Sunday, July 04, 2010

Libi Be'Poetry

I've read about 50 pages of the new biography on Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi. I am finding it fascinating. I'd like to write a post that's just a review of it, but can't wait. For now I have to say that it is truly inspiring to read such a well done, and poetic work, on the poetic times of Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi. Poetry was once a man's sport, a part of sophisticated life, even of sophisticated religious - Jewish life, at least (as my my friend Michael Unterberg likes to point out) in Spain. It lasted for quite a nice chunk of time and it was very real. Oh to have lived and written and had that kind of courage of those rabbi-writers of that time.

I recently bought Christine Lavin's Cold Pizza For Breakfast. It's a keeper. The book starts with a scene in which she opens for Joan Rivers (see here for a revealing excerpt about bombing and the opposite of bombing from Joan's autobiography), and bombs. It's a funny (ha ha) scene. Christine wrote an amazing song called The Kind of Love You Never Recover From.

The mishnah says that kinah, ta'avah, and kavod remove a person from this world. The implication, it just dawned on me, is that being in this world means an ongoing struggle with these three hurdles.

This afternoon, while eating a falafel after a long horse and buggy journey home I wrote the following in my little black diary: I am uncomfortable with the phrase "strong personality." I am even more troubled by the assertion that someone "is not a strong personality." Implicit in these words is the insinuation that someone that the reverse of "strong personality" is "weak personality" and that "strong" is better. Whatever happen to "eizehu gibor hakoveish et yitztro?" "Strong personalities" in my experience/mind are often harsh and impetuous, acting too quickly on what they feel and failing to pause between thought and speech. Real strength rests in holding back, even when it means running the risk of being labeled weak by those less evolved than you.


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