Monday, August 11, 2008

Weddings, Shuls, Eichah and Fire Lieutenants

Just a couple of random points:

First a Mazel Tov

Eeees and I know a woman who is an older single. She's sweet, intelligent and, in general, a very fine person and yet, for whatever reason, she simply did not find her bashert. Eeees and I (and countless others) searched high and low for this elusive Mr. Right, but alas, we were not successful. A few months ago, I even offered her the services of this blog. However, she informed me that she was actually seeing someone and that the situation looked promising. That promise has since come to fruition and the wedding is scheduled for tonight. So Mazel Tov to the Morah and the soon-to-be Mr. Morah! I will, God willing, be at the wedding tonight, dressed in my favorite smiley tie in celebration of the new couple. If you see me, give me a tap on the snout and come over and say hello!

The Lost Shuls Of Brooklyn

Neandershort has a piece on the former shuls of Brooklyn that have since been converted to churches of various denominations. While it is tragic to see former shuls that have been converted to churches (I used to live next door to the Young Israel of Bayswater many a moon ago. The building is now a Witness hall), I'm not sure what is to be done about it. You can't force people to stay in a neighborhood. Demographics switch all the time in response to various economic, technologic and social changes. As Jewish people move out of a neighborhood, Jewish shuls will close (to be replaced by new shuls in the neighborhoods they are moving to). I suppose that once it becomes necessary to sell the building that it would be preferable if it were sold to a non-religious institution... but, for all practical purposes, the economics of the situation will usually dicatate that it is a church that buys the building.

If it's of any comfort, the process works the other way too. I spent sixteen years laining in a shul that very clearly was once a church-- right down to the remains of the pipe organ behind the aron kodesh.

Laining Eichah

In my former shul, I lained Eichah (Lamentaions) on the night of Tisha B'Av. In my present shul, I don't (not by choice... there is someone else who has been doing it since before I arrived). If you're going to lain Eichah (or anything else, for that matter), please, please pay attention to the trup (cantillation). It some cases it can prevent you from making a grave mistake. Consider this verse (Eichah 2:20)

כ רְאֵה יְהוָה וְהַבִּיטָה, לְמִי עוֹלַלְתָּ כֹּה: אִם-תֹּאכַלְנָה נָשִׁים פִּרְיָם עֹלְלֵי טִפֻּחִים, אִם-יֵהָרֵג בְּמִקְדַּשׁ אֲדֹנָי כֹּהֵן וְנָבִיא. {ס} 20 'See, O LORD, and consider, to whom Thou hast done thus! Shall the women eat their fruit, the children that are dandled in the hands? Shall the priest and the prophet be slain in the sanctuary of the Lord?

The way the verse is supposed to be read, the words בְּמִקְדַּשׁ אֲדֹנָי must be read together. God's name here is not a noun, but an adjective - it is describing the Mikdash (Temple) as a Temple of God. However, if you pause between the word Mikdash and God's name, the verse takes on a completely different meaning. With a pause in the wrong place, it makes it sound like God (along with the kohen and the prophet) were slain in the Mikdash! So, please, be mindful of the trup!

Fire Lieutenants

Our last bit today is a story (brought to my attention by an anonymous reader) about a new lieutenant in the Pikesville (MD) Volunteer Fire Company. What makes it remarkable is that the lieutenant is an Orthodox woman. Of course, there are the naysayers who start screaming "Busha" (shame) and "Kol K'vuda..." and "she should be home making dinner..." To all these people, I have one thing to say: She's putting her skin on the line to save people's lives. If you're willing to take her place and do it, then go volunteer and get the necessary training. Otherwise, shut up and be thankful that someone is willing to run into a burning inferno to save your life and the lives of your family. Or will you be screaming "Busha" at her as she pulls your sorry butt out of the proverbial frying pan?

The Wolf


ProfK said...

I get the impression from the award that she won that she may not be a straight fire fighter, as the award was for EMS of the year. Of course that wouldn't get her any blessings with lots of people either. Re the screaming "busha," why do you think that with only two exceptions the units of Hatzoloh have no volunteer women?

Anonymous said...

Bravo! both to that valiant woman and to your right-on-the-money reaction.

SuperRaizy said...

Mazal Tov to your friend on her marriage. I know quite a few women in their 30s and 40s who have not yet gotten married, and they too are wonderful, smart, attractive people. It gets so much harder as you get older.
Hope you enjoy the wedding.

Leah Goodman said...

leave me here to die.

Chaim B. said...

Your note on the trup brings to mind the pasuk in shiras hayam "mikdash, Hashem ko'ninu yadecha", where Rashi notes that the trup on the word "mikdash" is a zakeif-gadol to force a pause to seperate it from Hashem's name (i.e. insert a comma pause, like I wrote it above). Whether it is read "mikdash, Hashem...." or "mikdash Hashem," (like your example) depends entirely on the trup.
On 9 Av I started Iyov and noticed an interesting comment by Amos Chacham in the Da'at Mikra at the end of ch. 1. He writes a "klal gadol" in trup - where the trup can either preserve poetic meter at the expense of clarity or help clarify meaning at the expense of meter, the trup will always function to clarify the meaning of the pasuk even if it means sacrificing poetic meter. Tisha b'Av is not the best time to try to think of examples to test his rule by (my brain works better on a full stomach), but it would be interesting to find other cases that prove the rule.

Lion of Zion said...

regarding eicha:

nice catch. i mention disjunctive and conjunctive trop on and off on my blog. i've been meaning to give a concrete example of how it changes the meaning using the numbers example. i will keep your example in mind

re. fire lieu.:

she's works as an emt, not a firefighter

regarding mazel tov:

mazael tov

re. lost shuls:

neandershot is a bit dramatic in this instance and it's not called for. as a commentor noted, no churban here. the jewish community moved--willingly is the key here--and sold their buildings. what's the big deal.

personally, i think this is reason that we shouldn't waste communal resources in building such grand edifices. in a wasted investment.

moreover, i am opposed to spending communal funds on renovating those historic shul on the lower east side. it pains me to say this, as my field is american jewish history, but there are more important things to be spending our money on. (re. your shul that was a church, most synagogue buldings in the 19th c. were former churches)

Lion of Zion said...

two quick notes on the trop issue:

אדני is not an adjective but rather a noun (equivalent to genitive) that serves as the nomen rectum in the construct phonetic unit.

also, there is a second way that we know מקדש אדני should be read as one one unit: because the פתח under the ק marks מקדש as being in the construct state (נסמך). compare with chaim's example, the ק has a קמץ because it is is in the absolute state (נפרד) and is not connected to the next word. this is relevant for בעלי קריאה who distinguish between קמץ גדול and פתח and it is important for them to be aware of this.

Lion of Zion said...


"depends entirely on the trup"

it also depends on the nikkud (see previous comment)

"the trup will always function to clarify the meaning of the pasuk"

depends on the parshan. for example:
Did Ibn Ezra Follow Trop?

Zev Stern said...

With construction costs being what they are, I doubt if we will be building grand edifices like the Eldridge Street Synagogue any time soon. I'd make small donations to the reconstruction effort; I doubt if communal funds, as opposed to voluntary contributions and gov't grants (the bldg is a historic site), were used. A large shul that is abandoned and becomes the neighborhood eyesore or worse is a hillul Hashem which ought to be corrected, and a society that does not honor its past has little hope for its future. It would be like letting the historic Dutch farmhouse a block from my house go to ruin or be torn down.
And stop to think of what that shul and similar ones represented. Their worshipers came here from the hellholes of Europe poor as (pardon me) churchmice, seeking opportunity - and security - that they couldn't even dream of where they came from. They managed to put a few dollars together and built a shul, a magnificent piece of architecture in the style of other houses of worship built by other immigrants before them (e.g. St. Patrick's Cathedral by the Irish, who also came here dirt poor). The style of worship also imitated the neighbors, in a positive sense. There was a decorum there that you don't find in an Orthodox shul today, only in Conservative synagogues and Reform temples. You could hear a pin drop when the Torah was being read. And the investment of resources was a measure of the security we felt. No more Inquisitions, no more pogroms, no more expulsions. We'd be staying until Mashiach comes. Then - we left, and abandoned the institutions that we poured our sweat into. Sure, it was voluntary, and no one can force people to stay in a neighborhood if they don't want to. But the people who replaced us know exactly why we left. F-E-A-R. Jews are weak, Jews are cowards, all the tired old canards ad infinitum ad nauseam. Eikhah yashvah badad. . ..