Carnegie Shul Chatter – January 31, 2013

Candle lighting time is 5:20


This weeks parshah is Yitro, a parshah that include the giving of the Ten Commandments.  These are the Commandments as listed in the translation of this parshah at the Jewish Theological Seminary’s web site:

I the Lord am your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, the house of bondage:  You shall have no other gods besides Me.

You shall not make for yourself a sculptured image, or any likeness of what is in the heavens above, or on the earth below, or in the waters under the earth.  You shall not bow down to them or serve them. For I the Lord your God am an impassioned God, visiting the guilt of the parents upon the children, upon the third and upon the fourth generations of those who reject Me,  but showing kindness to the thousandth generation of those who love Me and keep My commandments.

You shall not swear falsely by the name of the Lord your God; for the Lord will not clear one who swears falsely by His name.

Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work,  but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God: you shall not do any work — you, your son or daughter, your male or female slave, or your cattle, or the stranger who is within your settlements.  For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth and sea, and all that is in them, and He rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it.

Honor your father and your mother, that you may long endure on the land that the Lord your God is assigning to you.

You shall not murder.

You shall not commit adultery.

You shall not steal.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house: you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female slave, or his ox or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor’s.

I have inserted the italics in the commandment concerning the keeping of the sabbath day because this commandment appears to apply not only to  the Jews but also to non-Jews who are servants or guests among the Jews.  This would seem to contradict the use of the “Shabbos Goy,”  a Gentile who is employed by a Jew to perform services such as turning on the lights or lighting a stove on Shabbos.  Is the “Shabbos Goy” a violation of the commandment?  There are many differing opinions on this.  What is yours?

Turkey and Latkes?

Thanks to my aunt, Micki Roteman, for the following fascinating piece of historical information:
This year features an anomaly for American Jews – The first day of Hanukkah coincides with Thanksgiving, on 11/28/2013.
I was curious how often this happens. It turns out that it has never happened before…and it will never happen again.

Thanksgiving is set as the fourth Thursday in November, meaning the latest it can be is 11/28.   11/28 is also the earliest Hanukkah can be. The Jewish calendar repeats on a 19 year cycle, and Thanksgiving repeats on a 7 year cycle. You would therefore expect them to coincide roughly every 19×7 = 133 years. Looking back, this is approximately correct – the last time it would have happened is 1861. However, Thanksgiving was only formally established by President Lincoln in 1863.   So, it has never happened before.
Why won’t it ever happen again?

The reason is because the Jewish calendar is very slowly getting out of sync with the solar calendar, at a rate of 4 days per 1000 years (not bad for a many centuries old calendar!) This means that while presently Hanukkah can be as early as 11/28, over the years the calendar will drift forward, such that the earliest Hanukkah can be is 11/29. The last time Hanukkah falls on 11/28 is 2146 (which happens to be a Monday). Therefore, 2013 is the only time Hanukkah will ever overlap with Thanksgiving. You can see the start date of Hanukkah as a function of time in the attached plots. In the long timescale plot, the drift forward is clear.

Of course, if the Jewish calendar is never modified in any way, then it will slowly move forward through the Gregorian calendar, until it loops all the way back to where it is now. So, Hanukkah will again fall on Thursday, 11/28…in the year 79,811.

And I leave you with this Jewish Question from my cousin Jack Mallinger:

If a married Jewish man is walking alone in a park and expresses an opinion without anybody hearing him, is he still wrong?

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