Thursday, June 30, 2016

Breathing At The End of a Day

Andy Statman and David Grisman are playing what they call "New Shabbos Waltz" and I call a beautiful tune for Lechah Dodi. So, all's good in the world. As they play my day steps away.

Andy Statman is an inspiration; so talented, so committed to his truth.

I once saw him open a gala Chanuka extravaganza and no-one was really interested in him. They were all waiting for the Miami boys. Somehow his being ignored by the crowd confirmed for me how good he is.

Now Pandora is playing Sir Charles Coote-Captain Higgins, so soothing.

It's by Robin Bullock. Now "A Time For Us," is being played by Estoban,

...And now "Free" is being played by C Lanzbom. ...And now Stefan Grossman

is finger picking his way through "Working on the New railroad."

It's time for Mincha/Maariv.


Kalev was rewarded (Bamidbar 14:24) with a special inheritance in Israel. He not only voted in favor of the land of Israel but he interupted and opposed the negtive report of most of the other meraglim. Rav Moshe Feinstein addresses the fact that Kalev's efforts were quickly stifled and were unsuccessful. So why was he worthy of reward?
Rav Moshe says that this is a validation of the value of positive efforts in life, and moments of life lived with positive intent. Though it was but for a brief moment, the people were inspired by Kalev's words and this was of great value and thus worthy of reward. Rav Moshe relates this to the fact that we go to great lengths, and even break Torah laws, to extend life even briefly. Every moment of life has great potential and is priceless. How much more-so is there value to momets that clearly are filled with spiritual inspiration, even though they soon pass.
May we be blessed with momets of inspiration in life and then blessed further for those moments to last.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Breathing At The End of a Day

Andy Statman and David Grisman are playing what they call "New Shabbos Waltz" and I call a beautiful tune for Lechah Dodi.  So, all's good in the world.  As they play my day steps away. 

Andy Statman is an inspiration; so talented, so committed to his truth. 

I once saw him open a gala Chanuka extravaganza and no-one was really interested in him.  They were all waiting for the Miami boys. Somehow his being ignored by the crowd confirmed for me how good he is. 

Now Pandora is playing Sir Charles Coote-Captain Higgins, so soothing. 
It's by Robin Bullock.   Now "A Time For Us," is being played by Estoban
...And now "Free" is being played by C Lanzbom. And now Stefan Grossman
is finger picking his way through "Working on the New railroad."

It's time for Mincha/Maariv.

From Thought to Thought

When you don't just live through what your eyes see outside of your body life is different in texture and taste.  When you have a world inside of you that's always moving and shaking you you need more time to rest.

Every moment is particular, including this one now.

I feel strongly that inside us is where the ups and downs actually happen.

This post has been written in stints. It may or may not be posted in the middle of a night/in the early morning hours. I like it to say the night of the day before; even when it's early in the morning the next day, feels more right.

I love writing.  Writing teacher Jennifer Natalia Fink changed my life.  I was in my upper 30s, not a kid, but I was a happy student in her workshop, actually learning.  She would speak of vomiting words out onto the page. She did not believe in taking substances to affect your consciousness.  But she did like the idea of (still does, I imagine) in taking advantage of naturally altered states.  Like when she wrote while experiencing an ear infection.  This comes to mind when I write, feeling tired, and in a strange way, find my style differently inspired.

I am grateful for the wide array of moments in life, like this one shooting by, during which I feel content.

Who is happy? He who feels rich with what he has.

There are things beyond words, and everything goes back to G-d.  I find , lately, that I think more and more about the inefficient language we use for G-d. They say that a good metaphor takes you away from the thing you're looking at for a second so that when you go back you see it more clearly.  But when it comes to G-d, do we go back?  And when we return from images of G-d as husband, father, or king, do we see G-d more clearly?  No, no; there is something off about how we talk about G-d.  Silence, perhaps is the greatest praise.

You have to choose your silence carefully.

Hunger is an altered state which for me is pretty mainstream - then I eat.  It's like tiredness, no stranger to me.  And then, eventually, I sleep.

When I wait a little longer to eat and sleep then my writing and my self are a little more raw, a little more real.

I am hungry now.  I was tempted to say starving, but that's crazy talk.  People who are truly starving people and I have little in common.

Another moment, this one after having eaten and slept.  After an afternoon nap I always feel better.  And guilty.  Same with eating, afterwards I feel good, but often know I didn't eat as well as I could have and thus there's guilt.

About 30 years (summer of '88) ago right before I left Israel I asked a Rebbe of mine to tell me a DT.  On the spot he addressed why weights and measures are discussed right before Amalek.  Perhaps, he suggested, our Amaleks get to us when we are off balance.  I yearn for balance, even when I have it.

Have you ever recommended someone? As part of my work/life I've written recommendations hundreds of times.  The point is to say what you believe while doing a good job at sales, i.e. not underselling. I once wrote a recommendation for a friend.  This (like so many things I think about) was years ago.  I included one bit of mild, constructive (I thought) criticism, amidst abundant praise.  I showed it to my friend.  My friend was furious. I took it out. This question nags at me. It's about more than recommendations.  When we look at someone and then review what we see, how much negative should we keep in the picture?

Day and night , like everything else, are both real and metaphorical.

"Charlene," by Vance Gilbert just started playing on Pandora. Here's the song being sung. And here are the lyrics. The lai lai lais sound Jewish.  The emotion runs deep in this song as he sings it and in my heart as I hear it. On so many levels.

Don't let the blessing of a simple person be light in your eyes.

Two Passovers ago I met Vance after having been a fan for many years.  I had a private dinner and conversation with him over which we connected in a deep way.  He performed in a synagogue and he felt strongly that he wanted to wear a yarmulke out of respect.  I was taken by that, as I was by so much about him.  

The picture above is a candle in the dark, on my nightstand.  
I took another shot of it with the flash on 
and in that one you see all the clutter around this. 
Without external flash the fire inside shines.

I wonder if it's worth it to get a full body medical scan.  Isn't it worth it if there's a way to find out whatever issues might be going on with your body? 

I wish I could get a full scan that reveals my mental health issues.  And one that reveals spiritual concerns.

Monday, June 20, 2016

This is a beautiful, sad, and troubling quote.

Rav Hirsch talks of the fact that the two mountains, Grizim and Eival - one where blessing were read, one where curses were read - at the start looked the same. One flourished and one didn't. That's the way it is with blessings and curses. They can germinate from the same equal playing field, but the final results reveal the great difference between actions that in the end lead to holiness and blessing, or G-d Forbid, the opposite.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Quotes About Storytelling

"Neither novels nor their readers benefit from attempts to divine whether any facts hide inside a story. Such efforts attack the very idea that made-up stories can matter, which is sort of the foundational assumption of our species." - John Green, From the Author's Note to The Fault In Our Stars

"You don't remember what happened.  What you remember becomes what happened." - An Abundance of Katherines by John Green  pgs. 207-208

"Reality is not just the story we are locked into" - David Grossman.

And these two from Rav Nachman of Breslov:

"People criticize stories as being somehow unsophisticated, etc, but if stories are lacking depth why does G-d start his book with them?"

"People think that stories are to put people to sleep but in truth stories serve to wake people up."

"Maybe stories are just data with a soul." - Brene' Brown

The following is quote from Rabbi Jonathan Sachs:

The Rambam says that on Pesach night we need to discuss, regarding the Exodus, what happened ("mah she'irah") and what was ("mah shehayah"). Many years ago I heard Rav Noach Weinberg explain this.  His take was that "what happened," is just the facts, as best as you can report them.  And "what was" is more about empathy, what was it like? How did it feel? I think these the two important layers of storytelling.

"It's true, even if it didn't happen." - What I say when listeners ask if a story is true.

"It's true for now." - What Rock Davis says in answer to the same question.

No-one likes the naked truth, but everyone loves a good story." - The moral of a story of the Maggid of Dubno, the way I tell it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

An Other Day

12:46 PM -  I am starting to write now.  Ben Kweller is singing "Fight" via Spotify.  I am appreciating this; "You've got to fight all the way/You've got to fight till your dying day."

Yesterday was Shavuot, as was the day before.The day before Shavuot was Shabbos, and the day before that was Friday, when I was at work.  Today is Tuesday, and I am at work again, though the building is mostly empty of people.

For Yom Tov I was in the Catskills at a retreat with about 100 others. I am thinking a lot about what it means to be other than someone else.

12:51 PM - Just looked for a haiku I wrote this morning about how we are each others to one another.  I can't find the written copy, only the fragments in my head. Been working all morning to finish writing and submitting my fourth final. Just filled out next year's parsonage form and submitted it. Work is a major part of my life.

12:53 PM - I recently started reading Saul Bellow's The Victim. I found it in school, and gave it a look, knowing nothing about this work. I've tried Bellow before, and I'm 13 pages in - the furthest I've gotten in any of his  books. His work sometimes feels dank to me, this time I'm a bit more pulled in than in the past.

12:55 PM - Spent a few minutes checking off Spotify songs, fast forwarding on to the next, adding to my catalogue of 1600 plus songs that I've "liked."  Spotify brings me comfort.

This morning I got permission to take home abandoned copies of To the Lighthouse, andThe Great Gatsby from school. I have trouble with classics, but I try.  I have trouble with reading, but  I try.  I have no trouble collecting books. In fact, a good summer project may be to purge some of my library.

12:58 PM - I need to eat some lunch and then get back to work. Hope to break from work during lunch, may multitask while eating.

1:10 PM - "Full Circle," by Ben Kweller has proven to be a good heading song for a Spotify station; it's pulling in good tunes. Now playing: "Fort Hood," by Mike Doughty.

Eating part of lunch is done: Can of tuna, rice cakes, almonds, zahtar, water.  I often eat good food, but too much of anything is still too much.

While eating glanced at The Times.  Did not hear about the Florida massacre that happened early Sunday morning until this morning.  The Times has a lot about it, including the obvious denunciation of Trump's comments.

I was surprised to just read that Norman Lear was a featured speaker at a recent media event.  He's 93, haven't heard much of him lately.  This news leads me to believe he's alive and living.

1:51 PM - Been trying to buy a concert ticket on line or by phone for half an hour.  Still trying. Something about doing this technologically drains me. Answering to a robot is frustrating.

1:59 PM - Finally, beli ayin hara, it seems I have procured the ticket I wanted.

4:31 PM - Home.  Early. It's an in between finals day... The elevator is broken. It's very hot. I'm schvitzing and tired.  And I'm thinking, "Why can't I find me someone kind?" And I'm thinking - "Am I looking?"

7:22 PM - I needed and got some chill time at home.  Thank G-d.

8:22 PM - I blinked.

11:27 PM - Honesty. Billy Joel had it right.  It's lonely. So hard to be truly honest.

Need to head to bed.  Glad I got some test grading and other things done tonight.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

"O Chavrusa..."

The words "O chavrusa o misusa," are often regarding the importance of having a study partner.  The phrase comes from a story in the Gemorah and in context it clearly means a community/chevra. This is something I think and feel a lot about, particularly at this moment.


I discovered Guster when one of their members was involved in a Chanukah album that I heard about.  I find them to be one of a kind and uniquely to my taste. Hard to explain why we like what we do, it is so personal... The things that touch me touch me so deeply.  And Guster is one of those cases where I have to remind myself that they are not necessarily to everyone's taste, though it's hard for me to get how that can be.

This is one of my favorites (it inspired a poem six years ago):

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Wow, did I used to write a lot here.  Now I write in various places. Like here, on a blog where I share poems of others that touch me. And on the site that shall not be mentioned by name (though I have on occasion, over the years, mentioned it by name) (also here). I don't feel like writing more now, here.  But also, I do...

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Alice Munro stories are the literary equivalent of model airplanes. So many pieces, so complex, yet simply beautiful in the end.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

"I must endure the presence of a few caterpillars if I wish to become acquainted with the butterflies." - The Little Prince

T.I.M.E: Thing I Must Endure

Thursday, May 19, 2016

"The world is for the instant of the Sabbath reconnected with a primal wholeness." Aviva Zornberg, Bewilderments, page 190

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

I'm Changing

I get why I used to want to write here so much.  I am changing, it seems.  I am living life.  I am writing differently, and less publicly.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


Eleven years ago I posted these haiku (I thought then that the plural was haikus) (no, it's not).

PS - Also wrote this 11 years ago today:

"During a break in the afternoon I finished The History of Love. I really liked this book. It's the kind of book that the less you know about it going in, the better. I wish I knew someone else who read it that I could discuss it with. I'm a hard sell when it comes to books. I need to be pulled in or you lose me. And this was quite compelling."

PPS - I have noticed how I have pulled back in my style of sharing here.  
Eleven years later the world has changed.  
I hope reading this gives you something, as writing it - still - matters to me.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Aviva Zornberg: What Changes For Moshe

I was blessed to hear a transformative, truly profound talk by Aviva Zorberg today.  I'd like to share it all.  here are some of the points buzzing in my head. Twice G-d told Moshe to take himself and go down from the mountain.  But Moshe wanted to go up. He wants to live in the heavenly realm, and asks repeatedly to "cross over." In the end he doesn't gt the crossover he asks for. He gets a different crossover, one that connects not to his relationship with G-d, but one that relates to his people.  He makes himself vulnerable to them, tells them how G-d shut him sown when he asked to enter the land.  This human sharing gave them a beer chance of hearing his very raw and real tochachah...

This somewhere between an abstract and a teaser. It does not do her talk justice.  Hopefully one day in writing and/or in living I will do justice to her thesis.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Writing Ideas

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Idea For Skit

Buber's significant other cries out to G-d:
"He doesn't call me by my name. He won't say 'I love you.' G-d please help me. How do you think it makes me feel when he tells me, 'I love thou'?"
G-d replies:
"How do you think I feel when he calls me nothing other than The Eternal Thou."

Monday, April 25, 2016

The world is filled with remembering and forgetting
like sea and dry land. Sometimes memory
is the solid ground we stand on,
sometimes memory is the sea that covers all things
like the Flood. And forgetting is the dry land that saves, like Ararat.
- Yehuda Amichai, Open Closed Open Pg. 103

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


May Pesach come to us as a redemption. May it be more than a burdensome time of plans, preparations, expectations, more than glorified busyness. May we feel Divine release from what we are enslaved to. May we see the answers that we've cried for come to us. May we be blessed to cooperate and let our redemption unfold.

The first and main thing the Jews had to do before being redeemed was to want it. They cried and their redemption arrived. Then they had to do little but cooperate, as their new lives unfolded. May we merit seeing the experience of our ancestors clear the path for us, their children.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Haiku Of The Day

The first poet? G-d
The first poem? Creation
The translator? man

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

A Pause, A Few Words

I hesitate.  That's a lot of what I do.  Sometimes it serves me well, sometimes not so much.  And there are odd times when in retrospect I needed to be more hesitant.  This applies to my writing here, and to everything.

I take a minute now, mid-day, to pray though blogging.  I yearn for the right balance between caution and action.  May G-d bless me and you and everyone with wisdom and health and safety and all the ands we want and need.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

13 Questions to Ask Before Getting Married

Article Pasted in Comments.

I Find This Fascinating.

I think one of the greatest writers who ever lived is Dante. I have read “The Divine Comedy” many times. The main thing he is saying is that you are not punished for your sins. You are punished by them. When you have done something that is not the best you could have done, you’ve changed yourself. What you have become, that is your punishment. - Anne Perry

One Haiku

One of the zero
He sits, his head in his hands
Sighing out the day

One of the zero
the zero who read the rules
wasting time in school

He doesn't stand out
from the zero who stand out.
One of the zero

He checks the option;
yes, he agrees to the rules
which he didn't read

"One of the zero,"
he ponders the sound of it
wanting to be more


Just one thing to find
Whatever that one thing is
One can't be enough

There is not one song
that I know all the words to
I realized today

Just when it seems that
you can't possibly succeed
try just one more time

Some days are jazzy,
other ones are rock and roll-
sometimes they're the blues

In some languages
poems and songs share one name
But not in English

"Fly like an eagle,"
Steve Miller's band sings-
And I will- one day

How does one hand sound?
A commonly asked question:
Two hands sounds better

Reb Shlomo Carlebach
was the only one ever
to say I looked "sharp" 

One G-d, One G-d, One
And many, many of me;
We believe in him

A pen is a brush with 
with just one point, just one ink
we paint with our words

A light that serves one
- Ner le'echad... le'meah -
Can serve one hundred

I wish I focussed
with both eyes on the same thing
But one looks away

In class- just one pen;
for me it's like forgetting
layers of clothing

One then another 
I write haiku; rinse, repeat
Until one strikes you

Take away one thing?
Okay, just please not the glue.
I said not the glue

Just one more haiku
I've never had a coffee-
unlike Bob Dylan

Nixon waited to
"make one thing perfectly clear"
I yearn to do that

I wonder if I'm
the party of the first part
or another one

The light will be green
in one way or the other:
depends how you turn

That someone gets you
is rarer than one might think
cherish such a thing

Vacation crisis
That's the one I see right now
Not of tuition

Sunday, April 03, 2016


This could make a strong impression on someone who was at this table, 

particularly a child who got to really take it in and touch the people...

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

are those (in philosophy)
who say, "Never mind."

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

May We All Blessed With This Strength

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

This Fits My Feeling At This Moment

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

It's not true for me that nothing annoys me more, but there is something very wrong about an adult behaving this way.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Leap Haiku

Writing is always
a try at a magic trick
an enormous leap

Forceful jumps that leap
freely springing off the ground
maybe I need these

Rarely do I stand
between Egypt and the sea
where I need to leap

Perhaps it is time
for a precipitous passage
via leaps and bounds

Once we have landed
it's time to look and prepare
for the next leap up

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Everyone Has A Name By Zelda

As Translated Here
לכל איש יש שם
שנתן לו אלהים
ונתנו לו אביו ואמו
Everyone has a name
that God gives
and one’s father and mother give.
לכל איש יש שם
שנתנו לו קומתו ואופן חיוכו
ונתן לו האריג
Everyone has a name
that stature and the curve of one’s smile give
and the weave of one’s clothing gives.
לכל איש יש שם
שנתנו לו ההרים
ונתנו לו כתליו
Everyone has a name
that the mountains give
and the walls of one’s city give.
לכל איש יש שם
שנתנו לו המזלות
ונתנו לו שכניו
Everyone has a name
that the stars give
and one’s neighbors give.
לכל איש יש שם
שנתנו לו חטאיו
ונתנה לו כמיהתו
Everyone has a name
that one’s offenses give
and one’s longing gives.
לכל איש יש שם
שנתנו לו שונאיו
ונתנה לו אהבתו
Everyone has a name
that enemies give
and love for others gives.
לכל איש יש שם
שנתנו לו חגיו
ונתנה לו מלאכתו
Everyone has a name
birthday celebrations give
and one’s work gives.
לכל איש יש שם
שנתנו לו תקופות השנה
ונתן לו עיורונו
Everyone has a name
that the seasons of the year give
and our blindness gives.
לכל איש יש שם
שנתן לו הים
ונתן לו
Everyone has a name
that the sea gives
one’s death gives.

I thought of this poem this Shabbos, as we read that Betzalel was called by G-d by name.

Letter From Steinbeck to His Son

New York
November 10, 1958

Dear Thom:

We had your letter this morning. I will answer it from my point of view and of course Elaine will from hers.

First — if you are in love — that’s a good thing — that’s about the best thing that can happen to anyone. Don’t let anyone make it small or light to you.

Second — There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you — of kindness and consideration and respect — not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.

You say this is not puppy love. If you feel so deeply — of course it isn’t puppy love.

But I don’t think you were asking me what you feel. You know better than anyone. What you wanted me to help you with is what to do about it — and that I can tell you.

Glory in it for one thing and be very glad and grateful for it.

The object of love is the best and most beautiful. Try to live up to it.

If you love someone — there is no possible harm in saying so — only you must remember that some people are very shy and sometimes the saying must take that shyness into consideration.

Girls have a way of knowing or feeling what you feel, but they usually like to hear it also.

It sometimes happens that what you feel is not returned for one reason or another — but that does not make your feeling less valuable and good.

Lastly, I know your feeling because I have it and I’m glad you have it.

We will be glad to meet Susan. She will be very welcome. But Elaine will make all such arrangements because that is her province and she will be very glad to. She knows about love too and maybe she can give you more help than I can.

And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens — The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.



Tuesday, March 01, 2016

From Inside Two Workdays of the Week

Monday 1:43 PM - Lacking time to write, yet I feel I should.  So much to do.  But writing is like breathing.  I am running from recommendation wring to teaching to guiding to meetings.  Staff meeting in fifteen.

Pausing to drink in the silence and solitude of this brief moment.

Thank you G-d for the gift of life, of love, of feeling, of thinking, of doing, and of being.  As I inhale and exhale I contemplate all I have to be grateful for in my life.

Tuesday 1:38 PM - Just called a teacher of mine from graduate school. It was over twenty years ago.  I spoke too long on the answer machine.  I wanted to tell her directly.  I couldn't not say, even into a recording device that she was the best facilitator of discussions of any teacher I ever had and that I remember her so fondly.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Remember: despite how open, peaceful, and loving you attempt to be, people can only meet you, as deeply as they’ve met themselves.  — Matt Kahn

Monday, February 22, 2016


7:26 AM - Lately I have been answering the question of what to write and where to write it by writing here.  I am trying right now to do a free flow.  That reminds me of a story I heard Rabbi Frand tell on Shabbos (as part of the Ner Yisroel Community Shabbos program) (in my mind I'm wondering if it's official name is Ner Israel, as that rings a bell) (which reminds me of a shiur I heard last week in which the speaker said that the Kohanim's pomegranate bells served as a knock on the door and I thought, isn't it more like a ringing of the bell?).  He said that the owner of a wedding hall offered the Brisker Rav a free wedding at the hall, as he was a prominent and honored rabbi and had used the hall many times for his family. The rabbi's reply was that he found in life that nothing cost him as much as those things that he got "for free." 

11:02 pm - Jam packed day and night.  Heard a talk today from the other John Stewart, head of the New Haven school in Utah. Very impressive. I am so tired and need to go to sleep, rinse and repat.  I'll just share one piece of wisdom I learned from him: "People don't think  their way into unhealthiness, they experience their way into unhealthiness. And so too with healthiness; people need to experience rather than think their way into healthiness."

And just one more thing.  I came across this yesterday while looking up quotes with the word spider in them (it's this week's prompt on haiku horizons):

A spider lives inside my head
Who weaves a strange and wondrous web
Of silken threads and silver strings
To catch all sorts of flying things,
Like crumbs of thought and bits of smiles
And specks of dried-up tears,
And dust of dreams that catch and cling
For years and years and years . . .

- Shel Silverstein

Friday, February 19, 2016

Erev Shabbos

Fri Feb 19 - 11ish AM (Forgot to note the exact time when I wrote this) Sometimes my work feels non stop to me, bottomless, and ever fulfilling. Four tests this week, two of them today.  The teaching is balanced with my caseload of guidees.  Pausing now for a second after giving tests to classes in a way that involved them overlapping and taking some time from another teacher because it's Friday and it's science testing week and I went out my way to schedule this test the day after their bio test.  And there were two kids who need and are mandated to do the test orally,  And one student was overwhelmed and left the paper blank,  And and and.

And now a haiku:

We communicate
Warning and surrendering
with red and white flags

2:49 PM - Just got home a few minutes ago, and it's Erev Shabbos.  Feeling tired.  My job/my life keep me busy.  

I do give a lot.  And I like being worried about and looked out for too.  I jump to care for others but/and I appreciate being cared for and about too and I am grateful for when I experience that in my life. (Details omitted due to tact.)

2:54 PM - I feel like it's been a long time since I wrote of Zelda.

3:04 PM - Here's one:

Untitled Poem
By Zelda

I shall not float unreined
in space
lest a cloud swallow
the thin band in my heart
that separates good from evil
I have no existence
without the lightning and thunder
that I heard at Sinai.

3:14 PM - Here's another:
I Am A Dead Bird
By Zelda
I am a dead bird
One bird that has died.
A bird cloaked in a gray coat
As I walk, a scoffer dismisses me.
Suddenly Your silence envelopes me -
Ever-living One.
In a teeming market a dead fowl will sing -
Only You exist.
In a teeming market, a bird hobbles with song

And one for Erev Shabbos, by me, written in 2009, inspired by Zelda:
May we catch Shabbos
as she flutters
down upon us
wearing a flower
in her sunlit hair.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


7:07 AM - Time fascinates me as I try to not just to squeak through it, but to use it, and often - like now, to muse it.

11:13 AM - Taught a class, gave a test.  Now breathing for a moment.  Soon, off to a poetry competition for the rest of the day.

On a related note:

One of the moments that struck me in Michael Moore's powerful and beautiful (and political and sincere and snarky) new movie (which is sadly doing poorly in theaters because he is too ill to promote it) was the following. Finland has the best stats in the world for education. They do it very differently than in The US.  Very little school time, very little homework, very few private schools. When Moore informs them that poetry is left out of school curriculum one teacher's sad reaction was so visceral, so representative of a high truth that she and I both know to be true. Life without poetry is a very incomplete life. (In the same segment he interviews a teacher who says that his number one goal is for students to be happy people.  He asks the teacher what he teaches.  Math.)

7:27 PM - Pushing myself to write  a bit, as quickly as I can (I type slowly) now I have the urge to take an online test where I'm told how many words I type a minute.) Going to make dinner.

8 PM - Took test -

"Your score: 143 CPM (that is 29 WPM)."

Made spare ribs.

Left dad message.

10:18 PM - So much is not our fault and yet is our responsibility.

11:15 PM - Hareini mocheil lechol mi shehich'is oti...

Good night and G-d bless.

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 looms. 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