Friday, October 28, 2005

Role 'Em

Recently I read an article about Hal Holbrook's one man show that he's been doing for years. The point was made that he's been playing Mark Twain longer than Sam Clemens played Mark Twain. The idea of the author was that Mark Twain was a persona. Similarly, I read recently that in his new movie with Peter Falk, Paul Reiser plays Paul Reiser. The writer kind of paused, then added - well, the character of Paul Reiser that we've always seen him as.

It's a fascinating concept, that we each present a persona. In a book about cleaning up clutter (written specifically for right side of the brain people) the author suggests that you say to yourself, "I am an organized person." At first this sounded absurd to me. But don't we all convince ourselves that we are one thing or another? I know I have done this in many ways for better and for worse. And don't we all also choose to put forward certain dispositions in the world?

At some early age I assumed a shy public persona. I was always more comfortable up on a stage or in front of a group than one on one in private - with a relative stranger. In time, I'm proud to say that the gap has lessened between public and private. Still, every now and then someone who knows me as quiet will see me speak or perform in public and ask if it's an act and I'll respond that the shy me is the act.

Recently I took a little reader poll about change. I do believe in change. And I thank G-d for that. As Shabbos approaches and what was a long short week comes to a close I pray for change and growth for all of us. Have a wonderful Shabbos.

Rabbi Neil

P.S. A student was asking for advice today about a yearbook quote and the best i could do was share mine, from an old Osh Sebrow song: "what will you give me, there's nothing I need, when I gained understanding I lost all my greed."

P.P.S. The yearbook editor asked me where "bechol yom yihiyu be'einecha kechodoshim" comes from. I looked it up inMichlol Ma'amarim U'Pitgamim. Care to guess?


Blogger Adinah said...

First time visitor to your blog, and I enjoyed it.....thanks.....and of course, I linked from Mirtys blog!!

October 28, 2005 at 8:56 PM  
Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann said...

Thanks. Please stick around, and if you liked what's recent you might like some back ones too. (One day I'll list favorite old posts...when Mirty tells me how - or sets it up for me).

October 29, 2005 at 7:46 PM  
Blogger torontopearl said...

Love the title, Neil.

Shavuah Tov!

BTW, did you "do" Simchat Torah on the Upper West Side this year? If so, what was that like? Is it worth a post? (I've only heard about the Simchat Torah singles' experience there, never witnessed it firsthand.)

October 29, 2005 at 10:42 PM  
Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann said...

thank you pearl. was on the UWS. did iit my way. mostly in carlebach shul, not in the street scene.'twas inspiring.

October 30, 2005 at 10:17 AM  
Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann said...

In arelated story, this TV film really hit me on apersonal level when I was akid. I very much related.

October 30, 2005 at 10:30 AM  
Blogger MC Aryeh said...

What or who is Osh Sebrow? Can definitely relate to the shy vs. performer roles. I think we are all constantly recreating our personas - and our histories...

October 30, 2005 at 5:39 PM  
Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann said...

When I was a kid (12ish)Osh Sebrow was a guy in YU who made some folksy Jewish albums that I got a hold of and loved (well just one really). I was a trememndous fan. So I chose his quote for the yearbook. Years later I asked the Sebrow kids if they're related. Osh is their father, goes by Asher now. He's a doctor. He liked that I was a fan and sent me some more recent stuff.

McAryeh - I highly recommend the link I posted in an earlier comment to a film I think you'll find of interest.

October 30, 2005 at 10:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"assumed" a shy persona? Do you think that people have a role in assuming their personas? I think it's just part of who you are--you can't say, "I'll be shy" or "I won't be shy"--my opinion!

July 26, 2011 at 4:57 PM  
Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann said...

Methinks someone checked to see what posts were viewed recently. Little do you know that I'm the one who looked at this post from almost 6 years ago. I think it's the post that strikes me most of all my posts. I think about this post often and have been considering re-posting it.

Yes, yes, yes. I think that semi consciously or subconsciously - at first, at least - we act in ways that help us get by/survive. People adapt to their surroundings at a young age, the most prevalent context they're in being their home and with their family. Some people learn that to be heard, respected, safe in their home they really have to speak up and outshout others and push their way into the limelight. Others learn that they best keep their mouths shut and make themselves invisible to stay safe. A persona is assumed, chosen. The hard part is that in different contexts in life the chosen survival persona may not work well (understatement). People go to school, date, work and if they're healthy they realize that they can't just stick to what's ingrained in them from when they first chose their persona. This can be a long and arduous process. Sometimes people can change personas only with the help of certain settings. Thus, shy people are performers - because on the stage they feel safe to speak up. And you finf brash people who are sensitive and gentle in the context of poetry or songs they write because that's the place they feel comfortable being touchy-feely. I think of Noach in this context. It seems to me (based on R Yitzchak Twersky) that Noach adapted in order to survive before the flood by separating from others. But after the flood he couldn't break that persona, though he needed to try to be more gregarious to be significant post flood.

July 27, 2011 at 2:29 AM  

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