Sunday, December 11, 2016

Ending Yom Kippur....

Top of the evening everyone...

Given that Hannukah is about to be upon us, I thought it high time to write about the way I calculate the ending to Yom Kippur.

Some background is in order.  First of all, the local va'ad in Toronto insists on using the strictest method of calculation possible, which is 72 minutes from the time of candle-lighting.  As well, I have seen methods that just require an hour from candle-lighting.  This was what most communities in New York did.

When I was at my pulpit in New York, my cantor insisted on fasting on Yom Kippur, despite being diabetic.  As well, he refused to use his CPAP machine.  Every year, we argued about it, and every year he did what he was going to do.

Upon reflection, it occurred to me that he was likely not the only person in the room fasting when he should not have been, when Jewish law would have told him that he should not.  On the one hand, this is good.  Rabbis everywhere want these basic observances of Jewish law to be so ingrained that it is hard to put them down even when we should.  On the other hand, there are times we should.

Shabbat and holidays can all end when there are three stars in the sky.  Many years back, someone wrote an article showing that three stars are always visible 25 minutes past sundown.  Candle-lighting is 18 minutes before sundown.  Thus, 43 minutes after candle-lighting is an acceptable time to end Shabbat and holidays.  That is when I shoot to get to the ending rituals.

What Jewish law requires, it requires.  When it comes to something like fasting, it is unreasonable for Jewish law to require even a minute more than it already does, especially since setting those times already involves a necessary stringency.  And that is for those who should fast.  When we get into the realm of those who should not fast, but do so anyway, I believe it obligatory to end as quickly as possible, absent stringencies, for the sake of their health.

Have a good evening everyone.


Category IV....

That is what it says on my military ID card.  It refers to my category in the Geneva Conventions.  I am not a combatant.  It means that in a war, the other side is not allowed to target me in any way.  If captured, I do not become a POW.  I become a detainee.  The difference is significant.  A detainee is allowed to continue with his/her assigned tasking.  Failure to support that requires releasing a detainee to go home.

In September 2001, my infantry battalion did an exercise with the Royal Marines.  One morning, they crept up on our perimeter, "killed" the guards, and then overran our camp.  I woke with a Royal Marine yelling "whar's yer weapon?"  I said "chaplain."  He turned and shot someone else.

I have every confidence that if the US ever gets into armed conflict with the British, my status will be respected and protected.

The challenge is that I do not expect us to get into a war with the British.  This is a good thing.  However, the folks with whom we get into armed conflict now have no respect whatsoever for such convention.  It is in that light that I have started working on my tan belt with the Marine Corps.  I have learned a couple of things while doing it.

The first is that I have most of the moves down at this point.

The second is that the Marines with whom I am working are half my age.  Maybe starting this at age 47 was not the brightest idea I have ever had.  Ouch.  It is the weekend right now.  I must tell you that I am happy about that.  My ribs are no longer tender.

On a separate, but related note, my dad took my brother and me to the range last night.  Dad can shoot.  My brother did okay as well.  With me...well...there is clear reason that chaplains do not carry.  My dad kept telling me to keep the muzzle up.  I finally said that there is a pill for that.

Have a good one everybody.