Just in case y'all were wondering, I have many different writing voices and as I am stepping into my wholeness I am going to be sharing them all. So this one might be just a tad different from the last- Enjoy!
I do not think I should be reading Annie Dillard in the bathroom. As a Rabbi who studies biblical text in the bathroom, I am surprised by this thought. Her prose holds a sanctity beyond the parchment of Torah. I started reading Torah in the bathroom at about the same time I stopped believing my parents were gods and the body was the devil. My parents taught us from the beginning that eating in the bathroom was forbidden as you could not make a blessing and say Gods name while pooping. I am not really clear why this was a rule in my house as we never seemed to make blessings on our food unless it was the sabbath or a holiday and yet, this rule stuck. But slowly, over days and weeks, months and years, I let go of this belief and when I did there was no going back. If the body was Gods, and not the Devils then the body deserved more respect than the book. Without the body, the book is meaningless. And so, I would study in the bathroom, I mean lets be honest the bathroom is the best place to read in the house, and I did not feel that my study should miss out on my deepest focus.
I intuit that the body that was lovingly created by God is a holy vessel and not reading Torah while pooping is actually disrespectful. Who am I to judge shit as bad. My family knows that poop holds a sacred place in my heart as they will all tell you that I love talking about the shape of my poop, especially that one time when it curved around itself forming a double Helix, my very own DNA strand.
Why would God who created me, my body, and my shit, feel disrespected if I shared Gods word in the very place where the body, God so desperately wanted to create was doing its most grounded work. Jews and their purification rituals, exhausting, and in my opinion quite possibly the opposite of what was intended. From dust you are born and dust you shall return. It is a mini death experience every time we poop. Or as my friend Basya likes to say, “A good poop is like a great orgasm. Both death and orgasm a return to The One. And yet Annie Dillard who can describe the natural order in sacrosanct terms, who elevates the existence of a spider living behind the toilet to ethereal heights and leaves me feeling the awe of God, makes me want to create the holiness of separation. Maybe the bathroom’s holiness, the ability of the body to relieve itself, eliminating the unnecessary and retaining the necessary coupled with the holiness of the word make the awesomeness, awful. Awe-some awe-full. Why is some awe an amazing feat, but full of awe leaves us in pain? Maybe the holiness of the body and the holiness of Annie Dillard makes me awe-full. And as I look down at the title of the book I recognize that Ms. Dillard understood it all along, for the title of the beloved book is “Holy the Firm” and what else is there to say about a good poop.
Rabbi Esther Azar