Friday, May 21, 2010

Cheesecake Out Your Ears!

Shavuot came, saw, and left. Of course, it also conquered (mad props to the folks in my shiur for adding that neglected "conquering" into my talk on Rachav, wink wink). It was dramatic, dairy-licious, gluten free (for me anyway), and, well, long.

For the second year in a row, I stayed up all night getting my Torah study on. I woke up around 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, went about my business, and then ended up in West Hartford for davening. We ate dinner with friends, and then headed off to the first bout of learning at the home of some excellent yidden who have the most beautiful interior (read: kitchen and sunporch) I have ever seen. After I got done coveting (oops) their cabinets and backsplash, I made my way to the sunporch, nabbed a comfy chair, and nestled in for the long haul. The first talk was given by a math professor, but unlike usual, he spent his time talking about a few songs and their connection to the texts (both biblical and rabbinic). There was even singing, which livened the audience participation and helped keep nodding heads awake. My resolve is now to track down those songs and learn them. The only one I can remember off the top of my head is "To sing is to be like the Jordan" (לשיר זה כמו להיות ירדן). Beautiful words, beautiful tune.

Next, it was my turn. I passed out my handouts (I'm an academic after all) with sources for Rachav from the Midrash and Bible, and began my talk. I like to keep things interesting, and I try to use colloquial language because I want to keep people awake and involved. I try to remain just informal enough that it's acceptable, you know? I like people to listen! And I definitely don't like talking at people. So I rocked my talk, which I'm still trying to figure out how to post up here in some fashion -- you might find something in the sidebar there to the right soon -- because the talk illicited a lot of really interesting questions and conversation. After it was over, I felt so good, not to mention completely reawakened. After all, it was 1 something in the morning!

Another fellow gave a quick talk and we all schlepped on to the shul for the second half of learning. We got there, meeting the sprawling group of teenagers that were funneling in, and then? The alarm went off. BURGLARY! BURGLARY! Talk about an inopportune time for the alarm to go off. I waited in the lobby and the policeman showed up after about 10 minutes (very prompt there, fellas), and I had to explain to him exactly what was going on. Late night learning, holiday, Judaism, blah blah blah. He seemed to buy it, so he asked if anyone had the code for the alarm. Alas! Only the rabbi. "Oh, I'll go pick him up and bring him back," the police man said. My response? "No dice." I explained that he'd need to get the code from the rabbi and then drive back with it. As he walked out the door, we also asked him to get the key to the ark. "The what?" he said. The ark! "You guys have an ark here!?" he joked. Luckily, right as he stepped outside, the rabbi's son showed up and saved the day with the code. Baruch haShem!

The rest of the night was kind of a blur. There were two more shiurim (let's not even get into the drama surrounding what happened with the third), and by the time davening rolled around at 4:45 a.m., I was exhausted, full of coffee and sweets, but unable to stand up straight. The interesting thing is that it was as if I were in trance. I stood, and I read the words so fast (you see, early-morning, post-all-night davening usually moves at the speed of light, which it did), and my eyes closed on their own. It was almost like I was experiencing the davening out of body. The words swimming around me. It was, in a word, weird.

I went back to the place I was staying, and crashed around 6:30 a.m. I slept off and on until 9:30 a.m., when I got up, got dressed, and walked to the other side of town to the other shul for a supposed 11 a.m. shiur that, in reality, didn't start until 11:45. I sat, half-alive, through their davening, tried to stay awake during the shiur, and then enjoyed a lengthy meal with a former professor and his family (which, can I say, is completely awesome). I didn't end up back over at my bed until around 5:30, and by then I decided it was futile to even attempt to sleep. I stayed up, forcing Tuvia to do the same, and we chatted with my hosts. Then came davening, then dinner at the rabbis (by which time I was practically loopy and giggling 90 miles a minute). I found my way home, rinsed off the allergens that had stuck themselves to my entire body, and went to bed around midnight.

All told, I had been up for nearly 40 hours with a nap probably clocking at two hours, max. I slept like a baby (which, someone pointed out, does not mean that I woke up every two hours crying for milk or in the fetal position sucking my thumb). The problem was that I didn't want to wake up for shul yesterday, and even after a short nap yesterday I still woke up exhausted. This morning it was painful to pull myself out of bed. I am exhausted

Luckily, it was worth it. All-night learning lends itself to a lot of interesting conversations and interactions, especially with people whom I probably won't see much of once Tuvia and I trek off to the greater NYC area. We're begging them all -- already -- to come visit, stay, and eat with us, and I hope they do. We've made too many good friends here to just wish ourselves away. But Shavuot this year was interesting, especially learning about some interesting characters found in the Talmud/Midrash called Mashiach ben Yosef and Mashiach ben David

Don't worry. I'm going to write a whole post on that. Maybe @DovBear will let me post it to his blog? Who knows. Shavua tov, friends. Time to get down with Shabbos now.