What a great Purim! Relaxing and exhilirating at the same time! It does remind me that I've wanted to comment of the "Krovetz" for Purim for a while.
A passing reference at a shiur of R. Leiman led to some research in the Encyclopedia Judaica, where I made an interesting discovery: The nineteenth bracha in Shemona Esrei is not Minim, as we've always learned. That was always there, at least as a general request to defeat enemies, with the later Tanaaitic "creation" (merely) being the addition of language against internal enemies. (Come to think, the Gemara seems to differ with that idea. Anyway.) The actual nineteenth blessing seems to have been "Et Tzemach," the content of which would seem to be covered in the previous Bracha. (Or, perhaps, according to the "traditional" view, it was incorporated there by some to maintain the eighteen total?) That it wasn't added until much later, at least in Israel, can be seen by the fact that the various weekday k'rovot (and, despite what your siddurim of today will show, there were many, for many weekday semi-holidays), written in Israel, do not contain added text for that bracha.
Of course, Artscroll, proudly obscurantist to the last, as a glance at their catalogs (arrived today) will show, chooses to ignore this (if they ever knew it). Instead, they give a cock-and-bull story about how Esther and Mordechai were from the family of Sha'ul and thus there's no k'rovah for the bracha dealing with the line of David. Typical.
My father, in fact, was m'chaven to Artscroll and thought of the same reason on his own. But he, you see, is not editing a new siddur. (Nor am I.) Artscroll is, and should know better.
Speaking of siddurim, I had another interesting experience. I was going through siddurim at the YU library recently (don't ask why), and came across the Kabbalah Centre's [sic], by none other than "Rav Berg" [sic]. Right away, I flipped through to the "Shelo Asani" brachot. After all, if you're changing for a modern audience, that'll be the first to go- and not entirely without halakhic support, if I may. I was much surprised- not a word was changed. There were lots of explanations, of course, about how "goy" doesn't mean, well, "goy" and so on, but nothing too far from what Artscroll will give you. It made me wonder if the Bergs relate to their center (notwithstanding that they created it) in a similar manner to the Young Israel rabbis I discussed here- that all that stuff may be good for them, but there are some lines they can't bring themselves to step over. Odd.
One good thing about taking the day off was that I got to hear Rush for the first time in a while. He was great- oh, how I've missed him. One good moment, however inadvertent, occured right after Rush, responding to a caller, explained all about why entitlement programs, specifically Medicaid, have to (or want to) push for "customers" so hard. It was followed immediately by an ad trying to convince people that they really need to sign up for the...Medicaid prescription medication boond...er, program.
As long as we're on politics, the little bit at the end here is just ridiculous. It's not like the reporter didn't know full well where the President gets his news- and with the kid and his family right there, he tries to score a cheap point. Bush, of course, pulled it off great, God bless. (Hat tip.)
A new Tradition, and it's a beaut. Congrats, especially, to the new online editor!
Oh, and I must quote this email in full:
Me and Whitney Smith in one sentence! Oh, my, goodness. What a great Purim.
Many thanks to everyone who responded to Geoff Lester's question
about his "mystery flag." Below is the email that I received from him
today. I didn't mention last time that he was referred to us by the staff
of National Geographic. Both the referral and our response are convincing
proof that NAVA is "where it's at" when it comes to vexi-matters. Well
Dear Peter: What a response! The flag turns out to be that of the West Indies Federation, 1958 to 1962. I do very much appreciate your help and have thanked those who responded to your request, namely: James Ferrigan, Nathan Lamm, Steve Wheatley, Whitney Smith, Roger Baert, Luc Baronian, John Ford, David Ott and Fred Barcel. I salute you all. Geoff.