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August 20, 2007



Whenever I read one of your posts on tanach or midrash or philosophy, I know that a lot of thought and effort went into them, both in terms of the actual formulation, and in acquiring the perspective and background necessary to write them.

Is the same true of your "spiritual" posts? I am not talking about intellectual lifting and grinding, but about effort to gain spiritual perspective, to grapple with moral priorities, etc. Are you just posting epigrams which, why unassailably true, are appreciated more for their "cuteness" than for their insight? Or is there some deep and non-obvious lesson which we are supposed to derive from these posts?


A really great question!

One of the reasons why I started to blog is to attempt to transmit the inner, hard to reach and hard to communicate perspective. Let's be honest, there is a lot of good Torah out there, Would it be of much service to record a few more good shtiklach Torah? No, it would not, and I would not find it worthwhile! Where I may, perhaps contribute is by communicating a sense of deeper, softer, less expressable... something, what you with some sense of less than full appreciation call, "spirituality".

It is very difficult to communicate spirituality for it is not about information. Its language is the language of the esthetic, of pathos, of wonder, of "something touched inside". Sunsets do it to some people, great music to others. Triggering that sense is often shooting in the dark, not only because we are all so different and differently moved or inspired, but also because the tools to do so, are the exactly right expression, a pretty poetic turn of a phrase, simile, an image that fits just right with the words. Do it right and you may even move stone. Do it poorly and it's banal and sophomoric (sopoforic too :). Do it frequently...and you will reside in a different world.

It's like art or music. One can look at a canvass or hear a piece of music and take it coldly, unappreciatively, with disdain, or, one can learn to appreciate, to allow it to connect with the "ruach" within.

We calte Litvacks have a lot to learn about how to sense G-d. We were never taught that one can feel Him and that it is an intense and darkly mysterious experience. Yes, He can be sensed, but for that one needs a pure spirit, a great deal of knowledge and discernment and a well developed sense of beauty. Also a lot of training. One needs to develop an ability to sense the spiritual undercurrent of all things and that takes as much work as going through Shas, maybe more. With this sensibility gained, one can descend to the level of the ruach, from which a vague perception on the neshoma is also possible. Much of Kabbolo and chassidus is exactly about this process of inner deepening- "Mibsari Achazeh Eloka".

What I try to do is marry an image and a phrase or teaching, so that the marriage of the two move something in someone out there. Hopefully the total is greater than the sum of its parts. This is non-verbal communication and its worth a thousand words, but it is is very, very tricky . Undoubtedly I often miss this goal...but even if it works occasionally, even for only a few, I have acccomplished something that is unique and otherwise unavailable, and that makes all the difference.


I'm not necessarily against spirituality. It just needs to have roots, if you will, as well as wings. The verse "lama li rov zivcheichem" does not only apply to korbanot.

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Hello, I check your new stuff daily. Your writing style is awesome, keep up the good work!

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