Thursday, May 25, 2006

Torah Geeking

I am a Torah geek. There, the secret is out.

I like to study. I like to think about Torah and why we do things one way in one situation, but differently in another situation. I like to endlessly discuss these things with fellow Torah geeks, when I can find them. This is probably why I'm comfortable in a Reconstructionist setting - respect for law and tradition is combined with an intellectual curiosity that for me is just FUN. Unfortunately, most of my Torah geek friends are engaged in rabbinic or community-service activities that eat up so much time they have little left for free-geeking.

In the interest of generating discussion, and further oversimplifying and stereotyping people, here's what I've noticed about the way other Jews relate to Torah questions during online exchanges:
  • Torah geeks, like me - who are interested in the discussion as much as (or more than) the final decision.
  • Rule followers - whose response to almost ANY question is "Ask your rabbi." Possibly a subset of People followers, below, with the exception that they care deeply about "getting it right."
  • Law seekers - unlike rule followers, they will try to do some serious study and analysis themselves, but only in order to find an answer and implement it; the discussion is only a means to an end.
  • People followers - who are content to follow the example of someone they trust to know "the rules" better than they do. These folks generally know little halacha and are content never to learn, so long as they aren't seen publicly to be doing something "wrong."
  • Occasionally interested - are happy to keep doing what they've always done, and will be drawn into Torah discussion only when something challenges a deeply-held assumption or touches on something they personally care about.
  • Uninterested - whose feeling about Torah is that it's something taken care of by "other Jews" who are more observant, and doesn't really concern them.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Honoring your Parents

This summer, in addition to moving myself and hubby, having a baby, figuring out said baby's wacky Jewish ritual status, and moving our work offices to a different location, I'm helping my parents find a place to live when they retire and move across country to be near us and the little one. Needless to say, I'm a little stressed.

To help mom and dad, I've been driving around, looking at rentals inside and out, and sending them feedback. Unfortunately, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms they want for their price range means I'm looking at a lot of real dives. Today I got flea bites on both legs looking at an apartment with carpets that hadn't been cleaned yet, since the former tenants (and their smelly dogs) moved out.

I've been trying really hard to be patient with my mother's obsessive/compulsive long-distance house-hunting. After all, if it were me, I'd be wanting feedback on every single property, too... But I can't seem to get across to them what kind of quality difference they'll be facing from where they live now if they really want this much space at this price. I wouldn't live in most of these places - how can I recommend them to my parents?!

I find myself getting upset at them for not being well-off enough to maintain their current lifestyle after retirement. After all, my FIL is doing well enough to even help us out while hubby's in school - so what's wrong with MY parents, that they didn't save enough?

The truth is we're dealing with really different real estate markets, where they're coming from and where we live now, so they are selling a great house there for less than the cost of a starter house/fixer-upper here. Very frustrating. And not much I can do about it, except to remember to carry around bug spray in the car to keep away the fleas.