The year comes to a head

These pre-holiday weeks are always the most stressful. No family, no friends, no community, my gosh my life sounds horrible. It’s not that bad.

I’ve done my best to prepare, though, begging and pleading and conniving and manipulating and asking nicely to be invited to this, that, or the other holiday dinner.

I never really would have thought that finding Judaism in Israel would be so hard, but it is. I suppose that’s the nature of secularism and my particular social world.

I’ve done everything I can think of to prepare, or prepare to prepare, or think about preparing. Most stores around here will be open since this is Haifa and I live in the Arab neighborhood, so when I decide tomorrow morning that I do in fact want to make challahs for the dinner we are cooking tomorrow night, I will (inshallah) be able to find yeast and flour and all those other things I’ll need. Raisins. Apples. Honey.

I got two “new” books at the tiny hole-in-the-wall used bookstore. I finished Foucault’s Pendulum, and realized I would need more reading material for the holiday, since I intend to have a holiday. I am now working on Dr. Zhivago. The Three Musketeers is (are?) on deck. Now all I need to find is a siddur so I can do Tashlich at some point.

How strange, that the one thing I always make sure to do is Tashlich. Two years ago I did it in the Jordan River. (I suppose I should have linked that back to this blog rather than that one, since I uploaded all my old blog posts here….perhaps I will fix it.) I also think I sin more right before the holidays, since I know I will soon be absolved. I now ask forgiveness from all those against whom I may have sinned in the past year.

Given that I don’t really believe in God, or certainly no one else’s idea of God, why do I believe in Tashlich? Karma? The will of the conscience or conscious or something? Why does throwing bread in water make you a better person? It really shouldn’t, since you’re throwing bread in water, which is somewhere bread doesn’t really belong. Meditative, perhaps? Spirituality is a mystery.

L’Shanah Tovah


3 thoughts on “The year comes to a head

  1. “Tags: Existential Angst, Religion, Karma”
    Aristotle and Plato had it pretty much figured out. Be the time they came along, Greek civilization had already had a high-water mark three hundred years before (colonies from Gibraltar to the east end of the Black Sea, the Phoenicians their rival). Psychedelic dances with embodied deities and all was just the Greek way of saying, “I’m sorry.” So, these two guys do an autopsy, and discover this thing called an imagination, like a little cubicle in the brain, where you can reflect, you can grasp things, think what you want. There is no homunculus, there is only the control room. In the control room you can pretend there is any kind of operator you want. It’s your deal.
    So Plato says to Ari one day, “There is a cave, and you’re inside it, and there’re these silhouettes or templates someone cut out, and a light source, and you’re watching the shadows of the templates cast on the wall of the cave by the light source.” Ari says, “So that’s my imagination–the cave–and I can’t go outside of it or into the fire [I’m getting this cave analogy extremely second hand] to think anything more directly, in person, in the act, so to speak?” Plato replies, “You got it, dude.” Ari says, “Man, I can’t imagine that.” Plato replies, “Precisely.”
    If we’d ask them why they didn’t do an autopsy on the human capacity for hitting a softball fairly effectively if you don’t think about it too much, or so on, they’d reply, “It seems pretty unlikely that people would forget how to have fun.”
    So what does happen in the imagination, the control room, the cave, while someone is hitting the softball, or catching the eye of a Palestinian in Haifa? It’s a good question, but the answer seems to have something to do with thinking well. It seems that one cannot simply shut off the imagination.

  2. hey audge-
    i’m catching up a bit on your posts (far behind, i know, but you’re quite prolific!), and anyway, felt like responding to this one. first, i’ve been meaning to read foucault’s pendulum for a while (it’s in my nightstand) and i’m curious what you thought of it and/or maybe this is incentive for me to read it and we can discuss…

    second, just my perspective: beliefs without actions are meaningless but actions without intentions (like tashlich) can also be meaningless. and intentions don’t have to do with religious belief explicitly, but belief with a lower-case b, if you prefer. in the realm of belief, action and intention we have a pretty big responsibility to create meaning for ourselves, regardless of what/how religious institutions dictate or define beliefs and actions. i feel pretty strongly that intentions are always our own (and maybe all the more important because of that).
    sending big hugs your way!

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