Each week, find a commentary on something connected to verses of Torah or another source of wisdom
Each week, find a commentary on something connected to verses of Torah or another source of wisdom
I’ve reason to believe we all will be received in Graceland.
Wisdom Wherever You Find It
I’ve reason to believe we all will be received in Graceland. Paul Simon
This has been a summer of destinations for me. Theme parks, museums, government institutions, embassies, and Graceland, Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee. For a sum of money (ranging from significant to outrageous) you can visit the Shrine of Elvis Presley, including the home he bought for his mama and (after the tour hosted by John Stamos on the iPad you are issued as you board the shuttle bus) a series of thematic warehouses with his vehicles, souvenirs of his acquisitive life, his flamboyant costumes, and his many gold records.
I had a great time there. My traveling companions were my beloved wife and my cherished friend whom I have known for a combined 100 years. We were surrounded by people who came to be immersed in legend. There were people dressed the same as the crowd at Water Country USA. There were people whose parents could not have met while Elvis was still alive. There were people in wheelchairs navigating the family home which was built long before the Americans with Disabilities Act. There was an older couple (and, at my current age, “older couple” is a considerable observation) whose fragile presence had me wondering if this might be the last item on the bucket list.
Graceland presents a curated depiction of Elvis. He was loved and loving, physically fit, ready to sing at every moment. His taste in art, furniture, and anything made with fabric was, well, let’s call it accessible to the masses. And the memorial garden, final resting place of the Presley clan (except his stillborn twin), was both politically and grammatically incorrect. And yet.
For more than twenty million people since it opened to the public in 1982 (not including Paul Simon, believe it or not), Graceland has been the object of a pilgrimage. Some, like me, come ready to raise eyebrows and mutter “OMG” and apply critical methodologies to the glaring omissions of fact and circumstance. Most, however, come to pay tribute reverentially to the King of Rock and Roll.
What is it about Elvis that so appeals to so many people? I don’t ask about his music; he was indeed a pioneer and a considerable talent. I refer to the phenomenon of the man, the myth, the legend.
I mean no disrespect to his memory, his family, or established faith traditions when I suggest that the life and legend of Elvis Presley make for great religion. People who are believers – and I am one of them – make the choice to believe the most inspiring aspects of a narrative, to excuse the shortcomings of the actors in that narrative, and to emulate the heroes who carry the message. In Elvis there is scripture and music for every season and circumstance (think “The Wonder of You,” “Heartbreak Hotel,” “If I Can Dream,” and, of course, “I Can’t Help Falling in Love.”). In Elvis there is choreography (the “wiggle”) and even sacrament (scoff if you want at peanut butter and banana, but it is EVERYWHERE in Memphis – including in beer). In Elvis there is feeling better even when things look grim. In Elvis, there is gratitude (“Thank you. Thank you very much.”). In Elvis, there is life sustained when death comes too soon. Ground Zero for that is Graceland.
Religions celebrate the pilgrimage – official ones like the festivals at the Temple in Jerusalem and the Hajj, less official ones like the stations of the cross, and completely unofficial ones to shrines and historical sites. There is a holiness in the effort and a fellowship in the journey. And at the point of arrival, there is an affirmation of the central message. The faithful and the curious, the novice and the veteran, the poor boy and the pilgrim have reason to believe they will be fulfilled by the effort.
Americans do not share a faith, despite the attempt of some to insist we do and others to impose their own on the rest of us. Some elements of our culture have served the purpose of religion in the past – Thanksgiving has devolved into football and political arguments; the Fourth of July has lost its appeal to so many; baseball can’t seem to maintain its innocence or keep up with the pace of life.
But Elvis – the Elvis who was and the Elvis we want him to be – serves that purpose for somewhere north of twenty million people since 1982.
I have a tee shirt that dates back thirty-five years and thirty-five pounds. It is a picture of young Elvis, and under his likeness it says, “I’m dead.” I got it when there were claims that Elvis didn’t really die – he just escaped. At the time, I wore the shirt as an expression of faith n the natural order of things, also because I was more of a wise guy. These days neither the shirt nor the sentiment fit. Elvis lives at Graceland. I saw it with my own eyes.
No kidding, as I wrote these words, I received an email from Graceland. I am invited to kick off the holiday season at the annual Holiday Lighting Weekend. If you want to go, I have reason to believe you will be received.
That kind of bias is extraordinarily common – the inability to recognize that the past was a real place, where real people made choices just as new generations do: weighing their options and coming to conclusions about what worked best for them and occasionally surfacing ideas that then stood the test of time.
Wisdom Wherever You Find It
That kind of bias is extraordinarily common – the inability to recognize that the past was a real place, where real people made choices just as new generations do: weighing their options and coming to conclusions about what worked best for them and occasionally surfacing ideas that then stood the test of time. Christine Emba
I remain suspicious of the past, even as I celebrate it. It is a tension that keeps me insecure about the decisions I have made in my lifetime (even if I know there is no going back to experiment with a different pathway). And when you add to that one such decision – to live most of my adult life as a “professional Jew” – the momentum created by public pronouncements and purposeful examples can be a challenge to independent thinking.
Early in my adult life I embraced an approach to the practice of Judaism that relied on a now-disfavored slogan of my chosen denomination, Conservative*. The watchwords are “Tradition and Change,” popularized by Rabbi Mordecai Waxman, of blessed memory. Essentially, the notion committed the faithful Conservative Jew to accept the binding nature of Jewish law, which could be re-legislated only in specific ways by a committee of respected representative rabbis. Let me reduce it to the absurd: the speed limit on the highway is 55 by state law, and it can be changed only by the authorized authorities. It prohibits, but does not prevent, a driver from going much slower or much faster.
And let me beat the metaphor into submission. That speed limit reflects an assessment of what the presumptions are, including driving conditions, road access, traffic volume, and driver expertise (and maybe even environmental impact). In practice, however, weather conditions could commend a much slower speed, and the behavior of other drivers could make adhering to that speed limit unsafe. Do I, as a driver, wait for the highway commission to complete a study before I hit the brakes or the accelerator? And if I do get a ticket for speeding or impeding, do I have a defense that claims my judgment in the circumstances is more reliable than those who have studied the situation? If it happens too often, I forfeit my license to drive.
Well, of course, I don’t forfeit my right to be a Jew if I develop a taste for pork carnitas (I haven’t; don’t worry). But at what speed on the highway of Jewish religious observance do I relinquish my claim to be Conservative? *
Underlying the belief in the binding nature of Jewish law is the idea that it finds its source in God and the revelation to Moses at Mount Sinai. For thousands of years, the scholarly and everyday members of the Jewish community have understood their beliefs and actions to have traveled along a thread that, if followed to its origin, would bring them back to Sinai. Of course, some contend the thread is part of a tightly-woven tapestry and others more akin to the ends of the fringes fluttering from the corners of a prayer shawl.
Will I get to my point before I reach my word limit? Let’s hope.
At this season in my life, I have an appreciation of Christine Emba’s trenchant observation. The tradition I have inherited is true and certain enough to lay claim to its origins, but not to its immutability – not in Jewish life in general and not in my life in particular. As a people, as an ostensibly religious folk, we have the permission and the even the obligation to weigh our options and come to conclusions about what works best for us. As a person, I have that permission and that obligation as well. If done with integrity, I will extend the thread, and maybe even change the speed limit. If not, I will forfeit my claim to the Judaism I have promoted for breaking that thread or defying the safe speed limit too often.
My hope these days, more so than at any other point in my life, is that I have the privilege of being part of surfacing an idea that will stand the test of time because I did not forget that the past was as real a place as my own.
*If you are unfamiliar with the terminology, Conservative Judaism has nothing to do with conservative politics, much as the word “straight” means different things referring to geometry and gender.
Wisdom Wherever You Find It
Honesty is the best politics. Arthur Stanley Jefferson
The public library in Wilmette, Illinois had a small collection of 8mm films available to borrow. Like every other middle-class family in the 1960s, we had a projector on which to watch the growing collection of home movies that featured silent figures waving at the camera and mouthing unheard witticisms. But when I discovered the treasure trove of classic silent films in the library, I was in heaven. My favorite comedians were Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy (still are).
I met their work through my father, who was similarly a fan. I have seen just about every movie they made as a team, from “Putting Pants on Phillip” to “Utopia (Atoll K).” Like many, my favorite was their Oscar®-winning short “The Music Box,” though not for the long sequence of trying to hoist a piano up a long flight of stairs. I still laugh aloud at the scene in which Stan throws a hat out the window and forgets to let go.
Laurel and Hardy were among the few silent film stars who did not have to reinvent themselves when talkies came in. Their voices and dialogue fit their characters perfectly. The best of their feature films (IMHO) was “Sons of the Desert.” In it, at the very end, Stanley delivers one of his famous malapropisms: Honesty is the best politics.
In a world in which fungible facts and alternative truths are commonplace, Stan’s observation seems more naïve than funny. These days honesty is terrible politics – it can provoke harassments and threats, exaggeration and condemnation, and ejection from public office. I am not speaking of confession of wrong-doing; I am referring to taking a principled stand based on personal convictions that reflect demonstrable realities.
Instead, party loyalty is the best politics. It is my personal bias that the maxim is more true of Republicans than Democrats, but it may be only because I consider myself more Democrat than Republican. But I think there is evidence for my bias; some Democrats make stuff up and pretend it is true, but there are others who call them out on it. One Republican, on the other hand, makes stuff up and pretends it is true and dares others to call him out on it at the risk of their political careers.
Yet, no one is smart enough to be wrong 100% of the time (as my friend Rabbi Irwin Kula likes to say). The honest truth is that the Republican in question has been right and truthful sometimes, but the more reliable the Democrat, the less likely they are to acknowledge it. They won’t even give him credit for being accidentally wise. You can’t run a democracy if the only goal of governance is to be in charge.
“Sons of the Desert” is misogynistic, violent, absurd, and abusive (to be honest) and, to my mind, hysterically funny. The boys create a preposterous lie to sneak away from their wives and attend a fraternal convention in Chicago by pretending to go to Hawaii for Ollie’s nerves. When the ship they allegedly were to return on was lost at sea, Stan explains how they made it back to Los Angeles: We ship-hiked! Caught in their deceit, Ollie digs in, but Stan breaks down and tells his wife the truth. She rewards him with forgiveness, while Ollie’s wife breaks every plate in the house over his head (see my earlier description of the movie). In the end, Stan assures his friend, “Honesty is the best politics.”
It is more than a little pollyannish to believe that telling the truth cures all ills. At the very least, telling the truth avoids creating more ills. In politics, people will continue to disagree, but better to debate the issues than the truth. The is choice pretty clear in this trifle of a movie from 1932 – stick to your lie and provoke chaos and disaster, or swallow hard, cry a little and tell the truth, because honesty is the best politics.
It's another fine mess you won’t get into.
(PS – I know that what Stan actually says is “Honesty was the best politics,” but…context. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DaTJcN4gYnU)
Wisdom Wherever You Find It
[T]he most basic fact of aesthetic experience [is] the fact that delight lies somewhere between boredom and confusion. Ernst Gombrich
A lot of years ago, my wife gave me a copy of Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman. I was captivated by the vignettes that Lightman imagined were dreamt by Einstein as he tried to understand the nature of time. If you haven’t read it, go out and get a copy, but I offer two cautions.
The first is, don’t read it quickly. Like another of my favorite authors, Kurt Vonnegut, the short length of the chapters seduces you into reading just one more, just one more, just one more before you put the book down. Force yourself. There is so much to think about in each description of time that you will regret it if you do not pause sufficiently to reflect.
The second is, when you finish, you will want to read everything else Alan Lightman has written. And you should do that, too.
Lightman is a physicist and a writer who held appointments in both on the faculty of M.I.T. When my daughter had the opportunity to study engineering in the graduate school there, I asked her as a favor to meet Alan Lightman and tell him what a fan boy I was. He welcomed her into his home and signed a lot of books for me.
He is an atheist, but both spiritually and faithfully unparalleled among the many atheists I know. His poetic abilities to describe our physical universe are exquisite. Many is the time I have sighed with delight as I read his explanation of some aspect of physics I might otherwise never have approached.
And that brings me to the quotation from Ernst Gombrich. I never heard of the guy until he was quoted in an essay in Probable Impossibilities called “In Defense of Disorder.” Gombrich is an art historian who believes that the space between the human being’s penchant for order and the experience of some level of chaos in the world is where we find delight. Alan Lightman uses the insight to illustrate the paradox of a universe that follows rigid rules of physics yet seems to be hurtling into entropy. (We have only a few hundred billion years left before things begin to get really bad.)
It is in that gap between order and disorder that we live our lives, both on a macro level and a micro level. Our expectation that everything is predictable – sunrise, gravity, the second law of thermodynamics, Oreos – is matched by our desire to be surprised by the unpredictable – falling in love, the colors of a sunset, roller coasters, Pop Rocks. I don’t know that Gombrich (who had very defined tastes) would have enjoyed Vonnegut, but one of the delightful details in his novel Slapstick is the discover that gravity is variable. It is a silly detail, but worth a giggle every time it appears.
I find it wonderful that Gombrich reminded us that two aspects of our individual lives that generally provoke complaints – boredom and confusion – are existential constants that allow for meaningful life in between. And I find it more wonderful still that Lightman found that observation to help him explain the place we occupy in the universe, bounding and rebounding between order and entropy, structure and chaos, reliability and complete unpredictability.
Unlike Alan Lichtman, but like Neil Diamond, the Monkees and Smash Mouth, I’m a believer. A place has been carved out between two contradictory constants that are ultimate truths to make room for us. Each of us in our own way can reach to both places at once and become the conduit from one to the other and back again. That’s where I find my faith. That’s where I find my delight.
Wisdom Wherever You Find It
Celebrate your birthday by counting your blessings and finding a tzedakah (charity) to match each one. Jack Riemer (paraphrase)
Rabbi Jack Riemer is an inexhaustible fountain of wisdom. Among other things, his sermon-writing is legendary. Another rabbi once said to me he was tempted to steal Rabbi Riemer’s trash just to get the sermon drafts he threw away. Of course, it’s not necessary – he is as generous as he is prolific.
A long time ago, he made the suggestion I cited, and I jotted it down in notes I kept of smart things people have said. I rediscovered the idea when I was going through some old files while I was trying to decide how to celebrate my big birthday on August 10. Inspired by this notion, I sat down to make a list of seventy charitable organizations that had been a blessing to me. It was not hard to do, though I am sure I left some out.
I then wrote a note to each one, enclosed a check for a very modest $18, and sent them off to arrive on or about my seventieth birthday.
Just to avoid insult to anyone, each of the recipients was a blessing to me personally at one or many points in my life. There are a lot of synagogues, most of which are nowhere near where I live today. There are plenty of groups that have morphed into something completely different than when I was connected to them. And in one case at least, my blessing is not available to others; Loretto Hospital no longer has a maternity department. You can’t get born there anymore.
My choice of how to commemorate my milestone is not meant to criticize those who encourage others to donate to a chosen cause. Even if social media companies get a few pennies from every such donation, there is value added from the generosity of spirit that motivates the suggestion and the response.
The point of sharing this with you is not to make myself look good. The small donation means very little to any recipient, and I am just fortunate to have the resources to share with others in this way. It is not even to lift up Rabbi Riemer, though he unquestionably deserves it. Instead, it is to encourage you to take stock of your own blessings and find a way to acknowledge them with a note, a call, a gift, even a prayer of gratitude. The satisfaction of counting your blessings, cliché though it seems, can see you through hard times and elevate the good ones. In my case, acknowledging my age and recognizing that I have arrived at it qualify as both.
Happy birthday to me.
Adat Ari El
Agudas Achim Congregation of Northern VA
American Civil Liberties Union
American Jewish Congress
American Jewish University
Americans United for the Separation of Church and State
Bend the Arc
Beth El Hebrew Congregation
Beth Hillel B'nai Emunah
B'nai Israel Congregation
Charles E Smith Jewish Day School
CLAL / Rabbis Without Borders
Clergy Leadership Incubator
Danny Siegel c/o The Good People Fund
Faith and Politics Institute
Friday Morning Music Club
Gesher Jewish Day School
Good Faith Media
Hebrew University (AFHU)
Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia
Jewish Funeral Directors Assn.
Jewish Publication Society
Jewish Theological Seminary/Rabbinic Training Institute
Loretto Hospital Foundation
National Council of Jewish Women
New Trier Scholarship Fund
Religious Action Center
Scholarship Fund of Alexandria
Shoulder to Shoulder
Sutton Place Synagogue
Temple Ramat Zion
Temple Rodef Shalom
The Forward Association
The George Washington University
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism/USY
University of Connecticut (UConn Foundation)
University of Virginia
Virginia Theological Seminary
Weinstein JCC Richmond VA
Westminster Presbyterian Church
World Central Kitchen
Wisdom Wherever You Find It
Oh, the Protestants hate the Catholics, and the Catholics hate the Protestants, and the Hindus hate the Muslims, and everybody hates the Jews. Tom Lehrer
It’s the big laugh line in a sardonically hysterical song – “National Brotherhood Week.” Tom Lehrer satirizes the artifice constructed (and later abandoned) to pretend that we can all just get along. Rich and poor, Black and White, New Yorkers and Puerto Ricans are all at odds, and in recordings of his performances of this song you can hear the uncomfortable laughter of recognition from the audience beneath the tinkling of the piano. And then comes the big laugh line, sung by the Jewish math professor with the wicked insight.
The speech and drama team from Evanston High School (with whom my own New Trier team shared a bus) loved to sing this song on the way to tournaments. I must have heard it fifty times over the years, and each time the lyric in question was sung with particular gusto, followed by laughter that mystified me because all those kids had sung it themselves so many times. And so many of them were Jews!
I was fortunate to have a rich Jewish upbringing and a home in which the customs, rituals and values of Judaism were central. I won’t say that everything positive in my life had a Jewish element to it, but almost every Jewish element in my life was positive. (Except fasting. Hated it then, hate it now.) Even the devastation I felt as I learned about the Holocaust and other tragedies before and since came with a certain lack of comprehension about why it seemed that everybody hates the Jews.
Eventually I lost patience with the hatred and decided I was unwilling simply to ignore it. I will admit to some small pleasure in watching people wriggle uncomfortably when they were confronted for intentional bigotry (like the young woman who asked if she could “Jew me down” on the price of a waterbed I was selling) or for bias of which they were unaware (like the use of “Pharisee” as a pejorative).
Ironically, it was my own evolution on the subject of intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews that set me free from my own constant worry about the persistence of Jew-hatred. Here’s how it went. At first, I believed that the marriage between a Jew and a non-Jew was a betrayal of the Jew’s identity. Then, I came to believe it was a threat to the future of the Jewish people. Then, as I realized that for every Jew who married “out of” their tradition, a non-Jew also married “out of” their tradition, I understood that those marriages were overwhelmingly factual rather than political statements for both families. And at this point in my life, I understand that the prevalence of intermarriage (and the embrace of Jewish partners by non-Jewish families) means that there are more people who love Jews than hate us. And setting aside everything else about intermarriage (just do me the rhetorical favor, please), that evolution in my thinking has persuaded me that while some people are haters, it is most certainly not the case that everybody hates the Jews.
Do you think you know where I am going? You probably do not.
There is without doubt still antisemitism in the world, and a lot of it. But I cannot think of a worse reason to cling to a personal Jewish identity than the idea, promoted by too many Jewish organizations explicitly and implicitly, that people will hate you for it anyway, so you might as well embrace it. That attitude is only one small tick above the pathetic adage popular among some Jews, “scratch a gentile and you will find an antisemite.”
Not every act of antagonism – including violence – that has a Jewish victim is motivated by antisemitism. Yet the intensity with which the accusation is leveled says more about the accuser than the perpetrator. The condemnable shooting in Highland Park, Illinois on the Fourth of July 2022 is a notable example. The murderer grew up blocks away from the site of the crime, had difficulties with local law enforcement and a variety of residents, and fired randomly into a crowd, murdering seven (two of whom were Jewish) and then headed to Wisconsin expecting to shoot up another town with a smaller Jewish population. But because Highland Park has a large Jewish population, the speculation that the shooter was after the Jews was dominant, especially in the Jewish press. And I write these words as a proud Jew, unafraid of being identified as such.
And not every attack on the State of Israel is motivated by Jew-hatred either. (At this point, I am almost obligated to include the phrase “but some certainly are” lest I be accused of minimizing the problem.) The insistence of some individuals and groups to equate being opposed to Israel’s conduct or policies with being opposed to Jews strikes me as a desperate attempt to frighten Jews to remain in or reenter the fold. And I write these words as a proud Zionist, unafraid of being identified as such.
I still laugh at Tom Lehrer’s lyrics even as a I still wonder, more than half a century later, at the enthusiasm of the Evanston HS forensics team for them. But not everybody hates the Jews. We should save our outrage for those who actually do.
Wisdom Wherever You Find It
Here, I am just about seventy years old. Rabbi Elazar Ben Azariah
For some things, you have to wait a lifetime. I have attended Passover seders from before I can remember, and at each one, this incidental remark by an ancient sage was part of the telling of the Exodus. It is not clear if the rabbi was indeed 69 or if his reference is to the presumed “years of a person’s life” mentioned in Psalm 90 (“eighty if granted the strength”). Whichever it is, the point of his remark is the same – it is never too late to learn something new.
Whatever the case, for the first and only time, when I recited this sentence this past spring, I was just about seventy years old, quite literally. There have been other milestones of recognition in my life (and I have written about them), but this one reaches farther back into my own history than any other. It is also a destination which I have measured, incrementally by the year, from the unimaginable to the inevitable to the immediate.
I have always cautioned people not to take the numbering of years in the Bible too seriously. I guess it is possible that people used to live for 400 or 600 years, or that the Israelites wandered exactly 40 years between the Exodus and the Promised Land, but I don’t think so. If I take those numbers as completely accurate then I have to take every representation in Scripture as literally true, and I have resisted such an abandonment of logic and intellect for too long to turn back now. After all, here, I am just about seventy years old.
Besides, if the Bible is literally and completely true and accurate, there is nothing to learn from it. Maybe that sounds ridiculous when I express it so explicitly, but it is the conclusion that the architects of my own Jewish tradition reached an exceedingly long time ago. We posit two corpuses of Torah, one which is written (maybe the Five Books of Moses, but perhaps the entirety of the Bible – even though some of the Bible, like the Book of Psalms, is attributed to human authors) and the other of which is oral (at least the Talmud and interpretive literature called midrash, and some say every commentary and conversation about Torah from the closure of the canon until your eyes scanning this column).
Sitting in this 58th century since the creation of the world (according to the Bible – again, I caution taking it too literally), I look back across the millennia and recognize that there have always been people who yearn for the authority of literalness. The plain contrast between true and false, authentic and manufactured, godly and sinful is very appealing, but it is simply unknowable. The believers in absolute certitude of meaning and intent in every era have either disappeared or evolved, thus destroying their claim to certitude. It is always the interpreters who survive, though not always their particular interpretations.
What is true about the holy and venerated Torah which has a source in the divine fabric of existence is at least equally true about documents that were inarguably produced by human beings. For the sake of illustration, I will choose one: the Constitution of the United States. The oldest person to sign its ratification was Benjamin Franklin at 81. The youngest was Jonathan Dayton at 26. The primary author was James Madison. When he completed the task, he was 36. Of the fifty-five delegates to the Constitutional Convention, all but one – Franklin – were under 70, and all but a handful were a long way from it. They could not have been smart enough or old enough to have intended their words to cover every future circumstance.
The immutability of text is alluring in every belief system. It removes the responsibility of the reader to do anything other than cite sacred words as a justification for belief and behavior. But it is never true, not immediately after the text is written and increasingly with every day that passes. Things change, words acquire new meanings and lose old ones, and the reader/listener/student who was once 26 eventually becomes 81. It is never too late to learn something new.
The rabbi who first proclaimed, “here, I am just about seventy years old” was acknowledging that the story of the Exodus should be told at night, not only during the day. Pulling an all-nighter on Passover seems a pretty small lesson for someone who is almost seventy. (Honestly, I have trouble making it much past ten o’clock these days.) It seems almost incidental. But if the small lessons can still be learned that late in life, then I think there are larger lessons an old dude like me can yet learn from the presumed “original meaning” of the Torah. And the Constitution.
Friendly readers, after almost fifty installments of this project, I am interrupting weekly musings on “Wisdom Wherever You Find It.” Here is why.
Though I cannot be exact, I know that the “open rate” on these columns has decreased significantly. If you are one of those people who reads my writing religiously (thank you both), you may disagree, but trust me – I am not wrong.
I am also contending with major transitions in my life, professionally and personally, and my ability to focus on innovative messages has dwindled. These changes are all for the good, thanks for your concern, but as you likely know, all change is difficult.
I began this blog in 2015 determined to spend some time reflecting on the weekly Torah portion presented in synagogues around the world. I no longer had the opportunity to learn with others in a satisfying way, so I spent some time each week thinking about what I would like to hear. Within a year, I started my project of chapter-by-chapter commentary on a single verse, and when I reached the end after more than five years, I turned to wisdom that was not from the Torah. If you want to review, you will find more than 325 entries archived on www.jackmoline.com under “Weekly Column,” or let me know to subscribe you to my Google group, “Aliba D’Rav” (a slight Talmudic pun meaning “according to a rabbi.”)
Maybe I will be back at this in a few weeks, maybe during the summer or maybe when autumn leaves start to fall. By then, an email from me will have become unexpected again, and you will wonder if maybe you should give it three minutes.
PLEASE do not write to tell me I am making a mistake. I am not fishing for affirmation or taking my ball and stomping off. Likewise, I am not looking for compliments; I have received many of those, and I thank you. If you want to tell me I am making the right decision…well, why were you reading these in the first place?
Some of these columns will continue to appear in other places, including www.goodfaithmedia.org, which I will note on my Facebook page. Occasionally, you will hear something from me when I am inspired or peeved.
Meanwhile, thank you for your attention for almost six years. See you soon!