Monday, February 23, 2004

Another week of school is off the ground. Today we had Midrash all morning, with a break for prayers. We're working on a rabbinic document called the Mekhilta d'Rabbi Ishmael, which is a commentary on part of the book of Exodus. Sounds dull? Not at all.

This morning's lesson had a wonderful little bit in it that I must share. The rabbis are looking at Exodus 18, the chapter in which Jethro, the priest of Midian, visits his son-in-law Moses, bringing the family along. Jethro gives Moses some really good management advice ("delegate, delegate, delegate unless you want to drive yourself and your people crazy.") The order of events in the passage from Torah is a bit hazy; at one point, the redactor of the text says, "What? I cannot tell who is kissing whom!" So nice to know that sometimes even the sages were confused.

One thing I am learning for sure this year: it is hard to read the Bible and stick to the text. There are so many stories with gaps that I'm accustomed to filling in with stories I've been told, so many stories for which I am sure I have "the meaning," so many passages I think I know and I just don't. Try reading anything in Genesis as if you'd never seen it before. Stop at the end of each sentence and digest it before you move along. It's a curious book.

I saw a rainbow this afternoon, and I had a lovely chat with the proprietors of a wonderful used and rare book store (you know the kind: books piled to the ceiling, a nice "booky" smell, all sorts of interesting stuff squirreled away on top shelves.) Arnold M. Herr Bookseller, on Fairfax.

Ok, enough goofing off! Later.

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