Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ein Mayim Elah Torah - There is No Water Besides Torah


I'm afraid that once the regular semester kicks off on Sunday that I'll start to lose blogging time, as activities increase.  But we'll see how this goes; I certainly hope to keep this up in the most efficient way possible.  I'm only going to write some select things here.

This week was interesting in Yeshiva because my chevruta, my buddy, David, was doing Magen David Adom training all week, so he was not in my classes. I worked with Ariella K., Shosh (one of our madrichot), and Ayelet S. in our Talmud class.  I'm in a new Talmud class now, with Rabbi Joel Levy.  It started out very interestingly – we're doing Bava Kamma, chapter eight, about personal injury and damage.  We started by studying the segment from Parashat Mishpatim (in Exodus) that contains the core verses related to the issue, and then we studied pre-biblical codes (from Mesopotamia and such).  The interesting thing we discovered (that I didn't know before) is that lex talionis, the concept of eye for an eye, doesn't really appear until the Bible! In the other codes, there was more of a concept of monetary compensation.  The eye-opening chiddush (new idea, inovation) for me that Rabbi Joel brought, in the names of Moshe Greenberg and Yair Lorberbaum, is that in pre-biblical codes, injuring a person is crime; in the Jewish religion, it's sin, a crime against God, to injure a person made in God's image. We've since ventured into the Mishnah, and Rabbi Joel has a great approach to studying the Mishnah and many interesting discussions have sparked from our review of the Mishnah.

There were also some interesting classes on Tuesday. The more I study Chumash with Shaiya, the more I appreciate Rashi and the text itself. We are studying Joseph, starting from the beginning of Parashat Vayeshev, and the approach Rashi takes towards Joseph is fascinating.  I've thoroughly enjoyed that class. Our Modern Jewish Thought class was smaller in size this week, and it was pretty good to have a more intimate class. We spent much time studying Harold Bloom on what it means to be a literary genius and looked at some Franz Kafka. It was quite over my head to begin with, but when I reviewed it that night I began to grasp much better the point of it all.

For Erev Nativ Tuesday night, we had semester orientation (as the Hebrew U semester starts on Sunday, and things sort of change for everyone in terms of the way the program will work). It's very exciting to be moving into a stage where we really begin to gain our independence in our lifestyle, but it will be very overwhelming. So much to do and not so much time! I wish I was making much more time to read and study as it is, and it's been difficult. But it will be great.

Wednesday was very fulfilling for me – between what I have already mentioned about Talmud, and I also bought some new, beautiful kippot from Ann as well as a couple of other purchases that were necessary. Poskim was also extraordinary – I studied with this guy Joel in place of David doing MADA training, and we plowed through Rambam's introductions to Sefer HaMitzvot and Yad HaChazakah (Mishneh Torah) very well. Some very basic things about the Rambam's quest in writing the Mishneh Torah I knew, but Reb Shmuel gave us some very interesting insights on the significance of Rambam. Next week we will study the opposition to codification.

I believe that's all I have to say for now.  Going camping and hitting the beach for Shabbat – I will explain after Shabbat how that probably will end up being a Shabbat that I have never experienced.

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