Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Murder of Crows

A Drasha of Rabbis:  In Friday's post about Rabbi Gerhom Sizomu, Uganda's Rabbi Comes To Albuquerque, Abq Jew wrote:
Also present was the largest convocation (8) of Albuquerque rabbis - maybe ever?  And the most rabbis in one room since ... Graduation Day at JTS?  Dudu Fisher at Carnegie Hall?  The Miss Borough Park Pageant? 
Well, that was certainly a cheap shot about Miss Borough Park, and Abq Jew apologizes to anyone offended ... although it turns out that the blog ("One man's apikorus in another man's talmud chochom"), unbeknown to Abq Jew, had covered the event in 2008.

And then there's the term "convocation".  While convocation has the primary meaning of a group of people called together in a meeting, the term has a secondary definition of a clerical assembly of the Anglican Church.  Clearly, we cannot use "convocation" here.

So - what term can we use?  One may speak of an obstinacy of buffalo, a murder of crows, a tower of giraffes, a leash of greyhounds, an exaltation of larks, a rhumba of rattlesnakes.  But how does one speak of a group of rabbis?

Abq Jew pondered and considered.  Then he pondered and considered again.  Then he thought about it, and here are the possibilities he came up with:
  • Bet Din.  Unfortunately, a bet din usually consists of only three rabbis. Not nearly enough.
  • Sanhedrin.  Has a lot of appeal (no pun intended), but usually refers to an historical group of 71, highly revered, etc. Too specific for general use; also, gets too much respect.
  • Farbrengen.  Too Jewish.  Also, typically refers to Chabad Lubavitch rabbis only, not altogether a bad thing.
  • Sermon.  Buffalo "do" obstinacy; rattlesnakes "do" rhumba; and, as we all know, rabbis "do" (and do and do) sermons.  But so do (lehavdil) priests and pastors. So why not use the term drasha?  Just Jewish enough - perfect!
Next question:  What is the largest drasha of rabbis ever assembled?  Abq Jew can think of two possibilities:

1.  Every year or two, Chabad Lubavitch Shluchim gather from all over the world for a conference at Chabad Lubavitch World Headquarters in Brooklyn.

 Here's a news story about the convocation, er, drasha::

And here they are, gathering for a group photograph:

2.  Every few years, a large drasha of dedicated rabbis (and regular yidden) completes the Daf Yomi ("Daily Page") cycle of studying the entire Babylonian Talmud - that's right, at the rate of one page per day.  And they hold a Siyyum to celebrate.  In Madison Square Garden.

Let's see:  For hockey, the Garden seats 18,200; for basketball, 19,763; and for concerts 20,000 center stage, 19,522 end-stage.  Abq Jew bets that for the Siyyum HaShas, every seat was taken - and then some.  Not all the attendees were ordained rabbis - but after studying Talmud so diligently, they should be.

You might think: there's your drasha record.  Except that

3.  Several thousand years ago, all Jews then living, all Jews ever born, and all Jews ever to be born gathered beneath Mount Sinai to hear God speak to us.  There were, Abq Jew believes, more than a few rabbis among us. A whole drasha-load of rabbis.

We celebrate this wondrous event every year on the Holiday of Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks, exactly seven full weeks after the Holiday of Pesach.  When God freed us from Egypt, there was a reason: so God could give us His Torah.

This year, Shavuot begins on Tuesday evening, June 7th.  Come celebrate!

1 comment:

Borsheim said...

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