I sat in shul bored out of my mind. I only learned later that I had missed Parshas Noach. It’s a great parshah to think about sex posts in shul, to think about how I could push people’s buttons by talking about how I never was never taught about the whole thing. I was taught first that Noahís sons saw him naked — big deal, I used to see my old man naked all the time. Heck, we used to hand my dad the phone when he was taking his bedtime dump. I admit it, I sit in shul thinking of posts, but I forgot to grab a chumash on the way from the shul library and there I sat wondering what to do. We were approaching the haftorah time and I never really got into haftorahs. It always seemed that by the time things started getting interesting it was over.
I remember learning that Noah was castrated and I thought I was the keeper of some dark secret edited out of the hardcover “The Little Midrash Says…”, and then I learned that he was raped by his kids, but I donít think I understood. Iím a child of the 80ís and a teenager of the 90ís. I really couldnít understand the concept of anal sex, let alone gay sex. I would have stuck my penis into a cantaloupe (we heard it felt like the real thing) but a butt? Never! So I sat reminiscing about my forays into household fruit products when it was suddenly time for pesicha.
I watched in wonder as a whole bunch of ladies marched proudly onto the bimah as if they had just won the lottery. It was only pesicha — isnít pesicha a reject job for someone not pimp enough to do hagba or even geilila? These ladies were into it. I guess it feels good to join the men at their game once in a while. I would gladly let the ladies take over my tefillin, zíman krias shema and koveah ittim mitzvos. You think I want to get up at 7 every morning to thank God for giving me life? Hell no! Alas, we men are on such a low madreiga, proof is in the pudding, itís the ladies who rush to throw on a cool colored talit to show their appreciation for a mitzvah they donít even have, while we men throw on yellowed ratty talesim and shuckel violently to prevent sleep from happening while we have our tefillin on. (Editor’s note : Speak for yourself! I have the awesome tallis my wife bought me.)
The mechitza was so low that I had a clear view of the ladies. Most of you may think thatís a good thing but it really isnít. It wasnít making me want to take a cold shower but it was making it that much less enjoyable to look over the mechitza. It happens to be that low mechitzas may in fact be good for those davening because they allow you to look freely without spending so much of your time waiting for someone to ruffle the curtain for a quick glimpse. Ruffled curtain glimpses of the ladies are a dream come true, but low mechitzas just take the fun out of it. Of course there are those that would say we will become desensitized to women if we have a low mechitza, but I think it may actually be good to be desensitized so we donít spend half of shul trying to catch a glimpse of what lies beyond the wall.
As the ladies were putting the torahs away, the congregation started singing some joyous Carlebach niggun and I noticed in a quick instant that one of the Torahs started to slip out of the Ladies’ hands as they tried in vain to get it corrected into the Ahron Kodesh. Everything slowed down as I wondered whether or not they would drop the Torah. I was too far from the door. Could I ignore the scene and not be mekabel the fallen Torah? Fasting as a cook would really suck.
I’m sure the Rabbi could come up with a heter as he seemed to be in that department anyway. The ladies were doing pesicha in an orthodox shul and there was one time I showed up during a Bat Mitzvah and noticed the ladies were laining in the main shul and the men were thrown into the library to have their own laining. How could the ladies lain and be yotze without a minyan? I guess the Rabbi really knew his stuff so I was certain that the Rabbi would find a way out of our impending predicament. I hoped the Kiddush wouldnít be thrown out, lest we be tempted to break our fast. If the Torah did in fact fall on Shabbos, would fasting start on Shabbos? All of these thoughts were flowing through my head as the ladies, with the help of several others corrected the Torah and prevented the fast. I wondered if they would ban women from doing pesicha and give them other man jobs like sorting the tzedaka money and sharpening the yad.
We sat down for the speech. The rabbi was gone (good thing we didnít need to paskin the fast) and in his place there was this eco-rabbi, this man trying to tell us that weekend getaways wreak havoc on the environment, ďair travel is the worstĒ because the carbon is already left in the air and so I wondered how he had gotten to us from Israel. I wondered if his talks were helping reduce the carbon footprint that he made from his international flight. He could have just had a video conference. I was willing to bet that in order to offset his own air travel carbon footprint, he would have to convince a lot of cash strapped yeshiva tuition paying moms to get a prius (maybe he was a secret Toyota rep.)
His speech kind of sucked, but thatís probably because heís a information dissemination, not a brilliant orator. I hope he inspired the audience with his material, because it seemed to me that he was preaching to the choir. The modern orthodox shul in Berkeley is a model for shuls everywhere. They have four freaking garbage cans. Donít tell anyone but I just dumped all my stuff in whichever one was closest to me, so if you find herring in your recycled water bottle youíll know itís from me. They also have those corn forks, the oneís that every smart ass has to comment about how they arenít kosher for Passover. I sure as hell donít think I could eat a fork, although corn forks tend to break easier.
Kiddush was good. I knew it would be since the last time I was there, there was a bat mitzvah and they had mango-ahi salad. This time there was no special event. It was your average run of the mill liberal shul Kiddush. All really left wing shuls have good kiddushim, because everyone is always social (too social in this shul — Kiddush lasted for two hours, well past the food) They had the run of the mill julian sliced veggies, but this time there were mounds of cubed feta cheese. I knew that would be a quick seller so I began hoarding feta cheese under my wheat crackers, next to the very dry herring. I ate feta and took more, I went from table to table Ė the feta thief Ė people may have been whispering, Iím sure they knew, Iím sure they could see the beautiful white cheese poking out from beneath my crackers, I didnít care, I was sick of fleishig, I needed dairy.