Sunday, August 24, 2008

Post Eikev Post - 5768

The Lubavitcher Rebbe was fond of saying that every weeks parsha colors the week it falls in year after year. he's say that to truly live with the times you have to live with the parsha. or so I'm told. I've heard others say that we are blessed to have a portion to focus on each week. It gives us structure and context, not to mention a common topic to talk about. One of my greatest joys in life is sharing parsha thoughts with friends in a natural and real way.

I also enjoy helping people with preparing divrei Torah and giving divrei Torah on the parsha myself, but this feels a little less purely pleasurable than when it's simply lishmah. One of the ideas that I have for this year as the newly appointed head of Torah Guidance in my school is to learn parsha with students and help them write up divrei Torah for the the school's Torah weekly which has the beautiful name of be'er Shavu - The Week In Explanation. For years I've been giving out sheets and learning parsha with my classes and as the school year approaches this is something that my soul yearns for.

I recall years ago hearing my rebbe, Rav Nachman Kahane say that VeHayah Eikev Tishme'un means something other than the conventional wisdom regarding this verse. Rashi says that the unusual word Eikev used here to seemingly mean eventually alludes to the mitzvot that one treads on with one's heal - that we need to be careful with those mitzvoth to bring redemption. Rav Kahane said that it's often only when Jews are stepped on with heals, persecuted that they return and listen to G-d.

When I was 22, I returned to Israel, which felt like home, after a three year hiatus. The time away in college - despite many hours devoted to Torah learning and some secular learning that happened because I tend to fully and then some engage in what's before me even when it's not my top choice - felt like an expensive, Orthodox version of what generations of Hebrew School survivors call Jew Jail.

On one of my first days back in Israel I bumped into Rav Nachman Kahane. He was thrilled that I'd kept to my word and my dream. His wife, who is wary of tourists and temporary dwellers in the land, immediately invited me for a meal, thrilled to have me. At that time, they were my neighbors, as I started out where I had left off - in Aish HaTorah. I had spent the summer there three years earlier because it went through the bein hazmanim. During all my time in YU my heart was set on going back to the place that was not yet a household name of Aish.

I told the story before and feel badly that I named a name of a decent and good man who was the one who asked me to get my stuff out of "Aish" - rightly so, after I'd started studying somewhere else. The reason all this comes to mind because of an incident from that period.

I was riding on the bus from the Old City to the new Yeshiva I was studying in when I got engaged in conversation with a young Chasidic boy. I made a long story short and he assumed that I was learning in Aish HaTorah and that I was a Baal Teshuvah (which brings to mind the story of the guy who met the Gerer rebbe and The rebbe asked him where he was learning and the boy said, "Ohr Sameach, but I'm not a Baal Teshuvah," and the Rebbe asked, "Why not?").

I met him some time later on another bus ride and he asked how my learning was going (which reminds me of my Y.U. chavrusa named Charlie who was a tremendous masmid and used to always say while pushing on in learning, "It's rough. it's rough") and I told him that learning was hard but I was slowly making headway. And he cited a pasuk from Eikev which we say every day - "Im shamoa - tishme'u - if you listen then you will be inspired to listen more."

I hope that these ideas play out well for me in my life - the fact that doing right motivates one to move forward and that sometimes getting a potch from above also motivates.

I'm doing something new - doing a more conventional post here in parsha post. I was feeling that Shabbos and the parsha are part of my life. I started thinking about this soon after Shabbat last week and started writing about the drasha I heard about Tu B'Av. that parsha took a week to go up. This time I'm striking while Shabbos still burns within me.

While I'm here - some pieces of my Shabbat: A table mate introduced me to the Lequoc school of clowning the founder of the school Jacques Lequoc having once said, "For several years now, the clown has taken on great importance… as part of the search for what is laughable and ridiculous in man. We should put the emphasis on the rediscovery of our own individual clown, the one that has grown-up within us and which society does not allow us to express."

I found that quote amidst other good ones about laughter and related necessities - here. My friend actually had with him these clown principles from his teacher, Avner Eisenberg. My favorite is, "Be interested, not interesting." I think that last one is enormously important for life.

A woman at the table shared her favorite poem. It's called Your Laughter by Pablo Neruda. Here's a taste:

Laugh at the night,
at the day, at the moon,
laugh at the twisted
streets of the island,
laugh at this clumsy
boy who loves you,
but when I open
my eyes and close them,
when my steps go,
when my steps return,
deny me bread, air,
light, spring,
but never your laughter
for I would die.

I hope your Shabbat was sweet. Feel free to share something that you though of, heard, learned, remembered this Shabbat.


kishke said...

From the section of poem you cited, I assumed it was a poem extolling laughter in general, but upon checking it, it's actually about the laughter of the woman he loves. It kind of changes the way you read it. It's a nice poem anyhow. Thanks.

rabbi neil fleischmann said...

I was lazy to post the whole thing. It is what it is and what I think it is is very beautiful.

kishke said...