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Cultural Understanding

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"Excuse me, Lieutenant Commander..."

Delenn's voice was musical as she pronounced Susan's rank. Susan turned, only slightly annoyed. "Yes, Ambassador?"

"I noticed that you haven't been on duty the past several days."

That was Minbari for Where the hell have you been? "The commander gave me some personal time off."

"I'm sorry, I don't mean to pry."

Delenn's expression was polite, worried. Susan smiled and tried to reassure her. "It's all right. I was sitting Shiva for my father." Delenn's expression changed, to polite confusion. "It's a Jewish tradition for... mourning."

"Ahhhhh." There was the realization. Susan started walking again, and Delenn fell into step beside her. "I am sorry for your loss."

"It's all right. The ritual actually helped. A lot." She was as surprised at that as anything. It had been good to set those old demons to rest.

"I have not heard of this tradition before. Perhaps I should study your religion. If you would not mind, that is."

Susan shrugged. "It wouldn't bother me at all. There's a lot there to study."

"I have been speaking with Commander Sinclair, about his Catholicism."

That thought made her smile. "Well, Judaism and Catholicism might have common roots, but they're very different in their approaches to God."

"Can you give me an example?"

"Ahhhhh... Sure. Here, there's this joke. A rabbi is stranded on a desert island--"

"Rabbi?"

"It means teacher. A rabbi is basically... well, he's the source of information about the Torah, which contains Jewish law. He's in charge of the community, and all the people in it."

"I see. Please continue."

"Okay. So when the rescuers finally find this rabbi, they find he's built two temples." She paused, checking that the ambassador was up to speed. "And they asked him, 'Rabbi, why did you build two temples? Why not just one?'"

Delenn nodded.

"And the rabbi answered, 'I built that one to go in every day to ask God for deliverance from this island. And I built that one to never set foot in again for the rest of my natural life!'"

Susan watched as Delenn mused over the statement. After long minutes, the Minbari suddenly smiled.

"I think I understand!"

That was a relief. Susan smiled back. "Great! Glad I could help. Now, if you'll excuse me, ambassador..."

As she headed with renewed determination toward C&C, Susan could hear Delenn murmuring to herself. "'And that one to never set foot in again...'"