Monday, June 29, 2009

Norah's Purple Bike

When I was a kid, I had a dream one night that my parents had bought me a purple bike. When I got up, I didn't realize it was a dream, so I tore down the stairs and into the kitchen. I wolfed down my breakfast and said "Ok! Can I go ride my purple bike now?!" My mom looked confused and said "What purple bike?" So I reminded her of how she had bought me a purple bike, and we had put it next to the garage last night before I went to bed. She told me that it must have been a dream. Knowing that she was joking, I asked again, and she let me run out to the driveway. I ran next to the garage, and sure enough, there next to the garage, were the garbage cans. Just where they always were. No purple bike. It was a dream all along.

Why am I telling you this? Well, you should know that my friend Annette and her roommate have two cats. When Rach, Norah and I go to their apartment, Norah always runs into their bedrooms, lays on her belly, lifts up the bed skirt, and says "Meow! Meow!" Because the cats always hide from Norah under the bed. Then, this weekend, we went to my sister-in-law's baby shower in Madison at their friend K.C. and Todd's house. K.C. and Todd also own two cats. So, for most of the time that I was there, Norah was running around the house, looking under tables and pointing at curtains saying, "Meow! Meow!" What can I say? The girl likes cats.

So, I'm telling you the story about my purple bike, because ever since Norah woke up this morning, she's been walking around the apartment looking under ever piece of furniture we own saying "Meow! Meow!" And the only explanation I can think of, is that she had a dream last night, that we got a purple cat.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


It's father's day, and I can't help but think of Neda's father and the video of him screaming while his daughter bleeds to death on a street in Tehran. She was shot and killed by a government paramilitary man who was hiding in a nearby building simply because she was in the street, protesting. It is deeply saddening. Now that I have a daughter, I can't help but think of the emotions I would be feeling if I were him. I imagine I would be erupting inside, with nothing to throw my anger on. While I'm not certain what to think of Moussavi, he is not the saint he's being painted by some media outlets, I am glad to see that the people of Iran are proving that the sovereignty of a dictator can be forced by the hand of the people he rules. Maybe, Neda did not die in vain. But no matter what her effect may be on this revolt, I can't help but feel deeply sad for her father on father's day. To think, earlier today, I was sitting at the table sharing my bubble tea with Norah; and this man is half a world away, probably with his daughter's blood still under his fingernails, weeping. Sorry, I don't mean to be ultra dramatic or anything, I just can't stop thinking about it.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Finish one year of Grad school: Check.

I'm done with my first year of Graduate school

And let me say how excited I am to have had the luxury to study this stuff for a whole year. I love my program and love the things I'm studying. I really can't wait for next year to come around so that I can get knee deep in it again, so I'll be working on a paper and brushing up on my German over the summer. I really do love this crap.

Oh, and just so everyone knows, when I got in to take my test today, guess what passage I had to translate? That's right: Genesis 22.

Can I get a "What! What!"

Now... on to video games.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

The Akedah Gen. 22

This 17th Century painting of the Akedah by Caravaggio is my favorite representation of the event because more than any other painting that I know, it shows the fear that Issac must have felt, and the force of Abraham's hand on his neck shows how serious he is about doing it. That, and it looks like the angel is wearing a latex glove. Which is funny.

Tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of our moving to Chicago, and on Monday, I will finish my first year of my Master's program. In honor of both of these, I wanted to post what I think has been the most interesting passage I've examined this year. It is called the Akedah because the verb used to say that Abraham "bound" Issac is עקד (pronounced: ah-KAD). The chapter is incredibly interesting for a number of reasons that I won't go into right now. Instead, I wanted to toot my own horn a bit, and give you my translation of the chapter. Mind you, this is the product of one year's worth of Hebrew, so don't put too much theological weight on this translation, because it's probably wrong in a myriad of ways.

Here you go:

Genesis 22: 1-19
(1) And after these things God tested Abraham. He said to him "Abraham."

Abraham replied "Here am I."

(2) And God said "Take your son, your only one, whom you love, Issac, and go to the land of Moriah. Go up there to offer a burnt sacrifice on one of the mountains that I will say to you.

(3) Early in the morning, Abraham saddled the donkey and he took his two attendants with him, and Issac his son. He split the wood for the burnt offering and he arose and went to the place that God had said to him. (4) On the third day, Abraham lifted his eyes and he saw the place from afar.

(5) Abraham said to his attendants, "You remain here with the donkey, but let the boy and I go over there. We will worship, and then we will return to you."

(6) Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on Issac, his son. He took in his hand the fire and the knife; and they went out, the two of them together.

(7) Issac said to Abraham his father, "My father,"

Abraham replied, "Here am I, my son."

And Issac said "Here is the fire, and the wood, but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?"

(8) Abraham answered "God will see to the sheep for the burnt offering for himself my son." And they went, the two of them together.

(9) They entered the place that God had said to him, and Abraham built an altar there. He arranged the wood, and then he bound (ויעקד) Issac, his son, and placed him on the altar above the wood. Then, Abraham reached out his hand, and took the knife to slaughter his son.

(11) Then, an Angel of the LORD called to him from the sky saying "Abraham! Abraham!"

and Abraham replied "Here am I."

(12) The angel said "Do not reach out your hand to the boy, and do not do anything to him, because now I know that you fear God, because you did not withhold your only son from me. (13) Abraham lifted his eyes, and he saw a single ram stuck in the thicket by its horns. Abraham went, and took the ram, and he offered it as a burnt offering instead of his son. (14) Abraham called that place "`Adonai Yir`eh" [The LORD saw ], which is why it is said today on the mountain "`Adonai Yera`eh" [The LORD is seen].

(15) An angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from the sky (16) saying, "By myself I swear, declares the LORD, that because you did this thing, and did not withhold your only son (17) I will surely bless you and I will greatly increase your offspring so that they are like the stars of the sky, and like the sand that is on the shore of the sea. Your offspring will inherit the gates of his enemies. (18) And by your offspring, all the nations of the world will bless themselves, because you obeyed my voice."

(19) Abraham returned to his attendants and they arose and went together to Beer-Sheba. Abraham dwelt in Beer-Sheba.

There are a few interpretive choices I have made, like saying "Answered" or "replied" instead of just "said" And choosing to include the name of the speaker in some cases where the Hebrew just says "He said" (Not "Abraham answered")

I also must admit that I don't really know the best way to translate verse 14. I have it translated here as saying "That is why it is said today on the mountain, "The LORD is seen" instead of "That is why it is said today in the mountain of the LORD, "He is seen" or "That is why it is said today "On the mountain of The LORD there is sight." all of these translations are possible in the Hebrew, as far as I know, it's a pretty confusing verse becasue certain grammatical constructs are all possible, and they all make sense. So the choice is really based on your historical analysis, and I chose my interpretation because I think this was writen by E in the Northen Kingdom, and therefore would not have worshipped on the Mountain of the LORD in Jerusalem. Of course that doesn't mean this is correct, that's just the reason I did it the way I did.)

I'm sure I'll read this a while later and think, what the heck were you reading? That's not what it says at all!!! But, at any rate, this is what a year of Hebrew got me, and I'm pretty psyched about it.