It’s so cold today. I went food shopping and kept my coat zipped in the store. I bet they can raise their refrigeration temperature on a day like today. Noticing how everyone is bundled, it made me think about how Judaism developed during centuries of cold weather. Or at least the reigning terror of the Ashkenazi world. Yes, the terrroir of Judaism is actually the wilderness of Sinai, and then following, the heated streets and courtyards of Jerusalem (and its wide environs). Not burka-wearing, but wind-blowing sand-blowing cover your eyes and check your SPF heat.
But not a hothouse, like Bnei Brak or Brooklyn.
And not even a temperate climate, like liberal America.
How does living in the cold affect Halachah? And how silly is it, while I’m at it, that the Sephardim caved in and wear the silly hats that Ashkenazim wear?
Except for the chief rabbi–he gets to stay ethnic-looking, even while he gives away his Halachik autonomy.
Here’s an interesting article about one of the ways the Sephardim are losing their identity. I had no idea that their customs were so different, but why would I?
And now for something completely different, by which I mean perhaps, positive, here’s a great post that I highly recommend (I’m just bringing some of it here):
The power of questions
There is a frequently quoted story related by Isadore Rabi, the Jewish Nobel prize winner. When he was asked why he became a scientist, he replied:
“My mother made me a scientist without ever intending it. Every other Jewish mother in Brooklyn would ask her child after school: ‘So? Did you learn anything today?’ But not my mother. She always asked me a different question. ‘Izzy,’ she would say, ‘did you ask a good question today?’ That difference – asking good questions -made me become a scientist!”
In other words, it is asking good questions that makes a good scientist – a curious relentless mind.
Well, we might ask, what character trait, what action or disposition creates a good Rabbi? This is an interesting question, and I am sure that many people will offer an entire range of answers. However, last night I witnessed something that deeply impressed me, which to my mind, shows the making of one excellent Rabbi.