Saturday, January 26, 2008

Conversion Class

I went to class again today.  It had been cancelled last week due to a Shabbaton celebration.  I was the only one who attended today.
We talked a bit about Havdallah, which is the ceremony that ends Shabbat and begins the regular week.  It's celebrated with wine, spices, and a braided candle.  The wine is just a standard Jewish thing, according to my Rabbi.  He says that any time there's a celebration, there's wine, and there's no special significance to it in this case.  The spices are because Jewish tradition holds that we are granted a special extra bit of soul to help us celebrate Shabbat, and at Havdallah, it departs from us.  Usually, when your soul departs, if you don't die, you feel faint.  When you faint, you get smelling salts to bring you this case, the spices are meant to stand in place of the smelling salts.  The braided candle is symbolic for a number of reasons.  The two that my Rabbi pointed out to me (that were significant to me) were that Shabbat begins and ends with lighting candles, and that this candle is braided, or woven, to represent paths we take in life, and how we're interdependent.

We also talked about Tu B'Shvat, which is new year for the trees.  I really like this holiday, because of its emphasis on nature and hope (but not cheesy hope).  It celebrates the cycle of dormancy and growth, because it marks when the sap starts flowing through the tree again, bringing the tree back to life.  That's hopeful. It also celebrates that Spring is coming, which is huge for me.  Living where I do, Spring seems so far away...
My Rabbi also told me about a Kabbalistic seder that's done on Tu B'Shvat.  He says it's really beautiful.  From his description, there's lots of wine, lots of fruit, and then a meal.  And some readings to go along with it all.  If I can talk some of my friends into participating, I just might try it this year.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Apt Torah Portion

Commentary on this week's Torah portion.  It has a stunning parallel to events currently happening in my life.

I just quit my night job.  I've been working two jobs for over a year and a half, and it just got to be too much.  I want to be able to have friends, and spend time with them.  I want to eat food that doesn't come out of a package.  I want to go to the gym.  I want time to read and learn.  I'd maybe even like to have a romantic relationship again.
Still, it's a drastic change in my life.  I barely know what to do with myself on those rare occasions when I get a weekend off.  It's daunting, and I don't even really have my freedom yet, because I have to serve out my two weeks.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Shabbat service: I skipped

I woke up and didn't feel well, so I didn't go to the service on Saturday.  I feel kind of bad about it still.  But I really did need the rest; I've been fighting a lingering ickiness for most of the past month, and my schedule hasn't been helping matters any.