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Mama Deb
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Trying out the rich text option for the webupdate. 


mamadeb 's Chanukah so far. 

I was sick on Friday, because I decided I could eat an entire dark chocolate bar on Thursday night.  Turns out, no. 

jonbaker was sweet enough to work at home that day so he could help make Shabbat dinner, and so he'd be home in time for candlelighting.  I ended up doing the cooking anyway (not a huge effort - basic baked chicken, baked red potatoes and frozen broccoli, and I'd already shopped.)  We lit just before Shabbat candlelighting, which gave us time to say the brachot before I had to run to the dining room table to light my Shabbat candles.  So, no Maoz Tzur that night.  We have two chanukiyot - a pretty candle one and a basic oil one.  The candle one is mine this year while Jonathan gets the oil.  He started from the wrong end, but it was a simple matter of turning the menorah around the next night (can't touch them during Shabbat.)

It was lovely looking out the window and seeing all the lights in the neighbors' houses and watching the men and boys racing to synagogue.  They don't normally race, but I guess services were early that night.

By this point, I was feeling rather better, and Jonathan wasn't, so he stayed home.  Instead, we worked on my class.  I was to give a class on the parsha of the week - I meet with a bunch of women at a friend's house and we take it in terms.  Last week's Torah portion was the beginning of the Joseph story.  I was going to work on it on Friday, but.  Well.  :) 

Preparing a class on Shabbat is not easy simply because writing is forbidden.  Jonathan had d/l'd some parsha sheets beforehand so I had something to help.  I found a concept - garments - that held the three parts of the portion - Joseph and his brothers, Judah and Tamar, Joseph and Mrs. Potiphar - together, and Jonathan found sources to help.

Not knowing Hebrew well is a major handicap for times like this.  I'm dependent on translations and secondary sources.  But we spent that night and that morning talking it over (we both missed shul Shabbat morning) and by the time I left, feeling much better, I had a good grasp of what I was going to say.

And when I arrived, I was greeted with some laughter.  Apparently, my friend had forgotten it was my turn, and was wondering who was teaching because no one had dropped off notes the day before.  Can't carry on Shabbat, after all. 

So they concluded it was me because I don't use notes.  Which I do, but only at home.  Instead, I take a chumash, a Bible containing only the first five books of the Torah, off the shelf, turn to the portion and use that to remind me of what I was going to say.  (Okay, this time I took it from one of my friend's sons, but that's just because he was holding it at the time.)  This is more of a sign of poor organization.  I should take my outline there Friday afternoon, but often I finish just before candlelighting.

Anyway, the presentation went well - it lasted over an hour, and that's not including some disjointed stuff about Chanukah I threw in at the end.  And by the time I left, it wasn't Shabbat anymore.  Jonathan came home, we lit our menorahs and then went back to that same friend's for a Chanukah party - which I spent hanging out with those same women.  We got a ride back from what turned out to be another friend's father. We found that out only after I'd praised her extravagantly for being the lovely person she is.

Sunday, we went to my in-laws for pot roast.  They live in a sixth floor apartment, so there's no point in putting their chanukiyot in the window.  Instead, they light them on a table in the dining foyer.  We each got one.  My father-in-law uses one they love but,  honestly - not only is it, imho, ugly, but is not kosher.  A chanukiyah has to have all of its lights, except the shamash, on the same level and, preferably but not necessarily, in a straight line.  The very lovely "Tree of Life" menorah, in its original design, is not kosher because every candle is on an obviously different level.  There are less pretty versions now that are kosher.  At least the shammas is obvious, which is another requirement.

Dad's is in a sort of semi-circle with nine holders each on its own level and no obvious shammas.  So it fails on several counts.  But they love it.  And, since Mom also lights her own and it's kosher, and the only time they only light one is Shabbat and they have a special one for that that holds Shabbat candles (so it burns long enough) that's perfectly fine, there's no point in saying anything. 

Yesterday, having completed the Ramchal last week, I began reading "Duties of the Heart" as my "Improving Literature".  I also made a somewhat nicer than usual variation of sauted chicken breast, rice and spinach - I glugged in some red wine in the chicken pan and made a sauce and then I made the plates restaurant style - a mound of rice, a chicken breast on top, a circle of spinach around the rice and a couple of spoonfuls of the sauce.  I also bought a couple of Chanukah presents - silverish trays with chocolate covered pretzels and truffles.  I bought in a local Godiva store, but Godiva is dairy and I wasn't sure if one of the recipients was strict on milk or not.  I'm not, and I know the other friend isn't, but better to be safe.  Also, pareve chocolate can be served after Shabbat dinner.

Tonight, lasagna!


Sounds like a lovely half-Hannuka, despite your under-the-weather-ness at the start.

I'd be interested to hear what you said about the garments in the parsha.

Okay. No Chumash *and* no notes. :)

The first garment is Joseph's present from Jacob. It's a garment of kingship and a statement to the brothers as to Jacob's intentions. And it's also the instrument through which the brothers deceived Jacob, when they held up the bloody coat and said, "Can you identify this?"

The second garment is Judah's, after Tamar in her desperation pretends to be a prostitute. It's the one he gives her, along with his staff and seal. (Midrashically, btw, the seal is kingship, the cloak is the Sanhedrin, which sat in tallitot, and the staff is Moshiach (the stump of Yishai.) Also, midrashically, Peretz and Zerach are Onan and Er.) And she, also, asks the question, "Can you identify this." And when he sees the garment, he also sees clearly that he harmed her and he harmed Joseph, and he repents.

The third garment is Joseph's again - the one he leaves behind when Potiphar's wife tries to seduce him and he runs away, the one that is used to convict him of attempted adultery. That question isn't asked, but it is implied.

So in a very real sense, clothes make the person, not only as individual identifiers but as status indicators... interesting.

You know, you say all that are signs of poor organization, but it has a pretty cool side effect that for an hour+ presentation, you can prepare without writing anything down and present without notes. I'm impressed, and since this lept out at me, I figured I'd mention it.