Pro­duc­ing con­tent on the Web since 1995.

some say­ings of ר‘משבצונה“ל

For many years I have worked hard, and strug­gled with mas­ter­ing virtuous. Now, in addi­tion, I’m work­ing on becom­ing more virtual.
This is an expres­sion of that effort.
* * * * * * *

השיבנו ה‘ אליך ונשובה חדש ימינו
כעוד לא היו
* * * * * * *
ומביא גאלה…

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All pho­tographs are by Mark Hurvitz unless they are obvi­ously not (or credit oth­er­wise is given).

The pho­tos in the ban­ner at the top (only a shal­low sliver of a much larger photo) are either from our home or our trav­els and are offered for their beauty alone (though a brain-teaser for me: “Where was that?”).

Elul Homework 2 (I've done that too!)

con­fir­ma­tion and verification

Some­times we think that we are the only per­son who has done such ter­ri­ble things to oth­ers. It can be lib­er­at­ing and for­giv­ing for us, and those oth­ers like us, to learn that we are not alone. It also often feels good to have oth­ers “sign off” on rec­og­niz­ing that we may have done some­thing wrong as Yankel half-jokingly sug­gested in his com­ment on the Elul Home­work 1 page:

…per­haps the check­list should have a place for the wronged per­son to sign, i.e. “for­given on (date), by (wronged person)”.

So, I offer this pos­si­bil­ity.
How many of us have been to a party with strangers and been asked to fill out a “get acquainted grid”? We might be a bit more for­giv­ing of oth­ers and our­selves if we could learn that those with whom we work and/or live have in our his­to­ries and per­haps even recent expe­ri­ences sim­i­lar struggles.

the “I’ve done that too” grid

Judah and Pin­chas learned while sit­ting among the col­leagues and stu­dents of R. Ila’i that we all share the same bound­aries of birth and death as well as many of the same shortcomings.

  • We have let friend­ships dete­ri­o­rate because we haven’t tried to bridge the gap of hurt.
  • We have not helped when we could.
  • We have expressed sor­row for our actions, but only when we felt it might pre­vent worse consequences.
  • We have done things to oth­ers that we would not want done to ourselves.
the selichot "bingo" card

a por­tion of the (down­load­able) seli­chot “bingo” card

While there are fre­quently more than twelve steps to solv­ing prob­lems and the idea that we have the capa­bil­ity of solv­ing our prob­lems with­out “pro­fes­sional” help can be and has been ridiculed, there is a truth in the idea that we have within us the abil­ity (per­haps with some inter­ven­tion from oth­ers who know and under­stand us) to col­lect those mis-aimed arrows and cor­rect our aim.

full dis­clo­sure

I admit to hav­ing a per­sonal con­nec­tion to this idea. My father, who worked as a pro­fes­sional mar­riage and fam­ily coun­selor spent much of the last years of his career study­ing what he called “Peer Self Help Psy­chother­apy Groups” (PSH­PGs we called them). He did his research (in the early and mid 1970s) long before the groups became com­mon in pop­u­lar cul­ture and later renamed “Self-Help Mutual Aid Groups”. He believed that by de-commercializing the ther­a­peu­tic rela­tion­ships these groups had as much, if not more effi­cacy than pro­fes­sional psy­chother­apy. In addi­tion, Dad, though an athe­ist, thought he found some of the ori­gins of these groups in reli­gious move­ments. His work formed part of the ker­nal of the story of Bethami and R. Ila’i.

ori­gins of the rab­binic yom kip­pur observance

How did it hap­pen that what was once exclu­sively a sac­ri­fi­cial event in the Holy Tem­ple in Jerusalem become trans­formed into a gath­er­ing for the pub­lic con­fes­sion of wrong-doing? The sources only tell us that the trans­for­ma­tion occurred, as though the cur­tain went down on the Tem­ple and rose a moment later dis­play­ing the syn­a­gogue and the liturgy we now know.

Over the cen­turies we have added many “exer­cises” to the tasks of Yom Kip­pur. I believe, if we were to focus at least as much on their mean­ing as we do on the for­mal liturgy, we might gain greater ful­fill­ment from the day. And so…

You can down­load a copy of the Seli­chot Home­work Sheet 2, make copies and dis­trib­ute them for your own use. This one exists only in PDF for­mat. In the next cou­ple of weeks, as we come nearer to Rosh haShan­nah and Yom Kip­pur I will present addi­tional (online) tools to help explore the mean­ing of the Al Ḥet.

Many lapel but­tons are nov­elty items, some­times pro­duced com­mer­cially. So it is with this one. I don’t know the ori­gin of this but­ton, though it dates from the 1980s. I have never worn it. (I prob­a­bly never will wear it… I don’t iden­tify with the value it rep­re­sents.) As we approach the High Holy Days, our task is to come to terms with the issues that face us and not sim­ply kvetch.


Date: 1980s
Size: 3.6
Pin Form: clasp
Print Method: cel­lu­loid
Text kvetcher

your lapel buttons

Many peo­ple have lapel but­tons. They may be attached to a favorite hat or jacket you no longer wear, or poked into a cork-board on your wall. If you have any lay­ing around that you do not feel emo­tion­ally attached to, please let me know. I pre­serve these for the Jew­ish peo­ple. At some point they will all go to an appro­pri­ate museum. You can see all the but­tons shared to date.

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