Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I Didn't Know You Were Orthodox!

I have been informing my patients this week that I will not be working next Wednesday and Thursday. Sometimes I let my guard down a bit and say it is a Jewish Holiday. Mostly, the non Jews shrug and wish me a happy holiday. The more problematic folks are those who are Jewish and are secular or considerably less observant of such things than me. I try to remember not to mention the personal stuff, holiday etc. but sometimes it gets away from me.

Today as I was telling a patient, and I accidentally mentioned "holiday" and she asked what holiday is that? I felt that wave of upsetness wash over me. "I should not had let this slip," I thought to myself. When I said "Shavuot" she answered "I didn't know you were Orthodox." with some serious reaction in her voice. So now here is the classic therapeutic conundrum bumping directly into my religiosity all because of a slip of self disclosure. Now I was stuck, either I let her think I am Orthodox, with all the complicated psychological associations that may bring for her, or I self disclose more. I was between that much talked about rock and a hard place.

So I attempted to go for the disclosure light! I say "well it is the cheesecake holiday!" in my best let's get off this topic voice. No luck! She repeats"cheesecake holiday?" "I never heard of such a thing." Now here I am telling this patient that "traditionally ...yada yada yada......" Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud are laughing at me now!

She goes on to say "well I never heard of this dairy thing...what type of synagogue do you go to?"
I am absolutely dying now, breaking all the self disclosure rules for therapy..."Conservative" I answer. this painfulness went on for a few minute more. When I was able to extract myself from the conversation I reminded myself NEVER AGAIN.

FYI article on My Jewish Learning and the "dairy thing." (see below)

From The My Jewish Learning Web Site

Excerpted from Celebrate! The Complete Jewish Holiday Handbook. Reprinted with permission from Jason Aronson Inc.
Although everyone agrees that the food of choice for Shavuot is cheese (most typically blintzes, crepe-like pancakes filled with farmer cheese, or a Sephardic [Mediterranean Jewish]equivalent such as burekas, cheese-filled dough pockets), there are differences of opinion (some quite charming) as to why it is a custom.
Some derive the practice directly from scripture, saying we eat dairy to symbolize the "land flowing with milk and honey" (Exodus 3:8) promised to the Israelites, or that "milk and honey are under your tongue" (Song of Songs 4:11). These passages, along with "The precepts of the Lord are… sweeter than honey" (Psalm 19:9-11) also indicate we should eat honey, which is customary in some communities.A sage discovered that the initials of the four Hebrew words in Numbers 28:26, which describe the sacrificial meal offering on Shavuot, spell mei halav (from milk), suggesting that dairy food is the acceptable dinner for the festival. At Sinai, the Israelites were considered to be as innocent as newborns, whose food is milk.
Those of kabbalistic [mystical] bent equate the numerical value of the word halav, 40 ('het'=8, 'lamed'=30, 'vet'=2), with the number of days Moses spent on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments and other teachings (Exodus 24:18). Others look to the mountain itself, which is termed in Psalms mount of gavnunim (68:15), meaning many peaks. They connect that description with the Hebrew word g'vinah, meaning cheese.
Scholars who trace all Jewish customs and rituals to practices common among various ethnic groups claim that spring harvest festivals characteristically featured dairy dishes, perhaps because cheese was produced during that season.
There is also support for the custom based on the spiritual development among the Israelites in the wake of Sinai. After the Torah was given, they were obligated to follow its laws, including those governing dietary practice. As they returned to the camp from Revelation, they could not eat the previously prepared meat, which had not been done according to the laws of kashrut [dietary restrictions]. Since butchering and cooking fresh meat would take too long for the tired, hungry Israelites, they took the dairy food that was readily available. Symbolizing modesty, the dairy was also seen as appropriate for the occasion of receiving the Torah, which should always be approached with humility.
In some Jewish communities, it is customary to follow the traditional dairy meal with a meat dish (after waiting the requisite 30 minutes per the laws of kashrut, except in places where the rabbis waived the normal separation). The two foods represent the two loaves brought on the festival. We are also supposed to eat meat as a contribution to our joy on a festival day. This can cause practical problems, however, not only in terms of the time lapse, but because you cannot mix milk and meat dishes and utensils. Therefore, it is more common to have a dairy meal on the first evening of Shavuot and then serve meat the next day.
Along with blintzes and burekas, cheesecake is a widely popular Shavuot item. Some eat kreplach, three-cornered dumplings that are often filled with meat but can be cheese filled or even vegetable filled. They are supposed to remind us of the Torah, which is comprised of three sections (Torah, Nevi'im, and Ketuvim / Torah, Prophets, and Writings), which was given to Israel, which is comprised of three categories (Kohanim, Leviim, and Yisraelim) through Moses, who was the third child of Amran (after Aaron and Miriam), following three days of preparation (Exodus 19:11) in the third month of the year (Exodus 19:1).

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