Okay, I did more than survive, but ack!
I spent two days practicing the prayers - three paragraphs in Hebrew and Aramaic, one said three times. My Hebrew is awful, so the best I was hoping for was not too terribly painful.
I got to synagogue for mincha. My husband was leading the services, something he does on a regular basis, but they also gave him an aliyah, which means he said the blessing for the second third of the afternoon Torah blessing. No, he's not a Levi (well, he actually *might* be, but we can't be sure), but we didn't have any kohanim, who normally get the first one.
(Members of the priestly caste get the first aliyah; members of the tribe of Levi get the second. Adjustments are made if one or the other isn't around.)
And then we got ready for the suedat shlishit, the ritual third meal. And the ladies from my Saturday afternoon Torah class showed up. TEN of them. We were maybe expecting six.
If I hadn't been so nervous, I would have *cried*.
We sat down at the tables, and they set up an extra for the ladies and there was enough food (thank goodness) and after the songs, I got started. I was so nervous. I was shaking and I couldn't eat anything and it was so frightening.
And then I gave a quick and stuttering and somewhat forgetful summary of the seder, which was Kadoshim.
Kadoshim is the work that deals with the Temple service. I picked it largely because we had the books in the house. And it was *deadly*. I don't mind reading about sacrifices and such, but the details about what goes above the line and what goes below it, and which corner to sprinkle the blood and who gets what and...ack!
But, the details are important. I think if I had a computer model or a dollhouse or something so I could see what was going on, it would have made much more sense. Just like, in the extremely confusing last book, which is about *birds* (the sacrifice women bring upon having a child), I would have benefited by making charts and such. It's not the normal stuff that's confusing, though. It's the *mistakes*. If it all goes correctly, it's perfectly straightforward. If there are mistakes - the priest makes a mistake or the person makes a mistake or the animal runs away or hides or damges itself or it gets mixed up with other animals - then you have problems because you have vows and obligations to fulfill on the one hand, and consecrated animals on the other plus different procedures for different types of sacrifices and so all of these things must be addressed. Because, the fact of the matter is that priests and everyone else are *human* and make mistakes.
Anyway, I gave my summary and read and explained the last mishnah (as best I could) and then said the final prayers in halting, stumbling Hebrew, although the better for practice. And then my husband said the kaddish and then my rabbi gave a talk about the nature of siyyum as regards women, because as a woman, I am not obligated to learn. This does NOT mean it's wrong for me to learn - women learning is a *VERY* good thing and should be celebrated, but obligation is obligation. And how he spoke to people and looked things up in books and decided that I should celebrate and say the prayers and it's just more appropriate for my husband to say the kaddish, which didn't bother me because that's another long and confusing prayer in Aramaic. Let him do it. :)
And that was that. I shook and sweated and shook, and it was far more difficult than any perek of mishnah. But I *did* it.