Well, I finally made it back to shul this week and got to talk to the rabbi. He thinks it’ll be three to four months before I can start my conversion classes formally. This is actually not as bad of a thing as it sounds, because it’ll give me time to plow through all the reading material and take notes and write down questions and suchlike. It’s all good. Time is time. Plus, it’ll give me more time to save up money so I can make a move to the Little Israel neighbourhood.
Shul was amazing. The rabbi usually gives a dvar Torah in the middle of the service, or an “insight,” as he calls them. This week, he talked about the phrase “Mi borei ele,” or “Who created this?” from the parsha. He talked about anagrams of מי (mi) and אלה (ele, “this”; “these” in Modern Hebrew), which, from my perspective as a language geek, was absolutely fascinating. The glitter from my eyes might have been a trifle distracting, though. It was almost as though he’d written it with me in mind! (Not true, but hey.)
Also, he gave the blessing for Rosh Chodesh Av. Av is a solemn month, marked by the fast day of Tisha B’Av, which commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples, among other things — it’s a really bad day in Jewish history. So as the rabbi said, the blessing had to be extra-powerful to see us all through. Well, I think he managed. I know a few things about vocal music, having done to Ontario Conservatory Grade VIII vocals myself, and that man has a fine set of pipes. Very reminiscent of the late great Jewish rabbi and vocalist Shlomo Carlebach, actually. And this blessing had, as they say in baseball terms, mustard on it. The shul walls practically leaned in as the rabbi poured all his energy into singing the prayer. He filled the entire sanctuary (and probably beyond) with his voice, and it felt like a powerful beam of intention was going straight up into the heavens.
I literally got chills. Wow.
I hope to have many more Shabbats like that one.
I don’t think I will be fasting on Tisha B’Av this year, because it falls on a Monday/Tuesday, and I will still have to work (that “furtiveness” thing again), but I may do something (like eat vegan for the day or something) to compensate.
— make it to shul
— light a candle and say the brachot
— not write anything
— get my Shabbat timer working properly
— not use the computer
— mostly manage to avoid tearing toilet paper (except once)
— remember to say brachot before eating, and Grace After Meals
— make an abbreviated Havdalah
— not use any hot water
I did not:
— make candle-lighting on time (“furtiveness” strikes again)
— manage to completely avoid turning on lights (I forgot once — this should change once I have my own place and can tape the light switches until I have better habits)
— eat any bread
— stay off the telephone (I have got to figure out something to do in the “witching hour” between the time I wake up after my post-shul-and-Shabbat-lunch afternoon nap and dinnertime, when I have read everything I feel like reading and everything)
— refrain completely from cooking, as I forgot and sliced raw eggplant into a stir-fry I was reheating
plus the usual “fixtures.” I also had to wash my hair shinui, as my scalp was itching terribly after I got home.
All in all, not a bad job for bli neder.