Monday, March 23, 2009

Fresh Fathers: Pre-ramble

During my first year in Israel after high school, I decided to memorize the mishna. Like a Tanna of old, I wandered the streets of Jerusalem, silently repeating the little tidbits of case law and pithy sayings. Did you know that the word mishna means “that which is repeated”? And when you repeat something long enough, a little bit of it trickles down into your soul.

The book that truly stuck with me was Pirkei Avot, or the Book of Fathers. Memorizing Avot was a transformative experience - it blew my mind. The book is abstract and philosophical in nature, quite different from the case law that characterizes most early Rabbinic writings. It opened my heart to many of the values I still cherish today.

I'd like to revisit Avot, here on Samurai Scientist and/or Twitter, over the coming weeks. Traditionally, the book is studied during the seven weeks between Passover and Shavuot, so this is a good time to start. Avot lends itself easily to blog format - the pithy sayings are short and open-ended, a springboard for discussion. I hope you'll chime in.


YZF said...

Gonna be an interesting Omer! ;)

Volcanincuz said...

I'd love to join in, too! Could truly get interesting.

Samurai Scientist said...

Excellent. Volcanic, e-mail me if you want to guest post on a mishna or two.