Interview with a Rabbi

originally published: 2012-02-07

Tuesday, Jan. 31

On Tuesday, I woke up a bit earlier than I intended, had tea, and walked to shul for my appointment with Reb. Laura. I arrived a comfortable fifteen minutes early. When I knocked on the door, she expressed surprise that I was so early. I told her that if she was doing me the honour of meeting with me so late in her day, I could at least do her the honour of being a bit early.However, she had a few things to finish up, and told me to go up to the former choir balcony, now a small study, to wait for her.

Once she came up stairs, I showed her the Show&Tell I had brought – the presents from my husbands, and my version of the dove-in-the-Star design, since we’d been talking about it on her blog.

The interview itself went well enough, although I did largely what I feared I would do – babble my stories at her to cover my own nervousness and ignorance. (Although at least she now has a bit better sense of who I am, as I already know a lot about her from her blog.)

When I got to the part in my story, where I told her about my crush on Graham, she said, “He seems like a fairly safe person to have a crush on.” I need to think about this a bit more. I am aware, in the abstract, of the unrequited [able] crush as a “safe” target for exploring otherwise inappropriate forms of desire, but it had not occurred to me to apply this to myself personally. I told her that Graham is very even keel.

She tried to draw out of my stories what I was basically looking for from Judaism, and from her – and mostly got the impression that I am looking for more meaning and ritual. I feel I may have skipped a large portion of my story somehow.

I didn’t get very many questions answered, but I managed a few.

Regarding Shabbat I got mostly what I expected: To stop worrying and love the bomb. Meaning, that I should focus on the Intent of finding a way to relax, and say out of the general distracting Internet conversation, and reflect and recharge with whatever does that for me. Avoid external stress, and focus on home and family life.

As to personal prayer, I mostly got, “Just close your eyes and go with whatever happens.”

To “What is Renewal, anyway?” I got a list of three book recommendations.

– Judaism For Dummies (But a warning not to read “Idiots Guide to Judaism”)
– Jewish With Feeling: a Guide to Meaningful Jewish Practice
– The Path of Blessing

To the question, “What is the role of Rabbi?” I got, “Depends on what you need from me.”

She’s a very smart lady. I will take her Exploring Judaism series starting again next fall. I came back too late for this fall – and already had mundane classes Tuesday nights. I can compensate around that next fall. The course sounds like Hebrew School for grown-ups.

After we talked, we walked out together. She wanted to use the bathroom, so I waited for her. While waiting, I spied a tiny white speck crawling across the shul floor. On closer examination, it turned out to be a ladybug, which I rescued. When I showed it to Reb. Laura she said, “Oh – a ladybug! I’m afraid it will have to go outside!” I carefully put it on a rosebush by the stairs. Coming back inside, I said to Reb. Laura,
“They eat aphids, from what I recall.”
“Yes, but I don’t think there’s any aphids in here.”
“Maybe it was also seeking a closer connection to G-d.”
“I guess you can look at it like that.”

We walked out, and I walked over to Kingsway to pick up food for myself on the way home. I ordered food from Pho Hong, and while it was being prepared, went across the street to buy my husbands a case of beer. Each husband had given me a gift – so I thought it would be nice to reciprocate by buying them some beer to share. But it was only when I was looking at the boxes, that I realized that wasn’t my only motivation: I wanted to be weighed down.

When I was a kid, and Maria and I were doing our weekly or biweekly rambling hikes over the back trails of Vancouver Island, I started a curious tradition. Piece by piece, Maria was building a concrete and polished river stone fire pit in her back yard. When we went hiking, I typically had a very light pack – swim suit and towel, basic first aid, picnic lunch, and water. So I got into the habit, that at the beginning of the hike, I’d find a nice, smooth river boulder usually in the range of 15 to 20lbs, and I’d carry that with us all the way through the hike, and then pack it in the car, take it home, and add it to her fire pit.

Because Maria was old, the hikes we took weren’t very strenuous, and the additional weight upped the challenge a bit, the rocks also provided a physical grounding, a connection to the real and solid terrain that we were hiking over, while our discussions rambled through the political and existential.

As I’ve grown up, I’ve gradually come to realize that occasionally I want to overexert myself physically, as a way to unwind and engage mentally. (Part of the reason I also enjoy archery – if I ever have time to get back to it, and unwrap my new bows)

So I balanced my hot food and my box of beer and hauled myself home. I ate, and went to work. Dave had just parked the work van when I came outside, so he switched to the Element and gave me a ride to work, so I got to have a wonderful short trip catching up with him.

Nu? So, what did you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s