Mostly on Rulebase Benchmarks, Politics, Religion and other "stuff" that you can't discuss in the workplace

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OK, I took the original name from another blog by James Owen who copied it from Daniel Selman.  But since I’m doing more on scripture and ontology than rulebased systems, I thought I needed to change the name.  The link is the same but just what shows up doesn’t lead anyone to think that I’m working full time in the rulebase space any longer.  You can’t do everything so I guess I’ll focus on scripture, some on politics (boooor-ring!) and maybe some on technology when a fever hits.  


Enjoy the blog anyway and always feel free to comment.  🙂




December 21, 2008 Posted by | Rule Stuff | Leave a comment

Comments on Torah


I was reading the comments on the Torah posted on the Ahahvath Sholom Congregation web site.   Rabbi made some interesting observations but, like my original Rabbi Seymour Moskowitz, he presented several different interpretations without saying which one he would prefer.   The passages that I found most interesting was that on Genesis 34, the story of Yaakov’s (my namesake) daughter Dinah, her rape by Schechem, the son of Hamor the Hivite who was a Prince of that country.  Subsequently, the sons of Yaakov killed all the men and took the women and children and cattle as their possessions.  Yaakove was dismayed that they had done this.

Now, here’s the problem.  The question that was raised was not necessarily about the event itself but the “why” this event happened.  Theory One was blaming the victim, Dinah, because she “… went out to see the daughters of the land.”  In other words, she made herself a target.  Some of the Rabbim even suggest that she dressed inappropriately by “showing her arm” or some other such nonsense.  There was even a comment about holding out a bit of meat in front of a bird.

  • “Rabbi Berekiah said in Rabbi Levi’s name: This may be compared to one who was holding a pound of meat in his hand, and as soon as he exposed it a bird swooped down and snatched it away. Similarly, ”Now Dinah… went out” and forthwith ”Shechem son of Hamor… saw her.” Rabbi Shmuel bar Nahman said: her arm became exposed. (Bereisheit Rabbah 80:1)”

Make up your own mind but, to me, this is the same principle as, “Well, see how she was dressed.  She was just asking for it.”  (An argument for rape that has filtered down through the ages.)  I find that a bit hard to believe since Schechem immediately asked to marry her which, to me, indicated guilt and fear that her (many) brothers would be angered.  I am no saying that Dinah was right to “parade around in front of the Goyim” but, even had she done such a thing (which is not actually indicated in the scriptures) she still would not have been a target except to someone who felt that he was above the law and that his father’s position would protect him.

Another interpretation put for was that what happens to some and not to others is  matter of luck, mazel.  (MazelTov, after all, just means that you have “Good Luck”.)  The belief in good or bad luck is faulty in that it takes control of all situations from G-d and puts them into “chance”.  I have never found in the scripture that G-d ever took a chance on anything.  When you find someone casting lots to determine something it was never at G-d’s instructions.  

Here’s my theory (and that of some scholars):  HaShem is in control of the Universe.  Whatever happens always goes back to Him.  When Job was being persecuted by Satan, did not HaShem say to Satan in Job 2:3: “And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause.”  G-d took responsibility for what was happening to Job even though Satan was doing it.  G-d is either omnipotent or He isn’t.  If He is, then everything that happens is for a reason.

Small parable to illustrate this:  When you are building a home and you have to hit the nail on the head with a hammer, I’m sure that if the nail could think he would wonder WHY was the hammer hitting him on the head?  Neither the nail nor the hammer can know the final intention of the builder.  Do you remember what Job said about his so-called “misfortunate” circumstances?  In Job 2:9,10: “Then his wife said to  him, ‘Do you still hold fast to your integrity?  Curse G-d and die!’ (10) But he said to her, ‘You speak as one of the foolish women speaks.  Shall we indeed accept good from G-d, and shall we not accept adversity?’   In all of this Job did not sin with his lips.”

I know that there are those who will want to argue about the Holocaust, babies dying from horrible circumstances, entire communities wiped out and will want to ask, “Shall we blame G-d for this?”  I will discuss that later but, for now, the answer has to be and is, “Yes.  G-d is in control.”  We cannot “blame” G-d for things – only accept what happens as part of something that we do not understand.  More on that in another blog.  For now, back to Dinah.

My own interpretation:  That which the sons of Yaakov took to be vengence, the Almighty (Blessed be His Name), used to keep the family moving and absolutely keep them from falling in with the Goyim of the countryside.   Some are cursed with the riches of this world.  Some are blessed with poverty and can only depend on HaShem to keep them clothed and fed.  Personally, like Tevye, I prefer the curse of riches – and may I never recover – BUT knowing that it came from G-d.  Again, that’s another discussion.

So, what do you think?  Go read Rabbi’s discussion and then I would appreciate your comments.



December 13, 2008 Posted by | Religion | Leave a comment

Shabbos, Part IV


I’m beginning to have discussions with my son and his friends about the Sabbath, or Shabbos.  Since my household has to obey Shabbos (as we try to obey all of the law of HaShem) I have a problem explaining sufficiently what one can do and what one cannot do on Shabbos.  Basically, I try not to get into particulars unless he asks but here is a brief (really brief) recap of our discussions this week.

Microwaving coffee:  Son, “All we’re doing is warming up food that is already cooked.”  Hmmm…  OK, if I were a Jew traveling with Moshe, then my argument would be, “All I’m doing is putting food on the fire to warm it up.”  Immediate stoning follows that one.  😦

Son, “OK, all I’m doing is throwing a switch to start the microwave.”  Again, traveling with Moshe, “All I’m doing is lighting a match to light the fire to warm the food.”  OK, no matches in those days but you get the idea.  Bad move.

Son, “All I’m doing is going to the Mall to look around.”  My answer to that one was fairly easy, “But looking is shopping even though you did not pay for anything today.”

Son, “Are we going to start sacrificing animals now?” Answer, “No, there is only one place to sacrifice animals and that is the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.  No temple, no sacrifice.  G-d has forbidden sacrificing on every high place in the land.”

Son, “OK, what SHOULD we be doing?”  Answer, “Those things that are pleasing to HaShem and not things that are necessarily pleasing to us.  This is also covered in previous posts Shabbos, part II and Shabbos, Part III.  Watching football is pleasing to us, but are we using it to glorify G-d?  Playing football?  Could be…  If we are playing football with unbelievers in order to tell them about HaShem and the joy of serving Him.  But if we are just playing to pass time, then that time could be better spent reading the bible, listening to recordings about HaShem or watching pre-recorded video on talks about HaShem.  Mostly, it comes down to how much do we love G-d and how much do we want to please him.  (Something taken from an earlier comment.)  We can play for just the fun of football at another time on another day.

If walking in the forest is communion, so be it.  Not argument there.  But not at the expense of gathering with other believers on a weekly basis.  We should be walking with HaShem, G-d, every day, all the time, in a state of constant communion and prayer.  This is what Paul meant when he said to be in constant prayer.  A prayer, after all, is communion with G-d and not necessarily bowing your head and closing your eyes.  That would be really dangerous on the interstate at 60 mph.

Son, “OK, when does Shabbos begin?”  At dark – most Jewish calendars have the time on Friday afternoon when Shabbos begins and when to light the candles.  In winter, it begins about 5:00 to 5:30 p.m., depending on location.  In summer, it could begin at 9:00 p.m.  At the North Pole or the South Pole or anywhere in between, you should observe 24 hours of Shabbos.  (North Pole in Summer has 22+ hours of sunlight, but it begins at dark on Friday and ends at dark on Saturday, roughly 24 hours.)  We get this from Genesis where HaShem records that “This was the evening and morning of the first day.” And the other six days as well began on the evening, not at the Roman time of Midnight.

Finally, I had to tell him that I don’t have all of the answers.  BUT, he has to go read the bible himself and talk to G-d about what he wants to do.  After that, then come discuss it with me.  After all, when he has his own home then he will have to make the rules and reason out the why and why not so long as these things are based on scripture, not what I said, not the feelings nor writings of Rabbim, not what somebody else said that G-d said.

Keep the Faith.  The bottom line is to read G-d’s word and try your best to do what He said to do and not do what He said NOT to do.



December 12, 2008 Posted by | Religion | , , , , | Leave a comment

Shabbos – Part III


It’s been a while since I posted the last in this series but I wanted to complete it.  Usually I do this as one of my Shabbos activities but last week and this one got caught up in research on Ramban and Rashi, both very fascinating, historical Jewish figures.  Their writings are well preserved but often “re-written” to reflect whatever particular thoughts of the translator in what he/she thought that the Rabbim meant when translating from Hebrew to some other language.  The life of Ramban can be found at and that of Rashi at – both of which might be consider slightly skewed by the sometimes overly zealousness of the Chabad to defend the faith.  But, personally, I would rather the over-zealousness of the Chabad to the “Who Cares?  Don’t rock the boat.” attitude of so many Jews and Christians today.  But, again, I digress…  Let’s return to our discussion on Shabbos and what we think G-d wants us to do and not do on that day.

What I find amazing is that Christians (and some Jews) actually attend services on Shabbos (Saturday for Jews, Sunday for Christians – more on that later) and then go out to eat, or to a movie, or something else that is absolutely incompatible with G-d’s teaching.  So, what DOES G-d say about His special day?  (Most quotes are from JPS – Masoretic text – with some changes for convention, such as G-d rather than using the name itself.)

  • Ex 16:27: Yet some of the people went out on the seventh to gather, but they found nothing. (28) And the LORD said to Moses, “How long will you men refuse to obey My commandments and My teachings?  (29) Mark that the LORD has given you the Sabbath; therefore He gives you two days’ food on the sixth day.  Let everyone remain where he is; let no one leave his place on the seventh day.”  (30) So the people remained inactive on the seventh day.
  • Ex 20:8: Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.  (9) Six day you shall labor and do all of your work, (10) but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the LORD your G-d:  you shall not do any work – you, your son or daughter, your male or female slave, or your cattle, or the stranger within your settlements. (11) For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth and sea, and all that is in them, and He rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the seventh day and hallowed it.
  • Ex 31:15: Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to HaShem.  Whoever does any work on Shabbos, he shall surely be put to death.
  • Ex 34:21: Six days you shalll work, but on the seventh you shall rest; in plowing and in harvest you shall rest.
  • Lev 26:2: You shall keep My Shabbos and reverence My sanctuary.  I am the LORD.
  • Nu 15:32-35:  Once when the Israelites were in the wilderness, they came upon a man gathering wood on the Sabbath day.  (33) Those who found him as he was gathering wood brought him to Moses, Aaron, and the whole community.  (34) He was placed in custody, for it had not been specified what should be done to him.  (35) The the LORD said to Moses, “The man shall be put to death: the whole community shall pelt him with stones outside the camp.”  (36) So the whole community book him outsede the camp and stoned him to death – as the LORD had commanded Moses.
  • Det 5:12: Observe the Sabbath and keep it holy, as the LORD, your G-d commanded you. (13) Six days you shall labor and do all of your work, (14) but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the LORD your G-d; you shall not do any work – you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your ox or your ass, or any of your cattle, or the stranger in your settlements, so that your male and female slave may rest as you do.  (15) Remember that you were a slave in the in the land of Egypt and the LORD your G-d free you from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your G-d has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.
  • Isa 56:2:  Blessed is the man who does this.   And the son of man who lays hold on it.  Who keeps from defiling Shabbos, And keeps his hand from doing any evil”
  • Isa 58:13-14: If you turn away your foot from Shabbos, from doing your pleasure on My holy day, and call Shabbos a delight, the holy day HaShem honorable, and shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, (14) Then you shall delight yourself in HaShem; And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father.  The mouth of HaShem has spoken.
  • Jer 17:21: Thus saith the LORD, “Guard yourselves for your own sake against carrying burdens on the Sabbath day, and bringing them through the gates of Jerusalem.  (22) Nor shall you carry out burdens from your house on the Sabbath day, or do any work, but you shall hallow the Sabbath day as I commanded your fathers.”
  • Jer 17:27: But if you do not obey my command to hallow the Sabbath day and to carry in no burdens through the gates of Jerusalem on theSabbath day, then I will set fire to its gates; it shall consume the fortress of Jerusalem and it shall not be extinguished.
  • Ne: 10:29:  And the rest of the people, the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the temple servants, and all who separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to [follow] the Teaching of G-d, their wives, sons and daughters, all who know enough to understand, (30), join with their noble brothers, and take an oath with sanctions to follow the Teaching of G-d, and to observe carefully all the commandments of the LORD our Lord, His rules and laws.  (31) Namely: We will not give our daughters to marriage to the peoples of the land or take their daughters for our sons.  (32) The peoples of the land who bring their wares and all sorts of foodstuff for sale on the Sabbath – we will not buy from them on the Sabbath or a holy day.
  • Neh 13:15:  At that time I saw men in Judah treading wine presses on the Sabbath, and others bringing heaps of grain and loading them onto asses, also wine, grapes, figs, and all sorts of goods, and bringing them into jerusalem on the Sabbath.  I admonished them there and then for selling provisions.  (16) Tyrians who lived there brought fish and all sorts of wares and sold them on the Sabbath to the Judahites in Jerusalem.  (17) I censured the nobles of Judah saying to them, “What evil this is thais that you are doing, profaning the Sabbath day!  (18) This is just what your ancestors did, and for it G-d brought all this misfortune on this city; and now you give cause for further wrath against Israel by profaning the Sabbath?”
  • Eze 20:12:  Moreover, I gave them My Sabbaths to serve as a sign between Me and them, that they might know that it is I the LORD who sanctify them.

I think that all of the verses taken in context mean something:  That we should spend Shabbos honoring G-d, doing things that honor him, NOT doing things that are part of ordinary week.  Not watching football games, not just sitting outside reading a good novel, not mowing the yard, not washing dishes, not washing the car, not working on something that could be done any other day, etc.  And for those who have not grown up this way, it’s really, really, REALLY difficult to quit doing all of those things.  And for each person, most of what you should and should not do is the same but for some, working on something like this blog, is how we honor G-d.  Reading his Holy Word.  Talking to the family about who He is and what He has done in our lives.

We always complain that we don’t have enough prayer time.  Wouldn’t Shabbos be a great time for an hour or two of prayer?  Listening to Psalms and Hymns when not at temple or church would be good as well.

OK, here is a good question:  Can we listen to religious services on TV or radio?  Depends on how you do it.  MY opinion (talk to G-d about it) is that you tape the religious program during the week and then listen or watch on Shabbos.  That way you are not causing anyone else to work on Shabbos.  If everyone turned off their radio or TV during Shabbos, what a difference it would make to the networks.  Why have an event on TV if no one is watching?  So what would the sports teams do?  They would move their games to another day.  Why NOT have football games on Wednesday or Thursday night like we do on Monday night?  That would leave Saturday (Jewish Shabbos) and Sunday (Christian Sabbath) free for worship.

Some other verses that you might read and think about are

Christians have one thing that Jews don’t have.  Y’Shua (the name of Jesus in Hebrew) said in Matthew 12:11, “What man is there among who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out?”  And there is another one about an Ox in the ditch.  But, here’s the thing:  The sheep or the ox fell into the ditch or pit and the man did not put the animal there. However, many Christians will say, “Well, my ox in in the ditch today and I need to work to feed my family.”  (This point was raised in an earlier comment.)  But to work on Shabbos indicates that we don’t have faith that G-d will make up for it another day by allowing us some extra time.  We MUST learn to depend on HaShem to keep us clothed and fed and not disobey His commandments just to follow the ways of the world.

Another example:  My son is a musician and his band (made up of Christians) wants to practice on Saturday afternoon.  We have been following scripture the past few months in this regard and they just don’t understand.  They don’t keep Sunday Sabbath, even though they are Christian, and they cannot understand why anyone would “go out in right field” with this stuff.  (WITH THIS STUFF???)  Well, so far, my son is following the teaching in the Bible and not following the ways of the world.  He still heats his coffee in the microwave but he’s coming around.  Maybe one day he’ll learn to drink a caffinated soft drink on Shabbos and eat sandwiches or meat from the night before that is still at room temperature.  (Not chicken, of course.)  And, so far, he hasn’t given up bacon, pork chops, shrimp and lobster,  but he’s beginning to realize that these things are bad for your health.  Maybe he’ll come around, maybe not.

Whatever G-d commanded, we should follow.  We can’t have sacrifices because we don’t have a temple and HaShem did command that we NOT sacrifice on every high place but only in the temple.  And we do not have the sceptre (meaning the right to pass judgement on those who break the biblical law) but one day we might.  Then the world will say that we are radical and unreasonable.  So be it.  Remember, early Israel did not have prisons – only retribution for theft and other things, or death for really serious crimes.  And breaking Shabbos was considered a serious crime in early Judaism.  Draconian or not, HaShem is the ruler of the universe.  If I do what I can, within the laws of the land, to follow Him and His commandments, then I’m doing the right thing.  And if HaShem said do something and the law says not to do something, HaShem’s law trumps Civil Law.  And if HaShem said NOT to do something and and civil law says to do something, then, again, HaShem’s law trumps Civil Law.

Here’s the bottom line:  HaShem said to DO certain things on Shabbos and NOT to do other things on Shabbos.  His commandments are not suggestions, they are commandments.  On Shabbos, attend services, sing His praises, talk about Him, when going out or coming in, HIS thoughts should be YOUR thoughts.  Pray without ceasing; while walking, while meeting with others, while eating, while drinking, while watching a sunrise or a sunset, pray and commune with your creator.

Take care.  Read you Bible every day.  Pray for guidance.  Follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.  Amen v’Amen.



December 6, 2008 Posted by | Religion | 4 Comments