Wow! What a crazy couple of weeks. Part of the reason I haven’t updated lately is because my computer unexpectedly died–but I got it back a couple of days ago and am enjoying feeling like part of the world again 😉 I’m currently in the Bronx again, with the same hosts I was with before, listening to them study Torah together while I’m blogging.
(By the way, I’m guessing that eventually my blog isn’t going to be quite as Jewish-ritual-centric as it has been. Apologies to my non-Jewish friends who are maybe sick of all the Hebrew I keep throwing around.)
I took challah for the first time last week. Challah is traditional braided bread, though I think most of my readers know what it is (especially the Southern Baptist gentleman who considers challah to be a comfort food. :-p You know who you are!). “Taking challah” refers to making a certain amount of challah dough and then taking a handful of it, setting it aside, and burning it in remembrance of the challah that was brought to the Temple, back in the days that we had one (and may we have a Temple again soon!). It’s one of the three special commandments that are given to women (along with lighting Shabbos candles and following the laws of family purity).
Shabbos: Always good for a story or two. The more I talk to these hosts, the more I am impressed with both their chesed (as mentioned in a previous post) and with how much they know about Torah, Judaism, Jewish history, and “Jewish geography” (that is, knowing Jewish people) given that neither of them has been observant for very long.
But today, I’m not going to ramble on about Shabbos. Today’s major post is about Shalom. Peace.
As the name of my blog points out, taking a verse from Proverbs, the Torah’s ways are “ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.” Indeed, the Torah puts a lot of emphasis on peace: here are a couple of examples. There was Aaron, Moses’s brother, who was considered a great Jewish leader in part because he went out of his way to pursue peace. Then there’s the passage in the Talmud that we read every day in morning prayers: “These are the things for which people get rewarded both in this world and in the world to come: honoring father and mother, acts of chesed (kindness), attending the house of study regularly, hosting guests, visiting the sick, celebrating with a bride, giving the dead a proper burial, being absorbed in prayer, and creating peace between a person and his fellow, and the study of Torah is equal to them all.”
So, that bolded one? Yeah…not one I’m particularly good at. I am well aware that I’m terrible about things like seeing everything in black and white, always wanting to take sides, and holding grudges. But in the last couple of days, I have managed to mend a relationship with a person who, though I never knew it, considered me one of her closest friends, and was positively devastated at the fact that she and I didn’t talk anymore. I had given up on ever again viewing her in a positive light, and was determined to forget she existed. Then she sent me an email, trying to clear some things up, and I…well, it was hard to read. I started to realize what I’d been trying not to realize for months: that she and I might never be best buddies, but it was really unfair of me to scapegoat her and blame her for my own emotional problems that had nothing to do with her. She and I are actually talking right now, which means that I’m writing this blog post in something of a distracted manner (apologies for typos!). And I’ve shared the link with her, so let’s see if she comments. 😉