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My European Odyssey
June 28, 2011 – 1:27 pm | 2 Comments
My European Odyssey

My knowledge of America comes from experience, but my knowledge of Europe comes from only research and hearsay. As much as I travel the states, my one trip out of North America was to Israel last summer. That, like this trip, was my wife’s idea. We also went to Mexico last year. If a woman’s JDate profile says she loves to travel, she’s not kidding around.

Og
June 28, 2011 – 3:00 am
Og

One of the most popular Psalms, number 135, praises God for killing mighty kings. It then lists Sichon, King of Amorites, and Og, King of Bashan. According to the Midrash, Sichon and Og were more than just belligerent kings, they were powerful giants. Little is said about Sichon other than that “Sichon and Og were the sons of Ahijah, the son of Shamhazai”(Niddah 61a). Og, however, is the subject of a great many legends.

According to tradition, Og survived the great flood by holding on to the Ark. Noah agreed to transport and feed him in return for the promise of Og’s service afterwards (Pirkei D’Rabbi Eliezer 23). Later, it is said, Og was the one who came to tell Abraham of Lot’s captivity (Genesis 11:13)–his motive, however, according to the Midrash, was not noble. He hoped that Abraham would be killed in war so that he might marry Sarah.

Midrash Rabbah Genesis 53:10 notes that the “great feast” that Abraham held in honor of Isaac’s weaning was actually “a feast for great people, Og and all the great men of the time were there….[Og said] ‘is he [Isaac] not puny? I can crush him by putting my finger on him.’ Said the Holy One, blessed be He, to him: ‘What do you mean by disparaging My gift! By your life, you will yet see countless thousands and myriads of his descendants, and your own fate will be to fall into their hands.’”

When the Israelite’s had to fight Og and his army (Numbers 21), Moses needed reassurance from God, which is explained thus in the Talmud:

He [Og] said: “How large is the camp of Israel? Three parsangs…” He went and uprooted a mountain of the size of three parsangs and carried it on his head [to throw onto the camp]. But the Holy One, blessed be He, sent ants that bored a hole in it, so that it sank around his neck….[Moses] then took an axe ten cubits long, leaped ten cubits into the air, and struck him on his ankle and killed him (Berachoht 54b).

Copyright © 2011 National Jewish Outreach Program. All rights reserved.

Seven Blessings-Sheva Brachoht
June 27, 2011 – 3:05 am
Seven Blessings-Sheva Brachoht

A couple just starting their lives together inspires joy and hope, and everyone wants to wish them success. These blessings of good will are so important to a new couple that the Jewish marriage ceremony begins* with blessings. Seven of them, to be exact, known as the Sheva Brachoht, the seven blessings. (Sheva Brachoht is also the name used to refer to dinner parties held in honor of the bride and groom during the week after their wedding.)

A Better Grilled Chicken
June 24, 2011 – 9:49 am
A Better Grilled Chicken

Whole Roasted Chicken goes with everything. It is the Little Black Dress of the food world!  Juicy, moist and with big flavor. It just doesn’t get any better than that. But, roasting a whole chicken in the summer is kind of a letdown for me. The oven heats up the house, the chicken is delicious but lacking in the summer je ne sais quois. The outdoors beckons in the summer. I want to be outside communing with my garden, my view of the sunset and a glass of wine with my grill.

Go Wash Your Hands
June 24, 2011 – 6:53 am
Go Wash Your Hands

Mothers always instruct their children to wash their hands before supper. After all, children play in unclean places, touch strange objects and suck their thumbs, so their hands definitely need to be washed before they touch any food. In a Jewish household, however, the request for a child to wash his/her hands might only be an indicator that the child is about to eat bread.

The Importance of Circumcision
June 23, 2011 – 7:38 am
The Importance of Circumcision

This coming November, the people of San Francisco will vote on a referendum to make it a misdemeanor to circumcise any male under the age of 18. And while many Americans were surprised by the proposal, and great debates are raging on the internet, if the referendum passes, this will certainly not be the first time that circumcision has been outlawed. The most famous prohibition of circumcision occurred during the rule of the Syrian-Greeks during the era of the Maccabees. At that time, however, circumcision was actually a capital offense.

Robyn and Eli
June 22, 2011 – 12:14 pm
Robyn and Eli

“Though I was guarded… he won me over and we were engaged to be married only one day shy of our 6 month anniversary.”

Cantor vs. Rabbi: Who Should Join You Under the Chuppah?
June 22, 2011 – 11:57 am
Cantor vs. Rabbi: Who Should Join You Under the Chuppah?

By Jewish law, all that’s required to make a marriage official is a ketubah and a couple of witnesses. A Jewishly knowledgeable person who steers the wedding rituals can “officiate” the chuppah ceremony and oversee the ketubah ceremony. Also according to Jewish law, you need two kosher witnesses, who, depending on your Jewish affiliation, can be either men or women, related or not to the bride and groom, and practice varying degrees of Jewish observance including the laws of kashrut (eating and keeping kosher). If you have a family rabbi, this would be something to clarify before the wedding day to make sure you’re following correct laws and traditions. As long as your ceremony officiate is ordained by your state, he or she can guide the ceremony for it to count Jewishly and civilly. The ceremony, if it is religious-based, simply requires a license that is filed with the secular authorities (your state) and it ends up fulfilling both secular and Jewish law.

The Missing Ark
June 22, 2011 – 7:19 am
The Missing Ark

Mention the Ark of the Covenant and most people think of Raiders of the Lost Ark, the 1981 movie starring Harrison Ford. The real Ark of the Covenant, created concurrently with the other vessels of the Mishkan (Tabernacle), was placed in the Holy of Holies of the First Temple by King Solomon. The question of the present location of the Ark is debated by the sages. When the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple, was the Ark taken into captivity by the Babylonians or was it hidden?

Marisa and Jared
June 21, 2011 – 1:37 pm | One Comment
Marisa and Jared

After an incredible seven hour first date, Jared sent me a text message first thing in the morning, letting me know he had a great time and would love to get together again.”

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