Friday, April 29, 2005


On my flight to Israel this May 25, I have a 7-hour layover in Amsterdam. My plans are to take a boat tour (the whole downtown area is criscrossed by canals) and visit the Anne Frank house. If there's extra time, there are a couple art galleries and a Portugese Synagogue worth visiting. My plans largely come from this site.

Over the past 4 years I've made a point of visiting cities such as Baltimore and Chicago in conjunction with traveling to and from college. Now that I'll be studying in Israel, it will be nice to be able to do the same in Europe. Perhaps my next trip will be on British Airways, or Air France.

Thursday, April 28, 2005


The relative frequency of crashing of various programs on my computer:
  • Microsoft Word: Every 5 seconds. Which is why I don't use it any more. See next entry.
  • OpenOffice: Never crashed yet. Recent versions are roughly as capable as Word, so I don't feel that I'm missing anything by using it.
  • Excel and Powerpoint: Don't use them too much, but can't remember either of them crashing.
  • Internet Explorer: I rarely use it, but when I do it seems to crash at a reasonable clip
  • EditPlus: My preferred text and web site editor; never crashed.
  • Photoshop: Seems pretty stable
  • Gaim: Crashes very rarely
  • Mozilla Firefox: My main web browser. Known to crash, but infrequently, and it has a nice auto recover feature which remembers which sites you were at when anything happens. BUT, it doesn't remember the text you're entering on those sites. Hence my loss.

My next post will presumably be written in EditPlus.


This is where a 500 word post would have gone, if it hadn't been wiped out by a browser crash. No, "recover post" doesn't seem to do anything. Maybe I'll rewrite it later.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Minor update

Due to extensive work - I've had to give presentations each of the last 3 days, not to mention the papers and problem sets and stuff - I haven't been able to post recently. For now, I'll just post a single link. My goal for the next 48 hours is to use both of the made-up words from that site, "Operation Chomblitz" and "Chumropoly", in conversation.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Achat Kibalti Me'Et Hashem...

...shivti b'veit hashem... for at least one year.

It's (almost) official. This summer and next year, I'll be at Gush.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Google Maps

As everyone probably knows by now, Google Maps is the coolest mapping program in existence. Even better, the management has just introduced satellite imaging, which isn't that useful but makes it easy to waste hours on end. Finally, the site is written using a publicly accessible XML interface, which some people have used to add extremely useful and interesting features of their own.

Now, if only they could add a scale feature, and perhaps symbols for landmarks such as hospitals and subway stops... but even now, it's a revolutionary improvement over its competitors.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Our Lord of the World

Every Shabbat morning, after mussaf, we sing the piyyut Adom Olam. This song is not an integral part of the service. I do not remember it ever being being sung in Israel or in the more fundamentalist communities (Lakewood, Ner Yisrael) that I have visited. In many siddurim, it also appears at the beginning of Shacharit and as part of the bedtime Shema prayers.

Its authorship is unknown. Several non-authoritative sources I found online suggested that it was composed in 10th-century Babylonia, or by Ibn Gabirol in 11th-century Spain. The more respectable sources I found generally did not suggest any attribution. It seems to have been added to the prayer services around the 16th century.

The first three stanzas are theological; the last two describe the believer's relationship to God. The last stanza begins with the words, "בידו אפקיד רוחי", "In his hand I entrust my spirit".

These words are a direct quotation from the New Testament.

I noticed this a few days ago in a news report about the Pope's death. I don't know how to take it. I can't be the only one who finds it strange that a supposedly Jewish prayer includes a line from the Christian Bible.

This brings us back to the question of authorship. The following possibilities suggest themselves to me.
  • The resemblance is coincidental.
  • The poem was written by a Jew who had read the Christian Bible and felt comfortable reusing its language in a Jewish context.
  • The poem was written by a Christian, or perhaps a "Jewish Christian" who considered himself a traditional Jew but believed that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah.
  • Part of the poem - the last stanza or two - was written by an author who drew on the Christian Bible, while the rest was written by one of the previously suggested authors. This would account for the presence of the line "והוא אחד ואין שני להמשיל לו להחבירה", "And he is one, and there is no second, to be compared to him, to be joined with him". While this line is not necessary a direct refutation of Christianity (Christians presumably think that they are in fact monotheists, believing in three aspects of one God), it does sound to me like anti-Christian polemic. However you read it, it's strange to see this and a Christian Bible quote located just four lines apart from each other. Perhaps this indicates that Adon Olam is an accretion of several authors' contributions, although the uniformity of the poem's meter (it's strict iambic pentameter all the way through) might indicate otherwise.
It should be noted that we don't know who put Adon Olam in the prayer service (though it certainly wasn't Chazal), and that we don't know who wrote it either. I suggest that the poem in its current form was discovered by Jews who were unaware of its authorship, and incorporated into prayers because it seemed like a nice poem. Which it is. But that doesn't make me any more comfortable about reading what is apparently Christian scripture in synagogue.

Sunday, April 03, 2005


The only convincing argument I've ever heard that Judaism and homosexual desires are compatible is available here.

UPDATE: A complementary site. Good; less original but perhaps more realistic than the first site.

Thank you anonymous for the second link.