Friday, October 29, 2004

Yom shishi -- it's Friday. I've been rushing around since 6am, clearing the decks for Shabbat. This coming week is going to be something else: we've got the end of the quad, which means the equivalent of midterms, papers due, change in schedules, plus "interquad" classes, which means we'll be in class on Friday, too. Add all that disruption to the drama of the national elections and it does look like an interesting week ahead.

Lots going on internally of late. I began keeping kosher two years ago in Jerusalem. Publicly, I wanted to learn about it, and there's no learning like doing. Privately, I knew that the biggest holiness deficit in my life had to do with eating. While I did learn how to keep a kosher home (separate meat and milk, have only kosher food in my kitchen) the holiness issue continued to be nagging. It's no secret that I'm a fat woman, and have struggled with eating all my life. The boundaries of kashrut (keeping kosher) served to highlight my difficulties around eating.

That's not a bad thing: nothing like shining a bright light on something in order to get a good look at it. But I felt particularly helpless: the scales rang in with scary numbers, my joints are failing, and other health issues loomed.

Then I heard a sermon from one of the fifth year students that really got my attention. Gersh talked to us kindly and sincerely about his own journey with kashrut. He reminded us of the mitzvot involved: not just the halakha (Jewish law) about kashrut per se, but also the commandments to take care of our bodies, to refrain from waste, to be kind to animals, to pursue justice, to feed the hungry of the world. He explained why each of those were tied to his own decision to keep a vegan diet, completely free from all animal produce. He buttressed his own opinions with the words of rabbis I respect.

Since September, I've changed my practice of kashrut. My kitchen is a dairy kitchen. But I've also been taking steps to move "bad for me" foods out of my life: sugar and some other foods that do not add to the holiness in my life are now as traife, as not-to-eat as a pork chop. I'm trying to make eating the holy activity that it should be, for sustaining life. I bless before and after meals, to make it "kadosh" -- set apart, holy. I don't eat between meals.

Frankly, it isn't easy and it hasn't been pretty. Sugar is a nasty addiction. I had no idea how much it dulled my senses: now I'm restless, and my joints are all screeching at me. (Ironic, isn't it, that one of the things I was doing with sugar was dulling arthritis pain -- the same arthritis that is aggravated by excess weight?) The trouble is, there's no "enough" for me with the sugar.

On the plus side, prayer has acquired a new edge for me. I am exquisitely awake in prayer in a way I haven't been before.

I have debated posting this on my blog, but it's what's going on with me right now; it's most of what's going on with me right now. It is directly tied to my journey through rabbinical school, and the journey I began when I entered the Jewish covenant. Dunno where it will lead, but it will surely be interesting.

Shabbat shalom.

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