Sunday, June 20, 2010

Diary Entry, Vort

Romanticism and The Net Book That Will Change My Life

1. 10:37 PM - Pardon my being histrionic in considering this a historic moment. If you think about it every moment is historic. This is the first time I'm using my new net book online out of the house. It feels great.

I just davened Maariv from the amud. Since Leon W. already took Kaddish maybe I'll call my book about this year Amud. There were negotiations tonight around who would lead davening; as I recently told a nice person in a different social context, I hate when this happens. I'm so tempted to tell you the whole story but I won't. I'm just going to let it slide. That's the new me. It's not easy but I'm sticking to this taking things less seriously approach. It's been four minutes.

I've been thinking about romance, as I am wont to do - romance in the broad life sense. Also, Platonic thought, in the wide meaning of that approach. Plato was romantic - he conceived of things as so perfect in theory that they could only be ruined when they became real. He was in short, a romantic. You'd think that the life of a romantic would be romantic, but it is tinged with disappointment, because romance is more ideal than real. And yet.

Yossi ben Yoezer and Yehoshua ben Prachia Used To Say...

2. 11:09 PM - Since the last paragraph was completed I wrote a recommendation. I have 4 left out of 60 for the juniors. This was a nice one to write, one of the tippy top students in a the class, an out of the box, sincere, creative genius. I've been sitting in the same spot since post Mariv, room 101, opposite the YU classic Beis Medrash, with the AC on.

At a recent event a speaker cited the Abarbanel on Avot. I am grateful to him for sharing this outstanding thought.

Yossi ben Yozer says that your house should be a beit vaad - meeting place for chachamim - scholars. The traditional moshol - analogy given to explain this is that if you walk through a perfume store you come out smelling nice even though you didn't buy any perfume. Similarly, even if you are not a scholar yourself and are not learning/meeting with the scholars, you will benefit from the fact that their voices and passion fill the atmosphere of your home.

In the next mishnah, Yossi ben Yoezer's successor as Nassi, Yehoshua ben Prachia says, "Asei lechah rav - Make for yourself a rabbi." The Abarbanel's chidush - original insight is that Yossi ben Yoezer is tweaking the statement of his predecessor. While it is beneficial to surround yourself with chachamim and have wisdom fill your home, Yehoshua ben Prachia stresses a different, related point: set up one main rav - rabbinic teacher for yourself, because if you learn from many different teachers you may get confused from their opposing viewpoints. The Abarbanel cites the philosopher Seneca who said that learning ideas from many different teachers is like filling one's stomach with many different foods which can't be properly digested together. Yehoshua ben Prachia says that one should be careful not to set up a learning center in his home in which he is learning equally and directly from each scholar. He says to be sure to set one teacher and learn directly from him.


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