Sunday, August 18, 2013

Good Vuch

9:04 PM - Just returned from shul in NYC's largest borough.  Someone spoke at Shaloshudes (I've heard it's called Shalosh Se'udot - three meals, because if you eat it you reward retroactively for all three meals because it's the one voted most likely to be done for the sake of the mitzvah and not just because you're hungry for the meal) about "the three stars" Here's a summation:

Is it that the three stars confirm that it's night or do the three stars make it night?  What's the difference in practical application (nafkah minah)? You can't have testimony on a part of something.  If the stars make it night then you can't have separate testimony on any one anything but all three stars as a unit because since they make it night testimony on any one star is only partial testimony and therefore it is invalid. But if night just happens and three stars in the sky are an indication that night has arrived then they are not the thing itself and you can therefore have testimony on one or two of the stars separate from the others. 

A proof that night comes on it's own and is designated but not made by the stars is offered by Rav Elchonon Wasserman (from whom this whole piece was being cited): The Torah refers to complete days, half day and half night, before the stars were created on the fourth day. 

After the lomdus was gone the speaker concluded with a version of this story.

11:00 PM - Caught up with an old friend who, like everyone, has got stuff. I wonder if loyalty over everything is what defines friendship.

11:12 PM - Someone I know from years ago and see when I'm here (and have seen time and again in very recent years and I could have sworn we each know where the other is at in life) asked me in Shul what I'm doing in the neighborhood. I explained.  He asked if my wife was here. I (thought for a fraction of a second and then) said no.  He asked if she was at home then.  I said, "I'm not married." He said, "I thought I heard you got married."  I said, "I don't think so."

11:59 + - Years ago I was eating a Shabbos meal in someone's house. I stepped into the doorway of the kitchen and said I was wondering if I could help. The hostess gladly obliged. She said that when someone at the table asks if he or she can help she always says no. But if someone comes to the kitchen she always says yes.

You might say it seems pushy or wrong to just walk to the kitchen. I don't think, if done right, that it is a problem. 

Right now I'm seeing this remembered anecdote as a metaphor. When people say feel free to call, I'm here to help, it doesn't help as much as someone showing (with a call, email, visit, smoke signal) that they're here to help.

I'm thinking about Saul Bellow. His writing always feels dusty to me.  I believe people whose opinions I respect when they tell me he's great.  Then I try to read him and I can't get past a few lines.  it just feels muted and inaccessible. He's on my mind because of a recent New Yorker review of his son's memoir.  James Wood takes Leon Bellow to task for his take on his father. He analyzes Leon (who is a psychoanalyst) and finds him to be dishonest with himself, helplessly un-self aware.  It's fascinating.  In passing there's Leon's line saying that stealing from people's lives for "fiction" is not a victimless crime.  Wood is a big fan o fiction and sticks up for Saul on this and every other count.  This got me thinking of the writing I have in me, which I know I have in me, but the question is if I have it in me to share it with the world.


Maybe I’m not preemptive enough
Heck, the word’s not even in my repertoire
I only used it because I got it as a prompt
From a random word prompt website
Which I went to, in a fashion typical of me
Because I like being prompted externally
Rather than listening to my inner prompts
Rather than being preemptive


I often don’t carry a photo ID
I don’t drive, no license needed
Passport is for special occasions
I’m not big on documentation

I am adept at reading and writing
I am qualified to teach English
I have no advanced graduate degree
I’m not big on documentation

Above all else be human, be kind
This is the essence of the Torah
I could cite verses but I won’t
I’m not big on documentation

I don’t always have a source
For what I believe to be true
Other than that I feel it inside
I’m not big on documentation

Good night and May G-d Bless


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