lavendersparkle: Jewish rat (Rat)
[personal profile] lavendersparkle
My, it has been a long time since I have updated. I'm still reading my reading page every day or so, but life has been just the right combination of busy, happy and uneventful to keep me from writing posts with any regularity.

I thought I'd give you an update on my spiritual PDE efforts.

I have now read my way through the whole Tanach in translation. I think it has given me an appreciation of how the bits that pop up as haftarahs fit in with the whole. I commented to a friend that it was a bit like actually sitting down to watch the box set of a show you've previously just caught the odd repeat of when flicking through TV channels. I've found the reading on my commute method every week quite useful, so I've bought The Observant Life on Kindle and have just started reading that. In terms of Talmud, I'm continuing going to Talmud study at my rabbi's house about once a fortnight and I've also started doing chavrutah with [personal profile] kerrypolka on the alternative weeks. We're doing about one daf (page) a go in English, which means that it will take over a 100 years for us to get through the Babylonian Talmud at this rate. I don't think we're going to make it.

I have done less well with the Hebrew. I've only attempted any translation about three times in the last more than three months. I just can't seem to bring myself to get into the habit of studying it regularly. Grammar exercises are boring but translation at my current standard is a massive slog, looking up the majority of the vocabulary and trying to remind myself of the verb and noun forms. I think another obstacle is that I need a grammar book and a big dictionary to have a hope at translating anything, which means that Hebrew practice can't be done on my commute, which is a shame because I find that the easiest time to slot in learning (the Tanach was read almost exclusively on the Northern Line). I'd welcome suggestions for ways to brush up my Biblical Hebrew other than just sucking it up and getting on with doing it on a regular basis.

I'm starting to think more about children. Don't jump the gun with the 'mazel tov's, but as a happily married non-childfree woman in her thirtieth year, they're beginning to become less of a far off hypothetical. I've been thinking about the kind of Jewish upbringing and eduction I'd like to provide for my children. Now, I hate the 'Judaism as a giant intergenerational ponzi scheme' but I think that, just as 'what would you do if you had a million pounds?' can be a useful thought experiment, 'what kind of religious example do you want to give to your children?' can be a useful thought experiment to work out what you'd like your religious life to be. This has motivated me more to improve my Hebrew. It's also made me want to explore prayer. Aside from shul, I almost never engage in set prayer. I think when (G@d willing) I have children, I'd like to encourage them to start and end the day with prayer. Many times in the past I've had a go at praying regularly, but I've never kept it up. This time I'm having a go at starting small. Really small. I'm trying to get into the habit of saying Modah Ani when I wake up in the morning. I'll see how I go at that.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-11-06 03:19 pm (UTC)
liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
From: [personal profile] liv
Ooh, nice to hear from you! Happy and uneventful is good.

I think what I would do with Biblical Hebrew is take a parallel text Chumash with you on your commute, and cover up the English part of it. That way you get a passage that you know at least reasonably well, so you can guess from context, and if you need to look something up, you can just uncover the English "pony" text rather than having to go to a dictionary. Sometimes the best you can do is translate as "God said to Moses: if you verb adverbial phrase noun, verb and verb because I am adjective noun". But that is also progress, it helps to embed the grammar into your brain without feeling like a huge effort. And you'll start to recognize variant forms of the same root etc, without having to drill yourself on conjugations.

I like the Modah Ani habit, I've been doing that myself and I am able to do that even when I am not keeping up with regular davening. When I was a kid morning prayers never really happened consistently, with four of us needing to get ready for school etc, but bedtime prayers with all the sibs and my Dad were something that I really got a lot out of, so I think that's an excellent practice to set up for your hypothetical future kids. I really advise not making it onerous, eg don't try to get them to do a full-on shacharit and maariv, otherwise it'll end up never happening or else they'll resent it. Something like the one-page version that the siddur offers is a better starting point, including the Shema and a couple of other simple prayers.

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