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High Holidays Jewish Spirituality Rabbinic spirituality WorkPlace Spirituality

Hineini: My High Holiday Theme

Many rabbis come up with a theme for the high holidays (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur), some idea which ties together all of the sermons to be delivered. Usually, I make do without such a theme and deliver sermons which are relatively unrelated. This  year, I’m not delivering any sermons, but have a theme for myself, nonetheless.

It all began when someone put a post on ravelry asking what would be an appropriate word or phrase to crochet into a kippah (yamuke) for the high holidays. Which I thought was a great question. What would I want on the kippah I wore throughout the High Holidays?

I finally came up with one word: Hineini (here I am). It is the response which many biblical figures give to God when addressed by the Divine. It is a statement of readiness to perform the Divine work. It is an affirmation that one is fully present to the world which surrounds us.

This year, during the High Holidays and beyond, I’m planning to work on being more fully present in my life and my work. To think more about what I can be doing to make the Divine manifest in the world through my actions. My goal is to lead life more intentionally, and less by accepting the default options set before me.

It is easy to do things which come naturally to us. It is the tasks which are difficult, challenging or scary which require us to respond, “Hineini.” Too often I pass up those tasks which are difficult or challenging, staying in the nice safe realm of things I am good at and enjoy. But to do good work in the world, it is necessary to step outside of our comfort zone. To be present to opportunities and challenges, rather than simply coasting through and doing the things which we always do, the things which we do easily.

This year, and this High Holiday season, I will try to answer, “Hineini.” I will try to be present during congregational prayer, of course. But I will also try to be present in all of my interactions with people at CubeSpace. I will try to bring my full attention to everything I do. And in so doing, perhaps I will help make the world a somewhat better place for those with whom I interact.

Categories
humor Jewish Spirituality knitting Rabbinic

Knitting and Purim

I have a special kippah (yalmuke) I wear for Purim: muppet-kipah.jpg

I made a it a few years back out of some Fun Fur, back when the only thing I knew of to do with yarn was to make a kippah.

Purim is a holiday that makes the most sense if one gives oneself over entirely to its frivolity of spirit. With this in mind, I give you an entirely frivolous post, which may be funny to no one but me, since it is a parody of rabbinic literature on the subject of knitting. The following is an excerpt from masechet seruga:

How long should one knit as a preparation for writing? Rabbi Hillel says one should knit until the words flow smoothly. Rabbi Shammai says, two rows.

“Two rows?” asks Rabbi Abuah, “not all rows are equal. How can it be two rows.”

Rabbi BagBag ben BarBar explains: it is the length of two rows for a scarf.

If it is the length of two rows of a scarf, why did Shammai not say how many stitches? Rabbi HooHaa replies: It is two rows of whatever project you are working on, because it is the turning that counts, not the stitches, as it is written, “turn it and turn it and you will find everything in it.”

Rabbi EZ* say: but I am knitting in the round: how do I know when I am to stop.

The rabbis teach that no rules apply to Rabbi EZ. But for those of us who are not of her merit, how do we know when to stop if we are knitting in the round.

The School of Shammai teaches that one should never knit in the round.

Never knit in the round? What about socks?

Rabbi Heyouse says in the name of his master, Rabbi Heyouguys: When I was young, I would go to the School of Shammai and they were all wearing argyle socks.**

“Are they then to be called Clan McShammai?” scoffs Rabbi EZ.

Anyone may wear Argyle says the school of Hillel.

Only those whose Torah learning is great and whose knitting knowledge is greater says school of Shammai.

Only those of Scottish ancestry may wear Argyle says the School of EZ.

Rabbi Hoohaa taught, “in the days of old, any might wear Argyle, but today, we do not wear it out of respect for the Holy One of Blessing, as it is taught, ‘ah, what a tangled web we weave.'”

Happy Purim Everyone .

*For the non knitters: Elizabeth Zimmerman (who is as Hillel to the knitting tradition).

**For the non-knitters: argyle socks are knit flat, and then sewed up the back: they are persnickety beyond belief are require handling between four and eight balls of yarn simultaneously.