Friday, February 27, 2009

Talent Scouts and Rabbis

I had my second meeting with the rabbi yesterday morning, bright and early, and I'm finally completely at ease in his presence and in the realm of our topic at hand -- an Orthodox conversion to follow-up the Reform conversion I had nearly three years ago. We discussed my family background, my parents, how I was raised and the friends who I lost -- either spoken or unspoken -- over the conversion back in 2006. He explained to me that I'm not a novice, and that he wants to start studying with not just me, as a result of this, but with me AND Tuvia. Why? Well, let's just say that Tuvia and I are pretty serious folks, if you hadn't gathered. The rabbi wants to make sure he and I are on a parallel course so a collision or crisis situation doesn't arise. Thus, we'll be learning how to be observant together. To be honest, it kind of excites me. It's like couples counseling for the soul, hah. The one thing I've come to love about this rabbi, though, is his intense use of analogies that make absolute sense but that can be a little, well, zany. Analogies, for me, help me learn. I come up with analogies to explain just about everything.

A recent example? In Talmud class we were discussing Honi the Circle Maker, Hanina bar Hama, and other wonderworkers and how the rabbis sort of "adopted" or rabbanized them in the Talmudic stories. For me, it doesn't make sense that the rabbis would adopt these miracle workers -- after all, it makes the rabbis look incapable. If the rabbis can't make it rain, but this magical figure can, then doesn't it undermine the abilities and the authority of the rabbis? The argument is that because the rabbis found or know who these people are, and can as a result make requests of them, makes rabbis the ultimate talent scouts. And this was my analogy. You have these wonder workers (the stars, the talent) and you have these rabbis who rabbanize the stories and make them glorified stars (thus the rabbis are the ultimate talent scouts). The talent scouts are then looked to as the amazing ones, the big wigs, for discovering this amazing talent walking around a village somewhere or pulling water from a river (or, you know, walking around a mall or at a McDonalds stuffing their face or singing in a bathroom stall). No matter what way I paint it, I still don't see the positives to the rabbis including these stories, but ... well, that's for another post. This was just to prove my analogy point!

On another note, Tuvia and I will be in West Hartford tonight staying at a host house for a first real dive into the Orthodox Shomer Shabbos lifestyle. I'm excited to see how a house functions for the full 25 or 26 hours, and even though I know it's probably not as grandiose as I might think it is, I'm still quite excited. I'll be bunking with a permanent house guest of their's and Tuvia will be joining the books in the library. We'll be schlepping back and forth to shul (it appears to be QUITE windy outside today, ugh) and wining and dining with family and friends of our hosts. I'm still struggling with this hair thing -- I wish I could just get married already so I didn't feel so weird about covering my hair on Saturday mornings to hide the absolute mop that it becomes between point A and point B when I'm sleeping on Shabbos. But this? This I will have to get over.

And on a second, yet more unrelated note, don't forget to sign up for the Purim Basket Giveaway , though -- the contest ENDS at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday night. If I can get up to 50 comments (not including my own, I believe), then we will be giving away TWO gift certificates. So, you know, pump up the press!

Until then, have a good and restful Shabbos!