וְעָל כֵּן אֲנִי מִתְחַנֵּן לְשֵׁם שֶׁהוּא בָּֽעַל הַיְּכוֹלֶת הַגָּמוּר וְהָאֱמֶת הַגָּמוּר שְׁיִתֵּן לִי עֹז וְתַעֲצוּמוֹת לְהַשְׁלִים כַּוָּנָתִי וְיַנָחֵנִי בְּדֶרֶךְ אֶמֶת וִילָמְדֵנִי ארָחוֹת יוֹשֵׁר, כִּי בוֹ בַטָחְתִי וְאֵלָיו קִוִּיתִי, כְּמָאֲמַר הַמְּשׁוֹרֵר, “הַדְרִיכֵנִי בַֽאֲמִתֶּךָ ׀ וְלַמְּדֵנִי כִּי־אַתָּה אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׁעִי אוֹתְךָ קִוִּיתִי כָּל־הַיּֽוֹם: וְזֶה הֶחֱלִי בְּעֶזְרַת שָׁדַּי:
Therefore I pray to God who has absolute power and truth that He may grant me courage and strength to accomplish my purpose, that He may lead me in the way of truth, and teach me the paths of uprightness, for in Him I trust and for Him I wait, as the Psalmist says (Psalms 25:5): “Guide me in Your truth, and teach me; for You are the God of my salvation; for You I wait all day.” Now I begin with the help of the Almighty.
This t’filah is an excerpt from Ikkarim: Book of Principles, a four-volume beautiful theological statement and explication of Torah by Joseph Albo, completed in 1454. Albo closes the preamble to his work with this prayer.
What a beautiful sentiment with which to begin a journey.
So I have tried this a number of times, and have never really kept it up. Why? Not really sure. But of late I find myself jotting more and more notes on the backs of receipts, only later to look at them and say, “I don’t remember what I was thinking,” or “yeah, that was interesting, but what could I do with this idea?” as I despairingly chuck the scrap into the trash can.
This time will be different. I hope. So much goes on around me which I find it hard to avoid pondering. When you spend your days watching people, just to notice their behaviors, it is very difficult not to notice the thing blaring us in the face: people, in general, are nuts! Everyone around us is odd, and the oddness continues on with us as a society from day to day, from year to year, from generation to generation. As Americans, we have social idiosyncrasies that are not only strange as we perceive them ourselves, but that are also impossible to match anywhere else in the world. Of course, that is not to say that everyone else doesn’t have their own ideas of what is and isn’t insane. And, for the record, I think I have just used four different synonyms for the word “weird” (which is also, by the way, the exception to the i-before-e-except-after-c rule) in the last paragraph. They are all chosen wisely.
You may be wondering about the name, “And Who Are These?”. Or, maybe you’re not, but I feel like musing on it for a few minutes. I don’t fancy myself a “sociologist”. That title implies has a double-meaning for me, in that on the one hand, it will be my musings on the things I see people do and say during the course of my days. On the other hand, it will also be musings specifically on Jews. “Who are you?” is an essential question that each person has to answer, and perhaps I will answer this myself, or I will help you answer it for yourself.
I hope you enjoy what you read. Feel free to post comments on anything I write, and I’ll be happy to listen to your feedback.