Happy Easter to you, if you are celebrating it! It looks like a possibly gray day, but perhaps it is just too early to know for sure. Probably the sun will come out, though it may be rather cool, as it was yesterday, not the best day for taking my parents to the beach.
Since I don't know what else to do with them today, I will break Passover to take them out to eat Vietnamese food. I am eying a restaurant in Little Saigon that my favorite food blog has touted. It looks good and it is reasonable.
Tomorrow night, I will take my father to the choir's seder. He has been so bored and at loose ends, I have to devise special treats to calm him down all the time, as if he were 5 years old.
Last night I showed the Russian film Solaris (1972), by the famous director Andrei Tarkovsky. It is very slow and stately, like a 19th century Russian novel, and dated in a few parts, such as the strange, interminable sequence of freeways. I suppose in Russia at that time freeways were an oddity, and seemed like a mark of the future. Since the film was set in an undetermined future of manned distant space travel and stations on far away planets, using this footage of Japanese freeways seemed futuristic. The contrast with the bucolic Russia of the film was certainly plain.
After last week's film, A Clockwork Orange, where music featured so very centrally, the quiet of this film, which used almost no music and very little sound aside from the diagetic dialogue and ambient noises, was striking. And I enjoyed the sound of Russian, which I have not heard for so long.
I am beginning to work on my 60 second Torah discussion for a service in May. One person in the synagogue will represent each parashah of the Torah. I got Numbers 19:1-22:1. So much of consequence happens in this section, it will be difficult to do any kind of justice to it at all. This is the part where Miriam dies, Aaron dies, and the doctrine of the red heifer is outlined.
For those who have never heard of this, the red heifer is a special, extra-powerful sacrifice used to counteract the taint of death in sacred places. In the sacrificial system of the temple, this was the foremost tool in the priests' arsenal to overcome contamination.
Linking this new doctrine with the death of Miriam suggests that her death was a kind of sacrifice too for the people Israel and their continued success. We are more used to associating this idea (dying for the sins of others) with Christianity, but apparently it is not entirely alien to Judaism.