Sunday, March 29, 2009

Moon; step off, it's the sun's turn to be blessed

So, in case you missed it, I’m Jewish. I affiliate with Conservative Judaism, although I would define myself (admitted very dorkily that I would even define myself) as a post-denominational American Zionist. Like so many Jews of my generation, I feel that I transcend categorization, mostly because I don’t like to be told that I’m wrong. Heck. I don’t even know that I like to be told that I’m right, because I distrust anything and everything.

I guess that would make me a post denominational American Jewish Zionist skeptic.
Maybe I should start raising money for the PDAJZS. A dinner perhaps downtown? Any donors?

My theology is as follows:

Egalitarianism – (but if you don’t believe in it, fine, don’t believe in it. Whatever works for you, but don’t expect me to join your synagogue because there are good looking guys looking for wives, because I’m not going to unless you let me have an aliyah to the Torah).

Pilgrimage Every Jew should go to Israel at least once in their lives, similar to the Muslim Hajj.

Intelligent support of Israel
Supporting Israel is a critical, but that support doesn’t mean blindly endorsing Israeli policies be it from lack of some civil rights for minorities to Ultra Orthodox women sitting in the back of the buses (What is up with that?)

Life long study Jewish continuity depends on knowledge of basic traditions, life cycle events, liturgy as prayer or poetry, the Jewish Narrative (Tanak), Jewish history, Jewish culture, an understanding of Jewish practice in its realities and Judaism as it fits into the spectrum of world religions.

Hebrew The ability to access Hebrew in the text as well as in its modern usage.

What inspired me to put this on paper? Two things actually:

This satirical promotional video on Jewish ignorance

And a Jewish ritual that happens every 28 years that I just learned about called the blessing over the creation of the sun.

Every month Jews bless the new month. The sun only gets its due every 28 years. Why the sun is celebrated in this cycle is explained in the link above (although probably a learned Rabbi would explain it even better.)

The blessing goes like this:

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who makes the Work of Creation.

Tradition declares that a week from Wednesday, the sun will be in the same exact place as it was during creation.

So here is my dilemma. Do I say the blessing? The sun being created on the fourth day doesn’t jibe with science. With that said, all the time I see value in religious beliefs that don’t coincide with science. It’s why I keep Passover. There’s no scientific proof of the exodus from Egypt or even the narrative, but I still scrub (or pay someone to scrub) my house and celebrate the holiday by eating two dinners and not eating certain kinds of food for a week which inevitably leads me to have one of the year’s worst stomach aches a couple of days before I binge on non Kosher pizza (vegetarian) with my brother at Pequods.

Will I say the blessing over the sun or more accurately the creation of the sun? Why not? I mean if anything deserves props from Jews or anyone else, it’s the sun, the source of life for all living things. (Plus I had a physical, and I’m in perfect health except I’m Vitamin D deficient. Why? I don’t hang out with the sun enough!)

So April 8, everybody get out of bed, stand outside and bless the fact that we are lucky enough to live on a planet that is at the perfect distance from the sun so that we can benefit from its gifts (let’s give the sun a reprieve from skin cancer next week).

And however the sun was created and however the Earth was created, we should be thankful for what we receive each day from nature and all we have to do is wake up and open the presents that are abundant in this world.

If not see you in 28 years. I wonder if I’ll have a blog when I’m 60?

Aliyah to the Torah - an honor to say the blessing over a Torah reading
Conservative Judaism - a movement in Judaism started in response to enlightenment and Jewish emancipation in Europe to modernize Judaism while keeping it in line with Jewish law.
Egalitarianism - men and women have equal opportunities to perform rituals and adhere to commandments in Judaism. Some would say equal obligation.
Passover - a holiday where you can't eat most carbs (bread, pasta, legumes) except potatoes) to commemorate the Exodus from Egypt. This can mess with your digestive system because you end up eating too much Matza. Can be combated by eating many fruits and vegetables and eating Matza in Matzeration. Haha. It's also a holiday where you spring clean.

Here are some more links on this event.

My favorite is this one:

The rest of these links, I don't agree with what they are saying, but I like to listen and learn.

Orthodox Rabbi explaining it

Another Orthodox Jewish Scholar explaining it

A view on the event from people living in the holy, mystical city of Tsfat

Celebration of the Birkat Hachama 28 years ago

And here is a picture of my niece seeing her first sunrise over Lake Michigan.


dirk-y-poo said...

If there is a religious denomination less spiritually fulfilling than Conservative Judaism, I don't want to know about it. And Conservatism itself really serves no purpose I can see. I'd like to see them just join forces with Reform for a while until they both disappear due to assimilation and disinterest.

riri145 said...

Not going to bother dealing with dirk.

Just so you know, although the rabbis of the gemara assumed some things about creation that we don't, they also knew that the 28 year sun cycle thing isn't really accurate.

dirk-o-matic said...

Um, not dealing with things is what has gotten Conservative Judaism into the pickle of irrelevance it's in now. But no worries, everything's fine, nothing to see here, move right along...