Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Lent, Passover, and Fermented Beverages

I'm Jewish, but I enjoy delving into the traditions of other faiths, in particular various sects of Christianity. I think Judaism and Christianity have far more in common than not, and if we could get over some of the historical stumbling blocks many of us could have a lot to learn from each other.

This year, I decided to observe Lent. Lent is the period from Ash Wednesday to Easter, where a Believer prepares for the season through prayer and self-denial. We often hear a lot about the denial part, and that is the main area in which I partook. I gave up drinking alcohol. Not that drinking is a huge part of my life, but health reasons and other circumstances led me to that decision. However, had I not decided to forsake of the booze for Lent, I probably would have had a few drinks here and there.

Other parts of Lent include prayer, repentance, and the giving of alms. Prayer should be a regular part of every Believer's life, and repentance is part of prayer - confessing and asking for forgiveness of transgressions against G-d and others. The giving of alms is also another part of both Christianity and Judaism, through tithes, offerings, and giving to the poor - the latter of which we should all be doing regardless of the season.

On Passover, which this year comes out very close to Easter, I will return to my regularly scheduled drinking. My modern-day interpretation of Passover, which is rooted in Exodus, is about freedom. Nothing makes me feel more free than four glasses of wine, two nights in a row. Seriously, I think the fact that wine is such a part of Jewish ritual made me have a healthy respect for alcohol in the first place.

Ridiculous as it may seem at this stage of my life, I am still the youngest in my family and as a result I sing the four questions (four glasses of wine/four questions - there must be some sort of symbolic relationship here). Here is a video of my folk interpretation of the song, along with subtitles added by a YouTube fan.

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