The question

During my two years of learning in E”Y I would about once every two or three months make my way to the Israel Museum.

I’ve always enjoyed art and of course that particular museum houses items of historical and religious significance. Once, there was an exhibit that was simply a plastic card holder with stack of black postcards with the following question printed in Hebrew, English, and Arabic:

Who are you close to?

It’s a good question. If you are married, then ideally, you are close with your spouse. You might be close with siblings or friends from: high school, college, yeshiva, work, the blogosphere (I think these days that may count), or even Facebook. There are those that we text, Skype, call (I think people still do this), or just say hello to during kiddush. You might be particularly close with a Rabbi/Rav/Rebbe. You might just have one or two really good friends. There are those would might even say they are in the process of attempting to be close to Hashem.

I think that we would all like to be close with our children, but not at the expense of what often gets throw around as “kibuv av v’eim”. However, being close with someone means that we have to be willing to share our successes and our losses. If you cheated on your taxes, would you tell your best friend? If you let a “not nice word” slip out of your mouth in a moment of frustration, would you tell the guys you sit with in shul? If you figured out how to make an extra $200 a month by selling certain items illegally, would you tell your wife? If you got a promotion, would you tell your neighbors?

Then, there’s R Yisrael Salanter, who said, “A man can live until the age of 70 and still not know himself”.

Within these words lies what is part the challenge for those who are attracted towards working on themselves and their relationship with Hashem. It’s that challenge that sometimes drives me. It’s what made me take that postcard at the museum and hold onto it.

3 thoughts on “The question

  1. Neil Harris

    B’li Neder, I’ll reread it tonight. What’s more interesting are the similarities b/t the guildlines for the group at the end of the sefer and the structure of the mussar vaadim of the early 1900s.


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