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Running on Jewish Time

Friday, December 30, 2005

In Praise of My Teachers

Too many people have told me lately about those who write the word 'Rabbi' in front of their name who don't deserve the title...

So this is praise of my rabbis, none of whom do or will ever bear that title, but are truly my teachers.

In praise of my teacher...

She can take a single pasuk, and turn it, the light of comprehension winking through each facet at you, and delight in it, while frying shnitzel at 2 A.M. on a Thursday night.

She learns and lives what she learns. Reading Yeshaya sing of the Shechina embracing B'nei Yisrael as she bounces her own two year old on her knees.

A intellectual woman with no time to learn, learns her own life, kashas on her actions, proofs from their consequences, carrying continual conversation with G-d on the nature of existence as she tries to understand her own. There is no distance between that which she thinks and that which she is.

and with all this still has time to talk with a homesick eighteen year old who hangs out on her couch into the late hours of the night.

In praise of my teacher....

She watches and observes, gently shaping the world around them, cultivating little minds, balancing a entire class, effortlessly, dancing through the demands.

So practical, so pragmatic. The steady keel is the middle of a thousand dramas. So very normal.

The greatest plate spinner of them all, a dozen in the air, touching one here, tapping another there, steadying, maintaining and admist all the activity and noise, is the steady busy silence of human beings growing.

In praise of my teacher...

She is quiet and thoughtful. She focuses on a single person at a time, more than that is too distracting. She watches their face, their posture, their words. She hears volumes in their silences.

She thinks before she speaks, and often smiles and stays silent and lets other storm and rage as she queitly fixs the those very things.

She is over 50 years old and still willing to go back to second grade to learn hebrew properly.

In praise of my teachers....

all of these women have hard lives, but would be surprised to hear that they do.
all of these women have accomplished so much, but all have so much more they want to do.
all of these women live the Torah they've learnt without pretension or great demonstration.

These are women who love chesed, do justice and walk humbly with Hashem their G-d.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

A Meditation on Fuzzy Slippers

It seems everybody is feeling sick and dull and altogether not their perky happy self.

I, on the other hand, have fuzzy slippers.

Yes I have a cold, a runny drippy nasty cold, but I have fuzzy slippers also and hot coaco and a very cute two year old who is happily destroying my catalogs as I drop them on the floor.

I could mediate on how miserable having a cold is, and how horrible the cold rain is, and the grey sky. But I'd rather think about my slippers.

They're brown and warm and lined with shearling and they make me smile and feel warm.

I'm too tired and slightly ill to be profound and thougtful today, so my insight of the moment is find your own particular small pleasure and enjoy it.

A warm and fuzzy Chanukah

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

All the Small Things

If there was some evil arch-nemisis out there, who is soley responsible for the untold misery, affliction and death in this world and said villian has a neck, I would already be swinging the sword through it, kli gever or not.

If there was some great of act of self sacrefice that would bring peace and knowledge of G-d to the entire world, I'm so there.

Behalotcha et ha'nerot....
G-d, I want to give something to You, give from the depths of my heart, from the root of my being, something that will shake the world.

and You tell me, what You want, is to take the light from a constant flame and light six more little lights every day of my life.

1000 Unique Hits

I would like to take an opportunity to thank all the spambots out there who made this moment possible.

and sincerely thank all those who read and comment.

Freilechen Chanuakah

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

On the Wisdom of the Greeks

[Note: an appropriate line of inquiry for a Jew studying in a instition which in its very name and architecture is all to reminiscent of the oppressor of the current holiday]

I spend most of my time studying a discipline that is a direct inheritor of the physicality and philosophy of the Helenized world, that discards everything that cannot be measured or quanitified. Reduces the vast expanse of the universe into the ticking clockwork of Newtonian law.

I watch the Religous world and the Orthodox world in particular argue with passion and abandon the issues of free will and determinism, quantum and continumum, secular and devine.
A student of both, I work throught the detailed mechanics, doggedly isolating the answers amid a pleathorea of details, and paitently reducing to the elegant and simple thought hidden at the root.

With every new idea, new line of thought, working through the logic, testing cases, tearing the thought down and rebuilding it again and again.

I think and speak, in equations, in pasukim. I cannot tell you if quantum allows for free will, I haven't done the math. I do not know if the world was created in six days, I haven't yet completely learnt through the first thirty one pasukim of breasheit yet.

Does Science and Torah contradict?

Don't know, still working on it.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

It Starts In Despair.

The story starts with despair.

The kings are gone. Their crown taken by invaders. Their heirs refuse to reclaim it.
The prophets are silent. The devine inspiritation lost. Their children do not learn their words.
The learned men teach to empty rooms. The words echo. Their students have left for universities.

The holy place defiled, the convenant banned, the new moon forgotten.... and in the dark arid,rocky hills, a few men sit.
"Let's fight."
"Ha.There are tens of thousands of them. We'll all get killed."
"If this is the future, what are we living for?"
"It's not your life to throw away."
"Life without Torah isn't life."

The Chashmonayim never intended to win. It was a suicide mission. But what other choice was there?

To hide and watch the Torah be forgotten among its own people, and watch as their own numbers are slowly decimated, until the Greeks finally killed the last of them.

So they fought.............and they won. So they fought again... and won again.
and fought, desperate, bloody, sucidal battles because against the greatest empires in the region what other kind are there?

and then they really won. Amid the ruins of their own holy place, of the building in which they all as children, remembered full of sacrefices and songs, prayer and purity.

They searched for a light, a little bit of oil, that had remained free of these invaders, pure from their touch. Even if it was still permissable according to the written law.

This war was not about the written law. This war was about the law that lived in the people, that rung in their voices, when the singer and the song, the poet and the poem, the man and the mefaresh were one and the same. The one that they would die rather than let languish and slowly extinguish.

they found one in a dark corner, and made a great light.

On Labels

NerdTests.com User Test: The Orthodoxy  Test.

A demonstration of the futillity of labeling

No Sabbath for You!

[Note: Installment the Second of Masmida's adventures in the land of higher education]

At the beginning of my college career, there was................ the orientation, welcome to your major class. Naturally the most convenient time was, Friday afternoon from 4:00 - 6:00 PM. Required.

and so I went to the secretary,
who sent me to the department head,
who sent me to the provost,
who sent me to the professor,
who happened to be Muslim.

and so I found myself sitting politely, listening to a lecture on one's personal decisions and values, and how every one of us has to decide what's more important in life, and well, his holy day in fact Friday. and on and on and on.

As I listened, I must admit, I smirked. The idea of some silly class that this farce of a bureauracy requires for every major as more important than my Sabbath, was simply too deliciously absurd to be completely serious.

I'm afraid I spaced out a bit in the middle, wondering at this world full of people who live in a time full of being well... productive and never take breaks. A professor who worked every sabbath of his life.

The long pause snaps my attention back. He repeats the question, will I be attending class. I give him my most brilliant smile and tell I appreciate his concern and that I will be happy to tape lectures and copy notes and contact each professor and hand in work early ecetera, ecetera ecetera but I'm afraid I will be missing all classes after the clocks change. Flash another smile.

He pauses, unsure that he's really understood what I've said. Then he harummphed and said, "well of course, but....." and we arranged exactly what I would be working on instead.

"Between me and You, G-d, this day is a sign forever"

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Marrying Very Young

How old was Yehuda when he became a grandfather?

Before you click next indulge me with a bit of mental arithmatic:

Yehuda's ageYosef's age
Yakkov marries Rachel and Leah
Yehuda is born(approximately)
Yosef is born*
Yosef is sold
22 years elaspe**
Yehuda and his son Peretz and grandsons come down to Egypt with everyone else
What makes the last statement really odd is if Tamar was married to Yehuda's grown son and then he dies, his younger brother dies and then its only his youngest brother who is too young.
Now Tamar marries Yehuda, when he's old enough to be a grandfather and then they have children. Those children, specifically peretz are old enough to get married and have children (okay let's say newborns)that means three generations all inside of 22 years!.

Okay even if we say that Yehuda was married before they sold Yosef, how many more years does that add, two or three? four would be really pushing it.

Which leads only one question....
Exactly how young did the Shevatim and their immediate descendents marry?

* In V'yetzei, Yosef is born and then Yaakov and Lavan start negoiating his pay, which I assume is the six years after he finished working for Rachel the second time
** Not entirely sure whether the 22 years is from the last time Yaakov saw to the when they meet in Egypt or wheather when Serach tells him that Yosef lives

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Echad B'Lev.... v'echad b'peh.

Why are there so many fake smiles? Why everwhere I looked today, I saw stale smiles below staler eyes?

As I try to smile back, geniune to at least illicit some warmth, some life from those dead silent faces, I find my own smile fading.

Has the world gone so grey?

Monday, December 19, 2005

Three down, One to Go................

I have reached the 'I really can't care anymore' stage of finals.
Will return after the inferno known as Quatum with Cohen.

until then another point to contemplate:

Where are all the good men dead,
in the heart or in the head?

Saturday, December 17, 2005

On the Bestowing of Gifts

It's so hard to take.

To take is to admit a lack, a need, a measure of interdependence that our western sense of rugged individuality rebels against.

To be the bountiful benefactor can carry with it a secret huberis,
Yesh li Rav...
...I have more than I can possibly need. (Breshit 39)
here let me give you some. Let me show how much extra I really have.

But if we can be honest enough to admit that
Yesh li kol....
....I have everything I need. Both for myself and both to give.
the least courtesty we could have to acknowledge that all of those around us likewise have something to give and in fact, some of which they have to give might be meant for us.
He who wants to give but does not wish that others should give--he begrudges what belongs to others.
He who wants to give and also that others should give--he is a pious man. (Pirkei Avot 5:16)

Friday, December 16, 2005

Being The Jewish Girl

[Note: I will be graduating from the university in a few monthes and I'm taking mental stock of all the changes that have taken place in the past few years and the many things I learnt the hard way. So here it is: The first installment of whatever I decide to call this venture in strange and familar study]

It always starts with the name.
Oh that's such an pretty name. What ethnicity is it? What does it mean?
......and then there's the pause. You can see it in the eyes, watch as the 'Thou shalt accept other's little folkways' slogan scrolls across their mind. Finally, they venture some palid and bland observation. My name is hardly secular.

So, I smile and start talking about something else.

It always seems to take people by surprise. They seemed worried to mention it as if they offend me by alluding to it, as if it were some sort of embaressing personal abberation that polite people don't really discuss.

Then the eventually the questions come.
So, I heard.....
This Jewish holiday thing coming up, is that when you....
You believe this stuff because.............

and my absolute favorite.....
How come you aren't coming to class but so and so is?

There are other jewish girls but being the Jewish Girl is all about being the Jewish Girl.
The one who wears the long skirts,
(I dub thee, Skirt Girl!)
the one who is a supposed perfect authority on all matter pertaining to judaism, (What's the deal with kosher?)
the one who misses class for bizarre religous observance, (How many days in October are you missing!!)
the one who won't borrow money, (Just take it, what's the big deal?)
the one who doesn't do homework for 24 hours, (How do you pass any of your classes, anyway?)
the one who won't shake hands. (Is this some sort of hygeine thing?)

I'm different from everyone else there in a thousand ways, and yet they shrug and bend the rules around me.

The hardest part is though, eventually they forget the weird name, they forget the odd religous practices, and they forget all the differences and I become one of them, even when I not.

and even then, when I so want to fit in, and relax and pretend as if these are my friends who I grew up with and go to shul with and share my life with and just be myself, I remember I'm the Jewish Girl.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


Freedom is making a mental decision and able to stick with it.

Freedom is looking at all the paths you're life can take and choosing.

Freedom is smiling at the past and leaving it behind you like a shed skin.

Freedom is the ladder to climb as higher and higher until your head spins in the thin air of the atomosphere and the air is crisp and clean and clear and you can see the world strecthed out like a great canvas below you.

Freedom is not everything, everytime, everywhere. Freedom is the one thing you need, when you need it.

On Ego and Anger

I hate losing it.

I hate the self-righteous indignation that swells up and declares its importance above all other considerations and persons. I hate the words that fly out of my mouth and hit before I can haul them back. The transformation of the other into a target for the purposes of making some silly point.

Anger is all ego. Anger is insanity. Anger is all about...........me.
I'm boring, can we talk about something else now?

Anger is like spontenous combustion. Sudden, deadly and unexpected. Then as the flame dies down, I'm left looking at the scorched ceiling and wondering how exactly I will explain that one.

Email on Profile

The email available on my profile is really just a mirror to bounce the comments to my regular email.

So to my surprise, I found there were a number of emails that had not been forwarded to my actual address. I apologize for ignoring them.

Since the filter is only set for comments. If you would like to actually get in touch with me, comment :).

and for any further question please see following justification for this policy.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Now is the Winter of Our Youth

[Note: Apologies folks, but finals are here so I will revive an draft for your amusement and anyone who feels so inspired to appeal to G-d on my behalf at 8 o'clock in the morning tommorow and friday, please do, I need all the help I can get]

To be young is to be discontented.

To be young is to be bursting at the seams, wanting to change something, wanting to do something, wanting grow up already!

It's only the first snow of the season and I am looking down the barrel at four weeks of freedom, a very tempting and dangerous prospect. This is the first vaction since I was fifteen that I do not have to work or have travel plans.

So, what incredible things shall I accomplish?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Good Men and Bad Men

[Note: I meant Man in the universal sense. This seems to apply equally to women as well and feel free to respond, the number of guys commenting is starting to make me a like the only girl in the room]

Maybe this got to me. Maybe it's finals. Maybe it's the fact that I'm running on less and less sleep and still seem to get nowhere. Maybe it's that I haven't felt motivated to do anything in weeks.

But someone out there must be still idealistic and passionate enough to believe in humanity. But until then here's something to think about.....

Ask a good man if he's good? He'll list you all his faults and flaws

Ask an evil man if he's good? He'll smile broadly and tell you, "Of course, I'm a good man."

Monday, December 12, 2005


Is it really insecurity to tell secrets to only a few people?

Just because it's not public doesn't mean it's dirty. Just private.

Meme: 5 Simple Pleasures

Little Red Riding Hoodie tagged me with one of these things so

five of the simple pleasures of my life:
  1. A spoonful of chocolate ice cream melted across the tounge, and then a small sip hot coffee.
  2. Psychotically perky squirrels: boing boing boing, they bounce along the ground like a rubber balls, endlessly resiliant, it always makes me smile.
  3. Smiling at someone, seeing the flash of surprise in thier eyes, then the warmth as they smile back.
  4. Cuddling with my little sister and reading Mr Brown Can Moo.
  5. My roomate's music as she strums and plucks at her guitar picking out the notes that wash through my mind as I lean back against the couch and just listen.
That was very relaxing actually. I should do this more often.

I tag .... STX, Araya, and Eshet Chayil.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Kol K'voda Bas Melech P'nima

so why is it that the next line is
Tishchot zehav l'vusha.
......and her dress is golden jewelry
sounds very internal and personal, no?

Does anyone have an answer? Because G-d knows how many times that pasuk has been thrown at us.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

On Hatred

Its so easy. Isn't it?

All it takes is one moment of distance, one breathe of callousness. The living breathing human transforms into a vaguely alien being who quickly becomes threatening with the first demand they place on your time.

That's all hate is. Seperation. Alienation.

Leah was hated not because Ya'akov ever did anything, but because there was that certain distance.

Before we can ever hope to love our neighbor, we must stop hating him in our hearts. We must stop forgetting his humanity, ignoring his pain, letting that silence between grow ever thicker, ever more impenetrable.

In truth, someone who hates the world, sits trembling in a prison of their own design, shoving everything and everyone as far away as it can go.

Sometimes, we say, I don't hate the person I just don't want to ever speak to them again. That's hatred.

Sometimes, we just turn around and walk away, trusting time to wither whatever remains there. Thats hatred.

Sometimes, it's just easier to shrug philosophically than to put the effort into drawing another person closer, into feeling, into living. That's hatred.

Perhaps, sometimes all we need to do to love, is to stop hating.

Friday, December 09, 2005


Waking up before to a dark sky and waiting as the radio mentions every single school system is closed, the transit is closed, the government is closed, [sorry, anarchy for today people]

but university opens at noon. [silly administration]

but still... there's snow. :)

[more profound posts possibly published post-procrastination and prevication]

Thursday, December 08, 2005

On being Organic

Man is organic.

He grows and changes and adapts. Always bending, never breaking.

The wind comes through and blows away all the loose debris, baring new growth underneath.

The fire comes and sears , and amid the cooling ashes, the first pale green shoot emerges.

The earthquake comes shattering the wellknow horizon into stange abrupt, jagged forms, overnight softened with a green haze of new growth.

Man is organic, and changes and so lives.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Can't Handle the Truth....

Absolutely. I am an idealist after all.

So here's the truth as far as I live:
Man lives seventy or eighty years and then he dies.
so saith David, the Sweer Singer of Israel.

That's it folks, 70, 80, maybe ninety years and then they plant you like a flower pot and put on rock on top of you to make sure you stay.

and you know what, you could live your life that way.

But I don't have time for that. I have far to little time on this world to live in the shadow of my death. There are far too many things to be done than to bemoan that which is not being done.

So I can't handle the truth. Confrontation with the real nature of Man's evil side makes me sick with disbelief.

To know the evil is bad enough. But to know the pettiness, the trivialities which become an excuse for the most malignant and bitter hatred. The very smallness and pitifull childishness of those who could be so great.

Man is small and driven by desires. Man is wracked by the forces within his body which seem greater, more powerful, that seize his mind and senses. But staring into that dizzing depth, vertigo spinning my vision, I answer to that yawning gap of darkness,
That which is does not have to be!
What is it to be human but to stand in the center of the world, balanced between all that is death and destruction and all that is life and creation. and to choose.

It is the excuses and prevications, the buts and ifs and maybes that, when He presented us with the choice, made G-d tell us.
Choose Life!
for it seems, that we by ourselves would declare that which good, evil, that which is life, death and that which is truth, falsehood.

I can't handle the truth. That in the very drawing of Man according to the exacting latitude of weakness and longitude of desire, I see only the falsehoods that we bury ourselves in to forget that the only and ultimate truth of our actions and our nature is that which we choose.

Monday, December 05, 2005

blogger gone bonkers

is this thing still working?

Apologies, Blogger seems to have gone AWOL on my home computer.

Man plans, G-d created buggy computer code.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

On the Giving of Gifts

Jews get Chanuka gelt.

Every year as my mother leans over and kisses me on top of my head and gives me a white envelope. A dollar for every year I've been her daughter.

But as the world screams "Gifts, Gifts, Gifts!" I find the gift giving bewildering. Gift wrapping and oversized boxes, holiday sales and come get the watchamacallit now. Is it required for admission? Is every waiting in a frenzy to find out how many gifts they're going to get. Do they have some sort of rating system. price*coolness*number*number-of-cousins-removed-two-degrees*how-many-shots-you've-had?

It's not that I don't appreciate a gift. But the dollars from my mother, I know are just tokens. just money. not an embodiment of our whole relationship.

If all I got were dollars.... I'd rather not have them at all.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Boys will be..... just little boys

[Current score: Boys are evil (7) or they might be redeemable (1)]

This past week as I sat with a friend working on problem sets, I turned around to another guy in the class and asked him
"Can I look at your #67?"
He passes it over. I look at it, copy a few lines and hand it back with a polite
"Thank you."
"You know you owe me now, right?" He said, as he took back the papers.
"Sure. Which problem do you need?", as I turned to grab my papers.
"No. You owe me, that means...."
Well, sufices to say that what he said next made me blush and immediately look away and muslim girl I had been studying with jump up and start demanding an apology.

Mute from a great deal of shock, and no small amount of embaressment, I searched for the words to explain to this boy what he had just said and realized with a certain degree of sadness
"It's enough, Meem, it's enough. It's two different worlds. He can't understand. It's enough."
In retrospect, it bears greatest resemblance to being called names by a little kid. Noisy, offensive, but in essence meaningless.

There is a certain tragedy to finding a thirteen year old in a grown up's body.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Perhaps modesty is not a matter of what but the when and where...

the same secrets whispered to a loved one in the dark of the night become exhibitionist when shouted out for all the world to hear.

So, is a blog a whisper or a scream?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

1 Kislev 5766

There is a particularly delicious sense of satisfaction to davening on Rosh Chodesh Kislev.

To be the quiet dissenting voice of changing times against the relentless ticking of the Newtonian clock from negative to positive infinity.

To sing of a day created anew every moment in a world that grows darker with each day

To be a child among the people like the stars who cannot be numbered and are called each by name and stand still in the tide of history against the greatest quanitizers of them all, the Greeks.

but most of all, in world that ticks to the sun of the Greecian calender, to still be living to the rhythm of a Jewish year.

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