Tanach Definitions

I had to do these definitions as homework a few days ago. Here’s the copy of it:

TANACH is the main book of Judaism, which we received on Mt. Sinai. It contains three collections of books: Torah, Neviim, and Ketuvim, which form the acronym TANACH. TANACH is also known as the BIBLE. However, the Christian Bible adds an extra part which talks about Jesus.

 

TORAH is the first part of TANACH. We read the TORAH on Mondays, Thursdays, and Shabbat. It is divided into 5 books (Bereshit, Shemot, Vayikra, Bamidbar, Devarim), which are divided into 52 parshas, or portions. The parsha we read for this week is called Parshat HaShavoua.

 

NEVIIM is the second part of TANACH. It is the writings of the Neviim, the Prophets. Parts of this book are taken as the Haftorahs. The reason the Sages decreed reading the Haftorahs is because the Greeks, when they ruled Israel, forced the Jews to not publicly say the TORAH, so instead, they picked parts of NEVIIM to be read that are similar to the Parshat HaShavoua.

 

KETUVIM is the last book of the TANACH. This books contains the 5 Megillot, Tehillim, and many other assorted writings. Pieces from KETUVIM are read at certain holidays.

 

CHUMASH is basically the TORAH. It is those five books we mentioned earlier, which also gives it the name THE FIVE BOOKS OF MOSES. We get the word CHUMASH from the Hebrew word for five, which is Chameysh.

My Meaningful Prayer- Ashrei

In our Tuesday prayer class, we have to find one prayer we find the most meaningful and answer questions. I chose Ashrei.

1. Why is this prayer important or my favorite? I like this prayer because it is organized alphabetically and talks about lots of different subjects. It is said that if you say this prayer three times a day, you are guaranteed a place in the world.

2. What do I think it means? I think it is talking about what the Jewish people will say about G-d, and how they will say it. It gives great praises to Him.

3. How is this tefillah (prayer) important for the prayer service? It is important because it is one of the main prayers that is sung and recited often. Also, it is an important “marker prayer” in the service because you know that we will soon have the Shema.

4. Are there specific verses I find more meaningful? What are they, and why? No, not really. I like them all and find them all really meaningful. I do really like the second to last one, that says G-d will reward the good and punish the wicked.

In the Desert

I am an Israelite, from the tribe of Naftali. I, when in Egypt, was assigned as a foreman over the other slaves. When Moses came, I believed him from the beginning. I always felt that our savior would come from G-d. He was always watching over us, even at the worst times. My wife and friends thought I was just silly and a little too optimistic.

They were convinced a little when they heard about Aaron’s staff swallowing Pharaoh’s magicians’ staffs. They all were completely sure when the Nile was turned into blood. In the ten months of the plagues, we were glad that the Egyptians were punished. We felt no gratitude for them, after brutally forcing us to do the cruelest jobs just for their entertainment. We were especially happy after the plague of lice was over, because then we stopped working for the Egyptians. We were even happier after the plague of boils, because then our actual servitude in Egypt was over. We rejoiced along with all of our brethern as we left Egypt.

We happily witnessed the splitting of the Reed Sea, and sang songs of praise to God. At Marah, however, everybody rebelled. I strongly advised against it, telling them that we could find water elsewhere, but they rebelled. They would not trust God! I sadly watched as my brothers openly rebelled against God who took us out of Egypt. A few weeks later, when the food ran out, even I complained a bit.

 How would we survive? I wondered. We could find other water springs in the desert, but food was impossible to find. We didn’t see any animals in the desert, and nothing grew. I was wrong, though. God rained down mann, the greatest food ever to behold us. Holy food, sent straight down from heaven. Dew fell, and then the mann, and then more dew covered it. It was like it was in a package from heaven. It tasted like whatever we wished it to. It could be cold, hot, dairy, meat, fruits, vegetables… We were always sure that God would provide for us. I guess you want me to tell you what my mann tasted like, huh? Well, I shall. My mann tasted like fish. Fish with lemon juice on it for extra flavoring.

A Short Video, A Simple (but important) Concept

This week, in Hebrew class, we watched a news video from Israel about Muslims who work in a grocery store in London, England. The problem was that Muslims are prohibited from drinking, owning, or, for the very observant, even touching alcohol. When a British person once tried to check out alcohol, the Muslim cashier politely asked the customer to go to another register. The customer got very upset and started yelling at the cashier. Eventually, it was settled and the supermarket apologized to both cashier and customer.

In school, we have been learning about a concept called Think Win-Win. A Win-Win is where both people win in an arguement or conflict. For example, a person recieves a candy bar and then another person wants it. If the first person gives the candy bar to the other person, it is a Lose-Win. If the first person keeps the candy bar, it is a Win-Lose. If they fight over it and the candy bar gets destroyed, it is a Lose-Lose. If they split the candy bar, it is a Win-Win. We were asked to define this cashier-customer conflict. I believe that it was a Win-Lose because the angry customer eventually got their drink and emotions repaired, while all the cashier got was an apology with no consideration for religion. I hope that this arguement will not happen again in the future.

 

“The Cross By Day, The Mezuzzah By Night” Chapters 1-5

We are reading a book in our Tanach class called The Cross by Day, The Mezuzzah by Night. This book also counts as our Chai reading for November. These first chapters take place in Seville, Spain. The main character is named Isabel Caruso de Carvallo. However, her Jewish name is Ruth. Her father is the tax collector of Seville. She has discovered that she is a Marranos, a secret convert to Judaism on her 13th birthday, along with a birthday present; A century-old mezuzzah that was her great-grandmother Ruth’s. This is in the midst of the Spanish Inquisition, when it is very dangerous to be a Jew.

Prayer Session

As the First Nine Weeks of the school year come to a close, so does my Tuesday morning prayer session. My class has been doing this with Dr. Mitzmacher instead of the regular service. We have been asked to reflect on this class, specifically the 5 reasons of why to pray and which ones we agree with. First, I will list the 5 reasons to pray:

1. Prayer as Self-Discipline- Prayer is an art and a skill. Just like any hobby, praying must be practiced often and worked to perfection. If praying is something that really matters to us and we care about it, then we will always do it. “Disciplining  oneself to pray regularly is the only way to achieve that magnificent experience of emotionally fulfilling prayer.

2. Prayer as Self-Analysis and Ethical Consciousness Raising- “One of the tasks of prayer… is to push us from where we are (emotionally, intellectually, interpersonally) to where we ought to be.” Daily prayer helps us to do this. It trains us to do what we know is right, and fight for our beliefs. The self-analysis in prayer is comparing us to the laws, ethics, and morals that shape Judaism.

3. Prayer as the Link Between Individuals and the Community- As any Jew knows, without a minyan (group of 10 Jewish men), you can’t do most of the prayers. This law teaches us that Jews always have to stay together. Prayer services can be a time to meet, like having a meeting and then going to pray. In Judaism, the three prayer services can serve as important times for meetings and the such.

4. Prayer as a Response to the Wonder of Being Alive- “Perhaps the real secret of being able to pray is in retaining an almost childish sense of wonder and awe at the incredible fact of merely being alive.” Sometimes, we take advantage of the fact that we can wake up every day.

I’m sorry, but I forgot number 5. Anyway, I agree with number 4 the most. The first thing we’re supposed to do when we wake up is to say Modeh Ani. We thank G-d for letting us wake up again.

Journal 7- The Incredible Simon Birch

For our mitzvah trip last Friday, my class didn’t go anywhere. Instead, we watched the movie Simon Birch. Simon Birch is the story of Simon, who is very short, and his best (and only) friend, Joe Wenteworth. Joe does not know who his father is and wants to know. Simon believes that he is God’s messenger and that he has a destiny. I think they became good friends because they were both different; Simon was a midget and Joe didn’t have a father. They were both searching for something, so that’s why they grew close. Out of this friendship they got help with their searches, consolation, and good memories. Joe didn’t let Simon’s disabilities stop them from being friends. He acted like Simon was “normal”, even though Simon was disabled.

Like I said before, Simon always thought that G-d had a purpose for him. This was one of the solid beliefs of his life. It turned into the answer for everything for him. This was all part of G-d’s big master plan. I think G-d did have a plan for Simon because of what happened at the end of the movie. I think that G-d does have a plan for me and everybody else in the world, but it hasn’t been revealed to any of us yet. For some of us, it could be revealed when we’re ten, or when we’re 100! It just depends on the person. Simon was beginning with the end in mind because he always knew that in the end, he would fulfill his destiny.

The minister in the movie, Reverend Russel, didn’t like Simon. Simon was very curious and would ask questions during church that would get Reverend Russel mad. I think Reverend Russel didn’t like Simon because he didn’t like it when he interrupted church. Also, maybe he was scared of him. It was also possible that Reverend Russel just had a disliking for all people with disabilities.

Overall, Simon Birch was a great movie that I really enjoyed. Don’t let the bad ratings from Rotten Tomatoes throw you off. It’s a really good movie. If you don’t want to buy it, you can watch it here.

The Spanish cover of Simon Birch.

The Spanish cover of Simon Birch.

Where do I see G-d in nature?

FROM BOYNTON BEACH, FLORIDA

It is Shabbas morning, right after Shacharis. I davened at Temple Torah. When I came back to the Bernstein’s house, I went on their swing set. It’s very beautiful in Boynton, and my view proved my opinion. There is a very nice man-made lake surrounded by houses. Trees are being outlined by the cloudy, blue sky. The grass seems greener here.

I can see Hashem everywhere. He created everything I see, so how could He not be here? The water above in the clouds, and the water in the lake below. The trees are a sign that G-d is there, because he let them grow and flourish. You can’t hide from Hashem, because he is ruler of the universe, the world, man and animal alike. Hashem is everywhere. You can always see Him intervening in everything that we do.

Journal 5- My Trip to Boca Raton

Last weekend, I was invited to a Bas Mitzvah in Boca Raton, FL. I left school after lunch on Friday, otherwise we wouldn’t have made it in time before Shabbas. Actually, we didn’t go to Boca First. I was staying at my friends house in Boynton, so that’s where we drove to. My friend, however, wasn’t at his house when we stayed in it! He was at a Kadima convention and away the whole weekend, so we stayed up after I came back from  the party and hung out. His father is the Rabbi at a shul about a mile away, within walking distance. I took a shower and then went to Temple Torah for services Friday night. Then we had dinner at their house. I went to services at Temple Torah again for Shabbas morning, because when she read the Torah was at Minchah. Usually it is at Shacharis. Anyway, after Shacharis I had lunch. Then I relaxed for a few hours. At 5:30 we went to go pick up my friend, and then we drove to Boca. We had to because it’s about 20 miles south of Boynton. I went to the shul and watched her read the Torah and give a D’var Torah. Then we went to the party. It was very nice.

This was an act of chesed (kindness) because I left school early to drive 4 and a half hours one way to share in my friend’s joy. It shows how much I care about my friends. The thing that was most different was that she read the Torah at Minchah instead of Shacharis. What also surprised me was that the shul was in a shopping plaza. I thought that was interesting. Overall, I had a good time, and the long drive was worth it.

Journal #3- A Sukkah For Orly

On Friday, September 14, Orly Ohayon, 16, and Ester Ohayon, 57, were hit by a car while walking to Yom Kippur services. Ester died on the spot and Orly was rushed to the hospital. Ester was my 4-year old sister’s teacher. Orly has had 2 of the 4 surgeries that she will need to recover. Orly is now an orphan, her father dying when she was three. She is now still at UF Hospital. Since we are now in the holiday of Sukkos, we decided to send some students over to the hospital so Orly can have a sukkah. The kids were picked randomly out of a hat. I was upset that I didn’t get to go, because I really wanted to.

I think that the reason we did it, even though knowing that she probably wouldn’t be able to go in it, is because to show that we really care about her and hope for her speedy recovery. This will never become “old news” to us. It makes me feel great that we were able to do such a big mitzvah for her, not just the mitzvah of sukkah, but also the mitzvah of helping orphans and bikur cholim, visiting the sick. How lucky we were, that we were able to do three mitzvahs in one! This will have lots of meaning to her because it was built in memory of her mother. It was also built for her in symbolism, because she probably won’t be able to go in it. I’m sure that everybody’s Sukkos will be enlightened knowing that we were able to help a sick orphan do a big mitzvah. Good Moed!

Ester and Orly Ohayon.Ester (right) and Orly (left) Ohayon.

Image Credit: http://www.news4jax.com/news/students-build-hut-for-16yearold-crash-victim/-/475880/22005536/-/io7y04/-/index.html