Saturday, February 13, 2016

In His Image:The Image of G-d In man - By Rabbi Yuval Cherlow

Just bought this at the YU Seforim Sale.  I heard him teach once and was very taken by him and his approach.  It seems this book is not yet officially published and there's something exciting about that.

Wed Feb 10

8:59 AM - Shady Grove by Pierce Pettis plays. I'm in my classroom on this Rosh Chodesh Adar Alef.  Class starts at 9:10 and I'm preparing and juggling and breathing and trying. Sometimes trying can be trying.

2:53 PM - Another breath at work.

Fri Feb 12

11:24 AM - I love writing, but don't always have the time.  Work is often non-stop.  Thank G-d for my blessed job of being there to guide and teach kids.  Yesterday there was no free second.  Not really today either.  I am taking a very brief pause now to express gratitude to G-d for all the good in my life.

MoSh"K Feb 13

6:31 PM - Hodu laHashem Ki Tov.  Besides other aspects that were challenging this past week was the fact that my computer and phone were down. No landline. No internet. Verizon texted me that all was fixed but it wasn't.  I didn't get to get to them.  But today a wonderful repairman showed up at my door, unscheduled by me, at his own convenience and it took him a while but he got the job done. So here I am soon after Shabbos grateful to have a dial tone and a connection (of at least one kind).  The gentleman shared a bit with me.  He has roots in Etheopia. His father was disappointed in him, or so he always felt.  He thought it was because he was short.  A time came when his father told him that he loved him and was proud of him.  He felt he was spurned (his word to me) and because of it he shined (my word to him). His fradmother told him he owes his father thanks for motivating him.  Sometimes it was a bit much for him.  The family would go on vacations and he's be left behind (ostensibly to work and take care of the family business).  Now he looks back and is grateful for it all.  And I am grateful to him for visiting me today, being so understanding of my needs to keep Shabbos, being a big mentsch in every way.  I am grateful.  And now, just back from Shul there are things to do other than writing here.  but I love writing here and grateful for this outlet and hope to be back here soon, tonight.

7:03 PM - Came up with this:

3 Stages of a Relationship With Me

1.  You remember everything!
2.  Do you have to remember everything?
3. Stop remembering everything.

7:32 PM - Spoke to dad.  Having chicken soup.  Glad to have a moment to write, though work looks. I replied to one school parent just now via email and owe another a call back from Friday.

7:50 PM - I just watched a short interview with Marina Abramovic on a TV version of The New Yorker magazine on Amazon.  She is now, at this stage of her career, focused, on what it means to be conscious.  her latest project was to have people walk in a room for as long as they like with headphones on that block out all noise and blindfolds that black all sight. Here's a review of it.

8:16 PM - Just came across this.  I feel strongly about it:

8:45 PM - Got so much to write, and yet have other (not necessarily better) things to do than blog, so signing off for now.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

The Other Donkey Story

A man and woman marry.  The man owns a donkey.  He and his wife journey.  He has her ride on the donkey and he follows behind.  A stranger stops him: "You need to balance things; look out for yourself too. "So he rides on the donkey and has his wife walk behind.  Another man stops him: "What's wrong with you? Letting your wife walk while you ride the donkey!" So he and his wife both walk behind the donkey. Someone stops him: It's ridiculous that you both walk and the donkey walks with no-one riding on her." So he and his wife get on the donkey, A Bedouin from a passing caravan stops him: "You can't see your donkey's face, but he's clearly about to be crushed from the weight of the two of you." So the man and his wife get off the donkey and together they carry the donkey the rest of the way.

What meaning to you see in this story?

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Challenge: Identify a mishnah that is entirely, from start to finish, with nothing added, a pasuk.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

The Long Groove Story

I like this inside joke. You have to know the footsteps story to get it.

It seems like "just a joke," but I believe there is no such thing.  Jokes generally convey serous messages. There are times in life where G-d, so too speak, takes us to where we need to be, though we fight Him on it all the way.

May we be blessed to get to where we need to be in the most pleasant and autonomous way possible.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Saturday Night/Mo"Sh"K

"The persistent feeling that this movie so beautifully creates is that even when the world is bestowing blessings upon us, it’s still at the bottom a sad place, and the key to an emotionally healthy existence involves some rooted acceptance of that." - Glenn Kenny, in his review of the film Brooklyn.

I relate to what he says here.  To put it slightly differently I think that being emotionally adult means to live with contradictions. In so many ways, what we see, feel, think, do...


"I would say the lowest paying job in America is improviser, right underneath poet, and person who makes no attempt to have a job." - Adam McKay, director of The Big Short, talking about his past to Stephen Colbert


In the Shenk Shul today I looked at a Pirkei Avot sefer on the shelf.  I found this pshat very interesting: Al tehi baz lechol adam... - Don't denigrate any individual. Eventually everyone has their moment and their positive mazal. The end letters of baz lechol adam are the letters that form the word mazal.  They come at the end because in the end is when it becomes clear that, as the mishnah goes on to say, in the end - everyone has their time and place when they shine.


SHORT YITRO THOUGHT - My dear friend Pinny Bulman shared his take about the mizbeach. His thought is that the mizbeach experience was meant to resemble and bring to mind Har Sinai. Thus, no metal in its making, made of stone, must be approached by going up a slope. And the idea behind this is that the Sinai experience has to be reciprocated. G-d gave us the Torah and now we give Him our service at this altar, the flip side of our receiving revelation.

ADD MORE... in talking over with another dear friend...


I woke up very early and spent some time finalizing a set of haiku about sleep. 

Now, it's later, still now, just coming later.  Work tomorrow. Need sleep. Good night and G-d bless.

Sleep Haiku

Our father Jacob
shared faith by going to sleep,
laying down a truth

The trouble with sleep
is that she takes her own time
disrespecting mine

Calling it a night
consciousness suspends herself
and catches some sleep

After the miles
were traveled, I wonder if
Robert Frost got some sleep

I almost got hit
crossed without looking both ways
went downstairs to sleep

I sleep with eyes closed
and also with open eyes
In time, I wake up

It's hard to sleep well
while still holding everything
It takes letting go

Pushing doesn't work
at least not in the long term
Yet you can't just sleep

Is only sleep sleep?
I want to replicate sleep
What else counts like sleep?

Sometimes sleep's a dream
But life is not but a dream
And so we need sleep

Sleep takes our faith
a mini facing of death
admitting limits

Like Achashveirosh
who had everything but sleep
I lie here and sigh

Laying on my bed
You hurt me deep inside me
From so far away

Wicked addiction
Is what keeps me up at night
And what helps me sleep

I drift off to sleep
the book falls out of my hands
little is as sweet

When I was a kid
with my father beside me
I prayed before sleep

I remind myself
lying here as an adult
of all those I love

In Israel too
it takes over at some point
we lay down and sleep

Friday, January 29, 2016

All There Really May Be is This Moment


OK, here we go... free writing, i don't know what to write and yet and  yet and yet I write now for release for catharsis.  The first time I heard that word was in a piece by Rabbi Soloveichik. If i'm no mistaken, in that piece he writes something along the lines of how in the whitewashed walls of the halls of the hospital where his wife died he could not find G-d.

Of the  various people who have come to me for advise over the years, one couple one couple comes to mind. Each having previously been in several relationships, they were seriously debating what to do with the one they were in with each other.  I felt, as I often do that people need to face their own stuff in order to build a relationship with someone else.  As a friend told me twenty years ago- you have to be one before you can be 2.  That friend has since been married and divorced.  We always judge, but The Rabbis teach us to not judge harshly...

Here's Catharsis in full, online. I wish Rabbi Soleveichik spoke more to me.

I make the mistake of seeing someone not own something they're doing, and then i assume they are aware of this, but that's the whole idea of their not owning it... they don't want to admit...

I exercised today and saw I was then dowm 0.2 pounds.  And I thought, if i lose that much every day forever one day my body will disappear.  Then i remembered that one day my body will disappear anyway.



I just completed some clean up work with the dear woman who cleans for me. It's amazing and frustrating what I find while sorting through stuff.  The wonderful part is pictures and other memories that animate me. The most upsetting piece is the amount of checks I find that are too old to cash.  That is something I need to find help and strength toward actually changing.  Of course I don't want to work for money and then throw it away.  I need to process and progress in this area. Sigh.



Almost Shabbos.

Life dances away
as the afterlife steps in
visits for this day

I found this page about Shemah very helpful.

Marriage maybe tests
in having someone you love
nearby all the time

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Isaiah 65:24

"Before they call I will answer; 
while they are still speaking I will hear."

Monday, January 25, 2016

An NPR Day

I'm grateful for this stay-cation day at home, with Leonard Lopate on the radio.  He interviewed Ian Buruma about his new book which features letters between his grandparents.  The grandfather was very funny and the grandma more complicated, so he puts it in one moment of this interview. 45 was their code for being Jewish, he doesn't know why.

"The past is always with us." - William Falkner. Lopate quotes this while talking with Tessa Hadley , who just released The Past.  They're discussing how writing is crafted, and how memoirs are more like fiction than we admit because the past is a great mystery that we can't actually walk back inside.  Yet, she does, in her writing, get inside things, says Lopate.  A boy gets a haircut.  And he changes. His grandfather was a vicar and a poet and he becomes a philosopher/critic..  She tries to capture the bit by bit chaos of momentary existence, she says. She published her first novel at 46 and is unsure why she didn't write anything she was pleased with till then, but she didn't.  She thinks it's because she was trying to be A.R. Gurney, rather than walking inside her own imagination and speaking of what she knows. In the long run the imitating helped her have some heft when she opened he door to the home she knew. She's presently honeymooning with a new novel, while not doubting that disenchantment will come.

"If you've met one person with autism, then you've met one person with autism." So quotes an author now being interviewed by Lopate.  The term was coined in around 1911 about schizophrenics who sometimes went deeply into themselves. Later it became a term for something that stood alone.  Fact: autistic people often have perfect pitch.  Echolalia is when a person repeats a prase over and over again. Donald T. used to repeat, "I could put a little comma." Eventually he was blessed to get unstuck from his echalalia. His life is told as part of this new book, In A Different Key. He has lived a full life.

Bruno Bettelheim said that kids got autism as a defense mechanism because their mothers were cold to them, refrigerator moms.  He was wrong, but he spoke from with authority based on  his experience in the Holocaust, seeing how people withdrew...  This approach caused great damage.

The authors are talking now about Willowbrook and Geraldo in 1972.  From the late 1890s there were these kind of expose's every 10-15 years but they didn't stick.  The shame that came was strong.  People were told to put their kids into institutions and care for the rest of their kids instead. This was normative, protocol, how society was. Cattle prods and electric shock were used. ABA - applied behavior analysis - was and is still used, but now it's applied in a better way, positively reinforcing. Interesting stuff, talking now about Aspergers, how creative the people who have it often are.

"You see what you think you see," - Caren Zucker, co-author of In A Different Key.

I'm still listening but going to hold off on writing a play by play. Wishing everyoe a good NPR ornon-NPR day.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

This week was the anniversary of Poe's death.

Here's a poem of his that I find striking.

Annabel Lee
By Edgar Allan Poe
It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of ANNABEL LEE;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.

I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea;
But we loved with a love that was more than love-
I and my Annabel Lee;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsman came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea.

The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
Went envying her and me-
Yes! - that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we-
Of many far wiser than we-
And neither the angels in heaven above,
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee.

For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling- my darling- my life and my bride,
In the sepulchre there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea. 

On Tea

If you are cold, tea will warm you;
If you are too heated, it will cool you;
If you are depressed, it will cheer you;
If you are excited, it will calm you. ~ Gladstone

"Tea Weather" by La-Chapeliere-Folle

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Richard Cory

By Edwin Arlington Robinson

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
'Good-morning,' and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich - yes, richer than a king -
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head. 

I was exposed to this poem in elementary school and it has stayed with me.  Paul Simon did a great job adapting it and made a strong choice in repeating the chorus at the end.

"Loss is the absence of something 
we were once attached to. 
Grief is the rope burns left behind 
when that which is held 
is pulled beyond our grip."

 ~ Stephen Levine, Unattended Sorrow

Muriel Rukeyser wrote, "The universe is made of stories, not of atoms."

One day I hope, please G-d, to write a piece about stories including all the great insights out there that I can find.  There are many great quotes and they are part of my story.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Four hours till vacation. Many people, in one way or another, have prematurely upped and gone. I'm grabbing a pocketful of solitude. And breathing.  So many physical realities can be notched down on our totem pole of things that matter.   And noises. And even thoughts.  I'm praying from personal space.   I'm reaching back for old dreams and realizing we're still connected. I'm honing in on a wisp of fresh energy and placing it in a jar so I will remember.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

אל תאמר לכשאפנה אשנה, שמא לא תפנה

I have liked blogging from the start. Been doing it a long time because I like it, believe in it.

Been thinking about Pirkei Avot. Just searched the words "pirkei avot" here and this is one of the ideas that came up:

The mishnah says not to say that when you'll have time (ke'she'efneh) then you'll learn (eshneh) because you may never find the time.  The Tifferet Yisrael notes that eshneh, usually translated to mean to study, is more precisely translated as reviewing.  It's easier to learn something the first time.  It's harder to review. The key to integrating what we learn is reviewing it.  Yet, reviewing is easily neglected- and that's what this mishnah is telling us to to resist doing; don't learn something one and say I'll reflect on it, review t, lock it in later. Do it now.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Real Haiku

Real feel temperatures
make me wonder what is real;
is it what I feel?

What truly exists?
Not imagined or supposed
Bonafide, for real

Can real be ideal
How to balance what we feel
Should our brains appeal?

They are not real, yet
they ruin many endings:
flawed expectations

Gray does not feel great
as it grates away color
and yet if feels real

Diet Coke and cake
is nothing to make fun of
Better than real Coke

Like our broken hearts
What we think is half is whole
In the most real way

These Jewish haiku,
some short poems by a Jew:
Seriously real

When I'm in a dream
I struggle as though it's real
As when I'm awake

He looks at it and
realizes all at once
that this is his life

"We were like dreamers"
we will one day say of life
that we thought was real

Wanting to be real
He seeks a stand up routine
For a dose of truth

The Torah tells us
"Justice, justice shall ye seek"
your way, and for real

And having said that
I will unsay what I said
and say what I mean

Sometimes I want to
Clear the slate and start over
Sometimes I am real

Sometimes we rise up
To the expected level
And make a dream real

What really exists
not imagined or dismissed
true and actual


By Max Ehrman

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

And then we end up
where we never thought we'd be
again. Again. Sigh.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Today's Google Doodle

Dedicated to Charles Perrault

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Now Again

Grabbing a moment to write. Tired with a lot on my plate.  That is good.  And yet.  There's a saying i saw and liked - stop the glorification of busy.  Life is important, I don't like missing it.

As I take this moment to think Suzanne Vega sings to me.  Time goes by, as it always does.  I am grateful to G-d for life, what a gift.  I do have a lot going on and that is a really nice thing for which I am grateful.

Yesterday a boy shared with me that someone gave a DT in his Shul that reminded him of things we learned in class.  This person suggested that when it says that Moshe looked and saw that there was no man, he was looking for who he was inside himself.  And possibly he killed off the Egyptian piece of himself...

I got up at 6:30ish in stages.  Somehow that was 5 hours ago, almost.  I've since had some water and 2 Kind bars.  I need food.  And I need continued nourishment of various sorts.  and I need to answer my calling and do my job.  And I pray for those 2 things to be one.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Old School Blog Moment

Beli ayin harah, I've been working at the same main place for 20 years, blogging here for 11, on this planet for... Keeping track can be tricky, so many kinds of tricky.  And they say age is just a number but nothing is just an anthing.  My work in intense and non-stop and yet I'm taking a moment for a spiritual lunch break and coming home here to write.  Writing is a form of exercise, the kind of exercise I favor. I love writing and as in the slide story I've told here several times over the years I sometimes feel safer doing something my in my own way.  And so while I seem to be just writing here there is no such thing as just writing. 

It's been a long time since I wrote an old school free associative blogpost here, and even longer since I wrote one without saying that I don't know what to share or where to share it.  Oops.

In 1994 when I started this blog mom and dad used to read it all the time.  Now mom has left this physical world.  And dad should still live and be well.  He's 11 years older than when this project began 11 years ago. And dad, like everything and everyone, has changed in time. Dad once emailed me a beautiful note about how he came to appreciate me more deeply through my blog.  I think that appreciation lingers. I'm pretty sure he doesn't look here anymore.

I feel pulled upon, not a good way to feel.  More-so than once, those as much as I pride myself on memory I never remember anything as strongly as I feel the now I'm in.

I thought of this during minyan this morning.  First the sheer poetic beauty and brevity of the words struck me.  Then I thought about what they might mean.  They say that TS Elliot said that poetry is the name for words that are felt before they're understood: BeRogez Racheim Tizkor. When deep in any one feeling, at least remember - even or it's hard to feel - a contrasting emotion.

I need to pause this post for now.  I bless everyone in this world, and beyond, with peace and goodwill.  

Find Haiku

Appelfed so wants
to find his way back to home
that's where we connect


You have to find your
comfort zone before you can
move outside of it.


True comfort is found
deep inside our ageless hearts
where all wounds are healed


When we listen to
the sound of our thin silence
we find G-d inside


I want to hold you
Like sand passing through my hands,
First I must find you


I find life to be
sharp like a double edged sword,
smooth in the center


May we all be blessed
to find our lost smiles
journey as we must

Sunday, January 03, 2016

From The First Episode of Lou Grant

Editor of Paper - I'm walking a tightrope Lou.
Lou - How'd you get there?
Editor of Paper - How's anyone get there? I fell in love.

Friday, January 01, 2016

Again, Trapper John has moved on.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Shemot Poem

Moshe went out to his brothers one day
And viewed a struggle that was at play
An Egyptian was ruthlessly beating a Jew
Moshe felt it was his duty to follow through
He saw that no-one else was in sight
and took it on himself to do what was right

He saw 2 Jews fighting when he went out again
and said to himself - "If not now, when?"
He tried to make peace between the friends
"Why interfere? Why do you have to mend
A disagreement that doesn't concern you
What's your plan? To kill us too?"

So Moshe took off and ran
He'd move to Midyan, that was his plan
Trying to make peace tore his life apart
Now he'd leave it behind, make a new start
When he arrives at Midyan Moshe is stunned
At the well he witnesses bullying being done
He couldn't look away, wouldn't hide
his passion for justice burned inside
He approached the conflict, got it solved
Once again he just had to get involved

May we, like Moshe, seek peace everywhere
Always persevere, and forever care
May we use these stories, learn from what Moshe does
And each, in our own way, be as great as he was.

Monday, December 28, 2015

It's later than 11:59 PM, but still feeling like late Monday night, not quite yet Tuesday morning. It's time for sleep, as I pray to G-d for more blessings and thank him for all the blessings I have received.  I just got it in my head to think back on this time over the years.  I wrote a poem 11 years ago about poems, and the tsunami, and and and.  Here it is.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Moshe Yess is on my mind today.  Somehow I connect with him deeply and associate that connection with my dad (HSLABW). In 1984 I was living in Yeshiva in Yerushalayim, there on a one way ticket.  Dad came to visit. We went out to Moshe's cafe off Jaffa Rd, in town. We were the only ones there.  He put on a show just for us.  They had delicious pecan pie. I requested this song - Sukkos in Jerusalem - and he did it.  And that moment is still embedded on my heart.

Listening to My Zaidy. Somehow brings my dad, he should live a long and healthy life, to mind.  The first time I heard the song was with dad.  We were clothing shopping for me on a Sunday.  I was around 18. Someone from the Shul recommended a place, it was way downtown.  And in the car heading home Art Raymond played this song and I was drawn to it, struck, taken.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

By Neil Fleischmann
Yaakov Avinu blesses his sons
focusing on what's unique inside every one
He knew they weren't all the same
So he put each one inside a different frame
Yaakov accepted what was before his eyes
He saw the good in each son, he was truly wise
He was the father of the tribes, the Jewish nation
because he understood that every person has their station
In this spirit may we each shine as a Jewish star
and be blessed to become who we truly are

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Cover Haiku

What seems beautiful
can be ugly deception
a cover of lies

The rabbi's challenge
to not look at the cover
but at the content

Ambivalence here
I've come to cover up fear
but I don't work cheap

We seek protection
from the dangers of this life
We run for cover

Mi Yaaleh?

A dear friend is fond of citing the question of the meaning of 2 phrases in today's Shir Shel HaYom: "Who will go up on G-d's mountain?" "And who will stand in His place of holiness?" His take on the difference between the two phrases is as follows: The first line is saying that it's a major accomplishment to get to a G-dly place. The second phrase is telling us that it's an even greater feat to do the maintenance and make the holiness endure. He always adds that maybe this is why we pray these words on Sunday. On Shabbos we hopefully go up to the mountain of G-d, and the next day we start working on holding on to what we've achieved. May we be so blessed.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Boulevard ALP Haiku

Rushing nowhere else
but elevators to rooms
they push their way home


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Nisechah SheBeChol Yom

There’s a question that’s answered in 100 ways
which is why do we celebrate Chanukah for 8 days
The miracle was not the first day
it was the other 7 when the light stayed
So why do we include day number one
when the miracle was that it lasted in the longer run?

If the answer is something we truly want to find
It has to involve reframing our mind
We call nature something we always see
Like a bird flying or the growing of a tree
But when you think about it “nature” is miraculous too
All the “normal” things experienced by me and you

The fact that oil burned on that first day
Is called natural, so many say
The fact that oil burns at all
Is a miracle from G-d, not small
We celebrate 7, then add 1 on
So this message will not be lost and gone

Every day is a miracle if we see it all the time
Everything is miraculous if we catch it in our minds
G-d protects us regularly from suffering and strife
With the miracles of nature that comprise our daily life
May we be blessed to see the miracles every day
When we say Modim while we pray

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Ve’Ahavta Lereachah Kamochah

I once heard a beautiful idea - that Ve’Ahavta Lereachah Kamochah is performed within marriage or at last that’s where it’s worked on the most. That’s like the laboratory and then you branch out from there.

String Haiku

Sometimes I can feel
The kite pulling on the string
And sometimes I can't.


We have strings attached
and so we are each held back
from really flying

Prompted by HaikuHorizons

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Balance Haiku

Balance the balance
The balance of our life's work
Balanced by G-d's hand

For all that I say
I think much more quietly
Need to balance that

Sometimes I get caught
in between content and form,
praying for balance

Water sways alone
Lonely boats drift upon it
Each seeking balance

Trusting and trying
need to be balanced. Trust me
that can be trying

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Vayishlach and What I said at Dad's Place

Yaakov prepared for a physical battle that never came to be, but instead he had a surprise spiritual battle (with a man? with an angel? with himself?). And when fought that fight he was uncharacteristically alone. And he couldn't cram in prep for it as for a physical confrontation. And he won, but he came out wounded. So too for us in life. And this fits with Rav Hutner's take on Sheva yipol tzadik vekam. Wise Shlomo haMelech was not just praising the tenacity of a righteous person but he was giving the recipe of how to become one. And it is no coincidence that Yaakov bowed before Eisav seven times. This is the symbol for his falling and rising as he became Yisrael, the father of the Jewish People...

Ground Haiku

Welcome extroverts
The world is your stomping ground
Speak first, think later

When you hold your ground
your potential multiplies
that's how trees are grown

May I plant my feet
firmly on the ground right now
with your help, dear G-d

Earth's solid surface
calls me from my inner world
My feet to the ground

As I float away
I ponder hard to reach dreams
like being grounded

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Pepper Haiku

Pungent, hot tasting
Powdered, dried, ground peppercorn
Let's call it pepper


Try cayenne pepper
for holistic sore throat cure
or... Penicillin


Do not pepper me
with sprinkles of flattery
Be salty, be real

Pepper Paire Davis
The "League of Their Own" player
lived to eighty eight

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Haiku Of The Day

People are like salt
useless in isolation-
good with something else

Saturday, October 31, 2015

New Vayeira Thought

"And he saw The Place from afar." The Nesivos Shalom says that this means more than that Avraham saw his destination in the distance. We are being told here that Avraham saw G-d, who is called HaMakom/The Place as distant. This struggle was part of Avraham's test. Experiencing the other in a relationship as distant is a major test to your staying in the relationship...

Thursday, October 29, 2015


Why I write here is a bit of a mystery to me, but only a bit. But mostly I write here for the same reason I write in diaries and on napkins. I need to get my ideas into words and on paper.

People get the flu or related things and knocked out for weeks at a time - rachmanah litzlan.  So why are people, including me so surprised when it lasts a few days in a row? If I beat this cold soon it will have lasted about a week.  Please G-d let that be how it goes.

What was particularly hard about this flu thing was that it was accompanied by a stomach thing. I still walking on eggshells when it comes to eating.  And I'm still trying to access to what degree I still have a bug inside me.

And I've tried to do work while home and sick, though there's much more to be done when I get back in full force.

Sitting at my desk... wondering if that's the start of a haiku.

Sitting at my desk
Missing those who are not here
Some, I sent away

As time goes by I've grown more tired of travel. Getting around is not easy on me. In the past I've often shopped on  my way home, stopping at the wonderful Shoprite supermarket, my closest approximation of Disneyland (with the exception of one person there who pushes my buttons - I pray for her, as I experience her... And the healing needed may be in me, and I pray for that too). The best word I can think of for the travel and the shopping is shleppy. Recently new ride possibilities home have appeared.  And I should take them.

They say to minimize saying should.  And I should minimize worrying about them.  I'm thinking to start ordering online.  Food.  And maybe it's time for a water cooler.  And my life needs many tweaks.  There are things in my life that hurt me and that are in my hands to fix.  But then it goes back to the paradox I've visited before: A man can't free himself from prison vs. the matter depends only on me.

I am enjoying not feeling sick.  I am grateful to G-d.

A few weeks ago on Friday my landline stopped having a dial tone.  Tonight it came back.  There was a spate with no internet at home. The whole thing was challenging.  And Verizon service on the phone was not particularly user friendly. I almost can't believe that, as small as it seems now that it's over, this really irritating inconvenience is resolved.  Thank G-d.

I find this interesting: Holy U.S. grave sights and the man who found them and wants to show them to you.

I am doing work at home and am happy to have the energy and ability to do so.  Guidance emails.

I am taken by Anim Zemirot.  it seems to me like it answers so much.  The more we get that we can't get G-d, the more we can get a connection.  hat's what I think it's about.  I also think it is untranslatable-ly beautiful poetry.  Havening said that, here's the start of my translation:

I sing to You, struggling to be pleasant and clever
I work and weave, as my soul has yearned for You forever.

My soul is desirous in the shade of Your hand
For Your deepest secrets she longs to understand

I'm not sure what I've written or why I've written it here.  but i am done for the night.

I am so grateful; to G-d for feeling better.  Over the last few days here were long periods where I couldn't hold down any food or drink.  And I was on my own to bundle myself up and go out for chicken soup and juice.  It is unbelievable how G-d has rejuvenated me.

There are mysteries beyond us and I am grateful for the mystery of the graciousness of G-d.

My mind was just blown as I discovered that a former cast mate of mine has written a popular book about her parents being hoarders! Wow.  Good for her.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Brief Blog Hello

Since I last wrote I have been busy with work/life.  Last Friday I felt particularly worn from the week. I fell asleep with my tie on at dad's place at 9:45 on Friday night.  During the haftarah I started feeling ill, a burning in my throat and achy all over. I slept over Shabbos.  And I've seen various doctors and healers since then.  My flu symptoms have the strange partner of serious stomach issues, i.e. not holding food or drinks down. I hope I'm on the upswing, please G-d. I hope, but I know I'm not at 100%, or close enough to go back to work tomorrow. Doctor's will give me a note, they said, if I need it, but I don't think I need their notes. I wish I had the space to blog more now or in general.  I pray for healing for myself and for everyone who needs it. I will share one haiku of the day that came to me in context.

You might never guess
who will be there when it counts
that's life's big surprise 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sunday in the YU Library

November 21st will be the 11th anniversary of this blog. I've shared a lot here over the changing years.  I just came across this title from eight years ago and I think it's smart (though I don't remember coming up with it): "Man Plans, G-d Helps."  The saying that man plans and G-d laughs sounds off the mark because I don't think G-d laughs at us.

I write here less than I used to.  And part of that is because of the social media website that shall generally not be named here.  And part of it is due to writing on my other blogs, like my haiku blog, my tanka blog, my longer poems blog and more.  I also write privately.  And I try to live life.

And yet.  I believe in or al least like blogging. I like the alleged honesty of the personal blog.  Some say you shouldn't sdit a personal blog post and you must write it in one shot.  Maybe. So far that's true for this post.

It feels like I haven't written an old school post here in a while. So here goes:

I'm not feeling great. I'm not feeling terrible.  But I'm worried about myself.  And it all comes down to me taking care of myself. I have to do that.  Various healers need to be seen, and doctors too.

I think I started this blog to be seen and heard in a true way, particularly by my parents- though I wasn't thinking that when I started blogging.  But that day when my dad emailed me that he discovered my blog and was taken by my writing is one I cherish.  And my mom used to coyly comment.  Mom is in another realm now. She's been in heaven, having passed from this world on Christmas weekend on  2009.  And I don't think dad reads here anymore, it's not where he's at right now. 

Did I mention that I'm not feeling well.  I've slept but feel tired. 

I once felt like sharing here the things that happened in my life. That urge has cooled.  And yet let me say now that some things have changed and some have stayed the same.  On the outside things look pretty much the same.  Same job as when I started here.  Same status of being single.  Age has changed by almost eleven years.  That is what it is.  Eleven years is exactly eleven years though we have the choice to call it a little or a lot.  

As has been the case in the past, on occasion, I am writing from the YU library.  That's another external circumstance that looks the same, I live in the same place as when I started this blog.  I live in Washington Heights, nearby YU.  And, as has been the case in the past, my phone line is down, which means my home internet is down.  Verizon is coming on Tuesday to check the external line. Till then I need to go elsewhere to use an online computer.

I am feeling worn and weak.  I am going to put some work on hold. I think I need some Sunday space.  I am going to head home.  Not sure what it means but all I want in life is to go home.  I am so tired.  I don't get it.  And it scares me.

When I used to write (almost) daily here I'd close by saying what I will say again now:

Good night and G-d bless.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Noach Poem

Noach cleaved to G-d.  Noach separated from the people of his time. This is what made him a tzadik worthy of being saved when the rest of the world was destroyed.  His secret weapon was his removing himself from the people of his time.  This was all so before the flood.  But after the flood he kept to himself once again.  And after the flood he did not shine again as he had before.  Avraham became the new star because he was adept at connecting with others, which was just what was needed at that time.  Noach fell away because what allowed his to survive before the flood did not allow him to thrive after the flood.  This is often the case that what saves someone at one stage of their life holds them back at a later time.  May we be blessed to find new strengths for new situations in which our old strengths have now become detriments.This is all explained in more detail here.

Noach stuck with G-d and from people he kept away
This is what saved him at the end of the day

Cleaving to G-d made him righteous and strong
With the others who were destroyed he didn't belong

Noach survived because he was close to G-d and great
Restarting the world was his reward and his fate

But after the flood he needed to connect with others
To extend his hand and build society with his brothers

But Noach only knew how to stay in his zone
So once again he separated himself, stayed alone

Not reaching out to others led to Noach's downfall
In the new era he wasn't a hero after all

What make Noach special when he was in his prime
Was the same thing that worked against him at a later time

This is a profound psychological truth
What we need in old age is different than what worked in our youth

What at one time can serve as our best protection
Can in another context take us in a bad direction

May we be blessed in life to always behave in the way we need
To not be held back by old habits but to shine and be freed

Friday, October 09, 2015

Breishit Thought and Rap

In the beginning the world was covered in darkness and confusion and yet the spirit of G-d was hovering over it all. So too today, though can see dark and confusing the spirit of G-d hovers over our troubled waters.

Sometimes we put up our guard
because life can feel so hard
Sometimes we are not amused
because things have us quite confused
Remember G-d hovers over us all
He is always there to answer our call
May we remember that we need not fear
Remember G-d is always near
Pray to him and He will hear
May he bless us all with a wonderful year

Sunday, October 04, 2015


Sunday, September 27, 2015

In G-d's eyes we are already one. - Avraham Moskowitz (in his Tehillim Cards)

Sukkot And The Great Unification

Tue, 09/17/2013
Rabbi Neil Fleischmann
Special To The Jewish Week

“And you shall take on the first day the fruit of a splendid tree, branches of palm trees and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook” [Leviticus 23:40].

Normally we’re told to celebrate a holiday on a specific date of the month. Here Sukkot is called for the first day, but it is not the first day of the month. The Rabbis say that what’s being referred to here is the fact that Sukkot is the first day of sins. The Medrash says that some people start returning to God at the start of the month of Elul, others wait till Rosh Hashanah. By the time Yom Kippur has come and gone everyone has come forward and achieved a clean slate. People are still on a high during the brief segue between Yom Kippur and Sukkot and barely even have time or energy to sin. So the first day of Sukkot, when everyone gathers together with their lulav and etrog in synagogue, is opening day for sins.

Why are the four species, rather than the sukkah, mentioned in connection with our having achieved atonement? The answer to this question (as explained by the great scholar Rabbi Shlomo Efrayim Luntschitz) relates to another popular Medrash: The etrog (citron), having a taste and an odor, represents those people who have both Torah wisdom and Torah deeds under their belts. The lulav has taste (it comes from a date-palm tree) but no smell, representing those who study Torah but do not perform other mitzvot. The myrtle branches (hadassim) smell pleasant but produce no fruit, representing those who do good deeds but lack Torah knowledge. The willows (aravot) have neither smell nor taste, symbolizing those who lack both knowledge and action.

The species that we raise up on Sukkot, and the order in which they are listed in the Torah, represent our community and parallel the teaching of the Rabbis about the order in which people seek repentance. First the most righteous people (represented by the etrog) return, then come the regular people (represented by the aravot and the lulav) and finally the people who are lacking in both their behaviors and actions come around. This is all completed shortly before Sukkot and then on Sukkot we gather together and start real life all over again. We acknowledge that we all unite to form a community. Together we err and together we correct our mistakes. A cross section of the three categories of people is needed to have a true community. This is alluded to by the fact that the very word for community in Hebrew is an acronym for the people who constitute a congregation: tzadikim, beinonim and resha’im (the pious, the intermediates and the wicked).

There is a little known yet striking statement of the rabbis regarding repentance. They say that the ability to repent as an individual is unique to the High Holy Days. Perhaps this can be taken literally or perhaps it is saying anecdotally that this is the time that it is most likely for an individual to focus on his or her own spirituality and religiosity. On the other hand, it is said that during the year teshuvah (repentance) can only be achieved as part of the community. This is why we come together on Sukkot, the functional start of the communal new year, and commit to fixing our sins as a community.

We all know that the Jewish holidays never come on time, but early or late. This year they seem to have come earlier than ever. Summer has faded away and the school year has started. The days are getting shorter and darker. Now is the time to unite as a community and grow together in thought and deed.

May we be so blessed.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.
― Charles William Eliot

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Post YK

Thought of a new Jewish trivia question: When is the only time that Mincha does not start with Ashrei (officially, as set in the siddur- as opposed to when you for whatever reason don't say Ashrei, but it's on the program)?

Answer: Mincha of Yom Kippur.

(If I get one comment I may share more about this.)

Monday, September 21, 2015

Various Pre YK Thoughts

It's the night before Kol Nidrei night. Here's a post from nine years back (I shuddered as I wrote that number of years) about YK.


Yom Kippur is an unusual day, one could say that it's an extreme attempt to attain purity and forgiveness through isolation and separation that we are neither able nor expected to keep up on a regular basis. On the other hand, the day before Yom Kippur is the last typical day of life before Yom Kippur. How we live on this day is telling. Perhaps the reason why eating on Erev Yom Kippur is a mittzvah is that it's a litmus test: Do we consider our regular life activities, things like eating, to be a mitzvah, something holy that we do for G-d's sake, or is it an impulse that we don't even consider?


What's the difference between
clay in the potter's hand
stone in the mason''s hand
iron in the welder's hand
helm in the sailor's hand
glass in the glazier's hand
cloth in the draper's hand
silver in the smith's hand?
Seven is the nature number
It represents where we live
In time, place - within G-d
Yet we are each different
and we feel G-d differently
Some are navigated boats
Others raw creative clay
We are all in G-d's hand.


Why is Sukkot the next major holiday after Yom Kippur? Why do people start building the Sukkah immediately following the end of Yom Kippur? The message might be that the way out of all aveirot - mistakes is boundaries. Any "sin" we do is related to a breaking of boundaries, whether it's in our relationship with G-d, each other, or ourselves. A Sukkah doesn't need four extra high, super solid walls, just a minimal amount of protection. And everyone's Sukkah looks different. But everyone needs boundaries. As Yom Kippur drifts away may we each be blessed to build our own Sukkah. And may we be blessed with proper boundaries and be saved from making mistakes, particularly the same ones we made in the past due to lack of proper boundaries.


"Man's inhumanity against man."  That's what Irwin Berman said to his son Seth as he walked exited the theater after seeing "Bang the Drum Slowly."  That's what I'm thinking about now. So much of what he confess on Yom Kippur is man vs. man.  So much of our pain in this life is casused by us to eachother.

The words we pray are not meant to be incantations. Rather, they are calls to inner and outer change.  We're guaranteed for results if we do the 13 attributes of G-d.  That's what we're told, to do them, not simply to say them.


The Chernobyl Maggid explains that although zman usually is translated as time, it also means to prepare. The various zmanim in the Jewish year pave the way to have that theme carried through the year. Thus, freedom is initiated at Pesach, Torah at Shavuot and Happiness at Sukkot. It reminds me of the idea of ma'aseh avotsiman lebanim - that the avot allowed certain energies to be taken and run with by their descendants.


Yom Kippur By Philip Schultz

You are asked to stand and bow your head,
consider the harm you've caused,
the respect you've withheld,
the anger misspent, the fear spread,
the earnestness displayed
in the service of prestige and sensibility,
all the callous, cruel, stubborn, joyless sins
in your alphabet of woe
so that you might be forgiven.
You are asked to believe in the spark
of your divinity, in the purity
of the words of your mouth
and the memories of your heart.
You are asked for this one day and one night
to starve your body so your soul can feast
on faith and adoration.
You are asked to forgive the past
and remember the dead, to gaze
across the desert in your heart
toward Jerusalem. To separate
the sacred from the profane
and be as numerous as the sands
and the stars of heaven.
To believe that no matter what
you have done to yourself and others
morning will come and the mountain
of night will fade. To believe,
for these few precious moments,
in the utter sweetness of your life.
You are asked to bow your head
and remain standing,
and say Amen.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Zelda and Emily Have Tea

I imagine they
would sit silently and stare
at one another

Zelda would speak first
comment on Emily's clothes-
that she looked Jewish

They'd talk about death
that universal language
that both of them spoke

It would go quite well
they'd now see how close they were
always far away

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Post Tzom Gedaliah Post

What to write and where to write it? I think I'm a writer, because I write. And yet I don't have me and writing all figured out.

Another thing that I don't have figured out is the kosher grocery near my house. And another thing is my stomach. And the two things are connected. After having a couple of bad incidents with smelly chicken I bought there many years ago I stopped buying "fresh" meat and poultry there for a long time. Under new ownership I was still reticent about buying their chicken. And yet I convinced myself that it would be okay. I have bought it twice. Even the little I'm going to say is not quite as discrete as how I most prefer to write. It was not okay.

No more trusting of the poultry in this store. And in a sentiment very much connected to something I'm working on in my life I'm tempted to say, "No More Mr. Nice Guy." That's the name of a book (by Robert Glover) that's recently been strongly recommended to me. (Of course it's also the name of an iconic Alice Cooper song.) I'm not ready to say "no more" in the absolute because I don't see a reason to say that I'm not going to be "nice" (or anything else) in a completely black and white way. On the other hand, like Ben Carson (to make a timely reference), I think I need to balance my gentleness with my boldness. And speaking up to the owner of this store and following through seems right now like a good place to start.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Help someone when they're in trouble and they'll remember you when... they're in trouble again.

Just home from Rosh Hashnah. Here are past posts that mention Rosh HaShanah. And here are those that mention Rosh HaShannah. I'm rereading them myself.

I searched Gedaliah and found this.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Nachal Dovid, Where I Was Rooted

I wish I was in Israel.  I wish that the brief time I was in Israel wasn't becoming further away.  I want to feel the air, the dust, the water of israel on my body.  I want to feel the holiness of Israel in my soul.

On week ago I posted a poem that I wrote recently at a waterfall called Nachal David.

I'd like to try to translate it now.

Wishing us all closeness to G-d and rebirth via His holy waters.

Nachal Dovid, Where I Was Rooted

I want life like water
In my heart I'll build a brook
My boldness is brought out by water
My beloved knock from in the water
Today I begin drinking these waters
Confession: I haven't drunken the water of life
Pure like living water, my soul
My desire is to drink from your water
My purity will come from your water
I have hope in the water
My strength grows with the water of life
My sustenance is pure water
My situation turns around in the water
I have fallen and risen up
Your support flows from your water
My eyes are open like on the day I was born
My face is happy
The burdens of the world have flown from me
Closeness to G-d, the good, is found here
My will is becoming stronger
Your name is inside this bubbling brook
May it be your will, and my will, that my feelings here continue forever

נַָטַעתִי בְּנָחַל דָוִד

אני רוצה חיים כמו מים 
...בלבבי נחל אבנה
גבורתי יוצא עם מים
דודי דופק מתוך המים
היום אני מתחיל לשׁתות המים
וידוי: לא שתיתי ממי חיים 
זך כּמו מים חיים, נשׁמתי
חמדתי לשׁתות ממימיך
טהרתי יבא ממימיך
יש לי תקוה בתוך המים
כחי צמח עם מים חיים
לחמי היא מים טהורים
מצבי הופך בּתוך המים 
נפלתי וקמתי 
סמיכותך נובע בּמימיך
עיניי פּתוכים כּיום שׁנולדתי
פּרצופי שׂמח
צורכי העולם פּרכו ממני
קרבת אלוקים הטוב נמצא פּה
רצוני מתחזק
שׁמך בּתוך הנכל הנובע
תהא רצונך ורצוני שׁרגשתי כאן תמשׁיך לעולם