My mom came for a visit and brought a lot of my shit with her. When I made a list of things she should bring with her, I didn’t realize the amount of space it would take up. Now, my apartment is… well, how do I describe it?
Can you imagine a shitstorm in a matchbox?
That’s basically what it looks like at the moment.
Though I’m almost positive I can manage it. It’ll take a while but I have my posters and my CDs and my books and my guitar, being the basic essentials, and it’ll definitely give my walls a little color, my apartment a little vibe, my brain a better passtime than my TV which doesn’t work in any case, and my fingers a little practice other than typing my way to carpole tunnel syndrom.
This past weekend was Sukkot – a holiday to remember the huts we used to live in when we were walking around the desert for 40 years, don’t ask. It’s pretty ridiculous when you think about it. But I like that holiday because I was born on Sukkot, so I get cake and a birthday song, and a couple more white hairs. This time I also wanted the four "minim" that you make a prayer on and shake or something. They’re cool because they each represent something.
Back in the day, in Torah class, we learned that the Lulav (plam tree thingy) represents the spine; the Etrog (a fruit that looks like a lemon) represents the heart; the Arava (a plant that usually grows near lakes or something) represents the lips; and the Hadass (another plant, I was named after, apparently translates into myrtle) represents the eyes. They also have different characteristics. The Lulav has taste (dates) but no smell; the Hadass has a smell (a pretty damn good one, too) but no taste; the Etrog has both; and the Arava has neither.
So in any case, I wanted to buy those, not necessarily for religious purposes, just because I wanted to. Dude, each one of my family members (especially the women) were virtually appalled by that. They were this close to calling me Reform: "Why? Why do you need it? What are you gonna do with it? Women don’t need it." That last one got to me the most.
So what if women don’t need it? They don’t need anything! I don’t want those plants because I need them. Hell, I don’t want anything because I need it. I get shit because I want to. Do I need a better reason than that? Christ! Even my mom was shocked: "But women are not obligated to do the prayer?"
Of course they’re not obligated. You can’t obligate women to do shit. But Christ! You also can’t obligate them not to. And I’m a woman who chooses to buy the plants just because. It’s not like it’s a sin or a crime or something that would be hazardous to my health. So why are people so shocked that I would want to have that? Excommunicate my sorry ass for fuck’s sake!
It seemed as if they were saying to me: "If it’s a part of the religion, and you’re not obligated to do it, stay away from it. The more you can get away with religiously, the better. Don’t take on the Jewish man’s burden."
My mom said: "It’s something that men do. You wanna be a man?" How the hell should I respond to that? I obviously took that as an insult, because it’s like asking me if I wanna be a pig. So no, thanks, I prefer not having a phallus, and keeping my brain between my ears. But I would like to have a spine, a heart, lips and eyes, all in metaphors, all in life forms that don’t make a sound when you kill them, that are all identical and perfect like humans will never be.
What’s interesting about the shaking tradition is how it often reminds me of how the Pope does the sign of the cross when he goes out to greet the public. Shake to the left, shake to the right, shake to the top, shake to the bottom. Now it sounds like a dance. Maybe that’s why it looks like fun. And maybe that’s why my family was gonna devour me alive. Comparing the religion to another one should never even be conceived, let alone communicated.
Peace, love and 10-foot Lulav!