Shabbat Recap — Blessings, and L’Mitzrayim?

I’m very glad I made it to shul today, despite the horrible raw (and slippery) weather — when I was traversing downtown, a lady slid beside me and almost crashed into me. I’m very glad she didn’t, because then probably both of us would have gone down, and that wouldn’t have been good on a number of counts.

The service was good — I really like the Rosh Chodesh blessing when the rav does it — that man has an exceptional set of pipes, and his voice is particularly well-adapted to Jewish liturgical singing (in the same sense that Nina Simone’s voice is perfect for jazz).

There was also a nice kiddush afterward with smoked salmon, salads, and various other things (hey, I like food as much, maybe more than the next person!), and a technically-meat cake (baked in a meat oven, according to M, the lay kashrut expert). Funnily enough, in the kitchen afterward where I was helping to clean up, M. stopped one of the women from filling up a slow-cooker liner with (even cold) water, on the grounds that you can’t do that on Shabbat. The woman said, “I did not know that.” I said, “Yeah, M, I learnt that from my giant set of books on the halacha of Shabbat, which I’ve read already,” and she said, “You have? Good for you!” Then I said to the other woman, “According to the book, you’re allowed to fill up something to soak it if you’re using the water for other purposes, so you can kind of direct the water into it, but you can’t fill it up directly. You have to sort of do it ‘accidentally-on-purpose.'” They laughed. Go me. I’m learning this stuff!

During the kiddush, we had a guest speaker come in, who happens to be the archivist for the local Conservative congregation (and by extension the whole kehila), and talk about some local Jewish history, particularly pertaining to a landmark legal case here in Canada that helped overturn restrictive covenant deeds (in 1951), where one of the people involved was local. The archivist noted that Mitt Romney’s parents had at one time owned property in the contested development, and someone said, “I guess covenant deeds didn’t exclude Mormons, huh?” and everyone either sort of laughed or went “Ooooh…

The rebbetzin also invited me to come to a “women’s lecture night” that includes a dinner, and said that since I had lost my job, I could pay a donation of whatever I could afford rather than the full price (which is ridiculously cheap at $25; I was expecting it to be at least twice that). I’m going to take that as a step forward in terms of being integrated into the community. It’ll be nice, assuming I’m not living elsewhere by then.

Which brings me to my titular reference (l’Mitzrayim means “to Egypt”). I told the rav that I had lost my job about six weeks ago and that it was looking very likely that I would have to relocate. He said he’d make sure I was referred to another rabbi there (eases my mind) and then gave me a personal insight. He said, (and I think this deserves a really big lehavdil) “It was in G-d’s plan that Joseph went to Egypt, but there was no way Joseph would have gone to Egypt of his own accord. If it had required him to be dragged there in chains, G-d would have caused there to be chains. As it was, the only way Joseph would go there was for there to be a famine… G-d has arranged for your own personal famine and shortage.” That’s not quite his exact words, nor is it the whole thing that he said, but what he said did manage to move me almost to tears. He has quite a talent for that when it comes to me.

I always feel slightly weird emerging back into the “secular world” after one of these powerful experiences. (I actually wish I could just walk home and be alone with my thoughts, although today was really not a good day for me in terms of walking; I had to stop a couple of times and shake out my bad leg, since it seemed to want to be painful and sore. But now is also not the time for me to consider an intra-city relocation. *sigh*)

Then I went home and got under the covers with a couple cats (who follow the lenient ruling regarding pets and Shabbat) and slept until well after motzei. I made Havdala and then ate something, then called my mother, and now I’m writing this and listening to Marvin Gaye.

More days like this, please. Also a new job, while You’re at it. ^_^

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