Friday, August 04, 2006

I've got *how* long until candlelighting?

Shabbat is rapidly swooping in, and I have yet to finish making dinner, trace and paint a pair of rectangles on the boys' wall, screw in a doorknob, change water in the fish tank, shower and then try to excavate my home such that the guests can find the table. But what the hell, the partner has taken the boys walking (no surprise, that), and I have finally got a few let's blog!

To you all, I feel like I've hit a quota on my political posts. So instead, I refer you to this and this for an on-the-ground view of the war in Lebanon. It just makes me so sad. And I'll happily send you to this grumpy take on Mr. Gibson.

Rapunzel, I did not forget your question about kisui rosh. (See here if you missed the post.) I've actually been ducking it, because it's not an easily answered one - or perhaps it's an answer that makes me uneasy. Either way, here I go:

When I was first married, I lived in a community that seemed to me to be very interested in guidelines. Odd ones would crop up, ones I'd never really thought had much bearing on my practice, and there was an uncomfortable undercurrent of keeping up with the Cohens. It seemed almost as if your public faith was more important than your private faith. Now, keep in mind that I was rather young then, and that my practice then was more mimetic, or what I'd learned in school and at home, than it was a compilation of deliberately investigated and chosen behaviours/beliefs. My MIL would remind me that I'm not so very much older now, and I'd have to admit that my faith seems a permanently evolving creature. And that's my disclaimer.

I covered my hair when I got married for a range of reasons. First, I looked it up. According to the Rashi (commenator) on the relevant bit of Talmud, this seemed to be the thing to do. The flexibility and range within this practice seemed as much community-oriented as it was personal choice. As a member of the Orthodox community, then, I looked around and chose from the range of choices being enacted in my community. As an individual, however, I knew that I suffer from headaches, made worse by even the lightest headband, and I suspected that this would cause complications. Still, there are different headcovering options, and some would be kinder to my splitting skull than others.. I also knew that I was applying to graduate school, where I'd most likely be the only religious Jew the department had. Kisui rosh would make me a rare bird, indeed. Weighing this, I made a deal with myself and my partner: I'd give it a year. For one year, I'd keep this stricture, and over the course of the year we'd see how it felt. Convenience was not a reason to ditch it, even in the summer, and if necessary we could find a nice engineer to build a mini-a/c into my hats/fall (half-wig). And so it went.

I gave it a year and a half, in the end, and it was a good thing to have done. I learned that I could be that person, that I was comfortable with long skirts and demure dress, and that I could also be a variant with jeans and a scarf. But neither felt quite right.

Meanwhile, I was having migraines. And we'd moved to a community where only one or two women covered their hair. Being religious at grad school did indeed make me an oddity, but in a good way, as the faculty was intrigued by my day-school Hebrew and training in literary analysis.

Eventually, I decided that I just wasn't that person, that this felt like wearing a mask or persona. That kisui rosh was an option for a different version of religious me, and that worst of all, I was on the verge of rebelling. Lest other practices get lumped in with kisui rosh, I decided to face reality and make the change that I'd already seemed to have chosen. Off came the hats, to the distress of the faculty, who were concerned by this apparent religious backsliding. And my partner?

I never wanted to say anything, but I'm so glad you've decided not to do this anymore...

And that's the story of my wig, now stored in the back of my closet. It's become a metaphor for the evolving self, I suppose..

Oh, crap. I have two hours. Good luck to you, Rapunzel, in whatever evolution you are experiencing. And to you all, shabbat shalom. May this weekend bring us all peace.

dinner tonight:
watermelon gazpacho (must add the thyme!)

goan fish curry
tofu-cucumber salad
corn salad, currently much too garlicky
hearts of palm/avocado salad, courtesy of my dear Viv

homemade lemon sorbet

As you can see, this is a variant on the idea of throwing money at a problem. We're feeding a bunch a folks tonight, some vegetarian, some not, and some preggers. I couldn't decide what to make, so I'm throwing food at the problem. Surely someone will eat something...

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