Tuesday, August 27, 2013

What rocked your world this year?

Sorry for not posting for a while. I must admit that it's not only about time; I don't feel like I have much that is both fresh and blogworthy to say these days. My thoughts are on Elul, on what it was like to be a shul rabbi in Elul vs. what it's like to be running a kollel in Elul, on teshuvah, on stress – all things I've written about copiously before. I don't need to regurgitate here; it's all in the archives.

However, I have come up with a new aspect of cheshbon hanefesh ("accounting of the soul") for myself this year, in advance of Rosh HaShanah. In addition to the standard questions and reviews, I've been asking myself: What rocked my world this year?

I don't mean highlights or lowlights, but events that truly, lastingly, changed the way I 'do business'. What changed me this year?

Some of the answers don't belong on a blog, but here are several that I can mention, in no particular order: 
  • The passing of my grandmother, now almost a year ago;
  • The passing of two good friends - a wonderful man (recorded here in Death of a Go'el) and a truly remarkable young woman;
  • Being invited by a shul to become their Rabbi, and dithering far too long about it before declining;
  • Events bringing me face-to-face with the questions that come with raising a newly adolescent son and daughter;
  • Taking said son and daughter on two brief road trips;
  • Agreeing to give classes  which compelled me to devote more time to learning Choshen Mishpat (business halachah);
  • Being asked to write an article (Yom ha'Atzmaut YU To Go) on the Zionism of Rav Soloveitchik;
  • Deciding to drive 7.5 hours each way to the RCA Convention during the Three Weeks, which resulted in me listening to two series of audiotapes, on the Enlightenment and on the early Greek philosophy;
  • Receiving an email from someone who said that my role at her humanist Chanukah party for students at a university more than ten years ago was a positive influence along her path to traditional Judaism;
  • Receiving a letter from someone who told me that he had been tormented for years by animosity between us back in high school. [I must admit that I have absolutely no recollection of this. This was a gamechanger for me.]
There's more, naturally, but that will do to convey the idea, and I hope the benefit, of reviewing the year this way.

Perhaps noteworthy: There is nothing on my list involving world events or politics. It has been a year of some change, but I can't think of anything about it that changed me. I can't say I'm surprised.


  1. It sounds like you have some thoughts on the irrelevance of world events in spiritual/intellectual development of a yid that you could post about...

  2. I appreciate the introspective nature of this post.

  3. The specifics are different for everyone, but what's insightful about your post is that it highlights how for all of us, one way or another, seemingly insignificant twists, turns and detours on the path of life often shape our perspective and direction in totally unexpected ways.

  4. Anonymous 3:33 PM-
    Not so much; it's more about my personal nature, I think.

    Thanks - and glad to see your blog! I wasn't aware of it until now...

    R' Joshua-
    Thank you.