These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem


Posted on October 31, 2012 by Eric Feldman

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From my blog:

After months of putting it off, I finally made it down to Ein Gedi last Friday. I went with some friends from college park, and we left at 4:30 am to drive down to the hike. As we were passing the dead sea on the drive down, I looked out the car window and watched the sun rise over the mountains of Jordan with the rays reflecting in the water; definitely one of my better sunrises. The hike itself was great…we went for about 7 hours and climbed 600 meters, from the 200 meters below sea level to 400 above, and got to see some incredible views. We then made it back to Jerusalem just in time for Shabbat, with about 20 minutes to spare. Definitely a great way to spend a Friday.

Then this week, last night I attended the MASA opening event with thousands of post-high school and post-college Jews from all over the world, here on over a hundred different programs. It was really an amazing sight to see all of these people just like me who had made the decision, for any of a zillion reasons, to come here for an extended period of time, and being in the same room with all of them was definitely special. And another highlight was that the Idan Raichel Project performed, and they were aaamazing. So good live and such great music. And tonight, I went to the auditions of a local showing of Hairspray. I should clarify…I didn’t actually audition, but for my community service project for Pardes, I will be working 1:1 with an 18-year old Ethiopian fellow, Rafael, in order to help him learn the songs (in english) for Hairspray, and the auditions were tonight so I came to help him fill out forms and provide moral support. Definitely a nice break from learning all day, and also a good way to rep my Baltimore pride (Since I think Hairspray is based there?).

And then to the learning – in my meditation class this week, we are focusing on seeing the Divine in everything, and one way to do this is through the experience of eating, since it contains a lot of our pleasures and desires, and we all have feelings on the matter. So the key to meditating on food is essentially to become very present and aware of every single step of the process, and go very slowly. More practically, this involves really honing in on the texture, feel, smell, and appearance of the food/bite, and then eventually putting it in your mouth and just letting it sit on your tongue without chewing, just feeling its texture with your mouth, and then eventually starting to very slowly chew, possibly with taking breaths in between, and then eventually swallowing. Needless to say, I had the most dramatic peanut butter banana experience of my life earlier tonight, which turned into a 30 minute sensory bonanza.

And one more thing, an idea I picked up on from a teacher recently and I’m still working on, is taking an hour (ideally, less if you can’t) every day that is dedicated to being unplanned, and then seeing what you decide to do during that time and analyzing it afterwards. My unplanned hour today became cleaning out/exploring a cabinet in my apartment that hadn’t been touched since we moved in 3 months ago and had a lot of stuff left over from the former residents…including a guitar case, a bag of coals, and a bunch of pretty intriguing recipes on index cards. Ima head out now but hope all is well and if you’re reading from the northeast, stay inside! It’s hurricaning out there!