Kapparot


In some brands of Judaism it is customary to perform the kapparot rite in preparation for Yom Kippur.

The rite consists of taking a chicken and gently passing it over one’s head three times while reciting an appropriate text from the Torah.

Usually a rooster is used for a man, and a hen is used for a woman. For a pregnant woman, kapparot is usually performed with three chickens—two hens and a rooster. One hen for herself, and the other hen and rooster for the unborn child (of undetermined gender).

If a chicken is unavailable, it is possible to substitute another kosher fowl (besides for doves and pigeons, as they were offered as sacrifices in the Holy Temple). Some use a kosher live fish; others perform the entire rite with money, and then giving the money—at least the value of a chicken—to charity.

After the ritual, the fowl is slaughtered in accordance with halachic procedure and its monetary worth given to the poor, or, as is more popular today, the chicken itself is donated to a charitable cause.

17/xi mmxvi


A “Bug” is an insect that has sucking mouth parts.

The oldest active synagogue in Europe is in Prague. It is called the Old New Synagogue.

Humans and elephants are the only animals with chins.

The Lord Ponsonby of Shulbede and Baron Soulsby of Swaffham Prior are actual titles in the English Peerage.

Australia was discovered by the Chinese. The Dutch were the first Europeans to discover it. William Dampier was the first Englishman to discover it.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

Kansas Classrooms


I can’t teach you about safe sex because it might encourage you to become promiscuous.

I can’t tell you what airbags do. That information will make you think it’s okay to start crashing into things.

I’m sorry class. We can no longer study Mexico. As you’d all run away to Tijuana if I told you what was there.

If I teach you girls how to rescue a burnt casserole, how can I trust you to follow the teachings of Héloise?

I’m afraid I can’t tell you how Hannibal crossed the Alps. If I did, you crazy kids are likely to conquer the prom with elephants. Oops.

Trigonometry will no longer be taught. You could use that knowledge to calculate the trajectory of eggs thrown at my Geo Metro.

We won’t be using safety glasses this year in shop class. I believe anyone who gets a word chip in their eye have it coming.

Science has been cancelled because your parents prefer to believe in magic.

Big Fat Whale, Brian McFadden 2006

Judeo-Christian Marriages


Man + Woman “Nuclear Family” (Genesis 2:24)

  • Wives subordinate to their husbands.
  • Interfaith marriages forbidden.
  • Marriages generally arranged, not based on romantic love.
  • Bride who could not prove her virginity was stoned to death.

Man + Woman + Woman’s Property (Genesis 16)

  • Man could acquire his wife’s property including her slaves.

Man + Brother’s Widow “Levirate Marriage” (Genesis 38: 6-10)

  • Widow who had not borne a son required to marry her brother in law.
  • Must submit sexually to her new husband.

Male Slave + Female Slave (Exodus 21:4)

  • Slave owner could assign female slaves to his male slaves.
  • Female slaves must submit sexually to their new husbands.

Male Soldier + Prisoner of War (Deuteronomy 21:11-14) & (Number 31:1-18)

  • Under Moses’ command, Israelites kill every Midianite man, woman child; save for the virgin girls who are taken as spoils of war.
  • Wives must submit sexually to their new owners.

Rapist + His Victim (Deuteronomy 22:28-29)

  • Virgin who is raped must marry her rapist.
  • Rapist must pay victim’s father 50 shekels of silver for property loss.

Conversations: Civilization


Helena
It is important to realize that the distinction between science and religion is not a matter of excluding our ethical intuitions and spiritual experiences from our conversation about the world; it is a matter of our being honest about what we can reasonably conclude on their basis.

Xanthippe
However, there are good reasons to believe that people like Jesus and the Buddha weren’t talking nonsense when they spoke about our capacity as human beings to transform our lives in rare and beautiful ways.

Sappho
But any genuine exploration of ethics or the contemplative life demands the same standards of reasonableness and self-criticism that animate all intellectual discourse. Continue reading

Conversations: The Preposterous


Helena
Clearly, it is time we all learned to meet our emotional needs without embracing the preposterous. We must find ways to invoke the power of ritual and to mark those transitions in every human life that demand profundity—birth, marriage, death—without lying to ourselves about the nature of reality.

Galene
What does that mean in practice?

Sappho
I feel we should recognise that, for instance, the practice of raising children to believe that they are Christian, Muslim, or Jewish should be recognised as the ludicrous obscenity that it is. And only then will we stand a chance of healing the deepest and most dangerous fractures in our world.

Galene
That’s all very well and good, but I have no doubt that the acceptance—so to speak—of Christ coincided with some very positive changes in some people’s lives. Perhaps they now love other people in a way that they never imagined possible. They may even experience feelings of bliss while praying—say. Continue reading

Conversations: Eradicating Religion


Helena
I would argue that one of the greatest challenges facing civilization in the twenty first century is for human beings to learn to speak about their deepest personal concerns—about ethics, spiritual experience, and the inevitability of human suffering—in ways that are not flagrantly irrational.

Sappho
Absolutely. We desperately need a public discourse that encourages critical thinking and intellectual honesty! Unfortunately, it is probably true to say that nothing stands in the way of this project more than the respect we accord religious faith.

Zoe
Surely, you would be the first to admit that the prospects for eradicating religion in our time do not seem good? Continue reading

Tradition Tradition


Perchik: You have wit, even some intelligence!

Hodel: Thank you.

Perchik: Perhaps, but what good is your brain? Without curiosity, it is a rusty tool! Good day, Hodel!

Hodel: We have an old custom here! A boy talks respectfully to a girl. But that is too traditional for an advanced thinker like you!

Perchik: Our traditions! Nothing must change! Everything is perfect as it is!

Hodel: We like our ways.

Perchik: Our ways are changing in other places. In the city, boys and girls can be affectionate without a matchmaker’s permission? They hold hands together. They even dance together.

– Jewison. N. (Producer, Director). (1971). Fiddler on the Roof [Motion Picture]. United States: The Mirisch Production Company