Originally published at Customerservant.com. You can comment here or there.

May 26, 2007 12:25 AM (ET)

By GREG BLUESTEIN
Associated
Press

ATLANTA (AP) – The lesson plan was called “Artificial Unintelligence,” but
it was written more like a comic book than a syllabus for a serious
computer science class.

“Singing, dancing and drawing polygons may be nifty, but any
self-respecting evil roboticist needs a few more tricks in the repertoire
if they are going to take over the world,” read the day’s instructions to a
dozen or so Georgia Tech robotics students.

They had spent the last few months teaching their personal “Scribbler”
robots to draw shapes and chirp on command. Now they were being asked to
navigate a daunting obstacle course of Girl Scout cookie boxes scattered
over a grid.

The course is aimed at reigniting interest in computer science among
undergraduates. Educators at Georgia Tech and elsewhere are turning to
innovative programs like the Scribbler to draw more students to the field
and reverse the tide of those leaving it.

At risk, professors say, is nothing less than U.S. technology supremacy. As
interest in computer science drops in the U.S., India and China are
emerging as engineering hubs with cheap labor and a skilled work force.

Schools across the country are taking steps to broaden the appeal of the
major. More than a dozen universities have adopted “media computation”
programs, a sort of alternate introduction to computer science with a New
Media vibe. The classes, which have been launched at schools from the
University of San Francisco to Virginia Tech, teach basic engineering using
digital art, digital music and the Web.

Others are turning to niche fields to attract more students. The California
Institute of Technology, which has seen a slight drop in undergraduate
computer science majors, has more than made up for the losses by
emphasizing the field of bioengineering.

“Many of our computer science faculty work on subjects related to biology,
and so this new thrust works well for us,” said Joel Burdick, a Caltech
bioengineering professor.

At Georgia Tech, computing professor Tucker Balch says the brain drain is
partly the fault of what he calls the “prime number” syndrome.

It’s the traditional way to teach computer science students by asking them
to write programs that spit out prime numbers, the Fibonacci sequence or
other mathematical series.

It’s proven a sound way to educate students dead-set on joining the ranks
of computer programmers, but it’s also probably scared away more than a few.

That’s why Balch, who oversees the robotics class, is optimistic about the
Scribbler, a scrappy blue robot cheap enough for students to buy and take
home each night after class but versatile enough to handle fairly complex
programs.

The key to the class is the design of the robot. It weighs about a pound
and is slightly smaller than a Frisbee, sporting three light-detecting
sensors and a speaker that can chirp. And at about $75, it’s roughly the
price of a science textbook.

The class centers on twice-weekly lectures, but the real excitement is in
the weekly breakout session. That’s where teaching assistants outline their
cheeky lesson plans and instruct students how to use commands like
turnLeft() and sense() to navigate their Scribblers around makeshift
obstacle courses.

Students aren’t just teaching the Scribblers how to move, they’re teaching
them how to dance, how to draw and how to create music – a sort of artistic
dynamo.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said Ami Shah, a 21-year-old senior biology major.
“I’ve learned a lot from this class, and I think it’s a really handy skill.”

Professors are planning to expand the class from around 30 students to more
than 200 next semester and are exporting the class to two other Georgia
schools in the fall.

Georgia Tech, which has branded the robot the “new face of computing,” is
hoping that the class can be a new national model to teach students
computing. To Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), which is investing $1 million to
jump-start the program at Georgia Tech and Bryn Mawr, it’s investment in
what could become its work force.

Outside groups have applauded the effort, too.

“In fact, computing is a tool that can be used for virtually every
application – from entertainment to medicine,” said Virginia Gold of the
Association for Computing Machinery. “And the Scribbler helps show how
pervasive computers are in everything.”

The computing industry has a reason to be concerned about the future.

The number of new computer science majors has steadily declined since 2000,
falling from close to 16,000 students to only 7,798 in fall 2006, according
to the Computing Research Association.

And the downward trend isn’t expected to reverse soon. The association says
about 1 percent of incoming freshmen have indicated computer science as a
probable major, a 70 percent drop from the rate in 2000.

The aftermath of the dot-com bust may have triggered the exodus, but
computer scientists admit they’ve also been slow to adapt to the changes by
reprogramming their teaching methods.

Although the Scribbler is one of several methods to lure more students to
the field, its popularity has been surprising. Some 30 schools have already
expressed interest in the course, said Deepak Kumar, the chair of Bryn
Mawr’s computer science department.

“It’s fresh and new and engaging,” said Kumar, who teaches a class of 24
Scribbler-wielding students. “We’ve got our fingers on one way to solve the
problem.”

Balch, who is watching the students from the corner of the classroom, is
happy to agree.

“It beats prime numbers.”

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Yevamot 24

Summary

The prohibition of a Kohen {priest} marrying a Chalutzah {a Chalutzah is a
woman whose brother-in-law has refused to perform the mitzvah of yivum for
her.
This seems an odd thing to be considered shameful in this day and age, but
it has to be remembered that at that time, women were pretty much dependent
on their husbands for their day-to-day provisions.
A man who refused to perform yivum for his sister-in-law was effectively
saying that he had no desire to care for her, nor for the safeguarding of
his brother’s estate and any possible children already born, and was willing
to let his brother’s property pass out of the family and into another only
because he didn’t want to take up his responsibility.}
is mid’Rabanan {forbidden at the rabbinic level, but not according to the
written Torah}. Therefore if a Kohen marries a Safek Chalitzah {a woman
whose status as a chalutzah is doubtful} he does not have to divorce her. It
is a Mitzvah l’Chatchilah {obligatory} for the older brother to do the Yibum
but if the younger one does the Yibum it is valid.

The Mitzvah of Yibum does not apply to an Ailonis {a woman who is incapable
of conception. This word is derived from the word “Ayil”, a ram, which is a
male and does not have a womb
(Kesuvos 11a)}
The Yavam inherits the property of the deceased brother.
If the Yavam is a Saris (a person who cannot have children) the Mitzvah of
Yibum does not apply to him.
There is no need for a Yavam to name the child that is born for the deceased
brother.
That is, there is no need to name the child that results from the union of
the brother who fulfills the obligation of Yivum with his deceased brother’s
wife after the deceased brother.
Even though the Pasuk says that the Bechor shall do Yibum the Pasuk is not
referring literally to the Bechor. Instead it is referring to the oldest
surviving
brother.
It is a Mitzvah for the oldest brother to do Yibum. If he declines the
younger brother is given a chance. If the younger brother also declines the
Mitzvah
reverts back to the older brother.
When a Yavam inherits his deceased brother he only receives the property
that is in his possession at the time of Yibum. He does not inherit property
that
is owed to his brother and had not yet been collected.
If there are rumors regarding a person’s inappropriate relationship with a
non-Jewish woman or maidservant he may not marry that woman after she
becomes
a Ger {convert}.
R. Nechemiyah says that a person who becomes a Ger for the purpose of
matrimony or other ulterior motives is not a valid Ger, however, Rav says
that the
Halachah is that they are valid Geirim.
No Geirim were accepted in the times of David and Shlomo nor will they be
accepted in the times of Mashiach.
This is because the times of David and Shlomo were seen as times when it
would be advantageous to be a Jew, and thus it was assumed that the
prospective convert had alterior motives.
It is the same with the times of Mashiach.
At that time, the Jewish People will finally stop being persecuted, and so
times will once again be good for the Jews.
It will then be assumed that anyone who wants to convert or repent will be
doing so because of alterior motives, and so it will not be allowed.
If two witnesses testify that a person had a relationship with a married
woman she is prohibited to her husband. She is also prohibited to the person
she
had the relationship with even b’Di’eved {after the case} even if she has
children from her husband.
If there are rumors regarding a person’s inappropriate relationship with a
married woman that person may not marry the woman after her husband divorces
her, but b’Di’eved if he does marry her he is not obligated to divorce her
if she has children from her first husband.

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Building by youth may be destructive, while when elders dismantle, it is
constructive (Nedarim 40a).

It seems paradoxical, but it is true. We make the most important decisions
of our lives when we are young and inexperienced, and our maximum wisdom
comes
at an age when our lives are essentially behind us, and no decisions of
great moment remain to be made.

While the solution to this mystery eludes us, the facts are evident, and we
would be wise to adapt to them. When we are young and inexperienced, we can
ask our elders for their opinion and then benefit from their wisdom. When
their advice does not coincide with what we think is best, we would do
ourselves
a great service if we deferred to their counsel.

It may not be popular to champion this concept. Although we have emerged
from the era of the `60s, when accepting the opinion of anyone over thirty
was
anathema, the attitude of dismissing older people as antiquated and obsolete
has-beens who lack the omniscience of computerized intelligence still
lingers
on.

Those who refuse to learn from the mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat
them. We would do well to swallow our youthful pride and benefit from the
teachings
of the school of experience.

Today I shall …
…. seek advice from my elders and give more serious consideration to
deferring to their advice when it conflicts with my desires.

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I’m watching a show on the Science Channel about a group of card counters from MIT.
The slant is that you’re supposed to feel sorry for the cassino owners, but I’m not buying it.
If you live by the sword, (which all cassinos do), then you’ll die by it, and just because someone or even a group of someones beats you at your game doesn’t mean you should receive any pity.
It’s all about statistics, and the cassino owners should have realized that someone would figure it out.
No reason to whine and throw a temper tantrum.

Originally published at Customerservant.com. You can comment here or there.

Ezra 1:1-5

1. And in the first year of Cyrus, the king of Persia, at the completion of the word of the Lord from the mouth of Jeremiah, the Lord aroused the Spirit
of Cyrus, the king of Persia, and he issued a proclamation throughout his kingdom, and also in writing, saying:

And in the first year of Cyrus, the king of Persia This book is arranged as a continuation of the Book of Daniel, as is explained in Baba Bathra (15a),
and the word ?????????? refers back from this [book] to that one, for it is stated in Daniel (9:2): “In the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, contemplated
the calculations of the number of the years that the word of the Lord had come to Jeremiah the prophet from the destruction of Jerusalem, seventy years.”
And so the entire chapter proceeds to relate [the story] of the destruction of the Temple, the time of the Babylonian exile, and his confession, in which
he confessed Israel’s sin. The beginning of this book is as follows: After Belshazzar was assassinated, Darius the Mede reigned, as it says (Dan. 6:1):
“And Darius the Mede received the kingdom etc.” and after Darius’ death, this Cyrus, the king of Persia, reigned, and in the first year of his reign, the
seventy years for the remembrance of the Babylonian exile, [counting] from the day that Jehoiakim was exiled, were completed, as it says (Jer. 29: 10):
“At the completion of seventy years of Babylon, I will remember you etc.” When Israel returned from the Babylonian exile to the land of Israel, in that
year, in the first year of Cyrus, Israel laid the foundation of the Temple, and the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin slandered them to Cyrus, the king
of Persia, and he commanded [them] to curtail the work, no longer to build the edifice of the Temple; and the Israelites were idle, for they did not build
the Temple during the entire reign of Cyrus and Ahasuerus, who succeeded him, until the second year of Darius, the son of Ahasuerus, the king of Persia,
who was Darius, the son of Esther. And in the second year of his reign, they began building the Temple until the building was completed. And from the first
year of Cyrus until the second year of Darius, the son of Ahasuerus the king of Persia, in whose days the Temple was built, were eighteen years, to fulfill
what was said (Dan. 9:2): “from the destruction of Jerusalem, seventy years etc.” And now, in the second year of Darius, seventy years had elapsed since
the destruction of Jerusalem; [i.e.,] the destruction of the Temple, when Zedekiah was exiled. From the exile of Jehoiakim until the exile of Zedekiah,
when the Temple was destroyed, were eighteen years, and now in the first year of Cyrus, the king of Persia, seventy years since the exile of Jehoiakim,
when Israel was exiled to Babylon, were completed, and thereby the verse that states (Jer. 29:10): “for at the completion of seventy years of Babylon I
will remember you etc.” was fulfilled. And this is the remembrance, that Israel returned to their soil and built the foundation of the building of the
Temple, although it was not yet completed. We find that there were fifty- two years from the exile of Zedekiah, when the Temple was destroyed, until the
first year of Cyrus, the king of Persia; and eighteen years after the first year of Cyrus, which is the second year of Darius, when Israel commenced to
build the edifice, and they completed it. This is proven in Seder Olam (ch. 29), in Tractate Megillah (11b) and in this book, as I explained.

at the completion of the word of the Lord from the mouth of Jeremiah at the time that the word of the Holy One, blessed be He, which Jeremiah spoke, was
completed, as it says (Jer. 29:10): “for at the completion of seventy years of Babylon etc.”

the Lord aroused the spirit the will.

a proclamation He proclaimed a proclamation throughout his kingdom.

and also in writing And he also sent his letter throughout his kingdom about this matter.

saying And so he said to them in his proclamation that he proclaimed and in his epistle that he sent throughout his kingdom.

2. “So said Cyrus, the king of Persia, ‘All the kingdoms of the earth the Lord God of the heavens delivered to me, and He commanded me to build Him a House
in Jerusalem, which is in Judea.

So said Cyrus, the king of Persia… delivered to me that I am the king and ruler over all the kingdoms.

and He commanded me He commanded me through Isaiah the prophet to build for Him the Temple in Jerusalem, as it says in the Book of Isaiah (44:28): “Who
says to Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd, and all My desire he shall fulfill,’ and to say to Jerusalem, ‘It shall be built, and the Temple shall be founded.’”
(ibid. 45:1): “So said the Lord to His anointed one, to Cyrus, whose right hand I held….” And this prophecy was already stated by lsaiah.

in Jerusalem, which is in Judea whch is in the province of Judea.

3. Who is among you of all His people, may his God be with him, and he may ascend to Jerusalem, which is in Judea, and let him build the House of the Lord,
God of Israel; He is the God Who is in Jerusalem.

Who is among you So did he announce and write to all the kingdoms, “Who is among you of all His people,” [i.e., of the people] of the Holy One, blessed
be He, may the Holy One, blessed be He, be at his assistance, and let him ascend to build His house that is in Jerusalem.

4. And whoever remains from all the places where he sojourns, the people of his place shall help him with silver and with gold and with possessions and
with cattle, with the donation to the House of God, which is in Jerusalem.’

And whoever remains and every Jew who remains in his place, who cannot ascend because he has no money.

shall help him I command the people of his place to provide him and help him with silver, gold, possessions and cattle, in order that he be able to ascend
to Jerusalem with the donation that the people of his place will donate for the building of the Temple, for also among the nations there were some who
contributed donations to the building of the Temple.

to the House of God, which is in Jerusalem From “So said Cyrus” until here is the proclamation and the message of the written epistle.

5. And the heads of the families of Judah and Benjamin and the priests and the Levites arose, with all whom God inspired to ascend to build the House of
the Lord, which is in Jerusalem.

of Judah and Benjamin the heads of the families of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin.

all whom… inspired They ascended to Jerusalem to build the Temple with all those whom God inspired to ascend and to build the Temple.

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Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 1:1-15

1. The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, [and] Hezekiah, kings of Judah.

the vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz Said Rabbi Levi: We have a tradition from our ancestors that Amoz and Amaziah, king of Judah, were brothers.

which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem Now, did he not prophesy concerning many nations, viz. the prophecy of Babylonia (ch. 13), the prophecy of Moab
(ch. 15)? Thus you learn that this is not the beginning of the Book, and that the Book is not given its name for this prophecy. So we learned in the Baraitha
of the Mechilta (Exod. 15:9,10): “In the year of King Uzziah’s death” (6:1) is the beginning of the Book, but there is no early and late in the order [i.e.,
the order of the chapters is no indication of the chronological order. (Others read: There is no early and late in the BookParshandatha.] The context proves
this point, for, on the day of the earthquake (see Zech. 14:5), the day Uzziah became a metzora (see 2 Chron. 26:19), it was said: “Whom shall I send and
who will go for us?” And I said, “Here I am; send me” (6:8). We learn that this was the beginning of his mission, and this prophecy was said afterwards.
And concerning this alone, it is stated: which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem, just as Scripture says concerning each nation, “the prophecy of such
and such a nation.” Here too, Scripture writes: “which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.” Since they are harsh reproofs, he calls them “chazon,” which
is the harshest of the ten expressions by which prophecy is called, as is stated in Gen. Rabbah (44:7), and proof of this is the verse (infra 21:2), “A
harsh prophecy (??????) was told to me.”

in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, [and] Hezekiah, kings of Judah. These four kings he buried, [i.e. he outlived,] in his lifetime. On the day Uzziah
became a metzora, the Shechinah rested upon him, and he prophesied all the days of these kings, until Manasseh arose and killed him. (And this prophecy
was said in the days of Hezekiah after the ten tribes were exiled.)

2. Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth, for the Lord has spoken; Children I have raised and exalted, yet they have rebelled against Me.

Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth And Moses said, “Give ear, O heavens,… and may the earth hear” (Deut. 32:1). Why did Isaiah change the wording? Our
masters taught concerning this matter, [and] many midrashim [are] in the section entitled “Ha’azinu” in Sifrei, but the Sages disagreed with them and said:
A matter is not so unless witnesses come and testify. If their words coincide, their testimony is fulfilled; if not, their testimony is not fulfilled.
Had Isaiah not addressed the heavens with giving ear and the earth with hearing, the heavens would testify and say, ‘When we were called to this testimony
in Moses’ time, when he said, (Deut. 30:19) “I call heaven and earth to witness against you,” we heard with an expression of giving ear,’ and the earth
would testify, ‘I was called with an expression of hearing,’ hence their testimony would not coincide. [Therefore,] Isaiah came and reversed the matter.
Consequently, both are found to testify with an expression of giving ear and with an expression of hearing.

for the Lord has spoken That you should be witnesses in this matter, when I warned them in Moses’ time. Therefore, come and hear what I reason with them,
for they transgressed the warning, I did not sin against them, but I raised them and exalted them, yet they rebelled against me. [Another version reads:]
That you should be witnesses in this matter. Now, where did He speak?“Give ear, O heavens and I will speak” (ibid. 32:1). [So this was taught] in Mechilta
(Bo 12).

3. An ox knows his owner and a donkey his master’s crib; Israel does not know, my people does not consider.

his owner Heb. ??????? [is] like ??????????, the one who affixes him to the plowshare for plowing by day, and since he has accustomed him to this, he knows
him. The dull donkey, however, does not recognize his master until he feeds him. Israel was not intelligent like the ox, to know, when I called him and
said, “Israel will be your name” (Gen. 35:10), and I informed them of several of My statutes, yet they deserted Me, as is related in Ezekiel (20:39): “Let
each one go and worship his idols.” Even after I took them out of Egypt and fed them the manna and called them, “My people, the children of Israel,” they
did not consider even as a donkey. Another explanation is:

An ox knows its owner An ox recognizes his owner so that his fear is upon him. He did not deviate from what I decreed upon him, by saying, I will not plow
today. Neither did a donkey say to his owner, I will not bear burdens today. Now, these [creatures,] who were created to serve you, and are not destined
to receive reward if they merit, or to be punished if they sin, did not change their manner, which I decreed upon them. Israel, however, who, if they merit
receive reward, and if they sin are punished.

does not know i.e., did not want to know; they knew but trod with their heels, and my people did not take heart to consider.

4. Woe to a sinful nation, a people heavy with iniquity, evildoing seed, corrupt children. They forsook the Lord; they provoked the Holy One of Israel;
they drew backwards.

Woe Every instance of ???? in Scripture is an expression of complaining and lamenting, like a person who sighs from his heart and cries, “Alas!” There are,
however, several, which are an expression of a cry, the vocative voice, e.g., “Ho, ho, flee from the land of the north” (Zech. 2:10), which the Targum
renders, ???????, an expression of announcing.

Woe There is a reason to cry about a holy nation that turned into a sinful nation, and a people referred to by the expression, “for you are a holy people”
(Deut. 7:6), turned into a people with iniquity.

a people heavy with iniquity The heaviness of iniquity. The word denotes a person who is heavy, pesant in French, ponderous. The word ????? is a substantive
of heaviness, pesantoma in French, and is in the construct state, and is connected with the word ?????, iniquity.

evildoing seed And they were seed whom the Lord blessed (Isa. 61: 9). Similarly, they were children of the Holy One, blessed be He, and they became corrupt.

they provoked Heb. ???????, they angered.

they drew backwards [The root ????????,] wherever it appears, is only an expression of separation. Similarly, Scripture states: “And they shall separate
(????????????) from the holy things of the children of Israel” (Lev. 22:2), “the one separated (??????) from his brothers” (Gen. 49:26). Here too, they
drew away from being near the Omnipresent.

5. Why are you beaten when you still continue to rebel? Every head is [afflicted] with illness and every heart with malaise.

Why are you beaten… A person who was punished (lit. beaten) and repeats his sinhis friend admonishes him and says to him, For this you have been punished,
yet you do not take heart to say, ‘For this I have been punished. I will not repeat it again.’ Here too, why are you beaten since you continue disobedience,
to turn away from following the Omnipresent? Is not every head afflicted with illness and every heart with malaise? Why then do you not understand?

6. From the sole of the foot until the head there is no soundness-wounds and contusions and lacerated sores; they have not sprinkled, neither have they
been bandaged, nor was it softened with oil.

soundness An expression of perfection, sound without pain.

wounds Heb. ??????, i.e., a wound of a sword.

contusions Heb. ?????????, an expression of a bruise. [Some editions read:] Other bruises.

and lacerated sores Jonathan renders: ?????????, lacerated and crushed.

and lacerated sores demarcejjre, in O.F., and in the language of the Talmud, we find, “he bumped (???????) his head” (Chullin 45b). Menahem explained it
as an expression of moisture, i.e., moist and wet, always oozing [muyte in O.F.].

they have not been sprinkled These lesions were not sprinkled with medicinal powders by physicians. This is an expression of: (Job 18:15) “Sulphur shall
be sprinkled (???????) on his dwelling.” Menahem explained it as an expression of healing, as in (Jeremiah 30:13): “No one pronounced your judgment for
healing (????????).”

neither was it softened with oil Their wound was not softened with oil, as is customary with other wounds. It would be inappropriate to say here, “They
were not softened with oil,” for they soften only the place of the sore, not the wound and the contusion but the sprinkling and the bandaging applies to
all three, [i.e., the wound, the contusion, and the lacerated sore.] Therefore, the plural number applies to them; the lesions were not sprinkled and not
bandaged. Jonathan interprets the entire verse figuratively, referring to the fact that they were soiled and afflicted with iniquity. Accordingly, he rendered,
“From the sole of the foot until the head,” from the smallest to the greatest, there is no soundness. There is none good among them, wounds and contusions,
rebellious deeds, iniquities, and inadvertent sins.

they have not been sprinkled… i.e., they have not been healed by repenting wholeheartedly, nor has it been softened with oil, not even a trace of repentant
thought has entered their heart.

7. Your land is desolate; your cities burnt with fire. Your land-in your presence, strangers devour it; and it is desolate as that turned over to strangers.

in your presence, strangers devour it Before your eyes, your enemies will devour it.

and desolate of you as a heritage turned over to strangers, which is desolate of its owners. Jonathan renders in this manner.

8. And the daughter of Zion shall be left like a hut in a vineyard, like a lodge in a cucumber field, like a besieged city.

And the daughter of Zion shall be left devoid of its inhabitants, for they will be exiled from its midst, as a hut in a vineyard, made by a watchman, and
when the produce of the vineyard is gathered, he leaves his hut and goes away, after they gather it.

like a lodge in a cucumber field As the lodge, which the watchman made at the end of a cucumber field, to watch its cucumber, is left, for after it is gathered,
he leaves it and goes away; the one in the vineyard is called a hut since he lives in it day and night; by day, he guards it from the birds and by night
from the thieves, b ut cucumbers are hard, and there is no fear of the birds, and one need not watch them by day. It is, therefore, called a lodge since
it is a place of lodging at night. Jonathan renders: Like a bed in a lodge (again repeated in Hebrew), [in] a cucumber field, in a cucumber field after
it has been picked (?????? ??????????????) , after it has been picked. [This is the expression of the Mishnah] (Peah 4: 5): “There are three gatherings
(??????????) a day.”

like a besieged city Like a city which was besieged, and they make huts around it to hide the troops, and when they give up the siege [lit., when they go
away from it], they leave them and go away. All this is Jonathan’s translation.

9. “Had not the Lord of Hosts left us a remnant, we would soon be like Sodom; we would resemble Gomorrah.”

Had not the Lord of Hosts left us a remnant by His own volition and with His mercy, not because of our merits.

we would soon be like Sodom All of us would be destroyed.

10. Hear the word of the Lord, O rulers of Sodom; give ear to the law of our God, O people of Gomorrah!

rulers of Sodom Princes whose deeds are like those of Sodom. From here, [the Rabbis] deduced that a person should not open his mouth to Satan.

11. Of what use are your many sacrifices to Me? says the Lord. I am sated with the burnt-offerings of rams and the fat of fattened cattle; and the blood
of bulls and sheep and hegoats I do not want.

I am sated with the burnt-offerings of rams This is similar to: “Lest he have too much of you and hate you,” (Proverbs 25:18).

fattened cattle Fattened cattle and sheep.

I do not want Since you transgress My Torah, the sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination [from Prov. 21:27].

12. When you come to appear before Me, who requested this of you, to trample My courts?

who requested this of you, to trample My courts to trample [the preposition is absent in the Hebrew] My courts, since your heart is not whole with Me.

13. You shall no longer bring vain meal-offerings, it is smoke of abomination to Me; New Moons and Sabbaths, calling convocations, I cannot [bear] iniquity
with assembly.

You shall bring no more vain meal-offerings I warn you, you shall not bring Me your vain meal-offering, for the smoke that rises from it is smoke of abomination
to Me, and not for My satisfaction.

New moons and Sabbaths, calling, convocations, I cannot… and [sic, does not appear in Parshandatha] to call convocations, i.e., New Moons and Sabbaths when
you gather to call a convocation and an assembly on them, I cannot bear the iniquity in your hearts that is inclined to paganism, and the convocation with
it, for these two things are incompatible: to call a convocation to gather before Me, and the iniquity that is in your hearts for paganism, and you do
not take it out of your hearts.

14. Your New Moons and your appointed seasons My soul hates, they are a burden to Me; I am weary of bearing [them].

15. And when you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you, even when you pray at length, I do not hear; your hands are full of blood.

And when you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you because your hands are full of blood.

blood Murder.

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Important Message Regarding This Lesson

This is not an error of duplication. The laws that comprise this Mitzvah are many and change for those who study using the one/three chapter a day cycle.

Positive Commandment 244
A Borrower

Exodus 22:13 “And if a man borrows something from his neighbor…”

It is kind and considerate to lend something to your friend or anybody else who requests it. However, the borrower must accept the responsibility to return
the article in the same condition as it was when he received it.

This Positive

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Parshat Behaalotecha, 1st Portion Bamidbar 8:1-8:14

Chapter 8
1. The Lord spoke to Moses, saying:
2.
Speak to Aaron and say to him: “When you light the lamps, the seven lamps shall cast their light toward the face of the menorah.”
3.
Aaron did so; he lit the lamps toward the face of the menorah, as the Lord had commanded Moses.
4.
This was the form of the menorah: hammered work of gold, from its base to its flower it was hammered work; according to the form that the Lord had shown
Moses, so did he construct the menorah. 5. The Lord spoke to Moses saying:
6.
Take the Levites from among the children of Israel and cleanse them.
7.
This is what you shall do to them so as to cleanse them: sprinkle them with cleansing water and pass a razor over all their flesh; then they shall wash
their garments and cleanse themselves.
8.
Then they shall take a young bull with its meal offering of fine flour mingled with oil. And you shall take a second young bull as a sin offering.
9.
You shall bring the Levites in front of the Tent of Meeting, and you shall gather the entire congregation of the children of Israel. 10. You shall bring
the Levites before the Lord, and the children of Israel shall lay their hands upon the Levites. 11. Then Aaron shall lift up the Levites as a waving before
the Lord on behalf of the children of Israel, that they may serve in the Lord’s service. 12. The Levites shall lay their hands on the heads of the bulls,
and make one as a sin offering and one as a burnt offering to the Lord, to atone for the Levites. 13. You shall present the Levites before Aaron and his
sons, and lift them as a waving before the Lord. 14. Thus shall you set apart the Levites from the midst of the children of Israel, and the Levites shall
become Mine.

Commentary

Chapter 8
2. When you light. Why is the portion dealing with the menorah juxtaposed to the portion dealing with the chieftains? For when Aaron saw the dedication
[offerings] of the chieftains, he felt distressed over not joining them in this dedication-neither he nor his tribe. So God said to him, “By your life,
yours is greater than theirs, for you will light and prepare the lamps.” – [Tanchuma Beha’alothecha 3] When you light. Heb. ?????????????, lit., when you
cause to ascend. Since the flame rises, Scripture describes kindling in terms of ascending. He is required to kindle the lamp until the flame rises by
itself (Shab. 21a). Our Sages further expounded from here that there was a step in front of the menorah, on which the kohen stood to prepare [the lamps].
— [Sifrei Beha’alothecha 3] toward the face of the menorah. Toward the middle lamp, which is not on [one of] the branches, but on the menorah itself. —
[Men. 98b] shall cast their light. The six on the six branches; the three eastern ones-that is their wicks-facing towards the center one, and likewise,
the three western ones, the tops of their wicks facing toward the center one. Why [were the wicks facing inwards, thus giving off so little light]? So
that [people] should not say that He [God] needs the light. — [Tanchuma Beha’alothecha 5]
3. Aaron did so. This shows Aaron’s virtue that he did not deviate [from God’s command]. — [Sifrei Beha’alothecha 1:5]
4. This was the form of the menorah. As God had shown him with His finger, for he had difficulty with [constructing] it. That is why it says, “This is….”
– [Sifrei Beha’alothecha 7] hammered work. In old French, batediz, beaten, an expression similar to,“[and his knees] knocked (????????) one against the
other” (Dan. 5:6). There was a block of gold weighing a talent. He pounded it with a hammer, and cut it with a chisel to extend its limbs in the prescribed
manner, and it was not made limb by limb and then connected together. — [Baraitha Melecheth HaMishkan] from its base to its flower. Its base was the hollow
box above the legs, like the silver candelabra that stand before nobles. from its base to its flower. That is to say, the menorah itself and everything
attached to it. from its base. Which was a large unit. to its flower. Which was its finest work-it was all hammered work. It is customary to use the word
??? in this sense [to include everything], as in,“from the stacks to the (???) standing grain to the (???) olive groves” (Judges 15:5). according to the
form which the Lord had shown…. According to the design He had shown him on the mount [Sinai], as it says, “Now see and make, according to their pattern
[which you are shown on the mountain]” (Exod. 25:40). so did he construct the menorah. I.e., the one who made it [namely, Bezalel]. The Aggadic Midrash
[Tanchuma Beha’alothecha 3] states that it was made by itself through the Holy One, Blessed is He.
6. Take the Levites. Take them with words: You are fortunate in that you have merited to become attendants of the Omnipresent. — [Torath Kohanim 8:165,
Midrash Aggadah]
7. Sprinkle them with cleansing water. from the ashes of the red cow, so as to cleanse them from contamination by those who were in contact with the dead.
and pass a razor over all their flesh. I found in the writings of R. Moses Hadarshan (the preacher): Since they [the Levites] were submitted in atonement
for the firstborn who had practiced idolatry [when they worshipped the golden calf], which is called sacrifices to the dead-and one afflicted with tzara’ath
is considered dead-they required shaving like those afflicted with tzara’ath.
8. Then they shall take a young bull. That is a burnt offering, as it is written, “and designate…and one as a burnt offering” (verse 12); this is the communal
offering [to atone] for idolatry. and a second young bull. What does it mean by “a second” ? It teaches that just as a burnt offering is not eaten, so
is [this] sin-offering not eaten. There is a support for his [R. Moses’] comments in Torath Kohanim (Obligatory sacrifices 3:4) [which states that this
sin-offering was burnt up]. I, however, believe that this was a temporary injunction [not to atone for idolatry], since they should have brought a goat
as a sin-offering for idolatry, with the bull for a burnt offering.
9. And you shall gather the entire congregation. Since the Levites were submitted as an atonement offering instead of them, let them [the Israelites] come
and stand with their offerings [namely the Levites] and rest their hands upon them. — [Midrash Aggadah] 11 Then Aaron shall lift up the Levites as a waving.
in the same way that the guilt-offering of one afflicted with tzara’ath requires waving [the animal] while it is alive. Three wavings are mentioned in
this section: the first (verse 11) refers to the sons of Kohath, and for this reason it states with regard to them, “that they may serve in the Lord’s
service,” since they were responsible for the work involving the most holy objects-the ark, the table, etc. The second (verse 13) refers to the sons of
Gershon. Therefore, it is stated with regard to them,“a waving before the Lord” (verse 13), for even they were assigned holy work-the curtains and the
clasps, which could be seen in the Holy of Holies. The third [waving] was for the sons of Merari (verse 14). – [Midrash Aggadah] 16 wholly given over.
Hebrew ???????? ????????, [the double expression denoting] given over for [the service of] carrying and given over for the singing [in the Temple]. – [Midrash
Aggadah] that open. ????????, the opening of.
——————————————————————————–

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Hagigah, Chapter Three, Mishnah Two

Introduction

This mishnah continues to provide aspects of purity/impurity in sacrifices are treated with greater stringency than terumah (tithes). 

Mishnah Two

1)      Vessels that have been finished in purity require immersion [before they are used] for sacred things, but not [before they are used] for terumah.

2)      A vessel unites all its contents [for impurity] in the case of sacred things, but not in the case of terumah.   

3)      Sacred things become invalid [by impurity] of a fourth degree, but terumah [only by impurity] of a third degree.

4)      In the case of terumah, if one hand of his hands became impure, the other remains clean, but in the case of sacred things, he must immerse both
[hands], because the one hand defiles the other for sacred things but not for terumah. 

Explanation

Section one:  Once the production of a vessel has been completed the vessel can now receive impurity. Even if the artisan was careful not to defile the
vessel it still requires immersion before it can be used with sacred things.  In contrast, if the vessel is going to be used with terumah then it doesn’t
need to be immersed unless it has been defiled. 

Section two:  If there are a bunch of separate food items in a vessel, say some fruit or separate pieces of meat, and one becomes impure, then all of them
are impure, if they are sacred things.  The vessel causes the impurity to travel from one piece to the other.  However, if they are terumah, then the vessel
does not convey the impurity from one to the other.

Section three: There are different levels of impurity, the higher the number the closer the item is to the source of impurity, which is called a “father
of impurity.”  A “father of impurity” that touches something give it first degree impurity, and a first degree conveys second degree impurity, and so on.
Sacred things can become invalid through contact even with a third degree of impurity, meaning that these things cannot be put on the altar, because they
have “fourth degree” of impurity.  There is no such thing as fifth degree of impurity. Terumah becomes disqualified only by something with a second degree
of impurity.  If something of third degree impurity touches terumah it does not affect it.

Section four: If one of one’s hands becomes impure, he cannot use the other hand to touch a sacred thing, even if one hand didn’t touch the other.  But
when it comes to terumah, if one of one’s hands is impure he can use the other hand to touch terumah.   

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If one read and reviewed his studies but did not serve an apprenticeship to
scholars, he remains unlearned (Berachos 47b).

We can learn more about tennis by seeing a pro in action than by reading a
book about how to play good tennis. Book learning certainly has value, but
observing
a professional performance is much more impressive.

One of the mitzvos the Torah lists is to say Shema Yisrael twice daily. I
had learned about the proper kavanah (concentration) needed when saying the
Shema,
and I had heard lectures on the subject regarding the intensity of
meditation required. One day, I attended the vasikin minyan (sunrise
communal service)
at the Kotel (the Western Wall), and I heard the Shema being recited the way
it should be said. All that I had read and heard beforehand now became
galvanized
and took on new meaning.

If you have the opportunity to watch any expert performing in his or her
field, do so. Watch a tzaddik pray, a matriarch light the Shabbos candles,
and
a scholar learning Torah. These indelible experiences can give life and
spirit to your own actions and convert the knowledge you have accumulated
through
book learning into more meaningful experiences.

The Torah states that at Sinai, the entire nation saw the sounds (Exodus
20:15). Many commentaries ask how sounds can be seen. Perhaps the Torah is
saying
that the Israelite observed how their leader Moses acted, and so were able
to see that which they had previously heard.

Today I shall …
…. try to reinforce those character traits that I know are correct by
observing how good people implement them.

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I put in my official two weeks’ notice today.
Well, actually, I met with Mr. Frodo and the HR director to see what steps were going to be taken now that we all agree that we’ve exhausted all options.
They told me to just resign.
Given that we’re dealing with some of the worst dissemblers imaginable, my guess is that there’s probably something slightly illegal about that, but at this point I don’t really care.
From where I’m sitting right now, my new job looks like the best thing since sliced cheese.
I know it will have its disadvantages just like everything else, but so far, I haven’t encountered excessive amounts of smoke headed my way, and the people I’ve dealt with have been up front and honest.
And, there won’t be any accessibility issues to worry about, which takes a huge amount of stress out of the equation.
I’m finally over the sinus infection and bronchitis I’ve had for the past three weeks, so posting should be more frequent than it has been.
I’m off tomorrow, and I have to work on Shabbat.
Fortunately, I won’t be having to do that much longer either.
Shavuot is next week, and I have to work those days as well, but this will be the last of the Hagim I’ll be obligated to work.
For the foreseeable future, as long as I give enough advance, I’ll be able to take the days I need off, and since I don’t take many days off as a rule, there shouldn’t be any problems.

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It’s a rainy, windy day here.
I’m still recovering from a major sinus infection on top of bronchitis.
It’s not even 08:30 yet, and I’m sitting back here at work, sitting at my desk.
I’m the only one back here.
Everyone else is up front.
I’m sleepy.
And I can’t believe I actually had to come in here, just to sit around.
I’ll be glad when the hampster wheel stops spinning.
We’ve exhausted all options as far as testing the software is concerned, so now we get to deal with the politics of the situation, hopefully as frankly as possible.
Division of Services for the Blind will be involved in these discussions, because they’ll most likely be helping with the expenses surrounding my switching jobs.
I’m hoping to have this taken care of within the next week.
I don’t have any time to move at the speed of government, and I don’t want to squander the opportunity this new job presents.
I hope to get back to posting regularly within this week.
God knows I have nothing else to do except hurry up and wait while I prod and push for meetings with the appropriate people here at work.
More later.