Thursday, June 04, 2020

Mourning During COVID-19: June Update

Let me preface this by stating that this is a bit of an unusual post for me. I get into religion and prayer, but it ends with me trying to be funny. Actually, most of my posts are me trying to be funny, though I'm not sure how often I succeed. 

In tradition Judaism, there is a seven-day period of mourning following the burial called shiva. There is also a 30-day period after the burial, including the seven days of shiva, called Sheloshim, which is observed by immediate family members. You don't work during the shiva period, but you can work during Sheloshim though there are still some restrictions. The restrictions are refraining from attending joyous celebrations like weddings, dances, or parties. Basically, anything with music. If the deceased is a parent, there is a full year of mourning (actually 11 months) where the restrictions still apply. Apparently, there is a loophole here. Let's say that you're a musician who earns a living by playing at weddings. In this case, you can still do your job. The same would apply if you help out at a joyous occasion. Like help clear some dishes or set the table. Anyway, through all of this, you're also supposed to attend services daily to say the Mourner's Kaddish prayer.

Still with me? Thanks!

I wrote a post back in March about mourning the loss of my dad at the beginning of the COVID-19 stay at home period. Over two months later, and just a few days after we started "Phase 1" in Northern Virginia, a lot of things haven't changed. Thanks to Zoom, I've participated in some type of prayer service every day since my dad's funeral with the exception of the first night of Passover since we were doing a Seder. Why is this night different than all other nights indeed! In normal times, I wouldn't attend services daily. I probably would have during the Sheloshim period, but it just wouldn't have been realistic to do this every day for a full year. To be a parent to three kids while commuting about two hours to and from work each day and then driving to a synagogue (or synagogues since mine doesn't have daily services) for a service and then back home? There's no way. Being at home, however, all I have to go to a different room for 30-45 minutes (or more on Saturdays). It's become a constant for me. Some sense of normalcy in these otherwise very abnormal times. I mentioned some of what I just wrote in that March post.

And now to a dramatic shift in this post. 

The Torah portion a few weeks ago was Parashat Bamidbar. Yes, I just included a word with "shat" in it in a blog post! At this point, the ten plagues already happened and the Jews were freed from slavery in Egypt thanks in part to the leadership of Charlton Heston.

We join this story already in progress where a census is taken of the Israelite community. What's interesting is that the census only counted men who were 20 or older. It seems totally unfair that some Israelites were old enough to buy lottery tickets, but couldn't get counted in the census. Oh yeah, they didn't count women either. You can probably predict that every rabbi in America made sure to include the importance of the 2020 census in their sermon. 

A significant part of the portion is then spent naming all of the men responsible for conducting the census. There are a lot of biblical names that are still common today. Jacob, Rebecca, and Sara are at the top of the list. This Torah portion listed some names that I think are due for a comeback. So if you are expecting a boy or have a new pet, I hope that you consider these names: Zurishaddai, Zuar, Eliab, Ochran, Deuel, and Pagiel.

The world would be a better place with more Zuars. Zuar good, Zuul bad!

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