27 June 2011

Rabbinic Popularity in the Mishnah VI: סדר טהרות

While flying last week, I finished up my project of counting the most referenced sages in The Mishnah with סדר טהרות (see previous posts on זרעים ,מועד ,נשים ,נזיקים, and קדשים). Once again, as with the other five orders of the Mishnah, Rabbi Yehudah was, by far, the most commonly referenced sage (and, thus, the most throughout the entirety of the Mishnah). Without further ado, here are the top ten most referenced sages in סדר טהרות:
Top Ten
1 - רבי יהודה
2 - חכמים
3 - רבי יוסי
4 - רבי שמעון
5 - רבי מאיר
6 - רבי אליעזר
7 - רבי עקיבא
8 - בית שמאי
9 - בית הלל
10 - רבי יהושע
For the most commonly referenced in each tractate, here is a listing:
כלים - רבי יהודה
אהלות - בית הלל
נגעים - רבי יהודה
פרה - רבי יהודה
טהרות - חכמים
מקואות - רבי יוסי
נדה - בית שמאי ובית הלל
מכשירין - רבי יהודה
זבים - רבי שמעון
טבול יום - רבי יהודה
ידים - חכמים
עוקצין - רבי יהודה
I am glad and quite happy that I finished this project; next up: tabulating the results....

22 June 2011

Back to B'nai B'rith Perlman Camp for ILTC

I am heading off tomorrow to Pennsylvania to be one of two Judaic Educators at B'nai B'rith Youth Organization's 53rd annual International Leadership Training Conference, taking place at the B'nai B'rith Perlman Camp. This will be my fifth time at ILTC, as I went as a participant in 1998 (my first ever international BBYO program (followed by three International Conventions and Kallah (in 1999))) and then returned as administrative staff in 2002, 2003, and 2004. It has definitely been a while since I've been back (seven years), plus I've not been much in touch with BBYO or even thinking about it, but I imagine it will be nice to be back in that environment, especially as a rabbi.

21 June 2011

Selling Sahara's Stuff

Yesterday, before departing from Las Vegas, having visited for my third Father's Day, we checked out the liquidation sale going on at the Sahara. LinkThe sale was going on at the Sahara, which closed a little over a month ago, and begun five days ago previously to sell off everything on the premises. We were there the first day that admission was free, as National Content Liquidators charged $10 for entrance the first four days. I had never heard of NCL, but it kind of felt nice, as they had brought employees from Ohio with them, my home state.
I had only stepped in briefly last August to get some half-shot glasses, so I was largely unfamiliar with the hotel and casino. However, walking around, I could tell why it was time for the hotel to go: it wasn't particularly nice and several decades behind the time decoratively-speaking.
In the end, I got a dozen half-shot glasses at 50 cents a piece and a couple other glasses for the same price. Many items from the guest rooms were decently-priced, as they had hundreds to sell off, especially the credenzas with tvs attached to them, selling for $25 a piece. However, there were also numerous items that were priced higher than they should've been. I'm glad we were able to check it out.
The sale will be going on for another 52 days and they will still probably have lots of things for sale....

20 June 2011

"Plants Versus People?": Considering Environmental Concern As a Social Justice Issue

Six and a half years ago, while walking in El Salvador with Rabbi Sid Schwarz, the topic of our trip came up. I was among a couple dozen rabbinical students who were there for ten days as part of the second Rabbinical Student Delegation trip of the American Jewish World Service, which focuses on social justice. I hadn't been aware of "social justice" before going to rabbinical school, but in my first semester there, I heard of this neat winter trip to engage with "social justice work" and classical Jewish texts related to it. While there, we spoke a lot about helping people(s) in the world, which didn't resonate much with me, but was an interesting idea (although I found the idea of doing it as Jews an amazing kiddush hashem). The thing that did tremendously interest me was the environment - having heard in school growing up about the terrible things humans have been doing to our environment and how sad it was to see the oceans becoming dirtier, the ozone layer depleting, etc.
So I let him know that the trip was interesting, but social justice just did not compel me, whereas the environment did and I phrased it by apologetically saying, "It's not that I necessarily think plants are more important than people....".
However, I was thinking Thursday night about this exclusion of interest in the planet's health to my interest in helping people around the world and realized, aside from how simply awful it was to see the world changing for the worse, what animated me about this concern - it's really about the condition of the world and worrying about how our living conditions will be in the near future, let alone in our children's and grandchildren's lives(!). By air quality getting worse, it affects our breathing; by water being worse, how much of it can we drink without being adversely affected; with decreasing amounts of fish, how can we feed people as adequately (or fishermen make a living)?
I realized, my concern for the environment isn't instead of people, it's for people. What this means, I believe, is that helping achieve a healthy environment is fundamentally a social justice issue: I believe that humans should be able to live in the world God gave us - it is something that people deserve.