Monday, February 28, 2005

Warning: This post is extremely non-PC

Note to self:
1. Just because something says Medieval on it doesn't mean that it's worth taking
2. There is very little literature of value
3. Stop smirking, Stx!! (oh...that wasn't to self...but close enough)

Medieval Vernacular Literature...okay, I was stupid. I admit. I saw vernacular, and I didn't define it correctly. I defined it non-religious. The meaning is "language of the people". So they write about the church in the language of the people. I'm not interested. Not my religion, not my thing. But I'm doing the work cause I paid good money for the course and there's only a month left.

Today was a pretty harsh reading, though.

"...signifies the hardheartedness of the Jews...represents the death of them (the Jews) and their seed in that mortal sin whose shackles proved so hard to loose."

Um...yeah. I'm offended. Seriously. I could go into more, but it's not necessary. We don't accept your god and that's enough to harangue us for all the sins of mankind for the rest of eternity? Do you know what the Jews were doing when your lovely knights (the book is the Quest of the Holy Grail) were out exploring courtly love in the 5th century? Go find someone else to bother and leave my people alone!

Oh, and one more thing. According to this narrative, we were supposed to die 2000 years ago. Oooops. Nobody told us, I suppose...;)

Saturday, February 26, 2005

"Do you drink?" "Yes...religiously"

Last semester, I was talking to a girl in my class about how we have wine before meals on holy days (Shabbos, Y"T, etc). She asked how old we allow a child to drink. I thought it was a funny question-why should there be a limit on the age that one could drink? It then occured to me that there's a difference between me and the average university student when it comes to wine. When we drink, it's for holiness-to elevate ourselves and reach new heights. When one drinks only to get high, there is no beauty, only lack of control.

I went to the broadcast of R' Reisman's shiur tonight. Unfortunately, the connection stopped working in the middle, but fortunately, they showed a different shiur. One which I felt was addressed to me personally, considering what's planned for my life this Tuesday ;)

He spoke about wine. Wine is the only food (or beverage, as the case may be) that improves with age. There are some foods, yes, that will last a long time, but wine is the only thing that actually becomes better when left over a long period of time. In truth, it's probably the only material object that gets better with time. Even the human body, after many years, begins to slow down and 'get rusty'.

It is for this reason that we use wine at our holy times and special occasions (which are also holy times ;) ). We want to remind ourselves that there IS one thing that, like wine, gets better with time. This is not our physical bodies, but our spiritual selves. As one grows older (hint, hint), we have a choice. We can rot in the way that most things age, or we can choose to be like wine-become better, greater, and worth more to everyone around us.

So as I reach a milestone in my life, marking another year off the calendar of my life, I hope that I (and all of us) only grow upwards, never "rotting", but making the most of our time here, and using it to the greatest of our capabilities.

SHabbos #9

I know, I know, I skipped a few...but time flew, so I guess I'm having fun! ;)

Shabbos. It was wonderful. I went to a Shabbaton, and I was actually pretty nervous about it, cause I don't generally like being in overly social situations (that's when the acting bit comes in handy...), but it turned out to be soooooo nice!!

The highlight was the oneg Friday night. We went to the house of this couple. We sat at the table. Then we were fed Torah a whole night. I felt like I was a sponge, just gathering in what was being said. It was so beautiful. These were people who had an amazing love of Torah, love of Bnai Yisroel, love of Hashem. I came home bursting with joy and I wanted to share the joy. I wish I could give over to others the joy and Torah that this man had. I wish I could remember every holy word, every beautiful story, and that I could tell it to the world.

Didja ever feel that? Where you left a place sooo happy that you felt like you had to share some of your overflow joy or you would just explode?

That was my Shabbos. Hope yours was (and that they continue to be) as incredibly inspiring.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Siyum Hashas

This Tuesday, my birthday (English, at least), is the Siyum HaShas. I am honored ;)

I just want everyone to go and see R' Pinchus Lipshutz's blog on it. It's beautiful. For those of you who won't click the link normally, you should. He writes about the hundreds of thousands of people, who, every day, get up earlier, stay up later, prioritize their day so they can learn a blatt of Gemora. He writes about Klal Yisroel's absolute love for Torah and how no matter what others try to do to us, we still continue. To learn, to grow, to serve Hashem.

I certainly was not one of those learning a daf a day, but to all those who do, thank you for keeping the world standing. You are absolutely amazing.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

TV? Why?

I've been spending the last week at my grandparents, and I've learned a lot about the institution of television. Basically, that it's worthless.
It's funny. A very comprehensive argument has already been made about the negative values portrayed on TV to be presented to the world. Lack of self-esteem, lack of morals, lack of anything fact, I wrote a paper once about the absolute stupidity of "reality shows" that exist to allow people to escape into an alternate reality that we'd all like to pretend that it's real...
But what about the news? How else can one find out what's going on if not by the mass media? Not having grown up watching television, the question never really bothered me, but I'm sure it's bothered others, and, perhaps in my naivete (or maybe because I'm able to give an unbiased opinion), the answer seems pretty clear. You want the news? Get a paper. (Although even that has issues.) Once you're on the Internet anyway (checking my blog ;) ), check a local news station's website...
But the television news, and perhaps all mass media, has a serious problem. They focus only on the bad going on in the world. They take things that you wouldn't even think about and make them into huge problems that you're now required to add to your list of worries.
Dunno. To me, it seems pretty silly. You can know what's going on in the world, and learn about all the wonderful things that're going on as well! I know this's been my soapbox, but what is with people and their obsession with focusing on the negative? I can't stand watching the news-I'd rather go and do something good for the world instead of just searching for more things to complain about. Maybe it's just me. I sure hope not.
Although I have to admit that there is a bit of merit to programs like those on the History Channel ;) There's a way to find good in everything, see? :)

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

"Hasidim" WOW!!

So I had an insane weekend. Two weddings, two cities, 5 days. (And, oh yeah...I still have to write another paper due Friday...). But I learned a lot.

I took a flight to NY early Sunday morning (well...early for me) to get to a wedding of a close friend. I was supposed to be picked up at the airport, but due to technical difficulties (not my own), I was not. I was stranded. Lucky for me, the tiny plane was full of...Chasidim!

Now you have to understand. I come from a town (not as small as everyone thinks it is) that has barely any Chasidim. And my grandfather was born in Lita. We're the original Litvaks. For me, meeting Chasidim is really a cultural experience (I didn't need to go abroad after all!), and I was fascinated! (Oh, incidentally, GGreen, they were from London-but Stamford Hill. It was funny, cause they were speaking Yiddish, so I didn't expect them to speak English correctly, but they did! Shows my prejudices and judgementalness...and got me thinking.)

Approaching the nearest one, I asked if I could have a ride to wherever they were going (Boro Park). The answer was "yes, no problem, you can come in our car service!" Well, after quickly calling a friend who I haven't spoke to in years who was thrilled to have me come over, I joined them in their car. When I offered to pay my share of the ride, they didn't let me, and were really friendly and kind.

B"H, it was a wonderful experience. So I don't know what the shmichyheads are talking about.

Be Openminded Both Ways

I was at the Hillel today, and I noticed a fascinating thing. There was a whole debate going on about people who are really religious and how they shouldn't consider the things that they do the only way and that they shouldn't judge the people who aren't doing them. (Who says they are? Why is everyone convinced that Charedim are judging? I consider myself Charedi, and I don't judge...I sure hope I don't, anyway..) Just after that comment was made, one of the guys said that he studied at Ohr Sameach in Monsey.

And the response from one of the people there was "Monsey? Ew..."

When asked why, she said "but it's soooo religious...why would you want to go there?"

So who's being judgemental again?

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Toto...I have a feeling...

Now I understand why Simple Jew writes his location as "Golus." Two instances happened this week that served as a harsh reminder.

1) The lesser one: I was sitting in class, and we were discussing the Neibolungenleid (I know, it's my fault, I should have realized the Liturature part of Medieval Vernacular Literature, but I just saw the Medieval Vernacular part and got excited...we'll see what happens...). It's a German folk tale that some of you more cultural types might recognize from Wagner's opera (he changed the story in the opera, as all remakes do..). Anyway, we were discussing the book, and one of the guys asked "Is Worms a real place?" I was shocked! How could he not know about Worms, one of the Oray Shum that had been completely decimated by the Crusading army in 1096? After all, isn't he a Medieval Studies major?

And then I realized. I only knew about the devistation of Worms because it happened to Jews. Nobody else cared about it.

2) The greater one: Apparantly this made it to the NY Times, but I didn't see it, so I wouldn't know. I walked into one of the school buildings on Monday, and was greeted by the following:

A canvas hut, set up inside, with Arabic lettering all over it, and people standing around it in kafiyas.

Signs saying "JNF out of Canada" and "Zionism=Racism" and "Israeli Attack Forces" with the word Israel in red letters, with flecks of blood coming off of it.

Apparantly it's Israeli Apartheid Week at the University (Do you know what apartheid is? Do you know anything about the history of South Africa? Have you been to Israel? Can it be remotely compared in any way? NOOOOOO!!!). When I walked in, quite frankly, I was frightened. I was almost scared to be Jewish. I felt like I could understand a teeny tiny bit what the Jews felt in Nazi Germany in 1933.

And that is the meaning of Galus.

So could we please please please all do teshuva and get along so that we can bring Moshiach and live in a normal world? Cause this one is not.