The letters of our thoughts are the ideas present in our mind before they come to realization . . . Thoughts that are, yet not felt . . . The words of the subconscious . . . of the soul . . .


Monday, June 30, 2008

Let's Do Coffee Sometime

(Image source)

The following is a letter that I received in my inbox . . .

Dear Mottel,

I'm taking the time to write this to you because I consider myself to be a very big fan of yours. I've been following you for quite some time -and read all of your articles (my favorites I've even printed out to read to myself again!)
It is because of my appreciation for you, the growth that I've seen in you over the past few years, that I write to you today.

You see, I'm actually rather disappointed in you. As I've been keeping up with you, following all of your travels -laughing with you in your good times, crying in the not so good - I've come to expect certain standards from you. I know you're not perfect, no human being is, but I feel this case is an exception; perhaps when I tell you exactly what happened you'll see what I mean.

The incident to which I refer took place last week. You were at the l'chaim of your friend. Everyone was singing in glee, and you -my dear friend- were joining in with the best of them. The majesty of the moment was amazing -the true love and friendship of so many souls, singing together in perfect unity . . .

The song came to an end, and another friend of yours, we'll call him Hirshel, began to say something. A rather dower faced individual, one of the extended family to which your friend was soon to join in marriage, looked up and made a rather nasty remark to Hirshel. Now Hirshel, as you know, is a rather jovial person, always able to crack a joke and shrug off a threat, and at that moment he did so. But this individual persisted in his unkind ways . . . So, trying perhaps to defuse the situation - perhaps to make a point of your own, you turned to this frowning individual, and began to speak to him. I honestly think you meant the best.
Looking you in the eye he said,

"Who are you?"

Now we all know how he phrased his query -it was evidently clear to everyone at the table that he by no means cared to know who you were, but rather his tone of voice spoke of a desire to point out some theoretical inadequacy in your character. Though all of this was clear, the crowd as a whole was ready to move on -to sing once more as they had only moments before.

You, however, leaned forward and returning an equally rancid grimace, told this person that it made no difference who you were, as it was abundantly clear that he had no desire to make your acquaintance. What was more, you did know something . . . where this individual belonged (in a resent post you referred to a place in Poland with a very similar name), and made it abundantly clear that it was there that he belonged.

Quite shocking. I'm sure you'll agree in retrospect that your actions were quite uncalled for. At the time you were rather distracted -I was sitting with you, but I doubt you noticed- had you taken a moment to think, however, you would have seen that there really was no need to respond . . . You may not know that individual well, but I do -we have mutual friends- and I know that he has his own personal demons to confront. Was he wrong? Yes. But that's for him to work out. You know very well that his actions give no excuse for your own. I know you're dealing with your own personal battles at the moment - nothing that you won't overcome, of that I can assure you - but just like this individual had no reason to act as he did, you had no excuse to strike out at him. You did so from a place of personal pain and anguish, of pride and -dare I say- conceit . . . For all of this I'm very disappointed in you.

I know you too well, and know that you are better than all of this. Such actions don't befit you. Period.
It is because I care for you so that I write all of this. I know of your other flaws, but this one was far to public . . .

By now you must be scratching your head, wondering who it was at that l'chaim the other week that knows you so well . . . The truth is, I could never tell you who I am, and you would be none the wiser. After all our sages teach 'receive the truth from he who says it'. Telling you who I am, though, may help put things in perspective. For that I'll tell you: Well of course, I know you. You're me! Or perhaps rather, I am you . . . I am your soul.

I've followed you from before you were born, cheering you in the good, crying with you in the not so good, and because we're in this together, I want you to come out on top. I care for you. You're better, and now, after reading this letter, I hope you'll show it.

Keep up the good work, your writing and all the rest, I can assure you that good things will be soon coming.

Let's do coffee sometime,
Yours truly . . .

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Anonymous said...

Pretty powerful. A great lesson in humility. Thanks.

Mottel said...

Thank you very much.

Nemo said...

I'm sick of excusing people for acting like idiots. The world's not getting any better because we shrug off our own dignity. Fight back next time. Kick him in the face. And stop listening to the voices in your head, or imaginary emails!


Mottel said...

Nemo -the voices in my head tell me not to listen to you . . . and they say that they wrote the e-mail. So there. :P

Anonymous said...


I am with you, Nemo. Chabad and especially Crown Heights is becoming an asylum precisely because we accept and tolerate such behavior instead of telling people who are nebach not with it to leave us alone and get help (and then finding that help for them). I have had more than one simcha disturbed by such people and it is one of the many reasons I left Crown Heights. Ahavas Yisroel does NOT mean being a sucker!

However, sending someone to the island in Poland is a bit harsh. I would not wish that any Jew end up anywhere in Poland without a clear shlichus or business reason to be there.

You could explain to him that in the old times, there were 36 (lamed vov) tzaddikim but now because our generation is so low, there are eighty (pay). And then you could have gone on to tell him that while it is difficult to be one of the lamed vov, any potz can be a pay tzaddik!

Still, great writing - yasher koiach!

Cheerio said...

it takes a lot of courage to be able to overcome your own indignation, your own justification of your actions, and determine whether or not you took the right actions.
Ahavas Yisroel may not mean being a sucker, but it does mean truly wanting the best for the other individual. And reacting out of anger or pride helps no one. When encountering such unpleasant people,defend yourself - but with dignity and respect.

Mottel said...

I did respond to him . . . and I didn't see anything come out of it. I'm sick of being boxed in by these bitter types -but telling him to go to Hell didn't do anything. He's still stuck up, and I was the fool who made a bigger disturbance. Twas better to be quiet and thought though fool, then speak out and remove all doubt.

Nemo said...

Stop beating up on yourself Mottel!

passerby said...

Very good Mottel!!
Great writing.
And great soul you got there, take good care of it. May G-d (and not nemo :)) continue to guide you.
Chazak v'ematz!

Mottel said...

(looks like you did stop by again, or maybe you never left ;-))

Thank you again (do I know you by the way -irony of the content of this post aside)

Perel said...

motteeeeel! shkoyach, beautiful, well written..gosh ur yetzer tov has such good english, a sharp fellow...mine cant even make up a sentence!
Keep up the good work and have a great shabbos!

Mottel said...

If you think my Yetzer Tov speaks well, wait 'til you hear my Yetzer Harah . . .

Cheerio said...

is that going to be the next letter in your inbox?
it'd be interesting, that's for sure...;)

Mottel said...

I actually had the idea of making correspondence between myself and my soul . . . I hope that doesn't mean that I'm the Yetzer Harah!

the sabra said...


wow wow wow

May I post/link this on my blog?

Mottel said...

Four wows? Wow.
You're more then welcome to link to here . . . whenever you want.