Friday, January 21, 2011

Son of a Gun! Daughter of a Mitzvah!

Mazal tov to Goldy Seinfeld who became bas/bat Mitzvah this week. (Notice how I said "became" and not "had"...why is that?) (PS - we don't want to embarrass her, but we are very proud of her!)

Two stories for you this week, and two questions.

Story #1

At a rabbinical conference in New York on Sunday. The best part of this annual conference is mealtime. I hardly eat, but it's the best shmuze-time.

So here I am sitting at dinner hoping someone interesting will sit next to me. The voice arrives before the face:

"Excuse me, is this seat taken?"

The voice was vaguely familiar, but the face was a textbook caricature of a rabbi - black hat, long beard, serious gaze.

I did a bona fide double-take.

Peering out from under that hat and beard was my childhood Sunday School classmate Joe Kanofsky.

Sorry, that's Yossel Kanofsky.

Sorry, that's Rabbi Yossel Kanofsky.

In fact, to you, that's Rabbi Dr. Yossel Kanofsky, a menshe if there ever was a menshe.

Surely the most warm-hearted and intelligent person ever to come out of Tacoma Wash (the serious expression was a put-on).

And here he was, in living color. Son of a gun!

First Question for your table... Is it comforting or discomforting to see someone who knows things about you ( and you know things about him) that no one else in the world knows?

Story #2

The next day I found myself back in sunny San Francisco, former home of my great-grandmother Granny Goldy.

My itinerary included a bunch of private meetings and two semi-public classes (see below for audio links).

In one class I made a bold statement that some participants found challenging to accept.

I declared that the classical definition of "mitzvah" is not simply a good dead. It's more than that.

It's a good deed performed mindfully.

One person told me it bothered her that I declared this value as normative, as in "Judaism says that a mitzvah requires kavana (mindfulness)."

Question #2 - What was bothering her about that statement?

A final note - yesterday you may have missed it, it was Tubishvat - the mini Jewish celebration of the trees. Missed it? Don't miss out - do what we're doing, serving a platter for desert tonight with as many edible tree-products as we can find (and yes that includes chocolate!)

Shabbat Shalom

PS - Here's the link to my SF class, "Why Money Matters". (If you get the download and need the handouts, send me an email.)

PPS - Don't know where we keep finding these inspiring videos, but if you like dogs, or happy stories, you'll enjoy this week's amazing video.

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