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Thursday, October 1st, 2015
If you write, “If you ever have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call…” you’d better be pretty darn brilliant and available 24/7. The ending of this letter from an […]Read more
How to Use Jewish Tradition to Write Your Life & Explore Your Soul
According to Jewish tradition, three books are opened on Rosh Hashanah: One for irrefutably bad people, one for unimpeachably good people, and one for everyone in the middle. The good people are immediately written into the Book of Life. The bad people are "inscribed for condemnation," the meaning of which isn't clear but doesn't sound great. But the fate of most of us, the folks in the middle, isn't determined until the last second of Yom Kippur, at the last moment of the Ten Days of Penitence grace period, when the Book of Life is closed.
I've been interested in the concept of the Book of Life for as long as I can remember. I've imagined it as a huge book, about the size of a barn door, with a hand-sewn binding and threads of liquid silver holding it together. Its pages are all hand-made with lots of pressed flowers woven into the pulp, and it has a purple marbleized cover. And God, who has an enormous readership (even larger than Stephen King's) writes with a heavy, expensive ink pen, committing names to the page with curlicued flourishes that rival those on the Declaration of Independence.
But as I got older, I grew tired of God deciding whether or not I'd have a good year. As I matured I decided that even 10 days of introspection and amends-making wouldn't wipe someone's slate clean; more important, I got impatient with the notion of a "slate" at all.
Famous Writers Celebrate the Bond Between Father and Child
I'm waiting for my father.
My mother and I are sitting in the Metropolitan Opera House, watching and listening to "Tosca," and waiting for my father to make his entrance on stage. We're on the fourth ring, up about the fourth row, the second and third seats in from the aisle, and my mother smells of tea-rose perfume, which she's worn for nearly three decades. She's wearing clothes the colors of The Garden State Expressway in mid-October, her year-round palette, tones that match the gold leaf in the auditorium. The empty seat on the aisle is on my right, and if he can change his clothes in time, my father will join us for the second and third acts.
My father is a supernumerary, a non-singing extra, a role commonly referred to as a "spear carrier." This is not his day job. He has no day job. The day job he had for more years than my mother has worn tea-rose perfume was as an elementary-school principal in the New York City school system. He looked the part: He's six-foot-three, has a fringe of grey hair wrapped around his head like Julius Caesar's crown of laurels, and bushy grey eyebrows that reach toward each other when he's displeased.
"Distinguished" is how people have always described him. When he was working he'd sometimes run into kids from his school in the supermarket; they always were startled to see him, and surprised that he actually had to eat...
A Collection of Writings on Miriam the Prophet and the Women of Exodus
Moses, awkward, chose to be mute
but it was Miriam who put words in the mouth
words that flowed like honey of bees that sting
sweet enough to make the message palatable
thick enough to spread through the crowd
sufficiently golden to reflect and remind of the calf.
Miriam the speechwriter is remembered most for dancing
but she was the one who gave voice
who swallowed the clouds and spit them out in letters
who translated God to People
and moved them to reconsider and tears.
A woman's words, once again, ghostly and potent
A woman's voice, once again, silent and still