I managed to get a lie-in on Friday, I think I hadn't realized how sleep-deprived I was. Then spent the afternoon chez ploni_bat_ploni, preparing the service for the evening and food for shabbat, and just chilling out. Life is much easier with candles at the civilized hour of half past four, rather than barely after lunch!
The service went well. Not so many people as last month, but those who did attend were enthusiastic and we had a good atmosphere. It's something I really enjoy doing and I think it is a meaningful contribution to the community.
We got invited to supper by one of the influential people from the Liberal community, a really special person. We had a great evening, with tasty Indian food and really sparkling conversation, at times veering into heated but definitely enjoyable debate. Somehow it got so late that I would have been pushed to catch the last train home, so PbP very kindly invited me to stay over at hers, as she lives in the centre of town. I'm trying to cut down on that habit because PbP is way too interesting to talk to and we never get any sleep, but at 2 am it made sense. And we did actually sleep, for once.
And even made it to synagogue the following morning, albeit late. The most notable thing that happened was that R Narrowe preached on the New Testament, because he's just that sort of rabbi. (The fact that he was dressed in full clericals, and the fact that the synagogue is basically a cathedral, with pews and an organ and so on, definitely added to the weirdness of the impression!)
This week's Torah reading contained the infamous eye for an eye verse. So R Narrowe decided to discuss the NT reference to that passage, Matthew 5:38-41 . Reading Jesus' speech (it's from the Sermon on the Mount) as if it were Midrashic literature of the same period, he concluded that Jesus is not in fact accusing Jews of practising legally sanctioned mutilation. In his interpretation, the verse is addressed not to the victim of the assault, but to the aggressor. All the comments in the same section are admonishing people not to keep to the bare minimum of the law, but to behave so lovingly that they go beyond what is required. If the law says you are obliged to give someone your coat, give your cloak as well. If the law says walk a mile, then as the popular saying has it, go the extra mile. And if the law says you have to pay a fine for harming someone's eye or tooth, then don't just pay it, turn the other cheek and allow yourself to be doubly punished.
I don't know if this would work as a Christian reading, but it's certainly one that would get away from the problematic stereotype that Jews and the Old Testament are mean and vengeful whereas Christians are nice and loving. R Narrowe's main point was that he thinks that this is evidence that the system of paying financial fines which was the later Talmudic interpretation of Lex Talionis goes back at least to NT times (about 200 years before the redaction of the Mishnah which forms the core of rabbinic law).
Afternoon chez PbP again, eating tasty food and chatting a lot. Much as I enjoy PbP's company, which is very much indeed, it isn't actually very good for me to spend a whole weekend cooped up in one room. I could feel myself getting more and more irritable as the afternoon went on; many apologies for that, Ploni.
Meanwhile, this week has not really started well. I'll mention the good things, because the negative things are dull. Happy cells, clean underwear, clean sheets and clean hair. Good conversations with pseudomonas and P'tite Soeur. j4's excellent lentil curry. (I didn't have coriander or limes, so I substituted lemon balm and lemons, but anyway, it rocks, thanks for that recipe.)