desh ([personal profile] desh) wrote2005-04-20 02:02 pm
Entry tags:

legal fiction

I think this is one of the charming things about my religion. Others may disagree.

All first-born sons, in addition to being sold off, have to fast every year on a certain day right before Passover; in this case, tomorrow. Like most minor fast days, you can't eat or drink anything from sunrise to sunset.

Now, totally separate from that, there's a concept of a siyyum. "Siyyum" comes from the root meaning "to finish". A siyyum is a celebration had when someone completes the study of a portion of Jewish law, usually one of the six books of Mishna or one of the several dozen tractates of Talmud. The person or people who have finished studying invite a gathering of people, teach everyone a summary of what they've learned, and actually complete the studying by learning the last few sentences right then. Special prayers are said, and then everyone celebrates with a small feast.

Now, a siyyum is such a joyous and important thing that the commandment to eat at it overrides the commandment to fast (except when the fast applies to all Jews, so not Yom Kippur, for example), and once you've broken a fast there's no point in keeping the rest of it. And purely coincidentally, there are siyyums being held all over the place, early tomorrow morning. Apparently, lots of people, including at least one at nearly every synagogue, have learned a body of Jewish law and just happen to be finishing then. How convenient! Guess I won't have to fast this year. And I think there might have been another coincidentally-timed siyyum last year too, so I didn't have to fast then either! Or the year before that...

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