Idiosyncratic Interconnections: Loshon haRa and New Orleans R&B (Episode 1)

Part of a new series, “Idiosyncratic Interconnections,” in which I unveil oddball connections betwixt two things that—most likely—only I, in my unusual mind, would notice… realizing a seemingly unrelated thing unexpectedly interconnects with another thing to explain, illuminate or give insight into the first thing. Each episode connects two things. Let me know if ya’ll … Continue reading “Idiosyncratic Interconnections: Loshon haRa and New Orleans R&B (Episode 1)”

Tananim Gedolim: “great reptiles,” the dinosaurs in the Torah

Originally written December the 5th, 2006, I’ve revised and re-named it to be part 2 of 4 of my D-cember: Dino-cember! series Tananim Gedolim, in English, “Great Reptiles” The Spiritual Can Illuminate The Scientific. The Scientific Can Illuminate The Spiritual. There has been (and will continue to be) debate about evolution and the age of … Continue reading “Tananim Gedolim: “great reptiles,” the dinosaurs in the Torah”

Some Thoughts On The Power of Speech

Obviously I lean heavily on written communication, both in texting basic needs and writing long-form when ideas need room. Personally, I think the novel is best used when your/my/the author’s ideas about something large (our past, our future, technology, childhood, humanity, the soul, big stuff) are deep enough that you need an entire novel to … Continue reading “Some Thoughts On The Power of Speech”

Leviticus and Disability: My Take

Patrick A from PunkTorah asked me to comment on parsha Emor, and here’s what I came up with. Everyone please turn to Leviticus 21, kthx. In this week’s parsha, Emor, Moshe Rabbeinu (Moses) tells us about some of the laws regulating kohanim (Temple priests). After the admonition for kohanim to not have contact with corpses, … Continue reading “Leviticus and Disability: My Take”

The Essenes: A Historical Hoax?

Israeli scholar Rachel Elior has rocked the blogosphere with her allegation that The Essenes didn’t exist at all, and Josephus likely made them up to make Jews look tough to the Romans: Elior contends that Josephus, a former Jewish priest who wrote his history while being held captive in Rome, “wanted to explain to the … Continue reading “The Essenes: A Historical Hoax?”

“Are We Rome?” Part V: The Spoils of Ctesiphon

There were many wars between the Romans and the Iraqis / Persians, too many wars to adequately describe here, one time a Roman general even defected to the Parthians and invaded Syria, but suffice it to say, neither side ever gained much territory long-term. The wars continued into the era of the Byzantines vs. the … Continue reading ““Are We Rome?” Part V: The Spoils of Ctesiphon”

Jewish Funeral For Liviu Librescu

In my last post, I covered the death of Professor Liviu Librescu in the VT Massacre. Librescu, who survived a Nazi slavery camp during the Holocaust, was given a Jewish funeral today in Brooklyn. Full story He’ll be buried in Israel. I was moved by these photos. The casket of Liviu Librescu is carried through … Continue reading “Jewish Funeral For Liviu Librescu”

75-year-old Holocaust Survivor Killed In VT Massacre

This life is full of sick ironies. Nick Israeli professor killed in US shooting As Jews worldwide honored on Monday the memory of those who were murdered in the Holocaust, a 75-year-old survivor sacrificed his life to save his students in Monday’s shooting at Virginia Tech college that left 32 dead and over two dozen … Continue reading “75-year-old Holocaust Survivor Killed In VT Massacre”

Confronting The Absence of G-d

Confronting The Absence of G-d Filling the Gap Called Life I was born with some weird, unknown muscular dystrophy (yeah, Jerry’s Kids Telethon *gag*) believed to be related to the metabolic cycle. On September, Friday the 13th, 1991, at age 9, I had back surgery to put rods in and supposedly straighten my spine (unnecessarily, … Continue reading “Confronting The Absence of G-d”

Amos Shoves G-d’s Social Justice Message In Your Face

Amos Shoves G-d’s Social Justice Message In Your Face Nick’s Commentary on the Book of Amos All my life, I’ve had this yearning to repair the world and set right the injustices it is replete with. This drive has burned within me and spurred me to act and become an activist. As I study scripture, … Continue reading “Amos Shoves G-d’s Social Justice Message In Your Face”

Superstition, Sorcery and Torah

Superstition, Sorcery and TorahThe commandments to stay away from the occult, necromancy, sorcery, demonic forces and the like are explicit in the Torah. See Lev. 19:26 and Deut. 18:10, from which these mitzvos are derived. There’s an interesting split among Jews regarding WHY we have these mitzvos. Rambam says the mitzvah to stay away from … Continue reading “Superstition, Sorcery and Torah”

Nicholas Midrashim: Ishmael

Nicholas Midrashim: Ishmael Ishmael means “G-d hears,” because Hashem heard the pleas of Hagar, his mother. “And G-d was with the lad, and he grew, and he dwelt in the desert, and he became an archer.” (Gen 21:20) Notice I’ve shown (or tried to show) Ishmael drawing the bow with his thumb, the method of … Continue reading “Nicholas Midrashim: Ishmael”

Nicholas Midrashim: How Abraham Came To (And Left) The Land of Israel

Lech Lecha Cartoons by Nick, drawn in Paint Shop Pro 6. Much to the surprise of Abram and his camel, the booming voice of the Almighty commanded him: Genesis chapter 12 1 “Now Hashem said unto Abram: ‘Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto the land … Continue reading “Nicholas Midrashim: How Abraham Came To (And Left) The Land of Israel”

Nicholas Midrashim: Noach

Nicholas Midrashim: Noach Noah Fails To Save Most Humans Cartoons by Nick, drawn in Paint Shop Pro 6. All sources from Parshat Noach Rashi teaches us: “Many ways to bring relief and rescue are available to Him; why, then, did He burden him with this construction [of the ark]? In order that the people … Continue reading “Nicholas Midrashim: Noach”

Glossary of Jewish Terms and Phrases (L – Z)

Glossary of Jewish Terms and Phrases (L – Z) For Future Reference After adding heavily to the glossary A – K, I bring you L – Z. Let me know if I mangled any or missed any big ones! Lashon HaRa lit. “the evil tongue”: gossip and slander prohibited by halacha, even if true. Lashon … Continue reading “Glossary of Jewish Terms and Phrases (L – Z)”

Glossary of Jewish Terms and Phrases (A – K)

Glossary of Jewish Terms and Phrases (A – K) For Future Reference HaShem lit. “the Name”: used in lieu of The Ineffable Name to refer to G-d Baruch Hashem: Bless The Name! used like, “thank G-d!” abbrev. B”H! B’Ezrat Hashem: “G-d willing!” or “with the help of G-d.” BS”D: abbr. for “B‘Siyata D‘Shmaya,” an oft-used … Continue reading “Glossary of Jewish Terms and Phrases (A – K)”

Parshat Noach

Parshat Noach Video This week’s parsha (portion of Torah) is Parshat Noach, the story of Noah and the ark. I found this video on the ADD Rabbi blog. It is a commercial for a financial company, but it’s hilarious. Noach falls out of a tree, gets kicked by a donkey, etc., but still has to … Continue reading “Parshat Noach”

The Image of G-d

The Image of G-d Different Religions Have Different Views Of The Creator Hinduism Brahma Christianity Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam on the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Judaism and Islam LOL….. This is especially relevent as we just marked Simchat Torah and began our annual Torah reading again with Genesis. And G-d created man in His image; in … Continue reading “The Image of G-d”

Simchat Torah!

Simchat Torah! Celebrating The Gift Of Torah We just passed the holiday of Simchat Torah (“Torah‘s rejoicing”), the celebration of receiving G-d’s Torah as we finish Deuteronomy and begin our annual cycle of Torah reading anew with Genesis. Here’s a tour of Simchat Torah celebrations I gleaned from Google images…. A Torah scroll is unfurled, … Continue reading “Simchat Torah!”


Sukkot! Festival of Ingathering! It’s Sukkot everybody! HaShem lays it out in Leviticus: “On the fifteenth day of this seventh month is the Festival of Sukkot, seven days for the L-RD.” (Lev. 23:34) and we know what that means! “You will dwell in booths for seven days; all natives of Israel shall dwell in booths.” … Continue reading “Sukkot!”

The Oral Torah

The Oral Torah What It Is And Why It Is Valid The Oral Torah is the oral tradition of the Jews spanning from the exodus to the present day. When the Jewish people were traumatically dispersed and the Temple destroyed by the Roman Empire in 70 C.E., interpretations of Jewish law, which had always been … Continue reading “The Oral Torah”

Love Your Neighbor: The Whole Torah?

More Torah Commentary Veahavta l’reyacha kamocha, or, in English, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:18) is one of the core mitzvos (commandments) of the Torah, and is in nearly every religion. This is counted in Rambam’s Sefer HaMitzvos as its own commandment, but he also notes that this mitzvah falls under the … Continue reading “Love Your Neighbor: The Whole Torah?”

Serve G-d Without Thought Of Reward

Commentary On Sefer HaMitzvos It’s time for a post about Torah before Shabbas (Sabbath) starts. As I mentioned earlier, I’m studying Rambam’s Sefer HaMitzvos, which lists all of the Torah’s 613 mitzvos (commandments), what they mean, their reasons, how to do them, and why they’re included as one of the 613. In my study of … Continue reading “Serve G-d Without Thought Of Reward”

The Religion Century

Religion Will Shape Our World The last century, 1900-2000, was “the communism century” and was defined by the USA vs. USSR struggle. Now the world is no longer bi-polar, the only pole left is the US, and in place of a conflict between nation-states, we have clashing cultures and ideologies. A rising tide of religious … Continue reading “The Religion Century”