Thursday, January 29, 2009


Last night, I slept. When I sleep, I usually dream.
In my dream, I visited the Skulener Rebbe in private.
I must have complained about evil inclinations and heretic thoughts, because we had the following conversation:

Rebbe: Do you watch movies?
Me: Yes
Rebbe: For how long?
Me: For a long time now. From year 5764 (2004, in Gregorian)
Rebbe (Shocked) Really?
Me: (Calm) Really
Rebbe: Movies are the cause of your troubles.
Rebbe: (Digresses) What do you do?
Me: I write poems. (Why would I say that? I’m only a novice.)
Rebbe: Here, (hands me a pen and a blank sheet of kvitel paper), write me a poem.
Me: But I write in English only; the Rebbe wouldn’t read.
Rebbe: Then write in Yiddish.
Me: I never did before.
Rebbe: Nevertheless.

The Gabai (aide) ushered me to a corner. I sat down at a school-like desk (no red apple, though) and immediately began writing in Hebrew. (Strange; the Rebbe instructed me to write in Yiddish.)

תותקן נשמה
בגוף טמא
מהרהורים סטים
מצפיית סרטים

Let it be mended the soul
Residing in tainted body
From stray thoughts
From movie watching

I was about to compose the second quatrain when suddenly I woke up.
Instead of Modeh Ani, my lips murmured the words I just wrote.
I then realized that neshomeh and tomeh rhyme only by the unscrupulous Ashkenazi pronunciation.
As I brushed my teeth, I burst out in laughter spattering toothpaste all over the vanity mirror. If I’ll ever do the sacrament of reconciliation about my internal struggles on faith, a Hasidic rabbi will not occupy the other side of the confessional.
Besides, the Rebbe was dead wrong. Movies had zero negative influence on my steadfastness.
So what was the catalyst?
The internet, stupid
After all, the Rebbe was right.
As they always were—in Hasidic tales.


  1. Hi there
    Since you seem to make an effort to be accurate, here is a little pointer:
    Webster's Definition for sexton sounds more like a shamos. The "rabbi's private secretary" sounds more appropriate, but I might be wrong.
    A Dutiful Reader

  2. Dutiful,
    I guess you're right.
    The appropriate word would be aide. I corrected the post.
    Thanks for your remark, and thanks for your loyal readership.

  3. Did you honestly dream this:

    ותקן נשמה
    בגוף טמא
    מהרהורים סטים
    מצפיית סרטים

    Or have you thought it up before and it only resurfaced itself in the dream?

  4. I’m pretty sure I never saw this before; the lines were totally unfamiliar to me. Even if I did, I would have discarded it, because as I pointed out, neshomo and tomeh end in different vowels. However, it’s likely I was half awake by then.

  5. It doesn't matter that the 1st 2 lines don't rhyme. abcc is just as good of a rhyme meter. In fact, aabb is a little too simplistic.

  6. hmmm...I wonder, do movies really have no impact. Honestly, I've been asking myself this question for a long time..


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