Thursday, December 20, 2012

Another Day

11:52 AM - Today we learned (I'd say I taught, but teaching without learning is like selling without buying) about the end of the positive era of Bamidbar, which comprises the first ten chapters.  They were set to be victorious in war, enter Israel, and usher in the time of mashiach.  However, as is often the case in life, complaining is a worse thing then it might seem.  Their lack of appreciation and insidious whining leads to the downfall of a generation.  But before that things continue to go well. The chatotzrot - trumpets are set up to gather the people before war and also as a way of prayer. The Ramban says this is the basis of our obligation to pray.  Then there is Moshe's invitation to Yitro to stay with the Jewish People and join them in their entry into Israel.  This can be taken as an invitation to all non-Jews to be part of the new existence soon to happen with the arrival of mashiach. But then, sadly, in chapter eleven the Jews go Chapter 11.

1:28 PM - Had a long serious talk with a student who has mixed feelings about being an observant Jew.

Taught Public Speaking.

Soon another student is coming in to discuss religion and life, his in particular.

I am hungry.  I think about hunger and what it means.  it's no coincidence that food was the focus of the first command given to man.  Food is big for us.  We yearn for it, feel like we starve for it.  But what is it we really want? I think all we want in life is deveykut - closeness to G-d, even when it looks like we want pizza.

9:01 PM - Just discovered a story on NPR about a math student and his teacher and their correspondence which serves as a metaphor for life.  Beautiful;  The book sounds good, though I've long felt that math has little to do with life; at least this is how I feel about me and my life. The blog Mathcreation has a positive review.  It seems that this blogger is a kindred spirit to the author of the book and his teacher, finding math to be very much related to play and to life:

"The Calculus of Friendship is an accessible, engaging, and useful book. Strogatz has taken an engaging personal story and through it has taught some important lessons about friendship, teaching, and mathematics."

9:39 PM - I just took this picture.  I bought these sunflowers at Trader Joe's on the way home tonight. $3.50 for 5 (vase not included)!

The day lingers.  I had two students separately pour their hearts out to me for an hour each about their relationship with religion.  It is my honor to be director of Torah Guidance and to have students trust me with their spiritual struggles.  I agree with Mr. Rogers that what's mentionable become more manageable.  As Rav Soloveichik is often quoted as saying in a footnote in Halachic Man, religion is not a panacea.  Yet, being aware of one's issues with religion, as is true regarding self-awareness about anything, makes things easier rather than harder to navigate.

10:03 PM - Thinking consciously about how the subconscious is timeless.

10:32 PM - I just heard the song, Like Humans Do by David Byrne. Anyone besides me get this song included with the purchase of a computer some years back?

11:59 PM - What do you think about how Yosef did not reveal himself to his brothers right away?

About his whole plan/ruse? About the fact that he didn't send word to his father? 

Do you think it's okay to criticize him for this or must we (as all the traditional meforshim do) say that he has a righteous plan to help them do teshuvah and/or become whole gain as a family?


Anonymous Steven Strogatz said...

Dear Rabbi Fleischman, Thanks for your comments about my book and the NPR story about my math teacher. Your readers can hear the NPR piece you mentioned here on the archive for Radiolab:
Shalom and best regards,
Prof. Steven Strogatz

December 21, 2012 at 9:57 AM  
Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann said...

Thanks. I'd looked for the link and couldn't find it. this very meaningful to me. I meant to post a thank you earlier, thought I had.

January 20, 2013 at 6:40 AM  

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