Thursday, February 14, 2008


ok, I read my Wikipedia article about Valentines day, but I still feel I am no wiser about it than before I read it. According to what it states scholars say that Valentines Day is not necessarily connected to the fact that mid-January to mid-February was a time of fertility in the Roman calender. Though on the other hand the only connection between medieval saints named Valentinus and romance seems to be a "modern addition" to some obscure legend, and yet it gained in popularity as a romance-based holiday in Europe since the late medieval times, and greatly in America since the 1840's.

It is interesting to note though, that according to those additional legends, Claudius II made a decree that all young men should be single, and Vanentinus would wed young couples secretly (suggesting that he was no supporter of pre-marital relationships!) ..though, according to the addition on the addition, Valantinus had a crush on Claudius's daughter! ...though according to the addition to the addition to the addition (!), the first Valentine notes were some sort of "kvitlach", (prayer notes)!

In any event, the most likely source for the romantic elements of Valentines Day on all accounts seems to be, of course, way Pagan, and not connected to any saint. They seem rather to be connected to "Lupercalia", in which "many of the noble youths and of the magistrates run up and down through the city naked, for sport and laughter striking those they meet with shaggy thongs. And many women of rank also purposely get in their way, and like children at school present their hands to be struck, believing that the pregnant will thus be helped in delivery, and the barren to pregnancy". Though, of course, that doesn't really account for the romance aspect.

I also found it interesting, though, that in Egypt, many of the youth are getting into Valentines Day, against the will of their elders (mainly because there is a great unemployment rate, and the youth are looking for a way to express their love in public".

Thursday, February 7, 2008

וקראתה בו

There is something which I would have liked to write in this panel a while ago, but didn't get around to, and that is the book "Proust and the Squid" by Maryanne Wolf .

It's subject is a subject which is hard to believe is so overlooked; todays transition from reading words on paper as our main way of taking in information to a more digitalized method. Definitely one of the most important subjects our generation has to face, but does not care enough about to discuss! This is a transition the likes of which hasn't happened since the transition from the spoken word to writing. And this is a problem which also fundamentaly affects orthodox judaism.

It is hard to properly describe how advanced our systems of reading really are, and how far we've come, and how much (as opposed to the view of Socrates) it has positively affected our minds. It is extremely developed compared to the original forms of writing. But today the digital technology available to us has the potential to actually make our brains devolve in the long run! Any information acquired through demonstration, and not through reading will only make us lees intelligent. Most of the things available on the digital media are not educational anyway.

All I can say quickly and offhand here is that we must decide how much we really want the digital media surrounding us to affect our minds. My personal opinion is that a seldom documentary can be useful (in addition to reading) to clarify a subject (though only after attempting to understand through reading).

In yeshivas there is a very strong effort not to 'give in' in regards to reading and understanding. I just read recently that one of the explanations of the Mishna in the second chapter of Avot; "אל תאמר דבר שאי אפשר לשמוע שסופו להשמע" as meaning "don't say that something cannot be understood, if it CAN be understood (with enough diligence). It's really better to struggle through a passage in the Talmud then to rush to some explanation or translation (קודם ראשי ואחר כך רש"י- בפיהם של חכמי מרוקו).

In regards to recorded Drama, especially when some of the content if of questionable ethicallity has been a big question. The Ultra-Orthodox Jewish approach is generally that it is all negative. While the liberal-orthodox and Evangelical Christians for example try to filter out the 'bad' stuff. More research is necessary.