Sunday, 17 August 2014

goodbye mesechet megillah

mesechet megillah begins with a discussion about when the book of Esther is read, depending on where one finds oneself on the 14th Adar - in the city with walls, or the city without walls, or the village.

and this mesechet ends with hearing heavenly voices, either in the fields or city. it also ends with noting that scholars should read the torah text as a song, and should be able to talk torah harmoniously, without bitter fighting.

the last couple of pages have been discussing what Torah reading is said for which festival, all must be in their proper time - but for a tractate which is mainly about Megillat Esther, which is said on Purim. the reading the megillah on Purim is not discussed in this list at the end, but the readings for the other festivals. 

This disappearance of that which should have been the main subject is something that happens with Esther herself. In discussing the main characters and features of the story, Esther begins to disappear, her role is diminished as Mordechai, Achashrus and Haman compete for centre stage in the rabbis debates. 

Torah study should be song.... but not everyone can sing in harmony. some of our voices resonate with the discord, or else they disappear. 

megillah 32

voices to listen to

a male heavenly voice in the city,
a female heavenly voice in the fields,
and the harmonious exchange of scholars who know how to learn together without fighting

megillah 31

praising God of all of creation
- great and small

megillah 30

imposing the calendar onto the communal torah readings
- but first need to examine the ethics of the community

megillah 29

the power of gathering.
to receive torah
the mourn the scholar
the learn torah
to collect for the offerings.

even the shechina went into exile to be with people,
not to be left alone

megillah 28

learning the lessons of a long life from the people who are appropriately knowledgable enough to eulogise in synagogues

megillah 27

the young women get naked and cover the old man in silk.

and the old women's head is stripped naked by the young man who wants to buy wine.

the price and rewards of valuing wine.

megillah 26

nothing lasts forever
everything gets ruined and decays.
everything dies

megillah 25

silencing, censoring and banning

some texts should not be read or translated
and some prayers should be silenced

megillah 24

cannot praise and bless something one has not seen.

and can only bless others if one's blemishes and flaws cannot be seen.

megillah 23

women couldn't possibly raise their voices and disgrace the community

- the community who are counted and defined by the number of rebels who ended up in cracks in the ground. wouldn't want to disgrace them....

megillah 22

the choreography of prayer  - that leaves the body vulnerable to harm

megillah 21

knowledge that was once gained by standing, looking up at the mountain, is now achieved in a place called "sitting"

megillah 20

what happens at night, goes on all night
and what happens during the day, does on all day

but what about the time in-between?

megillah 19

while the rabbis debate who is the main character and what is main story of the megillah: the hero, the king or the villian
the heroine - she who gave her name to the story - quietly slips away...

megillah 18

some people only know the text by copying
whereas other know the words by living them.

therefore to untangle the text, ask a woman.

megillah 17

prayers need to be stacked in order
but the counting of years can have missing sections

megillah 16

some angels write the book to make sure the story is properly told.
other angels get physical.

megillah 15

the king whose staff controls the fate of the woman who bleeds out, is in turn just a puppet for the angels.

megillah 14

the 7 prophetesses are examined and tested.

do women see so differently to men? why use a female eye and mouth to send a message?

(and why are the 48 male prophets not scrutinised for their qualifications to be called a prophet?)

megillah 13

the make-up of a heroine

who is Esther?
she is whoever you want or need her to be.
just soften the skin and remove her layers,
change her name and she will be yours.

megillah 12

demonising the woman who exposed the female naked body
and then cursed fathers to cover up and hide their daughters

megillah 11

who would want to rule the world?
with all the provinces, heavenly bodies and demons beneath?

megillah 10

how to begin a book that begins with a sense of foreboding?

reassure in the introduction that it will all end well and the wicked will all be punished.

megillah 9

who is in the tent to translate and clarify all the ambiguities.

megillah 8

the hairy language of differences

megillah 7

sharpening the knives

- not a good idea when there is wine around.
someone may lose their head.

megillah 6

rival cities - they can't both be successful and flowing with milk and honey.
one of them must always flow with blood and destruction.

megillah 5

it is not the size of the city that makes it large.
or how much work is done there.
but the presence of the men who do not work and spend their time idling and planting for pure enjoyment.

the idlers make the city great.

megillah 4

identifying the destroyed cities
so that the merchants traders and the village poor can go there again.

megillah 3

unseen walls and threats that only angels can see.
they send warnings to study more.

megillah 2

when to read the megillah

depends on the city walls being up when Jericho's walls came tumbling down