Thursday, November 10, 2005

Vacationers Log: 11/10/05 - Snip, Snip

The problem with promising to report back in every so often during a vacation is that there's not all that much to report. I mean really, do you want to read a post describing me reading a book?

"Oh, and then on page 26 he actually had the gall to use the word "fab." I mean, can you imagine?"

Didn't think so. Trust me, I've spent an inordinate amount of time trying to think of ways to make things like an oil change sound exciting. At some point however, I had to throw up my hands and say, "Excitement be damned. It is what it is. Just write it down."

Actually, I said no such thing but you get the idea.... My vacation has been spent doing stuff like laundry, surfing (the Internet), reading, watching DVD's, listening to tons of music, getting the aforementioned oil change, cleaning, etc... In otherwords boring, blah, stuff. But, that's O.K. In fact, it's more than O.K. It's EXACTLY what I was looking for. Relaxation - pure and simple.

Granted, all this dullness has been punctuated by brief yet sharp periods of excitement. And I do mean sharp. A little explanation is in order, I guess...

The other day I was checking my e-mail and I get a message from my friend Greg and it was like, "So dude, Paula just gave birth to our second kid," and I was like, "Nuh uh," and he was like "Yeah huh," and I was like, "Oh, no she di'int," and he was like, "Oh yeah, she did," and I was like, "Word. What was it, like, a boy or a girl?" and he was like, "A boy, yo. Named him David," and I was like, "Oh no you DI'int!", and he was like, "Fuh real," and I was like, "Congrats! Big up to the little man!" and he was like, "Thanks. The bris goin' down on Thursday. You there?", and I was like, "Whateva....."

Understand, Greg & I go way back. We were roommates for four years in college, and beyond. I was his best man when he got married, and I fully expect him to be one of my groomsmen (best man spot is reserved for my brother) when I take the plunge - which, at the rate I'm going, will take place when I'm 72 (sorry Mom & Dad.) Basically, we know each other pretty well. So, not only can we speak to each other like that and get away with it - we can fully understand each other as well. It's just a shame it didn't actually go down that way (see? Told you I was searching for ways to spice up this post.) Actually, his message simply said, "Hey Eric - We would like to invite you to the bris. It's Thursday at 9:30 am. Let me know if you can make it. I gather from your blog that your on vacation right now." Translation: Bris is at 9:30 on Thursday. You'd better be there because I know you have nothing else to do.

In my response, I tried to convey my excitement and enthusiasm over the birth of his new baby boy, and indicate my willingness.... nay, my
desire to attend the bris. Behind the scenes, however, I had more than a few misgivings. A bris, for those unfamiliar with the term, is the Jewish ceremonial circumcision. The tradition dates back to biblical times and the story of Abraham. Long story short, God ordered Abraham, at the ripe old age of 99, to circumcise himself - with a rock - and then all of his household and his slaves as an everlasting covenant in their flesh. The tradition has remained to this day, and virtually all males born into the Jewish faith (hell, virtually all newborn males of whatever faith) have the process done. Having grown up in a predominantly Jewish area, I had always known this. I'd also been to my fair share of Jewish weddings, bar mitzvahs, bat mitzvahs, seder's, etc... I'd never been to a bris, however, and I had no idea what to expect.

I would submit that most guys, even those who've gone through the process themselves, aren't comfortable with the idea of skin being clipped off a penis. I'm no exception. I could only imagine the worst. The rabbi would perform the procedure with a hunting knife. Blood, and lots of it, would be everywhere. The child would be scarred for life (literally and figuratively), and so would those in attendance - all in the name of ceremony and tradition. Yikes.

Thankfully, I was (not surprisingly) way off the mark. The ceremony started with prayers in Hebrew, followed by the rabbi placing the baby in a ceremonial chair, picking him up and handing him to the grandfather, who then uttered a few prayers himself, and gave the baby back to his father. Both father and mother read still more prayers with the baby in their arms, before giving him back to the rabbi who laid the child on the table, got him a little inebriated through a wine soaked cotton ball, and then performed the circumcision. The whole ceremony took no longer than twenty minutes, and most of that time was used to explain the significance behind all the prayers and the circumcision itself. The actual cut? If you blinked you'd have missed it. Before the rabbi removed the foreskin (with medical scissors - not a hunting knife) he invited those who wanted to, to leave the room. I had the unenviable position of not being able to, having been designated as "the picture taker" by one of the grandparents. So, not only did I get to see the actual circumcision take place, I was viewing it through a zoom lens. When it was all said and done, the parents read another "Parents Prayer" in both Hebrew and English which was both heartfelt and extremely meaningful.

And so, the little fella got snipped, and is now no worse for wear. As for myself, my initial reservations proved a little selfish and unfounded. Once I was able to get over what exactly was being done (which, thankfully, didn't take long), I found the ceremony both poignant and touching. The family shed tears of sorrow for those members who were no longer with them (and whom the baby was also named after), but they also shed tears of joy for the little guy himself, as he was welcomed into the world by a host of loving parents, grandparents, family and friends. And really, that's what the ceremony was all about - to announce the arrival of David Robert, to say hello, and introduce him to his new community of faith, family and love. I feel privileged to have been a part of it. In fact, the whole thing was pretty fab if you ask me.

To Greg, Paula, Ana & David: Mazel tav!


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