...except for me and my monkey! "Everything we see hides another thing. We always want to see what is hidden by what we see." -Rene Magritte

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow day?

No...no snow day. After an unusual week at the preschool (we had a delayed start on Monday and an early release on Wednesday due to snowy and icy conditions; on Monday and Tuesday especially, it felt like the Arctic Tundra outside), I was really hoping that today would be a snow day. I had already planned how I would spend the day: curling up with Sarna's American Judaism: A History and a cup of tea, watching some daytime TV, going downtown to Powell's to finish my holiday shopping. Alas, although it was snowing lightly this morning, the powers that be decided we would just have a delayed start. Oh well; we only have half of our normal amount of students, and the composition of children is such that it's been a really fun, peaceful, collaborative day (in other words, the screamers and biters are absent). It's been the kind of day that reminds me what attracted me to early childhood ed. in the first place: collaborative projects, funny stories, working together creatively, learning how to communicate with each other, those kinds of things. Everyone in the class spontaneously began playing this game that they were on the Polar Express to the North Pole, and Cara and I got some fantastic documentation done (part of the Reggio approach is documenting children's play and conversations).

Thanks to those who expressed concern and well-wishes after my bike accident at the beginning of last week. My right arm got progressively more sore over the course of the day, and by Monday night I could hardly move it. I knew it wasn't broken but I guess I just strained the muscle or something, since I landed on my right side and my arm and shoulder absorbed most of the shock. It's nearly back to normal by now. My nose is not broken, although it does still sort of hurt when I blow it--when I fell, I think my nose must have hit against my right arm, and maybe I bruised the cartilge or something.

I made a resolution a couple months ago that I would read the Torah portion each week on Friday night, so that I could be an informed participant in the Saturday morning Shabbat service. Of course, in the couple months since I made the resolution, it's been realized exactly twice. Last Friday I read the portion V'yishlach, from Genesis (it's the portion immediately preceding the Joseph cycle); V'yishlach contains, amongst other things, the story of Jacob wrestling with the angel and the reconciliation between Jacob and Esau. There's this part when Esau comes up to Jacob and everyone's like biting their fingernails because they think Esau's going to kill Jacob, but then he "falls on Jacob's neck" and kisses him. I was reading the portion in the Jewish study Bible that Daniel's parents gave me, and it has this little explanatory notes from the midrash (interpretation) on the side. At this part it notes that in the Torah scroll there's a series of six dots over the word "kiss;" they're not related to the pronunciation of the word, so it's kind of a mystery about why they're there. Some rabbis say that the dots denote rabbinic suspicion over the inclusion of the word "kiss" in the story, pointing out that "kiss" and "bite" are nearly the same word in Hebrew. And, according to the explanatory note, a traditional midrash is that Esau did indeed intend to bite Jacob, but God--just in the nick of time--hardened Jacob's skin so that Esau could only kiss him. And that's why the Jews are called a stiff-necked people. (Rimshot!)

There's another explanatory note about why Jacob crossed back over the river to the place where he ended up wrestling with the angels. Rabbinic commentators wondered why he would return to the place he'd come from all alone--so they decided that he must have gone back to retrieve some "little jars he'd forgotten." I absolutely love that kind of minutely detailed midrash (and there are midrash like that for seriously everything). Like, God forbid there be any minute question or inconsistency in the text. It's like rabbinic fan fiction.