Thursday, October 28, 2021

A City of Refuge

Guilt. Shame. Atonement: Along with everyone else in the Albuquerque, New Mexico, and world film communities, and along with everyone else who has heard the news, Abq Jew mourns the sudden, tragic, untimely death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on a movie set in Santa Fe.

Mourning Halyna Hutchins Abq
People hold candles as they attend a vigil held to honor cinematographer
Halyna Hutchins at Albuquerque Civic Plaza on October 23
in Albuquerque, New Mexico. CNN

While it is true that others have died from gunshots with much less attention, the death of Ms Hutchins has struck a deep chord with Abq Jew - a father of someone (Dov Yellin the Video Editor) of Ms Hutchins' generation who also works in the film industry. And the father of a daughter, about whom he worries all the time. 

And, Abq Jew is sure, Ms Hutchins' death has struck a deep chord with many of you, his loyal readers.

Man on Bench

It is impossible for Abq Jew (or anyone, at this time) to determine the legal and moral culpability (if any) of anyone involved in this tragedy - the armorer, the assistant director, or the actor. 

But Abq Jew is sure that all of them - and, perhaps others - are ashamed of what happened, and are looking for a place where they can hide. 

Maybe forever.

In the Old Days, there was a place where those involved in an accidental death could run from the avenger of blood - the victim's relative, who could otherwise pursue the killer and kill him - with impunity. That place was a city of refuge, where the killer was safe from the avenger's knife.

These days - the avenger is more likely to attack the killer with a lawyer than a knife. But the principle remains the same.

City of Refuge

In ancient times, the Cities of Refuge (ערי המקלט‎) were (originally) six Levitical towns in the Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah in which the perpetrators of accidental manslaughter could claim the right of asylum.

But who could run to a city of refuge? Wikipedia explains the four categories of accidental manslaughter.

  1. Complete innocence, for which no further action was necessary. 
  2. Negligence, which required exile to a city of refuge.
    This situation arises when someone is killed as a result of legal activity, which the perpetrator was not required to perform.
  3. Severe carelessness, for which exile is insufficient.
    This situation arises when someone is accidentally killed as a result of illegal activity by the perpetrator; for example, this situation arises if a shop owner fails to maintain their property, and it collapses and kills a legitimate customer.
  4. Murder, which was subject to the death penalty. 

City of Refuge

Chabad explains further:
The cities of refuge were only for those who killed accidentally, not knowing the consequences of their actions. If the person killed out of gross negligence—for example, knocking down a wall in a public area without looking whether anyone was there—the sin is too severe to be atoned for by exile, and the cities of refuge don’t serve as a haven for the killer.

Conversely, if a person tore down a wall in a private area that people never frequent, and a stone fell and killed someone who happened to be there by a fluke, the death is seen as beyond his control, and the accidental killer is not exiled, nor may the blood redeemer kill him.

Although the main purpose of cities of refuge was to protect one who accidentally killed, in practice, murderers who killed intentionally went there too.
When a person arrived at a city of refuge, the court sent messengers to bring him in for a hearing. These messengers also acted as bodyguards, to protect him from blood avengers. 
If it was decided that he’d murdered intentionally, he would be judged accordingly; but if the judges determined that it was an unintentional killing, the messengers would return him to the city of refuge.
So. The truly negligent killer was entitled to, and could, escape the avenger by running to the nearest city of refuge. The roadways were wide, with clear signage. All the truly negligent killer had to do was get there.

Once there, Abq Jew hears you ask - how long would the truly negligent killer stay? When (if ever) was he allowed to leave?

Here is the answer:

High Priest Chabad

Until the death of the High Priest.

Chabad explains:
In his Guide for the Perplexed, Rambam writes that the national mourning that took place at the death of the high priest distracted the mourners of the family member who was killed by the refugee. 
Another explanation is that it was a punishment for the high priest, who “should have prayed that no such accident would happen to the Jews in his lifetime.”
A third explanation is that the high priest causes the Divine Presence to rest upon Israel and thus prolong their lives, whereas the murderer causes the Divine Presence to withdraw from Israel and thus shorten their lives, so he is not worthy of standing before the kohen gadol.

So what you had was - a large number of people, all the killer's family and friends, and even the killer himself, praying for the death of the high priest and the killer's release. Wikipedia adds:

 As killers were freed from the city of refuge upon the death of the High Priest, the Mishnah states that the high priest's mother would traditionally supply them with clothing and food, so that they would not wish for the death of her son.

The Talmud argues that the death of the high priest formed an atonement, as the death of pious individuals counted as an atonement.

Maimonides argued that the death of the high priest was simply an event so upsetting to the Israelites that they dropped all thoughts of vengeance.

Old Woman Donkey

 Chabad tells this story:

An old woman walks along the road, carrying heavy parcels and leading a donkey laden with pots of savory food. She is on her way to a city where she’ll dispense the food to the locals.

This old woman is none other than the mother of the high priest, and she’s walking to a city of refuge, a city to which a person flees if he’s killed someone.

Why is the mother of the high priest bringing food to these murderers?

This was the mother of the high priest, who went around to the cities of refuge distributing food and clothing to the refugees so that they wouldn’t pray for the death of her son, which would free them from their exile. 
Some commentators say that she hoped to spoil them so much that not only wouldn’t they pray for his death, they would even pray for him to have a long life.

Wikipedia adds:
According to classical rabbinical authorities, the cities of refuge were not places of protection, but places where atonement was made; Philo explained this principle as being based on the theory that an innocent man would never be chosen by God as the instrument of another man's death, and therefore those claiming refuge at these cities must have committed some sin before they had killed, for which their exile acts as an atonement.


Where does this leave us?

We do not live in the ancient world. There are no cities of refuge for those who kill accidentally. Avengers of blood generally attack with lawyers, not knives.

And yet the guilt and shame of causing the death of another - even, or perhaps, especially, by accident - may never be overcome. 


Can those who kill accidentally never achieve atonement?

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Jay Black, The Voice, Dies at 82

Must We Say Goodbye?  Richard Sandomir reports in The New York Times:

Jay Black, Soaring Lead Singer
of the Americans, Dies at 82

His majestic baritone was the key to hits like “Only in America,” “Come a Little Bit Closer” and his signature song, “Cara Mia.”

Jay Black, whose majestic voice on songs like “Cara Mia” and “Only in America” made Jay and the Americans a potent force in pop music in the 1960s, died on Friday in Queens. He was 82. 

Jay Blacj z"l

For those of you, Abq Jew's loyal readers, who are too young to remember (or too old to care), calling Jay Black's voice "soaring" doesn't begin to give it justice. And calling it "baritone" completely misses his vocal range. 

But calling it "majestic" - that sounds about right.
Jay Black was "The Voice."

Wikipedia tells us - 
Jay Black (born David Blatt; November 2, 1938 – October 22, 2021) was an American singer, also known as "The Voice," whose height of fame came in the 1960s when he was the lead singer of the band Jay and the Americans. The band had numerous hits including "Cara Mia", "Come a Little Bit Closer", and "This Magic Moment".

Black was born in Astoria, Queens and grew up in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Borough Park. Jay and his brother spoke Yiddish fluently. In 1966, he recorded a Yiddish song "Where Is My Village" about the Holocaust.
Yes, Jay and the Americans started out as four Jewish boys from Brooklyn - as reported by Matt Robinson in the Jewish Journal.

“We started a group just for the love of singing and the incredible feeling of hearing four guys singing harmony,” said [Sandy] Yaguda, whose stage name is Sandy Deanne, of his early arrangement with fellow Brooklynites John “Jay” Traynor, Howard Kane (né Kirschenbaum), and Kenny Vance (né Rosenberg).

Speaking of religion, all four of the original band members were Jewish, as was Traynor’s replacement as lead singer, Jay Black (David Blatt).

“I think hearing the music in temple in the minor chord structure definitely influenced us,” Yaguda said, “as did all the music on the radio in New York from Latin to Broadway and soul to country. We used it all to form our own individual sound.”

 Curt Schleier of The Forward interviewed Jay Black in 2014.

He grew up in an Orthodox family in Brooklyn. “My father was in shul day and night. In fact, tonight is Simchas Torah and I have to light two yahrzteit candles for my mom and dad. I was in shul all my life when I was young.”

In fact, it was at Temple Beth-El [now known as Young Israel Beth El] in Borough Park  where he first sang in public, as part of Ben Friedman’s famed choir with Cantor Moshe Koussevitzky. While his voice was good, his academic life was less so.

“I never finished high school,” he said. “I got thrown out of New Utrecht. I went to three yeshivas. They threw me out. Three yeshivas. I was a bad kid. I was a wise guy. When I graduated from eighth grade, I was the class comedian. I was always a trouble maker.”

Songfacts tells us that the song "Cara Mia" was written by the Italian composer Mantovani and was a huge UK hit in 1954 for a British singer named David Whitfield. And how the song came to Jay and the Americans - from an interview with original American Kenny [Rosenberg] Vance.

The first lead singer of Jay & the Americans was Jay Traynor, who was replaced by Jay Black (not really a Jay - his real name is David Blatt). Original group member Kenny Vance explains: 

"When Jay Traynor left the group, Jay Black came over to one of the guys' houses. He was selling shoes for Thom McAn making $60 a week, and he drove up with an old car, with a rope holding the hood down, and he came in the house and he had that song in mind, because I think he thought that the original guy that did that was David Whitfield, and he sang it on the Ed Sullivan Show. 

That version, there's a bridge to it, there's a whole kind of different feeling to it. Like in a Johnny Cash movie, because we only knew three or four chords ourselves, those are the four chords we played to it, and it became a rock and roll song. We left out the bridge because we couldn't play it. 

And that was it, he loved the song. We would do it in our show for many years, and then finally I think in '65 when our contract was sold to United Artists, they decided to record it, and it became a smash."

Jay & the Americans (1965)

Jay and the Americans 1965
Kenny (Rosenberg) Vance; Sandy (Yaguda) Deane; Marty (Kupersmith) Sanders;
Howard (Kirschenbaum) Kane; Jay Black (David Blatt)

So, Abq Jew hears you ask - 

How did David Blatt become Jay Black?

Well. David became Jay when he took over Jay Traynor's role as lead singer. You know - brand loyalty and all. As for Blatt becoming Black -

“I was on the Mike Douglas show. I used to do the show regularly. I never mentioned my last name on the air. One day, Mike asked me what my last name was and I mumbled Blatt, but he heard Black. 
He said, ‘Black?’ I said yes, a little lie. But everyone loved the name.”

Jay & the Americans Perform
"Cara Mia" On Shindig In 1965

Jay Black performs "Cara Mia" on a 2001
(not 2011, as Wikipedia and others report)
PBS “Rock, Rhythm and Doo Wop” special.

May his memory be a clessing

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

The Lehrhaus Lives!

YES! Announcing The New Lehrhaus! It is Abq Jew's great honor and wonderful privilege to inform you, his very loyal readers, that his earlier report (see June 17's Fare The Well, HaMaqom) of the death of HaMaqom / Lehrhaus Judaica was greatly exaggerated.

Which is to say: WRONG! Which is to say

The New Lehrhaus
The New Lehrhaus Lives!

Abq Jew must apologize. He would have reported this wonderful news earlier - but he somehow fell off the J. Weekly - The Jewish News of Northern California's email list. Didn't see it on Facebook; didn't see it on Twitter.

And so Abq Jew missed this article, written by Gabe Stutman and posted less than two weeks after his premature WRONG! Jewish education hub HaMaqom to close after 47 years.

Jewish educator Rachel Biale and her husband, UC Davis Jewish Studies Professor David Biale,
are behind a new initiative designed to replace the closing HaMaqom.

New Lehrhaus rises from HaMaqom’s ashes

Almost immediately after learning that the unique Jewish adult education center HaMaqom would be closing, Rachel and David Biale — Jewish educators with links to the Berkeley institution since its founding in the 1970s — knew they had to do something.

“Lehrhaus has been what I would call the crown jewel of the Bay Area Jewish community for 47 years,” 

David Biale said, referring to the center’s former name for 45 of those years (it was changed to HaMaqom | The Place in 2019). 

“It fulfills a very important need in the community. To see it disappear feels just wrong.” 

As Abq Jew himself said:

HaMaqom | The Place has deep roots in the San Francisco Bay Area. For 47 years, the institution has provided inclusive and accessible adult Jewish education to students from all backgrounds. 
Abq Jew finds it extraordinarily difficult to see this phenomenal venture come to an end.
Everything OK

Gabe Stutman continues:

The Biales announced Tuesday they are launching a new Bay Area adult learning center, dubbed the Free Jewish Lehrhaus. They are reclaiming the name of the original center, which was modeled after the interwar hub for Jewish learning in Frankfurt, Germany, known as the freies jüdisches Lehrhaus, or Jewish House of Free Study.

In a phone call with J. on Tuesday, the Biales — who are in the process of incorporating as a nonprofit and already announced an impressive slate of teachers and board members — said they were meeting with a possible funder later in the afternoon, and with a second later in the week. 

Robert Alter
Robert Alter in his home office.    Photo / David A.M. Wilensky

Among the teachers joining the project: UC Berkeley Hebrew professor and renowned Bible translator Robert Alter, Graduate Theological Union director of Jewish studies and scholar of medieval Judaism Deena Aranoff, and Daniel Boyarin, the Taubman professor of Talmudic culture within Berkeley’s Near Eastern Studies department.

Some of the teachers who have signed on have taught at HaMaqom, such as former executive director and Biblical Hebrew scholar Jehon Grist, longtime HaMaqom leader Rabbi Peretz Wolf-Prusan and founding director Fred Rosenbaum, while others are new, including Jewish educator Rachel Brodie and UC comparative literature professor Chana Kronfeld.

So, speaking of the Biales, you might be wondering (as Butch Cassidy might have asked in a slightly different context) -

So, Gabe Stutman tells us:

[David] Biale, a professor of Jewish history at UC Davis, has extensive ties to the institution dating back to its early days. He and Rosenbaum were studying Jewish history together at Berkeley in the ’70s when the latter wrote a paper on the Jewish cultural renaissance of Weimar Germany. 

The paper would serve as the intellectual inspiration for Lehrhaus Judaica, a unique American version of Frankfurt’s hub for Jewish religious, linguistic and philosophical discourse. Biale and Rosenbaum would teach side-by-side at Lehrhaus in its early years.

Rachel Biale, an Israeli-born social worker and author, shares an extensive background in Jewish adult education and in the nonprofit world. She directed Jewish programming at the Osher Marin JCC for seven years, and served on the board of the East Bay’s Jewish Family and Community Services for six.  

And, in case you were wondering -

Board members for the new initiative include Rosenbaum, Biale, Stanford Jewish studies professor Steven Zipperstein, Rabbi Raphael Asher, Rabbi Judy Shanks, former Jewish LearningWorks CEO David Waksberg and more.

In short - the Biales called in the big guns
Thus Abq Jew must believe -  

Abq Jew must apologize. Again. He also missed this article in the J. Weekly, written by Maya Mirsky and posted in early September. Didn't see it on Facebook; didn't see it on Twitter.

Fred Rosenbaum
Fred Rosenbaum founded the original Lehrhaus in 1974 and will be
teaching classes as part of the new Lehrhaus beginning next month.

It’s back! New Lehrhaus to kick off first classes next month 

While the Bay Area community was still mourning the loss of beloved Jewish educational organization HaMaqom, known for 45 years as Lehrhaus Judaica, educators Rachel and David Biale quickly took action, emailing former teachers and notable names from the local Jewish community to see if there was a way to raise a new Lehrhaus from the ashes.

“Nearly 50 of them responded,” David Biale said. “They were eager to teach, the majority of them for free.”

Now their quick response is bearing fruit. “New Lehrhaus” has announced lectures, workshops and courses beginning on Oct. 27, kicking off with a lecture by historian Fred Rosenbaum, who founded Lehrhaus Judaica in Berkeley in 1974.

“It’s so gratifying,” said David Biale. “Lehrhaus is truly a beloved institution in the Bay Area.”
Those 70s Kids

So, here we go again. Back to a new beginning. "Next month" is here! Abq Jew would therefore like to invite you, his very loyal readers, to


The New Lehrhaus Inaugural Lecture
Wednesday October 27 @ 8:00 pm NM Time

A Revolution in Jewish Life and Learning -
Lehrhaus Then and Now

with Founding Director Fred Rosenbaum

Join Fred Rosenbaum [on Zoom] for a history of the Lehrhaus method of adult Jewish learning, founded in Frankfurt in 1920 by Franz Rosenzweig.

Fred Rosenbaum founded Lehrhaus Judaica in the Bay Area in1974. Fred will be joined by David Biale, Emanuel Ringelblum Professor of Jewish History at UC Davis.


Thursday, October 14, 2021

Two Boats and a Helicopter

He Had a Hat: Well, here we are again. Fall and winter holidays approach with Covid-19, vaccines and boosters, masks and mandates, colds and the flu. 

Freedom No Lockdown

And the resistance. 

Mr & Mrs Abq Jew were recently discussing the vaccine-resistant with their daughter (in-law) Jessica the Surgeon. We asked each other: why would anyone in this great country of ours refuse a FREE, no-purchase-required, readily available, life-saving medicine? 

Here is one answer that's going around:

You Know Morons

What did you expect?
You've got to remember that these are just simple farmers.
These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West.

You know... morons.

This line in Mel Brooks' movie masterpiece Blazing Saddles always gets a laugh. But it's not true. It wasn't true in 1874, either. Or in 1974.

In 2019, political scientists Nathan Kalmoe and Lilliana Mason came up with the helpful term that, alas, aptly describes the situation we're in:

Lethal Partisanship

In an effort to explain this term, there came to what is left, after all these years, of Abq Jew's mind - an old joke: the one with the punchline Two Boats and a Helicopter. And how it applies to the vaccine-resistant.

2 Boats 1 Helicopter

You can Google it if you want, but here's a classic version.

A storm descends on a small town, and the downpour soon turns into a flood. As the waters rise, the local preacher kneels in prayer on the church porch, surrounded by water. By and by, one of the townsfolk comes up the street in a canoe.

"Better get in, Preacher. The waters are rising fast."

"No," says the preacher. "I have faith in the Lord. He will save me."

Still the waters rise. Now the preacher is up on the balcony, wringing his hands in supplication, when another guy zips up in a motorboat.

"Come on, Preacher. We need to get you out of here. The levee's gonna break any minute."

Once again, the preacher is unmoved. "I shall remain. The Lord will see me through."

After a while the levee breaks, and the flood rushes over the church until only the steeple remains above water. The preacher is up there, clinging to the cross, when a helicopter descends out of the clouds, and a state trooper calls down to him through a megaphone.

"Grab the ladder, Preacher. This is your last chance."

Once again, the preacher insists the Lord will deliver him.

And, predictably, he drowns.

A pious man, the preacher goes to heaven. After a while he gets an interview with God, and he asks the Almighty, "Lord, I had unwavering faith in you. Why didn't you deliver me from that flood?"

God shakes his head. 

"What did you want from me?
I sent you two boats and a helicopter."

Here is the Albuquerque version of the punchline.

"What did you want from me?
I sent you three vaccines,
@GovMLG, @MayorKeller,
your own doctors and nurses,
and real scientists on TV."


The first thing about Two Boats and a Helicopter that you must (you must! you must!) realize is that

This is not a Jewish joke.

Even if there were no preacher involved, the main character in this classic tale cannot be Jewish. No Jew would ever act like that, and no Jew would ever laugh at this story. 

How does Abq Jew know this?

When Abq Jew was growing up in Brooklyn, the polio pandemic was the one going around. Abq Jew was, of course, too young to fully appreciate the fear - before Dr Jonas Salk, of blessed memory, developed the first vaccine against polio.

And the parents lined us up for shots - immediately, or as quickly as they could. And we all knew someone our age or just a bit older - or have met them later in our lives - who lived outside the Northeast or outside the US, who didn't get a shot quickly enough.

When Abq Jew was growing up,
The Holy One Blessed Be He
rated at least an 11 on a 1-10 scale.

Dr Salk rated a 9. Or higher.

It has also occurred to Abq Jew - as, he is sure, it has occurred to you, his loyal readers - that we Jews have a relationship with God that is just flat-out different from the relationship with God (or whomever) that non-Jews have.

And to prove this, Abq Jew offers the seminally, eminently Jewish joke - the one with the punchline He Had A Hat. 

Kid with Hat

You can Google it if you want, but here's a classic version.
A Jewish grandmother takes her grandchildren to the beach. They’re playing in the sand when suddenly, a massive wave comes and pulls the smallest grandson out into the water. 
Panicked, the grandmother prays to God. “Oh God, please bring him back! Please let him live!” 
Suddenly, an even bigger wave bursts out of the ocean, setting the little boy down right at his grandmother’s feet. 
She scoops him up into a hug. Then she stares up at the sky and says, 
“He had a hat.”
Even if the grandmother was a grandfather, uncle or other relative - or even (as in some versions) a lifeguard - the main character in this classic tale must be Jewish. No non-Jew would ever act like that, and only a Jew - any Jew, all Jews - would ever laugh at this story. But it's better with a grandmother.

How does Abq Jew know this?

Because of the commentaries!

Roz Chast

Here, for example, is The New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast's take on the old joke:

A grandmother and her beloved grandson are at the beach. They’re playing near the shore. Suddenly a giant wave comes and sweeps the boy out to sea. The grandmother is beside herself with grief. She drops to her knees. She’s weeping and sobbing and implores God to return her little one. 

Lo and behold, another giant wave comes and deposits him back on the shore, unharmed. The grandmother embraces him and, overwhelmed with gratitude, thanks God over and over and over. Then she pauses, looks up and says to God, “But where’s his little hat?”

I have heard this joke in two ways. One where the grandmother, at the end, sort of shrewishly, accusingly yells at God: “He had a hat.” 

But I prefer the one where she’s more matter-of-fact. Not yelling or accusing. Just, like…asking. Because, you know, there was a hat involved. “Where’s his little hat?” 

I also like the addition of “little,” which to me makes it funnier. “Little hat” cracks me up for some reason.

The joke says something about the personal relationship that Jews feel with God. My mother used to look out the window of her car when she found a good parking space and say, “Thank you, God.” He is the Father, the Creator of all, the God of the Old Testament. 

In Judaism, there aren’t intermediaries such as saints and Jesus, and Mary, and then the Pope and all of that. There is God. But that doesn’t mean that when the little hat goes missing, you don’t notice it.

Andrew Silow-Carroll

And here is The Jewish Week's Editor-in-Chief Andrew Silow-Carroll's interpretation.

We signed a contract!

News Cucle

Thursday, October 7, 2021

It's Noah Time, 5782!

Send Out the Dove!  This Shabbat we will again read Parshat Noah, the one portion of the Holy Torah that has us New MexiJews lamenting the tragic loss of Earth's entire dinosaur population, who (quite literally) missed the boat.

You remember! That time when -

Noah of Arc and his wife, Joan, 
build a boat to survive a great flood.

But Abq Jew digresses. 

Surely you remember (and if she doesn't, please remind her) that it was just nine (9) years ago (!) (see Noah! Send Out The Dove!) that Abq Jew first brought you Matti Caspi and Chocolat, Menta, Mastik singing their '70s hit.

And here it is again, and only because a) it is Parshat Noah; and b) this performance reminds Abq Jew of days ... and years ... gone by. Nostalgia.

Wait it gets better

Abq Jew just discovered this wonderful version, by Andrew Leibowitz!

Parshat Noach. A time to

Send out the dove.

Watch for the plaid in the rainbow.

Stegosauruses had beautiful singing voices, and they
knew all the words to The Seekers' greatest hits.

Remember the stegosaurus.

Noah Greyhound

And the greyhound.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Jeremy Bearimy and Time

It's About Time: Abq Jew would like to acknowledge the Jewish Community's mostly successful completion of the one-day (The Longest Day יומא אריכתא) Holiday of

Rosh Hashanah 1 Rosh Hashanah 2 Labor Day Fast of Gedaliah
Shabbat Shuvah Grandparents Day Kol Nidre Yom Kippur
Shabbat Ha'azinu Sukkot 1 Sukkot 2 Sukkot 3 Sukkot 4
Shabbat Chol Hamo'ed Sukkot Sukkot 6 Hosha'na Rabbah
Shemini Atzeret Simchat Torah Shabbat Bereshit

Jewish Wonk

Abq Jew finds it amazing that those nineteen (19) days can be interminable - and, at the same time, come and go so quickly
It could almost make you wonder How Time Works.

Yid With Sign

Here in the Jewish section of humanity, we've got a statement in our Mishnah (Hagigah 2:1) that anyone who looks into Four Matters, it would be better had that person not come into the world. And what are these Four Matters?

1.What Came Before
This covers the Biblical period of תֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ, aka
Welter and Waste (in Robert Alter's magnificent translation).
Or Before the Big Bang, according to scientists.

2.What Is Above and 3.What Is Below
This covers basic issues of theodicy, aka
Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People?
Since the only correct answer to this question is "Dunno,"
this leads directly to the matter of -

4.What Comes After
Reward and Punishment - of course! And -
How Does Time Work - In This Life & The Next?

Which, of course, takes us back to

The Good Place

The Good Place, which we haven't visited since June (see Oy! Not the Trolley Problem!). And which has some interesting thoughts about How Time Works.

Jeremy Bearimy
How Time Works: Standard View vs Jeremy Bearimy

In the illustration above, we see at top how most people think time works: a straight line. Does this straight line have a beginning? Or an end? That's not clear, and our efforts over the millennia to clarify have not made anything any clearer.
The Jewish response is, of course (see Four Matters above): don't think about it, don't look into it, and certainly don't talk about it. Like that ever worked. After All - We're Jews! Also Before All.

What Came Before doesn't really concern us, though. What counts is What Comes After: Our Messiah, for whom, though he tarry, we await every day.


In The Good Place, however, time is not a straight line. Instead - 
  • Time moves along Earth's timeline as if it were the cursive English word "Jeremy Bearimy." 
  • The dot over the "i" in Jeremy Bearimy is an isolated point on the timeline which contains Tuesdays, July, and "occasionally...the time moment where nothing never occurs."
  •  A Jeremy Bearimy is actually 36,259 days, or 99.34 years.

Confused? Here is the show's explanation:

And while we're talking about time -

Pozo Seco Singers

Back in 1964, the year after Abq Jew's Bar Mitzvah, Michael Merchant shared a song he had written with the Pozo-Seco Singers. Susan Taylor (who would later change her name to Taylor Pie) did the vocals, along with Lofton Kline and future Country star Don Williams.


Some people run, some people crawl
Some people don't even move at all

Some roads lead forward, some roads lead back
Some roads are bathed in light, some wrapped in fearful black

Time, oh time, where did you go?
Time, oh good, good time, where did you go?

Some people never get, some never give
Some people never die, and some never live

Some folks treat me mean, some treat me kind
Most folks just go their way, don't pay me any mind

Time, oh time, where did you go?
Time, oh good, good time, where did you go?

Sometimes I'm satisfied, sometimes I'm not
Sometimes my face is cold, sometimes it's hot

Sunset, I laugh - sunrise, I cry
At midnight, I'm in between and wondering why

Time, oh time, where did you go?
Time, oh good, good time, where did you go?

Time, oh time, where did you go?
Time, oh good, good time, where did you go?

Torah Reading

On Simchat Torah - and last Shabbat, Shabbat Bereshit - we began a new Annual Cycle of Torah reading. And for those following the Triennial Cycle - it's Year 3!
You check all this out on

May we all enjoy a Good Year of
Health, Happiness, and Prosperity!