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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Yahrtzeit

Tonight is the first Yahrtzeit for my father, Of Blessed Memory. I will once again be leading the service and reciting the kaddish. Sunday, I'm taking Moe to New York to meet up with Fudge and my mother and sisters and visiting the cemetery for the unveiling. And Chinese food.

I thought I'd have something more profound to say at this point, but real life is busy for me now and I'm just not finding the time to put my thoughts together. In the meantime, feel free to peruse the many posts I've written about my mourning experience.

I would like to respond to an email I got recently from Neil Harris asking me to expand on how blogging has actually gotten me closer to my community. I think for many bloggers, the exposure to so many diverse points of view and so many skeptical posts has had a negative effect. They've questioned their faith and their practices and become turned off, or bitter, or both. I must admit that early on I used this blog to vent to the two or three people who read it and left comments.

However, after the venting was done, I really began to reassess my relationship with Judaism and frumkeit in general. I realized that, bitter as I might be at times, my arguments, once laid out clearly and precisely, really held very little water. I was, shall we say, immature. I wanted this or that, and I just needed to stamp my feet a little. And then I realized that maybe I didn't really need everything I wanted.

Maybe there was a way for me to still be me and yet be a better Jew. Sure, I met my share of heretics and skeptics in the blogosphere. But I also met many inspiring people. People who had many of the same excuses and yet overcame them. People who had quite a bit less than me and yet were happy. People who, surprisingly, were willing to listen to and even laugh at my little tantrums, and in the end say it was OK, and who left me feeling petty and selfish. And that's really the best kind of mussar.

So the blog for me has become more of a support group. And like other groups, it works because it creates a sense of accountability. I know that I have some friends (and some detractors) who pay attention to me. And if I say I'm going to do something, they will be watching to see if I do it. And so for that reason alone, I have benefited greatly from blogging.

I honestly don't know if I would have been able to say kaddish for a year, and not miss a day, were it not for this blog. Prior to PT, I had very low expectations for myself, and a perception (right or wrong, who knows?) that my community had a similarly low opinion of me. And I would not have risen to the task for them. But I did for all of you.

Thanks for keeping an eye on me, and please keep Eliezer Aryeh ben Yaakov Ber in mind tonight.

25 comments:

Ezzie said...

That was an amazing pots. Yehi zichro baruch.

If you get near Main St., feel free to give me a ring. (Right around the corner from RaggedyMom!)

Ralphie said...

Wow - and here you have an inspiring post that can hopefully have an effect on others. It is a rare person, I think, who can recognize his shortcomings. Rarer still, who can act upon them. Even more, um, rarer, who can discuss it all openly as you have. A true yasher koach to you - your father would be proud. May his neshama have an aliyah.

A Simple Jew said...

Beautifully written.

Anonymous said...

Strong work, boss.

You're right. You are accountable to us. You know darned well that I would kick your @$$ if you ever missed minyan.

--Doctor Bean who still can't be bothered to get an account on the new fancy smancy Blogger and whose year and a half of blogging, though effected greatly by Psychotoddler, was a very different experience with very different lessons.

RaggedyMom said...

The neshama should have an aliyah. Thanks for continuing to put it all into words so well.

Let me know if there's anything I can arrange as a local liason :)

Neil said...

Your posts about your experiences in the last year of mourning have been very inspiration and touching.

torontopearl said...

PT, you certainly bring the human touch to your words. We see a spectrum of emotions when we read your honesty, and I believe that's the sign of a very good writer -- and a true mensch.

May your father's neshama have an aliyah.

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

יהי זכרו ברוך

your blogging of your journey through aveilut has been inspirational for me in my similar situation, although my memories aren't nearly as clear and my posts aren't nearly as deep.

Elie said...

Beautifully written. You speak for many. May the neshama have an aliyah and may you have a full measure of nechama.

Neil Harris said...

PT,
Thank you. Beautiful post and a great answer. In a word, inspirational!

May your father's neshama have an aliyah.

TherapyDoc said...

and of course, you know the song, right? You can't always get what you want. . .but if you try sometime. . .

It's a long year is my understanding. Beautiful post.

haKiruv said...

What a thoughtful post. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Yasher koach on a fantastic post. It's a credit to both you and your parents.

May your father's neshama have an aliyah.

Queeniesmom (I surrender and admit defeat; can't redo my account)

Anonymous said...

PS: Speaking of the virtues of blogging, does anyone ever take down defunct blogs? I understand the temptation to sign up to contribute to a dozen of them when we're invited, because each one sounds like a nifty idea, but then of course despite our best intentions we discover we actually have productive things to do with our lives and before we know it, your beutiful idea hasn't been updated in four months.

PS: Ditto what everyone else said about your dad's soul ascending.

-- Doctor Bean

chabakuk elisha said...

What a great post! Really beautiful.

PsychoToddler said...

Bean: It is not hard to sign up for a new blogger account. Quit yer whining. Who told you to delete the other one?

SaraK said...

Very beautifully said. I hope the yarzeit and your upcoming visit to the kever is a nechamah for you.

Rachel said...

Not only do I love your blog, but your candid writing about your feelings re; your father, your relationship with him, and your mourning has been so helpful to me in examining where I am in my own journey. Thank you for sharing yours, and for cracking me up along the way. May healing come to you and yours, and may his neshama have an aliya.

Mr Bagel said...

I'm sure you father would be honored with the respect you pay him PT.

Its moving to see some one who 'is ' only human, sway from a path and then choose on his on accord to come back.

Shalom Aaron
Visit: Mr Bagel

frumhouse said...

Nice post!

rabbi neil fleischmann said...

May his neshama have an aliya.

I enjoy your posts and also enjoy the community of bloggers. You do bring an honest realness to your posts, which is appreciated.

Shira Salamone said...

Between the laughs, your writing has always been straight from the kishkes. I've always appreciated your candor. This blog does honor to your father's memory.

Speaking as one of the "heretics and sceptics" whom you've met in the blogosphere, for me "the exposure to so many diverse points of view and so many skeptical posts" has had, if anything a positive effect--it's shown me a diversity of opinions and practices that I didn't know existed within the Orthodox community. I think it's partly as a consequence of my encounter with Shomrei Mitzvot of various perspectives that I've been partly inspired, and, yes, partly, um, "encouraged" :) to become more observant. I, too, feel a certain accountability as a blogger. Seriously, if I'm that uncomfortable with the idea that women are except from positive time-bound mitzvot/commandments, then what excuse could I possibly give to my readers for continuing *not* to davven/pray three times a day? So much for sleeping late on Sundays. (Sigh.) But I do feel better, albeit sleepier, now that I'm trying to davven three times daily, because my practice is now more in keeping with my principles. Blogging has forced me to confront my own laziness. :)

Should you happen to be around Main St. (or anywhere else reachable by public transit), the Punster and I could probably arrange to meet up with you and any other volunteers (Ezzie, RaggedyMom, etc.).

Doctor Bean said...

I did it!

Shira Salamone said...

Welcome back, Bean!

PsychoToddler said...

Yay Bean!