Tuesday, September 11, 2012

An Accounting of My Soul: 10Q Edition

The High Holidays are upon us. While some Jews might dread this time of year, what with having to account for your actions in the last year, lots of time in shul, and having to miss a lot of work or school, I AM SO EXCITED. I love the High Holidays. They're just so Jewish (duh?). I love honey and I love fall. Recalling what we've done in the last year and thinking about how to be a better person is a really good exercise for the soul. This is known as cheshbon ha'nefesh which literally means "accounting of the soul." What better way to start this than to review my 10Q responses from last year!

10Q is a project that sends you a question every day during the Days of Awe. You respond and then the answers go into a virtual lockbox for the next year. You don't have to be Jewish to participate by any means, but the calendar does run on the Hebrew calendar. I have two responses I want to share with you.
Day 4: 
Describe an event in the world that has impacted you this year. How? Why? 
Your Answer: 
The killing of Osama Bin Laden - I remember find out in a way through twitter. I didn't find out the details but I remember knowing something big happened and i turned on the news. And there they said it "Osama Bin Laden is dead." I called out [my roommate] into the living room and called my dad and told him to turn on the TV. It was such a momentous occasion. We called and texted all of our friends and family. Then we saw on facebook that people were jumping in mirror lake. We drove over to campus and got out and frolicked around with everyone. It was so exciting. 
Sometime in the next week, I was watching the news again. The anchor had on a priest, a rabbi, and an imam to discuss the death/killing of Bin Laden. I found my self strongly disagreeing with the priest but completely understanding the rabbi's point of view. The priest sad that Bin Laden wasn't evil...? He said just because he committed evil acts that he himself wasn't actually evil. The rabbi said, no! when you commit evil acts over and over, you are evil. You are your actions. Now that made sense. Also, the very next day after the event, two of my Catholic friends posted a quote from the vatican that no Christian rejoices at the death of a man, blah blah blah. These two had been at mirror lake celebrating the night before! so, 1. hypocrites and 2. Bin Laden was our enemy and killed our people. why can't we rejoice at his defeat? Well, I read several articles from rabbis that week that said just that. The rabbis said it was possible for us to simultaneously mourn the loss of a human life, G-d's creation, and celebrate the defeat of our enemy who sought to destroy us, just as G-d permitted the Israelites to celebrate the defeat of the Amonites/Egyptians(?) (but did not allow the angels to celebrate). 
This was an important time in realizing and understanding that my heart and my mind naturally disagreed with Christianity and naturally agreed with Judaism.
Wow. Intense... I think I've always had a Jewish perspective when it comes to thinking about actions, I just didn't know it until a couple years ago.  Human emotions are very complex and I think Judaism honors that much more than Christianity. Honestly, I hate doing the whole compare and contrast thing with the religions, but sometimes that is just what happens. I was happy and I celebrated with the rest of my country when Osama Bin Laden died. That was our natural reaction. We didn't stop to think about it. That's just how we felt. Judaism honors natural human inclination. But the next day we think about it a little more, and it is sad that a human life was lost. Our enemy is gone but so is part of G-d's creation. We can be sad and happy at the same time. Part of the reason we all celebrated was because a dark period in our nation's history ended with Bin Laden's death. We have every reason to celebrate. Certainly, terrorism has not come to an end, but a major leader in the movement can no longer lead or cause harm to us. So I think the celebration comes from the era dying not so much that individual person.

Today, I don't think I am conscious of "this is the Jewish perspective on X event." I think my perspective just naturally agrees with the Jewish one. Well, that's pretty easy when the Jewish perspective can be one of a hundred things. But you know what I mean.
Day 6: 
Describe one thing you'd like to achieve by this time next year. Why is this important to you? 
Your Answer: 
I want to know the prayer service. If I don't have a transliteration in front of me I want to still be able to participate. I also want to know the whole Hebrew alphabet, know number values, and several Hebrew words, both in prayer and in conversation. I hope to find a synagogue to go to when I don't go to Hillel, possibly a rabbi to convert me. Unsure of the specifics on that right now. 
I'd also like to take the GRE again and score much higher on the verbal. This means improving my vocabulary a great deal. 
I want to be working toward getting something published if not already by this time next year.
So, the only goals I achieved this year were my Jewish ones. Oy. I don't know if this is bad or good. Technically, I am working toward getting something published, but I've been working on it since March. Things keep getting in the way. I don't know if it will ever happen. I haven't even finished the article yet, so there is no publishing possibility in sight. I have no intentions of taking the GRE again. I've become completely disenfranchised from the concept of standardized testing.

I know the prayer service. In fact, at Hillel's summer shabbat in July, I was the one reminding everyone of the order of things, saying things like "Now we remain standing for the hatzi Kaddish." I didn't mean to memorize the Reform Hillel service; it just happened. I don't need a transliteration anymore because I can read Hebrew. I think I went above and beyond in achieving that goal. Well, maybe I originally meant that I wanted to memorize the service. I know the basic order but I truly think it's better not to memorize everything because then I am more engaged in the prayers. I have to think to participate.

If you've been reading my blog over the last month, you know that I found a synagogue and a rabbi to convert me. Check.

I am excited for the next 10 questions to be sent out, even though it can be difficult to answer some of them. Some of the questions and my responses are a bit to personal too share here. But Judaism gets personal.

Do you 10Q?

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