Blog: February 2021

Most of these posts were originally posted somewhere else and link to the originals. While this blog is not set up for comments, the original locations generally are, and I welcome comments there. Sorry for the inconvenience.

On the ritual foods of the Purim seder

Shameless self-promotion:

As we know,[1] the evening meal for Purim starts with Wacky Mac, a dish that features four pasta shapes: wheels, shells, spirals, and tubes. What is less widely known is how we are to eat this ritual item. Like the Pesach seder a month later, the meal has specific requirements and specific meanings! And like at the Pesach seder, your child should ask you to explain why this night is different from all other nights and what the laws and customs are and what they mean. It is only because of the other celebratory aspects of this holiday that in most families the child is too inebriated to ask (and the parents too inebriated to answer). So prepare yourself now, so you can both fulfill the commandment and explain it to your child.

First, we must examine the symbolism. [...]

See the full article at Judaism Codidact.

Pass the wine! :-)

P.S. For the programmers, we have this question on type systems and the use of void -- more answers welcome!

Signal boost: Am I liable if my murder commits murder?

This was shared with me in the form of screen shots (so, hard to read), but then I found the link to where it happened on Reddit (in a "legal advice" channel). I thought my readers might enjoy this.

Original post, two months ago, which has a note from moderators saying they've verified the story:

[oregon] I accidentally created an army of crow body guards. Am I liable if my murder attempts murder? (Personal Injury)

To make a long story short, im a late 20 something living in portland oregon. I had a pretty intense emo/goth phase as a tween that i thought i had grown out of.

A couple months ago, i was watching a nature program on our local station about crows. The program mentioned that if you feed and befriend them, crows will bring you small gifts. My emo phase came back full force and i figured that i was furloughed and had lots of time- so why not make some crow friends. Read moreā€¦

The season of Purim Torah

Purim Torah uses the style of traditional torah but is, err, different. Some years ago Mi Yodeya began a tradition of accepting Purim Torah questions, which of course have to be answered in the same style, for a couple weeks a year. Last summer, active (or formerly-active) community members from there founded Judaism Codidact, which we hope will keep growing. It's off to a good start.

We've just opened a place for Purim Torah on the Codidact community. Because Codidact has the concept of categories, we can segregate it so it's hard to confuse with the serious Q&A. And because Codidact supports other types of posts besides questions and answers, we've set it up to support articles too, so that Purim-flavored d'var torah or talmudic analysis has a place.

The category is new so there are only a couple posts so far. I asked a question that arose out of yesterday's torah portion, which has gotten a good answer (that prompts more questions), and I just adapted my best-received past Purim Torah answer into an article on the ritual Purim meal and its symbolism. I'm looking forward to seeing what else shows up.

Perhaps some of you have questions or essays in this spirit to share?


These links will only work during the few weeks surrounding Purim each year, but I included the post in this blog for the explanation.

Rabbinic teaching

Forwarded to me without attribution:

Rabbi Moshe Karelman, a brilliant Talmudist, and his star pupil Yeshaya are traveling to Vilna when they have to stop for the night, and pitch their tent in an empty field.

After the evening prayers Rabbi Karelman and Yeshaya retire for the evening. Some hours later, Rabbi Karelman wakes up and nudges his student. "Yeshaya, look up at the sky and tell me what you see."

"I see millions and millions of stars, Rabbi Karelman."

"And from this, what do you deduce?"

Yeshaya ponders for a minute. "Well, astronomically, this view conveys the vastness of the heavens. Chronometrically, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three. Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. Theologically, I can see that God is all powerful, and that we are a small and insignificant part of His universe. What does it tell you, Rabbi Karelman?"

"It tells me that someone has stolen our tent."

I've seen variations on this before, but this is the most thorough answer from the student I've seen in any of those tellings.


A comment notes that this is often attributed to Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.