Wednesday, June 28, 2023

ADD made me the kind of Jew that I am

This post is dedicated to my long-time readers--if there are any left--who asked why I was always complaining that I was an am ha-aretz (Jewishly-illiterate Jew) and asking for explanations rather than trying to catch up on all the learning that I hadn't had an opportunity to do as a child.


Some years ago, our son gave me an “armchair diagnosis,” telling me that he thought I had a mild case of Attention Deficit Disorder.  I think he’s right—I’m easily distracted, and find multi-tasking difficult. 

That’s a problem for a Jew.

Pick up any volume of the Talmud, turn it to any page, and you’ll see a “primary” text only a few lines long surrounded by a page and a half of commentaries, if not more.  It’s impossible for me to focus on such a written jungle—texts that aren’t “linear” distract me.

The same thing is true of studying Torah using a multi-volume text, where three lines of Torah ShehBichtav (the Written Law) are surrounded by Rashi, Rambam, and company, literally centuries worth of commentaries.

That’s why I describe myself as “a p’shat kind of person.”  My way of reading the parashot (weekly Torah/Bible readings) is to look at the written text directly and draw my own conclusions.  I joke that I can spot a midrash from a mile away.  😊

But there’s one area of Jewish tradition that’s almost completely linear—you can ignore any commentary or midrashim with impunity.  And that area is tefillah, prayer.

I’m just a Hebrew School grad with a limited knowledge of Hebrew (which I’ve found challenging to learn).  I had to teach myself how to daven in Hebrew—I prayed almost exclusively in English until I was in my early twenties.  Learning to pray in Hebrew has been my Jewish project for a good chunk of my life.  You can read about my prayer-learning project in my Monday, July 22, 2019 post, Learning, the hard way, or learning from the inside out: An am haaretz teaches herself to davven

Some folks focus on learning.  I’ve never been able to do that because non-linear learning is a major challenge for me.  So I’ve made teaching myself to pray my way to be a Jew.

Friday, June 23, 2023

Parashat Korach, 5784/2023 thoughts: And you thought *synagogue* politics were rough! 😮

Here are my thoughts from Tuesday, June 27, 2017:
Here are some thoughts based on my husband's reading:
Back in Temple times, there were two different factions of priests. One faction considered themselves the descendants of Aharon/Aaron--some call them the Aaronite Priests. The other faction considered themselves the descendants of Moshe/Moses--some call them the Mushite Priests. Unfortunately, the Mushites backed the wrong son of David HaMelech/King David, and when Shlomo HaMelech/King Solomon ascended the throne, he expelled the Mushites from the Bet HaMikdash/Holy Temple in Jerusalem. They survived, however, to write much of Sefer Devarim/the Book of Deuteronomy, the only book of the Torah in which priests are described as Kohanim B'nei Levi, the Priests Sons of Levi--clearly, they did not believe that only descendants of Aaron could be priests. I think one might make a reasonable case that the story of Korach's rebellion was an attempt by the Aaronite priests to discredit the Mushites by portraying them as rebels against G!d's will. Zeesh, at least when you get into a feud at synagogue, everyone lives to tell the tale!

Thursday, June 08, 2023

Climate change hits home :(

My eyes have been irritated since yesterday. I went straight home after physical therapy yesterday instead of going shopping because I was coughing even though I was wearing a face-mask.  😦 I guess it's the east coast's turn.  😟  My sincerest sympathies to the people of Quebec, and wherever else these (or other) wildfires are burning. 😢  Yesterday, the air quality in New York City was in the Hazardous zone.  And here's the cause.

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