Tuesday, February 28, 2006

La La Land...

It’s that time..
That perfect time..
When lights go off
One by one
And silence reigns

If it did not exist..
Men would invent this sensation
And men would pay a fortune
To savor her inebriation

But every human being
Has access to her bliss
Can enter it and be enveloped
In her celestial kiss

Its that time when day becomes a foggy dream
And dreams become reality..

We slip into a world..of mystery
And come out with nary a memory
An image..a scent...sights
Too fantastic to comprehend

Dancing elephants...streets carpeted green
Shadows...endless stairways...
Faces from beyond...another world
A mysterious smile...do I know her..?

I’ll never take it for granted
Every night a new ride..
A new adventure

I truly love my bed...my cocoon, my hideaway
I truly love the dreams...that take me far away...
That take me beyond the day.

Good night.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Lesson in Ahavas Yisrael...

I'm reading a very interesting book entitled Pilgrimage of a Proselyte by David Patterson

It's the journey of a Methodist College Professer that converts to Judaism and embarks on a very emotional pilgrimage from Auschwitz to Jerusalem.

There was one passage that really moved me....because it's something I'm guilty of, often..

It's on page 118..where he's expressing his deep unconditional love for his newly adopted Jewish brothers and sisters...

"That love I feel even for the obnoxious, annoying God-love-them Israelis on the flight from Warsaw. We sat on the ground for twenty minutes before taking off because a single seat had been assigned to two different people. Yes, there were other seats available , but this one Israeli-a man decked out in jewelry and all, in the latest fashion-insisted on having his seat. After rearranging the positions of about eighteen people he finally got his wish.
Then, once we were in the air, he and the other two dozen Israelis were out of their places and pacing up and down the aisles. I don’t think he spent more than fifteen minutes of the 3 1/2 hour flight in the spot he insisted on having. And, as if that were not enough, when it came time to land he took another seat!
It all reminded me of a comment Rav Steinzaltz made to me two years ago, when I told him I was studying for conversion: 'The hardest thing about becoming a Jew,' he said, 'is the Jews.'
But when I see a Jew who is less than Jewish, it only reminds me of how far I fall short myself."

Profound words to live by...

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Greatest Moment of My Life

Today is the 8th Anniversary of the best moment of my life.

My oldest child was born.

Only those with children can fully understand what I’m saying. And those who haven’t been blessed yet I pray with all my heart that you should experience this soon (if you want it..).

As the day progressed and the labor intensified I as the husband felt utterly hopeless and beside myself watching my wife writhing in pain.
Everything so surreal. Tired beyond belief. Nurses and Doctors rushing to and fro. Anxious husbands pacing the halls, another cup of coffee, another shrieking mother to be.
A look of extreme anxiety of hopelessness against the pain..the waves of pain that will just won’t stop, etched on my wifes face.
(Every year on Tisha B’Av when we say “Eili Tziyon VeOrayo K’mo Isha B’tzureya..” that image appears in my head....)

Then suddenly..the nurse announces matter of factly in hebrew..ok she’s ready to push...
The doctor comes in...lights go on...everyones donning scrubs..
I back away..not sure I’m wanted..
Everyones goading her to puuuush...just a little more...She’s straining..I swear she’s going to pop a vessel...in her head...
And then stop..take a deep breath..
By now she’s beside herself...I’m a nervous wreck...
Oooooh we can see the head....he has black hair..Eizeh Motek...
Ok...I’m going to need you to push really hard now...take a deep breathe..
Od me’at..just a little more..

And then..

The moment...


A baby..

A boy

A real live baby..my flesh and blood...so small..crying...oh my goodness..that was INSIDE her?

Tears..just unimaginable joy...
My baby...

Less than 2 years removed from being a bochur..I’m suddenly holding my child.
It was an overwhelming moment.

Later that night I hopped into a cab. Sitting by the window watching the world go by as if nothing just happened. As if this most incredible miracle never occurred.
Hello! I had a baby! My wife just had a live human being crawl out of her!
It’s too much.
As I dozed off a feeling washed over me.
I’ll never forget that feeling..it’s a feeling I’d never experienced not before and not since.
A feeling of bliss..of accomplishment in a very basic, primal way. I have produced an offspring. I remember thinking..ok God ..you can take me now, I’ve brought another generation down to this world. And I drifted off into a deep sleep...

Only to be awakened by my cabbie gently shaking me.
Slicha..Sanhedriya HaMurchevet?..
Shloshim Shekel.
Mazal Tov

Can anyone else point to one single greatest moment in their life?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Squirrel and The Rat

A Tale of two critters..
Two cousins
Two rodents
One loved..watched..fed
The other loathed..feared..killed
Same basic anatomy
One has large eyes..slim figure..bushy tail
The other..beady eyes..fat figure...slimy tail
They both survive
They both thrive
One scampers in yards..up trees..through the park
The other in sewers..and subway tunnels in the dark
One is fed the fruit of the earth
The other feeds off the refuse of earth

Look around..you’ll see squirrels and rats
All around..
Your neighbors..colleagues...family
We feed off love..self worth and esteem
Its what keeps us alive
Wherever we find it..in order to survive

So next time you’re about to label someone
A child
Tell him he’s not smart..not good looking...not like his siblings
Tel her she’s not pretty..not skinny...has no friends

They’ll survive
They’ll even thrive

Not as a squirrel
But perhaps as a rat...

Got a problem with that?

Sunday, February 19, 2006

One more step...

I walked to a Shalom Zachor this Friday night. It was 20 minutes away and for those of you in the New York Metropolitan area..you know how freakin cold it was.
Me..being the old soul that I am..trasported myself into another era.
Here's a peek into my mind 12 minutes into the return walk.
Cursing myself for not having worn my really warm winter coat I was literally shaking in my skin.
I was walking into the wind and after every gust my ears burned a little more my forehead became a little more numb and the chill went right down to my bones.
One step at a time.
Then I began to wonder.
My grandmother went on a forced death march in Poland for 2 months during the fierce Eastern European winter.
For 2 months!
How did they do it?
Can anyone explain this to me?
Were they not human?
Were they made of something other than bones flesh and skin?
Day after day. Wearing coats thinner than mine. Tattered rages instead of shoes.Step by step...Day... night... day..freezing cold..snow..wind..ice.
If suddenly instead of my block in sight a few blocks ahead, I were to be forced to walk for another 2 months... It'’s too much to comprehend.
We're not talking about some hero, or someone out of a legend. We're talking about my Bubby!
Would something physically happen to me to help me survive? Or would my will to survive be strong enough to take the biting cold for another..not 5 minutes but 6 weeks.
To me it's mind boggling..
Minute 18.
I'm so desperate to be indoors already my mind ceases to think anymore..I can see my house..another step...another step...survive...
Minute 20.
Thank God I'm home.
Warm and toasty home. 2006.

Suddenly it's all abstract to me again. I’m no longer desperate to know how she did it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Observations at a Bris..

I’m a little late today, in case anyone noticed.
I just came from a Bris..Circumsion Circumstances, I suppose.

...and I have a few observations I’d love to share.

Can anyone explain to me why some people enjoy watching a bris? I mean, there must’ve been 20 guys craning their neck to watch an 8 day olds baby have his penis sliced. Do you see any entertainment value in that? I just don’t get it. Anyone standing there with their eyes glued should automatically be placed on a watch list of some sort.

Then it comes time for the name. Here’s something I’ve noticed for quite some time now..this fascination with knowing the name. Even absolute strangers..join in this strange chorus..what’s the name?..what’s the name? Never mind that this babies 5 brothers are standing right there and you could not care less what their names are. When does the desire to “know the name” end?
I’m guessing at around 1 month when it is then replaced by the “who does he look like?” fascination. This continues until about 18 months when suddenly everyone forgets about this kid and starts to wonder when the next one is on the way and what “the name” will be.

There is one important lesson I did learn. How easy it is to do a real chessed. I was debating whether or not to go and decided last minute to go and come a little late to work. The Baal Simcha (the father..lol) was so happy to see me..it caught me a little off guard. Especially at a weekday Bris so much preparation goes in and quite often so few people show up. It can really make a tremendous difference whether or not another person shows up. It made me feel real good.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Star Struck

The other day I’m sitting in a waiting room idly flipping through a Town and Country magazine. After reading about all the latest fund raising parties, admiring the beautiful homes and some pretty glamorous women I turned to the Horoscope. I’ve never in my life read a Horoscope and I’m still not sure what it’s all about.
So..I turn to my sign, I start reading..and I turn white.
This Horoscope seems to know everything about me and everything that’s going on in my life!
I could not believe it.
It described my character perfectly.
Those in my sign are artistic and creative and unorganized...ok..I’ll stop there..

No..I’m not going to start basing life decisions on Astrology.
There is definitely something to this. These weeks Parashios are full of stargazers and Astrologists. However I’m a firm believer in Tomim Tihyeh im Hashem Elokecha.
I don’t like woodgie woodgie stuff. I refuse to wear a red bendel on my hand and I don’t like going to Mekubalim and Ayin Horah experts..etc..

I do have to say I was thoroughly spooked and I do not intend on ever peeking into that forboding section again.

Instead of stargazing I’ll stick to gazing at stars in the front of the magazine.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Etched in ..skin

I haven’t moved or twitched my face muscles for 24 hours now so I’m feeling a little like a zombie.

You see.. yesterday as I was shaving something very disturbing came into my focus. I suddenly could make out very faint lines across my forehead and one between my eyes. Could it be..wrinkles?
Now, I’m not a vain person at all. The only time I glance in the mirror is for my morning shave and grooming. So what’s the big deal?
I’ll tell you what the big deal is.
I’ve begun to notice how the spiritual really mirrors the physical world and in this respect especially so.
When a baby is born..through childhood ..developing, sure they have some inclinations and characteristics they’re born with but it’s easy for them to change to be goaded into bettering themselves and changing their habits. They’re faces are smooth. Nothing permanent is registered.
As you grow older, it becomes increasingly more difficult to change your character and characteristics. Your personality becomes etched in your face, it becomes an indelible part of you. You can look at an old man and get an idea if he’s easy going or grumpy, angry or happy.
At that point it is almost impossible to change your ways. Most people go to their deathbeds with the same Middos that took them there even with death staring them in the face.

And so this is not a moment of vanity..

I’m just not ready to concede my personality yet.
I’m not ready to etch my likeness in flesh....

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Global Warming..?

Ok. After 3 months of balmy winter weather I'm starting to think there might be something to this Global Warming talk.

Is the ozone layer shrinking?
Are ice caps melting?
Is the water level rising?

I have no clue. I'm not a scientist. However I spent Sunday at the park in 60 degree weather on the last week of January!

Am I going to one day reminisce before my grandkids about how it used to snow in these parts..years ago?

But on the other hand..whenever I hear the weather report they always add..
This is the warmest winter since 1952

and so I wonder..did they fret about Global Warming back in 1952 as well?