Monday, April 16, 2012

Sefirah: A time to learn, a time to mourn

Pesach, and it's accompanying condition known as Pesach brain, is now behind us.  We are currently in sefirah, the seven-week pre-Shavout countdown.  A time when we mourn the deaths of 24,000 of Rabbi Akiva's disciples, who died because they failed to honor each other.  We remember this tragedy by avoiding music, haircuts, and weddings during sefirah.
Of course, this will have very little effect on us.  Instead of looking at the events (massive deaths due to sinas chinam), we incorporate mourning practices without a second thought.  Ours is not to reason why, and all that.  We instead use this time period by bickering about the exact parameters of sefirah, listening to a capella sefirah music (I once heard a piece of sefirah music done to the tune of Guns 'N Roses "Paradise City".  Weird.), and counting the days to Lag B'Omer, the party in the middle.  And we make the same mistakes. 
Over Pesach, I had a conversation about the different types of Jews out there.  As far as I'm concerned, there is only ONE type of Jews--The Jewish type.  Everything else, Ashkenazi, Sefardic, Chasidic, Litvish, left-wing, right-wing, Conservative, Reform, is all a matter of interpretation.  And, until we understand this, and refuse to be divided over petty hashkafik differences, our mourning will not change to dancing.

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