Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Tuesday: Gap Day

9:04 AM - I am thinking about contrasts: At work vs. at home, headache vs. feeling fine, together vs. alone, hungry vs. sated, writing vs. living, alive vs. dead.

10:29 AM - What if the meaning of life could be condensed to one bit of music? There's something profound about music, like breath, after all - in essence breath is a kind of music.

11:50 AM - I just had a great chat with Zalman Alpert, in the YU library. He pointed out that The Chosen was historically inaccurate (though he understands why and forgives it and liked the book) because there were no large established Chasidic communities in America in 1948 as the book portrays it.

I like that I have posted every hour or so today. It almost makes me want a smart phone - blackberry kind of thing. Almost.

12:16 PM - This email just came in under the subject, "Help For An Old Student" I can't stress enough how much positive feedback means to me (and I suspect other teachers as well):

Hi Rabbi Fleischmann,

I need help with something for the summer and you were the very first person I thought of to go to. I will be a staff member on the USY on Wheels program in which I will be one of five staff members leading a group of 48 Jewish incoming tenth graders across the United States.

As part of the program, I need to tell one Jewish story to inspire and teach. It only has to be 5-10 minutes, and I was wondering if you could share a story for me to tell? Hearing your stories when I was a tenth grader myself left a profound impact on me, and I want to be able to do the same this summer.

Unfortunately I don't remember every one of your stories as well as I used to, but one stands out (although I forget the name). If you could remind me of the Holocaust one with the survivors telling the story around the table and the twist ending of the thief redeeming his reputation, I would be eternally grateful. Thank you and I hope that Frisch is still just as fun as it was when I was there.

Thanks again,


12:36 PM - The next Jewish "holiday period" is The Three Weeks:

The Shulchan Aruch says that some fasts (all but Yom Kippur Tisha Be'Av and Esther) are announced in shul on the Shbbos before the fast. The Ramah says that no fasts are announced.

This is analyzed (Why should or shouldn't it be announced? What oes this relate to? Is it related to the need or lack thereof of accepting a fast? What are the primary sources behind these opinions? Why the 2 exceptions?) in an essay I just read/learned in an interesting sefer I chanced upon in the YU library called Why Jews do What They Do, written by Daniel Sperber and translated by Yaakov Elman.

2:00 PM - The new Jewish Action has a reflective rectangle in the center of it's cover surrounded by the words, "Jewish Unity. It Starts With...YOU." I got two copies in my mailbox - perhaps some deep message from the OU - one addressed to Rabbi Neil Fleischmann, and the other sent to Mr. Neil Fleischmann.

5:03 PM - A student that I met with several times this year was enamored by this quote that he shared with me more than once,"The meaning of life is to give life meaning." What do you think?

7:14 PM - Graduation's this week. I just came across this poem which I wrote pre-graduation '06:


moment on gradation
passage in time
I will cry there again

8:09 PM - I love stories. Stories are something that humans create and experience in a way which separates us from animals. Reb Nachman said that people think that stories are for putting people to sleep but they're really for waking people up. He also said - in different words - that if you think stories are silly or simple take it up with G-d and ask him why he started his Torah with stories.

I wrote back my (former) student. I summed up the story he wanted but it's a long one and needs to be owned and told, the written word doesn't do it justice.

Here are some stories I like about the importance of saying hello. A few months ago I heard a rabbi tell the Eliach one in his drasha, which was all about the importance of saying hello, and included his personal story about being the first one to greet someone at The Mir in Israel and then being greeted first by that person when he came to YU.

9:39 PM - This just in:

Rabbi Fleischmann,

Thank you so much for taking out the time to type that story. As soon as I read it, all the details came flooding back, and I only hope I can do that or whatever story I decide to tell justice. Thank you for also attaching suggestions and just giving me the name Chaim Walder is a tremendous help. I will of course let you know how the story telling goes and I'm wishing you a great rest of the school year and an even better summer.

Thanks again for the help,


10:46 PM - A friend just shared this link:

I find this video UNBELIEVABLY BEAUTIFUL Wow. I liked that on so many levels. I'm a big believer in the need for solitude and so much of what she said here resonated for me. Including about teaching. it reminded me - proudly - of a moment this year where a boy I was guidance counselor for asked me to advocate for him and ask his teachers to step back from making him speak up in class. He seems like an all around cool kid, but he really operates best by taking it all in and is uncomfortable speaking up in a classroom, either from his seat - or even worse, for now - presenting to the class.

The book is here. I hope she is heard by extroverts and that she's not just preaching to the choir.

I loved the camp story, the grandfather surprise, and the Jung quote, along with all the rest.


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