Wednesday, September 5, 2007

TORAH! And Work.

First, a quick read on this week's Torah, which allows us some of Moses's last days. Then, a bit about work and some thoughts I'm having.

+ The double portion this week -- Nitzavim-Vayelech -- expresses some of the most basic and fundamental tenets of Judaism. Its opening beckons all men, women, children and converts within the camp. This is the all-encompassing aspect of Judaism!

+ Deut. 29:14 -- "But not only with you am I making this covenant and this oath, but with ... those who are not here with us, this day." My first inclination was that this is speaking of future generations. I checked out Rashi's commentary and BAM! Same thing. This may seem like a "duh" thing, but that could be interpreted as those not present (idolators, people elsewhere, etc.), or future generations, or past generations.

+ Deut. 29:28 -- "The hidden things belong to the Lord, our G-d, but the revealed things apply to us and to our children forever: that we must fulfill all the words of this Torah." I had to read this sentence several times and do some web searching before I got the gist of it. Then I found this great explication over on the Edinburg (yes that Edingburg)Hebrew Congregation website. In sum: "Our verse, therefore, comes to tell us that we are only accountable for the ‘revealed things’: the way society acts and behaves; not the ‘hidden things’ of everyone’s private behaviour." It definitely emphasizes the importance of community!

+ Deut. 30:6 -- "And the Lord, your G-d, will circumcise your heart ..." Okay. On the surface, yes, this is the spiritual representation of the physical circumcision as ordered by G-d. During the wanderings, circumcision ceased temporarily, but now, as they enter the land, the Israelites are called to circumcise their hearts (this also appears in Deut. 10:12-16). I was sort of shocked that when I did searching on the web for this portion, most of the sites that came up were Christian sites, and the second top site was a Jews for Jesus article. They all say similar things ... and they're all pretty ... Jesus-y.

-----RANDOM NOTE: One of the Temple Sholom staff members, and my personal favorite -- Josie A.G. Shapiro -- is on Dinner: Impossible! WOW!!!! -----

+ Deut. 31:17-18 -- These must be what prompted so many to assume that after just about every major catastrophe (inquisition, pogroms, Holocaust) that surely G-d had turned away his face and that surely it was "because of all the evil they have committed." So many who called for Jews to convert after such travesties probably eyed these events and these verses. It also calls into attention the "why do bad things happen to good people" adage. It's why -- so often -- when someone dies or a tragedy happens, pundits and zealots automatically scream "YOU WERE BAD! YOU ARE BEING PUNISHED!" But there has to be more to this than what comes off the surface. G-d isn't just a punishing god, there's compassion in there. In all my bad moments, never once have I said "I have earned this, G-d has turned his face from me. I have been abandoned."


Now for job stuff. Every morning on the #66 bus down Chicago Avenue, I ride past the nearly open Dominick's grocery store. It's going up right next to a McDonalds -- one of the few chain restaurants on my end of Chicago Avenue. The moment that the "Now Hiring" sign showed up outside the store a few weeks ago, I turned to Ian on the ride and said "Hah, maybe I should apply there!"

Now, I'm not presently searching for a new job. In the future, yes, I'll be looking for a new job that's a little more up my alley. But here's the thing.

I want a mindless job. I want a mindless job so that I can focus on the things that matter: reading, Torah, Hebrew, my studies.

Every morning I ride by that store and think that if only I didn't have bills and groceries to buy and things and stuff. I could get by on minimum wage with the minimum things, working a mindless job where I can disconnect myself when I leave. Where I can hop on the bus and be there two seconds later. Where I can spend my spare time thinking about literature and Rashi and things that mean something to me, instead of all the things that don't (ahem, those things at my present gig).

I don't hate my job. It's just completely not stimulating. It has nothing to do with anything that has to do with me. And if I'm going to work a job like that, I want it to at least be less all-consuming and something that doesn't cut into my after hours.

So maybe I will look into working some slum job like a grocery store or retail. It would kill my father and it would make me look like a complete shmuck. I went from a job hundreds and thousands would kill for (Washington Post) to another job dozens if not hundreds would kill for (working for a Nobel prize winning economist). So if I called it a day here and went downhill in order to go uphill to what I want to do ... wouldn't it be worth it?

So maybe. Just maybe I'll be bagging your groceries someday. I'm not so prideful that I wouldn't do that. I'm the girl who worked at McDonalds and Wal-Mart growing up. The end goal is being happy and doing something that I'm passionate about, so in any case, the means are not necessarily the most important thing on my mind.