Thursday, January 13, 2011

Work Pause

I've been logging many Torah Guidance hours, besides my 25 weekly teaching periods. Some issues that have arisen:

"How does one become comfortable with where he/she is at as a Jew? How come some people, even at a young age seem to know exactly who they are?"

Sometimes I show students the book, The Wisdom of A Starry Night, which is filled with thought provoking paintings and questions. Sometimes kids read through each one until they stop, on their own, at one that resonates for them. The other day someone paused and said, "That's a good one," regarding, "With whom would you like to reconnect?"

Also, someone was taken by the question, "What is your version of freedom?" And freely associated an answer.

A friend of mine just emailed me something that included Leonard Cohen's line, "There's a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in." That reminds me of a line from Rabbi Nachman of Brezlov, "There's nothing more whole than a broken heart." Also, that reminds me of a King David line (Psalms 51:19) - "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, Oh God, Thou wilt not despise."

I just had an insight - this pasuk is usually understood to mean that G-d values our brokenness, but maybe what it's really saying is that our brokenness is a gift offering from G-d to us.


Blogger kishke said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

January 13, 2011 at 7:02 PM  
Blogger kishke said...

Why would they be gifts if not that He values them?

Also, the brokenness that is valued, as I understand it, is that which comes from one's failure to connect with God. This cannot come as a gift from Him: הכל בידי שמים חוץ מיראת שמים, All is in the hands of Heaven except fear of Heaven.

January 13, 2011 at 7:03 PM  
Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann said...

why do you assume that the brokenness is what you say. isn't pashtus that brokenness nmeans people who are broken by burdens, travails, tragedies in life?

Yes, He values them - and hard as it is to accept - many of the most difficult times, the times we feel may completely break us, moments in life are rich with meaning and connection, a gift.

They say that Hemminway said that everyone is broken, just some are stronger in the broken places...

January 13, 2011 at 7:21 PM  
Blogger kishke said...

I say it b/c I've always seen it brought down in sifrei mussar that way; as a verse teaching the value of teshuvah. And that's the implication of the beginning of the verse, which refers to the broken heart as better than a korban; in other words, it's being offered to God instead of the korban. That implies teshuvah.

I just overcame my laziness and pulled out a Tehillim. I see that Ibn Ezra, king of the pashtonim says it clearly, that the verse means that teshuvah is like an offering. He concludes: והתשובה היא לב נשבר ונדכה.

January 13, 2011 at 7:45 PM  
Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann said...

thank you.

i don't know if any rishon (or acharon) says it in writing, but i've heard it used anecdotally about young orphans and others in situations that - nebach - break a person...

January 13, 2011 at 7:52 PM  
Blogger kishke said...

I guess the point is that a tragedy can lead to the broken heart that brings one to closeness to Hashem. That is, after all, the point of such things. "HKBH mis'aveh l'tfilasam shel tzadikim" etc. So what you're saying is also correct.

January 13, 2011 at 10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a lovely surprise to see my book, "The Wisdom of a Starry Night" mentioned here. Thank you. I'm so glad it is meaningful for your students; that is very gratifying for me.

Shabbat Shalom Neil,
Sharon Marson

January 14, 2011 at 4:14 PM  
Blogger kishke said...

I wanted to mention: I've always liked that Leonard Cohen line (and the gravelly voice he sings it in).

January 15, 2011 at 9:51 PM  
Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann said...

Sharon - Thanks for the comment. I know that the book was meant to be and is meaningful on my levels. I find that it works very well, as a part of the repertoire I use in talking with kids. I have an office full of books and yours is at the top in terms of usefulness. Thank you for the gift of the book you authored.

Kishke - I'm with you on that line (though I'm not crazy about the gravel).

January 15, 2011 at 11:35 PM  
Blogger kishke said...

Leonard's raspy, not-very-melodious, singing voice is part of his appeal for me. But it goes too far in Dear Heather. I couldn't even make it through the album once. It's all a kind of chanting, almost no melody; it was like some kind of Tibetan torture he must have learned up in his monastery. The CIA should use it on jihadis; fifteen minutes of Dear Heather, and they'll tell all. Waterboarding would become a thing of the past.

January 16, 2011 at 1:57 PM  

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