9/7/18

From Amazon for Kindle: The Book of Jewish New Year Prayers in English: The Rosh Hashanah Machzor


You should be interested in my Kindle book from Amazon
 L'Shanah Tovah - Happy New Year
The Book of Jewish New Year Prayers in English: The Rosh Hashanah Machzor
The Book of Jewish New Year Prayers in English: The Rosh Hashanah Machzor
by Tzvee Zahavy
  Learn more  
Amazon.com
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Online Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur Kol Nidre services, on Video, on a Live Webcast for 5779

Our sincere and heartfelt best wishes to all our readers for a Year of Blessing and Health, Prosperity and Good Cheer.

Rosh Hashanah 5779 - 2018 falls on Monday, the 10th of September and will continue for 2 days.

Yom Kippur 5779 - 2018 falls on Wednesday, the 19th of September.

From Central Synagogue in NYC come Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur online services and videos. Scroll down to find the feed and schedule. See the LIVE webcast of Kol Nidre services this year.

The 92nd Street Y also plans a webcast of services.

Rabbis on videos at various places discuss atonement and repentance. There also are holiday video recipes for tzimmes, honey cake and tagelach that you can find online.

And see Video-streamed Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur Services.

In these coming Days of Awe all of this is good nourishment for the soul.



Purchase some of these wonderful books for the holidays.


My Dear Rabbi Zahavy Talmudic Advice Column for the Jewish Standard September 2018: How to Have Happy Ho Hum Holidays and Who Pays When My Car Gores Your Car

Dear Rabbi Zahavy
Your talmudic advice column
September 2018
How to Have Happy Ho Hum Holidays and Who Pays When My Car Gores Your Car

Dear Rabbi Zahavy,

Despite what the rabbis say about the importance of the days, I’m not looking forward to the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur this year. In fact, I am at best indifferent to them. And specifically, thinking about all the hours I will have to sit in the synagogue makes me nervous. My synagogue’s seats are crammed together. I see many people there whom I do not know or like. I can hardly see the chazan and sometimes it’s hard to hear him. Also, I find the prayers confusing and hard to understand. Most of all I find my mind wandering away from the services, and I hardly pay attention at all, except to be sure to stand and sit at the right times. To tell you the truth I’m considering skipping the synagogue services altogether this year. Given all my issues with the praying, what do you suggest that I do?

No Patience for Prayer in Passaic

Dear No Patience,

It sounds clear to me that you are harboring a great deal of frustration with your holiday devotions. And it seems like you might be on the verge of needing to take a break from your synagogue, perhaps seeking out a new place of worship, or taking a vacation from some of the services.

8/14/18

The Classic Book Rabbi Joshua Trachtenberg's "Jewish Magic" - My wonderful edition for Kindle - Purchase Now

Please take extra special note and purchase my revised edition for Kindle of the great classic book Rabbi Joshua Trachtenberg's "Jewish Magic."



This book is a comprehensive review of Jewish magic from the 10th to the 15th century. This book explains well-known Jewish traditions, such as why a glass is broken at a wedding, and how the expression mazal tov is related to a belief in astrology. Rabbi Trachtenberg dealt with Golems, Succubi, the Lillim, (from Lilith, Adam’s first wife), and other magical creatures, some well-known such as werewolves, and others not so well, such as estrie, mare and broxa. He presented detailed descriptions of talismans, amulets, charms, and other magical objects. His chapters dealt with dream interpretation, medical beliefs, necromancy, and other forms of divination. Rabbi Trachtenberg’s appreciation of the role of magic in Jewish culture was significant for the study of Judaism, and for the knowledge of modern beliefs and practices in religions in general.

My New Title for the Book

The original title of this book in 1939 was Jewish Magic and Superstition. For this Kindle edition in 2016, I removed the tendentious terms superstition and superstitious from this otherwise excellent book and from its title, and I substituted where needed throughout the text of the book, either the words religious or magical to lend the discussion greater consistency and to remove the distracting and negative polemical aspect of those terms from this pivotal study.

Commonly the word superstition is used to refer to aspects of religion that are not practiced by the majority of a culture. It has had a pejorative connotation since the days of Plato and Aristotle. Wikipedia (s.v. Superstition) informs us that:
In the classical era, the existence of gods was actively debated both among philosophers and theologians, and opposition to superstition arose consequently. The poem De rerum natura, written by the Roman poet and philosopher Lucretius further developed the opposition to superstition.
Cicero’s work De natura deorum also had a great influence on the development of the modern concept of superstition as well as the word itself. Where Cicero distinguished superstitio and religio, Lucretius used only the term religio. Cicero, for whom superstitio meant “excessive fear of the gods” wrote that “superstitio, non religio, tollenda est,” which means that only superstition, and not religion, should be abolished… The term superstitio, or superstitio vana “vain superstition,” was applied in the first century to those religious cults in the Roman Empire which were officially outlawed.
 The Teaneck New Jersey Author

The author of this book, Rabbi Joshua Trachtenberg (b. 1904, d. 1959) was a reform rabbi at Temple Emeth in Teaneck, New Jersey. This book is an expansion of his Columbia University Ph.D. thesis.

Thanks go out to my valued collaborator, Reuven Brauner for his work improving the editing and formatting of this book for this Kindle eBook publication.



8/3/18

Is the Film "The Endless Summer" Jewish?

My favorite movie is Bruce Brown's, The Endless Summer. No, it wasn't Jewish at all that is, until I made it into a metaphor for my quest for perfect Jewish spirituality and the inspiration for my book cover (see below). I haven't found any other Jewish connections to the film or the poster.

Vanity Fair has a story about the famous iconic Endless Summer movie poster. "One Summer, Forever: The Endless Summer poster is 50 years old, and it hasn't aged a minute. Kitchen-table project turned pop-culture phenomenon, the Day-Glo movie promo created by John Van Hamersveld for his friend Bruce Brown’s 1964 documentary is still selling the dream—on T-shirts, TV shows, beer bottles, and dorm walls. Lili Anolik looks back at the moment an iconic image was born, the social upheaval it presaged, and the surfer-dude-slash-designer whose life it changed."

In 1966 I saw a film that documented two boys seeking simple perfection in a quasi-mystical sport. IMDB sums up, "Brown follows two young surfers around the world in search of the perfect wave, and ends up finding quite a few in addition to some colorful local characters."

The film spoke to me, as it did to many others of a more idealistic age. The essence of surfing of course is the wave. And the lover of surfing no doubt wants to embark on the quest for the best wave. To experience the performance of the essence is to find the perfect wave.

Brown's two surfer dudes found one in South Africa, see the video clip below.

8/2/18

My Jewish Standard Dear Rabbi Zahavy Talmudic Advice Column for August 2018 - Should I Lie or Tell the Truth?

My Jewish Standard Dear Rabbi Zahavy Talmudic Advice Column for August 2018
Should I Lie or Tell the Truth?


Dear Rabbi Zahavy

I thoughtlessly violated a petty and unfair town ordinance. Now I am being fined for it. I’m thinking that I could just pay the fine, or I could go to the town and explain what happened and ask for a reduction in the fine. But nowadays it seems that our highest government officials have no hesitation making things up. Perhaps I can concoct a story to avoid the blame for my actions and avoid the fines. Would that be justified?

Conflicted in Cresskill


Dear Conflicted,

It should be easy for me to say that lying is not the preferred way to go. I’m obliged as a rabbi to represent ethical and moral standards. I should say without hesitation — tell the truth in good faith and ask your town to understand the situation.

But if we look around at all the obvious lying going on in our politics, in our world, it makes you stop and think. Maybe lying is a viable option. Maybe you will be better off if you lie.

And honestly, if you look closely at our Jewish traditions you see dramatic examples of lying recounted proudly in our Bible stories, without qualms. Why then should you opt for the truth?

Let’s critically probe three obvious instances of deceit by our esteemed and venerated patriarchs and ancestors as described in the first book of the Torah and see what we can learn from them.

7/25/18

My Great Grandfather was Harris Epstein the Great Inventor of a Patented Folding Umbrella, Extension Ladder and more


I am named after my great-grandfather, Harris (Tzvee) Epstein, aka, Epstein the Inventor, who lived in New York City and Spring Valley. I probably inherited my technical curiosity from him.

He was the inventor and patent holder of many practical items, a folding umbrella, an extension ladder, a double sided toothbrush, a vegetable grater and more.

Here are of his patents with their links from Google Patent search: FOLDING UMBRELLA Patent number: 1666692 Filing date: Jan 29, 1927 Issue date: Apr 17, 1928

SIGNALING APPARATUS US Pat. 1060898 - H. EPSTEIN. SIGNALING APPARATUS, APPLICATION PILED JAN. 26, 19.11. Patented May 6,1913.

EXTENSION LADDER US Pat. 949529 - Filed Feb 10, 1909

VEGETABLE GRATER US Pat. 1799963 - Filed Apr 4, 1930... UNITED STATES PATENT OFFICE HARRIS EPSTEIN, OF ROCKAWAY BEACH, NEW YORK VEGETABLE GRATER

GAS-CONTROLLING DEVICE US Pat. 968457 - Filed Jan 11, 1910

TOOTH BRUSH Patent number: 1111144 Filing date: Oct 4, 1913 Issue date: Sep 22, 1914

Papa Epstein, as he was called by his grandchildren, sure would have liked the age of the personal computer and the Internet, especially the iPad and smart phone.

[Augmented repost from 12/17/06]

7/24/18

Awesome Unlimited Mobile Plan from Sprint for $35 a month


For age 55+ (they don't check) you get 2 lines for $70 a month unlimited and a $50 Visa card for signing up.

Check for great deal on the Samsung Galaxy S9 - maybe 50% off.


Free download files of the Babylonian Talmud in English - Superior to Sefaria

I am proud to provide for you as a gift, a download of the complete Babylonian Talmud English translation..

The Talmud in English is online and free at my site, Halakhah.com, http://www.halakhah.com/
- serving up 60,000+ downloads each month.

In 2016 I gave away a record 662,568 free downloaded files of the Babylonian Talmud in English.

TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH WITH NOTES, GLOSSARY AND INDICES UNDER THE EDITORSHIP OF RABBI DR. I. EPSTEIN B.A., Ph.D., D. Lit. FOREWORD BY THE VERY REV. THE LATE CHIEF RABBI DR. J. H. HERTZ. INTRODUCTION BY THE EDITOR.

Contains the Sedarim (orders, or major divisions) and tractates (books) of the Babylonian Talmud, as translated and organized for publication by the Soncino Press in 1935 - 1948.

My site has the entire Talmud edition in PDF format and  about 8050 pages in HTML format, comprising 1460 files — of the Talmud.

I recommend that on your web site or blog you add a link to this site http://www.halakhah.com.

Highlights include: A formatted 2-column PDF version of the Talmud at Halakhah.com.

7/18/18

Times: Bruce Lincoln et. al. say NIMBY to University of Chicago Center for Milton Friedman Economics

10 years ago 7/12/2008 - this is what was on my mind... a blast from the past.... It looks like the opposition of a decade ago failed to stop the project - see the link here to the Becker Friedman Institute about page and activities summary.

Repost from 2008 follows:

Apparently, my old colleague Bruce Lincoln is leading the opposition at the University of Chicago to a newly established Center for Milton Friedman Style Economics.

The Chi Trib quoted Lincoln last month, '"It is a right-wing think tank being put in place," said Bruce Lincoln, a professor of the history of religions and one of the faculty members who met with the administration Tuesday. "The long-term consequences will be very severe. This will be a flagship entity and it will attract a lot of money and a lot of attention, and I think work at the university and the university's reputation will take a serious rightward turn to the detriment of all."'

Now the Times
(in a notably weak and poorly researched article) has him saying less, that is, "As an opponent of the entire institute, rather than simply its name, Mr. Lincoln characterized himself on the extreme end of the opposition. He said he would like to see a research center “much more committed to free inquiry and a larger debate, and not just grinding the same ax sharper and sharper.”"