Saturday, 5 September 2009

Learnt some new midrash at Chabad tonight about d'yo (ink)...

They had a guest over from Israel and he was talking about the rebellious son from last weeks sedra and how according to Rashi there was no such person because really they only had a limited period of time (a few months after bar-mistvah) to be termed such a person. However if there was then it would be justified that they should be put to death because they were bad and would be bad. However Ishmael who was sent away ostensibly for teasing was rescued in the desert because at that time he was a tsaddik - even though after he was going to turn bad in the future and Hashem told the angels that that was the reason for his rescue ...

This is likened to d'yo (ink) and the fact that there is argument between the P'ri M'gadim and the Chatam Sofer over ink. Normal STaM ink is black but some of it will go brown over time. The former says this makes it pasul but the latter doesn't agree and the halacha is that if it fades to brown over time as ink is wont to do then it is fine and still kasher (as long as the body of the letters is still unborken and the fade isn't too bad). It just gets old and perhaps a bit world weary and maybe collects up some sins - like Ishmael or maybe like us. However if the ink turns brown immediately (or was red) then it was never kasher ink and should never have been used - like the rebellious son - who was never good and shouldn't have been in the world. You can write over the old brown ink if you want to (but you don't have to) but you can't write over the immediately brown or red ink.

Perhaps in Elul we should be looking at how brown our own ink has got and whether we need to do some repair.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Chesed and Gevurah - Parchment and Letters

Listening to shiur - Rabbi Eli Silberstein on Brachot 2:3. He was explaining by way of comparison to the need to pronounce the Shema properly and the need for space between each word and the next. He compared to writing a torah where obviously there has to be space between the letters and the words - this is a key scribal concept - mukefet g'vil (surrounded by parchment). If there is a join then the work is pasul (invalid).

He quotes a Polish rebbe - Rev Shlomo of Lusk - who says there is mystical significance here. What is the significance of the space between the letters in a Torah? He explains that the parchment is white and the light colour symbolises compassion and kindness. The letters however are black, dark and limiting - with specific conditions governing the letters and indeed the letters in the Torah - mostly concerned with recording laws - represent severity, judgement and restriction.

So he explains that strict judgement must be surrounded by compassion - otherwise we would not survive. In Kabbalistic terms then the parchment represents chesed - white space. Whilst the black letters represent gevurah. And in Elul we ask that the white parchment of compassion surrounds the dark letters of judgement.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Amud 10

Finished half of amud 10 of the Megillat haShoah - half an amud to go and the yeriah (sheet) is complete. Just one left then.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Great Shabbat

Great shabbat, best wife, best son, best grandma, old friends from America turning up on doorstep, sefardi minyan and chulent. Yay shabbat!

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Chanoch walked with God

Just fixed a section of torah that twice talks about Chanoch walking with God. Doesn't say why though and what walking with God actually entails. Rashi says 'he was a righteous man, but he could easily be swayed to return to do evil. Therefore, the Holy One, blessed be He, hastened and took him away and caused him to die before his time.'


Every month since I bought Bembo send me a selection of fonts that I drool over & stroke but don't buy cos I'm a good boy.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Finished Amud 9 of Megillat Hashoah

Good progress today - 21 lines done. Only 4 amudim to go and the work is complete.

Another 9 lines of the Megillat Hashoah

Just wrote nine lines of the Megillat Hashoah including the difficult element of Hashem being silent - symbolised in part by the small ayin and dalet in the Shema - countering the normal large one in Torah, Tefillin and Mezuzah. for more details or buy the book

Off to write some more now...

Saturday, 1 August 2009


didn't realise just how tough it was going to be to sell books. After a little spate some weeks ago virtually no action. Been trying to promote on-line but very very few avenues. Kulmus Publishing is a bit niche I understand but didn't realise how niche. Hmm. Need a bit of a rethinkk here.

Monday, 20 July 2009

The "Marc" of Cain

Okay - so just fixed the other half of the amud. And yes Kayin killed Hevel. Kayin gets scared that people will take revenge (not sure who these people are as the populations of the world is quite limited to his relatives at that point).

וישׂם יהוה לקין אות לבלתי הכות־אתו כל־מצאו
"And the LORD set a sign for Cain, lest any finding him should smite him." says the verse but what was this mark?

The word in Gen. 4:15 is 'ot' which could mean a sign, an omen, a warning, or a remembrance or taking a scribal stance on it - a letter - heyI can't help it I think about letters a lot. The text describes how the mark was to function as a sign or warning, not what form the mark took.

The Zohar says that the mark of Cain was the letter vav! Was an echo here picked up by the Christians with the vav, vav, vav (666) Number of the Beast famous in the Omen films? Vav is actually a letter denoting completeness and means a hook. Puts me in mind of that scary horror film with the bloke who had lots of hooks in his face. However the Zohar explains that "God inscribed the Hebrew Letter Vav onto the forehead of Cain. The letter Vav connects to the 'Sfirot of Yesod, which signifies the Covenant between God and the Israelites. When Cain sincerely repented for the murder of his brother Abel, the letter Vav protected him from the murderous hands of people which were aroused against him by the spiritual law of cause and effect. Provided we fully repent, meditating upon the letter Vav offers us protection from any decrees of judgment." So Kayin benefitted from a complete (vav) repentance meriting protection,

Rashi says "He inscribed a letter from His Divine Name on his forehead" and that fits with the vav theory too.

In that famous Rabbinical work :) Thoroughly Modern Moses (available through Kulmus Publishing
the author writes of the mark of Cain, 'for in large red English letters, rather similar to those you find stenciled onto a packing crate at a port was the single word ... REJECT'.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Kulmus Publishing Catalogue

Kulmus Publishing specialises in producing works of Jewish interest, particularly to do with sofrut but also art and stories with a Jewish theme. This page gives details of publications to date and links to on demand print or e-book downloads through ...

So after a couple of weeks of moving into a new house ...

I finally got to fix some torah.

Just did about half an amud concerning the birth of Cain and Abel (Kayin and Hevel) and their sacrifices. Boy is Kayin mad and when Hashem down't like his sacrifice - apparently it was because he just gave Hashem some rotten old veggies - whereas Hevel (which means puff/breath cos he wasn't around for very long) gave the choicest of his flock. Hmm. Still seems a little unfair.
ואל־קין ואל־מנחתו לא שׁעה - so apparently "unto Cain and to his offering He had not respect". Shâ‛âh in the BDB Definition:
1) to look at or to, regard, gaze at or about
1a) (Qal) to gaze at, regard, behold, look about
1b) (Hiphil) to look away, cause gaze to turn away
1c) (Hithpael) to look in dismay, gaze about (in anxiety).
Hashem clearly didn't like what He saw. Was it the offering or perhaps it wasn't because it says "unto Cain and..." i.e. He didn't have respect for Kayin not just his offering - He could see what Kayin was capable off and what kind of person he was - so not sure why the midrashim try to justify this by talking about the quality of the offering when a p'shat reading of the text could easily apply to the quality of the person. The bit that I finished on says ויאמר קין אל־הבל אחיו "And Cain spoke unto Abel his brother..." but it doesn't say what he said. Is there a missing bit of text - was it left out by a careless copyist once upon a time or was it deliberately removed. Was it never there? Did Hashem leave it out? We will never know. But it is rather abrupt and odd.
Rashi explains that 'He engaged him in argument and dispute in order to find a pretext to kill him. Concerning this there are Aggadaic expositions, but this is the plain explanation of the verse.' Did he need to do this? Couldn't he have just come up behind him and hit him with something? The Samaritan text, Vulgate and Septuagint says that he said 'Let's go out to the field'. Make sense but kind of dull. Better to imagine what might have been said. Whatever it was Hevel was fairly dumb to listen.
Anyway, we all know what happens next!

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

New Book - Give! From Kulmus Publishing

Finally published the book I've been working on for a while now. An analysis of the biblical commandment to support the poor with particular reference to the Tannaitic interpretation in Sifre to D’varim 15:7-11 Ts’dakah - the giving of charity, or more properly acting righteously to another person to relieve them of a the burden of poverty is not merely a ‘nice thing to do that gives you a warm fuzzy feeling’ but according to Torah is a commandment. Discover how the ancient rabbis applied the Torah law to their own time and what lessons we might learn today about how best to ... GIVE!

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Have been very naughty and ignoring the blog...

in favour of facebook fan page and my sofer website.

Not quite sure how one can duplicate stuff across eaily. If anyone out there knows how to pick up stuff from one site and feed into another automatically would be very useful as haven't really got time to maintain so many different places and fix sifrey and write!

Anyway, lots of new stuff on both including all my publications in one place and lots on the facebook page too if you want to fan that to see what I'm up to. is my fan site on facebook.