Thursday, February 22, 2007

Deep Skin

Question: How is it that Iran has taken one more step towards their program of annihilation of Israel and the media focus on a distraught woman in LA shaving her head?

My theory: There are surely many causes, but I think that one must be that our culture has a warped view of "beauty". We are, in fact, brainwashed.

How so? Watch this:

Are we stuck with this status quo or is there an alternative? Our first child born in the U.S. is named Emuna. Somehow we seem to have been able to shield her from much of that narcissism. Maybe by keeping her locked in the basement for five years? (Just kidding - Purim's around the corner!)

Now, for the past three years, Emuna has not put anything in her mouth that was not white, with the exception of spinach quiche. (All that is going to change on Sunday when she turns five. We've been building her up for a big rite-of-passage to raw vegetables.) Emuna's great selectivity is actually a sign of a gourmet. She regularly chews her food with her eyes closed, in order to savor it, and if she sees me not doing the same, she calls me on it (in a friendly tone): "Abba, close your eyes!"

Last summer, I returned home with a box of my bubbe's costume jewelry for the kids to enjoy. The next morning, her teacher called to ask if we knew that Emuna was giving all the jewelry away to her classmates (we hadn't).

We all know that giving and sharing are what it's all about, right? But sometimes it's hard to balance self-interest with altruism. A friend in Chicago named Susan Sneider has written a marvelous handbook to relationships. It was published by the American Bar Association and is called A Lawyer's Guide to Networking, but it's great for anyone interested in more and better relationships. Ms. Sneider's thesis is that focusing on the other person's needs will in the long run make you successful. She includes exercises to help the reader identify all of their current and potential networks, and how to build them:
You get no extra points for shaking hands with everyone at an event. The important goal is to make meaningful connections....

The Hebrew word for love - ahava - is built on the root hav, "give". And the other word for give, natan, is a palindrome, alluding to what a group of latter-day mystics crooned, "And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make...."

Here are two more very short videos on the topic for a real TGIF treat:

Shabbat Shalom.

Yiddish of the week:

Ikh leebeh dikh! – I love you!

Nu, do you remember these past words?

anee — poor person
koptsen — panhandler
ballaboss — homeowner; layman
nu — various meanings (see archives)
mishpocha — family
mameh — mother
tateh — father
mazal – (MAH-z’l) luck or fortune, as in, “It was good mazal that....”
beshert – (b’shairt) - meant to be, as in “It was beshert that...”
mine eltern – my parents
mine lair-er – my teacher

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