Mama Deb (mamadeb) wrote,
Mama Deb

New Year's Resolutions

Well, not quite resolutions - Rosh HaShanah just doesn't seem to be the time for "I will lose X pounds or go to the gym Y times a week" or even, "I will finally get organized." I'll save those for December.

These are more like tiny changes in my religious/spiritual life.

One of the things I've been learning is to not attempt big things, so all of the things, and there aren't many, are really very tiny, and some of them already happened without planning, but I want to keep them.

1. Way back in Av (in August), I finally stopped doing my last really big compromise in kashrut. Everyone makes compromises of different sizes, and some would call mine rather small, but it loomed large for me. I'm still just taking it day by day, but each day that passes gets easier.

2. Because I did this thing, there is now a space and a time when I can say the afternoon service, so I've been trying to do this - say one prayer service a day. I have not been 100% - I miss on days I do not work, and if I don't get a break during the day, I don't get a chance on the days I do work. So, it's also day by day.

3. A group of women on my block say the entire book of Psalms together. We meet in the same house, where the owner keeps these books - the book of psalms divided into about 25 booklets. The idea is that everyone comes in at about the same time and takes a booklet, and reads through it at her own pace. When she's finished, she takes the next available booklet. When the last one is finished, the entire book has been read, and the owner reads a special prayer for health and a list of names and matronymics (when you pray for a person, you do so as child of the mother, not of the father) and concludes the prayer. And then we go home. And while reading the psalms, we keep in mind other things that need prayers. It's on Tuesdays, and I missed this week. And I'll probably stop going entirely next month, when I think I'll be going to Pakua twice a week. But. It was a lovely experience, I will miss it, and I think I'm starting to make friends on my block. This is something that's hard for nonparents.

5. The week before R"H, as I've said earlier, I went to a Shabbaton. One of things that was suggested was that we read a chapter of a book of mussar, ethics, every day. I'm not doing that. But this week, I started reading such a book (in English, thank you) on the bus to work. My only commitment is to read a chapter on those days I take a bus to work. That's three days a week at most. It's five minutes, it's simple because the book lives in my purse and it takes up otherwise dead time. And it gets me thinking about things on a higher level.

6. This is the big one, the *major* commitment. This is the only one that will take an effort, and that I haven't started yet. I want to learn another seder of Mishnah. Mishnah is the codification of Jewish law. It's divided into six orders, or "s'dorim", by related subject. Each seder is composed of several books, more or less related in theme, and each book is divided into several chapters which are then divided into the laws themselves.

What I did last time and what I'm going to do this time is read the English translation of the Kahati commentary chapter by chapter before going to sleep. This means reading the translation of each mishnah and then the commentary of each mishnah in a single chapter. This can take up to 20 minutes and can be very hard if I'm tired or on a trip or what have you, and is not always very easy to grasp. But I got through the first seder and even had a siyyum, a party, to celebrate it.

It's been over two years. It's time to do another one. I have the first two books now. We'll get the others as I need them, and I should be finished, iy"h, in about three months. Then, im yirtzah hashem, I will have another siyyum.

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