Friday, August 17, 2018

Are You the They?

The purpose of this blog is to stir up some wisdom at the Shabbat table. Please print and share.
Happy Birthday shout-out to Shelli in SF!

farsidetheyHere it comes again - 

Rosh Hashana....

Yom Kippur.....

Dip the apple. . .

(In how many days?)

Have you started working on your 25 Questions for the High Holidays?

Did you email your friendly rabbi to get an updated copy?

How did we ever live without email?

A hundred years ago, when telephones started to catch on, the great rabbi we call the Chofetz Chaim was very concerned about Jewish people owning one of these new devices.

The first question for your table this week is: What would you guess was his concern?

Answer: He was deeply worried it might increase lashon hara.

Question #2 - Was he right to be concerned?

Question #3 - Even if he was right, do the benefits of owning a phone outweigh the evil of lashon hara?

Well, that's all water under the bridge, right?

In terms of communications - voice, text etc., yep, it's completely water under the bridge.

But is everything about these smart phones a done deal?

Wwhat if we shift our focus from the communications part of the phone to

1. the always-on-internet-with-your-feed-controled-by-some-algorithm part, or
2. the every-tom-dick-and-harry-gets-a-soapbox part.

If you are a parent, or a grandparent, or if you have any young people in your life, or

If you are a human being who happens to be alive in 2018, then you are surely dealing with these two issues, know it or not.

1. Algorithms decide what's important for you to see.
2. All kinds of ignorant people manage to get their voices into your head.

Like it or not.

The only way to get through life with any sanity is to filter.

But software filters are imperfect. And they need to be updated.

But we Jews have another kind of filter - let's call it a soulware filter.

It's really simple.

Late in the afternoon on Friday, you shut off your phone.

Don't put it in airplane mode. Don't turn the ringer off.

Shut the whole thing off.

Hard to do, isn't it?

It's a litmust test for the robustness of your soulware.

The harder it is for you to turn off your phone and leave it off for a few hours or even 24 = the more your soulware needs an update.

Shabbat Shalom


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Friday, August 03, 2018

Err....To air is human?

The purpose of this blog is to bring a BOFA to the Shabbat table. Please breathe in, breathe out, and share.
Air timeContinuing last week's nod to our English heritage, this morning, my chavruta and I had an argument.

That's what chavrusas are for.

No, we were not arguing over the pronunciation of "חברותא".

We were arguing over the pronunciation of "err", as in "To err is human."

He is sure that "err" rhymes with "air".

He has two proofs:

1. The noun form is "error". Everyone agrees that this is pronounced "air-or".
2. Everyone he knows pronounces it "air".

I say "err" rhymes with "her".

I also have proofs:

1. That's how Brits say it, and they speak English propally.
2. If you say it like "air", then "To err is human" sounds like you're saying "to breathe is human," which is silly.
3. Someone on Stackexchange points out that
Gilbert and Sullivan's 19th C lyrics prove me right:
If I had been so lucky as to have a steady brother
Who could talk to me as we are talking now to one another —
Who could give me good advice when he discovered I was erring
(Which is just the very favour which on you I am conferring)....
4. Let's say you're camping and a child asks you if they should air out their sleeping bag while you take today's hike. But it might rain. If you say, "I'd rather err (rhyme it with her) on the side of caution," you will be clearly understood not to risk leaving it out. But if you say, "I'd rather err (rhyme it with air) on the side of caution," they may understand that you mean to go ahead and leave it outside. You're sowing confusion by rhyming err with air.

OK, let's turn this over to your table for Question 1 - Who's right?

Let's go deeper for Question 2 - What's the difference between an error and a mistake?

And for Question 3, in the spirit of words and interpretation, here's a puzzle for your table.

A man fell off a smuggling boat into deep water. He could not swim and he was not wearing anything to keep him afloat, nor was there anything floating in the water for him to hold onto. It took 30 minutes for the people on the boat to realize someone was missing. The missing man was rescued two hours later on the return trip. Why didn't he drown?

The solution is purely logical, no trickiness needed.

Shabbat Shalom


PS - Scroll down for the solution...

PPS - If you enjoy words and interesting etymologies, click on the pic above.

PPPS - Do you know how many days until Rosh Hashana?


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Further down.....

Even further ......

Are you sure you want to peek?

You're giving up that easily?

Don't you want to figure it out on your own?

OK, here it comes....