Sunday, June 28, 2015

ותבקע העיר

A couple of days late, but:

According to a plain reading of the account in Yirmiyahu (52:10, the only one in Tanach with a date), the walls of Jerusalem were breached on the 9 of Tammuz. (This is the event we mark on the 17th, a week from now; the Bavli and Yerushalmi reconcile the two dates in different ways, and I've heard others as well.)

That was in 586 BCE, exactly 2600 years ago. (2015+586=2601, but there was no year zero.) Not especially significant, except that things ending in "00" tend to make one think.

I'd have added more when I posted this on Facebook, but the world has grown frightening, unlawful, irrational, immoral, and somewhat sad (whew!), so I retreat to my blog- "the inner recesses of my home," as Justice Alito might say.

It's been over twenty-five years, but I still remember the flag burning case. What particularly sticks in my mind is the complete lack of a well-crafted response from the Right. No argument that the Court had got their moral case (e.g., that this wasn't "speech") or legal case (e.g., that state action wasn't protected) wrong; certainly no argument that this didn't come under the court's purview, and certainly no attempt to take practical steps to address any of that. No, all that came were populist calls for an amendment, something that would never happen and which implicitly conceded all of the Court's arguments. It merely was a good talking point, was good for stirring up crowds, and (taking a page from the Left) served only to tar those with a more nuanced view of the process (while having an identical view of the desired result), thanks to general ignorance of civics.

Yes, I think that concession has borne fruit, in too many ways.

As long as I've mention Facebook, here are some recent posts, for those who check in only here:
Tonight I participated in a wonderful reading of "The Tempest." I was Prospero, among others. A small number of attendees meant I had some heated discussions with myself.

I also had a piece of a Vegemite chocolate bar. It's actually quite good. (And to all those disbelieving souls, yes, despite not a drop of Commonwealth blood in me* and not having tasted it until I was well into adulthood, I actually very much enjoy Marmite.)

I should be used to it by now- whenever there's some big local sports victory, motorcades of fans come tearing down Aza beeping their horns. Even at 12:25 in the AM. When it started tonight, I didn't have to be told that Jerusalem won.

Maybe they want to make sure Bibi knows. One of them was screaming his name just now. Barkat knows, of course- he was down on the floor with the team.

Well, go Jerusalem!
For some reason, the Bar Association is sponsoring an evening of speeches on "Diabetes and Obesity: Plague of the Century."

Between presentations, there will be coffee and cake (and, I assume, bourekas), because, you know, Jews. And Israel.
I've just started a book I bought (thanks, Shavua Sefer!) about the archaeological excavation of the altar on Mount Ebal, in the Shomron, in the 1980's and 1990's.

At the end of a long list of acknowledgments- dig personnel, students, volunteers, institutions, local Jewish Shomron residents- the author writes (translation mine), "And we must mention our Palestinian friends, who for obvious reasons cannot be named." That's kind of sad.
Sometimes I feel like grabbing Israeli law firms (and others) looking to hire olim by their figurative lapels and pointing out that the types of people who *would* match their listed qualifications are not, ahem, the type of people who make aliyah.
Things that happen to me more often than you'd think, part whatever:

I'm in a city I'm not from, that I barely visit, that I know very little of apart from where I'm headed, and not even that, having gotten lost a bit earlier. I get stopped by a random citizen who asks me where X is. We are nowhere near X, but by sheer coincidence, I just came from the same block. I give directions and feel like a big-shot native.
I can be a real cynic, but last night, I attended a screening of Yehuda Avner's "The Prime Ministers" and the waterworks turned on. A good Zionist refresher. A well done event, Yeshiva University Israel Alumni!

Interestingly, it was the same day as I inquired as to his details so I could get a memorial plaque for him (one of my duties as gabbai). I never met him myself, but apparently he was a longtime mitpallel at Kehillat Renanim. And whaddya you, in the movie itself, he's describing learning of the Yom Kippur War while in shul, and there's a picture of our beit knesset's building. (Granted, Heichal Shlomo is one of the more prominent buildings in the State of Israel.)

I was thus able to tell his daughter, from whom I got the actual details, how much I enjoyed the film.
Today is the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. I'm reminded of the story of how Paris newspaper headliness tracked Napoleon's progress through the 100 Days (from when he left Elba until his final downfall):

The Tiger has broken out of his den!

The Ogre was three days at sea

The Wretch has landed at Frejus

The Brigand has arrived at Antibes

The Invader has reached Grenoble

The General has entered Lyons

Napoleon slept last night at Fontainebleau

The Emperor proceeds to the Tuileries today

His Imperial Majesty will address his loyal subjects tomorrow!
Many years ago my mom got me a Sherlock Holmes doll. The lad has grown quite interested in it lately, and only today did I notice that his coat buttons feature the symbol of the People's Liberation Army (Red China). Now how did I miss that?

(It's not a great mystery: The doll, like everything else these days, was made in China, and the factory probably had some military contract and so had spare buttons lying around. My grandfather worked in a place that made insignia during World War II and would sometimes bring my Dad spare US Army buttons. I don't think he still has any...)

I remember when we passed the toy store and I (already an adult, but a huge Sherlock Holmes fan) pointed it out in the window, not asking for it or anything, and then one day my Mom, bless her, brings it home. I think the place shut down not long after that. :-)

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