Reflections from Rabbi Waxman

 Machshavot HaRav:
Reflections from Rabbi Waxman
 
Is Halloween a Jewish Treat?
 
When I was an elementary school student, a day or two before Halloween, the North Shore Hebrew Academy, the Orthodox day school that I attended, handed out the orange UNICEF containers. It was the unstated assumption that the students would be going “trick or treating” on Halloween and that along with the candy they should collect some tzedakah for UNICEF. I doubt that Dahvid Wolf, my classmate and the son of the Orthodox rabbi, in whose synagogue building the day school was housed, dressed up and went out collecting candy and money for UNICEF, but the sons of the local Conservative rabbi certainly did.
 
I suspect these days that this behavior would not be approved of, even tacitly, not only because UNICEF has fallen into disfavor in the Jewish world because of some of the positions it has taken vis-à-vis Israel. No doubt the students are told not to participate in this “goyish holiday” and are reminded that they can dress up on Purim (and undoubtedly there is also the suggestion that if they wait until after Halloween they get a good price on a costume for the Jewish holiday coming in March)
 
Despite the antipathy to the holiday in Orthodox circles, the fact of the matter is that although All Saints Day, which is on November 1st, though a Christian holy day---Halloween is really All Hallow’s Eve, hallow being an old word for holy--, Halloween has been denuded of its Christian connections and here in the United States has become an excuse for costume parties, for kids dressing up and collecting tons of candy and for decorating pumpkins. Halloween has evolved into a costumed secularized celebration of fall, with touches of classic horror movies. (I should note that the decorations available for the holiday will be welcome additions to our sukkah, especially since they were purchased on sale this past week!)
 
To celebrate Halloween is, to borrow a term from Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, to live in two civilizations: we can celebrate both Halloween and Purim. So give away some candy; save some for yourself; and then welcome Shabbat.
 
Shabbat shalom.
 
The production of “The Death of Klinghoffer” has generated much press and much controversy. This Friday night, October 31st, my wife Sarrae Crane, who had an opportunity to see the controversial opera this week, will share her reflections. In the meantime, let me direct you to three links: first a link to the libretto, courtesy of Rabbi Claudio Kupchik:
 
http://www.boosey.com/downloads/KlinghofferLibretto.pdf 
 
Secondly an appraisal by my colleague Rabbi Irwin Kula http://thewisdomdaily.com/the-privilege-of-seeing-the-death-of-klinghoffer/
 
And finally, a differing viewpoint by Professor Maurice Yacowar—also courtesy of Rabbi Kupchik—
  
 http://yacowar.blogspot.com/2014/10/the-death-of-klinghoffer-analysis-of.html
 
 

 
 
 
Chadashot MeYisrael:  News From Israel

A New Kind of Tree
 
Imagine a tree that provides not only shade but is a charging station for electronic devices, nighttime lighting and water coolers. And, of course, nearby there is appropriate seating. The first of these trees has been “planted” in Ramat Hanadiv public gardens in the northern Israel community of Zichron Yaakov. Soon Nice and Shanghai will also have a cousin of this unique tree.
 
The tree is actually an eTree: the branches and leaves are solar panels. Each of these panels can produce 1,400 watts per hour. The deluxe model has seven of these panels and enables the site to offer all the bells and whistles.
 

 

Created by the Israeli company Sologic, it was the dream of one of its founders, Michael Lasry. Lasry teamed up with artist Yoav Ben-Dov, and over the next 18 months they designed three different models of eTrees, each one constructed in Israel of metal tubes and sturdy tempered glass bases to hold the panels. The basic tree has been but two panels; the intermediate one has 4, and the deluxe model has seven.


According to Lasry: “Our aim is that in the future there will be eTrees all over Israel and worldwide. eTree is a social enterprise that aims to promote environmental awareness and sustainability, to create a link between the community environment.” Lasry even envisions global “eTree communities,” facilitated by the unit’s built-in camera and monitor allowing for give-and-take between folks sitting under the radiation-free shade of eTrees anywhere in the world.
 
The eTrees are built to withstand harsh weather conditions and are therefore appropriate for just about any urban or suburban neighborhood, corporate or college campus, park, museum, community center and other public space. Lasry believes that municipalities could purchase eTrees, and so could philanthropic organizations and corporations looking for a “green” project that provides free services and environmental awareness to the community.
 
“It’s like Abraham’s tent, sitting at a junction where you can enter from any side,” says Lasry, referring to the biblical forefather’s legendary tent of welcome. “It doesn’t ask you any questions; you just sit down and recharge your mobile and your soul, relax and have a cool drink.”
 
The units need minimal ongoing care. “The only thing required for maintenance is cleaning the panels every four or five months, and the battery must be filled each year with water, though the next generation of batteries will be maintenance-free,” says Lasry.
 
As for the upfront costs, that is, the cost of one of these trees, none of the articles describing the innovation mention it.
 
 

 
 
 
 
Payrush LaParshahah:
 A Comment on the Weekly Torah Portion
 
The portion of Lech L’chah (Genesis 14:1-15:21) is read this Shabbat, November 1st.
 
14:14 When Abram heard that his kinsman had been taken captive, he mustered his retainers, born into his household, numbering three hundred and eighteen, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. (15) At night, he and his servants deployed against them and defeated them; and he pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus.
 
14:14 As far as DanAnd when night come when the road could no longer be seen through they could flee, he divided [the verb translated as “deployed” is from the root Chalak, to divide] into four or five groups and pursued them in every direction. And furthermore, they waited until night as a battle tactic in order that they [the enemy] would not see how few in number they were, similar to the advice of Ahitophel who declared “I will pursue David at night” {2 Samuel 17:1). In the Midrash it says that the night was divided: half for the sake of this miracle, and half for the final night in Egypt. (Rabbi Abraham Menachem Rapa of Porto, Minchah Belulah. Rabbi Rapa was the progenitor of the Rapaport family, the name being a combination of the family name—Rapa—and the place of origin, Porto, Italy—not Portugal, as often assumed--.  [There is an alternate tradition, namely, that the name represents the merger of two family names, which view is offered by the Rapoport Family Tree Collaboration.] The family was of German origin, and the name first appears circa 1450 and is associated with Meshullam Kusi (abbreviated from "Jekuthiel") Rapa ha-Kohen Tzedeq who lived in Germany. The name Rapa means “Raven.” As one can see below from the coat of arms appended to an early edition of this volume, he was also a Kohen, as indicated by the spread fingers. The colophon suggests that the work was completed in in the winter of 1582, though it was published in 1594. Although scantily clad women were to be found in various early works, including the Prague Haggadah from early in the 16th century, and contemporary scholars seemed unfazed by such illustrations, recent editions of the text have either clothed the women or altered their gender. As for Rabbi Rapa, he was born in Italy in the first half of the 16th century, and early in life moved to Venice where he studied medicine along with his Jewish studies. He worked as proofreader of Hebrew books printed in Venice. He was a witness to the burning of the Talmud, ordered by the papacy, in 1553, and observed the date as a fast day for the rest of his life. In 1574 he became the rabbi of Cremona, in which he community he wrote Minchah Belulah, as can be seen in the colophon. In addition to this commentary on the Torah, he was the author of a volume on cryptography, an unpublished volume on devils, and of a number of responsa. He also edited the Venetian 1565 edition of the midrashic work known as Yalkut Shim’oni. He died on December 30, 1596.)
 
 
 
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