Tuesday, December 27, 2005


[Further thoughts regarding Chanukka]

The Jews in those days did not necessarily believe that a revolt against the Graeco-Syrians could succeed, rather, they believed that a revolt was justified. And herein lies the difference. They did not do what they thought could work, they did what they knew was right. A preposterous idea, but one which fundamentally informs how we look at history today.

We admire the perverse determination of the Irish, the many failed peasant rebellions of the Chinese, and the ornery refusal to bend of the native Americans.

And if we're Dutch, we admire the revolt of Patimura in 1817, the puputan (defiant mass court suicide) by the dalem of Badung in Bali in 1906, and the generation-long struggle of the Achinese against our superior arms, culminating in the pacification of the territory in 1907.

We called Aceh (Atjeh, Achin) pacified only after capturing the person who epitomized the resistance to our forces. Not rebelliousness, because in truth we never had a right to be there. It was thirty years of bitter, stubborn resistance.

THE ACEH WAR - 1873 to 1907

In 1873 we (the Dutch) invaded Aceh on pretext, and in order to keep the Americans and the British from sticking their noses in what we Dutch held was our sphere of influence. While the first Aceh campaign was an unmitigated disaster for our side, the second campaign proved less than salubrious for the Achinese. The troops of Aceh retreated to the jungle, along with relatives and supporters, and fought a guerilla war against the occupiers.

Among the Achinese in the jungle was Chut Nya Dhien (Tjoet Njak Dhien, 1848 - 1908), daughter of Nanta Setia and wife of Teuku Ibrahim Lamnga, both commanders in the Sultan's forces, and leaders against the Dutch. Both men died in the battle of Sela Glee Tarun in 1873.

Chut Nya Dhien took over the command of her father's and her husbands forces, and continued the fight against the Dutch. Two years later, she married commander Teuku Umar, and both surrendered to the Dutch. Within a short time they revolted again, having used their temporary peace to resupply and reorganize. Teuku Umar was finally killed in battle over two decades later, in 1899. Chut Nya Dhien continued her war against the Dutch, finally being surrounded by the army, who had been informed of her whereabouts, in 1901.

Her followers fought to the last man. Chut Nya Dhien was wrestled to the ground - old, blind, arthritic, and sick from thirty years in the jungle, but she still hacked at her captors with her sword. Her daughter, Chut Gambang (wife of Teungku Dhi Buket, who was the son of Teuku Chik Dhi Tiro, Acheh's most famous guerilla leader) escaped to the jungle, and died in combat nine years later in 1910.

The Dutch banished Chut Nya Dhien to Java, where, seven years later, she passed away.

From a biographical sketch:
"None of those men who were leaders in the long holy war of Atjeh against us hated us as fiercely or fought us as resolutely as she did, and few sacrificed so much, of both their power and property. Never, in her resistance, did she deviate by even one step, never did she doubt, never could she be bought. Transported, she died in exile. "Resigned", they say - but that cannot be believed! And why should we even desire any resignation from her? As a salve on the wounds of our conscience? For the greater glory of our triumph?
No. Let us honour her as indeed our bitterest enemy, who was finally broken our might."

=== === === === ===

Post-script - from the BBC:
Aceh rebels disband armed units

Separatist rebels in the Indonesian province of Aceh say their armed wing has been officially disbanded, in line with a landmark peace agreement.
A Free Aceh Movement (Gam) spokesman said it was committed to implementing the deal reached with the government.
Under its terms, the former rebels were to hand over their weapons in return for Aceh receiving more autonomy from the central government.
The agreement is designed to end 26 years of bitter conflict.
The last government troops are due to pull out of Aceh on Thursday.


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The war which lasted until this peace accord was the third round of fighting since independence at the end of WWII.

The Achinese, who amount to less than five percent of the population of Indonesia, fought the Dutch again in the thirties and forties, they fought the Japanese, they fought the Indonesians - first against the Sukarno government, then against the Suharto government, then again against Suharto and his successors.

It took a tsunami to get them down.

Stubborn bunch.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

CHANUKKA [1, 2, 3, and 4]

I originally put four recipes for Chanukka on my blog at the end of November, but due to the peculiarity of archiving, that post has dropped outta sight.

And here we are, frighteningly close to both Nittle-nacht and Chanukka, and you're probably wondering "now where DID I see that recipe for Apricot Cheese-cake with a layer of Chocolate Fudge..... I know! It was probably that blog, you know, Bog Of The Hills Beachballs or something. That Dutchman. Whatever. It looked so EASY, too.".

I'm flattered that you should think so, but sorry, this isn't it.
What you saw here were four oily recipes: Oliebollen, Appelflappen, Latkes, Bemuelos.

So first I'll give the recipes, then I'll gibber on a bit about the meaning of the holiday (and just scroll down if you're not going to do any cooking yourself, but are tootling down to Santa Cruz with a friend to join him and his family for Chanukka, and you just need to know what it's all about).

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4 (four) Cups white flour.
1.75 (one and three quarters) Cups warm (scalded) milk.
3 (three) TBS Sugar.
3 (three) Eggs.
1 (one) TBS oil.
1 (one) Tsp. Salt.
1 (one) TBS active yeast.
1.5 (one point five) cups chopped raisins.
A few drops vanilla essence, a little fresh orange or lemon zest.
Plus oil for deep-frying and powdered sugar for dusting.

Proof the yeast in the milk, with one tablespoon of the sugar dissolved therein (meaning: stir sugar and yeast into the warm milk, and let the yeast foam up and become all nice and active again).

Mix all other ingredients, and add the yeasted milk gradually after it has foamed. Mix well. Cover with a damp cloth, put in a warm place, and let the batter sit two hours or more till doubled in size.

Heat the oil for frying to 375 - 400 degrees. Drop spoonfuls of the batter into the hot oil (use a second spoon to push the batter off the first). Fry golden, remove from oil when done, drain on papertowels, and dust with powdered sugar.

Note I: A teaspoon of cinnamon can be added to the batter, or to the powdered sugar.
Note II: If the milk is too hot for you to put your finger into, it is too hot for the yeast. Better wait a moment - you don't want to kill the yeast, do you?
Note III: Leave plenty of space in the deep-fryer or the cauldron - there is nothing worse than hot oil splashing up or boiling over.

[By the way, oliebollen are often sold from temporary stands outside train-stations and at busy intersections in many towns, from the beginning of November all the way through March. There's nothing quite like burying your snoot in a brown paper bag of warm balls, getting the powdered sugar down the front of your raincoat, while sheltering from the cold sleet, just outside the station.

Oliebollen are also eaten on new year's eve, along with some other things that I'm not too sure of. With coffee and Genever - no Dutch celebration is complete without coffee and a shot of Genever.]


Use the same batter as above, minus the raisins. Instead, make the batter a little looser, dip sliced crisp apples in the batter, and fry golden. Dredge with powdered sugar. Serve hot.

One and a half pounds of potato (about four regular baking potatoes), peeled.
One large onion, peeled.
Half a dozen sprigs parsley, very finely minced.
Two eggs.
Salt, pepper.
Two TBS flour (preferably potato flour, but regular will do).

Grate potatoes and onions with a quick hand, squeeze out excess moisture in a sieve or doubled cheese-cloth, and mix all ingredients together.

Heat some oil in a frypan, spoon in a couple of mounds of the latke batter, and flatten with a spatula or the back of the spoon. Fry crispy on one side, turn over and do the other. Drain on papertowels on a heated plate.

Do not make the latkes too thick - they will not cook through before turning too dark.
Do not make latkes too large - they will not hold together well.
Do not use olive oil - it has too low a burning temperature.
If the potato mixture gets soggy (which of course it will!), it is a good idea to squeeze it out - containing it within a cheese-cloth for this very purpose is not a bad idea.

Serve with homemade applesauce: peel and slice some crisp apples, put in an enamel pan with a dash of calvados, a squeeze of lemon, a little sugar, and a pinch of spice. Cook on low till the apples can be broken up with a fork.

Or serve with Dilled Sour Cream: mix half a cup sour cream, one tablespoon finely snipped fresh dill, a few drops lemon juice, and a pinch of salt.

Drained yoghurt can be substituted for the sour cream.

Blackstrap molasses or Dutch appel stroop (thick stroppy apple syrup) are, though odd, also good. For homemade appel stroop simmer down some concentrated apple juice (some sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice optionally added) till thick and gluggy.


Two and a half cups flour.
Three quarter cups warm milk.
Quarter cup cane sugar.
Two TBS butter (softened).
Two TBS yeast (two packages).
Two egg yolks.
Half Tsp each: Ground cinnamon, mace (or nutmeg).
Generous pinch salt.
Tangy apricot preserves for filling, oil for frying, fine granulated sugar for rolling.

Proof yeast (let the yeast re-activate and foam up) in the warm milk with the sugar dissolved therein. Knead all ingredients to an elastic dough. Cover with a damp cloth, let rest a few hours till doubled in volume, or leave it overnight in the refrigerator.

Roll the dough out as a thick rope, which then cut into two dozen pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, make a pit in each ball, and insert a teaspoon of tangy apricot preserves into each pit. Pinch-pull the dough together over the filling to seal. Cover and let rise again for half an hour in a warm place.

Fry in hot oil (375 - 400 degrees Fahrenheit) till brown, turn onto papertowels to drain, roll in fine granulated sugar (it has to have that slightly gritty mouth-feel, which is why we don't use powdered sugar) and serve warm.

PS. Regarding measures, please note that the American measuring cup contains sixteen tablespoons (TBS), and that each tablespoon (TBS) is equal to three teaspoons (Tsp.).

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And now click on this link to hear a Chanukka melody: http://www.geocities.com/storagecellar/White_Chnukke.mp3
as sung by the one, the only, the Lipman (http://lipmans.blogspot.com/).

And be courteous, thank him for it, here: http://lipmans.blogspot.com/2005/12/white-chnukke.html

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In case you're in the dark about the meaning of Chanukka, chasvesholom, or your friends are (much more likely), here's a relatively simple explanation, which please feel free to copy-paste into msword and print out.


Chanukka (which means dedication), also called the feast of lights, celebrates the rededication of the temple after the defeat of the Syrio-Greek forces by Judah the hammer twenty one centuries ago.
The significance is predominantly one of religious freedom as opposed to the officially commanded practises of the Graeco-Syrian state cult, which consisted of idolatrous statue worship and obscene rites servicing the pantheon.
[Note that the Maccabees were not fighting for the principle of religious freedom as such - they fought AGAINST the religious domination that had been imposed on them. They themselves were not particularly tolerant of heterodoxy, and would probably have had some harsh words to say about what we believe.]
The aspect of rededication (and re-purification) refers to the temple specifically, and Israel in general.
Like many Jewish celebrations, Chanukka subtextually honours the practices which define each Jew's relationship with the master of the universe - a relationship which is mostly defined by the observance of the 613 Mitzvot (commandments - the covenant between G_d and Israel must be seen as a contract between two parties, with obligations and conditions on both sides - for the Jews, these are the commandments which set them apart as a people).
But it is also a celebration of the rejection of Mediterranean traditions of cultic mixture and fusion, and the unclean practises associated with polytheism and the state-religions of Israel's neighbors.
Israel remained stubbornly true to its creed, and thus its reason for existence - doing otherwise would have been denial of all that is fundamental to the Jewish sense of nationhood, peoplehood, culture, identitity, pride.

Slightly over twenty three centuries ago, the Seleucid dynasty founded by one of Alexander the Great's generals after his death, ruled over Syria, Lebanon, part of Asia minor, and Israel.

In 174 BCE one of the kings of that dynasty (Antiochus IV) tried to impose unity on his empire by decreeing a common religion and a common culture for all. On his orders, torah scrolls were seized and burned, the temple in Jerusalem was taken over and the treasury looted, and idols were placed in the temple for sacrificial rituals.
The observance of three fundamental commandments was forbidden - observing the Sabbath, circumcision, and sanctification of the new moon (which is important both for determining the holy days, and for establishing the dates on which certain practices are valid - most notably testifying in court).

Israel was ordered to worship the Greek gods to show loyalty to the Seleucid regime, and to acknowledge Greek superiority. Only in the hills of Judea were there still pockets of resistance; elsewhere, the populace simmered in fury, but feared the Syrian forces. The priestly clans went into hiding, lest they be pressed to participate in idolatry and defilement.

Eventually, of course, there were rebellions. Repression always creates explosive conditions.

A small force of partisans commanded by Judah (Yehuda) the son of Mattityahu the priest (also known as Judah the hammer, Judah the strong, or Judah Makkabi) after defeating three armies sent to destroy them, expelled the occupiers from Jerusalem, destroyed the idols, and purified and rededicated the temple.

They made a menorah to replace the one stolen by the Syrio-Greeks. But they only found one jar of pure olive oil for the lights, sufficient for only one day. [Note that pure oil for the temple was kept in jars containing a measure sufficient for only one day each, sealed with the mark of the temple priest. Hence the problem; not just any oil would do, it had to be ritually pure, made under certain conditions, and certified.]

The lights were lit anyway. Miraculously, that one bottle's worth burned for eight days, by which time they had gotten a fresh supply of pure oil.

The oily foods now served on Chanukka are to remember the miracle of oil - latkes (potato pancakes) eaten by Ashkenazim (eastern European Jews and most American Jews), sfganiot (round fritters filled with jam) eaten by Sephardim (Iberian and middle eastern Jews who follow the Spanish rites and speak Sephardic Hebrew), and sugar dusted fried fritters eaten by Dutch and Belgian Jews. South Indian Jews eat neyappam (literally: 'oil cakes').
[Sorry, I have no idea what the Italkim (Italian Jews) and Ethiopian Jews eat.]

There is, of course, a symbolism in the candles - light symbolizes hope. Where there is light, there is hope, and there can be joy. Going from one candle to two candles the next night, then three, and so on, represents progression and increase - of course hope should increase, and improvement is a key element in Judaism.

One MUST make progress, one cannot remain static. If we do not increase the good in the world and our closeness to G_d, then we are actually regressing and going further away.
Light is also often taken to signify the spirit, and the soul is often explained as being like a flame. A good spirit, like a flame, inspires, encourages, attracts. So, from one (good) to two (better), then three (even better yet), and so further - increasing, progressing, growing.

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There's this four-sided spinning top (svivon, in Hebrew), with which one traditionally plays on Chanukka. It's actually a scam for your crazy uncle Maurice, who hasn't had a job since the Dairy-Whip shut down, to cheat you out of your hard-earned gelt. Every female relative you had when you were a child kept giving you another one - they probably had a thing for Maurice, or something.

The four characters on the sides are abbreviations for the phrase 'a great miracle happened here' (according to most accepted accounts), but much more importantly and more believably, they mean this: Nun (nisht - zilch, nada); Gimel (gontz - all, ergo jackpot, take all); Hei (halb - half the jackpot); Shin (shtelln - add another greenback to the pot).
A great miracle has happened if you don’t lose a couple of hundred bucks to Maurice.

With any luck, it will keep you occupied until some potato pancakes show up.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

PARSHAS VAYEISHEV - Does anyone get their groove back?!?!

Seifer Bereishis (Genesis), psukim (verses) 37:1 through 40.23.

This is one of the more peculiar parshayos in Seifer Bereishis. Yosef is sold to Egypt because he's a pest, Yudah loses children at the drop of a hat, Yakov wails for his son, his son, his precious son! And in the middle of all this, apropos of seemingly nix at all, Tamar has one of the most disturbing sex-lives in the entire Torah.

So what, really, is this parsha about?

At first glance, Yosef is the main character, but the more we read, the more superficial his role becomes. He only functions really to show up the failings of people around him - his brothers, who finally have enough of him; his father, who should've learned from the family history that having favourites among the kinderlech brings nothing but trouble; Potiphar, who learns that his wife is not exactly an ideal help-mate; and a baker who learns that psycho-analysis does not necessarily bring comfortable answers.

Reuben, however, learns what responsibility is all about.

As the oldest son, he should've prevented the trouble between Yosef and the brothers from reaching the dangerous stage it did. He should've prevented them from taking drastic action. He should've not let their ire at Yosef become a cause for their father's heart-rending grief.

Between this parsha, the next one (Miketz: "At the end of" - psukim 41:1 thru 44:17), and the second Aliyah of Parshas Vayigash ("And he came close" - psukim 44:18 thru 47:27), Reuben learns a lot - specifically, how to take responsibility by being honest and considerate. This is not something he knew at the beginning. It was by his self-interest that things got so out of hand. The change starts with his discovery that Yosef is gone:

And Reuben returned to the pit. Behold, Yosef was not in the pit! And he rent his clothes. And he returned to his brothers, wailing "The child is not, and as for me, where shall I go?"

At this point, the brothers decide not to tell their father the truth, and they concoct a cover up. It works, but such a success one would not wish on one's worst enemy. Here's Yakov, giving voice to his despair:

"Alas, I will go down to Sheol, to my son, grieving!"

And Yakov refused to be comforted.

Then, out of nowhere, a tale is told from start to finish, about Yudah, his three kinderlech, and his daughter in law Tamar. The tale is very disturbing, but it is from this tale that the English language has derived the word onanism. That's one usefull thing we learn from this interruption.

After Tamar finally gives birth to two boys, one of whom will have a notable descendant, we return to Yosef. Maybe we learned something about responsibility along the way? Maybe we should've? Well, Yudah certainly did. This tale was about Yudah not being very responsible, Onan being an absolute putz on responsibility, and Tamar putting them both to shame on the issue. In short, it's about being responsible even if you have to do some strange and unappetizing stuff. So that's a second usefull thing we learn from this interruption.

Yosef, when last we saw him, was a spoiled brat being shlepped off by a bunch of Midianite horse and gofer copers. The tale takes us now to Egypt, where he's learning, somewhat painfully, that being arrogant brings problems. But on the whole, he really doesn't have such a bad time, and the basis is laid for the entire clan heading there in less than a generations time.

Oh, and dreams contain truth, clothes hide the truth. Something like that. I'm not quite sure how to deal with this, so please read the short version of the parsha I've plonked below, and let me know what you make of it. Thanks.

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37:1 And Yakov dwelt in the land of his father's transience, in the land of Kana'an.
37:2 These are the generations of Yakov: Yosef, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brothers, still a lad along with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives; and Yosef brought evil report of them to their father.
[ Note: four mothers, as the result of the rivalry between two women. And Yosef happily being a tale-bearer, currying favour with his dad. ]
37:3 Now Yisroel loved Yosef more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age; and he made him a robe of many colours.
[ Favouritism, which also caused the problem between siblings in previous generations of the family But here are more players, and the situation is much more complex ]
37:4 And when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him.
[ The plurality of mothers makes the favouritism of the father stand out, and Yosef makes sure to make it all the more galling. Spoiled brat. ]
37:5 And Yosef dreamed a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him yet the more.
[ Now what purpose might a younger brother have, telling a dream with such arrogant and disturbing symbolism to his brothers? Better to have kept silent. But Yosef has not yet learned discretion. ]
37:6 And he said to them 'Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed.
[ The "dream-theme". ]
37:7 va hine we were binding sheaves in the field, va hine, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; va hine, your sheaves came round about, and bowed down to my sheaf'.
[ A sheaf is a collective, a metaphor for a tribe. Va hine = And behold, and look, and lo! Now see here. Looky! ]

37:8 And his brothers said to him 'will you indeed reign over us? or will you indeed have dominion over us?' And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words.
[ They recognized the arrogance of the dream, rather, the arrogance in the speaking of the dream But had not their father's dream of the ladders been also arrogant? Indeed, but not towards others ]
37:9 And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it to his brothers, and said 'Behold, I have dreamed yet a dream va hine, the sun and the moon and eleven stars bowed down to me'.
[ Yet Yosef adds to the arrogance. At this point, his brothers are really starting to hate him. ]

37:10 And he told it to his father, and to his brothers; and his father rebuked him, and said to him 'What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow down to you to the earth?'.
[ And expands it outward by also telling his father ]

37:13 And Yisroel said to Yosef 'Do not your brothers feed the flock in Shechem? Come, and I will send you to them'. And he said to him 'Here I am'.
[ If they are in Shechem with the flock, why are you still here? ]
37:14 And he said to him 'Go now, see whether it is well with your brothers, and well with the flock; and bring me back word'. So he sent him out of the plain of Hebron, and he came to Shechem.
[ But rather than do any actual work, observe them and report back to me - as that is a task you are well suited for. ]

37:18 And they saw him afar off, and before he came near to them, they conspired against him to slay him.
37:19 And they said one to another 'Behold, the dreamer comes'.
37:20 Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into one of the pits, and we will say 'An evil beast has devoured him; and we shall see what will become of his dreams'.
[ Bor = Pit. Plural: Borot. From this in English the word bore, with the same and similar meanings. ]
37:21 And Reuben heard it, and delivered him out of their hand, and said 'Let us not take his life'.
[ And think, if we kill one of our own now, what will we do when our father is gone, and some of us might have enemies. ]
37:22 And Reuben said to them 'Shed no blood; cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness, but lay no hand upon him' --that he might deliver him out of their hand, to restore him to his father.
[ But why Reuben? And why this? Reuben, because the first-born has to be the model of responsibility And saving his brother, because he has to be a model of responsibility to all his brothers - his responsibility is to all of them. ]

37:23 And it came to pass, when Yosef was come to his brothers, that they stripped Yosef of his coat, the coat of many colours that was on him,
[ Even the coat becomes a reminder of the arrogance. ]

37:24 and they took him, and cast him into the pit--and the pit was empty, there was no water in it.
[ Poor grazing land, if the bottom of a well is dry. Or not a very deep well. ]

37:26 And Yudah said to his brothers 'What gain is it if we slay our brother and conceal his blood?
37:27 Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother, our flesh' And his brothers listened to him.
[ Sell him to the Arabs ]
37:28 And there passed by Midianite merchants and they pulled and lifted up Yosef out of the pit, and sold Yosef to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. And they took Yosef into Egypt.
[ By Midianites is meant the kin of Yethro - Dwellers in the wastes between the Negev and Mitzraim But why a distinction between Ishmaelites and Midianites? Because in Torah, distinctions are tribal, not racial And the tribal traditions are the points of conflict, not the racial characteristics. ]
37:29 And Reuben returned to the pit; va hine, Yosef was not in the pit; and he rent his clothes.
[ Rent his clothes - As a sign of mourning. ]

37:30 And he returned to his brothers, and said 'The child is not; and as for me, where shall I go?'
[ As the youngest, a child. Hence the term yeled. Ha yeled einenu = the child (he) is utterly not! Ein indicates absence. And Reuven, as the oldest, knows that he has failed in his repsonsibility. But in conspiring to cover up, for as long as they do not know the fate of Yosef, the remaining brothers become a distinctly disfunctional family. It is evident, from their dipping the coat, that they have no reason to assume that anything other than the worst happened. So instead of going back and saying to their father Yakov "it was through our foolishness and irresponsibility our brother died", they decide instead to say "we do not know what happened, but you may assume that he died". ]
37:31 And they took Yosef's coat, and killed a billy goat, and dipped the coat in the blood;
37:32 and they took the coat of many colours, and brought it to their father, saying 'This have we found; know whether it is your son's coat or not'.
[ That coat of favouritism becomes the very medium of the unhappy message. ]

37:33 And he knew it, and said 'It is my son's coat; an evil beast has devoured him; Yosef is
without doubt torn in pieces'.
[ Metaphorically, precisely so - Midianites and Ishmaelites, twenty shekels. ]
37:34 And Yakov rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days.
[ And cloth, again, bears a message. ]

37:35 And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted, and said 'Alas, I will go down to Sheol, to my son, mourning'. And his father wept for him.
[ I would search for my son to the ends of the earth, even to the underworld if I could, because I so deeply want my son returned to me. Sheol is a place of silence and dust, where the dead go for eternity. The theme of a parent going to the underworld is mirrored in Greek and Sumerian legends. Sorrow for a child resonates alike in different cultures. ]
37:36 And the Midianites sold him into Egypt, to Potiphar, an officer of the Pharaoh, the captain of the guard.


38:1 And it happened at that time, that Yudah went away from his brothers, and started hanging out with a certain Adullamite, whose name was Hirah.

38:5 And she yet again bore a son, and called his name Shelah; and he was at Chezib, when she bore him.
[ So, by this time, nearly three years have passed since Yudah 'went in' to Shua. ]
38:6 And Yudah took a wife for Er his first-born, and her name was Tamar.
[ And dozen years at least, probably more, since the incident with Yosef and the pit. ]

38:7 And Er, Yudah's first-born, was wicked in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD slew him.
[ Yudah's son is taken from him, as Yakov's son Yosef was from him. Why so, even though Yosef was not dead? Because Yudah proposed to sell Yosef - if he can not value the son of his own father, and love his brother, can one assume that he appreciates his own son, the son of his wife? ]
38:8 And Yudah said to Onan 'Go in to your brother's wife, and perform the duty of a husband's brother to her, and raise up seed to your brother'
[ Onan must've been at least thirteen, maybe older. So at this point, it has been around fifteen years at least since that incident with Yosef and the pit. ]

38:9 And Onan knew that the seed would not be his; and it came to pass when he went in to his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest he should give seed to his brother
[ Neither does Onan value the son of his own father, or love his brother Nor does he honour his parentz by dishonouring the obligation, and to boot, he uses but does not respect his wife. ]
38:10 And the thing which he did was evil in the sight of the LORD; and He slew him also.
38:11 Then said Yudah to Tamar his daughter-in-law 'Remain a widow in your father's house, till Shelah my son be grown up'; for he said 'Lest he also die, like his brothers' And Tamar went and dwelt in her father's house.
[ So Shelah was significantly younger, and Yudah feared for him, thinking that Tamar was somehow the cause of the deaths of the other two. And Tamar is asked to dwell apart from the last boy. ]

38:12 And in process of time Shua's daughter, the wife of Yudah, died; and Yudah was comforted, and went up to his sheep-shearers to Timnah, he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite.
[ Yudah loses two sons as a parallel to Yakov losing one son, and loses his wife as a match to his wife losing a son over a wife and his daughter in law not having a husband. Not precisely the picture of the the ideal family here. Yudah is now alone, except for a son whom he wants to protect until adulthood, being his remaining seed, a widow daughter in law for whom he has to provide, though he fears that she will not be fortunate for him or his progeny (or else he would've wed the last son to her), and his friend Hirah, his drinking buddy and homeboy for over a decade and a half. ]

38:14 And she put off from her the clothes of her widowhood, and covered herself with her veil, and wrapped herself, and sat in the entrance of Enaim, which is by the way to Timnah, for she saw that Shelah was grown up, and she had not been given to him as wife.
[ She may have been significantly older than Shelah, even if she had been younger than Er. But if she is not to have Shelah as a wife, what is to become of her? And will she be able to find another mate, now that she is no longer prime marriage material, and associated with two dead husbands besides? If she is to remain a widow, how will Shelah provide for her when he inherits from his father? She'll be mere bagage then, with none to advocate for her. If Yudah will not do the honourable thing and marry her to Shelah now, why assume that Shelah will ever even take care of her in the future? ]
38:15 When Yudah saw her, he thought her to be a harlot; for she had covered her face.
Because covering the face allows anonymity.

38:17 And he said 'I will send you a kid of the goats from the flock' And she said 'Will you give me a pledge until you send it?'
38:18 And he said 'What pledge shall I give you ?' And she said 'your signet and your cord, and your staff that is in your hand' And he gave them to her, and came in to her, and she conceived by him.
38:19 And she arose, and went away, and put off her veil from her, and put on the clothes of her widowhood.
38:20 And Yudah sent the kid of the goats by the hand of his friend the Adullamite, to receive the pledge from the woman's hand; but he found her not
[ Why did he send his friend? Was he ashamed? But consider, had he himself gone, and been questioned about his journey by kin or associates, he would've had to lie. But his friend could, if questioned, say that he was there on behalf of a friend, without lying. ]

38:23 And Yudah said 'Let her take it, lest we be put to shame; behold, I sent this kid, and you have not found her'
[ Let us not court shame - if she has the pledges, she can redeem them. We have made a good-faith attempt to requite them. ]

38:24 And it came to pass about three months after, that it was told Yudah, saying 'Tamar your daughter-in-law has played the harlot, and even worse, look! She is with child by harlotry'. And Yudah said 'Bring her forth, and let her be burnt'.
[ Because this concerns the honour of the family, and brings shame on everyone that Yudah claims as kin, and would even affect Shelah's chances of a decent shiduch. ]
38:25 When she was brought forth, she sent to her father-in-law, saying 'By the man whose these are I am with child'. And she said 'Note, I beg of you, whose these are - the signet, the cords, and the staff'.
[ Thus proving that she went and got, from the family into which she married, that which they had not given her - another generation for that family, and her right to the respect that they had denied her. ]
38:26 And Yudah acknowledged them, and said 'She is more righteous than I, forasmuch as I gave her not to Shelah my son'. And he knew her again no more.
[ And Yudah gets a continuation of his family, as an object lesson, in part assuaging of the loss of two sons ]

38:27 And it came to pass in the time of her travail, that, behold, twins were in her womb.
[ What, more twins! Does this never stop!?! ]

38:28 And it came to pass, when she was in labour, that one stuck out a hand; and the midwife took and bound on his wrist a scarlet thread, saying 'This came out first'.
38:29 And it came to pass, as he drew back his hand, that, behold his brother came out, and she said 'Why did you blaze a trail for yerself?' So his name was Peretz.
[ For having set forth first - Ma paratzta aleicha paretz, va yikra shemo peretz. ]


39:1 And Yosef was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh's, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hand of the Ishmaelites, that had brought him down thither
[ But in this we go back in time again - not 'meanwhile, back at the ranch', but 'elsewhere and back when'. ]

39:2 And the LORD was with Yosef, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.
[ For one's status is with one's master - the servant of a ditch digger has less status that a ditch digger, the servant of a donkey driver has the smell of his trade on his shoes. ]
39:3 And his master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand.
[ Meaning that his master saw that he was capable and intelligent, and worth reposing trust in. ]

39:4 And Yosef found favour in his sight, and he ministered to him And he appointed him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand.
[ Butler to the captain of the guard of Pharaoh, with much trust reposed in him. ]
39:5 And it came to pass from the time that he appointed him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the LORD blessed the Egyptian's house for Yosef's sake; and the blessing of the LORD was upon all that he had, in the house and in the field.
[ The captain of the guard had no reason to distrust Yosef, nor to regret in any way appointing him overseer. ]
39:6 And he left all that he had in Yosef's hand; and, having him, he knew not aught save the bread which he did eat And Yosef was of beautiful form, and fair to look upon.
[ Because he was still young - being still, as his brother Reuven put it, a 'yeled'. ]

39:7 And it came to pass after these things, that his master's wife cast her eyes upon Yosef; and she said 'Lie with me'.
[ A young beautiful boy, who was always in her eyes, while her lord was often elsewhere And the wives of powerful men, having little to occupy them, stray easily. She may well have been a rancid old hag by then, but as the wife of a powerful man, she knew she was beautiful. ]
39:8 But he refused, and said to his master's wife 'Behold, my master, having me, does not know all the details of the house, and he has put all that he has into my hand,
[ Yosef explains why he cannot breach the trust his master reposes in him, thus indirectly telling the wife of his master that she should act in a like manner. ]
39:9 he is not greater in this house than I, neither has he kept back any thing from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?'
[ It is not good to lecture your boss's wife. And if she is already known to have a shaky ethical sense, how much more likely that you will regret lecturing her! No common sense, that boy. Still as dumb and as arrogant as the day he was sold. ]
39:10 And it came to pass, as she spoke to Yosef day by day, that he hearkened not to her, to lie by her, or to be with her.
[ Here we see that her particular arrogance is not to deviate from her own deviant self-indulgences. ]

39:11 And it came to pass on a certain day, when he went into the house to do his work, and there were none of the men of the house inside,
[ Even less common sense - he should've at all times made sure of a chaperone. Honesty must be seen. ]

39:12 that she caught him by his garment, saying 'Lie with me'. And he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out.
[ And the garment will tell a false tale, like the previous garment which marked the favour measured him. ]
39:14 that she called to the men of her house, and spoke to them, saying 'See, he has brought in a Hebrew to us to mock us; he came to me to lie with me, and I yelled'.
[ And by the evidence of the garment, a new version of events is spun. But in neither case does the garment truly reflect reality. ]

39:16 And she kept his garment by her, until his master came home.
39:17 And she spoke to him these words, saying 'That Hebrew servant, whom you brought to us, came to me to mock me'.
[ She casts the blame directly at her husband - he brought in the Hebrew servant, it was his servant, whom he so respected, that acted so! Potiphar, you putz! ]

39:19 And it came to pass, when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spoke to him, saying 'After this manner did your servant to me'; that his wrath was kindled.
[ But was he angy at Yosef, or at his wife? The name Yosef does not occur in this sentence, there is still hope. ]
39:20 And Yosef's master took him, and put him into the prison where the king's prisoners were bound, and there he was in the prison.
[ Sorry, no hope! Potty had no choice but to believe his wife, even if others could vouch for Yosef's character. Could an impulsive man have risen to captain of the guard, or stayed long in that position? But if no one spoke for Yosef, why did not Yosef speak for himself? Because if he wasn't believed by the Captain, yet still told other's of what the captain's wife had done, he would've been a weakness to the captain - would he have survived long? Perhaps, in realization of his peril, he kept his mouth shut. ]
39:21 But the LORD was with Yosef, and showed kindness to him, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.
[ In a place where all orders are obeyed, and hierarchy distinguishes between even those being 'punished'… ]

39:22 And the keeper of the prison committed to Yosef's hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatever they did there, he was the doer of it.
[ This, and the previous psook, indicate that the failing of the captain's wife was a shadow known to the captain, and to the keeper of the prison - one who betrays a trust is not given a second chance again quite so soon. ]
39:23 The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand, because the LORD was with him; and that which he did, the LORD made it to prosper.
[ That a prisoner is so trusted, in a place and a hierarchy where misplaced trust will have extreme consequences, and yet where there will be so much temptation to slip, is not easily otherwise explained. ]

40:1 And it came to pass after these things, that the butler of the king of Egypt and his baker offended their lord the king of Egypt.
[ See, even the inner servants of the Pharaoh have reason to fear slip ups and consequences - how much more so a 'mere prisoner'? ]
40:2 And Pharaoh was pissed at his two officers, against the chief of the butlers, and against the chief of the bakers.
40:3 And he put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, into the prison, the place where Yosef was bound.
[ Thus showing that, in fact, the prison was one of the areas under the control of the captain of the guard, and so here is more substantiation for the idea that the captain of the guard knew of his wife's weakness, and still trusted Yosef. ]
40:4 And the captain of the guard charged Yosef to be with them, and he ministered to them, and they continued a season in ward
[ Chou En-Lai, during the cultural revolution, had scholars and artists for whose safety and well-being he had especial reasons to fear, locked up in certain prisons over which his office had control. While conditions were believably unpleasant, there was enough food, red guards were kept at bay, and medical care was as good as outside at that time Many prisoners later felt tha, but for being in those jails, they would have perished, and were grateful to premier Chou ever afterwards for saving them. A prison can be a safe environment. The captain of the guards wife might have good reason to fear if Yosef survived, and a powerful women can be very dangerous. ]

40:5 And they dreamed a dream both of them, each man his dream in one night, each man according to the interpretation of his dream, the butler and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were bound in the prison.

40:8 And they said to him 'We have dreamed a dream, and there is none that can interpret it' . And Yosef said to them 'do not interpretations belong to God? Tell it me, I pray you'.
40:9 And the chief butler told his dream to Yosef, and said to him 'In my dream, behold, a vine was before me,
40:10 and on the vine were three branches; and as it was budding, blossoms shot forth, and clusters thereof brought forth ripe grapes,
[ A metaphor of the passage of time in stages ]
40:11 and Pharaoh's cup was in my hand; and I took the grapes, and pressed them into Pharaoh's cup, and I gave the cup into Pharaoh's hand'.
[ And a result at the end of that time. ]

40:13 within three days Pharaoh shall uplift you and restore you to your office, and you shall give Pharaoh's cup into his hand, as you did before when you were his butler.
[ Things will flourish again, as they did before. ]
40:14 But have me in your remembrance when it shall be well with you, and be kind, I pray, to me, and mention me to Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house.

40:16 When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was good, he said to Yosef 'I also saw in my dream, va hine, three baskets of white bread were on my head,
[ Three units of time, but not a progression - this ain't good. ]
40:17 and in the uppermost basket there was of all manner of baked food for Pharaoh; and the birds ate them right out of the basket on my head'
[ The purpose will not come to fruition, but will be wasted, as if for naught ]
40:18 And Yosef answered and said 'This is the interpretation thereof the three baskets are three days;
[ The measure of time ]
40:19 within three days shall Pharaoh lift up your head from off you, and shall hang you on a tree, and the birds shall eat your flesh from off you '
[ It's for the birds. ]

40:20 And it came to pass on the third day, which was Pharaoh's birthday, that he made a feast to all his servants and he lifted up the head of the chief butler and the head of the chief baker among his servants
40:21 And he restored the chief butler again to his butlership and he gave the cup into Pharaoh's hand
40:22 But he hanged the chief baker, as Yosef had explained to them
40:23 But the chief butler did not remember Yosef, but forgot him.
[ No happy ending yet. But remember how things with Yudah turned out better than could've been expected? ]


Jacob Israël DeHaan

One of the more baffling figures involved in Zionism was the Dutch poet Jacob Israël DeHaan, who was assassinated under circumstances which are not entirely clear. It is evident in his writings that, despite having settled in the land after WWI, he was ambivalent at best over Zionism, and zionist politics. He was probably also ambivalent religiously and sexually.

I present a very brief outline of his life and work below.

Jacob Israël DeHaan
Dutch author and poet.
Born in Kloosterveen in 1881.
Died in Jerusalem in 1924.

Joined the SDAP (Social Democratic Labourers Party) in 1903, after forsaking his religion.
First book published in 1904. Married 1907. Fired from his teaching position in 1908.
Returned to Judaism in 1910, and became a Zionist.
Settled in the holy land after WW1.
Employed as college lecturer in Jerusalem, also correspondent of the Algemeen Handelsblad.
Eventually left the Zionist movement and started working for the Anti-Zionist Daily Express.
Murdered in 1924 by Awraham T'homi on orders of the Hagana.

Major works:
Pijpelijntjes (1904)
Pathologieën (1908)
Het joodsche lied (1915)
Liederen (1917)
Kwatrijnen (1924)
Ondergangen (posthumously published 1984)

A conflicted personality is evident in his work, but his poems have a natural quality and rhythmic cohesion that make them easy to read (even though difficult to translate).
He is probably one of the semi-greats of Dutch literature.

In the poem 'Zeventien Tammoez' (17th. Tammuz) he sets the stage by mentioning the siege of Jerusalem by the armies of Titus. This he then links to the struggle for national survival, the agony of exile, and Jewish isolation in a Gentile world, as reflected in three weeks of austerities and remembering.

In the first half of the poem the march of his metaphoric feet is as follows: the final siege, resistance, warrior Jews ('strijdende Joden' - a shimmering image that several decades later would gain resonance), defeat, exile, wandering, and the passage of cruel centuries.

The later half of the poem touches briefly on ideas of vengeance and requital before veering off into a tortured, shadowy descriptus of daemonic persecution. His sole defense against that evil consists of devotional love and prayer, which he describes as constructing a divine wall around the heart. The poem ends in supplication: "Lord, into your holy hands I deliver my soul, my songs. Give me peace (*)."
[* What I have translated here as peace, can also mean restfulness, quiet, calm. The Dutch word 'rust' is all of these.]

I reproduce the poem below.
[I cannot even translate my own pale poetizing - how should I attempt this stronger stuff? I can't, I shan't, and I do not apologize.]

Zeventien Tammoez

Dezen dag werd het laatst beleg geslagen
Door Titus om 't Heilig Jeruzalem,
Die met zijn legioenen, ijzren klem
De stad wreed worgde in een-en-twintig dagen.

Dit zijn de Drie Weken, dat wij geen stap
Door 't leven gaan, zonder dat ons het leed
Van Jeruzalem aan de harten vreet,
Tot aan den vastendag van Negen Ab.

Dit zijn de Drie Weken, dat wij maar schamel
Maaltijd houden; bij het aldaaglijksch brood
Bidden wij, dat God ons uit onze nood
Van de vier hoeken der aarde verzamel.

Dit is de tijd, dat Bar-Cogiba later
Tegen Romeinen met zijn leger stond.
Het leger viel. Over heiligen grond
Spoelden Romeinen bloed als waardloos water.

Ons laatste leger. Van strijdende Joden
Verschenen nooit meer benden in het veld,
Het Volk verging. Zij zwerven veel-gekweld
Die eeuwen lang voor wreede volken vloden.

Vijanden van 't Heilig Jéroecholojiem
Die één Volk voortdrijft met dreunende horden,
Mijn Lied weent wraak. Mogen uw steden worden
Gelijk Sedom, Amore, Adma, Zebojiem.

Dit zijn Weken, dat tusschen tien en drie,
Verdervende dwaalt, die naar lusten loert,
En meer dan duizend duivels kwaad volvoert,
Duistere Demon, Kétèf Merierie.

Behoedt uw Heil, dat Kétèf niet verderve
Uw hart met lust erger dan tergend leed,
Dat gij niet wetten en rechten vergeet,
Dat niet uw ziel een eeuwigen dood sterve.

Rondom mijn hart bouw ik een heilge muur,
Die Kétèf niet breekt, van Liefde en gebed.
Gods naamletter draag ik als amulet
Op mijn hart, dat ik niet valle in het Vuur,

Het eeuwig wentlende. Geen oogwenk sust
Het druischend woeden van zijn purper branden.
Mijn hart klopt snel. Heer, in uw Heilge Handen
Leg ik mijn ziel, mijn Liedren. Geef mij rust.

--- --- --- --- --- ---

Yes yes, I know, the seventeen days aren't for several months. But to me this poem is also peculiarly evocative of influenza - disaster, doom, a daemon, with fire, frustration, and tortured rest. And that certainly describes last weekend.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Yeah, sure.

A well-known book company from whom I purchase occassionally has sent me an e-mail advertising a compass that defies the laws of nature, and which, wherever I am, will point to Jerusalem.

Always to Jerusalem. From anywhere on the globe.

How many are willing to accept this claim without asking how it works?

Can I see a show of hands?

Apparently, this miracle gadget is indispensible when davening mincha. It is non-electric, has no computer chips, and no circuitry. And it's patented!

Pardon my French.......

Heck, pardon my skepticism. I know of only two directions that can be determined without electricity and computer chips.
One is magnetic north, the other is down (f&#*!!!, I just dropped a computer on my foot!!!).

Now, any rational person would have questions. Here's three to start:
1. How can something defy nature?
2. You say it's patented....., how can something which defies nature (and is therefore demonstrably neither provable, nor mechanically possible) be patented?
3. If it really defies the laws of nature, isn't it witchcraft? This is kosher?

This is the home site for the product in question:

Here are the haskamos:
[Haskamic letters from Rabbi Joseph Liberman, Moshe Halbershtam, Moshe Sternbuch]

And here is the site which takes the whole issue of a magic miracle compass to task.
Please note, it does not in way state or imply that the rebbeyim who approve of this thing are deficient in any way, so it isn't lashon hara to click on this link and read it.http://observantastronomer.blogspot.com/2005/11/incredible-jerusalem-compass.html

The site mentioned above (observant astronomer) does an excellent job of pursuing the matter. So, rather than explaining some basic rules of science, which all of y'all ought to know (they were in some way taught in your high-schools, weren't they?), I'll just recommend that you cruise into his blog. Here it is again: http://observantastronomer.blogspot.com/

Now, I'll admit that being wrong is a privilege to which I feel everyone is entitled, and that rebbeyim are to be asked questions regarding halacha, not science (because that is not their strong suit), and that in fact there have been rebbeyim who are scientifically trained (okay, here's three: the Vilna Gaon, Rebbe Schneerson, and.... SLIFKIN!), so the fact that a gadol says something that at first glance seems to be stark raving bonkers does not prove anything, the gdolic statement should be carefully studied so that it's full meaning can be grasped.

That being said, a compass that defies nature and invariably points to Yerushalayim, from where ever the owner finds him or herself, is absolutely impossible.

For anyone who doubts this, I'm not going to bother explaining high-school level science; there are plenty of good reference books out there, and if you go through the texts you had to use for "English" when you were at Yeshiva, you're sure to find at least one not written by a rabbi.

Maybe you shouldn't have sold those books down the street the moment you got a passing grade in enough 'English' that you could ignore it the rest of the year, huh?

You might find some of those books fairly usefull now.

Trust me on this: a product such as the one described above (with no circuitry and electricity, and which defies the laws of nature) does not exist.

Yes, I realize that there are many kind and good people, much better people in fact than myself (I am often neither kind nor particularly "good") who are willing to push scepticism aside, and accept that Jewish scientists can invent miraculous devices that the goyishe velt knows not of.
Please grow up. You're making everybody else look stupid by association, and we're a little bit embarrassed to be seen with you. If you have to be a credulous dunce, why don't you join J4J, or the Southern Baptists, or the Pentecostals.... they'll be glad to have you, and we'll stifle our tears at your departure, and we'll wish you well in your new life, with your new family.

--- --- --- --- --- ---

On the other hand, if you are nevertheless that righteous and serious that you insist that the world is flat (or a reasonable approximate thereof), that six days (or an exact approximate thereof) define how the universe came into being, and that the sun rotates around Yerushalayim (which is the precise and ordained centre of the universe, according to Chazal), please enter your credit card account numbers and bill-to addresses in the comments, so that I can try to seriously address your concerns.

I promise I'll look at each and everyone of your comments with the utmost attention!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Mahmud Ahmedinejad and his evil twin skippy

Reading about Iranian President Ahmedinejad's meshune comments this past week felt distinctly odd...

Reason being that I've heard variations on his ideas for years. That, coupled with the report that when he was addressing an international meeting of Muslims a while back, he felt a divine light illuminate him, and the delegates sat there in breathless, silent rapture listening to his words.

Now, I could make a stretched comparison to the prophet Amos......

But instead, because I'm lazy and really not all that intelligent, I'll go for the cheap trick, and do my own variation on his themes.

- - - - - - - - - - -


Please pretend, for a moment, that I am the "antiAhmedinejad".
And that this is his speech.


"...Ehhem! The idea of Palestinian victimhood is a myth foisted upon the world by the Arabs, who seek to cover up two facts - the first fact being that there is no such thing as a Palestinian people; they are the descendants of opportunists and adventurers who moved into Mandate Palestine to take advantage of the safety provided by British administration after the collapse of the Ottoman empire, and the economic opportunities provided by resurgent Jewish life in the land. These alleged Palestinians in no way have the characteristics of a nation, a tribe, or even an ethnic group, being composed of transient Greek adventurers, Armenians, Gopts fleeing Egyptian oppression, Albanian mercenaries, Circassians, Turks, Kazars, Persians, Syrians, and Iraqis, Bedouin from the Sinai, and others - all the rootless flotsam of the Ottoman empire.

Zionism is, as the Hashemite King Abdallah said, the best thing that ever happened to the holy land, because it finally made what had been a malarial backwater bloom as it never had during Ottoman times, and restored a population to the most underpopulated part of the entire Middle-East. "


"The second fact is that the misery of the alleged Palestinians is due entirely to the ruinous policies of Arab countries, who as their very first act, after the declaration of the state of Israel, invaded the land, intent on despoiling her cities, raping her populace, and seizing territory for themselves. They further covered up their own ineptitude and gross greed by lying to their own people, for nearly sixty years, about their military failures against Israel and each other, and their corrupt and extortionate politics in their own realms and fiefdoms.

These Arabs, these venal bullies - they have succeeded in fooling not only their own people, but also the citizens of Europe, Iran, and Berkeley, with this golden vision, this pipe-dream, of a mythic Palestine once Judenrein, which they profess to want to restore.

After sixty years, this cock-eyed fantasy should have exhausted its appeal. And it is no more than a fantasy. There never was a Palestinian people, there still isn't, and there probably will never be such a people. They remain the mixed bag of wanderers and economic migrants that they always ever were.

But let us assume that this Arab-concocted fable has some emotional appeal to the Arabs and other Muslims. It has long permitted them to blame their failures on Israel, and it has served to absolve their venal politicians from every scandal for just as long, provided that they also made sure to blame Israel. All this for more than three generations. "


"Evenso, if there should be a Palestinian homeland, if there even might exist this fairy-tale people called 'Palestinians', why should it be foisted upon Israel?

What have the Jews done that they should be burdened so?

The Palestinian problem, if there even is one, is solely the responsibility of the Arabs, who fortunately have much open space and empty land with which this issue might be solved once and for all. There's an arc of Arab territory stretching over a thousand miles from Kurdistan to the Maghreb, scarcely occupied, which could definitely use the talents of a people who are arguably more educated than most of their coreligionists, certainly more businesslike and extrovert. Pushy and enterprising, even. These are good qualities.

The belt of Arab land stretches far up the Nile and deep into Africa, which is where so many of them came from anyway. There are Arab zones inside Persia that extend into Baluchistan and Afghanistan. There are the banlieus of Paris and Brussels. With such choices, why would they even want any part of a land which has, charitably, been described by eighteenth and nineteenth century travellers as "a flea-infested wasteland" and "a desolate landscape with nary a palm-tree to break the monotony". "


"Why would they (the alleged Palestinians) want any part of that?

Why do they, instead, lust so after that narrow coastal strip, the least portion of the old British Mandate of Palestine territory?

Because the Arab nation rejected them.

No-one in the Arab-world wanted these so-called Palestinians living anywhere near them, and so they are forced to live in squalid ghettoes, scattered over Lebanon, Jordan, and Mesopotamia.

Is this what good Muslims really want for their claimed brothers? Should they be relegated to filthy overcrowded camps, not allowed to take jobs, despised and exploited by the surrounding Arabs (who clearly do not recognize them as kin), and kept poor and downtrodden merely to prove the idealistic fantasy that they do not belong there, and do not deserve any part of the comfort and security that civilized Arab society offers its own people?"


"Nevertheless, far better that this mythic Palestinian homeland be located somewhere in the Islamic world than the holy land -- the now Jew-free mellahs of North Africa come to mind, as do the old Sephardic neighborhoods of Tunis and Libia - even the neighborhoods of Cairo and Alexandria whose Jewish residents were stripped of their citizenship and cast out.

Or perhaps they could live in the houses that were taken from Jews in Baghdad, Damascus, Aleppo, or Tripoli. Even Teheran. Do not return those houses to the Jews who were forced to flee sixty years ago, as they can not come back, having for so long suppressed all the love they logically must have once had for their former homes - instead give them to the Circassians and Albanians living in squalid camps in Lebanon. "

["Or even settle them in Malaysia - a lush tropic paradise filled with the indolent descendants of Sumatran and Javan colonists, who would be overjoyed to at last claim to outnumber the Chinese - it would finally give Mahathir Mohammad the Islamite majority that he and his fellow "Malays" have always dreamed of, in that garden peninsula that Bugis adventurers, Bornean pirates, and British mercenaries wrested from the VOC and Siam."]


"Why should the Jewish world have to pay for these "Palestinians"? Why should they pay again? They've paid too much already, they've paid twice, three times over, and more!

Why should Jews be burdened by Arabs?

After all, it is an Arab problem.

The Arabs should welcome their "brothers", about whose suffering they have spoken so eloquently. Surely they would wish to provide their "cousins" and "fellow Arabs" the comfort of life in the warm embrace of the Arab world - the self-same Arab nation which yearns to soothe them? "


"But if not in the Arab world - some "Palestinians" might understandably be hesitant to live among a people who have for so long treated them as outcastes - then somewhere in France would be best - there are already many millions of Arabs in France, so that country has well proven itself an environment in which Muslims can thrive. Their fellow Franco-Islamics will undoubtedly be more than willing to show them the ropes, and help them adapt to their new and glorious lives in the very heart of civilized, liberal, nearly Judenrein Europe. As will all those Europeans who's piles have bled for so long, and so passionately, on behalf of the "Palestinians".

Wherever these people are settled is unimportant, even the United Nations would applaud - as at last the longest running refugee crisis in the world would be solved, by the very nations that had caused it."

- - - - - - - - - - -

I can already hear the approving applause of the Europeans, which will surely come after the 'antiAhmedinejad' delivers this speech in Strasbourg. Then on to Cairo, where the Arab masses will exult over this perfect solution. Soon hordes of "Palestinians" will enjoy the European sea-shores in summer, ski the Alps in winter, and contribute mightily to the European societies of which they will have become a well-appreciated part.
Thanks to socially conscious, progressive, sympathetic Europeans.

- - - - - - - - - - -

Well, one can dream.
Heh heh heh.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


Enkele gedachtes aangaande de terdoodstelling van Stanley Tookie Williams
Some thoughts regarding the execution of Stanley Tookie Williams

1. De doodstraf word niet ekwietebel toegepast hier in de VS, dus men kan niet over rechtvaardigheid spreken qua doodstraffen hier - zolang er valide vragen zijn over vonnissen en evenredige toepassing, is de ultime straf absoluut niet moreel. Zelfs al meent men dat de doodvonnis ooit te rechtvaardigen is.

1. Death sentences are not applied fairly in this country, so it is not possible to speak of justice as regards penalties - as long as there are valid questions about sentencing and fairness, exacting the ultimate penalty can not be moral. Even if one believes that death penalties can ever be justified.

2. Er is nauwelijks te twijfelen aan zijn schuld, maar daar gaat het niet om. De kwestie is of men gelooft dat een mens redemptie kan hebben. Kan een mens veranderen, in dit geval vooral na idioot lang in de bajes te hebben gezeten? Na een kwart eeuw achter tralies?

2. There is scarce room to doubt his (Tookie's) guilt, but that is not the issue. The issue is whether one believes that people can be redeemed. Can a person change, in this case especially after a ridiculously long time in the slammer? A quarter of a century behind bars?

Zo ge liberaal zijt moet ge wel geloven dat 't kan. Zo ge kristen of joods zijt, moet ge dat wel geloven. Zelfs Schwartzenegger moet dat geloven - hijzelf beweerde veranderd te zijn, lang niet meer de hufter die meiden bij hare billen greep of ranzige opmerkingen jegens vrouwen slingerde . Hij heeft ook beweerd dat zijn nogal pro-Naziistische opvattingen van zijn jeugd allang verdwenen waren.
Hij heeft dus gezegd dat hij een ander mens dan voorheen was, en dat een mens veranderen kan, maar gunt dat blijkbaar geen andere.

If you're a liberal, you have to believe in the possibility of redemption. If you're Christian or Jewish, you have to believe in the possibility of redemption. Even Schwarzenegger has to believe in it - he himself has claimed to have changed, that he is no longer the scumbag who grabbed girls by the postern, or made rancid remarks about women. He has also claimed that the rather pro-Nazi ideas of his youth have long since disappeared.
In other words, he has said that he is a different person than he once was, and that a person can change, but he evidently does not accept someone else could do likewise.

3. Er is meer dan genoeg aanwijs dat Schwarzenegger omwille politieke redenen gekozen heeft geen clemencie te strekken. Het word algemeen aangenomen dat, zo hij clemencie zou hebben verstrekt, hij nog veel meer van zijn wankel support onder de Californische Republiekeinen zou verliezen. Onder die omstandigheden kan gezegd worden dat hij een bias a priori heeft om niet ekwietiebel te wezen - een beslissing geen clemencie te verstrekken is zowiezo verdacht.

3. There is more than enough to suggest that Schwarzenegger chose against clemency because of political considerations. It is commonly accepted that, if he had extended clemency, he would've lost even much more of his now tenuous support among Californian Republicans. Under these circumstances, it can be said that he had prior reasons not to be fair - a decision to not grant clemency is, right off the bat, suspect.

Anders gezegd, daar Schwarzenegger geen juridisch expert is, en niet kon worden verwacht over zulk een geval een evenredig en onpolitiek beslissing te nemen, zou het eerlijker zijn geweest indien hij zich terug getrokken had - het idee van gouverneuriaal clemencie heeft geen betekenis als de gouverneur omwille redenen anders dan humanitaire medeleven beslist.

To put it differently: because Schwarzenegger is no judicial expert, and could not be expected to render a fair and nonpolitical decision about this case, it would have been more honest if he had recused himself - the concept of gubernatorial clemency is meaningless if the governor is going to decide for other than humanitarian reasons.

Blijft de vraag of politiek ons doodvonnis beleid beinvloed. Maar toch slechts een rhetorische vraag - wie denkt dat politiek niets te maken heeft met doodstraffen, heeft mischien een halve eeuw z'n ogen niet open gedaan.
Ras en kleur blijven een enorme invloed hebben op rechtzaken en vonnissen - er is geen staat in de unie waar men niet kan zeggen dat blanken meer malen de dans ontspringen dan gekleurden.
Zwarte mensen krijgen meer op hun donder van zowel politie als justitie dan menig ander groep (en dat, notabene, terwijl in zwarte buurten de overheid vaak de ogen stijf dicht houd wat betreft geweld en roof - de kans om doodgeschoten te worden is zoveel groter voor laten we zeggen een jonge zwarte dan voor een blanke van middelbare leeftijd zoals mijzelf dat het niet te vergelijken is).

Remains the question whether politics influences death-sentence decisions. But that is only a rhetorical question - anyone who thinks that politics has nothing to do with death-sentences has probably not had their eyes open for the last fifty years.
Race and colour continue to have enormous influence on legal cases and sentencing - there is no state in this union where one cannot say that whites escape justice much more often than people of colour.
Blacks are hammered by the police and the justice system more than almost any other group (and that, nota bene, while the authorities often shut their eyes to violence and robbery in black neighborhoods - the chance of being plugged is so much greater for, let us say, a young black man than for a middle-aged white dude such as myself that there is no comparison).

Ja, er is veel dat goed is hier, maar aan ons rechtsysteem valt nog bijzonder veel te sleutelen, veel te verbeteren.
Indien wij hier niet met recht handelen, blijft het moeilijk om andere landen te overtuigen dat ook zij zichzelve verbeteren moeten.

Yes, there is much that is good in this country, but there is still very much fine-tuning that can be done to our justice system, much that can be made better.
If we don't act justly, it remains difficult to convince other countries to improve their own practises.

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Post scriptum:
Steg Dindš (dos iz nit der šteg) , in answer to my question, pointed me in the direction of the Talmudic passage about a cruel court, once every seventy years:

Mishneh Makkos 7a: "A Sanhedrin that executes once in seven years is called a destructive court. Rabbi Eliezar ben Azariah says: Once in 70 years. Rabbi Tarfon and Rabbi Akiva say: If we had been on a Sanhedrin, no one would ever have been executed. Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel remarks: They would then have multiplied the number of murderers in Israel."

Thursday, December 08, 2005


One of the more interesting ideas in the Torah is the para adumah - the red heifer.

In Seifer Bamidbar (Numbers), Parshas Chukas (statutes), psukim (verses) 19:1 through 19:22, where we are told to take a red heifer, without blemish, which must be slaughtered, its blood sprinkled hither and thither by a priest, "ve saraf et ha para le einav, et ora, ve et basara, ve et dama, al pirsha yisrof" (verse 5: and then the heifer shall be burnt in his sight - her skin, and her flesh, and her blood, with her dung, shall be burnt), "ve lakach ha kohen etz erez ve ezov u sheni tolaat, ve hishlich el toch serefat ha para" (verse 6: and the priest shall take cedar, and hyssop, and crimson, and cast it into the middle of the burning of the heifer).

Anyhow, kitsuro shel davar, the ashes of the heifer and all the precious substances which were also thrown into the fire are then mixed with living water (mayim chayim: water from a pool, spring, or river), and the resultant soup has great purificatory powers, and can be used to cleanse and re-sanctify.

So far, so good. Liquids in the Torah are often conduits for purity in one direction, impurity in the other direction. Shoyn.

Burnt cow soup is only slightly more meshune....

But now it gets a little strange......., bear with me. In order to rebuild the Beis HaMikdash (the Temple in Jerusalem), some of this red heifer-ade is going to be needed.

And the people who seriously want to build the third temple are trying to breed a cow which is scarlet in colour (why not just plain lentil-soup hued? Well, they are fixating on perfection, and on the impossible, totally overlooking the likelihood that Semitic languages might use certain exaggerated terms and hyperbole, heaven forefend and chasvechollilleh!!! Adumah does NOT describe the colour of Yakov's pottage, but of Eisav's fiery beard. So there, you kofer!).

In this odd pursuit, they are being assisted by Christian Fundies who want to speed the apocalypse, bring on the rapture, and cause the damnation and eternal burning of everybody except the 'select' (very narrowly defined as themselves and their congressleite).
Meaning of course you, me, our kinfolk, and every one who isn't a Bahble thumpin' moron, from here to Pluto - including the observant Jews with whom these baptocretins are engaged in sacred cattle-breeding.

You might think this is just a little bit loopy, and surely the author of this blog is smoking crack, so I'm providing clickable links below.

Particularly note the chapter entitled: The Tenth Red Heifer.

More of the same, description of the program.

From the kindly folks over at Rapture Ready, who really want you to burn, as can be read here:
Go ahead, browse, have a ball.

This one has American flag wallpaper! Hallelujah!

This one tells you everything you want to know, without going too far into deep-space.

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Interestingly enough, and almost certainly purely coincidental, in early Chinese beliefs a red cow, of an even hue and free of blemishes, was considered the perfect sacrifice.

What is odd is that even at that time (two to three millennia ago) the Chinese were not really into cattle; that was always more a concern of the barbarians from the wastes. But if you go back far enough, both the Hsia dynasty and the Zhou had barbarian connections, and their rituals were in part influenced by the non-Sinitic cultures of the nomads on the border (note for instance the recurrence of the graph for sheep as a building block of other graphs dealing with matters philosophical, ritual, ethical).

The idea of the red cow as suitable for purificatory sacrifices is probably a survival of that influence.

--- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---

I'll be keeping my eyes open for further developments, as purely on an anthropological level this obsession is fascinating.

Still, I sincerely hope that in breeding for colour, the fundamentalists don't overlook texture and taste.

The flavour is all in the marbling.

TORAH! TORAH! TORAH! - A reading list

Beste lezers,
Dearly beloved readers,

Per puur toeval (gossie!) heb ik een klein beetje weet van de bijbel - zelfs het nieuw testament (in drie talen gelezen: Engels, Nederlands, en Tokpisin - leuke taal, Tokpisin), maar natuurlijk voornamelijk de pentateuk.
Purely coincidentally (golly!), I happen to be slightly familiar with scripture - even the new testament (read in three languages: English, Dutch, en Tokpisin - fun language, Tokpisin), but of course primarily the Pentateuch.

Voor hen die interesse hebben in een grondige lezing in TaNaCH (oude testament: Torah (Pentateuk), Neviim (profeten), en Ketuvim (Shreven)), het volgende aanbeveling lijstje:
For those who have an interest in a thorough reading in TaNach (old testament: Torah (Pentateuch), Neviim (Prophets), and Ketuvim (The Writings)), follows a list of recommended reading matter:

1. King James translation: een pracht prestatie voor hen die de schoonheid van de Engelse taal waarderen kunnen, maar helaas niet de beste vertaling mogelijk. Lees het als literatuur.
King James translation: a splendid literary achievement, for those who can appreciate the beauty of the English language, but alas not quite the best possible translation. Read it as literature.

2. Torah with Rashi's commentary (translated, Schottenstein edition, Mesorah Publications): een uitstekende vertaling van de middeleeuwse Joodse exegeet Rasjie (Rabbi Sjlomo Jitzjaki, geboren in Troyes in 1040, gestorven 1105), bij lange na niet zo'n goede vertaling van de Pentateuk. Rasjie is belangrijk omdat veel commentaren sindsdien op zijn fundament voortbouwen, of ondenkbaar zouden zijn geweest zonder zijn arbeid; veel van de Tosafisten (commentateuren uit Frankrijk en Duitsland tussen anno xtiani 1000 en anno xtiani 1500) waren of familie en afstammelingen van familie, of studenten en studenten van studenten, van Rasjie.
Torah with Rashi's commentary (translated, Schottenstein edition, Mesorah Publications): an excellent translation of the mediaeval Jewish exegete Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo Yitzhaki, born in Troyes in 1040, niftar 1105), but not nearly as good a translation of the Pentateuch. Rashi is important because many commentaries since then build further on his fundament, or would be unthinkable without his labours; many of the Tosafists (commentators from France and Germany between 1000 CE and 1500 CE) where either relatives en descendants of relatives, or students and the students of students, of Rashi.

3. Baal HaTurim Chumash - Torah met het commentaar van de Baal HaTurim: Een vertaling met de ietwat neurotische opmerkingen van de Baal HaTurim (Rabbijn Jacob Ben Asjer, 1270 - 1340), vooral de gematria (symboliek van de numerieke waardes van woorden). In tegenstelling tot zijn commentaar op de Talmud (Arba Turim - vaak naast het commentaar van Yosef Karo gedrukt), is er niet veel hier dat echt de moeite waard is, maar af en toe vind men textjuwelen en verborgen goud.
Baal HaTurim Chumash - Torah with the commentary of the Baal HaTurim: a translation accompanied by the somewhat neurotic comments of the Baal HaTurim (Rabbi Yakov Ben Asher, 1270 - 1340), especially gematria (symbolism of the numeric values of words). In contrast with his commentary on the Talmud (Arba Turim - often printed alongside the commentary of Yosef Karo), there is not much here that is really worth while, but here and there one can find text jewels and hidden treasure.

4. Ramban; commentary on the Torah (vertaling door Rabbijn Charles Chavel): Een erg redelijke vertaling van het commentaar van Moses Ben Nachman (Nachmanides, 1194 - 1270; Spaansche rabbijn uit Geronda die moest vluchten omdat ie de kattelieken opz'n hals kreeg). De Ramban is een van de meest belangrijke Torah en Talmud schriftgeleerden ooit - zijn werk is erg invloedrijk geweest.
Ramban; commentary on the Torah (translation by Rabbi Charles Chavel): A very reasonable translation of the commentary of Moses Ben Nachman (Nachmanides, 1194 - 1270; Spanish rabbi from Geronda who had to flee after getting the Catholics on his case). The Ramban is one of the most important Torah and Talmud scholars ever - his writings have had much influence.

5. Commentary on the Torah: vertaling van de Pentateuk met commentaar door Richard Friedman, een brilliante apikorsische schrijver, wiens andere boeken het auteurschap van de bijbel onder de loep brengen. Wie de bijbel letterlijk neemt zal geneigd zijn Friedman' schrijvens te verbranden.
Commentary on the Torah: translation of the Pentateuch with commentary by Richard Friedman, a brilliant apikorsishe mechaber, whose other seifers examine the authorship of the bible. Anyone who takes the bible literally will be inclined to burn Friedman's writings.

6. Torah: a modern commentary: vertaling en commentaar door Gunther Plaut. Ook weer zo'n lekker ketters ding, hoog aanteraden.
Torah: a modern commentary: translation and commentary by Gunther Plaut. Another deliciously heretical piece of work, highly recommended.

7. The Jewish Study Bible: Tanakh Translation, Torah, Nevi'im, Kethuvim: by Adele Berlin (Editor), Marc Zvi Brettler (Editor), Michael Fishbane (Editor). Een pracht boek, absoluut apikorsisch - als een goede vriend die rabbijn is wist dat ik dit aanraad zou hij waarschijnlijk weigeren mij ooit meer te spreken. Laat een andere vriend rabbijn dit nou juist hebben aangeraden.
Termen zoals J source, E source, P source, the Redactor besprenkelen haast elke pagina. Een meesterwerk.

The Jewish Study Bible: Tanakh Translation, Torah, Nevi'im, Kethuvim: by Adele Berlin (Editor), Marc Zvi Brettler (Editor), Michael Fishbane (Editor).
A beautiful book, absolutely apikorsish - if a good friend who is a rabbi knew that I recommend this, he would probably refuse to ever speak to me again. Yet this was recommended by another friend, who is also a rabbi! Terms such as J source, E source, P source, and the Redactor are sprinkled on every page. A masterpiece.

8. Asimov's Guide To The Bible, door Isaac Asimov. Aan te raden. Een ketternij waar een kroon op zit. Gegarandeerd dat vele fundamentalisten dit werk en diens auteur zullen bevloeken.
Asimov's Guide To The Bible, by Isaac Asimov. Recommended.
A celebrated heresy. It's a guarantee that many fundamentalists will damn this book and its author.

9. The Book of J, door Harold Bloom, met vertaling door David Rosenberg: een hervertaling van dat gedeelte van de Pentateuk dat als geschreven door de Yahwist auteur word geacht te zijn. Erg leesbaar, en op goede basis. Ik heb ervan genoten.
The Book of J, by Harold Bloom, with a translation by David Rosenberg: a re-translation of that portion of the Pentateuch which is considered to have been written by the Yahwist author. Very readable, and soundly based.
I enjoyed it.

En verder nog de volgende auteurs:
And further, the following writers:

Jonathan Kirsh (Harlot By The Side Of The Road; Moses: A Life; The Woman Who Laughed At God; etc.). Een brilliante schrijver wiens werk goed leesbaar is, vooral Moses: A life. De drie van de boeken hiergenoemd gaan in op verschillende facetten van het oude testament.
Jonathan Kirsh (Harlot By The Side Of The Road; Moses: A Life; The Woman Who Laughed At God; etc.). A brilliant sofer, whose work is very readable, most especially 'Moses: A Life'. The three books mentioned here examine different facets of the old testament.

Richard Friedman (Who Wrote The Bible, The Hidden Face of God, The Bible With Sources Revealed). Dit is materiaal dat beslist de moeite waard is, maar het is goed om te beginnen met Who Wrote The Bible. Zijn schrijven gaat voornamelijk over de auteurschap van het oude testament, Pentateuk in het bijzonder.
Richard Friedman (Who Wrote The Bible, The Hidden Face of God, The Bible With Sources Revealed). This is worthwhile stuff, but it is well to begin with 'Who Wrote The Bible'. His writings are principally about the authorship of the Tanach, particularly the Pentateuch.

Sfas Emes - een Chassidische rebbe wiens schrijven steeds verrassend is. Ik raad hem hoog aan, maar ik vrees dat het vrijwel onmogelijk zal zijn een vertaling te vinden. Daar wens ik ulieden dus mazzel mee. Maar uitreksels van zijn werk zijn er wel.
Sfas Emes - A Hassidic rebbe whose writing is ever surprising. I highly recommend him, but I fear that it is virtually impossible to find a translation. So I wish y'all luck with that. But excerpts of his works are readily available.

Laatstelijk, voor hen die wel van iets met een beetje vuur houden, de vertaling van the Song of Songs (Sjir Ha Sjirim, Asjer Li Sjlomo) door Ariel en Chana Bloch. Een magnifiek schrijven met uitstekende uitleg en annotatie, dat duidelijk maakt dat 't niet zomaar een onschuldig gedichtje is, maar een uiting van sexualiteit en jeugdige verzotheid. In het Hebreeuws is het werkelijk pracht poezie. Zo ook in vele vertalingen, edoch meestens word een sluier over de geiligheid van de schrijver/schrijfster getrokken. Inspirerend, ophitsend, verkwikkend.
Lastly, for those who like something with a little zestiness, there's the translation of the Song of Songs (Shir Ha Shirim, Asher Li Shlomo) by Ariel and Chana Bloch. A magnificent piece of writing, with excellent explanations and annotations, that makes clear that this isn't just an innocent little poem, but an expression of sexuality and youthful lustiness. In Hebrew, it truly is splendid verse. So also in many translations, though often a veil is drawn over the randiness of the author. Inspiring, inflaming, refreshing.

Recommendaties van lezers zijn natuurlijk welkom (zeur zeur zeur).
Recommendations by readers are of course welcome (hint hint hint).

Al Hhanuqat Al Beidh

This space is pleased to announce the discovery of a priceless ancient recording of the classic 'Al Hhanuqat Al Beidh', long thought to be lost, featuring the dulcet tones of Mutrib Sheikh 'L Ipman.

It can be found here:

And here:

And even here:

The same artist has also done
Which is well worth listening too.

And also:

Let me know what you think - and more importantly let him know.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


--- --- --- ---
According to several idiots whom I shan't name (oh what the heck: Bill O'Reilly (tv talking head and moron), William O'Donohue (Crusader rabble and moron), Jerry Fallwell (also known as 'The Angel Of Nausea', and moron), and Tom Wildmon (spokestroll of some xtian organization in the swamps below the Mason Dixon line, and moron), there is a 'war on Christmas'.

Do tell.

As evidence, these venerable gentlemen suggest that the phrase 'happy holidays' is a secularist abomination, the only purpose of which is to drive all mention of Baby Cheesewhip from the public discourse. Which is, according to them, part of the Sodom and Gomorah loving, Christian-hating, atheist, ACLU, liberal secular-humanist plot to delay the rapture, or something like that.


The phrase 'happy holidays' is deliberately inclusionary, so that everyone can buy into the shop-like-a-maniac frenzy. Jews, Christians, Hindus, Europeans, and Atheists. Even little baby inbred no-necks and other vermin. The purpose is to co-opt every body, get the world to buy into the process.

Mention of Baby Cheesewhip hasn't been part of the programme since Christmas became the biggest shopping fest in America. For that matter, Baby Cheesewhip has never been part of either mothers day or fathers day. And it's only by accident that Baby Cheesewhip gets mentioned by some folks on thanksgiving.

Gentlemen, Baby Cheesewhip has never been part of civilized American public discourse.

But if you want to link Baby Cheesewhip's name to the biggest damn sharkfeeding frenzy in the world, an orgy of credit-card debt, guilt, and nervous tension that happens every year between Thanksgiving and the New Years Fifty! Percent! Off! sales, go ahead. It's up to you.

Just don't expect the rest of us to take you seriously. After all, it's Christians who have turned Christmas into a mercantile abomination.

We were happy to sit on the sidelines and let y'all act goofy, but then y'all insisted that everybody buy buy buy. And it turned out well for the merchants and manufactures, benefitted the economy, and kept a few thousand more illiterate high-school drop-outs from loosing their jobs, so it seemed like a good idea. At the time.

So, while you're waging your "Merry Christian Or Else" crusade, just bear in mind that if you succeed, you'll be putting half of America out of business. Which means that they won't tithe, won't contribute to your non-stop greed-o-thon's, won't pay for the 'Baby Cheesewhip Is Your Friend Too' seminars, won't buy the 'Baby Cheesewhip Hears All And Sees All' sweatshirts and self-help books, and above all can't afford those Bahbles autographed by the 'author' that y'all are busking.

[Of course, at this point I should mention that the 'war on Christmas' issue is also discussed on a few other blogs.....
Like this one: http://dovbear.blogspot.com/
And also this one: http://wearing-yarmulka.blogspot.com/
(yeah, who would've ever thunk that anyone would link to BOTH of them, but hey, I'm 'deliberately inclusionary').]

Anyhoo, what I propose is that we change the name of the holiday to something more specific, yet more inclusionary. I propose NITTLE-SHOPPING-MESS.

Nittle, as an inclusionary note to the Jews.

Shopping, as an acknowledgement of the most important element in any American holiday, and a nod to the hard-working merchants who are the backbone of this country.

And Mess as an echo of the pagan roots of what, briefly, had been an exclusionary Christian celebration founded during the third century CE on the birthday of the sun god Mithras, marking the end of the Roman Saturnalia - a week of feasting and debauchery in mid-winter.

Merry Nittle-shopping-mess, y'all.
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