Tuesday, October 31, 2006


McClelland's No. 25 Virginia - a balanced mixture of red and black aged Virginia cake tobaccos in a fully-rubbed form.

The manufacturer claims that this product is "ideal after dinner when a rich, satisfying flavor is most desired".


Virginias should be smoked patiently and slow, very slow. One need not worry about them going out, because they burn better than Orientals, and with a snail-like smoke there will not be a significant turning of the leaf (unlike with cigars and Oriental blends, which are harsher if re-lit). Properly treated, Virginias (flakes and Cavendishes) can be a great comfort.

Bought this particular tin of pipe tobacco yesterday on a whim.

While Savage Kitten was out of the apartment I loaded an old Charatan about half-full, and lit up.


Like re-discovering an old flame, who has kept her figure and become riper and juicier with the years!
I enjoyed her ample charms three times last evening, and did not go to sleep till one o'clock.
Soft velvety upper arms, fragrant silken tresses, oh my. Ears to nibble.

Grace and charm, and some long-stilled memories re-awakening.

For me this a very nice tobacco.

Memory is often sparked by specific aromas - this blend reminded me of the last few times my Dad loaded up the calabash (1964 - we still lived in Naarden), of an old friend of the family who liked deeply curved pipes, and of a grand-hotel in Switzerland (visited sometime in the early seventies, in summer).

I also remembered the streetlights beyond a building complex near the old road to Waalre, just east of Saint John (but that is more associated with two other tobaccos, whose names I have forgotten).
Spring sunlight and summer showers - early evenings during the long-twilight, or mid-afternoon with a cup of tea while warm rain falls just feet away.

There were some very similar tobaccos to McClelland's No. 25 Virginia, which off and on I smoked all the way through to my discovery of Balkan blends. Broken and rubbed flakes with an ancient fragrance. What were their names? Hundred gramme tins, a green label with a red text medallion edged in yellow scrollwork. I think they stopped making it in the early seventies - I must've bought the last of the stock.

I am very much looking forward to this evening.

A nice cup of tea. And a self-indulgence. Both not too strong.


NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.

Monday, October 30, 2006


Saturday was lovely - sunny, not too warm, hardly a cloud in the sky.

A lovely day to spend some time out doors - at a counter-demo.

Some hundred or so of us on the south side of Market Street, versus around two-thousand on the other side. Not all of whom were members of International ANSWER or similar front-groups. Most were probably the usual ultra-lefties, willing to troll for any group that demands the U.S. be destroyed and willing to scream in favour of violent radicals in third-world hell-holes.

Iraq. Iran. Cuba and Venezuela. Sudan. Free-Mason conspiracy. Bankers. Christians. North-Korea. Animals. Skull-and-crosbones. A zombie. A big hand. A bald man. A rabbit. Spandex. Orange jumpsuits. A big bird. Bushzerkers. Bad grammar, mis-spellings, and incomprehensible stuff.

Kinda hard to figure out what it was all about - several signs were off-message, some of the agendas were inchoate anger only.

All the usual anti-Israel, anti-Zionist, anti-Semitic garbage slogan signs and banners were evident.
Though the protest was SUPPOSED to be about Iraq, these folks just cannot leave their favoured props in the closet.
Israel, in their eyes, is the alpha and omega of all that they think wrong with the world.

Their sound-system was mediocre, so their speechifying was well-nigh incomprehensible (it often is, but this time it was because of sound quality, not content).

Grumble, rumble, rumble, roar. Belch, static, shriek, mumble mumble mumble.

Imagine listening to an airport announcement. An angry airport announcement. An airport announcement that lasts for well-over two bitchy haranguing hours (that airport has issues, and desperately needs therapy).

After working up the emotions of the crowd, they moved off down Market Street, to win friends and influence people in the shopping district. Or overturn garbage cans outside of Macys.

Hatred of Jews was strangely back-burnered (though nevertheless present -- as someone put it "anti-Semitism is like crack, they just can't keep away from it").

Maybe they finally realized that overtly screaming obscenities about the Zionist world plot turns off all rational people.

Strange how that works.

It is also quite possible that International ANSWER deliberately advised the hard-core Muslim fundamentalists and Islamo-nationalists not to come this time - sad to say, the usual lively young Levantine thuggim were not in attendance. Not the bald fellow with the likeable grin and creative slogans, nor the brutish oaf with nazi-salutes. Nor even the buff bullethead (on probation, I've heard - he was arrested for flag-burning at the previous love-fest).

No inbred-looking Abdullah the Shrimp-Boy with dull eyes and plastic darbuqa (for playing revolutionary rythms on). No feisty vixen with the flashing eyes. No long-tressed temptress with mouth agape in sensuous outrage. No rabid gazelle with shapely calves in tight denim.

Not even the livid plump charmer who shook so delightfully four months ago.

There were no hate-filled anti-Semitic chants. No Arabic screams about el yahud. No yallah yallah paeans about the latest suicidal fanatic, or the Islamo-loony of the hour. No praise-songs to sheikhs or mullahs. No formulaic curses and vitriol.

Even the poisonous potato woman, seduced by a Palestinian and converted to her bed-mate's cause, was absent.

In front of the consulate three months before, even from across the street, one could tell that spit was flying from her scream-hole. She trembled with fury, she vibrated, she quivered, she nictitated (tick nervosa?), and her jowls wobbled. A flapping, foaming, fist-clenched hopping harpy. Dumpy virago in a bag-dress and kerchief - very tzniusdik.

I missed her. I was kinda hoping this time to witness a fit.

I know she can do it.

Oh well, maybe next time - I'm keeping the faith, baby.

The angry hawk-faced Imam in the dishdasha was also absent.

He normally shows up at these events....

Maybe he blew himself up?

The most exciting thing on the north side of Market was the little tyke with a kefiyeh hiding his face, only his eyes showing, resolutely flashing us a V sign. Just the cutest little fellow.

Final note: My sign said "Int'l Answer, apologists for Janjaweedism!" It was as pointed as I could get without offending ethnic or religious sensitivities.

But the thought was there.


A friend asks:

Heb jij wel eens gehoord van de "Weisse Judenbücher"?
Het zou iets te maken moeten hebben met de rechtspraak in tTsjecho-Slowakije in de jaren 1600-1750.
[Have you ever heard of the "White Jew Books"? It has something to do with the justice system in CzeckoSlovakia in the years 1600 - 1750.]

I've never heard of this subject.

But you, my readers, well might have. Or leastways have a clue where to look.

Please advise.

Much thanks.

Thursday, October 26, 2006




Wrong A.N.S.W.E.R. Counter Rally
Saturday, October 28th
11:30 AM to 1 PM
UN Plaza, Market St. between 7th and 8th Streets in
downtown San Francisco (exact location within the
plaza to be determined)

Join us for the next "Wrong, A.N.S.W.E.R."
counter-protest, Saturday, October 28th in San

Once again, ANSWER will be using opposition to the war in Iraq to attempt to galvanize support for destruction of Israel. Once again, they will try to demonize Israel for defending herself and once again, they will try to link Israel to the Iraq conflict.
Additionally, they demand support for the "Palestinian Right to Return," unsubtle code for the demographic destruction of the world's only Jewish state by flooding it with descendants, no matter how remote, of those that left the area during the Arab instigated war in 1948.

Previous A.N.S.W.E.R. rallies have included calls to support Al-Queda affiliates, nuclear arms for Iran, and Palestinian terror groups. They have also included overt anti-Semitism. We expect this rally to be no different.

Once again, StandWithUs/San Francisco Voice For Israel will be there to stand for Israel and expose the hatred and lies of A.N.S.W.E.R.

Stand against hatred!
Stand against anti-Semitism!
Stand for Israel!

Please bring your noisemakers, flags, and signs. As always, feel free to make your own signs but please no signs or graphics offensive to any racial or ethnic group including but not limited to Arabs, Islam, or Palestinians. Signs in violation of our policies will be dealt with definitively.

Please contact us at info@SFVoiceForIsrael.org if you are interested in being part of our security team.
We also need help with sign making, logistics, and rally monitors. If you would like to be involved with any of these tasks, please contact us at
info@SFVoiceForIsrael.org .

Demand an end to attacks against Israeli civilians!
Demand Gilad Shalit, Eldad Regev, and Ehud Goldwasser be returned home safely!
Demand the Palestinian Authority put an end to terror attacks!
Demand the UN fully implement UNSC 1559 and 1701!
Demand an end to the deligitimization and demonization of Israel!
Demand the Palestinian Authority and their local supporters choose peace so that the Palestinian people can have a future!

StandWithUs/San Francisco Voice for Israel


Upcoming Events

Sunday, October 29th, 4PM -- Israel and the Palestinians - Realities Behind the Headlines with Jerusalem Post Reporter Khaled Abu-Toameh
APJCC Auditorium, Levy Family Campus
14855 Oka Road, Los Gatos, CA 95032

Please RSVP to 408-358-3033 or dfisher@jcrcsv.org

Monday, December 4th 5:30PM – Counterprotest anti-Israel demonstration
1001 Broadway, Oakland (outside Oakland Marriott)


Do you want to become more involved with organizing our activities? Send a message to info@SFVoiceForIsrael.org

If you are interested in participating in our campaign to counter anti-Israel speakers, please send an e-mail to info@SFVoiceForIsrael.org

Join the discussion! Do you have ideas? Classes to announce? Events to announce or discuss? Join our discussion list by sending an e-mail to
sfproisrael-subscribe@yahoogroups.com .

San Francisco Voice for Israel is a non-partisan coalition that takes no position on the war in Iraq, the settlements, or Israel's final borders. Our members span the political spectrum and are united only by our commitment to preserving the State of Israel as a Jewish State within secure borders.

Please send your tax deductible donation to
Stand With Us
P.O. Box 341069
Los Angeles, CA 90034-1069
Write SFV4I in the memo line.


NOTE: Keep in mind that the other side will seize ANY opportunity to make our side look bad. So any signs you make should be straightforward and have a clear point. This is especially important because we are trying to engage with the people on the sidelines (who may be trying to understand the issues), not pick a fight with the kefiyeh-wearing fascists who will be yelling their hatred for the entire world to hear - let them discredit themselves.


One of the superstitions I have come across many times is that the State of Israel would not exist had it not been for the concentration camps.

That presumes two facts which are not accurate.

The first one is that the State of Israel would not have existed without the vote of the UN or the massive guilt which made that vote possible.

This is incorrect. The UN was largely immaterial, as the Jews in the land were determined to get the British out. Had there not been a UN vote, and had the British not despaired of maintaining their authority, events would eventually have both forced the British Mandate out and the State of Israel in to being, and the Jewish underground would have continued to expedite that happening - with as a result a proclamation of independence. We can see from the British blockade, and subsequent arming of the Arabs, that the UN vote was largely meaningless.

A state comes into existence because of those who make it so, not the benevolent clucking of people on the sidelines. That the state of Israel came into existence is because Zionists were determined - the world was largely apathetic, or actively attempting to make it not happen.

Five Arab armies, with much outside help and support, could not prevent the state of Israel coming into existence. How thoroughly over-estimated then is the actual importance of the UN and its guilt-weighted voting.

The other fact incorrectly assumed is that it was a massive influx of concentration camp survivors which made it possible for a state to be created (this despite most of them still being in Europe at the time).

It was already inevitable before the war that Israel would become a state - it was more so after the war. The concentration camp survivors may indeed have sped up the inevitable (by showing that there was a need for a Jewish state in the yishuv), but their number did not make inevitable.

In that immediately following Israel's independence the population expanded enormously, drawn from not only Europe but also the entire Middle-East, it might however make sense to argue that it was NOT the refugees that made Israel possible, but Israel that made refugees welcome, and made it possible for refugees to become non-refugees again. There is a definite link, but it is not causal in the way it is commonly presumed to be.

No one gave the Jews a state, the Jews built a state.
There was no state to give, but there eventually was a state to call into existence.

I despise the idea that 'Israel exists because of the concentration camps'. Israel exists despite the concentration camps.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


No, this is not lashon horo - I mean it in a good sense. I guess.

This is about pipe tobacco - or actually, it's about smokers talking about pipe tobacco, and ripping into a well-respected blend with poetry and venom. Pipesmokers, as you may have guessed, are a remarkably opinionated bunch, and often penny-pinching tightwads to boot. So imagine what their reaction is when they believe they've just bought a tin of tobacco that they will never want to smoke again.

Petulant and childish.

But also brutal and eloquent.

As the small selection of quotes below will illustrate.[All examples lifted from http://www.tobaccoreviews.com/index.cfm - a website where a number of different subscribers go on and on ad puke about tobacco. Some of them wish to educate, some to egoflate, and some to praise. Others are sheerly unreadable.]

The quotes are all about pipe-tobacco mixtures from Charles Ratray, a fine old company from Perth in Scotland, recently revived by the Germans. The name of the mixture which is reviewed heads each selection of quotes. These are actually very fine tobaccos, but they just didn't work for the reviewers. Who are of course convinced that they are right, any idea of degustibus non disputandem est be damned.

3 NOGGINS"Smoked in the evening, it is just plain boring... "
"A strong moist tobacco that burns hot and harsh."
"I found nothing positive here and for the price, this was a total disappointement. "
"It gets tiresome very soon."

7 RESERVE"If you have enough tastebuds left to enjoy a well behaved, tasty, top quality mild English blend, then pick up a tin and give it a whirl."
"Denuded of any aggression, a pleasant smoke though in the latter part of the day one searches for something a little more assertive."
"Save your money this one is a real stinker. "

"I am not sure that this tobacco or any other is just cause for vulgarity; however pipe smoking is no longer exclusively for gentlemen. "
"I can't believe Rattray would allow this to be sold with their name on it - this is a perfect example of how shit in a tin will sell with the right name on it. "
"I don't dislike it. "
"This is as dull and boring as anything you can imagine. A grey taste, with very little variations or pleasant notes. "

"The Virginia is harsh and the nicotine level stronger than one would imagine."
"Wonderful to smoke while you guzzle your dad's expensive single-malt."

"Brown Clunee, Old Gowrie and Hal O' the Wynd are morning, afternoon and evening smokes respectively - all three are delicious examples of its genre; why the darker stoved Marlin Flake pierces like a cornered porcupine ( ) is a mystery. "
"There is nothing of any great interest here."
"One of the most anonymous blends I've ever tried."

HIGHLAND TARGE"This is a decent tobacco, unquestionably better than a lot of German blends out there, but I certainly will not purchase more."
"It is difficult to tell what this blend attempts to be."
"It is bland and has virtually no character. Aren't there enough bland rip-off blends already?"

"Jock's Mixture is like drinking a light beer. I know what it is when I taste it, but when I smoke it in bunches, all it does is make me pee."
"Yet another shit in a tin blend from Rattray. After smoking Marlin Flake, HOTW and Ol Gowrie, Its hard to believe the same company puts their name on this vomitous abomination."
"Another totally insipid light English/Scottish mixture from Rattray."

"I tried it and was not pleased - nearly burnt the nose hair right out of my head."
"Variations on the theme of dullness - examples of very uninspiring tobaccos. "
"The flavor is bland to the point of boredom, absolutely monochromatic and reminding of burning paper."

"Uniquely harsh compared to any other English or Oriental mixture."
"The tin aroma had a distinctively unpleasant smoky sourness to it, and the tobacco itself was damp and greasy. "
"A very peculiar smoke"
"My German Shepherd hates the smell but loves the way it smokes."

That last one says it all, doesn't it?

I wonder if the dog also likes his dram of an evening.

And a dog is, after all, a man's best friend. Those two must have a wonderful bond.


NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.


Kichelech - little fried cookies usually served for Purim, which ain't for a while, but they're good anytime. Such as in winter, when the weather gets cooler.

In Dutch these are called Kiesjeliesj or Haman's Oren (Kishelish or Haman's Ears).
How the yiddish 'EKHHGHGHGHHQRCCH! sound became the discrete Dutch 'shhhhh' is somewhat baffling, but I suspect that the Flemings had a tongue or two in this transformation.

Ingrediënten / Ingredients

300 gram bloem / Two thirds of a pound Flour (0.66 LBS).
Drie eieren / 3 Eggs.
Een theelepel zout / 1 tsp. Salt.
Olie om te bakken / Oil for deepfrying.
Poedersuiker / Powdered Sugar.
Kaneelpoeder / Ground Cinnamon.

Zeef de bloem.
Sift the flour.

Klop de eieren wolkig met 't zout, enkele druppeltjes olie, en 3 eetlepels water (in plaats van water kan men ook zoete rode wijn of een likeur gebruiken).
Beat the eggs foamy with the salt, a drop or two of oil, and three TBS water (instead of water, you could use sweet wine or liqueur).

Meng het eiermengsel door de bloem tot een kneedbare deeg - eventueel extra bloem gebruiken.
Work the eggmixture into the flour until a pliable dough results - add more flour if necessary.

Vorm een bal van het deeg, bedek de schaal met een vochtige theedoek en laat 'n uurtje in de ijskast rusten.
Form a ball from the dough, cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let rest for an hour in the refrigerator.

Bestrooi het werkvlak met een weinig bloem, en rol de bal zo dun mogelijk hierop uit.
Dust the work surface with a little flour, and roll the ball out as thin as possible here-upon.

Vouw het deeg in drieën, en rol het wedermaals dun uit.
Fold over in three layers, roll out again.

Snijd de laag deeg met een scherpe mes in ruiten.
With a sharp knife cut the dough into diamonds.

Verhit in een diepe pan een laag olie tot 180 graden.
Heat a layer of oil in a deep fry-pan to slightly more than 350 degrees.
[Note: 180 Celcius is slightly more than 350 Fahrenheit - almost smoking in American terms.]

Bak de deegruiten in de hete olie goudbruin.
Fry the dough diamonds golden in the hot oil.

Laat de Kiesjeliesj goed uitlekken.
Let the kishelish drain well.

Bestrooi ze met poedersuiker en een beetje kaneel poeder.
Strew with powdered sugar and a little cinnamon powder.


Our Sardarji, Shabru Singh from San Francisco, disembarks at LAX and goes to rent a car. Walks into first car-rental agency he sees, and a Sindhi is behind the counter.

After some haggling, the Sindhi smoothly promises him the best deal ("very special Desi discount, Ji!"), and he goes to the lot to drive away the rental car.

It doesn't start. It won't start. It absolutely fails to start - "Yeh bladdy gaddi jalti nahin, dammit!"

After twenty minutes of fruitless trying, he goes back to the office to complain.
"But Ji", says the Sindhi, "how advantageous, indeed!".
"How so?" asks the Sardarji.
"Dekkhe, aap", says the Sindhi, "you're paying fifteen bucks a day for the car, right?"

"Well then, parking at the airport costs forty dollars a day, all-same downtown, so you're saving twenty five dollars. Just park here until you're ready to leave, and return the keys - think of how much you'll save!"

Shabru Singh, after thinking about it for a while, agrees.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006


In a posting dated October 17, Jameel quotes a member of Knesset who has a novel proposal.

"Any person who attempts to influence a minor, to become more religiously observant of Judaism,(להחזיר בתשובה) will be subject to arrest and imprisonment for 6 months."

The speaker was Chaim Oron of Meretz

The full posting by Jameel is here:

Chardal calls it a perverted proposal. See here:

Given that it would also put anyone who seeks to circumcise their son, or raise their children to be Jewish, and anybody who attends a bar or bas mitzvah, in a quandary, and given that if such a law were put into effect there would eventually be no Jews in Israel, one has to wonder what the heck mr. Chaim Oron (of Meretz) was smoking.

It says in the Shma Yisroel (BaMidbar, Parshas Naso, Possook 6:7) "Ve dibarta bam be shivteicha, be beiseicha, u ve lechteicha ba derech, u ve shachbeicha u ve kumecha" – And you shall speak of them when you sit in your house, when you walk along the road, and when you lie down and get up.

Reciting the Shema and the blessings fulfills the commandment to meditate on the laws ‘day and night’, as is written (Joshua 1:8): "Lo yamo'ush sefer ha Torah haze mi picha, ve hagita bo yomam va leila le maan tishmor la'ashoot ke chol ha katuv bo ki az tatsliach et derachecha ve az taskil" (Let not leave from your mouth this book of laws, but that you consider it day and night, that you may obey all that is written in it, and make your travails prosperous, and succeed.).

This is also said in Devarim (Deuteronomy) 6:7 "Ve shinantam le bneicha, ve dibarta bam be shivteicha b'veiteicha, u velechteicha va derech, u veshachbeicha u vekumeicha"
(And you will teach them diligently to your children, and discuss them when you sit in your home, and when you walk on the road, and when lie down and when you get up).

It should be obvious that without the verbal component, much that is essential to Judaism is missing. Without discussion, explanation, and debate, there is no Judaism.

In what way can one have Judaism without "attempts to influence a minor to become more religiously observant of Judaism"?

Stringencies and observances we can debate about, belief and what is believed we can debate about, secular versus ultra-frum we can debate about -- but if we cannot even debate, there is no Judaism. Knowledge is not absorbed by silent osmosis, Judaism is not a passive state.

Which mr. Chaim Oron realizes.

I will not call mr. Oron a self-hating Jew for two reasons.
The first is that es past nit for me to do so, and the second is that he isn't a self-hating Jew.
He is a Jew-hating Jew.

He's no-doubt pleased as punch with himself.

It's the rest of you he can't stand.


How amazingly lucky can one get?

I have received an e-mail message, which informs me breathlessly that nearly a million dollars awaits my greedy grasp. And I should move poste-haste to seize the chance (and carp the diem, so to speak), before the opportunity passes.

I reproduce the e-mail below.

From: CONGRATULATION ON YOUR AWARD WINNING 2006 [mailto:interlotterwinne_lot2@hotmail.com]
Sent: Saturday, October 21, 2006 6:04 AM
TEL :: 00226 76155403


Dear lucky winner,

We are pleased to inform you of the result of the INTERNATIONAL EMAIL
LOTTERY RAFFLE DRAW International programs held on the 21th of october ,2006.
Your e-mail address was attached to ticket number 31008478-2514785 with serial number 114522069 drew lucky numbers 996632145which consequently won in the 2nd category, you have therefore been approved for a lump sum payment of !!!!!!! 850,000.00 euros.!!!!!!
(eight Hundred and fifty Thousand Euros).

Due to mix up of some numbers and names, we ask that you keep your winning information confidential untill your claim has been processed andyour money Remitted to you.
This is part of our security protocols to avoid double claiming and unwarranted abuse of this program by some participants.

All participants were selected through a computer ballot system drawn from over 20,000 company and 30,000,000 individual's email addresses from all over the world.
This promotional program takes place every year.This lottery was promoted and sponsored by International software organisation committe,we hope with part of your winning you will take part in our next coming ( 1 million euro) international lottery.

To file for your claim, please contact our claim agent
Telephone 00226 76 15 54 03

Contact your claim agent for due processing and remittance of your prize money to a designated account of your choice. Remember, you must contact your claims officer not later than 31th of october 2006.After this date,all funds will be returned as unclaimed.

NOTE: In order to avoid unnecessary delays and complications, please remember to quote your reference numbers in every one of your correspondences with your officers. Furthermore, should there be any change of your address, do inform your claims officer as soon as possible.
Congratulations again from all our staff and thank you for being partof our promotions program.
We wish you continued good fortunes.

Best regards.

Mr Williams Ruffin.


Mr. Williams Ruffin, in Burkian (stet) Faso will no doubt be disappointed at my failure to respond.

While I am by no means unappreciative of the effort and warm regard expended from the office at Avenue Nkuruma (stet) Ougab (PO #147), I fear that taking advantage of this wonderful 'lump sum payment' might dash my hopes at maintaining a certain level of privacy as regards my bank-account number and real name. So alas, I must pass.

I shall be sad to see the opportunity slip. Oh woe.

But take heart, my dear mr. Williams Ruffin! There are no doubt many others who are both more appreciative, and more alacritous! The world abounds with people just waiting for wonderful opportunities to knock, and you, sir, are no doubt an expert at searching them out. So gird your loins, swallow your sadness, and rejoin the hunt with renewed zeal. I applaud your every effort, and hope to hear of your progress.

Do please keep me posted.


On Sunday October 22nd the XGH wrote:

My dear readers

Some of you seem confused, and maybe it's my fault. So let me be clear: I am not interested in debating whether religion is true, or whether Torah is min Hashamayim (unless I explicitly post about something like that). I have no doubt that it might all be very true, as might many other things. I also have no doubt that there is no way anyone can prove it true, and that given all currently available evidence to the contrary, a rational objective assessment can only conclude that it most likely isn't very true at all. Of course you can always have faith; rational objective assesments based on currently available evidence have been known to be wrong from time to time. Just not very often. Hence there's no point at all in debating it. I'll let you know if I change my mind.


Upon reading this, I realized that HaRav HaGaon XGH shlita was having yet another crisis of apikorsus - which means that bloggo-destructive behavior shortly follows. He's like that. Petulant.

Other Hhasidim get crumbs from the tish, or chap a tapuach at simches-toireh eppel-varfing, what we get from this rebbe is a fire-bombing of the entire reference-library, and a cheerful "Think for yourselves, tayere talmidim, think for yourselves, even though you're all wrong - the excercise will be good for you".

Then another several hundred postings go poof, along with ALL! OF!! THE!!! COMMENTS!!!
All we're left with, at that point, is a mental process-map of how the debate progressed, but of the actual landscape naught remains.

To coin a phrase, XGH borei olamos u machrivam.

This is very irritating. Don't you think so?

Fortunately, in addition to the post quoted in full above, I copied the following three posts:

The truth, the partial truth, and everything but the truth
(Another nutty theory from Avodah)
New: The ultimate answer to Science & Torah conflicts!!!
(Guaranteed to work, or your money back!)
Danger ahead - there are good reasons why God created atheists
(God created everything for a purpose)

If you want the full four, plus most of the comments (I was asleep by the time he torched the reading-room, so I didn't get all of them), just send a request to me by e-mail to:


XGH: Sorry, but it's SO annoying when you lop off archives and only leave one post up.

Jameel @ The Muqata Homepage <http://muqata.blogspot.com/> 10.24.06 - 9:16 am


>XGH: Sorry, but it's SO annoying when you lop off archives and only leave one post up.

It was predicted by BOTH.


Anonymous 10.24.06 - 9:30 am


Wow. My very own Hhasid. I am not worthy. ;-D

I am, however, planning to copy down other Exgodolhadoric posts as I run across them, plus the comments. I shall sporadically post a list. This just in case the good man goes major pyro and burns the entire yeshiva down to the ground. Again.

I advise you to do the same.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


A reader writes:

I found your web blog, which is the only reference Google could find on "Drucquer Levant" blend. I've got a very small amount left which is pretty dry. I'd like to find something similar in flavor, possibly with less nicotine.

Any idea what were the components in Levant, and the rough proportions?
Or any similar blend, maybe from Pease? I think I also liked Drucquer's 805, but I like Levant better. I don't think I ever tried Royal Ransom, but it sounds like I would have liked it, too.

So. Let us discuss tobacco (readers who are not interested should probably skip this post...).


Brief description of Drucquer & Sons Ltd pipe tobacco blends:
Royal Ransom - slightly more than half Latakia, with Turkish and Virginia (including black Virginia to mellow the Latakia). Similar to Sobranie black and Nightcap.
Levant Mixture - full strength English-Balkan mixture. Possibly like Royal Ransom but with a bit more Turkish.
Mixture 805 - the classic English mixture, half Latakia with the remainder evenly divided between Turkish and Virginias (comparable to Sobranie white and 965).
Trafalgar - a classic Balkan, the oriental balanced by enough Latakia to be noticed (around 37.5 percent?) and Virginia to support.
Red Lion - about forty percent Latakia, the rest a mixture of Virginias, no Turkish (I wish I could remember what the Virginias were - it tasted complex enough that I didn't miss the Turkish.
Arcadia Mixture - lower on the Latakia totem-pole than the blends mentioned precedingly, with some dark Virginias to boost the Turkish, ribbon Virginia to lighten the load, and a hint of toasted Cavendish.
Temple Bar - no Turkish, a blend of light and medium Virginias spiced with Latakia (probably slightly over a third of the total), and maybe (?) a touch of Perique.
Inns of Court - a complex mixture containing the full range of Virginias with some Burley and Maryland, plus Latakia (less than Temple Bar) and Perique.
Prince's Blend - a Virginia Mixture with minor amounts of Latakia and Perique as spice, some air-cured (?).
The Devil's Own - a Virginia base with depth, spiced with less Latakia than Inns of Court.
Ye Olde London Baccy - a Virginia and Burley mixture which I found hard to like (hardly any Latakia).
Blairgowrie - matured Virginias with some Perique, somewhat dry.
St. James - a classic Scottish mixture with both Oriental leaf and Perique.

[Years before I started working at Drucquers each of these blends had its own label, the printing blocks for which were still in the backroom. But by the late seventies a light brown generic label was used, with the blend name rubber-stamped in the space provided. Early in the eighties five other blends were developed, stoved and aged in the tin - they were actually pretty good, but I don't remember a darn thing about them. I think all of them were English blends.]


Levant was a full English blend. Those are usually around fifty percent Latakia, twenty five percent Turkish (Oriental), and twenty five percent Virginia (flue-cured) - these were the exact proportions of the 805.
With English and Balkan blends the proportions may vary, but there is usually twice as much Latakia as Turkish - though blends identified as Balkan often increase the Turkish slightly in proportion.

If I remember correctly, Levant was just at or slightly above that fifty percent Latakia mark (but maybe not quite twenty five percent Turkish). Both Latakia and Turkish have relatively low nicotine levels. Virginias (and all other flue-cureds) have medium to medium-high levels of nicotine. Burleys (none to my knowledge in the Levant mixture - mentioning them for perspective) have medium-high to quite high levels of nicotine.

Sweetness (the natural sugars) vary also - Latakia is hardly sweet, Turkish is low-medium, Virginia is high. Burley, depending on how it was processed after aircuring, may have no sweetness whatsoever, or be so sweet (added sugars and flavourings) as to leave your pipe a tar-pit of bubbling ick.


If you want low nicotine, go for a full English or Balkan mixture.

GL Pease produces a number of blends which are very good. See here:
I would think that Abingdon would be a good choice. But his products are all quite good.

Dunhill ups the Turkish ante nicely, see here:
For a really full Latakia level, I recommend Nightcap. For an emphasis on Turkish, try Durbar.

ADDENDUM as of September 16, 2016:
What has Greg Pease done since drucquers? just a few GLP tobaccos.
For the past several years I have been smoking mostly flakes, though I still love Latakia blends. There are moments of crystal clarity that require dark leaf, but during the working days Virginias are very forgiving.
Another great blender was Mr. Bob Runowski, who is no longer among us. His efforts lay in the Burley realm.
One person who should have gone into blending, but didn't, is Miss Lim, with whom I lost contact in the nineties. Two decades later I am still influenced by her taste in literature, food, and pipes. Not sure if she would appreciate that.


If you want to blend your own full English mixture, think in these proportions to start:

10 or 11 parts Latakia.
5 parts Turkish (also called Oriental, includes Greek tobacco).
3 to 5 parts mixed Virginias.
1 part Black Virginia.

Your choice of Virginias will determine how you proceed from here. And you may decide that the black Virginia is unnecessary. On the other hand, several blends from English and Scottish houses relied on black Virginia as a component that could well carry its own weight in blends dominated by the Orientals (Turkish and Latakia).

Latakia is Oriental leaf from Syria or nowadays Cyprus, cured over smoldering fires till dark and resinous. Surprisingly, it can be used in large proportion, though anything more than about forty-five percent is risky - the remainder of the blend may lack complexity and character. Thirty to forty percent is quite noticeable. McClelland sells this in fifty gramme tins. Most wholesalers should carry it, and any tobacco store which has house blends should also have some.

Turkish by itself has a grassy smell, and needs the Latakia (which develops the resinous quality of the Turkish, in addition to contributing its own smoky creosote-like aroma). Greek, Balkan, and Persian tobacco is included under the nomen 'Turkish'. It is available in a pure form from McClelland in 50 gramme tins (Oriental).

Red Virginia and Bright Virginia (usually ribbon-cut) are bland and fruity, but combine well with Turkish - nevertheless, they can bite ferociously if they dominate, so I would rub out a medium flake (unflavoured - McClelland produces some very fine examples) and use that with only a little bright or red ribbon. Note that Virginias also come from elsewhere - Mozambique, India, Canada, etcetera. Available at most tobacconists.

Black Virginia (NOT Toasted Cavendish!) is a heavily stoved black shiny sweet leaf - it cuts tongue bite, and assists Latakia. Any blend which has bright ribbon Virginia will probably benefit from Black Virginia. Available at most tobacconists.

Toasted Cavendish, in small quantities, adds an old-fashioned perfumy quality. Available at most tobacconists.

Perique may also be added. Two to five percent of a blend. Unless you want to grow hair inside your breathing apparatus, in which case up to ten or twelve percent. It counters the bitey-ness of ribbon Virginias, and adds a saltiness, plus complexity. Best used at a low percentage, just under the radar. Made in Louisiana by a process of controlled rot.
Available at most tobacconists, but also in fifty gramme tins from McClelland.

Burley is nutlike in taste and smell. In small quantities it emphasizes the smokiness of Latakia, but suppresses the floweriness of Turkish. Quality and level of adulteration with stinky sweeteners vary from supplier to supplier. Formerly only Kentucky, now from all over.

Maryland is a mild and not very distinctive relative of Burley, good to add in proportions of up to about twelve percent to improve how a blend smokes. It can be smoked straight, but that would prove unexciting. Nicotine content is roughly the same as Virginia or slightly higher, with which it pairs nicely as the lesser component. Usually not available from local tobacco stores, but probably on the internet.

[Correction as of 2014: Maryland is actually quite low on the nicotine score, and not, as I had assumed, simply a relative of Burley. The state is discouraging its cultivation now, and paying farmers to convert their curing sheds to art-spaces, cottages, and studios. Consequently much Maryland leaf is now grown in Italy. Bless those Italians.]

Cavendish is pressed and heated leaf, usually Virginia, but the process is also used for Burleys. The heating opens the cells and lets the leaf absorb a disturbing amount of flavouring. Unflavoured Cavendish can be a valuable addition - Dunhill uses Cavendish Virginias in a lot of their English mixtures (it allows a greater proportion of Turkish).

Flake is heavily pressed aged tobacco. Like Cavendish this is usually Virginia. Flakes can be used as blending bases with little other Virginia added, or to add sweetness and a matured taste. One must be careful, however, as these dense products can also unbalance the smoking characteristics of Oriental blends.

Some more on blending, as of January 2013: further notes

Cornell & Diehl (here: http://cornellanddiehl.com/ and here: http://cornellanddiehl.com/blending_tobaccos.htm ) is a good source for various blending tobaccos, but they also produce a number of interesting compounds - explore their website.


NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.


It was customary that those who graduated from Hertog Jan College in Valkenswaard host a party, at which fellow students would celebrate the miracle of one of their number actually passing the exams (oh frabjous day).

This usually meant that politics could be passionately argued until the sun rose, and many of those present had killed the braincells that held all the Latin and Greek so carefully jammed into them for six long years, plus much of everything else besides.

Time enough, over the summer, to Frankenstein-like revive some cells, so that the zombie-brain to which they belonged could then in autumn stumble into lectures at whichever university north of the rivers the exiled scholar infested.

[Sometimes there is little difference between academic youth and a golem. ]

I remember several fellow students trekking back into the wilds of Brabant for feast-days, and temporary relief from putting up with 'Ollanders. By the second or third day home they would be ready to relieve some pent-up tension (not something one can easily do in the bosom of the family).


Imagine, if you will, a harshly lit space, with a delightful perfume of stale beer, sour coffee, and strong tobacco.

Some half a dozen ink-stained wretches, wearing academic robes, because what they have on underneath is utterly uncivilized (and smooty black most marvelously hides traces of past depravities), slouch in chairs at a long table. They are the only ones there.

Several two-pint pots (such a thing is known as a 'student' - only students order beer in such volume), coarse bread, garlic sausage. And many cheap cigars from a factory which specializes in cheroots that stink of clay, crap, and fermentation.

The beer is Dommelsch Oud Bruin - the barkeep wants to be finally rid of the vat (it being far less popular than Trappistyner). It is cheap. And therefore good.

The song below may precede the 'Internationale'. Or not. Both will be sung this night. And regretted the next morning.

Gaudeamus igitur,
Juvenus dum sumus.
Post jucundum juventutem,
Post molestam senectutem,
Nos habebit humus.

Let us by joyous,
While we are youthful.
After a cheery youth,
After a harrowing senescence,
The earth will hold us.

Ubi sunt qui ante nos,
In mundo fuere?
Vadite ad superos,
Transite in inferos,
Hos si vis videre.

Where are those who went ahead
In the world before us?
You could travel to the heavens,
Or go to the flames,
If them you wish to see them.

Vita nostra brevis est ,
Brevi finietur.
Venit mors velociter,
Rapit nos atrociter,
Nemini parcetur.

Our life is brief,
It soon will be finished.
Death comes rapidly,
Horrificly it seizes us,
No person is overlooked.

Vivat academia,
Vivant professores.
Vivat membrum quodlibet,
Vivat membra quaelibet,

Semper sint in flores.

Long live the academy,
Long live the teachers!
Long live each boy student,
Long live each girl student,
Let them ever flourish!

Vivant omnes virgines,
Faciles, formosae.
Vivant et mulieres,
Tenerae amabiles,
Bonae laboriosae.

Long live all the virgins,
Easy, and gorgeous.
And long live mature women,
Tender and charming,
Who strive (!) admirably.

Vivant et republica,
et qui illam regit.
Vivat nostra civitas,
Maecenatum caritas,
Quae nos hic protegit.

Long live the republic.
And he who rules it.
Long live our city,
And the benevolence of the charitable,
Who sponsor us here.

Pereat tristitia,
Pereant osores.
Pereat diabolus,
Quivis antiburschius,
Atque irrisores.

Let sadness vanish,
Let haters die.
Let the devil decease,
As whoever is against our college,
And whoever sneers at it too.

There were other songs. The Duke John song (Duke John I of Brabant, 1252 - 1294) , celebrating a triumph over Limburg (battle of Woeringen) seven and half centuries ago. The song about Bergen Op Zoom, besieged by the degenerate Spanish pig-wolf leech hordes. An utterly unprintable song about Saint John, involving perversions beyond measure (same tune as the Star Spangled Banner - I still have to fiercely pinch myself to keep from chortling inappropriately).
And several lopsided versions of other popular chants.

One song, which is taught to little kinderlech, is in a dense version of mediaeval Dutch.
[It was written by the same Duke John mentioned above.]

Eens meien morgens vroege,
Was ic upghestaan;
In een scoen boemgerdekine,
Soudic spelen gaen.
Daar vant ic drie joncfrouwen staen,
Si waren so wael ghedaen,
Dene sanc voor, dander sanc na,
Harba lorifa, harba harba lorifa, harba lorifa!

Doe ic versach dat scone cruut,
In den boemgardekijn;
Ende ic verhoorde dat sute gheluut,
Van den magheden fijn;
Doe verblide dat herte mijn,
Dat ic moeste singhen na,
Harba lorifa, harba harba lorifa, harba lorifa!

Doe groette ic die alre-scoenste,
Die daer onder stont.
Ic liet mine arme al omme gaen,
Doe ter selver stont;
Ic woudse cussen an haren mont,
Si sprac 'Laet staen, laet staen, laet staen!'
Harba lorifa, harba harba lorifa, harba lorifa!

It is good that it is dense and mediaeval.

Were it otherwise, the children and their parents would understand that it is about the courtly seduction of three fair damsels in an orchard.
Hardly fit for the young, no matter how precious a literary inheritance from the past.

Now, let us bang our fists on the table, and sing of the passions of youth.


There are two comments by gentle-persons self-identifying as 'Anonymous' underneath my posting of Wednesday October eleventh about Rabbeinu Tam.

[see here:

The first one is this:
"Speaking as one who is completely irreligious and reads this blog mainly for the recipes, the Rabbeinu Tam's insistance on keeping things seperate strikes me as anal retentiveness bordering on OCD."

The second one is this:
"I thought RT was famous mostly for his late tzeis hakochavim and tefillin. Even my 6 year old knows about the Tzeis thing."

Ah yes, the Tzeis thing. About which I had heard something somewhere, but until you mentioned it, it had sort of fluttered unattended in the dark recesses of my mind.


Per Rashi, citing the Yerushalmi, one may receite Krias Shema early so as to precede the eighteen benedictions with words of Torah, but he states that this does not fullfil the obligation to recite the Shema, which he avers must be done (or done again) following the time when the stars come forth (tzeis ha kovochim).

Rabbeinu Tam disagrees, asserting one does indeed fulfill the obligation of Krias Shema when reciting it before tzeis ha kochovim.

The Rosh says that though one does not fulfill the obligation of Krias Shema before the tzeis, one can still recite the blessings before and after the Shema - but he states categorically that the proper time for Krias Shema is after tzeis.

Rashi, in mittn drinnen, states that the first paragraph alone, before sleeping, is sufficient.

Because the time when a kohen who has teivelled may eat terumah (largely moot since the destruction of the beis ha mikdosh) is at the same time (and before bringing korbanos), according to the Mishna , one can draw a connection between this and Krias Shema, and likewise between prayer and korbanos.

In similar fashion, we can recall these matters when lighting the chanukah candles, as these should be lit after tzeis.

So when is tzeis ha kovochim?

Tzeis ha kovochim is counted as four mil after sunset, according to Rabbeinu Tam, the Rashba, the Ritva, and the Rambam. If you count a mil as eighteen minutes, the difference is 72 minutes, if you count a mil as 22.5 minutes, the difference is one and a half hours.

The issue becomes interesting when you try to figure out the time difference between alos (sun rise) and plag ha mincha (one sixth of a mil before sunset) according to Talmudic hours....

But I shan't go there. My kop still dries with shmartz from the reckoning involved in modifying the proportions of a tobacco blend last night while Savage Kitten kvetshed about the pregnant cow at her office. And I'm sure the authorities you follow have already either settled the matter, or beaten it into the ground (although if your mil is not 22.5 minutes, uy!).

A machlokes which we'll backburner.

Unless you, my tayere lezers, want to enlighten me.
Which I invite and encourage.
A trip of discovery is less of a stumble in good company.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Jameel writes:

At today's (Oct 17th) Knesset foreign defense committee meeting, Israel's Defense Minister, Amir Peretz said the following:"The period has ended in which we examine the shipping invoice of every rocket that hits Israel. From now on, we will attack all of them..."

What this means in plain English, is that the IDF had official orders not to shoot at Fatah terrorists who were shooting rockets at Israel... only Hamas terrorists.

You wanted "dray a kup" -- how's that for a prime example?

He's right. It's a splendid example of both "verdraaid" (twisted, perverse) and "op zyn kop" (on its head, absurd, bonkers).

Was it, ab initio, even an issue who the devil was firing those rockets into Israel? It ain't like a rocket is a love message, with one suitor being favoured, the other considered a mere nuisance.

Much as I want to 'give peace a chance' (I really do, I'm a dolphin loving tree-hugging Californiyite Democrat), I do not see restraint as a valid option when dealing with flying explosive gifts from those poor oppressed Palestinians. Were it up to me (and please bear in mind that I'm also a bloody-minded Brabantine goy), I would come down on the exact location from whence that missile came like divine wrath. Irrespective if whichever dear sweet Palestinian decided in a fit of childish temper to spark the darn thing. Flatten his house, smash his crockery, and make his charming kinderlech orphans.

There are two things that need to be mentioned.

One being that the pustule wot fired off the thing, and everyone connected with it, qualify as rodef - Sanhedrin 72alef states "‘If he comes to kill you, prevent him". Kler. And per Shemos 22, ein lo damim.
The Rambam opines that it is a mitzvah incumbent on all to save those who are threatened by a rodef, even if it means that the rodef himself gets whacked. According to both halacha and common sense (not always in agreement with each other), there is additionally plenty of justification for whacking the rodef before he does any harm. His having, by firing off the missile, proven himself a mortal danger, and clearly intending murder, in this case striking him to prevent another attack is both logical and necessary. The missile constitutes clear proof of his murderous capability.

The second thing is this: There is no time limit on striking back. It is essential to determine precisely who is involved, rather than simply hitting out wildly at the nearest likely idiot. It is better to wipe out an entire nest of these beasts than to kill just one, or the wrong one. Anyone who enables terrorism makes themselves a target. And by the way, that includes some of our fine American kinderlech out there in the Shomron, who knowingly aid and support Palestinian activists with blood on their hands.

The whole concept of overlooking acts of terror gets my dander up. How precisely European to 'forgive' a bombing! And how ill-advised.
It sets a precedent of devaluing the obligation to prevent such acts. It weakens one's right to do so. And it encourages the alleged moderates (Fatah) to become even more violent, more murderous, more brazen. Which, one imagines, is exactly the opposite of what was intended. Amir Peretz needs his head examined.

Please check out Jameel's blog (http://muqata.blogspot.com/), if you haven't ever been there. We don't always see eye to eye, but that should not stop you. We are all very much alike. Some of us just more so.

Other than my bilious editorial commentary, this is Jameel's guest post.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


I have recently discovered a new blog which is well worth browsing into, being Sfas-Emesic discussions of the weekly parsha by Moshe David Tokayer.

See here:

Reb Tokayer says: "The Sfas Emes's discourses on the Torah during his 35 year tenure as the 2nd Gerer Rebbe are widely regarded as classics of Chassidic thought. The discourses address deep concepts and were written in a very pithy style. They are not easy to understand. This blog is dedicated to making the Sfas Emes available in clear and easy to understand English. Each week, I will, with the help of God, write one homily on the Parsha. I pray that I remain true to the Sfas Emes's intent."

As you know, there is little available in English about either the Sfas Emes , or his grandfather the Chiddushei HaRim. So Reb Tokayer's blog is a very welcome addition.
A rousing kol ha kavod to him.

---------- --- -------- ADDENDUM -------- --- ----------

SFAS EMES = The Lips of Truth. Rabbi Yehuda Aryeh Leib Ben Avraham Mordechai Alter (1847 – 1905), second Rebbe of Ger, called Sfas Emes after his most famous book. Aryeh Leib was a brilliant child, and when orphaned by the death of his father, was raised and taught by his grandfather (the first Rebbe of Ger), as is reflected in his commentaries, which often start with a thought from the Chiddushei HaRim.

His son, the Emrei Emes, escaped from the Nazis and rebuilt Gerrer Chasidus in Eretz Yisroel, where his descendants continue the tradition of their ancestor.

CHIDDUSHEI HA-RIM = Rabbi Yitzhak “Feige” Meir Rothenburg Alter (1799 – 1866), the first Rebbe of Ger, who became a disciple of the Seraf of Kotsk (see below) while still very young. A descendant of Rashi and King David.
Chiddush = Innovation; thus 'Chiddushei HaRim = Innovativa of Rabbi Meir.

SERAF OF KOTSK, The Kutzker Rov = The Tzaddik of Kotsk, rabbi Menachem Mendel (1787 – 1859), the grandfather of the Shem Mi Shmuel.


Sheikh Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, regarding 'resistance': "It is the Palestinian people's right to engage in resistance until the occupation ends. As long as the resistance is legitimate, everything related to it is also legitimate."

Then, pursuant thereto, in relation to suicide bombing: "It is legitimate, of course, as long as it plays a role in the resistance."

Speaking as a private individual, I would like to see this dog whupped.

An authoritative religious figure who supports terrorism and the killing of innocents has no place in the civilized world, and is a danger to everyone everywhere.
The attitude that suicide bombing (or any bombing that targets innocents) is justified is so utterly appalling and dangerous that those who enable and empower the perpetrators of such acts forfeit all right to protection.
By saying such things, this sheikh encourages such acts. By virtue of his position, his utterances are de facto instruction to murderers to persevere in their perverse enterprise, and he functions as an ideological leader for terrorists. Such people deserve whatever ill happens to them.

Given that Grand Mufti Hajji Amin El-Husseini yemach shemo (kinsman of Yassir Arafat yemach shemo) was an open supporter and ally of Adolf Hitler (yemach shemo) and a leader of terrorist gangs himself, and given that recently retired Grand Mufti Sheikh Ikrima Sabri actively strove to destroy any chance of peace, and also encouraged terrorism, it is clear that the position of grand mufti itself is due for reassessment.
There is no place in a rational world for such a melding of religious law, secular function, and political leadership. Nor should such a disturbing inheritance from the Ottoman period, kept in place by the British as a means of pacifying and controlling the Islamic element, be preserved.

There is no longer any purpose that is validly served by maintaining this position, there is no justification for appointing an Ottoman functionary since the fall of the Caliphate. A loose cannon with a murderous agenda needs to be terminated, the position expunged entirely.

Monday, October 16, 2006


A while ago a fellow member of a certain mailing-list angrily called me a "sakasaka witiman".

Which reminded me of food.

Sakasaka is normally found only in the tropics. If you can pick fresh sakasaka, select the smaller, younger leaves; the larger ones are tough and old. If sakasaka is not available, you may substitute kale, spinach, collard, mustard or turnip greens, or similar leafy vegetables.

Cooked sakasaka:

A big bunch of cleaned sakasaka.
One onion, chopped.
A tomato, peeled, seeded, and chopped.
One or two cloves garlic, minced.
One or two mild peppers, minced.
A palm-size piece of dried smoke-fish (substitute a tin of sardines, especially of you are British).
Three or four TBS palm oil.
A pinch of salt, and a pinch of wood-ash.

Chop and thoroughly bruise the sakasaka (and I do mean bruise - whack it with a rolling pin or a mallet). Simmer with plenty of water for an hour or two (the sakasaka should lose its toughness and fibrous quality). One the sakasaka is palatable, add everything else, and cook till the liquid is much reduced and the mass has become pulpy. Eat with fufu or rice.

Adding cooked white beans, lady fingers, or eggplant chunks to the sakasaka is authentic, popular, and good.

Note I: Sakasaka in Sranantongo means despicable, odious, worthy of revulsion. It is probably not related to sakasaka in Congolese.

Note II: Sakasaka in the context of food are cassava greens (feuilles de manioc), known by that name in the Congo, and as mpondu in other parts of central and western Africa. Cassava is also called manioc and yucca.

Note III: If you cannot find palm-oil, use moambé sauce (aka mwambe or nyembwé). Moambé sauce is a flavourful greasy pulp made by boiling mashed palm-nut fruits and straining out the kernels and skins. If even moambé sauce is unavailable (where ARE you living?!?!), just toss in some canned palm-soup concentrate (noix de palme, or sauce greine) into the pot.
Palm-oil, moambé sauce, and palm-soup concentrate add that authentic flavour to African foods - all are also good with meat stews and fricasseed chicken.

Some people add a scoop peanut butter or some coconut milk, either in addition or in-lieu of - this too is good.

Note IV: The pinch of wood ash gives it the flavour of the crude salt used locally - a tiny pinch of baking soda is also good in this regard.

Note V: Fufu are West-African dumplings, very comparable to Surinamese Tongtong. Whatever starchy product is used (polenta, plantains, yams, manioc, etcetera) is first boiled till edible, than pounded to a paste resembling stiff mashed potato, and rolled into balls. These then are either dumped into soupy dishes (rather like matze-balls), or served as the staple on the side with the main-dishes and vegetable dishes, portions to be pinched off and sopped with the greens or sauces.

The mash can also be spread in a baking pan, brushed with butter or oil and browned a bit under the broiler. Depending on how moist it is, it can be then cut or scooped.

Surinamese usually use plantains as the dumpling material, as is also very common in Ghana and Dahomey. Tongtong fu bana (plaintain dumplings) in pinda brafu (peanut soup) is a wonderful party dish wich is sure to elicit cries of delighted regognition from not only your Surinamese guests, but also any West-Africans you invite. Just remember to use a good rich chicken broth as the base of the soup. A few fresh whole green chilies floated in the soup during the last twenty minutes of cooking will add their resinous perfume but no heat (remove carefully to prevent them breaking and releasing piquancy) - aficionados may eat them with their meal.

Afterthought: You need some piripiri with this. If your local market does not carry piripiri, pound fresh Thai birdseye chilies (or long Tabasco peppers) with a little salt, and make the pulp saucy by thinning it with vinegar.

Friday, October 13, 2006


Secretary Rice proved on Wednesday that formal-dinner small talk is a skill. One which, alas, she needs more practice to perfect.

Condoleeza Rice: "The Palestinian people deserve a better life, a life that is rooted in liberty, democracy, uncompromised by violence and terrorism, unburdened by corruption and misrule and forever free of the daily humiliation of occupation."

They need better leaders, who will actually strive towards certain wished-for results. Whether they 'deserve' them is a question. At present, they deserve the very leaders who have brought them violence, terrorism, corruption, and misrule, with the necessary concomitant of Israeli military action to hamper their more egregious attempts at bloodshed. In Gaza, in fact, they are entirely free from any occupation - having discarded rule by Tunisian exiles within minutes of the Israelis departing.

Condoleeza Rice: "I promise you my personal commitment to that goal."

Just as we (the US) committed ourselves to bring democracy in Iraq. Which is a splendid success, by the way. A shining beacon.

Condoleeza Rice: "I believe there could be no greater legacy for America than to help bring into being a Palestinian state for people who have suffered too long, have been humiliated too long."

Better in any case than the Marshall Plan in Europe - those Euries have proven themselves thoroughly ungrateful, and we're absolutely sure the Pals will be much more appreciative.

Condoleeza Rice: "I know that sometimes, a Palestinian state living side by side in peace with Israel must seem like a very distant dream but I know too... that there are so many things that once seemed impossible that after they happened they simply seemed inevitable."

Sweetheart, look eastwards across that valley thingy - there's a country there, called 'Jordan' (you may have heard of it), which is a Palestinian state living side by side with Israel, in peace. It's led by a very capable monarch (Malik Abdallah bin Hussein al Hashemi), who seems, most especially in comparison with many other Arab leaders, a remarkably stable and even-keeled person. He's got quite some yichus, too; a family tradition of leadership going back a few years (to something called the Hejira - look it up). We've been dealing with him for a while now - perhaps it is time the extra-Jordanian Palestinians looked to him for some guidance?

In short, what the Palestinians need is less pandering, less idiocy, and a certain measure of realism. Some common-sense would also be nice.
And they need to shut up a bit - the world does not drai around their tantrums.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


Lipman hot geshribn: "...I'll have three halachos (ah-lAh-tshos) and some salsa with that."

Which raises the question, were the tortillas for those alachos made on the same machinery as the treife tortillas? Or patted into shape by the same hands (al yadei akum)?

And if the hands are kliim, must they be boiled or fired until red-hot?

'Siz a shverre iyun.... (which is Yiddish for 'bon gusto').

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Please note that 'Lipmanesque!' has been amended - as of October 11th., Lipman's comments have been incorporated into the text in large Italic type under the entries for Baaltefille, Baaltekeye, Klikôdesh, Medine.

See here:

There have also been a few other additions.


There were three disputes for which Rabbeinu Tam is known - one over mezuzos, another over shaatnez, the third over tefillin. I will briefly glide through the shaatnez and tefillin disputes (leaving mezuzot for a possible later post), and then jump into mitzvos she ha zaman grama.


Rabbeinu Tam defined Shaatnez as including cloth spun and woven separately, then sewn together, whereas his grandfather (Rashi, 1040 – 1105) opined that it is shaatnez only if the wool and linen are spun and woven together, his argument being that the prohibition against shaatnez is specifically against garments of mixed materials.

The point that Rabbeinu Tam and Rashi disputed has to do with the prohibition against kilayim (the mingling of things which it is inappropriate to mingle). It says in Parshas Shoftim (Judges) in Vayikra (Leviticus) 19:19 "Et chukotai tishmoru behemteicha; lo tarbiya kilayim sadcha, lo tizra kilayim u veged kilayim shaatnez lo ya'ale aleicha" (My statutes you shall guard; do not let your cattle mix-breed, do not sow your field with mixed seeds, and do not wear a garment of mingled cloth.).

Hence there are four categories of things which should not be mingled: plowing by cattle and asses in the same furrow, grapes and other crops in the same arbor, wool and linen in the same garment, and Jews and Midianites in the same world. According to the Mishneh Toireh, these prohibitions promote peace.


There are two types of tfillin, one containing the rolled up parchments in the order approved of by Rashi, one following the order prescribed by Rabbeinu Tam. Many modern Chasidim when wearing tfillin wear both styles, thus hedging their bets.

[Which, to my mind seems kind of like going to confession before attending shul - if we follow Hillel we should follow ALL of Hillel, if we follow Shammai we should hold with ALL of Shammai.]

Putting on tfillin is the paradigm of time-related mitzvos (mitzvos asei she ha zman grama) from which women are excused.

[Tefillin = two boxes with passages from the Torah – one is tied to the forehead, one to the left arm. The Torah passages are the Shma Yisroel (Devarim 6:4 – 9; hear oh Yisrael, the Lord our G-d, the Lord is One, etc.), Ve Hayah ( Devarim 11: 13 – 21; rewards for observance of the mitvot, consequences of not observing), Kadesh ( Shemos 13: 1 – 10; the obligation to always remember the redemption from bondage in Egypt), and Vehaya ( Shemos 13: 11 – 16; the obligation to accordingly instruct one’s children). Tefillin are worn during the morning prayers (shacharis) on weekdays, not on the Sabbath - which is itself in locus phylacteris. The wearing of Tefillin is a mitzva: Devarim 6:8: u keshartam le’ot al-yadeicha ve-hayu letotafot bein eineicha - and you shall bind them for a sign upon your hand, and as a frontpiece twixt your eyes.]

Women are not excused from all mitzvois asei she ha zman grama – the commandment to eat matza on Peysach applies to both sexes, as does the obligation to hear the shofar at Rosh Ha Shana. And more thus. Bear in mind that what the Talmud states as a general principle (klalim – not to be confused with klala, though subconsciously ver veyst?) will necessarily have exceptions.

The Rambam lists sixty mitzvois (shishim heima malachos – ‘sixty there are that are queens’) which apply to all Jews, of which women are not obligated for fourteen of them. Part of the exemption is based on matters where a man performs a mitzvah that applies to more than just himself, such as blowing a shofar on Rosh HaShana (the commandment is to HEAR the tootling) or waving an angry chicken in the air on Yom Kipur, part of the exemption is inexplicable by any logical standard.

For instance, waving around lulavim ve etrogim, counting the omer, putting on tfillin – in what way do these take time away from any task which women customarily perform (and you might ask why it is that they perform those tasks), and how is that different from the overburdening of women that goes on in the fortnight leading up to Peysach? And regarding those mitzvois which should not be performed during Nidah, by what logic should a woman not perform them at other times if they are regularly occuring?

But tzarich iyun all that, why is the commandment regarding tfillin the paradigm of commandments from which women are excused?

In addition to the clear ritual role which Judaism imposes upon men, and the thus implied contrasting or complimentary role of women, it is because of the commandment to ‘discuss it, and teach it to your sons and sons’ son’. As the Talmud sees a clear connection between the obligation to learn Torah, and teach it to one’s sons and grandsons (this being the underlying theme of tfillin), Chazal stumbled to the conclusion that this mitzvah only applies to men (your sons and grandsons), and to have jumped to the further conclusion that mitzvos which have a time component, like that of tfillin, all share precisely that characteristic (or are thematically related - there are some marvelous commentaries which expand upon this idea), and that women are not included.

Why not teach Torah to one’s daughters?

One of the defining characteristics of Judaism is that it is (and has to be) transmitted to subsequent generations. That being so, women already have the edge over men, as whoever is born of a Jewish mother is Jewish (because the soul comes from the mother), and if the child is female, she too will have that edge.

[The soul comes from the mother? This implies that the Messiah will have a Moabite soul. Interesting.]

Not so with a child whose father is the only Jew in the family.

So how does a man transmit Judaism?

By instructing, and passing it on to his sons.


[If I had any photos of untzniusdikke Midianite wenches, they would go here. Sorry. No photos. Take a shower.]

Judging by what the Bnei Yisroel were up to with the heathen women (Parshas Balak, Parshas Matos; Midianite wenches), there can be considerable doubt about the outcome of male to male transmission. If the relations with the sluts of Midian had led to offspring, it is clear that they would have been heathen, as would their fathers who leaped at the chance to be mezaneh with the idol-worshippers probably have likely also become.

That children more likely will follow the religion of their mothers is suggested earlier, in Parshas Vayera, with the differences between the destinies of Ishmael the first-born and Yitzchak the son of Sarah.

To hammer home the point, in Sefer Shmos, Parshas Shmos, we read that it was the children of Hebrew women who were considered a danger to Egypt, and again that it was women who sabotaged Pharaoh’s plan – the midwives (meyaldos) who disobeyed the edict, the Hebrew women (Ivriyos) who allegedly delivered before the midwives came to them, the mother of Moshe who kept him for three months, his sister who watched over him along the banks of the river, Pharaoh’s daughter who had compassion for him and provided ‘a nurse of the Hebrew women’.

[This is a very gynocentric section of the Toireh, but it makes abundantly clear that the offspring of Hebrew men were not a cause for any concern, and had it been only up to the men, there would have been no Hebrews, no danger to Mitzrayim, and no Moshe.]

Ironic, then, that Moshe Rabbeinu married outside the tribe. Even more so, that he subsequently gives the command to slaughter his wife’s people – in parshas Mattos, Psookim 31:15 through 31:18, after the men of Midian have been killed, we read "Va yomer aleihem Moshe ‘hachiyitem kol nekava?" (And Moshe said to them ‘have you kept alive all the women?). "Hen hena hayu l’vnei Yisroel, bi davar Bilam, l’imsarma’al ba Adonai al devar Pe’or, va tehi ha magefa ba adat Adonai!" (Look then, these caused the sons of Israel, through the words of Bala’am, to rebel against the LORD in the matter of Pe’or, and so brought the plague among the congregation of the Lord); "ve atahirgu chol zachar bataf, ve chol isha yoda’at ish le mishkav zachar ha rogu!" (Now kill every male among the young, and all women who have known men by lying with them!).

Chazal and obvious conclusions.

That there is a very real difference between male transmission of Judaism and female transmission of Judaism seems, in the case of Mitzvos asei she hazman grama to have entirely escaped the eagle eyes of Chazal. That the Torah presents an extended series of accounts of men failing miserably in transmitting the religion of their fathers, while the narrative takes for granted that women succeed in imprinting their heritage went right past them.

Instead, Chazal explains the distinction as being one of public responsibility versus the home, sacred duties, internal clocks, candles, and the like. While they do graciously concede that even though women are not obligated in certain matters, it is commendable of them to strive towards knowledge and rigid observance, they warn against men teaching women, as the man might fail to impart either lumdus or emunah.

Does this imply that sons are more likely not to ask difficult questions?

Or does it suggest that a woman will likely find more flaws in an argument than a man?

Perhaps one can shper that Chazal wanted their friends to agree with them, and their wives to be stupid. It’s worth wondering about.

These are the same folks, by the way, who blame Chava (Eve) for the fall despite the snake being a salesman like no other, but excuse Adam on the grounds that ‘his woman talked him into it’.

[Perhaps in this they ruefully acknowledge the ease with which some women can henpeck their fathers or husbands, and the limpness with which some men approach important matters.]

Chazal did not know nearly as much as we think they did. The world is round, it rotates around the sun, and it is significantly older than was dreamt of in their philosophy.

You doubt?

Read Darwin, read Alfred Russell Wallace, read Einstein, read Rabbi Nathan (Nosson) Slifkin.

In conclusion, perhaps some of the commandments, and their limitations, need to be rethunk. Which would be a worthwhile thing to do - surely such matters should be re-examined and understood in each new generation? If, b'yad achar, they are not questioned but passively accepted, knowledge and understanding are not furthered, and the Hebrew men might as well still be lying with the Midianite wenches and worshipping idols.

By the way, fossils make Rabbis mad.


This post is a brief listing of things, which if you had not seen them before at this time of year, might baffle you. Such as waving palm-fronds and what looks like a lemon, followed by a thrashing of willows a few days hence, which will leave the floor of the shul looking like a forest crawled in and had a tantrum. Do not worry. It is normal.

Part of the observance of the season is shaking shrubbery. Which is a beautiful thing.
The shrubbery is a lulav (palm frond), with willow and myrtle. The lemony thing is an esrog (a fruit related to the lemon and to the Buddha's Hand Citron). The willow-thrashing happens this Friday.

The blessing recited upon taking up the lulav and the esrog (al netilas lulav) is: "Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha olam, asher kidshannu be mitzvosav ve tzivanu al netilas lulav" (Blessed are you, our Lord our G-d, king of the universe, who sanctifies us with your commandments, and who commands us to take up the lulav).

The waving, per the Mechaber, the Rama, and the Taz, is east, south, west, north, up, down (clockwise: derech yemin, al pi Chazal).
Nusach Ashkenaz, nusach Sefarad, and nusach Mizrahi – all follow this order.

Mechaber = Author. Appellation of Yosef Karo (1488 – 1575), author of the Shulchan Aruch and the Beis Yosef.
Rama = Rav Moishe Ben Yisroel Isserless (born 1525 or 1530 in Krakow, died 1572). Ashkenazic commentator, author of the Mappah (tablecloth), a supplement to Joseph Karo's Shulchan Aruch (the Set Table).
Taz = Turei Zahav (Rows of Gold), an explicatory commentary on the Shulchan Aruch by Rabbi David Ben Shmuel HaLevi (Krakow 1586 - Lvov 1667), one of the foremost rabbinical authorities in seventeenth-century Poland. The Taz was the son in law of the Bach.

Chassidim usually follow the Ari (nusach Yerushalayim), as cited by the Magen Avraham, who paskenned south, north, east, up, down, west.

Ari = The Arizal, Rabbi Yitzhak Luria, born 1534 in Yerushalayim, nifter 1572 in Sfat (Safed).
Magen Avraham = The Shield of Abraham – a commentary on Orach Chayim (the first section of the Shulchan Aruch by Yoisef Karo, which handles prayers, shuls, sabbaths, and holidays) by Rabbi Avraham Gumbiner of Kalitch, Poyland (1637 – 1683).

The Levush preferred east, south, north, up, down, west; the Tur – east, north, south, west, up, down; Rashi – north, south, east, west, up down.

Levush = The Ba'al HaLevushim, Rav Mordechai Ben Avraham Yaffah (1535 - 1612), Talmudist and Kabalist, chief Rabbi of Grodne, who wrote a commentary on the Shulchan Aruch known by this name, short for Levush Malchus (Royal Vestment), and in reference to its ten divisions - the levushim (vestments).
The TUR = Also called the Baal HaTurim ( Master Of The Rows). Rabbi Yakov Ben Asher (1270 – 1340), author of a Halachic compendium entitled Arba Turim (four rows), which consists of four divisions - Orach Chayim (Path of Life; worship and ritual), Yoreh Deah (Teach Knowledge; prohibitions and impurities), Even Ha Ezer (Rock of the Helper; marriage and family, plus divorce), Chosen Mishpat(Breastplate of Judgement; administration and civil laws).
[The title ‘four rows' is an apt reference to the rows of precious stones on the breastplate of judgement (chosen mishpat), which is part of the outfit worn by the high priest.
Rabbi Yakov Ben Asher often follows the opinions of his father Rabbi Asher Ben Yehiel (the Rosh), but also refers to opinions of the RIF (Rabbi Yitzhak El Fassi, 1013 – 1103), as well as the scholars of Tzarfas (France) and Ashkenaz (Germay). Rabbi Yosef Karo (the Mechaber) based his work the Beis Yosef on the Arba Turim.]


The four species waved about on Sukkos.  Esrog = Citron (1). Lulav = Palm frond (2). Hadassim = Myrtle branches (3). Aravos = Willow branches (4).).

Last year, the complete arba minim could be found for as low as $20.00 on the Lower East Side (corner of Essex and Canal street), up to forty dollars in Boro Park. Also try Main Street, Queens, or the tables in the diamond district, 47th street near 7th avenue.

The esrog is described as the most beautiful of the four minim - pri eitz hador. The greater the fruit, the greater the mitzvah. As there are esrogim which are not true esrogim (being the result of cross-breeding with other citrus fruits), only an esrog which is bulbuous, bumpy, and ridged, can be assumed to be kosher le sukkos.
Esrog has both taste and fragrance, and symbolizes the understanding and wisdom behind all of our actions. As it says in Psalms 104:1 "barachi nafshi et yehva Adonai Elohai gadalta meod, hod ve hadar lavashta" (Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my G-d, you are extremely great, clothed with glory and majesty).

The lulav (date palm frond) is waved when we recite the blessing ‘Al netilas lulav’, again during hallel, when we say ‘hodu l’Hashem’, and also at ‘yomar na’ (the reminder by the sheliach tzibbur to repeat ‘hodu l’Hashem’), but not at ‘yomru na’.
Lulav has taste (that is, the fruit of the tree, which is in part symbolized by the frond) but no fragrance, and represents someone with knowledge of the Torah but no good deeds. But by a different interpretation, the lulav symbolizes upright conduct and character. As is written in Psalms 92:13 "tsadik ka tamar yifrach" - The righteous like the date palm shall bloom (tamar = Date-palm).

Myrtle, which smells lovely, symbolizes good deeds, but no knowledge of Torah. The hadassa represents straightforwardness and common sense, such as an uncomplicated person would have. It says in Zecharia 1:8 "raiti ha laila ve hine ish rochev al sus adom ve hu omed bein ha hadasim" (I looked in the night, and behold, a man riding upon a red horse, and he stood among the myrtle trees).

Arava (brook-willow) is not associated with either taste or smell, and represents someone who has neither good deeds nor knowledge of Torah. As is written in Psalms 68:5 "shiru l'Elohim zamru shemo solu larochev ba aravot be ya shemo ve ilzu le fanav" (Chant unto God, sing praises to His name, extol Him who rides upon the clouds, whose name is the Lord, and exult before Him). And, like the clouds upon which He rides, the willows represent the lips that praise, the prayer that is His service – these being all that a person with neither deeds nor knowledge can offer. Note the similarity between ‘aravot’ (clouds) and ‘arava’ (brook-willow).

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