“Only a single person was created in the beginning to teach that if any individual causes a single person to perish, Scripture considers it as though an entire world has been destroyed, and if anyone saves a single person, Scripture considers it as though a whole world had been saved.” — Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5
Monthly Archives: January 2015
lashon ha-ra (gossip): a Hasidic parable
“Lashon ha-ra” literally means “bad tongue,” ie gossip. Buddhism views it quite seriously as an infringement of harmful speech, but I especially love this Hasidic story used to illustrate it in Joseph Telushkin’s Jewish Literacy. Here’s the first part of the entry:
The biblical commandment forbidding gossip is probably the most widely disobeyed of the 613 laws of the Torah. Leviticus 19:16 teaches: “Do not go about as a talebearer among your people.” This basic principle forbids saying anything negative about another person, even if it is true, unless the person to whom one is speaking or writing has a legitimate need for this information (for example, in submitting a reference for a job applicant).
In the Talmud, the rabbis greatly elaborated on this biblical verse, arguing that destroying another’s name is akin to murder (Arakhin 15b), and like murder, the deed is irrevocable. The impossibility of undoing the damage done by harmful gossip is underscored in a Hasidic tale about a man who went through his community slandering the rabbi. One day, feeling remorseful, he begged the rabbi for forgiveness, and indicated that he was willing to undergo any penance to make amends. The rabbi told him to take several feather pillows, cut them open, and scatter the feathers to the winds. The man did so, and returned to notify the rabbi that he had fulfilled his request. He was then told, “Now go and gather all the feathers.”
The man protested. “But that’s impossible.”
“Of course it is. And though you may sincerely regret the evil you have done and truly desire to correct it, it is as impossible to repair the damage done by your words as it will be to recover the feathers.”
Nearly the only photo in which I’ve seen the great Shostakovich appear cheerful.
Oh to have been a fly on the wall listening to what he and Ben Britten had to say to one another…
I’m currently learning one of the fugues from DS’s stupendous “24 Preludes and Fugues,” Opus 87 (the one in C-sharp minor). And remembering the performance I attended of Alexander Melnikov playing the second half of those at Middlebury College. (I can’t recommend highly enough his recording of the complete set, by the way.)
meeting with the (l)lama
Just discovered this photo lurking in one of those “untitled folders” waiting to be properly filed. Having recently re-watched Season One of the still sui generis phenomenon of weird televisual genius that is “Twin Peaks,” it seemed appropriate to post. Those who have seen the series will remember the moment — one of so very many unforgettable ones — as vividly as yesterday. Alas, it would seem that Dale Cooper ultimately failed to comprehend the teaching he received here from his (l)lama — whatever that was, precisely…
Twenty-three years after the 29th, and final, episode aired, David Lynch and his collaborator Mark Frost announced a new, limited series of nine episodes, all written by Lynch and Frost and all directed by Lynch. These will be airing on Showtime sometime next year. Lynch’s imagination has only gotten more gloriously rich and strange in the interim. I can’t wait to see what he does with this. (Though as I am tv-less, I must hope that it is available before too long online.)
Guante x deM atlaS x Rube — “Matches”
And here he is again, doing that other thing he does. Check out these beats, the delivery, those final take-no-prisoners lines — this one’s scorching!
Guante — “Quicksand”
Now that was one long hiatus… Let me ease back into this thing with another performance poem from Guante out of the Twin Cities. This one seems rather perfect to me, with one of the more devastatingly ironic final lines you’ll come across: