Now that the craziness of preparing for Pesach and the seder itself is over, I have time to write about the Golan Tiyul. It was so beautiful! Flowers in bloom everywhere! Last week we experienced such a different climate than in Jerusalem, it was rainy and much cooler. We were joined by the families of several Pardes faculty members, which was really nice. Of all the tiyulim we have gone on this year, this has been the one with the most “modifications”. Rain made our first hike interesting, it was very muddy. As someone with a reasonable fear of slippery surfaces ( in 7th grade, I broke my ankle when I lost my footing on some wet leaves on a hill), I was not a happy camper. At the end of the hike, I was ready to throw out my mud saturated sneakers, but a friend brought them to the bus for me. Even though I felt like I never wanted to hike again, this was a good thing because after a good night sleep I was ready to do the hike the next day. Continue reading
From my blog:
Here is a set of two poems. They are written in different styles, but they are about the same subject. I am still working out exactly how to fit them together and how to make the images convey what I want them to convey. Any feedback would be helpful. Enjoy! (In keeping with my other poetry, these poems benefit from being read out loud. That person sitting next to you in the library will not care. Perhaps he or she will even enjoy the poem, too).
The Man Who Plays the Piano
I am going to fall in love
with a man who plays the piano.
My fingers can press on wooden frets,
arranging echoed chords in sets,
but I will have five hundred regrets
if he does not play the piano.
I can summon the air from my core,
I can belt it, store it, make it pour,
but its strength will double, triple – more!
when singing with a piano. Continue reading
Click here for a video of Pardesniks at community lunch singing birthday song for Ari Abelman, led by Annie Matan Gilbert.
Dan Brill (Year ’09-’10) shares his new Purim rap,
called ‘Straight Outta Shushan’
Please enjoy this Dvar Torah by Mordechai Rackover (PEP '03)!
Mordechai Rackover is a Pardes Alum, a member of the PEP 3rd Cohort. He currently lives in Providence, RI with his wife Nechama Lea and their four kids. He is the associate university chaplain for the Jewish community of Brown University and the Rabbi of the Brown RISD Hillel Foundation He can be reached at mrackover at gmail dot com or on twitter @mrackover
The Book of Esther, the Megillah, was my first Biblical love. I had opportunity to delve into it as a McGill undergrad prior to my first yeshiva experiences and discovered that it is a brilliant text. The Megillah is balanced and suspenseful, sacred and absent of God, deadly serious and filled with [ribald] humor. In this short essay I want to show that an essential factor in the reading of the stories of the Megillah is the obedience and disobedience of the characters. We have been trained, as it were, to look for obedient God-fearing Biblical characters as role-models. But, a closer reading, will show that disobedience is often a critical positive shaper of the unfolding biblical narrative.
As children we were taught that the Megillah was full of women. There was, after all, a beauty pageant; Miss, soon to be Mrs, Persia! These were all the beauties of the land. As we’ve grown up we have come to understand that these women were exploited, afraid and pressed into a demeaning service wherein you could only gain notoriety by being the most memorable purveyor of sexual favors to a lecherous king. Continue reading
This fast comes in contrast with the feasting of Purim to come. In the Purim story, Esther asked Mordechai to ask the Jews to fast for three days. Some texts say this is because they were preparing for battle and others say this was to invoke God’s help and protection.
There are two Hebrew words for fast, Tzom and Ta’anit. The shoresh of Ta’anit is ayin-nun-heh, which connects the fast to invocation (answer) and to humility. When I think of this kind of humility, I imagine it’s an invitation to put ourselves in the bodies and realities of those who are hungry (think of the prohibitions on Yom Kippur, which is a mirror for Purim – no shoes, no eating or drinking, no bathing, annointing or physical intimacy – all of which reinforce humility, discomfort and separation).
Especially before we throw ourselves into merriment and abandon, this fast can be an opportunity to strip ourselves down, to ground, to ask God to prepare us for whatever comes next and to know that even if we can’t hear God’s answer, it is already here.
Here are a couple of chants/songs that could be helpful themes for the fast (really poor recordings attached):
Humble Yourself – Lift Each Other Up
Humble Yourself Humble yourself in the eyes of the (Mother)*
Bend down low and
Humble yourself in the eyes of your Mother
You’ve got to know what S/he/They know/s and
We shall lift each other up
Higher and higher!!
We shall lift each other up
(You’ve got to…) * Father, Brother, Sister, Children, etc.
|I call out to You for You will answer me, God||
Ani kratich ki ta’aneini El
אֲנִי-קְרָאתִיךְ כִי-תַעֲנֵנִי אֵל
-Psalm 17:6 (melody by Annie Matan Gilbert)
Wishing you a meaningful day!