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PSALM11918.ORGOur blog provides the Psalm11918.org contributors with a channel for less formal communications with our readers.  Some of our blog entries are about personal events while others are just plain silly and fun. 

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There are three common cycles for reading the Torah:

  • The annual
  • The triennial
  • The linear triennial

In the annual cycle, the entire Torah (Genesis through Deuteronomy) is read weekly over the course of one year.  This is most widely used Torah reading cycle and is used in synagogues throughout the world.

In the triennial cycle, the entire Torah is read weekly over the course of three years.  The readings are aligned to the annual cycle (both the annual and triennial readings are on the same Parashah each week) but smaller portions are read in the triennial cycle.  Thanks go to the Jewish Theological Seminary for the chart!

In the linear triennial cycle, the entire Torah is read weekly over the course of three years but in a sequential order that does not align to the annual synagogue readings (the annual and linear triennial readings are only the same one week every three years).

I recently received an email that caused me to reexamine the matter of Easter eggs:

"Easter eggs are an important part of Easter and no celebration is possible without these beautifully crafted eggs. But, how did Easter eggs start? While there are claims that Easter eggs have a pagan origin, sufficient evidence has not been found to support these claims. It was in the eighteenth century when the pagan link between Easter eggs and a goddess named Ostara, or Eostre in German, was established through Jakob Grimm."


I wonder why he tried to link Easter eggs and a pagan goddess together?

 

This was my response:

The source of that quote is incorrect.  I think some folks have gotten tired of having their noses rubbed in the facts and they are pushing back with counter claims to ease their consciences.

Jacob Grimm (of Grimms' Fairy Tales fame) is not the earliest source connecting Easter eggs to pagan origins.  Although he is commonly quoted, the earliest source is "Saint" Bede, who lived in the 7th century.  Bede is the only native of Great Britain to ever be recognized by a Pope as a "Doctor of the Church" (so he's kind of a big deal among Catholic academics).  He had access to a number of earlier sources dating back to the 3rd and 4th centuries that are no longer available to us today.  Bede describes Eostre (whose name gives us both Ostara and Easter in English) as a goddess with fertility associations, which connects her to both rabbits and eggs (pagan symbols of fertility).

On Eostre/Eastre:

Easter, from Old English eastre, Easter, from Germanic *austrōn (meaning "dawn") which derives from Indo-European root aus- (meaning "to shine")1  The modern English word "east" also derives from this root.

The name Ēostre has the same linguistic origins with numerous other dawn goddesses found among Indo-European peoples. These linguistic connections lead to the reconstruction of an Indo-European dawn goddess; the Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture details an Indo-European "goddess of the dawn" that is supported by the evidence of cognate names and the similarity of mythic representation of the dawn goddess among various Indo-European groups.  All of this evidence permits us to posit an Indo-European *haéusōs 'goddess of dawn' who was characterized as a "reluctant" bringer of light for which she is punished. In three of the Indo-European language stocks (Baltic, Greek and Indo-Iranian), the existence of a Indo-European 'goddess of the dawn' is given additional linguistic support in that she is designated the 'daughter of heaven'".2

On painted eggs:

Noruz is the Persian New Year which has been celebrated for over 3,000 years and predates the reign of Cyrus the Great, whose rule marks the beginning of Persian history.  Haft Seen is a traditional table setting for Noruz which includes greenery and decorated eggs (for fertility).  In modern Persia (Iran), the colored eggs are placed on the Haft Seen table and mothers eat one egg for each child she has.

On bunnies:

In some early cultures, the nocturnal hare was actually considered a symbol of the moon. In addition to feeding at night, the hare's gestation period is approximately 28 days -- the same as a full lunar cycle.  In European folklore, the rabbit connection to eggs is one based on confusion.  In the wild, hares birth their young in what is known as a "form" -- basically, a nest for bunnies.  When the hares abandoned a form, it was sometimes taken over by plovers, who would then lay their eggs in it.  The locals would then find eggs in the hare's form.3

The character of the "Easter bunny" first appeared in 16th-century German writings, which said that if well-behaved children built a nest out of their caps or bonnets, they would be rewarded with colored eggs.  This legend became part of American folklore in the 18th century, when an influx of Germans emigrated to the U.S.4

Today, Easter is a huge commercial venture with Americans spending over $18 billion in 2017.5

And the last time I checked, Easter, Easter bunnies, and Easter eggs still aren't found anywhere in the Bible. :)

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Footnotes

1. The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots, Calvert Watkins, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2000, taken 4/15/2017 from https://books.google.com/books?id=4IHbQgz1nZYC  [back]
2. Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture, J.P. Mallory, Douglas Q. Adams, Taylor & Francis, 1997, pages 148-149 [back]
3. Taken 4/15/2017 from ThoughtCo.com [back]
4. Taken 4/15/2017 from ThoughtCo.com [back]
5. Taken 4/15/2017 from http://www.nbcnews.com/business/consumer/americans-will-spend-how-much-easter-candy-year-n745956  [back]

Recently, Merriam Webster's Word of the Day was circumlocution:

1: the use of an unnecessarily large number of words to express an idea
2: evasion in speech

 

Although M-W's definition specifies "the use of an unnecessarily large number of words," there are some situations where it is helpful...or even holy.

Fellowship Finder was created as a free resource to help individuals find fellowship with like-minded believers all over the world. The goal is to help followers of Yeshua, the Messiah of Israel, find fellowship in communities who will support and strengthen their faith and encourage them in their Torah walk.

A friend of mine recently asked if I had ever heard the claim that one of the Hebrew names of G-d (שַׁדָּי shaddai) meant "many-breasted one" or that this name revealed the female/goddess aspect of G-d.  I had never heard anything like it, so I investigated this idea and (not surprisingly) discovered it has some severe flaws.

 

Problem #1 is Language

The substance of this claim is rooted in the idea that shaddai stems from the Hebrew word שַׁד (shad).  While shad does mean "breast", shad is a masculine Hebrew noun that does not carry the same predominantly feminine connotation that it does in modern Western culture.  For those unfamiliar with human anatomy, men have breasts, too, albeit of different form and function.  But that's not even the problem. 

The word shaddai doesn't stem from the root shad, it stems from shadad (שָׁדַד) which means to be burly and (in a figurative sense) powerful.  How can we be sure?  Let's examine history.

Torah Portion

ויחי (Vayechi)

 

 

or view this week's triennial cycle reading.

Today is

Yom Sh'lishi, 10 Tevet, 5779

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

 

Learn more about this date in history.