Friday, March 13, 2020

Working from Home: In Iambic Pentameter

If you should fail to find me here today
I hope you will not think I can’t be reached
Though circumstances make me stay away
My presence in the ether’s not decreased

I’m bringing all I need to work from home
You’ll find me via Slack and email too
And if you find you’re feeling quite alone
In Hangouts I can smile back at you

If you should wish to see where I will be
Please check my calendar from day to day
I’ll keep it up to date so you can see
Just whether I am here or I’m away

I thank you for you patience in this time
I hope that you’ve enjoyed my verse and rhyme

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Daf Yomi: Starting Tractate Shabbat

Berakhot has taught us a lot
I’m glad that I gave it some thought
So now the daf yomi
Begins to feel homey:
We’re starting the tractate ‘Shabbat’

My Jewish Learning Daf Yomi

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

D’var Misphatim

Today I’d like to talk to you about this past weekend’s parshah: Mishpatim. To do so, though, I’ll go one week farther back to Yitro to set the stage. At the end of Yitro, the tribes were camped out at the base of Mount Sinai, G-d has just spoken the ten commandments, and Moses has come down from the mountain to address the people. As he did, they
וְכָל־הָעָם֩ רֹאִ֨ים אֶת־הַקּוֹלֹ֜ת וְאֶת־הַלַּפִּידִ֗ם וְאֵת֙ ק֣וֹל הַשֹּׁפָ֔ר וְאֶת־הָהָ֖ר עָשֵׁ֑ן וַיַּ֤רְא הָעָם֙ וַיָּנֻ֔עוּ וַיַּֽעַמְד֖וּ מֵֽרָחֹֽק׃
witnessed the thunder and lightning, the blare of the horn and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they fell back and stood at a distance. (Exodus 20:15)
So what do they say? They tell Moses that they hear and will obey, but ask that G-d not speak to them because they’re afraid hearing G-d will kill them. Moses gets them to chill out, and then tells them briefly how to build an altar the right way. He shows them that the intense display of power isn’t the way that future praying and religious experiences will necessarily be. Thus ends Yitro.

Now, we get to Mishpatim, the reading from this past week. Immediately after this description of how to build a place to interact with G-d safely, we start with this sentence:
וְאֵ֙לֶּה֙ הַמִּשְׁפָּטִ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר תָּשִׂ֖ים לִפְנֵיהֶֽם׃
These are the rules that you shall set before them (Exodus 21:1)
What would you expect to happen next? We’ve just heard about the altar. Would it follow up with a litany of rules about how to pray? Requirements of the priesthood, cleanliness, or a description of how to build the ark of the covenant? We know that’s coming, right? Maybe there’s rules pertaining to sacrifices and related rituals? It could even be a listing of holidays or festivals.

But none of this happens.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Into the Black

Into the Black

The gradual awakening from artificial hibernation runs the gamut of emotions. You start out relaxed, still nearly flatlined by the drugs that slow down your biological processes. As soon as you realize your limbs don’t respond when you try to move them, you swiftly move through panic. Luckily, the susurrus ocean rain sounds keep you from careening into a total meltdown.

A pale aquamarine display on the glass in front of you begins to come into focus. You see an outline of a generic human form to one side, vital systems outlined faintly to indicate just how perfectly healthy you still are. To the other side, the current date and time glints above a brief readout of the main starship status. Front and center, though, is a rotating diagram of the current star system or nebula.

At least, that’s what should be there. I woke to the normal calm-panic, healthy vitals, and clean bill of health for the ship. The center of the screen, though, was entirely blank. That shouldn’t be possible. The onboard AI that I’ve taken to calling “Aisha” is programmed to handle all interstellar decisions except in the event of an emergency, and there wasn’t even a trace of a rogue planet or radiation burst.

I wiggled my jaw for a minute before I could remember how to work my tongue enough to form words. “Aisha? Why?”

Immediately, the white noise stopped and her voice came in, whispering and calm as always at this early stage of awakening. “Relax, Jenny. Take a breath. Let’s work on your arms first.”

Thursday, January 9, 2020