Monday, August 27, 2007


Our friend Esty sent me this wonderful piece from the Jewish Press by Jennifer Clay which she felt (and I agree) was quite on the money. Her (and my) favorites lines:
We live in a never-ending movie of acting and being judged or questioned. If we show our true selves, the critics jump on us. You cry and someone wonders why – why are you breaking the steady stream of happiness with despair? You yell and someone asks what the matter is. You exhale deeply and someone demands an explanation: Why are you sighing? What’s wrong?

So we train ourselves, like any good performers, to hide our feelings.
And it’s not just feelings – it’s appearances too. We can’t ever look correct to everyone. Yet we try to. Why?
So we live on stage, obeying other’s commands – sometimes opposite from the ones made before. And we smile and laugh to avoid questions, soon forgetting who we really are and what we really feel, finally convincing ourselves we like ourselves until someone comes along and tells us that we shouldn’t. So up and down and around and around we go.
Up. Down. Round and round. Until one day it just breaks; it doesn’t go in circles and it doesn’t bounce. That’s when the show ends. The ride is over. The critics hush. And you’ve lived your whole life obeying them.
And the sad part is, it’s never going to change.

My only qualm might be the ending, but she's right: It never will. Not on a societal level... certainly not in the world we live in. It's up to us as individuals to be ourselves - not because someone told us to be ourselves, or because it's at the top of someone's blog, but because we want to be. Not just to be contrary to the critics or the establishment, or it's a never-ending cycle of being "different". It's just being ourselves, period.

Just. Being. Ourselves.


  1. "Rabbi Zusya said that on the Day of Judgment, God would ask him, not why he had not been Moses, but why he had not been Zusya."

  2. I have a sefer which is a compilation of the Klausenburger Rebbe ZT"L's short pieces about tzaddikim.

    In the section on R. Zusya, he has R. Zusya referring in this saying to his own famous brother R. Elimelech (and not to Moshe Rabbeinu or others).
    This seems like the authentic version.

  3. The Jennifer Clay excerpt quoted in this article reminds me of these Joni Mitchell lyrics:

    "And the seasons they go round and round
    And the painted ponies go up and down
    We're captive on the carousel of time
    We can't return we can only look
    Behind from where we came
    And go round and round and round
    In the circle game"

    However, I don't believe a Jew can look at life as Mitchell did. We are not such captives and improvement is not beyond us.