Friday, March 21, 2008
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Thanks to www.jewfaq.org for this explanation of the Purim holiday:
Purim is one of the most joyous and fun holidays on the Jewish calendar. It commemorates a time when the Jewish people living in Persia were saved from extermination. The story of Purim is told in the Biblical book of Esther. The heroes of the story are Esther, a beautiful young Jewish woman living in Persia, and her cousin Mordecai, who raised her as if she were his daughter. Esther was taken to the house of Ahasuerus, King of Persia, to become part of his harem. King Ahasuerus loved Esther more than his other women and made Esther queen, but the king did not know that Esther was a Jew, because Mordecai told her not to reveal her identity.
The villain of the story is Haman, an arrogant, egotistical advisor to the king. Haman hated Mordecai because Mordecai refused to bow down to Haman, so Haman plotted to destroy the Jewish people. In a speech that is all too familiar to Jews, Haman told the king, "There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your realm. Their laws are different from those of every other people's, and they do not observe the king's laws; therefore it is not befitting the king to tolerate them." Esther 3:8. The king gave the fate of the Jewish people to Haman, to do as he pleased to them. Haman planned to exterminate all of the Jews.
Mordecai persuaded Esther to speak to the king on behalf of the Jewish people. This was a dangerous thing for Esther to do, because anyone who came into the king's presence without being summoned could be put to death, and she had not been summoned. Esther fasted for three days to prepare herself, then went into the king. He welcomed her. Later, she told him of Haman's plot against her people. The Jewish people were saved, and Haman was hanged on the gallows that had been prepared for Mordecai.
The book of Esther is unusual in that it is the only book of the Bible that does not contain the name of G-d. In fact, it includes virtually no reference to G-d. Mordecai makes a vague reference to the fact that the Jews will be saved by someone else, if not by Esther, but that is the closest the book comes to mentioning G-d. Thus, one important message that can be gained from the story is that G-d often works in ways that are not apparent, in ways that appear to be chance, coincidence or ordinary good luck.
The primary commandment related to Purim is to hear the reading of the book of Esther. The book of Esther is commonly known as the Megillah, which means scroll. Although there are five books of Jewish scripture that are properly referred to as megillahs (Esther, Ruth, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, and Lamentations), this is the one people usually mean when they speak of The Megillah. It is customary to boo, hiss, stamp feet and rattle gragers whenever the name of Haman is mentioned in the service. The purpose of this custom is to "blot out the name of Haman."
We are also commanded to eat, drink and be merry. According to the Talmud, a person is required to drink until he cannot tell the difference between "cursed be Haman" and "blessed be Mordecai," though opinions differ as to exactly how drunk that is. A person certainly should not become so drunk that he might violate other commandments or get seriously ill. In addition, recovering alcoholics or others who might suffer serious harm from alcohol are exempt from this obligation.
In addition, we are commanded to send out gifts of food or drink, and to make gifts to charity. The sending of gifts of food and drink is referred to as shalach manos (lit. sending out portions). Among Ashkenazic Jews, a common treat at this time of year is hamentaschen (lit. Haman's pockets). These triangular fruit-filled cookies are supposed to represent Haman's three-cornered hat.
It is customary to hold carnival-like celebrations on Purim, to perform plays and parodies, and to hold beauty contests. Purim is not subject to the sabbath-like restrictions on work that some other holidays are; however, some sources indicate that we should not go about our ordinary business on Purim out of respect for the holiday.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Dear Friends, Shalom! I am going to participate, for the first time, in Thursday Thirteen. I have enjoyed reading some of your Thursday Thirteen posts for some time now, and decided to give it a go.
Figured I would start with a fun one:
Thirteen Musical Artists I Can't Live Without!
- Duran Duran - still making incredibly exciting, moving music after all these years. I still find myself getting a visceral reaction every time I hear "Ordinary World" or "Hungry Like the Wolf." My friends and I saw them when I was in High School, and memories of Simon Le Bon crawling on the stage in a silver lame suit still make my heart flutter.
- Colin Hay - I've mentioned my love for his music before. If you haven't had a chance to check out his solo work (he was the lead singer of Men at Work), you are missing out on moving, amusing, heartbreaking, and beautiful acoustic work. "Waiting for My Real Life to Begin."
- Sarah McLachlan - I celebrate her entire catalog. No singer is so consistently wonderful, in my humble opinion. She is one of those artists that I can put on, listen to the entire CD, and enjoy every moment. "Elsewhere" is my long time favorite.
- Robbie Williams - What an underrated artist! He is HUGE in the UK, yet a minor star here in the US. His music has passion, a sense of humor, so much sexuality, and immense talent. I love me some Robbie. Saw him live at a taping of CARSON DALY. "Feel" and "Road to Mandalay" are current favorites.
- Dave Matthews Band - I've seen them perform at least five times (including their enormous Central Park Concert a few years ago). While their more recent albums have disappointed me, I really love their first few records. Put those on, relax, sing along, and feel at home. "Two Step" makes me wild with joy.
- Barenaked Ladies - I really began enjoying their music towards the end of high school and early in college. They seem like such genuinely nice, talented guys, and I love the way that they incorporate love, humor, silliness, and profundity all in the same song. I saw them perform, for free, in Boston while I was in college. It was raining, and so the Mac N' Cheese that the audience threw around got mushy and messy. Yet, we loved every minute! "Pinch Me" is my most favorite.
- Erasure - Give me some happy, dancing men any day, and I shall be at peace. I have been a fan for a LONG time, thanks to my best friend, Jessica, introducing their music to me in elementary school. They still put out amazing albums, and have a unique sound. "Always" is still my most favorite song of theirs.
- George Michael - His voice is like butter, as far as I am concerned. He is capable of singing so many different styles and emotions, and so many songs are classics. "As," his duet with Mary J. Blige, remains my favorite.
- Indigo Girls - My overnight camp experiences would have been so different without their songs to sing around the campfire. The heartache and wonderment in their songs always helps me better understand something in my life that I couldn't, personally, articulate. My friends and I saw them live in High School, and we danced around the outdoor theater during each song. "Galileo," their ode to reincarnation, is true brilliance.
- Moldy Peaches - Okay, so I only just discovered this sweet band, thanks to the JUNO soundtrack, but I am HOOKED! I downloaded every possible song off of iTunes, including the solo work of Kimya Dawson and Adam Green, and feel like I am entering a new world of honesty, love, and simplicity. I can't stop listening to "Tire Swing."
- Madonna - What can I say? From my childhood filled with lace gloves, big charm necklaces, and torn jeans, to the mystical dance tunes playing on my iPod today, I have always been a fan of her music. Notice that I specify MUSIC - she, as a person, drives me crazy. "Dear Jesse" and "Don't Tell Me" are currently my favorite songs.
- Metallica - Throwing you for a loop here, I'll bet. There is a sweet, little, Jewish headbanger deep inside of me. In fact, I saw Metallica perform live in Tel Aviv when I lived in Israel. One of the coolest moments? When James Hetfield shouted, "Shalom, Motherf**kers!" Have those two words ever before or since been muttered together??? "Nothing Else Matters" is still a necessity.
- R.E.M. - Last, but certainly not least, I love R.E.M. I saw them in concert while I was in High School, and I remember so many moments from it, even now. Their lyrics are smart, the songs are brilliantly put together, and Michael Stipe seems like such a good person. "Near Wild Heaven" is one of my favorite songs of theirs.
Well, I can't believe that I have already listed 13 artists. There are plenty more favorites, but we will stop there for now.
I can't wait to hear your reactions and your favorites.
Have a great day!!
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
This is such a fun little game, I can't believe it. My darling Zilla has tagged me for this, and here goes.
Grab the book nearest to you, open it up, and turn it to page 123. Write down the first 5 sentences on that page. Then tag 5 more people.
So, let's see, the book nearest to me right now is Change Your Thoughts - Change Your Life, by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer. In this book, Dyer attempts to explain his interpretation of Tao Te Ching and apply it to life today. I saw him discuss it on a recent episode of Ellen Degeneres, and I just had to get it. I haven't read much of it, though, so let's see what we've got. Turning to page 123, we find the following:
Living Calmly: In this chapter of the Tao Te Ching, you're being advised to maintain a sense of serenity regardless of what you may see taking place around you. Moreover, you're being told that the true master knows that the ability to stay calm is always located within. From this perspective, there's no need to assign responsibility to others for how you feel. Even though you may live in a world where blame and faultfinding are endemic, you will own your feelings and actions. You will know that circumstances don't determine your state of mind, for that power rests with you.
Definitely have to ponder that!!
So, now I have to tag:
Phyllis, Bradley, Jerseygirl, Michael, and Dixiechick.
Can't wait to see what you guys find!
Wow - it has been SO long since I've had a chance to participate in "Heads or Tails Tuesday." It feels so good to be back! Heads Or Tails is a weekly meme done on Tuesdays. Anyone can play. In fact the more, the merrier! You can visit the Heads or Tails Home Page for more information on how you can join in!
Today's topic is: "List 7"
So, I can list 7 of anything that I want. I think that it will be fun to share 7 things that you might not know about me - some quirks, "weirditudes," and trivia.
Seven Thingies about Marci
- I am a recovering nail biter - I bit my nails throughout my entire childhood, and somehow managed to give it up for the senior prom. Since becoming a rabbi, I have been able to keep my nails nice most of the time. However, you can always tell how I am REALLY feeling at any given time by looking at my nails. If they are short or bitten off, you know that I am feeling really overwhelmed. Luckily, they look great right now.
- I dream of Taco Bell - I have maintained a deep passion for Taco Bell for much of my life. This relationship was challenged when I moved to Israel for one year. Despite having many other fast food chains (McDonalds, KFC, Sbarro, etc), there aren't any Taco Bell locations in the country. I guess that I was so distraught about this that I actually dreamt about Taco Bell a number of times.
- I once tripped over Kevin Bacon's children - Oy - how embarrassing! I was out for sushi on the Upper West Side of NYC a few years ago with a friend. I stood up from our booth, moved backwards without looking, and tripped over a small child standing there. I apologized to the kid, and then reflexively looked up to apologize to the parents. Lo and behold, the parents were KEVIN BACON AND KYRA SEDGWICK!!! I smiled, panicked, and ducked back into my booth. I have never forgotten the feeling of SHAME!!!
- I have seen RENT 8 times - I am a huge fan of the musical, RENT. I first saw it in Boston while I was in college, and fell in love with it. The story makes me cry every time, the music gives me goosebumps, and the characters became my friends. Since living in NYC, I have seen it many more times, and each time I notice something new. I am so sad that it is closing on June 1, and will miss the ease with which I have been able to see it over the years.
- I have an extra bone in my left foot. Yes, you read that correctly. I experienced a lot of pain in my left foot as a child, and my parents couldn't figure out what was wrong. Our family doctor was baffled by it, so he sent us to an orthopedic doctor. That doctor took an x-ray, showed it to us, and announced - YOU HAVE AN EXTRA BONE IN YOUR FOOT! That's right, folks, I am a mutant. It really doesn't impact my life anymore, thankfully, but it definitely influences which shoes I purchase (pressure irritates it and makes it hurt for a long time).
- I have been having recurring dreams about Hong Kong. If anyone can figure this one out, I will be forever in debt to you. I keep dreaming that I am planning a trip to Hong Kong. The strange thing is -- I am traveling alone on this trip, and I have never actually gotten there in my dream. I am constantly planning for it, packing for it, and occasionally flying there. But, I have never arrived....
- I am afraid of soggy bread. I cannot buy ready-made sandwiches or wraps at convenience stores or takeout places. Thinking of soggy bread actually causes me anxiety - a fact which my sister likes to tease me about. I can't really spend too much time thinking about it, so that's all you're gonna get on that one :)
Well, that's all folks. Hope you've enjoyed!
So, come on - share something quirky about yourself!!!