Friday, February 27, 2015

Fact-Checking the Torah -- women as persons

We’re working on the laws in Deuteronomy 22:13-29.  These laws allow a groom to charge his bride with adultery if he thinks she wasn’t a virgin on her wedding night, a charge subject to all the same due process rules as murder.  But if it’s his fault, and her father doesn’t forbid it, he has to marry her and can’t divorce her.
But the girl isn’t stuck in the marriage.  A long time ago I pointed out “the law of daughters,” which says that a man who takes more than one wife has to allow all of them proper food, clothing, and their conjugal rights.
If the husband hates the wife he was forced to marry and refuses her conjugal rights, she can get somebody to go to court for her, and the court can force the husband to agree to a divorce.  It’s his fault, and the money he put down for her marriage contract goes to her.  Mishnah prescribes the situations in which she can demand this divorce.  For example, if he is in logistics and goes with his caravans to far-away cities, she may have to put up with only a couple of nights a year with him.
If he refuses to clothe and feed her, there’s another situation.  Mishnah describes the minimum support a poor man has to give his wife, and then says “and it’s all according to his wealth.”  It reflects badly on a man if he has a median income but his wife has to dress like a poor woman because he won’t pay for more.  What’s more, whatever she does around the house, she can use for income.  In those days, women were responsible for turning the family wool into fabric.  She was allowed to sell this.  If her husband failed to support her, she kept the money.
Mishnah also made the husband responsible for paying for the wife’s burial, for redeeming her if she is kidnapped, and for paying medical bills when she is sick or after childbirth.
Two other situations could lead to divorce.  If a husband took a performance oath not to fulfill his responsibilities, and the court tried to annul the oath but he wouldn’t co-operate, they could force him to divorce her.
Finally, if the husband refused to let his wife go to weddings and funerals, he turned his wife into a social outcast.  His only justification was if he could name people who frequented the house who had bad reputations or even were known criminals.  If he couldn’t do that, the court could force him to agree to a divorce, and he had to pay her the money put down with the marriage contract.
In the west women became non-persons upon marriage.  It was extremely difficult to get a divorce, no matter what the situation.  Usually she had to prove both ill treatment and abandonment, while the husband only had to prove adultery to divorce his wife.  What’s more, the husband could and sometimes would take entire possession of the wife’s property at and after marriage, waste it and leave her to starve.  She couldn’t do a thing about it, except possibly run away, and he could sue to make her come back, because the man had the conjugal rights and he could sue to enforce them.
For next week study Leviticus 21:7 and 9, 13 and 14, because I will set aside your objections based on verse 9.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Bit at a Time Bible Hebrew -- Genesis 2:20

Genesis 2:20
כ וַיִּקְרָא הָאָדָם שֵׁמוֹת לְכָל־הַבְּהֵמָה וּלְעוֹף הַשָּׁמַיִם וּלְכֹל חַיַּת הַשָּׂדֶה וּלְאָדָם לֹא־מָצָא עֵזֶר כְּנֶגְדּוֹ:
Transliteration: va-yiqra ha-adam shemot l-khal-ha-b’hemah u-l’of ha-shamaim u-l’khol chayat ha-sadeh u-l’adam lo-matsa ezer k’negdo.
Translation:    The man gave names to all the domestic animals and the flyer of the sky and all the wild animals but no help opposite him did he find for the man.
Vocabulary in this lesson:
He found
See lesson 56 on Genesis 2:10 for the conjugation of yatsa.  Matsa is identical, except in the future/aorist, because yatsa has that yod at the start which frequently disappears in the future, while matsa has a mem which never disappears.  So I’m only going to give you the future/aorist of matsa.
Notice that this is NOT the same word as matso, the unleavened bread of Passover.  Matso ends with a heh, not an alef.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Friday, February 20, 2015

Fact-Checking the Torah -- "You knew all along"

We’re working on the laws in Deuteronomy 22:13-29.  These laws allow a groom to charge his bride with adultery if he thinks she wasn’t a virgin on her wedding night, a charge subject to all the same due process rules as murder. 
The charge falls to the ground without witnesses, or if the judges can’t vote a supermajority to convict.
The girl could raise three defenses: migo, admitting the facts but with an explanation of accident.  She could also say “you did it”; according to some local customs, the groom was secluded with the bride before the wedding ceremony.
The third defense is this.  If the girl is put on trial for adultery, and convicted, the court has the option of declaring a delay in the execution to bring in witnesses.  This actually happened once to somebody accused of trying to convert Jews to paganism.  He got 40 days in jail while the court waited for these witnesses. 
During this period messengers go out announcing the criminal’s name, crime, verdict, and witnesses.  Anybody who knows of exonerating testimony is expected to show up and prove that the witnesses were false.  The court can declare a delay as long as through the entire cycle of three pilgrimage festivals; a crime that took place the day after Sukkot ends could potentially result in a delay through the next Sukkot.
Because of arguments over the ketubbah, and the hardship and expense of travel in those days, the groom might have been in town between the signing of the contract and the wedding ceremony, and he would have known about his fiancee’s transgressions through gossip in the town. If the ketubbah was signed early, he might have heard about the adultery from the messengers who were looking for witnesses.  He went through with the marriage anyway.   The girl’s defense is “You knew what I was and you married me anyway.”
This also is the background for the verses saying that the man can never divorce her.  If he was the one who took her virginity, either in the city or in the town, he has to marry her unless her father absolutely forbids it.  Then he can never divorce her. 
Which brings up another issue that separates Jewish family law from western family law over the last, oh, 25 centuries.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Bit at a Time Bible Hebrew -- Genesis 2:19

Genesis 2:19
יט וַיִּצֶר יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהִים מִן־הָאֲדָמָה כָּל־חַיַּת הַשָּׂדֶה וְאֵת כָּל־עוֹף הַשָּׁמַיִם וַיָּבֵא אֶל־הָאָדָם לִרְאוֹת מַה־יִּקְרָא־לוֹ וְכֹל אֲשֶׁר יִקְרָא־לוֹ הָאָדָם נֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה הוּא שְׁמוֹ:
Transliteration: va-yitser **** elohim min-ha-adamah kal-chayat ha-sadeh v-et kal-of ha-shamaim va-yave el-ha-adam lirot mah-yiqra-lo v’-khol asher yiqra-lo ha-adam nefesh chayah, hu sh’mo.
Translation:    **** Gd formed from the earth all wild animals and all flyers of the sky and brought [them] to the man to see what he would call them and everything that the man called them, a living soul, that was its name.
Vocabulary in this lesson:
To see
Brought, causative of “come”
Here is the conjugation of “come, go” because it is an extremely common verb, whilc “bring” is not.  The root of “come, go” is bet vav alef. 
The difference between the feminine third singular present and past is that in the past tense, the stress is on the first syllable and in the present tense, the stress is on the last syllable.  Normally the stress in Hebrew words is on the last syllable, but in a past tense verb it is on the next to last syllable and that’s the only thing that distinguishes the feminines in this verb.
We are now at the end of the second aliyah.  Go to the Navigating the Bible page and listen to the Second Reading for Bereishit.

 © Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Outdoors -- February

What would February be without snow?
But it's not all bad.
Yesterday temps were above freezing and the way things have been, that was a heat wave.
The sun shone all day, and in February it's already quite strong and warm.
My backyard planter was completely in the sun at noon.
The sky is light until almost 6 and actual sunset is after 5:30.
My cardinal and the black-crested titmice are calling regularly to establish their turf.
Your trees should be budding and your shrubs will do so soon -- my privet is flushed yellow which shows the sap is rising.
Hang on, spring is coming!
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

DIY -- reminder

We should have known this if we were adults 12 months ago and living where it snows.
You have to listen to weather reports and take snow forecasts seriously.
Stock up on canned and other food that won't go bad.
Things you don't have to cook to eat.
Things you can cook in advance that won't spoil without refrigeration.
You also have to plan for burst pipes by keeping bottled water in the house.

When there's snow in the forecast, you have to plan for NOT getting to a restaurant to eat.
For at least a day.
Probably longer.
Because the restaurant's suppliers won't be able to bring in supplies.
You have to plan for NO recharging for phones and tablets and video games.
You have to plan for limited lighting.
You have to plan for your heating system not coming on because the thermostats don't work.

I'm counting my blessings right now because even in the heavy winds Sunday night into Monday
My power stayed on
I kept my car battery charged
I got to the store before the snow started.
If it stays on I'll be baking an apple pie, making an omelet, reheating sauerkraut and kielbasa, frying potatoes with spinach, knitting, working on Bible studies and other reading........
Because I DIY including planning to survive storms.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Friday, February 13, 2015

Fact-Checking the Torah -- defenses against adultery

We’re working on the laws in Deuteronomy 22:13-29.  These laws allow a groom to charge his bride with adultery if he thinks she wasn’t a virgin on her wedding night, a charge subject to all the same due process rules as murder. 
The charge falls to the ground if they can’t find the necessary witnesses, or the examination of witnesses doesn’t allow enough of the judges to vote to convict.
But the girl has three defenses to the charge; they are described in Mishnah and Gemara.
One is called migo.  If she says, “You’re right, my parents don’t have the tokens of my virginity, but it was an accident,” the court believes her.  She could have denied the charge of non-virginity, but she admits it.  American law has a similar admission against penal interest, and in Jewish law the explanation serves to clear the girl.
Another is called “the man has to drink from his own pot.”  The girl can say “You’re right, my parents don’t have the tokens of my virginity, but my betrothed is the man I had sex with.”  A man can’t complain about a situation he was responsible for.
This situation particularly existed in Jerusalem where, according to Mishnah, it was the custom to seclude the bride and groom after they signed the contract but before the wedding ceremony.  There’s a sad kind of logic to that which reflects the verses in Deuteronomy.
Some of the verses say “if he caught her in the city and lay with her,” then she can be accused of adultery if she didn’t scream.
If she screamed for help, she can’t be accused of adultery.
But there’s a twist.  Remember, whether she screamed or not, people have to intervene and try to stop the adultery or they can’t testify against her in court.
The point is that in a big city, a girl sent out on errands ran a certain amount of risk, and a man who contracted a marriage with her accepted the risk that she wasn’t a virgin.  The custom of secluding the bride and groom together saved face for her, because she could use the “your fault” argument instead of having to undergo an adultery trial.
The issue resolved here, that western societies rejected until about a century ago, is this.  The girl is married at the point that the virginity issue came up.  In western culture, a married girl became a non-person.  Her “person” was absorbed into that of her husband.  She could not sign contracts; she could not own property. 
In Jewish law, women were always persons once they became adults.  They signed their own wedding contracts.  They could own land and other property.  They could bequeath property independent of their husbands.  On which more later.  But first, another legal excuse for the woman.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Bit at a Time Bible Hebrew -- Genesis 2:18

Genesis 2:18
יח וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהִים לֹא־טוֹב הֱיוֹת הָאָדָם לְבַדּוֹ אֶעֱשֶׂה־לּוֹ עֵזֶר כְּנֶגְדּוֹ:
Transliteration: va-yomer **** elohim lo-tov heyot ha-adam l’vado eeseh lo ezer k’negdo.
Translation:    **** Gd said it is not good, the man being alone, I shall make for him a help like an opponent.
Vocabulary in this lesson:
Alone, by himself
Help (n)
Opposite to him
Here is the genitive/possessive and indirect object preposition, combined with the personal endings.  This not only means “to him,” it also means “for him.”
The third person feminine singular sometimes has dagesh in the final heh in the Jewish Bible but not always.
Now try to do the same for l’vad and neged. 
The translation reflects Midrash (Breshit Rabbah 17:3).  It says that Gd intended for a woman to be a help to her husband when he is doing right, but to be an opponent to him when he is doing wrong.  There is a reference to R. Yossi ha-Glili and his wife, who would contradict him in front of his students, and they asked him why he put up with it.  Eventually he divorced her for her bad behavior because it also brought the law into ill repute, but when she remarried and they became impoverished, R. Yossi supported them.  R. Yossi is cited in Talmud as declaring that Torah was to be taught to girls, in one of many places where he is cited.
At any rate, Jewish women were never second class in the house.  They were expected to assert themselves to prevent wrong-doing.  They could testify in court in business cases, operate their own property, keep their earnings if their husbands refused to provide for them, and bequeath property without asking their husbands’ permission.  They could get courts to force a divorce from husbands who tried to isolate them from the community or wouldn’t sleep with them, or even if the woman simply couldn’t  bear the husband’s profession.  For example, copper is absorbed through the skin and gives a bad smell.  A woman who thought she could put up with this but later found she couldn’t, could have somebody go to court with her and present her case.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

DIY -- hankies

I didn't make the hankies myself, although I know where to get the fine cotton for such things.
I bought 3 dozen from a website that sells them for people to embroider with unique monograms and things.
The question was, would this save me compared to paper hankies, which I was going through at a frightening rate.
That's because I have a dust mite allergy that goes with asthma, both inherited.
Well, I got two answers.
One was, yes, in 12 months I turned the corner and was saving money.
The second was, I was having less allergy problems and also less asthma problems.
I have no scientific data for why.
But dust mites live in dust, and the amount of dust floating around the house is much less than it was.
Some of that dust, therefore, was lint from the paper hankies.
The cotton hankies don't generate nearly as much lint.
So there's less stuff for the dust mites to nest in.
I don't need to wipe my nose as much, and there's less lint to provoke my asthma.
I have to wash them.  I do it in the hottest water I can stand, using lavender-scented castile soap.
I also bought lavender sachets to wrap the hankies around while they're in the closet.
You can get unscented castile soap if you are sensitive to fragrances. 
You can use castile soap for lots of things; search this blog or the web for "castile soap" to get ideas.
I'm killing fewer trees.  The boxes are the only things made from recycled material, not the tissues.
Think globally, act locally.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Monday, February 9, 2015

Outdoors -- next steps

Yesterday my cardinal started announcing his claim to his turf.
It was in the 60s with some sun.
He had a competitor.
I'm putting my money on my guy.
He and his wife have been feeding well this winter.
Partly that's because the squirrels have been put in their places so they're not getting as much of the sunflower seed I put out for the cardinals.
It's also better communications.
They have both learned that if they come and call at me -- that "tisking" sound they make -- I'll often put seed out. 
If they don't fly too far away, they'll get it fresh and warm before the squirrels show up.
If calling doesn't work, they have both figured out that making themselves visible sometimes does.
What that means is, they take up perches on the feeder.
They're too big to reach the food holes, but it puts them about eye level with me near a window.
So instead of putting out seed only at dawn and dusk, when the squirrels are in bed, they have sometimes been able to feed mid-morning and mid-afternoon, like the other birds.
Don't tell ME birds are dumb animals.
This pair of cardinals almost has me perfectly trained.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Sunday, February 8, 2015

I'm just saying -- how not to advertise a job

"The job description read 'wanted, go-getter with leadership skills and 3-5 years experience for job with a corporate future.'  Six months later my boss tells me I am 'trying too hard' and am 'abrasive.'  I'm totally discouraged.  What do I do now?"
Well, it's not necessarily your fault.  The company put out a generic ad knowing they were going to assign you to an office where the boss can't stand a challenge.  This boss, we'll use X, had an opening for somebody who needed help and support and not somebody who might actually be able to do X's job.

X might be giving you blowback from a mistaken idea of what mentoring is.  Mentoring isn't changing somebody to conform to your idea of what an employee should be.  It's fostering somebody's capabilities.  Sometimes that person has strengths you don't have.  You don't squash them, not if you're a real mentor.  You learn from them as you expect the person you're mentoring to learn from you.

There are companies where X's get into supervisory positions because of longevity, and because more talented people leave holes by going elsewhere.  X's are not mentors.  They sometimes get strokes from above by being told that they will mentor the new hire, but sometimes those above ignore or are totally unaware that X is not capable of real mentoring.  Or else they themselves are happy with the idea of square pegs having their corners shaved off to fit into round holes when it's the holes that should be enlarged and squared off.

So all in all, don't believe the advertising.  Use your networking.  See what people in your field say about the company running the ad.  If you find that people you respect decided not to work there, find out why.  People you respect may have realized that this is a company that doesn't "walk the talk" as we used to say.  Keep your resume up to date, learn what you can from this job, and save money so you can leave if you find that your worst fears are true.

I'm just saying...

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Friday, February 6, 2015

Fact-Checking the Torah -- timing is everything

We’re working on the laws in Deuteronomy 22:13-29.  The first issue when a groom thinks his bride wasn’t a virgin on the wedding night is, did he put down too much on the bride price assuming she was a virgin.
That’s a civil law question, and only needs three judges to decide.
But there’s also a criminal issue: did she commit adultery?  If she had sex with anybody except her betrothed after the betrothal, that’s considered adultery.
But remember, adultery is a capital crime and both the man and woman have to die.
Since it’s a capital crime, there have to have been witnesses that the girl was secluded with a specific man long enough for sex to occur, and the witnesses have to have stopped both of them beforehand and told them what they were risking.  You remember all that from the discussion of murder about a year ago.
If there are no witnesses, there is no crime and the groom cannot charge adultery. 
Even if there are witnesses, there have to be enough non-bonded men, who are not relatives of the parties, to judge the case.  By Mishnaic times, remember, there had to be 23 of them. 
Mishnaic law records that girls who were reputed virgins were married on Wednesday nights.  Talmud (Ketubbot 2, IIRC) says the reason is the parents may be arguing about the ketubbah and dowry up until the last moment.  It also says that the mother is with the girl the whole day making sure she is well dressed and groomed for the wedding.
The girl is considered betrothed whenever the families come to an agreement.  If they haven't agreed, they can't write the ketubbah.  If they haven't written the ketubbah, they can't sign it.  Until the ketubbah is signed by the guy and the girl, the marriage can't take place.  If that happens Wednesday during the day, and the wedding takes place that night, and the groom cries mekher taut the next morning, there's a very good chance that a charge of adultery will fail because there was no way for it to happen.
But the families can also reach agreement as much as a year before the date of the wedding ceremony, and that's the timing that Deuteronomy has to deal with. 
Next, another issue that separates Jewish family law from western family law over the last, oh, 25 centuries.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Bit at a Time Bible Hebrew -- Genesis 2:17

Genesis 2:17
יז וּמֵעֵץ הַדַּעַת טוֹב וָרָע לֹא תֹאכַל מִמֶּנּוּ כִּי בְּיוֹם אֲכָלְךָ מִמֶּנּוּ מוֹת תָּמוּת:
Transliteration: u-me-ets ha-daat tov va-ra lo tokhal mi-menu ki b’-yom akhalkha mi-menu mot tamut.
Translation:    From the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you will not eat of it for on the day of your eating from it MOT TAMUT.
Vocabulary in this lesson:
MOT TAMUT is the phrase I mentioned in the last lesson and I wanted to talk about it in detail so I left the last lesson short.
This is the one case where the adverbs don’t work, and that’s because the rest of Torah doesn’t allow the translation “definitely die.”  There's a grammatical clue for that which I will discuss a year from now.  I want to have you reading Hebrew really well before I discuss something I just learned in 2014.
The other contexts in which this phrase occurs all have to do with the death penalty in Jewish law.  They include Exodus 21:15-17, Exodus 22:18, Exodus 31:14-15, Leviticus 20:2, Leviticus 20:10-13, Leviticus 20:15-16, Leviticus 20:27, Leviticus 21:9, Leviticus 24:16, Numbers 15:35, Deuteronomy 13:1-12, and Deuteronomy 22:20-21.
As I discuss on the Fact-Checking page, the death penalty cannot be inflicted in Jewish law without due process.  That requires at least two witnesses to the transgression who stop the transgression, warn the people involved about what they’re attempting, get a verbal rejection of the advice, and see the crime go to completion. 
So when this verse uses the same phrase, Jews throughout time would have gotten a clue that the rest of the story was going to proceed according to Jewish law.
You may understand it differently, but you should also be watching the results closely, and then you will have to ask yourself a couple of questions.  Which I will point out when we get there.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Garden -- February

The number one thing you should be doing right now is pruning hedges and shrubs.
Today is Tu B'Shevat, the Jewish New Year for Trees.
Any day now, you will be seeing buds on hedges, shrubs and trees.  You have to finish up before the end of the month if you live south of the Mason Dixon line.
By the end of the month, the insects will be coming out and the birds will be nesting.
Guess what, the two things are related!
The birds are going to start building nests, mating and brooding just as their food supply comes out of the egg.
Prune now and get out of their way.

The next thing you have to do this month is get your mower blade sharpened.
Paying somebody to mow?
Tell them now that they have to set their blade at 3 inches, no more, no less.
They don't want to do that?
Then you need to buy a mower.
They agree to that?
Now tell them you won't pay them to mow during the summer drought. 
Not twice a week, not once a week.
They don't like that?
You need to buy a mower.
Finally, tell them they have to fertilize according to what kind of grass is in your lawn.
They don't know what kind of grass you have?
Then you need to take a sample to your garden store and ask them what it is.
See Mike McGrath's YBYG archives for where to go from there.
If asking questions makes your lawn service mad, you  don't have a lawn service, you just have somebody trying to make a buck off the fact that you don't know how to take care of your lawn.

For my grass, when the forsythias bloom, I will be putting down cornmeal gluten.
I have to measure how much I put down, so that I don't put down too much nitrogen.
It's state law.
Maryland and Virginia are trying to preserve income from crabbing and sport fishing in the ocean.
They can't do that if homeowners are shoving nitrogen into the water system.
Your lawn fertilizer should have 3 numbers on it: X-zero-zero.
The X is a number showing the amount of nitrogen.  Check your state law to see how much you can put down legally.
The zeroes are for phosphate and potassium.
In the Washington DC metro area, it is illegal for homeowners to use lawn fertilizers with anything but zeroes for those second two numbers.
For the same reason as the nitrogen issue, only more so.

Think globally, act locally.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved