Tuesday, July 31, 2012

End of Session 1...

Did I mention the whirlwind?  I had a nice low-key Shabbat this week.  Services, hanging out with Brent and his friends.  It was all good stuff.  I made a killer barley and rice cholent for Friday evening.  YUM!  Sorry, I forgot to take a picture before Shabbat started.  Sorry.  It can and will be made again.  I do have other variations on that theme.

I will start with a complete and total מה זה???  Take a look at the picture and tell me.  I have no clue.  I was just walking around the Shuk.

Also, I had another just odd incident.  Apparently, Israelis have decided I am the person to ask for directions.  Thankfully, we learned directions this week!  .היא לו מתברת אנגלית  Yet, I was able to assist.  I have spent less than a month in total of my life in Jerusalem and apparently I am the person to ask for directions.  Americans pick me out as American real quick, apparently I look Israeli to Israelis though since I am being asked for directions.

So this week was yet more learning.  In terms of Shacharit, I try to make it as much as possible.  I may be late on occasion, but I do try and make it there.  It is just some days I need the extra sleep since I am just so mentally exhausted and others I cannot pull myself together in time.  The intention is there though.

We did have one absolutely amazing experience.  We went down to the Masorti Kotel, also known as Robinson's Arch one morning for Shacharit.  Click here to learn more about Robinson's Arch.  There was a walking tour that I really wanted to go on that morning, of course I could not force myself to wake up by 5:30 to get down in time.  Shame.  On a spiritual level for me, I find it much more meaningful than the Kotel. I really dislike the whole separation bit.  It really bothers me on a moral and religious level.  Not to mention I am quite fond of several female Clergy and future Clergy.  I have learned so much from them and credit them for helping me find my way religiously.

That is why I went to Women at the Wall for Rosh Chodesh.  Men function as moral support, which I am happy to provide.  I was able to witness an amazing service and after had a nice morning with a cold Orange Juice with Yeshiva friends.  It was an amazing way to end the week.

Now that we discussed other things, it is now time for Ulpan.  It is a mighty struggle.  I consume hours reviewing.  It can be frustrating, but I am pushing myself through and keeping up.  I will maintain this of course.  We are getting to some really useful stuff.  I am actually understanding numbers.  It makes the aforementioned Shuk so much easier to navigate.  I will continue my learning process for three more weeks and then I don't know.  I certainly cannot replace Nitza.  She is the best!  I have friends who have graciously volunteered to help me continue my Hebrew learning, but if I wish to achieve what I want I need a class.

So I make a humble request to American Jewish University back in Los Angeles, can there be a more than one day a week Hebrew class?  As essentially the only community Ulpan in Los Angeles, I looked into your continuing education classes, but the Beginner's Level 2 class accomplished in 12 weeks what we achieved in two and a half days.  At that rate it would take over a year to get through the ulpan book and we are almost halfway through after the first session.  I truly wish to learn Hebrew and achieve fluency and I will never achieve it at the pace your classes proceed at.  Nitza, you don't want to come to LA for a while do you?

Well, Tefllah concluded with a great overview of High Holidays.  Why things are the way they are actually make sense now!  We took an overview of the Rosh Hoshanna Morning Service, and being the longest now makes sense why it is so long.  The repetition of the Musaf service is source of the bulk of the addition.  For those who know a Traditional Saturday morning service, it turns a 10-15 minute Musaf into an hour or more.  You know that one part where you sit there for an hour seemingly listening to the Hazzan/Cantor?  That's it!  Why is this that way you ask? Lets review:

  • The Amidah itself is not particularly longer, it just just different.
  • There are a large quantity of addition piyutim (poems that date to the middle ages)  Hence, this is why you hear Aleinu more than once.
  • Of course everyone's favorite, the blasting of the Shofar.
Now we move to Tanakh.  Finally, Solomon builds the temple that David was promised that he could build.  He gives his great speech and the big guy does his thing ass well.  He fills his presence into the sanctuary of his new digs and kicks out the priests.  Solomon gives his great speech and of course uses it to solidify his power.  The Israelites did want a king, be careful what you ask for.  Not that the kings made the situation any better than it was before.  Most of the Kings decide to go off and worship other things and you know who wasn't terribly pleased.  I wouldn't be either mind you.  On Tuesday, we read about one king who tries to set things straight and was successful.  Poor Hezikiah, you do so well yet your son is just a crooked as the rest.  By the time the next King who actually does what he is supposed to turns around, it is too late.  Josiah fails to head off the destruction of Jerusalem.  At least he doesn't  get to watch.  For me the big finish comes in Jeremiah Chapter 7.  Here everyone is thinking because Jerusalem has been spared repeatedly while the countryside is ravaged, it is untouchable.  Is it, is it really?  Does the big guy really need a Temple, or is it just for us?  

And there you have it, the Temple was built and always was for us.  For me, that is a lesson that is very expandable.  Is it too much to say that the whole point of the Torah, all of it is for our sake and not for his/hers sake?  I leave it to you to ask that question for yourself.  It is an important one to ask, why are things the way they are whether they be Jewish traditions or any other religion.  What is the point?

I will now get off my soapbox.  Torah study is now complete.  Am I a master Torah chanter who learn a whole Parsha in a week?  I don't think so.  Do I have the fundamentals to transition from recordings, yes.  Will I require more help from people to completely master the technique, yes.  If I am to get to the point of learning a substantial amount in a short time it will of course require much practice.

Now in terms of Nusach, I feel comfortable now with doing a Weekday Mincha.  My only problem now is that a Shaliach Tsibur has to actually do the prayers for the one's who cannot.  My problem is, I take forever to get through the prayers.  That is the only thing holding me back from leading a Mincha here at the Yeshiva.  I want to do it right.  It is important to do such things right.

So that is Session 1, Session 2 GO!

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