Skip to content

{ Category Archives } General

On the Frequency of Parasha Doublings

The number of Shabbatot in a Hebrew year can be 50 or 51 in a regular year or 55 in a leap year, and every year one or more ḥaggim also fall on Shabbat. Since the Torah is divided into 54 parashot for the weekly reading, almost every year there are some Shabbatot where two […]


Samuel Montagu in “HaMaggid”

My sister Rachel and I were trying to find out some information about our great-great-grandfather, Samuel Montagu (more about the specific issue in a later post), and I was doing various searches online. One of the places I searched was the archive of Hebrew newspapers at the National Library and Tel Aviv University, and I […]

Dogfooding Fennec

First impressions of a nightly build of Fennec on a Samsung Galaxy S II: Things that work: Downloadable fonts including astral characters RTL astral characters (this has a downloadable font as well) RTL UI (in general) … Things that don’t work (some of these may be issues with the sites, some are certainly bugs in […]

Tikkun Leil Hoshaʿana Rabba

I led a session at the Tikkun Leil Hoshaʿana Rabba at Ellul on Thursday night, which also included readings from the Writers’ Beit Midrash on Shemitta (the sabbatical year) two years ago. For my session I developed an idea that I had already presented rather briefly in the Beit Midrash. While learning the topic Shemitta, […]

חטאנו לפניך

מעכבר העיר של השבוע: . אני סופר 4 שגיאות. ואתם? In the image above, from last week’s Achbar Ha`ir there are 11 Hebrew diacritics. I count 4 mistakes. Does anybody spot others?

The Oxford Hebrew Bible

Via Ralph the Sacred River and Tyler Williams at Codex, I came across this article from Biblica by Professor Hugh Williamson on the Oxford Hebrew Bible Project. There seem to be problems downloading the samples from the project site, so I haven’t been able to form much of an informed opinion, but I did want […]

Happy Canada Day!

If I wasn’t an expatriate Brit readapting to life in Israel after two years in California, I would love to be Canadian. I’ve never yet been to Canada, but that’s soon going to change: at the end of this month I’ll be in Whistler, BC.

Riddle number 2

This one is probably also pretty easy, but it should require a little more leg work at least. What tractate of the Mishna is this: U+24CA

Marvellous surprise

In my email inbox this morning: Dear Al Ha veDa A gift Crossword subscription has been purchased for you. Please visit to activate your subscription Regards Guardian Unlimited This clearly has some connection to the fact that next Monday is my birthday, and this is absolutely and totally the best birthday present I could […]

Journalistic objectivity

From the International Herald Tribune (hat-tip: Lisa Goldman): Britain’s biggest journalists’ union, The National Union of Journalists, has criticized Israel’s “military adventures” and voted narrowly in favor of a boycott of Israeli goods…The timing of the ballot was particularly delicate since a BBC journalist, Alan Johnston, has been held for more than a month in […]

Seen on a mailing list

We are often warned against over-generalization, and on mailing lists and web fora you can almost guarantee that any statement about “all” p or “the only” p, whether p is members of some ethnic group, documents in some language, or whatever, will provoke angry responses and obscure counter examples. I’ve been on both sides of […]

Challa meme

Danya posted about baking challa. In the interests of Jewish pluralism, here’s my recipe. These quantities make 5 medium-sized or 4 largish challot. 1 kg white flour 1 tbsp salt 3 or 4 threads of saffron 25 g yeast 1 tsp honey About 500 cc. lukewarm water 3 eggs, beaten sesame seeds and/or poppy seeds. […]

Targetting civilians

Updated with links to more pictures Here’s a picture of a road sign in Haifa after a Katyusha missile landed nearby. Photo credit: Lenny Maschkowski The text on the sign says “Slow — Children Crossing”. To see more pictures from Haifa by Lenny Maschkowski, go here or here, or the slideshows linked from the bottom […]

סוף הדרך

One student at Ben Gurion University to another, discussing Nasrallah: هو بيحكي عريي חבל על הזמן Hat-tip: Kishkushim.

Unintentional Reminiscences I

Susan in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: Peter, just because some man in a red coat gives you a sword it doesn’t make you a hero! Dennis in Monty Python and the Holy Grail: Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. […]

Let It Snow

It snowed in Jerusalem today, but if you blinked you missed it.

You can’t make this stuff up

The kangaroo answers to the name of Itzik

You Can’t Start Too Young

Me to Ellat (aged 7) planning to lead up to “the Beit Yosef’s Question” to see how she handles it: Tell me why there are eight days of Chanukkah. Ellat totally short-circuiting me: Because when the Jews restored the temple, it took them eight days. Me trying to get back to what I hoped was […]

Here’s hoping

It made me smile to read this today, because I was watching the 10th anniversary special edition DVD of The Shawshank Redemption just last weekend. One of the things the producer mentioned in the special features was that in the original cut the movie ended with the scene of Red sitting on an intercity bus, […]

שבתא דסיפרא

I realized much too late that the last two posts have the wrong title. It’s actually called Hebrew Book Week, (שבוע הספר העברי), not Jewish Book Week. Neither title is really totally appropriate. There are lots of Hebrew books on sale that aren’t in any way Jewish, in fact my impression is that about 75% […]