Friday, February 13, 2004

Today was great again. It's Thursday, so no classes tomorrow & it felt like the weekend was arriving. We have Talmud every morning, 2 hours learning in chevruta (i.e with Alex) then back together as a group so our teacher Esther Israel can give a shiur (lead a discussion) on the stuff we've covered. We're making our way through one tractate (volume), from start to finish (although I've arrived in the middle). The section we're on right now has been about two concepts, rov and karov - or majority and proximity - ways of working out where a found object has come from (in order to tell if it's kosher or if you can claim it for your own). Sounds irrelevant and boring but it's good as language practice and it tells you interesting things about the way the Talmudic Rabbis thought and the way Judaism functioned then.

Every Thursday we finish Talmud slightly early, and Reb Shmuel, the head Yeshiva, speaks for half an hour on an issue of living Judaism. He was talking about prayer today, in particular the prayers one says when one gets up in the morning, starting with Modeh Ani. Modeh Ani is usually seen as thanks, thanks to God for restoring to you your faculties. But Rev Shmuel put forward a different understanding of hoda'ah: more like acknowledgement. And he did so because, to use his words, "It is easy to evade full realisation of how (good) things really are, by moving too quickly into the mindset of thanks."

After yeshiva I went with a few of the other students to see Apocalypse Now Redux at the Cinematech. Heavy, long, absorbing and bewildering.

I just picked up a big kosher burger on the way home and now noone's at the flat. Just me, the widescreen TV and the computer. Going to a couple people's houses for shabbat dinner and lunch this weekend.

Oh - there's a guestbook here, so someone sign it, please! Apologies for the bad joke, especially if you've heard it before.


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