Chavarah- Jewish Community Learning

A blog of Jewish study and traditions. Notes from classes: Torah Study with Rabbi Marder, Toledot and Shabbaton as well as other details found of interest.

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Thursday, February 24, 2005

It's Pesach but not Passover!

So Pesach is not Passover - there was a translation error!

This is what we learned in Torah Study today!

That holiday we have celebrated as Passover forever is actually not "pass over". That was the result of a mistranslation from a Latin translation and on to English during the Roman period.

So there are many other translations that are interesting.

"Pesach" is better translated as "protection" (and yes, God protected the families who put the blood of the paschal lamb on their doors)

Pesach is a holiday beginning on the 14th of Nisan and traditionally continuing for seven or eight days, commemorating the Exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt. And it will still be referred to as Passover... but interesting to know that technically that story about the translation meaning "pass over" is not entirely accurate.

It is also correctly called:"Chag HaMatzot" - Holiday of Matzot. It is called this in the Torah since we are commanded to eat matzah and are prohibited to eat bread ("Chametz") only matzah or even to have it in our home.

We are also commanded in the Torah to tell our children the story of the Exodus. An interesting analysis:

"Pesach" can be made into two words; Peh (mouth) Sach (to speak). This reminds us that although the mitzvah of remembering the Exodus applies "each day of your life" (Deut. 16:3), yet on Pesach, it is not enough to only remember, but we must tell the story of the exodus and "speak" about it at length.

The Pesach celebration was commanded in the Torah. First in Exodus and again in Numbers and again in Deuteronomy. The evolution of the holiday goes from one celebrated in the individual homes, to a celebration in Jerusalem at the Temple and then after the destruction of the Temple it evolved back to a home celebration again. With the Mishna (about 200 CE) the seder was developed into a celebration that more closely resembles how the holiday is celebrated even today.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Matzah: To Like or Not To Like?

The bread of affliction or the bread of poverty and distress.

So this bread that we are commanded to eat for 7 days each Spring is supposed to remind us of what it was to be a slave.

Does that mean it is supposed to taste bad or at least not very good?

A question explored in Torah study today 2/26/05.

So there are many places in the Torah where we are told to eat only unleavened bread for the Pesach Feast... it is repeated at least 5 time in Exodus, Leviticus and in Deuteronomy - I guess we better do it!

The question of Why we eat matzo (matzah) is answered in the Hagaddah in the words of Rashi, great philosopher, that we recall the suffering of our ancestors as slaves in Egypt.

Other say it is to remind us of the "escape" and the rush to freedom. And in this case the bland unleavened bread should taste good?

Well try telling my kids, who love matzah all year long that it isn't supposed to taste good, and we might have some protest at our home.

So it would be best, for the sake of positive perspective, to let the matzah represent both slavery and freedom, and continue to taste good all year long.

If you google matzah - you find all kinds of recipes that make matzah taste good... I especially like matzah koogle.

And for another perspective on this I found an interesting link to consider:
No Designer Matzah

So I guess we have to consider the elements that make this a FEAST! Guess next I will explore reclining too! (Traditions Renewed is making Pesach Pillows too! You can order them now if you email me.) For Pesach Traditions

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Elevator Logic for Observant Jews

I found this in a blog and tried to contact this person to see where they got the info... found it interesting.

Jews are very creative in figuring out how to make it work and still follow the laws of Shabbat! --- well we are creative in many ways but this is an example.

Thanks to dabble-rouser for finding this info...

may I introduce to you the Shabbos Elevator. Ready? Know how on Shabbat, holy Jews aren’t supposed to use cars, watch tv and all that other .... Well some places (it seems particularly predominate in hospitals, even the ones with statues of Mary all over the place) have these Shabbos Elevators that are programmed to open automatically and stop on every floor. Seems that it’s fine to ride the elevators, but unholy to push the buttons.
It's actually is even more complicated that what I just described. If you really want to fry your brain, read this Rabbi’s description of what makes a Shabbos Elevator a Shabbos Elevator:

“A Shabbat elevator is essentially an automatic elevator which operates according to a preset program, and is not influenced by the passenger(s) in any way. Such an elevator stops for a fixed predetermined time at each floor. A buzzer sounds to warn the passenger(s) not to interfere with the doors when they are about to close because it would influence the program.

Note, however, that not all automatic elevator systems are Shabbat elevators, per se. Because there are many Halachic issues surrounding the use of elevators on Shabbat, one should familiarize oneself with all of them before the particular elevator in question can be used.

One of the common misconceptions about how elevators work, is that they are moved by a powerful motor which works equally hard no matter how many passengers have boarded, or even if no passengers have boarded at all. If this were the case, then the added weight of the passenger is not a contributing factor in any of the functions of the elevator and he wouldn't be considered responsible for those violations of Shabbat caused by use of the elevator. This assumption though, is false.

The assumption is false because elevator motors do not use the same amount of power regardless of the number of passengers or weight. The following is an explanation of how the majority of elevators work, illustrating just a small number of Halachic issues surrounding the use of elevators on Shabbat:
1. Most elevators are the traction type: consisting of a car and a counterweight on opposite ends of a cable hanging from a pulley;
2. The pulley raises or lowers the car by using a motor, and stops by using a mechanical brake;
3. The motor only requires enough power to lift the difference between the counterweight and the car, and to overcome friction;
4. The weight is equal to half capacity of the car, thus the motor operates to counteract the pull of the weight when the elevator is less than half full, and does not operate when the elevator is more than half full, when the car is descending.

Since the weight of the passenger is partly responsible for the motion of the elevator, he becomes liable for any infractions caused by the elevator’s descent. In a typical non-Shabbos elevator, these are some of the many problems that one could encounter:

* Letting your weight trigger the mechanism that slows the elevator down and stops it at the next floor.
* Causing the light that indicates the floor that the elevator is presently on to illuminate.
* Activating the system (resistance sensitive pads, photoelectric device, or proximity detector) that opens the elevator doors."


Friday, February 18, 2005

Purim March 25th

About Purim

Have you read the real megilla lately? It is interesting adult reading ... not just the children's version you probably remember.

Read the Book of Esther

Read the Book on line

And then take a Purim Quiz

Quiz on Book of Esther

Interesting Purim Facts
This one is very interesting - from Chabad

Fun Purim Site

Pillow for Healing

The first of the Healing Pillow Line arrived

This is a small 9" x 7" size satin pillow. Thought it would bring comfort and it is a good item that could be taken to someone who is not well.

The Hebrew is the prayer that relates to Moses' asking God to heal Miriam when she got leprosy. She got well and so the hope is that the words have comfort and healing hope.

I added lions, a symbol of strength; hamsas, a symbol of protection; an eye to watch over you; flowers and vines, a sign of life and growth. The design should have meaning as well.

Order Pillows

Monday, February 07, 2005

Judaica Products

Usually this blog is for information only and not for products. But this is the easiest way for me to show some of the items I am going to feature at the Biennial in Northern California the end of February.

Elijah and Miriam Cups

These are exclusive designs with the Hebrew names on one side and distinctive graphics on the other side.

Elijah and Miriam Cups Detail
Miriam's Cup
read more about this tradition

are special stones with prayers printed on them. Use when visiting the cemetery or memorial wall. Or if you can't visit put the stone in a special place to remember.
more about stones

Shema Pillow
Shema Pillow
To bring comfort and as a reminder this soft pillow with the Shema design embroidered is a wonderful gift.

Order Items