Thursday, April 2, 2009

Meeting notes!

For your entertainment and my need to catalogue every thing that happens during my meetings with the rabbi ... here is a brief entry of "Things I Learned While Talking to the Rabbi." Enjoy!

A short note: Gematria is sort of the number-izing of the Torah. Each letter corresponds with a number, Aleph is One, Bet is Two, Gimel is Three, and so on until you get to Yod, which is 10, and then you bump up to 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, etc. so that the enter alphabet corresponds with a number, much like roman numerals. The rabbis take words with similar sum totals among their letters to show interesting and sometimes marvelous things. I posted one of these nifty things using the gematria of "chametz" and "blemish" not too long ago. I recently heard of gematria referred to as fascinating, but "impractical rabbinics." I dig that. 

And now, here we go!

  • The reason Haredim and Hasidim and whomever else does (or maybe doesn't) abide by the rule of not getting your matzo wet on Pesach is because of the fear that there might be some leftover flower that didn't make the cut in the matzo and by getting it went you'd start the process of leavening and if you happened to drip some H20 on something and didn't eat it for 18 minutes it might become chametz! Oy! So I asked the rabbi if the 18-minute time limit for something to go from un-chametz to chametz having anything to do with 18 being the gematria for the word for life -- chai (חי) -- but he said no. Anyone know otherwise? The flour would, technically, come to life. An interesting tradition, but I like my matzo with cream cheese and jelly too much to go that route. 
  • Tradition has it that when you sleep, this is 1/60 of death. When you dream, it is 1/60 of prophecy. I sure spend a lot of time prophesying. I mean, really. Every night. Vivid dreams aplenty.
  • In the Passover Seder, there are four sons. One of the sons -- perhaps one of the most controversial at that -- is the Wicked Son. It's ordered that you knock out the teeth (more or less) of the wicked son. So why do you do this? Well, the gematria for wicked son is 570. The gematria for teeth is 366. If you knock out the teeth from wicked son, you come up with 204, which happens to be the gematria for a tzadik, a wise man. Sometimes gematria makes me go "yeah, right, okay" and sometimes it makes my jaw drop and forces me to go buy books on gematria and bible codes ... 
  • There are THREE types of handwashing. I didn't know this, and I didn't know that I was doing the handwashing on Shabbos before the motzi WRONG. Yes, I have been living a lie for a long, long time now and I didn't know it. What are the three types of handwashing?
    • In the morning, when you rise, you say the modeh/modah ani and you wash your hands with al natilat yada'im. The way you wash is to fill up the cup, and pour it on the right, then the left, then the right, then the left, then the right, and finally the left. Three times on each hand, alternating.
    • In the pre-motzi washing, you say al natilat yada'im, but you fill up the cup and throw water on your right hand twice, then on your left hand twice. Curses! I was doing the morning washing routine before bread!!
    • The third Pesach-centered hand washing is during the seder when you wash, and you only throw water on each hand once. I never got a really keen answer on why it was only once, but hey, it works. 
So, now, on my Amazon Wish List I will add two one stellar books related to my evening with the rabbi and others. [Unfortunately, one of the books is completely and totally in Hebrew (it's called Gematricon -- גימטריקון), so that won't be added.] The really interesting book is the Polychrome Historical Haggadah for Passover, which breaks down the traditional haggadah by when various portions of it were written/developed/etc. It color coats each period of when certain bits of the texts derived -- the early rabbis, the medieval period, etc. Fascinating stuff! Too bad actual copies appear to be in the $300+ range. Yikes!

At any rate, an early Shabbat Shalom to one and all!