Sunday, July 20, 2008

Merkos Shlichus in action

As you may or may not know, I'm currently on Merkos Shlichus in Litchfield, Connecticut. Faithful readers will recall that this blog got its start about a year ago as a response to the original www.rovingrabbis.com. Later I got a spot on that very same website, and the legend of TRS was born.
The question now facing me is what I should do this year. I was asked to blog for the new and improved www.rovingrabbis.com, but it seems to me that this year it'll be missing a lot of spice, seeing as the end result will be heavily edited. Additionally, I do have a readership for this blog, and it seems silly to abandon this platform for another.
I mentioned the editing, eh? The bigwigs over at Merkos have one major concern-they don't want anything negative appearing about Merkos Shlichus or the Shluchim in a public manner. Now I fully understand this problem; after all, I've done much the same thing over this past year. Nevertheless, I do feel that what I would write for the official Merkos Shlichus would probably have my unique personality and style edited out, and I'd just become one of the many Bochurim on Merkos Shlichus.

Having said all this, I am happy to report that the first couple days here in Connecticut have gone very well. Yossi Beenstock and I spent most of our time visiting old-age homes, which was actually pretty cool. Most of the people were happy to see us, even if we only stayed for a few minutes. We must have visited twelve or thirteen of these homes, which was A. tiring, and B. enlightening.
Sometimes it's difficult to think of things to say; after all, many of these people are in their eighties and nineties. At other times, the conversation flows, and you really feel like you're connecting. Another nice thing is that whenever we left a home, the other seniors gathered around the one we had met and wanted to know who we were and why we had come. I guess that most of these people simply don't get visited very often.
By one of the places we encountered a woman who wasn't particularly interested in the Dvar Torah I was saying. Mind you, it wasn't anything deep, just a cute and positive thingie about today, the 17th of Tammuz. Anyway, as I was wrapping up with her, a woman wheeled herself over and asked if she could listen in. I told her that of course she could, and was she Jewish? She answered me, in Yiddish, "Ich bin a Shiksa with a Yiddishe Hartz", "I'm a non-Jewish woman with a Jewish heart." Then she asked us how we would know when the messiah had arrived. I told her that I wasn't exactly sure what was going to happen, but there was one criterion which he would definitely fulfill. When he comes, the whole world is going to know about it. She then started telling us all about JC, and how she thought that the whole world knows about him, so he must be the messiah. She even mentioned Isaiah 53, though she didn't expound. For a moment there I thought that all the hours of listening to J. Immanuel Shochet would come to use, but I guess it was not to be. Anyway, I responded to her assertion that the whole world knew of JC, "But think about it. There's a billion Chinese people out there, and they're not Christian. There's a billion Indians out there, and they're not Christian. There's a billion Muslims out there, and they're not Christian. How can you say that the whole world has recognized the Messiah when it's obvious that it hasn't?" She then told me that first he would be revealed to only a small group, and then later to the whole world. I said, "Well, that's not what the Jewish tradition holds. I'll know him when I see him. So far, no luck."
We parted on amicable terms; I agreed to believe what I believe, and she agreed to believe what she believes. Still, it was nice to be at the receiving end of Mivtzoyim for a change.

22 comments:

Nemo said...

Keep this blog, because I sure as hell won't comment on the Roving Rabbis site.

And if you want to keep your style as is, I'm sure some of your friends over here from Chabad Corporate can pull a few strings at HQ. I heard one guy even knows the editor!

Where's the fundamentalist TRS we all know and love? said...

How many times to I have to tell you that "live and let live" is hepech hatorah? Perhaps l'poel you must let her believe what she believes, but you can't have this we-each-have-our-own-beliefs-and-it's-all-hunky-dory attitude.

Plus, your criterion for who is moshiach is absurd and impossible. Moshiach can't be moshiach until everyone accepts him. But nobody will know accepts him until everyone else does.

Almighty E said...

Nemo: Every (decent) comment that is placed on chabad.org makes the site look busier and more popular. Do your small part in helping the merkos shluchim and comment your brains out

Friend from Chabad corporate said...

I heard the editor say that only heavily edits the bad posts. So the more of your unique TRS style that shines through, the better your writing must be.

Mimonidean Rationalist said...

Maimonides, in Iggeres Teiman writes that Messiah will first be unknown. So, you're damn wrong. Jewish tradition holds that Messiah CAN'T be some super-well-known-superhero.

The Real Shliach said...

Nemo: You got your answer. BTW, rovingrabbis.com has started posting my shtuff, check it out.

As for fundamentalism, well, it's all well and dandy to talk the talk, but walking the walk is a whole 'nother story. You want to tell an old lady that she's wrong? An ounce of sensitivity brings forth a pound of goodwill.

Friend from Chabad Corporate: Awe, you're so sweet.

"Jewish tradition holds that Messiah CAN'T be some super-well-known-superhero"
I never said he'd be a well known superhero, just that when he was revealed everyone would know it. That's all. No Kefirah, just good old-fashioned joy.

Nemo said...

Ok, for all you corporate types, I left a rovingrabbis comment. And I put in under a secular name to be the Mekayem the Mitzvah of not looking too frum!

The Real Shliach said...

Good boy

The Real Shliach said...

Nice comment, Nemo

Nemo said...

I don't know where there is an affirmative command to tell non-Jews that Jesus isn't the Messiah, and according to one Dei'ah, maybe not even to tell them off about the trinity.

The Real Shliach said...

As I said, she was dong some Mivtzoyim on me, and I wasn't interested in leaving her with the impression that I accepted any of her teachings.
Normally, of course, I don't even get into the subject; when I do, well then, I do.

s(b.) said...

I think you handled her really well. As people age, they start really caring about stuff like what happens after you die, etc. You never know if, emotionally, she depends on the thought of JC to cling to on her journey from walking the earth; she is not Jewish. There's no need for debate. There's nothing wrong with agreeing to disagree and to not try to dissuade someone from their beliefs, especially not an older person.

Fundamentalist lover said...

I thought this lady was Jewish.

motti said...

HI Yossi and TRS good to see that you are doing something good. Keep un the good wrok.
Nemo nice commenting, I'd like to see more of nemosramblings, regards from down under to all.
motti

The Real Shliach said...

s(b.: Thanks, I couldn't agree more.
FL: Though I do hate to quote myself,

She answered me, in Yiddish, "Ich bin a Shiksa with a Yiddishe Hartz", "I'm a non-Jewish woman with a Jewish heart."

Motti: Thanks

fundi said...

Did you ask the "shikse" how she knows Yiddish?

The Real Shliach said...

nope

fundi said...

Ok. Of course She's Jewish.

The Real Shliach said...

If you want to believe that, then...

Nemo said...

Dude, that's like one Yiddish line ... doesn't really take much to learn, especially when you've made it your life to proselytize the 'people of the book.'

Besides, she's in a bloody old age home surrounded by Jews.

Motti- Good to know your around, even if you're [still] stuck in Australia!

(a rat just ran across my drop-ceiling)

Fundi said...

99 out of a hundred, if someone says something in jewish, he or she is jewish. fact.

The Real Shliach said...

OK Fundi. You win. Want the address so you can go and visit?