Today got off to a slow start because I did not really want to sit through another staff meeting where one goes around the table and there is almost never anything new.  I know in most work places it is essential for people to build up a sense of common spirit and to know what everyone else is up to.  It’s just that people really don’t have the time to say much and the boss is not a good facilitator and I find that most of the time I’m not that interested. 

I did teach my class and we had really interesting talks about a number of issues that sound so big when I write them down, yet seem to flow naturally from the subject matter, the nature of the tensions in the ancient kingdoms of Israel and Judah.   We talked about the king, the prophets and the priests and how they each saw themselves as having a role as the intermediary between the divine and the people.  We talked about the source of power of each of these.  And we talked about the recurring movement in Jewish tradition, towards ideas of radical equality.  The notion that any person, male or female, can be a prophet; the notion that all the people from the highest leader to poorest serving maid were all equal at Mount Sinai and all received the revelation at exactly the same time; the notion that there should be no intermediary between god and the people; the notion that god cares equally for all people whatever their ethnicity, etc. 

 

It is true these radical notions do not predominate in the Tanakh; rather the other voice takes up most of the pages preaching separation, superiority of chosen kings over non-chosen, of chosen priests over non-chosen of keeping kosher separate from non-kosher, etc. Nevertheless, the other stream is still clearly present and visible. 

The afternoon just brought me closer to resigning when the boss reminded me that I had to go to all the staff meetings.   I just have to figure out now what is the best moment to exit, the moment when I will have finished an important phase without getting too far into the next one. 

 

This evening I taped Shalom Ottawa and interviewed two guests.  The third was too ill to come so I had to improvise.  I improvised material based on the Yiddish play I am in but I did it in English.  The problem is that I might not have made a clear enough distinction between the improvisation and me as the host. 

 

Here is more or less, as I remember it, my improvisation as the character Shmielke, speaking as an auctioneer.  Shmielke is usually cowed into silence by his wife but here gets to show his stuff. 

 

“Ladies and gentlemen and other people present.  I have an object to sell you whose value is unbelievable.  It’s an object beyond price.  You can’t pay money for an object like this.  Well, you couldn’t pay money for it in a store but if you give me an offer, how could I refuse to sell it to you?  This object is a cap which was worn by the taxi driver who drove the Dalai Lama to the airport.  As the Dalai Lama was sitting behind the driver, maybe he spit a little on the cap, or would that make him Dalai Llama? 

 Anyway, this cap, as I said is beyond price, beyond monetary value. As the man who donated it said, ‘this cap is so far beyond price,  I can’t even give it away.’ 

 

And here you have the chance to purchase this invaluable cap for a low, low bid of even 5 dollars. 

 

Look at this cap.  Its blue colour is perfect for it.  As if they were married.  Well ok, not married but made for each other.  So what if it is a little faded?  You just put a little blue shoe polish and it’ll look like new. 

 

As for the stains, if you wear the hat on dark days, they’re almost hard to see by the naked eye.  If it’s a tight fit, just use a little grease and it’ll slide off like butter.  If it’s too big, one or two socks should fill it out nicely.  Sold for the bargain price of 6 dollars!”