Showing posts from March, 2010

Pesach, Particle Physics, and Regular People

It is that time again... Pesach! And that means searching, uncovering, removing, and the elevating of each little moment in life from the past year. Because I am a regular person, just like everyone else, I can’t remember every single moment of fluff and hot air that I stuck under my hat, I am just going to do what the other regular people do... search around until I find some Chumetz (that hot air filled fluffy risen bread like stuff that makes me think I am really something special in the world) and obliterate it with a passion! In the big scheme of things, the Chumetz that we are supposed to uncover, we will inevitably be able to find. Hashem only tests us as far as we can handle it, so we never find something too large to deal with. This idea reminds me of when I was just a little tike and me and all the neighborhood kids (picture The Little Rascals with skateboards) built a double-decker fort in the backyard. We styled it out with rock-n-roll posters (not quite triple-x, but close

Palestine or Frankenstein

With all of the hubbub about peace talks or proximity talks (or whatever), illegal building in Jerusalem, and the rededication of the Hurva Synagogue in the Old City of Jerusalem, I thought I would throw in my two cents (or agarote as may be the case) on the issues. The way I understand it, these are the core issues for peace talks relating to the modern Holy Land: 1. Security for Israel 2. The Status of Jerusalem 3. The Fate of Palestinian Refugees 4. The Boundaries of a Future Palestinian State Of course, a Palestinian Arab would reverse the order of these issues so, as a Palestinian Jew, I will address them in that order as well… 4. The Boundaries of a Future Palestinian State This comes up in the news all of the time. The issue is that the Israelis (Palestinian Jews) are building settlements on the land of a future Palestinian (Palestinian Arab) state. This will prevent the Palestinian Arabs from having a contiguous state or even a state at all. The argument is that if the potentia

Shmuel, Dudoo, and Zachariah went Camping

Shmuel, Dudoo, and Zachariah went camping in the desert. After they got their tent all set up, they all ate humus and falafel, smoked a nargilah for hour or so, and then they fell sound asleep. Some hours later, Zachariah woke the others up and said, “Havre, look towards the sky, what do you see?” 'Dudoo, whose grandparents were enlightened European Jews that all miraculously survived the Holocaust, said, “I see millions of stars.” “What does that tell you?” asked Zechariah. Dudoo, after pondering this philosophical question for a minute, replied, “Astronomically speaking, it tells me there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. It makes me wonder what it all means.” Shmuel, whose real name is Samuel and made aliyah to Israel from the United States when he was 18 for the army, then said, “Astrologically, it tells me that Saturn is in Leo and theologically, Hashem is all-powerful and we are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, it seems we will have a bea

'Kef' is not a Hebrew word...

In the words of tractate Yoma 19b of the Talmud, "you shall converse in the words of Torah and not in other things," the Talmud explains "other things" as referring to idle, meaningless things. The Hebrew language (you know, the one that was used to create the universe) has words that mean rest, play, relaxation, and pleasant activities, while it has no word for "fun" (the word kef is Arabic). A "fun" activity has no goal, as is implied in the colloquial expression, "just for the fun of it." In other words, the goal of the activity is within itself, and fun does not lead to or result in anything else. This concept is alien to Judaism (you know, the religion that grew out of the language that was used to create the universe). Every human being is created with a mission in life. This mission is the ultimate goal toward which everything must in one way or another be directed. Seemingly mundane activities can become goal directed; we eat an

Purim, Murder, and the Other Side of the Coin

When I woke up on Friday morning, I didn’t have any idea what was in store for the next few days of my life. Life is an important element in this story because it involves the tragic ending of the life of someone that I didn’t know well enough. She was described as a crazy flower and lived her life spreading that wonderful energy around, wherever she went. She was a teacher at a school for peace between Arabs and Jews nearby, was a drama teacher at a local elementary school, and had a beautiful daughter with her husband that she miraculously had met later in her life than is normal and expected. On Friday morning, I was in the middle of putting on my tefilin and the home phone rang. After a brief discussion, Adele warned me that I might not have time and I should check my messages. When I did so, I was left with such a huge question from one of my dearest friends: it only said, “Please call urgently.” The next thing I knew, I was packing a survival pack with food, water, outdoor equipm