18 October 2006

Simhas Torah in Baltimore

Whereas last year I spent Simhas Torah in Washington Heights, this year, I spent it at Beth Tefiloh in Batlimore. It was an interesting shul, to be sure. Although I davened on Shabbas in "The Minyan" (the kiddush after shaharis and before mussaf was clutch), I davened in the main sanctuary on the following day, especially to help bring some dancing and spirit (ruah) to the shul, along with a fellow YCTer. Interesting was that BT is one of the few shuls that has a kosher microphone system, which makes sense for the size of the sanctuary and number of people that attend shabbas and holiday services. It was a nice time. I should also mention that the head rabbi there, Rabbi Wohlberg (who mentioned that he had read my blog), is tremendously funny - so much so that I think he's the funniest pulpit rabbi I've met so far (although you can find a number of his sermons in pdf format, his humor comes through also through his delivery, so it might be somewhat lost on some). (I also wanted to thank Chaim (whom I had mentioned previously), who, aside from being one of two former Derech guys who were at the shul for a young people's hakafos along with myself, gave me some encouragement with the blog - so thanks.)

Hol haMoed

Last week, after having been back home, I returned to my apartment in the Heights and spent the week mostly looking through various Jewish journals for articles at the YU library as well as working on looking for sleep statements in the Mishneh Torah (in addition to what I have found previously) (and, yes, I have looked through the Guide) for my planned upcoming paper on Maimonides' view(s) on sleep (I think it may be my submission for this year's Milin Havivin volume), as well as looking through secondary literature for sources for my planned article on sleep in the book of Proverbs.

Back in Ohio

As mentioned previously, I did, indeed, go back to Gahanna and spent the first weekend of this year's Sukkos holiday in Columbus.
It was, once again, a bit weird and interesting being back in the town in which I grew up - not least of which due to my position in life and perspectives on things being different than many there - certainly coming from being surrounded by New York City and heading back there. (Sorry for the looong sentence.) Anyways, that characterized the few days I spent taking care of errands, etc. while being at home prior to the holiday.
For the holiday, I davened at Beth Jacob and stayed at the Cantor's house, as we are peers and go back several years. One significant thing which occurred was that I had handed to the new rabbi there, Rabbi Weisz, grandson of Rabbi David Stavsky (the rabbi there for several decades (and was the officiating rabbi at my parents' wedding)), a copy of the second volume of Milin Havivin. After having told him that I had written an article on sleep for that volume (upon which one may find my major critiques of that piece), he asked me to speak upon the topic on Saturday evening between Minhah and Ma'ariv, which I obliged. Although I had expected someone to inquire regarding washing one's hands in the morning, instead someone queried me as to why hasidim often will daven and say krias shema' past the designated times as per halakhah, to which I knew not the answer (though I suppose someone will...). Anyways, I do want to thank Rabbi Weisz and the congregation for the opportunity.

03 October 2006

Going to Ohio

I'll be back home in Ohio from this evening until Monday morning.

Days of Awe (ימים נוראים)

The Days of Awe (ימים נוראים) have just passed, consisting of the ten days beginning with the two days of the Jewish New Year (ראש השנה) and concluding with the one day of the Day of Atonement (יום כיפור). What comes onto my mind every year is a trepidation - one not so much deriving from fear of approaching the Divine Presence, but rather of trying to get down our Jewish practices as far as what to do in this time of year. I think that's part of what being a BT is about - just when I think I'm kind of getting the rhythm down of Jewish life, then bam, the flow gets switched up and some sort of holiday or fast comes up and I must learn all about it (versus FFBs who not only may have a sense of the actions, practices, and/or attitudes of various holidays already down, also have more of a visceral connection, which helps them orient more positively towards the holiday(s) in question). I think, if asked, my favorite time of the Jewish year would have to be the time following Sukkos up through the winter and the spring, as Hanukkah and Purim aren't too intense around which to wrap my head, up until before Pessah and then from then, it gets a little bit more difficult.
Anyways, I spent my Rosh HaShanah in Onset, MA at the only Orthodox shul in Cape Cod, Congregation Beth Israel. It is also known for being the Rav's summer shul. It was a nice, small minyan, but I'm not sure that they got enough for a minyan for Yom Kippur. Anyways, it was a nice, pleasant davenning, part of which was led by my fellow schoolmate, Yonah Berman, and also some of which was led beautifully by Dr. Matthew Zizmor. It was a nice town with coves of water around, which was peaceful and nice. However, I'm sure that in the summer it must be more so, however with warmer weather and more people around, but most people had already departed following Labor Day weekend, and the weather had begun to change to autumn-like weather. The weather change clearly imparting to me that summer had, indeed, come to an end.
We had school the week in between, and for Yom Kippur, I went to HIR up in Riverdale for Sunday night. Upon leaving, Rabbi Weiss insisted that my two walking companions back to the Heights and myself stay the night in Riverdale. In the morning, we walked back and davened there.
Okay, now it's time to get in the mindset for Sukkos.