1/ Another #Beshalach thread, sparked by the linked article. What do combat exoskeletons have to do with the parsha? The halakhot of cybernetics on Shabbat, of course.

OK, so that's still pretty unclear. It has to do with the manna.

2/ Can you do melacha using invisible brain power, basically. Normally, I'd love to delve into how the regnant rabbinic view about gramma (causality) drives me utterly bonkers in its #Literalist mentality, as well as the limited 19th Century view of electricity, but not this week
3/ Cybernetics aka invisible brain power applies to the manna b/c:

"Rav Avraham Walkin ... argued that someone who miraculously cooks through thought or speech violates a biblical prohibition ... [he] proves this from the man (manna) that the Jews ate in the Desert"

4/ quote cont:

"The Torah (Ex. 16:23) forbids cooking the [manna] on Shabbos. However, the [manna] required no preparation–you merely thought what you want and it tasted that way. Clearly, Rav Walkin argues, cooking through thought is biblically forbidden."
5/ Again, I don't actually want to discuss the psak halakha, rather meta-halakha. Specifically: the use of a Midrash (1) literally & (2) in a halakhic discussion.

Rav Walkin takes the Midrashim about manna as gospel, which I would strongly dispute, esp. in halakha.
6/ The chumash is explicit that manna has only one taste (fried dough) and must be manually prepared/cooked. To adopt midrash as fact and then apply it to halakha? That should be out of bounds.

7/ This is not a modern #Literalist phenomenon, though. As I go through dafyomi, I collect these instances of (1) midrash considered literally true and/or (2) applied to halakha. It drives me bonkers every time.
8/ Now, on Shabbat I did use the topic to explore the halakha & hashkafa - medical-halakha & modern tech is my expertise - comparing to pacemakers & hearing aids, both which are universally considered permitted on Shabbat.
9/ The question of passive-electronics on Shabbat has long fascinated me. I claimed 25 years ago that the frum community may need to change our attitude when something like "electronic pants" (in my words) become ubiquitous.
10/ I further discussed the different ways I understood the mechanism of manna. While the chumash limits its fantastic nature, the food is still miraculous and that allows me to be flexible with how it operated, especially on portion size for Shabbat.
11/ In fact, the Midrash's exaggeration of the miraculous nature is textbook #Literalism b/c lemas-wafer style food that arrived via magic, satisfied everyone, would rot if left overnight *except Friday night* is pretty special, but not if your brain needs overwhelming spectacle.
12/ That will be it for now. This is the second of the talks I gave, the first is here:

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More from @JoshuaCypess

3 Feb
1/ Were the Trump (ym'sh) supporters I know always cruel/evil/crazy? IMO, no, and I'd even say to suggest they were has shades of essentialism, an almost biological view of character. Or even physics: that there's potential evil and when it's expressed, it's kinetic evil.
2/ As expected, I see things behaviorally and culturally: they weren't this bad beforehand because:

(a) society kept them in check; Trump (ym'sh) as head of the nation & culture gave permission for previously taboo acts and with the guardrails removed, their impulses went wild.
3/ And (b) as their permission structure/cultural model became threatened, the subconscious recognition that social stigma was about to come crashing down made them more desperate and crazed.

They act and acted like addicts about to lose their fix.
Read 6 tweets
3 Feb
1/ I had three mini-classes on #Beshalach over Shabbat (I'm not trapped in the house with my kids... they're trapped with me, heh) and before it's too far in the rear-view mirror, I'll try to get the ideas down here.
2/ First is on the word "chamushim" in Ex. 13:8. Generally it's defined as "armed" (and there's a famous Midrash that I won't bother to deal with) and this article by the phun philologist Mitchell First discusses the major possibilities
3/ He prefers a definition that makes the word a cognate from Arabic specifically meaning an army in five parts. The sources for this are the BDB, Cassuto, Daat Mikra, and E. Klein. Please see inside for details. It's suggested that this was an 'ancient army form.'
Read 7 tweets
31 Jan
29.01/ Week twenty-nine thread, for Jan. 30-Feb. 5, 2021, begins here. Last week's thread (28.01) linked below.

29.02/ Every once in a while, I let the depraved fatalism of the phrase "boys will be boys" just wash over me...
29.03/ Snow still following here in Central NJ, with some swirling wind, allowing me to use the word "snow squalls" at the breakfast table. My 14yo suggested that if the wind is strong enough to dislodge squirrels, it'd be "squirralls of snow." Yup.
Read 42 tweets
29 Jan
1/ Rabbi Ruttenberg is correct that Purim was the transition point when we all felt we were soon/already under siege (how [un] ironic!).

For me though it's parshat Beshalach, this week, that I constantly go back to in my mindscape of "The Before Times"
2/ It's personal, of course.

Last year, this parsha was the Bat Mitzvah for my niece. My family spent Shabbat in White Plains and the whole experience was special and also super-strange (it was in a Conservative temple so I had to juggle going to early minyan etc)
3/ For the past year of pandemic, whenever my mind travels back to "what was normal" I go to that Shabbat. It was with my in-laws, it was a new community, the temple rabbis and I are friends so that made it even more fun/memorable.
Read 8 tweets
24 Jan
28.01/ Week twenty-eight, January 23-29, starts here. Week 27 (Jan. 16-22) is below.
28.02/ One of my largest lists "News2016," started early in the #TrumpCrisis, has this tagline: "Started for the 2016 election, persists until Trump (ym'sh) is gone"

I don't want to delete the valuable list but I'll change the name/tag to honor my promise
28.03/ My 14yo son's idea for fixing the "worst rule in sports" aka the #NFL #FumbleTouchbackRule: it's a touchback but retained by the offense. So the ball is placed on the opponent 20, but the down is retained.
Read 40 tweets

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