discarded lies: thursday, march 22, 2018 3:45 pm zst
You're the schlager in my gold flakes
daily archive: 10/16/2005
zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
An Ideological Challenge to the West
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guest author: joem in Discarded Lies:
Sukkot; Symbols & Symbolism
Sukkot (or Succos, for Ashkenazim), comes right on the heels of the somber and reflective "High Holy Days" of Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur. Jews are commanded - twice - to be happy: (Deuteronomy 16:13-15) You shall make the festival of Sukkos.. You shall rejoice on your festival .. A seven day period shall you celebrate to Hashem .. and you will be completely joyous. ("V'samachta BeChagecha .. V'Hayita Ach Sameyach"). Now that we have repented our sins and been judged favorably, we celebrate - joyously. Many have the custom to begin building the Sukka on the night that Yom Kippur ends.

Judaism is replete with symbols. But most of these are either Rabbinic or custom-based. Sukkot is notable for its many biblically mandated symbols: (Leviticus 23:40) On the first day, you will take for yourselves a fruit of a beautiful tree, palm branches, twigs of a braided tree and brook willows, and you will rejoice before the L-RD your G-d for seven days.. We call these the "Arba Minim", the four species: the Etrog, a citrus-like fruit; the Lulav, the center-branch from a date-palm tree; 3 Hadasim, myrtle branches; and 2 Aravot, branches from a willow. We bind the branches together and hold them together with the Etrog and wave them in the six directions: forward, right, back, left, up, and down - symbolizing that G-d is all around us. Some say (based on their shapes) that the Lulav symbolizes the spine; the Etrog, the heart; the Hadas the eyes; and the Arava, the lips, showing that we serve Hashem with our entirety. Others point out that the Etrog has both a beautiful fragrance and taste, where the hadas has a beautiful fragrance and but is inedible, the lulav (at least the dates) can be eaten, and the Aravos have neither quality - symbolizing that all Jews - those with Torah and Good Deeds, Good Deeds but no Torah, Torah but no Deeds and those devoid of either, must all join together in the service of G-d.

The "Arba Minim", or "four species": Etrog, Lulav, Hadasim and Aravot

Of course, the name of the holiday itself comes from the Sukkos, or huts, that we are commanded to live in: (Leviticus 23:42) You shall dwell in booths for seven days; every natives in Israel shall dwell in booths. This is a rare time we are told why: (ibid, 43) So that your generation will know that I caused the Children of Israel to dwell in booths when I took them from the land of Egypt; I am Hashem, your God. The Talmud (Sukka 11b) cites a disagreement (naturally) if this refers to actual booths or to the "Ananei HaKavod", the Clouds of Glory that surrounded the Jews during their 40 years in the desert. One thing is clear: the construction of the Sukka, with it's flimsy roof, serves to remind us that this world is temporal, and even if we think we are safe from the elements, it's really God that controls our destiny. And this lesson is clear after seeing all of the "natural" calamities of the past year.

succa outside.jpg
Succa-exterior view (click to see full sized image)
succa inside.jpg

Succa-interior view (click to see full sized image)

You might ask, if that's so, why is the holiday now - shouldn't it be right after Passover, when the Jews left Egypt?

Some commentators explain that if we left our houses in the spring-time, it looks like we're just going out to enjoy the weather. Going out now, when summer is over and it's starting to get chilly and threatening rain - now, that makes our gentile neighbors scratch their heads at these "crazy Jews"!

The Ga'on Rabbi Eliyahu of Vilna explained that after the sin of the Golden Calf, the Clouds of Glory departed. There followed a period of intense T'shuva (repentance). Moses returned up the mountain two more times to try to gain God's complete forgiveness, finally returning with the second Luchos (tablets) on Yom Kippur [see Rashi, Sh'mos 23:11], with the directive to build the Mishkan (Tabernacle). The next day, they started collecting materials, and that lasted for three days. The day after that, the 15th of Tishrei, construction began, and that's when the Clouds returned. So, explains the Gr"a, Sukkot symbolizes God's acceptance of our T'shuva, both then and now.

This is just scratching the surface. There is much to be said about the Mussafim (extra offerings) and the 70 nations, the Ushpizin ("guests") that we welcome each night, and the theme of water that permeates the holiday, but we'll save that for another time.

This year, Sukkot begins at sundown on Monday, October 17th.

Chag Samayech!
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evariste in Discarded Lies:
Iraq: Constitution is probably a go :-)
Power Line: Sunni Split, with grateful cognac to levi from queens:
In order for the new Iraqi constitution to be defeated, it was necessary for two-thirds or more of the voters in three or more of the country's eighteen provinces to vote against it. Since there are four provinces where Sunnis are in the majority, it was not inconceivable that that could happen. It has been widely stated, as in this USA Today article, that Iraq's Sunnis tried hard to stop the constitution:
Iraq's constitution seemed assured of passage Sunday despite strong opposition from Sunni Arabs, who voted in surprisingly high numbers in an effort to stop it.

The results we've seen so far, however, don't support that characterization. There were, indeed, two heavily Sunni provinces, Anbar and Salaheddin, where voters rejected the constitution; in Salaheddin, 78% voted against it.

But in the other two Sunni-majority provinces, Diyala and Ninevah, it appears that most Sunnis supported the new constitution. In Diyala, 70% supported the referendum, with only 20% opposed. In Ninevah, with more than 80% of polling places reporting, 79% had voted in favor. There is no way to get those numbers unless most Sunnis voted "yes."

So it appears that there is a split among Iraqi Sunnis that is largely geographic, and that a great many Sunnis do support the constitution and Iraq's fledgling democracy, even though it will mean that they lose their historic dominance over the country.
I'm pretty sure I've never put a smiley in a headline before, but it seems appropriate :-)
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
It's Fall And Mama is Picking Olives at Some Stranger's House
While other people may enjoy the first fire of the season or the leaves changing colour, my mom is staking out yards and gardens for olive trees. She's already picked the olives from our trees in Greece, there's probably not one olive left in all of southern Greece, so now she had to invade another continent.

It all started very innocently, over a cup of Greek coffee with roomie. I wasn't there, I was on bloggie, I got the story second-hand from a very flustered, stuttering roomie. So mama and roomie were having coffee and mama told her how she had finished olive-picking in Greece and roomie happened to say "Oh, I like olives!" and mama said "Oh yeah? Me too!" It was all downhill from there.

Roomie, in all innocence, said "there's a house near my parents' house and they have olive trees." Mama pounced. "Oh yeah? Let's go pick them!" Roomie explained that they couldn't just go pick them, because the trees didn't belong to Mama and that sort of thing just isn't done here. Mama of course came back with "Oh, you should ask them, then!" Roomie answered "But I don't know them!" and Mama, very logically, replied "well, they're your parents neighbours, have your mom ask them!" So roomie called her mom, who asked her to go over there, because she had no idea which house she was talking about, and so roomie did, to point out to her mom the house with the olive trees. Meanwhile, mama is whistling happily and rubbing her hands with glee and counting how many buckets she would need for the upcoming olives.

Roomie and her mom went to the neighbour's place and left a letter at her door asking whether they would mind if some strange foreign woman came over to take their olives. Their neighbour called them back and said fine, she could have three of the front trees because her brother wanted some olives too. Mama was very excited at the prospect of three trees but she was not too happy that olives were being held back from her. They went this morning and picked them, she and roomie--who still doesn't know what hit her--and mama said "yeah, the olives were good, but the best olives were in that tree that the lady had marked for her brother." The lady had marked the tree with police tape, by the way. I guess she could tell that mama meant business.

Anyway, now mama is out in the yard trying to pick two perfect rocks to crack the olives with. This is the traditional way, you crack the olives with a perfect rock and then you do other stuff to them. Mama picked one perfect rock for herself and one perfect rock for roomie, because today she's gonna show her how to crack and cure olives.

I think I'll just go hide in aridog's bunker.
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evariste in Discarded Lies:
SEALs looking for a few hundred good men
The Navy SEALs are making changes to recruit SEALs more efficiently, and get more of them. Bad news for terrorists: their standards aren't going down, they're just casting a smarter, wider net for candidates.

SEALs launching public effort to recruit new members
CORONADO – The Navy SEALs prefer to operate in the shadows, but the Pentagon's need to increase the ranks of the elite terrorist-hunting commando force is prompting an unusually splashy recruiting effort.

Navy SEAL Mitchell Hall, who won a Bronze Star in 2001 in Afghanistan, hopes to use the upcoming Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii to spread the word about the need for more recruits.

The competition will make the 31-year-old chief petty officer a spokesman for the community of self-described quiet professionals and put him in front of the cameras he spent years avoiding.

The change in recruiting methods comes amid the Pentagon's increasing reliance on special operations and the call for a 15 percent increase in SEALs over the next several years.

The SEALs have a legendary reputation as an elite, highly skilled fighting force, but it is hard to find candidates with the necessary physical conditioning.

Just to get a chance to try out, SEAL recruits must swim 500 yards, then breeze through a series of push-ups, sit-ups and pull-ups and run 1.5 miles – all within strict time limits. This year, 500 of the 823 SEAL recruits – or 60 percent – failed the test in the first days of boot camp.
I'm getting exhausted just from reading that.
"We can't survive on that any longer," said Master Chief Petty Officer Andy Tafelski, 51, who has a key role in the recruiting effort. "The pipeline has to become more efficient."

For the SEALs, who consider themselves the best of the best, lowering their standards is out of the question.

Hall, 31, will be competing in the Oct. 15 Ironman – a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile marathon – wearing a blue jersey emblazoned with a Navy SEAL insignia. He won the Navy SEAL's Superfrog Triathalon in September and now his goal is to finish among the top 100 in Hawaii's Ironman.

"When I'm out there at hour five or whatever it is, and I feel like I'm hurting pretty bad, I've had experience with the same things doing activities in the SEALs," he said.

To boost the SEALs' ranks, the Navy is also working with recruiters to begin testing potential SEALs before they get to boot camp and making sure they have the physical skills. Mentors will work with those who qualify to prepare them for what comes next.

Every SEAL must finish one of the world's toughest entrance exams, a six-month training program that typically weeds out three of every four candidates.

The Navy also is creating a SEAL rating – a formal job description –that should allow candidates to more quickly begin formal SEAL training. Previously, SEALs – the name stands for Sea, Air, Land – had to attend school to learn traditional jobs held by Navy sailors.

Driving the changes is the need to add 400 men by fiscal 2008, bringing the total number of SEALs from 2,600 to about 3,000. Special operations units in the Army and Air Force also are planning to increase their ranks, and U.S. Special Operations Command is offering bonuses of up to $150,000 to keep the most experienced operators from bolting to the more lucrative private sector.

The SEALs are looking to the fill the grueling Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training program at Coronado, outside San Diego, to its full capacity of 850 students – something that has never happened, Tafelski said.
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evariste in Discarded Lies:
People who really deserve a Nobel
As Judith Apter Klinghoffer points out, this guy is far more deserving of a prize and medal than El Baradei:
While the Communist mafia gothers in Beijing to find ways to squash the populace unhappiness which led to 74,000 protests in 2004, a Taiwanese writer turned politician went to Beijing and spoke truth to power. He should be getting the Nobel:

"The government that oppresses freedom of speech is the worst one," Li brazenly declared during a speech at Peking University while professors there openly shuddered.

Next came talk of other Communist Party of China moves to undermine democracy, including its use of force in the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.

While he talked about his struggle for democracy in Taiwan, including his years of imprisonment, Li stressed to the audience, "You can surely win freedom of speech."

Explaining himself after the Sept. 22 lecture, one of a series during his 11-day trip to Beijing and Shanghai, Li told reporters his remarks were in the interests of unification.

"Because I support the unification of Taiwan and China, I feel obliged to rectify the defects of the Communist Party," he said
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
What does the future hold for you: ask a charlatan
I love astrology, don't you? It's so...um, okay, here's the truth. I don't know shit about astrology, I don't care about astrology, and I don't believe in astrology but for the past year I have been terrorising evariste with a fake daily horoscope. I tell him stuff like "your horoscope says that if you don't start waking up earlier in the morning, you will never have children and you will die poor." And the one from a few weeks ago, "your horoscope said a piano will fall on your head unless you switch to a better hosting service." That one worked beautifully. The waking up horoscope, I still have to perfect. But I'll get there.

Here's ev's favourite charlatan, what's your favourite horoscope?
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