I met with my Rabbi again today. We talked about what I've been studying, which is pretty much just Torah. I've been reading as many commentaries and listening to as many podcasts as I have time for.
Naturally, since I've been gathering so much information, I want to write a report about anything I find interesting. I'm a nerd; I'm okay with it. So I've been updating my Torah blog a little bit, but it's not really anything worth sharing at this point. I wouldn't even call it up to date, since my recent pattern is to post the week's parsha on Saturday evening. Still, I think it's slightly valuable as a type of dialectical journal. If I manage to keep up with it, it will be interesting to compare what I wrote this year to what I write next year. The few entries that I wrote last year are very different to what I put up recently for the same parsha.
My rabbi thinks that it's good that I'm joining the commentary conversation. He seems to think that when students realize that they can write their own midrash or insert themselves into the characters, they learn more. I'm not sure if it's because we become more eager to study when the element of creativity is added, or if it's because it just becomes more personal, but I would tend to agree with that.
We talked a little bit about this week's parsha, about the commentary sources I've been using, and about whether it's valuable to read (or listen to) commentary that brings up an interesting idea, but is factually incorrect. I think we slightly disagree on the last one. I think that as long as you know where the facts fail, it's possible to learn a moral or philosophical lesson; my Rabbi is a bit leery on that idea. But if I understand his logic, it's mostly because that would mean that the moral or philosophical lesson was not meant to be taught by that parsha, so you're focusing on something that's not entirely relevant. In my experience, this seems to happen most on commentaries from a specific point of view (social justice, feminism, ecology, etc.). We agree that commentary with failed logic is awful and not worth one's time.
At the end, we also talked about the actual conversion. The Beit Din will almost certainly be on Shavuot, either the first day or the second. He said that I should not have any problems getting through that part, since it will be all oral questions and I do well expressing myself in our conversations. My official conversion certificate will bear the Beit Din date. Then comes the mikveh. There are still a few unresolved questions here. He's not sure how many witnesses I might need. I have already chosen one attendant, and he thinks she is a good choice and can help me with the blessings. We're just not sure if I'll need more to say that they were there and I most certainly dunked. The last question is the not-so-small matter of where. This shouldn't be too awful much of a problem anymore, since there is no time limit. It just has to happen after the Beit Din. I'll get another certificate saying that I immersed on whatever date. During some Friday night service after that, I'll be introduced to the congregation, given my Hebrew name, and given the Torah. I'll recite the Shema, and that will be that. I'll be a real, full-fledged Jew.