Over the years, I’ve had what must be tens of thousands of conversations with congregants, and strangers that I’ve met in the context of my work. I couldn’t begin to count the number of times those conversations began with the words “Rabbi, can I ask you a silly question?”
The good teacher — or should I say the wise teacher -— will tell you that there are no silly questions. There are silly answers, to be sure, but very few if any silly questions.
It was supposed to be one of those mother-son experiences that memories are made of.
I was invited to be the keynote speaker for a fundraising event at a midwestern Jewish Federation, and, since it was within driving distance of my alma mater, The University of Michigan --Ann Arbor, I decided to bring my then-seven year old son Jacob. While I got excited to show him where I had gone to class and bought my books and partied hard (well, maybe I'd skip that part), I discovered what was to be the icing on the cake as soon as we got to JFK airport: We'd been upgraded to First Class.
When I'm not pouring over my Chumash or studying the Talmud, you might find me, upon occasion, flipping through an issue of Entertainment Weekly magazine for alternative inspiration. Truth be told, EW wins out over the big books 99.9% of the time, as it is significantly less cumbersome sitting on the magazine rack of my treadmill.
“Well I'm gonna go then! And I don't need any of this. I don't need this stuff, and I don't need you. I don't need anything. Except this… Just this ashtray...And this paddle game. The ashtray and the paddle game and that's all I need... And this remote control. - The ashtray, the paddle game, and the remote control, and that's all I need... And these matches.
Could I? Physically, yes. While you might not be able to see my biceps from afar (or, sadly, even from a-near), I am capable of lifting the bag from the can, walking it down the hall, and taking it outside to our garbage bins.
If I were a doctor or a lawyer, I might not get asked this question as often as I do: “How did you get into this line of work?” Apparently, to some folks, there’s something quixotic, exotic, and perhaps idiotic about someone who does public speaking for a living.
A gentleman who had read one of my blogs where I complained about dating burn-out posted that I should get my furry little paws on Shaya Ostrov’s book, The Inner Circle: Seven Gates to Marriage.
Ok, he did not use the words “furry paws,” but he might as well have, because soon after I read his posting I was already purring and licking my lips with anticipation, wondering how I was going to get a hold of a Jewish relationship book I didn’t know about!