One more crazy jewish thing

Last night, one of my roomates came back at 2 am a little tipsy.

We were all up, and ended up sitting around the table eating cracker, hummus, hot peppers and apples. Yeah, it was a strange combination, but hey, we’re college kids now.

One of my roomates is not Jewish. She’s really respectful of the three of us, and also really curious about our religous practices. Last night, we were discussing plans for Succot, and the drunk one said she was going back to Baltimore to help her family build the succah. The non-Jewish one asked “what do you build?” This lead to a conversation about the practices of succot, explained by the drunk one.

Here’s what she said:

“We build these cabana style huts in our yards. For 8 days we eat only in the huts. We also take these branches and an upside down lemon and shake them around inside the hut. Then, at the end of the holiday, we have a thing where we hit the branches on the ground. Its alot of fun.”

If that doesn’t make you think Judaism is a cult, you should see us all daven Maariv behind the library each night.


Flowers, Brain, and Jesus

At the Hillel welcome back night, one of the activities was to paint flowerpots, and then plant flowers in them. On my pot I wrote something which Lissy Isaacson said in 8th grade when throwing ideas around as to what to write in the yearbook. We didn’t end up using it, but for some reason, I have no idea why, the quote has stuck with me.

“Germinate Your Mind.”

I was looking at my flowers recently and realized that theres more of a connection between flowers and the human mind than one would think of at first glance. Theres the obvious one that just like flowers need outside stimuli to grow properly, our brains need to be excercised regularly as well.

But theres another one that I just thought of.

I have noticed that I need to rotate my plant daily, because the flowers grow towards the sun, so they seem to lean over towards the window. Rotating them balances out the leaning, and makes them grow upright.

Just like flowers, our minds tend to lean towards one way (presumably the way we have been taught previously), and, just like flowers, we need to be turned regularly to be able to view things from an objective perspective.

A personal example: I went to school at relatively right wing Jewish high schools, and then I went to a pretty right wing seminary in Israel for a year. Then I returned to America, to the University of Maryland. I’m taking Jewish History, and it’s taught from an extremely left wing perspective. The Proffessor is actually really good about presenting all opinions. Recently he was talking about Bayit Rishon and Bayit Sheni, and he said sometimes he gets the question “Is there a third temple?” The answer, he said, was “No, unless you are one who is of the opinion that the Messiah will return and come build it.” He said it in a way that implied that was a preposterous thing to think , and the class laughed politely at this.

Well, some of us are of the opinion that the Messiah will come and redeem us all from our long exile. However, I didn’t realize exactly how crazy this sounded untill this class. I mean, when discussing Christian theology in High School, no one could understand how Christians could actually believe that Jesus would come back to Save them. However they could readily accept that Meshiach will come [a second time, as the first time will have failed] to Save them.

As the Adderabbi once said, “I have often pondered what would happen if Mashiach comes, and his name is Jesus.”

Amazing Shabbat #1

I must talk about my amazing shabbos!

I honestly felt like I was back in Israel, minus the Jerusalem stone buildings and of course the kedushas haaretz blah bla blah. BUT…Hillel is amazing. Maybe not in other schools, but the Maryland Hillel is amazing. Friday night, theres four different minyanim-Reforn, Conservative, Orthodox Traditional, and Orthodox Carlebach. By far, the largest minyan was the carlebach. We sang EVERYTHING! Some of the tumes sounded a little, well, slow, sort of reminding me of gospel music, but I guess that’s pretty characteristic of Carlebach. Then we moved on to dinner, which was pretty good. It was PACKED. There were tables all over the dining room, the hallway, the conference room, and the rec room (which is where the Carlebach minyan davened.) You could barely move. I think that someone told me there were 400 people there. Imagine a mid-size house with 400 people in it.

Yeah, it was that packed.

If I didn’t mention it already, the singing was incredible. You could feel the intense ruach in that room. And it was cool because it wasn’t just frum, orthodox kids who were singing. It was everyone. I was sitting next to a boy who was theologically conservative. That’s cool. I mean, I am not theologically conservative, but I respect ppl who are conservative when its for theological reasons. I don’t think he’s a heretic *. He simply thinks that halacha can change with the times. And to some extent, it can. We believe that too. For example, the Jews at matan torah ate chicken and milk together. That was their halacha. The Jews of today do not eat milk and chicken together. That is our halacha. But it is based on the same Torah. And we serve the same G-d. And whats the difference between following divergent opinions when it comes to…how long to wait btw meat and milk, and if one is allowed to drive to shul on Shabbat if the alternative is to stay at home all day. There are actually some opinions which say that electricity is not kindling a flame, and therefore allowed on Shabbat. The vast majority of jews are not of that opinion, but if one is, he is not a kofer in my eyes *

We had lunch, which was just as beautiful as dinner (maybe 200 ppl as opposed to 400) and later in the day there was a womens discussion shiur. All the girls were really smart and had very profound things to say. I felt out of place, and embarrassed when the only time I spoke was when the woman giving the shiur quoted a Friends episode and asked if she was getting all the details right. (she wasn’t). There was supposed to be a shiur on Rav Kook before that, but I got the times mixed up and was upstairs learning in the Beit Midrash while that was going on. I got 2 perekim of nach yomi done, and that’s really good cuz I finally just sat down and figured out where exactly I was up too. So I missed the shiur, but atleast I was still learning, and I put into motion my future learning. Mitzvah gorreret mitzvah.

*I met a girl there who’s mom converted and decided to name her Kefirah. She didn’t know it meant heretic when she gave her the name. I wonder what would happen if this girls decided to become a theologically conservative jew and drive to shul on shabbat?

So I decided to make a blog

I’ve had blogs in the past, but they’ve been kind of, well….uninteresting. My problem with blogging is that sometimes I feel compelled to post something, not because I feel that it’s something the world desperately needs to hear, but rather, because my blog was looking kinda empty that day. Well, this is different. This is sort of an online diary. I’m not planning on telling my friends about this, but if they find me, I won’t deny it (i promise ;). Anyways, the first post is something that I wrote my first shabbat at Maryland, a few weeks ago. I feel its a good way to open my blogary with.