Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Pesach Menora

For the last week or so I really wanted to learn the Maamar Al Hanisim, 5729, which I blogged about four or five months ago, and today I finally got around to it. It was disappointing. I just didn't get the same high that I got last time. At first I thought that the problem was in me, but then I realized that actually the main issue was that I was learning it by myself. No one else was too interested in being my Chavrusa, study partner, primarily because it's a Chanuka Maamar, but also because I was learning it during Shacharis.
Is it weird to learn about Chanuka right before Pesach? Sure, Chassidus is everlasting, and applicable every day of a person's life, but it's not like I've finished everything on Pesach that I can now switch to Chanuka. On the other hand, as the Gemara says, a person should always study what his heart desires, so at least I was fulfilling that.
As to the Chavrusa thing, it really underscores the story of Reb Yochanan and Reish Lakish. As is related in Bava Metzia 84a, Reish Lakish got angry at Reb Yochanan, Reb Yochanan felt bad about it, Reish Lakish was struck by illness for causing Reb Yochanan pain, his wife (Reb Yochanan's sister) came to her brother pleading for his life, no luck, Reish Lakish died, Reb Yochanan got really depressed, the Rabbis sent R' Elazar Ben Pedas to comfort him, a task which he failed miserably in, and which resulted in Reb Yochanan going around, tearing his clothing and crying out, "Where are you Bar Lakisha! Where are you Bar Lakisha!" Reb Yochanan eventually went crazy, and the Rabbis prayed that he should die. So he did. It was all very sad.
The point is, if you've no one to be with, no friends, then you might as well die, like we find by Choni Hamagel, who slept for seventy years (or something like that) and, realizing that all of his friends were long gone, decided to join them in heaven. Learning also is much easier when there's someone with whom to learn. Obviously, many times there is no fit Chavrusa, and in those cases you're better off learning by yourself, but when there is opportunity, and you can't avail yourself of it...
Enough of Chanuka. As Pesach is rapidly approaching, I think it would be a nice thing to write a Halacha for the masses. The first one that comes to mind is one dealing with the Zeroah, the shankbone which is put on the Seder plate as a remembrance of the Pesach offering. We don't eat this, because we would hate for people to think that we're actually eating a sacrifice. See, eating a sacrifice outside of the Temple is forbidden by the law. We go so far as to use a chicken neck, not a lamb shankbone (thingamajiggie), in order to avoid confusion. Helpful? I sure hope so. OK, so you all probably knew this already. Tomorrow I'll hopefully have some in-depth discussion based on this, but it's dependent on The Almighty Editor getting back to me at some point tomorrow. The world is hanging on your shoulders, oh great grammarian, so answer well.
That, my friends, was a charge for the ages. Almost like the time someone put a Boeing 787 on their American Express.

7 comments:

e said...

As is related in Bava Metzia 84a, Reish Lakish got angry at Reb Yochanan, Reb Yochanan felt bad about it, Reish Lakish was struck by illness for causing Reb Yochanan pain, his wife (Reb Yochanan's sister) came to her brother pleading for his life, no luck, Reish Lakish died, Reb Yochanan got really depressed, the Rabbis sent R' Elazar Ben Pedas to comfort him, a task which he failed miserably in, and which resulted in Reb Yochanan going around, tearing his clothing and crying out, "Where are you Bar Lakisha! Where are you Bar Lakisha!"

Horrible, horrible run-on sentence.

You could have replaced those commas with periods (for a choppy effect). You could have used semicolons (for a formal effect); But I understand the allure of the comma, that ubiquitous punctuation mark, whose repeated appearance gives the impression that the events cited happened in rapid succession, thrilling the reader with the tale of Raish Lakesh and Rabbi Yochanan's misfortune, but alas comma splices are illegal--unless one wishes to invoke literary license (which I believe Mrs. Ring would not).

You could have legally used commas by presenting this saga of woe as a list. Consider the following sentence as an example of this technique: "I tried to obtain the eggs as expediently as possible: I went to the store, large eggs were nowhere to be seen on the shelves, my fellow shopper's cart was soon bereft of its cargo, the girl at the counter rang up my purchase, outside the B43 lumbered into the bus stop, I j-walked to catch the bus, a driver swerved to avoid hitting me, my body was safe, but my eggs splattered merrily on the windshield, I soon found myself once again in the egg aisle searching for large eggs." As the independent clauses are members of a list, they may be joined with commas.

Consider the same story, punctuated with periods: "I went to the store. Large eggs were nowhere to be seen on the shelves. My fellow shopper's cart was soon bereft of its cargo. The girl at the counter rang up my purchase. Outside the B43 lumbered into the bus stop. I j-walked to catch the bus. A driver swerved to avoid hitting me. My body was safe. But my eggs splattered merrily on the windshield. I soon found myself once again in the egg aisle searching for large eggs." One can almost feel the lethargy in the speaker's voice; one wonders why a plodding fellow like he would j-walk hurriedly just to catch the B43. The passive sentence's passivity is suddenly noticeable. Contrast that with the rushed clip of the first example.

The moral of the story is to use your punctuation wisely, but please follow the rules.

That's all the editing this almighty individual is doing tonight. I'll tackle your dilemmas tomorrow.

e said...

As for as I could ascertain (i.e. according to what I've come across in the "Seedlings of Gabriel" [transliterating "nitei" is just too painful {well I've gone ahead and transliterated it anyways (TRS's nasty habit of nesting parenthesis is getting to me)}]) the minhag is only not to eat roasted meat. The species of the meat is irrelevant.

The Real Shliach said...

I made the run-on sentence intentionally. Why? I was trying to avoid telling the story at too much length, and this seemed the easiest way to accomplish that aim.
As for the type of meat? This was what I was taught. Perhaps my teachers were out of their mind.
And the parentheses? I love them dearly.

e said...

If you want brief, quick clauses, I have two friends I would like you to meet: ";" & "."

Do not abuse ","; he cannot handle the strenuous work of linking independent clauses.

As for the parens, I have never seen nested parens used like that. Did you make up that pattern yourself, or is it a real rule?

e said...

Your teachers were not out of their minds--they were just misinformed, like the teachers who tell their students that shalach manos must include multiple berachos (they don't).

Note: that sentence included three independent clauses, each linked with an appropriate punctuation mark. Es Chatoai Ani Mazkir; there is a dangling modifier.

The Real Shliach said...

Yes, the parentheses are perfectly legal. Try them, they're quite enjoyable. Bichlal, I'm quite happy to see that you've started taking your grammatical responsibilities seriously again, it gives us all hope for the future.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Real S.
What an incredibly depressing addition to your body of work. I'm sorry to hear that you are bereft of study partners but hope that you are not wandering around tearing your clothes etc. Also thanks for you Halacha for the masses idea - this could be very informative. I recently heard that there was some issue with the choice of lettuve (Romaine v. something else). Could you enlighten your faithful readers on what this is about? Why is one lettuce different from all other lettuces (little Pesach joke there)? Much appreciated LdT.