Friday, March 14, 2008

School of Art Knocks

For Kids:

I have a list of some 40 or 50 Jewish soldiers on active duty in the Middle East. Most are serving far from any Jewish community and they long for a Jewish connection.

If you would like to “adopt” a soldier and send him or her a Purim card (coming up next weekend) or a Passover card (only a month away), please send me an email and I’ll send you a name. Nothing is more uplifting than a piece of artwork done by a young person!

For Adults:

There is such an overwhelming urge to write something about almost-former Governor Spitzer. The hubris. The irony. The salaciousness. The Hollywood-perfect justice.

How do I avoid this urge? The temptation is so strong....

Here’s the thing. In case you didn’t get this detail... Spitzer was evidently caught by the very investigative tactics that he himself had promoted. On the one hand, the word hypocrisy comes to mind. On the other hand, who do you know who always lives 100% according to their own standards? Who never ever slips? My personal tendency is not to jump on the justice bandwagon, especially since he and his family have been so thoroughly raked over the coals by now.

But some are wondering: “How could he have been so stupid to fall for the very trap that he himself created as Attorney General?”

There are many things you could call Elliot Spitzer, but stupid is not one of them. I have not seen his IQ scores, but everyone who knows him, including his Harvard law professors, considers him highly intelligent.

So we’re left with a mystery. How could a highly intelligent man do something that should be so obviously and avoidably risky?

The answer must be, it seems to me, that he was suffering the most pernicious malady known to humanity: confusion.

He was utterly confused into thinking that he is a body and did not know, or forgot, that he is really a soul that is temporarily fused to a body.

This confusion is the heart of every “evil”. His bodily desire overwhelmed his spiritual knowledge.

This never happens to you, right?

Happens to me all the time. Whenever you find yourself thinking, “I know I should do X but I really feel like doing Y” - watch out!

Whenever you find yourself thinking, “I know Y is wrong, but it feels so good” - watch out!

Sometimes it helps deal with a problem when we can name it. The name for this confusion is yetzer hara.

And here’s the real secret: the yetzer hara is – according to Jewish thought – what makes life meaningful. It’s like the weights that you have to lift if you want to build muscle. No pain, no gain. Only by having the pain of that choice between bodily desires and what your brain tells you is right, can you become a great person.

This wisdom is the foundation for making your life into a true work of art.

Speaking of art, someone sent me these amazing photos that are uplifting even if you don’t drink coffee. I don't know which cafĂ© produced them, but if you know, please tell me and I'll give due credit.

Amazing Coffee Art - Click here for the most popular videos

Shabbat Shalom.

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April 3 - St. Louis
April 7 - Baltimore

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