Thursday, 29 May 2014

rosh hashana 20

sometimes it is more convenient for the moon to stay covered. no matter what anyone thinks they have seen.

intimidating the witnesses in their testimony about the new moon to say what they ought to have seen, according to the court's private calculations. despite any calculations or observations to the contrary.

(the new moon needs to be witnessed for the court to declare the month. but some months need to tweak it so that there will be a weekday in-between the shabbat and festival day - for the sake of fresh vegetables and that bodies that need to be buried. the court have their own calculations about the 24 hours when the moon is not visible, how much of it belongs to the old month, and the new month, night and day. Shmuel claimed he could calculate the calendar, but his calculations were lacking the secret of additions that the courts had. btw - as well as doing this draw yomi, I have also been doing a omer counting by drawing. this year was about the poetry of numbers. it got a bit geometrical, and I learnt that the word 'geometry' means 'earth measurement')

rosh hashana 19

how did she know that to turn grief and mourning into celebration, you need to publicly, unashamedly, and openly, cry out in pain.

(this page discusses the various fast days in Megillat Ta'anit that were turned into festive days. and refers to a time when Torah learning was banned by Rome, the people were oppressed for being Jewish and different. The rabbis went to a certain Matronita - an important Roman woman - who instructed them to take to the streets at night and cry, emphasising their common humanity, that jews are their brothers etc... the ban was lifted and the day was turned into a festive day. also on this page is discussed sending messengers publicising the new moon and so then all will know when the festivals will be.)

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

rosh hashana 18

some messages need to travel far.
to the exiled ones and to the distant God.

rosh hashana 17

who is spared descending into Gehenna?
those who wear the tallit and pray, those who wear tefillin on their heads.
and those who forgive others, get forgiven

but those who try to lead by inciting fear - they will never ascend from this hell.

rosh hashana 16

blowing the crooked shofar confuses Satan and disrupts the order of the books.

(one of the reasons for the different types of notes of the shofar is that it will confuse Satan at the time of judgement. Satan's role is to act as prosecution against the people. The judgement is recorded in 3 books - Life for the righteous, Death for the wicked, and the in-between book for those who aren't wholly wicked or righteous)

rosh hashana 15

what can be learnt from a silent study partner? an adversary that doesn't answer back?

but sometimes, as the poor etrog knows, it is better to leave things alone.

(Resh Lakish and R. Yohanan seem to be in disagreement about if the etrog is tithed at picking or when it is formed. But R. Yohanan is remarkable silent in the face of Resh Lakish's argument. on this page it is also noted that many people handling the etrog tree may damage the tree and affect the growth and future fruit for 3 years.)

rosh hashana 14

etrog - fruit or vegtable?
formed by the falling rain or the time that it is picked?

rosh hashana 13

ability to see the plant's full potential and know when it has only grown a third.

rosh hashana 12

calculating when the year begins for plants.

rosh hashana 11

when did the 2 stars disappear that caused the flood?
did the rain fall in it's normal time, or did the scalding water rise?

how much did creation change for the flood?

rosh hashana 10

calculating the length of a year, and when life takes root and the world began.

rosh hashana 9

the sound of the shofar declares liberty for the enslaved.
freedom of movement and freedom to trade.
but there will always be slaves to set free, somewhere.

Monday, 19 May 2014

rosh hashana 8

under the covered moon the freed slaves eat and drink with their former masters.

(even though the Jubilee year begins at Rosh Hashana, the slaves don't go free until the shofar is blown at the end of Yom Kippur. In between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur the former slaves eat and drink with their former masters with crowns on their heads. Rosh Hashana is described as the festival where the moon is covered)

Thursday, 15 May 2014

rosh hashana 7

Nisan is the first month of months, for many things.
many things begin in Nisan, and some end...

rosh hashana 6

it doesn't matter how long a year is, how long it takes for the earth to go around the sun, when there are poor people to be found everywhere on this earth.

(the discussion about when the someone has violated the principle of "do not delay" fulfilling their vow. if it is an offering in the Temple in Jerusalem, then there is a debate about how many opportunities to go to the Temple can pass before it is considered a delay. But if the vow is to give charity to the poor then there is no waiting a year, or need to work out how long is a year, no of days or months, leap year etc, because poor people are found everywhere and not just in the Temple in Jerusalem)

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

rosh hashana 5

resetting the festive clock for the substitute that stands in for the lost offering or the repentant sinner.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

rosh hashana 4

the corruption of Cyrus.
how low did he go?

(there are various interpretations on how Cyrus was corrupt. It begins with him giving to the Temple, purely for personal gain. which doesn't seem so bad. Or when he rebuilt the Temple he deliberately used wood, without any fireproofing, so that he knew he could destroy it with fire should he need to. Or he had a dog as a sexual companion.... with a comparison that Torah is as precious to Jews as dogs are to's a strange sliding scale of degradation, and disturbing in so many ways....)

rosh hashana 3

the kings who are not just called by their real name

(two kings are mentioned on this page: Sihon - wild foal, also known as Canaan - the name of the kingdom, and Arad - his real name. And Darius, also known as Cryus - like kosher, before he became corrupt, and Artaxexes -after the kingdom. Israelite kings' reign are marked from 1st of Nisan. and gentile kings is from 1st Tishrei)

Monday, 12 May 2014

rosh hashana 2

counting the reign of the king in the same month that the people were freed.
from slave nation to a kingdom. the pinnacle of redemption.

(rosh hashana begins by saying that there are 4 new years. counting time is all about what it is needed to be counted. there is a new year for kings, trees, animals, and agriculture. The first of Nisan is used to mark the reign of Israelite kings, the same month as the exodus from Egypt. These two are linked in various verses in Tanach)

goodbye mesechet beitza

goodbye mesechet beitza - from what to do when an egg is laid on chag, to not slaughtering animals unless they are domestic (reside in the city) or hospitality and gifts to guests who come from far away... dealing with the realities of life that can just appear. suddenly. but even though they are unpredictable, there can still be strategies and a framework for dealing with events that come in from outside one's boundaries and borders. 

much of this section seemed like a repeat of mesechet shabbat, eruvin, pesachim and succah. but some were specific about the differences of behaviour on a chag to shabbat. but revision is good, and it was reassuring to learn these passages and remember the details. perhaps some of this stuff is sinking in... whether or not that is a good thing, I am not yet sure.

because I don't yet really know why I am doing this crazy project. I chose to do this talmud tractate in watercolour. which I instantly regretted. I don't like painting. I like drawing, with line. not building up areas of tone and colour. although over these last 40 days my watercolour technique improved, I am pleased to be saying goodbye to this tricky medium. that takes too long to dry and warps the paper.

but I am tired... thank you to all who are still reading this and following this crazy project. thank you for the support and feedback. it is deeply gratifying to receive the emails. You have a lovely habit of knowing when I am feeling a little demoralised about this and seem to know exactly when to send a message. thank you for the encouragement.

onwards to Rosh Hashana

beitza 40

dealing with guests and animals that come from far away

beitza 39

the impossibility of containing fire and water

beitza 38

laughing and shaming the one who wants to be part of the group,
but like the borrowed spice, the outsider stands alone and distinct.

(R. Abba came from Bavel to Israel and wanted to be accepted by the scholars in Israel. he hears a discussion about if water and salt can be nullified within dough and offers an coutner-argument. the scholars laugh at him, and after R. Abba says why are they shaming him, they laugh more and then the gemara proceeds to defend the laughing... among the cases they discuss about a small substance not becoming nullified in the larger amount is the example of borrowing a spice for cooking. the taste of the spice will always be distinct. the outsider here, R. Abba, wants to be part of the larger group, but is shamed and remains apart)

beitza 37

objects follow the travelling feet
except for the shoe that is thrown with force

beitza 36

the dangers of taking too long to deliberate and find a solution to a leaky roof... the water will eventually destroy.

beitza 35

falling clothes, hair, & olives
that can be picked and eaten one by one straight-away, no tithing necessary

beitza 34

waiting 24 hours before slaughtering the accidental chicken or taking produce

beitza 33

can't start a fire
but can release a scent

beitza 32

3 men with no life:
those who look to other people's tables for food
those who are ruled by their wives
and those who suffer in their bodies

these are no ways to live

beitza 31

gathering what can be contained and released by unlocking with a key or making a hole in the wall.
but not scattered by the wind

beitza 30

choosing not to comment on how the women are carrying the water, dancing & clapping or sitting in the alleyways.

(even though they are WRONG)

beitza 29

how to make bread on a chag:

take some eggs and flour
do not weigh
sift onto a table

but do whatever you do to make the perfect loaf for his master's bread

Thursday, 1 May 2014