Posts Tagged ‘ arm’s length ’

Vive La Difference

2017.06.12
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From Josee Wolff, The Torah: A Women’s Commentary:

“…The pessimist observes a situation, generalizes about the bad aspects, and interprets them as a permanent and constant feature. In contrast, the optimist observes the same situation and sees the bad aspects, but particularizes them and interprets them as a temporary obstacle that can be overcome.”

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Lamed-Vavniks, Unite!

2017.06.08
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adtnAre you a Lamed-Vavnik?

According to Jewish tradition, there are 36 exceptionally righteous (read: supermensch-like) people in the world in each generation, and without whom the world would cease to exist. (In Hebrew counting, 36 is “lamed vav” (lamed = 30, vav = six)). The thing about Lamed-Vavniks is that they are secretly righteous; they do their deeds under the cover of anonymity.

That type of exemplary behavior is modeled for us in the beginning of this week’s Torah portion, according to the Kotzker Rebbe (1787-1859). The portion begins with G?d telling Moses to tell his brother Aaron to light the menorah inside the Tabernacle — where no one outside could see it. “This was a matter of the inmost heart,” writes the Kotzker. “All the great things have as their central idea something that is hidden and concealed in the heart — with no outward manifestation whatsoever!”

This idea is also substantiated by Pirke Avot, a collection of wise sayings of the sages and early rabbis: “Do not be as servants who serve the master in order to receive a reward, rather be as servants who are serving the master not in order to receive a reward.” That reward could include recognition via Facebook posts or “bragging rights” — both of which are incompatible with the concept of the Lamed-Vavnik.

May we all merit to serve each other in quiet humility, and with a deep sense of gratitude for the opportunity.

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My Letter to the Mayor of London

2017.06.06
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Here is what I said to Mayor Sadiq Khan via his website. You may want to write your own.

Dear Sir,

Please accept my humble condolences and healing prayers for those injured and killed in the recent terror attack; I hope this finds you otherwise well. I realize you are very busy, but I just wanted to take a moment to apologize for the actions of “our” president. Not all of us voted for him; not all of us share his boorish opinions or worldview. Many of my countrymen/women are otherwise fine people, and many of them are trying their hardest to mitigate the damage he is doing to our country and the world. I can only hope you don’t judge us all by the actions of one man, even if he claims to be our elected representative.

Be well, and thank you for your time,

Neal Ross Attinson

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5 Thoughts: Resist!

2017.02.09
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resistancesymbolI DON’T USUALLY GET POLITICAL. But this is no time for silence.

I did not vote for the current President. I find him arrogant, cruel and stupid. His policies, appointments, and disdainful comments about our institutions and values are fascistic and frightening to me.

Fortunately, some people are fighting back:

1. WTF Just Happened Today? Stay informed with this daily update of things bad (and good) related to the reigning regime.

2. Indivisible: A Practical Guide: A strategy (and tactics) for organizing the Resistance. (Takeaway: Be like the Tea Party, only progressive.)

3. Bend the Arc | A Jewish Partnership for Justice: A small but doughty band of Jews and allies who have Seen This Before.

4 Find your Senator / Find your Representative: This is where some of the real power lies. Make your voice heard in the Senate and House. Daily. (According to Indivisible, phone calls and office visits are the best way to do that.)

5. https://twitter.com/RoguePOTUSStaff (you’ll need a Twitter account): Dispatches purporting to be from a rogue official on the President’s staff. Enlightening if true.

And remember: take care of yourself and don’t pass along rumors!

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…And We’re Back

2017.02.07
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IT FEELS GOOD to write again.

It has been just over six years since I last added to this blog (which once boasted a readership of about thirty people, each one beloved, with additional spikes when I linked to something else and readers traced the link) and am finally feeling confident again about writing. The hiatus was mostly caused by a long-term and largely unameliorated depression (and yes, I’m still disabled); but thank G?d, Wellbutrin, Ann and Torah, I seem to have found my way back. During that time, it was difficult for me to focus on anything beyond a sentence — yes, it was that bad — but I somehow always knew I’d take up The Metaphorager again. Or so I hoped, anyway.

The tagline for this blog is “All That’s News To Me, I Print.” It used to be “A Journal of Experiential Holiness and Snack Bar,” which is perhaps closer to the point (there is a lot of Jewish content here, after all), but there’s a raft of other stuff contained in its (so far) 623 posts: recipes, blog critiques, book reviews, cultural commentary, short stories, et al. I had fun writing it, and hope you had/have fun reading it.

I’m not going to predict what I’m going to post here; I posted the last post because it’s the first writing I have done in six years and wanted to share it with a wider variety of people than receive my synagogue’s newsletter (for which I wrote it); I have seen too many people organize events which they called the “First Annual Shindig” and never held another.

All I can say is that it feels good to write again. We’ll see what develops from here.

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Torah Study: Going, Going, Ain’t Gone Yet

2011.11.04
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OUR TORAH PORTION THIS WEEK begins with God’s famous exhortation to Abram, “Lech Lecha — Go for yourself from your land … I will bless you and make your name great, and you will be a blessing.”

What does that mean, to be a blessing? Rashi says it’s an investment in Abraham of God’s power to bless, to pass along the Divine influence for growth and attainment. According to the Etz Chayim chumash, it means “to serve as the exemplar by which a blessing is invoked.” Rabbi Samson Hirsch, however, sees it as a commandment: to receive the divine rewards, one must live so as to be a blessing to the world.

Perhaps it also means to live in such a way as see the Divine in every moment — to bear witness, however unlikely it may seem, to the action of God as context for our lives (to paraphrase R’ Jack Gabriel). To be a blessing is to sanctify everything within reach — and to learn to extend that reach by joining hands with others. After all, we can’t do it alone!

Neal & Ann’s Torah Study
Saturday, Nov. 5, 2011: 10 am-noonish (RSVP)
Torah Portion: Lech Lecha (Genesis 12:1-17:27)
Haftarah: Isaiah 40:27-41:16

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Happy 5772!

2011.09.28
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THIS PHOTO FEATURES PEOPLE SPELLING out in Hebrew the words “Shanah Tovah,” or “good year.” I like it because it shows us that the year is ultimately made up of the people who live it — of every moment and every second that lives in human consciousness and memory — that everything within eyeshot is to some extent a human creation, even if only through the act of its being perceived. Live it well, live it fully, live it with joy — but live it.

Happy New Year from The Metaphorager!

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Pithyism #72

2011.09.26
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OUR POLITICAL LANDSCAPE MIGHT BE less prickly were our politics not so personal.

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Deadline: 2036

2011.09.20
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ONE THING I MISS ABOUT the pre-21st-century days is the sense of humanity plunging headlong toward some destination.

These days, that collective goal seems hellbound and handbasket-wrapped. But in the days and years leading up to 1/1/2000, the Great Rollover, that sense of heading toward something great and mysterious was sometimes almost palpable. Maybe it’s because we could see a deadline.

Deadlines are wonderful tools for focusing the mind. Without one, I find myself picking listlessly at the keyboard; with one, I have an excuse, however small, to get off the couch. And that’s important. Our planet’s emerging global culture is lacking something without that sense of notional and communal quasi-closure, and I would like to offer a replacement.

In just about 25 years, give or take a month (or, to put it more or less as accurately as I can, in
days:hours:etc.) an asteroid named Apophis will make its second pass at Earth and quite possibly collide with it. That’s about as dead a deadline as you can get, but it’s also a good chunk of time — it’s a quarter-century off, which is sort of good news for us would-be codgers as it obviates the need for Social Security and other obligations; it’s close enough to inspire the imagination, yet far enough to finally develop those %$#@! jetpacks. And it’s a great excuse, however small, to get off the couch.

April 13, 2036. I hope to see you there.

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Monumental Question

2011.09.11
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“Do you honor the hole, or refill it with something?” (This may also apply to more than just the WTC memorial. Me, I vote for honoring the hole.)

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Then

2011.09.11
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EVEN AFTER TEN YEARS, THE memories and pain are still fresh when I think of them. I don’t think of them often.

My habit in those days was to check the Ha’aretz news ticker with my morning coffee. “Hmm… soccer teams doing well, banks not so much, road accidents, airplane flies into World Trade Center. Wait. What?” Read more »

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Pithyism #16

2011.09.06
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THE WORLD LOOKS A LITTLE more friendly with something fragrant bubbling on the stove.

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Celebrating the remaining days:hours:etc until Apophis II. Live it up, Earthlings.

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