Here is another that had me in stitches.
|When a woman has a discharge of blood, which is her regular discharge from her body, she shall be in her impurity for seven days, and whoever touches her shall be unclean until the evening.
Day 34. In case you were wondering, Julie got her period yesterday--which is bad news in two senses. First it means that our attempt to be frutiful and multiply has failed yet again. Second, it ratchets up the biblical living to a whole new level of awkwardness.
The Hebrew Bible discourages the faithful from touching a woman for the week after the start of her period. So far in my year, adhering to this rule has been only mildly uncomfortable, nothing worse. In fact, it's got an upside. It dovetails quite nicely with my lifelong obsessive-compulsive disorder and germaphobia, so it's turned out to be a brilliantly convenient excuse to avoid touching 51 percent of the human population.
A female friend will come in for a cheek kiss, and I'll dart my head out of the way like Oscar de la Hoya. A colleague will try to shake my hand, and I'll step backward to safety.
"I'm sorry, I'm not allowed to."
"Oh. Um. OK."
Usually that's the end of it. Usually but not always. Consider this conversation I had with Julie's Australian friend Rachel, whom we met in Central Park last week.
"You're not allowed to? What do you mean?"
"Well, you might be ... impure."
"What do you mean 'impure'?"
"You know. In your cycle."
I pause. She looked perplexed. I decided this was a good time to avoid eye contact and study the pavement.
"Oh, you mean I might be menstruating? Don't worry, I menstruated last week."
At which point she hugged me. No escaping it.
Oddly Rachel is not alone. A small but surpringly vocal minority of Julie's friends have volunteered detailed information about their biological cycles. The phot editor at Esquire took the considerate step of emailing me her schedule. Did I perhaps want an Excel chart as well, she wondered?
He goes on to talk about his relationship with his wife during her monthly cycle and how she reacts to it.
Apparently Levitical 15:20 states "everything upon which she lies during her impurity shall be unclean; everything also upon which she sits shall be unclean."
At one point she rebelled. He came home from work and went to sit down in his "official seat, the grey pleather armchair in our living room." She tells him that she wouldn't do that. He asks why. She tells him that it's unclean because she sat in it. So he goes to sit somewhere else, and she said she sat there too and then goes on to list every piece of furniture in the apartment
Apparently the only place she didn't sit, because she forgot, was his son's 6 inch high wooden bench.
After that he bought himself a fold up chair that he takes with him wherever he goes so he always has someplace "pure" to sit, even on the subway
I'm nearly finished the book. Maybe 40 pages left. I wish the book was longer. It's a very good read! I will probably read it again before returning it to the library, and I think I'll buy myself a copy. It's one of those books that I feel worth reading again. I don't come across many of those books, and when I do I have to have it in my home library.