Sunday, August 29, 2010

Leaving the Holy Land

No, I'm not leaving- I just got here. But I might be back to visit the good old U.S. of A. sometime in the near future. And you know what?

The thought is making me antsy. Not the good things about it: being able to see friends and relatives again, do some much needed shopping (ie: pick up things that are either only available in the US, or cheaper there- anyone who wishes to help me with this at any time is free to email me), and bring a bit of the Holy Land there. On the other hand, how can I leave Israel?
To not see my blue sky, my crisp white stone buildings- the air, the atmosphere- the general feeling that it impresses on my psyche?

And NBD (should I come up with another name for her now that she's 1 1/2? ) has never been outside of the Holy Land. When I made aliyah with her, the Misrad HaKlita (Ministry of Absorption) asked me when her entry into Israel was, as it was not written in her passport. I replied, "She was born here." They then duly recorded her date of birth as the entry into this special place. Like Yitzchak Avinu, who never left the Holy Land in his lifetime unless instructed by G-d- how can I take here out of here, even for a short time?

There are rabbinic responses listed as to for what reasons one can leave Israel. I think that R' Moshe Feinstein is the posek involved who gave the reasoning that if parents want one to come back to Chutz L'Aaretz to visit- that would be enough of a reason. But the simple truth shows that one needs a pretty good reason to leave Israel.

When all is said and done, I still don't know if we will be leaving or not. But I do know that if we do leave, I will be pining for my Yerushalyim every day that I'm gone.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Ulpan 3: The Questions

Why do Jewish married women cover their hair? (coming from the Muslim girl who doesn't cover her own hair in the class)
Why can't women sing in front of men that don't mind hearing women sing anyway? Can you sing under your breath?
Why don't religious Jews serve in the army?
What does Beitar Yerushalayim stand for (the soccer team) and who is Yosef Trompledor anyway? (I asked this one- and it turns out most of the class didn't know either. So much for educating the masses about Zionism.)
Can religious Jews throw stones on Shabbos if they set aside the stones before hand with that in mind?
Why do different Chassidic sects have different kippot, hats and payot?
Should there be buses that travel on Shabbos in Jerusalem?

And so on. Feel free to answer if you know. I for one had a lot of fun with some of these questions in class. I am proudly religious, so I truly don't mind when people ask me respectfully and honestly- not antagonistically, about the Jewish religion. I'm happy to give an answer, and to engage in discussion. What I'm not so happy about is trying to deal with the stereotypes, or the anti-charedism that comes along with it. It's hard for me to explain that a religious person who steals isn't religious, and that we are not 'you people' and so on.

How would you deal with some of these questions? Inquiring minds want to know. Respectfully of course.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Ulpan 2: History of the Hebrew Language

Ulpan continues- I'm learning again, as I dreaded in high school, the different forms: Nifal, Hife'il, Hufal, Piel, Pual, and so on. The problem is, at least with me, that after having learned Ivrit for so many years, my Hebrew is 'fossilized'- as my Ulpan professor put it. My grammer mistakes may be there for eternity, since I speak and understand Hebrew to a high enough level. Which is a price I'll have to pay. I've been told it takes many years to actually speak Hebrew perfectly- so what right do I have to complain after such a short time here?

But I digress. My elective in Ulpan is History of the Hebrew Language: was Hebrew the first languge out there? How did modern Hebrew evolve from Biblical Hebrew? Where do Arabic, Aramaic, and Phonician come into play? And so on.

As through the Mesorah (at least the way that I understand it) the Torah always existed- G-d looked into the Torah and created the world- through the words of Lashon HaKodesh themselves. The Torah is the expression of Lashon HaKodesh in this world.

But does that mean that the Torah is written in Lashon HaKodesh? Is Hebrew the original Lashon HaKodesh, or a translation or variation thereof? I would probably say yes, at this point, albeit with the caveat that we do NOT speak Torah Hebrew the way that probably David HaMelech, or Avraham Avinu spoke Lashon HaKodesh-namely, the 2 versions of Chet, 2 versions of Ayin, Daled, Gimel (Beged Kefet are some that most are familiar with), Tzadee, Shin, Samech, Zayin, and so on.

I, the datiyah (religious girl) in the class, kinda forced my professor to say that most of what he was saying was theory, rather than concrete fact- but most was highly illuminating and made a lot of sense. Plus, I got to show that I actually can read and translate Tanach- unlike many of the Israeli brethren out there. Shows a Bais Yaakov education is good for something! (that was a joke, for those of you about to throw tomatoes.)

Anyone have any really really early Torah sources for prounciation and grammer? Or writing, and language? I'm curious!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ulpan: First Thoughts

Yes, you read the title correctly: I'm in Ulpan.

Traditionally, Ulpan is conducted over a long period of time, except for crazy fanatical students like me, who have no time in their lives to begin with, so they embark on the sadistic torture called Ulpan Kayitz (Summer Ulpan), which is 2 months of intensive Hebrew learning atmosphere, with some fun electives and activities thrown into the mix.

When I first walked into the Ulpan (3 days late: Israel bureaucracy at its best), I immediately was thrust into a conversation amidst the mostly irreligious- (or chiloni, as they call themselves- no derogatory meaning implied) members of the class, regarding a certain text passage that they had read. It seems that one of the members of the class interpreted the passage to mean that Jerusalem- ie Yerushalayim- is a holy city, and therefore, should be occupied by the religious (ie, charedi or dati- depending on which group you are referring to.)

And, in midst of the screaming of the 'zealot charedi movement that wants to take over a city that should be free for all'- I slunk into a chair in the back, my cheeks burning brighter than the colorful headscarf I had on my head that declared to all that I was a 'da'atiyah'.

I thought that I would have to leave Ulpan then and there. My professor, very knowledgable about the religious public and Tanach in general (he grew up in a religious household and cast it away), singled out me as the likely person to explain why women can't sing in front of men who don't care about hearing women sing.

I picked the least inflammatory elective- History of the Hebrew Language, as opposed to Biblical Criticism, and am enjoying it immensely- especially as to most of the class, I seem to be a scholar of Biblical Hebrew (ie: I can translate and read Tanach.)

I must say, Ulpan is a truly interesting experience. All comments and ideas are welcome.

Just a Mazel Tov Shout Out....

Just thought I shouldn't ignore the many, many mazel tovs in the Jblogosphere:

Jerusalem Stoned, Mekubal/The Rabbi's Wife, and Sporadic Intelligence on the birth of their baby boys!

Shades of Grey, Musing Maidel, and SiBaW on their engagements!

Chana on her upcoming marriage!

As a Yiddishism expresses it so perfectly: Oif Simchos- or in Hebrew- let's continue to hear Besurot Tovot!