On the eve of October 4 2006, the UCSC campus witnessed an annual tradition... First Rain. When the first rain of the school year falls for more than 15 minutes in the evening of a weekday (unstated, generally understood social rules... are there more??) many students streak across campus. I've heard that it's a fun bonding activity for the campus, but I wouldn't know.
Streaking just isn't my activity. For some, it seems like a wonderful liesurely activity, but for me, not so much. I personally don't like advertising my circumcision to the world. Perhaps, my hesitation is because of Tsniut.... Oh Tsniut....Tsniut
is the Jewish concept of modesty. We may be all too familiar with stories of women with covered elbows and long skirts. But Tsniut applies to men as well. Granted, I haven't brushed up with the code in a while, but I'm pretty sure running naked across campus isn't on the "ok with modesty" list.
But I will offer my classmates the benefit of the doubt, or as the Sages call it, Chaf Zechut.....
Gan Eden Mikedem
Perhaps they were attempting to physically manifest the atmosphere of Gan Eden
, the Garden of Eden. Perhaps they were channeling Shechinat Hashem
, the feminine resonant aspect of God, and delving back into the nakedness of our ancestors Adam and Chava (Eve). By bearing it all, they asserted that they strive for the close relationship between human beings and their creator, the continuous former of the universe, the Holy One Blessed Be He. As Rabbi Nachman Of Bratslav suggests, God is always calling out to us "Ayecha!?", "Where are you!?" In response, the students of UCSC reenacted the first people to answer that message, and brought an equivalence of Paradise to the forests of Santa Cruz, K'Gan Eden Mikedem
, like the Garden of Eden in the beginning.Har Tzion
Many students who participate in the First Rain debaucherous dash agree that there is a miraculous sense of unity. The run is not sexualized, but rather envigorated with a fervor of bonding and brotherhood/sisterhood. There is a common goal of embracing the moment, feeling the rush of adrenaline, and embracing a campuswide sense of community. Just as our ancestors stood at the foot of Mt. Sinai, surrounded by fog and mist (Semitic Special Affects), and experienced the miracle of revelation, so too do participants, knee deep in fog, experience revelation as well. It is a single moment in the academic year when they come together as Kahal Santa Cruz
, and witness the unity of the campus. Just like when we feel a sense of familiarity among the tribe, and we claim it was because we saw each other at Mt. Sinai, so too is there a familiarity amongst those who bare testament to the miracle of First Rain.Choni HaMa'agal
There is a story in the Mishnah (oral law) which tells of a guy named Choni, who is given the title, HaMa'agal
, The Circle (Drawer). I won't go into the story, but the basics are that in a time of drought, he drew a circle in the ground, stood inside, and challenged God that he wouldn't leave till God brought rain. God does, people are happy, end of story. Perhaps UCSC students are attempting to draw one big, massive, naked, circle on the UCSC campus to usher in a time of rain to sustain the harvest. They make with their feet (and sneakers) an Eruv
, a boundary for which they refuse to leave until God grants them a rain-filled (organic) crop yield. Ok, that's a bit of a stretch, but I wanted one more example.
Or maybe I give them too much credit!Busha
What is more Halachicly (legally) wrong, and absolutely more shameful, than breaking tsniut is Busha, embarrassment. I do not believe that the runners felt much embarrassment. But one of the worst sins one can commit in the Jewish faith is embarrassing someone in public. It is said that all people go into the next world, Olam Haba
, except people who embarrass others in public. This may seem a bit extreme, but the Sages explain more in the Talmud. It is just despicable that people would take pictures of the running, choosing not to run, and then post them online. If the internet is not public, I don't know what is. This is definitely the worst case of Busha I have ever seen. *tear*Choni HaMa'agal