The Observant Astronomer

The passing scene as observed by an observant Jew, who daylights as an astronomer.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Breakfast at The Observer's

My young son insists that I prepare his breakfast in the morning, since only I know exactly how much milk to add to his Rice Crispies. And how to mix them properly. So I asked him the other day what he was going to do when he got to yeshivah and I wouldn't be there to make him breakfast.

"I won't eat", he replied.

That is one stubborn customer.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Watching the war

I don't know whether I'm going to be commenting much on the war Israel finds itself in, but I can't let it go any longer without at least acknowledging it. I've been following events from The Muqata and Israellycool, both of whom are live blogging the war. They deserve our gratitude for their dedication to informing us out here. Let's hope and pray that they don't need to do this much longer.

Monday, July 10, 2006

The Glorious 17th

For what it's worth, the 230th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence is this Thursday, on the Jewish calendar anyway. Mind you, that's the same day Moses came down from Mt. Sinai with the first set of tablets and got slightly upset with what had been going on in his absence. Make of it what you will.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Encounter on a Bus

Apropos of parshas Balak, I discovered today that while prophecy may have ceased amongst the Jews, it is apparently still extant among the non-Jews.

When I got on the bus this morning, I should have realized something was going on. The woman in front in the black bowler and yellow tee-shirt with the hand-written slogan "Jesus was such a nice Jewish boy" should have been a dead give-away. But I moved on to the back of the bus, as is my habit, and sat down at one end of one of the long lengthwise benches and pulled out my pocket Tehillim (Psalms) to say some on the ride into town.

Before long I've been poked on my arm. The nicely dressed woman at the other end of the bench has a question for me.

"Is that Hebrew?", she asks, pointing at the Tehillim.

"Yes", I reply.

"Are you Jewish?"


"Jesus Christ was Jewish," she informs me.

"Um," I respond politely.

A half-page later I get to hear the prophecy.

"You know what God told me at 8:30 this morning?"


"He said Jesus Christ is back, somewhere in the Middle East."

Mind you, he doesn't seem to brief them very well.

"What's that your reading?" she asks, a page or so later.

"Psalms", I reply.

"Is it true the Bible was originally written in Hebrew and Arabic?"

"Just Hebrew," I reply.

"Not Hebrew and Arabic?" she persists. It's possible she's gotten Arabic and Aramaic mixed up, but, for the sake of a few passages here and there, I'm not going to go into it.

"No, just Hebrew."

After another chapter, she informs me, "I like Jewish people. My husband was Jewish. He was so delicious." I don't think she meant that literally.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Virtual Blogging

Over the past two months of silence, I've written several fascinating posts. Well, I thought they were anyway. The problem is that they never got passed down my fingers into actual text, having remained at the more rarified level of my thoughts. And, having thought about them long enough, I got them out of my system with nary a trace left behind. Brilliant turns of phrase, cogent arguments, revealing anecdotes, not even lost to the bit bucket, but just words that never made it outside my head. Which is fine for me, but what good is it to you, my ten loyal visitors? So let me try and resurrect one or two of those posts, or download to my fingers something else new. Especially for those of you taking a break on your way to Arcturus. Mind you, there's lots of old stuff to look at while you're waiting, most of which doesn't even have Hebrew in it.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Going from Here to There

Google won't let you do it, but will. It's an 18 hour drive, although it takes a bit of time to figure it out. I couldn't get it to give me walking directions, though.

(N.B. The result is browser dependant. It'll work under Firefox, but not with Safari 1.3. Leave a comment if you like on which browsers it works with.)