Sorry, folks, I’ve been off my blogging game. I’ve been hard at work on another project, my Daily Daf Talmud podcasts. Daily Daf Differently is a really cool podcast where listeners study the Daf Yomi, the daily page of Talmud, with a variety of liberal rabbis and teachers. A page a day is a bit too much for me these days (maybe when I retire!), but I’m hoping to study a few pages from every tractate, and so I’m teaching a few of the podcasts. Right now I’m preparing some pages from the tractate Yevamot, which is known as one of the hardest tractates in the Babylonian Talmud, and man, is it challenging me. So any extra brain space I might have is currently in use: I’m trying to figure out what these rabbis are saying! Stay tuned for another post in January. As soon as this project’s done, I hope to come back to my writing.
If you’d like to hear one, here’s the link to my podcast of one of my all-time favorite lessons about Chanukkah, from Shabbat 22. The rabbis discuss whether the real mitzvah of Chanukkah is to light the candles or simply to place the Chanukkah menorah in the window. The Chassidic text Kedushat Levi teaches that these two possibilities reflect different spiritual moments in a Jew’s religious experience. Sometimes the spiritual fire is alive in us, and sometimes it’s not. I love how honest the original Chassidim were about the ebb and flow of our spiritual and emotional lives. The Kedushat Levi reads the rabbinic debate as a message that sometimes it’s enough just to show up, just to place our menorah and to have the faith that the kindling– the revival of spiritual light– will come. It seems to me that’s the whole message of the holiday itself. Light will come, even in the darkest moments. May each of us experience a renewed faith and a renewed spiritual energy as we light our candles in the coming week. See you in January!