The Diamond and The Window

Note that this post is not called The Diamond in the Window (book by Jane Langton). It’s a post about Noah, who was considered a righteous man in his generation.
Noah holding a diamond with a sparkle
So here’s the question: was Noah a righteous individual who might have not been so great in a different generation or was a shining light unto all the generations? And why is he looking at this diamond?

Or maybe he’s really looking out the window:
Noah looking through a window

For the answer to these and other tantalizing questions, you will have to visit my friend’s Harry’s post Noach – Is righteousness relative?

The illustrations of Noah with diamond and window were executed by me (with some critical helpful feedback from my daughter) with pen, ink, and then a lot of playing in Photoshop. The aim was whimsical and playful.

One Hundred Equals Twenty

Leora Presents 100=20 While Kindergarten Son Hides Under Table
Leora Presents 100=20 While Kindergarten Son Hides Under Table

Way back over ten years ago, my then kindergarten age son and I were supposed to do a presentation to the rest of his class on a topic related to the book of Breishit. However, my ever social son never took a class with Janice Tomich on presentations skills, so he hid under the table. Instead, I gave the presentation myself.

It seems I started to blog about 100 20 and 7 back in 2008, but I never completed the post. Can anyone explain in the comments how 100 equals 20?

(Update in 2022: see the comments to learn why 100 – 20).


Split Vav in Peace

split vav

Yesterday Rabbi Bassous talked about the split vav in the parsha of Pinchas. It is the only case in the Torah of a letter being split.

יב לָכֵן, אֱמֹר: הִנְנִי נֹתֵן לוֹ אֶת-בְּרִיתִי, שָׁלוֹם.
Wherefore say: Behold, I give unto him My covenant of peace;

The rabbi explained that it is to show us one cannot achieve peace through violence. (Of course, he said much more, but I can’t repeat what he said without misquoting or taking it totally out of context. So I will leave just this piece for you to ponder and explore on your own).

Ballet Dancer and Egypt

ballet dancer with duck on head
A drawing by my daughter: what does this ballet dancer and Ancient Egypt have in common? Perhaps someone who knows ancient Egyptian history can help. Or maybe you are familiar with some midrashim related to parshat Shmot? (I’m not, but I gather that’s how my daughter got the idea).

What do you see?

Review with Maple Leaves

leaves in East Brunswick
Red Leaves in East Brunswick, New Jersey

We visited the Butterfly Park in East Brunswick last Sunday. I was planning to post a Nature Notes about the park (didn’t happen! not enough hours or energy in a week); instead, I have material for next week’s Nature Notes.

Elsewhere in the Blogosphere

  • Jew Wishes reviewed Irretrievably Broken by Irma Fritz, saying “Fritz has woven a tapestry that is profound and compelling within the pages of Irretrievably Broken.” She also has a post with photos by Irma Fritz of Wernher von Braun’s lab at Peenemunde (links no longer exist).
  • Shimshonit interviewed Ilana-Davita as one of her favorite foodies.
  • Ilana-Davita shares photos and history of Lübeck’s synagogue.
  • Mimi cooks up a delicious looking tabbouleh.
  • Finally, prayers and thoughts for RivkA: Robin’s love, Batya’s letter, Jameel’s latest update on RivkA’s blog.
  • Update on Friday: “Baruch Dayan HaEmet – Blessed is the True Judge.

    This is the blessing said upon hearing the news of someone’s death.

    About 11:10 AM this morning, RivkA passed away.

    Funeral plans are in the process, and we’ll post them as soon as we know.

    May RivkA’s family be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.”

    One more update, a parsha thought on Hayye Sarah by Jeffrey Woolf: “Abraham came to Hevron to eulogize Sarah and to cry for her. The Rav זצ”ל used to emphasize that ordinarily the order is the reverse. First once cries. Only after time passes and perspective returns, can one eulogize the departed and evaluate who they were.

    Sometimes, though, one is obligated to suppress one’s primal shriek of pain in order to tell the world just who the person was who has gone. That way, the Rav said, we try to involve as many people as possible in mourning the tragedy. Once the eulogy is achieved, we may all let ourselves go and cry out in pain.”

    Tall Towers Tale

    Tower of Babel by Brueghel
    Rabbi Bassous related the following story on Shabbat:

    About thirty years ago when the Soviet Union first opened its doors, an elderly woman arrived in Israel who was visited by many rabbis. She was not religious, but she was the granddaughter of someone famous: the Chofetz Chaim. They wanted to hear about her conversations with and stories about her famous grandfather. There was one story in particular that was related. The granddaughter, against her parents’ and grandfather’s wishes, had attended university. After much education, she came back to her grandfather and said to him, when are you going to give up your old-fashioned ways? The world is moving forward with science and technology; all sorts of exciting new discoveries are happening. The Chofetz Chaim replied, with all these great discoveries, they will build bombs. One day there will be a bomb to destroy the world. While they are building bombs, I am building people.

    Rabbi Bassous then went on to relate this to the parsha, where the people build a tower toward the skies.

    More on Congregation Etz Ahaim in this post.

    •   •   •

    The Kosher Cooking Carnival, post-holiday edition, is on Batya’s blog. Thank you, Batya.

    The painting is Tower of Babel by Brueghel.

    Tax Raises Cause a Split

    Tel Dan
    More stories from the prophets: Archaelogical Dig at Tel Dan in northern Israel, Where Jeroboam built a cult as an alternative to the Temple in Jerusalem

    My husband told the following story:

    Long ago there was a king. He was a new king. He was trying to get the people who lived far to the north to adhere to his sovereignty. So he asked his elder advisers: What shall I do? They told him to speak gently to the people, and the people will serve him. He did not take the advice of these elders. He then went to the younger advisers. The young advisers told him to say: “My father chastised you with whips, I will chastise you with scorpions.” They wanted him to show the people who is boss and increase their burden. And that he did. And he lost the kingdom.

    For more on this story of Rehoboam, read A Divided Nation on the Aish website or Kings Chapter 12 (Melachim Bet).

    How was this related to last week’s parsha? We learned about the law of jealousy in the ten commandments, and from there, my husband told the story of jealous Jezebel, and then there were more stories from the Prophets…

    Feeding da Birds

    Spring is sprung, da grass is riz.
    I wonder where dem boidies is?
    Some say da boids is on der wing.
    But dat’s absoid!
    Da little wings is on da boid…

    It is a Jewish custom before the Shabbat in which one sings Shirat HaYam (the Song of the Sea, the song about the crossing of the Reed Sea) to feed the birds. Why feed the birds? I found two explanations:

    1) There is a tradition that on the first Shabbat of the Manna, not only did people go out looking for Manna, but they (wicked people, says Rashi) had previously scattered Manna around the camp in order to find it and “make a liar out of Moshe”.

    Birds came by early in the morning and ate up the Manna, thus protecting the honor of Moshe, and of G-d Who had said that Manna would not fall on Shabbat. In repayment “one good turn deserves another” style, we feed the birds around this Shabbat when we read of the Manna in the weekly portion.

    And here is the second:

    2) We joyously sing praise to G-d for His having taken us out of Egypt and saved us from the Egyptians. Singing is the special domain of the birds. That is how they express themselves in acknowledgment of the Creator (so to speak – or so to sing). We borrowed their skill; therefore we “pay royalties” on our Song by feeding birds on (before) this Shabbat.

    Since last Friday was right before Shabbat Shira, I decided that this was the perfect time finally to take the new bird feeder I bought out of the box and hang it on our garage window (with the help of my seven-year-old daughter):

    bird feeder

    After some initial difficulty with the suction cup attachments (you have to first soak the suction cups in hot water, then dry them, then rub them with your thumb, then attach them), I finally got the feeder to stay up properly. However, I don’t believe any of our neighborhood birds have been eating from it. I did see one pecking away at my compost.

    bird in a tree
    I believe this bird is a chickadee (thanks, Eileen).

    This is what is left of the finch feeder sock I bought one month ago:

    empty finch sock

    As one of the reasons for the feeding the birds custom is to become more sensitive to the needs of the animals around us, I plan to continue to feed the birds. As Michelle of Rambling Woods has taught me, once you start feeding the birds, they expect it.

    I hope to post more bird photos tomorrow for SkyWatch; one day last week, my eldest son said, Eema, there’s a bird making a strange noise outside. I went out with my camera and there many, many, many birds.

    Cow – Free Associate

    What do you think of when you see a cow? Or a drawing of a cow? Much thanks to Peter Paul Rubens for his help with the drawing.

    My original reason for drawing a cow was a I had a chance to read the parsha of Miketz (Torah portion) last week that was read today in the synagogue.

    Your turn.

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