When your children become oreos, the things you start to learn about your religion become both surprising and, sometimes, hard to fathom. For those of you who do not know what “oreos” are, they are only-black-pants-white-shirt-black-hat-wearing young men who have chosen Talmud over television, Bava Kamma over baseball, and Ibn Ezra over the internet. They try, very gently, to ask questions about things you have been doing in your kitchen and in your life for decades without offending you — only trying to make you better (or aggravate you beyond your wildest dreams, but it is all good and in the name of becoming closer to God…or…whatever).
This past weekend, I had the joy of having Son and Dil #1 for Shabbos. Because I love my Dil, I went to synagogue with her and I actually paid attention to the rabbi’s speech. Did you know that in the olden days, if you spoke loshon hara (ill speech about others) you were required to sacrifice a bird? (Or something to that effect.) I just kept thinking about all of those poor birds. What kind of birds were they? How did they not run out of birds? Is that why some people have birds as pets — to remind themselves the fate of all of those poor birds in the past? And did all people who spoke about others really get leprosy that couldn’t be treated with an antibiotic? And did the leprosy thing really stop the minute the Temple was destroyed? Is there a fact checker on all of these things? And why do I keep asking all of these ridiculous questions?
Well, at least we had something to talk about at lunch that didn’t involve other people (not that we ever talk about other people at lunch, or any meal, for that matter).
My kids always get so excited when I learn something new. I dwell on it for a while and then move on to the next thing.
As some of you know, one of my favorite pastimes is eating. Eating is fun, food is love, blah blah blah. Part of my religion is eating — well, more like cooking for Shabbos and the many holidays we have. But, as you know, cooking usually is followed by eating. We have honey-filled food for Rosh Hashanah, fried food for Chanukah, potato-based food for Passover. You pretty much know the drill. Holidays are equated with food. Well, Husband #1 taught me (or tried to teach me) about something very interesting. It is called bahab.
Keep in mind, before reading this, that this is my take on what he tried to teach me. I am not a rabbi, I am not an authority of any kind, but I do like to put my own special spin on things so it can serve a purpose or, in this case, a column. Bahab basically is intermittent fasting. A few Mondays and Thursdays after the holidays of Sukkot and Passover, people would fast — a whole day, half a day, skip one meal — something to that effect. This apparently was done to atone for any gluttony or other sins that might have been committed on the holidays that preceded the fast. Now I would just assume people did this because they ate too much over the holidays, but that is just me. Did any of you know about this?
The only reason why Husband #1 told me about this was because he had informed me that he hadn’t spoken to any of his sons yet that day because shacharit (morning prayer) was “extra long.” I asked, because I am so inquisitive and because usually our conversations just revolve around me, because everything is about me, and I wanted to show him that I care, so I asked a follow-up question about why services were extra long. He said, “I have told you about bahab — you just weren’t listening.” Ok, buddy, I admit that sometimes my ADD and/or narcissism gets the best of me and I do not wholeheartedly listen to things you tell me. But If you had told me that “our people” took on a few extra fast days after the two big eating holidays to repent for one thing or another, I would have remembered, being such a fan of fast days and all.
After that, he realized that I was right. He hadn’t told me about this before. If only he would admit that I am right about everything — but a woman can dream. Anyway, now you too know about bahab and you can do with it what you would like, or nothing at all. And that is ok too.
Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck is very glad that the weather is starting to get nice out again. Even though it means that more people will be walking outside who don’t know how to smile. Oh well…here’s hoping!