Cut Precious Stones

Spring and the Leap Year Moon

Sunday gratefuls: the long shabbat. the damage being done to Trump’s presidency. By himself. The solar snow shovel. Scott Simpson’s note about his journey back from Colorado. Ode’s crane stories. Crane. Again, still, the truckers, shelvers, nurses, clerks, doctors, cleaners, gas station attendants. Hope we remember their service afterward. The loft.

Shelter in place. Not yet an order here in Colorado. But. I looked at its parameters in California. Only essential visits: medical facilities, groceries, outdoor activities with others 6 feet away, caring for others who need in home assistance. Then I thought. Huh. Kate and I have been doing shelter in place for more than a year and a half. CBE events being the only major deviation. Odd, but the case.

Reading the news is like watching a slow motion car wreck. Can’t watch. Can’t look away. A mathematics professor from the U.ofCo.’s Biofrontiers Institute compared our current situation to those in Florida awaiting a predicted hurricane. Everything looks normal, feels the same. But 8 days away is a powerful disrupter. It’s not a question of whether, but when.

Got way behind on reading the Talmud, but the stay-at-home mode has allowed me to begin catching up. Maybe today. Wondered the other day about why I was doing this. It’s a huge commitment and it isn’t my tradition. If I found it uninteresting, I would quit. And, some of it is pretty boring. Berkahot, the first tractate which I finished yesterday, had many entries about the times for prayer, about where to pray, how many folks it took to pray. It ended strong though with many entries on modesty and where to defecate. Yes, really. The Talmud finds all of life worthy of commentary.

It’s like travel for me. Immersing myself in a strange world, one complete unto itself. Not mine, but human. Therefore interesting. There’s another aspect of it that’s like travel. I can say I’ve been there. Outside the world of Judaism nobody would care, but within Beth Evergreen, in other Jewish places, having done the Daf Yomi is like having gone on the Haj. It’s a mark of honor.

Perhaps the most salient reason is that the Talmud provides context for my life on the ancientrail of former slaves from Egypt, a people whose wandering is not over.

Here’s an example from near the end of Tractate Berkahot: “Bar Kappara taught: A person should always teach his child a clean and simple craft. The Gemara asks: What craft is considered clean and simple? Rav Ḥisda said: Cutting precious stones.”

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