Monday, June 11, 2007

Of All The Things I've Lost...

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It's been fifteen years since I lost a pair of Tefillin - thank G-d (bli ayin harah). Before that I lost four different pairs. I remember the first time I lost my tefillin. I was in YU. I davened in Rubin Shul on a Friday morning. I went to eat breakfast and left my Tefillin on a ledge in the back of the Shul to the left of the door. When I came back a half hour later, they were gone. I looked frantically everywhere, rechecking that ledge and the shelves under the Bima and under the Aron over and over again. The rabbi of the minyan answered me in a perfunctory manner, telling me to check the obvious places. I took it upon myself at that moment to try to show compassionate concern if anyone ever told me that they lost something they valued. I dreaded going home and confessing that I'd lost my Tefillin. When I came clean to my dad he said he could tell something was bothering me and was nice about it.

When I was in Smichah I left my Tefillin under the chair in the room of the Hilchot Nidaha shiur I was in. When I went back a short while later the Tefillin were gone. I looked around all the obvious places; checked nearby classes and coat racks, went to the school's lost and found, asked the custodians. Nothing.

Some time later I left an overnight bag in a car parked on a sketchy street near Kosher Delight. It was three Siyum HaShases ago and lots of people were around for the event at The Garden (although I was in the area for a meeting at said restaurant). When I returned to the car the back window was broken and the fake leather, rust colored, overstuffed bag with the broken strap was gone, and with it my latest pair of Tefillin.

In the summer of 91 (or maybe 92) I was an advisor for a group of thirty Jewish but non observant college kids. I arrived before the group, alone, and headed towards the empty apartment we'd be staying in. My instructions were to call the head of the program and tell him when I got to the apartment and that he'd meet me with the key. This was shortly before the cell phones that would soon become ubiquitous in Israel. This was back in the days of the asimon. I bumped into someone I knew and we shared a sheirut. His stop was before mine and I gave him the number and asked him to call my boss and say I was on my way. I suspect he never called. I stood in front of the Rechavya apartment. Waited and waited. Finally I put my bags gown under the stairwell and went and rang the bell of the apartment adjacent to the one the group would be renting. I called the leader and met him a short while later. But when I returned to the stairwell my airplane handbag was gone. Besides the nice new black cloth bag itself and the new camera in it. I'd once again lost my Tefillin. I went to the police station the next day, filed forms, mentioned the suspicious woman who had been watching while I waited. Nothing.

Since then G-d has been good to me in regard to my Tefillin. A few years ago I bought a second pair. I keep one pair at school/work and the other at home. As the baal tekiah said on Rosh HaShanah - sho far sho good.

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These lost Tefillin came to mind because yesterday (lehavdil) I lost the same book for the second time. A couple of months ago I travelled by bus to and from Montreal. My play - A Match Made In Manhattan - had a performance there. We left New York on Motzai Shabbos at 10:30, got to Montreal at 7:30 AM, rehearsed, performed, and left Montreal at 11:30 PM. I got back to NY just in time to head straight to work. Along with fellow cast members my company on the bus was The Tender Bar. I was sad when I realized that in my tired stupor I'd left the book on the bus. Last weekend I bought the book in a quaint store at Ocean City's boardwalk. I've been reading it assiduously, mostly on the variety of horses and buggies that I ride around on. Yesterday, I was saddened when I realized that I'd left the book on the Metro North train that I took to Penn Station from Staten Island by way of Elizabeth, NJ.

Is it a sign? Should I buy the book a third time. I'm slow and picky (because it doesn't come easy) reader. When I get 200 pages into a book and am excited to forge on it means I'm riveted. Yet, I'm hesitant to buy the book once again.

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Last night I started reading a new novel of remarkable depth and poignancy - at least that's what the cover flap says. Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach has been pulling me along from page one Here's a line that struck me - "This was still the era - it would end later in that famous decade - when to be young was a social encumbrance, a mark of irrelevance, a faintly embarrassing condition..." This is such a spot on line. Today, we live in a youth culture. Even in my klei kodesh setting the young are generally showcased and valued more than the "old."

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like this post... inspired one of my own....

I'm sorry about your losing the book. Again. :(

June 11, 2007 at 9:18 PM  
Blogger Jack Steiner said...

It is a good post. It may inspire me as well.

June 11, 2007 at 11:26 PM  
Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann said...

Thanks Mirty, I see that it did! And thanks for getting how losing the book bugs me.

Thanks Jack. Let's see.

June 12, 2007 at 5:23 PM  

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