Monthly Archives: June 2006

Jewish Scripture and other Writings

A handful of readers will have an inkling what inspired me to create this post.  But the inspiration is irrelevant.  This may or may not prove useful to most readers, but it could be highly educational.  This is basically an annotated list of Jewish religious texts.  I am sure an Orthodox reader or two of this blog would be upset that X or Y is missing.  I am also sure a Reform reader or two of this blog will look at several items on the list, squint, and say, ‘hunh?”  Not all of these books are on my library shelf (physical or digital).

TANAKH – The Hebrew Bible (an acronym) – 24 books

  • Torah – The first five books: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Numbers
  • Neviim – Prophets: Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, The Twelve Prophets (Hosea, Joel, Amos, Jonah, Obadiah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi)
  • Ketuvim – Writings: Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra and Nehemiah

Notes: Those familiar with the Catholic Old Testament might notice a few missing.  These are the ‘Deuterocanonical‘ books, referred to in the King James Version as ‘Apocrypha.’  Their absence doesn’t mean they’re treated as heresy, just that they’re not canon.  Though some of the doctrine in these books are rejected.

Mishnah – Written record of Rabbinical discussions and decisions that occurred over centuries and finally written down around 200 CE.

Talmud (or Gemarah) – Written record of Rabbinical discussions on the Mishnah.  There are actually two Talmuds.  If not specified, it’s the Babylonian Talmud (550 CE).  The less commonly referenced is the Palestinian or Jerusalem Talmud (350 CE).  The only difference is the community of Rabbis involved in the discussion.
Codes of Law – further attempts to organize the Rabbinical decisions in the Talmud(s)

  • Mishneh Torah: Compiled by Moses ben Maimon (aka Maimonides – 1135-1204 CE)
  • Shulkhan Aruch: Compiled by Yosef Karo (1488-1575)

Other books by Maimonides

  • Sefir Hamitzvot (Book of the Commandments): an annotated listing of all 613 commandments from the Torah
  • Guide for the Perplexed: a philosophical work comparing and contrasting Jewish theology with Aristotelian philosophy.

Zohar: Mystical commentary on the Torah.  The basis for Kaballah.  The Zohar was discovered by Moses de Leon in 13th Century Spain. It was written in the 2nd century by Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai.  Some people dispute Moses de Leon’s claim of origin.  Of course, some people dispute that the Torah was handed down on Mt. Sinai.  Heretics!

Midrash: further commentary on the TANAKH.  I’ve written Midrash, myself.  Of course, few have read mine.  There are several classic examples, but I’m not going to bother naming them, except those in the next category.

Aggadah – Legends: Non legal texts from the Mishnah, Talmud, and Midrash.

  • Sefer Ha-aggadah – Book of Legends: compiled by Hayim Nahman Bialik and Yehoshua Hana Ravnitzky. Published in Hebrew in Odessa, Russia in 1908-11.  English translation by William Braude in 1992.  Bialik is also often considered the Father of Modern Hebrew Poetry.
  • Legends of the Jews – compiled by Louis Ginzberg (in German) – English translation by Henrietta Szold published in New York City in 1909.

If anyone thinks I’ve made a mistake, let me know. However, the above was not written off the top of my head…I was familiar with most of it, but I used various websites I trust to make sure I got the descriptions and dates correct.

Les Miz – Not Work Appropriate

The colleague I normally share my office with is gone for a few days, so I can play my choice of music.  So I decided to bring in showtunes.  Today, I brought in Les Miserables CSR. 

(For non Les Miz-geeks, that’s shorthand for the Complete Symphonic Recording, which contains on 3 cds every note and every word of the original musical…which bears that adjective because they did some editing after the 10th anniversary.  I don’t believe there’s a CSR for the post-10th Anniversary musical, but I wouldn’t want it.  OK, maybe I would for completion.  I do have the Original Broadway Cast, Original London Cast, Tenth Anniversary Concert, and Original French Concept…clever people can figure out the genearlly accepted acronyms for all of those. No, I don’t understand the French, but I have the CD, and I have listened to it.  I don’t yet have the Japanese Cast, even though it is available from Amazon.  It is rumored there once was a Hebrew cast recording, but it’s not available anywhere, or I would have it.)

I was just listening to Lovely Ladies and realizing that I am glad no one can hear the music from outside the office.  It’s not very work appropriate.  (This is one of the songs they did edit after the 10th anniversary, and they made it somewhat more appropriate, but I feel it’s rather silly since they may have softened the language somewhat, but the meaning remains the same.)

[The docks. Sailors, whores and their customers, pimps, etc. Fantine wanders in]

I smell women
Smell ’em in the air
Think I’ll drop my anchor
In that harbor over there

Lovely Ladies
Smell ’em through the smoke
Seven days at sea
Can make you hungry for a poke

Even stokers need a little stoke!

Lovely Ladies
Waiting for a bite
Waiting for the customers
Who only come at night
Lovely Ladies
Ready for the call
Standing up or lying down
Or any way at all
Bargain prices up against the wall

Come here, my dear
Let’s see this trinket you wear
This bagatelle…

Madame, I’ll sell it to you…

I’ll give you four

That wouldn’t pay for the chain!

I’ll give you five. You’re far to eager to sell.
It’s up to you.

It’s all I have

That’s not my fault


No more than five
My dear, we all must stay alive!

Lovely ladies
Waiting in the dark
Ready for a thick one
Or a quick one in the park
Whore 1
Long time short time
Any time, my dear
Cost a little extra if you want to take all year!

Quick and cheap is underneath the pier!

What pretty hair!
What pretty locks you got there
What luck you got. It’s worth a centime, my dear
I’ll take the lot

Don’t touch me! Leave me alone!

Let’s make a price.
I’ll give you all of ten francs,
Just think of that!

It pays a debt

Just think of that

What can I do? It pays a debt.
Ten francs may save my poor Cosette!

Lovely lady!
Fastest on the street
Wasn’t there three minutes
She was back up on her feet

Lovely lady!
What yer waiting for?
Doesn’t take a lot of savvy
Just to be a whore
Come on, lady
What’s a lady for?

[Fantine re-emerges, her long hair cut short]

Give me the dirt, who’s that bit over there?

A bit of skirt. She’s the one sold her hair.

She’s got a kid. Sends her all that she can

I might have known
There is always some man
Lovely lady, come along and join us!
Lovely lady!

Come on dearie, why all the fuss?
You’re no grander than the rest of us
Life has dropped you at the bottom of the heap
Join your sisters

Make money in your sleep!

[Fantine goes off with one of the sailors]

That’s right dearie, let him have the lot

That’s right dearie, show him what you’ve got!

Old men, young men, take ’em as they come
Harbor rats and alley cats and every kind of scum
Poor men, rich men, leaders of the land
See them with their trousers off they’re never quite as grand
All it takes is money in your hand!

Lovely ladies
Going for a song
Got a lot of callers
But they never stay for long

Come on, Captain,
you can wear your shoes
Don’t it make a change
To have a girl who can’t refuse
Easy money
Lying on a bed
Just as well they never see
The hate that’s in your head
Don’t they know they’re making love
To one already dead!


The agency I work for is hosting a conference this weekend for delegates from its sister agencies across the world.  I’ve been helping out, greeting people as they arrive, doing odd jobs, and attending a handful of sessions myself.

One event I made sure I made was this morning’s All Faith Prayer gathering.  Call it a morbid curiousity to see how horribly we failed at the concept.  I rarely hear of a successful one.  Actually, I think we did extremely well.

The leading clergymember (an employee at our agency) led off with a song I’d never heard before, but which I found quite energizing.  With the aid of Google, I’ve discovered it’s based on  Psalm 118:24, which of course is from acceptable scripture for any Abrahamic religion.  And the context is generic enough to be appreciated by anyone.
He then asked for members of the audience to stand up and announce things happening in their community which make them feel blessed.  A nice tradition to make the service interactive.

Then someone sang Amazing Grace, but it was a performance, and not treated as a sing along.  It’s a beautiful song, and I have always felt so.  The context is certainly outside of my faith, but it doesn’t alter its beauty.   There is nothing offensive to me about witnessing the prayer of someone else as long as one isn’t coerced to join along.

The leader of the service also read from Matthew, but it was a passage referencing the end of times, and judgment, which is something all Abrahamic faiths at least share in common.  He never once named the Lord.
He wrapped up with a sermon that could have come from any faith based on the activities of our agency, the good we do for the world, and how the world would be a better place if everyone gave a little bit of themselves back to the community.

Thank you, Alan Moore

As I wrote back in May

Alan Moore has recently published a graphic novel exploring Wendy, Dorothy and Alice’s sexuality.  I wondered how the Ormond Street Hospital for Children, which owns the rights to Peter Pan through 2007, would respond.

Now we know. 

The hospital, which was bequeathed the rights to the “Peter Pan” books by Barrie, said: “In order to be published or distributed in these territories, Alan Moore’s title would need our permission or license. From press coverage, we understand it deals with sensitive subject matter which does not initially seem appropriate to be associated with the hospital and with J.M. Barrie’s legacy to us.”

Stephen Cox, the hospital’s spokesman, said in a telephone interview Friday that it has not taken legal action against Moore and is was waiting to see whether the author will contact the institution to discuss its objections.

Moore’s alleged response is fascinating:

In a recent interview with the BBC, Moore said “The Lost Girls” was inspired by “Peter Pan,” but that he doesn’t intend to seek permission from the hospital to use the Wendy character.

“I don’t really see that you can ban anything in this day and age. It wasn’t our intention to try to provoke a ban,” Moore was quoted as saying.

It seems to me that Moore is giving carte blanche for anyone to use his characters in their own work.  Cool.

God Bless the Hartford Coffee Company

Not only does the Hartford Coffee Company have honest staff — my laptop was waiting for me upon my arrival there this morning — they make an awesome Bagel/Cream Cheese/Lox sandwich.  I’m told their fritattas are also excellent.  And their breakfast items are served throughout the day.  During non-breakfast hours, I highly recommend their Felafel as well.

I don’t drink coffee so I haven’t sampled their wide variety.


Was at open mic tonight.  brought my laptop with me.  left it there.  G-d will receive some prayers tonight that whoever found it — whether fellow customer or staff cleaning up — is honest, and I will be able to retrieve it tomorrow morning.  Sure, it’s kind of unusual to be asking G-d to have an effect on the past.  I realize this.  The laptop is a valuable piece of machinery, but more than that, I care about what’s on it.  Sure, it should all be backed up.  I know that.  But it’s not.

Shopping on Manchester

A month ago, Awholecanofplot was Shopping on Manchester, and learned The Book House was moving.  They’re still moving.  The guy behind the counter today said the date wasn’t set, but it would be late summer early fall.  They’re staying on Manchester, but they will be further East, near Big Bend.

Currently, for those who seek bargains, everything is 20-70% off.

As I mentioned in April I never leave empty handed.  Today I left with two books by Elie Wiesel (“Messengers of God” and “One Generation After”), one book by Chaim Potok (My Name is Asher Lev) and an Agatha Christie novel which will be a gift for a friend.

God blessed America for me

This Land Is Your Land (manuscript version)

The original 1940 lyrics are slightly different from the song we are all familiar with:

This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York Island,
From the Redwood Forest, to the Gulf stream waters,
God blessed America for me.As I went walking that ribbon of highway
And saw above me that endless skyway,
And saw below me the golden valley, I said:
God blessed America for me.

I roamed and rambled and followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts,
And all around me , a voice was sounding:
God blessed America for me.

Was a high wall there that tried to stop me
A sign was painted said: Private Property,
But on the back side it didn’t say nothing —
God blessed America for me.

When the sun come shining, then I was strolling
In wheat fields waving and dust clouds rolling;
The voice was chanting as the fog was lifting:
God blessed America for me.

One bright sunny morning in the shadow of the steeple
By the Relief Office I saw my people —
As they stood hungry, I stood there wondering if
God blessed America for me.

It is said that Guthrie was sick and tired of hearing Irving Berlin’s song, God Bless America, on the radio and recorded this as a response.

Numerological Goodness

I just checked, and my gmail account turned 2 yesterday.

Clocking it from my first email, from the “Gmail Team” explaining how everything worked at 11:19:18 am June 15, 2004, to the last email received prior to 11:19:18 am on June 15, 2006, I saved 36,090 emails.

The only thing I delete is spam, so I am averaging about 18,000 non-spam emails a year.

Now…I could go through my backlogs and delete 90 emails.  I’m sure I could find 90 emails I don’t really need.  I could probably find 36,000 I don’t need.  But why delete?  Currently, I’m only using 20% of my space.

And more importantly

36,090/18 = 2005.  Exactly.  

Now, isn’t that weird?