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Showing posts from January, 2010

The Nuts and Bolts of Becoming Jewish

Just to recap: For years I had been living a much more "Jewish" lifestyle (kosher, Shabbos, and holidays, regular shul attendance) than any of my family or friends. I had embarrassed my dad at restaurants by asking to read the labels before eating the food. I had disrupted family outings because of Shabbos. I had modified vacation plans to work around the holidays. And now, after all that, I had just found out that I wasn't even Jewish. My friends and family, who had put up with my "idiosyncrasies" for years were dumbfounded. I was often the sole voice of Jewish observance, and now it turned out that I was also the sole goy. I think "irony" must be HaShem's middle name. While the irony was not lost on me, I wasn't really laughing at that point. And my friends and family just took it is (additional) proof that I was totally off my rocker on this subject. Their logic was simple (and oft repeated), "You act more Jewish than any of…
A mother's hug

I was recently witness to a heartrending scene; a young single mother had to tell her son that they may lose their house. He tried to hold back his tears and was almost successful. She told him not to worry, they would always have a roof over their heads and a bed to sleep in. "That's not your job", she told him, "it is my job. Your job is to be happy and do your best in school." I even heard him murmur, "This is not helping." Then she just hugged him; and he was soothed. He needed that hug, not the words. A bit later I asked him later what was his main worry (I wondered why those reassurances had not helped); and now we calmly discussion the situation. Now he needed the words and was able to process them in a mature way.

After thinking about this for a few days, I have a new understanding of a chazal that I seem to have misunderstood for years. That gemara in Shabbos, 112b, says:
אמר ר' זירא אמר רבא בר זימונא אם ראשונים …