I was listning to some talk radio regarding these new body scanners that the TSA is using at airports and it got me thinking. What if they could create an authenticity scanner. They could be set up outside of yeshivas and shuls and everybody would have to pass through them before and after they went to davening or to learn? And imagine if it could be programmed in such a way as to convey the area in your life you were not being quite authentic about. It would give contructive feedback like "you are not as pious as you are putting on, Warning! you are an egomaniac masquarading as an anav. May actually be a good resource for those rabbis trying to combat kiddush clubs.
Last year I was talking with a Jew from the Holy Land. He was lamenting to me how a generation of kids have all been vaccinated in the day school system. The conversation was short and I began to think. What were we all vaccinated against? How was the vaccine administered to us? And what if I was immune to the vaccine? Perhaps that's what always made me different than the rest of the kids....
Long before the revolution was formed
our rebbe had a plan he set into motion
he plucked the most displaced souls off benches and out of study halls
gave them ruach and revived their slumbering spirits
He uncovered the grandeur that existed in each one
made them aware of their strengths and tasked them with creating a small ray of light in a sea of darkness
he surely knew the bond that would be formed
and understood that the hidden thief would have to cause their dispersion
lest they bring life to wisdom
each it appeared was driven out to the great abyss
one on a mound of maneur, another into the world of untruths
some were sent to gather sparks from the valentines day massacre and a comrade was even sent to become a corn husker
Yet it is clear to the one who can see with great depth
that our rebbe was behind this great dispersion
he executed it
without much exertion
He meant to have esteemed rabbis,westerners, and commoners as students
and have them execute his will without much direction
yet one thing he may not have anticipated is the haze of the galus
rebbe did you anticipate it?
how could such a pure soul anticipate the blur?
But alas I digress in my heresy
and am sure that my rebbe is thinking of me?
Oh certain I am this was part of the plan
But who can shed light on the great reunion planned?(purim 5771?)
I told him that of course I'm getting serious: Yom Kippur is Yom K'Purim, and if there is ever a time to get serious, it's now...
You know the Rebbe Nachman story where there is a propet who tells everyone that if they eat the wheat they will go insane. Nobody believes him except one family. They realize that they can't survive without eating a little bit of wheat, and besides if they refrain from eating wheat then everybody will think that they are insane. So they eat but make a marking on their forheads so they will be insane but at least it will be a conscious insanity. Well What happens if everybody eats it and nobody makes a sign, Who would be around to tell us the story?
You never quite know how you got there until you're in it. One minute you were cruising along enjoying the breeze and then all of a sudden you're waist deep in it. You put the pedal to the floor thinking you can muscle your way out of it but that just gets you stuck even deeper. Guilt sets in , how could this happen to me? Then despair I will never get out of this gunk. The mind races what did I do to to deserve this fate? The occasional passerby offers to throw you a line but it will do little good as they can't appreciate the hole you are in. An old parable from AA comes to mind as your i phone battery is drained and the hours stretch on without a response from triple a. There was once a boy who was stuck in a hole. A priest walked by and he yelled help me father I am stuck in a hole! The father threw him a cross but he was still stuck in the hole. A rabbi then walked by and He yelled for help from him, the rabbi tossed him a bible but little good that did. Then a recovering addict heard his yell for help and jumped into the hole with him. The boy looked at him and asked what good will that do now we are both stuck? The recovering addict responded but I have been in the hole and I know how to get out. But what does one do if they have lost the strength to scream out for help? What if our calls for help go unanswered?
Perhaps the most complex character I've come across is snuffy. As Paul Simon says a man he hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest (Or in Bigbird's case see). While we all know that snuffy is not real to big bird he is as real as it gets. Big Bird understands that seeing is not believing and that the imagination is what inspires us to create. It is then fitting that Snuffy is a mammoth of a character and it is precisely his largess that leads many of the sesame faithful baffled. In our lives there are times when we just can't relate or understand what is real and what is just an imaginary friend. The struggle that big bird faces is of tantamount importance to the human condition. He can capitulate to the dictum's of society and denounce his beloved snuffy as a childhood mirage, or dig deep inside his bird being, flying in the face of his com padres and internalize the reality that he knows to be truth.
A special shout out to my comrade in arms reb reuven for the teaching
God follows me everywhere-
spins a net of glances around me
shines upon my sightless back like a sun.
God follows me like a forest everywhere.
My lips, always amazed, are truly numb, dumb,
like a child who blunders upon an ancient holy place.
God follows me like a shiver everywhere.
My desire is for rest; the demand within me is: Rise up,
See how prophetic visions are scattered in the streets.
I go with my reveries as with a secret
in a long corridor thought the world-
and sometimes I glimpse high above me, the faceless face of God.
God follows me in tramways, in cafes.
Oh, it is only with the back of the pupils of one’s eyes that
one can see
how secrets ripen, how visions come to be.
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel
Last summer I had the grand idea to buy a season pass to sesame place. It lasts through this summer as well and little did I realize the great chinuch oppurtunity I would have when making my frequent visits this summer. Although I must admit I am more perplexed by each day I frequent the "street" I have been able to impart many a life lesson to the boy with each trip we make. I will start with my most recent trip.
I always knew that Oscar the Grouch was a snag hiding out in his garbage can "im yisaser ish bamistarim vani lo erenu neum hashem" the prsyzcha says g-d says to the person who resideds in his can thinking he is accomplishing his life mission by pouring over a talmud that does not enlighten his soul. G-d says i will not look at him. Oscar lives in a world of darkness. He has become so institutionalized in his can and any simchas hachaim has been stripped from him as he has had the can and its lid molded to his head. He sings how he loves trash. He percieves his learning as something so grand and idealizes his empty puruit while we on the outside looking in pity his hypocrisy. His professes how he is sad when he is happy and gets joy from being sad. Powerful stuff!.
My powerful shudders speak to me about You.
Feelings within me wildly arouse prayer…
And I do not know, I do not understand how to call you.
The danger of unconscious longing
Frightens me. Cramped feelings in a narrow space
I choke from not-knowing. Save me – a word!
Rabbi Dr. Abraham Joshua Heschel, "Need", 1930