May 26th, 2004

words

Torah study: Virtual Tikkun Leyl Shavuot

So naomichana is one of my heroes. She writes the most wonderful blog, and ever since I started reading it well over a year ago, I've wanted to grow up to be like her. Now today is the festival of Shavuot (Pentecost), and one of the traditions for Shavuot is to stay up all night studying and eating cheesecake. I saw in naomichana's journal that she was organizing a virtual version of this midnight feast for both stomach and brain, and I jumped at the chance.

The time difference between our two time zones meant that the wee hours of this morning for her was a fairly civilized time for me, so in a way I got the best of both worlds: I was able to participate in the study session, but got a good night's sleep first. Sadly, nobody else managed to turn up, but I had absolutely the most wonderful time.

naomichana wanted to study a really interesting 11th century Ashkenazi piyyut (religious poem) called the Akdamut. This is a very cool choice, because I love piyyutim, and they're very underrated, and even among the few people who care about them, the Ashkenazi tradition is way eclipsed by the Sephardi. So we had a really interesting discussion about Messianism and angelology and responses to persecution and adultery / fidelity metaphors and and and...

I am so starved of chevruta, (although lovely hatam_soferet has helped a lot by teaching me the occasional snippet of Talmud when we can both find the time) and this was really just what I needed. naomichana also mentioned in passing the image of a battle between the Behemoth and the Leviathan (no, I'm not quite sure how a land monster fights a sea monster - still a cute image, though!) And I learnt from her that there's a Christian tradition of women's vernacular pious literature equivalent to the Yiddish tradition, and that the latter goes back a lot earlier than I previously thought.

You know how it is when you meet someone you really, really look up to, and they turn out to be friendly and nice and you almost forget to admire them because they make you feel so comfortable? Well, naomichana is not only amazing and knowledgeable and wonderful and all the other things I already knew from reading her blog, but is also an absolutely lovely person. I had to exercise a lot of restraint not to behave like a squealing fangirl when we were studying together, so I'm making up for it now by writing a really squeeeeeeeeeee-ish post!

Also, I won at Jewish geography, though playing someone who is an academic in her field was possibly cheating slightly; that may count more as Oxbridge geography than Jewish geography.
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