Thursday, November 13, 2008

In which this lazy learner becomes a teacher (eek!)

Start here and work your way up.

I'm not much one for partner dances, not due to sh'mirat n'giah (the prohition against physical contact between men and women not married, or related by blood, to one another), but because spinning makes me dizzy, and partner dances are full of spins. (This does not endear me to my husband, who ends up having to do partner dances with every woman but his wife.) One of my buddies at Israeli folk dancing is also not fond of partner dances, so she and I usually end up sitting out the partner dances together and yakking.

I have no idea how it came about, but one fine day, she started asking me questions about matters Jewish. Next thing you know, it's become a regular "gig"--my buddy actually looks forward to discussing all manner of Jewish topics with me every time we meet at Israeli folk dancing. We've discussed the Agriprocessors kosher meat processor's scandal, and the related topic of what "glatt kosher" means and why there's no such thing as glatt kosher poultry. ("Glatt" means "smooth," and, at least in theory, refers to the lungs of a permissible mammal that does not have even halachically-permissible lesions. The lungs of birds are too small to be checked for lesions.) We talked about why Israelis observe only the first and last days of holiday as full holidays, whereas, in the Diaspora, we observe the first two and last two days as full holidays. (In the days before a set calendar, Jews who were too far from Jerusalem were not sure which day had been declared the first of the month, and, therefore, weren't sure on which day the holidays actually started, and, naturally, stiff-necked people that we are, we've maintained the two-days tradition even though we've had a fixed calendar for ,what, a thousand years now?) We've talked about free will, where G-d was during the Holocaust (giving us strength), and whether Judaism is more trouble than it's worth (depends on your attitude--my favorite biblical quote, from Psalm 100, is "Ivdu et Hashem b'simchah, Serve G-d with joy.").

This interesting situation reminds me of something that sometime-commenter The Rabbi's Husband once said (more or less--this isn't exactly a word-for-word quote): Among non-Orthodox Jews, I'm sometimes considered relatively learnèd. I have often found that to be the case among those who, like me, were not blessed with a Jewish-day-school or yeshiva education. But it's still a strange feeling for a lazy learner who's largely self-taught to find herself being considered a teacher.

Hmm, wonder what we'll talk about tonight?


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