These and Those

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

Jews in funny hats and leather straps.

Posted on April 23, 2013 by Avi Benson-Goldberg

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From my blog:

The thing is, the apparatus of “traditional prayer” are sort of kinky.

The thing is, we’re ten men tying ourselves up in leather straps too early in the morning.

And we’re enshrouded in these huge sheets, and some people cover their heads and faces and it’s very anonymous even when I know who everyone is.

The thing is, I bring a funny hat that I put on special for this.

And sometimes I wear special underwear. I don’t even wear special underwear when I go out anymore! (Lies! I certainly do. But that’s because I made the conscious decision to upgrade the clothes closest to my skin. It felt like a guf naki [clean body] sort of thing!)

The thing is, there are knots on top of knots on top of knots covering me from head to toe, and I’m not really allowed to move, except for when I’ve been given permission.

And we compete to get special rewards, and we congratulate one another when we don’t get them, but also we judge one another.

The thing is, I feel like an angel. Sometimes, the prophets got to go to heaven and see the angels. And they don’t really agree about what they saw, but my favorite version was Isaiah’s:

שֵׁשׁ כְּנָפַיִם שֵׁשׁ כְּנָפַיִם לְאֶחָד:  בִּשְׁתַּיִם יְכַסֶּה פָנָיו, וּבִשְׁתַּיִם יְכַסֶּה רַגְלָיו—וּבִשְׁתַּיִם יְעוֹפֵף.

Six wings: with twain he covered his face and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.

I feel like that, when I wear my Jewish paraphernalia.

And then I consider going outside in it, especially if I were still living in America, and I realize that everyone would think I was crazy. I might still think I’m crazy. (LITTLE HATS TONS OF STRINGS LEATHER BOX ON MY FOREHEAD WHAT EVEN)

The thing is, prayer is a naive moment. It’s very hard to open oneself up like that, regularly. It’s a practice, it’s like going to the gym. Only I’m much better at going to the gym.

The thing is, I’ve found it harder to do.

The thing is, it’s still sort of sexy. I’d like to marry a man who laid tefillin, even if I weren’t the sort to. I’d like someone who’d tie himself up like that.

The thing is, it’s for something so big.

The thing is.