When today comes around I usually think about things my father missed since he has been gone. I decided that this year I’ll attempt to list a number of things my father knowingly and unknowingly accomplished.
He had 3 successful service oriented businesses • He visited Israel • He passed down his love of nature, Frank Lloyd Wright, short road trips, and chopped liver to my brother, David, and I • He turned a hobby of collecting etchings and art into an impressive eBay Store • Was actively involved the the Jewish Burial Society in Wichita, KS • He lived to see his 3 grandchildren • He conditioned me to only eating latkes with sugar sprinkled on top of them • He and Indiana Jones shared a massive dislike of snakes • He left a void in both his family and community • He showed us the challenge of a snipe hunt, the adventure of Bear Rocks in Cooks Forest, PA, and musical antics of Sha Na Na • He happily took me anywhere that interested me including galleries in SoHo, the Guggenheim (a few times), and dozens of bad movies during high school and beyond • He once let me drag him to 5 different Starbucks in one afternoon • He survived multiple trips to zoos, children’s museums, and even Six Flags Great America • When visiting he’d help stock my freezer and occasionally hangers in my closet • He would always try to go to the Lower East Side and take a peek inside Mesivta Tifereth Jerusalem, or as he called it the, “Time Warp Yeshiva.” • He showed my family that you could take an RV into almost any neighborhood in Indianapolis and feel safe • He drove hours upon hours to make sure I got to youth group retreats • He taught me that it’s never too late to change no matter if it involves smoking or working on relationships.
I have started this post about 2 dozen times over the past 3 years and I never seem to get more than about 300 words written about why I stopped blogging. Looking back, it's been just over a year since my last post and prior to that there were a few postings every 6-9 months all the back to 2014. I guess the good thing about writing now is that the odds are good that no one will read this and it allows me a little wiggle room with being real about things.
I can pinpoint the moment that I decided to stop writing, it was when I had conveniced myself that I didn't really have anything to say. This was my conclusion after getting dealt a humbling and embarrassing blow, that forced me to be truthful and re-evaluate my middos and myself. Needless to say, it wasn't the best day ever. I lost confidence in myself on multiple levels and found myself retreating, withdrawing both from friends in my community as well as those I had "met" online. I found myself for the next 5 months terribly introverted (not my nature) and unsure of much, besides the fact that my wife and kids loved me. Slowly I got back into the groove of things, but the desire to write seemed overruled by the desire to think I didn't have much to offer online.
I found myself self stuck with a creative desire to express myself and no outlet. Then I succumbed to my official midlife crisis (not the pretend one of forming a band), my hobby of urban exploration and documenting neglected architecture. This was the furthest thing from writing a blog. Writing reveals what we are thinking, what is behind and under the surface. Photography, at its esssence, captures an image as we see it and freezes it. It's two dimensional, it starts and stops. Of course, the right picture or portrait, can convey emotion but the shots I have been taking since the beginning of 2015 are of buildings that have been abandoned and forgotten. Many of the buildings have historical value and their owners were happy to have their properties documented. Honestly, most people don't see why I enjoy these kind of photos. As my wife astutely suggested, it might be because I feel dilapidated and abandoned from who I can truthfully be.
So, this is where I am holding, not quite sure what I can bring to the digital table, but attempting to be the guy Hashem knows I can be and who I need to be.
|This building that might have been the
||Yeshiva of Slabodka
||(picture from here)
I almost had to make sure I wasn’t dreaming, when I download and started listening to the recording of an interview with former Slabodka talmid, and founder of Yeshiva Ner Israel, Rav Yaakov Yitzchok Ruderman zt’l.
The recording of R Ruderman is available here
. The mp3 is a series of questions and answers about the Alter of Slabodka, Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel conducted by students from Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim, prior to 1987 (when R Ruderman was niftar)
Topics discussed include:
- Churmas/Being Machmir
- Limud haMussar in America
- The Atler’s outlook
- A personal story about the Alter’s reaction when R Ruderman bought a tallis katon
- R Ruderman’s view of what needs the biggest tikun in America
Even if you are not so inclined to hear first hand memories about the Alter of Slabodka, it’s worth it to listen to this interview, so that you can hear and experience the love and kavod that a talmid has for his rebbe.
(Post updated with new link on 1/28/18)