Monday, May 23, 2016

Saving the World.....One Letter At A Time

Courtesy of SMM Photography
We have a sofer in the house. While this might not mean a whole lot to a whole lotta peeps out there, it's actually a really cool thing. Having a sofer in the house means that our little shteibl on the prairie can fix our own Torah. 

The last time we fixed a Torah, we had to send it out, and then the sofer brought it back and we had a ceremony that lasted oh, a few hours. This time, we get to have a year long event that began with examining the scroll, cleaning the scroll, prepping the scroll, and now, at long last, inking the damaged letters. This is a huge undertaking that we have had the great good fortune to have as a community adventure. 

The sofer happens to be an exceptionally cool fellow name D.Marcos Vital. He's also been a fine teacher on the topic of Torah scrolls. In a talk the other day, he pointed out each physical aspect of a scroll must be prepared with lishma....the intent of that piece becoming a part of a Torah scroll. Reduced to simplicity, this means that before the parchment is made, that skin is already designated for use in a Torah scroll.  Lishma is a great word, and while it means intent, it means much more; it literally means, for its sake. In the Jewish context, lishma means doing something for the sake of G-d. And if you give that a little thought, you can figure out lishma is the purest basic form of an action. 

Lishma is not a new concept for me, one I have struggled with from time to time. People thought I'd lost my marbles when I said my father-in-law would continue to live with me, and there were times I thought they might've been right. What is your motivation? It's a question I often asked actors during my years as a stage director, and I knew they hated answering it as much as I hated asking it. But it's not a bad question, rather it's one we should be asking ourselves daily. Over the course of time, I came to understand my motive: for the sake of dignity....FIL's dignity. When my parents were on the move, I understood the difference between love and the desire to what was right for them and far less about what I got out of any of it. That's not other-worldly...that is conjunction of lishma and practicality. These are real motivations, based on deeply held beliefs that we are all responsible one for another, and what we get out of the experience is negligible when measured against what we put in, further proving it's not about us.

So as I watch our election year disintegrate into a heinous cycle of bad behavior, I wonder about motivation. What drives guys like Ben Carson to stand up and declare evolution is questionable? Or Hillary Clinton to still be married to Bill? These are not exactly giant questions; they're more suited for PEOPLE or OK. Think about this: the Clown Cabal and the Democratic Duo started running for the highest office in the land a year ago. What could possibly be a more sacred task than wanting to be the leader of the free world? Since then, what have any of them accomplished? Have they enriched the conversation? Have they dazzled the rest of the planet with thoughtful rhetoric and the discussion of grand ideas? Have they shown their motivation to be the betterment of We, the People as well as Us, the Inhabitants of Planet Earth? 

What is the intent, and if there is no viable intent, why do it? It cannot possibly be for the money. If there is intent, is it lishma, for the sake of doing it, or is running just another form of greed/avarice/power/hubris....I could go on. I cannot help but wonder if Donald Trump's original intent was the polar opposite of lishma, but was a gag, a publicity stunt gone horribly awry. His language of hate and his utter disrespect for everyone but himself is disturbing on a whole new level. 

Without so much as the tiniest drop of lishma, the simplest act is devoid of meaning. Wouldn't it be nice if our candidates could tell us about their intent? Frankly, I'm not holding my breath. I think they all lack lishma and in the end, We, the People are going to pay a rather high price for exactly that. 

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Thinking about moving? Think again. Several times. What an incredible pain-in-the ass!


  1. There intent is just what you see, they want to be elected and their Ego dries them. Even Bernie has an ego.We know HIllary has an ego and the GOP nominee has an ego that is so large, it fills the stage before he enters. That is their motivation... their Egos.Pretty disgusting.

  2. I absolutely think Trump's run started out as a stunt; a form of performance art. But as the prospect starts to become real, now the idea of having ALL THAT POWER has intoxicated him. I'm not sure what Hillary Clinton's motivation is. What motivates someone who already has $100 million and a grandchild she professes to adore, who has a history of being subject to the worst kind of mud thrown at her, and CHOOSES to put herself out there again. That would be like Cersei Lannister CHOOSING to be for a second time be paraded nude in front of all of King's Landing followed by a septa shouting "Shame" while ringing a bell. Why would anyone do that? I'm sorry, but I just don't see her as a humble public servant who just wants to do good. She wouldn't be hobnobbing with Wall Streeters if she was. I think power is an intoxicant and maybe she just sees it as the best revenge. As for Bernie, I think initially he just wanted to get his message out there, and maybe into the platform. He had no idea how it would resonate. But once it did -- again: power is intoxicating. The rest of the GOPers? Well, again, quoting Cersei Lannister: "Power is power." And "In the game of thrones, you win....or you die."