in comments on your order, that if they don't have one dyelot, they should delay shipment until they do.
When you get to the middle of a pullover and run out of yarn, buying more will probably get you a different dyelot.  I did this once and it showed. 
Experienced knitters who see me wearing that tee won't say anything because that would be rude, but they'll know and they'll nod sagely: didn't buy enough yarn before starting.
You can probably get away with buying the 2-4 skeins for the socks separately because they'll be hidden under your jeans and inside your shoes.
So why make the socks in a matching color?
Because when you get home you'll want to ditch your shoes but keep the socks on so your feet are warm.

I apologize for leaving this subject so late but with the pageviews building up on the knitting posts,
I am guessing you are all MUCH SMARTER at arithmetic than I am and figured out the adjustments
with the help of the gauge information for the yarn you decided to use.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Friday, July 24, 2015

Fact-Checking the Torah -- First Born

Your assignment for this week was to read Genesis 4:1-15.
I’m going to state now, and you’ll see more proof later on this blog, that language controls what a story means, and now I’m going to bust an urban legend that has to do with language.
Hebrew once had two forms of verb for past actions, and both of them appear extensively in Torah.  One still exists; it used to be called the past tense but in the 21st century linguists have realized that it is a perfect aspect.  The other is called imperfect aspect.  I will cover this on the Biblical Hebrew page in a few months. 
The perfect aspect has always been understood as including the features of a pluperfect tense, that is, something that was over and done with before something else took place.  That’s its role at the start of the episode I’m discussing now.  When Torah says “Adam knew Chavah,” it’s in perfect aspect, meaning something that happened long ago.
In Gan Eden, in fact.
Jewish tradition says that Qain and Hevel were conceived and born in Gan Eden.
The urban legend considers sex sinful and claims that Adam and Chavvah were pure until the expulsion.  That doesn’t fit with what we just said about Adam’s mortality.  When Gd said “be fruitful and multiply,” that was when Adam and Chavvah had just been formed.  The expulsion hadn’t happened yet.  Gd planned for Adam and Chavvah to have children while they lived in Gan Eden, otherwise there would be nobody left to take care of it once they died.  It all goes together.  There’s no need for a tree of life if Adam and Chavvah are immortal, likewise there is no need for children if they are immortal.  But since they were created mortal, they need to have children and Gd runs into a dilemma about the tree of life that I discussed last week.
Jewish culture does not consider sex sinful.  Not when it happens between a married couple like Adam and Chavvah.  It shouldn’t happen outside of marriage but if it does… well, to avoid repeating myself I’ll just refer you to the legal posts about extra-marital sex that isn’t adultery.
So urban legend number one about Qain and Hevel is that they weren’t born until after the expulsion, after sin first came into the world.  But the language and Jewish culture says that ain’t so, and claiming that it is runs head on into something I’ll talk about much later on the blog.  For next week, read Genesis 4:1-15.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Bit at a Time Bible Hebrew -- "to know"

Genesis 4:1-4
א וְהָאָדָם יָדַע אֶת־חַוָּה אִשְׁתּוֹ וַתַּהַר וַתֵּלֶד אֶת־קַיִן וַתֹּאמֶר קָנִיתִי אִישׁ אֶת־יְהוָֹה:
ב וַתֹּסֶף לָלֶדֶת אֶת־אָחִיו אֶת־הָבֶל וַיְהִי־הֶבֶל רֹעֵה צֹאן וְקַיִן הָיָה עֹבֵד אֲדָמָה:
ג וַיְהִי מִקֵּץ יָמִים וַיָּבֵא קַיִן מִפְּרִי הָאֲדָמָה מִנְחָה לַיהוָֹה:
ד וְהֶבֶל הֵבִיא גַם־הוּא מִבְּכֹרוֹת צֹאנוֹ וּמֵחֶלְבֵהֶן וַיִּשַׁע יְהֹוָה אֶל־הֶבֶל וְאֶל־מִנְחָתוֹ:
I gave you vocabulary last time; this time I’m giving you the conjugation of “to know” because I sloughed it before.  Memorize this because it is also the conjugation of “save, deliver”, yod shin ayin, which is the root of the name Yehoshua.
            © Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Monday, July 20, 2015

I'm just saying -- canvassers

If you're going to canvass, you need an attitude check before you walk out your own door.
First, most people already have their minds made up on issues.  You're not going to change them by stopping at their door.
Second, if they're your neighbor, and you don't know what their opinions are, don't canvass them.  It's an insult to think you can ignore them for however much time and then force your opinions on them in 2 minutes or less.
Third, if they have food, walk away.  It could be the first time they've had a chance to sit down, and you will not score any points by intruding.
Fourth, know the area.  I actually had somebody canvassing about environmental issues in a town where pesticides are prohibited.  When you don't know things like this, you embarrass your organization for even sending you there.
Fifth, know current events.  I had a canvasser try to impress me by using the name of a legislator who had announced retirement plans a month earlier.  Ignorance is not impressive.
What's more, using a famous person's name is fraudulent misrepresentation unless that person has specifically publicly endorsed the organization.

If you're wondering how to put your message across without canvassing, the best thing I can suggest is making sure your website is mobile friendly.  Simple, clean, not too much verbage, not too many pictures.  Have a twitter feed; have an RSS feed; whatever. 

Canvassing insults the people you visit by assuming that if they were interested in your cause, they're too dumb to find your website.
Canvassing also insults people by assuming that they are too weak-willed to stick by their own opinions just because a stranger shows up for 2 minutes or less of lecturing.

I'm just saying....
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Friday, July 17, 2015

Fact-Checking the Torah -- the dilemma

Now that Gd knows He’s not going to kill Adam and Chavvah, He has a dilemma.
If He ordered them not to do something, and they did it, and He can’t punish them because of due process, what about the tree He didn’t give any commandment about?
This goes to a great principle of legal systems which was implied but not expressed such that I could discuss it in the section about the legal system.
In 1813 CE a Bavarian jurist was reforming his state’s penal code and he included specifically the principle Nullum crimen, nulla poena sine praevia lege poenali, there is no crime and should be no punishment without a previously-adopted penal law.
This principle became the underpinning for legal systems in the west (and also in Japan at the end of the 19th century) but some of them still violated it.  Most noticeably Tsarist Russia in the Mendel Beilis case of 1913, and post-Soviet Russia in the Pussy Riot case of 2012.
The Gan Eden episode illustrates this great principle in two ways.  One is the action in the story: Gd reached a dilemma over the Tree of Life about which He had not commanded Adam and Chavvah.
The second way is a principle of Jewish law, qal vachomer, which western law calls a fortiori.  Adam and Chavvah did something Gd didn’t want even after He told them not to, now all the more so they are likely to do what Gd doesn’t want since He didn’t tell them not to. 
He realizes that issuing a new commandment isn’t necessarily going to work this time any more than it did the first time.  What can He do to prevent it?
He exiles them.  He sends them out of Gan Eden, “lest he send out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat and live forever.”
Which busts another urban legend.  Adam would have to eat from the Tree of Life to live forever.  He was not created to be immortal.  He would have died anyway even if he had never eaten from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  That sin did not bring death into the world.
For Jews, this story provides another layer of comfort beyond the fact that Gd observed due process.  The Jewish legal system grew up on the basis that if nobody had ruled about a thing, a court could not take action about it.  Remember when I said that if a rule exists, there is an unexpressed opposite that also applies?  It’s usually called “the exception that proves the rule,” but that’s a mis-statement.  The actual phrase is “the exception that proves that an opposite rule exists.”  In Deuteronomy 17:8-13 it says to go to the experts of those times and do what they tell you, if something is too hard for you.  But the unexpressed opposite is that if they haven’t told you anything, you can’t act on what they haven’t told you, all the more so (qal vachomer) if you haven’t gone to them and asked them to address a given issue.  Except, of course, for the 613 commandments in Torah.  Those already exist.  You can’t eat blood.  You don’t have to ask the experts, that rule was given in Torah.
Next week I will bust a bunch more urban legends.  For that, you should read Genesis 4:1-15.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved


Thursday, July 16, 2015

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

Genesis 4:1-4
Ready to pick up the pace some more?
א וְהָאָדָם יָדַע אֶת־חַוָּה אִשְׁתּוֹ וַתַּהַר וַתֵּלֶד אֶת־קַיִן וַתֹּאמֶר קָנִיתִי אִישׁ אֶת־יְהוָֹה:
ב וַתֹּסֶף לָלֶדֶת אֶת־אָחִיו אֶת־הָבֶל וַיְהִי־הֶבֶל רֹעֵה צֹאן וְקַיִן הָיָה עֹבֵד אֲדָמָה:
ג וַיְהִי מִקֵּץ יָמִים וַיָּבֵא קַיִן מִפְּרִי הָאֲדָמָה מִנְחָה לַיהוָֹה:
ד וְהֶבֶל הֵבִיא גַם־הוּא מִבְּכֹרוֹת צֹאנוֹ וּמֵחֶלְבֵהֶן וַיִּשַׁע יְהֹוָה אֶל־הֶבֶל וְאֶל־מִנְחָתוֹ:
Translation:     The man had known Chavvah his wife and she got pregnant and birthed Qain and she said I have acquired a man with ****.
She added birthing his brother, Hevel, and Hevel was a herder of sheep and Qain was a worker of the earth.
It turned out at the end of days, Qain brought from the fruit of the ground a minchah to ****.
Heveh brought, he too, from the firstlings of his sheep and their chelev and **** turned to Hevel and his minchah.
I’m putting the vocabulary at the end of this lesson because most of it is uncommon and I want you to focus on some language issues.
First, remember that the past tense can be used in the sense of a pluperfect.  So when it says Adam “knew” Chavvah, and it’s in the past tense, this can either mean something truly ancient, or it can mean that one thing happened before another.  One interpretation of this verse is that Adam and Chavvah were physically married in Gan Eden, and Qain and Hevel were born there.  I discuss this issue on the Fact-Checking page.
Second, the word minchah had two meanings to the ancient Jews.  One was an offering of grain products which was not only perfectly acceptable, it was also required as part of the two daily sacrifices.  Usually that part of the service was reached in late afternoon and so there is a special service in a Jewish prayerbook called Minchah which is recited in late afternoon.  This sets up the tragedy.
Third, I didn’t translate chelev.  The usual translation of chelev is “fat,” but that doesn’t cut it the same way “firmament” isn’t equivalent to raqia and “work” isn’t equivalent to melakhah.
Chelev is the fat covering the kidneys and other abdominal organs that must be sacrificed to ****.  It is prohibited to Jews for food.  Jews can eat the fat between the muscles; Talmud gives the technical name for that fat as shuman.  If Jews were prohibited to eat all fat, they never could have eaten schmaltz which is chicken fat rendered out of the skin, and gribenes, cracklings made from the skin of the Chanukah goose, would never have been listed in a very old Jewish cookbook that I have.
Vocabulary in this lesson:
                                                                                                    Get pregnant
Birth (v)
I have acquired
Dressed them
At the end
Grain offering and by extension late afternoon prayer service
Firstlings of animals
Their chelev
Turn to
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Friday, July 10, 2015

Fact-Checking the Torah -- What's it all about?

The Gan Eden episode is not “about” agriculture.  It is about the death penalty.
The keyword is mot tamut, the phrase that invokes the death penalty if due process is carried out.
Look at the sequence of events.
·         Gd gives a commandment not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
·         Chavvah and then Adam eat of the tree.
·         Gd asks Chavvah what she did.  She blames the serpent but admits she ate.
·         Gd asks Adam what he did.  He blames Chavvah but admits he ate.
·         Neither one of them dies.
Why not?
You know from long ago on this blog that when the death penalty is involved, there have to be two witnesses who warned the attempted criminal, who agreed to accept the penalty and then committed the crime.
Who warned Adam and Chavvah?
Not the serpent.  He promoted the crime.  He’s an invalid witness.
Not Chavvah and besides, she’s Adam’s relative so she can’t testify against him.  She’s also her own relative so she can’t testify against herself.  She admits that she ate but it’s inadmissible evidence.
Not Adam.  He’s Chavvah’s relative, and he’s his own relative, so he can’t testify against her or against himself.  His admission that he ate is not admissible evidence.

Not Gd.  He’s the judge in the case.
The keyword mot tamut (OK, it’s a key phrase) tipped off the audience to watch for violations of due process.  When Gd obeyed the laws that they believed He had established for them to follow, it satisfied them that this story took the proper course.  It was reassuring that even in the most ancient of times when there were only two people, the laws still held.
You’re going to say, but the requirement for warning developed late in Jewish history.
Go back to where  I cited Samuel II, 14:6-7.  In David’s reign, after he had control of all the Jews, but before Shlomo was born, a case came up where the community wanted to execute a man for murder, without interfering in the crime.  He got mad and forbade them to perform an illegal execution.
So define “late.”  The Gan Eden episode makes sense culturally as early as 900 BCE.  But as I go along, you might realize that “early” and “late” mean different things to Jewish history than they do to western scholars, whose urban legends are what we are destroying after all.

But now Gd has a dilemma and that's for next week.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved