Friday, January 30, 2015

Shabbat-O-Gram Super Bowl Ask the Rabbi Edition

Dear Rabbi,

I understand TBE is holding its first Shabbat service in downtown Stamford in over 40 years.  Is that true?  And if so, will you be checking out the watering holes on Bedford St after the service?

                                                                                                 Tevye Butterfield Tigin

Dear Tigin… I mean Tevye,

It’s true that we’ll be holding our first Shabbat service in 41 years downtown on Friday – at the Unitarian Universalist building just across Bedford St. from the Avon.  We’ve been wanting to return to our roots for a long time.  Our membership committee has been pounding the pavement down there to let everyone know that Beth El’s back!  I envision this grand “Hello Dolly” scene at the Harmonia Gardens…. or something equally dramatic.  So get there at 7 on Friday.  The service will end early enough for adults who choose to frequent the many restaurants and other gathering places down there to do so, sort of like Jews do in Manhattan after Friday night services on the Upper West Side. All the ingredients are in place: snow on the ground, the coldest night imaginable, and walking out of that and into a very warm, inviting, musical environment to celebrate with a welcoming community. They even have a Jewish star hanging in the front of the room!

Of course there is also this thing called Shabbat…which will preclude me from joining you afterwards…

Dear Rabbi,

Where should we park?
                                                                                                Remo Lucky 16 Handler

Dear Remo,

Wherever you can!  That’s the one thing that makes this a little less convenient than services up here. But give yourself a little extra time.  There are parking lots and spaces on the street.  I’ve been informed that parking at the bank right there is not a good idea.  You can also park up here at TBE, but you’ll be lonely. There is no service here this Friday night. 

Dear Rabbi,

I heard your temple will be playing my music this Saturday night.  Can I come?
                                                                                                P. McCartney

Dear P

Absolutely.  But be prepared to bid on these items.  And please don’t sing the one about Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.  It has a dark side, mentions my name and I take it personally.

Dear Rabbi,

Dear P,

That’s OK.  I never went along with the supposed secret messages embedded in that song.  But if you are interested in discussing the Jewish view on the legalization of Marijuana, the snowed out session from last Tuesday has been rescheduled for Tues., Feb. 10.

Dear Rabbi,

What else is happening this weekend?
                                                                                                                Miriam Timbrel

Dear Miriam,

Lots.  It’s Shabbat Shira, the Sabbath of Song, where we read of the crossing of the Red Sea and the great Biblical song that followed.  The Haftarah is the Song of Deborah

Next week is Tu B’shevat, the new year of trees.  I’ll be honored to lead a seder for our younger grades on Sunday and on Thursday our older grades will be having another fantastic “Top Chef” contest to celebrate.  You can find some Tu b’Shevat materials here and here.  Also, this Sunday is UJF Super Sunday.  Go down to the JCC and led a hand – and don’t miss the halftime show. And as for later,  here’s some “Halacha for Halftime” for those who prefer Talmud to Katy Perry.

Dear Rabbi,

Speaking of halftime, what’s this year’s Super Bowl prediction, based on Jewish sources?  I need to know, because you are always right!

                                                                                                                Shimmy the Greek

Dear Shimmy,

I’m recusing myself this year.  No not that I feel “deflated” by anything that’s happened over the past few weeks.  I already stated my case last week that I would take my lead from a man and family I’ve known my whole life; and on Monday night, Robert Kraft spoke.  Unless proven otherwise, his word matters to me more than all the hot air that has inflated the airwaves these past two weeks (though I liked today’s scientific revelation in the NY Times) .  But we’ll see.

As for the game, well, this week’s portion’s Song of the Sea states clearly, “Horse and Rider will be thrown to the Sea(hawks).”  The horse would have been either the Broncos or the Colts.  Is the rider Paul Revere, the original riding Patriot?  Not a good sign for the Pats. BUT… the portion’s name is Beshallach, which sounds a lot like the name of a certain Patriots coach. 

Looking at Jews in Super Bowl history, it is noteworthy that the Patriots’ Julian Edelman has Jewish ancestry on his father’s side.  And the NY Times chips in with the revelation that Tom Brady has a menorah in his Boston area home, which BTW, is located down the street from the Krafts, in my home town of Brookline.

In the Talmud (Berachot 9a) a protector is called a “Patranos.”  This clearly refers to the New England offensive line.  Also, in Hebrew, “Pitriot” are mushrooms. Go here to see some gorgeous looking Israeli mushrooms, likely from the Hefer Valley (a fertile strip of land between the Mediterannean sea and Green Line in Central Israel).  This is one area of the country that was redeemed by the Jewish National Fund in the early Zionist days, and the great symbol of that redemption, at least here, are Pitriot.  And since there are three whole pitriot in this photo, so, Patrots by three?

OK.  Here’s more proof:

Sexist implications aside, there are clear connections between what Jews call the Patriarchs and what Americans consider "the fathers of our country," the Patriots. Abraham planted trees, George Washington cut one down. Samuel Adams had a biblical name. So did Isaac. Bob Kraft's brother, incidentally, is named Avram.

The words Patriot and Patriarch both appear in modern Hebrew, each beginning with the three-letter root peh-tet-resh. That root yields some interesting words, like "Pehter Rechem," the first born of the womb," for livestock and humans, based on the Passover story and the 10th Plague. I'm not sure about that plague, but I can see the Pats' pass rush reminding Seattle of a few of the others. Then there's the word "Patur," which means "exempt" or "free." It's a rabbinic concept often employed in halachic discussions, especially in deciding who might be exempt from certain ritual obligations. Interestingly, in modern Hebrew a "pehter" is also a "trigger action," indicating that the Pats will be especially effective in the shotgun, and the verb derivative "hiftir" means "to sack." Clearly, their pass rush will be ferocious. Finally, "niftar," the passive form of the root, means to die. I'm not sure what to make of that.

But whichever team wins, the other will be saying what parents have said to their B'nai Mitzvah children for centuries, "Baruch shep'tarani," which means, "thank God I'm not longer going to have to deal with your shenanigans, essentially, and in modern Hebrew, "Good Riddance." All from the root peh-tet-resh.  Is that enough for you, Shimmy?

Dear Rabbi,

Yes.  But what’s on TBE’s schedule for next week?

Dear Shimmy,

Glad you asked.  We’ll be hearing from Scholar in Residence, rabbi and noted author Jeffrey Salkin.  See the schedule below.

And have a Super Shabbat!

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman

No comments: