Friday, May 28, 2010

Rabbi Moshe Besdin Warned Me Of The Written Word

The other night I met an author who has written two very personal, honest, revealing books. I imbibed these works, feeling like her books read me as much as I read them. In person I had the misguided sense that I was talking to a friend I knew well. I kindly referenced parts of her personal life that I knew of well because she'd told me. She seemed uncomfortable. I don't blame her. She shared these things with me through the curtains of pages read by thousands, which for her allowed it to feel safe and unreal. She hadn't read my book; I haven't written one. She hadn't read my blog. She didn't know my name. Yet I knew her intimately - because she had revealed herself to me, albeit through a one way mirror. When I talked back to her from the other side, citing chapter and verse I thought it threw her. I thought I saw her squirm -without meaning to. I don't blame her.


Blogger Michael said...

Why the Rabbi Besdin reference?

May 28, 2010 at 12:12 PM  
Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann said...

The titles are sometimes mini posts in themselves, just for me I guess, and whoever can correctly read my mind. Glad you asked.

Before the school year of 1980-1981 I returned from a half a year of learning in Israel. The return was against my just short of 18 year old will.

I had graduated high school in January, that's the way the school was set up - and then you went to college (usually Queens) or Israel (usually BMT or Bar Ilan). The Israel program was ahead of it's time, before going for a year or two or forever was not seen as unusual.

I wasn't thrilled about being in YU - I wanted to stay in Israel forever. Knowing that I'd probably not be staying past the summer I decided to learn in a ba'al teshuva yeshiva then went through bein hazmanim. I checked out Ohr Sameach and was told by a Rabbi Samet - as he assembled a plastic pool for his kids - that they were beyong there quota of guys with background and couldn't take me. So I went to Aish HaTorah. Long story short (ish) - at the end of the summer I went back to America.

As a kid I never thought of myself as smart - or to be more precise I wasn't the king of self esteem in any area. In BMT they put me in the top shiur and I switched out, feeling uncomfortable with the ramifications of being in the Ramaz and other Ivy Leaguers to be class. When I got to YU I decided I wanted to be in JSS the program for baalei teshuva/guys without background.

My father drove me to the bechina/interview with Rabbi Besdin, the head of JSS. He told me he didn't think I belonged there, but if I insisted then he's put me in the top shiur , which was meant to lead you into the intense Yeshiva Program (YP). And that's what happened.

I never had much to do with him, but the contacts we had ere memorable. At the end of that summer I wanted to go to the Morasha Kollel and he arranged, as the circumstances called for, for me to go on full scholarship.

On another occasion (or perhaps it was in connection with going to Kollel)I was in his office to speak with him and he had the YU newspaper out and open to my article. he told me to be careful with the written words, as you to where/whom it will travel.

The way he said it, it sounded like he was quoting someone but I don't know who it was. That quote came to mind in connection with this author I had sign my book the other night. I think authors tend to be pensive and shy. And yet there's that reality that if you publish your words travel out into the unknown - perhaps to minions of humanity.

May 28, 2010 at 5:21 PM  

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