Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Discussion

My wife's Uncle Yosef recently celebrated his 75th birthday. For such an auspicious occasion, the family organized a feast in his honor in their yard. As the family, friends and guests began to drift into the venue, I spied the Rabbi of the moshav (an agricultural community) being wheeled in his wheelchair. I immediately went to greet him. The Rabbi is a former patient from the ICU. To better appreciate the relationship, I direct the reader to a previous post about the Rabbi. He is a young man (anyone younger than me is young. Period.). Yet he has a certain aura about him, and despite his age he commands the respect and even fondness of the members of the moshav.
After the usual pleasantries, we immediately began discussing religion, medicine and more or less everything under the sun. I suffer from an affliction that compels me to seek out and engage the worthy for such philosophical discussions. Some may find such intercourse tedious, I find it rivetting. I have few friends and acqaintances who are of the same ilk. Among these are a few that though we may not speak for months or years, it feels as if we never parted. I have the same feeling whenever I meet the Rabbi. At one point food was served and I asked the Rabbi if he wanted to take a break from our discourse to break bread. To my surprise and even embarassment, he declined, and said that this (our discussion) was more important. To be held in such high esteem by such a remarkable man is very flattering.
I don't know how long we spoke, but as the discussion became more intense we became oblivious to what was going on around us.
Our concentration was shattered by my cell phone. Drats! It was my wife. After a few moments I whispered into the phone, "Yes dear."
I turned to the Rabbi and said, "If we don't eat something, the women will be insulted."
"Your right" he said.
As we partook of the victuals, we both ruminated over the last words of our conversation. And then we joined the party.


rutimizrachi said...

My 18-year-old told me a story recently about real kavod. Rav Shmuel Berenbaum, zt"l, (who passed away in January of this year), boarded a plane, and walked past a young Jew who was sitting in first class. The bochur agonized for some minutes; and at last approached the great rosh yeshiva. "Would the Rav do me the honor of taking my seat in first class?" the boy asked. Rav Berenbaum spoke to him in Yiddish. Indicating the gentleman sitting next to him, he answered, "Give the goy the seat in first class; and you come back here and learn with me." I think that young man appreciated his several hours of true honor more than he would have enjoyed the comforts of first class. It seems that you would understand him.

bernie said...

I understand the need to discuss, not simply to talk but to discuss. Once, back in 1966 I was at a party in Jerusalem with student friends from the Hebrew University and by 2 a.m. everyone fell asleep including the person I was speaking to; however I was beginning to develop a thread in my conversation that I could not stop unraveling and so I continued the discussion with the sleeping form in front of me. About 30 minutes later Ira, as the sleeping form was used to being called, stirred momentarily, looked at me, looked around and asked, "Who are to talking to?"

When I pointed back at him he asked me if I knew that he had been asleep that whole time.

I said, "Yes, but I was starting to say things I never said before and I couldn't stop because I wanted to hear where I was going with it all."

So this is one of the few times I had a discussion with myself.

Off-topic: By the way, thanks for linking to my article 13 Books for Muslim Children on "discard Lies."

Unknown said...

Bernie, two points, I'll start with the latter:
1. you're welcome.
2. I often talk to myself. It's the only way I can be sure of having an intelligent converstation.

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